Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dear Universe

Due to my recent cheekiness, I'm aware that you felt the need to give me a comeuppance. I fully deserved this because after 27 years in my profession, I should know better than to mention QUIET nights and how good I've had it for days on end.

I particularly enjoyed the 10 minute verbal harangue by Dr. Rottenbastard last night. Now he was a special treat, and I have to say, I've not been screamed at by a doctor in years. Most of those old school docs, the ones who like to verbally abuse nurses, are long gone--replaced by a breed of docs, who, for the most part, are cordial and treat us in a collaborative manner. Not Dr. R. According to him, and I shityounot, he's going to have my license for peddling drugs. I prefer to think of what I was doing as my job: Patient advocate.

The night went downhill from there and this morning is no better. Every single time I drive to the outskirts of the metropolitan Detroit area--way out--I question why I felt I needed to buy a home in such a busy area. I could be living in the country where the only sounds one hears in the morning are made by the wildlife.

The wildlife here is drowned out by annoying car alarms, trucks, saws, jackhammers, those irritating backup signals on big trucks and the cacophony of workers who are digging up the driveway across the street, or hammering on the house rehab next door.

Not only am I a nurse on the edge now, I'm a sleep deprived and cranky one.

Universe? This picture is for you.

Take that!


Nurse Rudee

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mercy me, it's MiƩrcoles

The remains of the tree Mimi loved and MLTL cut down out of spite. These days, he refuses to remove the stump and plants flowers around the base because it reminds him of her. WTH?

Long before my scheduler let's me know by email, I'll shout out, it's HUMP day! Three more shifts to go, though I can't really complain as the hospice phones have been eerily cooperative. It's as though the Universe knows, I'm a nurse on the edge: Any more challenges and I'll be going all Cuckoo's Nest on everyone. Haldol Vitamin H for everyone!

Whatever. I'll take the silent phones at face value. As my Dad used to say, "don't look a gift horse in the mouth."

Here's my Wednesday offering to you: A little spice in the form of Red Hot Chili Peppers. Anthony Kiedis has some serious dental bling in this video.

FYI, if you're keeping score, I knit not a single stitch after I put my lifeline in my shawl on Tuesday. Oh, I thought about it, but that's all I did. One day in and already I'm behind. I swear, I'm making that shawl my vacation mission. And just so you don't think I've completely and prematurely embraced the life of a sloth, I did put up some fig vodka in time for the holiday weekend. There is no truth to the rumor there was a liberal amount of sampling going on. I'm saving it for a holiday meal with Mr. Larger Than Life. I need all the Vitamin F I can get for that!

Here's hoping your Wednesday finds you dancing in the street, or at least thinking about it. In fact, I hope you can't get this tune out of your head all day long. You're welcome.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Notes to self

Gratuitous goldfinch photo. He visit's the neighbor's birdbath and then hangs out on the fence to dry.

One of the features of my MacBook that I really love is Stickie Notes. I pop them up, write my pattern notes on them, sometimes patient names or their problems while I'm working the phones and laptops, holiday menus, grocery lists, whatever. The problem with my shorthand, is I often don't label the notes, figuring I'll get back to them soon enough, and after months in timeout, I could kick myself for not keeping more meticulous notes.

Don't ask what pattern this stickie note may be for. While I can't be certain without more research, I think it may be the Burburry inspired cowl adapted by me for a different gauge. Apparently, I only made a note and forgot to add a title so I could decipher what I was doing later on.

Not that this happened on the lace piece I'm working on now. No, indeed. While my high tech notes failed me due to my likely deleting the stickie note holding the Peacock pattern's more salient points and progress, my low tech stickie notes worked. After searching my computer files to no avail, there was this shawl's salvation, stuck to the pattern itself.

Here is my low tech sticky. Thankfully, I've even jotted down which row below the cable holds the lifeline (row 127). Makes me look like a genius so many months later. I cross out right side rows when I finish them, as long as I remember to do so. Proof I'm forgetful? I am actually beginning row 146 as soon as the lifeline is in and apparently, I've forgotten to cross out rows 142 and 144. Also take note of the gratuitous fancy pedicure in the picture.

