Friday, July 27, 2007

The senior cat is home from hospital! And despite a whopping vet bill and a shaved tummy, seems none the worse. The diagnosis is tentatively lungworm which can be spread by mosquitoes. She will have to get 2 more shots a week apart. If this doesn't work, we'll try steroids, but there are no obvious signs of any other underlying condition. The Imp hardly ate while her elder companion was away; Miss Pink Nose scarfed down almost a full serve of fish stuff, had a drink and peed copiously. I have known that she won't pee at the vet's and this sure sounded like 3 day's worth. The vet-smell is making the Imp very hostile.

My eye is still bothering me. I left the lens out until I had to drive and now the lens feels very scratchy. Going without limits me to things not involving reading, so I moved stuff from room A to room B, boxed books, ironed, and started a vat of split pea soup. Just to keep the weather unpredictable, we had thunderstorms this afternoon.

I have been trying to process some of my free alpaca. I started out on the lightest which is almost white when clean. The key words here are when clean. Alpacas like to roll so I expected lots of dust. I didn't expect quite so much VM in the form of burrs, grass seeds, pieces of twigs, bark, who-knows-what that are embedded in every lock. I went through enough for a mesh laundry bag and washed it. The water was black. Repeat 4 more times. Now it is cleaner but still dirty at both ends and lots more VM still present. The good news is the fibre is very soft, almost 8' (20cm) long in places, and should look great when spun. This sounds very much like the filthy fleece but I've got 6 trash bags of alpaca! I would be open to offers of taking some of it off my hands.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Contrary to the tone of recent posts, I am not all that chirpy. I find myself desperately keeping busy so I can't stop to think and then get exhausted. Even pretty mundane tasks have a heavy emotional load in the background. I get weepy at least once a day and today it was in the middle of weaving class when I realized there was no-one at home I could enthuse to, that he would not me picking me up from class, that I was making plans that he wasn't part of. It's at times like this when the sledgehammer hits my heart again and if in public I lose my composure. I may have 30 years ahead of me without him and I just can't come to grips with that idea. He was going to be with me forever; I would die first. After all I have the compromised immune system, am always falling and will break something one of these times, I have accidents with knives, probably should not be driving at night, even back and forth to ANU. I am the accident waiting to happen and he was my rock. My very sanity often literally depended on him comforting me. I can get seriously depressed and he would know what I needed. What will I do now when the blackness closes in? Admit myself to hospital and be tainted by that in my medical record? I know I've got lots of people around me who care about my but they aren't my Bear.That's the base line that I don't know how to live with. Yet. I hope it's "yet." In the meantime my total inability to concentrate tonight led to a zillion mistakes in my warp probably rendering it useless to the other people with whom I'm sharing warps. It's one thing to mess up your own warp but we are sharing warps in this class. Plus I am always extremely slow at threading so everyone else is ahead of me. I'll have to go in early next week and make up time.

Poor Penny is in hospital overnight. Her cough has been getting worse and I wanted more tests run. She may have lymphoma, but we won't know until she has an ultrasound tomorrow and gets test results back. She has no other symptoms besides the cough, has a good appetite, is still as affectionate and hefty as ever, but the cough has been gradually getting worse. She's almost 16, which according to the chart in the vet's office is 80 in people years. It may be a slow decline as I would have little means to try and medicate her on my own; she's too big and way too ornery. I think Chi needs a "normal" cat as a playmate, something like a tuxedo cat or a tabby, maybe even a boy now that they seem to have fixed the male urinary tract problem which plagued my first two cats.Somebody to sit on her when she gets too rambunctious. She is sleeping on my left arm and dreaming of eating something; much lip smacking and chewing going on.

