Saturday, May 30, 2009

For Love of the Game

My love of the game of hockey came from my brother. Sure my parents liked hockey, but they didn't play. My brother did, both on a league, and in the hallway of my parent's home. The words, "He Shoots...He Scores," echoed throughout the house all day long. As he grew up, he gave up playing hockey, both the real thing and the pretend games, developing instead, a love of golf.

I miss watching the games with my brother (and my mother, too). Instead, I settle for play by play texts throughout the game. It's almost as good as watching a game with him. Almost. There are usually some off color remarks, maybe some cursing and a lot of cheering in his texts. Every time I get one, I can hear him saying the words. I think he should have been an announcer. He certainly has the enthusiasm for it.

In the event you couldn't possibly care less, but maybe read this out of politeness, today is game one of the Stanley Cup Final between Detroit and Pittsburgh. Home ice advantage goes to the Wings.

Thanks, Fudge, for sharing your love of this game and for your texts during each playoff game. It makes the watching more fun. Oh, and Fudge, you're right- NBC coverage sucks. I'm going back to the Canadian channel.

Update: Wings take game one.

Rode Hard

What a week it's been for your friendly on call hospice nurse. I haven't been worked this hard in awhile. I'm not whining much though, I like the overtime pay, I just don't like it in a holiday week. They don't pay OT until we hit 40 hours and since I had Monday off with pay that comes out of a different bank of time, I won't hit 40 hours. I guess my two hours of OT will be paid at straight time. Oh well, it funds my vice.

For some reason, around 9 PM tonight, I had an overwhelming desire to throw my phone down an elevator shaft. I was trying to write orders, manage calls for problems that should have been handled during the day, and smile at doctors giving me walk-by referrals. I swore every time my phone rang and as soon as it was silent, I thought about it ringing and because I thought about it ringing, it did. It was a no-win situation.

Time to stop b!tching.

You remember this, right? It was my fledgling shawl just a couple of weeks ago.

It looks like this now and I don't think my best friend can continue to call it a shower cap anymore. It's beyond that. Once again, I've lost count of the stitches, but at least I'm on top of the rows. I am being encouraged to finish it and enter it in the Michigan State Fair. It makes my heart beat fast to think it even stands a chance. I'm worried that just like the phone ringing when I think about it curse, that something will happen to burst my bubble with this shawl. Best not to not think of entering it in a fair until I've knit the last stitch.

I've been spinning this week too, but if you want to see what I've been doing with my Ladybug, you're going to have to go look here. Yes, the hyperlink color is a clue.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Sometimes I Wonder

Some days I find myself traveling  to some of the worst zip codes in the city of Detroit.  There are many nights when I'm gone for hours and most nights, not a soul in the world knows where I'm located.  I don't think too much about it anymore, unless I know the house already and expect at least a little trouble.  If that's the case, I tell at least one person where I'm heading-usually my east side colleague.

Tonight I left the house at 11:15 PM-for the only kind of call that gets a hospice nurse out that late at night.  An hour and a half later, as I was driving home, the phone rang.  It was my son checking on me before he went to bed.  

Isn't that supposed to be the other way around?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Now That's What I'm Sayin'

The boys in red have put Chicago to bed
And brought home a trophy to boot.
Sad to say, it's not the one that they want
They're looking for shinier loot.

Detroit is going to the Stanley Cup Finals for the 6th time in 14 years.  Way to go Wings!  As an aside to Pittsburgh, we've ordered extra octopi to throw on your ice-better bring your best game.  Not only do we have the squid for luck, but we didn't touch the Campbell Cup.  Word has it, you guys celebrated your win by molesting your cup and sealed the curse.  You'll not hoist any other cups this year. 

Get your butt to Detroit, Grapes.  The color commentary has been absolutely dreadful without you. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Too Much Blood in His Alcohol Level

Since neighbors have been an issue for us for the past 15 years, it should come as no surprise that we have some neighbor issues over at the new place.  I swear- I don't go looking for trouble, but perhaps, upon reflection, I may be a s#!t magnet.  I'm almost sure of it.

Last night, at 1:30 in the morning, I heard wailing.  Coming out of a deep sleep, my first thought was that as cute as he is, Mr. Mocha Latte is a pain in the butt, and what I was hearing was a cat fight.  As the noise became louder, accompanied by pounding, it became clear that this was not two cats going at it, it was decidedly human noise interfering with my slumber.  I think it was the repeated use of the F word.  And the MF word.  Maybe it was the BS word.  Anyway, as a screen door slammed and the voices trailed down the street, I thought I'd heard the worst of  this heated discussion, so I went back to sleep.

