Saturday, August 30, 2008

Three

Three is a significant number. In mathematics, it is the first odd prime number, a number divisible by one and itself. It's also the fourth number (0 is first) in the Fibonacci sequence, a number that is the sum of it's two preceding numbers (the first two numbers are 0 and 1, add 0 +1=1, 1+1=2, 2+1=3, 3+2=5, and so on.) The most interesting way I know to use this mathematical sequence is by knitting the Fibonacci scarf. Patterns that utilize this sequence are aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Designers use Fibonacci and so do architects. A Fibonacci sequence was a key part of the book The Da Vinci Code proving that authors can also be clever with this concept.

Nature's clever use of Fibonacci. A perfect spiral.

Things in nature often come in threes. In science, the three parts to an atom are the proton, neutron and electron. Sheesh, I promise this isn't a science lecture. If you look up in the winter sky at night (best visible October through January), you'll see that Orion's belt has three stars. The genus Homo has 3 species, the homo habilis, homo erectus and homo sapien (that would be us humans.) There are also 3 types of primates including prosimians, monkeys and apes. My husband likes gorillas. He has been to the Detroit Zoo three times this month in an attempt to actually see gorillas at the zoo. I think he was convinced that there weren't any at all and that their natural habitat exhibit was really a sham. It wasn't until his third visit that he actually saw the gorillas. This proves that three is indeed a lucky number. Depending on the source, three is either the first lucky number, or the second.

Orion's Belt

Three represents the number of patients I admitted last night. It takes me about 3 hours to admit a patient if the whole thing goes without a glitch (patient is comfortable, doctor calls back promptly, family is receptive and calm.) If you've been polishing your math skills while reading this, here is an equation for you:

3 x 3=_____ + 2 =_____+ 1 =_____= Rudee's night. Not surprisingly, the answer is divisible by three. Mixed in between these admissions were multiple, and I mean multiple calls for problems. Things like, "oh, I didn't notice but I'm all out of my prescription and the pharmacy is closed." Uh, OK. I'll get right on that. I had to pull a rabbit out of the hat on that one, but I did get a script called in THREE minutes before another pharmacy closed. Lucky number three.

Three is also the atomic number for lithium. I wish one of the people I visited last night had a little of that on hand. Hell, I wish I did for that matter. Three is the number of hours it is going to take me to finish charting on the admissions I did last night. After I finish this, I officially begin my three day weekend. Three days of doing NOTHING. I don't go back to work until THREE on Tuesday.

ETA: three is also the number of times I edited this post after I published it. Four if you include this note.

Friday, August 29, 2008

I Missed It!

Up until last night, I've had an incredibly slow work week.  Monday, I opened a case at 5 PM and was home by 9 PM.  Tuesday, I opened a case at 7 PM and was home by 10:30PM.  Wednesday, the phone rang once at 10:30PM but did not require I leave my home.  Yesterday, I prepared for the same.  I had nothing on my personal schedule except a plan to watch Barack Obama's speech and sit by my phone; my patients had something else in mind.

Best laid plans and all that, I left my home at 8 PM and didn't get home until close to 1 AM.  So much for watching history get made right before my eyes.  I'm not unwise though, I did record it on my DVR.  I still couldn't watch when I got home because there was a very important show on about the Dallas Cowboys' training.  Some people, not me, had to watch it.  I went to bed.

I'll have to watch his speech sometime today.  I did get some opportunities to see parts of the convention here and there.  I watched MSNBC commentators and pundits talking last night.  I'm curious why in the hell they chose such a public spot to yap about the convention.  As soon as any of them would speak, protestors in the background would drown them out.  Rather than acknowledge the problem, they'd try to talk over them.  It struck me as highly amusing.  I missed Tim Russert's take on all of this, including the protestors.

The musical artists were quite good.  I'm intensely envious of my sister in law who actually worked at the event.  Lucky wench!  I enjoyed watching will.i.am and appreciate the clever use of Barack's speeches in this campaign song.  When they interviewed the artist back stage and asked him about Barack's celebrity status, I liked what he had to say about the republican criticism:  "do not be jealous because you have not mustered the emotions of America."  Amen.  Their candidate puts me to sleep.  In case you missed this act, here is a studio version:

And for something with the same spin but completely different:

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Leap of Faith

I've never knit a drop stitch pattern before, one where the pattern intends for the knitter to drop stitches. That's what Clapotis (clap-o-tee) calls for. Every marker at the needle end of this business marks the spot where I'll drop stitches. I was thinking perhaps one extra pattern increase to make this wider and a couple pattern repeats to make it longer would make this a wonderful shawl.

The yarn I'm using is Sisik, from Dale of Norway, a wool and mohair blend with beautiful and vibrant nibs of color. I can make this shawl afghan sized if I wanted. I temporarily lost my mind and bid for twenty five skeins of this on ebay (Dale doesn't make it anymore and I adore it.) It was touch and go for awhile as I was up against a formidable bidder. I persevered and now own more than I'll ever use in this lifetime. It's a dream to knit up but the mohair makes the stitches clingy. I hope they drop easily enough. I'm about 40 rows away from the first set of dropped stitches, so we'll see. If I were knitting something else out of this yarn and accidentally dropped a stitch, I know it would unravel. Nature of the beast I guess. With faith it'll happen just as intended so, I'll keep plugging along. I need to squeeze in time to finish Flow also. I'm not too far away. It could have been done had I not suffered Clapotis interruptis.

Luckily, I had an extremely quiet night at work last night and I was able to fix some of my computer errors from the stuff I'd already completed (twice.) I'm feeling a bit better about things today. Better to fix it on their time, than mine. It can get to be too much when it feels like all you do is work. For free. I'm not too into working for nothing so a pretty slow night suited me well. The fiddly little computer comes with a Sprint wireless card. Every single time I tried to transfer data last night, the signal was dropped. I hope I can do a wireless transfer today without having to actually go into one of the offices and plug the darned thing in! I'm telling you, the frustrations may be minor, but when they accumulate, it's dumb stuff like this that's really aggravating me.

My mantra for today-until I turn my pager on? k1, k tbl, k3, k tbl repeat to end.........

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Thank You Joyce

Photo: Knitty.com  Clapotis by Kate Gilbert

My new friend Joyce, she of the great international sock swap package, has very sweetly pointed out that I just may be the last knitter on the planet who has not yet started knitting Clapotis. This is a viral knit scarf pattern by Kate Gilbert that more than 7,300 knitters on Ravelry have completed and close to 3,200 knitters have in the queue. Make that 3,201. Better late than never.

I've been feeling a wee bit sorry for myself due to growing pains at work.  As accomplished as I am as a critical care nurse, it seems I have a lot to learn as a hospice nurse.  Don't get me wrong, the moment I'm with a patient, I'm 100% confident.  I do what I've always done without pause.  I am able to provide comfort and compassion to a patient or family in need and I've gotten wonderful feedback from patients that lets me know I'm on the right track.  I love this aspect of my job.  I do. My problem is in the clerical department.  I am feeling completely baffled by the paper demands of this job.

