Thursday, September 30, 2010

I never know when it'll hit me

Tonight it was the gospel music softly playing in the room where I presided at a hospice death. When Elvis started singing one of my father's favorite hymns, it was all over but for the blubbering. I waited for the long ride home for that.

Miss you, Dad. This one's for you...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


That knitting hamster has been at it in my brain again. Around and around it goes, but only one project is sticking in my thoughts and it's one I've been wanting to get around to since I took Jane Slicer-Smith's class last September.

It's the Harlequin Jacket from her book, Swing, Swagger and Drape. The mitered boxes with clever shaping is calling to me. At the time of her class, she had a trunk show, too. The jacket looked fantastic on me and on every other woman who tried on the piece. It's beautiful.

I've settled on colors, too, and while green would be the obvious choice for me, I ordered DK weight yarn (Swish) from Knitpicks today in 3 shades of purple. I also ordered new cables for my interchangeable needles. The most clever thing about this pattern is that along with the miters, the shaping is achieved through frequent size changes with needles, going from larger needles at the bottom to small needles in the bodice area.

I think I'm ready to take this project on, but reading the pattern in the book leaves a lot to the imagination. While the author may be a genius, I am not. I need more instruction. Enter, Ravelry. When I submitted the name of the pattern into the search engine, the pattern popped up showing it was in my library. When I opened that window, to my complete surprise, it showed up the book that I own, and in a magazine I apparently own. Knitting Universe, Winter, 2006 has more in depth instructions than the book. I'd have never looked in that magazine if I hadn't been led there by Rav.

Who knew? I love the new Ravelry search options. Love, love, love.

So now I'll wait to see if I like the Swish. I know I like Trendsetter's Merino VI, which is what the pattern is knit from in the book, but if I like the Knitpicks yarn, I'll save 50% overall. I ordered one skein of each color to play with first. It's a start for what will be a major project.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Getting around to getting it done

While I haven't completed anymore projects since yesterday afternoon, I have been working on a WIP. It's the poncho I started late last winter out of the Rowan cotton/alpaca blend. I don't know why I haven't finished it because it's 60 % complete and a no-brainer to knit. The whole thing is stockinette with one cabled row every 12 rows. How hard is that? My goal is to get it done so I can wear it while it's still autumn.

I picked that project back up instead of casting on for the hat I wanted to make to match that baby sweater because I couldn't find my double points. All bazillion sets of them have gone missing. A cursory search of the house came up empty. Over the years, I've stored them in a beautiful vase next to my chair. Of course, all of their packaging was lost, and the print rubbed bare from use, so finding matching sets in a sea of loose needles was a pain. I bought a beautiful DPN holder from Jane (Miss 376) to solve that problem. I love it because there I kept my beloved clover and bamboo DPNs all in one handy spot. Now it (the case) and all of my needles are missing in action. Therein lies the problem of storing them all in one spot, but that's not Jane's fault; it's mine.

Oh, I know where they are alright. I just can't find them amid the clutter in the room that was to be my knitting haven. It's a room I've done nothing with, or to, since we moved in last March, except fill it with junk.

All of that is about to change. I'm going to have my hubby demonstrate his love for me by painting that room this week. I think a nice grey-blue for a calming and blood pressure lowering space will be a good start. A warm area rug will make it rather homey. It's cold up there this morning so I know I need a rug. I wish I could find the round rug I saw in a catalog last spring because it had a farm scene with grazing farm animals all over the rug. I'm kicking myself for not buying it, or at the very least, not putting that catalog aside. To address the biggest issue in that room, later this week I'll be heading over to IKEA to find the shelving system I think I want in there. Proper organization and storage is a huge problem and this should get me on my way.

I'm going to get around to getting this room done before the snow flies, and I'm really hopeful my DPNs show up during the process of organizing this space. I hate the idea of replacing them.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

On being complete

There is incredible satisfaction when a knitting project is finished. Still, this one, fresh off the needles in this photo, takes a little bit of faith. Is it really done?

Make two folds in the above blob and, voila! You have a baby sweater. Faith is a good thing to have when following an Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern.

Seam those arms and now it's truly's done.

