Monday, December 12, 2011

I really wore myself out last week because my head was convinced that I was back to full strength while my body very much was not. I did a lot of walking, especially around the newly enlarged mall in Belconnen, partly to get new lights for my Christmas tree. Putting the tree up was part of my mind set of being on the road to recovery so, although it's a bit late, it's up and that's what counts. Fortunately the Imp shows no interest in the tree or its ornaments, although I never put anything breakable or edible on the bottom. I have had a cat that ate all the straw ornaments so I am cautious.

The weather is stuck in some other time dimension. We've continued to have rain (thunderstorms yesterday) and it's only around 20C and not very sunny. I've said it before but it's still true: this is not normal for Canberra in December. The garden loves it. The beans are blooming. So are the tomatoes but the weather doesn't suit them.

My BBBBs have been American Jezebel and Language Death and they have both been too
stimulating and I haven't been sleeping. The David Crystal book inspired me with his rationales for multilingualism, including that being bilingual stimulates your brain. I have studied a long list of languages but the only one I feel comfortable in taking up again is Spanish, partially because it is an "easy" language. It's not hard to pronounce, it seems closer to Latin which helps me out, and I did study it intensely as recently (ha) as university. I have more years invested in French (5) but I can still read it with the help of a dictionary. So I got some simple Spanish stories for my Kindle and a dictionary for my iPhone and am going to try reviving my Spanish neurons. Even tho I taught Swahili in grad school, not much of it remains in my brain and I have little opportunity to use it. At least with Spanish I can read labels on stuff imported from the US! For those who only know me in the Swanknitter persona, I got a masters degree in Linguistics & Non-Western Languages, specializing in African languages and before that studied Latin, French and Spanish. Lack of jobs in the field shunted me into library work. I love learning languages, but they are like puzzles to me; once I figure out how they work I lose interest so rarely become fluent without constant exercise. My new BBBB is Foreign Devils on the Silk Road, which follows on from previous BBBBs about Central Asia. My Kindle book is another Neal Asher Ian Cormac novel, Line War.

My dear MIL is coming for a visit over Christmas, which overjoys me. I haven't seen her in over a year due to my knee. Once I got the word on the cataracts, driving to Sydney to her new home seemed beyond me and would put off a reunion till sometime around June next year. So seeing her over the holidays is the best present ever. Each year without the Bear is hard. I hope someday it won't be so raw.

I finished the handspun sock yarn for D. and It turned out really well, with the colours lining up almost exactly in plying. I finished a pair of Opal cotton socks last night and bought up 2 more balls of it (since I found out it was discontinued and I really like it). The last pair was grey/blue/pink and the next pair will be coral. I am spinning some brown wool of unknown origin but those blankets deserve stripes. I finished spinning what I think was 4 oz. of wool/silk/mohair blend in autumn colours. Have no idea what I'll do with it!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

When I went to the supermarket yesterday, I passed their array of fresh flowers and was blown away to find this huge bouquet of peonies. I miss my US peonies terribly so to have these to admire is brilliant. I don't think I have soil suitable for them here. I don't think thay will last long; they've already gone from bud to full blown in 12 hours.

In the process of researching 17th century America for genealogical purposes, I am reading American Jezebel by Eve LaPlante, about Anne Hutchinson. I'm not a very religious person. I was raised in the Congregational church, which was my choice for my family, made when I was 7. Since this denomination is descended from the original Puritans, I expected to find some chords to resonate in the story. I cannot say that today I am a Christian because I no longer believe in many of the basics of Christian faith but I do try to follow the ethical standards. I am now totally dumbfounded to find that the founding fathers of Massachusetts, who left England for religious freedom, became totally legalistic and narrow in their beliefs in the new world and prosecuted Anne Hutchinson for her differing opinions on points of theology. Of course, much of it boils down to the fact that she was a woman, who was supposed to be silent and obey her husband. Anne was brought up as an independent thinker, and one who believed at a deeply emotional level about how "salvation" is achieved. I don't believe in heaven or hell and I'm not sure what I think about what happens after you die. Sometimes I believe in karma; sometimes I think you just die. Of course these are the same legalistic ministers who banished my ancestor Roger Williams, so I shouldn't be surprised, but I was. The original society of Massachusetts in the 17th century is not quite how we were taught in school. I'm not sure those controlling ministers should engender the respect that they get as "founding fathers."

Canberra's weather continues to confuse me. We got 90mm (almost 4") of rain last week. Last night the thunderstorms started around 6PM and are still rumbling and raining at noon the following day. I have a small lake in my back yard and I would love it to stop raining long enough for me to pick strawberries, etc. The garden loves it and the weeds like it too. I need to get my gutters repaired but the guy can't fix them until it stops raining!

The cataract problem continues to bother me. If I read too much or do too much close work in the evening I often get a headache. Apparently cataract surgery is a simple process so I'll go ahead with the weaving course. I continue to have a weak back, but I'm doing exercises to strengthen the muscles. I have a weak lower back originally because I am missing part of a vertebra. I am told this is an extremely mild variety of spina bifida; it just means my lower back hurts when I lift things the wrong way.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

It's 2 AM and the Imp has woken me up twice since I turned the light off. It's our first really warm night this summer and I think she thinks I should be awake to share it with her. No thank you. I may have to eject her from my bedroom (and lose air circulation) if she won't settle down. Aside from walking around on me and demanding to be petted, she yowls.

The knee progresses but the back is still weak. I walked three city blocks on Friday and was barely able to keep upright at the end. But I also worked an hour in the garden mulching and weeding and was sore but managed to actually accomplish something. I'm getting good returns of strawberries but the spinach has given up in the heat. One of the varieties of pea has finished but another is still coming in if this hot spell passes.

My city visit was to see my optometrist because of semi-constant headaches, especially when I try to do close work. I feel like I'm straining to see. The verdict was unexpected: cataracts, when I was expecting new lenses. I see the surgeon in Feb just before the next weaving course. I hear the recovery time is short so I may be able to do both. The next weaving course is on textural weaving like waffle weave and seersucker, both of which I wanted to learn, so I really want to take it. I can drive now but don't trust myself in locations like city traffic (I know you who snort that Canberra has city traffic but we have sufficient concentrations of bad drivers). I think D doesn't want to relinquish driving my car but it's nice to have somebody there to take up the slack when I tire myself out. It's only been a month since surgery so I am entitled to longer recovery time.

I'm reading Martin Cruz Smith's Three Stations on my Kindle and have downoaded Steve Job's autobiography. My BBBB is American Jezebel about Anne Hutchinson, She co-founded Rhode Island with my ancestor Roger Williams based on radical ideas about freedom of religion and payment to the the Indians for taking over their lands,

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

I am alive, I'm home, I can walk and I am sitting almost comfortably at my desk with my feet flat on the floor and knees bent. The right leg is still relatively weak after not being used for 6 months, but it gets stronger every day. I can walk without support but I still do my exercises. At the strong encouragement of the physios in the hospital (including the physio from hell I met on my first knee replacement), I made an appointment with a physio closer to home and got some additional exercises from him. Since I've only been home a week I think I am doing well.

At right is the only knitting I can show for the last month, a pair of socks from Noro's Kureyon sock. The colours are obviously a knockout but the yarn itself is rather harsh feeling and is spun no better than my handspun. If the wow factor of Noro is the colours, I can dye yarn just as striking. I've started a new pair of socks out of Opal Cotton in greys and soft pink.

My spinning output has been the one pound of 50/50 merino & tussah silk in a deep forest green. I got 4 hanks out of the pound from Yarn or a tale which cost all of $21, but I haven't counted yardage yet. It's very soft and is a sport weight. I've been thinking of knitting one of those long skinny scarves that people seem to wrap around their necks these days and this silk mix would be a good candidate. The next spin will be some superwash merino in hot pink, neon green and turquoise for the sock hoon, D.

