Monday, December 17, 2012

I've decided this year to forgo the annual written, inserted into Christmas card and mailed report and revert to my blog where everyone can see it all. To be honest, when 95% of your Christmas cards are mailed as overseas letters, the postage can make you think twice. Most of you probably send a couple of overseas cards a year but I send dozens, or did until this year. I'll give the year in review and some personal feelings. I might return to the blog if anybody shows interest. I don't do book reports on Facebook and don't feel like joining one of their clubs or apps to do it. I also don't publish some fleeting things I ponder. They aren't private things or I wouldn't put the online at all. Just not Facebook content. What I write below will be partially what you may know if you follow me on Facebook, and if you were one of my stops on my trip this year. Forgive the repetition.

2012 opened with me recovering from the previous year's knee surgery. It is all healed now but there are complications. My knee-cap is very thin and is not being held in the proper position by the various bits of my knee tissue. It's slid down so it's resting over the end of my tibia. This causes pain, especially when the knee is held in a bent position as in sitting. My knee surgeon is the best but he couldn't offer a solution that would guarantee a fix. So the plan is now to lose the weight I packed on while immobile the previous year hoping it will mediate the pain. I have been on a strict diet since my moderate pigout in the States (but I do love bbq and root beer) and can already seen the weight start to go. Walking long distances will never be easy for me and I might never get to climb stairs quickly. The remainder of the infection has left the back of my leg with a large area of discoloured skin so I won't be showing off my legs (as if I ever did).

I spent 7 weeks state-side and aside from learning how out-of-shape I am (I bought a sign that says "I am in shape. Round is a shape"), I had a good time. I visited almost everyone who's high on my list, including both my brothers, but I can't do these marathon trips again. In fact, I'm trying to put together a plan where I come over more often but for shorter times. I'll turn 65 next year and will gain access to my US pension fund so I can afford it. Some other plans flitting about. I love visiting in October for the fall colour. Here we only have isolated trees that turn colour, not entire mountain ranges. Unfortunately Hurricane Sandy screwed up my departure, with Washington braced for the worst and closing all airports. I ended up having to drive to Atlanta and booking a flight on Delta to catch up with my flight back to Sydney. Not to minimize the horrific damage done farther north by Sandy, but she was just a lot of rain in Virginia and I don't believe it warranted closing airports just in case. As has happened before, I return torn between my two homes. I still love the US for all its flaws, but the medical expenses keep me from returning. Besides I still love Australia as well and would not want to give up the things I've made a part of my life over the past 21 years.

One of those things is of course, my football team. The Sydney Swans took advantage of my being out of the country to win the Grand Final, the championship of the whole AFL. I had promisied myself that the next time they made it to Grand Final I would pay the price and go to Melbourne to see it live. Not only could I not do that but I was on the other side of the world! I was able to watch it on replay and have indulged in fan memorabilia. The Swans have sent the Cup out to tour the fan-zones and, when it came to Canberra, I got to hold it and have my picture taken with it.

Back home I moved into renovation mode. Brian's former man-cave has been remodelled into a proper guest bedroom next the the already remodelled bathroom. So there is a suite ready for all of you who keep telling me you're coming to Australia. The former guest bedroom was rather small and is now my study with my genealogy stuff, computer, etc. Next task in 2013 is a new kitchen. I don't look forward to the actual event (and I'm certain Chianna wouldn't if she knew it was coming), but it's past its use-by date and I desperately want a new stove. I've also had a local firm make a wing chair plus ottoman made for my height so I can put my feet up when watching TV. Exit old recliners. Some more cosmetic stuff like flooring and drapes to follow. Then hopefully I will not need to remodel again.

I took another weaving course the the Australian National University and enjoyed it a lot. Met a new American pal who gets my sometime frustrations with Australiadom. The class was enough of a success that I have just purchased a small floor loom to be shipped from the US. It will have a much smaller footprint than the big one I bought in 2007 (and sold in 2008) and I will be able to do things I can't do on my table looms.

