Saturday, September 29, 2007

I have probably started something that I won't keep up to date but I started to add stuff to Ravelry which would be a lot of fun except besides knit I also spin and hopefully weave. Ravelry is all knitting centred and there isn't even a decent way to show handspun. I think you're supposed to have more projects than I do, or I have projects, but they are cross-craft projects. Like I'm spinning what I think is mohair, knitting handspun and about to warp my loom. So keeping Ravelry current, much less adding back stock is problematic. After all, the knitting stash currently resides on the back deck, so not so easy to catalogue.

After spending a very lazy morning in bed, due to an extremely late night alternately crying and watching the beginning of season 10 of Stargate: SG-1 and eating chocolate chips, I levered myself out of bed, cleaned the oven and did the grocery shopping. I go on record as hating grocery shopping which is one reason the Bear did it. Ultimately the lack of junk food in the house drove me to it. My current necessary junk food is rice crackers and they have to be Sakata. Regarding Stargate, they took all the fun out of Ben's character or told him that he had killed the franchise or something because he looked distinctly unhappy in the 3 episodes I watched. Claudia looks happier than a pig in mud, but now she gets to play the person who doesn't know what's going on which is the opposite of Farscape. Third season of Atlantis is about to come out on DVD and it was a bit interesting to see the joining of the 2 shows in one ep. The Sci-fi channel is back to the beginning of Atlantis and I don't think they showed season 3 at all because in theory Prime is showing it here. When they feel like it. In the middle of the night.

Oh, and Geelong won the AFL Grand Final. Record score. Yawn.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Another week of "one day at a time." I get tired of being tired, of supposedly being on restricted work hours but still not getting home till 5PM or later because of all the additional tasks and errands that have been added to my to do list since the Bear left me. I spent a stressful (to me, though not to him) hour and a half with a very expensive lawyer whom I pray sees me as a pro bono case since we were addressing my claims concerning my lack of financial resources. I am hoping the result of the session will be a cessation of activities from the Mexicans (people in Victoria are here sometimes referred to as Mexicans since they live, after all, south of the border). I managed to lose my reading glasses 10 days ago and had to order new ones so I'm expecting a $400 hit there. I found a rare bit of Australiana in the stacks and in just attempting to get cataloguing assistance got it taken away for further research (a good outcome because I don't have to catalogue it then). I ate 2 Krispy Kremes while waiting for an appointment with my therapist (why does her office have to be right across the road from them?). The progress on the legal front has removed some of the blockage in my grieving process so I am back to crying daily and talking to him (why do I think he lives somewhere "above" me and address the ceiling when I talk to him?) I slept all this morning as I was just knocked out by the end of a week of "one day at a time." It is overcast and extremely windy so neither laundry or gardening would have been very fruitful today anyway. BFLB gave me the delight of a phone call to tell me she had a new kitten, and gushed about how cute she was. All kittens are cute; unfortunately they all don't grow up to be as cute as they started out as. I hope her little long-haired tortie grows up to have just enough of the tortie's quirkiness to give her personality and not make her a complete idiot. The Imp declined to sleep with me last night which meant I slept soundly, but she came in this morning to warm the small of my back.

I finished the scarf I wove in my "learning to weave" class by throwing it in the washing machine with another small item and putting it through the shortest cycle I could. I was not satisfied with handwashing which had still left it stiff and none of the undulating twill we hoped for showed up. The slight fulling of the washing followed by a steam press made the plain weave sections show some interesting texture, the undulating twill still didn't appear, and I ended up having to hand sew the end seams since my sewing machine balked at the thickness of the hem once fulled. It has now been turned over to my weaving instructor who is going to mount a display in the School of Art Library showing products of her classes' students. I bought Peggy Osterkamp's book Warping your loom & tying on new warps from the Woolery because I know better than to rely on my memory for doing this. Her book is full of handy techniques and points out the risky places where mistakes are prone to happen. I will need to do things like find the middle of all by harnesses, beams, reed, etc. One of the tasks I'd really like to get to this week is warping my table loom which will begin by putting together my warping frame.

