Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Wicked Day

My last day in Virginia was spent watching the rain fall. Finally, around 4 PM, the weather cleared enough for my niece and I to go out and indulge ourselves. We went downtown to buy the most awesome Woodwick candles. Not only do these made in Virginia candles smell amazing, but the wick is wood and when it burns, it sizzles, like a fire is burning. They were on sale, so I indulged for both of us. It was the least i could do since I burned most of hers down when it was dark and stormy on Saturday. Continuing in the vein of indulgence, we went for pedicures. A completely girly thing to do and a necessity when on vacation. It was fun and sort of like that episode of Seinfeld when Elaine takes George's dad to the salon to interpret for her. These women were discussing their English language pronunciation of the word tomato. It was funny.

With perfect feet, we went to the Blue Light Grill for dinner which was over the top. If you're ever there, take my advice and get the noodle bowl, the grilled romaine salad and the Colorado rack of lamb. You'll not be disappointed. I'm hungry again just thinking about it. We drank a bit of wine and then some. I had a rather late start for my drive home on Tuesday, but it was worth it.

It wasn't until I was halfway up the Skyline Drive at a decent elevation that my phone began to ring. All my peeps were checking in to see if I was ok. They were concerned that we'd been in the storm's path. This was the first I'd heard about the tornadoes that struck less than 1 hour away. While we were dipping our feet in warm water, folks just down the highway were getting inundated with wicked weather. I hope for them, all will be right again soon. Houses can be replaced but lives can't.

These are a few of my pictures from my way out of Virginia driving south to north on Skyline Drive. Not a thing looked out of place up here. It was cold though. Way cold. It's very rugged up there and incredible to look down one side of the mountain seeing nothing but brutal back country and look down the other and see homes, churches and farmland. I've hiked that back country and it is beautiful.

The deer actually stopped to check me out. Being the good visitor that I am though, I heeded the signs not to feed the wildlife. I wish I'd seen a bear. I think all the other creatures were snuggled up someplace warm. Did I mention it was cold up there?

I'm sorry the photo didn't catch the water running off the rocks here. It was pretty and perhaps the only sign that it had recently rained.

Next trip, I plan to spend some time exploring these battlefields. Maybe Gettysburg too. I've spent some time at Antietam National Battlefield and Brandywine too (2 different wars, I know.) I find American history to be fascinating. Look at these landscapes here and imagine yourself having fought in terrain like this: poorly shod, poorly clothed hungry, cold (or hot) and tired. Imagine you walked to get to each battle over miles and miles of unforgiving land. These were some strong and probably very stubborn people.

Brooms are Good for Sweeping

Detroit Red Wing fans have terribly long memories.  Very long memories edged with spite.  Fans here particularly feel this edginess when dealing with Colorado and it's all due to the hit that preceded this fight during a 1997 regular season game.  This video comes to you courtesy of my brother who thinks this clip is evidence of righteous retribution.  There may not be any calamari available as an appetizer in Denver area Italian restaurants Thursday.  I hope so anyway.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Way I See It

This is a quasi-knitting blog. Knitting is getting done here. Lots of it.

It poured cats and dogs here in Charlottesville last night. It suited me just fine. I stayed in and used the evening of rain as an excuse to knit. Like I need one. The surprise anniversary gift is coming along and is really quite simple to knit. It's just gigantic and therein lies my problem with the monstrosity gift. Next year, they each get socks. Here though, where the gift will reside, I am inspired and have made a hefty dent. Let me show you here what is inspiring me.

It isn't Southfork, but is does have a name.

A River Runs Through It

Up on Cripple Creek

Home Alone

The Coal Miner's Daughter's House
where the wicked witch brought an evil
wind and felled a giant tree upon the house.
A search was performed for the ruby slippers.
Alas, they are neither here nor there. We looked
very hard for you know, the right shoes can change your life.
Just ask Cinderella. Or Dorothy.

Paul Bunyon came by to help clean the mess.
He should have finished the job. I hear he charged
a small fortune. At least he cleared a path.

Sometimes, it's hard to see the forest for the trees...

And the real reason I'm inspired? Meet the creatures that
grow my favorite fiber.

Who thinks fences make good neighbors when
your neighbors are as cute as this?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Rescue Grand Slam

The Potting Shed (aka where George Bush voters have to sleep when visiting.)

I made it to my Virginia destination in quite good time yesterday. A record 10 hour drive with no glitches and only one or two state troopers eyeballed in the entire 600 mile drive. Also, I only made quick stops because rest areas creep me out. Every 150 miles, I got out to stretch and fill up on coffee. My gas tank only required one refill. After a year, my Accord still delivers 31 miles to the gallon (more than half of which was mountainous and all of which required air conditioning.) I love this car.

The Pond (if you click on photo, you can see the fish. Fish like cheerios, who knew?)

When I got to my sister's house, no one was home but I heard voices. Following the voices (I never claimed I was a member of Mensa), I found Cayda who was crated and watching Animal Planet. I opened the crate and she greeted me like she would anyone, with lots of slobber and butt wagging. I could have been the burglar, she didn't care; I was the person offering freedom. We got along quite well until she investigated the bags of yarn. Then we had a stern discussion and I put the yarn up. Very high up. In this particular photo, she looks to be paying strict attention to the fact that I told her she'd be sleeping in the woods if she ate that yarn.

The cousin of Jezebel. Very sassy and incredibly spoiled. I pulled her out of the pond twice today. She had jumped in to cool off.

After breakfast today, my niece and I hit the farmer's market in town. We both bought quite a few things we didn't need and went downtown to the vintage clothing store. This is where I rescued two beautiful hand knit items from where they were hiding in obscurity.