Saving the best for last, although one can never tell with ebay whether this transaction will go according to plan, I bought a serious loom, an 8-shaft, 12 treadle, sectional beam countermarch beauty which in the photos looks very Scandinavian. It is in Melbourne so I will have to get it shipped back here and it will have to go into storage until I get the household rearranged and have room for it. I've decided to make the back bedroom into my studio and move all the fibre equipment out of the various corners I've stuck it in and have a nice sunny room with room for a loom or 2, my sewing stuff, stashes, and reference tools.I will still spin in the lounge room, and knit as well but the drumcarder doesn't have to be in the dining room, does it?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

I was listening to a podcast of ABC's All in the mind about genetics (nature v nuture): The 2007 Alfred Deakin Innovation Lecture: Nature? Nurture? What makes us human? by Matt Ridley. The speaker described a discovery of the occurrence of a bit of DNA which can influence how a person reacts to stressful events. You are not born to be depressed, but perhaps you are born with the potential to become depressed when stressed. I would not be the slightests surprised to learn that other slightly variant strings of the DNA molecule showed the potential for other conditions, especially those like RA and FMS which sometimes seem to be triggered by a physical assault to the body, sometimes a bad case of the flu, sometimes a motor vehicle accident.

Another favourite podcast is The Splendid Table which is full of laughter, doughnuts, and delicious food ideas. Some of the other food broadcasts are a bit pretentious to me, while this one can tell you the best place to get 5-way chili in Cincinnati. They also have a free email for an easyy midweek meal. Unfortunately with the season reversed, some are not appropriate for a Canberra winter: when I'm thinking of split pea soup and they want me to make potato salad. But good recipes have no use-by-date, so there's always next summer. On the other hand, when a new book coms out, the author is interviewed on all of them. So NPR Food will have the same interviewee as The Splendid Table and so on.

I was moaning to my MIL about all the stuff that still needed sorting out, like books. She told me to close the door to the Bear's bedroom and get to when I could. Ignoring her advice but intending to follow it, I went in just to get rid of some stuff I knew was discardable (conference notes from a meeting he went to in 1990) and of course that got me started. If I want the sci fi/fantasy/mysteries to be bought, they have to be at least sorted to exclude my books that ended up in there, or books of his I haven't read yet. I also put most of the civil war books together. What do I do with a shelf and a half of very old physics textbooks? I looked up to find the Imp supervising from the top of the wardrobe. I really must read more but I tend to fall asleep; perhaps I need a thriller.

You may have noticed a trend in my knitting. I don't have UFOs because I don't even start things. I haven't started the alpaca vest but i've got the materials an pattern right here. I've started the red tweed jumper twice but am going to postpone the top-down raglan because I am going to wear the Bear's jumpers around the house. I will start the Christmas baby jumper which I have decided is going to be stripes in white, pink, purple, and yellow Merino Bambino if I can keep the Imp from snagging balls of yarn out of the bag. It I put the other stuff away I'll have less clutter around my chair.

Round 15: We were beaten by the Weagles by only 12 points playing in Subiaco. They were still making stupid mistakes but were better than I've see them play against a hard side like WCE. I was trying to carry on a conversation on the phone to J (there are a lot of J's in my life and I will not distinguish at the loss of anonymity) while simultaneously yelling at the TV.

I didn't sleep well (again) and my legs were screaming when I woke up so I may go read and probably fall sleep. I think the book I'm reading isn't interesting enough. Seems a bit simplistic (S.M. Stirling's Conquistador). The BBBB Empires of the word is wonderful, since it not historical linguistics 101 which would have concentrated on the structure of the languages while this book talks about the social and political history of languages. This side of linguistics gets short shrift in traditional grad education because of the influence of Chomsky who pronounced dialects as mere performance variations and that we have our language hardwired in the brain. Therefore you don't learn that the Egyptians and the Canaanites exchanged diplomatic letters in Akkadian, a language dead in the sense that nobody spoke it, but it was still used. This is the side of linguistics I really loved and Ostler got on my good side by declaring Swahili a real Bantu language (the Bear argued it was a creole and I told him no creole would keep 8 noun classes). Having once spoken Swahili gets you nowhere except to know that they were really speaking it on ER when Carter was in the MSF field hospital in the Sudan.

