Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

I am making a resolution to laugh more often.
To that end, I'll leave you this year with this:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How to Identify a Deal Breaker

A couple of weeks ago, right when we got pre-approved for a mortgage, I called the realtor I worked like a beast of burden last year. I told her that I remembered I'd promised to use her services to buy a new home when we were ready, and well, we're there, or we would be in January. It's my way of paying her back for making her show me two dozen homes for rent. I felt badly when I found out she only earned a couple of hundred dollars for the work I made her do. She must have spent that in gas money driving to meet me at all those homes.

Since that time, she keeps sending me listings for homes I can't afford or ones that need way too much work. To be fair, I've ignored most of her emails and two of her phone calls. I mean I told her I wanted to start looking in January and to my knowledge, it's still December. Still, she works hard, so I'm willing to use her again. One email she sent says on the listing that financing may be a problem because, hello?... the house needs a roof.

Feeling badly (but not too much) that I've ignored her, I looked at some of the listings she has sent me. The one that needs a roof? If that's not a $40,000 kitchen in that home, well then, I might be a monkey's uncle. Can you say custom cabinets, granite that sparkles, glass tiled back splash, double ovens, gorgeous hardwood floors? I know an expensive kitchen when I see one--I drool over kitchen layouts in magazines and watch Bang for Your Buck on HGTV religiously. What I can't figure out is why they don't put a new roof on the house. I can so see myself creating in a kitchen that looks like that, but I don't want to inherit problems.

As I looked through the multi list for this home, I was ever so slightly undeterred by the possibly serious roofing problems and saw its fatal flaw right there in black and white: the cooling system is a ceiling fan. Ya right. Like that would work for a post menopausal woman.

Back to square one and once again, I'm ignoring all emails and calls until January.

Photos: swiped from the MLS (I totally could use those two ovens at least twice a year).

Saturday, December 26, 2009

How Not to Host a Party

A. Stay up all night being worried about terrorists.
B. Get up to watch what the talking heads on CNN have to say about it all, even though you got the real story in the first place.
C. Fall asleep on the sofa--one floor and unknown amount of feet away from the alarm clock.
D. Wake up 25 minutes before guests arrive and realize the best you can manage is a quick shower, a fresh pot of coffee and throwing out last night's trash quickly before everyone arrives.

The above is a real life representation of just what I did. I was thankful that my guests were my friends from my Saturday morning spinning group and they, truth be told, are a group of women I feel completely relaxed around.

We had a great morning and I took no pictures. If I'd taken any, it would have been the one of the look on my son's face when he walked in and saw his living room had been taken over by a bunch of fiber hoarding, wheel wielding women all talking about every little thing and nothing, all in the same breath.

I live for Saturdays.

Thanks to all my friends for joining me on just another Saturday.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Rocking Christmas

Rachel and mom dancing while dinner cooks.

I think this was the best photo of the night. We've had Rachel here since yesterday afternoon. She went home tonight and while the visit was nice, I find myself wondering how we managed her by ourselves for so long. I was completely exhausted when she left. MLTL wasn't too bad, but then he's had my sister in law to torment for the past week. She's counting the hours until liftoff tomorrow. Can't say I blame her.

Fresh horseradish encrusted beef tenderloin with port wine reduction was our main dish. It's tradition here. My first attempt at buying the bottle of port failed when the bag broke while placing it in the back of my brand new sleigh. Now my vehicle smells like a wino drives it and the reduction sauce cost twice as much money to cook.

My son's favorite dish of the night was the broccolini sauteed in olive oil with garlic and sea salt. It was pretty tasty. I had to cook it in two batches and I kept thinking I bought way too much, but there wasn't a stalk of it leftover, except what we'd saved my husband who was working overtime at the local airport. If you saw the news today, you know why he missed his chance to have dinner with his family. I'm just thankful everyone is alright and this potential tragedy never came to fruition. Maybe we just shouldn't have holiday flights. While I know today isn't everyone's religious holiday, I think Christian holidays are probably irresistible to these dirtbags. I saw on the news that the suspect has third degree burns...I can only hope they're in an area where even if he did get his 72 virgins, he wouldn't have a way to entertain them. Now that would be a fitting end to his tale.

Alright, off my soapbox. True confession: I may be a bad mother. There I am laughing at Rachel stealing my beer. What can I say? Sam Adams Winter Lager IS a tasty brew. Who can blame her? She also stole Sara's cocktail and took a giant swig. You need many pairs of eyes, like a fly, in order to watch this child. Sheesh. You'd have thought as much liquor as she swiped tonight, it would have calmed her down. It did not. It just made her silly. But you know, she is 20 years old. I don't think it harmed her any.

It' wouldn't have been a holiday without a visit from my friend, Mr. Mocha Latte. He was soaked from the torrential rains we had today. He came in to dry off, warm up, eat a little smoked peppered turkey breast and have a good lie down. He went home after the rains stopped and his 4 hour nap was over.

All in all it was a wonderful day with lots of laughter and love. That's what it's all about. The house is clean again and ready for several women to descend upon it tomorrow morning. They'll be bringing their spinning wheels, fiber and good cheer. I'm looking forward to the break and a reason to spin some yarn.

I hope you all had a great holiday!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Christmas is forever, not for just one day,
for loving, sharing, giving, are not to put away
like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf.
The good you do for others is good you do yourself...

~Norman Wesley Brooks, "Let Every Day Be Christmas," 1976

Photo Credit: Tim McCabe/USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


As I was charting on my busy workload tonight, the clock on the computer flipped from 12/22 to 12/23. OMG! I am so not ready for this week. I haven't shopped for food yet and still have some wrapping to do and what with work, felted slippers, pesky kidney stones and CT scans, I haven't had a minute to even think. It's all good though. The stone is gone--completely missing from my CT scan.