One is a beautiful fair isle sweater in black, aqua, pink, purple and turquoise. The inside stranding (above) is as beautiful as the outside. There is no pilling on this sweater at all and I wonder if it was ever worn. Color work doesn't really suit me. It's way more complicated than what I'd ever choose to do and therein lies it's charm for me. There it was, this thing of beauty, hanging on the clearance rack for $10.00. I would never in a million years wear this, but my Rachel will. She'll love the warmth and the duckies.

The other item I found there was a shawl in the palest blush. This item took my breath away. Lace work is difficult. It was knit in a superfine, possibly alpaca, yarn. It's incredibly soft. If there are any flaws in this shawl, I can't find them.

I even know who knit this piece as it had a label (proof this was a labor of love) stitched into it with the knitter's name. Pride of workmanship. It was found in the bottom of a heap of sweaters that were not hand made and possibly constructed (by machine) of acrylic. I felt so sad for the knitter, though I'm sure she isn't aware it was in a resale shop. I won't say how much it cost because, like the sweater above, I think it was sold for a song. That would hurt me to know if it were my name on this beautiful shawl, I'm sure she'd be offended too. I wondered about this piece and I googled her name to not much avail. I'll check Ravelry, but I'm not so sure I'd find her there. Although the fiber arts world is large, it's also tightly knit so to speak. If anybody out there knows Niki Gliptis, send her my way. I have her masterpiece.

In the mean time, I'll give this piece a soak and block it. I already checked, it looks great with my shawl pin.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Almost Heaven

I'm packed and heading out first thing in the morning.  A blissful (hopefully) 5 day retreat awaits.  I don't have a problem packing for vacation in a college town, that's easy.  Jeans, t-shirts, flip-flops, jammies and clean underwear. Clothing wise, this is a no-brainer trip.  No fancy dinners are planned though we do have a fancy Sunday brunch planned at a wonderful spot where my niece fell head over heels for a boxer pup last fall.  I'll wear jeans, a tee and flip flops to that and we'll take the dog to the spot we all first met her.

I'm packing the following meds: levaquin, medrol dose pack, albuterol and my personal favorite today, robitussin with codeine (I haven't slept due to my cough for 5 days.)  I promise not to take the codeine until I reach VA.  After that, I'm having a lie down.

I am having a bit of difficulty deciding just which yarn to pack.  I packed ALL of the yarn I'm using to work on my sister's anniversary/house warming gift (even the stuff to make the edging.)  I took out the yarn swift and ball winder and rolled it all.  I think it may be ambitious but perhaps I'll be inspired.  I packed the rest of the pink sweater yarn in case I get to start the sleeves (I am so close to binding off the sweater-I swear.)  I packed the Chinatown Apple Smooshy and extra sock needles.  Also in the bag are two other socks I'm working on.  That should do it and if for some reason I find myself yearning for something new, there are two decent yarn stores in town.  I should leave my amex at home.  I don't suffer from project loyalty (much) but feel inspired by a variety of options (yeah, right.)  I also packed one book, nothing special and my favorite, ACLS (advanced cardiac life support) review.  I can't believe I'm taking this......

As soon as Miss R is on the bus for school, I'm off.  I'll send pictures from the city that gave us 3 U.S. Presidents- Jefferson, Madison and Monroe.   If time permits, I want to wander around Monticello again.  At a store on the grounds, I can buy seedling plants from Jefferson's estate.  I'm hoping for a little lily of the valley and anything else I think may grow well this far north. I'm also hoping to snag my very own picture of one of these creatures.

 For my musical enjoyment today, I've removed the dog's music and replaced it with this:

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Womanly Ways

Having not had an un-spayed female dog in my house in many, many years, I had forgotten the joys of the female heat cycle. Aside from the general mess, I've come to believe that many of Jezebel's obnoxious behaviors are due to her heat cycle.

My floors have never been washed so often. Keeping this dog in pull-ups can be a full time job. She is an accomplished escape artist in more ways than one. I go through the trouble of cutting a hole in the pull-ups for her tail and slipping them backwards on the dog-voila, instant dog menstrual pads complete with tail escape hatch. She responds by first looking humiliated and then by adeptly stepping out of them. Note the down and back position of her ears and the "silent tail." This dog is not happy in her embarrassing panties.

There is blood splatter here that one doesn't need luminol to appreciate. It would make a crime scene investigator wonder just who I stabbed and where the hell I put the body. He'd be able to follow a trail Hansel and Gretel couldn't miss. Around and around the kitchen table in circles it goes, then makes a beeline from the front door to the back door and back again. It's everywhere and quite impossible to keep up with. If I happen to be cooking, this hound can barely sit still. She prances in circles in my kitchen's cooking area waiting for a morsel of something other than dog food to fall from the counter. Drip, drip, drip. At this time, the mess is almost more than I can manage in my germ laden state. It can't be helped for now, she'll be spayed in a month and therefore only has a few more weeks to embrace the joys of her womanhood.

She must be watched like a hawk in the yard. She'll not turn down a single opportunity to jump the fence in a never-ending effort to find conjugal dog heaven. She is shameless. Her tail is often high and to one side with her behind in the air. This place has turned into a canine anatomy and physiolgy classroom/dog brothel. I'm thankful we've not had inclement weather, at least I'm able to enjoy sitting outside with her. I don't know if it's our constant presence when she is out or if my makeshift head knocker on the gate is keeping her on this side of the fence. I have noticed her checking out other fence climbing options. I'll run out of garden tools if this keeps up.

She is INCREDIBLY clingy. An annoying feature to be sure. If you're sitting and trying to do something, she'll nudge her way in, tuck her head down and then stick her ass in the air. God I hope this goes away, it's beyond offensive. Nothing however, beats the disgusting attention to detail she is giving herself in her nether-regions. This, is something else.

