Saturday, January 31, 2009

Dukealicious Dog

You would have thought we had a near catastrophic event with Duke and Rachel today. The dog was snoozing, which is what he does almost all day long now, when Rachel crawled along the floor, and used the sofa where he was napping to pull her self up. Startled, Duke yelped, jumped up, and landed on the world's loudest squeaky toy. The racket scared the hell out of all of us, including Duke. Thoroughly annoyed, Duke kicked the squeaky toy off the sofa and looked at all of us with suspicion and obvious disdain, then he yawned and went back to sleep. He's a funny boy when he sleeps-always chasing something with those long legs going a hundred miles an hour. Maybe he's dreaming of times he was capable of running like the wind.

Ever watchful and alert, except when he's napping (we've already established that's just about all day long), Duke likes to keep an eye on the barbarian activity (squirrels and rabbits) in the yard. I think he also keeps an eye on the farmer. Same difference.  Those two never really hit it off. When Duke was just a wee little hot dog on stilts (that's what he looked like), we tried to crate him. He would let loose with a symphony of dog noise only the deaf could ignore. One day, my husband was working in his home office and crated the puppy (he had a hankering for expensive shoes). The dog scratched, cried, yipped, squealed and howled for 20 minutes. Certain we were beating the spoiled little beast, Mr. Farmer hopped the fence to see why the dog was carrying on. Even though the man was there to rescue him if need be, the pup never liked him. He still doesn't care much for him-or his dogs.

With the exception of beef tenderloin, there was one thing this dog seemed to love above everything else: chasing shovels full of snow that we'd toss to him. For us this was a chore, but for him, it was a game he loved. My son used to take him in the yard for an hour and throw snowballs. Duke never tired of it, but when frostbite threatened, my son would throw in the towel. Duke always won in the stamina department. He still loves snow, but instead of catching snowballs these days, he sticks to eating it off the table I always forget to put away in the fall. Since it's the only time he's allowed to eat from the table, I can't say I blame him. He's still a handsome boy, and even if he can't chase snowballs anymore, at least he still gets to run after them in his dreams.

Today's therapy is a pair of thrummed mittens in Cascade 220 and Louet Merino roving.  This is as good for my soul as watching Dukealicious eat snow.  For today, it doesn't get better than this.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Preconceived Notions

Haldol-affectionately known by nurses far and wide as Vitamin H

I have some ideas about how I think things should be done in my nursing practice. I'm always willing to learn new techniques and treatments, and most things don't make me feel uncomfortable. Palliative sedation makes me squirm-just a bit. To me, there seems such a fine line between sedating for symptom management and euthanasia.

Awhile ago, we had a patient whose family requested a sedation drip-the patient was crying constantly from multi-factorial pain, both physical and psychic. Who among us would not suffer psychic pain in the face of uncontrolled physical pain? This particular patient had a pretty potent narcotic drip, going at a rate that would give my ICU sisters palpitations, and still rated pain a 10/10. Can you imagine giving 60 mg (yes, sixty) of Dilaudid every hour? Let me put it another way-it's roughly equal to 400 mg of IV Morphine every hour. Holy Smokes! That's a lotta drug! We were also giving large doses of Ativan orally and still, this patient wouldn't, or couldn't sleep. Being sort of fresh from ICU, where I saw confusion on a daily basis, I suspected drug induced psychosis. The family was convinced it was all from cancer. I asked what worked outside of narcotics for pain and they told me Advil. Well damn, give the patient Advil. Opiates aren't always the ideal drug for nerve pain, sometimes what we keep in our medicine cabinets works best. A simple anti-inflammatory worked well for this patient. A little Vitamin H (Haldol), reversed what turned out to be drug induced psychosis. We fixed that patient, the family stopped discussing sedation drips, and I skirted that pesky sedation issue which makes me uncomfortable. The Dilaudid drip is still going.

Last night, I started my first palliative sedation case. This one was pretty black and white, and I only felt slightly squeamish starting this drip-but that didn't stop me from reading as much literature as I could get my hands on. I was so nervous, my hands were shaking a bit while I programmed the pump. I checked the pump programming against the orders 3 times. I was sedating the brain of a patient who was constantly seizing despite all of the medications we'd tried. I've sedated patients for years, but they were usually on a ventilator. If this drip makes this patient stop breathing, what will I have done? No wonder I can't sleep at night.

I know some of you may not know what I'm rambling on and on about, but thanks for reading it anyways. I had to get it out so that my mind can rest...

Keep knitting Rudee. *K2, place thrum, wrap and knit.* Repeat from * to *.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Depth Perception

Pretty soon, there'll be no fence between Duke and Mr. Farmer

Ignoring the basket of languishing works in progress, I’ve cast on another neck warmer. I was envious of Mareseatoats’ soft wool so I went looking in my stash for some of my own.  I found what was leftover from a scarf I knit my friend Sr. Jeanne. This one is in a lovely lavender alpaca, which isn’t a bulky weight yarn, so it’s being knit double stranded.  It's incredibly soft and comforting.

For this week, I’ve needed something soothing to knit. My young hospice patient isn’t doing so well. The nurses have been visiting her and her family day and night, and the evening visits have fallen to me. While part of me wants to be the one on duty when it’s time, the other part of me just dreads the call. I find myself updating my laptop twice a day to see if she’s fallen off my roster. This case just breaks my heart--so I knit-- while thinking about and praying for her release from suffering. I hate cancer.

A Chill in the Air

There’s been some knitting at the house of Rudee. This is a completed neck warmer I’ve done in a sweet pattern, courtesy of Mareseatoats. The pattern called for a bulky yarn so I thought I’d use up the remainder of my Lamb’s Pride bulky in amethyst. Mares made hers in a beautiful gray alpaca. Hers was prettier with a beautiful drape. Mine has amazing stitch definition. I like them both. Although I finished knitting mine, I have to find some suitable buttons-that means going to stores that probably sell yarn. I’m trying hard to be good. Really, I am.

