Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Well, I'm getting there, little by little. Here is my first warp ready to go on the loom. One book advised that new weavers to make lots of short warps in their early days so you get over your fear of warping and get the physical side of the process down so it's not so intimidating. This is only 5/2 (I think) cotton from mill ends bought on ebay and the colours do not match anything I own, but they're what I had the most of and wouldn't mind using as a learning tool. I spent this morning making a raddle but I think I will have to get a better one made using harder wood because this one threatened to split as I was pounding in nails and hoping I wasn't nailing it to my kitchen benchtop. We are supposed to have one more day of 34C which means I will try and do this early in the morning.

Today I got 3 parcels but one was an M bag addressed to me but containing Martha Stewart books for somebody in Malaysia. I wonder how Martha handled Muslim holy days. The other two were socks yarn
(bad knitter, naughty knitter) but when I heard about Noro sock yarns, how could I resist? I also picked up a couple of lairy red yarns from On Line and Opal. More red socks are needed. The photo does not do any sort of justice to the gorgeous colours of the Noro; the left one is greens and blues with a shot of god and white, while the one on the right is purples and golds shading to red. I almost am afraid to actually knit with Noro because it costs so much. I nearly passed out laughing at a sweater patter knit with 20+ balls of Noro. My pockets ain't that deep.

In the AM I made plum jam, which made an exceedingly small dent in the bowl of plums I had picked. I foisted some off on my Tongan neighbour and the tree is still loaded. Use of bird netting means I have fully ripe plums on the tree for the first time, but it also means I have a bloody lot of them as well. Anyone in Canberra want plums? Will trade for sock yarn (no, naughty knitter).

I am halfway through the second sleeve of the red top so I may have it done to wear to work next week. Then I can go back to sock knitting and finish my wool vest and start my fair isle.

The Imp got out twice today. I have routinely taken to shutting her up in the guest bedroom when I go out the back but sometimes even after I think she is obeying at the front, she zooms out. The second time it was night and I had gone out to feed the possums and I said to her that I had half a mind to leave her out there. Them Mum & bub possums arrived and she was entranced and I think intended to jump them (that could only end badly) so I scooped her up and threw her back inside. The thing is, she doesn't really like it outside and makes it very easy to capture her. It's just her Burmese devil inside that likes running amuck.

Monday, January 28, 2008

This blog is not meant to be weekly, it just seems to turn out that way. If I had that direct brain to computer wifi capability I dream about, I would post daily. "Computer, personal log, star date...." Otherwise it takes something to stop me in my hurtling around to do it. Today yesterday hit me while standing in a queue at Bunnings (Home Depot) so I am taking a small pause before going back at it.

People who have known me a long time know I should really be kept away from sharp implements. I am constantly cutting myself; my ex bought me my first food processor so I wouldn't bleed into the cole slaw. I have even cut myself on display knives in kitchen supply stores. Yesterday I was trying to avoid my next door neighbour's visitor's singing along with the already loud Tongan choir music on the stereo by going into the garden and continuing my battle with couch and vinca under the pear tree, when a cross arm maneuver resulted in me burying the sharp end of the secateurs (pruning shears) in my left arm. It wasn't very wide, less than a cm (half an inch) but gaped rather nauseatingly and the secateurs were not clean. So I took myself off to the clinic where I got 3 stitches and a bandage which promptly tried to fall off so I taped it back on. I was chuffed that there was no pain this morning until in the queue at Bunnings I shifted the basket to my left arm to dig into my purse for money and OW! Now it hurts. Add this to the painful bruised buttock I got when I fell earlier in the day scouting for blackberries in the mountains and I am feeling battered. And not in the sense of ready to be fried.

