Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How about I skip the apologies and just blog? I took last week off from work with the idea I would get caught up with things around the house, like cleaning and such and that didn't happen. I was flat out all week but it wasn't much doing things around the house. After the doctor's verdict, I attended a joint replacement information session and I have lots of people to contact about things like rehab and pain management. I also have found someone who will loan me all the equipment (crutches et al.) that I will need after hospital. I don't relish giving myself injections of anti-clotting agent, but I guess I'll have to. I have tried doing some of the exercises suggested by the surgeon to strengthen my leg muscles and ended up with muscles so sore I could barely get out of bed. This is going to be dicey because my leg muscles are so sore already that any efforts to strengthen them only makes them more sore. I understand the principle but it's hard to figure out how to actually do it. The fibro makes me stiff already but once I get going I can walk OK. In addition to that meeting, I had blood drawn for my routine tests, had a mammogram, waited 2 hours to see my GP, and got a new power of attorney form since hospitals are dangerous places.

J and I went to the NAB cup match between the Swannies and Port. Small crowd probably because there aren't that many Port supporters (but they were all at the match) and it was a gorgeous Sunday afternoon. Swans played like their usual early season selves, kicking directly to members of the opposing team, failure to complete when the ball got down into scoring position, etc. Rhyce Shaw pictured left is a new recruit from Collingwood and showed promise as a speedy little man and we haven't had many of those lately. The biggest shock was that Brett Kirk had cut his famous locks. Why? His shaggy head was distinctive in a sea of either no hair (see left) or blonde, and we have a LOT of blondes. Our new Canadian recruit played a little but if he wants to play ruck he'll have to jump better.

I also had to take some time to recovery from my 2 falls which have left some lovely bruises. Another reason I am stiff and sore.

I have finished the front and back of CAW and joined them at the shoulder with 3 needle bind off. I have cast on for a sleeve and am almost finished the cuff. I held the finished bits up and I think the neck opening comes down too low, but it's a turtle neck so I guess it doesn't matter. I am glad I shortened it because It now is the length of a normal jumper and I am sure it will grow (that is, stretch downwards).

Book report: The Fruit hunters by Adam Leith Gollner. This was another not really BBBB. Since I am a self proclaimed fruit-bat I was intrigued with all the new and mysterious fruits he tracked down, but there were not so gripping but well presented chapters on getting fruit to market, the rise of organic and heritage fruits, and a rhapsody on durians. They sell durians in my local supermarket, but since I've never eaten one and the odor of a ripe one is supposed to be horrible even while it tastes luscious, I'll give it a miss. I'm thrilled when my local market gets big fat beautiful fresh figs in an I pay too much for a couple because I love them. I always have bowls of ripening fruit on my kitchen counter and I eat about 5 pieces of fruit a day on average.

I confess I am also an addict of So You Think You Can Dance and am glued to the TV Sunday and Monday nights. This season I haven't found a favourite to champion like last year (dear Henry) but the choreography gets harder and harder.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I've been stewing instead of blogging. I'll get to the reason for the stewing in a bit, but first to catch up. So far this week I've had blood tests, a mammogram and will go to a meeting about joint replacement. I did sleep a lot over the weekend which is the first thing I do when I have time off--sleep to catch up on what I'm missing. Sleep deprivation really kills me and even 8 hours a night is not sufficient. The other thing I've been doing is in the photo to the left. Massive jam and preserve making. There is plum jam, plum chutney, zucchini pickle relish, wild blackberry jam, tame blackberry jam (from my back yard bush) and mixed berry jelly. The last was a bit iffy; it's set but a soft set as opposed to a firm one. All of the jam and other goodies are taken in to work and I solicit donations which go to charity. The mixed berry jam has a big fan club, as do the pickles. I'll have to watch out for more large zucchini. Of course, I always keep some for myself and for gifts, but you can't make one jar of jam.

Since I have wild blackberries I obviously have been
blackberrying again. This time the temperature was more in the normal range and the berries were much bigger and easier to pick. I neglected to mention in the previous entry that we saw in the range of 35 yellow-tailed black cockatoos (photo right) who all flew over in small groups with babies in tow (you can tell by their call). I know in my head that they are common in the forest but it is still a thrill to see them. While I was picking berries among the plantation pines, I kept seeing what looked like brown paper flowers on the ground and I couldn't figure out what they were. I finally worked it out that they must be what's left of a pine cone when a cockatoo has finished with it. After M had picked enough and left, I kept going for another 20 minutes and managed once again to fall, but this time by stepping in a hole created by a rotten log, and landing on my butt, and there was precious little within reach to haul myself up with. More bruises, more stiffness.

What I'm stewing about is the verdict from the orthopedic surgeon that my knees were a hopeless mess and they should be replaced, which led me to sign up to have the left one done at the end of March. He's not even going to charge me extra, just take the insurance payout. Every surface of every bone in each knee was covered in spurs and growths. While I know I said I was going to do this, I am really nervous about it. My knees haven't been the bit of me that hurts the most (that would be my thigh muscles) and I don't know where the relationship of my fibromyalgia will intersect with joint replacement. Not having anyone here when I get out of hospital means I'm going to see if my insurance will pay for an extra week of rehab so I can get around. I won't be able to drive for a while, although since it's my left knee, driving will be earlier than the other. I won't be able to run or kneel, but I can't now anyway. I'm supposed to be exercising the knee and the exercises really do make it hurt. I hope I can rely on friends for rides for a while. After 3 months the other one can be replaced. Did I mention I was really nervous? I go through this whenever I have a medical procedure, even one I know is necessary and that I want to have done. I get cold feet and the urge to get as far away from doctors as I can. Who knows, maybe new knees will make the muscles happier.