But wait. It needs closure and embellishment. If this soon to join the world babe is as enthusiastic about all things round as his brother, Ethan, I think I chose the right buttons. A few months ago, Ethan joined us for lunch at a local Italian restaurant. The waitress gave him a blob of pizza dough to play with and wouldn't you know it? Ethan formed it into a ball and threw it as far as he could. Being only two, it wasn't all that far. It plopped into my dish and splattered marinara sauce on my jacket. I was so delighted with his antics that I barely noticed the stain. I love little boys.

In case you can't tell by the photo, this pattern gives you the opportunity of where to place the buttons. On the left band for a girl and on the right button band for a boy. It's such a clever little pattern.

Short of a swim in some Eucalan, the sweater is finally complete. I ran up to the yarn store this afternoon to match some softer yarn for a hat, and if I'm lucky and have enough yarn, some booties.

I still need to finish the blanket I'm making for him, but I'm feeling better that at least this is done!


Friday, September 24, 2010


Every family has its own special words to describe certain things. Obnoxicity is one of ours that describes a situation beyond obnoxious. In our home, its used often to describe life with MLTL. Obviously on the mend now, MLTL is reaching new heights of disgusting with his level of obnoxicity and his target is my son.

As MLTL has declined a bit in recent years, and I'm speaking physically and mentally, not in his ability to be obnoxious, my son has lived with him to help prevent a disaster. Those days are coming to an end and my son is actively looking for a federal job that utilizes his degree when he graduates in December. The work he is pursuing will require him to live in Washington, D.C. for a period of 3 years and MLTL is losing what's left of his mind over this.

As my son actively applies for jobs, MLTL tells him, "I hope you don't get that job," and, "why can't you work here?" He is becoming mean and belittling toward the only human who has made it possible for MLTL to continue to live in his home. In the past few years, my son was the only person my father in law seemed to like, but now, everything my son does is wrong, including the incorrect way he folds a towel, waters flowers and how late he sleeps. If he's not up early, my son can't be a chauffeur for MLTL.

Yesterday, I got no fewer than 3 calls from my son regarding his grandfather's litany of complaints toward him. I've tried to reassure him that this is a favorite M.O. for his roommate and to try not to take it personally. After all, MLTL didn't speak to his own daughter for an entire year after she moved out of state. Back then, my mother in law was still alive and ran interference. That buffer isn't there anymore and my father in law's insults are very personal, hateful and unwarranted. My son, who could use a little thicker skin, is taking the barrage of hatred to heart.

And Mama Bear is steaming.

I'm trying hard to let my son work through this hiccup with my father in law, but I'm losing patience with that mean old man.

If he thinks he's the only Arab in the family capable of losing it, he should re-evaluate the situmacation. I can, and will, take obnoxicity to a whole new level.

Dear Lord, grant me clarity and the wisdom I'll need to deal with this old goat. Amen.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Things that are official

It's fall, as evidenced by the availability of my favorite beer, and not by the weather which is more like summer.

Leo is a juvenile delinquent. Twice in one week he has instigated fights at Camp Bow Wow. The first time it happened, the staff called me to let me now Leo had a bite mark on his jowl, but it was his own fault. I felt as though the principal was calling me about one of my kids.

Leo, of course, categorically denies all allegations. He was overheard saying, "prove it." Dumb dog--it's all recorded.

For his next visit, staff will try an extra nap time for Leo.

Yeah...good luck with that.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Knitting Blasphemy

I've cast on my second ever Baby Surprise Jacket from the Elizabeth Zimmerman (EZ) book, Knitting Workshop. This is about the most versatile and clever pattern ever written, but only if you can understand Elizabetheeze. I love the witty writing style of EZ, but I'll be damned if I can understand her patterns and in her case, EZ doesn't stand for easy. The last time I made this sweater, I used a cheat sheet that someone had posted on the internet. After multiple searches for those old CliffsNotes, I threw in the towel and spent $10 on the recently re-released pattern, which on page 2, has line by line instructions that are perfect for the idiot that I apparently am. I have to say, I'm ever so slightly annoyed that even though I own the book, and now the separate pattern, I still had to look for a video to help me out when it came to determining the size to knit for a newborn.