My other preoccupation since I've been home is the release of Coldplay's new album. I am a very devoted fan of theirs and would love to see them perform live. I'll have to keep my ear closer to the grapevine to find out when or if they are coming to Australia and try my best to get a ticket. I know nobody else my age or younger who shares my musical tastes so I'll go alone if I have to. I've been watching a lot of their Youtube videos and phrases from their songs are running around my head 24/7. Any Sydney folks out there who would go with me?

Speaking of which, while I've been home, I've been thinking a lot about this blog. The person for whom I wrote is no longer here. I know I have a handful of devoted readers but they are not interested in knitting and spinning for the most part. This blog may have passed it's use-by-date. Facebook connects me with a lot of my friends that wouldn't read my blog. This platform may become more irregular and be confined to crafts, books, movies and such. Once again I ask for feedback altho I know who most of my readers are. Anybody anonymous please let me know why you read?

Book reports: I finished In Siberia by Colin Thrubon and it was just as interesting as all his other travel books. He goes to places ordinary travelers wouldn't and seeks out unusual people. This was a picture of post-Soviet Siberia, which is crumbling like many of the other bits of the Union. He visits prison camps and Old Believers, Lake Baikal and the Amur River. I am now reading both Language Death by David Crystal, which invigorates those latent linguistic routines in my brain, and Will the Boat Sink the Water? about the plight of the peasant in rural China. For regular reading, there's Steven Saylor's Judgement of Caesar, and on my Kindle some ripping space opera.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Here I am on the almost-eve of my surgery and strangely, even tho I have been longing for the surgery to replace my knee for 5 months, I am consumed with anxiety. I always have increasing panic when waiting for sugery that is scheduled for a future date. I hadn't a twinge when they wheeled me into theatre every other day when I was in hospital. Now that I'm sitting at home waiting for the day to roll around, I've got knots in my stomach. Irrational but that's the way I am. Were the Bear here, I'd be in tears begging to be kept home. Do I actually want to clump around on crutches and/or a frame for any second longer? No, but the thought of surgery makes me frantic. I had such a bad time with the pain management when they put the right knee in the first time that I dread the possibility of not sleeping for 3 days again. I haven't been able to get in touch with my anaesthetist to go over what he thinks he's going to do with me. I have implored my surgeon to make sure my normal medication regime is not changed. I can't do anything more on that except stew. The wound is completely healed, and the rash is almost finished healing. It itches a little.

Otherwise, I read. Steven Saylor's The Judgement of Caesar is one of the series about Gordianus the Finder. This one takes place (so far) in Egypt, almost from the death of Pompey. I find Saylor's Roman novels some of the most readable of its genre. I'm still In Siberia while going to sleep.

I've finished spinning and plying the dark green merino/silk, and am trying to regain use of 2 bobbins by plying a bobbin of white alpaca with white wool. I haven't tried this before and it will turn out a lace-weight yarn. Next out of the box is some hot pink/neon green/turquoise superwash for socks for D. She has been beavering away on socks and likes the most vivid colours. I have almost finished the Noro socks. The yarn is gorgeous for rather harsh on the hands with very little give, making my hands hurt after knitting an inch or so.

I ask again why I write this blog. I know there are a handful of devoted readers but the reason I began this blog has passed away. The remaining readers have a more varied interest in me: old friends, relatives, fellow bloggers, fellow spinners, etc. I'll keep going for you but don't expect a new post for a while.

My wonderful gardener turned up last weekend and did some more weeding, planted beans, and put stakes up for the peas. I've gotten a few meals of asparagus although the bed is full of couch (weed grass). My apple trees are blooming so I hope I get a decent crop (like 6).

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Finally I am clear for knee replacement. The nurses declared me healed and discharged in the AM, Plastics did the same later, and my surgeon was all smiles and ready to go. I knew everything would go OK but it was still stressful awaking the verdict of the various medical professionals. Not to mention getting in and out of cars and clumping around on crutches. So on Oct 17 I am in John James Hospital to get a knee and resume my life. It's been over a year since the initial injury and I will never get that year back but I'll make the most of the rest of my time. It is trying to be spring here and the flowers have come and gone (except my apple and pear trees which are currently blooming) but the rest of the garden awaits me. What will the Imp do if she doesn't have me to sit on all the time?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Insomnia. Just when I think I have it beaten, here I am at 2AM too awake. My GP had me try melatonin on top of my regular sleeping medication but I can't detect any improvement. I read some on Colin Thubron's In Siberia about Stalin's work/death camps, had the Imp settled in my armpit and thought my day-long headache would appreciate a rest. Wrong. The cat started snoring like a tiny feline trumpet, my breath was wheezy and congested (a common condition), and I had songs from West Side Story running through my head from the last episode of Glee. So I gave up, got up to take something for my headache and a bonus sleep aid and pulled out my faithful iPhone. I was amused to find that my prescription sleeping pills are illegal in the US and that I was forbidden to bring them into the country. That would effectively bar me from re-entry since I can't sleep without them and sometimes not with them. I wonder what they propose I do in order to visit my homeland. I know the last time I accidentally went over without them I was miserable and sleepless for a week until J posted them to me.

Otherwise, the news here is good. My wound is almost completely healed and I expect Plastics to set me free next Tues. I see my surgeon the same day and I think the Oct 17 date will become confirmed for my new knee. I realize recovery will take longer this time but I'm very motivated.

I've been reading Stephen Fry's autobiography which makes me realize what a brilliant mind he has even if he did go off the rails in his youth. As a girl brought up in the 1950's it was also a window into all those childhood boy things I always suspected happened whether one was gay or not, but polite male authors never spoke of. Stephen tells all and this girl at least went through similar emotional and physical explorations, but I was too much a Good Girl to ever stray from the very straight and narrow. Except smoking at 16 which I don't recommend.

I have also read Larry Niven's Destiny's Road which I enjoyed quite a bit. No, it isn't up there with Ringworld but is quite a good read. One of the Bear's leftovers. The Orchid Thief was a disappointing mishmash of personal experience with Florida's orchid community and environment and a historical background. Considering the orchid mania of Victorian times, this minor incident hardly counts but it is a window into a section of the plant world unknown to most of us. I used to occasionally accompany my mother to preserves in southern Florida in search of birds and I therefore know a little what they are like (hot, wet, and full of bugs but spectacular).

Here in Canberra we had torrential rain and high winds today, which are shredding my wisteria before it can properly bloom. My apple trees are blooming and I managed to pick enough asparagus for a meal last week. Next weekend I should have my gardener back to plant beans. The peas and lettuce look good A's much as I can see. But spring is toying with us, giving us some lovely days and then retreating leaving us shivering.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Last night I spent two hours watching shows about 9/11. I obviously was not in the US when the disaster struck but I still get very patriotic about my birth place and got very teary-eyed at some points. 9/11 seemed to bring out the best in many Americans: their courage under attack, their help to fellows in distress, their dogged persistence in rescue and the resolve it gave the country that we were not going to become a nation of victims. I certainly don't agree that the logical future involved invading Iraq and I doubt there's a chance of truly battling radical terrorists with an army anywhere, but we tried. The efforts of Homeland Security to make air travel safe are completely over the top and Timothy McVeigh proved that home-grown radicals can wreak havoc, so the solution can't be simply to put armed guards everywhere. I was so upset to listen to radical Muslim clerics declare that the US would not rest until every Muslim was dead. Our whole nation is built on exactly the opposite of that and only Muslims declaring jihad on America has changed our feelings about religious freedom. I am still very much American and I miss my homeland very much sometimes. I think Americans get a bad reputation overseas because in some cases we are frightened of foreigners since we can be insular. Our country is so big and has such diversity that going overseas is not the rite of passage as it is many other places (like Australia). I was terrified on my own even here because I knew I was in a different culture and didn't want to be thought ignorant or foolish when I opened me mouth. Maybe we talk too loud because we all talk at once at home and are not used to other cultures. Whatever; I've gotten off track. I felt such kinship and shared pain for the people who suffered through the attacks of 9/11 and it's that feeling of kinship that pulls me home even when I know I can't live there again.

