28 December 2006

Ah, HolidayTravels

So we're in Brainerd right now. And sick. My cold that seemed to be getting better suddenly gained new life, the snot factory kicked itself into overdrive, and David's sniffling his way through it, too. It's not pretty.

On the plus side, Mike & Sue and their kids have been wonderful to visit with, and I'm kind of wishing we were staying here longer instead of heading off to South Dakota to see David's folks. We are planning on starting our 4 hour drive late in the day in hopes that there will be little talk and an early bedtime, then leaving out along with all the other relatives coming to visit on Friday. The hope is that his mother will be a good Lutheran and play nice, but I think anything's possible at this point.

Christmas itself was pretty low-key. After I got off work the morning of Christmas Eve, I went out to breakfast and had a very-fun-but-far-too-brief visit with Franklin and Sister Sue. Afterwards, David picked me up and we drove up to my folks' for the day. The niece and nephews love the socks and hats and we had a nice, but again too-brief, visit before driving home so I could get some sleep before having to work Christmas night.

I came home Tuesday morning and ran around frantically taking care of last minute errands, including dealing with a not-terribly-major health issue in one of David's 'pacas, which left me with all of 10 minutes to throw some clothes together for the trip. I also brought along a sock project for myself, as it was quick, easy to carry, and something I could do without having to think about it too much or needing a pattern in front of me.

On our return to the Twin Cities before returning home, I'm hoping that we'll be able to see my friends Chris & Leon & also meet up with Sean before we have to catch our afternoon plane.

22 December 2006

I'm Sooooooo Jealous of Denver

Photo lifted from the NY Times online

So what the hell did Denver do to get so lucky? I want a white Christmas, too, damn it!

The New Clinic

I brought my camera to work with me so I could share with y'all. This is the lobby (which I mostly avoid, as we often get people who resent it when you actually deal with the people whose pet is dying before you see their pet's cracked nail):


And this is where I spend most of my time:


To give you some idea of scale, this main treatment area has somewhere around 1250 square feet of space (give or take). For those of you who think in metric, that's around 116 square meters, or roughly the size of a small house. Actually, my first house only had about 1050 square feet, so let's say modest-sized ranch. And this is only a fraction of our total space.

Happy Christmahannukwanzasolstica!

I'm not sure if I'll actually have a chance to write anything or have anything to say between now and the new year. Actually, I probably will, but Hannukah will be over before then and the solstice is now, so I figured I'd hit 'em all now.

Because of my busy work schedule this week, which includes working Christmas night, David and I are going to have our little Christmas for two Friday night and then drive up to spend Christmas Eve day with my family after I get off work. I am also hoping that we'll get to meet up with a certain short, bald dude while he's in this neck of the woods, but between my work schedule and our travel plans, I'm not sure if it will pan out.

And speaking of things panning out, we're still a little up in the air about the whole side trip to South Dakota thing. His mother sent a big box of presents for David and his cats - my name conspicuous by its absence. So he has asked her in an e-mail - in a direct but polite way - to be more thoughtful of me and reiterated that I am an important part of his life that shouldn't be ignored. Her response will, I think, be the main determining factor in deciding whether that visit will happen or not. She is, I have learned, a master of the passive-aggressive arts, so my expectations are not particularly high.

Being the central figure in this ongoing family dispute, it is hard for me to stay completely out of it. I do make an effort, however, because I don't think that it would be particularly fruitful for me to engage his mother directly at this time. Also, I have no particular emotional investment in a relationship with his parents - or anyone else in his family, for that matter. I would prefer to have some sort of relationship there (particularly with his father, who really seems a decent guy but not in control of the situation), but only if it includes acceptance on their part. Approval would be nice, too, but even that isn't necessary as long as they play nice. And if they can't play nice, well, my family loves David and we have friends who give us both love and approval, so there's no real reason for us to put up with dysfunction.

21 December 2006

The Final FO

The first night working in the new building went relatively well. Thank you to all who sent good vibes. As with any other move, there were boxes everywhere and we didn't know where to find anything, but we cleared out enough workspace among the not-quite-finished construction to do our job without undue impairment. The clinic camera was packed away in someone's car, so I couldn't document the rather disturbing state of things I arrived to, but I expect it'll still be chaotic enough when I work on Thursday.