I read this knowledgeable info from Pet Bits For You. The parenthetical comments are my own:

Do not take her for walks at all, but keep her confined to the fenced back yard for the whole time. (Ummm OK, I'll try, but this beast has a one track mind and is far more capable of escaping than I ever thought possible. She's not affectionately nicknamed Jezebel for no purpose-she's earned that name. Also, I am running low on garden tools.) The reason for this is that she will urinate frequently while on a walk, just to let the boys know she is available.(Does this explain the piddling inside the house? God, I hope so for her sake because I'll tolerate that bullshit just so long and then it's doggie prison for un-rehabilitated dogs for her.) The males will pick up the scent and follow her trail to your home.You really don't want a motley collection of canine suitors hanging around your house. (If that happens, I'm charging an entry fee.)

(Can Ellie Mae come out to play?)

This particularly joyful state of affairs has put the kabosh on this dog going to the mountains this week. Thats too bad because we were heading to the birthplace of black and tan coonhounds (a breed created by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.) Perhaps she would have run into a relative. She shall stay home instead because her "condition" is just too much to handle right now. I know she'd love the ability to tree whatever her little heart desires, but her mating behaviors are just too unmanageable at this time. Besides, can you imagine the motley suitors following us from rest area to rest area all the way to Virginia and back?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I'm Cracking Up

I love my MacBook. I love the seamless way in which this computer works. I don't miss my PC in the least. From the moment I plugged this thing in, computing has been lightening fast and oh, so easy.

I'm disappointed in the package though. The casing is a bit frayed on the edge. The lower right edge. I thought it was something I did so I slapped a piece of tape on the corner to keep the plastic from scratching my wrist every time I used it.

Today, having nothing better to do, I googled cracked MacBooks. Whoa. Apple of my eye, you've got an issue(s). Multiple issues. And all in the same place. Lower right corner of the bottom piece. There are so many cases of the "CrackBook" (not my coinage) that there is a Flickr site devoted to just such pix, a visual shame on you Apple.

(The dirty spots are tape residue. I DID NOT use duct tape. I used a roll of transpore tape that "accidentally" came home in my lab coat. I'll take it back, promise.)

Well that got my germ-laden blood boiling so I set up an appointment with the 'genius' at my local Apple store. When I got there, I took my MacBook out and noticed a crack I hadn't seen in my everyday lighting (CF lights). My apple is cracked. Right on the top case. I haven't a clue how it got there but the genius indicated it must have been manhandled in some way. It has not. Right, like I'll buy that when I'm there with a MacBook with cracks in it while it's still in its infancy.

(Notice the 2 cracks between the apple and the leaf and above the leaf. Looked like Duke hairs to me. It was when I couldn't brush them off that I became concerned and looked a wee bit closer at what were apparently, cracks, not a pet induced design feature.)

I stood there looking irritated at my genius and not a little ill and got an order for a whole new case-on Apple. It'll be here Tuesday. So friends, if you're out there taping your little MacBook up like I was, think about getting a new case. There are people out there indicating they've received a new case even when out of warranty. You did not do this damage to the apple of your eye, the magnet that holds it closed did. Persevere with your local genius.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day 2008

And now, for something completely different than what you're used to in terms of going green:

So, happy earth day. I'm reducing my emissions today by going back to bed.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Last Rites

Sunday was lost.  I went back to bed to try to sleep my virus off.  I felt cold, hot, cold, hot and miserable.  Somewhere in the middle of my feverish dreams, I became aware that Pope Benedict was giving me Sacrament of the Sick.  I was dying.  He sounded like Colonel Klink from Hogan's Heroes.  I mean no disrespect here.  This was my dream.  After I received last rites, I jumped out of bed, scared out of mind I was dying.  What the hell did this mean?  I was frightened and a bit out of my mind.  I'm not even Catholic.  Should I be?  I mean, was the Pope trying to tell me something?

I stood there looking around my room still feeling too miserable to be dead and saw the TV on and broadcasting the Pope's mass in New York's Yankee Stadium.  Not dead.  Not even close.  I told my husband that I felt sick and if I needed to go to the hospital, I didn't want to go on life support.  He said "no problem."

Either I'm being somewhat overly dramatic (again), or he just doesn't want to prolong his misery.  He gave me Sudafed and sent me back to bed.  Later, I tried to research the meaning of my dream and I think I've figured it out.   
  1. Don't sleep with the TV on.
  2. Watch out for home-made cough syrup (1/2 cup honey, 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1/4 cup Jack Daniels.)  It makes you hallucinate-especially when you drink it all.
  3. Don't let your spouse be your health care advocate.  If you're worth more dead than alive, you are providing too much temptation in your viral state.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Fluid is the Solution to Viral Pollution

And so is soap and water.

We have been brutally busy at work.  I work in a small 12 bed ICU that has been full to overflowing in the past 5 months or so.  It isn't unusual to come in to find 12 occupied beds with a couple of scheduled O.R. patients needing ICU beds and 1 or 2 ICU patients occupying gurneys in the E.R.  Oh, and a less than full complement of nurses to manage the mayhem.

This week, despite the approach of the full moon, the ICU suddenly emptied.  When this happens, we have too many nurses to care for too few patients and the fight for low census begins.  This is where you pray your phone will ring sometime after 5 am but prior to 6 am (already awake and showered-may as well work) and allow you to smile in secret triumph and pull the covers back over your head.  This week, I've hit that jackpot twice.  

Today is my second low census day in a week and it couldn't come at a better time since I'm feeling a bit viral today.  Do you think it means anything that my throat is raw and scratchy and my head feels full, achy and heavy?  How about that sneezing, stuffy feeling?  Does that mean anything?  I'm irritated since this is my second bout of viral misery in 2 months.  I haven't really been in close contact with people who are sick with colds (to my knowledge) and it just annoys me that I was (I'm leaving on vacation Friday and don't want to be sick.)  I'm angry because I don't think it's too much to ask of people to wash their hands and stay the hell away from others when ill.  It's also a waste of a precious low census day.  Must be the full moon.