I am enjoying retirement, but wonder when I will ever get to everything I want to do. All my hobbies, from my veggie garden to my family history to spinning and weaving all take time. Adding anything else to the mix tends to tire me out extremely. You sometimes can't fight fibromyalgia when it says you aren't going to sleep, or your muscles will hurt despite medication. The fatigue can be crippling. I am very proud of myself for driving to Sydney mid-November to see Coldplay perform live. It was an epic adventure that tested my physical limits (I refuse to play the disability card if I can manage independently) but the experience was absolutely spectacular. They put on a hell of a show with lots of fun effects. It took me about 3 days to recover when I got home but it was worth it.

The genealogy trip is neverending. I got a pile of pictures from my brothers and my father's notes in the family Bible. The research can take forever, and I will need to visit some places in the US for more information. Neither the reference books nor the records are available in Australia. I've made contact with distant relatives via Ancestry. I'm still catching up with American history to learn about the ancestors.

This Christmas I will be alone as my dear mother-in-law has commitments in Sydney. I plan to watch the Lord of Rings Trilogy all the way through. No doubt Chi will spend it on my lap. She has forgiven me for leaving her for 7 weeks but still believes that as long as I am not standing up she has rights to my lap. She did not like the tradesmen banging and bringing nasty smells into her house and hid for days.

I close with a photos of my class project in my weaving course, a scarf woven of white wool with stripes of coloured rayon. When washed, the wool shrinks and the rayon doesn't, creating ripples in the fabric.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Yes, this time it has truly been an eon. I almost decided to let the blog die. I've been partly suffering from low-grade depression, which makes me think that my life is crap, and partly inertia. Let's get the ugly stuff out of the way first.

My knee has healed and I have full range of motion. I still get tired pretty quickly and my back isn't as strong as I'd like but if I did my exercises more rigorously that would help. However my right knee hurts now. Behind the knee cap, all the time. There isn't anything more surgically to be done since my surgeon said my patella was pretty thin already. Heaven help me if I have another infection. Let's not go there. So it hurts which makes me want to not exercise it which is no doubt counter productive. I've had a few bouts of gastric upset as well. This week I had a skin cancer (just a basal cell one) removed from my upper lip. I thought it was going to be really minor but it has proven to be more uncomfortable than expected. I feel like somebody punched me in the mouth and have a bandage over my upper lip. Gross. I went back to my optometrist who is going to fit me with a different style of contacts that cover more of the eye and supposedly give better vision. Meanwhile watching the footy is tiring as I can't see what's going on clearly enough.

I've been madly spinning everything in sight. I sold off $200 worth of spinning fibre on ebay to clear the decks a bit (and downsized the knitting stash to D as well) and am just spinning whatever comes to hand. Right now it's a blend of wool and alpaca in rusts, browns, fuschia, and orange. Plying merino and silk in red with black and white accents. Knitting has gone on the back burner with my eyes not 100%. My hands are often sore as well since winter has arrived. We've had temperatures at night below freezing already.

My genealogical work progresses. I am poking at a branch that were the first Dutch settlers of Albany, NY, and plan to map out the migration of some of the early Massachusetts ancestors. I found I have one ancestor who came over on the Mayflower, William White, and his son Resolved White. There is one ancestor with the exotic name of Naomi LaPorte who was a French emigree fleeing the French revolution. That's as close as I get to my mother's myth that we were descended from General Lafayette's brother.

I've been watching Masterchef again, but I skip the team competitions and watch when they are concentrating on a dish I would consider making myself. Maggie Beer sets the bar too high I think and doesn't allow enough time. I do wonder about the cooks hurtling about madly to finish their dishes in time, then cut to the kitchen totally clean and each cook brings a dish up one at a time. Some things must get cold or sit in their juices too long. Maggie's grape upside down cake must have been still hot when served or they are fudging the timeline elsewhere. I've been catching up on the TV series Fringe on DVD which seems an intriguing mix of X Files (not a fan), Lost, and Alias. J.J. Abrams shows his influence in all three. I look forward to seeing more of Leonard Nemoy as the enigmatic William Bell.