And it was, very fortunately, not an inordinately busy night. I had enough down time to sit down and darn in the ends on my last holiday knitting project.


This is for step-nephew Cameron, who I expect will love it. It's made of Lion Brand WoolEase Chunky, because the most important consideration when making a hat for a 10-year-old boy (as well as for his 8-year-old brother) - a demographic well known for being able to sweat and smell just a bit funky - is machine washability.

And because I have a considerable amount of the Bearfoot yarn left over, I decided to do a bit of work on a two-layer hat for Dulaan.


I considered various construction options, but what I decided ultimately to do is a band of corrugated ribbing, then continue with one color to make the inner layer, then pick up stitches and knit up the outer layer in the other colorway. I could have just done both layers at once by double knitting, but I think it would slow me down more than I'd like without giving a better end product.

Because the colorways are fairly similar, the corrugated ribbing is not contrasty at all, but I think the overall effect is nice, plus it gives an edge that won't roll and is of double thickness. On top of that, the bloom of the mohair when it's washed should make a hat that insulates very nicely and is soft for an infant or small toddler.

19 December 2006

Where Did the Day Go?

Well, before I get to that question, I've been wanting to share a photo of our little tree. Everyone else seems to have these tall trees in their big, expansive living rooms. Not us. Expansive was kind of hard to come by in these parts in the 1650's, so space (as I've mentioned many times before) is at something of a premium. Behold.


Yes, the tree is 4 feet tall and on top of the dog crate. We actually managed to fit 16 or so guests in this house on Saturday for a holiday party. All at the same time, even. There was another holiday party going on in our little village that night, but I'm sure theirs was nowhere near as fabulous or fun.

Anyway, back to today. I had just a few things planned for the day - write a standard-issue holiday letter to go with our standard-issue photo holiday cards, go to the post office to get holiday stamps to send said cards and letters, buy gift boxes for the gifts for nieces and nephews (the last of which is finished save darning in ends), drive over to get yarn cards from Debbie Gremlitz of Nordic Fiber Arts (who lives so close that it would be silly for her to mail stuff to me), take the bus down to Logan airport in Boston to pick up my brother's kids as they flew in for the holidays, and ... something ... something else.

Everything moved along at a reasonable pace and it was generally a good day, particularly since these arrived in the mail (We're now officially DP'd!):


Then at about 4PM, when I took a bit of a break and started to read Carol's post mentioning a stomach bug, when I had "holy shit!" moment and realized that the something else was getting my flu shot at my doctor's office. So I stopped reading and rushed out of the house so that I could get that taken care of before I stood in line forever at the post office for stamps.

Then I came home for a little while before having to rush out of the house again to get the yarn cards before I had to rush to the bus station to catch the 8PM bus to the airport, so that I could get there before my niece and nephew arrived and not make the flight crew wait around for me to sign for them (Unaccompanied minors, at least in this instance, are indeed precious cargo, but it still seems odd to have to sign for possession of them).

David, meantime, had a very stressful day and had not understood that I would be spending most of my evening running around. When he realized as I was headed out the door that we would not, in fact, be able to have a leisurely evening together, it prompted a near-breakdown. Then my brother called, and I was forwarding calls to my phone to the cell phone, which gets no reception at the house, necessitating calling him back to make sure I wasn't missing any crucial information about the kids' flight. So after several kisses (to David, plus feeling badly about needing to rush out) and a hurried call to my brother (nothing new, just confirmation that they'd gotten their flight okay), I ran out the door rather a bit later than planned, but still managed to make it everywhere I needed to be.

Nordic Fiber Arts

I had been to the website for this little company before but hadn't given it much thought for a while until Norma's recent post about the frostrosen mitten kit she bought from them (Actually, "them" is just Debbie, I believe, but I wanted to avoid pronoun-antecedent confusion). On top of that, Debbie is, near as I can tell, about the only, if not the only, distributor in the US for the Hifa 2* yarn used in the Tiffany mitten pattern in the latest issue of Knitty.

