31 August 2007

They Say It Comes in Threes

This is not the blog post I had planned, but sometimes life doesn't give you a choice.

1. I headed out the door to go to work yesterday afternoon, hopped in the car and backed out of the driveway. As soon as I started forward, I heard a horrible grinding noise and new instantly what it was. I pulled off into the next driveway and confirmed that my front driver side tire was flat as a pancake. I got the car back into my own drive without damaging the wheel rim, thankfully, and took David's truck instead.

2. Work was physically, mentally and emotionally draining. I've had busier nights, but I had a lot of surgical procedures, which kept me very occupied and made it difficult to maintain good forward momentum. Add into that one of those surgeries arresting under anesthesia, and it was just not a good night.

3. Last and worst of all. I got home from work at around noon to see that my little old man, Poqui, was bleeding from the mouth more than he had been. He'd been in decline for a while and developing some trouble eating, but I'd hoped it was just bad teeth and had even done bloodwork last night in preparation for anesthetizing him next week to clean them. Today, though, I could see that his tongue was pushed dramatically to one side, and I was sure that it wasn't anything good.

We took him to the emergency clinic across the river in Portsmouth, which is much, much closer than my own workplace, and they helped me get an IV catheter in and sedate him so that I could look (he hated to have me look in his mouth and got more difficult the older he got). One look confirmed what I had feared - a large, invasive tumor under and in his tongue and working its way deep into his oral cavity.

There was, of course, only one option. I brought him home, still heavily sedated, and we sat in the grass, with sun shining and seabreeze blowing, and I said my goodbyes and helped him shuffle out of this life. You might think that for all the years I've been doing this for a living, it would get just a little bit easier, but it doesn't. Not one little bit.

I first met Poqui on July 5, 1989, when he was no more than a few hours old. Over the last 18 years, I was able to watch the entire arc of his life from beginning to end. He traveled with me through pretty much all of my adult life and outlived other, equally loved pets. And for much as it hurts right now, I know that the time I had with him was privileged and precious, and I wouldn't trade one second of it.

Little Old Man Poqui: 5 July, 1989 - 31 August, 2007

28 August 2007

My Toothy Grin

Today was a rather busy day off. It started out with a physical therapy appointment. The knee is improving slowly, but enough that we'll probably be able to drop down to once weekly sessions. It will probably still be quite a while before I'll be up to restarting the Couch-to-5K plan, but after 16 years of dysfunctional knee, I kind of have to take the long view.

After that appointment, I had about an hour to come home and brush and floss, and brush and floss, and brush and floss before my first dental cleaning in, well....let's just say it had been a while. And although I've had a good bit of work done and, as a result, do try to take good care of my teeth, I was a little worried they'd whip out that pink stuff that finds all the plaque so they could tell me how horrible I am as a tooth brusher. Turns out they're not so big on the shame thing. Or maybe my sister-in-law, who works in the clinic as a dental assistant, told them not to make me cry.

Actually, the verdict was quite good. Everyone was very impressed that I'd kept my teeth up so well without their able assistance. It's a good thing, too, because it kept the poking-around-in-my-mouth-with-sharp-instruments part at a very bearable level. And I left a very happy man with my little grab bag of brand new toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss. It's not quite as fun as the cheap rings I used to get at the dentist when I was a kid, but I'm kind of getting into the age range where just leaving with the same teeth you went in with is a good thing. David has an appointment Wednesday morning and it's been even longer since he's had a checkup, so he's just a tad nervous.

After all the running around of the day, the evening was low-key and relaxed. The mail carrier delivered two balls of Opal sock yarn in colorways based on works by Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Absolutely brilliant, and when I learned about them I had to have some. I got mine from Woodland Woolworks, and I'd be hard-pressed to say which influenced my selection more - the actual colors or the colorway names (Seeschlange and Die Straße zum Sozialismus). Considering my general deep-seated aversion to orange and the fact that the latter colorway contains a fair bit of it, I'm inclined to think the names were the tipping point.

I also got a good bit done on the Shedir for Daphne. This photo was taken with the crap work camera the other morning.


I've now finished the main cable section and have started on the decrease rounds. Soon it will be time to switch to two circs or dpn's (I'm undecided at the moment), and I think I should be able to finish this up in plenty of time to present Daphne with the finished hat when we head that way next week.

Republican Hypocrite Is a Repetitive Redundancy

Or at least that's how it seems these days. The latest to hit the news, of course, is gay-bashing Idaho senator Larry Craig's arrest (and subsequent guilty plea) for soliciting toilet sex from a plainclothes cop at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport.

Now, I understand that there are people who like to get off in public places, sometimes with people whose name(s) they do not know. As long as the arrangement is consensual and as long as the parties involved are discreet and not deceiving a life partner who understands their relationship to be monogamous (or the other members of a closed poly relationship, as the case may be), then I really have no particular complaint with it. Live and let live, as far as I'm concerned.

If, however, you are a married man and powerful politician who has made a political career on social conservative stances that would deny equal protections to same-sex couples and hate crimes protection to lgbt people and who then turns around and tries to suck some anonymous dick in an airport toilet, I have just a wee bit of trouble with that.

