Thursday, December 30, 2010

So far it's been a quiet and somewhat lonely holiday season here at Chez Swanknitter. I treated myself to a Christmas feast of a selection of cheeses and smoked salmon with crackers followed by brownies, accompanied by a cleanskin Reisling. Today was the first really hot day of the summer, that is, hot enough to turn on the a/c. After all the rain earlier in the season, right now we could use some. The berry bushes are covered in black jewels of flavour. I made a batch of jam, but I've also enjoyed several bowls of berries with cream. These are loganberries and some boysenberries. Their new growth is so enthusiastic this year that it's hard to get near to pick them.

The past few days I've had a recurrence of the knee problems I had before my replacement. I have no idea what has caused this, but the knee is sore and the muscles are spasming again. I think I overdid a bit in my rush back to normalcy and need to take it slower. It's very difficult when so many things cry out for attention not to get into action. My major downfall and character flaw.

I finished In Defense of Food, which should have been a magazine article instead of a book. If you've read The Omnivore's Dilemma, you will know what Michael Pollan is about. I believe him and would like to follow his precepts, except sometimes is difficult to eat the right food when you don't know where it has come from or how it was grown. That's one reason I'm so passionate about my veggie garden. I started The Algebraist by Iain M Banks but my hands struggled with its size. This is the first time I am seriously considering buying the Kindle edition of something I own in paper. I am reading Kathy Reich's Mortal Remains on the Kindle instead.

I think I've reached my destination in the family tree business, altho there is still lots to do yet. I got back to William the Conqueror thru yet another bastard line. So lots of baronets and influential Normans in the tree but I don't need to go any further back than that, but need to document the intervening links. Fortunately there seems to be a fair group of fellow genealogists working the same lines.

On the fibre front, I am knitting socks for myself out of the merino & bamboo blend I spun recently, I am knitting a winter scarf for X2 out of various natural coloured wools. It's knit the long way so there are stripes for each new yarn, It's in seed stitch and is almost done so I'll get a photo before I post it. I could not face any more alpaca to spin so poked around in the stash and pulled out a gorgeous hand painted rope of BFL (blue-face Leicester) in gorgeous mossy greens. It's from Briar Rose and of course it's a dream to spin. I have to pace myself with the spinning and knitting because altho I love doing both, my hands often tell me the next day that I over did it. See a pattern here?

Over the holidays I learned that another dear friend of mine going back to grad school at UNC had passed away the day after my sister. She was only 72. She was first an instructor when I was studying African linguistics, and helped me learn Hausa, which is an extremely difficult language. I got good enough that I could read literacy pamphlets and write simple stories but I am sure I don't retain a single word. She became a friend and we kept in touch through the years. I was unable to meet with her on my last trip to Chapel Hill due to family obligations (hers) and now I know I missed the last chance to see her. She was one of the friends I was hoping to move back to be near.

Monday, December 20, 2010


I haven't died but haven't had much interesting to post about. Canberra has had epic rain and many plans to do things in the yard went by the wayside as I watched horizontal rain hurl itself at my house. I am still doing knee recovery and I had a minor set back as I fell in the front yard and landed on the bad knee. I only tripped and I landed softly but there is now a swelling on my swelling and a faint purple tinge. I've also had many nights when I didn't get to sleep before 3AM which puts a dent in the following day. I thought I'd share some photos today from recent activities. The cupcake tree is from J's 40th birthday party which was 2 weeks ago. I thought both the concept and the photo were nice. I've also been to the movies twice, once for Tron Legacy which I was underwhelmed by but D liked. Yesterday J and I attempted to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and got booked out of the first place we went so had to fill time with eating pizza and other things until we could go to a later screening. It was raining and everyone decided to go to the movies. As we sat in traffic betwen pizza and movie, the thermometer at the ABC office said is was 9C. That is NOT summer weather in Canberra and, while I'm very glad of the rain for my garnden, some sun would be welcome too. It's supposed to get nicer this week before the next wet front hits us on Christmas Day. The movie was very good even if it's a shock to see Harry Potter all grown up. I have also acquired the extended version of Avatar on DVD which should give me something to watch over the holidays.

The socks at left are my latest FO (finished object) and are knit out of a yarn called Tofutsies which has both soy and cotton in it. They are very soft and will make good summer socks, should we ever get summer. The Aran vest is on the home stretch as I finish off the seed stitch borders on neckline and sleeve openings. I've promised X2 a scarf knit out of the various different natural coloured wool I've spun so I rounded up 5 different wools, and two colours of alpaca.

The photo at the top was taken in 1915 in Niagara Falls, New York, and is of my grandmother Charlotte Rhone Hotchkiss and her mother Josephine Tyler Rhone. The genealogical trail has been my main occupation while it rained. All the American ancestors are well and truly documented and I definitely go back to Massachusetts in 1635. I am still on the trail of the further back and trying to untangle the mess that people have made by entering wrong data on Ancestry. My librarian self wants to do authority control on all these names, when the Radcliffs spelled their name 4 different ways. I thought I was descended from the Count of Anjou but it seems that the person I am really descended from was (ahem) born out of wedlock, but, as things happened back then, still was an influential Norman ruler. I am hoping that whoever did the research on these folks on the Wikipedia knows what they are talking about because I'm taking their word for some of this. Of course, there are the occasional clanger like someone born in England in 1011 and supposedly died in Zimbawe. Don't think so. They were still in "the world is flat" zone in those days.

I read Janet Evanovich's latest on my Kindle and will start Kathy Reichs soon. Meanwhile I'm read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. I promise to give up junk food next year now that I know what some of the ingredients do to you. I'm basically a cook from scratch person so I don't eat a lot of the food products he describes and I definitely eat a lot of fresh fruit and little meat. I never eat fast food like McDonalds and I don't count artisan pizza (or home made) as junk. I have some guilty pleasures because I like the crunch of chips but I must be strong. Not to mention I need to shed weight gained while I was not allowed to get any exercise. I hope I'm allowed some fresh berries with cream because I've got LOTS of berries.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

It's been more resting of the knee and therefore not much to write about. I am desperate to clean house and work in the garden but am forbidden. Meanwhile I've been burrowing away on Ancestry and to my utter astonishment have multiple lines on my mother's side that are traced back not just to the founding of New England but back 600 years of English history to the Norman invasion. I find this completely mind-blowing. Apparently (the documentation search will now follow) I am descended through a semi-noble class of folk, not high enough to be more than a Sir or a baron but someone who was sheriff of an area or the king's representative. I have been plowing through a whole branch of the Dean family, who leased part of the Forest of Dean from the king and paid him 3 shillings a year for it. Many branches are from the western part of England, Shropshire, Cornwall, etc. although there was one branch that ended up on the Welsh side. You may address me as the Baroness de Corbet. Ha. At least I would have had servants.

Canberra has had almost 2 weeks of rain. Sometimes downpours, sometimes passing showers, but more rain than I have seen in 20 years. We have full reservoirs for the first time in a very long time. My plants all look healthy although I now do battle with snails. I've had several lovely suppers with mounds of fresh peas which do taste better than frozen. If only you didn't have to plant so many of them to get a decent serving. I've also had a few bowls of strawberries & cream. The jasmine has popped into bloom making the yard fragrant. I'm about to start getting berries as the first of the canes on the front of the shed are beginning to turn dark, and it is usually around Christmas when I'm drowning in berries. I turned some of the lovely rhubarb into a delicious cake for J's birthday. Rhubarb and berry jam?

I have also spent a lot of time not sleeping, as in going to bed at the usual time of around 10.30 PM and still being wide awake at 2AM, or 4AM, night after night. It's thrown my whole body out of rhythm and nothing seems to help. I take the normal dose of sleeping tablets that are supposed to work within an hour and read my BBBB, but nothing happens. Said BBBB is currently Collapse by Jared Diamond, who wrote Guns, Germs, and Steel, another great work of social history. So I get up and try to do something boring. One night I was washing dishes and cleaning the stove at 2 AM. Sometimes it's genealogy. I end up sleeping the morning away to make up.

Otherwise I am glued to my Kindle reading Neal Asher's Polity Agent. He writes the most energetic and imaginative space opera and it's always fun to read his Cormac novels. I've got another one on the Kindle along with Janet Evanovich's latest and the same of Katheir Reichs. I must address the paper book backlog soon.

