Thursday, November 29, 2007

A few words regarding sleep, fatigue, and fibromyalgia. It seems clear now from what I read that it has been proven that FMS folks have the problem that normal sleep doesn't work correctly in its role in refreshing and heal the body. We don't go into the deepest level of sleep completely, having alpha waves intruding into delta sleep. Therefore we wake up in the morning feeling worse than when we went to bed. I also awake stiff and in pain. As a result of this "unrefreshing" sleep, or independently as part of the whole syndrome, I am tired all the time. Stress makes all of this worse. I can sleep 8 hours, or even 12 hours and still wake up miserable. Today was one of those days when people kept telling me how awful I looked and I was even dozing over my lunch. Therefore I left at the 5 hour mark and came home and laid down to sleep. Of course, the roofers arrived and seemed mystified that I was sleeping again after sleeping half of yesterday. I sometimes feel like I spend half my life (or more) asleep or just dog tired. I heard someone on a podcast who had calculated (based on actuarial tables) how many days he had to live. Leaving aside I have no idea how FMS might (or might not) effect my life expectation, I can only think wistfully of how many of those days I have spent asleep or just plain tired. This is extremely frustrating to a person likes me with a zillion hobbies and other activities that I want to enjoy. Sometimes I feel like the sleeping patterns of the cats has infected me. They, however, don't have a job, do not have to shop for food, cook it, and have no hobbies besides occasionally savaging a toy and demanding my undivided attention when awake.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Imp seems to get all the space in my blog so I decided to give The Senior Cat a chance to be centre stage for a change. She's 16 and the Bear and I acquired her as a RSPCA kitten when we moved into our first house together. She is getting arthritic and can barely manage to jump up on my chair and has a chesty cough that the vets can't diagnose. At the moment I can afford another 4-digit vet bill that resulted from her last visit. She is still very affectionate, loathes the Imp (for many good reasons), and after her brushing every Sunday morning, I put handful of her fur away for the day when I can blend it with some wool for a permanent reminder of her.

Some fibre content at long last. Sonny and Shear had some irresistible things available including Lorna's Laces rovings (why did they have invent this? I have no will power) at left and some lovely sock yarn at right called "Dream in color Smooshie" which it is and is superwash handpainted in coulourway "beach fog".

Lastly there is this beautiful bag which I think may become my default traveling bag, not just a knitting bag. It's from Scout's Swag and is messenger style, which I like both because it leaves your hands free and is more secure by going across your body rather than just over your shoulder or in your hand. While I have what I view as the perfect handbag, it does tend to fall off my shoulder if I'm carrying things. The bag was reviewed by Jennie and Nicole on Stash and Burn and when I looked at online I fell instantly in love. It's brown fine-wale corduroy with a not-too-loud lining. There is a zippered pouch on the flap, two flapped pouches on the outside, more on the inside and a divider to break up the inside. I could see the normal contents of your purse in one side and your knitting in the other side with those random but necessary accessories like scissors, crochet hook, stitch markers, etc, in the smaller pockets. It's big enough to hold substantial amounts of knitting. One beef I have with a lot of knitting bags is they are big enough when you start a project but when you get to the point where you have the whole front (or back) of the jumper, or both front and back if you need to match them up at some point, or if you want to carry more than one ball of wool with you, there's just not enough room. That's why I tend to use plastic shopping bags instead of purpose made knitting bags. My sock knitting bags are 1) a cheap make-up bag from K-Mart in a rather loud pink floral and 2) a cylindrical tapestry bag made of Laurel Burch cat fabric from Colorful Critters which both have room for 2 socks and all necessary things like tape measure, crochet hook, etc. My other projects, which up to now have rarely left the living room, they live in plastic shopping bags