At 1:40, just as I was drifting off, the voices returned with a vengeance and so did the pounding.  Thoroughly irritated, I got out of bed and tried to wait it out.  After 15 minutes, the situation was going downhill, so we called the police.  I think the entire on duty police force showed up, indicating that perhaps we weren't the only ones calling for an end to this middle of the night nonsense-every house in the neighborhood was lit up like it was Christmas. The officers were very cordial to the drunkard next door.  They gave him every opportunity to stop shouting and encouraged him to go inside and go to bed.  For about 10 minutes, they cajoled him and comforted him in his stupor.  Once again, the neighborhood was quiet, so they turned to leave.  The officers didn't even get to their squad cars when the dolt started screaming out his profanities again. Funny though, he did quiet down right away when they cuffed him and dragged him off to the local jail.  God bless those boys in blue.

I can pick 'em, can't I?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Love and War

There are few love letters that match the haunting quality of the one Sullivan Ballou wrote to his wife Sarah, and Ken Burns later made more famous in his series, The Civil War.

July the 14th, 1861
Washington D.C.

My very dear Sarah:

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days—perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.

Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure—and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine O God, be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing—perfectly willing—to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.

But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows—when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children—is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country?

I cannot describe to you my feelings on this calm summer night, when two thousand men are sleeping around me, many of them enjoying the last, perhaps, before that of death—and I, suspicious that Death is creeping behind me with his fatal dart, am communing with God, my country, and thee.

I have sought most closely and diligently, and often in my breast, for a wrong motive in thus hazarding the happiness of those I loved and I could not find one. A pure love of my country and of the principles have often advocated before the people and "the name of honor that I love more than I fear death" have called upon me, and I have obeyed.

Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me—perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar—that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.

Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.

But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the garish day and in the darkest night—amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours—always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.
Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.

As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father's love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue-eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters. Tell my two mothers his and hers I call God's blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children.


On this Memorial Day, I give thanks to the men and women who have given their lives so that I may live in a nation where I enjoy freedom.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My Staycation, so far...

One of us is working this weekend, so both of us have stayed in town. I haven't left my Ladybug's side (or front), since I picked it up, except to go to work on Friday. I have this to show for it. Eighty two yards of 2 plied Mountain Colors Targhee in Indian Corn colorway. This represents half of what I've spun. I need to ply the rest of it tomorrow. I've done enough today.

While the Cap Shawl has finally entered the second portion of the main body, I wouldn't call it the home stretch. I'm on row 98 of 171 and have 450 live stitches on the needles. It suffered a bit of an accident, requiring minor surgery (what life line?). Seems someone, despite proper prior planning, misread the chart. It's not easy to knit lace backwards, but we are back on track. I'm sorry I've lost track of the stitches, but it's somewhere in the 20,000 range-not including the ones that were un-knit and then re-knit. I'll count them up again before I'm done.

How about a second look at the first offerings from my Ladybug? I know. I can't get enough either. It's skeined now, and waiting for the rest to be plied before it gets a bath to set the twist.

It wouldn't be right to close without a shout out to the Red Wings. Way to go guys. Bring it home and put those boys away now. If you've lost track, it's Detroit 3, Chicago 1 in a best of seven series. Never underestimate the old guys-there is something to be said for experience and a posse of Swedes.

Friday, May 22, 2009

It's Only Money

Or, it's a decorative feature and gives people in the house something to talk about.

Or, as Grandma said, "idle hands are the devil's workshop."

Or, it's cheaper than a therapist. And when a session is done, I have something to show for it besides tear soaked tissues and an empty bank account.

Or, it's one step closer to the sheep farm.

Whatever the excuse, I can now say it's mine. I took the plunge and bought the Schacht Ladybug after playing with a Louet, an Ashford Kiwi and a Schacht Matchless. I love the Fred Flintstone foot-like treadles. Love. It.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I'm Repeating Myself

Today I watched the president speak, and not coincidentally, I watched the man who will never be president speak too.  I am so over Dick Cheney, and I can't figure out why the rest of the nation, and media too, can't seem to get enough of him.  He is a divisive, bitter, and angry little man.  But hey, I'm not the only one who feels this way.  In honor of my mother in law, and at the risk of boring those who've seen this before, I'm repeating this post today:


Once in a while, I'll see someone who appears familiar to me but really, I don't know that person. If they resemble someone famous, I'll form an immediate opinion about the unknown person based on how I feel about the celebrity. I know a lot of people who do this and when it's hard to overcome someone's first impression of a person, this can be so unfair. When I was younger, thirty pounds thinner, less wrinkled and saggy, I had a short blond haircut and I looked at first glance like a certain celebrity. Some of my friends took to calling me by this woman's name. Complete strangers would look at me and say, "gee, you look familiar." Were they also thinking of the famous coochie shot in that movie this star made? Did they form an immediate opinion of me based on some starlet's crotch? Did they wonder to themselves if I was wearing panties? Did they wonder if I was a deadly killer? Probably. Thankfully, they'd usually keep those thoughts to themselves. My best friend Fanette is a dead ringer for Julia Louis-Dreyfus. When her long, dark and curly hair is pulled back-she looks just like Elaine from Seinfeld. Everyone loves Elaine so that isn't such a bad celebrity look alike. She doesn't have to overcome the crotch thing when it comes to first impressions.