I was at Bunnings to get nails for the raddle because the staples I got just didn't seem long enough. Unfortunately the staples they had that were long enough were all galvanized and probably not suited to separating warp treads so I got nails instead. Now I get the hit my fingers with a hammer. First wind a warp which shouldn't involve hurting myself. I have teal blue, true blue and burgundy 5/2 cotton and only aim for a dish towel. At this moment, sitting in my recliner I have a furry grey headrest who just yawned widely and stuck a foot in my ear.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

I have no new excuses, just the same old ones. I feel like there are a million things I "ought" to be doing or actually really have to do, like go to the chemist or whatever. So I race around every day trying to fit all those things into my day and then get up and do it all over again, but inevitably I get one item behind that snowballs to 6 things behind and then a couple of nights I don't sleep well and then every one tells me how tired I look, so I'm on another two week time out. I already slept most of Saturday but it rained all day (! 40mm!) so I didn't miss much except watching it rain. I no longer feel like I've been pulling all-nighters and my email is sorta caught up mostly by deleting everything but the personal stuff. I just watched the end of season 6 of Gilmore Girls which was a teary one and I hate the thought of watching season 7 cuz there ain't no more. Like I have been holding back on watching season 3 of Battlestar Gallatica because then I won't have it all pristine and shiney waiting to be watched. I guess you're either a person who says Oh Goody! and jumps in or someone who waits as long as possible till you really need a good feeling and then indulge. I'm a waiter; I like to let things age and mellow until the right moment. I did get the second Ewan McGregor motorcycling adventure Long Way Down, which has a hard act to follow. I adore Ewan and watching him burst into song in Mongolia was one of the high points of Long Way Round, but Ewan on a BMW is hard to top even standing still. Too bad he's happily married with adorable children.

Now that I've slept I am not in pain past the normal. I was so tired that my vertigo really kicked in and I was lurching around in the stacks hanging on to the shelves as I passed. I probably should not have been on a stool to reach the top shelves but what's a girl to do? I find that fatigue makes the vertigo worse. Pain is back to background (hands) probably due to humidity. Last week I was moaning about the heat, this week we had one night of 13C. I think this country just has random acts of weather, not a climate per se. But then I heard it snowed in Baghdad this week.

The garden this afternoon produced lovely purple plums, blackberries, lots of tomatoes, a huge zucchini and a smaller one, beans and the main crop plums are about ready to be made into jam. The pear tree is also looking good and all this rain will mean nice fat fruit instead of puny fruit. I went to the markets today in all seriousness looking for celery seed for pickles, but also bought bananas for the possums, peaches, and rockmelons and fish. My next door neighbour had FOUR of my possums (including mum & bub) in her roof and they were relocated across the territory line, so possum activity is severely down. I had zucchini, beans, tomatoes, and swordfish for dinner.

This may be the kiss of death to put into electronic print but I feel like I'm getting the hang of living alone. This doesn't mean that an hour goes by without me missing him and sometimes planning meals around him and getting teary at the drop of a small hat, but the alone thing isn't quite so crushing any more. There's plenty of stuff to do, reading and gardening and getting ready to weave (I bought supplies to attempt to make my own raddle today) or card alpaca. The Imp is company most of the time when she isn't chasing bugs or doing other small grey cat things. I have only one task left in the never ending trail of paper and that's changing the name on the title of the house which took the intervention of a very helpful person at the bank who chased down what actually has to happen and how much it costs.