While I'm talking about what is on my mind, if you are a patient and happen to notice your health care provider is not washing his or her hands when they come in your room, SAY SOMETHING!  Ask your provider to please wash their hands before they touch you.  It's OK to ask and it is NEVER, ever OK for them not to provide this life saving service.  There are resources out there that believe it is criminal to fail to wash one's hands in this business.

Since I'm unburdening my soul here, I am admitting that I live a double life as a secret agent.  A spy. An agent of espionage for my infectious disease (ID) department at work. I am a secret sudser.  I carry a piece of paper around with me at work which I unfortunately fill up every month. I will observe a colleague's hand-washing behavior while entering and leaving a patient room.  If I find his (usually a he-I'm sorry to say) technique to be lacking, I will confront him on the spot AND I will rat his ass out.  I will put his name and failed technique on my little piece of paper and forward it to the ID nurses I work with. If truly appalled, I'll email the ID physician to discuss my concerns.  In return, I get the satisfaction of knowing I'm keeping my patients safer and a few pieces of chocolate as a reward.  The chocolate is a nice benefit but getting someone to change unsafe practices is a better one.  

It boggles my mind that a room can have an isolation cart, isolation signs, nurses gowned as if part of a hazmat team and still, someone will enter the room completely oblivious and violate all rules of isolation.  Your friendly criminal will likely have initials following his or her name that indicate much higher levels of education than mine.  You'd think they'd know better.  Don't get the false assumption that this behavior is unique to my place of work, it isn't.  Beware the health care provider vector of misery who seems to believe hand-washing signs don't pertain to him.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Roughing It

Tonight, I feel a bit out of sorts.  I think I'm ready for that vacation which starts Friday.  I can't wait.  Five days, me and nature.  Oh and a big old house in the mountains.  Since my idea of roughing it is a Holiday Inn, I think a house in the middle of a forest is a perfect compromise to actually having to rough it.   My niece will be there with her dog.  My sister won't and I'm a little sad about that.  I miss her, so I'll just have to settle for her house.  I'll be taking a wee bit of yarn with me to try to finish her anniversary gift.  I'll use the house as inspiration as I sit on one of the decks and watch nature occur.  I'll reminisce about the last time my sister and I "roughed" it together.

A few years ago, my friend Jeanne from work asked me very sweetly if I'd like to walk the Breast Cancer 3 Day with her.  She played up this event with all it's meaning, inspiration and sisterhood and told me it wasn't that hard to do (like a fool, I bought this hook, line and sinker.)  It was too late to sign up for the Detroit event, so we chose the San Francisco event instead.  All we had to do was raise about $2,100 from friends, family, and coworkers for the commitment.  No big deal right? .  My sister was so inspired by the fact that I was doing it and signed up too.  Before I knew it, I was up to my eyeballs in candy sales, bake sales and an auction at the bar trying to pry several thousand dollars out of people.  In my off time from this full time planning, I worked my full time job and trained for the event.

Prior to this walk, I had only been to SF briefly for Karmanos Cancer Institute, I don't know how it escaped me that it was particularly "hilly."  I trained in Detroit where places like Farmington and Bloomfield "Hills" aren't truly hilly in comparison to San Francisco.  I think I should have has some clue about this since I grew up watching the Streets of San Francisco.  I trained my ass off for this event and wasn't in the teensiest bit prepared for what lay ahead.

Our walk started in San Mateo where we walked our way to our first night in a pup tent adventure at Coyote Point Park (I worried needlessly that this park was named after creatures I'd meet in the dead of night as I made my way to the porta potty.)  I don't remember much except it was on a bluff overlooking a big body of water and it smelled like heaven (eucalyptus trees.)  I was too exhausted from my 20 mile walk to truly appreciate it.  It hadn't been very hilly to get from where we started to where we camped our first night, just long and tiring.  After a good night's sleep, we'd be off to do it again.  The only catch was there wasn't a good night's sleep.  It was cold and like fools, my sister and I stored our gear between us and each slept against the wall of the tent.  We both froze our fannies off.

On day two, we woke up stiff, achy and probably hypothermic and joined up with my colleague for breakfast.  We had to pack up our gear and schlep it to a truck to send ahead to the second night's camp.  Then we started day two where we walked around and around and around and around.  The only way I knew they were making us get to a total of twenty miles by having us walk in circles was that SF International airport would be in front and then behind us.  In front and then behind.  It was a bit demoralizing, but still, not that hilly.  We hit camp exhausted and in need of a shower (showers were inside 18 wheeler trucks--kind of fun and very warm.)  We ate like queens then partied and danced for hours after walking 20 miles.  Obviously, endorphins had kicked in and lulled us into a false sense of security.

Night two in the pup tent and we had grown wiser.  My sister and I put our gear against the walls of the tent and took advantage of shared warmth.  Somewhere in the middle of my exhausted sleep, an awareness began to seep in that it was raining.  Late October in San Francisco = rainy season.  Fool.

Day three sort of dawned and we schlepped our way to the gear truck yet again.  That night,  we would sleep in a hotel room (praise God.)  We walked our last 20 miles through cold, damp hilly terrain as fast as we could.  It was brutal.  The heavens spit cold rain at us the entire day.  It always threatened to come down in torrential downpours but didn't really, it just drizzled.   There were times we'd get to the top of a hill and just cry because we knew we had to go down (down is harder when everything hurts) and then back up to get to Golden Gate Park.  Over and over.  We persevered and triumphed but I still haven't really seen San Francisco.  My rain parka covered my face for most of the day.

After the event, we checked into our hotel and showered.  We decided we were ravenously hungry but incapable of "walking" anywhere.  We left our hotel by cab and made the cabbie drive us two blocks to Chinatown.  He was somewhat irritated by the short fare but hey, we figured we'd earned a little pampering.  Would I ever do it again?  I have.  I would recommend this event to anyone ever touched in the least by breast cancer.  My claim to fame?  I walked two of these events in 9 months.  Not bad for an old broad.  A special thanks here to Jeanne who has done "many" of these walks.  If not for you, I'd have no appreciation for what it means to rough it.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Mystery Solved

This is such a cute picture.  What a sweet little face and so peaceful.  What can't be seen in this photo is me, sleeping just as hard.  This dog is exhausting.  She is non-stop all day long.