Not so annoyed that I wouldn't knit this item though.

The sweater, knit entirely in one piece and completely in garter stitch is an example of brilliant knitting engineering. Believe it or not, the above sweater, cast on late yesterday afternoon in Mountain Colors River Twist and Reynolds DK weight wool, is 33% complete. I'd have done the entire sweater in River Twist, but the price for two skeins gave me palpitations. I had the Reynolds in my stash, so somehow the cost of that doesn't count.

Now that I'm done bashing the contents of the knitting world's favorite knitter's patterns, I find myself thankful I don't have a disagree button on my blog like they do on ravelry. I hate the disagree button and the way the disagree fairy flits from one post to another trying to make knitters feel bad about their opinions. My belief is that if EZ could be opinionated, well then, so can I.

Last, but not least, is that the harvest moon I see approaching? I hope its effect isn't as bad as last month's full moon. I wish I could hide away and knit until it passes.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Careful what you ask for...

Never in my life have I seen a grown adult with normal appendages (and I'm talking about the tips of fingers) take a drill to grind his fingernails.


I guess I've seen it all now and can pretty much go anytime.

Incidentally, there is no truth to the rumor that Nurse Rudee took any joy in jabbing Lovenox in the belly of her private duty patient.

None at all.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I interrupt your regularly scheduled knitting for a rant...

While I appreciate that people who work in a physician's office have jobs to do, I think it's critical that those who work there should endeavor to work within the scope of their practice or title.

In a hospital, those lines don't get blurred very often and most strive not to step into those murky waters. Registered nurses don't prescribe drugs or treatments unless they're licensed to do so. In a doctor's private practice, these lines get crossed all the time. I've worked in such an environment, so I know this happens. When a doctor calls for his "nurse" in his office, often times, it's a medical office assistant they're referencing, not a formally educated or trained nurse. Big difference. If this "nurse" gives out unsolicited medical advice, he or she is not behaving in an appropriate or even legal manner.

We learned MLTL, who was supposed to be discharged today, will now be staying inpatient for 3 more days to tweak his Coumadin. He was miserable and very disappointed about this, and in return, so are we. Since I missed the doctor's 30 second inpatient visit, I called the doctor's office because I wanted to know why he has to stay, and had the unfortunate experience to speak with the doctor's personal secretary who commenced to giving me a piece of her mind. All due respect, I'll take my answers from a physician, RN, NP or PA, but not the secretary. When I told her I wanted to speak with the doctor, she huffed, sighed, became sarcastic, impatient and completely pushed the wrong buttons. I felt bullied by the secretary who was doing a decent job of blocking time consuming calls intended for the doctor.

What a snot she was. And foolish...very foolish. I wonder if she had an inkling that she should have called in sick today? When I called her manager to report her behavior, she didn't seem shocked. The manager said, and I quote, "uh-oh."

I can sound very sane and present a fabulous argument when I'm actually steaming on the inside. All I wanted was the answer to why MLTL had to stay three more days in the hospital when he'd been promised 1 night. It's a reasonable question that didn't require a lecture from a secretary with a wannabe medical degree. Don't get me wrong here, I believe everyone's job is important in a medical practice. I think it's wrong to step outside your job description and give out medical advice if you're not trained as a physician.

Reason won out today.

Mr. Larger Than Life is now sitting in his own home, in his own recliner, watching his own TV and ordering my son around as though he is his personal slave.

I win.

I may have to be his personal nurse for the next 5 days, but I can guarantee that this miserable old man will be a lot happier in his own environment, and because of this, so will the rest of us. The parking will be easier, too.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A steady pace

Miracles have been happening in my family. Miracles.

My husband has gotten tired of complaining of shoulder pain and has actually seen a specialist. It only took ten years. The news is not the greatest for him, but neither are his medical woes of the worst case scenario. He may not need surgery and that's good enough for now. He may have pain relief from medical treatment and that's music to my ears--probably his, too.

The other miracle?

