Sunday, September 28, 2008

I know. But there is just so much to do before I wing away. After spending a week simply being exhausted, I've decided to pace myself better. I've done a test pack and need to do some shifting about. I may finish the pair of socks I'm knitting before I leave, so I've pulled out another couple of skeins of sock wool. They are light and squooshable. My GP had all the paperwork straightened out for my meds and I came home with a shopping bag full and a bill for $400.

Meanwhile we bypassed spring and are in 25C, breezy sunshine. I mowed the lawn after I had an idea about how to get the mower to start easier. I left it out in the sun for several hours and it started on the first pull. Used the clippings to mulch the strawberries (all in bloom) and the potatoes (first leaves up). The asparagus at left is one day's cutting and there will be that much again tomorrow. My grafted apple tree has blossoms on one of its twigs but the dwarf heritage ones just have leaves. I need to lay a new drip irrigation hose through the asparagus and meandering around till it comes through what is now spinach and silver beet to meet the one coming from the potato bed. This is the time of year I love my garden and it is really hard to think I'll be leaving it for 2 of its best months. The wisteria is blooming and I cleaned out a lot of ivy around the front of the house (and I broke out in a rash on each arm despite long sleeves and gloves). The house-sitter says she doesn't mind gardening so it should at least be tidy when I get home. Since I'll be planting later I might try corn which I usually don't have room for. Let's hope we don't have drought as bad this year; we've had irregular rains but rains nonetheless.

The warm weather and open windows have made the Imp full of beans and she woke me up about 15 times in the night. She is now dead to the world in her cubby and could barely rouse herself for a meal of grass. I want to come back as my cat.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Swan not-news: They lost to the Bulldogs but then they play a lot dirtier than we do. There were an awful lot of high tackles and other misdemeanors which the umps didn't see, and we couldn't kick straight to save out lives. So I don't have to think about footy until I get back. We will be going through rebuilding for several more seasons as our older players retire, so matches in the future may be painful to watch.

One of the things that I always forget about FMS is how badly stress impacts on my body. The trip planning and both excitement and anxiety over its actually happening, a disagreement with a friend, worrying about the super fund issue, etc. and I end up not necessarily in pain but exhausted. I couldn't pry myself out of bed after three busy days and slept most of Thursday. Friday I went to see my GP and to get in first I have to be there before 6.30. I came home, slept a bit more, and then wrestled the prunings of 2 weeks ago into the now empty trash pack. I then pulled up ivy in the first phase of getting the entry way tidied up. Then I slept some more. This morning I slept even more. I feel like I could sleep for a week and not get caught up. It's a bone deep fatigue and not just being sleepy (no more Neurontin to blame that on).

It's finally gotten spring-time warm and my fruit trees are blooming. Except for the newly planted apples which are budding. I have asparagus to eat and lots of spinach. Unfortunately one of our last storms combined rain with high winds which means we get a dose of mud on everything. The veranda and fence and even the daffodils have a dusting of red-brown dirt on them.

The CAW jumper has its back finished. I left off two repeats of cables because it was very long. Just started the front. Knitted socks in the doctor's office. Stopped spinning the targhee when I guestimated I'd done half. Went back to spinning the purple Bendigo wool.

The issue with the super fund and my step-daughter's complaint is now out of my hands completely. I am not a party in the complaint so they will do the conciliation (If possible) with her, and I don't have to be involved. Considering their previous rulings on similar cases, I am not worried; I just want it over.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Finally. It's put together thanks for the work of M, my weaving teacher, and the faithful J. Obviously it is not fully tied up but one of the main reasons I wanted it put together was to see how much of the floor it took up. It is now evident that some furniture rearrangement is called for. M suggested turning the loom around so my back was to the wall and the light would fall on the weaving in process. Whatever I do there isn't enough room at the side of the loom to get past easily. I'm not going to do it before the trip, but I will have to do some re-adjustment, perhaps moving some things into the spare bedroom (like bags of fibre) or even back into the computer room. I have a book somewhere that describes the tie-up of countermarch looms so that adventure also lies in the future.