Whatever will I do with all that beer I bought?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Know Before You Go

There are some things that are important to know before you have medical studies done. For instance, with my CT scan done today, it was important to know what my baseline kidney labs were looking like since they were going to give me IV contrast which can shut sick kidneys down. I've not had a BUN or creatinine level done in a couple of years, so I had no idea what was going on with my kidneys.

On Friday, I had this blood work drawn at the hospital. When I arrived today for my CT scan, I told the check in clerk she needed to pull up those lab results for the CT tech. Well, she didn't. As the tech was sticking me to start my IV, I asked what my creatinine level was. She told me she had no idea and that it didn't matter in an outpatient setting. What? I told her I thought it did matter and until she looked the result up in the computer, we weren't going any further. She said, and I quote, "I've been doing this for 25 years and there has never been a problem with this."

Oh really?

I told her my doc thought it was important to know what that blood work was, which was why she wrote the prescription in the first place.

I know I was snippy about it, but I only have two kidneys and would like to keep them healthy. What this outpatient tech does not know, is what happens to patients after she's done with them. I've seen kidneys shut down from CT contrast. Perhaps she hasn't.

I guess my point, and I do think I have one, is it's important to educate yourself before you consent and submit to procedures. If the doctor wants blood work before any kind of testing, ask why--be your own advocate.

Well, what's done is done. My kidneys, at least lab wise, were healthy before the CT and I've been drowning them in water ever since. I kind of wish I could see the reconstruction CT they did. It's supposed to provide a 3-D view of my innards. The 1,000 images taken today will be reconstructed to look like the photo at the top. How cool is that?

I find it's kind of beautiful, but then I'm a nerd. I would.

Photo: Google Images

Fare Well

For some moments in life there are no words.
~David Seltzer

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Strange Magic

The thing about ELO is that once you get a tune in your head, it won't go away until you listen to the song. Over and over. I felt that way about Turn to Stone when I posted it up here with my kidney stone post. Now I feel that way about, "Strange Magic."

Bear with me...

I've been looking on Ravelry at the pattern for French Press Felted Slippers for about 2 months now. Though I'm excessively foolish about the yarn I buy, I'm tight when it comes to buying patterns. I prefer to buy patterns in books since I get more bang for my buck. $20 may buy me 20 patterns. Hello? The slipper pattern was $7 and I was reluctant to buy it until I read the Harlot's post about the slippers she made. Friday, I took the plunge, bought the pattern and the yarn and dove right in. It took about 300 yards or so of Rowan's Cocoon, a merino and mohair blend in a lovely charcoal color called, Mountain. Though the Harlot says it took her only 90 minutes to knit these up, it took me significantly longer. Let's blame it on the Vicodin, shall we? I knit and unknit these slippers more times than I can count.

I make an pathetic stoner.

The hazelnut scarf aside, with my most recent forays into felting (I ruined 300 yards of handspun in an attempt to felt slippers from a cheaper different pattern), I wasn't hopeful for the slippers, but I took the enormous sized knitted product, said a prayer and threw them in the top loader. Having learned that hot water is a huge part of felting success, I'd cranked the hot water heater to the setting, VERY HOT, and let the machine do the work.

After the 4th full agitation cycle, I have the felting magic I was looking for, but the color? Completely threw me! I wasn't expecting the mohair to be the prominent fiber that would take the deep charcoal yarn to a completely different level. Very strange, indeed.

Once again, I'm smitten with felting and have the second pair on my needles. This time, I'm trying Cascade 220, because while I love what the Cocoon did in the wash, my wallet isn't that impressed.

Since this seems the week for finishing up knit goods, here's my last felting success:

Kidsilk Haze bubble scarf sans nuts.

And since I've probably put the tune in your head, here's a little ELO...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Room With a View

This is the view from Mareseatoat's home on the mountain. I'm a little envious and she's thrilled. They bought sleds yesterday to take advantage of Mother Nature's bounty.

They may have to figure out how to get out one of the doors to use them, but they're prepared to try.

Fingers crossed, I had a horrible backache last night, and after 3 hours of that, I caved and took a Vicodin. I feel so much better this morning. Do you think it's too much to ask that I passed that stone?

Photos: Mareseatoats & Co.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Flair for Drama

Since Wednesday, I've known my urine culture was negative. There was no bacteria causing my misery and microscopic blood in my urine, so it had to be something else. Let's see, what disease can I give myself that would be the most complicated and life threatening, or cause me the most disfiguring surgical outcomes?

Because you know that's what I've been doing since it became clear that although I wasn't going to die of sepsis, severe sepsis, shock and multi-organ failure, I was going to suffer and likely from something far worse.

Some of you know I used to work for a huge urology practice. My best friend is still an office manager for this gimongous practice. For the past two days, we've been talking that I definitely need to see someone, but who? I mean I don't want just anybody to see my 52 year old coochie and stick a cystoscope into my nether regions. It had to be someone who could, a. keep their mouth shut and b. not judge how age and menopause have not been kind. Additionally, I told my friend that I was sure that what's going on isn't good and I want no bad news for the holidays. It could keep until January.

The past two nights have been completely miserable. I awaken in the middle of the night feeling, what I'm sure by now is a giant ulcer or tumor deep within my pelvis causing pressure. I wouldn't call it pain, because, well, once you've labored on three separate occasions with children who all had a posterior presentation, you have a pretty high benchmark for what you call pain. It's pressure.

This morning, I couldn't stay away from the bathroom for more than 10 minutes. Bad news and the holidays? I couldn't wait any more. I called my friend who squeezed me in today with one of the female urologists. I called my boss and got the day off to see to this bit of business. I loaded up on water because I was told they'd do an ultrasound, hopped in the car (praying I wouldn't sneeze and there'd be no traffic to delay my ride across town) and headed off to learn the bad news.