Friday, July 20, 2007

I was naughty yesterday. While being a mature woman with a certain blended grey in my hair, I am still a teeny-bopper at heart and still love rock music and I don't mean the golden oldies radio station. I listen to contemporary music, and while I do demand some musicality from the artists (and for some reason I don't like female singers), I also listen to lots of lesser known bands (see Not Lame). Two of Australia's biggest rock bands, silverchair and Powderfinger are touring together and I was dying to go but know nobody else in my approximate age group who might go with me. I knew they were playing Canberra and were setting up their tent in the forecourt of the National Library (where Cirque du Soleil did) and so I asked the person who sits across from me who has occasionally mentioned liking some contemporary rock if she'd be interested. She declined but said her daughter thought it was sold out. Crushed, I did a quick online search and found out that all the capital cities were sold out (and had extra dates added) but regional towns were not. I could have gone to Coffs Harbour or Mildura to see them but not Sydney. Canberra still had tickets and goaded by my workmate I bought a ticket. Big bucks but to see the 2 bands together and in Canberra, I couldn't resist. So instead of listening to more podcasts I listened to their latest albums which I had on the iPod but had underplayed. I need to load back catalogue albums onto the iPod as I only had Vulture Street in addition to the latest. I may get older but I refuse to grow up.

Busy day. Up at 6 to be at the GP at 7 (weighed self--lost another kilo despite random acts of chocolate), home and set bread baking and towels washing. Did grocery shopping (Weight Watchers makes lamington fingers!). Spent hours on hold with various agencies as the Bear's death certificate finally arrived. I called about passport, drivers license, Amex cards, and both superannuation funds. Their responses left a sinking feeling on how long it will take for me to "file a claim" to retrieve his super funds. Off the the optometrist about my irritated cornea and was told to leave the lens out and put drops in, which is annoying because going one eyed is very off putting. You don't realize how much depth of field is important until you don't have it. I have also developed a floater in my right eye to go along with the left one which has been with me for 2 years. Home via the chemist where I got about 8 scripts filled. The bread is gorgeous and smells heavenly. When the bread machine works as it's supposed to, it makes great bread; this was Italian country style to which I added a small glug of olive oil and some herbs. Now I am officially done for the day. I can't bear the thought of balancing the check book or starting my taxes with my eyes like this.

Had an absolutely wonderful phone call last night with my SIL where we both got weepy and expressed mutual desires to get closer despite them living in Brisbane. I will try and figure out a time to go up for a visit when my weaving class either has term break or afterwards. I haven't been to Brisbane since 1988 when we really only passed through on the way to the Gold Coast. I really like J&G and have always wished we had more options to see each other. They have sensible male Burmese while I have one who squawks at me when I forbid her from fishing for emery boards in my nightstand, or who gnaws on my knuckles after she washes my hands. With the loss of the Bear I must rely on his family to be my family here. I also heard from the aunt & uncle in Sydney so I don't feel quite so alone. If only the family weren't so spread out, from Brisbane to Melbourne.

I remembered I promised my English penpal a gift for her granddaughter for Christmas. At the rate I knit, I'd better start now. The hat I'm knitting is the ribbed cap from One Skein Wonders and a quick try on of what I've knit so far seems to fit. The red tweed handspun must be ripped out for the second time, just as I completed the back of a jumper for the Bear. I might do a top down raglan for me. I don't have many wool pullovers, 3 actually and I only knit one (and it's red and white).

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Rant while the ire is hot. I just went to website because they stated in a spinning sale group they were having a sale. Well, their "sale" price for 16 oz of roving was $29-35US depending on fibre and I simply don't see why that is a sale. In the same digest were Targhee roving blended with thrums (I would have preferred if they hadn't but everybody seems to feel the need to add Angelina to everything these days) and she wanted $20 a pound. Then there was the page of some designer's patterns (could be the site-owner's for all I know). Kits! I am becoming fond of kits because I know what I need will be in the kit. Sorry, no kits exist yet--come back soon! Patterns? a felted tote, a generic shawl. There are so many free patterns out there, why bother? People seem to think the web enables them to sell anything and then wonder why they go out of business. If there weren't so much paperwork involved I'd sell Aussie fibre online, because I have enough in the stash to make some little packages out of the multi-kilo lots I have. I could even do some dyeing and make a killing no doubt, but since I have no desire to get friendly with the ATO (IRS), I'll sit on it. and maybe even spin it. Until my husband's estate is settled I am not buying anything and of course the Aussie dollar is hitting new heights and I'm pining for weaving supplies. Anyone want to trade?