I have spun some brown alpaca and need to ply it. I've almost finished a pair of summer socks and am in the home stretch on the brown vest. I looked at the black alpaca and think I probably need to card it, becase it isn't long enough and is too slippery to spin from the lock. I am going to sign up for the weaving course at the ANU that I took before, this time working on a project, either double weave or a complex twill. A double weave table runner might be something good to do with supervision. The same teacher will be there so I am in good hands. Classes don't start till March so I can do some looking for projects in the meantime.

Friday, November 26, 2010

I am shocked that so much time has slipped away from me without a blog post. Not that there is that much new to post about. My knee is healing slowly but still has some frightening symptoms. The swelling at the back of the knee is hard and resists bending. On the front, if I bend and push back, as in pushing a chair away from a table to stand up, that knee joint feels like it is coming unstuck and then pops back into place. Scarey and painful. My surgeon said that was just the plastic cartilage slipping into place but it just feels wrong and frightening. I have been sleeping a lot, too much I'm sure, but when my activities are so restricted, there is only so much reading and watching TV one can do.

On the fibre front, I have been spinning brown alpaca and I've almost gotten to the bottom of the bag of unwashed alpaca. I came in one day to find the Imp asleep in the bag of alpaca which was not appreciated. Very soft to be sure. I've plied the pale grey Shetland, and need to wind it off. I had promised it to BFLB to knit a lace shawl but it looks like I'll have to teach myself to knit lace. I am knitting myself a pair of socks out of Tofutsies yarn which has a soy and cotton component and is quite soft. Blues and purples. I have also started on the last piece of the vest, knitting from the armhole to the shoulder of the left front. This has taken far too long, but I got out of the habit of knitting and need to give myself a kick by finishing something.

I am now "officially" retired, having started receiving pension payouts. I finally hired someone to do a partial cleanup of the front and back yards. He is also mowing my lawn while I am laid up. I managed to get the bare minimum of plants in the ground: tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, pumpkin, and beans. The peas planted in Sept. are now yielding pods and there's lots of rhubarb. If I could stand in the kitchen long enough I might make a rhubarb pie.

Reading takes up a lot of time. I read Zero History by William Gibson on my Kindle and really liked it except it didn't seem to be "about" anything. I'm now reading Polity Agent by Neil Asher on the Kindle. My BBBB of Oracle Bones was finished and I recovered Good Wives from under the bed and finished that. The research done in court proceedings, wills, letters and other documents to describe women's live in the northern part of New England 1650-1750 was very pertinent since I have a number of ancestors in that window and I have yet to do research on their lives. Current BBBB is The Meaning of Everything by Simon Winchester about the OED. I am now reading High King of Montival by S.M. Sterling so I can send it to X2 for his reading.

My genealogy is back to a Johannes Quackenbush who lived in Albany NY around the last quarter of the 17th century. I know from my history reading that the Dutch had trading posts there to trade with the Iroquois for furs so the influx of Dutch names shouldn't be surprising.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Nothing's been posted because there's precious little to report on being confined to zero activity. My knee did get better but cranked up again once I put weight on it. The dr now suspects a stress fracture and I had a bone scan on Friday to look for it. I am afraid that the recommended treatment is more bed rest. The fact that it does get better seems to indicate that rest does help. I am determined to get a minimal garden in: beans, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers and pumpkin. I weeded enough of one raised bed to uncover the strawberries and make room for beans, and started on the second for tomatoes and zukes. I've got a garden person in to clean up a lot of the mess that was beyond me, like removing dead trees. I'll have him mow the lawn until I'm back on my feet, though I can certainly afford for him to continue. I can't stand up long enough to cook so I've been living on frozen dinners and grilled cheese sandwiches, having my groceries delivered. Very boring.

Otherwise I read, watch TV, play mahjong, card alpaca, spin alpaca, etc. I've finished J's red & white socks and started a pair for me out of Tofutsies, the soy/wool mix, in blues and greens. I need more summer weight socks and there's plenty to knit in the stash, so I plug away. I finished the Sean Williams & Shane Dix Echoes of Earth, but was suitably unimpressed to read the rest if the trilogy. I am now reading William Gibson's Zero History on my Kindle and am loving it. Simultaneously I'm reading The Dragon Scroll by I. J. Parker, which is a murder mystery set in 11th century Japan. Have almost finished my BBBB Oracle Bones, about modern China.

As expect BFLB only lived to see Nov 1, which was her & St. H's wedding anniversary. I did get to talk to her once but she had little voice power. H told me she was smiling and mouthing words back but her lungs were too far gone to speak. She passed relatively peacefully leaving us all bereft. I will try calling St H to keep in touch. I was so glad the hospice let her have the cats with her. Duke probably thought all the fuss was over him.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

1980 was probably the peak of my adult life, although I didn't know it then. I was healthy, very happily married, in my dream job, and the future looked bright. As the '80's progressed bad things happened. My mother died of breast cancer in 1981 and I felt numb with pain for about a year. She was 74. A few years later I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and began the dance with pain. At the same time I did my right knee and had the first arthroscopic surgeries. Shortly there after, I was diagnosed with kerataconus and started the routine of eye exams and new contacts every six months or so until I had both corneas replaced in 1989/90. During the end of the '80's, my marriage fell apart as my husband was away on business more and more, and I was more consumed by moving up the food chain at work.

Enter a brief interlude when I met the Bear, shed my old life, and ran away to Australia. Bliss, aside from financial pinches until I reentered the workforce determined to be a drone. Then fibromyalgia struck me with its fairy wand and I knew serious pain, daily pain, pain that ruled my life. I really missed my friends back in the US because I had so few friends of my own age and background here. I cannot fault the dear friends I made working at the Library and they have helped me survive a lot, but I'm old enough to be their mothers. I lost one of my US friends who shared chronic illness in the early 2000's and it hit me very hard. She was one of the inner circle and losing her was a blow that took a long while to recover from. Then there was the Bear. You blog-readers know what I went through 3 years ago and I haven't recovered yet. Then there was my sister this year. On the visit to the US for her memorial service I made sure I made time to see BFLB in Ohio, who has been suffering from kidney cancer for 10 years. I never dreamt it would be the last time I saw her, probably the last time I will speak to her. In the past 2 weeks the cancer has caught up to her and the doctors have run out of miracle treatments (and she had her share of whiz-bang medical technology used on her). As of today she is in a hospice and is unresponsive. BFLB is also one of the inner circle, the one who was my knitting guru, the one who managed the dream of building a house in the country on a nice block of land. Her husband, St. H., was a good friend to the Bear and the four of us enjoyed our visits together. Now I worry for St. H. because he has to go through the deepest valley of losing your true love. He's known this day would come for 10 years but I don't think that makes it any easier then it was for me who only really knew what was happening the last 2 weeks of the Bear's life.

I feel like this has been cumulative and I don't know how to handle any more grief. But I also know that being of a certain age means you know more people who are likely to leave this plane in the coming years. I'm not a religious person so I have no firmly held beliefs as to what lies after death. Their spirits all live on with those who loved them; maybe that's what life after death means. But we who are left behind feel an awful hole in our souls where that bit that was bound to them leaves with them. I will always love those people listed above and still think about my mother almost daily. I still wake up thinking the Bear is still here. Think of your loved ones and cherish those still with you.

On my own personal battle, my surgeon has instituted 2 weeks complete rest for the knee, trying to let it heal. I hesitate to speak too loudly but after 4 days, it is less painful and slightly less swollen. I sincerely hope this most annoying restriction works, because I am going mad being kept away from my garden at the peak of its neediness.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Today we start with photos. To the left is the last of the black alpaca, now sorted, deseeded and clean.

Some of it is long enough to spin from the locks, while other bits will have to be carded. It was very soft when I was cleaning it so I have high hopes of the end result. I am currently spinning some of the pale grey Shetland I brought back from the States.





To the right is the superwash merino/bamboo

blend I spun a while back. It feels very light
so I am hoping it will make decent light weight socks.








I finished Rainbows End and enjoyed it completely. Especially as it takes place in San Diego which is one of those places I'd love to live (and we almost did via the Bear's job). I am now reading Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, which sometimes feels like I've read it before but then a lot of his images have been "borrowed" by other authors since it was written 20 years ago.

I had my doctor's visit today and he is still mystified by why my knee remains swollen. He aspirated (stuck a needle in) it and drew out some fluid to be sent off to the lab. I have to get another X-ray and see him in 2 weeks. We are hoping there is no infection because that would be very bad
but what else is going on is a mystery.