My department services 7 different hospitals that live together under one umbrella.  All 7 have differences in policies-even though they live under the same roof.  I've got to know the nuances of each.  In addition, some docs, not our hospice docs, can be a pain in the ass.  They order hospice and when I get to the house, they don't call me back.  I just sit there waiting for one of these guys to get off his high horse and give me a jingle.  Talk about a time suck.   And just as I mastered the paperwork aspect of my job, I was handed a fiddly little laptop and with a meager inservice, set loose to do, what is to all of my colleagues, "easy."  Everything in the laptop corresponds to every piece of paper.  No brainer, right?  Not so fast there, little nurse smartie pants.  No, it isn't a no brainer.  The program is full of glitches. It's hard as hell.  I give the clerical staff a lot of credit.  I just wish they'd give me the same.

So, for one week, since last Tuesday, I've averaged one start of care per day and sometimes, two.  I do all of it on paper and take it home, and then, DUPLICATE it on the laptop.  What I learned in one day last Tuesday, had seeped out of my brain by 9 PM Tuesday night.  I completely messed up 5 starts of care.  I heard I'd messed it up, not from my supervisor nor the clerical staff themselves, but from a colleague.  It seems, my ineptness had become a topic of discussion with the clerical staff.  Not only do I have a shitload of care starts to fix, I have a severe ringing in my ears to contend with.

I am so frustrated with this style of teaching.  I used to mentor and precept new nurses in my last position and I know for a fact, people don't learn by hearing gossip as feedback.  In fact, it's counterproductive.  This came to my attention, through another nurse, yesterday.  As soon as I heard it, I began to stew.  By this morning, I was counting the months off on my fingers-I'm three away from being able to bail on this job and apply for another within my system.  By this afternoon, I was tearful about the whole mess.  I'm not embarrassed.  I'm OVERWHELMED. I am completely and utterly in over my head.  I'm close to wanting to say screw it and go back to figuring out whether Levophed, Vasopressin and Xigris are compatible  in the same IV line.  I feel defeated-and it's the gossip that has got me down.

Today, I went into work, on my own time, and spent 2 hours with the nurse educator (at my own request) to try to figure where I was going wrong.  She told me, each and every one of these people has had issues with the computer program.  Every one of them.  So why I ask, are these people so hard on me?  Aren't we all in this together?  As a challenge, I'd like to invite them out with me.  On a dark night, to a bad neighborhood, with a challenging patient and family, they can come out to do what I do.  I shall stand in judgement of the care they render.

Whew.  So you see, Joyce has pointed out a wonderful way to make myself feel better.  On my dinner break tonight, I'm going to rectify the lack of Clapotis on my knitting resume.  It couldn't have come at a better time.  Thank you Joyce, I feel my blood pressure falling as I consider the yarn I'll use.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Aunts Honey, Act 4

Be careful what you wish for....you just may get it

As the years passed, the Aunts aged. Sadly for us, they never mellowed. When I'd married my husband, Aunt Honey the First had already had heart surgery once. Living with Honey the Second always was a strain for her. To give herself a break, she'd fake some kind of heart issue to get herself admitted to the hospital.  It was just my luck that she always chose the hospital I worked at.  Why?  There were plenty of other places to go!  When the doctors could find nothing, they'd prepare to send her home. This is when I'd get a call to go see her and try, in some way, to get her stay in the resort hospital extended. For her, it was a vacation and of course, a way to garner sympathy from the clan. I'd visit, speak with the docs (who'd always offer sympathy that I was related to this woman) and try to calm Aunt Honey down. Typically, the docs would say, "Jesus, you're related to her?" At this point in the conversation, they would tell me Aunt Honey the First had assaulted them in some way when they told her she had to go home (she'd throw something from her bedside table at the bearer of bad tidings.) Being a lowly staff nurse, I don't know what kind of magical powers she thought I had.  It's not like I had afternoon tea with the CEO, for God's sake, I was too busy emptying bedpans!  I'm certain when they'd discharge her anyway, she thought I'd failed her.

Aunt Honey the Second, never the sharpest tool in the shed, had become senile. She also began to wet herself and her bed. This was such a strain on her sister. They owned their home together and had very little in terms of assets to provide long term care for a person with dementia. Medicare doesn't pay for this kind of stuff and she didn't qualify for Medicaid. For that, you have to deplete your assets (that would be the home they shared.) They were like an old married couple who had failed to look ahead. None of the other siblings wanted to take in a bed-wetter although, Mr. Larger Than Life had halfheartedly offered to take her in once or twice. His wife, God rest her soul, stood up for herself and adamantly refused.

Time continued to pass and the bed wetting became more routine. So did Aunt Honey the First's list of maladies and hospitalizations. It wasn't unusual to get a call a month that she was hospitalized due to chest pain. Her lab work and other tests never panned out and she was routinely bounced from her hospital bed within a day. She became the boy who cried wolf.

After one such hospitalization, a cousin dropped in to visit the two Aunts. Aunt Honey the Second was in her bed, soaked in urine. Aunt Honey the First was beside herself. She began to scream at our cousin, "I can't take this anymore!" "I don't know what I'll do if she doesn't stop pissing in the bed!" She was on a tirade which ended with, "I wish God would strike me dead!"

And he did. Right then and there.

Throughout my life, I've looked for signs that there is a God. This was affirmation at its best. Aunt Honey the First had suffered a massive myocardial infarction moments after asking God to strike her dead. Massive. I can only imagine how high her blood pressure had to have been, during the peak of her tirade, to blow out a vessel like this!  And I don't know why our cousin panicked and called 911, but she did-just saying, God's will and all.  After all, wasn't it what she'd asked for?  Despite medicine's interference, Aunt Honey only survived a day; Aunt Evil had her removed from life support so she wouldn't suffer. I always wondered about this because I think Evil knew she and her kids would be the beneficiaries of the sisters' estate. With Honey the Second, too feeble now to fight for her rights, Aunt Evil would finally be able to redecorate her home.

The funeral was pretty sedate for an Arabic event. No one tried to claw their way into the casket. There was no caterwauling and few tears. She'd worn us all out. Aunt Honey the Second, now a dotard, just sat quietly and sadly bobbed her head. At the meal following the funeral, her surviving siblings screamed at her for not eating any food.  They weren't consoling in the least, this poor thing had just lost her life partner.  They may not have been married, but they were partners in crime their whole lives.  This is one group of people you don't want to upset by not eating their food.  Incidentally, there was no Arabic food served at this most auspicious of events.  None.

The big issue was what to do about Aunt Honey the Second. She was too demented to care for herself and no one else could manage a bed wetter. Aunt Evil had tried placing her in a nursing home. She immediately applied for medicaid on behalf of her sister and for herself, began to make a list of modifications she wanted to do to her own home with the money earned from the sale of her sisters' estates. I kept telling Mr. Larger Than Life that this would not be allowed. Under law, it's illegal to divest a dotard of their assets.  I told him the nursing home had first dibs on her estate.  I was dismissed because obviously, I didn't know what I was talking about.  Aunt Evil, undeterred, went ahead with her dream list.  She hired contractors to start planning her dream kitchen.  The shit hit the fan when it became clear that the law did indeed protect Aunt Honey the Second's money. Evil, trying desperately to preserve her home makeover plans, tried to care for her sister in her home but was hard pressed to care for such a prolific bed wetter. In defeat, Evil threw in the towel (and sheets), along with the dream kitchen  and admitted her sister to just about the worst nursing home in the area.

