31 May 2006

I Survived the Weekend

It was busy, as expected. When I turned into the parking lot at work Saturday, though, there was a conspicuous lack of vehicles in the client parking area. While that might seem to be a good thing, I have learned over the years that too few cars can be just as ominous a sign as too many. So I started my shift waiting for the other shoe to drop. I did not have to wait long. Within a couple of hours the phones were ringing off the hook and patients were coming left and right.

By the time I knew what had happened, it was 2AM. I had managed to admit only 4 new patients, but most everything in hospital had potential to be a disaster. I also had a huge pile of records to write up. My 15 hour shift turned into an 18.5 hour shift, mostly because of all the paperwork to be done. When I left Sunday morning, the overnight lull had gone and the two daytime doctors were experiencing pretty much what I'd had to deal with myself the night before.

Monday night, fortunately, was much better. We were nearly filled to capacity, but there were far fewer new cases coming in, and the pace was much more reasonable. It's a good thing, as I had decided to take in my little old man, Poqui, to do a bit of bloodwork.


Poqui is my eldest child and the only one I've known since he was born. He was born on July 5, 1989, in a barn at the horse farm where I was working summers as an undergrad. I brought him home when he was 6 weeks old so that he wouldn't get flattened by an unaware horse, and he's moved around all over with me since. He's showing his age of late, though, and I'm a bit worried that he might have hyperthyroidism. I expect to have an answer on that from the lab when I get to work this evening, but all his other bloodwork was normal, which was both a little surprising and very relieving.

An Embarassment of Riches

Today's mail brought several packages:

- A pair of ringer T's for World Wide Knit in Public Day from Franklin's Cafe Press store. Franklin graciously did a design for our little village of Kittery Point, and I bought one for me and one for David.

- Two pairs of Addi circs purchased on eBay for the purpose of figuring out socks on 2 circs.

- Barbara Walker's 2nd Treasury

It made me very happy.

Spinning Stuff

I sat down tonight and finished filling the bobbin I'd started with the icelandic x shetland cross roving. I came to the conclusion that it will probably work best for me as a singles yarn, though I will likely work 2 or 3 strands together in the end. When I test ply it back on itself, the slubs where more of the undercoat fibers are aggregated poof out too much, and I think that if I ply it I'll have a lot of trouble with splitting - more so than if I'm working multiple ends of singles together. Anyway, I wound it off onto David's little niddy (Mine's hiding in a box somewhere) and there are about 204 yds in this little skein.


29 May 2006

Memorial Day

My grandfather, Emuel Edward Vassey Jr., enlisted in the Army Air Corps during World War II and served in Europe flying bombing runs. It was still during the war when he met my grandmother, but he would not marry her until he had finished his required number of bombing runs. He didn't want to risk leaving her a war widow.

They married in 1944, and he left the service for a couple of years after the war, working in the commercial aviation sector, but then he re-enlisted and spent the rest of his career in the newly-formed U.S. Air Force. I was about 4 when he retired, but I have some faint memories of being shown around one of the planes he flew in as a navigator on the base in Charleston, SC. When he retired he was a Senior Master Sargeant, a noncommissioned officer, and he had served during three wars - WW II, Korea, and Vietnam. He and my grandmother had also raised four children and by then had 5 or 6 grandchildren, as well.

Although he loved to watch war and military documentaries and movies, he spoke very little about his own experiences during the war. He also was not a churchgoer, even though he came from a religious family, and I always wondered how his war experiences had shaped him and if they had something to do with this departure from his upbringing. After his death almost 3 years ago, I asked my grandmother if he had ever discussed these things with her. I wasn't terribly surprised when she told me that he had not.

War, as General Sherman very succinctly put it, is hell, and I certainly would never wish it on anyone - not my grandfather, not the soldiers who are currently dying or being maimed due to W's caprice. Still, my grandfather came through it and remained a loving, kind, humorous, and generous man. We will always keep his memory in our hearts -always, all ways.

27 May 2006

Calor Con Amor

I sat down this evening to listen to the latest episode of Cast On, and Brenda was plugging the Dulaan Project, a button for which is on the right side of this page. It just so happened that I had my latest Dulaan WIP in my lap to work on while I listened. This is the Old Shale scarf in Madelyn handspun I started while on my way to Louisville.