I spent a very lazy day in bed yesterday while thunderstorms threatened but never materialized. Today is warm and sunny and my knee feels even worse after being stuck with a needle. So much for gardening. My car is covered in pollen and windblown wisteria blossoms since that is in full bloom. My baby apple trees are blooming, as is the pear. The backyard is alive with the humming of bees.


Today is the first official day of retirement. If it weren't for the knee, I would be dancing in the street, or at least in the backyard. Instead here I am writing in my blog, feeling depressed. I have been thinking about the Bear a lot as his birthday approaches. I keep going over what I could have done to prevent his early demise. What if I had thrown a tantrum early on and threatened to leave him if he didn't stop drinking? He would have known I'd never leave him. Should I have accompanied him to the GP every time to tell him what the Bear didn't? I think of all the wonderful times we had and then the image of him in the oncology ward comes up and I lose it. If he were here there wouldn't be a thought in my head about going back to the US, but that seems my best option now. Meanwhile I can still sometimes smile and think of my dear boy.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

This Friday was officially my last day of work. Thursday was the last day I was physically present and had my going away party. The kind folks I worked with combined enough money for me to buy a Kindle (Hooray for the weak US dollar!) as I discovered my weakened hands are having trouble holding books. It don't mean I will stop buying books because I can't imagine a knitting book on a Kindle! Best sellers I don't intend on keeping can be in digital format. While I really enjoyed the work I did, I was having more and more difficulty actually making it to work. I could have done large chunks of it from home but that is frowned upon for OH&S reasons. What difference does it make to the end project if I do authority work lying in bed?

My current difficult-to-read paperback (bound tightly and printed into the spine) is Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge. I had admired his earlier stuff but thought he had retired or died, so finding a new book as of 2006, that is actually about digitizing library books is a treat. Wearable hardware and constant connection are among the future (2025) as he imagines it. I almost think that free wireless broadband access should be a utility that everybody should have access to.

The genealogy research has so far gotten me back through the Stanton line on my mother's side to the Puritans who came to New England in 1635. I've learned about the Revolutionary Battle of Long Island (which I don't remember from school) and wonder if some of the mysterious movements of some ancestors to Canada were because they were Royalists. Ancestry is a very deep well of information and the farther back you go, the more people are related to you. I am technically an only child but I now have thousands of relatives.

I've had two dream in a row where i was working on a cruise ship. What does this mean? I'd do the cruise around Hawaii again in a heartbeat.

I watched the movie District 9 on DVD last night and found it very disturbing. The new improved Peter Jackson seemed to think it partly a comedy, but this from a man who used to make splatter horror films. I've lived in the southern hemisphere long enough that I can understand South African English better than I can some of the varieties of the King's English I hear on British TV. I thought it a cheap shot to paint Nigerians as the bad guys instead of using native black South Africans. Politically correct but a cheap shot. I encourage watching the movie but be prepared for unpleasant ethical responses as well as a lot of shooting and splatter.

I was planning on a lot of garden work but we have rain forecast for the next 3 days. Maybe I'll just start my squash seedlings and do housework.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I am just in from mowing the lawn. I am pooped but my knee is no worse than it would have been walking around inside. I am itching to dig up all those dandelions I mowed and trim the edges and weed the veggie beds and finish the berries and.... but I won't. There is more asparagus to pick and I generated a lot of clover mulch for the various beds. I was momentarily stalled when a flock of about a dozen silvereyes descended on the two junior plums which are in bloom. It never occurred to me that they were nectar eaters but those sharp little bills are perfect for sticking in flower blossoms. As long as I didn't move they were happy to hop from flower to flower, hanging upside down when necessary, drinking their fill about 8 feet from me. When the flock devolved to two birds I apologised and restarted the lawn mower.

My knee has made no progress from my last post. I went in to work on Thursday to attend the festivities around the Director-General's retirement from the Library. She is a very nice person and she will be missed. I spent the rest of the time getting signatures on my exit documents proving I didn't have any books checked out or laptops borrowed. That involved walking all over the Library so I left a little early and went to pick up my new contacts. They are a bit uncomfortable but new lenses always take a while to break in. They are also green, so my eyes are their natural colour for the first time in my lens-wearing life.

I have D's second sock 75% finished and I have been switching over to finishing off the black alpaca while watching the fourth and final season of The Unit. It was one of my favourite TV shows that was shown sporadically on Aussie free-to-air TV and now pops up on cable. The characters are so well acted and the plots a constant string of James Bond/Bourne exploits. Sure, I know it's not real, although the writers came up with the idea about holding captives on a ship at sea before it was known the CIA was doing just that. I suppose 4 seasons is all that could be expected, but their final season spent a lot of time in Afghanistan, which is an ongoing series of its own. I'll have to make do with Burn Notice.

My current reading is The Road by Cormac McCarthy, which so far is bleak.

My genealogical investigations turned up my great-grandfather working at the Schenectady Locomotive Works according to the 1880 census. Sometime after that the family moved out of New York but the 1900 census was burned in a fire. Good Wives has also shed light on early New England life where the upper class employed the lower class to sweep their floors and mind their children. The idea of the communion of the town only stretches so far and didn't stretch to equality of the sexes much less to class rank. It seems that the Puritans only wanted to escape parts of Old England.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

There has been no blogging because I have done nothing but lie around and heal. I attempted to go back to work last week and almost made it through two days but then couldn't get out of bed for 3 days. My doctor doesn't know what is going on but thinks it will "settle down" in time. It does seem to be very slowly getting better. The redness (not bruising but a red discoloration) had subsided a bit and the swelling has gone down a little. I have swelling in the foot on that leg, which to me means there is something going on in the knee, because I had a lot of trouble with that after the surgery. It gets very stiff if I stand or sit for any period of time, and getting it mobile again takes some concerted effort. I have full range of movement and weight bearing; it's just sore and swollen and stiff. This has been very discouraging and means that I will not see much of work up to my last day before retirement. To be honest, I think there's a whole lot of things going wrong with my body at the moment and I think they may be related to stress that started up when my sister was dying and has not let up since. The combination of the trip in the US, coming home and immediately seriously injuring my knee, and simultaneously facing the end of my working life (however much I might be looking forward to having my time my own) has taken its toll. My right arm from shoulder to hand is very sore (muscles not joints). I am depressed in the sense that I recognize the clinical signs, and depression from being unhealthy leads to feeling worse. Now that I am still living in a house with a garden, I'm dying to get out and play in it but all I've managed to do was plant some peas. The lawn could feed a sheep or two. Since I am unable to physically do any of the things I wanted to do when I had all this free time, I feel pretty useless. The cat and I lie in bed while I read or nap. I get up in the evenings for TV and knitting. This has gone on for far too long. I'm going to attempt a minor excursion tomorrow just to see if I can. Grocery shopping last week nearly killed me. I did get the electrician in to replace all the light fittings which look much nicer, especially the light over the kitchen table; I didn't realize how dim it was in there until I had a new lamp. I must try to get to my optometrist and pick up replacement contact lenses as one has a chip and the other is just too old and gunky.

Swans news: They lost to the Bulldogs in the second round of the finals. It was a tight match and they only lost by a small margin but the Dogs just fought harder than my boys did. A sad end to Roosy's coaching career but at least he's going to stay around the club so his mentoring role can continue.

Book report(s): I finished the series that began with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo tonight. The second and third novels should be read as one and don't expect the same sorts of fireworks as in the first one. I literally could not put the last one down tonight until I finished it. There was a bit of bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo in the middle made difficult for me (who has a horrible time remembering names) trying to keep all the Swedish characters straight. Definitely worth the read but I wouldn't be surprised if people get turned off during the second & third because you want to shake these people and tell them to pay attention. My BBBB The Great Game is also finished and I've started reading Good Wives by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. I've gone from Central Asia in the 19th century to New England in the early years of settlement. Since I've found so many of the strands on my family tree all go back to settlers in Massachusetts in the second half of the 17th century, I thought I'd read about what life was like for them.

Monday, September 06, 2010

There has been little to report because I have been unable to do much the past couple of weeks. My knee has still been very swollen and painful and
I have been unable to sit at a table or desk for any significant time. The doctor now does not know what is causing the problem. There is quite a bit of discolouration (not bruising) on the knee. It is gradually getting better. I was thinking last week that I might make it back to work this week but I didn't think I could sit at a desk for 5 hours. It feels pretty good today, but the test will be how it feels tomorrow. I have had some mystifying blood test results so I am due to see the doctor again this Weds.

