Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Word to the Moon

Monday, you made your advancing fullness known. You gave me difficult and petulant colleagues to deal with, drug counts that were off and a missing laptop charger. None of that was helpful.

Tuesday, now shining brightly and fully in the night sky, you gave me lingering drug count issues to resolve from the night before, two starts of care that were 40 miles apart, one of which took 3 full hours, and people demanding minor care in the middle of the night. Things that should have been done on the day shift. Then, to show me you weren't finished messing with my head, during the middle of all of the that, you sent a call to my phone that a hospice nurse can't ignore and everything else had to go on a back burner. Of course, that required a visit that was 35 miles away. To top it all off, you've messed with the delivery of my appliances. What should have come on Tuesday, will not be here until Thursday. Maybe. I'm all moved in and ready for the holiday--except I have no fridge, no dishwasher, no range and no washer and dryer. Incidentally, as if you care, I am running out of clean panties.

I have only one question...

Are you about done?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Bleeding Heart

Though it was not literally true, I went through my youth being called, mass-ass. To this day, it irks to think about this. That particular nickname was just for starters, for there were many more. I spent my grade school years being bullied by two girls in particular. On a daily basis, there was always something they said or did to make me feel hated and worthless. During the sixth grade, these girls spread a rumor that I was pregnant. There was no way that was possible, but the rumor took off, and I spent that year having my belly stared at as though at any minute, I'd magically produce a baby. I hated school and I hated being ganged up on. Because of that, I have an overdeveloped sense of what defines injustice. I don't join others when they maliciously gossip and I think I've taught my kids to be the same.

When I heard the news about Phoebe Prince today, the Massachusetts teen who committed suicide because she was bullied by a group of students and just couldn't live like that anymore, I cried. I can only imagine her torment. How bad was this abuse, that she decided her life was not worth living? She was 15. Nine teenagers from her school are facing a variety of felony charges because their malicious behavior led to her suicide.


It's about damned time.

Now, it would do my heart good to see the school administrators (who were aware) and the parents of these kids pay a price as well. They all turned a blind eye to the systematic torture of Phoebe. I can only hope there's a special place in hell for them.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Odds and Lots of Ends

Though the sun is deceptively bright in the sky, it's still bitterly cold here in Detroit. If moving hadn't gotten in my way, I would have been able to wear my Icelandic sweater this weekend. I finished the body this morning, but ran out of time to get the button bands done. It's ready to steek though--just as soon as I knit both button bands, the neckband and weave in all of those ends. Those thousands of little ends seem to be what I find most daunting right now. I'm a little sorry I didn't rip it back to fix my color chart mistakes, but I think with a little duplicate stitching, I can achieve the effect I want to see. I think there should be a small pattern of white stitches right in the middle. Or not. We'll see when it's all done.

Gosh, I love, love, love this sweater!!!

I'm still in the throes of unpacking and getting my life in order. Last night, we took a break and went up to the bar to watch Michigan State send Northern Iowa back from whence they came on giant television screens. The place was packed to the rafters with revelers singing the Michigan State fight song. Weaving is going a little slowly this afternoon, and all due to a little too much revelry on my part and way too much of the Belgian ale. Is it just me, or does everyone think those boys from Iowa are a little big? I think they've been eating too much corn. They looked like giants against Michigan's players, but that only shows to go ya that size isn't everything, especially when your star player is benched with injuries. I'm going back to the bar tomorrow afternoon to watch them play Tennessee (be still my heart...did they really beat Ohio State?).

I plead the Fifth on whether or not that's all yarn in the knitting room.

After living a year in a neighborhood where neighbors didn't speak to one another, so far I've met Richard next door, Katy across the street who teaches emotionally impaired Detroit students (either she's brave, foolhardy, a mix of both or a saint), the other lady across the street who is on the city council in my town, and 95 year old Roy. Or Ray.

Where in the hell did I put my bed?

Roy (or Ray), walked up my steps and presented me with a loaf of freshly baked bread and Scottish shortbread that he had baked himself. He was wearing a Tartan plaid hat but denied he was of Scottish heritage. I forgot what he said his name was, because I was overwhelmed by the loaf of the still-warm bread he handed me and more importantly, his kindness. His neighborliness warmed my heart, but that bread? That bread melted it. Roy (or Ray) told me this is a tightly knit little neighborhood where everyone looks out for each other. He made our house feel even more like home.

Now here is a picture of what I'm desperately trying to avoid, but this sweater has lots of ends I've got to get rid of before I can cut it open. Go ahead and click on that picture to get a better idea.

A note on the photos: they're all taken by my computer. For some reason, the camera transfer cord is still MIA. It's probably packed in with the yarn somewhere even though I swore I had packed it with the phone charging cords, and they're both where they're supposed to be.