Everything that could possibly go wrong with booking my trip has, but I think everything is now done. There were too many cases of not being able to make connections in the times allotted, airline screwups, hotel rates jumping 300% over a period of days. My sister's situation has changed at the last minute which required some inner debate as well.

Swans news: They won the elimination final! J and I got together with takeaway and a bottle of wine and were about ready to call it a night after a dismal first quarter, but they managed to pull their socks up (figuratively if not literally) and win by 35 points. Much screaming and yelling and singing the team song at Chateau Swanknitter. Roosy was bagging (in jest) those who preferred to stay home next to the heater with a cup of chicken soup, but I really would have liked to have gone but I just couldn't afford the expense or the time (not could J). I don't mind sitting in the rain watching my Swannies win, but I do NOT like the Homebush stadium and had the match been at the SCG I might have gone. This weekend they play the Bulldogs who beat us so badly here in Canberra a few months ago. But Goodes is on song, and maybe Mick will be back and some of the youngsters are growing confidence. Much has been made of Kieran Jack who is the son of a rugby league legend, and his father was ecstatic when young Jack kicked 3 goals.

Book report: I finished Measuring America and it was well worth the read although the real underlying theme was the rise of uniform measurements worldwide, culminating in metric. So it was very interesting both from the standpoint of how America got laid out in a grid, right up to its refusal to adopt metric measurement today. I live in a metric world and I rarely convert from one measurement to another, but a box of cereal is a box of cereal whether it's metric or oz. I am now reading Out of Mao's Shadow, the struggle for the soul of a new China by Philip Pan. He was a writer for the Washington Post and while I've read several books about post-Mao China, this one writes it from the inside, what the people actually think, not what has changed to Western eyes. We know about the Cultural Revolution but there is a generation of young Chinese who have never been taught about it. We know about the hot new industrial climate in southern China, but not the unemployed steel workers in the north who, in the land of worker's paradise, cannot even form a union or protest when their pension funds are embezzled. It's a weird feeling when the evil West knows more about China's past than the Chinese do. We know about sweat shops and pollution and shoddy products, but not about the horrific rate of deaths in coal mines and the careful cover-ups done by the one party system. Protesters at the Olympics should have been asking about the unemployed and starving ordinary Chinese who have no public spokesperson to shine a light on their plight. I recommend this book highly to those who are interested in what goes on behind the red curtain.

Friday, September 05, 2008

While I have continued to make progress on CaW, I was feeling spinning withdrawal so I pulled this out of the stash. It Targhee from Susan's Spinning Bunny (Hi, Susan) in Clematis vine colourway. I have never spun Targhee before and it feels very strange. While I can see the individual fibres when I'm drafting, it has a very springy almost spongey texture. Since I only have 4 oz and am spinning it fine, I guess I'll try it for socks. It is retains its springy character when spun up, it should be good. Susan is one of the people I hope to meet in the flesh on my trip. Internet relationships do need occasional face time. Even my late best friend C, who exchanged mail with me just about daily, only shared air with me when we both went to the same conventions or on a couple of ill-fated visits (things sometimes go wrong).

I have been having endless problems with American Airlines and my flight reservations. Apparently when I made my reservation, and was forced to use their site in India because Australians are now forbidden to use their US site, either my not reading the fine print or the way the web page was designed, my surname and forename got reversed. In these days of automated responses, you don't instantly have alarm bells going off when something is addressed to Smith John instead of John Smith. It didn't to me, but then I wanted to double check some times and could find no listing under my name. Last night I finally got to the nub of the matter, after several previously fruitless and lengthy phone calls to a toll-free number that may have been answered anywhere in the world for all I know, and found somebody who noticed the error. They promise that the change will be rectified and even called me today to give me a status report which is good because I tried to call the listing up today and it was still missing. Outsourcing services may save money but when my only alternatives for buying tickets were India, Japan, China and Korea, I was not amused. Sure they will do currency conversions but I don't like fares quoted in rupees. I am only using American because of frequent flyer connections with Qantas. Global economy indeed. And by the way, I was right to buy when I did because the Aussie dollar has last 10 cents against the US dollar in the past fortnight.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