My photographic contributions to the blog today are the latest pair of socks finished, which are not very interesting but some times we just need socks. The floral arrangement is from the back yard: daffs, hellebores, and Earlicheer narcissus. Fortunately I no longer have a flower eating cat so I can enjoy having flowers inside.

The garden needs attention desperately. We've had lots of rain and there is a lot of weeding and probably a lawn mowing needed but I am not yet up to that vigorous work. I picked one stalk of asparagus today!

Swan news: We won our elimination final in spite of ourselves. As is often the case, they fell asleep in the third quarter and almost had the game snatched away from them. We had stunning exhibitions of players running into each other, passing the ball to the opposition, hitting the goalpost, and other unpleasant tactics. However, I am very pleased with how well the new boys are stepping up and making a real contribution. Losing Kirk (as well as the god-like Roos) will be tough but things don't look as dim as I thought they would be at the start of the season. Our next match is against the Bulldogs, whom we beat 2 weeks ago so in theory we should be able to progress in the finals.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Well, it's not a bone ripped lose. The piece of bone seems to have been there all along and I've just manged a soft tissue injury to my knee. I can already feel it on the mend and I intend to live the last week of my working life at work. I can sit now without undue pain and walking is pretty OK but I get stiff in whatever position I leave the knee in for any substantial period. Today I worked a little while on the berries and all my leg joints from ankle upward are complaining about the balancing act I have to do to prune and tie them up. I will spend a quiet day with the laundry basket tomorrow making dent in ironing.

Swans news: Despite my doom staying they played an impressive last two matches and are in the finals with a chance. Since the young players are stepping up and playing as the were part of the machine, I'm trying my to get too excited. I'd still love to go but have no companion and should go buy tickets on Monday.

I've been spending my evening sorting through black alpaca, removing the short cuts and VM and putting the mostly clean stuff in a bag to wash. This the end of the black alpaca and I have a few ideas floating around to for turning it into something useful.
In the meantime I've been reading Pushing Ice by Alasair Reynolds, the beginning of which is more accessible to new readers of his work, but it gets plenty weird toward the end. I've also been pushing my family histories back to them all arriving in Massachusetts around 1630. I guess it was inevitable they all married each other.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Well, I don't know if my medical news is good or not. When I saw my surgeon on Thurs. he said those words I have heard several doctors say over my body: "I've never seen anything like it." I haven't torn my ACL because I no longer have one. It appears from the X-ray that I have ripped a piece of bone off my leg. How is a mystery and I had a C/T scan today to get a better look at the offending area. Should this actually be the case, there is no cure but rest and healing, another 4 weeks of it. I also have to be sure I don't lose range of motion in the new knee while the bone heals. I may be lucky to get a week back at work before I retire. This is not how I imagined my career at the Library ending, with a whimper, to be sure.

Next week will be the 19th anniversary of the wedding of me and my Bear. It seems a long time and just yesterday. I still can't believe I've been a widow for 3 years. Life throws strange things at you, some spectacularly good and some woefully awful.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Knews of the knee: It's amazing how your horizon shrinks when you're injured. I was planning and thinking years ahead last week and now my life is aimed at Thursday when I see my surgeon. He has always been speedy in scheduling procedures so I hope this agony has an end. From my Internet research I think I have torn my ACL while putting on shoes and don't know if it's because the knee replacement isn't totally healed. So It's the RICE routine (rest, ice, compression, elevation) and judicious use of painkillers. I have a TV with DVDs (Dexter, Weeds), my Macbook with videos (Grey's Anatomy, Torchwood). I guess voting next Saturday will be an adventure.

It seems that I neglected to post that my battle with Wooly Knob Fiber Mill ended when they delivered the fleeces they had processed to BFLB's place the day before I left. I had brought vacuum bags and we managed to squeeze the fleeces into my luggage. There are 4 Shetland fleeces and a BFL and are beautiful: soft and lovely to spin. I have just finished spinning the merino/bamboo blen, so I might take on one of the Shetlands next. Some shades of fawn, blank and white.

I've enjoyed the benefits of our HD sports channel to watch baseball two mornings in a row. I miss baseball so watching any team is fun. Remembering the cadence, the language, the overwhelming statistics, remembering my childhood being linked to baseball (it was the only sport my father watched). My first husband taught me how to boxscore baseball and took me to my only major league games and frequent college games in the Chapel Hill. There a relaxed atmosphere of baseball that is different from cricket. It took me several years to stop comparing the two sports. The memories flood back but I won't bore you. 50+ years of watching it.

Swans news: somehow they managed to win yesterday and despite themselves remain in the eight. They don't have a hope I think of winning against the top of the ladder teams so they won't last the finals. I hope J and I make it to more matches next year.

Book report: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, who wrote The Kite Runner. It is the story of two women in Afghanistan from the time of the Soviet invasion to the rule of the Taliban. We women of the affluent west with our TVs and dishwashers and comfortable, independent lives with law and culture supporting us have no idea what our sisters under the rule of Islamic fundamentalism endure. No doubt there are women in the west who live with brutal violent husbands but the law, in theory, is on the victim's side. In Kabul, women have no rights and women get their freedom only by turning the violence against their oppressors and then paying the ultimate price. The book is an agonizing and often depressing read, but one that reminds us perhaps of why we are fighting in this country against these brutes who believe they have divine right to abuse women. Men who demand artists to paint pants on the legs of flamingos because that much bare leg, even on a bird, is a sin.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Well, my first week home has been less than fantastic. The hardest part of the flight home (except for Qantas having no record of me paying for my ticket) was the long progression out the door of the plane, down an endless ramp, through Immigration, waiting through the last of the luggage to snag mine, an endless queue through Quarantine, an endless walk to drop off luggage for the flight to Canberra, a long wait to get on a bus, a long bus ride and another endless walk to the very last gate to get on the plane. While the chill in Canberra was a welcome change from the humid blanket of the US. I was glad I had acquired a jacket overseas which I could easily pull out of my suitcase.

I have then suffered through the worst jet lag I have ever had. Whether it was partially my medical conditions aggravated by lack of sleep or whatever, I was nauseous, extremely tired, headachey and in pain. Just as it was starting to lift on Friday I injured my right knee. I don't know how I did it. I think it is just a soft tissue strain of the still healing tissues. I was very pleased with the new knee's performance on the trip but today I am in agony. Rest, ice, and waiting are all I can do. All the muscles that had stopped hurting when the knee was replaced are now reminding me of what they are capable of when annoyed.

The Imp became a limpet for many days, sleeping with me and trying to attach herself to me whenever I sat down, which led to a few disagreements about what is permissible. Of course she wants to camp on my knees now. The wattle is indeed in bloom, I saw snow on the mountains and we've been having lots of frost.

Book reports: I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on the trip and it is a great thriller. I watched the movie on the plane back and was very disappointed. All the nuances of the characters were smoothed out an a happy ending supplied. Read the book but skip the movie. I also just finished another ethics-based sci-fi by L. E. Modesitt Jr, Adiamante. While you can always tell where he is going in his novels, the journey is enjoyable. This trip resulted in zero books purchased and no food either.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Well, I told you I wasn't going to post while I was away and I've just about met that promise. I arrived at point of entry a day early as BFLB had to go to her health care professionals to start a new drug trial today. So I get a day to unwind, get the vision of miles of interstate out of my head, and prepare for the flight home. I got to see just about every one I wanted to to see, but I have been sick with a chest cold for a fortnight and, as predicted, it is lifting just as I am about to step on a plane and be exposed to a new group pf germs. So I coughed my way through several states and reluctantly left the reception after my sister's memorial early. The service was moving and funny and sad, although I could have contributed a few things about being the "little sister" of the person the friends remembered. Instead my brother and I got weepy in one of the back pews in her Lutheran church. She was the dynamo that kept a lot of relationships going, including our dysfunctional one, or rather created a family out of people only half related.

There have been few days while I've been here when the temperatures were below 90F and the humidity is like a wet blanket. This is why I don't travel to the States in summer. I did have one lovely midwestern day in Ohio and got to see an enormous golden moon lift above the corn. I finished one sock and started its mate, but the humidity really makes my hands hurt.