I am on the sleeves of the red summer top so I might wear it before cold weather hits. I've decided the next major project after the Japanese vest will be my first attempt at fair isle using Philosopher's Wool which I picked up cheap when somebody was clearing out stock. It's scratchier than I expected but I need a wear-around-the-house-in-winter cardigan since the one I have, which was one of my first knits, is showing its age. Besides I can't wait to try steeks.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Nobody need panic. I am alive and relatively well. Turns out that Sunday night I forgot to take my meds (how stupid can a chronically ill person be?) and then wondered why I felt like crap the next day. The entire week has been hot hot hot and today was supposedly 35C. A day for wearing my wonderful microfibre pants & top which I always get compliments on and is so cool especially when you are wrestling with a shopping trolley up a hill. My checkout person was a young African man and since you see so few black people here generally, I wasn't expecting one to be scanning barcodes at Woolies. We are getting many more African immigrants which I think is good and I'd like to be welcoming without sounding patronizing, so I don't say anything. For all I know he's lived here for years. To you American readers, I keep forgetting how different the racial mix is here. There are Ngunnawal Aboriginal people here but you don't see them at the supermarket, at least not my supermarket. There are Islander people, from Tonga (like my next door neighbour) or Samoa, or PNG (Papua New Guinea). There are Asians of every nationality. As I mentioned, a growing number of Africans. There are lots of Middle Eastern people, mostly Lebanese. There are lots of southern Europeans (Italians and Greeks, and people from the former Yugoslavia). There seem to be a growing number of Yanks (which is the generic for Americans, even if you are from South Carolina, I'm afraid). So it's really different from the US and things I expect (every restaurant of any ethnicity can serve you cappuccino, the Chinese restaurants are not run by people from China but probably Malaysia or Singapore, Indonesian food is common, like KFC and Macca's may sell satay something), I miss when I'm in the states. How do you live without crumpets, mango and passionfruit flavoured everything, vanilla slices, lamingtons, 25 flavours of sausages, kangaroo steak in your supermarket? All right, the last one I'll give up. I've found Woolies sells marinated kangaroo steak and it is simply superb, so tender you hardly need a knife and I buy $6AU worth and get at least 2 meals out of it. Despite what PETA might tell you, kangaroos are not endangered, but they can become so numerous and pressed for food that they come into the city and end up dead by the side of the road. I much prefer a cleanly killed (roo shooters do it with a single bullet to the head) game animal, and unlike many Aussies I don't have Skippy nostalgia (an old TV show where Skippy the Kangaroo always saved the day like Lassie only more so). So I love trawling American supermarkets when I'm in the States, but I couldn't live without at least the crumpets and Singapore noodles.

All I can say is I'm tired of the heat. Tomorrow is furniture moving day and it promises to be either hot or thunderstorms. Of course, the garden is happy and I have yellow & green, red & green, and black & red striped tomatoes. More beans than I can get rid of, will need to make zucchini pickle relish soon, and my blackberries are starting to ripen. Evenings are spent knitting/spinning/cleaning alpaca and watching Gilmore Girls. I think I like the show because I like the idea of their closeness, but only the idea. I'd go crazy being that close to any relative but then I had a weird childhood.

Book report: The Sparrow by
Mary Doria Russell. Excellent, horrifying, amazing, engrossing, frightening. I cannot say much without giving away the plot but the story is mesmerizing and I wanted to read it every second. The characters are believable and personable and you feel like you know them, but there is a sense of foreboding because you know from the beginning that something went wrong. Just so you know, not all extraterrestrials are like ET and never take things at face value when you are on a new planet.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Scrap all that stuff about being brave and putting on a happy face and being a role model for chronic pain. Today I'm a mess. I miss my dear Bear so much and trying to get his stuff ready to move (should the furniture movers actually show up this time) just brought back so many memories. I can still hear his cheesy jokes and our own secret language of movie references, fractured French/Spanish/Latin, set pieces rolled out for occasions, etc., his funny faces and cuddling arms, his demand for one last kiss before I left for work. All that loaded on a day of incredible pain that none of my drugs helped. So I lie in bed when the outside temperature is around 34C and try to read or sleep or resist the attentions of very hot cat who wants to curl up with me. I am so lonely in this house and while I have lots of friends, they aren't here all the time like he as. Am I supposed to go on grieving forever? Find a quick replacement (I'm too old to train a new husband)? When will the heartache be bearable? How do I cope with this loss on top of a painful condition like FMS? It is all too much for me some days. I'd give anything for another day with him. I'd give anything for a day without physical pain. Neither seems likely. The only way I function is to build a wall around him and a wall around the pain in my mind. I doubt that's the right thing to do according to mental health professionals and look what happens when the walls fall down. Please let this pass and give me strength to go on living tomorrow and put today in the past.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Here is the first batt off the drumcarder of the white alpaca I have been cleaning (i.e., sweating blood over) that was in the 3 trashbags of filthy fibre.. It is soft as a cloud and pure white. I have almost a trashbag full of clean fibre to card, and a smaller amount of black that I have decided would be easier to spin carded than from the lock. The fibre was free but the processing has taken up so much time it would probably cost as much as cashmere. I also found in the stash some other bags of unwashed alpaca of a different colour to process.