I cannot comprehend what the people in Victoria have gone through. The death toll now has hit 200. One article I read today said that the very activity that the Bear and I were planning, moving to the bush, is one of the reasons why things got so bad. Not that we were moving to forested land; even I know a firetrap when I see one. I cannot imagine what it must feel like to have your entire life go up in flames, leaving you with nothing. My brush with fire here in 2003 really put the fear in me. I freak whenever I smell smoke in the air. I don't know how much money it will take to rebuild somebody's life. Furniture and clothes are replaceable but family mementos mean more than that.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

My indoor/outdoor thermometer says its 43C outside and "only" 34 inside. I swear I'm actually getting used to this. It's supposed to change overnight and be back in the 20's tomorrow but this heat's gone on so long I feel like I should be wearing desert robes or something different than a singlet (tank top) and shorts. I have to wear shoes or my feet swell so that I can't move them but I'm in my cool Lands End mesh shoes. I'm trying to remember to drink a lot too. I am doing the evaporative cooling on the cheap trick, by doing wash and hanging it around the house to dry. I continue to hear stories about how cold it is in the US and the snow in London and wish that our respective temperatures could be moderated somehow

At right is the most recent pair of socks, these from Regia Bamboo. In searcing for a
link it seems I am the only person in a English-speaking location who got a ball band that said "Bambu" and not "Bamboo". Strange. The yarn is light and lustrous, but tends to split a little too easily. The next sock is already cast on and is a Sockotta cotton in black and purple.

Below is a present given to me by LN and if you can't tell, it's a Peruvian clay spindle. Since I only know how to spin with a spindle that has a hook, and all I had to hand to spin was silk, I didn't do a very convincing job at demonstrationg how it worked. If you look carefully, the clay ball in the middle has incised markings. I wonderful thing to add to my textile bits and pieces. I like collecting these oddments, from bone crochet hooks to pieces of needle lace or filet crochet.

At right is the latest to come off plying and is the Targhee from Susan's Spinning Bunny in the the Clematis Vine colorway.
Targhee is bouncy and not as slippery as what I have been spinning lately, so it is more uneven than I would have liked. It hasn't been washed yet but I imagine it will bloom some in the water. I plan socks for it and of course I didn't clount how many meters I had, but I can do that when it gets wound onto the ball winder.

Aside from today's photographic extravaganza, I can describe our black berry picking adventure yesterday. The mountains around Canberra are a) planted in plantation pines and b) full of wild blackberries. Very early in the AM M and I went to our usual spot to find that the forest service had blocked the road (to dirt bike riders) with numerous fallen logs and other associated debris. I made it over the obstacle path and we picked in our usual places. Lots of berries but small ones so not much to show for a bit over an hour's hot labor. On the way back over the logs, I fell, full length. It has made me sore and stiff today, both the fall and the contortions from berry-picking. When we left, I drove down the road a bit and found another patch with berries on flat ground and easy access so I expect we will try there next week, or even this week if it does cool down.

Monday, February 02, 2009

If this is a random act of weather, it's an act that needs to leave, stage left, immediately. I am really tired with this constant heat and the restrictions it puts on me. I can't do much when it's 36C outside and "only" 31C inside; that's out of my comfort range. It's lucky that the only part of my garden that got planted was the raised beds next to the back porch, because they are shaded much more than the baking heat in the other beds. Therefore I have cucumbers and zucchini, and a few bean plants, and one lonely tomato. The blackberries are getting baked on the vines so I am not getting as many as I had hoped. When I go to pick them, I find dried up little nubs rather than the fat black beauties I want. The shaded stalks are OK but the ones that get full sun are getting cooked. The one plant that is reveling in the heat is my grafted citrus.(at right). It has about doubled in size which is why it looks too big for its pot. It is also blooming like crazy, even on the new growth. It's so hard to remove all set fruit as instructed for its early years, especially since I don't know which are lemons and which are oranges yet! I hope I can keep it warm when winter arrives. The plum tree is netted and I have picked a bucket of plums, and made one batch of jam. I would like to make chutney and spiced pl6um sauce but I need cooler times to do it.

I also have been dipping into Italian cuisine, but only via the printed page. I have Autumn in Piedmonte by Manuela Darling-Gassner and The Italian Country Table. Should a day come when I dare heat up the oven, I have lots of ideas, but right now the closest I'm coming is a pasta salad. There are some lovely dishes for baked pasta, which has always been a favourite, but the thought of eating anything hot right now is beyond me. Salad and fruit. If I do lash out it will be for takaway, maybe a chook to graze on.

It's been way too hot to knit anything but socks and I have all but finished the Regia Bambu I started in Findlay, Ohio, in November. I have some purple and black Sockotta to cast on. I've carded a lot of alpaca but to spin it while sitting under a ceiling fan is asking for disaster.

The Imp has been very flat, sleeping the heat away. A good model for this weather, especially when you are wearing a fur coat, if only a light weight one. She had her annual trip to the vet and is supposed to get her teeth cleaned. I will when I have money. Squeezing every penny now, as the case moves into what I hope is its final stages. If my dear Bear knew that 18 months after his leaving I was still waiting for his super funds, which we had considered life insurance, he would be furious.