MLTL had, and I quote, "a good wash last night". He was able to describe the contents of his shower, which we know he hasn't seen in 5 long years. He asked my son whose toothbrush that was in his shower. The answer was, he didn't know.

In matters of the heart, the good news is we now have pacer fire with capture that will kick in when his heart tuckers out.

The bad news is, he can't get the site wet for 5 days. In his mind, MLTL will interpret this to mean he should never shower again.

I really think my family owes me big time for that one and only shower we'll likely ever see him take.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

How low can I stoop?

Apparently, I have a few things to learn in the revenge department. Live and let live is a decent enough adage to follow through life and under most circumstances, will stand me in good stead. However, sometimes I have to resort to being underhanded to get what I want.

Empress Bee had a lovely story to tell about a neighborhood thief who kept swiping her newspapers that she had paid for. I loved how she handled the problem and put an end to petty, yet annoying theft.

Green with envy over how someone could bring a peaceful, if not messy, end to her problem, I think I channeled her a bit today. Mr. Larger Than Life is getting his pacemaker tomorrow afternoon. The hospital called me today with his instructions. Just the basics: be at the hospital at 12:30, nothing to eat or drink after 8 AM, take morning medications, shower well the night before.

Wait, wait, wait. What was that last item? A shower the night before?

Completely fabricated.

This man has not showered since his wife died 5 years ago.

I'll let you digest that.

Now use your imagination to consider how things must be smelling in and around him. A necessity bath only goes so far, and I was not going to lose the opportunity to freshen things up a bit.

Thanks, Bee. I hope it works.

Monday, September 13, 2010

I know I'm faking it. Not really making it.

The shawl.

The shawl is a gauge disaster. Right now it's sitting in the corner--literally--while I think about it. I'm not throwing in the towel yet, but it'll take a bit of ripping back to a point I think is a little more reasonable for a width of a shawl, and then I'll restart the decreases.


To make myself feel better, I cast on some socks. Well, OK, one sock. I wanted to do something in a Fair Isle pattern, but thought better of taxing my brain. Hence, I'm letting the yarn do the work for me.

It's been awhile since I've knit anything with Opal sock yarn, and I have to ask myself why. It's gorgeous yarn and makes for a pair of great Fake Isle socks.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Doing our part for economic recovery

On a daily basis, I drive past businesses and wait to see signs of the so called recovery. While sometimes it seems to me as though Michigan is dragging its heels in this respect, there are itty-bitty signs that the times are changing. I often see giant wind turbines going from one place to another along the freeways and they're a sight to behold on a truck. They really are huge--so big, only one part at a time fits on the truck--and they're made in Michigan. While we're used to building cars here, at least the turbines show we're capable of changing a business paradigm. Another new and interesting business around here is the movies. Sara saw Wallace Shawn (you may know him as Vizzini in The Princess Bride) downtown last weekend. My friend Judi was going downtown for dinner two weeks ago when she saw a film crew shooting, Detroit 187, in front of the restaurant she was headed for. She was thrilled to see Michael Imperioli up close and personal. She called me up to tell me Christopher smiled at her.

One industry I see that seems unaffected by our economic doldrums is medicine. The parking lots of medical office buildings, hospitals, clinics and pharmacies seem full. My family is doing our own part of boosting that particular business. In the past month, two of us have had an MRI, one is getting a biventricular pacemaker for what the doctor says really is a heart after all, one is getting elective Lasik eye surgery, without which, he cannot be a secret agent man and one may need a shoulder repaired. Let us not forget the canine amongst us who saw a doctor, too.

I'd much rather promote a different industry. The movies sound good, though I don't ever want to be the subject of one of Detroit 187's episodes.

Here's a trailer to watch. You know, I always loved "Cristoffa" in The Sopranos and even though I'll always think of him as a "made man", I have high hopes for this show.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I spent a little money this summer on replenishing the contents of my bra supply. Not wanting to be cheap about an article of clothing I spend so much time in, I picked up these torture devices in a bra store. I'm not so certain these bras are any better than my usual Target or TJ Maxx finds.