Swans news: They won their elimination final against St Kilda! The played really well for most of the game and really bottled up the Saints. Ryan O'Keefe kicked 4 goals and I usually wince when he's kicking for goal because he can be inaccurate. But as the coach said, when a player is hot, he can do miracles. Goodesy was hot as well and the young bunch played very well. We play Hawthorn on Friday night (I hate Friday night matches) and their star forward is injured so we have a chance to get a little closer to the Big One.

I've been reading like mad. I finished the first three volumes of the Lost Fleet series by Jack Campbell and I am debating whether to buy the last three. Book prices being what they are, I could buy the last three on Amazon for half what they cost me here. But they are just military sci-fi about space battles and I think I'll go on to something new. I've started The Soul of a Chef which is about the Culinary Institute of America and I'm somewhat disappointed to find how focused they are on French cuisine. These days it pays (here at least) to know as much about Thai, Chinese, and Italian cuisine as French. Some of the course is very pedantic, but I guess knowing how to make a perfect stock is critical. I don't make veal stock because I don't cook classic French anything. Pasta and stir fries are more my speed and desserts my passion. I am reading The Man from Beijing by Henning Mankell. He is the author of the Kurt Wallender mysteries but this is not in that series. I am finding it very suspenseful, similar to the feeling in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo but with less violence (at least so far). My BBBB was The Crack at the Edge of the World by Simon Winchester, which is about the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Over half the book is about the geology of America and for that I recommend John McPhee, who can make geology interesting. I was a bit deflated by this book, because John McPhee is better at geology and the chapter on the earthquake itself was a dry recital of facts. I'm now reading The Orchid Thief, since I love orchids.

In the middle of the last paragraph the nurse came to dress my wound and this one said it was almost healed over with just a few pin head holes. This is the first concrete assessment I've had. Every nurse says it's looking better but nobody has told me it was healed over before. This surely means surgery on Oct 17th is a go and I will walk again!

My gardener worked all weekend and has cleaned out almost all of the veggie beds. We have run out of room to get rid of the weeds and you can't compost most of these because they wouldn't get killed in a household compost bin. He also cleaned out the fish pond and cleared out ivy at the front. He may bankrupt me with his work ethic, but he will shortly have weeded everything that needed weeding and will have a break to let the weeds grow back!

Monday, September 05, 2011

No, there's nothing new around here. Surgery is still scheduled for Oct. 17 and I think I might make this one. The wound is looking a lot better and is small so I have hopes it will heal by then.

Swans news: we made into the finals and will play St Kilda in Melbourne Saturday night. It is an elimination final and, while in theory they could win, I am expecting an early exit. I am pleased they did as well as this given the number of new players. It proves we can bring up new talent and win without Roos. Our first Irish import Tadgh has announced his retirement. I've watched his entire career and it's been a great one. I have to admit there are names in the records list I don't know, because I don't watch the matches because I get overly excited. This can be dangerous for someone in my condition.

My great news is that I've hired a gardener. Actually I am paying a foreign student from the ANU to work in my garden doing what I can't. He worked most of the weekend and not only got my peas and greens (lettuce, spinach, swiss chard) planted, but he completely remodeled my overgrown pear tree, bring it back to reasonable size. He has an orchard of 300 fruit trees at home so I trusted him to know what to do and he did exactly what I wanted. He also cleaned out the ivy and vinca underneath it and cleaned out the vinca smothering my hellebores under the wisteria. He will be back next week to continue the cleaning out of the veggie beds. He thought it was safe to plant the hot season crops like pumpkin, but we're still having frosts and it isn't safe for another month or two. He's also said he will clean out my fish pond and get it running which is something I have never gotten my lawn mowing person to do. My plum tree is in full bloom and I have narcissus in bloom. Unfortunately the last people to weed my garden eliminated some of the daffodils planted in the herb bed.

I have made a little progress in my genealogy, getting death certificates for my father's parents. I was hoping to find where my grandfather was born but all I got was "New York". I think it's Albany but New York didn't begin registering births until 6 years after my grandfather was born, so I'm out of luck there. I will have to rely on census data unless the city of Albany has records. I'm adding siblings where I can, hoping to make more connections.

I have had my adoration of Stephen Fry rekindled by watching his live performance in Sydney on cable. There are heaps of video clips on YouTube of hysterical sketches with Hugh Laurie and I've put the DVDs of their BBC shows up on my queue on Quickflix. I need a dose of silliness until there's more Big Bang Theory to watch.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Yes, it's been eons. And the saddest thing is that nothing has changed. The wound on my leg is not yet healed. It has completely filled in the gaping hole that had been there, and all I need now is skin covering over, but I'm not going to have surgery in September in this condition. I saw the plastics folks yesterday and afterwards called my surgeon's office and cancelled the appointment for next Monday. No point in going in, have him look at it, and reschedule the surgery. So I rescheduled over the phone for Oct. 17. I may just need a padded room if I'm not ready by then, but another month should do it. As you might imagine, I am going bonkers being cooped up. So Monday S came to visit and I got into the garden and actually weeded a bit which I paid for later. Today D and I went across the border into NSW in search of sock yarn (I have created a sock knitting monster) partly because the utilities folks cut off all services to my house for 6 hours. I was exhausted by the time we came home (I only bought one ball of yarn but also a much needed replacement pin cushion) and more or less collapsed for several hours when I returned to a house with power. I read, I watch TV, I sleep, I play on the computer. I've made the first real genealogical steps by writing off to Connecticut for death certificates for my father's parents. I've made contact with a member of my maternal great-grandmother's family who sent me a photo of the family with my grandfather as a child. That branch of the family is Canadian so I guess I'm one quarter Canadian. Otherwise there is very little to blog about that I would dare share with the anonymous public. I've had my blog used against me once and I don't want to get into that situation again. Sorry about that, dear readers, but not everyone in cyberspace is nice.

Monday, August 08, 2011

At right is the latest pair or socks, completed last night during the Masterchef finale. I have to admit I was glad Kate won and hope she continues to grow as a chef. I'm not worried about Michael or any of the other finalists because they will get opportunities without actually winning. I have been so frustrated at not being able to cook while they were creating marvelous dishes. Don't think I'll add a cooler of liquid nitrogen or a paint sprayer to my kitchen, but I have bought a mandoline.

Earlier this year I posted that I was considering moving back to the US when I turn 65. Waffling back the other way, now I think I won't. This medical adventure has been a wake-up call to me to reinforce how much quality and, most importantly, free medical care I have access to. Aside from the rather superficial trials of not having a private room with all associated conveniences, I got excellent medical care in The Canberra Hospital. Sure there were some not so nice nurses, but that is the nastiest thing I can say about it (aside from the appalling food). I shudder to think how this would have played out in the US, much less how much 5 weeks in-patient and now 4 months out-patient care would have cost me. Besides the medical side of this, I like my house and once I get more renovating done I can close off a guest suite and use the rest of the house for my own devices. I was going to have to put in a new kitchen anyway before I sold it, so now I'll remodel it for my tastes and needs. I now also know that I have one friend I can totally rely on through thick and thin so I don't feel quite so alone. The thought of all I'd have to do to move was beginning to really oppress me so I feel somewhat relieved. I could easily change my mind again but now I'm enjoying the wattle in bloom and looking forward to the Swans getting through the season in one piece.