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Once again another week gets away from me. I am trying so hard to remember all the things I need to do each day (and usually forget one) that every second seems filled to the brim or I am so knackered that I fall asleep in my chair. The weekend's activities to sap my strength involved the garden, Saturday weeding and mulching and pruning. The 36mm of rain we got on Thursday makes everything look wonderful. The melon seeds I planted have sprouted, and the portulaca is already blooming. The bramble berries are actually starting to colour already. Today I mowed the lawn and trimmed edges around the veggie beds. By the time that was done I more or less collapsed for a while. I started packing up the books in my bedroom (for the second time in 9 months) for the great furniture shift, but the whole process has been stymied by the fact that The Salvos didn't show up on Friday, despite confirming that they were supposed to come. Since all furniture relocations depend on them removing certain items, I am now even more surrounded with boxes. I have succumbed to the advertisement of a roof restoration firm and they are due to start tomorrow. They cost a lot of money but I am so tired of holding my breath every time it rains. We've been having so many unexpected thunderstorms (like this afternoon) and the thought of 90 cracked tiles on the roof is enough to make the money seem worth it, especially since I've already spent thousands on the roof and it still leaks. Dear MIL is lending me half of the money, since there is no news about the super funds' death benefits. I will also gain a roof that is all one colour which is nice, since I had never looked at my roof from an angle that showed that the additions made to the house in 1983 were made with a different colour tile. Typical.

I've been having a lot of hand pain lately which I wake up with in the morning, but usually it quietens down to background noise during the day. Please hope it isn't knitting related. And I haven't been spinning at all. Tonight I addressed Christmas cards instead of knitting, but there was all that garden work earlier. I am trying to get my head around exercising with FMS which all the books say you should do. Aside from the fact that my knees are so bad my surgeon told me not to walk a lot, I have no idea where I would fit this into my life. If I have a free 15 minutes I would prefer to read a book to exercising, especially after work and whatever else I had done that day. I view my gardening as exercise but I suppose it isn't aerobic enough (altho mowing the grass certainly felt like aerobic exercise) or targeting the right muscles. I tried some stretches and also could do 15 sit-ups with ease without having practiced in years. I'd like to strengthen my legs without involving my knees but it's hard to find exercise that doesn't put some strain on the ligaments while helping the muscles.

One magazine that came this week had an ad for travel in Australia and I would still like to go to Cape York. All the tours I had seen in the past involved some camping, but it seems like there is enough tourist development that you don't have to do that now. I have never been much of a camping person and FMS really requires a bed to sleep in. It is my enduring regret that the Bear had just conquered his world class snoring via a CPAP machine and before we could exploit the benefits of being able to sleep in the same room, he left me. I am getting used to being alone, but I still miss him every hour of every day. I am pretty sure he would have been happy with the election result but he was such a cynic about such matters that he may have dismissed even a change this drastic as just a different group of politicians to muck things up. At any rate I'm still poking around looking at travel and tours.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Why is life so complicated, time-consuming, complicated, and expensive in time and money? I accomplished a lot this afternoon in chasing up things, getting minor paperwork and purchases, giving the Bear's suits to the Salvos, etc. This involved driving all over Belconnen, walking from one end of the mall to the other, came home and fell asleep while watching the news. Not that there's anything important in the news since we are hurtling towards and election on Saturday and every other ad on TV is a political one so the mute button gets a workout. The best news is I found my knitting! I lost the Laurel Burch bag with my sock knitting in it several weeks ago and tore apart the house, and the car to no avail. There it was in Westfield's lost and found which made my day. I got paperwork to change the name that the Victorian land is in (plus not so small fee), but I'm still going round in circles with the ACT land registry. To complicate matters one arm of the bank says the mortgage has been discharged, and the other part says it hasn't. Please sort this out internally before getting me involved, please.

We continue to have hot days and frequently end the day with thunderstorms. This is not usual Canberra weather for November. Certainly the opposite of last year when it didn't get truly warm till December, and then cranked it up to 35C. Hot weather always makes me sleepy so it's a struggle to get anything done, especially when it's ironing which is in need of attack. All I managed Sunday was a thorough bathroom clean, and then fell asleep for most of the afternoon. This is what worries me about traveling. I can sleep in planes if my legs don't hurt too much.