One of my worst experiences in celebrity sitings took place in November 2004, right after the unfortunate re-election of Bush-Cheney. This was when my mother in law Patty was diagnosed with cancer. She had several areas of her body that showed tumor including bone, liver, brain and lung. Since the tumor in her chest seemed to be the easiest to get at to diagnose the source of her cancer, she was scheduled for a wedge resection of her lung. I sat with her in the pre-op area where she'd been given a mild sedative. Right across the aisle was a dead ringer for Dick Cheney who was waiting to go in for open heart surgery. The patient was surrounded by his very anxious family and he seemed loved-not a bad thing for a Cheney look alike. I turned my back to them, more in an effort to ignore their own family drama than avoiding looking at Dick. Patty couldn't ignore it though and she was facing right towards this group.

My mother in law didn't like George Bush but completely despised Dick Cheney. To her, Cheney was evil incarnate. Combine the effects of the brain tumor, fear for her life, impending surgery and sedating drugs and well, Patty let loose with her feelings for the patient across the aisle whom she was convinced, was the devil himself. She was whispering, but to me, it sounded as though she were shouting. She said some pretty awful stuff about Dick. She wondered why anyone would be sad if he died. Why were all those people standing around his bed? He wouldn't be missed if he died in the operating room. Clearly, this vision of the devil was real to her. I pulled the curtains and prayed that family didn't hear her. This was not something that this kind and loving woman I knew would ever say out loud; she'd have been mortified if she'd been aware of what transpired. It wasn't her talking, it was the cancer in her brain and the drugs. If they heard what she said, I hope this family understood.

This was such a stressful time for our family. I've put so many feelings and memories about this period away. Others I remember clearly. For instance, I completely recall what I was knitting while sitting in that O.R. waiting room. I remember having to quickly run out to Michael's because I'd misplaced a knitting needle. I remember everything vividly, including the bad coffee, the looks of worry on all the families waiting and the look on Pat's surgeon's face when he came out for the discussion. He was so compassionate and only one of two doctors to speak honestly about her prognosis; the other was my friend, an opthamologist who'd ordered her first head CT. I remember too, what I wrote in the book in the chapel. But the pre-op drama? I had completely buried the Dick Cheney debacle in some deep recess of my brain. The VP debate brought it to the surface.

I have the same feelings about our current VP as Patty had though I keep them pretty much to myself. This man has done more damage to our country and our democracy than any other politician past or present. I firmly believe this destruction may be like an incurable cancer rotting away at the core of things. I hope not. Now we are faced with a VP candidate who seems to think Cheney has done no wrong. When asked during the debate to name the best and worst things Cheney has done in the past 8 years, Sarah Palin said, "Worst thing, I guess, that woulda been the duck hunting accident, where, you know, that was, that was an accident. And that was made into a caricature of him, and that was kind of unfortunate." Really? That's the worst thing she can come up with? Cheney has done way worse than that and the first thing that comes to my mind is not the quail hunting incident. It's the lies about Iraq, his ties to Haliburton, his torture policies and his stand on the rights to privacy that every "Joe Sixpack" deserves. There is more, but that's a start. Can Sarah Palin be that thoughtless? It's possible. I'd feel so much better about that camp if someone would just remove this woman from the picture and slip her doppelgänger, Tina Fey, into her spot.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

An Age Old Story

Out and about yesterday, I met a couple of ICU nurses who are older. Like me. Like the average nurse, who is in her (or his) late forties. These two have worked in the same ICU for decades and told me they, and their fellow nurses who are aging, are being forced out of their hospital-not just their units. They told me they felt it was age discrimination. Now I always take things like this with a grain of salt, but this rang true.

Can it be that faced with a budget crisis, hospitals are flushing out their older employees who earn a salary at the top of the range and a pension? Are they really hiring new grads with no experience in the School of Hard Knocks? There is something to be said for the wisdom of seasoned nurses that only years of practice can offer. Can a new grad walk into a room and with a quick once over, assess a situation that will soon be heading south long before it actually does? Who will mentor these new nurses and teach them the ropes, imparting pearls of wisdom along the way? I learned so much from older nurse mentors, more than nursing school taught me and more than I'll ever be able to repay. Long ago, we were willing to pay for experience and it was nearly impossible to get a job in a specialty area without more than several years of experience under the belt. More and more specialty areas are hiring new grads, and I find myself wondering if money, not the nursing shortage, is the driving force.

It seems that hospitals are more than willing to invest in aesthetics by offering pristine surroundings in upscale neighborhoods, well appointed rooms and a dietary department that offers room service, but seem unwilling to staff with seasoned nurses. With losses due to the economy and newly uninsured, are they being forced to cut the budget in the area that means the most-patient safety?