A note on the sweater: I wear a size large sweater. I love the room and I love to layer. A size small in this sweater had a 44 inch bust which is something I don't have, and never did have, except maybe when I was nursing. Even then, I don't think I reached a size 44, but I had plenty of cleavage and could finally fill out a bra. Nowadays, I'm lucky to fit in a mostly an A, but nearly B cup, and my bust size is a 38. A lot of the other women in my class knit the large and I saw one today that looked so big on the knitter. I knit the small, and I'm so glad I did. Even though it's a small, this has lots of positive ease and plenty of room to spare.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Send a Masseuse

Oy. My back is killing me, but for the most part, we're done. I swear, I don't know where I accumulated all of the junk I own, but believe me, I'm going to be having one giant yard sale soon.

My appliances won't be here until next week. Wednesday, now. Home Depot (they had the best prices) called last night and told me, "the refrigerator you ordered last night won't be delivered until April 30th; will that be a problem?" WHAT?!?!?! I wasn't home to take the call--a good thing, because I wasn't exactly feeling benevolent at the time, and I really hate to waste good swear words on people I don't know. I waited an hour to call them back. What I got for my composed politeness and thinly veiled threat to cancel the whole order was an upgrade to a fancy-shmancy fridge worth $300 more.

A few of our moving high points:
  1. My new house is overhauled, but still 84 years old.
  2. People must have been little 84 years ago, and so were their belongings--I can tell because the doorways are small.
  3. It isn't the best business practice to select a moving company because they come up first in the phone book. Ours quoted us one price, but when they showed up, the first words out of their mouths were that they had underquoted us by $350. I know that someone in this house picked them first out of the phone book because their company name began with the letter A. I won't name names. I should however issue all All Pointes bulletin on these thugs. They bent the frame of my Tempur-Pedic bed, and we all know that if I have a prized position that rates one step below my yarn, this is it.
  4. The movers had great difficulty moving the family room furniture into what has been dubbed, The Man Cave. They smudged the freshly painted walls all the way down the stairwell. The men installing the cable lines were so annoyed, they pointed this out to me.
  5. Everywhere the cable guys drilled, they left a pile of sawdust for me to clean. In my world, we say that's the pot calling the kettle black--they turned out to be slobs, too.
  6. Last night, we finally sat down to celebrate my birthday with dinner at a local Irish pub. Everyone had the corned beef. I practically licked the plate clean, but the rest of the family was disappointed. They said it wasn't as good as my corned beef dinners. I loved it, either because I wasn't the cook, or because I had chugged a beer to impress my children that although 53, I can still put a beer away and this made my dinner taste better.
  7. I am secretly VERY worried that my appliances are NOT going to fit into the kitchen. Very. Worried. I have 6 days to figure it out, and I don't think New Math is going to help.
Although I've taken photos, I can't find the transfer cord. If you could see what I see right now, you'd know why I can't find anything. I have to unpack my way out of every single room.

The place looks like a bomb hit it, we've become the Bickersons overnight and my husband told the man who does repair work for us that he'd like to have a shoot out with me right now. I couldn't imagine why. He said, "don't worry, my gun won't have real bullets." Hmm. Mine probably will.

Start raising that bond.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


As of 5 PM Tuesday, we're the happy owners of a new home. While I've been out shopping for appliances, window dressings, shower curtains and area rugs, my son has been shopping for four legged friends. He keeps sending pictures--so not helpful. Gate first, dog later.

We'll be without appliances until next Tuesday, but as long as the coffee pot can brew and the microwave can heat, I think I'll survive. I've survived worse. I don't recall when, but I'm quite sure I have. Hopefully, Wide Open West will show up tomorrow as promised to hook up our cable access. There should be barely a burp in internet services.

My bags are packed and more importantly, so is the yarn. Nothing like cutting it close. I'll pack up the bathroom tomorrow and mop my way out of this place. While it's not exactly the way I thought I'd spend my 53rd birthday, it is the best birthday gift I could ask for...a place to call our own. I can't wait to hang my art, set up my knitting room and get the guy over to put up a gate.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

In Dreams

I was excellent in math. From the first time I put pencil to paper to figure out equations, something in my brain just clicked. I loved fiddling around with numbers.

As time went by and I failed to use more than simple equations, I lost the ability to perform complicated algebraic equations. No worries. For drug calculations at work, I used a dimensional analysis formula that I memorized and I always had a pharmacist available to double check my calculations.

Enter knitting math. It shouldn't be that hard. After all, it's just simple division and multiplication problems. My gauge is spot on for the sweater, so if I was honest with my measurements, fit won't be an issue. It's the yoke that's the problem. More specifically, it's the decreases in the yoke that are the problem.

First, let me say, there are minimal directions in the Reynolds pattern book. If I hadn't had an instructor holding my hand last Saturday, this sweater would still be in time out. Figuring out how to attach the sleeves was a challenge--remember--I'm utilizing two patterns to adapt one pullover and make it into a cardigan. Plus, I'm on mood and mind altering medications. That is a recipe for disaster.