I've reached the end of chart F, and I'm placing another life line after completing the purl row. While inserting this line, I've found it beneficial to use highly contrasting yarn that's bigger than my working yarn. In this case, I'm using worsted weight yarn as a lifeline and my working yarn is sport weight. I've tried using interchangeable needle cables but find working the row after this to be terribly tight, therefore, I use yarn.

Though I shouldn't brag on this section of the shawl, I will. Sometime last night, I lifted my eyes from my work for just a moment while working row 144. I dropped 3 stitches 4 rows down. Two knit stitches complicated by decreases and a yarn over. After 1 hour of major surgery and a couple of do-overs, I finally fixed the problem area and fixed it so well, I can't find the scar. Whew. There was no ripping to row 127 and knitting it all over again (at least 8 hours of reknitting). Lace surgery is no easy task, but my success is proof it can be done. Well.

If you don't know how to use a lifeline, or have yet to learn the value of this trick, I'll share with you how I do mine. With a blunt tipped needle, work the lifeline through each stitch and more importantly, around the stitch markers. In my case, the markers don't matter because I'm using coil free pins as markers that I can open and move, but if you put the line through a round solid marker, you'll have to cut your marker out when you come to it when working the next round. When knitting the first row after insertion of the line, do not work the thread of the line itself, which is why it's imperative to use a highly contrasting yarn for the lifeline. Be sure to mark the pattern where you placed the line. This way, hours, days, weeks, months, or as in this project, even years later, you can rip to that line and it will hold all of your stitches securely at that point. Pick them up and start knitting. In the above photo, I placed the lifeline through row 127 (seen near the bottom of the photo). If I ripped to that point (which I did), I would pick up the stitches, and begin knitting row 128.

Truly a knitter's life saving technique.

So is this blog. Writing about these lifelines has jogged my memory about a prior post I wrote. As I near the last of the peacock feathers, I am also approaching row 164, evil row 116's more evil twin. Yikes. I shall be laying lifelines very frequently in anticipation. Let us hope I can kick row 164's butt when I get there, or in the case of this shawl, if I get there.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Meander with me Monday

Like any good slacker in training, I'm enjoying a rare and relatively silent (so far) Monday. I'm on the countdown to a good week off work and frankly, even if today is cooperating, I'll appreciate not having to punch in at all. With that said, the phone is sure to drive me nuts tonight.

The lace blob as it usually appears when it isn't stuffed inside a bag in timeout.

It dawned on me that the photo I offered up for my Pretty as a Peacock shawl was from last year sometime. Maybe even 2009. Yes, it's been on the needles that long, and if it took you an hour to knit and purl two rows, I dare say you'd dawdle, too. The problem with lace is that the return row, which usually has no fancy stitches can be complicated when yarn overs stick to the knit stitches from the preceding row. What should be mindless knitting or purling, is anything but. If you don't pay attention, like me, you'll be ripping back to the lifeline. I can't tell you how many times I've had to rip on this shawl, but I will tell you it's more than five, easily.

The lace blob stretched out.

Since you all seem to appreciate lace and how complicated it appears, I thought I'd show you how far I've really come. Out of 218 rows, I only have 72 to finish this and I've put myself on a knitting plan. If I knit 10 measly rows a day, I'll be working on the border in 7.2 days. Not too shabby, right? Except I mean it when I say it takes me one hour to knit two rows (718 stitches), and in about another ten rows, stitch count will increase to 910 stitches in two rows. Somewhere later in the pattern, there will be over 1,000 stitches, so I'm not sure if my original plan to finish this in a week will work. We'll see, but if it kills me, I'm going to finish this stunning beauty.

The lace blob, sloppily pinned, from a distance. The top of the photo is the neckline of the shawl, and the bottom will soon sprout more peacock feathers and then wings.

And then I'm gonna dye it.

I've never done that before, so it should be interesting, and at the least will make good blogging fodder.

And because I promised meandering today, why the hell does the FedEx man park his truck in front of this neighbor's house several times a week? I assure you, his deliveries are rather long and while his employer may think he's a slacker, I'm not so sure he is. He's working hard at something. Must be Blue Footed Booby Business...