Of course, every one here including my two brothers wants me to come back here, just as every one in Oz wants me to stay there. I am still torn on the issue but for now (until the health care situation here shakes itself out) I still call Australia home. I especially miss the Imp. It will be lovely to lose the grip of humidity and see how far the wattle is blooming.

Friday, July 09, 2010

As one might have expected, my sister did not last long with that diagnosis. Like the Bear, she passed on within a month, dying July 2. July 1 was That Anniversary and to have my sister follow close behind was a like a hammer hitting me twice. Here I was supposed to be taking time off to prep the house and I didn't get much of that done. I got a cold then which kept me in bed for several days and the remaining time has been spent frantically planning a trip to the States. My sister's memorial is the 17th.

BFB has her own rocky journey. Her blog is here. I couldn't go to the US without checking in on her so I'm doing another rambling road trip that gets me to see a few folks at short notice while probably leaving me flat. I'll be back the beginning of August and this time I don't promise to blog on the road. It's a test drive of my wits and new knees. I did have the very pleasant experience of the dr's receptionist verifying my birth date when I rolled up to his surgery because she couldn't believe the person standing in front of her was the age on my records. I must be doing something right because this happens quite frequently. I guess the fatigue doesn't show, or all the sleeping I do to compensate has other benefits.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Where have I been? Working, thinking about my friends and family so far away, trying to get ready for retirement and downsizing, knitting socks, watching Masterchef Australia. I love to cook but this season they seem to be aiming more at restaurant style foods and not stuff I'd whip up at home. Like pigeon with truffles. Instead I made a pot of curried cauliflower soup and have the makings for more pumpkin soup. In winter I live on soup, bread and fruit, usually pears and mandarines. At least the Masterchef trio have allowed desserts into the competition, and there are fewer contestants who have never made pasta/meringue/pastry/mousse as they had last year. Unfortunately the show airs right at the time I would normally be eating my dinner and therefore I am sometimes skimping on my dinner meal in order to watch other people cook.

I've been reading too. Whipped through William Gibson's Idoru, which wasn't as good as the others I have read recently (i.e., Pattern Recognition), and Janet Envanovich's Finger Lickin' Fifteen, which was a hoot as always. I am now in Darwinia by Robert Charles Wilson. Of course, there can't help but be comparisons to the S.M. Stirling change saga but there's a very different tone due to the time when the change took place: 1912 vs 1998.

I spent yesterday driving all over Canberra shopping and today feel like I've been run over by a truck. I bought a granite mortar & pestle (I know--how have I cooked this long without one?) and a rug for the living room to replace the grotty thing in there now. My challenge is how to get the old rug out and the new one in without getting assistance to move furniture. And what will the Imp think of it? I also bought new ceiling light fittings for the lounge and bedroom and ordered a new pendant lamp for the kitchen. I spent a lot of time fruitlessly looking for a new kitchen table. Everyone wants to sell dining room table for 8 and I just want a square or oblong table with simple wooden chairs for my kitchen. It is out there somewhere but I tramped around a lot without finding it.

Thinking about my sister also got me back on the genealogical front, adding details about the maternal line. Ancestry just added a lot of land titles and I found my great grandfather's land grant in Benton, Pennsylvania. I also found out how the exotically named Naomi LaPorte ended up marrying into the Rhone family line: French refugees, which is perhaps where my mother's myth that we were descended from General Lafayette's family arose.

The next 4 weeks are to be spent cleaning out junk. I'll get a skip on Monday and start heaving stuff in it. No time to be sentimental about rusty tools formerly the Bear's. I can't use them and nobody else wants them so out they go.

Swans news: They played horrendously Sat. night against the Pies and lost badly. Somehow we manage to stay in the 8 but playing like that won't keep us there. For the first time I saw Roosy totally lose it at quarter time and give them an earful. They deserved it. Back to watching the other team play and an accasional defensive play. J and I turned off in disgust after our usual round of sms-ings.

Spinning: I wound off 450 m. of plied white alpaca that looks pretty darned spiffy if I do say so. Somebody suggest I try selling it online but I don't know if that is worth the effort. I do seem to be spinning faster than I can knit and I already have a LOT of yarn in the stash. Once I finish the socks currently under construction I can get back to serious knitting. I'm plying another lot of the red I've shown previously and I've plucked from the stash a hamk of SW merino from Laughing Rat Studio in a colourway called house finch: purple brown and blue.

In 4 days it will be July 1 and the third anniversary of his death. It seems like yesterday and yet feels like an eon. I could never have pictured myself living alone and making major decisions about my future by myself. Not having someone smarter than you to bounce ideas off makes me unsure of myself sometimes. I seem to have accepted that my future will be a single one, but there still isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish for him back. "What if" is pointless but and easy game to play. I miss him.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Just wanted to check in to tell you where I've been. Since it's a long weekend here (Queen's Birthday) and I can now stay with dear MIL, I went to Sydney for 2 days. We had our usual fun time, eating Chinese food, watching animation DVDs (The Incredibles and Shrek) and I went to see the Bear's final resting place in the cemetery. It was my first chance to see the plaque I had ordered. I also took the opportunity of using the maps I downloaded for my US GPS device to find my way around Sydney. I never drove in Sydney when the Bear was alive because he knew (or believed he knew) all the back roads to get around. I sometimes had a hard time convincing him that they might have built new roads since he last lived there (like the Eastern Distributor). But now I have a GPS device named Mandy who can direct me to where I want to go. She doesn't always use the most direct roads but she does get you there. She got J and I to Kensington and she got MIL and I to Watsons Bay. And why Watsons Bay? Anybody knows that one: Doyle's. I've eaten there many times since 1986 when X2 and I managed to get from Kings Cross to Watsons Bay to eat at this fabled restaurant. It hasn't changed in all the years, except the prices have gone very far up. Having said that, I had the most perfect (and huge) piece of barramundi and their awesome chips, and didn't begrudge the total. To the right is our view of Sydney CBD from the beach and you can see what a gorgeous day we had, even if it was a bit windy. Above to the left is a view of the Heads from the top of the hill going down to the Bay.

MIL and I are already planning another trip, maybe going into the city so I can stock up at David Jones food hall, or even go to Galaxy bookstore, as if I needed more sci-fi to read. I have to keep kicking myself repeatedly to remind myself that I am trying to reduce the number of books in this house no matter how Amazon or other places try to entice me.

I am almost finished with Deceiver, which is the latest in C.J. Cherryh's Foreigner series and is so engrossing that you could easily just sit down and read in one sitting. But then I'll have to wait a long time for the next one. I'm operating under the rule of reading big books first, so I will tackle hardbacks before paperbacks. My BBBB is now The Great Game, and it progresses a bit faster than I'd like in a BBBB, but it is fat. It's about the battle between Britain and Russia over the routes in Central Asia where the two empires came into contact, with Russia flexing it's muscles and Britain defending India. Of course, all a precursor to events of today, or even yesterday when Russia invaded Afghanistan leaving a mess behind.

Home again and housework calls, things like laundry and cleaning the kitchen floor. And weeding the book stock as well.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ok, then, the high-knit-content post. To the right we have what I have been spinning for the last few weeks. It's wool, I can't remember where I bought it, but I think somewhere on one of the jaunts with BFLB on my last trip to the states. I've spun and plied a full big bobbin and am on my way to doing it again so I should have enough of it to make something like a vest. The yarn is rustier red than it appears on my monitor but you know the drill about monitors & colours. It's really nice to spin and easy to do if I pre-draft it because it was pretty compressed.

At left are my first hand spun socks. I posted the photo of the sock wool a while back and they are now socks (as yet un-worn). I cleverly placed the socks for the photo so the foot of one is covered. I was unsure of the yardage on my spun wool so the first sock got feet made from leftover wool from commercial sock yarn, but I did have enough to knit the entire sock for its match. Not much left over. I should be careful to spin more finely in the future to squeeze the 400 yds out of 4 oz of wool. I bought some pretty SW BFL in purples and plums for socks (I can't seem to find enough purple socks in my drawer) and I have some SW merino, bamboo and nylon to spin as well. That's in green and brown and blue.