Back to the yoke...I finished the little chart of 12 rows over 210 stitches and then came to the direction: dec 20 stitches in row 13. Nothing else. No specifics on where to place the decreases, so I spaced them evenly and treated them all the same as k2tog. Next row up is a 14 stitch repeat of the busiest (color-wise) part of the pattern. I get to the part where the center stitch should line up and it's off by 3. Ugh. I tink back 260 stitches and repeat row 13. Same thing.

By this time, I'm exhausted from packing all day and decide to sleep on it. When I got up, I had a new, fresh perspective. Of course! It all makes sense now. What came to me as I problem solved while sleeping, was to section off the five separate areas of the yoke (right front, left front, back and 2 sleeves) and decrease in each area to a number divisible by 14. I love those ah-hah moments in life.

It worked. The third time's definitely a charm, and I've lost 20 stitches, my center stitch lines up and with the exception of having mixed up my colors at the beginning of the chart, all is well. I'm going with the color mix up because I'm too lazy to fix it it's not supposed to be perfect--just close.

The rested mind is a wonderful thing, and so is our ability to problem solve while we sleep. Who knows? Maybe Elizabeth Zimmerman paid me a little visit in my dreams.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Send Wine!

An actual conversation:

Me: "Well, I think we've finished packing what we can in here. Maybe we should tackle the elephant in the other room."

Sara: "Oh, you mean your yarn?"

Me: "It's that obvious?"

Sara: "Well, yeah."

Me: "Don't worry, I bought two more giant plastic bins. One for spinning fiber and one for yarn."

About 15 minutes later...

Sara: "I can see I'm making you uncomfortable by getting all up in your elephant."

Me: "It's that obvious?"

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I Wish I Had Staff

For some reason, we keep running out of boxes.

Mr. Nosey came around to see what's up.

Or perhaps he's concerned his meal ticket is moving out.

This kind of mess doesn't mesh with my personality. At. All. I can't find the cat's treats in all this mess!

More of the same--different angle.

Tonight's comic relief. This was a Christmas gift I've waited 3 months to use.
(really? all ages are appropriate for Lewis Black? has he cleaned up his act? I hope not!)

I haven't missed a single class. Yesterday, most of us attached our sleeves and began the yoke. I messed up the color legend after I had a glass or two of pinot noir last night. I realized it this morning and I'm going with my alcohol induced mistake. I don't have the heart to tink 1,000 stitches. It is what it is. Next Saturday, ready or not, this sweater will have an intimate run-in with a sharp pair of scissors. Pinot noir may need to be involved.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Eleventh Hour

Lordy, nothing like making a girl sweat!

Six days prior to us having to vacate these premises, the bank has finally approved our loan. What a nightmare. And they wonder why home sales are stagnant? I give the Poorest Communicator of the Universe Award to our loan officer. We had to beg him for information almost on a daily basis, and all of it by telephone as his office is 600 miles away. The twit. Last Friday, he told us we'd know Monday morning. On Monday night, he told us we'd know by Tuesday. You get the picture. Then yesterday, he said we'd know by close of business. We found out at noon today. Ugh!

My husband says he's a changed man and will never, ever, ever buy another house. I'm in agreement.

We don't close until Tuesday, March 23rd at 9 AM, sharp. Thankfully, we're both on vacation until the 29th. In the meantime, we have to get a plumber to sink a gas line for the stove, buy the appliances, order the utilities, and more importantly, high speed internet, finish packing, clean the new house, arrange a mover, move, clean the old house, buy window treatments (or find some old sheets to hang so we can make a great impression on the new neighbors, unpack, celebrate my birthday, settle in and all by the 25th. Whew. I've got a load of nonsense on my plate.

Damn bank. Thanks for the 1,000 new gray hairs. Like I needed them!

A Spring Observation

On these last couple of days of winter, I'd like to offer further proof that winter is on its way out. Yes indeed, the crotch rocket, the bane of all sane drivers, has been spotted again in Detroit. One day it's freezing and the only folks out are those driving vehicles with four wheels, and the next it's warm, almost summer-like and these guys have descended upon the city like a swarm of locusts.

Welcome back, guys. Gee I missed ya.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Whatever Works

Yesterday evening, I ran into a colleague who is one of those fearless nurses who goes anywhere in the city. She's not exactly fearless, but that's how she's perceived and this is how this cockamamie culture of skewed safety perseveres within my work environment. She told me she couldn't go where I go at night--even though it's where she goes during the day. Everything looks a little worse in those neighborhoods under the cloak of darkness. Interestingly, just when you'd think most would be tucked safely in for the night, it's those neighborhoods that are just starting to come alive. These people are fooling themselves into thinking daylight makes these areas safer. They're not.

Anyways, this nurse is also into Healing Touch therapy. Her patients swear by her energy restoring treatments. With the touch of her hands and a few murmured words, she heals people of pain, anxiety and stress. Last night, she insisted on giving me a treatment that lasted just a few short minutes. It couldn't have come at a better time, because late last night, security didn't answer their phone. I needed an escort into the city--right into the heart of an area that makes me quake in my Danskos--and they didn't answer the damned phone.