I had an electronic brush with one of the famous writers I admire. David Crystal is a practicing linguist, which is rare enough that he does both academic and popular writing (unlike, for example, Bill Bryson who is a popular writer who delves into linguistic seas every so often). I am reading By Hook or by Crook which was lent to me by a friend, but I already had several of his books on my shelf, including Language Death, and Language and the Internet. I Googled him and found his home page at the University of Bangor, which my deep memory produced as Maine, when, of course, he's in Wales. I shot off an email as I am wont to do when somebody posts their email address and to my surprise got an answer back right away. My impatience with the small mindedness of academic life would have led me to failure; I am glad I found a more suitable career home in librarianship, where being a dilletante is an asset rather than a liability.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The business end out of the way first. Yesterday I cleaned. Seriously cleaned, things involving degreaser and a toothbrush. Now my hands hurt like hell so I will postpone garden work until it's a bit warmer. We supposedly has frost last night and I feel for all those people with tomato seedlings a fortnight ago in Bunnings (warehouse hardware store). My lawnmower was returned in pristine condition, but the self-propelled front wheel mechanism has died yet again. This is a 20 year old Sears mower and that plastic drive cog has failed twice and is a bit hard to source here. As if my hands weren't sore enough already I managed to catch the tips of 2 fingers in the gate when closing it. Ouch does not begin...

I found by diving into the stash another hank of the merino I am knitting the baby sweater out of and have confidence I have enough for the fronts.

Now I want to share something that some might find too private, too personal, but I need to tell the world about my wonderful Bear and why I miss him so specially much. Yes, most widows miss their husbands but he was my soul mate and we knew it almost from the start. I was delving into the closet in the den, just trying to organize and clean out, and I found one of the volumes of our email messages which he had printed out in their entirety. After 4 months of emailing we had sent 250 messages. This one was on top. Oct.2, 1990. From him. "I've fallen in love with abstract ideas before or I would have being in what I did [i.e. physics] but this is the first time I've ever fallen love with, so to speak, an abstract person. Yes, I know you are real, and cherish the reality, but it was the person burning brightly through your words those few months ago that brought me to hope I could show my own self to you. ... In my own way I can be pretty intense also.... I do have these moments when I challenge assumptions--you know that already. I hope we can keep doing that in the years we have together, darling. Keep being my burning and tantalising lady. As well as my loving and soothing wife. I love you." We didn't meet for 4 more months. We had 16 of those wonderful years that seem to have gone by in the blink of an eye, and now my heart is still torn and aching for him. When I found these letters, I cried. I have tears dribbling down my cheeks as I type, but I know how much we loved each other and holding these letters and looking at things we wrote about, brings our life back into sharp focus and makes it more real.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I recently added yet another bird book to our collection. One would think I have enough and the Slater field guide lives in the car and is our more-or-less life list as well. It's a bit tattered and torn and has gotten wet a few times, but until now I considered it the best and most useful in the field. Some of the others like Pizzey and the Reader's Digest guide are a bit on the heavy side. But when I saw the new compact edition of Michael Morcombe's guide I was seriously swayed. Each section of related birds is introduced with a page showing all the birds in the section with thumbnail illustrations. Then the pages devoted to the birds, instead of cramming 8 or more species on one page with a single static pose, are shown in multiple illustrations, often including a flight illustration (since one often only seems them as they fly away). There is a solid paragraph about each bird, a map showing its distribution and identifying when where are two subspecies that have slight variations. For example, opening the book at random, I have two facing pages covering 4 species of hawk, each with multiple illustrations, showing in flight from above and below and even in flight profile, with a description of how the hawk flies. The other thing I like is the indication of how common it is and whether it is sedentary or roaming, where it likes to hunt from and what it hunts. Maps and a description of its call. I long for the interactive day when they can insert a little chip or disc that you can press on and hear the call rather than trying to match what you heard to a person's description of it. At any rate, I bought it and with the help of another birder, figured out that we have acquired a pallid cuckoo in the neighbourhood which is not a new bird for me but I haven't seen it here, well I haven't seen it here at all just heard it. One of those annoying middling grey birds that are hard to see but easy to hear.

In trying to catch up with knitting book reviews I show you HandKnit Style from Tricoter. I bought it used and I see there is a second edition out. The designs are unusual and quite what I would call high fashion with surprising design elements like ruffles at the edge of a sleeve or alternating stripes of an ordinary yarn and a multicoloured ribbon yarn. The layout is pretty nifty too. Spiral bound so you can open it flat and the pattern folds out from the page facing the photograph the the item. My only quibble is that many of the patterns are written for small sizes only and I am not a 36 and probably never will be. Of course all the yarns are high end expensive but we know how to work around that, don't we? It sets the mind going in new directions I wouldn't have though of before and now I'm thinking of more things like stripes of BLF in the merino baby cardigan I'm knitting.