I am spinning the black portion of the spotted fleece and boy is this stuff wonderful. So soft and long stapled. Obviously one of those merinos culled from the pristine white national flock for the benefit of handspinners. The Bendigo wool show is this weekend but I won't be going. I'll be there in spirit listening to alpacas hum and sheep bleat. I'd love to see the land as well but it's just too soon. I might go down later in the year and take a trip into Melbourne
on the train If I could get transport to the American food store and back. I'd love to visit the Victorian tapestry studio and see it in action. I hear there's more fibrey stuff in Melbourne as well, maybe even weaving supplies?

The Imp is trying to get me to play fetch with a twist-tie but I think it's time for bed.
I had the alarm set to leap out of bed and get cracking, and instead went back to sleep for a couple more hours. This is supposed to be my day off to recharge. I ended up doing 2 loads of laundry (how did all my nightgowns save the one I am currently wearing get in the wash at once?) and did some of that tidying new widows have. I got all the food he bought that I don't eat out of the cupboards and into a box for a charity TBD. Baked beans, mustard pickles ( 2 jars) and such like. Now I have room to put some of the stuff that has been living on the counter. I also found things I forgot I had. I had a brief thought of making brownies for weaving tonight and looked at the clock and gave up on that. Tonight is trash night (or actually very early tomorrow morning) and I threw out the 10 video cassettes that have been living under a table in the living room for about 5 years while he got around to watching them. I don't even know what was on them because he didn't label anything

I finished the socks I had been knitting him while he was in hospital and gave them to my MIL. I could never see those socks again without a certain feeling. I am knitting some for myself out of Trekking is a very unusual colourway--it's a rusty tan plied with light blue that shifts to a dark almost black plied with blue or tan plied with deep red. Trekking is really hard to predict just by looking at a ball but it wears like iron and has excellent yardage. Many a sock toe has been finished with left-over Trekking. I finally gave into the Canberra weather and started knitting myself a hat out of some handspun merino in charcoal from Fiberworks. The wool is so soft. But this is my first time with my Knitpick Options needles, and whether it's because I'm knitting in the round in a rather tight circle or what, but the ends keep unscrewing despite my re-tightening the ends. I like the sharp ends and hope it's just the nature of what I'm knitting that is causing the problem. I might switch to some Addis for this. We were supposed to have a high today of 8C but it was much warmer and was not as cold last night as predicted, although I understand the mountains were white this morning. Sydney had the coldest night in 21 years. I keep thinking of Brenda's tagline of "If you're cold, put on a sweater; that's what they're for." And guess what? I found the jumper the Bear swore he had looked for everywhere and that I had thought he left in China. In his wardrobe, right where it was supposed to be. My Swans parka I bought on a whim when it was on sale has gotten a workout this winter.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Well, here is the new me, Bear-less and alone with two demented cats. The service on Saturday went well and I got lots of positive feedback on how it was organized. About 100 people showed up, mostly filling the hall, and about 60 came across the road for the wake. I saw many people I hadn't seen for years, and tried to do all the expected things while feeling like crawling under a rock and dying. I only blubbered at the end of my eulogy and I was very grateful for all the hugs and the support from most of the Bear's family, even his ex. The major disappointment was that his uncle, who used to be so close, said not a word to me and left to drive back to Sydney the minute the service was over. The other nightmare was trying to get the technical pieces in place. I was worried that a CD burned from iTunes format would not play on the church equipment (it did). Then I spent 2 days scanning photos for a slide show of the Bear's life. I found we had MS PowerPoint 2007 on the Big Computer and it happily accepted all the photos and made a simple but captioned presentation. Then I tried to save it to disc. Nope, wouldn't do it. Told me there was no disc in the drive (wrong). Then it saved it without the middle half. Then I tried to email it to myself from the Big Computer to my laptop and my ISP kept telling my mailbox was full when it was empty. Even their help desk was mystified. After many rude words I finally got it emailed and loaded and it played perfectly on the day but the stress of that on top of everything else was not what I needed the night before the service. The capper for the day was that I went out before the service to straighten the parking of the car and found it was dead. NRMA came quickly and diagnosed a dead battery (did the Bear forget that?) and arranged for someone to replace it, but told them that there was a service in the church at 2 PM. At 2.15 PM I got a call in the middle of my eulogy asking what service was at 2 PM and why was it scheduled for 3 PM. Our comedic moment for the day. J loyally negotiated the fix and his car was operational again. I found a home for his Civil War books (ADFA) and re-tightened the bonds with Brian's family. Once again I have managed to marry into a family that treats me better than my birth family did.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Boy, this business of arranging things after a loved one has passed on is an exhausting business. There is so much to do and every day I think of something new. Today we viewed and booked the function room for the after service social/wake and it looks very suitable altho the price of the food made me blanche. My MIL insisted on paying for it so I let her, since she seemed to think it essential to feed people, but the venue organizer and I talked her down on the expected attendance numbers. Then we went to view the chapel where the service will be held and it's a new, rather neutral environment which the Bear could tolerate even if it's in a church. I still haven't gotten all my photos collected but we're well on the way. It turns out that I was almost always correct in picking him out of a school portrait of 35 10 year old boys in school uniforms. He had a distinctive grin. BFLB, Renal Cell Live! wrote a lovely piece on him that really captures his joie de vivre. So we came home and I fell asleep watching the news.