Seven years ago, at the beginning of Michigan's slide into recession, my husband was laid off from his job. His position wasn't eliminated though. He was replaced by a new employee who had a shiny diploma and salary requirements many thousands of dollars less than my husband's. It was a decision strictly motivated by money. I don't know what gave me the impression that my profession was safe from this kind of thinking and practice.

This getting old business is hard enough, but with so many new graduates out there, and only so many jobs to go around, how can we older nurses compete? Recently, someone made an offhand remark to me about nurses getting raises, as though this was something we should feel badly about because it puts a burden on the whole organization. I don't know how my fellow nurses feel, especially those who have been in this business as long as me, but I'm tired of apologizing for my salary. After 25 years, I've earned it. I'm educated both formally and by many years of experience. Once upon a time, this experience was considered invaluable. I can only hope that it is appreciated by those who are running hospitals and making decisions that impact patient care.

I hope that what these nurses told me is not a trend. Perhaps what they're experiencing is isolated, but I fear it isn't. What's been going on for years in other industries may well be seeping into mine. Are you seeing these trends in your hospitals?

Photo: Google Images

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Much Ado

I've been up to nothing again lately.  Oh sure, I'm knitting and spindle spinning, but some consider that nothing.  In order to rectify this perception (my own) of doing nothing, I've taken to listening to educational podcasts.  In this manner, I can create the deillusion that my time is being well spent and I'm actually learning something.  Not nothing.

While doing nothing, my shawl is growing and so are my Crocus Fairy socks.  I've stumbled onto a spinner's podcast where I've learned all sorts of new things including how to incorporate spinning lingo into my daily lexicon.  My vocabulary is definitely expanding.  I've learned the difference between Navajo and Andean plying, how to control my drafting zone, the difference between woolen and worsted and all about drop spindles.  The next time I find myself doing nothing, I plan to listen to tips on spinning slippery fibers like silk, bamboo and tencel.

I'm also surfing madly to find the perfect spinning wheel.  It would help if I knew how to narrow this search, or had the ability to trial all of the wheels out there, but for now, I spend my time reading up on the virtues, or lack thereof of all of them.  Double drive or scotch tension?  Single or double treadle?  Portable or not?  Old or new?  Wood or other materials? Made right here in my own backyard, or shipped from abroad?  How is a girl who is so busy doing nothing supposed to make a big decision like this?  You know of course, a spinning wheel is a very pricey decision.  That's why I can't seem to take the plunge.  Once I do, I want it to be perfect.  I was the same way the first time I bought an itty-bitty skein of cashmere that preceded adequate knitting skills.

So I guess I've been doing more than nothing, even though it seems to be too relaxing to be anything more than nothing.

Rudee appears to be smitten with Schact's Ladybug wheel and is considering purchasing this entry level wheel.  She plans to take it for a spin around the block on Friday.   Feel free to leave a comment if you think she has finally lost her mind, or she is about to make a mistake she'll live to regret.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Who is Keeping Track?

I am.

One week,

countless hours (somehow, I seem to have lost a few of these),

minimal fudging, (there have been some blips, but none worth ripping the darned thing out to fix-I fudge them when I find them),

too big already to spread out on 47 inch circular needles,

and 10, 720 stitches later, I am approaching the halfway point-at least in terms of row count, not stitch count.

Who cares about dust bunnies, empty cupboards, overdue oil change, dirty clothes and late paperwork? Not I, says the girl with smoke coming from her needles.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

As Shrek Says...

...better out than in.

Today, still pondering the source of my negative thinking processes of the past couple of weeks, I'm feeling ready to explore them more openly.  I've been trying very hard to balance enjoyment of my new found freedoms with the unease I've experienced over changing my daughter's and our own living arrangements.  To begin, let me just say that Rachel IS happy, and blossoming.  She loves her new roommates and has, over the course of a month, found new loot to plunder.  She always ways a nosy young girl-forever stealing things that never belonged to her-and now she has 3 new people to swipe things from.  I think they've all got her figured out though and are learning to shut their bedroom doors in order to protect their possessions.

Feeling relatively pleased, not to mention relieved, I'm thrilled for my daughter that the changes for her have been positive.  Her caregivers are responsible and nurturing.  Not one of them strikes me as unreliable.  One is a little goofy, but not in a bad way-more in an eccentric way.  Her primary caregiver has turned out to be the best, and I'm always confident when I know she is around.  Although I've never asked her, I'm quite certain her sexual orientation is different from mine.  That doesn't bother me in the least.  Her appearance with full sleeved tattoos doesn't either.  My daughter appears to adore her, and I've grown to like her too.  In addition, Rachel's roommates are loving their new living arrangements.  The one I worried about the most, is doing the best.  She is stable, pleasant, outgoing and her own health has improved significantly now that she is in a supervised setting.  

After about a month away, I started to let my guard down and tried to learn to relax.  I joined the spinning class and started going out for late night dinners or a drink with my husband.  I can stay up late on a weekend without worrying about Rachel being awake at 6 AM and needing my attention.  In short, I was beginning to enjoy myself.  Then the phone rang.

