Thursday, May 29, 2008

All I seem to think about these days is money. I went to a retirement planning seminar at work and they had a few exercises for you to do on budgeting and planning expenses and the reality of losing the Bear's salary became very graphic. I will have to tighten the belt further. Good thing I decided not to get my knees replaced. Fortunately there is nothing I want to buy, not even books. I have enough of all my art materials and books to last me quite a awhile and podcasts are free and that's what I listen to most of the time. I can't afford to retire so I better hope that Lyrica doesn't show any nastier side effects than I've seen so far (nausea). I can easily not pay attention to nausea because it's an old friend with chronic pain. I have an ophthalmologist appointment tomorrow to inspect my retinas for damage and look at my corneal grafts to see that they are OK. I hope I can get a ruling on swimming because I would really like the chance when I go on holiday later this year, and so far I've been under the warning that I shouldn't because the risk of picking up an infection in my eyes is too great.

I've been knitting the Komi hat. 7 repeats of 30 stitches in four-ply colour work. It takes a while to get around 210 red and white stitches. Progress is slow but steady. Nothing else being worked on.

Got new strawberry plants in the mail to replace some that always go to nothing after a few years. I wish I could afford a tree pruner in to take out a few dead trees, and perhaps the monster juniper at the front door which is starting to heave the pavers. But then I'd like to repair the front verandah before somebody falls through it but not without money.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I'm sick. Just a cold which, as usual hit first with my losing my voice. There are, I'm sure, people who rejoice when I can only whisper or croak, but I didn't get the chance to have anybody I know gloat at me today. I was supposed to go to a wine & cheese tasting held by the Canberra branch of the slow foods people but I didn't think that would be very productive, in the sense of meeting new people, when I couldn't talk. Besides, of all the local wineries possible, the one chosen was 3/4 of the way to Goulburn and their reds cost the earth (that's what they are famous for) and I can't drink red wine (instant migraine). I did get up and go to the chemist (needed a script filled today) and dragged myself through the supermarket (needed cat food). And find myself standing there debating the pros and cons of bathroom cleaners (store brand vs.brand name vs. "green" vs super-powered and the prices of each) and wonder why do we have to have a choice of 15 bathroom cleaners? Is this what keeps the great capitalist economies turning over? Why do I feel the need for ethical debate with myself over every item that I buy? I cannot raise all my own food even not eating and red meat except for kangaroo. (And don't get me started about the people holding candle-lit vigil because the navy is "culling" kangaroos on their land in the middle of Belconnen because the roos have overpopulated and are in danger of starving to death. Have these people seen the daily road toll in kangaroos on the main road I drive to work? Last time I counted 6 dead in one 5 km stretch. They are starving and trying to reach feed). I do try to buy and eat local, but all fish comes via the Sydney fish markets, all apples are out of cold storage, well, you get my drift. I really think and care about these things but it can all get a bit overwhelming at times.

I have been knitting hats. Don't ask why, don't know. Produced 2 and gave one away and am now back at the Komi hat out of Hat's On! which has Turkish inspired colour work on it and so far so good. Spun a bobbin of dusty rose BFL. Will do another & ply. The first 100% alpaca yarn looks acceptable and I'm pleased with myself. Must spin more to take on the trip for BFLB.

Round 9: We won! I had a few panicky minutes there when I doubted, but we beat Port Adelaide in Adelaide. I only watched the second half and I hope it wasn't screaming over the footy that brought on my sore throat. The cats had forgotten what happens when Mummy watches footy and exploded off my lap when I yelled when Mick kicked a beauty. There was also a segment on 60 Minutes about poor old rugby league losing territory to AFL in Sydney. Boo hoo. Big boofs. AFL is so much more fun to watch that no wonder people love it and there aren't many rugby league players in SA or WA or Tassie, just NSW & Qld. Now that is being challenged and they are worried that their "crowds" of 16,000
matches attendees will dwindle even further.