I owe an apology to the men-folk too.  They were outsmarted.  She is an escape artiste extraordinaire.  Magnificent really.  Today, I let her out and she showed me how she did it.  I opened the door and she left.  I was waiting for the old man to follow her out and he was being mopey and slow.  Thirty seconds later, I realized she was nowhere in the yard.  I whistled, walked to the gate and there she was.  On the outside of the locked gate.  I told her to get back in the yard and the little devil CLIMBED the fence.  Like a monkey.  Like a cat.  Like a human being.  Like she did nothing wrong-just business as usual. I am in serious trouble here.

She has outwitted me and may need to go back to a safer environment.  I am admitting defeat in the face of such awesome prowess.  There is no way I can get this girl to stop behaving like this.  I am out a small fortune already which I don't mind spending.  A new crate and toys and a visit to the Vet has tapped me.  The sad thing is she is healthy.  No heartworm.  No fleas/ticks.  Healthy, young and gentle. I'll be sick with worry each time she takes off.  I don't think I can do this.........

I am open to discussion and ideas on how to keep such a beast in an urban environment. Does anybody have any ideas?

I am a Sockmaniac

It's true. I'm a Sockmaniac member--and you could be too. This is a Yahoo group that I've belonged to for awhile. Until now, I've never participated in a sock swap. Sometime in February, the urge hit and so I signed up.

My sock swap partner is the lovely Penny from Winnipeg. I sent her a box of sock knitting goodness that is right now somewhere between Michigan and Manitoba so I'm not going to spill the beans about what may be inside. She hasn't seen it yet. However, I've received her package and pretty much all I can say is I'm amazed. Her theme was an Asian Surprise Swap. I'm surprised. Be sure to click on the pictures to view in a larger frame.

In the box was a teapot with cups and two different types of tea. I love tea. There are Japanese noodles, fortune cookies, wasabi peas (love) and chop sticks. I think the chop sticks could double as knitting needles in a pinch--especially on a plane should mine get confiscated. There are two magazines I've never read and 4 (FOUR) Asian inspired sock patterns. There is wool wash in four different scents and yarn. Beautiful Asian yarn.

There are two skeins of Crystal Palace Panda Cotton yarn in Faded Jeans and one absolutely stunning skein of Noro Kureyon Sock Yarn in beautiful bright colors (LOVE). Last but not least, a set of SRK bamboo knitting needles (dpns) that are lovely.

I'm thrilled Penny. Thanks so much for making my week. I'm mulling over patterns and will knit up that Noro as soon as I can!! BTW Penny, my dining room is Asian inspired and that tea pot is going to fit right in.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

5 and 10

This couldn't really have come at a better time as I'd just run out of interesting things to say. I've been tagged by expatkat to explain a few things about myself. I don't really know why anyone would want to know more, but I'll play ball.

What was I doing 10 years ago.

Well, I remember exactly what I was doing. I was returning to nursing after a couple of years hiatus during which I took care of my daughter Rachel. This job came at an ideal time and was perfect for me. I started working for a ginormous group of urologists who really did think they were all that and more. These guys were all egomaniacs and were led by the godfather, a doc of Italian heritage. This place was huge and at the time, had about 14 physicians (they now have more than 20), each one with his own set of nuances and demands (no girl docs at the time but this has since been remedied.) Since I didn't really want to work in a hospital, I sold myself a wee bit short and began working for this group at far less than the going rate for an RN. They paid me instead, the salary of what they felt an RN was really worth. I developed a clinical research department for them and had not a single clue what I was doing. I was what Bea Arthur in her role of Dole Office Clerk said Comicus was in History of the World Part I, a bullshit artist.

At the beginning of this job, there really wasn't much for me to do so I evaluated the documentation of the doctors on the clinical records of patients. Let me tell you, this wasn't an easy task. First of all the scribble gave me headaches, but secondly, their documentation was horrible. Almost nonexistent. You'd have thought these guys didn't do a thing all day long. I knew they did, they just didn't document the visit. They'd spend an hour with the patient explaining things then write one sentence to sum it all up. This doesn't please insurance agencies or help reimbursement. It fell upon me, the lowly RN to tell the almighty doctor how to write his notes. I can tell you now, 10 years later, that my ears are still ringing from all the times I got bitched out by these guys. After all, I am JAN, just a nurse. How dare an RN tell someone so important AND well educated how to do his job?

The research finally took off and before long, I didn't have to evaluate physician documentation. I was too busy raking in the bucks for research. Big bucks. On my lowly salary. Far less than the norm for most nurses in our area. By many thousands per year. You see where I'm going with this. I began to get a wee bit disgruntled over my pay and quit. I wasn't certain how to go about this since I knew that once one was in this group, one couldn't leave without the assistance of witness protection. I was a bit worried over this so I gave 2 months notice. I didn't want to leave them in the lurch and find myself swimming with the fishes so I left as delicately as possible.

I have many, many stories of my years as a dick chick (what girls in a urology practice call themselves) but I think a bit more time needs to pass before I can comfortably write my tell all: "As The Practice Turns: a Survival Guide for Dick Chicks Working in a 'Family Run' Urology Practice."

Five snacks I enjoy

I could just write whatever isn't nailed down but that wouldn't be quite true. It really does depend on the timing and the venue. I love creme brulee. I dream about the apple and szechuan peppercorn creme brulee I had at The Rattlesnake Club though it seems like it was a hundred years ago. It was amazing. I like humous, cold stuffed grape leaves, popcorn and a 31 flavors sugar cone with one scoop of jamoca and one scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream. I could go on and on but then I may give in and indulge these desires. I feel the weight piling up on my ass as I write this.