I was going to post a photo of one of my mother's sweaters that I am reluctantly going to discard but the light wasn't catching the details in the cables. The sweater is about 35 years old. I learned to knit late in life because my mother always kept me supplied in knitted clothes (no socks, tho). The sweater in question is a rose red and is covered in cables with rib sleeves. It is knit in acrylic because at the time it was knit I was living in North Carolina and had little use for heavy knitware. I've worn it regularly over the past 35 years but it is developing holes and I can't easily match yarn. Now that I know how to knit I can see all the mistakes, especially the cables that went in the wrong direction. I wore the sweater happily for 15 years without knowing there were mistakes in it which should prove something. Now I need room for new products of my own needles, so I will bid it good bye. It owes me nothing in wear, and I have a much more substantial example of my mother's knitting that is of the same vintage, so it is not the last product of her needles. I only learned how to knit and purl as a young person, and could knit scarves, but that was it. Knitting patterns were entirely in a foreign language and I got easily scared by the dire warnings from the yarn manufacturers about what would happen if you didn't use their yarn. Now I'll knit anything but lace and hope I'll conquer that someday. I used to think socks were impossible and now they are mindless.

Swans news: They lost again to Hawthorn but won a gusty match at the SCG against Essendon last week in similar conditions to the match J & I attended, i.e., rain. They fought back from behind and really played hard to grab the game away. This weekend they play Port in Adelaide at night and I am uncertain whether they can manage this. Let's hope they don't listen to my uncertainty and gloom and rise above.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

I had planned to post a heavy-knit-content post with photos of what I've been working on but I got some news yesterday that has knocked me sideways. My sister was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and has months to live. I have non-traditional family with children of different parents all calling each other sister and brother altho we are not, and we have relatively large gaps between ages. The person I refer to as my sister is the other child of my mother by a different father, and I grew up with her for my younger years. She is 14 years older than I. We only became relatively friendly after our mother died and we are not what I'd call busom buddies. I would have expected my elder brother (different mother, same father) who is 85 to go first. But my sister G has fought off breast cancer, which killed our mother. The chemo probably triggered the leukemia and the prognosis is not good. I was surprised how hard it hit me. I just got off the phone with her and she is doing as well as can be expected, and does not expect to see me before the end. I will go over for her memorial and she told me to wear a nice dress (!). When I told her I don't own a dress, she permitted me to wear slacks. While I had decided not to go to the states this year, it looks like I will be anyway, under different circumstances.

I didn't get much sleep last night and hope I can do better tonight.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

When the Bear and I got married 19 years ago, Uncle John gave us a novelty garter with a musical charm that played the wedding march. There is something about the electronic warbling of that thing that instantly irritates and/or intrigues cats. Every so often when I'm digging in my underwear drawer, I activate it and the cat goes bananas. Bear, I still miss you every single day and have only just made it to not crying every day. Pink's song "Who Knew?" makes me cry because it makes me think of his leaving me. No he didn't leave me on this plane of existence but he's just as gone and three years is rapidly approaching.

I'm reading a fascinating book, Foreign Babes in Beijing by Rachel Dewoskin. Aside from its witty observance of China and her fellow foreign babes, it is a startling view of a person who did something most of would never dream of doing. Admittedly Rachel came from an American family deeply involved in China from her childhood, but you or I would not just take off for Beijing on any job we could wangle just to go live there with our university level Chinese. It would be like me deciding to go to Nairobi because I speak what I know is a smattering of Swahili. To top the whole foreign immersion experience, she signs up to be an actress in a TV soap opera (whose title is the book's) to play a version of herself as seen through Chinese eyes, which is hardly flattering or even accurate. All Westerners smell of milk? I recommend this book highly as a view into China that would be hard to get otherwise. I am fascinated with modern China and Japan, especially how they are incorporating Western idioms into their culture. (My Ph.D. thesis was going to be on how modern technology had been expressed in Swahili) Culture clash is one of the things I find fascinating, even in science fiction. One of the best is the "Foreigner" series by C.J. Cherryh, latest volume just out.

Yes, I do speak a smattering of Swahili. In grad school I specialized in African linguistics and learned Swahili and Hausa, and took classes in Twi and a Bantu language. I actually taught Swahili for a year. It's a relatively simple language to learn, if you can call a language with 9 noun classes and whose verb tenses are expressed by adding a syllable in the middle of the verb. Of course, none of this gets you a job in the real world, hence I fell back on my original (i.e., from junior high) plan and became a librarian. I've been a librarian of sorts since 1976 and it's taken me many places and I've made lots of friends that have changed my life. After all I met X2 in a library, and met the Bear only because my work institution happened to have the creaky frame that was the Internet in 1990.

It is bucketing rain here and I have gotten over the novelty and am glad the reservoirs are filling up, but I'd really like to get in the garden to tidy it up. I know I'm going to have to hire a professional to do the ultimate clean up, but there are weeding and pruning I could do. I dug some potatoes to put in the pot of split pea soup I have on the stove and had to prune back a rose bush to get at them. I also retrieved another pumpkin, this time for use as veg not soup. In the supermarket yesterday I bought "buttermilk scones" hoping for American biscuits and, while the texture is about right, there's something off in the taste. Too sweet too. I was intrigued by frozen sweet potato fries until I read the label and found out they were imported from Canada! How on earth did sweet potatoes from Canada end up in my frozen food aisle? Canada is of course famous for its sweet potatoes.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Swans news: yesterday J and I went to Sydney for the day to watch the Swannies play. Before details of the day I will explain how we managed this. When the Swans first sent out membership materials for Canberra members, they told us they were changing the package, due for the most part to the ACT government no longer forking over a share of the money to hold the match at an ACT venue. This had reduced the number of matches being held in the ACT. The Swans instead offered us a package of one match in Canberra (last weekend's match vs the Bulldogs which I missed due to illness), one in Sydney at the SCG and one in Melbourne. Both J and I thought that a decent bargain and paid our membership. When the actual sign-up package arrived, the match in Sydney was at ANZ Stadium, which is the huge arena built for the Olympics. You have to walk miles from public transport or even from the entrance to your seat. I called the membership office and reminded them that they had promised us SCG tickets. After much rustling of papers on their end, they acknowledged that yes, they would honor the SCG promise. So, we signed up. When the final membership package arrived, the materials all said ANZ stadium. I got nowhere with trying to contact the membership office online but J took the matter further, partially because she was already angry at them holding a night match during Earth Hour. Somehow she managed to wangle us 2 member's tickets to a match of our choice at the SCG. I feel sorry for those Canberra members who didn't get this opportunity, but I was very satisfied.

So yesterday we did a one day excursion to Sydney, which started off on the wrong foot when my alarm didn't go off and I had to throw myself together in a hurry. Fortunately, due to some precognition, I had gotten everything ready the night before, down to socks and underwear laid out, so I was only a little late. We stopped in Marulan for game snacks (don't ever buy them at the venue) and discovered that the BP in Marulan was selling Krispy Kremes. Thus fortified, we continued and actually made it to the park & ride site (UNSW carpark) without getting lost. The Bear, who knew Sydney intimately, always drove in Sydney and I never paid much attention to details, and they've built new roads since we used to go to Swans matches. We took our bus to the SCG, went to the members office, retrieved our tickets and discovered we had the option of sitting in the Ladies Pavilion.

When I was hoping to get match seats in the SCG, sitting in the Ladies Stand was my dream, built in 1896, it epitomizes to me the charm of the old SCG. This was also our first view of the new SCG since construction was competed. The Victor Trumper Stand (named after a legendary cricket player) had completely absorbed the area formerly known as The Hill. which used to be simply grass and where the unwashed masses watched events and where the loudest commentary on any match's proceedings emanated from. It is all very spiffy, which is why I wanted to sit in the old part of the stands. We got 2 of the last remaining seats undercover (the skies were threatening) and settled in.

Somewhere along the line I had overlooked the fact the the Fremantle Dockers were no longer the walkover they used to be. It looked like cocaine was not the only drug of choice among the WA player community, because these guys were seriously large. They dwarfed our lads and won most contests where mere muscle ruled the day. The umpires didn't help either. We also were missing several key players. Craig Bolton is injured. Mumford is on suspension. Keneally left early, and Jude Bolton and LRT were cycled on and off the field. Henry Playfair did well and kicked his first goal. Official match summary here. In the third quarter the heavens opened and it rained almost the entire rest of the match. I have never before had the luxury of under cover seating so I was very glad we had manged to sit in comfort. Got the bus back to the car and drove home, stopping in Marulan for burgers. I was safely home by 9.30.