I’m still working on my Michelle socks, and while they’re very pretty, it’s a slow go with US size 1 needles. To me, it’s like knitting with toothpicks. It would help if I’d wear my glasses when I knit them but I just don’t. Stubborn. I’ve finished working the heel and gusset decreases of the first sock. I’m near the end but the thought of making another one on these twig sticks has me down. I’m not defeated yet though so there is still hope this sock will have a mate.

We’re expecting some weather tonight. We’ll get a glancing blow by the storm that’s leaving devastation in its wake as it races across the middle of the country. I guess we’re blessed it won’t be worse. Just a few inches of snow and none of the ice that other areas are dealing with. My Ohio pals are in my thoughts. Stay safe. The weather makes working on the road a daily challenge. I never know what I’ll run into-literally. Last night, I went to see my young patient and parked in front of their house. It was dark and I thought I was parking in slush. I stepped out of the car and into about 4 inches of water-it was frozen on top but quickly gave way to some ankle deep water. Last week I went to her house and dropped my keys in a snow bank. I felt lucky to find them. I’m not complaining, but jeeze, whatever happened to a January thaw?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Much ado About Nothing

I don't have a whole lot to talk about, so I thought I'd talk about other people  and things for a bit.  Even my snow blowing farmer has let me down by failing to give me writing fodder.  It's supposed to snow a bit tonight and tomorrow so there is still hope.

While driving home tonight, I heard the news about the woman in California who gave birth to octuplets.  If you ask me, eight is a litter.  And she plans to breast feed them all.  I hope she has more equipment than the two tools we're normally given at birth.  I don't know about you, but I found one at a time more than enough to manage; I can't imagine breast feeding 8 babies simultaneously.  Doctors expressed shock at the birth of the eight-they were only expecting seven.  I ask you, what difference does that make?  Shock should be expressed when you're expecting one and deliver eight.

Along the same lines, there has been advertising about Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar's son getting married.  This is the couple from Arkansas who've had 18 children.  Lord, I don't know how they do it.  They've made a living from showing their lives on TV and now, the upcoming wedding of their son will be televised.  I wonder if they're going to run out of names that begin with the letter J.  They name all their kids with J names.  Do you think we'll see future episodes of this show with stories about how Michelle's uterus has prolapsed?  Forgive me if I don't get it.  I just don't.  Do you get it?

There seems to be scientific proof that drinking red wine really is good for us.  Scientists think they've isolated the chemical and soon, we'll be able to take a pill or two that will do the same thing that the chemical can.  No thanks, I'd rather trust nature and just drink my medicine.  

I'm going to have a glass of medicine and go to bed.  Maybe my brain just needs to rest.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Nap Time

I can't quite believe the weekend is over. Two weeks ago, I asked my husband if we could go up north this weekend. He could ski, I could knit, and we'd just be gone.  Away.  Those plans changed with a call from the woman who is in charge of organizing the task of pulling 4 women together who will live in our home.  We kept calling and checking to see if they'd found anyone and they'd tell us they were working on it.  The process seemed incredibly slow though all of a sudden, it seemed so fast.

One of the young women is completely delightful, very high functioning and it would seem, a perfect fit.  Another woman seemed perfect too but our house isn't handicap equipped in areas like the shower and home entry.  Although she is ambulatory, I'm afraid our home won't fit her needs, and I don't have the funds to make those areas accessible.  The last young lady had a very scary father.  I was glad both the dog and my husband were in the house.  I'm serious.   While I was showing her the bedrooms, she seemed shy and reluctant to step inside to look at them so he just shoved her into one of the rooms.  Hard.  I was completely baffled by his rude behavior and his abrasive/abusive nature.  Even though he wouldn't be the one living here, I don't think I'd want him coming around to visit.  Very bad karma there.  I don't want to penalize his daughter and feel compelled to say no to this arrangement, but on the other hand, maybe she just needs to be rescued.   Is that my job?  I'll have to think hard about this one.

Just about the time I felt ready to fall apart, my sister Mareseatoats waltzed in.  I've not seen her since November and although she was my brother's 50th birthday surprise, her presence was like a gift to me.  The timing was perfect.  After the visitors left, we baked a birthday cake, cooked a stew and knit the day away.  My brothers came for dinner and it was pretty comforting to be surrounded by all of the people I love on such a difficult day.  While we weren't away up north, it was good just to be home with family.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

On The Inside

This is a picture of what I think my stomach and maybe my nerves look like.   We have 4 young women and their families coming in to look at our home Saturday morning.  Every square inch of the house has been scrubbed.  My back is sore and my hands are raw, but not as raw as the way I feel on the inside.

The case manager called and told me not to worry.  She said everyone is nervous.  I'm just hoping for things to go smoothly and for everyone to hit it off.  I've a lot going for weekend plans.  I'll try to update before, but if I can't, see ya Monday.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Brenda tagged me to play along with 6 things you probably don't know about me.  I'm having a hard time being clever about this, or being positive.  Usually, it's our best face we put on and hold back the negative.  I'm not so sure I want to tell any secrets.

For instance, did you know I can be a raging hot head?  I think it's a combination of hormones and that Arabic blood.  I've calmed down considerably, but on occasion, I can be a raving lunatic.  I never know when it'll happen, it just does.  At times I've considered exorcism.  I'm sure my victims have considered homicide.  Thank God for waning hormones.  Although some here would disagree, I think I've mellowed considerably.  My daughter went to see a psychic last week, he told her to tell me to calm down.  And I thought I'd mellowed...

I have two, count them, two tattoos.  Oh yes I do.  I wanted to give the nursing home staff something to discuss when I'm all gorked out, and since I don't have breast implants, tattoos will have to suffice.  Incidentally, I can put this out for the whole world to read because my mother is dead now.