As I'm not an especially fast knitter and as I'm fairly sure I'll end up having to spin up more yarn to get this to a decent length, it probably won't be done to send out in time for this year's shipment, but eventually it will be out there keeping someone warm. It's a fairly basic pattern (probably why it's such a classic), so it progresses along nicely. The only snag I had tonight was when I looked down to see The Monster happily chewing on the yarn. I quickly pulled out the several inches he had managed to get down his throat in a matter of seconds and shooed him away. Fortunately, amateur handspun is very amenable to spit splicing, so breaking off the nearly-swallowed stuff and rejoining the ends was a simple matter.

More Knitting Books!

Today's mail brought Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks and Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks. I'm very excited about these and am looking forward to exploring sock-making more.

Holiday from Hell?

This is the beginning of the Memorial Day 3-day weekend, which is the traditional kick-off to the summer tourist season. I get to work two of the three nights - something I'm less than overjoyed about. Holidays are generally some of the busiest for emergency clinics, and the ones that spread out over a long weekend are the worst - especially when the weather's nice. It has been raining a little bit this evening and the foghorn at the lighthouse has been sounding, but it's supposed to clear off by late morning and the rest of the long weekend is supposed to be absolutely gorgeous. For me that means a forecast of non-stop vehicular traumas, dog fights, mauled cats, & porcupine encounters - along with a few scattered bloats and C-sections - with a high probability of heavy patient overflow. It also means bumper-to-bumper traffic all the way to Portland which will require me to leave for work extra early. I can hardly wait.

25 May 2006

Spinning Under the Influence

Before we headed to the airport in Louisville on Monday, we stopped at the Liquor Barn near our hotel to pick up some bourbon. I followed Jennifer's recommendation and bought a small bottle of Woodford Reserve. I cracked open the bottle tonight after dinner to give it a try. It did not disappoint - smooth, warm, spicy, very nice. Not being much for drinking, I expect this 375mL bottle to last us quite a while, but I shall savor every bit. Now I just need to find the nearest mint patch so I can try it in a mint julep.

After that little libation (honestly, officer, it was at least an hour or two, and I only had a sip), I sat down at the spinning wheel to work a bit on some shetland x icelandic roving I bought last year at Fiber Frolic. I actually started spinning it a bit before I left for Kentucky, and I've nearly got one bobbin filled now.

It's kind of fun to work with, mostly because all I've really spun the past several months is alpaca, but also because I feel like I'm getting a better feel for the fiber and learning to treadle slowly enough that I'm not putting too much twist into the singles. That said, the outer and inner coats aren't blended terribly well, and there are neps from the undercoat that are making it spin up kind of slubby. I'm sure a more experienced spinner could do more to make this a bit more even yarn, but I'm not overly worried and expect that it'll make for a nice enough hat yarn in the end.

There's also a fair bit of grease in this wool. For me this isn't a problem. My hands get so dry from washing them constantly at work, that it's kind of nice to have a bit of built-in moisturizer. David, however, is allergic to something in the yolk, which he discovered when he was learning to spin with wool and his hands broke out in a bad rash. Purified lanolin doesn't cause him any trouble so it might actually be from topical chemicals used on the sheep to control parasites, but he won't go near a raw fleece and I have to make sure I wash my hands after spinning wool, just to be safe and to keep the peace.

24 May 2006

Mindfully Jealous

Last night I was reading Franklin's latest post about how his Zen practice is bringing noticeable changes to his demeanor. I couldn't help but feel a little jealous of people who live a "normal" schedule and can integrate that sort of practice into their schedules.

I'd ask why there aren't more sanghas for those of us living the vampiric lifestyle, but I suppose the answer is fairly obvious - a)there aren't enough of us to sustain a community, and b)after working all night, most of us just want to go home and sleep. On top of that, my schedule has me working different nights each week, so that trying to do anything on a given night becomes difficult to sustain. Hell, I haven't even been able to sustain getting to the gym regularly of late.

It's not really as though I need to adjust my demeanor. One of the things I'm generally well known for is my even temper. I do try to be mindful and deliberate in how I deal with people, even though it is sometimes at odds with my more typical Aries tendencies. Nonetheless, I would like to develop some regular practice, as I feel it would help with some of my chronic pain issues.