On Tonday (because while it was Tuesday, it felt like a typical work week Monday), I was doing my best to complete a lengthy start of care without touching anything. I knew there were bedbugs in the home I was in, and I was convinced that if I touched anything, I would be bringing something more than my laptop home with me. If this house, lifted straight off an episode of Hoarders, had only bedbugs as non-human inhabitants, I'd be surprised.

Electing to sit on a plastic chair, and nose to the grind stone, I was plowing through the paperwork as fast as humanly possible, when I became aware of something crawling down my arm. Trying hard not to show distaste, disgust, loss of control or screeching like a little girl who has seen her first mouse, I surreptitiously tried to smack whatever it was until I killed the damned thing.

It was an errant bra strap that had mysteriously come undone.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ixnay the Edbugsbay

As my driver rounded the bend on I-75, we both saw the thick, billowing smoke coming from somewhere on the east side of Detroit. He said, "big fire there," and all I could think about was the last big fire that left those firefighters so critically injured last month. Big fire, indeed. As we merged onto east bound I-94, we could see the wind driven smoke blowing right above us. When we got off on our exit, the smoke was thick enough to make us cough. At the time, I had no idea we were only a couple of miles from an unbelievable inferno.

There were 85 fires in Detroit last night and while not certain they're arson (high winds and downed power lines in the area), the fire department is intimating some are. This is reminiscent of the fires that made this city famous for the problems around Halloween, and Halloween Eve. Last Friday, an arsonist torched a famous art deco building in Highland Park. A structural landmark that stood for 80 years, it's gone forever now.

Soon there will be nothing left of the east side of Detroit. I bet those bedbugs I saw last night will survive, though.

I'm still itching.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Staycation Day 1

We never go away for Labor Day weekend. There's a lot that one can do around here without leaving a 10 mile radius, and the Ford Arts, Beats & Eats festival is one of them. Knitting is another. I'm glad I chose not to mix the two.

My husband and I went to the festival yesterday afternoon, spending $15 to park a half mile from the event, $3 each to get in and $40 for food tickets, half of which we didn't use. Still, the weather was perfectly cool with a high of around 60 degrees with winds out of the north (thank you, Canada!). The crowds were enormous, the food really good and the music at the different band stands was decent.

Can't figure out why people are standing in line for free flax samples.

I'd never heard of Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas before this week and now I've seen her twice. The first was on a morning news show and I'm enamored with her voice. And look! She looks cute without going all Lady Gaga on the audience. While she has tats, her bits are actually covered. LG was in town last night, too, though her venue was at a concert hall where ticket prices ranged from a low of $75 to the heavens. I really think I got the better end of that deal.

This is the first time we've been to this festival. Prior to this year, it's been held in downtown Pontiac where the festival had a hard time attracting vendors and crowds. This year it's in the town next door to us. It's so close, we could have walked if it weren't for my back. I don't resent the parking fee. It helps the host city recoup its costs for police, sanitation and the like. The admission fee goes to charities.

The festival runs through tomorrow night, and I may go back for the music. The lineup for the rest of the weekend includes War, Clint Black, Macy Gray, Alexander Zonjic & Friends and Kansas, just to name a few. There are different stages sure to appeal to everyone.

Be prepared for the monumental size of the crowds if you decide to go. At times it felt as though we were in a cattle chute.

Oh...sometime last night, my brain clicked in and despite the varying yarns, I was able to read my knitting to see where I'd been and where to go from that point. It's almost a shawl!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Where in the hell was I?

I'll be the first to admit that after the crappiest two working weeks I've had in ages, I may have imbibed a little too much fig vodka beginning at the stroke of midnight last night, but for the life of me, I can't figure out where I left off on this shawl.

Usually, I'll leave myself notes. I know, deep in my little pea sized knitter's brain, that against better judgment, I stopped somewhere in the middle of a 16 row repeat. The notes may have been on the pattern which has mysteriously disappeared. I know they're not in the Macbook sticky notes I usually use, or let me say, there is a mysterious note that says begin row 9, but it doesn't say for what. Duh.

Counting rows isn't as easy as it sounds as there are lingering effects from either the figs, or the vodka sometimes the wrong side has knitted rows and the right side has purled rows and the craziness of all these yarns can't help me.