With her mind completely gone now and no worries at all, Aunt Honey the Second survived several more years, all in a nursing home. To Aunt Evil's chagrin, she survived long enough to completely deplete her estate and finally qualify for medicaid. Evil never did get to redecorate.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Aunts Honey, Act 3

The Aunts Honey had difficult childhoods. Born to immigrant parents from Tripoli Syria, they were forced to work like animals so their father could sit on his ass and reap the benefits. There were 6 children, 3 of each, who spent their formative years as indentured servants. Even their brother, Mr. Larger Than Life, was forced, at the tender age of 6, to go out on the street corner to peddle newspapers. It didn't matter if the weather was in the subzero range, if he didn't work, he got a beating. If not for the grace of a kindly physician, my father in law probably would have frozen to death trying to earn a living for his slacker father. This doctor would bring the boy inside his office to warm up and would buy all of his papers. Their friendship lasted a lifetime along with a misguided notion that this particular doctor was the most talented practitioner in all of medicine. Ever.

As other folks of Middle Eastern heritage will confirm, every neighbor is a cousin. Except the Middle Eastern muslims. They weren't cousins, they were the enemy. Mr. Larger Than Life speaks fondly of getting his ass soundly beaten for playing with the muslim children in the neighborhood. He wasn't allowed to play with Jewish children either. In their particular cultural melting pot neighborhood, that left his cousins.

As teens, when the children would come home in the evening and head upstairs, their father would whack them on the tops of their heads with his Shriners ring, which he'd turned inward so that the raised part of the ring was to his palm. There was no particular reason for this peculiar show of affection. I'm sure they all had interesting Shriners geometric imprints on their skulls. Aunt Honey the Second probably took the brunt of this. I'm convinced it stole her intellect. It was either the ringings she took or the fact that her father made her drop out of high school so she could work and support him that made her appear dumb. One of these things was responsible for her becoming a bobblehead. Poor Aunt Honey the Second was not allowed to have a thought of her own. Nor was she allowed to marry. It was her duty, until her father died, to stay home and support him. She'd had two marriage proposals she was pressured to turn down. Don't get me wrong here, she wasn't a complete simpleton. She could be as mean as her sisters, Evil and Honey the First. I know for a fact, she was one bitter old lady (in sheep's clothing.)

We know a lot of this early family history is true because we ran across school records for Mr. Larger Than Life and his siblings. They were tucked away in my father in law's attic. Even back in the 1930s, social workers were sent to the home at the request of the school. In turn, they'd documented their concerns about the abuse and neglect these kids suffered at the ring hand of their father.

Interestingly, not a one of them had harsh feelings for their father. They adored him, Shriners ring and all. When he died, Aunt Honey the First was the most distraught. At his funeral, she attempted to jump in the casket with him. She wailed and tore the curtains off the wall in the funeral home. She was so destructive and demonstrative in her grief that the funeral director had to tell Mr. Larger Than Life that if he didn't get her to knock it off, she'd be banned from the funeral (he was probably too afraid to tell her himself.) I'm certain this is the only service in this funeral home's history that didn't turn a profit.

I got a front seat to an exhibiton of this very physical demonstration of grief when Aunt Evil draped herself over my father in law, as he lay intubated and on life support in his ICU bed two years ago. She begged him not to leave her alone-she didn't want to be the last. It was all very dramatic, loud and worthy of an Emmy. The whole show rang false and what fell from her eyes were crocodile tears. For the entire week he was on life support, she visited once. For 10 minutes. Later, I would ponder why she said she didn't want to be the last sibling left since they had a younger brother who was still alive. I think the youngest was spoiled and they all hated him. Therefore, in their twisted minds, since he didn't suffer the abuse growing up that they had, he was a nonentity. Like Aunt Honey the Second, he is a bit on the slow side. Unlike the rest of his siblings, he is a very nice man. To rectify this, he married a bitch. And once again, I've digressed from my original story.

Anyways, a few days after their father's funeral, the Aunts caught wind that my mother in law had used a vacuum to clean her home and they went ballistic (I wonder who ratted her out?). It was unheard of to be so callous and uncaring of their customs and they decided to teach her a lesson for using electric appliances in the immediate aftermath of Pa's death. She shouldn't have used anything electric or battery operated for a full month. No TV, no radio, no vacuum, nothing electric and nothing that brought pleasure was to be utilized. How stupid could she be? Like Aunt Em, who was punished for casting aspersions on the local news anchor, my mother in law was shunned for months. Although they ultimately allowed her back into the family fold, they never forgave her. Her flippant attitude was a topic of discussion for decades.

Some years later, my mother in law was again ostracized for daring to send the family a Christmas card with an owl stamp. The Aunts were inordinately fearful of owls. According to The Owl Pages, in Arabia, the owl is a bad omen; one that will steal your children in the middle of the night. Why they worried, I have no idea; they had no children who could be stolen! Now, my mother in law had a great sense of humor. I'm not convinced the owl stamp debacle was entirely innocent. In my mind, I can see her at the post office asking, "say Mr. Postmaster, do you have any stamps with owls?" She knew they suffered from severe owl phobia. Perhaps it was her way of getting back at the Aunts. In my heart of hearts, I hope it was.

Don't miss The Aunts Honey, Act 4 where you will learn how Aunt Honey the Second was directly responsible for killing her sister.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Aunts Honey, Act 2

The child in gold is all the proof the Aunts needed that their nephew had married a hussy.

So, where was I? Oh yeah, I remember; I was still smarting over the only a virgin should wear white remark. It's interesting to note that Aunt Honey the First, who had the nerve to say this to a bride, on her wedding day, was the same one who deserted her sick husband. Some time after her divorce, she found herself a new man. For all I know, maybe she found him before her divorce and that's the real reason she scrubbed her dishes until her hands bled. For twenty years, she and her new man were doing the horizontal hokey pokey. Although he was free from tuberculosis, he wasn't exactly free from other things. He had a slight problem that he just couldn't shake: his wife! And Honey the First had the nerve to comment on my white gown! If I'd had this dirt 21 years ago, I'd not have silenced my tongue. If you can believe it, back then, I was a bigger hothead than I am now.