I read Abby's ode to her mother and was so touched. I wish I had an inspiring mother whom I wanted to say such nice things about. I loved my mother very much but she had many flaws. She did fantastic needlework and I was taught to sew as soon as I could hold a needle. I went from making doll clothes to making all my own clothes from Vogue patterns when I was in high school. I made numerous quilts, mostly sold or given away, lots of cross stitch (ditto). She taught me to knit and crochet but never taught me how to read a pattern so I was OK as long as it was rectangular. She did beautiful crewel embroidery (there is a bell pull with pansies on it in front of me) and knit me sweaters I still wear (except she refused to believe my arms were really as long as they are so the sleeves are usually short). She was also an excellent baker and I still can't match her pie crust. I think she would have been a better cook if my father didn't have such a limited menu of dishes he would eat. When he was away we had forbidden luxuries like lasagne. I am sorry she waited too long to go to the doctor about the lump in her breast so she died at the relatively young age of 74. But she also had schleroderma and it was beginning to cause her problems with her eyes and internal organs and I am willing to bet that got no sympathy from my father. Is there a genetic link that ties into my RA? Who knows. She was equally unhappy with our forced move to Florida but she had a knack for making friends that far exceeds mine. I was shy and convinced I was stupid and ugly and fat so making friends was not my strong suit. I hope she would have been proud of me and I wish she had been happier.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Today's dedication is to BFLB. Above is the shawl that you saw earlier in its unblocked state I especially like that it is designed so it wraps completely around me and is anchored in the back so I am not struggling with it all day and I can wear into the stacks where I may be either on a step-stool or standing on my head. The yarn is some hand-dyed handspun I bought at a guild sale that I knew I could never do justice to. It's not obvious from the photo, but it's a variegated purpley eggplant/dark blue. I love it and thanks again.

The next two are the result of yarn gifts from BFLB. I am so lucky when she wants to clean out her stash. Left is most recently finished socks out of Mountain Colors Bearfoot in lovely deep cerise, purple, blue. Right is Sakiori II vest from Chryl Oberle's Folk Vests knit from a variegated wool single from CMD. While it is superficially simple in construction, I didn't like how the neckband/collar was knitted in. I think I would have preferred knitting it separately and sewing it in so I could ease into squareness. The yarn I don't believe is hand/random dyed so you get some weird pooling effects.

Both cats are basking in the dining room. This too has a link to BFLB. When we brought the Senior cat home from the RSPCA in January 1992, the first thing that happened was a phone call from across the world, so BFLB was right there when we named the Senior cat, As a kitten the SC was adorable, and has a white tip to her tail which is very good for chasing. When I was attempting to do consulting work from home she wore me out demanding attention and preferably vigorous play. She'd chase a shoe lace forever and loved jumping; even as she grew up she preferred a vulture-like pose on the top of the china cabinet and thought nothing of jumping down in one leap. To see her so frail and creaky with arthritis is just another reminder of how time keeps passing, no matter what we would prefer.

I felt honored yesterday to subvert a novice into the dark side to spinning. We have a student doing a rotation through the Library and she somehow told my boss she was into knitting so of course, spinning lessons followed. I loaned her my Kundert drop spindle and gave her some wool and basic instructions, including pointers to the many spinning videos now on You Tube. Then I took her on a run to the Guild as I had books to return, where she bought more fiber. Sometimes I think I should get a commission. I was very pleasantly surprised to see young women with infants and even someone with a table loom, so perhaps there will be a generational change in the Guild.