22 August 2007

Steeking & a Skunk Update

Okay, I had originally planned to take some photos of the steek last night, but we all know how that turned out. So this afternoon I got out my camera and took the vest swatch outside for what turned out to be some very flat light. Anyway, here is the side that I picked up stitches on first. You can see by my middle finger that there was a little bit of fraying of the first column of stitches in from the cut, but that was all.


And after doing a little garter stitch band on that side, I rolled the whole thing up, tucked it in a ziploc with the rest of my current knitting and threw it in my backpack, where it got toted around for a week before I picked up stitches on the other side.


As you can see, no harm done, and I did not do any sewing or crochet reinforcement before cutting. That raw edge on the second side was just plain old knitting that had had a pair of scissors taken to it and been thrown in a bag for a week.

Maybe if I had only been working with a one stitch steek like Ryan, I'd have been just a tad less cavalier, but several months ago I read this post from Sam and figured if it worked out okay on acrylic, then wool should be no sweat. And it totally wasn't. Wait, it was no sweat. Damned double negatives. Anyway, that whole sewing thing is just a crutch. The stiff drink part? Well, maybe that's a little bit of a crutch, too, or maybe it's just a good excuse to have a drink.

Anyway, I got to show it off at Chicks with Sticks tonight with Annie & Julie and the rest of the usual suspects. And I'm hoping I've convinced Steph that it's safe to do with her Kauni cardigan. After all, if she doesn't need to wait for the sewing machine (or Ken's), then she can get the thing off her plate and show it off as a FO already.

Speaking of Stiff Drinks

I actually did have a little bit of bourbon before bed last night. After all the unplanned excitement, I felt I had earned it. When I got up today, though, Rosa had again been banished to the yard. I had apparently not quite gotten all the smell out of her coat - nothing too bad, but the right side of her head was still just fragrant enough to disseminate the odor through the living room. So I picked up a new product from one of the local clinics when I was out stocking up on hydrogen peroxide, just in case. Rosa's opinion of said product was pretty clear...


...but it seems to have done the trick.

There was one other unmentioned casualty in all of this. Since it was supposed to be a nice night out, I hadn't bothered to close my car windows and even though the sideyard is at the top of the hill and my car parked way down at the bottom, enough of the scent wafted along on the breeze that it still stinks in there. I may have to see how that spray works on car upholstery.

To answer your question, Elemmaciltur, yes, it is that bad. At least when it's up close and personal, when it smells like a combination of burning rubber, fuel oil, and rancid garlic. One of the main components of their spray can be detected by the human nose at concentrations as low as 0.004 micrograms per liter (a liter having mass of roughly micrograms).

And to answer your question, Barbara, I linked to the formula from "hydrogen peroxide", which was probably not terribly obvious. Anyway, it's one quart (or roughly a liter litre for mes amis canadiens et de la reste du monde), 1/4 cup of baking soda (about 60cc), and one teaspoon (5cc) of dish soap. Mix and apply, taking care not to get it in the eyes, wait 5-10 minutes, then rinse off. The problem with dogs, of course, being that they tend to get it in and around the eyes, which means that you end up with residual stinky areas, as Rosa demonstrated. Otherwise, it works quite well.

21 August 2007

It Had Started As Such a Quiet Night

I actually got a fairly solid block of sleep after I got home from work, and I'd gotten up and fixed us a nice dinner (salad and french toast - it was yummy). We had watched our latest Netflix movie, and David had headed off to bed. I let Rosa out in the sideyard for her last potty break of the night and had settled down to catch up on some blog reading.

I had just finished up with Ass Watch 2007 (Norma, all I can say is, I'm very jealous you got to be there.) when a familiar scent came wafting through the kitchen window.

Oh, fuck!

I hurried to the door and called Rosa in, but it was too late - the skunk had gotten to her first. Since the yard is fenced it wasn't as direct a hit as it could have been, but a little goes a very long way. I hustled her back out into the sideyard before she could rub it all over the carpet and hollered up the stairs for David, who was still up reading, fortunately.

We both changed into old clothes and I got him to hold Rosa on leash while I soaked her down with an enzyme solution to try to lessen the stench a bit, but I knew that it was unlikely to be sufficient. So I hopped in the car proceeded very cautiously down the hill to the car with a good light source, checking carefully under the vehicles before I approached them, and drove to the nearest convenience store to wipe out their entire stock of hydrogen peroxide.

Once I got home, I mixed up the formula and applied it to the by now slightly chilly Rosa, and then we got to stand outside and get a bit chillier while it sat and while David drew her a warm bath to rinse off in. After all that excitement, though, she smells like a normal dog and is now happily curled up on her bed.


And I think maybe I need a stiff drink.

19 August 2007

Fall Is Coming


The last few days the air has had the unmistakable crispness that the end of summer brings to Maine. It's even gotten downright chilly at night, which is why I'm wearing sweatpants, a long sleeve T-shirt, a sweatshirt, and my felted slippers. And I'm still even a bit on the chilly side when the breeze blows through the windows.