Of course, that would not have bode well for family harmony. No one on earth could hold a grudge as good as the Aunts. They were expert at this. They were also adept at involving the entire family, indeed, the entire extended family in their grudges. What else did they have to do besides sit at home, watch Entertainment Tonight and plot the havoc they'd wreak on whomever they felt had recently slighted them? That was their evening, watching Channel 7 News with anchorman Bill Bonds (the biggest lush in town) and ogling John Tesh (not exactly my cuppa) on ET. And what about that Mary Hart? "Slut." Like my husband said in the comments on the last post, Aunt Honey the First used to get up and kiss the TV screen when Dean Martin came on. She'd say to her sister, "oh honey, isn't he beautiful?" They loved these men. If you happened to express that you couldn't possibly care less about any of them, they wouldn't speak to you for months. They'd take this comment as personal insult. Just ask Aunt Em. She was on the outs for months because she didn't think Bill Bonds was all that. Six months. This was a typically loaded question from Aunt Honey the First: "so honey, tell us, which news station do you like to watch?" Answering could be as dangerous as walking through a minefield.

When my husband would ask me to go see the Aunts, I'd try to find excuses to avoid it. I abhorred those visits. Jesus, these women weren't MY aunts-they were HIS. Begging would inevitably ensue, forcing me to go visit them. In his defense, he hated it too. He did it to shut up please Mr. Larger Than Life. Breakfast was the easiest time to stop by (also the cheapest meal to serve.) They loved to cook breakfast. Unlike other Arabic families, these two did not put out a big spread. To the contrary, we'd always eat before we went in an attempt to stave off starvation. Aunt Honey the Second would make a big deal of rifling through the fridge and whipping up an egg. One egg per person (if more than one egg was available.) One piece of toast per person with pats of butter and packages of jelly these two stole from area restaurants. There she'd be at the stove, head bobbing, trying to fry an egg when Aunt Honey the First would scream at her, "you're doing it all wrong!" An argument would break out over the best way to fry an egg and the next thing you know, the visit would be over. Easy Peasy! I was never so grateful as I was when my son was old enough to make these treks with my husband and I finally got to stay home. Don't tell him, but this is the real reason I had that boy!

Aunt Honey the First, how can I put this diplomatically? Well, she was IMPOSSIBLE to please. Eventually, with effort, most people can be satisfied. Not her. Even the way her sister cooked an egg could cause a meltdown. I never went out to dinner with her when she didn't make a big stink over what was served. Whatever it was, wherever it was, her plate always got sent back, sometimes, more than once in a meal. Her dish, no matter what, was never good enough. We could have been eating at a restaurant with three Michelin stars and she'd have found a reason to return her food to the kitchen. I'm quite certain, waiters and chefs hated her. Lesser chains of restaurants took to hiding condiments.

Given her own culinary expertise and hostessing skills, I find this oddly funny. Years ago, when my daughter graduated from high school, we threw a party. It was so hot outside that we decided to serve easy to handle food. We had catered pita sandwiches, cold pasta salads, fresh fruit and vegetable platters and beautiful pastries. More than once, Aunt Honey the First asked "honey, where is the hot food?" Aunt Honey the Second, never far from the other Honey, as usual, bobbed her head in agreement; she wanted to know too. There was no hot food. In their minds, I'd committed the biggest hostess blunder of all, in the entire 2,000 year history of their family line. There was no hot Arabic food at this most auspicious of events. I'd had a party and made no baked kibbee, no grape leaves and no rice. You'd have thought this was the beginning of an international incident. I'm quite certain I was the topic of discussion for days. Well, it's to be expected. After all, look what he married. Hussy. I've heard, a good Arabic wife is only as good as her next tray of baklava. I didn't make that either.

Every year, I'd host Christmas at our house which was always a burden with these two. They had a sister with whom they preferred to spend this holiday. Although I had no issues with that, Mr. Larger Than Life, did. He'd insist we invite them. We would. In order to accommodate their busy holiday dance card, I would have to serve up dinner at a time convenient to them. They'd show up in the biggest rush to eat, exchange gifts and get the hell out of my house so they could go where they really wanted, Aunt Evil's house. There wasn't even time for the usual pleasantries. They'd always tell us what they bought Aunt Evil and her children for gifts-it was always something expensive and elaborate. Every year, they'd buy us a gift and make a big fuss over the presentation. Mr Larger Than Life, himself capable of spewing the loaded question, would always ask, "aren't they just such thoughtful and wonderful women?" Indeed. I'd like to point out here that if we'd disagreed, we'd have been screamed at. So yes, they were so thoughtful and wonderful; they'd re-gifted us what we'd given them the previous year. They must have been in such a rush to get to Aunt Evil's, they'd forgotten what we'd given them and commited this faux pas. After a couple of years of this, I got wise and gave them gifts I'd enjoy getting back the next year. I still have many of these items. I'm sure my husband's cousins, due to a complete mix up, have the rest.

Be sure to tune in for The Aunts Honey, Act 3 to get tips on appropriate demonstrations of mourning, or in other words, how not to get expelled from a funeral home.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Aunts Honey, Act 1

Nothing could have prepared me for the introduction to my husband's relatives. By the time I met my Knight in Shining Armor, I was divorced and had a young daughter. I had a useless ex-husband (no one will disagree) and was raising this child on my own. I was working full time, mothering full time and carrying 12 credits in nursing school. If not for my parents and my baby brother, I'd have floundered. I was so busy, I barely had time to acknowledge that I was intensely lonely.

Then out of the blue, I met my soul mate. He caught my eye across a crowded, smokey bar and I was smitten. I was out celebrating the end of a brutal semester of nursing school with my friend who was celebrating the end of a not so brutal semester of art school. We were sitting at the bar, oblivious to the free drinks being sent our way. For whatever reason, the men around the bar were outdoing themselves in an attempt to be the next one to send us drinks. We weren't looking particularly beautiful or slutty sultry. At least I don't think we were. We for sure weren't wearing signs that said for a good time, buy us a drink. And I know our names weren't scrawled on the john door in the men's room-at least, I don't think they were. I think it was an unspoken challenge. One of them would send a drink and we'd thank them, but that was it. Nada. We didn't ask anyone to buy us a drink. It was their game, which Marybeth and I were playing in a rather sporting manner.

My husband recounts this episode differently. He always has had a different interpretation when he reminisces about our meeting. He recalls us flirting with all of those men (uh-uh) and thinking he didn't have a chance. When he walked up to me at the bar (something the fellows sending drinks did not do) it was like I'd been struck by lightening. Something definitely clicked. I recall that he towered over everyone in that bar that night. He was 6'4" and very handsome. He is still handsome. He'll laugh about this, but it was his eyes that sold me. And his laugh. It wasn't his dancing, that's for sure. But, I digress.

Some months after we began dating, he introduced me to his sister and his mother whom I loved instantly. I kept wondering when I'd meet his father. It was quite a few months more before he let me meet his dad. I kept wondering why. Was he ashamed of me? I mean, I wasn't exactly unsullied goods. Looking back, I know better. I think he didn't want me to go running from the asylum when I finally did meet his dad. He is a little larger than life and by that, I don't mean tall. I mean overwhelming. You do recall, this is the same guy who screamed at me in the doctors office, forcing me to go home and change my underwear.