Monday, August 01, 2011

The fact that I haven't posted simply means that there has been no progress to post about. The nurses continue to come (but twice a week now, not 3 times) and tell me the wound looks good, but the fact remains that it is still there. I can only hope that it heals in the next four weeks so my surgery can go ahead. The thought of being put on hold for another month is almost too much. When I'm feeling OK emotionally, I can remind myself that it's not cancer or something else potentially fatal; when I'm depressed, I feel like I've been sentenced to eternal house arrest. Yes, I've read, watched TV, knit, researched family history, but I am limited to my house and can't even do much within the four walls. If I could cook, or weave, or work on the garden, or work on fixing up the house, it wouldn't be so frustrating. Today D told me my neighbours across the street (whom I don't even know) asked if I was all right because the car doesn't move. I am tired of the Imp glued to my armpit trying to lick my neck, or rolled up like an armadillo in my lap. All right then. If all I can do is whinge, I should shut up.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Well, my last post might have given you the impression I am depressed. I am; the continuing postponement of my surgery makes me feel like it's never going to happen. The nurses telling me the wound looks clean and slowly getting better is old news. I want it healed completely. Now my ever sensitive skin is developing a sensitivity to the adhesive on the wound dressing which results on a nasty rash which also needs to heal. Depression means I hurt more and I either can't sleep or can't pry myself out of bed. Most of my "friends" have forgotten about me save for the ever faithful D who sometimes drops by to bring in the mail and hang laundry. I would be utterly lost without her. Meanwhile I am subject to the tender ministrations of The Imp, who wishes to thoroughly clean my face and neck and chew on my hair if available. I'm trying to discourage this as the cute factor wore off long ago. She sleeps in my armpit if the photo makes it into the post.

When I get up to watch TV in the living room, I'm either spinning forest green merino/silk blend or knitting one of 2 projects: socks (green Opal) or my resurrected pink silk shell. I've finally made it to the armholes on the latter and it would be nice to finish for warm weather. The silk has a lovely drape and I hope it will look as nice as the photo with the pattern. I'm also enthused about another shell pattern for Berroco Seduce, which I bought 2 hanks of on my last blow out US trip. So I ordered a few more to make a summer top out of the gorgeous blend of silk, linen, rayon etc. In a brown/gold and turquoise colourway. While pawing through the boxes of the stash I found such lovely stuff to knit with. I must apply myself.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Trying out posting via iPhone because I'm lazy. I have been very busy getting household chores done (aside from playing Zombie Farm on said iphone). I got the windscreen crack repaired, getting various household tasks fixed (my cutlery drawer has been sitting on the counter because its rails were broken).

I saw my surgeon yesterday and as expected the date for the knee replacement has been put off another month till September 12. I'm not surprised because I know he won't operate with the slightest wound. I am so tired of waiting for the bloody thing to heal and there is nothing I can do about it. It's tiny but still there. Every one says it looks healthy but it just doesn't close.

So I knit, spin, read, watch TV, go out occasionally when I get stir crazy. I don't even wear the brace any more. I'm going to do some solid evidence in the genealogy search by sending off requests to New Haven for my father's birth certificate and my grandfather's death certificate. I've had contact via Ancestry with a Page family descendant, which is kind of cool.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

No news is good news? Nothing much to report except the wound has not healed so I am still in lying around mode. My surgery has been postponed till Aug. 10 and I am praying for quicker healing. The plastic surgery folks have put me on a silver based cream that supposedly promotes healing and I hope it works and fast.

I've been reading Peter Hamilton's Void series on the Kindle and have started the final volume. I like it but it does seem overly complicated. Too many threads to keep untangled. Sometimes I think authors, especially those sci-fi writers who produce doorstop volumes, forget that readers so not sit down and read their books all in one sitting and might get confused by dozens of characters who disappear for long stretches. My BBBB is Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick. Very different story to the one taught when I was in school. Most of my ancestors came to the new world in the Great Migration of Puritans in the 1630's but I have one who came on the Fortune which arrived a year after the Mayflower. It is very ironic that the people who left England because of religious intolerance instituted the same religious intolerance as the rule in their Massachusetts colonies.

I am in the clutches of Masterchef again which is very frustrating because cooking is out of the question at the moment. I am more of a Nigella Lawson cook than a French Laundry type cook, but I'd love to be making soup and bread this winter. But I can't carry anything very easily with the walking frame. Carrying a glass of liquid into the living room is perilous, so standing at the stove is impossible. I can read cookbooks and dream.

A few random thoughts: I am appalled and shocked by the earthquake in Japan but the ones in Christchurch, NZ, touched me more in some ways. I've visited Christchurch and the video of the destruction of the centre of the city were unbelievable. This week I'm full of affection for my Aussie home and don't want to leave but the opinion changes and will continue to change over the next few years. I am loathe to leave my garden. I suffered from a case of dermatitis from a new hand cream a couple of weeks ago; that is, my hands got a painful rash with blisters and I now, weeks later, still have skin peeling off my hands. I have very sensitive skin and any unfamiliar cream or lotion can potentially make me break out in a rash. Knitting or spinning is hard with shredded skin all over my hands. I have also been sharing my house (in addition to the Imp) with ceiling animals. I'm pretty sure I had possums at first but they were gotten rid of. Now it's rats, who are persistent. I have had weeks of listening to rustling in the ceiling despite exterminators' efforts to poison them. They are attracted to my nice warm heating ducts.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Latest socks for your viewing, the red ones for D, my chauffeur, friend, and the one who keeps me sane. She may have become so fond of my socks that she will take up sock knitting for her own feet.

Greetings from the currently horizontal viewpoint of Swanknitter. Some days I see no good reason t get out of bed and subject my non-knee to clumping around on the frame. I've been poking around on my genealogical pursuits, watching TV, and reading. Also refreshing my musical preferences. The Google doodle for Les Paul's birthday sparked an online outpouring of music, one of which was "Hey, Jude" performed by the lead singer of After Edmund. So I spent time watching their videos on YouTube and ended up buying their EPs. Listen to their "Dance like you're from the future" and try not to wiggle. I am a collector of little-known alternative bands. They can join the likes of the Caesars and Sunny Day Real Estate on my iPod. Having said that, I mostly listen to podcasts on my iPod. I recently acquired an inexpensive iPod dock so I can listen to podcasts in bed.

TV ranges from documentaries on the African rainforest to detective shows. Just finished watching a short series of a British show called Second Sight about a detective who is losing his sight. Aside from it starring Clive Owen (heart-throb), I can deeply sympathize. When I do stay in bed, I usually don't put my contacts in, and therefore my eyesight is way off from 20/20. My vision cannot be corrected by glasses, so wearing them at least lets me find my way around the house and read (barely) but contacts are yet still imperfect.
Commercial TV is Masterchef, Hawaii 5-0, the end of the season of House and Glee.

Swans news: Somehow they are 5th on the ladder. J and I enjoyed pizza while watching them demolish Brisbane 2 weekends ago. They were playing inspired footy, which we all know they can do but frequently can't produce. It doesn't look like I'll make it to a match this year unless they make the finals and get a home final, which is the only time I'm willing to Homebush.

Book reports: Finished Pegasus Descending by James Lee Burke. His novels are all very dark and end messily, but I want to find out how they turn out as much as I enjoy his writing. Trying to start Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco. One of the Bear's leftovers that sounds interesting enough to try. My BBBB on colonial Massachusetts is almost done and I have my eye on a book about the Mayflower as next in line.