A while back, Ted sent me an interview with John Kabat-Zinn, who founded the Stress Reduction Program at the Center for Mindfulness at UMass School of Medicine. Kabat-Zinn said in the interview that the program has been very helpful for people with chronic pain issues, so I've really been considering signing up for it. It would take a bit of planning, but Worcester is only a 1.5 hour drive for me.

In the meantime, I've been thinking about trying to set up a meditation corner at home. We don't have a lot of room, but there's a corner of the bedroom that would work well. I was looking around online for meditation cushions and came across this article, which I found very interesting.

Shopping Spree

When we got back from Louisville Monday night, I found another Amazon gift certificate in the mail. Of course, my first thought was Barbara Walker's Second Treasury, but the prospect of having to wait another month for it to arrive wasn't appealing, so I just ordered it directly from Schoolhouse Press and used the Amazon certificate to order Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks and Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks. While I was at it, I hopped on over to eBay and got me some Addi circs especially for doing socks - a pair of size 6's (4mm) and a pair of size 0's (2mm). The cost of the four circs, plus shipping, came to $33 - $8.25 each. Not too shabby, I think.

22 May 2006

In Louisville

Got in last night. Just before I left for the airport, the mail carrier delivered the copy of Barbara Walker's First treasury I had ordered a few weeks ago. In addition to that, I also brought along some Madelyn 2-ply handspun and started a scarf for Dulaan in Old Shale pattern. It was a nice distraction on the plane when I couldn't sleep.

Today was spent schmoozing and catching up with friends a little before people left the alpaca show, then helping David take apart his display. Then a short trip across the border into Indiana to his friend Jennifer's farm. Jennifer owns Alpaca With A Twist yarn company, and David does design consulting for her. We were going more, though, to look at a weanling boy 'paca who's at the farm. I had also wanted to pick up some of the Landscapes yarn. It's not been a very good seller for Jennifer, and I have no idea why. Alpaca, silk, great colors - what's not to love? Anyway, I now have 20 skeins of it to play with.

Home tomorrow afternoon, but first I plan to pick up a bit of bourbon. After all, what else are you going to do in Kentucky?

20 May 2006

Another Snail Hat & the Wick Story

I finished another snail hat for Dulaan tonight. I had started this one, oh, quite some time ago, then forgot it at work, and it ended up in the staff lounge room (where I rarely go, because I so rarely nap when I'm at work). Tonight I finally remembered to go in and pick it up and finished in fairly short order. If you have seen my first snail hat, you will notice that this one does not pull in nearly as much as the first one. In EZ's original pattern, she has the garter band at the bottom done before joining into the round for the spiral pattern. I did not do this on this hat, and I believe that is preventing it from closing into the spiral as much. The effect is nice, nonetheless, and it should keep someone's head quite warm. To make it I used a strand of Paton's UpCountry (sadly discontinued, as it's very plush and soft) and a strand of Elann's Peruvian Collection Highland Wool, which I think created a very nice effect.

So I had mentioned a few weeks back that I had plans to pay a visit to the Knit One Crochet Too retail storefront, as they are headquartered less than 14 miles from my work, and there had been some buzz about their soy/polypropylene yarn, Wick and a couple people on the glbt-knit listserv had asked if anyone had used it. According to the corporate website, their business hours are 9-5. Since I finish work around 8AM, I thought it would be nice and relatively convenient to pop up there and get the yarn before going home.

As I'm usually fairly tired at the end of my 15 hour shifts and was faced with a bit of extra driving, not to mention a few errands that had to be run closer to home, I downed a big mug of tea near the end of my shift to help me stay awake. I had no last minute emergencies to detain me and was able to hand off all my hospitalized patients to the next shift without trouble and stayed around and chatted a while so that I wouldn't have to wait outside the shop. Shortly before 9AM I set off on the road.

I found the address without trouble and pulled into the parking lot at 9:20 to see a big "Closed" sign in the window. I got out of the car so that I could read their store hours posted in the door, and they weren't opening until 11:00! Apparently the hours on their website only referred to the wholesale business.