I went, reinforced with a fearless nurse's healing touch and brand new energy shield meant to protect me. I must have looked like a crazy woman driving down I-94, repeating over and over, "nobody will hurt me with my brand new energy shield."

It worked.

Fearless has her own Healing Touch practice. I'm scheduling a one hour appointment. Stat.

Don't go thinking I didn't rip security a new orifice this morning. I did. It's not the first time they haven't answered their phone at night, but I'm willing to bet that it may be the last time they don't. Bright and early today, in addition to my new energy shield, I'm also armed with alternative numbers for our security escort service.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring Has Sprung

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

It was a whopping 65 degrees in the Motor City Tuesday. I've ditched my coat, my down vest, mittens, hat and heavy wool pants. I'm back to wearing scrubs with just a little scrub jacket. Everything looks lighter and brighter and while the only greenery I can see are, besides my Irish colleague's shamrock painted nails, new shoots of weeds, I'm reminded summer is right around the corner.

It feels so good to have the warmth of the sun on my face. It also feels good to be out doing my job during the light of day. Though more people are out, at least I can see where I'm going, or more importantly, who else is out there with me.

A couple of weeks ago, before the big kerfuffle over at The Women's Colony brought daily missives to a relative halt, I read somewhere, I think in Friday Confessions, that someone there hates the Beatles. Really? She (or he) just didn't get their popularity.


Abbey Road makes me think of spring. In fact, it's my policy that spring cleaning doesn't happen unless Abbey Road is on.

While I may never change the minds of certain WC readers, they can go listen to Lady Gaga or some other such illustrious talent. For the rest of you, and my loan officer, I offer a taste of Abbey Road. No, we still don't have an answer on the mortgage. We have no information left to offer except maybe the results of yet to be scheduled colonoscopies.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Wanna Make Yourself Go Nuts?

Try reading the side effect profiles of the medications that you take. I guarantee, your drugs are affecting you in some way that you never expected.

I finally threw in the towel and started taking Zoloft. I started last week Friday. By Sunday, I had excruciating nerve pain in my face and a headache to beat them all. I thought, oh great, another root canal is in my future. But it wasn't my tooth. It was the Zoloft, which gave me bruxism, or if you will, a fierce case of grinding my teeth while sleeping. I walked around for days with my jaw clenched so tight that it was impossible to relax. I was miserable. So I stopped the Zoloft and within a day? No pain.

Up until now, I've just been seeing a therapist, but today I saw the candyman psychiatrist. During my 15 minute appointment, we discussed how I was feeling, what the Zoloft did to me, and how he could help. He asked me if I wanted to lose weight, because if I did, he could help me with that. Now, I know I'm 15 pounds overweight, but I found the question indelicate and ludicrous. Fifteen pounds is not morbidly overweight--my regular doctor doesn't even mention it to me. Was he even reading my chart? He offered to put me on a mood stabilizer that would make me thin. Really? Hell, sign me up. I can lose weight while I knit. Then he said he was doing this because he was going to put me on a different antidepressant that would make me gain weight. Great. A pill for this, a pill for that. When getting ready to leave, he gave me his business card and told me to call him in one week. When I asked him why, he told me, "to thank me for changing your life, of course."

It was a bizarre visit.

I briefly read the side effect profiles of my two new drugs. I'm hoping for the fatigue and weight loss. I'll take them both at night and while I sleep the sleep of the drugged, I'll get svelte.

Maybe I should have held on to all those skinny clothes I donated last year.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


For some reason, I'm suffering from a profound lack of moving momentum. I just can't get myself to do much of anything to get ready to move. Yesterday, I came home from sweater class and watched Aladdin with Rachel. I didn't go downtown to see The Yarn Harlot. It was pouring cold, nasty rain and my heart wasn't in it. Aladdin proved a good alternative and Rachel was thrilled to spend the afternoon with her mom and dad.

This inertia I'm experiencing is not beneficial on the packing front. There are boxes all over the place, but nothing's in them. Nothing. Time is ticking, and to make matters worse, while I was sleeping, I lost an hour of valuable time.

So today, fully intending to shake it all off and get busy, I sat down to have a cup of coffee. Before I knew what hit me, I cast on the second sleeve for my sweater and watched Babe. If that wasn't enough, when that was over, I started the colorwork on the cuff and watched Pirate Radio.

We close on Thursday and have to be out by the 25th at the latest. I'd better get my rear in high gear, don't you think? Just as soon as I finish that second sleeve and watching Phenomenon for the 10th time.

I am nothing, if not good a procrastinator. However, as I knit away my anxieties, I'll have a cozy sweater to show for it all, now won't I?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

It's Good to Win

I was beside myself when I had a $3 winner in the lottery on Tuesday. Feeling lucky, I parlayed my winnings and bought 2 Powerball tickets (jackpot $200,000,000) and 1 Megamillions ticket (jackpot $20,000,000). I'm hoping for all the numbers for the Powerball to hit on Saturday, but hey, if I win the paltry $20,000,000, I'll be satisfied. I mean, if I won 200 million, when would I knit? I'd be too busy in the counting house.