It was a weekday afternoon when Rachel's primary caregiver called to discuss my old neighbor Quickhide.  It seems Quickhide has taken it upon herself to criticize everything that's going on in Rachel's Place including, but not limited to, the following litany of complaints:
  • I could never abandon a child of mine like that.
  • If you put the garbage cans on the side of the house, I will call the city to complain about you.
  • Rachel's mother is going to hell for doing this to her.
  • Why are you people coming and going like that?
  • I'm going to complain that they are running a business from this house.
  • I don't like where you put the garbage cans so close to my lawn on Sunday nights.
  • Why are there black women taking care of Rachel?
  • It's a sin what they did just leaving their daughter like this.
  • I refuse to look at those garbage cans you have on the side of the house.
  • If that school bus wakes me up one more time, I will call the police.
  • I feel so sorry for what they did to their daughter.
I couldn't make this rubbish up if I tried.  I was dumbstruck, and so was the caregiver.  Since the primary complaint, besides her disdain for my parenting techniques, seemed to be centered around trash cans, I told the caregiver to hide them in the back of the house.  Then I waited-too stunned to do anything at the time.  And therein lies the crux of my problem.  You see, it goes against my grain to be so tolerant in the face of cruelty, bigotry and downright meanness.  Quickhide needed a comeuppance in my book.  I spoke with the county facilitator who manages the home and she told me that the best thing to do is to placate this woman.  Not feeling able to do this, I gave the job to my husband.  After all, who was better suited to talk to a crazy Syrian woman, than one who was raised by a half-mad Syrian father?

I know in my heart that I can't sway the thoughts of others, and I don't mind that so much.  What I do mind is why people feel it's their job to vocalize their uninformed and hateful opinions.  The house is clean, the yard is well kept, the women are quiet.  Yes, some of her caregivers are women of color or differing sexual preferences.  So what?  Does that make them less worthy of working with these women?  My husband told me that Quickhide said the one with the tattoos was, what was that?  Oh yeah, "she's a rough one."  Please.  She has tattoos.  That makes her tough, not rough. I've come to rely on this particular woman the most.  Of all of Rachel's new caregivers, this woman seems to have it all going on.

I'd hoped that having my husband talk with her would be the end of it, but sadly, it isn't.  She is still making her passive-aggressive comments to the staff and they're all very personal barbs about my abandonment of Rachel.  And I'm doing  a very slow burn, but inching toward the boiling point.  When unleashed, my temper is an impressive and frightening thing to behold.  In my fifteen years of avoiding Quickhide, she has never seen my temper.  I worry that's about to change.

Lord, please give me the wisdom I need to deal with the ignorance and hatred of others in a more peaceful way than I'm currently feeling, and grant me the insight I need to appease people who seem impossible to please.  And Lord, I know this may sound a bit cheeky, but if I have asked for patience (or strength) in any way, shape or form, I'd like to take that back.  I think I've been tested enough.  Amen.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Driven to Distraction

Taking Rositta's wise advice, I cast on a new pair of socks to knit while I watch the hockey playoffs. Wisely, I recorded last night's game against the lame Ducks just in case I got called out to see patients. I missed all of the first period, caught half of the second on the radio, and watched most of the third. I got called to see a patient and missed Cleary's controversial winning shot on goal. Not to worry, right? It was recorded... all except the winning goal. Today I'm thankful for YouTube. (The Ducks can consider this goal as justice for game 3).

Anklet socks for moi in merino sock yarn, hand died by SockPixie in the color Crocus Fairy. The cuff is a picot cast on that I always thought too fussy to mess with. I'll definitely do this cast on again with this particular method. It was simple.

I can safely work on the lace and spinning until Sunday when the Wings take to the ice again. Bring it on Chicago. My Swedes are gonna teach you a thing or two about talkin' smack. They happen to skate tall and carry big sticks and are relatively easy to identify. In addition, if you forget their names, you should be able to have a look-see at the Stanley Cup as a reminder of who they are. A few Wings have their names on there more than once. Besides Scotty Bowman, how many of you can say the same? Oh. That's right. None. You haven't won a Stanley Cup since 1961. I'm just saying, get ready to eat some Humble Pie.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Accentuate the Negative

Recently, I met the most delightful woman through my work. She was witty, spiritual, clever and interesting despite the fact that she is preparing to leave this world. Over the course of 3 hours, I heard only positive words leave her lips-she really had nothing bad to say about anything, even her pain. On my drive home, I pondered her grace and lack of negativity and wondered why more people (including myself) don't seem capable of an outlook like hers. I've been thinking about my negativity for awhile now. Why is it that now that things are in place, and I can live a fuller life, I find myself waiting for something bad to happen? I've felt this way for a month now-as though I'm afraid to be happy.