At about this time, I was also feeling the effects of the mug of tea that I had had earlier. I should point out that when I say mug, I mean a large mug. The coffee mug I keep at work holds about a third of a pot of coffee - somewhere around 2.5 cups (a bit over 550mL, for you metrically-minded folks). I use two tea bags when preparing tea in that mug, so when I say that I was feeling the effects I mean that I really, really had to pee. Really.

Waiting around for another hour and a forty minutes was not an option. Neither was having a discreet in the bushes, as there was just a bit too much activity in the general vicinity. So, I walked shuffled back to my car, with legs crossed, and drove back to the clinic. And let me just say that it is not easy to drive with crossed legs. Nonetheless, I was able to arrive safely at the clinic, give my bladder some much needed relief, and start considering my options.

I could easily and understandably have given up at that point, but I live an hour away, so there are no other convenient times for me to visit the store. Besides, this was for very important research, damn it. So I decided to wait it out and drive back up and downed a mug of coffee with hot chocolate for yet more caffeine, as I was clearly going to be up well past my bedtime.

Upon my return to the store, it was indeed open, and I walked into a nice enough little yarn shop, considering it's in a cinderblock industrial building. The older (70ish, maybe?) shopkeeper was very pleasant. She didn't know whether Wick might be overdyed successfully (one of the questions that had been asked on the listserv) or whether it had been tried, but the suspicion is that the polypropylene would likely not take up dye well. The soy silk, of course, probably would, but it would likely result in a mottled effect, which may or may not be a good thing. I learned that the Wick is manufactured in China, and the other brands in their line are made in various places around the world, then shipped here to Maine in bulk, where they are wound into skeins and labeled.

So I bought two test skeins in the blue green space-dyed colorway, which I am now making into slipper socks as a test. As you can see, I cast on with two circs using the Tukish cast on, the instructions for which are I found here thanks to a link from JoVE's blog.

While there, I also had a great bargain find - 9 balls of their Paint Box yarn in the blackberry colorway for only $1.50 each. This particular yarn is one that they market especially for its felting ability, but the shopkeeper told me that this particular dyelot wouldn't felt. They discovered this when a customer bought some to make a felted bag which, of course, ended in disaster (It seems more over-dramatic to call it disaster when it doesn't felt vs. when it's not supposed to and it does, but I'm sure that particular customer wasn't too happy). It's no bother to me, as I'm sure I can find a nonfelted project for it - perhaps a toddler's sweater for Dulaan?

So after all the waiting, I was able to drive home a happy customer, and I had enough caffeine in me to make sure that I was able to run all my errands without falling asleep at the wheel. It was also enough to make sure that I wouldn't sleep all day, which ended up being just as well.

As I was driving home, the sky got progressively darker and the wind really began to pick up. Not long after I got home, the rain started. It was the beginning of the Nor'easter that was to soak us for the next 7 days, turn NHSW into such a mudfest, and have the county I live in declared a disaster area.

The landladies had left for a camping trip Downeast the day before, and Paula had mentioned to me before I left for work that Chebeague, one of the weanlings, had broken with very bad diarrhea. I had promised to keep an eye on her, so with the rain coming down hard and cold I ventured out to the weanling pen to see how she was faring.

Most of them were in one of the calf hutches the landladies have for 'paca shelters and refer to as the "teletubby huts" because of their domed shape. Chebeague and another recent weanling, however, had not learned to take shelter without mom's lead and were kushed in the mud and shivering badly. The fact that they had just been sheared 3 days earlier only made things worse.

So I got David and we got towels and a cria coat for Chebeague, as she had been sheared particularly close and already had enough problems with the diarrhea, caught both of them up, and led them to the teletubby hut with the rest of the group.I got them toweled dry and put the coat on Chebeague, which freaked her out a bit at first. We closed them into a smaller pen to keep them all near the hut, but by then nobody was going to venture outside again unless they had to. I went back out closer to nightfall to check on them and they hadn't even come out to eat their grain, which by then had turned to mush so that I had to get them more and feed to them in the hut.

Fortunately, there was no further excitement that day or until Wendy & Paula returned home, but I was so caffeinated that I couldn't sleep until about 10PM that night, by which point I had been awake for about 32 hours. And that is the Wick saga.