It was an even longer time before I was introduced to my husband's aunts. Aunt Honey and Aunt Honey. I always called them that because that's all they ever said, "hi honey, how are you honey?" Honey, honey, honey. I remember wondering if they ever said anything else. They were spinsters (well sort of) who lived together. Aunt Honey the First was married at one time but had to divorce her husband on account of her neurosis. It seems he had a non-contagious form of tuberculosis and she couldn't wash the dishes enough because of it. She would wash the skin right off her hands trying to kill his non-infectious form of TB. What could she do? She had to leave him or face life skinless and perpetually oozing. I can't say I blame her as it is the lesser of two evils.

Aunt Honey the Second seemed like a nice enough old lady. She didn't truly have a mind of her own though. Like a bobblehead, she'd just continually nod in agreement with whatever the other Aunt Honey said. Honey the First definitely was the boss of that relationship. They would always be so nice to me, but I could never get rid of the feeling that somehow, they weren't very sincere. It wasn't until my wedding day that I found out what they really thought. Of course, they'd never tell me to my face until the deal was done. Those women were nothing, if not shrews, I mean shrewd.

I didn't want a big wedding. Really, I didn't. I wanted something small and intimate, but Mr. Larger Than Life was not going to have that. This was his only son's wedding day and he wanted to go all out. So, all out we went. We invited about 250 people, most of whom I did not know, to the most expensive joint in the area at the time. It was hotter than Hades that day. Close to 100 degrees with a matching humidity. We did the whole reception line at the church and then again at the hall. We ate a little dinner and then made the rounds of the guests. As we approached "our" Aunts' table, they were smirking. One pulled me close so only I could hear and asked "Do you really think you should you be wearing white-seeing as you aren't a virgin?" The other Aunt Honey sat there bobbing her head in agreement.

That was my aha! moment when I learned there and then that these two spiders spinsters in sheep's clothing, really only used the honey to catch their flies. Throughout the years, on occasion, what they really thought would accidently on purpose, slip from their tongues and cement my beliefs.

Next week, don't miss The Aunts Honey, Act 2 where the Aunts go Christmas shopping in the attic. It was there they would perfect the art of regifting.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Swap

I love the Sockmaniacs sock swap group I belong to on Yahoo. It's fun and a nice way to meet new people. I've been corresponding with my latest swap partner for weeks; she really leads quite an action filled and interesting life! This summer's swap had an international theme. My partner hasn't received her package yet so I won't spill the beans as she admits she lurks on my site from time to time. Hello Joyce!

She sent me an amazing array of yarn and treats. I'm thrilled with the contents of her very thoughtful package. It's a Japanese theme with a stunning and absolutely gorgeous new line of Noro Silk Garden Sock yarn. THREE skeins. The colors are so vibrant but the one that is teal and blue and charcoal and lime green is my absolute favorite. I've already cast on a pair of socks for myself in that gorgeous teal (color #S252.)

I should brew a pot of tea from the selection she sent me and drink it in the fortune cup. The lottery jackpot is 95 million tonight and if this package is any indication of impending luck, I'm all over that. If I win, I'll be sure that this new friend will be retiring. I will tell you, confidentially, Joyce lives in an area of California where she assures me, "everyday is like a vacation here." According to her, she doesn't need to go away on vacation to feel she has gotten away from things (see the top picture for proof.) But Joyce, wouldn't it be nice to have time to knit all day, everyday?

There are so many treats in this package including teas, candies, incense, a candle, knitting needles, chopsticks, patterns and bookmarks. Look for yourself. I photographed them on my new bed. The bedspread is new too and ironically, the pattern is called Tea Garden. How fitting.

Thanks Joyce. I feel like a true winner today! Your package is scheduled to be delivered Saturday. I hope you like it as much as I like mine. Additionally, you are going to need an apron to fully enjoy the contents.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My Friend Jeanne

Evangelina, a wise woman of the pueblo, and my friend Jeanne

True Confession:  I am not Catholic but my closest spiritual advisor and dear friend Jeanne, is.  She is a Sister of St. Joseph and is the most wise, kind, funny, witty, dedicated and bravest woman I know.  She has been a Sister since the tender age of 17 and marked her Jubilee (50 years) as a member of her congregation 2 years ago.  You do the math.  I will tell you, I was honored to attend her Jubilee; it was a wonderful celebration of her life's journey.

I can't tell you what the lure of the Sisters and Congregation of St. Joseph's is for me.  Perhaps it's their history which dates back to 1650 France.  Back in the day, they were lace makers.  Maybe the lure is just my friendship with Jeanne, though I can honestly say, I've never met a CSJ sister I haven't liked.  That Jubilee I attended was my first and I hope it isn't my last; the sisters know how to throw a party!

In January, Jeanne pulled up her stakes here and once again, took off on a mission.  This time, she went to Nicaragua to work with people in need.  I convinced her she needed to blog her experiences and here and there, she does.  She sends interesting blog posts and pictures to me.  I upload her words onto her own blog.  As determined as she is, she just can't get the hang of Blogger.  That's neither here nor there but just interests me.  I'd be bereft if she didn't need me anymore to manage this one simple thing for her.  By doing this, I continue to feel very connected to my friend.  I'm hoping to get her to write about some of her past positions.  She has fabulous stories of her days in Peru as a Mother Superior.  These days, she is focused on the here and now and how she can best help those suffering in horrible poverty.

Her post today has sparked something in me.  I want to buy the women she works with a farm animal.  Although the men of Nicaragua benefit from her mission, the focus of her mission is primarily on the women in her community.  I'm hoping she'll tell me how to go about this purchase.  I'm thinking, something that can earn its keep.  A critter that would give milk and offspring.  And wool.  A sheep!  Yes, I want to buy  sheep.  I don't know how much sheep cost in Nicaragua and I'm hoping it's in my budget.   It would be nice to buy a boy and a girl because offspring would be tough without both.  If it isn't affordable, well, I'm not unused to raising money for such worthwhile organizations.  I've been known to throw some pretty fabulous bake sales.  She needs to let me know how to go about this and I'll go about the scrounging part.

So Jeanne, what say you?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

P.S. Rudeelocks has a fabulous new bed....

The bed?  Fabulous.  Today, I woke up for the first time in YEARS without a backache.  Just a smidge of a reminder that my back muscles aren't really happy with me.  Ordinarily, it's back spasms that awaken me on a daily basis.  Today, I had nothing near what I usually do.  I got out of bed without stretching my lumbar muscles first.  What a treat!  I did toss and turn a bit last night but I think that had more to do with my mind than the bed.  In addition, this mattress didn't "sleep hot" which is what some critics say is its major flaw.  I was comfortable.  It was also the first night in three years that I have not slept with 6 pillows propping my body into a comfortable position.

Speaking of pillows, I am still waiting on the free Tempur-Pedic pillow that came with my bed.  The driver forgot to bring it with the bed in the morning and forgot to drop it off later in the day like he had promised he'd do.  When I called the store to make a query on my MIA pillow, the woman who answered the phone said she'd have to call the driver to see if my story was true.  OK, I'm annoyed.  First, I didn't expect a free pillow-it wasn't the deciding factor in my purchase, but second, if I were lying about missing an article, it would be the mattresses.  Not the pillow.  Some people have sh*tty interpersonal skills.  She'd be one of them.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

mon dieu!