Friday, June 03, 2011

I can't remember whether I have explicitly posted in my blog that I am contemplating a life-changing move in the not-too-distant future. Some of my readers I'm sure know, but other may not. I am considering moving back to the US when I turn 65 and am eligible for Medicare there. I waffle back and forth about this, being sure one day and very uncertain another. There are monetary pros and cons, leaving some good friends behind for the sake of other friends who go back much further into my past. Every time I go back to the US it's like slipping on a pair of comfortable shoes or gloves. Even tho I hate the climate, it seems natural. I don't have to explain our electoral system or educational system, or wonder if I'm going to say something stupid. And I wouldn't have possums in the roof again.

Despite living in Australia for coming on 20 years, I still am acutely aware that I am not a true Aussie. I don't have the emotional/cultural link that makes people sing "Waltzing Matilda" or naturally go solemn about ANZAC Day. I love the country and the people but I know I don't really belong and, when I lost the Bear I lost my anchor. While I do understand their electoral system and educational system, I think the US version is better. I like the climate, but I'd love to be able to garden the way I want to, which is impossible in Canberra soil. If I go back the blog will die, at least in this form. It will be easier to phone friends than blog. And I hope to be nearer some of those friends that this blog has been aimed at. I'd like to have this settled before my brothers shuffle off. My biggest concern is relocating the Imp, but I expect she's tougher than I think she is.

With the US economy and especially housing market in the doldrums, my Canberra house bubble will serve me well. But there are all those hidden expenses lurking and I certainly don't have the house in sale-worthy condition yet. Need both knees to function and some cash to flow for that The recent encounter with the Australian public health system has been enlightening if the worst I can complain about is the food and the occasionally cranky nurse. Would I get the same in the US for no out-of-pocket expenses? Can I live with footy only on the internet? I know the Chapel Gull Handweavers Guild just turned 50 years old so there's a community to join.

But still weighing pros and cons is hard. If any of my stateside friends were waiting to come over here for a visit, I encourage you to get planning because I may not be here forever.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

To start today's post, since there's precious little to post on, I'm sharing some of my spinning efforts of recent times. To the left is blue-faced leicester and it is definitely more saturated greens than is showing up on my monitor. I showed you the in process version on Feb 19. I've got 3 good hanks of it and I think it will knit up beautifully as soon as I can get through all the other things either in process or in my mind.
To the right is 190 meters of 50/50 silk and merino and it is pink shaded grey so the color this time is more true. My problem is the walking frame I have to use to get about the house. My hands are so sore and spinning just adds to the situation.

Which brings me to the state of my knee. I saw the plastic surgery doctor and my surgeon. The wound is very small, but it's still open so no surgery. It's been rescheduled for June 30. Fortunately my surgeon seems equally eager to solve my problem but won't operate with an open wound.

The cat has once more called the tune this morning in demanding to look out the window which forced me out of bed to open the drapes for her. I've acquired an iPod dock so I can listen to podcasts without headphones. I've also had Foxtel installed in my bedroom since I'm looking at another month lying around. I can't really get my leg straight in my recliner. Although the brace doesn't allow me the really bend it, the position is uncomfortable.

Book report: Finished Bellwether by Connie Willis which was fun but dated (written in 1994 and treated the anti-smoking campaign as a fad). A true description of corporate life and its new plans with acronyms. Going back to Wonderful Tonight, the autobiography of Pattie Boyd, the one time wife of George Harrison and Eric Clapton, both of whom I worship. I was hoping for some insight into their relationship but instead it's a recounting of well-documented events. I find it bizarre that they were together for 8 years before she mentions wondering why she hadn't gotten pregnant. I haven't gotten far enough to be sure that was the cause of the failure of both marriages. She seems oblivious to the fact that Geirge was a musician and was actually creating while noodling on a guitar.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Well, it's been a long and for the most part boring time here at home. I can go nowhere without my frame (indoors) or crutches (outdoors). I will have to admit that there are days when I don't see the point in getting out of bed because I'll only be able to clump around and make my hands hurt even worse. I'm reading a lot and watching TV. The nurse is now visiting Mon/Wed/Fri to change the dressing on the wound. The last time I inspected (felt) it, it was about as big around as the tip of my pinkie but still had some depth to it. I see the plastics folks on Tues and my surgeon on Thurs with the hope that we can proceed with surgery as scheduled for May 30. Then I will have a knee back and can start walking again. I will be so glad to be out of this brace as well, which is another reason I've sometimes stayed in bed, because it slides down my leg every time I get up to walk. So I spend a lot of time ripping velcro off and replacing it.

Swans news: They trounced Port Adelaide on Sat night to win by 60 points. I was expecting the worst and therefore opted to watch a DVD but I did catch a few great moments. Goodes is good, when he kicks straight. One of the imponderables in AFL is how a player can manage some kind miracle shot for a goal and yet standing right in front of it, he misses. Only the footy gods know.

Book report: The new C.J. Cherryh "Foreigner" series novel Betrayer arrived in the mail and was read through as fast as I could devour it. Now, of course, I want the next one, but will have to wait another year or so. This series is about the only one where I cannot wait for any cheaper edition and buy the hardback as soon as it arrives in Amazon. The series is totally addictive but start with the first one if you want to get into them because at this point there is zero calendar time passage in the alien environment; one starts exactly where the last one left off. My BBBB A Perfect Red by Amy Butler Greenfield was fascinating and I love reading about dyes and colours. Think of what our world would look like without the vibrant modern dyes we all take for granted. Indigo, madder, onion, walnut, or that little beetle from Mexico. I am now reading Colonial Massachusetts and need to go back and plot my ancestors on the map of the colony. I know I have one ancestor that arrived on the Fortune, which was the next ship after the Mayflower, but lots that arrived during the Puritan exodus of the 1630's. I'm reading now about how new towns got established and new churches. I was surprised to learn that not every person joined the church. I had the impression it wasn't voluntary, but all it did was separate the "saints" from the rest the the population.

Winter seems to have arrived here judging by how cold I was last night despite having put the wool blanket on the bed. The forescast for the week is for minus digits every night this week. D came over to change a light bulb for me today and we got my doona out because I don't want another night like that. I also have possums in the roof again, snuggling up to my ducted heating no doubt, but the possum man is supposed to show up Tues AM. I say "supposed" since the last one didn't and can't be bothered to return a phone call. Winter in Canberra always means whooping flocks of currawongs which The Imp finds fascinating, though what she'd do with one if she caught one would not in the best interests of either party. She is burrowed under the covers at night too.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Just a quick post to tell you I'm still alive. Clumping around on the frame sucks; it also makes my shoulders hurt. The bloody brace insists on sliding down my leg (gravity, you know) so there is much ripping of velco strapping to try and get it fixed. I can carry practically nothing so taking a drink into the living room is a careful balancing act. The nurses say the wound is healing nicely but I still can't see it for myself (nor am I sure I want to) to make my own judgement. All I can hope is, that by May 17 when the plastics people look at it, it is healed.

Over the extended Easter/Anzac Day Holiday I had to get into the car and be driven to the nursing clinic to have my wound dressed. Today the nurse said it is healing well enough to take a step back in wound care. I don't know the technical specifications of all the various wound treatments they have these days, but I'll grab any piece of good news I can. Otherwise D is chasing up a mix-up in my disabled parking permit. Soon I'll settle down with the BBC and watch the wedding.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I did it! Home sweet home. Many many thanks to D who has been a life saver for me going way beyond the assigned task of caring for The Imp for 4 weeks. She's done my laundry, brought me emergency supplies, and even mastered driving my car which turned out to be suitable for getting my leg in. I am listening to blessed quiet, lying in my own bed and am trying to put all the stresses of today behind. Even tho the decision was made early in the morning, we didn't leave the hospital till 4PM. Turns out it was my surgeon who disagreed with plastics about my wound and he was finally convinced it was OK. I had 31 staples removed from the front of the knee (where the prosthesis was removed) and will have a district nurse come in every other day to change the wound dressing. I will be on antibiotics for 3 more weeks and then I don't know what happens. Tonight I am just glad to be home and just want to sleep (after Grey's Anatomy) with nobody waking me up at 7 when they do rounds. I have a grey cat on my shoulder purring loudly.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Great news, readers. I'm going home soon! Within a few days. I've been taken off the IV antibiotics. I've spoken with social work about arranging for help with cleaning etc. I have a new walking frame that's smaller and easier to manage. I will have to have a nurse come in every other day to dress the wound, which is shrinking quickly. I am so thrilled to be able to sleep in my own bed without the constant noise of hospital equipment (like the beeping IV that's going now). Lean Cuisine will taste divine after what I have been served here.