Resigned to the fate that I'd be having an office cystoscopy (no pain meds, no anethesia), I tried to prepare myself emotionally. Let me just say, there's no such thing. Now I don't know who dreamed up this particular exam, I can only say that it's, um, uncomfortable at the least and not the way I'd originally planned to spend my day. The exam starts when the doctor injects numbing medicine, and before my urethra has even had an opportunity to get acquainted with the lidocaine, a rather large, flexible tube is inserted hot on the heels of the numbing medicine--yes, that's right--before I'm numb. That's just the beginning, because while my mind is wrapping itself around the fact that tube is way too big for that particular space, the assistant opens up a connected bag of sterile saline solution and upon command of the doctor, Lord help me, squeezes the saline in. I can honestly say, my bladder has never felt so violated or full.

Since I know this doctor well, I felt inexplicably at ease. She chattered the whole time about her kids and mine. I was with her at an investigator's meeting in Montreal when she learned she'd passed her boards and was now a board certified urologist. Out of all 30 docs in that practice, she was my first choice. Still, I wasn't prepared for the oohing and ahhing about how good my bladder looked. I think I heard her say, "gee, things look as good on the inside as they do on the outside." She saw no tumors and no ulcers, but she did see something else: a dilated ureter. My poor kidneys have been trying to pass a stone since last weekend, and there my friends, is the source of my misery.

My prescriptions include a script for a CT scan and blood work, and advice to drink boatloads of water with lemon juice, gatorade and beer. I have a script for Vicodin, which while I told her it's not pain, it's pressure, she just smiled and said, "oh, don't worry, it's going to be pain."

To be continued...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Three Headlines

  • Local nurse realizes listening to Joe Lieberman may just be the answer to the world wide shortage of morphine and propofol. Suggests clinical trials commence to see if never ending tapes of Joe droning on and on can be used as an induction to anesthesia.

  • Minnesota senator finds cure for coma; wins Nobel prize for medicine.

  • Local Michigan woman gushes: " I the senator from Minnesota." She was later heard to say to her friends, "I wonder, how big do you think his cajones really are?"

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

This Small House

Yesterday, Miss T and Amy did a tour of their ornaments and holiday decor. I found I was a little envious of Miss T's village yarn shop, but she was nice enough to let me know where she bought this piece. Thank you Miss T. When I commented to Amy (you have to check out her cool ornaments) that I'd found a couple of different things to do with candles and ornaments this year, she expressed a desire to see. My home is so cramped that I can't use them all the way I typically do, so I had to think outside the box.

The fireplace tiles are from Pewabic pottery. They're beautiful and deserving of a little primping.

This gas fireplace doesn't work, so I came up with a creative way to light a fire. One quick trip to Home Goods and I was the owner of a lot of white candles. Even when not lit, the candles fill the room with the scent of vanilla. It makes me want to bake, but like the non working fireplace, the stove doesn't work well either, and I fear there will be no baking this year.

One of the poinsettia plants were a gift from the doctors I work with. They gave all of us one of these beauties and I went out and bought one to match. To me, a plant is better than a lot of tasteless commercial sugar cookies which were the typical fare from doctors when I worked in a hospital. They're gorgeous and huge. I placed them on the hearth because, well, there is no space elsewhere.

Feeling imperfect? Fear not! I won't judge you, and I won't throw you out like yesterday's trash. Things like this one eyed deer are endearing to me. I can't explain, but year after year, this little fellow has a place on the tree so of course, there he is. It wouldn't be Christmas without him. Did I mention he's ancient? He is.

I love this snowman Rachel made in school. It was a gift for Christmas one year, and it's a favorite. Now I know Rachel was mostly the helper and the staff did all the making, but it reminds me that there are those who toil many long hours to help my daughter make something that most kids would find simple. It's humbling. I'm grateful. This snowman will be dear to my heart, always.

No room on the tree for ornaments? Stick them in a clear vase and call it decor. And yes, I was sipping coffee from Debra's mug in the lower right corner there while walking around channeling Martha Stewart.

Danny Thomas used to say, 'He who denies his heritage has no heritage," so I'm showing half of mine off here. I received a set of camel ornaments from my sister and gave the small one to my daughter. Even though this one is too large for my CB tree, it still had to go up. The big ass camel is around here somewhere. I brought him inside from the front porch, where my son had worried for his safety all summer; he was certain someone would come up on the porch and steal him.

No knitter's home is complete without sheep. Baaah. Maybe next year I'll have the yarn shop village piece and a place to put it on display.

When space is limited, you can decorate your feet. Another frivolous Target purchase, but one that amuses me.

While I'm lamenting the lack of space this year, and missing my spiffy gas stove, I'm setting aside a little time to be thankful for what I do have and looking ahead to the beginning of the year. At a time when banks are being stingier than Scrooge on collection day, we were pre-approved for a mortgage today and the hunt for new digs and a fluffy new dog will begin in earnest.

Yes Rudee, there is a Santa Claus.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Quickie

Disclaimer: It's not that kind of post. Besides, I've talked enough about the fire down below this week.

This post is about quick knits.

Besides the fact that these are all meant to decorate the neck, what do these three items have in common?

They're done, of course.

I mean with the exception of weaving in ends, adding buttons and a little felting action (Lord, help took forever to knit that Kidsilk Haze scarf). And those hazelnuts? What pray tell will Rudee do with the nuts? Besides the grocery check out clerk's frustration when she couldn't find acorns on the price list, thereby giving me the best chuckle of the day, these are not going to be consumed.

Here are those nuts all tied up with itty-bitty hair ties. After a run through the hot soapy water and about 3 minutes of agitation, it felted beautifully by the way, it's now drying. It lost more width than length, but I think the weight of the nuts helps maintain length. When it's completely dry, I'll liberate the nuts and in their place will be a three dimensional scarf with 22 tiny bubbles that maintain their shape.