One book I got in the mail recently was The Oxford Companion to Food which looks extremely informative and hunger
producing. Just the right thing while one is trying to stick to a diet.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I may have given up on the specific trip to Italy but I am still thinking of traveling, probably a longish tour of North America. All previous trips were factored in around the Bear's job, him convinced he was indispensable and couldn't go away for long and/or hitting as many work-related sites as possible. Now I have long service leave and someday some money, and am going to stick pins in a map for people, events, and sights to see. I haven't seen the Grand Canyon but the Bear had. All advice is to go while you are still able. I am discovering more textile tours and even Elderhostel or (shock horror) a cruise.

My throat is much better--I am still a bit croaky and baritone but it doesn't hurt as much as it did. It has turned into summer overnight. We went from 16C to 30C in a week. Everything in the garden is mulched, snail baited and tomatoes staked. I have been getting a handful of strawberries.

RCCLive tagged me with a blogger meme:
"open the book you’re currently reading to page 161 and read the fifth sentence on the page, then think of 5 bloggers to tag." I am currently reading Richard Morgan'sThirteen which was sold in the UK and Australia as Black Man which seems to be a reasonable title because the main character happens to be a black man and the novel takes place about 100 years in the future. I am not up to p.161 and hate to read ahead, but I'll oblige. Ha! The line is "What?" I too have not a lot of bloggers to tag but I'll try
1. Random Knits
2. Jejeune
3. Purple Purl
4. Sarah

The alpaca I pulled out most recently to flick card and go into the washing bag was over 20cm long (8"). I hope I can do it justice when I spin it. I can't put it through the drumcarder without cutting it into smaller pieces.

Monday, November 12, 2007

My throat is still very sore. I went to the medical clinic (packed at 5 PM on a Sunday, go figure) and waited 2.5 hours to see a GP who looked at my throat and said "Very red" (Duh), wrote me a script for antibiotics and said bye. A) I think all the GPs bar one in the practice are afraid of me because they know I have a complicated medical history, B) he didn't really listen to my description of what happened but thought (red throat=strep->antibiotics). It is slightly better today and I also got some soluble Panadol which help me take the rest of my meds. Stayed home from work partly because I was tired and partly because I hate croaking at people who still want to talk even tho I can't. Ate yoghurt and frozen yoghurt and fruit (watermelon was good).

Before I went to the clinic I dabbled in the garden, spreading snail bait, weeding out vinca, killing ants and tried unsuccessfully to spray my homemade animal deterrent on the berry plants since something (guess what) is eating the leaves. They can't reach the berries because they hang down low but they eat the f**king leaves off. And after I give them bananas, the ungrateful wretches. But the upside was I picked my first strawberries! Yippee! Now all I need is some cream. In my ear all the time is the Bear's voice ("strawbs") and I really needed a hug for my sore throat.

Last night I plied one ply of merino with one ply of mohair to try as sock yarn. I was also naughty and bought a skien of sock yarn from Sonny and Shear Dream in color Smooshy sock yarn and Lorna's Laces roving. Why does there have to be roving from Lorna's Lace. My flesh is too weak to stop myself from buying it. I did have to chuckle at them claiming how fine 22 micron merino is. The top of the line is around 12 and there is drive to go below 10 microns.

I am beginning to lose interest in Steven Pinker's book. The first chapter was about categorizing verbs according to their actions and it was too much like Linguistics 101 and I have to admit that this analytical side of linguistics is always the part that I had a hard time getting interested in. So I flipped ahead to his chapter on metaphor which I had heard him discuss in a podcast. He was using as his example the introduction to the Declaration of Independence ("When in the course of human events...") and I was with him with "dissolve the bonds" and even some further examples, although I doubt even Thomas Jefferson was thinking about the Latin origins of currently used English words when he wrote them. But when he got to the etymology of "it" to discuss its use as metaphor, I lost it. I just don't believe that going deep into the etymology of pronouns reveals anything about how the brain creates metaphors or what those metaphors mean about human cognition. Here he had spent the whole first chapter discussing how a child has to learn how specific verbs fall into which class to know when they take objects or imply change of state, and then he thinks people are aware of the etymology of "it" as a metaphor? It's this type of line of reasoning that ultimately drove me out of the discipline (aside from the lack of jobs) because I could not work up enough intellectual energy to actually buy into this even enough to pass my comprehensive exams let alone teach it. I should have done my PhD here where you can narrow your field enough and there are no comprehensives (which in theory I think is a bad idea but would have given me an out).