Told ya we'd meander, didn't I?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sweeping the cobwebs

I have moved so little today, it's crossed my mind that spiders may set up shop and use me to anchor their webs, or as my son used to call them, woobs. Spidey woobs. I have remembered that I used the last of the coffee beans and must, at the least, go to the store to buy more. Either that, or Sunday morning will be a slow and cranky one.

I did go get a pedicure today, which involved very little energy and a lot more sitting. However, my feet feel good and my toes look wonderful. Silver polish lends that certain sparkle to a girl's life, doesn't it? And a little self care goes a long way toward restoring equilibrium. Once again, at least til Monday, all is well with the Universe. After that, it's five long days of work, followed by 9 long days off.

Truly, there's not too much going on here, but my long punished Pretty as a Peacock shawl is in my hands (again) and no longer in the time out bag. For now. Three rows in and it has me entirely in fits again. A fair amount of swearing has been heard, but only by Leo, and he doesn't mind as long as I don't yell. Really...can't seem to find my rhythm with this shawl, but I truly want to finish this. It's so pretty. Let's hope it can stay out of trouble long enough to show progress (it's never knitting needle operator error, is it?).

Friday, June 24, 2011

How low can you go?

My fibery Friday offering: one completed and blocking Baby Surprise Jacket for my colleague's newborn

I've been all over the emotional hospice map this week and have encountered some very challenging moments. This, unfortunately, has left me feeling inadequate, and not a little low. At times I find myself wondering if I really make a difference, because on both Monday and Wednesday, I'm pretty certain I did not, but not through lack of trying. Some people just cannot be comforted when the will to live is at direct odds with the body's ability to survive. Suffice it to say, spiritual pain cannot be managed by any amount of opiates or anxiolytic drugs.

Who knew paprika was such a pretty plant?

Sigh...I tried. Even pastoral care was unable to make a difference. My heart is still so heavy which only demonstrates to me that it's once again time for a break. One more week.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Time slips away

No, it's not an impending plane crash with hundreds of potential victims waiting to get smacked by a Northwest Airlines plane. It's part of the aeronautical exhibit at The Henry Ford. I love the right corner of the photo where my son captured a dad holding his baby while mom kissed the baby's feet. There were people of all demographics waiting and lots of youngsters. I wish I'd taken a picture of of the three children sacked out on the hot dog sofa near the Weinermobile. They were adorable. Aren't all sleeping kids?

I meant to post this photo yesterday of one of the lines of people taken early Tuesday morning around 1 AM, all waiting patiently to see the Emancipation Proclamation. When we arrived, we made a snap decision not to wait the five hours ourselves, and instead strolled the museum and looked at the Civil War exhibit that housed many other important documents from that time in history. It was impressive--including the census book that showed a household servant belonging to Ulysses S. Grant. Interesting. On our way out of the exhibit, we found ourselves about 10 feet from the document we'd originally come to see. So many people, who'd waited so very long on line, were being rushed past the document and I think we saw as much of it from a distance as they got to see up close. I was more than satisfied with what we did get to see without the wait.

I will go back when crowds die down to see this exhibit (on display through Labor Day), sans the famous document which has gone back to the National Archives. I'll wait for a day off when I'm not so tired. While I love looking at all of the artifacts THF has acquired in the museum, my favorite part of a visit there is to tour the village.

Photo courtesy of Bribabe's really good smart phone.

Monday, June 20, 2011

What am I? Chopped liver?

We celebrated Father's Day at Mr. Larger Than Life's house last night. Dinner was good and I consumed no grains in an effort to avoid anything the mice that live there may have nibbled upon first. I know some of you may think I have a flair for hyperbole, but I assure you, I sh*t you not when it comes to MLTL.

When gift giving time rolled around, we were certain MLTL would love the giant gift pack of Armor All car cleaning products and the power hose with extension rod. After some superficial oohing and aahing, MLTL looked at my sister in law and said, "that Mcguires car care package you sent me last year was THE best stuff." I thought to myself, "what an ass... I'm glad I only spent $20 on the Armor All."

Then it was time for dessert. My famous rice pudding. I will interrupt my story telling here to share that cooking this in the crock put does not negate the need for stirring every fifteen minutes. The milk will still still scorch. I've come to think of this dish as more of a risotto that needs constant attention than a dish you can pop a lid on and forget about. It remains easy, but a bit time consuming.