He was robbed. It's obvious his legs alone are solid gold. Those judges need glasses.....

Monday, August 18, 2008

Rudeelocks and Her New Bed

Sunday, I threw in the towel and went to the furniture store.  I wasn't going to leave until I'd completed the purchase for a new bed.  I'd no idea that Tempur-Pedic beds cost as much as they did so I lingered at the furniture store longer than I needed.  As soon as the palpitations subsided, I signed the purchase agreement and left with a delivery plan.  Tuesday morning, I'll be rolling in Rhapsody.  I bought the system with the air flow chamber but not the system that would have set me back an arm and a leg.

I'm appalled to say, I've not purchase a new mattress since 1994.  I hated the one I bought from the moment I took delivery.  Fourteen years is a long time to spend despising something I spend a third of my life in.  It's uncomfortable, it's too big for my bedroom and it's killing my back.  Since I'm only about one step away from seeking the advice of a surgeon to fix my back, I thought I'd explore options that aren't so invasive.

Mattresses can be such an issue.  They're hard to pick out at a venue as public as a furniture store.  I read up on the trial of these beds and followed the advice to lie down and stay there for a minimum of 15 minutes.  That's an awful long time when one is lying there feeling self conscious and vulnerable. I did what my research recommended though and like Goldilocks, soon found the bed that was perfect.  If the salesman had shut his mouth, I know I would have fallen asleep right there in the store.

Since I'm downsizing from a king to a queen sized bed, I needed a new frame to go with the mattresses and found a bed frame that will match my mahogany furniture beautifully.  I'm so proud of myself for doing this for me.  I'm always reluctant to spend a huge amount of money on anything that is solely for my own well being.  This was a big deal.  It's going to be an even bigger deal Tuesday night when I crawl between my sheets and drift off with no salesman talk, talk, talking in my ear.

Like Pee on Snow

Things are coming along with the graying of my very short head of hair.  I'm about a month away from calling this experiment complete. I'm thrilled with the results.  It looks amazingly good and if I have to be gray, at least it's a great color, more silver really, than gray.

Over the past few weeks, I've been reading the new David Sedaris book, When You are Engulfed in Flames.   It's a collection of essays that are always thought provoking and more often, hysterically funny.  In one of his stories, he describes an older woman's white hair that was streaked with yellow,  like snow that had been peed on.  I laughed for a long time over that that story.  That's sort of where I am with my hair, still blond on top with beautiful silver beneath.

I have a few favorite chapters with this book so far and I'm making myself read it very slowly.  I'm trying to savor the stories.  There hasn't been one that hasn't made me laugh out loud.

Do yourself a favor and either buy this book or check it out at the library.  You're in for a treat.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Nothing

As I was out running errands today, I passed by the local high school band out raising money by washing cars for donations. Even though they wake me up every morning in August with loud band practice, I hold no ill will towards the members of the band. Not much anyway. I could hold my breath and walk to the high school. On the mornings they practice, I've considered trying to see if I could spit and reach anyone. They still pretty much suck right now. In another week, I may be able to open the windows and listen to them and the birds at the butt crack of dawn. If I'd had a camera, I'd have shown you a picture of the students washing the local fire truck. Instead, you'll have to use your imagination since SOMEBODY has "borrowed" my camera.

Well, I won't argue with Buddha, will you? This is same sort of wisdom Mom used to use. "Just because everyone else is jumping off the bridge, doesn't mean you have to join them." Thanks Mom. That little nugget came in handy on more than one occasion and I never once had a desire to jump off any bridges. I did plenty of other bad sh*t, but never jumped off a bridge.

Although this looks like desert, it sort of reminds me of my drives through Pennsylvania. There is not a damn thing to do on that turnpike-except speed. Mind boggling, butt numbing nothingness. I was missing Virginia today until I remembered my last drive on the turnpike.

I worked so hard all week and was looking forward to nothing. Nothing to do and nowhere to go. My wish has been granted and right at this moment, I'm bored out of my ever-lovin' mind. I'm so bored, I've been over at this place wasting time. Let me just say I'm sorry in advance.

If that doesn't suit your fancy, even if I don't know why, maybe this will. I watched this movie again and I always laugh my ass off during this scene:

There's something to be said for doing nothing all day.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Generation Y Why?

Tonight as I drove home, I saw the most beautiful moon hanging in a dusky blue sky. I ran in the door to grab my camera so I could show you the Moon Over Rudee's house and discovered, someone had taken it. My camera. Not the picture. You really aren't missing much, especially if you happened to look up at that beautiful moon with your own eyes tonight. I'm missing something though. It didn't take long to put two and two together and figure out whodunit. My son. He took my camera away for the weekend without asking if I needed it. Well, I didn't exactly need it, but I wanted it.

I have some other things missing too. My ear buds for my Ipod. I've purchased 3 since January and I can't find any of them. Come to think of it, I don't know where my Bose noise reducing headphones are either. He has lost one Ipod shuffle, one Ipod and countless pairs of ear buds. When he loses his, he goes shopping for new ones. He doesn't have to go far-just to the counter to take mine. When I ask for them, he tells me he has NOOOOO idea where they may be.

For further evidence that I have a problem here, I'd like to submit the following for your consideration. I got a new MacBook in February. It belongs to the three of us-me, myself and I. Nobody else. When I look at it though, it's all his. The Itunes songs? 90% his. The desktop pictures? Those fluctuate between pictures of golf, golf courses and mustangs. All his. Nothing around here is sacred.

Lastly, before I let him have it, I'd like to share this morning's kerfuffle that involved him. I don't know how he did it, but he managed to completely mess up my checking account this week. One of his online payments was returned for insufficient funds. His tuition payment. Now this should have been a tuition check that was paid a month ago. To help with the pain of his tuition, we space the payments out over 5 months. For some reason, he didn't pay July's and when he did, something got mucked up. Today, I have an overdraft fee to my checking account and a returned check fee to the tuition management company. This month's tuition is costing me double the amount and \$70 for the bouncing abilities of my checks. My son's reaction? "Oops." It's not his money, it's mine; why should he care?

I remember when he was just a wee babe. He had the worst colic. I'd walk and rock him, walk and rock and walk some more just to get him to sleep. I remember wishing he'd outgrow this terrible malady. Well that'll show me to be careful what I wish for! He's outgrown his colic and developed a raging case of apathy. I've no clue how to treat this disorder. Do you?

Friday, August 15, 2008

I Love a Winner

The election nonsense in Detroit is heating up-big time. There is plenty of noise about Detroit's scandal laden thug mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick. Everybody wants him to just go away, including me. I was annoyed this morning when his latest hearing interrupted the Olympic coverage. Out of desperation, I watched Ocean's 13. Again.

Morning eye candy...beats redundant legal hearings any day.