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Here are 2 of the 3 items I picked up at the post office today. At right is a Potluck Roving (colourway Iris) and the small cones at right are from Village Spin and Weave and the rest of the cones came from the ebayer Walnut Creek Yarn Company a great source of mill ends and other good stuff. I also got 2 reeds for the 2 looms, a 6 dent for the table loom and a fine one from the big loom. They are spotless stainless steel. I washed some of the alpaca I have been flick carding yesterday and it came up spotlessly white. Someone on some group said you could add Napi-sam to wash water to get white fleeces really white. I thought that a bit drastic so I used Oxy Action with my dish soap for the first wash and shampoo for the second.What I had thought was fawn is really white--you just have to get it clean!

Speaking of getting things clean, I found out via some folks who are trying to get some clean Shetland fleeces to me that they haven't even been mailed by the mill yet. We were under the impression that they were shipped in May, but in fact that was only when the mill sent samples to the USDA for the certificate needed to send them here. I am trying very hard to not mention the name of the mill because it's the only one who was even willing to try this route of me buying fleeces, them processing them and shipping to me with the correct paperwork. Apparently the mill wasn't too upset about the fact that 6 months have gone by without a response from the USDA. So the Shetland breeders are trying to light a fire under the mill owner to get the paperwork. I called Quarantine here, thinking it might be in some backlog and they said (to my surprise because this is contrary to what their web site says) that if the paperwork is correct, they don't even sample, but just send it on. I have 3 Shetland fleeces and a BFL in the hands of the mill and 2 more fleeces set aside (and paid for) to see if this process works. I now have been waiting for a year for my fleeces to be processed by the mill but nobody else is willing to do this for me so here I sit.

I didn't have a good start to the day. When I took my handful of pills this morning, I think one got stuck in my throat and it must have been something that was not meant to dissolve anywhere but my tummy. My throat burned like I had swallowed acid and closed up painfully. I can still (at 6PM) barely swallow so I don't know what I can eat. And of course I've lost my voice. I hope things settle down enough so I can take my evening meds.

After housework (like vacuuming) I spent the day in the yard, ridding the driveway edge of ivy, mulching the beans (and the peas who decided it wasn't too late after all to come up even if they are 2 months late), planting some portulaca in a big terra cotta tub and adding one more tomato to the mix. I planted some melon seeds where I pulled out the going-to-seed silverbeet.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

It's late and I'm tired and have a headache but I just wanted to say hey before hitting the hay (joke, folks). One thing about me is I watch a lot of TV. Everything from documentaries on Nat Geo to CSI. My guilty pleasure TV-wise this year is the American version of "So you think you can dance." We are promised an Aussie version next year. I just love watching these kids dance their socks off. We are about to get the grand finale next week and I would choose either of the male dancers as they just continue to excite and amaze me. It's the only "reality" TV show I can tolerate and the airwaves are crammed with quiz shows and other forms of crap. Which is why I watch a lot of DVDs as well as TV; I'm a participant in a program where you set up a list of movies you want to watch and they send 2 at any one time to you and you send them back. I am catching up on TV shows that Aussie stations showed in the middle of the night if they showed them at all and movies that I missed, and it takes the effort out of going to the DVD rental place and guessing at what they might have in stock that I might want to watch.