The Imp will be over the moon and we need some serious face time. As long as she stays off the knee!

Friday, April 08, 2011

Greetings from hospital. Three weeks today and my going home date might have moved forward. Plastic surgery came to look at my wound (the spot where the abscess was) and decided I didn't need a skin graft. That would knock 2 weeks off hospital stay. But today I missed speaking to the surgeons because I was in the shower and I need their input onto the issue before I can make any plans. I can get up and move around but that's no surprise to me as I have done this twice before. What remains is the infection, whether it can be treated by something other than IV benzylpenicilin every 4 hours. That may still be the sticking point. They take blood regularly which not only checks for bugs (altho being on antibiotics should suppress that) but checks my hemoglobin which can be low. I have a bloody big brace on my right leg to keep it straight.

Meanwhile I struggle with hospital food. Last night's dinner looked like dog food. If I didn't have friends bringing me fruit and goodies, my diet would suffer.
My room mate turns her TV on and falls asleep, leaving me listening to infomercials. Thank Amazon for my Kindle which is the envy of all the nurses and my constant companion. I am rereading Peter Hamilton's The Dreaming Void now that his trilogy is complete and available on the Kindle. I have DVDs to watch and watch Torchwood season 2. I can't wait till we get season 4 on UKTV. I want my Foxtel! A hospital is an incredibly noisy place. At night to cancel out the TV in the next bed I have an app on my iPhone that plays ocean wave sounds all night. I am also extremely annoyed at my mobile phone carrier which has very intermittent service here and only for sms, no voice of all the 3/4G whiz bang stuff.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Well, it's truly been a while and this time lots has happened. Over two weeks ago the strange lump on the back of my knee started to ooze. The idiot infectious disease specialist I saw a week prior to this said I would be fine till my scheduled surgery on the 28th. No, I saw my surgeon who told me to go to the emergency room in the main public hospital and that he would call and arrange my admission. Public hospital because they were better equipped and had more services available for home help. D and I frantically prepared for the unknown and then I waited 9 hours for a bed. The next few days passed without my awareness. I was in ICU due to low blood pressure (a common problem of mine) and was only really conscious 4 days later when I was moved to an orthopaedic ward.

Here I've been for almost 2 weeks. The knee replacement has been removed and a “spacer” put in that is not a knee and feels very weird. I can't put weight on it. I have a staph infection which being treated with huge doses of IV penicillin. I am having horrendous problems with my gut and nurses unfamiliar with IBS don't help. This is a world that revolves around “opening your bowels” and I can't on cue. I have a whiz bang vacuum wound dressing on the back of my knee. My spacer was replaced last week since it was doing something wrong. Man, that hurt. I now can have the wound dressed on the ward rather than going into OR.

I am both terrified and bored. Stressed and dying to go home. D is taking good care of the Imp but I miss her. Everything hinges on the staph infection being knocked out so a skin graft can go on the back of the knee. I will try to post now that I have wi-fi connection. I expect to be here another 2 weeks. Since I can't put weight on the leg, going home isn't a simple matter.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Once again the only thing I have to talk about is my knee. I had a very unsatisfactory visit with an infectious disease specialist on Friday, who merely looked at the swelling behind my knee (without any of my documentation apparently) and took a photo with his phone. He then pronounced that 1) it was infected, 2) surgery was not going to fix the problem, and 3) I would always have a swollen knee. I find this strange especially when he declined to drain the fluid and sent it to pathology (he dismissed the lack of infection on the first test on the basis I was on antibiotics at the time) which would make it clear before surgery whether it was or was not infected. He was unconcerned with the amount of pain and difficulty I was undergoing, just said I could manage for another 2 weeks. Now I have this ridiculous swelling that makes it hard to bend my knee and I think it will pop without any assistance. I am going to put in an urgent call the my surgeon on Monday since he had said he hadn't wanted to be presented with it just as I was wheeled in for surgery, and he will if it's not drained before then. It would also decide the issue of infection as I am off antibiotics. Sincerely, dear readers, I am terrified that on the 28th they will cut my knee open and find infection, because the treatment after that would be extremely difficult. What they do is removed the entire knee prosthesis and clean diligently, then put a spacer in and send me home on antibiotics. Two months later they do another knee replacement. In my heart of hearts I don't believe I am harbouring an infection but I could he wrong. How I could take care of myself without a knee for two months is beyond considering. Positive thoughts please and prayers if you do that sort of thing.

Otherwise not much going on. Getting lovely fresh green beans and tomatoes. The pear tree is loaded with pears but it remains to be seen whether the parrots will leave me any. They've cleaned off the top completely, I'm reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle and find it so inspiring. Her reasoning about the vegetarian issue is something I'd like to hand any vegetarian who tried to convert me. Her descriptions of the vegetative year bring back to me the huge garden I used to have in Ohio. We never bought veggies because there was always fresh or home frozen available. It was such a joy to see the rows of jars of applesauce, tomatoes, pickles and jam.

Book report: finished The Bookseller of Kabul and found it intriguing if disheartening for the issues of women's rights I have already written about. The mere thought of thirteen people all living in a 2 bedroom flat, especially and the head of household and his second wife have one bedroom to themselves and the rest of the family from grandmother, brothers, and offspring all sleep in the second. These are middle class Afghanis for whom life at least doesn't include malnutrition or illiteracy. My new Kindle book is Wake by Robert J. Sawyer and I'm not far enough into it to give a verdict. I gave up on Neal Stephenson's Baroque cycle as it was just too, well, Baroque. Also all massive doorstop tomes. So I'm on Barbara Kingsolver instead. My BBBB is A Perfect Red by Amy Butler Greenfield, which is about the pursuit of red dyestuffs.

We are having gorgeous weather and I wish so much to be out and about in it, digging in the earth if only to pull weeds. Instead I'll go back to elevating my leg and reading about gardening. I hope wherever I end up in the US has community garden plots because I think I'd go mad if I couldn't grow a few tomato and zucchini plants and a few rows of beans.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Finally a FO (finished object) that is not socks. It's a vest from Cheryl Oberle's Folk Vests featuring X-and-O cables, knit from Brooks Farm merino & mohair blend. It has taken me forever to finish it, and I really mean the finishing bits, like around arm holes etc., because the body of the vest was knit ages ago. I suddenly feel like knitting again and pulled from the stash some Cascade 220 I bought on my last long trip to the states with BFLB and found a shrug pattern on line in Ravelry. I also pulled out some handspun for a hat and some exotic linen/rayon/wool blend for a simple summer shell. I've already started a new pair of socks, this time just wool in white with blue dots, I am also plying the green BFL I spun a couple of weeks ago and it's gorgeous. Am I up to trying my first lace creation?