Two book reviews, phew! I am finally about 2/3 of the way through Harry Potter having given myself permission to indulge while my body recovers from garden work and my heart mends from the latest round in the settling of the Bear's estate. I am promised a call from an estate lawyer this afternoon, so must now go out in the rain to do grocery shopping. I'm glad I didn't tempt fate further by doing laundry!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Here is a not very good photo of the back of the shawl knit by BFLB. Not very good in the sense that my dear MIL is not all that familiar with the operation of a Nikon D50 SLR or how to frame a shot. It also includes far too much of the mess that is my kitchen which includes many things attached to the fridge or on top of it (my favourite biscuit tin is a Tim Tam one that says "Life's too short to eat fruit" on one side) plus part of the cookbook collection in the background. But the shawl is gorgeous and is knit from handspun, hand-dyed (neither by me) wool in eggplant purple tones that I didn't trust myself to do justice to. BFLB knits these things like I could eat Tim Tams. It hasn't been blocked thoroughly since it was squished in a box, and now will be packed away where m*ths can't get to it. (Speaking of moths, The Imp was having difficulty with her tiny brain distinguishing the shadow of a moth from the actual moth. When I finally showed her the thing flying around up at the ceiling she made herself as tall as possible as if willing herself to fly and then made a very plaintive "Mow!")

I neglected to mention last week that I am now the proud owner of a Bosworth Moosie spindle, for which you go on a waiting list for about 9 months. My name finally made it to the top of the list and I have one which does not look like what I was expecting a moose antler spindle to look like. I am glad Sheila didn't identify the source of the raw material on the customs declaration because AQIS probably thinks you have to kill an endangered moose to get an antler or that it is harbouring some germ to infect Australia's vast moose population. Actually it looks and feels like grey marble.

The other exciting news to report is that M, my weaving instructor, completely dismantled the loom in an hour. I was totally flabberghasted that she could do it so easily (until I saw her loom which is a distant cousin of mine). The rusty bolts were in fact all quite loose and what was glued together was in a part that didn't need to be dismantled. It is actually a 10 shaft loom, but only 8 had been installed, and has 10 treadles installed with 2 additional ones in the bundle of sticks the movers handed me in the night. We don't know what wood the loom is made of; it almost looks to me like American oak, but that's unlikely, and it wasn't heavy enough to be oak I think. I should try and track down the maker and find out. It is now all in pieces that would easily go through a door and I might move it all home and save myself the cost of a storage locker even if I can't re-assemble it yet since there is not yet room in the rearrangement of furniture in various rooms. I was relieved that she suggested replacing the linen string heddles with Texsolv ones because I wanted to but didn't know how "real" weavers (I don't count myself as one yet, still a wannabe) felt about the sacred nature of linen heddles.

Usually I await the blooming of the first wattle with great excitement. This year I didn't even notice the one in bloom outside my bedroom window. I think my mind has been elsewhere. I did notice however, that in the past week lambs have been popping out of all the sheep on my usual drive to work. I love lambs and I miss the Bear's particular voice he used to describe "little lambies."

I still have done very few of the the tasks I wanted to do this week except for pruning one of the fruit trees while my MIL held the ladder and pulling some weeds (a great way to take out frustrations and anger over things one has no control over). I am making progress on getting to things in the computer room, collecting bits of dead computers to recycle, throwing out 5 year old issues of Scientific American, etc. My good buddies at ADFA Library not only took all the Civil War books but also said they'd take all the rest as well and send what they didn't want to the local book charity anyway. That will make things much easier and when the shed has been emptied of books there might be room for bags of alpaca or even a dismantled loom.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Well, I thought I'd catch up by posting some photos to prove I really do have a loom. I lost the camera in the every-changing mess that is this house. I know I'm making progress on it but it sure wears me out. Here is my new baby, to the left as she is sitting in her 5-star accommodation at the storage unit. Note the two warp beams, with the original warp of what looks like white wool knitting yarn. To the right is looking through the loom at the shafts hanging in place (after I'd re-attached them), and above is looking at them showing the string heddles, and looking down to the treadles. 8 in place and there are 2 more that could be added. 45" weaving width which I think will be enough to keep me occupied. The great meeting of the minds did not take place yesterday as my weaving instructor preferred her day off, which makes sense, so we are doing our inspection on Tuesday and I will ask her where to try and dismantle it. If it can be taken into 2 pieces and slid through on its side I think I can get it in the back door. Otherwise my only option is my dining room. Do I turn my dining room into a studio formally? That's where all my things like drumcarder and table loom live at present but I was so hoping to turn the back bedroom, which is a bit far from the bathroom for guests, into a proper studio looking out on the garden.

