Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas! I've been absent and I have no excuse but surges (mostly down) in my mood and unbearable heat. I swear I must have insulted the weather gods by installing air conditioning, because we have had more multiple day stretches of 35C and over before Christmas than I have experienced in 19 years in Canberra. While the a/c makes daily life a lot more pleasant, I'm still loathe to turn on the oven and I actually lose my appetite when it's that hot. Also, I try not to be greedy with my a/c and only aim at 24C (I am still arguing with the thermostat) which is really too hot for me to sleep in comfortably. I'm a sleeper who likes a chilly room and lots of blankets to burrow under, not a stuffy 24C. So I haven't been sleeping and not eating much, my right leg is giving me fits (a euphemism for pain) and I've been depressed. Oh, and the garden is nearly cooked. No berries to speak of, although I do have lemons. For Christmas day I am delighted that we are having good steady rain. Not cheery, or covered in snow like parts of the US, but needed badly. Above is my Christmas tree, each ornament has a story, and it has few lights this year because 2 of my strings had died. Since I brought them with me from the States and they weren't new then, I can't complain. I'll buy some new ones for next year. The Imp has taken to chewing on the lower branches, which I don't get, but so what else is new? The angel on top was a gift from BFLb, there are many animals (especially bears) native to both the US (squirrels, cardinals) and Australia (emus and wombats). My Christmas presents to myself were sourdough starter and a lapis lazuli square spindle. My dear MIL gave me the latest Harry Potter DVD and a seafood cook book. I have a tray of mangoes so I suspect I'll make mango jam either later today or tomorrow.
This is the skein of Optim from Conjoined Creations I've been spinning and it does feel like silk. Instead of finishing the several projects I have going, I suddenly decided to knit a mohair scarf, so a feather and fan scarf in pastels is 3/4 done. I hope to use the next week to finish off at least two of the projects languishing. But my first priority for the holiday break is sleep. I am now going back to bed with the latest Kathy Reich mystery and hope I fall asleep. Christmas dinner is going to be cheese and smoked salmon on crackers, cherries and mangoes, and pavlova for dessert.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Today you get ruminations of my mind from the past few weeks. I went through a spell of severe depression that lasted a little less than a week. I cannot discern a reason but as one person put it, when the things you enjoy doing no longer give you joy, you know you're depressed. There seems no way out, you are at the bottom of a deep hole and only want someone to fill it in and leave you. I cannot deny that I still grieve for the Bear every single day. The emptiness he left in my heart still hurts. But this was a more generalized black spell when nothing felt right, I hated my job and my life and nothing seemed to be worth waiting for.

Now I feel really good and am revelling in summer in Can
berra (no, I don't like 36C but I have a/c now!), watching parrots destroy silky oaks (see right) which are in full bloom at the moment, eating beautiful cherries which are the signature fruit of December, enjoying clear dry days and cool nights. I've managed two full active days and one day of rest for my weekend, so that this week should not be a repeat of the disaster of last. I will promise to remember to take my meds every night and not be knocked out like I was on Thursday (on a day when all power was cut off due to electricity pole replacement). I spent time on Saturday tidying up the berries, which are not doing very well this year because on my neighbour's overhanging shrubbery, predation by possums, and the erratic weather. My tomatoes are doing well and the peas are done. I'll eat the last of them tonight.

I have finished the bag of long brown alpaca. That leaves one full of brown and one of white, and half a bag of black. I will be carding more white soon so I can spin it. I knit for 3 hours last night on the silk shell which I suppose makes some progress although it's hard to tell without measuring. The marker went past my fingers several times so I know the roswe of 220 stitches were going by. Tonight is the season finale of "Glee" (sob!) so it's back to DVDs and Foxtel. I have finally found a mate to go to the movies with on a regular basis and we've seen two movies ("Time Traveler's Wife" and "9") in the past fortnight. Her tastes match mine and she has a flexible schedule. If the price of growing old is getting into the movies cheap I am happy to declare my age! For the benefit of my opinion "The Time Traveler's Wife" was a very literal version of the story told in a linear fashion, without any of the personality shown in the novel. While I love seeing Eric Bana nude, read the book. "9" was another wonderful Tim Burton animated gem that was so much fun to watch and I was just marveling at how one determines camera angles for animation.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

I have been going through a very bad patch of not sleeping and therefore feeling like crap the next day, and not sleeping again in a constant cycle. During this time my white noise machine died as well, but I have been making do with a fan. Apparently the only source for them in Australia is to make babies sleep, so that's where I have ordered my replacement. I finally slept through the night (mostly) night before last and finally feel halfway human again. I also managed to forget my meds one night in there but, unlike most other occasions, I could not sleep the next day to make up for some of the horrid withdrawal feelings. I don't know how people cope with FMS without drugs. Either they have much milder cases than I do, they don't work, or the are very stoic. I get to a point where I lie in one position for X minutes and then the pain of lying like that wakes me up, I turn over and sleep another X minutes, repeat ad nauseum. That's when I sleep at all and am not up at 2.30AM drinking sherry and trying to bore myself to death reading about 17th century Virginia.

