Friday, January 29, 2010

To the right is what I bought from Sheepish
when they were having a sale. Two hanks of BFL but no choice of colour. I am not disappointed.

I have been very careful not to spend money and then I had a visit from my dear MIL and she is a bad influence. We spent most of Weds at the mall, doing things like going to Medicare, having lunch, seeing Avatar in 3D
. But she was very taken with the product of my bread machine. I explained that it would only do one type of bread and that it had no "bake only" cycle which is what I need to make sourdough in it. She also decided that my toaster was too old (it was yellow plastic and bought about 15 years ago and can be temperamental). She decided she would buy me a new toaster (it you are thinking Cylon you know I can relate) so we went off to Myer while in the mall, and we chose a toaster and she also replaced my electric knife which had died a while ago. It is much easier to cut homemade bread with an electric knife. While we were in small appliances I took a look at bread machines and of course fell in love with one of the most luxurious models. MIL insisted that I needed it and I succumbed. This one will do everything except slice the bread and butter it. We had to come home and do a test loaf before we went out to dinner. It is faster than the old machine, has a "bake only" cycle and you can even specify how you like your crust. It produces a loaf that is more standard in dimension than the tall loaf produced by the old Panasonic. Oh, and BTW, MIL wants the old bread machine! I am now testing the new Breville on pumpernickel which the old machine made bricks of. My credit card took another hit.

I have not been sleeping well, or rather, I have not been sleeping. Falling asleep before 2AM is the exception, not the rule, and though I needed to see my GP, I simply could not get up at 6AM today after not getting to sleep until 3AM last night. You see, I am now back to walking around malls, working, etc. and my legs have started to hurt again. I spent a day taking the ornaments off the Christmas tree while MIL was here which of course is all standing, What do I do when I can't sleep? I try reading. I toss and turn, I play Mah-jong, read blogs, have toast. None of those worked last night so I headed back to Etsy and naughtily bought spinning fibre. The LAST thing I needed but my will power is very low in the early morning. Too bad I can't swap some of the alpaca for it. I have started spinning the long alpaca straight from the locks and, I might be wrong, but I think this is strong enough to be warp. I of course need to sample, but 6" long fibres tightly spun feel strong enough for warp if they can stand abrasion from the heddles and reed.

I have cast on the Irish XO vest from Cheryl Oberle's Folk Vests in Brook's Farm moorit wool & kid mohair (a gift from BFLB) and a pair of summer socks in Katia Mississippi 3 in lime green. I am rethinking the cabled cardie as another simpler pattern has caught my eye and I am in the mood for something simple. There's also the possibility of knitting Girl Friday in Berocco Softwist Bulky which I bought at half price on the last trip to the states with the Bear.

Last evening I was alerted to some commotion in the back yard involving a lot of unusual squawking. I took myself and the camera outside to find the plum tree festooned with juvenile king parrots. They didn't really care about me so I watched the parents feed and fly off, and the babies retire to the power lines in the back. I could walk right up to them and snapped away hoping to get the action of the parents regurgitating food into a baby (just as big but dependent). Unfortunately it was so far into dusk that I only got silhouettes. This is the first time I have seen young king parrots in my back yard so I am glad that all the Cheeps have produced new parrots. I also heard on a podcast at work yesterday that superb parrots are making a comeback and I now know that they are in my neighbourhood as well. They prefer a particular type of acacia which I should research.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The day before Australia Day is about to dawn, I am finally back on-line. I have been sick for 2 full weeks, and only now am not totally exhausted. Back to work tomorrow, still coughing a little. I'm sorry I deserted my reading audience but there was nothing left to write about unless you want to know how many boxes of tissues I went through. I managed to tack a cold on the end of the infection so I ended up blowing my nose a lot even though my head was clear when the infection started.

I finished Mappa Mundi and it ended as a good thriller ought to, although I still can't believe the main premise of the science part of it would be manageable in our lifetime, and the novel was set pretty squarely in the present day, with a few computer whiz bangs to make it all work. I raced throug C.J. Box's Open Season, which is the first in his series on a fish & game warden. A real page turner even if you did sort of see it coming. I tried reading a straight novel, and found it too close to reality for me. I didn't want to read about somebody else's unhappy childhood when I have one of my own. So I've started Alastair Reynolds' The Prefect, and while I don't remember a lot of the details of his universe, it feels more comfortable than 1954 suburbia. I read to escape, not dwell in the past.