I've been in a pink mode in spinning and I am not usually a pink person. So I have pink Masham (left) on the Roberta and pink Wensleyday and BFL waiting in the wings. The effect of spring and all these flowering trees? And I got a lovely (to make a gross understatement) package from BFLB with some absolutely delicious dark grey cashmere roving from the Michigan fiber fest as well as a gorgeous shawl she knit me because I am so hopeless with lace. (My dear MIL is also knitting me a shawl, feather & fan, so I must look exceedingly pitiful in this lace shawl arena). Photo of shawl to come when MIL arrives from Sydney tomorrow for a few days and can point the camera at me for a change.

I was supposed to be taking a week off to recharge my batteries but I have not stopped, going full tilt and eventually had to cry "uncle" (why uncle?) and took a nap yesterday. I tried to lure the senior cat into the bedroom to have a truce of a 2 cat bed. but she took offense at something I did, hissed at me and left. I think she has arthritis because she moves cautiously and stiffly and I know how I feel when I move like that. I haven't working in the garden or potted tomato seedlings or washed the kitchen floor or ironed. But I did vacuum and managed to hang a picture in my bedroom that had been awaiting hanging since before the Bear got sick. I actually used the little electric craft tool he bought me to drill holes in a picture frame and put in screw eyes. It's from a poster from art exhibition the NLA did a few years ago with painting done by a colonial painter named J. Skinner Prout and is a very early scene of Hobart. It took my fancy and was offered as a discard since we had kept a few more copies than needed. I feel a great sense of accomplishment at doing this simple task all by myself.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

You may remember me saying I spoiled myself by buying tickets to the Powderfinger/silvershair concert to be held in Canberra. It was last night and I am glad I went but I was slightly disappointed at the venue. A large tent was erected on a grassy area on the north side of Old Parliament House. It was an all-ages concert and began at 6.55. I stood in a queue to get in for 45 minutes (I didn't realize till later that it didn't matter if I got in early) so then had over an hour to wait for the concert itself. It was freezing cold and windy and I was wearing my full length black leather duster (coat) with jeans and a skivvy (turtleneck) while there were under 18s wearing skimpy no sleeves tops and thongs. Then I discovered there was no seating. None unless you were in a wheel chair. I bought my outrageously overpriced T-shirt and stood. and stood. I eventually went to the St John Ambulance tent and asked if I could just sit down for a while. They were very nice and I ended up chatting to one (over the deafening fill-in music) and he turned out to be a baseball freak and wanted to talk to me about baseball. Sigh, Americanism follows me everywhere. I bought an overpriced not very warm hamburger and came back. Finally the noise of the crowd hinted that something was going on but it was only roadies. I went and stood at the outside edge trying to lean against a pillar. The crowd was pushing me further and further into the sardine mass in the area in front of the stage. I didn't want to go there but people just kept pushing in. I eventually was unable to move and had to balance myself in one little island of space. Delightfully loud, the kind of loud that makes your internal organs ring. But my knees were having a hard time keeping me balanced while not moving. I eventually bailed and sat with the ambos again for a while. But then they started playing stuff I really wanted to hear and I went back to the edge of the crowd where I could see the band easily if not the video show behind them. It was really awesome to watch them do the songs I really knew and loved. And I was no longer cold!! As long as I had room to move around, my knees were OK and this morning I am in less pain than I was on Saturday.

An aside on this rock show, the first I have been to in many years but not the last now that I am not afraid of going by myself. There were "older" folks there, some accompanying youngsters, some seemingly like me, just there for the music. There are always obnoxious gits like the 2 6' 5" goons who were more interested in picking up girls and getting pissed (drunk) than seeing Australia's leading rock bands perform. I wanted to see them perform live (and wasn't disappointed) but these guys had their backs to the stage and were dancing like doofusses. Reminds me of a Clapton concert I went to in Cleveland where a young kid was so drunk he spewed (threw up) before the concert even started and had to leave. When you pay $100+ for a ticket, I wouldn't think that getting drunk would not be your first priority; you can do that anywhere. Oh well, young people these days... As I said to the ambo my first rock concert was the Rolling Stones first American tour in 1964 where we teen aged girls stood on our seats and screamed the whole time.