Top to bottom neck warmers:
  1. Buttoned Muffler. Pattern by Sally Melville from the book, Mother -Daughter Knits, Sally Melville & Caddy Melville Ledbetter. Yarn: Less than 1 skein Araucania Yarns, Coliumo Solid, Color # 3 (a pretty pale greenish blue). Soft as a baby's behind and about a 3 hour knit. Hint: it's entirely possible that 2 skeins would make 3 neckwarmers.
  2. Button Up Neck Warmer. Pattern by Mavis Adam from the Summer 2009 issue of Spin-Off Magazine, p70. Yarn: Rudee's Creamsicle Handspun (merino and silk). This easy to memorize pattern knit up in about 2 days. Most of you don't spin, but you may be able to find this magazine in a library. If you lack a pretty handspun, try a commercial worsted weight yarn. It's a very showy pattern for hand painted or space dyed yarn, too. Because it's a simple slip stitch pattern, it appears woven. It was the best woven effect I could achieve without a loom. Are you hearing me Santa?
  3. Angel Puff Scarf. Pattern by Nicky Epstein, from the book Knitting Never Felt Better, The Definitive Guide to Fabulous Felting by Nicky Epstein. Yarn: 1 Skein Rowan Kidsilk Haze in a hand painted one of a kind colorway (sorry). Pattern notes: 225 yards of RKH in a stockinette pattern takes FOREVER and a day but took less than 5 minutes to felt. I used only 22 nuts, but the pattern called for 48. That was too many bubbles for me. It looks awesome hanging over my lamp to dry. Can't wait to see how those bubbles turn out.

Hello there beautiful! What do you want to be when you're all knit up? Look how nice and plump you are...that means no matter how you end up, you're going to be a fast knit. Though I much prefer finer weight yarns, it's this time of year when I embrace the phat stuff.

And so it goes. Once again, after all I said about not doing this to myself, I've been sucked into holiday knitting. In addition to the above, I knit one other Sally Melville neck warmer, one double knit Michigan hat (hello? that's two hats in one) that the recipient is already using and have an additional plain Michigan hat in the works. I've completed one of two socks that are going (as a set) to a reader. I know, I know, I'm slow, but the holidays kind of snuck up on me. What can I say? Soon, my friend.

Monday, December 14, 2009

How Not to Vacation

When I move next spring, I'm considering selling my 80 year old dining room set. Don't get me wrong, it's beautiful and since the day I found it at an estate sale, I've babied the thing. It's a bit old fashioned, and I know, I know, that's its charm. Truth be told, I don't mind dated and old fashioned. The issue is it's heavy. Solid. And on Saturday, wanting to finish my holiday decorating, I shoved some dish cloths under the legs of the buffet and slid it from one room to another across the hard wood floors. Duh. Sometimes I just have to have immediate gratification. Who cares about lumbar disc herniation? I was unwilling to wait for the men folk to get home from work to help me with the heavy stuff.

I'm a little sore today.

But wait. I'm not done highlighting my growing list of vacation medical maladies. When I woke up yesterday morning, it was with an acute awareness that all was not well with my bladder. It's been so long since I've had a urinary tract infection that I'd forgotten what they felt like. My bladder is, as long as it's not acting up, something I tend to take for granted. I bet you do, too. Well, by mid-afternoon, I was convinced that the urgency, frequency, burning and spasms were an issue of mind over matter and the first thing I should do is drown the little germs and get on with my vacation by making a great meal (I finally saw Julie & Julia). Let's just say that grocery shopping + excessive hydration + a UTI make food gathering a complicated expedition. I made two pit stops to the restroom while at the store. Lines were long at the market and it seemed to take forever to find the fixings for beef stew, but I finally made it home, made the stew and continued denying what was happening in my nether-regions.

By evening, I began to get chills. Now it could have been the damp weather, but with my oven on, this wasn't possible. My house felt like a junkie's--hot, hot, hot. It was me. It was my body telling me to get my ass, or more specifically, my bladder to an urgent care center. Being a bit dramatic (yes, I am), I had visions of sepsis setting in, complicated by complete overreaction of my immune system and the triggering of the cascade of events that lead to shock and multi-organ failure. By 8 PM, I was convinced if I didn't get help, I'd be on life support by midnight (it appears that I'm also prone to exaggeration).

I pulled the not quite done stew from the oven and drove the 10 miles to the clinic where the clerk commented how much she liked my perfume and then wanted to discuss the merits of about 10 different brands of perfume all with fresh, crisp notes (I couldn't make that up if I tried). All the while my bladder, irritated and near to bursting was getting annoyed. I finally told her, "look, if I don't get to a bathroom soon, this visit is going to get very messy and no amount of perfume will cover that up." It was discovered, no surprise, that I did indeed have something other than urine in my specimen cup. After the quickest ever after hours clinic visit (I was their only patient), I made it to the 24 hour drug store where I found salvation in the form of antibiotic and antispasmodic pills.

My pee may be bright orange and glow in the dark, but I feel much better today.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


When I began to blog, I inexplicably started to develop attachments to my invisible friends (that would be all of you). I spent a lot of time nourishing relationships with my new pals around the world by reading and commenting. I've even grown to care what happens to my new friends(and their pets) that, but for their blogs, I don't really know. In a lot of ways, I communicate more through my blog and all of yours, than I do with visits and phone calls to my not so invisible friends. In short, the internet has blessed me with a brand new way to broaden my horizons and make new relationships.

But it bothers me a bit when people stop blogging all of a sudden. There have been times when I've wanted to, but just can't. It would seem I always have something to say. Sometimes, people still blog but don't visit me anymore. In those situations, I wonder what I've done to offend. I don't dwell on it, but I think about it.

When Flydragon fell off the radar over the summer, I thought she was caught up in her gardening and was taking a little hiatus. She stopped commenting and blogging altogether. Still, even though I thought about her now and then, I didn't think too much of her being off the grid so to speak. I thought maybe she caught the Facebook bug that was going around. Or she was tweeting her little heart out, and not at the birds she loved to blog about. But that was not the case.

The woman who made me aspirate my coffee when she gave me the Full of Hot Air award, is leaving us for good. Her daughter is making intermittent posts to update us on Flydragon's condition. She is giving her mom sentiments and well wishes we'd like to share.