As I drove, I thought about my recent knitting. With lace, I've been delving into the negative. The whole project began with negative thoughts: "oh, I can't do this. It's way beyond my skill level," and has moved into negative spaces. Since Sunday, I've been battling this beast of a project and have finally found a little zone where I'm comfortable without all of the doubt nipping at my needles. You can't create lace without negative space, can you? Somewhere along the line, you realize it's the absence of yarn-or negative space- that makes the lace pattern leap out at you. Without holes, it would not have interest. Can you see the flower in the center created by negative space? Interestingly, you wouldn't have a pattern if you had no positive spaces that are filled with yarn-like the spirals in this piece that grab your eye.

So is negativity necessarily bad? Or is it something that we need in life to provide contrast and balance?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dear Mr. Watson,

If you are officiating game 6 with those pesky Ducks, and my strong, handsome Swedes, would you please get your eyes examined before the game?  During last week's game, you demonstrated either a failure to see, brain damage, or, it could be that you couldn't see what the rest of us could because you had your head in your nether regions.  I haven't decided which yet, but I'm convinced it may be the latter.

Yes my friends, it's hockey play off time-my favorite season for sports.  

Monday, May 11, 2009


1. the act or process of perseverating.
2. Psychiatry. the pathological, persistent repetition of a word, gesture, or act, often associated with brain damage.

On Saturday, I took the lace pattern book to spinning class with me and allowed the women there to twist my arm in respect to starting the Cap Shawl. The store owner, a registered nurse herself, completed the job by offering nurses a 15% discount on supplies during nurses week. How could I resist? The yarn is Fino from Alpaca With a Twist in color 3001. The sheen is from the silk-the luscious is from the alpaca. It's incredibly soft.

With yarn and needles in the bag and keen on getting started, I went to the local Kinko's downtown to have the pattern copied and enlarged 200 percent. The little snip behind the counter refused to do it for me because the book is copyrighted. Never mind that permission for readers to copy the patterns for personal use is printed just below the copyright-she was having none of that. When she began to lecture me about copyright law, I left and went to a Kinko's 4 miles away. The young man there had no such problem reading the permission and taking care of business. I mounted the enlarged patterns onto a foam board and bought markers to highlight my progress. I've smudged out the bulk of the pattern here because of copyright issues, but I wanted you to see my project board.

Now I was in business. Not.

Sunday night, I cast on for the project using the recommended lace circle cast on. I messed it up. I cast on again and in no time at all, made a mess of things again. And again. And again. I tried a different cast on and made it to the second row only to discover I was knitting the stitches with the tail of yarn and not from the ball. Far be it from me to lie about how long it took me to knit 13 rows. It was 3 hours-2 of which were spent trying to cast on and join the stitches in a circle. Oy. I think my behavior fits definition #2 from the dictionary.

Here's hoping the rest of it goes a little more smoothly.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother of the Year

Happy Mother's Day

Friday, May 8, 2009

Step Away From That Yarn

Cap Shawl from Victorian Lace Today in Rowan Kidsilk Haze

Dear Rudee K. Smartypants,

It has come to our attention that you think you are capable of knitting lace that is spectacular. We grudgingly admit that you've blossomed a wee bit in the lace department, but we must point out that we don't think you've achieved all that much in terms of experience. Sure, you've mastered a simple little lace shawl pattern that even a two year old could memorize, but to contemplate the likes of an 1840 Victorian lace pattern proves that you've lost your mind completely. With all due respect, we recommend you set aside that Victorian Lace Today book you bought 2 years ago, stop looking at Rowan Kidsilk Haze, and get back to knitting simple items that are more in line with your skill level. You may want to start by finishing that idiot proof pi shawl you began a month ago. We understand the reason you picked this book off your shelf in the first place this week, was to scout out a border for your shawl. One thing led to another and you began to dream became delusional. It happens all of the time. Now, why don't you go knit a nice pair of vanilla flavored socks and leave the real knitting to the big girls?


The Reality Check Knitting Guild

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sensitivity Training

Over the years, I've taken care of my share of attempted suicide patients.  Some of them more than once.  Many times I've heard conversations about those patients which generally includes tips about how to do the job right.  In truth, here and there, I've been guilty of conversing in such  a manner myself.  It goes something like this:  "well, if he really meant to kill himself, he should have done it in a place where he wouldn't have been found."  And this, "she just wants attention."  Or worse, "maybe next time, he'll do the job right."  Some do get it right after multiple trials and errors.   I don't speculate like this anymore and have learned that it's incredibly insensitive to minimize a person's suffering in respect to suicide.  It is what it is: an expression of illness.  