My main new year's resolution (besides losing another 10 kg) is not to buy any more fibre. I Inventoried the stash because I couldn't remember what was in it and was appalled and surprised and delirious with all the stuff I uncovered. Things I had bought twice because I couldn't remember what I had, things that I bought when I was a new spinner and bought everything in sight. I have a weakness for naturally coloured beasts and rare breeds which is how I wound up with 2 pounds of Wensleydale and 2 of Jacob.I discovered the wool I am spinning at the moment from Ewe Give Me the Knits is really Bendigo Ready-spin in a colour they call Damson. So I have 1.5 kg of it: enough for as jumper with lots of cables. I'm trying to sell off some of it and bid adieu to about half of it this morning. My last purchase of the year was 2 oz of pygora/merino from Chimera Creek Ranch which is easily as soft as the cashmere I have bought and cheaper.

I have to relate a funny (to me) story from the post office. I went to pick up the package that turned out to be the pygora and they couldn't find it. There was a new person behind the counter and she insisted that the parcel had already been picked up the day before. I had been in to pick up 2 parcels the previous day and she served me and had checked my ID. She kept telling the parcel bloke that a young lady had been in to pick it up and they kept asking me if I had a daughter. Obviously, they found
it eventually, but I was stifling giggles at me being remembered as young. I must look (to her at least) a lot younger than the almost 60 I am. Must be the long hair and jeans.

I post this picture as inspirational to new spinners (and may I say how delighted I am that there seem to be new spinners every day). The front mess Is my first handspun. I despaired of ever learning control of my spinning. The back two are my most recent that are headed for the dyepot. Left is one ply merino and one ply kid mohair, and the cake is BFL.

Oh, and my hand has been fixed. I broke down and called my Bowen therapist who graciously allowed me to come over when she was technically on holiday and she loosened up the offending muscle in my arm so I can now move my thumb. I am trying to keep it from seizing up again and I think babying it was the wrong idea. Thank you, D.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy 2008! I cannot express enough how much I hope that this year will not be as horrible as last year was, although not watching the clock turn over with the Bear next to me was somewhat sad. Emotionally I am doing OK. My dear MIL came down for the weekend but she brought with her a change in weather I could have done without. We have left the cold and damp of our unusual December to hit 34C both days. So much for all the things I had hope to do with her in the garden because it was too bloody hot to do much of anything. Two loads of laundry, a batch of strawberry & rhubarb jam, and enormous amounts of green beans. The beans have all gone into the freezer, but I have the flat Italian beans I love so much to eat fresh.

I had planned on Christmas dinner at the home of a friend, and was careful not to overdo the previous day, but I slept poorly and woke up in tremendous pain. So reluctantly I had to stay home and sleep instead of enjoying turkey and ham and all the associated goodies. The reason I haven't blogged and why I haven't done most of the things I had planned, like warping the loom, is that I am suffering from a lot of pain in my right hand. I cannot tell whether it is muscle, joint, or nerve. I have tried not using the computer, not knitting, not spinning, and nothing makes it go away. It is especially linked to movements of my thumb. This morning I woke up without pain and thought perhaps I'd fixed it but I soon found out I just hadn't moved it in a way that made my thumb scream. It's frequently unanticipated movements that set it off. I've tried all my usual potions and rubs to no avail. I may try an ice pack today and see if that helps but so much for getting things done over the summer break. Hot weather also makes me extremely sleepy for some reason, so I nap through the heat of the afternoon.

The Imp surprised me again on Sunday when I was preparing to grill a couple of fillet steaks for MIL and I. The grocery store had packaged in a little snippet of extra meat, only about an inch square. I held it up and asked, "I wonder what they thought I was supposed to do with this", at which point the Imp let out a wail like somebody had stuck a sharp object in her. She has a most unmusical voice, not as deep as a Siamese but about as pleasant. At any rate, the cat that refuses all cat food except fish, ate the piece of steak, cut in smaller pieces, with what passes for pleasure.