18 May 2006

Busy As Usual

David left Tuesday for AOBA Nationals in Louisville. I think this is going to be the last big trip of the Spring show season, but he's flying me down to be his lovely assistant this weekend - mostly so we can spend a bit of time together. I've never really spent any time in Louisville, and although I don't really expect to get to see much of the city, it should be a fun trip.

Even though David won't be doing much more traveling for a while, I'm going to be off to New Jersey in a few weeks for my birthday present - an alpaca training workshop with Marty McGee Bennett. She also has a booth across from David's in Louisville, so he says he'll introduce me and tell her to pick on me. Before returning from that trip, I will making a stop at another farm in New Jersey to pick up Millicent, the weanling girl 'paca that David & I are buying together.

On the knitting front, yesterday I seemed to be in a sock frenzy. I started a sock in Meilenweit Mega Boot Stretch, and when the 2.0mm dpn's became too much for my hands to handle, I switched to casting on for Wick (the saga of which I have yet to tell) slipper socks with 2 circs - one of which is cheap wood that the yarn really wants to stick to. Tonight I brought the spindle with some Madelyn roving that I've started spinning a laceweight singles from and the Jacqueline Fee sweater sampler, which I've left just shy of finishing.

Dr. Death

Work has been okay so far tonight, but death seems to be the primary theme of the evening. Euthanasias are the unfortunate part of working in emergency medicine. I do quite a lot of them. It can be a very depressing thing, but 12 years of this have made me fairly philosophical about death and being the bringer of death.

A few years ago Tricycle magazine had an article on pet euthanasia that had a decidely anti slant and took the viewpoint that euthanasia was doing violence, which is contrary to the Buddhist concept of ahimsa. But what, then, is letting a pet suffer if not violence through inaction? There are very few situations in which I will actually recommend euthanasia (though one tonight fit into that category), but sometimes there are no other good options. In those situations, I'd far prefer to give my patient a release from the suffering that they can't understand.

A Cheerier Note

Getting away from the doom and gloom, I happened to be looking through a section of today's newspaper and there was an article on Maine Fiberarts' new map of member businesses. The photo they used for the article was from an alpaca farm near us where David has two of his girls boarding, and one of them was even in the photo! I tried to find an online version of the article to include here, but they apparently didn't think it had enough web appeal.

And since I can't offer that for your visual pleasure, I'm posting a shot of the yarn I bought from Carol's etsy store. I don't know yet what it's going to become, but I absolutely love it. I was thinking today that maybe I'll take the time to accumulate several colorways from her then turn them into a multicolor sweater.

14 May 2006


Sean & Dave already have their reports up on the festival, so I guess I'd better, as well. First of all, I did not see them there, but their very telling photos of the swamp that is the Hopkinton State Fairgrounds does prove that they were. I had my camera with me, but I was a bit afraid to take it out of its case because of the rain. Besides that, my hands were numb most of the day from the cold.

Today was my second day of driving in the rain. We spent Friday driving down to an alpaca farm just north of Albany to look at a weanling boy 'paca that David's made an offer on. I had not seen him before, and as the family vet, David wanted me to give him a looking over. Only one potential concern which, if it is a real issue, likely won't manifest for 2-3 years, so now it's up to David to make some decisions and see if there's any room for negotiation on that point.

That drive took 4.5 hours, an hour longer than normal, because of the driving rain all the way down the Mass. Turnpike, which for some reason caused traffic to slow to a crawl at every single interchange along the way. The drive from there to Concord, New Hampshire, took 5 very long hours. My back was screaming by the end of it and I had regrettably forgotten to bring my muscle relaxant.

Because we were so exhausted and because we are not morning people by nature, today started off kind of slowly. As we were getting ready for the day, our friend Kit - a member of the glbt-knit listserv and more or less a neighbor (She lives less than 10 miles from us.) - called from the road to see where we were. She beat us to the fairgrounds by about half an hour and had not seen mamacate or anyone else by the time we had arrived.

We tried to look around to see if we could figure out where the blogging crowd had ended up meeting for lunch, but it ended up being a rather fruitless search. When everyone is as covered as possible against the rain and cold and wind, the chances of finding a particular someone or someones just isn't all that great. As I had brought along a box from my treasured stash of Girl Scout Thin Mints to share, I'd say it was their loss.