A short time after my friend lost a child in this manner, a group of doctors were sitting at the desk discussing the unsuccessful suicide attempt of a patient in our ICU.  My friend overheard this conversation which was like a slap in the face.  You see, she never had the opportunity to intervene and stop a senseless death, and having to hear others make light of such a thing was devastating.  Can you imagine doing CPR on your dying child?  My friend did.  The lesson here is that you NEVER know who is listening or how they'll be affected by what they hear you say.  The other lesson to be learned is that just because the afflicted doesn't have a lesion or illness you can quantify, scan, xray or diagnose, doesn't mean they aren't hurting.  The brain, for all of our advances in medicine, still remains a mystery-especially when it comes to mental illness and depression.  Best to keep one's uniformed opinions on how to get the job done to one's self.

I bring this up today because a man who had lost his job and is depressed, tied up an interstate for 9 hours today.  He was threatening to jump from an overpass.  I heard plenty of insensitive remarks because of the way he inconvenienced motorists who were trying to get somewhere.  Maybe their jobs.  It took the police all day to talk him down, but thankfully, they did, and now, maybe this man will finally get the help he needs.  I'll tell you one more thing, too.  If anyone thinks they'd like to be front and center when a man jumps in such a manner, I think you may want to reconsider.  This would be a terrible scene to witness-more so if you willed it to happen in order for you to get somewhere.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Lighting the Way

Statue of Florence Nightingale by Arthur George Walker

A hundred years ago now, I made a decision to go to nursing school.  It wasn't a decision made in desperation like I see so many make these days.  My decision was an answer to a calling.  From an early age, I felt the desire to be a nurse so I could help people.  The nursing shortage has encouraged many to consider nursing as a second, third or even fourth career.  To be sure, some of those nurses have turned out just fine, but others?  They may be better suited to engineering.  The blessing of this career is that even those who lack people skills can often find a place to shine within this profession.

Although many can stay in one job forever, this doesn't seem to be in my make-up.  After awhile, I get bored and start looking around.  To give you an idea of how much I've done this, just take a look at where I've been:

Nursing homes- I worked at two of them.  One for 1 day (the way they had the previous shift set up meds for the next shift scared me to death), and one for 2 years.  I loved the residents, but the work burden, not so much.

Neuro-rehab- Now you can't tell me that the choices we make don't set us up for things that will happen down the road.  I had this job long before I birthed my last child and decades before Mr. Larger Than Life cracked his coconut.  Talk about foresight-this was spooky.

Transplant nurse- I worked for 4 years as a kidney/pancreas transplant nurse.  I liked that job just fine, but couldn't work like that anymore because of Rachel.  I needed something more flexible.

Home Care nurse- I worked in that for 1 year but had a few patients who scared the hell out of me and had to stop doing that.  One told her grandson that she would hit me on the head so he could steal my wedding ring.  One stalked me.  One patient's husband threatened to break my leg like he broke his wife's leg.  He was a bit upset that I'd called Adult Protective Services on his sorry ass.  Truth be told, outside of the confines of a medical practice or hospital, it can be scary out there.

Urology research nurse-  I worked for a huge urology practice as a certified clinical research assistant.  Since I was working with  friends, this was a great job, but it's too bad the docs were impossible.  This was a place where above all else, it was the almighty dollar that was worshiped.  In addition, I got bored taking care of people with erectile dysfunction, preferring instead to take care of those with more serious health care issues.  After Viagra was approved, ED seemed to be the bulk of the practice.  

Clinical Research Monitor- This was a lucrative position that had me flying all over the country to monitor a clinical research trial.  I liked that job quite a bit, but then 9/11 happened and had me questioning whether or not flying to different cities every single week was such a wise way to work.  In fact, on 9/11, I was on the phone with a St. Louis pharmaceutical company interviewing for a position with them while madmen were flying planes into buildings.

ER nurse- now I liked that job.  A lot.  I like to think that I could go back to doing that if I ever tired of hospice.  If you like to be entertained, have a thing for drama, or a well honed love of the ludicrous, this type of job is a sure fit.  At the time I worked in that ER, I was a contingent employee and needed full time work with benefits.  ICU had that job, so I left.

ICU nurse-  After about a year, I loved that job-it took that long to feel comfortable.  If my back wasn't in the condition it's in, I'd still be doing that job.  The physical burden was too big a price to pay.  After working 2 or 3 days in a row, I'd wake up in the morning and hobble around in severe pain.  The question on those days was always, is this worth it? Ultimately, it was not.

Hospice nurse- I love this job too.  It really is one of the most rewarding jobs I've ever had as a nurse and although I miss the camaraderie of working directly with others, I really am well suited for the position that I have.  Spending time with patients is often a luxury in a hospital setting, but I've finally found a position which allows me to do just that.  If a visit takes 4 hours, then that's what it takes.  There aren't too many nursing jobs available that offer time with the patients as a side benefit.  For someone who went into nursing out of a desire to help people, this job fits me like a glove.

As you can plainly see, I've been around and I've had the ability to reinvent myself in my career.  Today, the beginning of National Nurses Week, reminds me to be thankful for the flexibility of my profession and for the many nurses who have touched my life.  I'm grateful for the many mentors I've had within my profession and for the enduring friendships I've made.