Anyways, I served the pudding as I always do, with a drizzle of Tupelo honey. It was delicious. MLTL then regaled us with a story about a local Greek restaurant that serves THE best rice pudding. He is so delusional. Everyone knows that besides my own rice pudding, the best can only be had at either Shatilla in Dearborn, or the Phoenicia in Birmingham and only if they want to pay $7 a serving instead of $7 for an entire pot of pudding.

What the hell? What is wrong with this man? He is a pompous ass and I'll be damned if I ever make him anything from scratch again. From now on, it's two day old store bought pastries for him. The rest of us can enjoy my creations from the kitchen.

Well now, that's over for a bit. MLTL's birthday is next month. I think I'm going to be afflicted with some exotic condition that day.

Tonight I have a date with my husband. As soon as I clock out of work at midnight, we're heading to The Henry Ford to see the original Emancipation Proclamation, on loan from the National Archives, which goes on display this evening and continues around the clock until 6 AM on Wednesday. Both of us have read many books about the Civil War and have visited several Civil War battlegrounds so this is a natural for us. It helps that we're night owls and we're hopeful the lines won't be too bad so late at night.

More on that tomorrow. Have a great Monday. Incidentally, 10 more working days until I'm on staycation. Woo-hoo!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Slightly reinventing the wheel today

Yesterday afternoon, I was sitting on the porch discussing today's menu with my sister in law by telephone. After about 15 minutes, I jumped up, swore and ran into the kitchen. I told her I'd forgotten to set the timer to stir the rice pudding I was taking to my brothers for dinner last night. And just like that, she told me what I could bring to MLTL's home for dessert tonight.

The pudding, which is often requested by family, is a labor of love. It's not a hard recipe to make, but while cooking at barely a simmer for nearly two hours, one must get up and stir it at least every 10 minutes to avoid a scorched disaster. Therefore, on a beautiful summer day, if you make this, you'll be tethered to the stove. For the 90th time, my brother (the chef), asked for the recipe and told me he was going to make it in the crock pot.

Why didn't I think of that? Duh. So today, armed with all of the ingredients except a vanilla bean, I'm going to give it another go in a slightly different manner. I'll use my Penzey's vanilla extract to finish it off.

It was nice to see my brothers last night and especially the new baby. He is so sweet. I got to hold him, change his diaper and clothes, burp, walk, sing off key to him, and get him stoned on formula. This is one well loved baby boy and my brother is a wonderful grandfather.

I hope you all enjoy today, no matter where your dad may be. Mine died the summer of 2002, though it seems like only yesterday and I miss him terribly. Whenever I get annoyed by the sound of firecrackers this time of year, I recall the last time I saw my dad feeling well. My 13 year old son had bought fireworks that we took to my parent's home to use. My dad pulled up a folding chair outside and laughed in delight at each display my son set off. Two weeks later, he was gone.

Here's a little something else my dad would have enjoyed... Happy Farsa's Day to all you dad's out there, including the one who has been a spectacular father to my kids (you didn't really think I'd rather spend the day at the cemetery, did you?).

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Just me and the skeeters

Finally, the long awaited and hard earned weekend is here and I can't sleep in for the life of me. First I awakened around 2:53 AM with the sun shining in my face. Oh wait, that wasn't the sun, that was my lamp. Must have fallen asleep reading my Kindle again.

Because one of the kids is sacked out on my sofa in the living room, I'm on the back porch with my coffee and my laptop. Every once in awhile, a mosquito buzzes my ear, but for the most part, it's just me, the birds and a few brave squirrels. When I see more than two squirrels, I open the door and let Leo have at them. He clears the yard pretty quickly. I'd let him stay out here with me, but it's early, neighbors are still sleeping, and for whatever reason, the dog won't use his indoor voice. Yesterday, one of the squirrels was doing a tightrope act from my house to the garage, fell, and nearly became Leo's first capture. It was a harrowing few moments. Part of me really wanted Leo to win, but the animal lover in me was goading the squirrel into moving its ass out of the way. Leo might be a good hunter, but I don't have the stomach for seeing the remains.

Speaking of that, I'll leave you with this story before I go to the farmer's market this morning.