Barack Obama would like Kwame to step down from his post. The Democratic National Convention would like Kwame to stay the hell away from Denver. Since Kwame is required to continue wearing his GPS tether, perhaps their wish will come true. However, they shouldn't count on this-Kwame has continually demonstrated disdain toward any naysayers. The presidential candidate does not want to be tied in any way, shape or form to Detroit politics. Kwame has asked the Michigan governor for a pardon. The governor has told Kwame he needs to be convicted of a crime before he can be pardoned. Score cards will be handed out later.

An easier election to follow was for my autumn sweater project. Lucky for me, only one sweater won and I don't have to knit them all. Not that I won't take them all on. Eventually. The electorate has spoken though and I'll be knitting the Textured Tunic by Stefanie Japel. The good news is I don't have to buy the pattern since I own it. The bad news is it won't be for me-unless I lose this stubborn twenty ten pounds I carry as extra baggage. I have a feeling my rolls won't look flattering in this sweater. Subsequently, it'll be for my daughter. Lucky her.

I have found a beautiful yarn in which to construct this sweater. It's Louisa Harding's Hand Dyed Grace in kiwi green. This yarn is light enough to show the detailed stitching involved in this project. Since it's hand dyed, color variegation should be present in the yarn and add interesting detail. My local yarn store is expecting a shipment of this new yarn any day. I hope it's today. Even though my schedule is full, I'm going to make time to go fetch the yarn for this sweater.

Maybe it'll help me avoid news about Kwame and his troubles.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Slacker

All is not lost though. Some time later, a new group formed: Slacker Ravelympics. I felt immediately redeemed. Apparently, so did 174 other knitters and crocheters. I've joined and entered my tanktop Flow. I've finished the front (or back) and I'm casting on this morning for the other side. I think I should slow down though. After all, I finished one side in less than a week and there are 10 days to go until the end.

I don't want to give slackers a bad name.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Turn a Deaf Ear

This week, despite the approaching full moon and meteor showers, has started off in a rather decent way. It's early in the week so I don't want to talk too much about it and reign hell (or meteors) upon myself. Friday is still a long way off. I only had one phone call last night, one start of care and one evaluation to do. Not too bad. Parkinson's Law aside, I actually finished my work in under the time alloted for it's completion . It only got murky when I did a visit on the other side of town for my afternoon shift partner. We each cover a different side of town. She is the one who either woke up on the wrong side of the bed or had someone invoke some bad mojo on her.

I went to do a visit for her and got greeted with lots of phrases like "do I have to call your supervisor?" Sheesh. Repeatedly. First, I am 51 years old. Not 11. If you feel compelled to get my boss out of bed, have at it. I try very hard at times like these to maintain my composure. It was all I could do to patch things up and get back on track. I do not have a split apart. There are two of us to cover ALL of southeast Michigan at night and apparently, one of them has a curse. I don't know how I got through it, but I did. Calmly. Sometimes, it's best to give in and realize that this moment will end and all will be better. Eventually.

One thing that makes things better is my knitting. This is the front (or back since they're identical) of Flow. The yarn is a linen/rayon mix of fabulosity called Seduce in Passimenterire Green. I want to get it done so I can wear it with my white linen pants while it's still summer. I think I'll get there. Most of the shaping is done and I'll start binding off at the armholes today. After that, it's a quick knit to the top and I'll have half of it done. I cast this on last Thursday so I'm making good time. This pattern is super simple and I will make this tank top again.

I don't know about this yarn though. It's very beautiful but has a rough hand. I understand it blooms a bit when washed but for now, it hurts my hands to handle it for too long. The yarn is also slippery when wound so the ball unravels. I advise winding one ball at a time and keeping it in a sandwich baggie to keep it's shape. That way, it won't be a tangled mess half way through the skein. Ask me how I know. Better yet, ask my husband. He untangled half a skein for me and gets an award for patience. If not for him, I'd have pitched 50 yards of perfectly good yarn.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Get The Vote Out

This is Louisa Harding Grace.  The color will be # 5- a rich, mossy green.

It is always a surprise to me to see what people will choose when it comes to voting.  To ask someone who and what they'll vote for is a rather indelicate question.  But in the case of the autumn sweater project I'm planning, it's clear it's the textured tunic from Stefanie Japel that's winning the race.  Voting isn't closed yet so if you have a different favorite, you need to vote on my sidebar.  I'll be knitting the favorite.

The eldest child has indicated that she wants to own sweater number three.  In all fairness, it'll look best on her.  I don't think she has a spare ounce of fat on her so it'll look better on her body than on mine.    In order for me to knit this for her, she must present herself at my home for measurements. That, at the least, guarantees a long visit with my first born babe.   The yarn?  Well, she wants green, probably a yellowish green, if I know her.  So much for the color.  But the yarn itself has been staring at me for a few days now.  If I don't knit this in Louisa Harding's Grace, well then, I'm just losing out.  And so is Sebba.  It is half wool, half silk and has a beautiful sheen to it.  It's incredibly soft.  This yarn beckoned me to acknowledge its existence the day I went to fetch roving for Rachel's thrummed mittens.  I haven't seen it in green, but I know it exists.  A mossy green. Even though it won't be me who is wearing it around town, I'll still be able to see it worn on occasion.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Lame Tired Ass Nurse

I'm feeling rather whipped today. I'd promised my brothers a wonderful meal like mom, or grandma would cook and in the end, I was too tired. I cancelled on them. It was all I could do to knit and purl very simple stitches today, let alone cook. I had a hell of a week at work. Every day started early and wrapped up late. It's hell not knowing my ass from a hole in the ground. I get it that everyone is dying and I wonder what exactly the emergency is, but the nurse within me hears anxiety and heartache in every phone call I get and despite the way I feel, she is there to rescue.

Enough whining. I'm off to drink a bottle of fabulous red wine I forgot I had. I found 6 of them when cleaning today. Remind me some day to share what it's like to be present at the death of a Chaldean with a ginormous family. Imagine a person who thinks self flagellation is the only appropriate way to express loss and grief. Multiply by 20 in the living room and another 10 or so family members screaming and hitting themselves in the front yard. Not. Pretty. Even the local police that responded to my report asked if it was OK to leave me alone there. That was Monday. My ears are still ringing and today, is Saturday.

This was my kitchen cleaning music today. It's comforting to think that "after changes, we are more or less the same".

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Get A Real Man to do the Job

"I just use my muscles as a conversation piece, like someone walking a cheetah down 42nd Street"
Arnold Schwarzenegger

I have a strong suspicion that our Detroit mayor is a complete narcissist. A week or so ago, he assaulted a police officer who was serving a subpoena for a case in which this mayor has been implicated. He was charged and arraigned for this assault. The other night, he violated the terms of his release and crossed the Canadian border. For this, he spent Thursday night in the hooskow. He was released today on a \$50,000 personal bond.

The subpoena was issued to a friend, or relative or crony who was somehow involved in the mayor's other shenanigans. I don't have the time nor the will to tell you the entire list of complaints against this thug (the mayor.) Suffice it to say he is out of his mind. If you really want to know about this man, you can read about it here.