As I type, I have alpaca in the washtub, but not the free stuff. This is one of 2 bags of raw fawn alpaca I bought online long before I knew I was going to be given masses. I am very very slowly re-arranging thing in the back bedroom to make it work as a studio and to find the top of my dining room table.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Two steps forward and one step back. The new medication, Lyrica, is wonderful. The pain level, especially muscle pain has been dialed way down. I hesitate to make estimates on how much better I feel, but it's a lot. The vertigo and drowsiness were side effects of Neurontin. My rheumatologist warned me that it was twice as expensive as Neurontin but it isn't; it's about the same price. So yesterday I took off and walked distances I never would have attempted before, was the first to see my GP at 7AM without the horrible starts to the day I've had before, went out to lunch with J, and then bought a new phone since mine has been behaving weirdly and I've hated it from the day the Bear bought it for me (without asking me for my input), bought local apples, and came home fine. I did get hit with a wave of fatigue about 6PM and laid down for an hour, but then got up and flicked carded raw alpaca while I watched Hero (first series) and Battlestar Gallactica: Razor. Today it is cold (high of 14C) and wet and windy and my arthritis is complained but not the muscles. My hands are crook, but we knew that, didn't we. So, better but not "healed." That's never going to happen. I watched an elderly couple in the chemist's this morning and they were so frail that she couldn't put her glasses into her handbag and went home by taxi, which was a long walk for them just to get to the taxi. May I never get that far. I don't know what's happening inside their heads but I hope their life is enjoyable inside and not just acting as the pilot light. I would never want to be that helpless.

So I will allow myself to have a rest day, because there's precious little I can do that I need to do with sore hands. Get of the damn computer and lie down under the doona with a book. Currently Stephen Baxter's The Time Ships which is old but I have never read. It is a sequel to The Time Machine, written in perfect Victorian language. We will not talk about how the early version of the movie for the Time Machine was a movie that terrified me as a child (and the Bear loved threatening me with that, like he did with Dead Calm, another movie that scares me even when I know what's going to happen). It goes along with my fear of giant squid (20,000 Leagues under the Sea)which The Bear also loved to tease me with. When the folks across the ditch (NZ) thawed a frozen giant squid recently I knew he would be there needling me. I miss that even so.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Well, folks, I got some feedback from my rheumatologist today that wasn't entirely unexpected but really wasn't what I wanted. It seems I have run out of options in trying to lessen my pain and improve my general health. My wrists are "worn out", there is one new alternative pain drug I can try which is twice as expensive as the one I take now, but my only real option to live a life without the unrelenting pain, lack of sleep, and continuing to miss work, is to retire. I could go for full disability, but by the time the wheels of bureaucracy chew through that, I will be 60 which can be retirement age in terms of the ability to access my Australian superannuation (pension) funds. I was surprised to realize that I have worked more years in Australia than I have in the US, where I can't touch my pension till I'm 65. I will have get in touch with the super fund and try to get a ball park figure of what my income will be and how much of it will be taxable (as a public servant a portion is taxable but I have never been able to figure out what portion and how much). In the meantime I will not hoard my leave as much as I have been and will take it when I need it. I haven't touched my long service leave, and will take the first of it when I go to the states. I will have to make sacrifices but I think when I can control my own schedule and not have to cram activities into "spare" time, I will be better (i.e., in less pain and less tired). There may be a lot less knitting (or slower) and much less computer work because I know that's what has really been the death of my right thumb and wrist. No volunteer work at the library either. Whether the garden can still be maintained without doing myself in, if I can do it piece-meal, we'll have to see. I may be forced to move into a smaller house, which is what the renovations have been done for, to make the house sellable. Not completely finished there but better. If I could only sell the land in Victoria but property isn't moving at the moment. My boss has been encouraging me to do this and I have been resisting because I do love my job, but it has been so hard to get going in the morning since it got cold. I wake up in agony and it takes much longer for my meds to kick in.