Things I would do if I were a billionaire

What wouldn't I do?
  • I'd sit in the counting house counting dollars instead of stitches. Wait, I'd still want to count stitches. I'll have to figure how to divide my time. Perhaps I'd hire a money counter as I'm not silly enough to hire someone to count my stitches for me.
  • I'd build a free retirement home for knitters complete with a yarn store, free dust bunny elimination services and gourmet meals. I'd hire the dessert chef from The Rattlesnake Club.
  • I'd give a ton of dough to many do-gooders. I like people who quietly do the work most of us should be doing. People who selflessly give of themselves for the better of all of us. My friend Jeanne would be the first to receive of my bounty.
  • I'd hire a ghost writer for my survival book as we've already established the counting house will take up my time.
  • I'd buy that island. Perhaps the retirement home will go there.

Five jobs I've had

  1. Waitress in a Waffle House. Midnight shift. Enough said.
  2. Transplant nurse. Kidneys and pancs (kidney/pancreas). Interesting. Demanding.
  3. Research Nurse (private practice and academic as I traveled the continent for Karmanos Cancer Institute for 8 months prior to 9/11. I then tired of going through security with an Arabic surname-I've been searched and searched and searched. Nope, I don't carry box cutters with my clinical monitoring gear or knitting paraphenalia.)
  4. Emergency Nurse--some day I'd like to tell you about the bone collector. Not Jeffrey Deaver's Bone Collector, but an in the flesh bone collector. Toes. His own.
  5. ICU Staff Nurse and all around fish bowl dweller.
  6. Mom
  7. Wife
  8. Chief, Cook and Bottle Washer
  9. Oh wait, that seems more than 5

3 bad habits

Only 3? Pushy, bossy, bitchy. Can you imagine? There are more, but I'll keep them to myself for now.

5 places I've lived

How about 5 places I'd like to live? I've never left the metro Detroit area. The most scary interesting place I lived was in southeast Detroit. I lived in a flat next to a crazy couple who used to routinely beat the shit out of one another. One night the woman chased her husband (both naked) down the street with a butcher knife in her hand. The police came and took him to jail. I still ponder that. Why did he go to jail when she had the weapon? What could he have done? I did and didn't want to know. These were the same people who would have wild parties, light things on fire and throw them at my dog. A Rottweiler.

5 people I'd like to know more about

Just five? My dining room table can seat 12. Kind of like the last supper. So on that note:
  1. Leonardo Da Vinci
  2. John Lennon
  3. Martin Scorcese (can we talk about your movie The Last Waltz?)
  4. Judas (what were you thinking?)
  5. The Harlot
  6. Wendy Bernard
  7. Cat Bordhi (can you show me how to whip through socks on circs?)
  8. Patsy Cline
  9. Robert Ludlum to write about the dinner with panache and intrigue
  10. Francis Ford Coppola (he may enjoy interrogating guest #4)
  11. The Rattlesnake Club dessert chef (may sit to eat after preparing the creme brulee)
  12. My old next door neighbor (I am in need of warrior tips)
I will be the waitress. I do have experience at these things.

Since this quick little journey into my mind took all day to write, I won't tag anyone. I'd love it if you'd try it out anyway since I do like to know a lot about people. Let me know when you're done and I'll come by for a look-see.

Your Friend,


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Don't Take Your Love to Town

Jezebel is an escape artist. A smooth talking, hard headed escape artist. I went out yesterday to buy her a little jail cell which she didn't seem to mind so much and today, she flew the coop. The devil. Part of me was secretly relieved for the sake of all my yarn and the other part of me was stunned.

The men folk couldn't call me (no cajones) so they put the eldest girl-child in the tough position. She called me from her work where I work to let me know the men had failed at the simple task of dog sitting. Someone had let her out and the little squirt with the legs of Secretariat hopped the fence.

Now here I am living in my fishbowl at work, unable to leave and sick with worry. I'm worried because she came from a little town with not much traffic to a big urban area and obviously she has no common sense. I thought for sure I'd hear she was whacked by a truck or car. It was not to be.  I did the only sane thing I could think of and had the girl-child call the local police with a description of the runaway.  Hound.  Blue Collar.  In heat. Jumps. Wags Tail.  Begs. Mooches.  Steals yarn.

The police called me at work an hour later to tell me that someone in the neighborhood crime watch had captured the little felon. They asked for a description which matched and said we'd have to pick her up or they'd take her to the doggie lock-up.  I can just picture her on an MSNBC prison show.  I told you she's a bad, bad dog. Part of me wanted to play tough love with her and let her ride it out in dog prison. I just couldn't do it so I had the man-child pick her up. He had some choice words to say about her but if he had said them to me, I would have had to wash his mouth out with soap.

I just hope she didn't get herself "into trouble" since it is her "time of the year".  Hussy.

Today's music selection is for Jezebel.  I'm gonna go have a beer.

Monday, April 14, 2008

God Give Me Wisdom....please

 I have renamed the sweet dog we got yesterday Jezebel.  A name that generally is used to describe a "wicked female."  Thats her, wicked.  I know now why she was shown the door.  She is bad, bad, bad.  It has not a thing to do with being gun shy.  No indeed.  She is pure sass and spite wrapped up in a cute little body with a beguiling and misleading sweet face.

Not even the way she follows me can appease me.  All cute and wagging her tail like she is the happiest puppy soul on earth.

Not even the deep, beautiful baying sound of her voice can warm my heart.

Not even the way she has shaken my precious Duke out of his slumbering ways.  

Not even the way she helped me put Rachel to bed.  She just jumped right in there and snuggled up to my sweet baby and kissed her goodnight like she's been doing it for years.  Since kids with disabilities can be unpredictable, not every dog will warm to them.  This one did.  I'm certain now it's all for show.  And brownie points.