Happy Nurse's Week to all of my nursing friends.  For all you do, thank you.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I'm Expecting!!!

There has been some spinning going on at my house today, and soon there will be mating of the yarns.   Mountain Color's Targhee Top in Crazy Woman will be mating with Louet Dyed Corriedale in teal when I finally ply them together.  I hope the offspring is as beautiful as I imagine it will be.  I'm also hoping for at least enough to make a hat, and if I'm lucky, some mittens to match.

I'm having much better luck with a spindle than I seem to be having with the wheel.  What I'm hoping for here is that the principles of spinning with a spindle will transfer seamlessly to the wheel the next time I'm behind one.  I won't hold my breath.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Perfection Trifecta

The weather this weekend was glorious. Relatively cool, there was just the right amount of warmth from the sun-perfect really. With the lilacs blooming in the back, my deck was the best place to spend a little time. I spent yesterday with my best friend just sitting in the sun, gossiping shooting the breeze, shopping and dining al fresco in town. Yep. Perfect.

On the knitting front, I've been feeling a bit guilty for starting things I've haven't finished. Last night, I spent a few hours rectifying that problem by finishing the Monkey socks I've been knitting for Sebba. The near perfection I achieved in terms of the stripes surprises even me. This may be as good as it gets and really? Thats good enough for me.

Next up-the circular lace pi shawl with 800,000 stitches on the needles. All kidding aside, I'm only about 30,000 stitches away from finishing this. If I'd get a little busy today, I could probably knock that down to 28,000 by the time I have to go to work.

And speaking of perfection and trifectas, anybody catch the race Saturday? I love a 50 to 1 shot all day long. Way to go Mine That Bird:

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Lure

Bewitched...that's what I am today. After spinning class this morning, I came home and tried to knit. It wasn't happening for me and unlike last Saturday when I went home and fiddled with my spindle for an additional three hours, today was too pretty to spend indoors. I looked at my son and said, "let's go to the zoo. They have a meet your best friend adoption event in the parking lot." Being an agreeable young man, he grabbed his camera and we went.

Most of the dogs were picked through and gone. Pups-all gone. Just the pit mixes, senior dogs, Beagles and a couple of Irish Wolfhounds were left. Never thinking it would happen to me, I fell in love with a lab-pit mix. He was so sweet and absolutely beautiful. When I sat on the ground in the Michigan Humane Society tent, he crawled into my lap to try to sell himself. If we had the approval from the landlord set to go, I'd have whipped out my Visa card and taken him with me. Gosh he was sweet. Feeling the heart tugs, we walked away. I'd hate to adopt a pooch and have to surrender him because the landlord had a change of heart.

Since we were in the neighborhood, we decided to go see what was new in the zoo.

We found this family of Mom, Dad and baby chimps.

And this rather serious Macaque.

And Ted the polar bear having a lie down.

And this rather ticked off bear trying to wake up Ted. The weather was sunny and cool, and the animals were frisky. Even the gorillas were playful today. Inside one exhibit, there was a woman tapping the glass at the gorilla. Clearly, she didn't see the sign warning not to do this. One second she was tapping and the next, a gorilla slammed into the glass scaring the hell out of the annoying woman. It was incredibly funny though it took her a few minutes to get her heart out of her throat.

The entry to the butterfly exhibit has an incredibly beautiful tile mosaic. Once a beautiful zoo that became run down, this jewel is making a comeback. It was nice to see plenty of people out and enjoying the weather and the animals.

The inside of this butterfly's wings were a florescent blue and quite stunning. The exhibit was full of some gorgeous creatures. If it hadn't been so warm indoors, I'd have probably spent a lot more time in there.

That's the extent of my day and now, like Ted, I'm going to go have a lie down. What did you do today?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Oh Me of Little Faith

Gauge is a funny little thing and often hard to measure. After I wrote yesterday's post, I nearly ripped this piece out to retry with a smaller needle. I was sure I was knitting a monstrous sized square. Prior to beginning the cables, the width was 13 inches-a full inch wider than the 12 inch square was supposed to measure. I had a change of heart though and told myself I'd knit a back to match and call it a pillow. I'm glad I did. Once I began the cables, the width shrunk to 12 inches. Since gauge is supposed to be measured on the stockinette portions of these squares, I'm a little hard pressed to find spots to measure it, but without trying, I seem to be spot on. Better yet, I have row gauge too and that NEVER happens. Smaller needles would have led to catastrophe. Now I wish this was the yarn I was supposed to be using all along and not the practice yarn.

The pictures represents the border, one full pattern repeat and then some. So far, so good. It took me hours to get to this point and although it's going slowly, I'm at least memorizing the cables. I can advise though that this is not something one could knit while enjoying a glass of wine-it requires way too much attention. Since I'm a third of the way through and going blind already, I'm thinking of writing out the pattern on index cards with each row having its own card. I can attach the cards with a ring and flip through the pattern that way. It's either that or go buy a monocle.