So what with all the mitten patterns, it got me thinking that mittens would be good to work on for Xmas presents next year. And because they don't take up huge amounts of yarn, I'm also thinking I could do duplicates of each pair I make and donate them to Dulaan. Anyway, I contacted Debbie and arranged to go by and pick up yarn cards for all the yarns she carries so I'd have a good point of reference for making color decisions. I found her (and her yarns) to be very nice, so I'd certainly recommend her as a source for some nice Scandinavian yarns (and patterns, and kits, and buttons, and embroidered trim) and intend to put together an order of my own in the near future.

Tomorrow's Big Excitement

I don't think I've really blogged about this to any extent, but tomorrow is going to be a big day. I'll be going in to work at my usual time, but I won't be going to the same place. It's the same job at the emergency clinic, but I will be working the very first shift when we open our brand spanking new, multi-million dollar facility, just a mile down the road from the old clinic.

This move has been in the works for about a year now, but I only walked through the new building for the first time last week. It's huge, and I love it already. I'm especially excited about our new digital x-ray system, particularly as the film unit we had at the old place was old when I first worked there over 11 years ago, but also because it represents a quantum leap forward in image quality and technological capability.

I'm sure that tomorrow night will be a bit frantic, as there's no way we'll manage to have everything unpacked and in its place (not to mention the fact that I won't know where everything is supposed to be in the first place) before we open the doors, but it's going to be exciting, nonetheless. And I promise there shall be pictures.

*Debbie wasn't aware of the Tiffany pattern and had been planning to stop carrying the Hifa 2. She says, though, that the Rauma Finullgarn, which she carries, is a good substitute for the Hifa 2 and is actually a softer yarn. Having had a chance to evaluate the yarn cards for both, I definitely agree - finullgarn does mean "fine wool yarn", after all. Additionally, both are the same price, and the Finullgarn comes in 20 more colors than Hifa 2.

14 December 2006

Foul Language

The other day, David was sitting at his desk reading e-mail when he suddenly burst out laughing. "My mother actually wrote the word 'fart'," he said, by way of explanation.

"And yet she can't say or write my name," I responded. "Of course, one of those is a dirty word, and the other is a bodily function."

And we're planning on spending a night with his folks on our Midwest trip - it should be very interesting. At least there's a motel right next door.

FO! Well, almost.

Only seven more rounds to go on sock #2, pair #2, but I figured I've been bildfrei long enough. The photo doesn't really render the colors well enough to make out how different this colorway is from the previous pair. It's much more purple in real life, compared to much more brown in the first pair. I think it will meet my niece's criterion of primary importance, though, which is "not too girly".


13 December 2006

Losing Sleep

So it's been a few days and I still haven't managed to kick my ass into gear and take photos of the socks-in-progress. I've also slacked off a bit on the knitting since returning home - partly because my hands needed a bit of a rest and partly because I've just been tired.

Now I know that every one of you is jealous of my 15-hour overnight shifts and wish that you could have such a plum job, but it does have a few drawbacks, one of them being a wee bit of difficulty having a regular sleep schedule like the experts recommend for insomnia. All things considered, I do make an effort to work within the framework I've got, and not falling asleep when I want to has been less of an issue than it has been in the past.

Where I've been running into trouble is actually getting good restful sleep. I have restless legs syndrome (RLS), which is apparently part of my genetic legacy from my mother, who also gave me my overpronating feet. One of my reasons for getting the pedal thingy was to see if this helped with the RLS, which does make it harder for me to get to sleep.

I also hoped that it might help with what David calls my "twitching" in my sleep, which seems to have only developed in the past year but has become very disruptive to his sleep. Last night, as I was looking through some RLS & sleep disorder resources online, I found an exact match with the symptoms that David has been describing. It also turns out that periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) occurs in about 80% of people with RLS. No wonder my parents have a king-size bed. And no wonder I never wake up feeling rested.