It's cold here in Detroit. Cold enough to drag out the unfinished wool projects that have hibernated during the summer. Cold enough to make me don wool to go get a haircut. Cold enough to force me up to the yarn store where I got a replacement pattern for this feather and fan shawl.

If I could only count, I'd be hurrying to finish this absolutely gorgeous shawl. I love it. Now that it's cold, I want it now. Yesterday! If it kills me, I'll figure it out.

Maybe the answer will come to me while I sleep tonight--just in case, I should put the shawl under my pillow.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A heart that's larger than life

Or maybe I should have titled this post, if it's not one thing, it's another.

Five years ago, as Mr. Larger Than Life lay panting in an ICU bed down at the Detroit Medical Center, the RN caring for him pulled his chest xray up on the monitor. What I saw was the largest cardiac silhouette I think I've ever seen. It looked 3 times bigger than the normal fist sized heart. Now when you think about the Grinch, whose heart grew three sizes to envelope a love of Christmas and spirit, you'd think MLTL's heart would make him all warm and fuzzy.

Not so, my friends, not so.

The size of his heart seems to enable him to hold that much more hatred that he stores up and then dumps on the people who take care of him...his family.

The size of his heart is directly related to an infection, viral myocarditis, that he encountered 23 years ago. A heart this size doesn't beat correctly. It doesn't perfuse correctly, and it's getting tired of doing its share of the work. Late last week, MLTL wore a 24 hour heart monitor. The doctor's office called today, telling him he needed to see the doctor this morning, and to bring a family member with him. He told the doctor he has no family. When asked if he is sure, he said, "no, I am alone." Now the doctor knows this isn't true as both my husband and son have gone with him on these appointments.

Instead of one of us, he took a friend this morning and afterward, all we heard is that he needs a pacemaker on Tuesday and he doesn't know why. In other words, MLTL's sky is falling.

I called the doctor myself and spoke with his nurse practitioner. MLTL has underlying atrial fibrillation (live long enough and we will all likely have this), but way too much ventricular ectopy and frequent 3 second pauses. Because he is deaf, demented and scared, he misunderstood what's going to happen Tuesday, immediately called his daughter and made her cry and has everyone convinced this is the end of his world. Tuesday's appointment is actually with the cardiologist again, not the surgeon, and he was told to bring family with him. Family he denies having.

When I conveyed my conversation with the doctor's office, my sister in law was shocked he'd have told the doctor he has no family. The friend that he took is someone who has stayed close to him to help alleviate the weight of what he carries in his pocket. I just don't get it, but at this point, I've stopped trying to interpret the motivations behind the things he says and does.

While I may have had a sleep-in planned for next Tuesday, I am now supposed to be accompanying this mean old man to see the doctor. As he hates waiting, it's his idea to book the first available appointment at 8 AM. If you're 83 years old, you have time to wait. I hope he doesn't have a heart attack when he learns we're changing the appointment to a more respectable hour.

In the meantime, MLTL believes the doctor is trying to bilk him out of money--as though the Medicare belongs solely to him--and there is no reason for a pacemaker. In his narcissistic mind, it simply isn't possible that anything untoward could have occurred between one doctor visit to the next. What he's failing to forget in his simplistic equation is that it's this cardiologist that he owes his last quarter century to in the first place. Without him, he'd have likely died from the severity of the infection he had. Perhaps he should show more faith in the man.

Lord, this is going to be a difficult weekend.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Someone has a pity paw

Poor Leo hurt the pad of his 4th toe somehow. He won't put any pressure on it and what looks like an abscess is draining brownish gunk. He was fine when I put him in his crate yesterday evening, but when I walked in the door last night, the first thing he had to show me was his sore paw.

On the good side:

He has adapted to walking, running and stalking Isaac on 3 legs.
He has gotten a few extra cookies for his most excellent demonstration of a pathetically sad dog.
He is still wagging his tail
His nose is cold.

On the bad side:

We are $200 lighter in the pocket from the vet bill. $90 for an xray? Really? And $46 for 10 antibiotic capsules?

It's a good thing I'm wracking up all this overtime after all. I'm practicing my pathetic look.