Don't miss your opportunity to share your thoughts. You can do so here.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Spirit Moved Me

I kind of liked the bird ornaments today.

When I got home from spinning this afternoon, I had an overwhelming desire to spruce up the house a bit--holiday style. Now this was a challenge since I've left most of my decorations with Rachel and Sara and I decorated Rachie's place last weekend.

My Charlie Brown Itty-Bitty Tree.

My house is small, which was my second challenge, but strolling past the available trees at the tree lot, I found a 3 1/2 foot Douglas fir. In my mind, I was convinced it was perfect. It had a few bare spots I thought would fill in once the tree thawed out and the branches relaxed a bit, but that hasn't happened. I think I must have felt a wee bit sorry for the tree and momentarily channeled Charlie Brown.

Oh my. An owl. What would the Aunt Honeys say? Ah...who cares about old wives tales and Arabic curses? I officially have a raptor in my house.

The third challenge was the size of the ornaments. Most of what I salvaged from Rachel's house, won't work on such an itty-bitty tree. This was going to necessitate a visit to the local Target--not a great place to visit 2 weeks before Christmas and on a Saturday, too. But it wasn't bad. Not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I highly recommend doing like I did and wearing my rose colored glasses to shop on the weekend.

And a peacock--in honor of the peacock shawl that is presently being ignored.

I picked up some great ornaments, a new pair of slippers for spinning and quite a bit of stuff I didn't know I needed until I saw it in my basket in the checkout lane. Do the offerings at Target just jump into the basket?

I feel so much more holidayish tonight. There's one more thing I want to get tomorrow. Have you seen the Christmas tree shaped rosemary plants at Trader Joe's? I hope they aren't sold out. I'm imagining two things from that including unlimited rosemary and heavenly scents.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Whole Truth

About 2 seconds ago, I silenced the alarm on my work phone. It's there to remind me to call the time system and clock in for the day. As of right this minute, I'm officially on vacation until next Wednesday, and not a moment too soon.

I want to talk about a few things here, because I'm losing the courage to do my work.

I love this specialty, I truly do. I feel I make a difference. Even during that kerfuffle last month, I may not have made a difference to the family who verbally abused me, but I saw to the needs of the struggling patient. I made a difference to him and was able to ease his suffering. Over the summer, I had an incident where the family told me they never wanted me to darken their doorstep again. That was until the next time they called and needed help at 10 PM. Recently, they sent a letter to my employer thanking the staff that helped them and though at one point they'd expressed dislike for me, in the end, they singled me out to express gratitude. I was surprised and appreciative of the recognition.

Truth be told, I feel like a RN (real nurse) doing this job. Unlike my day shift counterparts who carry a heavy workload, I usually don't. I have time, hours to spend if needed, to provide emotional and skilled support. I often get phone calls where someone has but a question and not a need for a visit, but if I sense any distress at all, I make a visit. I've kept vigils with families who are distraught or afraid to be alone. If I'm there for awhile, I'll pull out my knitting and we while away time talking with the soothing sound of needles clicking away.

In short, I love my work, but sometimes, I question what I'm doing.

Last night, as I pulled up to a home in a very dicey neighborhood (not a unique situation), I was aware of a man lurking in the shrubs and trees 2 doors down (definitely not the norm). It was late, dark and bitterly cold. I called the caregiver of the patient and told her I was there, but couldn't safely exit my car. I could see the man looking my way in my rearview mirror--you know, the mirror that says, "objects in mirror may be closer than they appear?" The caregiver came out to get me. As she opened her front door, and I stepped out of my car, two men emerged from the trees and approached me. With my heart in my throat, I started to climb the porch steps, lost my footing and fell. The men, seeing the woman on the porch, stopped, turned around and left, but believe me, both I, and this woman, had no doubt that they weren't there to help.

I was scared out of my mind. Truly. The entire time I was in that house, my heart was not in my work because I was too worried about leaving and running the gauntlet back to my car.

I'm beginning to question the sanity of what I do. Is it worth my well-being to continue? My work area includes, with the exception of two zip codes, all of the metropolitan Detroit area (around 3,900 square miles). Last night, I've never been so afraid for myself in my life. While I do earn a little more money than I did working in a hospital, it's never been about the money. It's always been because I've felt called to do this--to honor and care for the souls leaving our world. I know that may sound silly and trite to some, but there is a need for people like me. I want to be able to do it, but I can't do it well if I feel unsafe.

Obviously, more than the usual pressures of the holidays will be on my mind during this week off. I have to find a solution to this conundrum.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dashing Through the Snow

Your intrepid hospice nurse pulled another double shift last night. I think it's the pleading tones of the supervisor that get to me. She sounds so reasonable and needy that I find I can't say no. To add to that, she prefaced by saying, "I know you're having a quiet night," at which point, I should have screamed the word NO! NO! NO! She had invoked the curse of nurses everywhere by saying the word, quiet.

Bye-bye Japanese car (I'm going to miss you). Hello made in Kansas Ford Escape.

The weather was, in a word, wretched, with already 2 inches of heavy wet snow and more mixed precipitation expected. Emboldened by my new sleigh, I accepted the mission of working 16 hours. Fool. Big dummy head. That's me. Weak, weak, weak.

The phone didn't ring again until just shy of midnight and I had to drive 25 miles to see a patient. Even with four wheel drive and my snappy V6 engine, it still took close to an hour to get there because the slush was so deep on the freeway. I got home at 3 AM and fell asleep. Deep in slumber, and probably paralyzed during REM sleep, I didn't hear my beeper go off at 6:45 and missed calling a family back promptly to answer a question. I felt awful, when I finally awoke at 8 AM to see the page.

That's it. No more doubles. I don't care how sweet she sounds or how nicely she begs, the next time the supervisor calls me, I'm going to let her go to voicemail so I have time to practice saying no.