What could upset me to the point I have to struggle to forgive this creature?  What could turn my heart so cold?  This bad little doggie has a "thing" for yarn.  I have rescued 3 skeins of yarn from this little devil.  At first, it was sort of funny the way she stuck her nose right into a plastic bag and pulled out the cheap acrylic baby yarn.  That was cute.  In 10 seconds flat, she jumped on the sofa with the skein in her mouth, undid the wrapper and began to unwind it.  Like a freaking pro.  I immediately recognized this as a BAD sign.  I promptly went around hiding the yarn that was just laying around the joint, including the new stuff.  Then I got sidetracked by the siren call of all that brand new yarn.

I got out my yarn swift and ball winder and began to wind the skeins into balls.  This is ordinarily a peaceful process for as the crank on the ball winder turns and winds my yarn, my own tension unwinds.  I felt the calm like I'd just swallowed a xanax only this was purely yarn induced.  Until the evil little puppy decided to take a flying leap from the floor to the table to check it out.  The yarn, not the table.  I scold the little beast (still trying to be gentle since I'm sure she is out of sorts with the newness of things) and place her on the floor.  I resume winding my yarn and just when I'm getting in my zone again I hear a noise, look behind me and see her with a ball of yarn in her mouth that is connected to a live work in progress.  A moebius scarf.  OMG.  Now I'm really worried.  That was a skein of Mountain Goat and was connected to a skein of mohair and Mountain Moguls and she has dragged it all 8 feet from where it was perched.  All very dear in a costly way and a gift for my yoga instructor.  This dog is possessed!  I scold and she looks at me like OK, I get it, NO YARN!

In the meantime, I put the dog in the yard and finished hiding all my yarn (she does follow me everywhere so I didn't want her to see my hiding spots.)  This is doubly difficult because outside of my family, nobody really knows how difficult hiding "all my yarn" may be.  It's pretty much everywhere since I like to display my stash as the art I think it is.  It's in bowls, vases, on tabletops in working bags and one skein of camel yarn is wrapped around a carved camel's neck.  Remember?  I'm Lebanese-we all have a camel in our homes.   It's a task to hide it all. The dog begins to yodel in the backyard (charming me with her soulful voice-dammit) and Duke goes out to join her.  All is well and I let down my guard and forgive her.  Fool.

Later, as my oldest daughter packs up her stuff to leave for the evening, I hear her giggle and quietly say "OH NO."  The beast has found my pink sweater.  Still with live stitches on the needles.  My daughter was trying to cover for her-like she's this little devil's sibling or something.  I scooped up the sweater and put it up high but still haven't had the heart to look and see if anything is awry.  My heart can't take it right now.  I think I'd have a meltdown if I had to find and pick up lost boucle stitches.  By this point, I'd had this Jezebel for all of 10 hours and I think she took 10 years off my life.

In the morning, I'm off to find a crate.  Or a shovel.  I haven't decided which would be best.  

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sweet Beyond Words

BD (before Duke), I wanted a standard poodle. I love those dogs. They're smart and beautiful. I'm not the kind of girl who dresses her dog up. I think they're gorgeous all on their own without pompoms and hairdos. My son who was quite young at the time told me if I got a poodle that he wouldn't love it. He was serious. So we got Duke the Giant Dobie. We had pick of the litter and Duke was the most obnoxious of all. He pushed the other pups out of the way (muscled them out) and climbed into my son's lap and promptly fell asleep. He has been the ruler of the roost since. When I showed the men in my house the dog I wanted to rescue they both nixed it. I promptly showed them what I think of that and brought her home today. My son is smitten.

This is Ellie (BK wants to call her Shelby but that is his Mustang fixation showing.) She is a very affectionate dog. She has endeared herself to Rachel (I think it's the long tail) by climbing into her lap. She has already figured out that Rachel leaves crumbs. I was relieved this meeting between Rachel and Ellie went so well. If it hadn't, we would have had to get rid of one of them.

Duke is not so happy, but Ellie is trying awfully hard to please him. He is behaving like a pain in the arse. Grumpy. And aloof. He hasn't been mean, just grumpy. Ellie is a pup and Duke's an older fella. He's probably miffed that she got to the butter that was out on the counter before he could. Ahhhh. It's good to have two dogs again.

She has a sweet face with familiar markings like a brown muzzle, eyebrows and (partly speckled) bow tie. She shows some pretty good indoor manners (well, some.) Someone has trained her to fetch. She races to the door to say both goodbye and hello. How could someone just dump her? Can it be as simple as finding her useless because she is gun shy?

She stood in the car all the way home and was at times half in my lap as though she wanted to drive. Right now, she couldn't get much closer. I'm curled up on the sofa and she is draped across my feet (and I think they're going numb.) Sort of clingy.

Oh. Lucky me. It's "that time" of the year for her. Sheesh. I can't believe she isn't spayed. So tomorrow, we're off to the vet (I need a first or last appt--don't want my pooch getting jumped) to see just how she really is.

I haven't had the pleasure of hearing her bark yet. I'm told she sounds just like a hound. I have visions of the hounds in Cool Hand Luke. I hope so. I think I'll find it charming-unless she lets loose at 3 am.

Sock Love

Meet the foot of my friend Tina. Behold her first sock so fetchingly modeled. She is so proud, but I don't know who is prouder, her or me. She is my 2nd student ever and I am thrilled with her progress. She already knew how to knit but found knitting in the round daunting. She started this sock on the 7th. We met on the 9th where I showed her how to knit the heel flap and pick up the gusset stitches. She finished the first sock on the 11th and is now half way through the 2nd sock. The yarn, which is just about my favorite sock yarn (Jitterbug in the color Fire) was my gift to Tina to tempt her into sock knitting. Now I have to convince her she is indeed ready for Sock Wars. She may want to sign up quick-it closes to enrollment May 2nd. I hope for my sake I get her to assassinate with her size 7 foot instead of my friend Rositta's.