Maybe I need a review of the stash in light of what's weaving material. I don't think I'll be knitting much cotton but it can be woven. I also need to consider the blog.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

This is I swear my last sock yarn purpose this year. I have unsubscribed to all the lists and newsletters that tell me about sales and other offers to try and keep temptation away. This is The Painted Sheep's sock yarn in the colourway Berrylicious anf I can't begin to list all the berry colours included. I have almost finished the Mountain Colors socks so I will be forced to pick a new one soon. So much sock yarn and so little time. I also have finished the Sakiori II vest but have no photos since I haven't blocked it. I say at this point that it's shorter than I would have liked but I have another short vest that works with the suitable under garment. I have 3 huge hanks of the beautiful yarn left and not a clue what to knit with them. I have cast on for a simple hat out of Ann Budd's book of patterns using some of the hand spun green yarn left over from the baby cardigan I knit for my penpal's grand-daughter. After that I have a ball of Noro Transitions waiting to be turned into a hat. This is not putting off one of my in the queue projects, just I feel like getting a few finished small things done.

I did myself in again last Sunday because it was the last day of two major textile shows. The Guild's annual show "Warped and Twisted" was on and I felt I needed to show my face. I'm not in awe of the weaving any more because now I know how it's done and there wasn't anything that knocked my socks off. It was nice to see woven chenille and bamboo because it's always helpful to know what a project might look like had I any bamboo to weave with. I was especially glad I went at that precise moment because I ran into J, a friend from last year's weaving class, whom I had been trying to link up with. She has finished her PhD dissertation and therefore not chained to her books at long last, but also unemployed. I look forward to a further catching up session.

Prior to that I went to the combination of 3 exhibits on display for the Tapestry 2008 at the ANU. There was the juried show called "Land" and had some very striking and sometimes small in size but deep in texture tapestries. Then there was a large exhibition of tapestries of all sizes and shapes from international artists some of which I really liked and some just weren't my cup of tea. Then in the foyer was a knockout display of Lao tapestries and the silk ones just took my breath away.

So standing staring at textile art for an hour or so followed by 20 minutes catching up with J and then I came home and planted the native shrubs in the front that I had bought the previous weekend. Then I planted what was left of my silverbeet seedlings, which now have been mangled by the neighbourhood cats thinking I had turned the soil for them. I might have to replant a new lot and get them established without possum or cat intervention. When I came in I fell into bed and stayed there till 4.30 on Monday, unable to move with the pain in my legs just impossible. I used my handheld massage machine and it helped a little bit but not a miracle cure. 24 hours of bed rest was the cure. Have I mentioned I hate fibromyalgia and it tying my muscles in knots?

Friday, May 02, 2008

OK, so here's what I think about in the dark of night when I am trying not to cry and I miss him so much and I know that there will never be another man who will approach what we had together. I think a lot of "what if" and "If only" scenarios which are totally counterproductive but I'm not ready to let go and besides I haven't even been through a year without him and I don't even remember the first 3 months. If only when he was in Cleveland and consorting with library school students somehow there would be a library science/physics event where I could have met this gorgeous Australian guy with the sexiest voice ever, right when we each were between Spouse No. 1 and Spouse No. 2, or rather we would have become each other's spouse no. 2. And he would have gone on long ballooning adventures and I would get mad at him and kick him out. Or we would have had beautiful but genetically malformed children who would all go blind like me or get one of the other genes I carry (which is why now I am glad I never had kids to stop a few genetic anomalies in their tracks). Not that I was ever very baby oriented but he was and I loved him so much that I would have done it. What a different life we would have had. A very different life where I didn't have to find him by first falling in love with AFL and then falling in love with Australia and then finding him via the University of Melbourne football pool. A life where I didn't live in my dream job for all those years and didn't fall in and out of love with Spouse No. 2. A life where I didn't meet all those people in the US whom I deeply miss right now and spending a day or a week with them will not make up for missing them for the past 17 years. A life where I wouldn't have met all the people here who have supported me and loved me for the past 17 years and are the only reason I have made it through the last 10 months. A life where I didn't even knit, for heaven's sake! There are some ties that distance has enhanced, like I am closer to both my half-brothers than I ever was in the US even when my father had finally loosened his grip on our getting together. Would I have been sending my brothers email in this parallel universe? Would I have stayed married to Spouse no. 2? I just want me dear Bear back and I keep seeing him in that hospital room, still warm, but not with us any more. What if I had really thrown a tantrum years ago and stopped him drinking? What if I had rung his ex and told her to f*** off and stop using his children to punish him or whatever mind games she was playing that messed him up so bad. For that matter why do the children believe they are due some prize for having the father they never cared about die before he could give them more money they didn't deserve. I never got a cent from my father for anything and certainly didn't think of demanding he write a will in my favour even when I thought he was being foolish. I worked my bum off and got scholarships and part time jobs and such to pay for my education and didn't expect any handouts at all once I had a job (and got none to be sure).