So I've started keeping a sleep diary and am working on getting a referral to a sleep study center that's sort of near work. I couldn't find anything to suggest that before-bedtime exercise helps with PLMD the way it does with RLS, but I'm hoping that it might a little. Otherwise, my pharmaceutical options apear to be anticonvulsants or Parkinson's drugs, neither of which sounds particularly appealing.

A Few Changes

You may have noticed that I've changed things around a little. I switched over to Blogger Beta the other night and decided it was time for a new look. Any feedback, especially on the legibility of the links and other text that I can change around, is welcome.

Also, my post the other week on charitable giving attracted a comment from David Patterson, media director for Heifer International, with a little info about setting up a fundraising drive for them on the blog. Because I very much believe in the work they do, I did just that, and there is a large button in the sidebar that will take you to a donation page. This blog regularly gets around 50 hits per day, so just one day with everyone donating $20 would hit the $1000 goal - 4 days if everyone who came by donated $5. And I've already kicked it off with a donation of my own. So what are you waiting for?

10 December 2006

A Brief Trip South

It occurred to me after I left that I wasn't sure if I had mentioned my now-finished trip. I did, however, albeit when I really could only have been considered conscious in a very narrow sense of the word.

The visit with the grandparents was good, though shorter than I really would have liked. As my grandparents get older and their health deteriorates, I really hate being away from them and seeing them so infrequently. My first sleepover was at their house when I was 2, and I stayed for 2 weeks without the least hint of homesickness. Their home has always felt as much or more like home to me than my parents' home, much like my paternal grandparents' home here in Maine, where I spent so many childhood summers. This is probably because we moved around too frequently for anywhere else to give me quite the same sense of place. It doesn't hurt, either, that my grandparents are wonderfully loving people.

When I last saw them in March, though, my grandmother was in the hospital, and in the interim my grandfather has had a mild heart attack. Given that, it was good to see them in relatively (we're talking very relative here) good shape and in good spirits. And although I won't be there for their 70th wedding anniversary in a couple days, I was there for my grandmother's 87th birthday on Thursday, which I helped them celebrate by cooking lasagne and coconut cake (actually yellow cake from a mix with coconut and sour cream icing, but it's her favorite and mine).

Because it was a short trip and I wanted to travel light, I only took bare essentials - a few changes of clothes, minimal toiletries, and of course, knitting. Because I left my camera behind and because we have what I think must be the only cell phone in the world now without a built-in camera, I have no photos from the trip. This means no photos of the new Vend-A-MOO at a nearby dairy, where my grandfather had me buy them a gallon of milk (It really does "moo" when it dispenses the milk). My cousin Heather promised to try to get pics to send me, so I'll share if she comes through with those.

I took along the socks for my niece, which I had only barely started prior to leaving. I finished the first sock in very short order and was left fearing that I would finish the second too soon to have anything to knit on the trip home. So I decided to knit my always-cold grandmother a pair of slipper socks, which I figured would a) be something nice to do for her birthday and b) give my hands something to do. The catch is that the only options for local yarn shops are Wal-Mart and, well, ... Wal-Mart. So I bought two size 9 circs ('cause they didn't have dpn's big enough) and a ball of their least crappy (actually almost respectable), chunky weight ack-rylic. And though I still think the 2 circ method is too fiddly for me, I cranked them out before I left, leaving me with a second sock to start on my way home. I started sock #2 in the Charlotte airport and got all the way up the foot and past the heel flap before I got home and before my fingers told me to call it a day, so it's a good thing I waited. Once I've had a chance to sleep and have time to get the camera out, I will have photos of the socks.

And in response to Kit's question (though I believe David's already filled her in), we did celebrate our pending domestic partnership (which will be official once the state processes the form and check and sends us copies of the official certificate). We dressed up nicely to go get said form notarized and send it and check off in the mail, then we went out to dinner at the schwank French-style restaurant in town and talked about more proper wedding plans (June 2008!). Then we bought a tree to go on top of the dog crate and David decorated it while I collapsed in a heap from going 36+ hours without sleep.

05 December 2006

A Weighty Matter

Today my weight broke the 180# barrier. My weight loss has slowed over the past month or so - partly because I've allowed myself to be a little less strict and partly, I think, because my body has adjusted to the lower caloric intake & powered down accordingly - so reaching this point felt very significant. It means that I've lost about 2 stone now without ever starving or depriving myself. I still have another 4# to reach my target weight and another 5# beyond that to reach my weight when I first met S.