In an attempt to find humor today, I came upon this holiday video. That Ozzy is a naughty boy:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sleight of Hand

A few weeks ago, I paid $40 to take my first knitting class--the Fair Isle Hat Class. I attended only one of the two days because by the time I'd finished the first class, I had grasped the concept of Fair Isle knitting and finished the project that same night. By the time the second class came around, I had finished my second hat. Instead of taking the second half of the class, I stayed home and napped that day. I vowed that unless it was something I felt the internet couldn't teach me, I was not going to take another class. $40 buys a lot of yarn.

Can you find my mistake? I may let it stand...

When I saw the Michigan double knit hat at the yarn store, I wanted the pattern, but didn't want to take the class to get the pattern. I talked the young lady, Ann Marie, who created the pattern, into selling it to me without taking the class. Of course, I had no clue how to do double knitting, but I wasn't going to let that stop me. After paying for the pattern, I went home and googled, double knitting. I found a video on (I love that site and owe all of my initial skill to their videos), and a great article on, another fabulous site for skill building, not to mention free patterns. Following Ann Marie's pattern, I cast on for the 2 colored hat and I haven't looked back.

Double knitting is nothing short of magical. Magical. Essentially, I'm knitting two hats at once--a tube within a tube-- that are connected only at the cast on edge, and again at the M. The connection occurs when the knitter swaps the position of the two yarns. In this case, I knit the M in blue on the yellow side and in yellow on the blue side. Ingenious! I will say, this is not a technique you'll embrace if you hate to purl. Though it's clear that this is a stockinette pattern, and knit in the round, and we know that every stitch is knit to get that effect, to create a mirror image, one color is knit and the second color is purled. Fixing mistakes? Oy. Now that's a challenge. I have 2 errors that I missed, but I'll fix those in the end by embroidering over them with yarn (gotta love duplicate stitching!). Then again, I may let the mistakes stand.

Mirror image made by alternating colors and the knit/purl stitch. The yellow stitches are knit and the blue purled. To make the M, I knit the blue and purled the yellow.

There are several applications for this technique, one of which I'll try after the first of the year: two socks at a time knit one inside the other.

Be still my little knitter's heart.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Do As I Say

I am fully aware that I said I wouldn't do any Christmas knitting. It appears I'm a liar. I've been knitting up a storm. I can't show it all to you, but my buddy here has seen it.

This was Mr. Mocha Latte looking all non-chalant, just prior to him pouncing on my yarn, biting it and simultaneously digging his claws into my pajama clad legs. Yeouch. As cozy as he was, he was asked to leave after he started mixing it up with my yarn.

Here we have some not so stealthy winter knitting. Somebody is going to receive an awesome Michigan hat--double knit in the round--that is reversible.

This should give solace to the recipient who won't be watching Michigan play in a bowl game this year. Or not.

There's still time to knit a Spartan hat...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Raise Your Cup

This evening, the sale at Cups of Kindness begins. I've gone over to take a look-see at what various artists have made and donated. I've got my eye on a few things and I'm itching for the virtual doors to open.

All money raised benefits the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank and every dollar donated provides 7 meals for those who would otherwise go hungry. Now that's what I think they mean by stretching a dollar. I wish I could do that!

This year, I donated a knitted item in a round about way. I raffled off my too-large hat to one very generous reader, Laurie, from Three Dog Blog in return for her donation to Cups of Kindness. Together, we kicked off the start of the Cups of Kindness selling season. Maybe you can help keep this going by doing a bit of your holiday shopping at this very special, one of a kind store.

Tis the season to raise your own cup and help eliminate hunger.

Happy Shopping!

Photo by Jorge Barrios on Wiki Commons

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Time Out

When I was just a young thing, locking me in my room because I'd been naughty was like a death sentence; being sequestered was just about the worst thing on earth. I recall the desire to be in the thick of things at all times. Oh! How I long for those time outs now. I'd pay somebody good money to send me to my room for an hour. Even 10 minutes would be good. Over the years, I've come to appreciate solitude and an empty calendar.

With the holidays coming up fast, and me with nothing done, my work schedule has conspired with my to-do list to make me feel like I'm already behind this month--even though December just got here. Nobody at work was willing to pick up a day here and there for me so I can get some things done. People just weren't answering the phone. Until today.

Woot! I scored 4 days off this month that wrap a weekend. If you're mathematically challenged this morning, that's 6 days off in a row. The woman picking up my days needs the money and I need a break. That's what I call a win-win situation.

My goal is to have most of what I need to get done completed before next Thursday so I can sit around the house eating bon-bons, spinning yarns and knitting for 6 days in a row. I know that won't happen, but a girl can dream, can't she?

Photo: Wikicommons

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Cautionary Tale

"That's SO Last Year's Coach."

I have a relative through marriage who actually makes statements like that. And means it. I may or may not have a Coach bag from several years ago, but I will tell you, I didn't buy it. It was a gift. It's now a gift I pretty much never use. It may or may not be in my closet since my daughter likes to swap bags now and then. It's probably there because it's small and we all know it wouldn't be the right bag for a girl with a fractured sacrum to carry. She should carry the biggest bag she can find and load it up with the heaviest stuff she owns. That's the way you cure a broken back. One of these days, I'm going to go through her bag to see just what's so important that she can't leave behind--even for a few hours.

But, as usual, I digress.

So this relative, several times removed, the one who likes to rag on women for carrying counterfeit, or last year's Coach, is beginning to learn that financial woes can ruin your wardrobe faster than a girl can make snobby statements. She's the same one who told me she didn't deserve breast cancer because she was better at taking care of her body than most. She truly believed that cancer should only happen to people who asked for it, not for those who stayed uber-skinny, worked out every single day and took their overpriced designer multivitamins religiously. I've never had a conversation with this woman when she didn't find a way to make someone feel bad about themselves while elevating herself on a pedestal.