Speaking of my mother, I was deeply disappointed when she gave my sister's Chatty Kathy doll away to charity.  It's possible I never recovered from this loss.  Out of spite, I went and got 2 tattoos.

Like Brenda, I have man-sized hands.  My husband calls them my bear paws.  If he thinks I'm heading into a fit of rage (see #1), he will offer me Golden Crisps cereal or donuts to shut me the hell up calm me down.  Since you may not believe I have such big paws, I went shopping today for some new leather gloves.  None of them fit-they were all too small.  I'll have to stick to the same pair I've had for 10 years or shop in the men's department.

I can hold a grudge like nobody's business.  If I feel you have wronged me, I will never speak to you again.  Ever.  We could have been friendly for thirty years or more and that wouldn't matter.  I will stick your name in a jar and throw it in the freezer.  I will then forget all about you.  Really.  On the other hand, I'm a loyal friend.  I won't steal your man, your money, your jewelry or your job.

I routinely bite off more than I can chew.  This happens in every aspect of my life including work, play, home, etc.  I also eat more than I should too and that fits in well here.  

Well, that wasn't so bad.

Thanks Brenda.  This was fun to play after all!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

String Theory

Tonight I saw an elderly woman to provide a little care.  She had the kindest eyes and smile, but could no longer converse.  Just a glimmer of her remaining humanity sparkled briefly in her eyes.   It took me 10 minutes to fix her equipment problem.  Not much time at all.  My patient never said a word while I was working on her, and as I redressed her, she shivered.  I covered her with a blanket, made by her own hand in the most beautiful lace pattern.  As I remarked on her pretty stitch and color work, my patient came alive and talked for 20 minutes about how she knit that blanket.  With cancer stealing her mind, she couldn't talk about anything else, but that's OK.  In spite of the cancer, we found our common denominator and had a long chat about sticks and string.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Winter is an expensive season at Rudee's house. In addition to the costs involved in heating the joint, we go through winter coats like nobody's business.

When last we discussed my little criminal, we talked about her penchant for bookeating. Well, she has costlier habits too. Stinkerbell McZippereater has an issue with winter coats. Really, she doesn't have the issue, my pocketbook does. One by one, this child will destroy the zipper of a winter coat in no time flat. I put her on the bus in the morning with a perfectly good coat, and she comes home in the afternoon with teeth missing. Not her teeth. The zipper teeth. If I were handy with a sewing machine, there wouldn't be a problem. I'm not. 

So far this winter, we are on our third winter coat.  We started the season with an old one we found in the basement that still had teeth in the zipper.  We've since moved on to my coat from two years ago.  Yesterday, her first day back to school since last Tuesday (I kept her home when the temps dipped below zero last week), I put her in my chocolate colored Ralph Lauren coat, and she came home with a half eaten zipper.  I'm not certain where the teeth go, I only know they're gone.

Today, I had to put her in my own pretty red coat.  I think she must have worn it before because there was a snap missing (she likes snaps too).  The zipper works just fine, but without the snap to protect the zipper, I am certain the zipper won't be fine by tonight.

I don't know what Stinker's problem is with the zippers.  I only know a winter coat doesn't last a single season.  When I shop for a coat, it has to zip, and it has to have a closure to hide the zipper.  This limits us.  Now that it's late in the season, the pickings are slim when it comes to coats that meet this criteria.  I need to try to find another coat for her to wear so that I can salvage my own before it's too late.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

In The Spirit of Change...

Hark all ye nurses-especially new grads, I am giving away my critical care books. If you've a need to beef up your library, let me know, and I'll send them to a new home. Too bad for you I never bought the AACN Core Curriculum.

I'm starting to pack things up around here and find I no longer have a use for books like this. If you want them, I'm more than happy to give them to you at no charge. Like me, some of these are ever so slightly old, but all purchased within this decade. I'm sure they don't contain info regarding tight glycemic control and sepsis/severe sepsis, but they're still good. And hey, they're free. If nobody wants them, I'll give them to the library.

Email me at rudeek45ATgmailDOTcom-as usual, just substitute AT and Dot with symbols


It's pretty cold in the Big D today, but my heart is full of warmth and hope.  I've been watching the inauguration of President Obama and nothing today, including the weather, leaves me feeling cold.  This may well have been the highlight of the ceremony for me:

Sunday, January 18, 2009

In Dreams

Two hundred and seventy four days ago, I put the Backwards Bush countdown clock up on my site. I can hardly believe it's been that long and that change is finally coming. Over the past nine months or so, I've watched that clock with patience. I got excited at 200 days, 150 days, 100 days and most especially, when it got down to single digit days. Right now, it's at one day and I'm filled with hope. I have hope that the economy will improve and the people I love will find gainful employment. I have hope for people who are facing housing catastrophes. I have hope that we'll see the end of the two wars we fight and people I know will come home for good. I have hope that other nations in the world will once again think of our nation with feelings of good will. It's all a mighty tall order to place in the hands of one man, but I have faith in him.

Off and on this weekend, I've watched the happenings in Washington and I am amazed. I simply can't believe how far we've come as a people and as a country. I'm thrilled to be living in such historical times.

In honor of all of the hullaballoo, I've cast on some socks in Schaefer Yarn's Sock The Vote in the Michelle colorway. I love the colors and they do remind me of all the vibrant clothes my new First Lady wears. How fitting this yarn is in turquoise, purple, red and several shades of blue. It's like a rainbow. These will be my socks of hope-I'm going to treasure these.


This post is offered up by my brother. It's awesome.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Thick as a Brick

Non knitters will just have to forgive me for speaking Greek today. If you read this though, it's a story about folly, not a pattern.

Can you tell me what's wrong with the following hat pattern?

Join and knit one round — place stitch marker at beginning of round. Next round: KFB of each stitch (16 sts.). Increase rows — you will increase two stitches on each needle, every other row until you have 112 stitches.