Some others are winners this week, too, and I think their winnings should keep them busy for awhile.

The runner up for the Knitcircus giveaway is Rositta! Congratulations my friend. You are winning the patterns to the spring collection. Since I have your email address already, I'll be forwarding the pattern collection directly to you. I'm kind of tickled that you won this since I know you want to knit that little green dress.

The grand prize winner for the Knitcircus giveaway is Stephanie V. Hey! That's a Canadian sweep! Wasn't the hockey gold medal enough? Congratulations, Stephanie! You win a one year subscription to Knitcircus. Awesome. Send me your email address (rudeek45atgmaildotcom--use symbols for at and dot). I'll forward your email to Jaala so that she can enter your subscription.

I don't think either one of you can complain about not having anything ewenique to knit for awhile now. Congratulations!

Thanks to everyone for playing along and thank you, Jaala, and Knitcircus for the great giveaways.

I'm thinking I should use the random number generator to pick my next set of lottery numbers. If it worked for Rositta and Stephanie, maybe it could work for me!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Odds and Ends

Tomorrow I have sweater school again. By that time, I should have one sleeve done and the second on the needles. I've ripped the one sleeve out twice. I'm making the small sized sweater because it's big. It has a lot of positive ease, but the sleeve size going with that sweater would only fit Twiggy. Luckily, I had only knit the cuff and was using magic loop method so I tried it on right away and felt the truth of the ill fitting cuff and out it came. I cast on the number of stitches for the large sweater sleeve, but knit the rest of it as the small. It's over my elbow now and feels fine. The cuff was the issue, but so was the cast on edge, so instead of the long tail cast on, which is tight, I used a cable cast on for elasticity. It worked. It won't match the cast on edge of the sweater, but at this point, I don't think anyone will know except me.

I haven't decided if I'll skip out of class early to go listen to The Yarn Harlot speak on Saturday. If she were anywhere else but the Detroit Public Library, I'd likely go. I go into the city enough on work time, and have no desire to go down there for this. Maybe I'll catch her next year, or maybe I'll change my mind by morning. Who knows?

On the mortgage front, we're supposed to close on the 18th, but the bank is nickel and diming us for every last scrap of documentation we can come up with. The latest is they'd like photographs of the other homes we own including Rachel's, and two investment houses. Really? Photographs? They're making us nuts. Shouldn't our consistent tax return statements be enough for them? This bank prides itself on being one of the only banks that didn't get into financial trouble because they never made subprime mortgage loans. Now I wonder if they ever made any loans at all. We're remaining hopeful and have started the monumental task of packing. Again.

Don't forget to leave a comment on Monday's post to win your subscription to Knitcircus Magazine. Comments close at midnight tonight, and the lucky winner will be chosen by Random Number Generator.

Good luck!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rx for Life

As any ICU nurse worth her salt can tell you, sedation and pain relief is part science, and a whole lot of art. Getting the perfect chemical concoction without going overboard is delicate. If I learned nothing in the unit, I learned this. It's why I do so well as a hospice nurse on the off shift. While I don't prescribe the drugs I use, I tend to get my two cents in to the physician on what I think will work to treat poorly managed pain and anxiety. When it comes to psychic or spiritual pain though, I feel out of sorts without a magic concoction to soothe a troubled soul. Last night, I was challenged to help ease someone's emotional pain. Though I thought our visit went well, I wasn't quite sure and I don't know if I eased any suffering. It was that intense.

Many people that I meet have come to a crossroads where pursuit of a cure for disease intersects the reality that disease has progressed despite heroic efforts. It can be a frightening and sad place, or it can be the perfect convergence where modern medicine has failed and now the spiritual work can begin. While some people can never give up the fight to survive at all costs, others are able to turn from one direction to the other without too much trouble. They're ready to move ahead and spend as much quality time as they have left with the people that they love. Often, they're tired of the frequent hospitalizations, needle sticks, chemo and radiation that sap every last bit of energy and intuitively know that they need to conserve a little for the type of work that lies ahead. The people who fight death to the bitter end seem to suffer the most emotionally. Ask any hospice nurse to describe "terminal restlessness," and they will tell you it is the most difficult crisis we encounter. I've witnessed patients run in circles around a bed as though something is chasing them and, indeed it is. Death. When I see this, I know the end is quite near for these people; sometimes only hours or a day or two away. It's a traumatic event for patients and their families, though not everyone encounters this. People who are prepared psychologically and spiritually often pass from this world quite peacefully.

Plenty of people tell me they can't do what I do for a living. I hear this a lot, especially when I go to a home to pronounce a death. They say this as though death is something that's abnormal and that it takes a special person to do this. Perhaps they think my work is of the macabre; very dark, mysterious and disturbing. After all, none of my patients escape death. There are no close calls in hospice that have happy outcomes, but I believe in my heart that there can be good outcomes. We can die a good death and this one idea is more about making the most out of life than it is about dying. This basic tenet is what I hold onto when I start to feel as though hospice isn't a good fit for me. In my mind, my job is part mission, and partly a way to pay my bills. Mostly it's a mission. There are easier ways to earn a living in nursing.