My knee has been the focus of all my attention the past couple of weeks with the news going from good to bad to good. Behind my knee (where of course I cannot see very well) is swelling just like in the front, except the back gets compressed when I bend my knee, as I am while sitting at a desk. I can't leave it straight or I'll lose range of motion. So the swelling has been squeezed into hard ridges across the back of my knee. I'm not thrilled by this but figured it would sort itself out when the problem at the front of my knee was fixed. Then one bit started to swell further, became sore and even bled a little. So I took myself to my GP who took one look at the icky mess and called my surgeon. I went in to see him last Thurs and he fussed about it, drained clear fluid out of it, and put me on antibiotics. When I returned to get the expected bad news that it was infected, I was surprised (as was the surgeon) to learn that there was no sign of infection in the fluid drained, and in fact the swelling in the back of my knee has returned to its previous ugly but benign state. Just to be on the safe side I'm to see an infectious disease specialist next Friday. Otherwise the schedule of surgery on the 28th is still a go. I have a very annoying patellar clunk and soreness with swelling.

Other than that I have been reading. Finished Russell Wiley is Out to Lunch by Richard Hine on my Kindle. It is a comedy of the life in a corporation with all the games played and the players who should be familiar to anyone who works in a place with more than 10 employees. It had a surprising happy ending that I didn't see coming. I am plodding through Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson and the jury is out on whether I'll stick with it and its 2 following tomes which make up his Baroque cycle. A semi-historical novel about Isaac Newton probably fit the Bear perfectly but I'm finding it slow going. I started as BBBB Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, but it's about growing vegetables which is far too interesting (to me) for bedside reading. I am reading The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seirstad
on my Kindle. It reveals a lot about what goes on inside an Afghani family and the relations between men and women. Frankly, I find it very difficult to relate to these women who are brought up expecting to be sold like cattle, to have no life outside the home, who are often illiterate, and have no rights. Even without the Taliban, a woman's life in a strict Islamic society is very alien to western women. Even the Amish have the year off to find out whether they want the western lifestyle or not, but women in strict Islamic states are hidden and their lives are so constrained as to be impossible for me to understand. I have been watching the BBC series The Frankincense Trail which is hosted by an English woman but, when she enters Saudi Arabia, almost all her freedom is lost: she must dress a certain way, cannot drive, cannot be seen in public without a man as her guardian, etc. The women she meets in their luxurious shopping malls try to convince her the life inside a burqa is not so awful but the cultural mindset that believes that is what is right for a woman is beyond my comprehension. It would seem that the mere sight of a woman's face drives Islamic men so overwrought with desire that they cannot control themselves, so women have to dress as not to offend. Again, I read these books but I cannot understand how this culture exists, but I am trying to understand.

My veggie patch is producing beans, zucchinis, and tomatoes. The patches not currently under cultivation (that is, about 60% of the garden) are full of weeds, mostly couch grass. My lawn-mover says he has an employee who wants work and will come over and weed for me, but I don't envy her. Couch is the very devil to get rid of and will only find a new way into the patches from the lawn.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Today you get photos and not much more. Above is my crepe myrtle which has bloomed gorgeously for the first time in I can't remember how many years. It's amazing what getting rain for a change does. It now obviously needs a hard prune but I was afriad to do that when it was barely hanging on with the drought. Of course, I am also drowning in weeds which I can't seriously attack, but you win some, you lose some.

To the right is the BFL I mentioned on Dec. 30, one bobbin full

and some of the unspun roving so you can see what
I started with. It's a delight to spin and I hope I get enough to do something nice with it. Lovely shades of green. The other spinning has been alpaca: I've spun and plied a hank of white, and I have a bobbin full of brown. There will always be alpaca. I have the last bag of white to sort through and it has had moths in it. I am throwing out more than I keep and have added moth balls to the bag. Fortunately all my stash but a little is in plastic tubs and safe from insects.

To the left is a close-up of the socks I just finished out of the hand-spiun merino & bamboo. The way the colours mix and flow is really gorgeous and completely derived from the spinning and knitting process. I have to say it's prettier than any store-bought (IMHO) but store-bought is more uniform in thickness and has extra stregthening in it (usually nylon). I didn't reinforce these and we'll see how they wear, but I haven't yet worn out any socks. That's the virtue (?) of having many pairs of socks: you don't wear any one pair too heavily and they stay "healthy" longer. I am patching a previously knit pair at the moment (botched the heel when they were knit) and then will start on a pair of store bought yarn socks. I do have a stash of sock yarn that's a bit intimidating. In some ways this is like when I used to make all my own clothes. I didn't have some of the little finishing details that commercially sold clothes had, but they were my choice of fabric and colour and design. I always knew I was wearing one of a kind, and it could have been a Vogue designer pattern and now what was on the racks in a department store. I had a white linen Mary Quant design in 1969 that was so cool.

I was hoping to post a picture of the cabled vest but it needs blocking and I just haven't gotten at it. It's finished, just not photogenic.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

I saw my surgeon last Thurs and am finally scheduled in to have it opened up and fixed -- but not till Mar. 28th. That leaves me with almost 2 more months of pain and reduced mobility (plus another month or so afterwards). A little Googling showed me that patellar clunk syndrome, which sounds all too bizarre, actually occurs in about 4% of TKR patients and it caused by a build up of scar tissue on the back of the patella. That part is easily fixed. Of course we don't know what went wrong to begin with, but my rheumatologist figured it out in 15 minutes yesterday. I hadn't really liked her after the avuncular manner of my previous dr, but she proved with her knee assessment and willingness to do battle with the pharmacy gods that she is good. My GP has gone away for 2 weeks without notice, and I was reluctant to try and explain my need for drugs to a stranger at his clinic, so I asked my rheumatologist if she'd do it, which would also save ma a wait in the clinic. She got me my scripts and saved me another painful outing. I've ordered groceries delivered today becaus I just couldn't face pushing a trolley (shopping cart) around the supermarket.

Sort of a book report: I started as my new BBBB Angel in the Whirlwind by Benson Bobrick to get a fresh course on Revolutionary America. I had to put it aside because his description of colonial era American did not match what I knew from my own genealogy. It was the same "the settlers came and settled" and even that there was not much interaction between colonies. I now know that between arrival at Plymouth and the revolutionary war my ancestors moved from Massachusetts to Rhode Island to Connecticut to New York and up the Hudson. Maybe the various governments didn't converse but the people were on the move. I've tracked one line back to the early Dutch settlement of Albany which is about as "ethnic" as my tree gets. From my grandfather's WWI draft registration, I found he worked for a company which made machinery for the newfangled cardboard boxes that were replacing wooden boxes. From his WWII draft registration I found he never became an American citizen but remained Canadian. How he got from Canada to Michigan and why he sold the farm in Michigan and moved to Niagara Falls, NY, is still a mystery. Before I came to Australia and honed my ear to new dialects of English, I would have said Canadians sound just like Americans. Now I hear differences in my surgeon (he's Canadian) and on TV. I watched a doco on David Thompson who explored and mapped the western half of Canada and realized how much Americans don't know about Canada. Since I'm carrying a few drops of Ontario blood, I should learn some more.

New BBBB: Deluxe by Dana Thomas about the popularizing of luxury brands. Non-bedtime reading is Michael Connolly's The Reversal on my Kindle and Ken MacLeod's Newton's Wake, where I am sounding out Glaswegian in the far future.

In typical Aussie weather behavior we went from 38C to 9c in a week. My poor tomato plants!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

While it's gradually approaching 38C or close to 100F, I am SO glad I installed air conditioning last summer. I just got inside from hanging a load of sheets on the Hills Hoist and this weather can dry them in about 15 minutes. I have been resting my knee, frankly, because it hurts. I never know when the knee cap is going to move freely and when it's going to stuck and then clunk. I can walk alright but any distance is tasking. I can't wait till Thursday and my surgeon's review, and hopefully a date for surgery. I reluctantly cancelled the weaving course. In fact, in my search for a project showed me so many projects I could do on my own if I just was physically able. That was the plan for retirement anyway. The thing on the loom is no longer of interest, so, when I am able, I will cut it off and rewarp it.