There are two new books in the house that have once again inspired me to do things I don't have time for. One is Woven Shibori by Catherine Ellis. I had seen photos of the results but I couldn't imagine what "woven shibori" actually meant. I am a big fan of shibori as I have ranted in earlier posts, culminating in my purchase of a vintage shibori-decorated kimono several years ago. Because I am afraid the Imp might try climbing it, it is not on display but hidden away in a wardrobe (pity). Woven shibori means you weave the strings you will pull to make the shibori pattern into the cloth rather than gathering the cloth up with stitches afterwards. Obvious some shibori patterns are impossible to do this way, but the results in the book are mindblowing and I look forward to the day when I can try some out.

The second book is Respect the Spindle by Abby Franquemont (of Abby's yarns, link to the right). I wish I had had this book when I was learning to spindle spin. It explains so much and inspires so much. I love my Roberta electric spinner but I love spindle spinning too. I happen to favour Bosworth spindles, but in my first blush of love affairs with spindles I bought quite a few I really don't use. I have just commited to buy a lapis lazuli square spindle from Butterflygirl because it was beautiful. Before I could even click on it to buy it, somebody else bought it. Fortunately she was able to make a twin. I've never used a bottom whorl spindle; I like swan neck hooks, and I prefer a notch. There are some spindle makers who simply refused my requests for those last 2 features and I don't buy spindles from them. I am spinning camel down at work on a Bosworth mini; camel down is so short I can't imagine having enough control on a flyer-driven wheel.

For light reading I've finished Alan Steele's first two Coyote novels and am about to start Coyote Frontier.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

When I was growing up, my mother had a darkroom in the basement. She had several impressive cameras and was always taking pictures. The photo on my blog ID is hers because I was a very cute toddler. She shot a lot of black and white and slides too. When she died (1981) and my sister and I went through her things, we found slides but not a single black & white negative. I don't have any idea what happened to them; mildew in Florida can destroy a lot. I have a couple of prints that were mounted for entry into photo shows, and framed them to remind me. Her Kodachrome slides are just as good as they were when she shot them, some of them now older than I am. I recently acquired a slide scanner to digitize some of the hundreds of slides I have and the photo above was one of hers. What prompted me to finally get a slide scanner (aside from the price coming down) was finding a huge box of the Bear's slides, some of which supposedly go back to the 60's. The other thing is that my mother's hobby became mine in the late 70's & 80's (before my eyes got bad). I had a darkroom in the spare bathroom and printed and sold a fair number of photos. I remember going to the "serious" photography store in Ohio and X2 saying the chemical smell was awful, but to me it just reminded me of my mother and having prints drying next to the washing machine.
This is one of my photos and I should have scanned it sideways and rotated it. I shot mostly landscapes and wildflowers and my "signature" shot was the vertical slice of landscape. This was taken near Lexington, VA, and of course both slides lose something in the scanning process. Full professional scanning of hundreds of slides is beyond my budget and I'd be happy just to have access to some slides that make me happy as well as seeing what the Bear was taking pictures of before I knew him.

If the story was the weather last week, well, it's the weather again. We had an abrupt turn resulting in very cool days and nights and lots of clouds with occasional rain. My poor garden won't know what season it's in. The cool weather veggies like asparagus and peas loved it but the cucumbers look a bit bewildered. I even had to turn the heat on last night as it was 12C and one small cat is not sufficient heating.

I've been finishing off a bunch of spinning projects to free up bobbins. I bought this lovely roving, which is merino, bamboo and nylon from Fat Cat Knits, colourway called Duck pond. So I plied and wound off camel down spindle-spun, silk (the last of the spindle spun) and plied the lovely Conjoined Creations Optim. I am almost (and I mean it this time) done with the bag of brown alpaca. Another night or two flick-carding and it will be done. Then I'll drumcard some more white so I can spin enough to ply with the full bobbin already done. I've been plugging away at socks in the meantime.