I better go to bed before I get too specific to be anonymous. I'm in pain, both physical and mental, I wonder how I am going to get through the rest of my life without him when all our plans were made to grow old together chasing roos out of the vegetable patch and parrots out of the fruit trees in sunny Victoria.
Sometimes I get a feeling that I've created a monster, that this blog is very demanding, that there is an audience out there in the cyberworld who expect something from me. While it's nice to be wanted and I know family and friends are part of my "audience" they can't make up the numbers I see in my blog stats. I could babble about the mundane details of my life (my trip to K-Mart), I want to keep content here both interesting and anonymous so sometimes I just can't say what I'm thinking about. This past week was a very down one for me and I spent a lot of time missing him, trying by sheer effort of will to get one more hug from him. Of course that's stupid and in many ways I have progressed down this road called grieving and have developed a one person routine. Even tho my dear MIL is there and talks to me most nights, and my friends are a big help, nobody can replace him. I know it, I'm working on dealing with it, but sometimes that's all I'm capable of doing and blogging doesn't get a chance.
This photo is to prove that the Imp does play in the bathtub. I'm not going to show you pictures of the completed project; it looks fairly minimalist now being all white and grey but It may be a rejection of the mess it was. I can't believe how huge it seems with the wall down between the toilet and bath. I know the separate toilet has its fans in Australia and I can understand the benefits of being able to use the bath while some (probably male and with a newspaper) is camped in the toilet, but the amazing space that removing the wall has produced is worth it.

A short rant about about tradesmen. They show up when it's convenient for them, not you (7AM?), make a horrible mess which some of them try to clean up but none do a complete job, and make you feel stupid about everything you ask for. The skylight guy today showed up early (he "forgot" the meeting we had for Weds) and, as I had expected, the frame didn't fit because I measured the wrong place in the skylight because of his inadequate description of what he wanted measured. His solution was to saw off part of the frame around the skylight, right then, over my exposed benchspace, no warning to move things out of the way, just the ending comment of "good thing you had the vacuum cleaner out". There were pieces of wood and sawdust everywhere and I wonder if I had left food out whether he'd have continued. That will be the last of them for a awhile. [the Imp is in my lap and is trying very hard to sleep with her chin on my arm which is way too high for her to be comfortable but she's settled in]

Two old sock photos since I have just a bit to go till I have new sock photos to share. At left is my first Opal socks and they have had many years of wear. At right are the socks I knit out of my very first hand dyed, hand spun and are too pretty to wear. Sorry about the lurid background but my quilt cover is a Sheridan that was the Bear's but turns out it matches my Oriental very well. The rug isn't really "Oriental" but a handmade wool rug made I think in Morocco. It was in the house my father bought when we moved to Florida and was the only thing I wanted when he moved out. He was going to sell it until he got it valued. I will find a photo or take another as it is one of my prized possessions. It's under my bed because cats (not just this one) like to wrestle with it and have already destroyed the fringe. The new guest bedroom is coming together and once I move the chest of drawers out of the former guest bedroom, serious sorting out will begin. I bought picture frames for 3 reproduction Japanese woodblock prints from a calendar that will go on one wall of the guest bedroom. I can't decide whether the large Arthur Streeton print will stay down the back where I will look at it through the big loom or whether it will move. If you want to know which one go here. It was bought in 1986 on our first trip to Melbourne and someday I'd like to see it in the flesh.