After communing with my loom, I now need professional advice on disassembling it.. There will be a meeting of the weaving and wood working minds on Saturday morning to discuss whether it can be disassembled. I am thrilled to have acquired such a loom at what I consider to be a bargain price. Now let's see if I can get it into the house! I am taking next week off because I am so tired and need to get more things sorted, do garden prep and hope to warp my table loom. Heck, I'd just like the time to sit down and read Harry Potter.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Yeah, I know. Another week. First off may I say the word that dominated this morning. Pain. I knew exactly why since when I woke up my quads (the muscles down the front of one's thighs) were rock hard and as clenched hard as they could be. Normal meds did nothing. I tried an extra dose of Neurontin, and was then able to get enough sensation besides the P-word so I could do my muscle relaxation routine which eventually gave me back my legs. Why were my quads complaining? Usually has to do with being on my feet too much but I can't say what really was that much. I think I am feeling what the lack of having a second person has done to my life. No more errands he runs; I have to do them all from grocery shopping to picking up the cats' Science diet cat food to going to the post office, etc. Inside there is no back of pair of hand to hand me what's on the other counter or bring me the tape measure or help by vacuuming etc. If it gets done, I have to do it. Yesterday all I did was bring the cheque book up to date, pay some bills on line, complete filling out my tax form (online) and get his ready to send to his accountant. That and the stuff like laundry. I took a nap from 5 till 8 and then watched some DVDs. So why do my legs hurt so much? If this much activity make this much pain I am in big trouble and I may be forced to down-size this house because walking around in it tires me out.

The exciting news is my loom arrived! I was sitting in my counsellor's waiting room when my mobile rang (and nobody ever rings me). It was the movers telling me they were 90 minutes away at 4 PM. The storage place closes at 6PM. Much frantic ringing around, J and I stuffing Krispy Kremes in for sustenance and recruited an extra body to lift and we all got the the right place to unload and take possession of my loom. It obviously hasn't been used recently but it has a label on it saying it was made in 2001. 45" weaving width, 8 shafts and 10 treadles. Many broken ties and the heddles are linen not Texsolv (rats). There are lots of extra heddles. There is an 8 dent reed on the loom and a very rusty either 10 or 12 dent reed as well. There are 2 warping beams, and you can wind on the cloth beam from the front without having to release the back. It was sort of in the process of weaving but the cloth had been cut and the warp tied off (looks like knitting yarn). I pulled the whole thing off so I could see what was what. Some shafts had come undone (it would have helped if the seller had secured them in some way) but I got the all back together which would have been infinitely easier with a second person on the other side. The tie ups are all a mess as many had come undone because the plastic buttons that help them link to the treadles had disappeared. There is a big bag of those and more cords of various sorts. I can see where glue has been added to bolts and I hope we can undo that. There are also a lot of rusty bolts in need of WD40 or something to get them undone. Even though it's been neglected for a few years I am sure it will weave beautiful things in the future.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

I just stepped backwards about 3 steps emotionally. On Thursday I received a letter on behalf of the eldest child inquiring as to the assets of the Bear's estate. This is the same first born, Daddy's favourite, overachiever, perky and helpful 27 year old who was with me when the Bear died and helped me clean up his bedroom. I feel like I have been stabbed in the back by the one person in that part of the world I could trust. If the inquiry had come from the 3 adult children, I would have known where the origin was, but this just blew me out of the water. She had already sworn in front of the entire family including her dying father that she would trust me to allocate benefits for the children and now I get a letter from a probate lawyer. There is no estate in terms of vast pools of liquid funds. There's the house I am sitting in, the mortgaged land in Victoria, and his super (pension) funds. That's it. Being on a disability pension, I don't earn enough to pay all my bills as it is. I can only pray that the lawyer tells her there's no point in trying to find more money and that any reasonable judge would rule in favour of a disabled and cash-strapped widow over adult children who are capable of supporting themselves. At any rate, a black cloud has descended as this churns away inside. I had better watch every penny from here on. I have also taken the advice of another widow at work and booked myself in for counseling beginning on Monday.

I was sufficiently tired and depressed to take a nap at 6 PM which lasted until 10, which I didn't anticipate. I got up and read my email and surfed the net a bit and went back to bed at 1AM. Woke at 9, ate breakfast and went back to bed. This is classic depression behaviour for me--sleep until it all goes away. I decided I must get some exercise and take advantage of the lovely weather so I went out to the garden and cleaned out one raised bed of its winter weeds and then dared the ladder to prune some of the worst of the plumcot back. I eliminated one whole main branch that had no flower buds and was aiming at the back fence. Even though the rear neighbours made great strides in restraining their shrubs, I want the tree to grow in our direction not theirs. I have lots of Earlicheer narcissus and the original plum is in full bloom and full of bees. I was chastised severely by the male of the fairy wrens I had seen about the place and I think they have nested in the Cecile Brunner rose bush at the corner of the back yard.

I began some comfort spinning last week grabbing some hand dyed Masham roving from All the Pretty Fibers. Masham isn't particularly soft, but it is long stapled and I am spinning it super fine. It is very pretty soft rose pinks ranging from bright to dusty rose.

The senior cat's coughing is getting worse. I worry but there aren't any options especially after the last trip to the vet left me with a 4 figure bill.