The answer is nothing unless you read it wrong you're particularly thick headed. Like me.

Can you guess which row I was at when I thought this is simply wrong and will never, ever work like this? Answer: Row 4

Can you guess how many rows I knit before I thought I should listen to myself and look at the pattern again because this simply wasn't working? Answer: 16

Do you know how many rows I knit while calling the pattern "stupid"? Answer: 12

I'll admit that I blamed the needle size called for in the pattern. I kept thinking size 5 was way too small for Cascade 220 and a tight knitter like me. I kept saying to myself if I bump it up to a size 7, all will be well. I also thought the pattern stupid because doubling my stitches every other row was making for a very small crown. The increases were coming too fast. There was, finally, the dawn of understanding that no human has a head small enough for this hat. It could only fit a doll. A small doll. Denial can be a slippery slope leading to knitting ruin.

The problem is I did the increases in every stitch just like the set up row and then knit a row plain. The result was fabric so dense it hurt my hands to work it. I went at this for at least an hour before I threw in the towel and read the pattern all the way through. Doh! Here is the line of instruction my brain missed: you will increase two stitches on each needle, every other row until you have 112 stitches. Here is how: Yarn over (YO), knit to end of first needle and YO again. Hello? Those increases make lace. Ugh! I'm an idiot!

I thought I would take on this relatively easy pattern before I take on a different one. I've never done mosaic knitting which looks very pretty and simple to do. I am smitten with Romi's hat so I really want to learn the technique and put it to use. Besides, I've lost 2 hats this winter and it seems I'm going to continue to need a hat for awhile.

Today's forecast is for another 4 to 8 inches of new snow. The good news with the weather is the heat wave that's coming with the snow. We're going to a high of 22F. Yippee. Right now, the temp is around 4 degrees.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Talk Me Down

Pinch me already because it seems I'm in a waking state and dreaming.  I'm not certain if it's a good dream, or the makings of a nightmare.  The agency we're working with has found three adult women to move into our home with Miss Rachel.  We've been inching toward this for so long and were not having luck finding roommates for our daughter; the early morning call to give us the news was a complete surprise.  Now I feel like I'm on a runaway train.

Next week, we'll meet the women individually with their guardians or parents to see if we'll have a good fit here with them.  I'm nervous.  I'm not anxious about me liking them, I'm anxious they'll not like me or the house.  How crazy is that?  I really want this to work out alright and I'm getting my hair in a knot thinking things won't work.   As a family, we've had so many hard knocks that it's accepted thought that something will go wrong.  I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop and for the universe to kick me back into my place.  I must be very cheeky to think it's finally time to live a normal sort of life.

We've been casually looking for a house to move into ourselves and now I'm thinking, what do I take and what do I leave?  They won't have much to make it a home if I take it all.  I can't leave the antiques-those absolutely have to go with us.  So does the dog.  My yarn.  My knitting books.  My favorite reads.  What about the junk in the kitchen?  What do I take?  The Kitchen Aid, the coffee pot, and the Cuisinart all have to go.  My Global knives. My All-Clad pots.  My art.  My Tempurpedic bed.  It's hard to separate the wheat from the chaff because what may seem of little value, may actually be quite special.  Things like the cutting board my son made for me, or the pottery my daughter made in grade school are all precious.

I don't even know where to begin and suddenly feel quite nauseous about it all.  Of course I'm solely focused on the concrete things that make a house a home, but what I think is really making me spin is the thought of whether or not this is the right thing for our daughter.  It is, right?  She deserves to attempt to blossom.  She needs to have a place in a home in the event we weren't here anymore.  I've seen what happens when families fail to plan, and their kids end up in nursing homes or institutions.  I'd be broken hearted if this happened to her.  This way, we have control and she has a real home.

Selfishly, can it really be time for me?  For us?  It's been so hard to stay glued together when it seemed so many times, the sky was falling.  Can we really have the freedom we've wanted for so many years? It may not seem like a big deal to most people, but even running up to a convenience store at midnight has taken planning for us.  Can we really just pick up and run to Toronto or Chicago for a weekend?  Slap me silly!  I can't believe it's true.

Think About It

This is your brain
. Mine too.

This is the brain of a knitter. Really.

You can read about the psychiatrist who knit this amazing brain here. I wonder, do you think she was overcome by fiber fumes when she took this project on?

Photos: google images

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Let me just say, I would never in a million years make a good pioneer.  This weather is disgustingly cold and driving in it is a nightmare.  I know I sound whiney but think I have good reason.  At least the sun is shining today but even with help from above, the high will only be 5 degrees with a wind chill factor well below zero.  The sun is certain to create driving problems for the night shift tonight.  It'll work with the cars and salt to create just enough snow and ice melt that will immediately refreeze when the sun goes down again. 

There isn't enough wool in my closet to deal with this cold.

Photo: Julo


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rescue Me Before I Fall Into Despair

OK friends, we have absolutely zero chance of finding a message in a bottle if we stick around here all winter. Can I entice you with the following photos and prices?

The pool at a Fort Myer's, Florida resort. Air, hotel and car come in at around $500 a piece. I'm thinking it's time to spend some of what I've saved by not dying my hair anymore. What do you think about this plan?

Historical highs for the end of February through March are around 80 degrees. Lows are  around 60. Yes, fresh would be the word I use to describe the evening temps.