The outing only confirmed and refreshed in my mind how lovely going to Swans matches at home in the SCG is. And why tickets to ANZ Stadium are to be avoided (except for finals). There was a decent turnout (about 70% capacity I'd guess). The crowd was lively until the downpour (and it really rained). Nobody in our area was drunk or obnoxious. I think next year J and I might opt for a 3 game SCG membership and buy our Canberra tickets because there are times J can't go to matches here and I don't like going by myself.

I spent the beginning of the week sick with some sort of lurgie (bug) that sapped what strength I had and gave me a sore throat instead. I slept a lot, read a lot, made the Imp infinitely satisfied with me being held captive. My best book of the week was Marion Halligans's The Apricot Colonel. She usually writes about Canberra, so it was nice to read with an idea on my mind's eye of where she was. It would be lovely to have Tilly's as your local drop in spot. The Fog Garden was the first novel of hers that caught my attention, and since it was about a woman whose husband had just died, it planted a subconscious thought in my brain. Never assume that life will always proceed in the fashion your are planning.

Work on Thursday really tired me out, so I am not going to push with anything today so work tomorrow will be bearable. I finally got the brush fencing that screens the front entrance to the house repaired. One more step in renovations. Now I can get at the front garden more seriously.. I noticed that the fencing guy had tromped thoroughly on my iris, so I might sacrifice them rather that trying to figure out how to incorporate them into the landscape. If you don't know and love iris, they don't do well and look scruffy.

Friday, May 14, 2010

It's sort of been back to work altho I miss a day here and there. I get very tired easily and forget about that problem till I hit a wall. I still am not stable enough to do much yard work and winter has arrived in Canberra. We've had several below zero mornings and frost everywhere. The garden really only needs a tidy and put to bed for the winter so I'm not stressed about that.

This link was passed on thru one of the lists I'm on as a way to get rid of your stash. If I didn't already have a washing machine on its last legs, I'd be tempted to try. All that alpaca would make a spectacular rug. I'd have to do some deep thinking to figure out how raw filthy fibre could end up as a flat shape of any design.

I continue to work on getting the house ready to go on the market, which involves everything from painters to new light fixtures. So far I'm not getting very far since we all know tradesmen don't answer their messages or don't actually submit quotes after they have been to see you. I hope to move into a smaller house with minimal garden, but still have room for my crafts, etc. I have a new mantra: I need a skip.

Book report: I finished Neal Asher's The Line of Polity which was a rip-roaring space opera full of androids and space ships and all that stuff. The sci-fi equivalent of popcorn. I'll probably read more of his; I found a box of book I had packed while moving things out of the Bear's room and found another of his. I also found several books I had forgotten I'd bought so saved me buying them twice! I am now reading Sheri Teppers' Raising the Stones. Her novels are frequently about relations between the sexes but set in some far off imagined space, and told with great sublty, like a flower slowly opening. Her best, Grass and The Gate to Women's Country, are, to me at least, classics. My BBBB continues to be Eleanor and Franklin and I gound a biography of FDR in the box of books.

I must thank S for introducing me to Eat Your Books, a site which has indexed hundreds of cookbooks. You can now have access to all the recipes in your own cookbooks without trying to remember where you saw a recipe, or having a new (or old) ingredient and need a recipe for it. I am waiting for a promised load of a lot of out-of-print books since a lot of my cookbooks date from the '70's and '80's when I cooked a lot more and gave frequent dinner parties. One of the problems I'm having in looking at new houses is my Danish oak dining table which will sit 10 with the leaves out. I haven't given many dinner parties since I got here, but I would like to again so I don't want to sacrifice the table. Besides, I made needlepoint seat covers for the 4 chairs, and have a china cabinet full of bone china and crystal that goes with it.

Tomorrow J and I go to see the Swannies play at Manuka Oval (i.e., in Canberra). The team has already been hit by injuries so our stellar start to the season has stuttered. But we'll be there to cheer them on. Bradshaw has been outstanding and was an inspired trade. In an after-match interview a couple of weeks back, he admitted he hadn't learned all the words to the team song. For you non-Aussies, an AFL team returns to the locker room after a win and gathers in a circle to sing the team song, and all the fans in the stands sing it at the end of a win as well. Strangely, many AFL songs are American in origin with the words changed. Ours is the Notre Dame football song with the words altered.

Friday, May 07, 2010

I truly outdid myself this week in the tired and befuddled stakes. Wed. is a non-work day that I should really take as a rest day. But there are things an adult has to do in their normal life and non-work days are the only times I have for them. So instead of resting, I had two business appointments on Wed. which involved driving all over Canberra. I got up on Thursday morning believing somehow it was Friday. So instead of going to work I went to my GP, which is what I planned to do Friday morning. I was sitting in the waiting room feeling tired to the point of nausea. On the way home I suddenly realized that I had lost track of Thursday. Fortunately my boss is convinced I shouldn't be working 3 days a week to begin with and my job is less than essential. So I went home and slept for 4 hours. If the fibro pain don't get you, the fatigue will.

I also had a minor fall last Saturday, simply due to vertigo induced by too much bending and turning. Getting up with a knee not in action was interesting, especially with somebody knocking on the front door at the same time. I was very stiff the next day and now have a lovely purple bruise on my bum. My new knee is otherwise progressing beautifully and only needs some more time internal healing and losing a bit of swelling and it will be the equal of the left knee. There is little pain and it's so nice to be able to walk and stand. My hip no longer hurts too.

We've been having a lot of rain here. It's so unusual that I keep being mystified by this strange noise on the roof. We used to go for months without rain and now we are sodden. Of course this stage of my garden needs no rain, and my lawn has grown into a prairie again. I'm still not confident about my ability to push a lawn mower so it will have to stay that way. The Weather Pixie is having some system problems and I hope she will re-appear.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

I attempted to return to work last week, and while the work experience wasn't a disaster, I managed to have it all catch up to me when I pretended that I was back to full functionality. You know, like when I forget I'm sick and do way more than I should. I am reluctantly coming to the conclusion that I cannot work and simultaneously do any work myself on prepping the house for sale. It's work and let somebody else do it, or not work and do things myself. So for the time being I'm hiring people to do things like paint the exterior, do some garden maintenance, etc. I'll take some time off and work at cleaning out and boxing up things for that scaled down minimalist look that seems to matter for house sales. I also have been having trouble getting to sleep. The little twinges of pain that I can ignore when I'm moving around come out to play at night and I still can't sleep on my side.

Today D and I took advantage of the beautiful weather and went out looking at display homes, just out of curiosity and for ideas about decorating (although I don't think I'll take the idea of attaching an entire animal hide to a wall as art). We saw houses that were too small, houses that were too big (and way too expensive), and at least one that was just about right. What I would give for a new kitchen done the modern way. I don't think I'm in danger of redecorating my house so I don't want to leave, because there's a lot of garden that needs to be maintained and I'm just not up to it any more. It did hit home to D today that my downsizing would mean an end to berry jam, but my fans will have to resort to the shops or gourmet food provenders and pay a lot more than they have been paying me.

Swans are currently #2 on the ladder having defeating Brisbane tonight. I did not watch because I also managed to fall today (simple vertigo) and am feeling rather battered. Knowing my body, I'll be sore tomorrow but the bruises will take a few days to appear. I decided instead of raising my blood pressure watching footy I'd coddle myself with British crime dramas.

Book report: Raced through Edge of Evil by J.A. Jance, which was recommended by X2 and it was a ripping read. I'm back at fat sci fi with The Line of Polity by Neal Asher, who is another of the new wave of British space opera producers. I think I have read another of his altho I can't remember which one. I've managed to read 150 pages of this in 2 days so I think that means I like it. This is the second in the Ian Cormac series but I don't think I've read the first. Since he's horribly prolific, I imagine I'll work my way through them. I wish I read quickly enough to get books out of the library, but with the exception of quick shots like the Jance novel, it usually takes me far longer then the library borrowing period to read a book.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010






Just to prove I have been doing something while sitting here, the hank above is the 4 oz of BFL I bought from Sheepish Creations in January. It was a pure delight to spin but then BFL always is. I haven't gotten my hand on any of the superwash version but I think it would make superb sock yarn. I was surprised at how what looked like small patches of colour in the roving managed to spread themselves out over the entire hank.

It's been a long slow grind here, but I'm close to being back to functioning normally. Last night the muscles in my right ankle and lower leg decided to go berzerk on me and they are still sore today. I know this is a transient thing (unless this is how the problem my sister is suffering with started) so I will push on. I was going to try driving today and going to grocery shop, but I'll stay home and iron instead. My main problem with the knee is stiffness after being in one position for an extended period. I can sit at a table or desk with my feet flat on the ground but getting up and walking afterward is awkward. I am supposed to go to work next week and it's the sitting at a desk part of it that may hold me back.
I also get tired quickly but we al know that FM can be blamed for that as well.