Book reports: I finished Sean Williams and Shane Dix's trilogy Evergence and think it was one of the most satisfying outings in action hard sci-fi I've read in a long time. I have started reading Richard Morgan's Thirteen which I bought twice because it was published under a different title in the US and the UK (Black Man) which makes me so mad. His previous novels (Altered Carbon, Woken Furies) were of the same futuristic thriller genre. In between I read the latest Kathy Reich's novel Bones to Ashes which was predictably a page turner. I hated what they did to her novels in making a TV series which had only the slenderest of commonality with the novels (female forensic anthropologist, full stop), changing the locale, the surrounding characters, etc. My BBBB Empires of the Word bogged me down by the time I hit the end on the role of English as a lingua franca today. I've read a lot about this and I just got stuck. I may come back to it after I read The Root of the Wild Madder by Brian Murphy about the making of carpets in Iran and Afghanistan, and The Stuff of Thought by Steven Pinker which is Semantics 101. Why am I reading linguistics books? Didn't I get enough of this in grad school? I also squeezed David Crystal's By Hook or by Crook in there somewhere (etymology, especially of British place names, this time). Two recent purchases burning up the shelf space are Eric Clapton's autobiography and that of Patty Boyd. How this woman married two of the men I have idolized since I was a teenager and made neither of them happy I must find out.

I am still cleaning alpaca. One reader asked how it spun up and I can't tell because I haven't spun any yet! I've been madly washing it but haven't spun it. I am spinning very fine merino that I will ply with mohair and then dye for sock yarn, and some of it I will ply with the palest of the beige alpaca (which sometimes looks almost white) and dye to even the colours out. I got lots of white merino from the free fleece. I'm mostly trying to move alpaca from sitting around dirty in trash bags to clean and ready to spin. I am also grumpy after placing a rather large order for weaving kits with Heritage Yarns only to be told they don't ship outside the US and Canada. I would have thought this would have been an opportunity to grow their business, and I wanted to take advantage of the strength of the Aussie dollar but nope.

I have decided against the trip to Italy and beyond. I realized I am just not strong enough physically. I cannot by myself haul suitcases around airports. Tactile Travel has a less active tour in Sept but it's not in the part of Italy I want to see. I may just do another trip to the US, or Canada, or New Zealand. I can speak Canadian and Kiwi after a fashion.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

So much for good intentions. I had a very up and down week sleeping, usually too much rather than not enough. I am still plowing through stuff to get to the point where I can bring my loom home. Once I can get the Salvos to take the wardrobes and bed head, I can get the Bear's room carpeted, then painted, then, then then... Very slowly until I get a real income. We had a humongous thunderstorm last night and 35 mm of rain and unfortunately a very small roof leak again right over my bed. Enough for a spot of damp. I did check a couple of times during the evening but saw nothing so this might have been in the middle of the night. Please no roof repairs now!

Yesterday I took my boss to the local gem and mineral show which was great fun. I have to admit to having expensive taste. On one of my first trips to Australia I discovered the yellow sapphire and fell instantly in love. Very expensive. So aside from oohing and aahing over interesting minerals, I was drooling over $1200 yellow sapphires despite having 2 other sapphires on my hands, a blue on the left and a green/blue/yellow parti-coloured on the right. My boss and I bought 2 half of a fossil (photo to come), but nothing else.

Today I decided it wasn't going to rain again and did laundry, got petrol for the lawn mower and mowed the lawn. The rain has made all the veggies very happy and I have plain green beans, flat Italian beans and climbing limas all coming up as well as tomatoes and pumpkin, melon and zucchini. I think a couple more cucumbers wouldn't go amiss. And the berries are flowering or actively making berries. There are even some strawberries with colour. And lots of snails. As I write I hear a king parrot calling.

All week I have been debating taking Tactile Travel's week in Lombardy seeing the luxury spinning mills, the slow food movement and Lake Como. One minute I'm gung ho, the next I wonder how I can do it on my own when everyday life is sometimes beyond me. I would never get the Bear on a tour of Italy and I don't know what traveling alone with diminished strength would be like.

In the evenings I have been trying to process more alpaca, and flick carding clumps of alpaca long enough to be spinnable and discarding the short and excessively dirty bits. I have a plump mesh laundry bag to wash and the dregs of 2 trashbags to go. When I bring the loom back I also bring back 2 bags of alpaca so something has to go.