So we had our own little lunch in a sheltered eating area - cold, but reasonably dry - then set off to schmooze with some of the alpaca folks who were there for NEAF. The 'paca folks got a raw deal at this event, I think, as they're stuck way out on the fringe, and this year required wading through several smallish lakes to get to their exhibits, which I'm sure discouraged a lot of attendees from visiting them.

At any rate, after a considerable amount of time, we turned the corner for our last schmooze of the day and bumped right into mamacate, Norma, and JoVE with Tigger in tow. Unfortunately, they had reached their limit of cold & wet and were on their way out to drive the 3 hours back to Norma's house, so I'm hoping that maybe we'll actually really get to hang out at Rhinebeck.

As I was talking to them, I also saw Pogo of Friends' Folly Farm. Pogo and Marsha processed Madelyn's fleece for me last year, and they were in the same barn with us at Rhinebeck last year. They raise angora goats & sheep and make some wonderful hand-dyed wool/mohair yarns.

By that time, we were left with about one hour to make the rounds and do some shopping. I had visited the ATM before we left Friday to get what I figured I could safely afford to spend and I only had two absolutes on my shopping list - a shawl pin for my mother for Mother's Day (to go with her birthday shawl, which I have yet to give her), and a nice drop spindle. I found the right pin fairly quickly, but I waited until the end to go back and get it. I'm not posting photos in the event that she reads this, because it should at least be a little bit of a surprise.

As for the drop spindle, I was very excited to see that Jonathan Bosworth was there as a vendor. I had seen that he's scheduled to give a Sunday charkha demonstration, so I was hopeful. I hadn't met him before and found him to be a very personable guy. It was also the first time I'd gotten a chance to see a journey wheel up close and personal. It really is a beautiful piece of both craftsmanship and machinery, and one day when I can afford it, I shall own one. Today I decided on a 2.5" midi spindle with a whorl of cochin rosewood, which is absolutely lovely and spins like a dream. Here it is with results of a trial run tonight.

My final purchase was made as people were covering their displays and packing things up for the evening. We had been by the booth for Brimstone Hollow Farm a couple times before, and I'd had a chance to fondle the rovings, so I bought three 8oz. balls of roving - two in a heathery red/grey from Zachariah, a Romney/Leicester/Corriedale cross and one from Junior, a Romney/Border Leicester cross.

While Sean and Dave may have been among the first there, we were pretty much the last. From start to finish, the rain was just relentless. As we walked to our cars, my jeans got wetter. And wetter. And even wetter. They were so soaking wet and cold that there was no way I was going to be able to drive home in them. Fortunately, I had a clean and dry extra pair in the car, mostly in case I had gotten smeared with alpaca spit or poop on Friday. Unfortunately, when I got in the car and shucked off the soaking wet jeans, I found that the legs of my boxers, too, were sopping, dripping wet, so I decided to drive the hour and a half home, with the heat turned up, in my boxers (There is precedent for this - it involves being caught on an island by the tide and having to wade back to the mainland). Our return home was mercifully uneventful, I was nearly dry by the time we arrived, and we had Thin Mints to nosh on.

11 May 2006


I'm already up later than I had intended. I'm trying to do a more "normal" sleep schedule this week so I won't be too whacked out on Saturday at NH Sheep & Wool. I'm very much looking forward to hanging out with mamacate & JoVE and some other friends from the glbt-knit listserv.

I visited Knit One Crochet Too's retail storefront yesterday to get some Wick. It was a bit of an adventure, and then we had a bit of farm adventure when the nor'easter hit just after I got home. I will tell that whole long story later.

Today's big news is that I got an ultrasound machine! It's a pretty big investment - rather like buying a car - but I think it'll be a good one and will hopefully pay for itself in the long run. I'll post pics on that later, too.

I've been up booking a hotel room for Friday night and paying a few bills. One check I wrote wasn't a bill but rather to my friend Fudge, who is doing a bit of stash rebistribution. If you're interested in some cormo roving, you should look at her e-bay listing here.

09 May 2006

Knit One, Here I Come

Last night was a merciful departure from Saturday's madness - only two patients in hospital and very little coming in. Of course, my theory is that this is only because the entire animal population of southern Maine came through our doors over the weekend, but I'm thankful for the respite, in any event.