I'm completely perplexed as to why this man still has supporters in this city. I drive through this city on a daily basis and I'm appalled at what I see. There are pockets of truly beautiful neighborhoods in the city, but there are some devastated areas that make me wonder if I'm not in some third world country. The main reason I bought my gps device is because I can't find street signs on many of the roads I travel in the city. Why do people tolerate this? Why don't they demand propriety and professionalism from their leadership? Since the mayor is a lawyer, how could he think his actions would be tolerated? This guy is in a free fall.

Next month, the governor of our state will hold a hearing to determine if the mayor should be removed from office. Damn Jennifer, just call your gubernatorial colleague from California. Maybe he can get the job done.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Are You an Insomniac Too?

Blame it on menopause. Blame it on the new job and worry that I've made a mistake; it sucks to be a perfectionist. I don't know what it is but the minute my sleepy and exhausted body drops off to sleep, my mind pops awake. I've tried everything. Sleep aids just make me feel hungover. Nothing works. Usually, I'll read or get up and knit. Ordinarily I find this relaxing and can fall back asleep.

With my oldest daughter's help though, I've found counting sheep to be of benefit. It works. I like sheep and I like wool, I kind of think this exercise fits me. If you're up reading this right now, you're either an insomniac like me or you live on another continent. Go ahead and count these sheep and see if they don't help you.

Don't hate me now. Hate my daughter-it's all her fault.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Public Service Announcement For My Forgetful Husband

This piece is scheduled to post at 12:01 AM on August, 7th. I hope this date rings a bell. Just in case it doesn't, maybe this will.  I can't listen to this song without thinking of you and the day we made it all official.  Thank you for being my dream come true.

Je t'aime.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I'm Too Indecisive

In looking for my next big project to tackle, I've come across quite a few patterns I think are fabulous. I'm trying to narrow them down. I really can't figure which one I like most. Why don't you pick your favorite to help me narrow it down?

There is the Mrs. Darcy Cardigan pattern by Mary Weaver. It's a free pattern that will require a bit of math to convert to my size. Though I've not done this before, there is a lot of information on how to do this right in my own library of books. Thank you Ann Budd and Elizabeth Zimmerman. I wonder, do I love the sweater or is it the color? I think this color is beautiful.

I love this sweater too. It's the Simple Knitted Bodice by Stefanie Japel. I'd have to buy the pattern from Stitch Diva Studios but that isn't a problem. There is a short and a long sleeved version. I like both. This shade of green is probably my favorite color on the planet.

This is Stefanie Japel's pattern, Textured Tunic. I asked for this book, Fitted Knits, on my last Christmas wish list. I wanted it solely for this pattern. There are 25 stunning patterns in this book that I've considered knitting. I still love this one the most. When I opened the gift, given to me by my oldest daughter, she had put post-it notes on everything SHE wanted. This is one of them. The post-it on this one said "me likey." I don't blame her. Me likey too.

Two of these patterns appeal to me for that fabulous yellow shade. There is something they all have in common and that's the shaping and contrasting stitch work. I can't decide. I've narrowed down the yarn. Cascade 220 in light gold. I think.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I belong to a group of nurses who knit on Ravelry.  There is a question on that group that asks "what's the coolest work gift you've received?"  It's really a question of what is the best gift an employer has given but I interpret that question a bit differently.

When I'm treating an older patient, I ask many questions that aren't medical in the least.  I want to know what they did when they were young.  I'll ask what they did for a living.  I'll ask if they served in the war.  I'll ask about their families.  People want to talk and work their lives out.  Often, the end is approaching and they're questioning their value on earth; asking these questions allows them to talk about it and work things through.  I do hang around for the answers.  It helps that I'm truly interested and incredibly nosy.  I can't help it, people fascinate me.

I had one such patient in end stage heart failure about four years ago.  He was so sick and although I don't know what happened to him, I'm quite certain he isn't with us anymore.  His heart failure was so severe, I don't see how he would have lived more than six months from the time I met him.  I'd been pulled to another unit for the day.  One where people aren't on life support and therefore, they're able to talk.  I asked my patient if he'd served in WWII and his face lit up.  My patient had been a flyboy in the war and had served in the Pacific theater.  I'd just read James Bradley's newly released book, Flyboys: A True Story of Courage.  Although the book didn't make me an expert,  I knew a bit about these men and their service.  My patient was thrilled to talk about his life as a flyboy.  He was proud of this time he'd given to his country.  We spent a long time talking.

A few weeks later, I received a package at work.  It was from my Flyboy.  There was a letter that was quite lengthy in which he thanked me for taking such good care of him.  There was  a video copy of a documentary about flyboys and he was featured in the documentary.  What an amazing life this man had lead!  He included a photo of himself, his fellow servicemen and a plane.  They were so handsome in that picture.

I think about this man every once in awhile.  On occasion, I come across the package he sent to me.  He was a gift that was sent my way by my employer.  I don't need anything extra for doing my job.  Placing me in the right place, at the right time, is gift enough.

Monday, August 4, 2008

True Confession: I don't like eggs.

Really. If it were up to me, I'd live without eggs. I don't like the flavor of them and I don't care too much for the look of them once cracked open. I can taste them no matter how you try to mask them in a dish. I know when an egg is inside. Eggy cookie dough? Ick. Same thing for egg drop soup. Egg salad sandwich? Oh my; no way! I don't care how much mustard you put in a deviled egg, I won't eat it. Egg whites are so slimy, I just can't get past those either. I never used to be like this. I used to enjoy eggs just like everyone else. I can't stand them anymore.

This isn't good, particularly when it comes to one of my favorite comfort foods on the planet: rice pudding. For years, I've played around trying to get rice pudding I think is perfect. It can't have eggs and it can't have raisins. There aren't too many recipes out there that don't have the incredible binding power of the egg. I've found the secret though. It's in the rice. Starchy, beautiful rice. Specifically, arborio rice.

Here is my recipe for creamy rice pudding.

In a stainless steel pan or the top of a double boiler combine the following:

1 1/2 cups arborio rice (any other rice will yield only rice soup)
12 cups (yes twelve) whole milk-this is dessert so whole milk is OK!!!
1 cup of sugar (whole milk is sweet enough)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 vanilla bean sliced lengthwise and scraped. Put scrapings in the pan along with both sides of the bean. (if you don't have a vanilla bean, you can put 1 tablespoon of real vanilla extract in but don't add it until you're done cooking. It's better with vanilla beans. If you're feeling adventurous, instead of vanilla, put a tablespoon of rose water in at the end of cooking for a totally different and surprising flavor. If you need rosewater, just go to any Arabic food store and you'll find it there.)

Turn on the heat and bring to boiling, cover and reduce heat to a simmer, stirring every 10-15 minutes (a labor of love) for an hour and a half. Remove the vanilla bean and pour rice mixture into a bowl. It'll be soupy but I promise, it'll set up. Lay plastic wrap directly on the rice so it doesn't form a skin. Refrigerate until icy cold.

When serving, drizzle with honey and crushed pistachio nuts or walnuts.

It's heavenly, trust me. And not an egg in sight.