Of course, there are those who argue that an obsession with weight alone is not healthy, and they are certainly right, but I've already discussed all the other reasons for needing to lose this weight. Still, I ran across an article today that supports their assertions, so I thought I'd share.

And because finding the time to carve out an exercise plan has been a challenge, I followed the lead of a local Sheep of Note and ordered myself one of these the other week.

For the past week on my nights at home, I've been sitting down and pedaling for an hour or so while I knit. It's not terribly strenuous, but at least it's some energy expenditure and it keeps me warm while I'm sitting in our chilly little kitchen in the early AM hours. I can also put it on the table and use it to work my arms and upper back a bit, which is one of the exercises they had me do when I was having physical therapy for my back. I went upscale and got a model that has magnetic resistance so I wouldn't have to worry about it being squeaky and waking up David, and I've been very pleased with how quiet it is.

Other News of Size

Today I received a final check from S paying me back for my part of our house in Pittsburgh. Now I just have to get the few items I have remaining there. Or decide if they're really worth the trouble. Actually, there's an antique porcelain wash basin that I really do want, and maybe my ice skates.

And tomorrow, David and I have plans to go find a tree for the impending Yuletide. Said tree will have to be under 4 ft. tall to fit on top of the dog crate (strangely enough, the best possible spot for it). Afterwards, we will be stopping by the credit union to have our signatures notarized on this little piece of paper. Then with a $35 check to the state treasurer we should be all official. But not married, or even civilly united (or should that be civilly unionized?). Because, you know, straight marriages are breaking up all over Massachusetts and Vermont because of that sort of thing.

03 December 2006

A Few Weekend Things

The first pair of socks is finished!


They've actually been through the wash since that photo was taken, so they've bloomed nicely and are a bit fuzzy and sure to make a good impression. Now I've just got to make pair number two, but I am going to South Carolina next week to visit my grandparents for a few days, so I'll see what I can knock out then. I could have started pair number two at work last night, but I decided to do a little selfish knitting and cast on for a variation on the fir cone square shawl from Cheryl Oberle's Folk Shawls.

Not that I was able to do very much on that little project. Work was, well, very worklike and not very fun. Insomnia, a 15 hour shift, lots of very sick cases, and dogs who just will. not. stop. barking. make for a very bad combination. I was very happy to escape this morning and come home.

Because of work, I missed out for the second year in a row on the Kittery holiday parade. David spent about 7 hours the night before putting together his costume, and he marched along with Landlady Paula and the two yearling boys, Beach & Otis. He likened it to a Project Runway challenge, and I think it turned out rather well for costumery on a shoestring.


12-02-06 kittery parade2lo

And now I have a date with Morpheus.

01 December 2006

Holiday Gift Suggestions

My holiday shopping list has never been completely stuff-free, largely because I have young nieces and nephews. For children a certain level of stuff-i-ness is expected at the holidays, though I tend towards books, or handknits, or maybe gift certificates to buy clothes or books. I do try to put some thought into gifts, and so far I haven't gotten a "This present sucks" out of any of them. Of course, the oldest one only just became a teenager, so who knows what awaits.

For the adults on my list, though, I don't see much need to buy more stuff, and they are generally happy not to have more stuff to deal with. So the largest chunk of my holiday giving this year is going to Seva Foundation. I've given to them before and really like the work they do to improve health and civil stability in indigenous communities.

Another organization I've given to in the past and will give to in the future is Heifer International. Most of their programs are to provide livestock and animal husbandry training. As a vegetarian, I'll admit to being a bit uneasy about contributing to buying food animals, - even though I realize that's the best food option in some parts of the world - but they also have programs to provide honeybees and to provide trees for reforestation projects, both of which I gladly support.

So before you decide that this is the hot ticket item for everyone on your list this holiday season, maybe you can step back and consider putting your money towards helping people in need live healthy, full lives. After all, isn't that what the season is supposed to be about?