I have lots of fibery stuff to write about but that will occupy my mind next week when I'm alone and needing connections again. Thanks to all of those people who blew out my visitor stats for the past week. And I am starting the second weaving course next week and going back to work. I need to fall back into a routine or I'll end up a soggy mess and will need a shrink to get me back on the straight and narrow. The house is full of flowers which torments the flower children and I had to remove The Imp from the top of the fridge. Lots of lilies which fill the air with their scent.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

I am still alive, but partially numb. This is my first day alone since Brian left and I cried a bit, but stayed in bed a good portion of the day. The past week has been very busy and my body told me to take a break, so I did and I feel a bit more human now. I give you all a piece of advice, and it's one I learned when my mother died 26 years ago. Do not accumulate piles of crap your next of kin will have to go through. Do you really want them to have to sort through rotten old underwear you never wore but kept at the back of the drawer? The multiple copies of out of focus snapshots of your children taken all on the same day from slightly different angles? If the photos are important to you, put them in an album, or at least weed out the ones where people's heads got cut off, or there are 3 copies of. Moving across the earth really sharpened my mind as to what was important and what isn't. When you are paying by the pound to move stuff you ask yourself how valuable things are. I have one box containing all the memorabilia of my life to the point of moving to Australia, with stuff like high school yearbooks etc.

The Bear's firstborn and I cleaned out masses of stuff from his bedroom like boxes of old Scientific Americans and lots of old software manuals and bits of code from ages past. The recycle bin will overflow this week and several weeks after, since I haven't ventured into his lair. And then there's the shed. Unfortunately the last few weeks caused him to forget all his passwords so I shall have to call upon a work-mate to hack into the Big Computer to get access to some things. I am accumulating photos to make a slide show for his memorial/celebration service. His life has gone through various stages and I want to document as much as I can of that, whether it being a new dad or a high-atmosphere physicist. I have some distinct gaps that I will need to try and fill. Dear MIL returns tomorrow so I'll have assistance again. Better go eat something.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Well, it's over. The Bear passed away this morning at about 7.30 AM as I was on my way to the hospital. I had dropped my MIL at the airport to meet his eldest child who was flying in, and by the time I got to the hospital he was gone. I feel all cried out now, but it may just be for today as there lots more difficult days to get through. I know the man I love has left this part of the universe, but I don't want to be alone, a widow too soon. I had to come so far to find him and 16 years wasn't nearly enough time. In talking to my sister, she told me that primary liver cancer is a very fast cancer and races through the body in weeks. He got great care here in both hospitals, not so great in Sydney. Kiss and cuddle all your loved ones and cherish them because you'll never know which life may be waiting to throw your way. Good-bye to my wonderful funny, loving, messy, forgetful, brilliant, sweet Bear.