It's been a blue day here as I miss the Bear most on Sundays because we had a Sunday routine that I can't replicate by myself. My dear MIL arrived this afternoon for a 3 day visit. She is always welcome here. We'll go see Avatar together and take down the Christmas tree.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Good news or bad news? How about good: here are my completed knitting projects pushed along by enforced house arrest. The shell is knit out of Cyrstal Palace Choo-choo yarn, in the colourway actually featured at Yarnmarket. I picked up balls here and there until I had enough for the shell. I have a weakness for ribbon and there's more in the stash. It took my a very long time to finish this which has nothing to do with the pattern or the yarn, just intertia. It fits, but will be worn under another layer for my aged modestry. The other is my second attempt at lace (that is, successful attempt) and is only feather and fan in Touch mohair. It is soft and scrunchable and I don't think I'll block it. It went in with the moth-balled winter stuff. I am next starting on a cabled zip front cardie, which will require me to sit down quitetly and establish the pattern. Out of medium grey handspun in sorta bulky weight. I am also going to start a vest an I'm leaning towards a Chris Bylsma design. Trying to use a gift from BFLB of merino and kid mohair in a toast brown. What can I say--I'm addicted to cables.

Healthwise, no good progress to report. I continue to cough and wheeze. I saw my GP on Friday morning and he said the hospital was not needed but put me back on steroids and more antibiotics and wants me off work and to see him on Tues. So I cough and wheeze and am generally tired because I can't sleep because I cough and wheeze. The steroids do make my RA better--my hands are much less inflamed but I still can't get my rings on, so I guess the joints are still stuffed. Without steroids, the RA in my sternum would be screaming by now and I'd have to be on steroids. I have a lung infection that is apparently going around and causes weeks of coughing. Coughing is my friend, because I am still coughing gunk up, but it's not fun. I am very tired and would love to nap, but find myself parked in from of the TV watching National Geographic and BBC dramas. I enjoy Torchwood, Innocent, Carrier, Eureka, and The Story of India. As you can see my tastes are eclectic and I trhow in the odd nature documentary or sci-tech explanation. No day time soaps for this viewer.

I am also still on my quest for perfect bread. I bought one sourdough starter through the mail and have 2 more on order. I am reading Classic Sourbough
which seems like a very sensible and down to earth approach. I watched a show on The Food Lover's guide to the Planet (Nat Geo Adventure) about bread and they showed 4 different breadmakers all using live starter and not bread yeast. May not all be classic sourdough but live starter seems a good start. Tuscan bread is a favourite and that's what they do. Ed Wood also goes someway to demystify flours. There seems to be a blokes network for sourdough on line where women seldom are heard, but I made sourdough for years in in North Carolina without serious analysis and I am sure I can do it again. Good bread is the staff of life. When I'm not miserly eating low-fat yoghurt for lunch, I eat bread, cheese and fruit. I don't find that excessive.

I am reading Mappa Mundi by Justina Robson, and while the plot is racy, this is one where the Bear would say the science doesn't hold up. I cannot believe that they would have cracked the link between physics of neurochemical reaction in the brain and control of personality/will in our life time. Yes, it is a horrendous idea but the science doesn't convince me, all though the conspiracy theories and good vs evil is intriguing if implausible.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A brief post for those of you who care about my health. I am once again knocked down by a mystery illness. No mystery about the symptoms, just origin and cause. The cough I developed last Friday by Sunday was keeping from sleeping and I was developing a chest so wheezy that the noise of that was alarming, When I woke up at 6AM Momday I decided to do something and went back to the clinic to see any doctor. He put me on Ventolin and antibiotics and told me to go home and rest for a week. I am still coughing but the little I cough up seems to help with the wheezing, as does the Ventolin. I finally got some sleep yesterday. I can really only not cough by sitting up so I have watched a lot of TV (a plug for Foxtel) and finished the ribbon shell finally. It shows a bit more flesh than I should at my age but over a light T shirt should do well. I wove ends on the lace scarf, so I shall have to pull my wits together for a new project. I want a around the house cardigan or a vest out of my handpsun so I shall have to brave the studio's pattern library.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

The first week back at work was not thrilling, but then I didn't have high expectations. Unfortunately the collection development people thought the crap I had was wonderful and a valuable addition to the catalogue (groan) so I am forced to catalogue it. How a 1960's catalogue of machine parts can arouse so much interest is beyond me, but I serve an apparently weird clinetele.

The visit with SIL and BIL went fine, with the stand-out in their estimations was my pumpkin pie. Huh? Since they have no such thing here, it must be as exotic as a pavlova is to an American. BIL voluntarily took on a piece of home maintenance I have been unable to deal with (back screen/security door sticking) by removing the door, adjusting its wheels and cleaning out the tracks. The last bit I could have done but not the rest. Thank you, G.

We are in another patch of 35C+ temperatures, until Tues or Weds they say. I shudder to think of my electricity bill but I am able to do stuff around the house with a/c where last year I would have been flat on the bed sweating. Instead I managed to iron, and poke away at genealogy. I have no berries except blackberries which have outdone themselves. I may actually accumulate enough to make jam. I have lots of green tomatoes but no ripe ones. The pumpkin vine is beginning to expand and my last lima beans are up. I've had one cucumber but no zucchini.