Last but NOT least is the weaving course I took at the ANU School of Textiles. It was billed as 3D weaving which involved making textures within the woven cloth, with things like pleats, waffle weave, and seersucker. My class project is above, a scarf of felted wool with stripes of rayon that created ripples and bubbles. I had to weave like hell because I was sick fo a couple of classes. But it turned out exactly right. I bought a battery powered fringe twister which was a treat for sore hands, then put it in the washing machine for felting. It's now soft and interesting and I can't wait to do another.

And yes, I got my hair cut. Now it's just under ear length and layered. Much easier to maintain.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Well, I told you I was wondering why I wrote this blog and I haven't come up with enough things of import in the past 2 months to write about. I have come out of my depression without intervention by a professional (fortunate, since my appointment with the shrink isn't until April). I have started work at the Library as a volunteer doing not very interesting material but it was good to see all the friendly faces. My physical well being improves. My back no longer hurts except for occasions when anybody's back would hurt: long time spent bending over, etc. I continue to have pain in my leg muscles after I walk any distance which is disappointing because walking was how I wanted to get fit. One day of walking means I am very sore the next day. I've had my enthusiastic Bhutanese gardener go after weeds in my garden. The Canberra weather has been extremely bizarre: cold and wet which is hardly a typical summer. My tomatoes don't know what to do when we had an all-time record low for January of 1C. They produce a handful of tomatoes. The lima beans are still going and have produced pods. I made 2 batches of zucchini pickle relish from blimps produced in the garden. We are at this moment having a hailstorm. Housewise, I got the drains cleaned out, have been nagging my gutter repairman to do the job he signed up for in November, and had to get my old DVD player wired into the new digital set-up because my new whiz-bang DVD player/recorder won't play region 1 DVDs and there is no hack for it that I could find. Since I have hundreds of American DVDs, this was not permissible so I had to take a step back to an older DVD player that has been hacked.

Otherwise, I read, watch TV, spin, work on my family history. The photo above is one I scanned from a collection of photos my sister had. I've made a couple of contacts with distant, previously unknown, relatives. I managed to get some data for my MIL's genealogy search as well. Books: I finished Judgement of Caesar by Stephen Saylor. I love his Roman mysteries and have read every one. I also finished Stephen Fry's second volume of autobiography, The Fry Chronicles. I raced through the Steve Jobs biography which I found absolutely riveting. What a complicated, driven, genius of a man. We will miss his mark on society since he personally approved of every tiny detail of every Apple product. I have been an Apple fan for a long time and now know some of the why. I bought a first generation Macintosh the first month they were on the market. My BBBB is now is
Thames by Peter Ackroyd. My previous BBBBs proved not to be sleep inducing and are therefore languishing half read. I've been reading science fiction on my Kindle. I go through so many hard science/space opera novels that it hardly bears listing them.

I spun coffee brown BFL, some hand dyed BFL in blues, browns, and roses, and am now into 15 oz of merino & tencel in a lovely aqua/sea green. Bought two lots under different colour names from two different vendors and it turned out to be the same thing. I spin so much and knit so little that I wish I could sell some. My current new favourite TV show is Homeland partly because I love Damien Lewis. I am also a fan of the Canadian series The Republic of Doyle and Flashpoint. I am watching the British mini-series Exile because I love John Simm.

Next week I see the eye surgeon, have a mammogram, and I intend to make appointments for my teeth, the cat's annual check-up, and my hair. I am finally tired of the locks enough that they're coming off again. This weekend I am going blackberrying in the state forest with some of the girls. This assumes there are blackberries given the weird weather and that it doesn't rain.

Is that enough for 2 months? Don't know whether there is enough interest in what I do write, but I'll continue to update my waiting audience when there is something to post. Maybe after I start the weaving course in 2 weeks.