There is a 14% chance of precipitation. A 0% chance of temperatures greater than 90 or lower than freezing. There is a 100% chance alcoholic beverages will be consumed, and that someone will make a fool of themselves and forever cement a new rocking chair memory into place. There is a 50% chance someone will earn a new vacation name. There is a 100% chance that old vacation songs will be enjoyed and that a new one will forever remind us of a weekend in the sun. There is a 100% chance that we will laugh. There is an equal chance that someone will cry. There is absolutely no chance that this nurse will spend even one moment in an emergency room. Lest we forget:
  • there will be no time savings appreciated if one wears a bathing suit on the plane and the rubber in the elastic lining melts and subsequently becomes glued onto the skin. God-I've got some funny vacation memories. I wish I had a picture to match.
  • one must always watch where one is walking-ERs suck and especially while on vacation.  A hangover is not an excuse for falling off your high heels and slipping into the gutter.
  • one must always tuck away regular eyeglasses when leaving the condo for the day or once again, we will give new meaning to, "I Wear My Sunglasses at Night."
In the spirit of our girl vacation traditions, I place the following song into contention for the vacation song of 2009:

Now call me so we can book this trip!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

So About Last Night...

My street under the full moon and after the storm on Saturday night.

The stars were in alignment for me last night. I had a bad back day from the moment I woke up. I think it was from taking down the tree and decorations, carrying heavy boxes, vacuuming, mopping the floor, slouching while I knit, etc. You get the idea. It took me hours to get to a place where I wasn't saying, "my back is killing me." The funny thing is, it's not my back that hurts, it's my thigh and knee that hurt from referred nerve pain. I thought about calling in sick, but I didn't want to waste a day off. My first page came before the start of my shift and said I had no assignments. Just on-call. Woo-hoo! Good thing I didn't waste a sick day. This kind of day is a rarity for me as I usually have a full dance card by the time I start my shift. The rest of the night sort of went the same way and allowed me to catch up on all that paper work that accompanies a career in home care.

I need to keep reminding myself how much I like what I'm doing during these winter months. I do not enjoy my commutes during the snowy nights we've had. Getting stuck is a huge worry. I've even considered leasing an SUV from a car rental place-especially after I nearly rear ended a car on the freeway Friday night. I think I slid for a good 10 feet before the brakes engaged and the tires found purchase on the snow covered pavement. I'm trying to talk myself out the rental-that money could buy a lot of yarn or even a trip someplace balmy. OK, I talked myself out of it. I'll take my chances on Detroit's side streets if I can go someplace more tropical for a long weekend.

Back to last night, I've forgiven Jack and I finished THE hat. In fact, I finished two. The flowers and leaves aren't completely done, but I thought I'd give you a sneak preview. I finished the one with the red top Sunday night and once done, I realized it was way too big for this baby's head. It will find a new home, or maybe I'll give it to her for next year. I was in gauge denial and now, I have a hat that would fit a 3 year old. I could rip it out but I think it's cute so I won't.

My blogger friend Brenda wrote about a sock that had to become a hat last week. I wanted to show her my sock issues (below) so she'd know her problems are just growing pains with her knitting. The sock on the left is from the spruce pair I just finished (it fits like a glove). The sock on the right, which would have fit Andre the Giant, is in acrylic. It was my first sock and I refuse to throw it away. It won't shrink because it isn't wool; it holds no shape and is hideous. But it's my first so I love it anyways. Like many firsts, it holds a special place in my heart-I even remember when I knit the beasts. I was hijacked by my daughter, her best friend and my best friend to Chicago so that I could turn 50 in a city other than Detroit. I knit a good part of this pair of socks on that trip. I'm showing it to Brenda so that she won't give up. Brenda, that wasn't even two years ago. Just know, practice makes perfect and gauge can be your friend-even though she's also a bitch.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I Waited 2 Years for This?

Dear Jack:

Two years is a long time to wait for someone.  I think it's rather arrogant that you'd think I'd wait that long and be loyal.  It's not like you were locked up somewhere in China this time. You've led me on for weeks now-sneaking tidbits in to entice me to come back.  You think just like that, I'll drop what I'm used to doing on Sunday nights now and come running back to you.  Shamefully, like a whipped dog, I did just that.  I have to tell you though, the mojo was gone and  I'm not impressed.  In fact, I was a bit bored with it all.  I'll give you one more shot to impress me tomorrow night, but if you don't, you're going the way of Dr. Doug Ross, McDreamy and House.  You'd better bring your best game.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Can You Stand It?

I have more pictures from a day in the life of Nurse Rudee. As I began working last night, it began to snow. Just enough to muck up rush hour and give me a white knuckle drive to the opposite side of town. Then it stopped. When I went to sleep last night, the weather men were predicting disaster by morning. Three to six inches of snow were expected. I think we're at about 9 inches right now. My drive has been cleared 3 times to no avail. It's still coming down and I can't see the drive. Don't you think that sounds like a perfect day to do nothing?

Not even the birds are out today. I think the weather explains their gorging feast of the past couple of days. After the snow, we're expected to descend into an arctic freeze. The critters always do seem to know better than the weather forecasters.

Even the low shrubs in my yard are nearly completely covered. The farmer must be snoozing too because I've not heard seen him yet today. It's past his bedtime now. He must be completely ready for tomorrow's 6 AM wake up call. If I were smart, I'd go to bed now so I could be prepared to wake up then too.

Instead, I'm busy with my needles. I'm making something rather special for one of our hospice doctors. Well, it's for her baby. OK. I admit it. I completely fell off my yarn diet yesterday and gained 300 grams of fiber and that book. Isn't fiber supposed to be good for the diet? I'm weak, weak, weak. And totally in love with this pattern.

So the doctor asked for a hat (after I offered) in red. Do you realize how many shades of red there are in the world? I couldn't decide. Instead, I bought bright red Cascade 220, and lime green and white. I'm going to make one of these hats in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in a cream color and use the red, lime and scraps of stuff I have laying around to make this. Maybe both. Red will be the primary flower color so she'll get the red to go with her baby's coat. The rest will be fluff. Aren't these hats the cutest things?