I am slightly less depressed than I was last week. I still feel like I have no goal, no path, no future with an expected or wished for outcome. Still just going through the motions. I managed to recover from my fall and then overdid pruning back the jungle between the back shed and the fence. Lots of lampant berry bushes, ivy, wild passionfruit, wisteria and privet. And since the trashpack is full I had to leave it where it lay. Emerged to be sore the next day and my hands covered in scratches. I need to get a new pair of leather garden gloves since I wear through them so fast.

I read Sherri Tepper's Sideshow while I was recovering and it was not very interesting compared to other of her works. Too much unnecessary complexity and weirdness seemingly for it's own sake. I also have a quibble with the Great Question which drives the culture(s) she describes, which is: what is humanity's destiny? "Destiny" to me means a final outcome, like I am destined to be a musician. She really meant (I think) what is humanity's purpose? which is an entirely different kettle of fish and the answer seemed to have been to become more than human. Humanity wasn't destined for that but that was its goal, its next step in evolution. And the need to tell the story through hermaphoditic siamese twins I really don't understand. Like I said, unnecessary complications.

I also took a stab at Randy Pausch's The Last Lecture, which was touted as being so insightful and thought provoking. I found it full of platitudes and written by somebody who had never had a single obstacle in his life until he got pancreatic cancer. One of the first chapters is called something like "choose your parents carefully" and he had lovely parents who encouraged him and discussed things in ways that were verified by dictionary and encyclopedia and, not by "because I said so" which is where our family discussions usually ended. My father was very domineering and his opinion was the law. Ever when I was an adult and he was in his 80s, if he hadn't seen it with his own eyes it didn't exist so I gave up on trying to tell him anything, even that there was a new store open down the street. He'd tell you about it with great delight but wouldn't believe you if you saw it first. I'm not very good at lying or pretending to go along with somebody who obviously wasn't listening. There was no dialogue, no conversation, just his word and your acceptance. Randy excelled in school, had a great job, married the first person he fell in love with and sounds like an all round nice guy but he didn't pass on any gems to me that weren't common sense. But then, common sense isn't common, is it? The book apparently was to provoke parents to talk to their children, but it was a bit late for me. I can't even remember any childhood dreams except wanting to be a cowgirl when I was 5. I've always wanted to learn new things, but that wasn't inspired by my parents who never rewarded me for good grades or academic achievement (and I had lots but they were never good enough). I just like learning and I like to read, one "good" factor from being an only child from the age of 9 and having parents who were a generation older than my friends'.

Now that I'm counting down to my trip I am doing things like booking airport shuttles and arranging for car hire pickup etc. I am also trying to get the house sufficiently clean so I am not consumed with guilt when the house sitter comes. I've decided not to do anything to the garden before I leave and plant it out (late) when I get back. I wish I could do something about the gross carpet in the dining room but have no money to do so. I wasn't going to do anything while The Senior Cat was alive since her had a habit of upchucking in there. Her ashes are to be returned to me tonight and she can join the ashes of Lucy, my dearly reparted Burmese, in the kitchen breakfront. The kitchen vinyl flooring is also full of holes but again waits for funds. I can only clean. I also have every knitter's dilemma: what projects to take with me. Socks of course. Cables After Whiskey? Maybe. A smaller summer top? I'd like to start it before leaving so I don't suddenly realize I don't have the right needles or it's got some other problem I can only solve at home.

Swans news: We're in the finals, but I don't expect us to last long even playing North at home (Homebush). J and I decided not to go, to save money and to use the time more productively at home. With my luck they'll be in the Grand Final and I fly away that weekend.