The yarn above is my most recent, the MW merino from Laughing Rat. It will be socks. I have finished one of the socks from the merino and bamboo recently spin. I didn't maintain a fine enough gauge when I spun it so I had to go up a size in needles from a 1 to a 2, which I view as a spinning failure. Because I had an alpaca scarf as a weaving goal i am spinning white alpaca at the moment. Very glossy and long locks. I have no idea how it will turn out when plied as yarn.

Bits and pieces from recent musing and activities: heard Timbuk3 on the radio yesterday which prompted me to go and look up their albums on iTunes and download my favourite of their songs "Sample the Dog." Train's song "Soul Sister" made me go look for Mr Mister/Richard Page and found on his website an additional Mr Mister album RCA declined to release after their 2 big LPs back in the '80's. And Richard had a new solo album so had to buy these. His solo album Shelter Me is a favourite. That doesn't mean I don't listen to more current music, from Eric Clapton to Pearl Jam to Snow Patrol. Watched an Aussie movie set in India called The Waiting City on DVD last night. About a young couple going to pick up an adopted baby and the resulting tension and fractures while they wait. Worth a look if you find it. February means the return to prime time of all the American TV I usually watch from Glee to NCIS. I had been filling my evenings with Foxtel, either documentaries like the 4-parter on Captain Cook who is a god to Australia, or just police dramas like Lewis, or the weird Being Human on UKTV. I admit to being a video/TV addict. Since it's when I knit or spin, why not? I am having trouble still with my contact lenses, mostly them getting stuck to my eye so I have to constantly remind myself to blink. Makes reading hard sometime. Almost finished Museum, which really a series of monologues from staff talking about whatever they liked so very uneven and gives very little in the way of detail. I hope that Rogue's Gallery will be better. Flood ended very improbably and I was not impressed. I have started Newton's Wake by Ken Macleod.

Just to remind you that footy season is looming, a bit of eye candy in the form of a hot and sweaty Swan Adam Goodes. The NAB Cup (preseaon) setup has 3 games played between the Swans and the 2 new clubs in Blacktown in Feb, but I think we'll give that a miss since it's an all day affair and I feel for the players if it's as hot as it is now.

Given the scant feedback I got on the fate if the blog, which was all positive and affirming, I guess I'll keep emptying my brain of trivia periodically. Perhaps since most of the feedback was from non-fibre folks, I'll keep that at a lower level, but still post on it, because it's very important to me if not to you.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Friday I was told the weaving class was on and that I would probably be having knee surgery soon. Does the surgery preclude the class participation? Can I miss a few weeks and still do something meaningful? I have spent a lot of time looking at weaving projects in my books and magazines. I would like to use my handspun but my teacher is not enthused about that. Alternatively, I have found a pattern for a series of twill towels that might make a small dent in the stash while letting me practice with my favourite weaving pattern. I'm addicted to twills, so this could be fun.

The surgeon, Dr A, finally admits that there's something mechanically wrong with my knee and believes he needs to open it up and look at it, possibly to adjust my kneecap, possibly to tighten or adjust something else in the knee. It's been 6 months and the knee is still hot and swollen, let alone painful especially when he pokes at the knee cap and says, "Does this hurt?" This time I will demand to speak to the anesthesist prio to surgery so I don't get in the mess I was in the last time. For me, the news I needed surgery again came as a relief.

Spent a little time last night Googling the Bear and found a very touching memorial written by somebody I didn't know that echoed what several other of his co-workers had said. I didn't know his email short-cut for "evil twin" but that was always an in-joke with us. Unfortunately most of what I trawled through was for the actor of the same name who actually doesn't spell his name the same way but the whole world seems to have overlooked that fact. He and the Bear are probably distantly related, but it was a little strange reading all these posts about people who harboured secret passions for the actor who is built about as solidly as the Bear was. I also fired off email to a couple of sites that still had him alive and active to try and remove his name.

Finished Brass Man and started on The Algebraist by Iain Banks, which I replaced paper with Kindle versions so I can read it easier. Am reading Flood by Stephen Baxter in paper It is about sea levels rising and subsequent chaos. BBBB us now Museum, a behind the scenes look at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I didn't visit it as much as MOMA when I lived in New York. My slightly outrageous 9th grade Sunday school teacher once took the class on a field trip to look at the Egyptian stuff. (Same teacher taught us all to make wine which became a science project one year) I'd love to return and look at their costumes, but that is a some day trip.

I watched Nine on DVD last night with zero expectations except I loved the cast members (including Judi Dench, Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman and Sophia Loren). I was underwhelmed by Chicago despite everyone else adoring it, but quite liked this musical. Penelope Cruz as sex kitten mistress was outstanding. And Daniel was wonderful as he always is, becoming Iralian to suit the role. Other movie adventure was to see The King's Speech with J which was very well done and Geoffrey Rush was his usual self. How does Australia produce so many good actors? When Guy Pearce pops up as the Duke of Windsor or in The Hurt Locker I try not to jump. When he appeared at the end of The Road, I shouldn't have been surprised.

I have heard crashing silence from you readers about the continuation of the blog, except a couple I knew read it. Is it worth the effort to do this instead of emails? Still writing so far but I'd really like to know who's out there.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

It has been an amazingly soggy time for Canberra in January. It has rained every day this week beginning with a Sunday thunderstorm. I have taken my GP's concern over my swollen leg to heart, and have been spending most days with the leg elevated and gradually the swelling did go down for the first time in several months. This gives me some hope that there is some kind of resolution to the still swollen knee. The knee is not as sore, but is still warm to the touch and quite swollen. I now will get up and about in small doses to give me exercise without further damage.
To the left are some of my first apples. I was wondering how to tell if they were ripe and found one on the ground today and gave it a bite. Scrumptious! I don't know what cultivar they are since I bought a 3-way grafted apple tree and the 3 branches weren't labelled. These are on the small size (but it's a very small tree), about the size of a peach and with a good crunch. Unfortunately I also discovered that the birds had eaten all of my President plums before I even knew they were ripe. They are having at the older plum tree but this year they can have them because I'm not making jam or sauce to sell at work any more. I am getting beans and zucchini so summer is officially here.

To the right is a close-up of the scarf I've knit for X2 who is feeling the cold in Maryland. It was knit sideways using different strands of various hand spun wools I had accumulated. There is white and brown alpaca and some camel down as well. It turned out so well I might knit another, since it didn't take long. I have filled a bobbin with green BFL, and have been wrestling with the dregs of a bag of supposedly white alpaca. Someday all the alpaca will be clean. I have't found a way to tidy this stuff without getting alpaca and dirt everywhere, even with my lap covered in an old bathmat.

Today I joined a new adventure by acquiring an iPhone. My old mobile (cell) had given me long and faithful service, but I really wanted some of the apps like maps, and the photo capability of the camera on the iPhone. I am stumbling around on it learning to type on the teeny keyboard (but it sure makes texting easier) and need to learn which apps I need. I inadvertantly took a video of the Imp looking grumpy because I woke her up.

I finished Mortal Remains and am reading The Brass Man by Neal Asher on my Kindle. I really should read something in paper but I love my Kindle!

When I look at my blog online, it's hard to believe I've been doing this for 5 years. The person I started it for has passed away, but I know there are friends and family out there who read this. Sometome I'd like some feedback telling me what you like or don't like and whether you wish I would publish more often. I would if I knew anybody cared.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Happy New Year to all. Sydney fireworks were great (both times) although the still air led to a cloud of smoke obscuring the bridge during the grand finale. Worth waiting up for every time. One year I'd like to afford to be on a boat right under them as they go off.