It's almost 8 PM. The kitchen floor is washed, the dishes are done, and Duke has been waited on and had his dinner cooked for him. Right now, he is in a turkey induced sleep. I'm considering taking down the Christmas tree. I was waiting to see if Someone else would do it, but since Someone was busy and Nobody wanted to take the incentive, I thought I should. Then I thought that over too. I think I'll wait until tomorrow. Maybe Somebody, Someone or Nobody will want to do it then. I'll enjoy it one more night and besides, it looks pretty with all that snow behind it. What's one more day? I'm off to knit some flowers.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Neighborhood Diner

Recently, my front yard tree became a host to some winter robins. They take their fill of berries from the tree, then fly to the gutter to have a little drink.  These birds are so heavy, they look about ready to burst. Last year, there were dozens that descended upon the tree and fleeced it in a couple of hours. Not a single berry was left.  This year, there were only about 6 of them and they were feasting for days.  We were having a fine misty snow when they came by the other day.  Click on the pictures to see them better.  I love those red berries against the gray sky.

Belly up to the bar.

The berries are gone now, and so are the birds.  They've left little in their wake except their own droppings.  Talk about poor manners!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

My Sweet Sebba

This mothering business can be such a hard job. We all do the best we can, but sometimes it seems we can never see the end of things or how it'll all turn out. At times, it all seems like a big crap shoot. Sebba was my first baby. She was always a little head strong and opinionated (I wonder where she got that from?) and despite me, she seems to have turned out OK. She was the one I cut my teeth on as a mother so I'm glad she doesn't seem too scarred from the experience. I was sort of rudderless when raising her, and did it alone for several years to boot. The early teen years were by far, the worst for both of us, but we survived. She has blossomed into a lovely person that I like to think of as a daughter and friend. I hope she feels the same, and if she ends up in therapy, I doubt it'll be because of me and my parenting techniques.

She isn't too fussy. She does enjoy some of the finer things in life, but she works multiple jobs at times to afford them for herself. She doesn't expect someone to do it for her. She isn't spoiled in the least though and can rough it with the best of them. She has walked the Breast Cancer 3 Day-all 60 miles-with never a whine or a whimper. We did cry together on that walk, but it was because of loss. That was the year we suffered multiple and devastating losses. Breast cancer was the cause of one of them.

Sebba has one thing she likes best about herself, and that one single thing now is gone. She lost it today in just a few snips. Soon, it will be part of something that can give another mother's child back her pride and joy. Hair. Her beautiful hair will soon bring something special into a child's life. Today she gave a foot of it to a local Wigs for Kids. Way to go honey. I'm proud of you. I know I'm totally biased, but if you ask me, your hair was and is not your most special asset; your heart is.

I'll knit you another hat to keep your head warm.  I need to knit that sweater just a little bit faster now too.  Thank you Sebba.  That was indeed a most precious gift.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

But I'm Not a Liar

This has been a week for finishing projects around here. The garter stitch scarf, done in many shades of brown and charcoal is done. My spruce socks are done. Clapotis is done and waiting for me to take it to the post office. The front of the green sweater is done and awaiting the back hem and sleeves. We had a fitting today which motivated me to finish. It's stunning. The pink socks are not done. I started this pair while on the Breast Cancer 3 Day. I've pondered their existence ever since.

What a mess....

I've figured out the issue: I don't like doing socks on two circular needles. I think they're a pain in the arse. I have a feeling it's because I taught myself to make them on double points and now, nothing else will suffice except my Takumi Velvet needles. I will persevere and finish them and have been working toward that end. This morning, I completed and turned the heel, and picked up the gusset stitches. The mate isn't yet a twinkle in my eye. I have to get through the first one...ugh. Maybe I should just rip it out and start them the right way. Sometimes this old dog cannot be taught a new trick. I'm just glad I wasn't forced to learn math using an abacus.

There is a bathrobe clad woman who comments here, who seems to think that I am not quite forthright and that perhaps, I exaggerate when I write. I guess, that would make me a liar. I don't recall how she and I first began reading one another's blogs, but if you don't read hers, you should. I always leave there laughing. She commented on my last post that she wanted proof I did not go overboard at the yarn store on Monday. While it isn't the best quality, it plainly shows the truth of the matter. This photo is for Flydragon:

Seven buttons and 1 skein of Brown Sheep Bulky

I need to finish Rachelheimer's mittens with my Monday purchase. The beauty of knitting is that something like this can be made to fit. This child has the most delicate bone structure and store bought items seldom fit. Her fingers and hands are long and narrow. These mitts will fit snugly without slipping off her hands. I think all told, they only take a couple of hours per mitt because they're made with bulky wool. Next up for her will be some thrummed mittens but she'll have to wait for the soldier's socks to be knit. He's next on deck. I hear it's freaking freezing in the desert at night.

One down, a bit of one and a thumb to go. The white on the right mitt is scrap yarn that when pulled out, will free up live stitches to knit a thumb. It's magic. I love knitting mittens.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I Am a Thief

I've stolen the avatar of the winner of my blogiversary contest.  It's Brenda from over at Days of my Life.  For the record, she got every question right and was the first to submit her answers.  Many people tried to win and we threw the names into a hat for Rachel to select the winner.  Brenda won.  I'm happy for her, but not a little sad to see the shawl go.  I'll just have to knit another. 

My Ravelry friend Joyce, warned of this Clapotis addiction.  I think she has knit several of them.  I wonder how many total?  I didn't really listen to her warning, thinking instead that I would knit one and that would be it.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  It's a captivating pattern that requires a bit of attention, but not a whole lot.  It's perfect for knitting while watching a movie.

I went to the yarn store yesterday and bought one skein of Lamb's Pride Bulky to finish the last 2 inches and thumb of a pair of mittens for Rachel.  When I started them, I thought there was enough yarn to finish-I was wrong.   I know, I know-only five days into the new year and I've forsaken my resolution.  Does it count though?  I'd hate to see Rachelheimer have cold fingers and I swear, that single skein, and 7 buttons for Sebba's sweater were the only things I bought.  I didn't even look at the sales items.  That has to count for something.  A sales bin of yarn is where I first met the lovely yarn Sisek.  I fell in love with this yarn and was told it's no longer in production.  When I learned this, I bought 25 skeins of it on ebay in a moment of temporary insanity.  This stash is what I made Brenda's Clapotis from.  (For the record, I think it's progress that I can say it's Brenda's Clapotis and not mine anymore).