When I leave work this morning, I will be making a trip up to Knit One Crochet Too to try to score some Wick. Carol piqued the interest of myself as well as several others on the glbt-knit listserv, so I volunteered to go get some to try it out and report my findings - in the interest of science, naturally. Then it will be off home to see my sweetie, who has finally returned, having spent most of the last two weeks away at shows.


I've had so much else to write about recently that I've neglected to gush over a purchase I made on etsy.com. I'd been looking for nice stitchmarkers for a long time, so I finally sat down and started looking through the vendors on etsy and found what I thought were practically perfect at this store. These are the ones I bought, but she still has some really nice and distinctive stuff, so go check her out.

Also, I probably don't need to talk up Carol's etsy store, as she gets such good press from Franklin & Joe, among others, but she tempted me severely until I could resist no more. I've just bought a big old hank of blue merino worsted. It's blue! It's merino! I. just. couldn't. resist.

07 May 2006

Shearing Day/Entering the War Zone

The camera batteries have been recharged, so I have some promised photos. It's a beautiful, sunny morning, so I thought that the dandelion patch that is our sideyard would be a good place to snap a pic of one of my test swatches of the lace heart motif. The final product will be, as I said before, in the same yarn in a baby blue.

Yesterday was shearing day here on the farm. Since it was also a work night for me, I wasn't up for much of it, but I did get up in time to snap a pic of the shorn boys.

I was also up just in time to help catch David's boy, Kozmo, and Stonington, the other silver grey boy on the farm. Kozmo has a reputation of being the hardest to catch and the biggest badass on the farm. Once he was down and in the restraints for the shearing, though, he was pretty well-behaved. He didn't even squeal over getting a pedicure, which he usually hates, at the same time.

War Zone

The line of cars when I pulled into the parking lot at work was a bad sign - a very, very bad sign. I walked in the door to pure & absolute chaos. The waiting room was standing room only, and our work area reminded me of the scene in Brazil where the workmen have disemboweled the ductwork in Sam Lowry's apartment. One of the other daytime docs who wasn't even scheduled to work had stopped by and stayed for 5 hours to help, but there was still a 3 hour backlog of cases waiting to be seen.

So I quickly changed into my scrubs and set to work trying to deal with everything that was waiting. I saw 16 cases in the first 4 hours - standard fare for a day practice seeing vaccine appointments, but an insane pace for an emergency clinic. New cases eventually stopped coming in, which allowed me to get caught up on surgical cases by about midnight. I managed to get caught up on all the paperwork by 5AM, just in time for more cases to come in. The last few were straightforward, though, and I finished up at a remarkably reasonable time.

Sad News

I found out earlier in the week and had forgotten to mention it here that Mr. Tittlesworth had to be euthanized. The lump that I had seen him for on his last visit turned out to be cancerous. I had not been able to get any malignant cells from it at the time I saw him, but I had warned his owner that it was still a possibility. She was, as I had predicted, devastated, but she brought us a book on hedgehogs and two photos of him in a frame. He was hiding his face in both photos, so they look rather more like photos of a scouring pad, but at least we know who they're of.

06 May 2006

Busy Night, Beautiful Day

I think last night at work was making up for my slow night on Tuesday. It was non-stop until midnight, and even then the phone kept ringing at a more or less regular pace all night long. We had a lot of cranky, impatient clients, as well, even though I'm pretty sure I kept wait times at an hour or less all evening. I'm always tempted to tell them that if they don't like it, they should try their luck up at the human hospital's ER.

When I did manage to get some down time, I was looking around for a lace heart motif for a group knitting project. I owe a thank you to elemmaciltur for helping me a bit on that search. I looked up that book title (Knitting Stitch Bible) in the public library catalogs, though, and the nearest location that had it was the Peaks Island branch library, which would have meant a ferry ride to the island and back just to photocopy one stitch pattern. Had I felt more rested it would have been a nice trip, but given that I'd just worked a fairly exhausting 15 hour shift, I opted for a pattern I found in a special breast cancer awareness print supplement to the Fall '04 issue of knitty (the issue that contains the wonderful Hallowig pattern). There doesn't appear to be a link to the supplement from the issue itself (maybe I just don't know where to look), but it's a pdf file that can be downloaded here.