About two years ago, she got a bug to buy a new home. Not just any new home, either, it was a million dollar home in the zip code she desired. She went and looked at it, and being the wise financial genius that she likes to think she is, she waited. She heard through the grapevine that the owners had lost their high paying jobs and were desperate. When she'd first begun her search, the home was listed for 1.2 million dollars. Each month she waited, the asking price dropped 10 percent. When it became clear that the owners were in utter dire straits, she offered $600,000 and proceeded to gloat. Her patience had paid off and she had her chi-chi home, clearly at the expense of someone's misfortune. Interestingly, when she had to sell her first home, she wouldn't do it because she couldn't get a good enough price for it. She was offered what she'd paid for it, but there was no way it was worth only that in her mind, otherwise, why would she have lived in it for so long. She hung onto it and used it to house her less than fortunate relatives. A very magnanimous woman, wouldn't you say?

Failing to learn from the cancer episode, she clung to her misguided belief that bad things could never happen to her because she does everything perfectly. She considered herself above the financial devastation that had struck metropolitan Detroit and continued to spend like a drunken sailor who only hits port once in a blue moon. Although her new digs were perfect, she hired a decorator and dropped another $150,000 into remodeling a perfectly good mansion. Then tragedy struck. Her husband's business started to fail. Their savings, all in the stock market, disappeared overnight. Despite how wonderful she is, her husband found another woman to give him comfort and has moved in with her.

Just desserts? Probably so. I don't ordinarily find humor in the misfortune of others, but in her's, I admit I do. Hey! I'm not perfect and never said I was. If I were Catholic, I'd have to go to confession every single day just to admit how much I've enjoyed her karmic comeuppance. Over the past year, this woman has said and done the most hurtful things to my daughter. I've wanted to call her so many times to let her know how I really feel, but my best friend and my daughter have vetoed this idea. To still my fingers from dialing, I decided to put her business out there for the rest of the world to see.

I can't wait to bump into her and see her wearing last year's Coach.

So sue me.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Not me. At least I'm not feeling that way today. I'm all snuggled up, knitting and periodically spinning. I'm striving to make the yarn to knit the Deep in the Forest Mittens. On the wheel right now, I have a beautiful charcoal colored alpaca I purchased at the fiber festival that's spinning up beautifully. In a bag next to the wheel is a cream colored alpaca I bought last week. Obviously, these won't get cast on until the yarn is ready. That may take awhile.

It's pouring rain and incredibly damp and cold tonight. It's supposed to turn to snow later, but hopefully, we won't get much. Since it's raining cats and dogs, I can only say I'm glad I don't have to shovel this stuff. Lucky for me, I'm having one of those hospice nights we don't talk about. I don't want to break my streak. Suffice it to say, Silent Night is a wonderful way to describe a night, no matter the season.

Whatever you're up to, I hope you're cozy, warm and doing something that you love.

Have you heard these guys? If it weren't raining, I'd be walking up to Barnes and Noble to buy their new CD:

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sometimes, Change is Good

Last Christmas was the first year that I didn't go completely overboard and charge things I regretted as soon as the credit card statements January rolled in. The surest way to make sure I didn't hate myself in the new year, was to pay cash for every purchase. Our family really scaled back on the retail end of things and enjoyed ourselves just as much, probably more.

This year, my siblings and our families have agreed not to exchange gifts. None of us needs anything, and all of us are a little tired of this holiday over-merchandising, so this is perfect. For a couple of siblings, I already had some gifts in the works, but no mind, they'll make perfect birthday gifts. I'll still get some gifts for my immediate family, but it won't be the free for all that I've tended to get sucked into in the past.

I'm enjoying this new practice when it comes to gift giving. I do have some die hard friends who love exchanging small gifts, so I'll continue this, but the rest of it is a relief to let go. And I'm quite sure, I'll be buying more chickens and roosters for my friend's CSA outreach program in Nicaragua. I wondered about the family who got the chickens last year. Did they have eggs to eat and sell? Did the chickens survive? Is that family's life better? It warms my heart to think something so small--the cost of one or two unwanted gifts here--would make a huge difference to someone in need.

So to all those big retailers out there, I'm sorry, but I won't be partaking in this annual mad rush to buy goods I don't want or need. My digits won't be in your final tally on the last, or any other Friday. To local retailers, I promise to shop in your stores this season to purchase the things I think the small group of people I do exchange gifts with will enjoy. I'm going to practice 3/50 mindfulness when I head out the door with my recycled shopping bags.

Lucky for me, you're all in walking distance.

How about you? How will you lighten your burdens this holiday season?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

It's the Little Things

My family has much to be thankful for today. We're all employed in a time when so many are not. We each have a roof over our heads, food in our stomachs and security. In these times, not one of us takes these blessings for granted.

This Thanksgiving though, I was feeling something missing. I couldn't put my finger on it until a surprise visitor arrived. Mr. Mocha Latte showed up at my door around 10 AM, meowing, cold and hungry, and suddenly, I recognized that it was my DukeDog I was missing. It's my first big holiday cooking without him mooching and stealing food. Now I know Mr. Latte is a cat, but he's a friendly guy and on occasion, provides a little companionship for me. Usually, he stops by when it's raining and he can't get in his own house, or when he's tired of the slobbery, overly playful pitbull he lives with. As he had a lie down in front of the vent in my kitchen to warm himself, I cut up a bit of turkey for him.

He ate it all, purred like a crazy cat, then went upstairs to have a nap in my bed. By mid afternoon, he was done with me and went home. The kitty filled an otherwise empty space for me today, and I was thankful for his visit. I think he was thankful, too.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and find more than a few little things to warm your heart today.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Head Examination Needed Stat

Due to complex needs of multiple patients and a relative paucity of nurses willing to pitch in and give up their holidays, I'm working a double tonight. Not to worry though--the turkey is cooling, the potatoes are cooked and all that's left is the salad, dressing, pies and green beans to deal with.

Come next Friday, I can cash that plump(er) check and do a little holiday shopping.