Late last night, making my last run of the shift, I saw a patient who had not peed all day. She had a home health aide living with her who agreed to assist me in putting a urinary catheter in the patient. One moment, I'm mumbling to myself because I can't see where X marks the spot--it was dark in that room--and the next I'm abruptly aware that the aide has abandoned her duties. I looked up and there she was, all 6 feet and likely 220 pounds of her, wedged between the bed and the wall with a goofy look on her face. She had fainted when she got a good look at what I was doing. And just like that, one patient had magically turned into two.

My job isn't boring, that's for sure.

Friday, June 17, 2011

All over the place, and a little Fibery Friday

To borrow a phrase, I've been considering words that begin with the letter, D, like duck, dart, and dodge. Which led me to thinking about words that begin with the letter, E, such as evade, or the best A word, to some, avoid. There are so many people in the working world, at least in my working world, who are good at doing all of the above and today, while I'm really annoyed by them, deep down, I'm really jealous. I wish I could take a page from their play books.

I need to work on a C word, compulsion, which is a fault for a type A personality like mine. I'm going to try hard not to feel compelled to work until the wee hours, then awaken only to start working again. One person I called this morning in an effort to alleviate my burden, placed the responsibility (hers) for ordering equipment right back in my lap, even though I told her I was off, had plans and really needed her to do her job. Oy. Forget it. It's easier to do the work myself than ask others to just do their jobs.

EZ's Baby Surprise Jacket in Fave fingering weight yarn, hand dyed by Fiberstory, in the color Meadow, using US size 2 needles. I put my work Blackberry, which I've conveniently turned off, on the sweater so you can see how tiny this little sweater really is. It's so sweet.

As you can see by the above picture, I really do have more important things to do with my precious time away from work.

Speaking of learning to duck, dodge, dart and evade...the theatrics are ramping up ahead of Father's Day. I thought instead of spending Sunday with MLTL, I might go see my own father whom I haven't seen in nearly 10 years. It might be nice to sit on a bench, knit, commune with nature and my Dad and skip the all the drama. I can guarantee the day would be better spent in this manner.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Gardening without the dog

...doesn't provide nearly as many laughs.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Yarn assaulted in suburban Detroit home. Police say the perp has four legs and a big nose.

Be on the lookout for this four legged beast with the long reach. Please notify the Knitting Police if you see him anywhere near yarn. Do not try to apprehend him yourself, unless you happen to have a cup of Frosty Paws handy. His attention can be diverted for a long time with one of those.

I'm behind on the heavy Icelandic sweater. When temps topped 100 degrees this week, knitting with bulky wool became a challenge. In desperation to knit anything, I set the heavy sweater aside and cast on a light weight project using hand dyed sock yarn, then proceeded to knit away in garter stitch. A couple of hours into knitting this wee little project, a certain big nosed beast slapped his paw down on my neatly wound cake of yarn. I was using a center pull, but somehow, the beast managed to snag his claw into several loops of yarn on the side, causing an avalanche of yarn that promptly got all tangled into a mess. This tragedy occurred in a split second. While trying to rewrap the yarn, which I ultimately had to cut and pitch, several stitches fell off my needle. I rescued all of them, except one, which, freed of its confining loops, found its way down the row.

Now to me, while simple to knit, and gorgeous in the right garment, garter stitch is a pain in the behind to repair if you drop a stitch. Thanks to youtube though, I have acquired the perfect way to repair dropped garter stitches and added this skill to my repertoire. Whatever did I do before youtube and google? I'll admit that prior to this, I may have ripped things back to the beginning, but likely not until I'd wasted an hour trying to fix it and cursing like a sailor. Learning to repair a dropped stitch or mistakes makes knitting so much more enjoyable. If I had ripped this out, I don't think I would have cast back on.

Prior to seeing this one video, in particular, I used to fix dropped garter stitches like this by turning the work back and forth and carrying the dropped stitch up like stockinette. It worked, but was complicated and fussy. As busy as I've been lately, I'm all over doing things the easy way. What made using my method difficult for this dropped stitch, which was now eighteen rows down and near the cast on edge, was the fact that it's multicolored fingering weight yarn. Yikes. My poor eyeballs were straining to see straight with such tiny stitches on US size 2 needles.

Can you spot the repair? Me neither.