Long before I started down this path, I read the book, Dying Well, by Dr. Ira Byock. I bought it when my mother in law was dying and right after my best friend's daughter was killed. This is such a well written book on the art and challenges of being a hospice practitioner with stories that bring meaning to our human condition. I followed up this book with the second book this author wrote, The Four Things That Matter Most. My closest family members have read both of these books and have found them beneficial, too. They're not only handbooks for the dying, they're great guidebooks for living.

In a nutshell, these four things that matter so much are love, thankfulness and giving and receiving forgiveness. This book was life altering for me. It's not easy to ask for and give forgiveness, but we humans are imperfect creatures. It only stands to reason that over a lifetime, we may need to give and receive forgiveness more than once. As for love, well it seems to me it's something we all strive to feel and give. Some are luckier than others in this department. Being thankful can be difficult, especially if someone is dying, but I think it's important to tell the people who matter in our lives that we're thankful for them and long before we're losing them.

What I took away from both books is the importance of being ready for the curveballs life can throw at us. We never know when it'll be our own turn to leave this earth, so it's important to live a life embracing things in our lives that matter most. Several years ago, my best friend lost her daughter abruptly when she was hit by a car. As horrific as that was, their relationship was in a very good place which helped my friend to heal and survive this event with her psyche intact. When we talk, she never ends a phone call without saying, I love you. It's important to her. She lives the principles in Dr. Byock's books.

It's been awhile since I've read these books, but I plan on rereading them from a new perspective as a hospice nurse.

In the meantime, I do what I'm able and ask only for insight and clarity when I'm trying to help those who make me think outside the box.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Unsuitable Weather for Woolies

We've been enjoying gorgeous spring-like weather here in Detroit. It was 60 degrees and sunny here today. We've been so far down in the deep freeze, that I don't recall the last time we had a day this balmy. Maybe once all of those ice crystals attached to my neurons melt a bit, I'll be able to remember. All kinds of creatures are starting to stir. The squirrels have lost their minds and have entertained the neighborhood with their daring high wire, reproductive dances.

So far, I've killed one fly, one spider and think I hear something crawling around under the family room. I see a little tunnel adjacent to the house. I have no idea what's living down there with the hornet's nest, but it may want to move out before they wake up. Dumb landlords. If they'd allowed us to have a dog, they wouldn't be coming home to find anything living under their family room. Serves them right.

In the meantime, the bank told us they'll be ready to close in 10 days.

Can't. Wait.

Even though it's a little too warm to think about wearing my bulky Icelandic sweater, I'm persevering on the knitting front. In the photo above, there are only about 6, maybe seven rows until the body of the sweater is complete. The ridge line down the middle of the sweater is the steek line. The sweater gets side lined after tonight because once the body is done, I set it aside to work on the sleeves, but I'm not supposed start those until Saturday. When those are done, and they're knit in the round, too, they'll be joined to the body and I'll knit the yoke.

So what do you think? Too spotty, or spot on?

As a reminder, don't forget to leave your comment on Monday's post for your chance to win a one year subscription to Knitcircus!

Monday, March 8, 2010

It's a Circus! A Knitcircus!

Today is a rather exciting day for me. I have a my very first guest blogger. I'm so thrilled, I've got my yarns in a knot! My guest of honor today
is, Jaala Spiro, Editor-in-Chief of Knitcircus Magazine.

Sit down, have a cup of tea or coffee and read all about Jaala, her friends and their adventures in publishing a knitting magazine. I'm always impressed by how small groups of determined women seem to be able to accomplish so much good. Be sure to leave a comment to win your opportunity at a year's subscription to this online magazine and 4 pattern collections. The luscious photos in today's post, courtesy of Knitcircus magazine, are just a taste of what awaits in the Knitcircus, Issue #9, Spring collection.

I won't keep you waiting any longer. Here is Jaala and the story of Knitcircus:

As a massage therapist specializing in chronic pain, a wife, mom to a three-and-four year old and ardent knitter and sewist, I had plenty to do when Knitcircus first started. A friend and I had been publishing an old-skool Zine for moms of young children for a couple of years and we sensed that it was time to move on.

One day I got a chance to read the Vanity Fair special Africa edition, and went outside to sit on our concrete step and think. So much need in the world (you see that every day, Rudeek!); what can one woman do? How could we send just a tiny bit of the affluence around us to help out other people?

Then it hit me—knitters! Knitters are a generous bunch and can always find a little bit extra for a ball of yarn or a magazine….Yes, that’s it, we’ll make a knitting magazine! I wanted to be able to help people out, but not bring other people down. A knitting magazine would provide something fun for knitters and with any proceeds, we could pass on the good cheer.