So Brenda, please email me your address and I'll ship  your prize for playing along!  When you get it, can we have a picture of you snuggled up in Clapotis?

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Dog Always Nose Best

My Dukealicious Dog is going on 9 this year and he isn't doing so well.  Every time I look at him, he has a new lipoma and limps a little more.  The Tramadol I give him for pain gives him the trots-and not in a good way:  the dog isn't trotting, his gut is-all over my house.  I vacillate about giving him his pain medication.  If I do, he has an upset stomach and if I don't, he's in pain.  Maybe we just need a new drug.

This has been the best dog I've ever had in my life.  He is the sweetest beast and I had my concerns about a Doberman.  They have such fierce reputations that I've found are completely undeserved.  Duke has personality with a capital P.  He is fiercely loyal and protective.  At night, he routinely made the rounds of his pack in their rooms.  If the door was closed, he'd knock with his paw or nose to come in and check.  If you didn't let him check, he'd pace and knock until he won the battle.  He wanted to know everyone was safe.  This work ethic must have been part of his genetic code.  When he was young, I couldn't even pee without him in attendance.  Nowadays, he doesn't even get up to greet me when I come home and he no longer makes the rounds of the bedrooms at night.  He has retired.  I think just like my dying hospice patients, he mostly sleeps all day long.  He still likes to eat and like any good girl of Arab descent, I believe eating and appetite are good cardinal signs.   Despite this, he is thin and his legs have atrophied from disuse due to arthritis.  It's so sad to watch his decline.

He has been the most correct judge of human intent and worthiness.  For the most part, this judgement on his part has been toward my daughter's suitors.  If the dog had an inkling that their character was flawed, or wanting, he'd growl and snarl until he intimidated the young men into leaving the house.  Because he batted 1,000 in respect to ferreting out creeps, for years if my daughter found someone she was particularly fond of, she was afraid to bring him around for the final test with Duke.  This dog's opinion was never wrong and he pretty much disliked them all.  The last serious boyfriend she had was the exception.  He never snarled and let the boyfriend pet him.  He didn't just tolerate the young man, he liked him. This relationship went on for a year and we were all comfortable with things.  I had visions of a fabulous wedding and grandchildren dancing in my head and then abruptly, Duke changed his mind about things.  He sensed what the rest of us couldn't see.  Two weeks later, the young man was out of our lives because his feelings had changed.  Duke knew it first and when he first sensed it, he had snapped at him, almost snagging his ear.  This was a rare behavior for my dog.  He never bit anyone, but wanted to this time.  Maybe he was hurt too.

Sometimes, the people he likes surprise me.  He has a thing for Mr. Larger Than Life.  I'm surprised only because MLTL doesn't like my dog.  He barely tolerates Duke.  To the dog, this is a challenge he has never turned down.  He's made it his mission to make my father in law like him.  I don't think it'll ever happen.

I'm feeling badly about my dog's suffering.  When and where should I draw the line?  When he can no longer get up?  When he stops eating?  How can I tell he has had enough and my forcing him to do things satisfies only me and not him?  I've got to tell you, this one hurts.  I know to some, he is just a dog, but to me, he is my companion and a part of my pack. 

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sooner or Later

Clapotis unblocked. About 24 additional inches are hanging down the back of the chair.

Tomorrow is my blogiversary. One year already! If you meant to get around to playing 20 questions but haven't started or finished, you have until midnight tomorrow. Clapotis is finished and while intended to be a scarf, with the yarn and needles I selected to use, it has blocked out to shawl size-74 X 29 inches (188 X 74cm). This shawl is beautiful and soft. Knit with Dalegarn Sisek (about 30% wool, 30% mohair and 30% acrylic-the rest is nylon), the piece is mainly black with flecks of primary colors throughout. It's cozy too. As I've been finishing this piece, I've had it draped over me like a blanket and I can vouch for its warmth.

Clapotis-chilling out after a dip in Soak and water.

My Clapotis isn't without one or two minor flaws where I picked up a stitch (part of the pattern) and think I twisted it. I defy you to find those flaws. In keeping with my New Year's resolution to lighten up on myself, I am letting the flaws be part of the charm-instead of forcing myself to fix the damn things. Additionally, the flaws were unnoticeable until the end when the stitches were dropped. I think after all, the end should be the end. There are two and unless you go looking for them stitch by stitch, you'll not find them-besides, they're hidden in the ripples. You can let the error of my new found ways be a part of the charm for you too.

Flawed but perfect anyways. Vanilla flavored socks in Spruce Bearfoot

Also in the completed but imperfect list are the spruce socks. They are not being given away, they're for me. Amazingly, these have a couple of mistakes I refused to fix too. This is so not like me. Usually, if I can't fix a mistake, I rip it out and restart. Here, I purled some of what I should have knit doing the ribbed cuff and thus, threw the pattern off. That's what I get for knitting while watching TV and not my hands. It's not that mistakes in my knitting aren't usual, what's amazing is that I'm letting them stand. Cudos to me because only 4 days into the new year, I'm keeping a promise to myself. Please remind me of this promise in the days, weeks and months to come, when I'm sure to allow the perfectionist back in and beat myself up over something so trivial.

If you want to be warm by Friday, you need to get busy. There are a few of you who have posted correct entries and Miss Rachel will draw them AFTER her breakfast on Tuesday morning. One of you will be cloaked in warmth for the rest of winter. Send your entries to rudeek45(at)gmail(dot)com. You know to substitute the correct symbols for at and dot. Good luck.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

I'm Up Already!!!