Let's hope for a silent hospice schedule for the on call nurse come 8 PM tonight. I can use all the juju I can get.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Offside Interference

Today I feel wise and on top of things. The shopping for Thursday's Thanksgiving dinner is complete, the menu is written and it's all over but the cooking, the belt loosening, food coma and the dishes. Some people are preparing for Thursday in other ways. For instance, my daughter has rented The Ref to get some pointers.

After yesterday's post, I started rereading some of the items in my insane asylum, including the Easter post about the lovely time we had with my father in law. You see, the heat is on and some people, OK, one person, is starting to ramp up about what he can bring for dinner. After the Easter offerings, I've been telling my husband and my son that he can bring nothing to the table. Nada. Zilch. Please, please, his company is enough! Of course, this is going over like a lead balloon because it's removing control and MLTL, not content with just being a guest, is starting to write his own menu. For instance, how about ordering turkey and all the fixings from a local catering company and eating at his house? No. I don't want to chase Rachel all over his house to keep her out of trouble. I want to be comfortable with her. Well then, he'd like to buy the ham we'll eat. Ham? He wants me to cook a fresh ham for Thanksgiving dinner. For my entire life, it's always been turkey and I'm not about to change that. I don't know what it is about ham, but he always talks about this meat. It has to be served at every single holiday meal for him, or the meal is incomplete.

About 20 years ago, a little after the birth of my son, I took it upon myself to host a gigantic family meal on Christmas Eve. I invited my in laws and their assorted relatives, including THE aunts. After slaving all day at the stove to make everything perfect, we all sat down to the table and my father in law said, "where's the ham I bought?" He had left it at his house 3 miles away. Making such a fuss that he had to have that ham, my husband left to go fetch it. By the time he returned, everyone else, including my father in law, had eaten what I'd prepared. Dinner was over and some tempers were simmering just below the boiling point. MLTL was angry because his wife (not him) had forgotten his ham and during dinner, we got to listen to him chastise her for her lapse of memory. My husband was royally pissed that he had to go fetch a ham that nobody else wanted. I was furious that this man had disrupted the dinner I'd prepared for days for something only he wanted. MLTL had ruined dinner, which was his subconscious plan all along, but he got his ham. I never said a word to him about that ham that nobody ate, but I will say, it was the last time I cooked a meal for 30 people.

This time, I'd finally like to tell MLTL what to do with that ham he wants me to cook on Thursday, but because it's a no win situation, I won't. But neither will I cook it for him. If he wants it, he can babysit a fresh ham in the oven all by himself. Instead, I'm going to practice the sage advice of Distracted by Shiny Objects:

"Have you ever tried the trick of mentally going through the grocery store and putting items in your cart alphabetically?? apples, bananas, cherries, doughnuts, etc...makes you look like you're listening to a conversation but allows you to be a bit removed. I've found it helpful a time or two."

If that doesn't work, I've stocked up on wine...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Holiday Advertising

Lately, one of my posts from ages ago has been plagued by some moron trying to sell me a mail order bride. Apparently, she's willing to do anything I want, but unless she's willing to cook or clean, I'm not interested. I'm also willing to wager that no matter what it is she'll do, all bets are off once she gets her green card. And then what? I'd have to find a new housekeeper. As much as it pains me, I'll have to say no thanks to this offer.

If I didn't have email notification of new comments, I wouldn't even know of the sale. Who goes back to look at posts from months ago? Three times in the past week, I've had to go back to one of my original posts about my husband's aunts and delete the offers. I could moderate posts, but I myself prefer the instant posting of my comments on other's blogs and don't really want to go this route. I've tried captcha, or word verification, but in this case, I may be dealing with a real human, or a machine that gets the word. I did the next best thing and disabled comments on that post. I hope that whoever is trying to advertise on my blog without my permission, gives up with that one post. It's the one with the bridal gown photo at the top, so I'm hopeful that's the case. If not, I'd hate to go back and disable commenting on all 600 or so posts. We'll have to see.

In the meantime, I'd better get the mop out and clean the house myself.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

One Thing Leads to Another

Ignoring what was waiting to be plied on my spinning wheel, I liberated a bobbin and set to spinning some wool I bought at the fiber festival in August. I was a woman on a mission: this wool would be spun with a project in mind and I was going to finish spinning, plying, setting the twist and would cast on by Sunday.

That's all well and good, but the final count of handspun fell a little short in the yardage 200 yards short and the fiber was one of a kind. What's a spinning knitter to do? Contemplate. Sleep on it. The answer will come.

By this morning, I knew I would do a two toned project (they're--Lord, help me-- felted ballerina slippers). I was certain I knew exactly where a skein of gray yarn (commercial) and a skein of teal yarn existed in my closet and set to finding them. I have a ball of the plum colored wool, but sort of want to save that for one big project. Besides, I was a bit tired of the wheel and wanted something ready to go.

Well...I ran into a lot of yarn I forgot I owned. I always do this. I have 1240 yards of beautiful, red Galway yarn that was supposed to be a sweater. I have another 420 yards of it in the most beautiful shade of green that was supposed to be gloves. There are several skeins of Nashua Creative Focus--green, gray, blue, pink, you name it and I own it! I didn't open the sock box. I have enough going on without opening that box of worms. This is only a wee bit of what I own. The bulk of the spinning fiber is in my bedroom closet with the cedar and lavender.

The last photo is of stuff I never really use anymore. Straights? Uh-uh..too clumsy. Wood circs? No, I'm partial to my Addis and Knit Pick Options. What's a girl to do with this surplus of knitting goodness? Well, today I'm going to sort through it all, package what I don't use and ship it to someone who will do something with it all. Even though I promised her I'd do this last week, I don't think Jadekitty will mind the wait. I promise, it'll be worthwhile. She's teaching her siblings how to knit and I'm quite sure she'll appreciate the options for needles and probably more than few different yarns to choose from.

I hope she has more storage space than me.