Of course, local charity means a lot, and we do as much of that as we can, but I knew that the amounts we raised wouldn’t be huge, so decided to target Heifer International and KIVA because each of them help people learn and improve their lives and each of them allow people to pass on the gift to others as they succeed.

Fast forward two years, and what started as something printed on my laser printer grew into a glossy magazine distributed to LYS’s, and now we’ve made the leap to cyberspace! Now with my kids in school, Knitcircus is my full-time job, and with the help of creative and dedicated women like MS. SABLE, Enid, Cindy, Miss T, Ada, Amy and Erica, we’re getting better and growing all the time. The online debut, Issue #9, Spring, is our biggest and best issue yet; it’s a free magazine including interviews with Terri Shea, Lily Chin and Liesl Gibson, a free sewing pattern, articles and reviews, plus pattern previews for 20 original patterns(three free downloads). To knit the patterns, people can purchase the Pattern Collection here for quite a reasonable price.

We’re very excited to move online, because now we have room for lots of full-page photos of our designers’ work, we can go all over the world without stamps and we can have as many pages as we want.

To celebrate our big move, we’d like to offer not only a Spring pattern Collection pdf download, but a year’s subscription (4 Pattern Collections) to one lucky reader of Nurse Rudee's blog. Please check it out; three rings of knitting, sewing and fun, now with less paper!

Thank you for visiting today, Jaala. The spring issue is a work of art!

Make sure you check out Knitcircus and don't forget to leave a comment to win this subscription. I'll be closing comments on Friday, March 12th at 11:59 PM, EST and the winner will be selected by the random number generator and announced on Saturday, March 13th. Good luck!

Even though there is no baby around here, I HAVE to knit that adorable little green dress. HAVE.TO. I'll find a baby to wear it, somewhere.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Skool Daze

Something is amiss...

I started Icelandic Sweater Knitting school yesterday. There were five of us there for class and three of us were nurses, and one was an ER tech. I'm always surprised by how many health care professionals knit. It is great therapy.

There were several pattern pamphlets and one book to select from when choosing a pattern. My goal was to knit a cardigan because I want to learn to steek, but the one pattern that spoke to me, out of dozens I looked at, was a pullover sweater. I was taken in by the shades--all gray, black and white. Although I wanted the solid silvery ash shade of gray to knit the body, it wasn't in stock. I selected a gray that has slubs of black here and there throughout the yarn.

The public side of the swatch.

I knit a large swatch to see if it would work. The last think I want to do is look like a Dalmation or spotted English Setter when I'm done. I don't think it looks too bad. The slubs tend to migrate to the private side of the work on the swatch and to me, they don't appear (too) prominent on the public side.

The slubby private side of the swatch.

Obviously, this pattern required a bit of adaptation to make it into a cardigan. It starts at the bottom rib section and in the original pattern, is completely knit in the round. For a cardi, the waist is a rib that's knit back and forth, includes 16 extra stitches for a button band and once completed, the button band stitches go on a holder and the piece is joined to finish the body in the round. I'm using a completely different pattern in the book to accomplish this.

The pattern and my yarn choices.

Are you following me? Because to my mind, these adaptations and the use of 2 completely different patterns look like a recipe for disaster.

The pattern I have to follow.

I finished the waist in class and sat down yesterday afternoon to start the first chart. At that point, I immediately saw I forgot to make a button hole 8 rows back.

Rippit. Rippit. Rippit.

A very clever technique for steeking: The side by side purl stitches will be the guides for the 2 seams. The sewn stitches will travel down the middle of the purl bumps and then the sweater will be cut between the seams. Is this some fuzzy yarn or what?

By 7 PM, I had completed the waist for the second time, put the button bands on hold, cast on two purl stitches that are center front markers for steeking and completed chart #1.

Today will be for some mindless knitting in the round. Big needles, big yarn. No problems, right? What could go wrong?

Be sure to check in here tomorrow. I'll be hosting a special guest blogger and there will be a pretty fabulous give away.

Friday, March 5, 2010

While She Was Sleeping

On my way out the door to meet Sara on Thursday, I was stopped by the site of a rather large parcel sticking out of my mailbox. It was addressed to me and had traveled quite a long way to find me--more than 11,000 miles (or 18,000 kilometers). While the sender of this package likely slept on the other side of the International Date Line, I opened her gift. I knew she was sending me something--after all, she had asked for my address. But what I thought she was sending and what she actually sent...well let's just say I never imagined opening up a package the likes of this.

Inside, was the most beautiful and unexpected treasure. Though it looks like a quilt, let me tell you, it feels like a hug. As I write this, I'm sitting here with a cup of tea in my hand and a work of art covering my lap. While there is still some winter chill here in Detroit, there's none in my heart, which is full to overflowing.

Ruth, who doesn't blog, is a fellow nurse in Perth, Australia, and has been reading and commenting here for a long time. We first became acquainted on a nurse's group on Ravelry and through emails. She belongs to another group on Ravelry of knitters who also quilt. She made this gift as part of a quilt-a-long with the intent to give it to someone whose life was indicating they needed something to cheer them. Several of the pieces of fabric she used have great meaning to her from previous quilts she's made for loved ones.