Reading The World is Flat
by Thomas L. Friedman and while he's very excited and enthusiastic about the global economy, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. Yes, isn't convenient we can buy cheap clothes from China but should we? I realize that there isn't much hope of resurrecting the garment industry in the US or Australia, and we reap the benefits every time we shop, but there has to be a down wide to this. The Chinese worker is making much more than they would have pre-globalization but are they going to want more? Are we ready for China to deal with a middle class with greater aspirations than buying cheap knock-offs of designer labels? Since I tend to shop at K-Mart I am at the bottom of the food chain, but I worry about the big boys throwing punches above me. I don't think the flat world is a fair world, maybe fairer than it was but a lot of people lost jobs along the way and I don't see former clothing workers re-inventing themselves as designers of bleeding edge aerospace components, just because that's where the jobs and money went. I know I couldn't live without constsnt Internet connection and that has a wider reaction than me being able to do genealogy research at a distance. Something to think about and watch in the future.

Meanwhile I have suddenly developed a nasty chest cough with no other symptoms to help excplain it. I coughed all night and don't look forward to doing it again and would like it to go back wherever it came from.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Greetings to 2010. For once I did not stay up to watch Sydney fireworks, which I understand were their normal stupendous standard. Instead I went out to the movies with D to see Avatar and then came home and uncorked a bottle of bubbly, had some cheese & crackers, and talked until nearly the magic hour. I have never put a lot of emphasis on when the clock ticks over the a new year, but I do like Sydney's fireworks, which why I usually stay up.

As expected I have spent major portions of the week off work sleeping, sleeping and then taking a nap. I also spent almost 3 hours waiting to see my GP which I hadn't anticipated but there were already 8 people ahead of my on his queue before I got there, and I got there before he did. When it wasn't raining it tended to be hot, so I haven't done as much outside work as I would have hoped for, but the garden chugs along without me. I've done the occasional weeding and re-typing of tomatoes, put bird netting over the plum tree, and got no berries at all. It was either too hot or too cold and they just didn't mature. My neighbours did a halfway job on cutting back the overhanging shrubs--just the minimum they could do to meet the letter of my request, but not enough that we won't be back to square one next season.

Then there was the problem I had putting up the bird netting. A couple whom have been close to the Bear and I since I came here
came over. Since he is tall, I asked for assistance in putting the bird netting on the plum tree; I had already had one cockatoo shredding tree and green plums. When I reached out to get the ladder to climb up for my end of the netting, I failed to notice a wasp nest under construction under one of the rungs and I got stung 3 times in rapid succession. I don't react well to insect stings (especially wasps), and insects will sting me and leave everyone else alone (I was the only person stung at this time). I expected swelling and irritation but more than 24 hours later and my forearms and right wrist/hand were very swollen, red and hot and the swelling was progressing rather than receding. So I called the toll-free health network and spoke to a nurse who advised me to see a doctor within the next 4 hours. By this time it was 7PM New Year's Day. Fortunately my clinic was open and there were only a few other people there so I was in and out, with a script for Prednisone and an antibiotic (just in case). Today most of the swelling is down, but the back of my hand is worse and bending my wrist is like trying to bend an overinflated balloon. I expect another dose of steroids will fix that. My SIL and hubby are due to visit in Tues and I'd like to do a little more cleaning before they arrive.

I did go through the huge box of the Bear's slides, which indeed went back to the 60's. I found the wedding photos from his first marriage. Luckily I have been in contact with his first wife so I could ask her if she wanted all the slides of their honeymoon (she said no). I scanned and kept every photo of the Bear and/or the rest of the family. This took about 2 days.

Finally, as if I need to, I'll give a huge plug for Avatar. It literally blew me away. I almost don't want you to go to the site and download the trailer; I want you to go with zero expectations, as I did more or less. It is so real, so overwhelming, so vivid, so imaginative. I felt I was living all those science fiction novels I had read about first contact. We didn't go to the 3D version but now I think I want to see it again, maybe in 3D this time. I had to remind myself (when I was not totally embedded in Pandora) that this was animation. Those wizards at Weta in Wellington (NZ) outdid their Lord of the Rings and I know when Avatar comes out on DVD I will wait for the 5 disc ulta-extended edition and may even spring for a Blu-ray player for it. If you go to the website, try to do so after you see the movie. Don't spoil all the wonderful surprises that are there for you to see with eyes wide open. and jaws thoroughly dropped. I dreamt about the movie that night and I can't wait to see it again. One thing I am very glad about turning 60--I can get into movies cheaper. Thus my suddenly going to movies all the time! D and I spent a lot of time gasping at each other. "That was so amazing/fantastic/overwhelming/wonderful!!"