We headed Downeast for a couple days to visit and to do a bit more on the wedding planning front. The most important thing was our meeting with the new Unitarian minister in Ellsworth, Rev. Leela Sinha. We now have an officiant, and she's also got a Minnesota connection. Leela was doing her undergraduate studies at Carleton College in Northfield, MN, while David and I were both living in the Twin Cities, and she herself later ended up living in the Twin Cities for a few years. Also, her wife, Janine, is a native of Duluth. I'm happy about this because it means that she'll have a particularly good understanding of the places that have helped to shape our lives, and I'm looking forward to working with her.

While we were there, we took some time to drive over to Schoodic Point, which is a smaller and less-traveled section of Acadia National Park. This in itself isn't particularly remarkable, since my grandmother lives on Schoodic Peninsula and since it's one of my favorite places in the world, but I got some nice photos.


We also decided that the Frazer Point picnic area in the park would be a perfect venue to have a cookout for all our friends the evening before the wedding. And while we were there, I managed to snap a couple photos of this camera-shy little guy.


We also visited Daphne for a bit the day before her surgery. We've since found out that the cancer has invaded around her inferior vena cava, which means that they weren't able to remove all of it. The implications, of course, are not good, and I'm very worried for her. Still, her brother-in-law is an internist, so she has good advice near at hand, and there are a large number of people who are keeping her in their thoughts, so I'm sure that whatever decision she makes going forward will be the best one for her. And I have been making good progress with shedir, so I hope to be able to get it to her quickly.

15 August 2007

I Shall Never Again Be Afraid

So, you remember that wedding vest swatch I've been working on? I finished it, cast off the other night. And then I cut the steek. No reinforcements, no stiff drinks (I was at work). I just cut the thing. I was going to say that I cut it with wild abandon, but it was really more like careful deliberation. Then I picked up stitches along one side of the cut and made a little garter stitch band. The other side is still raw. And guess what? Nothing bad happened.

No pictures yet, as I haven't had time. I immediately cast on for a Shedir in Silky Wool. Remember my friend Daphne, who was showing us the chapel in this post? They've found malignant cells in her bile duct, so on Friday she's have a Whipple operation. I'm not sure what will come after that, but I'm making this for her because it's one constructive thing I can do right now. David & I will be visiting her tomorrow while we're up that way. I doubt I'll have it finished by then, but I want at least to have made a good start.

11 August 2007

Diamond Fantasy

This is worked through Chart A, which is basically just the bottom point. Now I just have to do 6 or 7 ever-expanding repeats of Chart B and an I-cord cast off to finish. Piece of cake, right? Speaking of which, I think I might give this to my sister to wear in the wedding. Which means I have until next June to finish it.


08 August 2007

Has It Been a Week Already?

Cripes, has this summer been keeping me busy. So much so that there's not been much time left for blogging - or knitting, for that matter. I have been working on catching up on some reading lately, though. Last week I finished reading Better by surgeon Atul Gawande. I have previously mentioned reading his first book, Complications. I cannot say enough about how wonderful these books are. Read them.

This week, I'm reading Climbing Chamundi Hill, which is a little treasure of a book I happened across with tales taken from classical Indian literature, which doesn't really begin to describe it properly. I linked to the Amazon page for the information, but I'd recommend buying it for a lot less from an independent bookseller at AbeBooks instead.

Work has been, well, work. My 10AM-7PM shift on Sunday was ungodly, with the primary day person and myself doing all we could just to keep up with the onslaught of cases and what seemed like an endless stream of unmitigated assholes coming through the doors (In fairness, most of our clients were fine, but it's the Krabby Patties who really suck the life out of you.). The caseload alternated between merely overwhelming to absolutely crushing all day long, and then the 5PM overnight person didn't show up until 8PM because she didn't realize she'd signed up for the shift. I left at midnight. With the life sucked right out of me.

And although there hasn't been much time for it, there has been a bit of knitting. Mostly just a little here and a little there, really, but last night I did a bit of pattern searching on Ravelry to find something to make with my skein of Sea Silk. I had initially thought to make the branching out scarf from knitty, but I just wasn't really feeling the love and frogged it. Then I tried one of the patterns in Marianne Kinzel's First Book of Modern Lace Knitting, but something wasn't coming out right on the 13th round and I didn't have the time to go back and try to sort out if it was my error (my stitch count was correct) or something in the chart. Back to the frog pond again. So last night I decided that Sivia Harding's Diamond Fantasy scarf looked like an interesting pattern, purchased it, and cast on. So far so good, and I think it will look quite nice in the Sea Silk.

And since I have absolutely no other pictures of anything to share, I'm gonna go for the cute and show you what someone brought us. Just remember, though, that the best thing to do with any baby animal, unless it's in imminent danger, is to leave it be. Its mother generally knows far better what to do than we do.


01 August 2007

Science Nerd

I have two degrees in the sciences and have taught at university level. Any other outcome would have been beyond shameful.

Mingle2 Free Online Dating - Science Quiz

I have Sam to thank for this one.