Dear Mr. Larger Than Life:

Has it ever occurred to you that when people don't answer your calls bright and early in the morning, that they may still be sleeping?  I didn't think so.  I know everyday is Saturday for you, but it only comes once a week for me.  I was lingering in bed and snoozing my life away.  It felt pretty good until you called.  And called.  And called.  And called.

If you call once and nobody answers, do you think you could leave a message so we know what it is that you wanted, or needed, or maybe just where the fire was?  I think a message would be better than calling, hanging up, and calling back again until someone answers, don't you?  In event of emergency, don't wait for us.  Hang up and call 911.  We'll figure it out-especially if you've left a message.

What exactly is the purpose of driving to a home you've just called when nobody answered?  Are you counting cars in the drive?  Was there a disaster somewhere that you had to tell us about?  Is there a reason behind a drive by honking?  I mean really, it's Saturday for my neighbors too and only Mr. Farmer is up as early as you.  I dare say, though they'd never tell me, the neighbors don't like it when you pull up to my home and lay on the horn.  If we didn't answer the phone, we aren't too likely to answer the horn.  Especially if we are still sleeping.

For the love of God, could you please find a hobby?


One Exhausted Nurse

Friday, January 2, 2009

How Did You Get Here?

There is no shame in not knowing; the shame lies in not finding out.
Russian Proverb

Is it rude to look at photos in someone's home when they're out there on display? I think if you care enough to put the pictures out, you care enough that someone, even a relative stranger, looks at them.

I love the photos from ages past that link us to our histories. While at one of my visits on New Year's Eve, the woman of the house showed me the pictures of her father, his siblings and their mother from over a hundred years ago. The family was from the deep south. Most of the children in the photo, and there were eight of them, didn't have shoes on their feet because they couldn't afford them. The woman's grandmother had been born a slave. Every child she told me, had a different father and it wasn't by choice. Even though slavery had ended, the treatment these people endured had not. The photo took my breath away, but not as much as the story did. That was a terrible time in the history of our country. This woman told me she is not resentful at all, but if she were, I wouldn't blame her. She considers herself as much a woman of Irish heritage as she is African American.  She is proud of her roots.

I met some people this week who'd immigrated to this country from Russia in the mid 90s. They had no family pictures hanging on their walls and none adorning tables.  I always look.  They had beautiful modern art-but nothing to remind them of the past that was out for all to see. I don't know why. You'd think since I'm nosy, I'd have asked.  I didn't ask why they came here because for most immigrants, the story is the same: for a better life.  Even though this house outwardly showed little of their heritage, the proof that they cling to tradition in that home was strong-beginning with complete devotion to their aging loved ones.  For whatever reason, I bonded with this family.  They kept apologizing for their broken English and I kept telling them their English was better than my Russian.  Though most starts of care are fairly somber, this one wasn't.  They were very accepting of what the outcome would eventually be and quite relaxed about it all.  I will tell you, that was the most fun I've had at a start of care and I was sorry to leave their home to go out in the snow and cold. I was taught a few Russian words, hugged, plied with chocolate and offers of food, vodka and champagne. If it had been the end of my shift, I'd have taken the vodka. I'm not a complete fool, I accepted the chocolate.

My cousin sent this photo of my own grandparents who would have been in their late twenties at the time. It was probably taken in 1918 or 1919. My dad and Aunt Betty weren't there yet and my grandparents were married in 1914. That's Aunt Tina (she of the nut bread recipe) at around the age of 4, and Aunt Edna at the age of 2, is in Grandpa's lap. I think the young man was my Grandpa's cousin. My grandmother was from the south (Peddlar Mills, VA) and my grandfather immigrated from Turkey. What? I always thought he'd immigrated from Lebanon. My cousin sent his citizenship document and it said Turkey was his country of origin. I'm not so certain that's accurate. He may have come here via Turkey but I don't believe that's where he was born.  This is an instance where written and official documents don't line up with the oral history.

Connie and David met at the boarding house where she worked in Richmond. I wonder if their marriage would have been scandalous given the time and place. She was a southerner and he was a handsome immigrant with a "dark complexion" (see top document) who obviously, swept her off her feet. I have stronger memories of my grandmother than I do of my grandfather.  I was pretty young when he passed away and he'd been ill for awhile. I'm sorry I didn't play 1,000 questions when they were both still alive to gather more information about the origins of our family.  I learned more about my grandfather when we cleaned out my mom and dad's home after they passed away.  We found many Masonic items that had belonged to Grandpa.  How does a man who immigrated from Turkey become a Mason?

Connie's father fought in the civil war. He had to be very young during the war, and she was born rather late in his life.  As a northerner, I found it incredible that my great grandfather had been a Confederate soldier.  I don't ever recall discussions of her family owning slaves. Given that she came from a rather poor area of the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, that isn't likely. At least I hope it isn't. One thing is certain, we can't retract the actions of our ancestors, we can only strive to rectify the things from the past that weren't quite right.  I'm glad I don't have to explain away Thomas Jefferson's actions.  How could someone who embraced freedom and wrote so eloquently about it, have maintained a lifestyle afforded only by keeping slaves?  One hundred and eighty seven of them.  How could he have sired children he then kept as slaves?  If you look at the last sentence  of my grandfather's citizenship papers, you'll see it says, "In testimony whereof the seal of said court is hereunto affixed on the 7th day of January in the year of our Lord Nineteen Hundred and Twenty-One and of our Independence the One Hundred and Forty-Fifth."  It took much less time for David to become a full fledged citizen of our country than it did the slaves who were born here.

Tell me, and only because I'm incredibly nosy, what kind of family legacy do you have?  Have you taken the time to query your parents and grandparents?  If not, and you still can, don't let the grass grow under your feet.  You may never get another chance to get at the truth.