I have been knitting too and these are my latest socks. Opal Neon in red, red, and red, with a little orange and pink. I've started a new pair using the hand spun blue yarn I finished a while back. My first hand spun socks! I also received my copy of Knitted Jackets and it has several designs I like. I have enough pullovers but not enough vests or cardigans/jackets, so that's where my knitting will go. The Irish XO vest it done to the arm holes so I feel like the end is in sight.

My Swannies have been doing very well. J took me to the markets and retired to my house to watch them thrash the Roos on Saturday. There were patches of beautiful flowing football when the team played like a well oiled machine. And this with a team that we still had to watch with player list in hand to answer the "who's that?" questions. Some of the new line up like Bradshaw and Mumford look like really valuable trades. Hannebery was outstanding. We're in 3rd place on the ladder with 3 wins and one loss.

Book reports: I finished Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age. It started off promisingly with altered geopolitics, nanotechnology revolutionising society and, for the characters of the story, high 19th century Victorian Britian being the social standard. But somewhere along the line, as the central character grew up, the novel lost its way and sputtered out in a very unsatisfactory ending. I have his Baroque cycle in the to-be-read section and I hope it doesn't leave me disgruntled as well. Eleanor and Franklin is almost too interesting to be a BBBB. I was surprised to learn that Eleanor was very shy and self conscious, due to her atypical upbringing. She was also very conservative in some ways, being in favour of Prohibition and against women's suffrage. She never forgave Franklin for his first infidelity and therefore for most of their public life they were estranged. She still loved him deeply but could never forgive that loss of trust. I'm now reading S.M. Stirling's The Sword of the Lady which is the 5th novel in his series about the US after the Change. The series is quite addictive. I have the latest Peter Corris calling to me, and the latest C.J. Cherryh Foreigner novel due out in a week or so, not to mention the other things in my bookcase. I will be sorry to give up my reading time when I go back to work.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

I have been thinking about fibromyalgia a lot since my adventure in hospital and the way my body continues to throw pain at me all beyond "reasonable" amounts for the action involved. I had my staples taken out yesterday and, while on the scale of painful experiences, this should have been low, I was a basket case. Some of it is natural squamishness about medical procedures, some anxiety about what would or could happen, and some is just unreasonable pain reaction. From MedicineNet.com: "The cause of fibromyalgia is not known. Those affected experience pain in response to stimuli that are normally not perceived as painful." It's so hard to explain why you are in agony when you look and act like a normal person, and even when your rational brain is telling you the pain isn't really as bad as the sensations you are perceiving. I am beginning to think of it as neurological and not rheumatoid-ish. The only medication currently working is Endone, which I understand can knock normal folks out, but with me, it just takes the pain away for a couple of hours. I am now only taking one or 2 a day unlike the regular stream I was getting in hospital.

Meanwhile, I read, watch TV, knit, do my exercises, and otherwise manage healing. It's hard to believe that 2 weeks ago I was being operated on and today I am walking around the house and feeling more or less OK. (Of course, I am always in pain but we don't talk about that)

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Just a quick update to let you know I am alive. I came home from hospital after 6 days and bypassed rehab completely. Apparently they were short of beds and they started me on exercises while I was still in the surgical ward. I was up and dressing myself at 3 days. I did go through a nightmare ride with pain management. The anesthetist didn't really understand fibro pain. I got a spinal injection of morphine instead of a general and that was supposed to cover all my pain needs for 24 hours. After 12 hours I was climbing the walls and begging for my own meds back. Instead I got a morphine pump and still was withheld my normal meds and sleep aids. I didn't sleep for about 3 days until they pulled the pump, put me back on my normal meds, but the on-service dr couldn't believe I still needed sleeping pills so wouldn't give me a full dose. To be fair to the anesthetist, who came to see me later, she really didn't understand how pain works in fibromyalgia, that the pain is in my brain not really in my muscles. I just wish these folks had looked at my medical history, spoken to my GP even, to understand that I had been on the regime for years and that they couldn't just start playing around with pain meds because they thought some arbitrary dose was sufficient. They also dispensed the meds at their convenience and since I am so dependent on several of those drugs, a three hour delays could make me cranky.

I also loathed the hospital. The nurses with few exceptions were super. The food was horrible. I had friends bring me fresh fruit because there was none on the menu and few veggies either. One day I ordered nothing but sandwiches and they were a bit concerned, but I had my fruit and tomatoes. Nothing to drink but coffee, tea, juice or water. The beds had very thin mattresses on a metal base and I had that to add to sleeping problems. That was also my reason for jumping at the option of going home. My nice soft adjustable bed let me sleep for 10 hours straight and also to elevate my leg to reduce the edema.

I am slowly working on the knee, trying to balance bed rest healing and exercises to gain flexibility. It already feels so much better to stand on than the old knee. I am eating out of the freezer. The Imp is delirious to have me back but she doesn't understand why she can't sit on the right side of my lap. On the other hand we have had many games of fetch and lots of petting and cuddling,

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Today you get thought hot off my brain, as long as I can remember what it was I was going to say! Some may know I have a Masters in Linguistics, or that I was ABD (All but dissertation) on the road to a PhD in Linguistics. My field was sociolinguistocs which usually got short shrift in formal linguistics because of the reign of Noam Chomsky, with whom I disagree almost entirely. Chomsky viewed what actually came out of the mouths of speakers as insignificant compared the the black box of language in the brain. Besides the fact that brain research has shown that language is not a black box (read Oliver Saks) unless you consider the brain as a whole as the black box, you know as well as I do that people from different places speak the same language differently. Most commonly this is in pronunciation. I have learned how to spot a Kiwi (New Zealander) in 25 words or less. There are certain phrases that Aussies quote as telling signs, but I hear it in the change of different vowels. "Definite" come out as "difinit"

I've been collecting Australianisms since I got here and add new ones every week. Last week I heard "the duck's guts" meaning "everything" or maybe "kit and caboodle". Now I didn't stop and quiz the speaker about whether this was something his mother said and where she was from, but this was new to me. To Americans, "to take a squiz" or "hit for six" may be as mysterious, but they are now as part of my vocabulary as "the whole nine yards".

What prompted today's post was reading Meg Swanson, who is practically a god to us knitters, write about the enormity of Elizabeth Zimmerman's contribution to knitting. I should give up on "enormity" whose dictionary meaning (Mirriam-Webster) is "
an outrageous, improper, vicious, or immoral act" but is almost universally used today as "a huge amount". I can see people needing a noun to use from "enormous" but "enormity" ain't it. But I might as well forget it as I have forgot my battle over less vs. fewer. In linguistics classes, especially grammar and meaning forums, you would frequently be given sentences that you could signify as ungrammatical, and in papers read in conferences votes could be taken about whether sentences were grammatical or not (and what about that black box, Noam?). I have to restrain myself from correcting people or even grilling them on where a phrase came from (dialectology, very not-black-box). Written language is even worse and it's not just non=native speakers who mangle it. Yesterday I got an email from the Library's own book store apologozing for getting a "sir name" wrong.

I've got a lot of phrases from my mother, but I've lived in Australia long enough that I can't even tell now whether I'm using American or Aussie terms for things. I remember my first problem with "haberdashery" which in the US means men's clothing but here means what Yanks would call "notions", those extra bits and pieces for sewing, like tape measures and needles. Americans rarely lose their accents here, but my vocabulary is a dog's breakfast at the moment.

I am also crushed to find out that the only day President Obama will be in Canberra will be the day after my knee surgery. I was ready to stand outside the US embassy and wave a flag but I won't be able to now. I'll be physically close since the hospital is just a mile away but not good enough. Rats.

Another friend is now fighting cancer, and I have been told I better get used to this as I get older. There are a few people my age or older who are disgustingy healthy but for the most part nearly every one I know of my age has some medical condition that they are battling. I know our genetics is not wired for us to live this long, so naturally things start to fail with age. Medical science can keep us alive longer (see BFLB's blog) but the cost in dollars and angst and pain is not insignificant.

Apologies that the Weather Pixie seems to have disappeared again. I haven't removed the link in hopes that the site revives as has happened before.