I have to say, I love the brain trust out there in Knitting Land and thank all of those knitters who produce and publish such wonderful teaching videos. Where would I be with out you? Likely the Knitting Loony Bin, or at the least, reknitting nearly 3,000 stitches...Same difference. In particular, I'm sending out a great big thanks to MarleneD1216 (her youtube ID). Today you are my hero and the beast's salvation.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Lovin' It

It's warmed up nicely here in the city, if you can call temps of 100 degrees warm. I'm not complaining...I'm blessed to have central air pretty much whenever I need it, and not wanting to curse myself here, I've not had to work in any homes where the only cool source of air is coming from an ancient fan on its last leg. I did spend one evening in the moth infested home of a hoarder, but I was wearing cotton and stripped at the door when I got home. Don't think those moths didn't worry me. Never seen anything like it in my life. They were everywhere, and with the patient's permission, I spent about 15 minutes sprinkling Oil of Lavender all over the home. I'm not sure it did any good, but it made me feel better that at least I made an effort. Have you ever seen a moth infestation like that? There were hundreds of them.

This morning, I spent as much time in my garden as I could tolerate in this heat and humidity, plucking the silver maple seeds (whirlybirds) that had germinated and sprouted everywhere. While I appreciate the desire of that tree to turn my yard and garden into a forest, I couldn't let it happen next to my tomatoes. There were dozens and dozens of these baby trees all over the place and that was only in the vegetable patch. The temperature looks like it will moderate over the next few days so I'll be tackling the rest of the garden, soon.

Tomorrow there is rain in the forecast. After the deluge last month, we've been bone dry. I've had to get out there and water all of my new plants diligently. Still...not complaining. Really, I'm not.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Feathering the nest

These past couple of years have been expensive ones for us. Converting our old home into an assisted living for our daughter meant we had to vacate the premises, leaving much of what makes a house a home behind for her to use. The entire next year was spent renting a home as we were loath to buy if Rachel's new living situation didn't turn out well. Last year saw us buying a new home but we were kind of pressed to make any improvements, not that this house needed much, and with two moves in little more than a year, we exhaled and took the rest of the summer off.

Now that's all changing.

Welcome to our fledgling outdoor oasis.

We turned our attention first to the back of the garage. Over the winter, we thought the plot of land alongside the garage would make the perfect spot for a vegetable garden. Due to the cold, rainy spring, we got to that rather late. The fence was placed to keep Leo out, sod was stripped and the bed planted. Finally. Noticing my neighbor's home--complete with a birdbath--drew lots of hungry visitors, I bought my own birdbath and placed it strategically next to the fence.

I'm hoping it draws enough birds to help with my grub problem. The flamingo I wedged into the top of the fence draws birds, too. The robins seem particularly enamored of the metal bird. Maybe they like the pink plumage. Myself, well I like its gaudiness. In fact, there are plans in the works for sheep in this yard, too, however, because we're inside city limits, the sheep will only be on the fence in the form of a mural.

I've surrounded the sundial with plumage of its own. Petunias. The air conditioner, while a necessary nuisance, is just plain hideous and you can't enjoy the sundial without looking at that big metal eyesore. I've been considering surrounding it with the ferns that have taken over my front yard and a serious transplant operation will be undertaken, soon. The greenery seen behind the sundial is a beautiful butterfly bush I planted last week.

While shopping for an inexpensive birdbath at the local Meijer store, I found this head and had to have it. Had to. He was a singleton with a broken nose, so the sales clerk gave me a good discount. He reminds me of the tiki enemies on a certain Wii game I play. I think the statue's nose lends him a subtle rugged, handsome look.

I also bought a flying pig for its likeness to Rambi the Rhino. Donkey Kong aficionados are sure to appreciate my efforts here.

Saturday, I got tired of looking across the street and envying my neighbor's outdoor hideaway. A quick trip to Pier 1 helped me change all of that. I bought 2 new comfortable chairs and cushions and re-purposed everything else. I think I need a little plant life for the porch, but I'm well on my way to creating a wonderful little nest. Sunday, I spent the day out here sipping iced tea with my best friend and spinning yarn(s).

It was a perfect time in a much more perfect spot.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Daily dose of irony

Is it just me?

Or do you find it ironic that Jack Kevorkian died today of NATURAL causes?