To repay me for my kindness and teaching patience, she told me about the yarn sale at my favorite yarn store. I had conveniently forgotten all about the sale. Nothing sings to a knitter's soul like the words yarn and sale in the same sentence. Nothing is more dangerous than taking another yarn loving person to a sale like this. I think a gang like mentality sets in and before you know it, you've spent a small fortune on all kinds of stuff you know you surely don't need.

While there, we found out that the owner also honors knitting nurses with a 15% discount during nurses week (the owner is a nurse-outstanding!). We're sure to go back for more fiber indulgence. While sales staff wound Tina's new found sock yarn into pretty little cakes of yarn in another part of the store, we looked in wonder and awe at the spinning wheels. This naturally led to a discussion about learning to spin yarn. It's on my bucket list. Apparently, it's on Tina's too.

Look at this booty.... Let's see, there is Stephanie Pearl McPhee's new book Things I Learned from Knitting, Melissa Morgan-Oakes 2-at-a-time Socks (it will be dog eared by May 9th), some new stuff from Brown Sheep (Wildfoote in Rock 'n Roll), Dream In Color's Smooshy (in Chinatown Apple), and three skeins of Mountain Colors Bearfoot (in Rosehip, Ruby River and Spruce). The Spruce is earmarked for this pair of socks. There seems to be a LOT of red yarn in there. I don't really know why but it sure is purdy.

All in all, it was a wonderful way to spend a rainy Saturday and my children's inheritance.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Steal This Post

I wrote this post some days ago while stewing over this issue. I just wanted to vent and find writing to be helpful. I wasn't even sure I'd post this letter of outrage (I've already made my opinion known to my legislators). I just can't keep silent. One thing I've always recognized in myself as a sometimes flaw, sometimes asset, is my overwhelming sense that justice must be served. Unlike revenge, justice is a dish that is sometimes better served warm. It would seem it needs to be en flambe in this case as there is a curious silence shrouding this issue of counterfeiting. Why is that? Is there a complicity on the part of drug companies involved? The writers addressing this issue aren't government sources. Just Google "counterfeit heparin" and see what pops. It isn't the FDA, the CDC or the NIH. Today, I did just that and found this thought provoking post. People need to pay attention to this critical situation. I'm quite certain that this is only the surface of a much deeper problem.

In the event you are as shocked and concerned as me with recent news from China regarding product safety, I'd like to encourage you to use my words and write your congressman and senator. If you can't find the words or don't have time, use mine. Let your voice be heard. Just copy and paste, personalize it for yourself and email it. Here is where you can find the appropriate addresses for your representatives (mine are in my email address book because apparently, I'm a pain in the ass and always write about whatever I think needs to change). It's highly likely the Levins (one Levin is a US Senator and one is a US Congressman) cringe when they see my email addy in their inbox.

Your U.S. Senators
Your U.S. House of Representatives

Dear ______________:

I am becoming increasingly concerned with the safety of manufacturing practices of all products being produced in China. Unfortunately, I can't just stop buying things made in China. They're everywhere and present in things one wouldn't ordinarily think about.

Recently, it has come to light that during the manufacturing of crude heparin in China, a product manipulated by man to look chemically identical to heparin sodium (hypersulfated chondroitin) has been added. I can't see more than two reasons to do this. The first is for financial gain and the second is more sinister.

This incident leaves medical practitioners rather limited to drugs they can use in pulmonary and cardiac emergencies. Heparin was a standard of care for myocardial infarction and pulmonary embolism. Heparin is a drug that up until a month or so ago, nurses and doctors administered daily. How can they be sure they didn't see side effects of the additive in heparin but mistook the signs and symptoms of shock as a progression of a patient's presenting problem?

It also concerns me deeply that this is just the tip of the iceberg with these manufacturing practices. The FDA came short of saying this was deliberate but I am having a difficult time accepting that it's anything but purposeful. There is no reason hypersulfated chondroitin should be present in heparin. Nor is there any reason to take chondroitin and modify it so that it appears to look chemically identical to heparin. In my opinion, it's highly suspicious.

First, it was our pets and contamination of their food with a product manipulated to look nutritious. Then it was lead in toys we give to the most vulnerable members of our community, our children. Now it's medications we use commonly for patient's in crisis. Where will this end? At what point do we say enough and start enforcing standards in China that made business here too costly and difficult? At what point do we hold China and the manufacturers of these products responsible for the counterfeiting practices and safety violations they repeatedly demonstrate? We aren't just talking designer clothing here. This issue has gone way beyond a handbag as it's becoming detrimental to our health.

I would hope that our legislators are investigating these issues. Please let me know what measures are being taken to improve the safety issues that have been repeatedly in the news in respect to product manufacturing in China.


So go ahead, use my words. I don't mind this once. Here are a few more words, not my own, that should reminds us of a couple of things:

"There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible."

Henry Ford

Friday, April 11, 2008

I'm Getting a What?

Duke's reaction to the news that on Sunday, he will not be the only lap dog in the house.  I think he took it rather well.  He appears downright bored.  If true to form, he will hoard the toys.  If Ellie Mae is wise, she'll learn to take the toys into the basement.  Duke has NEVER mastered the stairs.  

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What Would You Do?

Here's the thing.  My home hasn't been the same since Augie Doggie passed away last May.  I've been hemming and hawing and riding the fence about adding a new dog to the mix.  I think dogs are like children; it's a test of skill to put up with more than one. If you have one child and things seem amiss, you know who to put the finger on.  If you have one dog and one chewed shoe, you know whodunnit.  Since I've been unsure about having another beastie around here, I've done nothing.  Until now.

Meet Ellie Mae.  She is a beautiful coonhound who was abandoned because she is afraid of gunshots and is therefore useless for hunting.  Welcome Ellie Mae.  You'll fit right in with this house of misfits.