Included in the package were some Australian souvenirs including an apron, an oven mitt in the shape of my state of Michigan (like all oven mitts seem to be, but this one has famous places in Australia printed on it!), a koala key chain, cell phone charms and a package of chocolate biscuits called Tim Tams. I'm going to be breaking into that package of treats a little later.

Ruth, if your intent was to give comfort, you've succeeded. I'm so very thankful for your thoughtfulness and warm spirit.

Today, I feel particularly blessed to have such a friend as you.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


When I was just a wee girl, I used to love the hula hoop. Who didn't? When I grew up, I learned to appreciate other types of hoops--like pretty hoop earrings. Nothing gaudy or gigantic, just delicate wisps of metal that dangle from the ears.

Lately, I've been getting used to other hoops, like the types one needs to jump through to get mortgage approval these days. The mortgage broker says, "jump," and I ask, "how high?" It's particularly frustrating to provide the mountains of documents we need to secure this loan and then get a call (late in the day when every place is closing or I'm on my way to work) asking to send along what we've already sent.

Apparently, the fellow processing our loan needs an assistant to point to the document he wants and already has right in front of him, or, he is in need of new glasses. I can't decide which.

For instance, he wants the telephone number of the buyer's (that's us) real estate agent. I know he has it, because I faxed it to him. It's listed on the face sheet. In addition, it appears the the upper right edge of one (out of several) of my paycheck stubs didn't come through clearly--could I fax it again? Hello? My husband faxed it and then sent a clear hard copy, so I know he has both. He told us that he got the overnighted package with the hard copies just last week. Yesterday, he asked for written proof that one of my loans was in good standing. Didn't he do a credit check? One would think that he could find all the proof he needs right there. But no. I had to call that bank, stay on hold for exactly 17 minutes waiting to talk to their loan department so I could get faxed proof from them. When I told the loan associate what I needed, she offered me a mortgage. It's so tempting.

While our current mortgage processor picks apart our application and supporting documents, time is a ticking. We have 13 days to close on this house, and 21 days total to vacate these premises.

The dude is driving me nuts, and I don't think he realizes what a short trip that is.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Glutton for Punishment

I used to love the scariest rides at amusement parks. I still love them, but with herniated discs in my lumbar spine, I don't think it's too wise to ride them. The memories of pain shooting into my toes and dragging my leg when I walk, or not being able to sit without pain is all it takes to keep me grounded. It took a long time to heal from that injury. These days, I have channeled my thrill seeking into other endeavors--like periodic extreme knitting.

While stalking driving around my new neighborhood last week, I stopped into the knitting store that's close to my new house. I was looking for the perfect mustard colored button for the hat I knit for the Olympic challenge, when, through no fault of my own, I was led astray by their class schedule and the gigantic shipment of Lopi they had just received.

The words, "sign me up" escaped my lips with no effort at all. It came as naturally to me as breathing. Class begins Saturday and will interfere with spinning for the next four Saturdays, but I'll be getting the opportunities to knit a traditional Icelandic style sweater in the round and steek it when done while the instructor holds my hand. Although I love pull over sweaters, the idea was to challenge my inner knitter, and so, I'll be making a cardigan.

I think steeking a garment I've paid a fortune to create qualifies as a challenge. The only time I've ever taken scissors to something I've knit, is when I'm trimming ends and I've never entertained the idea of deliberately cutting something right up the middle and then wearing it.

Of course, the bigger part of the challenge is to be prepared every Saturday for the class. Exactly how I'll manage this while I simultaneously shop for appliances, pack, move and squeeze in time for a full time job, remains to be seen.

Have you steeked? Can you give me an idea of how many analgesics should be on hand before my garment meets my scissors?

Photo: Google Images

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Full Moons

Sunday may have been the date for the full moon, but last night's moon was extraordinary. When it first arose above the bleak Detroit winter landscape, it was hanging low in the sky--a bright yellow globe that looked surreal. I ignored what it meant for the hospice night call and went about my evening.

The next time I saw the moon was nearly midnight. It was higher in the sky, no longer looking full, but just as pretty even if it was no longer yellow. It was white. I was driving home from a very odd visit, speaking with my east side counterpart on my cell phone (hands free, of course), and I just kept driving. Before I hung up the phone, I realized I hadn't driven home at all. I'd driven 13 miles further east to Rachel's house.

I'm sure it wasn't the distraction of the call or the autopilot imprint of driving to Rachel's home for 15 years in a row, but the allure of the moon that dragged me so far. I'm glad I snapped out of the trance before I drove another 13 miles east and landed in Lake St. Clair.

Oh. I almost forgot. I met a person last night who has been knitting for about 85 years. She kept saying, "now what was I making here? I forget." I was charmed. Don't think she won't get a skein of my handspun.