Today was a beautiful sunny day, so I stayed up for a while before going to bed, just to be able to enjoy the nice weather. Upon getting home, Rosa immediately wanted to go out into the sideyard, where she spent the entire day sunbathing. I also had to go Old West showdown with the bug spray on a bunch of wasps that were looking for nesting sites in our doorways. I'm generally inclined to live and let live, but when they start trying to claim my living space as their territory, it's time for them to go.

Tonight I've done a bit of swatching with the heart motif. Although it was written for a stockinette background, I swatched in both stockinette and garter and have decided that it works better for this project in garter. My gauge seems to be good, so now I just need to plan out how best to work this motif in. Photos will follow when my camera batteries are recharged.

The other thing that I need to start working on is making more felted catnip mice. I cranked out quite a lot of them last fall to sell at shows so that I'd have yarn money. This year they're mostly going to be for a big ticket item. David came home from last weekend's show and asked me if I'd be interested in buying an alpaca together with him. He's making plans to buy a new weanling boy on his own, but he's also interested in a weanling girl from bloodlines he'd like to get back in his herd. This is a big deal, as it's probably the closest we'll come to adopting children, and I, of course, said yes. I calculated, though, that I'll have to sell 1200 mice. The other alternative is to work 7 or 8 overnight relief shifts at my clinic or one of the other emergency clinics. Maybe I'll do a bit of both and still keep some mouse money for yarn.

03 May 2006

TSKP Revealed!

Okay, so after more than two months of secretive knitting, this is what David found when he opened his birthday present this morning:
full frontal

oblique view

According to the book, the elephant's name is LouLou. David, however, does not name stuffed toys, so this one will be known as Elephant, in much the same way as we have Monkey (see my profile pic) and his boyfriend, Other Monkey. David also decided that Elephant is a boy - by virtue of his long, erm, trunk.

In a moment of utter serendipity this morning, I even found a cheezy birthday card at the supermarket that had a picture of an alpaca in it. And just after David had opened his gifts, the landladies came over with a couple slices of chocolate cream pie, which is Landlady Paula's traditional birthday breakfast (her birthday is today, too). Then I tried to help David think up some names for different yarn colors until he had to make a frantic dash to get all his things packed and get on the road to catch his flight to Denver for the next six days. Before he left, though, he said it was the best birthday he'd ever had.


I just put the finishing touches on TSKP. I'll have to make a run to JoAnn's in the morning to get a box and wrapping paper. I had hoped to get to the nice little stationery store near home yesterday, but I was so busy knitting that there just wasn't time. David leaves in the afternoon, though, for yet another show - 6 days in Denver this time - so I wanted to be able to give him his present before he goes.

There are pictures, but I'm not going to post them until after David's seen TSKP for himself. So far only one other person (my overnight tech)has seen the completed project, and I know she's not telling. There's a remote chance, though, that certain other people (Jennifer) might see the photos here and say too much too soon, so I'm going to continue to keep them top secret just a smidge longer.

I realize that I haven't had much to offer in the way of visuals in the last couple posts, though, so here's the book that TSKP came from (note to Jennifer: Shhhhhhhh, it's a secret!):

David brought me this book back from the TNNA trade show in January. He mentioned two or three times how much he liked this particular pattern - not in a hint, hint kind of way, but more of an off-the-cuff remark - so I decided that it would make a nice birthday present. I really love the patterns in the book. They have a simple elegance that I love and the look of something that's bound to become a treasured family heirloom, or at least a favorite toy - not too polished, but homey, inviting, and very huggable. Of course, the book is not without its drawbacks, as I mentioned before, but I'll elaborate a bit more when I post the photos.

01 May 2006

Mad Dash

I sat down yesterday to see if I could snip out the seams on the weirdly twisted part of TSKP and on the very first snip managed to cut the wrong strand, making a nice hole in one of the pieces. The worst part was that it wasn't even the piece that seemed to be causing the twisting.

So I resigned myself to sitting down and dutifully frantically reknitting all four pieces and rethinking the assembly of this most confounding section. I started last night and finished this evening. Just got everything seamed up and ran it down to my car to hide it before David got home.

And he's just pulled in the drive! Whew!