There’s Something in the Air

While in southern parts of this Earth people are celebrating the warmth of summer, we’re heading into snow. It could not have been any more obvious today. Shopping for oil for my spinning wheel, my brand new Schacht Matchless spinning wheel, yes, you’ve read right, I took the plunge a few days ago, more on that later, back to the store: there was this special atmosphere, almost christmassy, holiday like. Every store was crowded and everyone was getting ready for the big one tonight. Everyone was acknowledging one another instead of the typical everyday stupor people are in, running around without noticing a thing. We’re all into this together today. The promise of snow, the usual electricity outage that accompanies the first snow, the magic. I like that, it gives me hope. As I’m typing tiny little snowflakes are falling. Mind you, not a lot, and no winter whiteness yet, but we’re promised to be enjoying it tomorrow.

I’ve been so neglectful of this blog. Yes, I did write a few entries, but only in my head. As it has been getting colder the room the computer lives in right now isn’t heated, so writing for an extended period of time becomes unpleasant.

And there have been some unpleasant experiences I had no idea how to share. Still not sure how to write about it. Best I’ll give a link to the news story at the end.

As many know, our son Toby was on the Tahoe Hotshots this year. The most amazing time in his life and though the work was excruciating hard and difficult, he was thriving. The party on the evening on the last day of work was accordingly full of fun and singing and playing and whatever young guys do after a hard season of work. As Toby was heading back home with his girlfriend driving, others were headed back to the barracks with their designated driver. But then the unthinkable, unimaginable happened. And here I’ll take you to one of the online stories: yubanet story.

There have been no follow up stories so far and I’m left with speculations and a million possible scenarios but nothing making sense.

My life besides obsessively checking for news every day of the accident consists of fiber. Recently I’ve started hosting an evening of knitting for members of our fiber guild. It’s been a blast. And lots of holiday knitting. Hanukkah having come so early this year has me relaxing now.

Our daughter Liana came for Thanksgiving with boyfriend and we had a wonderful time and she got reacquainted with knitting.

My wheel is calling loudly to spin some more. Gotta abide.

Where’s My Mojo?

It’s gone, just gone. Can’t find it no matter where I look. Have you seen my knitting mojo?  Have you perhaps stolen taken my knitting mojo? Wherever it is, whoever has it, please return!

I’ve been too busy lately, mostly being busy with doing nothing. At least I can’t see results of my busyness. Usually that means I’ve been online going nowhere. Not this time, at least not that I’m aware of. Or am I on autopilot and don’t even know what the left hand is doing? I just can’t get into another gear with my knitting. Holidays coming up very fast and Hanukkah on turbo-speed or even warp speed heading our way this year, makes no difference, I don’t feel the pressure.

Good for my heart. Bad for holiday presents. I always have some super easy knitting on hand to do while waiting for appointments or attending classes. That would be washcloths or dishcloths. But how many can one woman make if she doesn’t even have enough people who use these items? Socks are another knitting project for on the go, as long as they are simple socks. But I got it into my head that I’ve made enough simple socks in my life and now it’s time to work patterns into socks. I have two such projects on the needles and neither is the perfect no mind needed kind of knitting.

An update on the deathflake mittens: I managed to knit with the right color progression, see below, but noticed that I knit very loosely when knitting stranded and, yes, frogged it all again. My next attempt is with smaller needles but I put it aside for a while to finish a pair of socks.

Here are the frogged mittens:

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You see where I’m heading here? I’m burned out on dishcloths and washcloths and simple knitting but can’t find the stretch of time needed to make more complicated items like patterned socks or shawls or sweaters or….

That’s what I call a major mojo problem. I’m making an appointment with another season of “The Good Wife” and knitting today. It might be the cure.

I’m a very handy person when it comes to problems around the house. At least I think I am. This might all be a big delusion I’m finding out now. Yes, I can put down laminate flooring, but I can’t do the finishing touches. For years now, we are missing the finished edges of our floors. And where the floors turn into stairs? Ha. That has never been worked out in my mind. And the fact that I stopped cold when it came to the dining room and living room.

I also do plumbing jobs. Most times with a little bit more success. OK, you’ll never have to worry about that stopper again once I got my hands on it, and who needs it anyway in the bathroom. Our latest is the shower, it drips. I worked my magic, but unfortunately it had nothing to do with the shower head. The drip, I diagnosed, is caused by the thing that turns the shower on and off. I could replace whatever part is worn out, but I’m pretty sure I should turn off the water supply first. Now I know how to turn off the water supply to toilets and sinks, there is a handy knob to turn underneath them. But where does one turn off a shower water supply?

Doing research online tells me this shut off mechanism is not easy to find for showers and tubs and there is talk about concealment of these valves. Is that fair to the amateur plumber I ask? Since I’m not about to go hunting for something someone was trying to hide from me, probably successfully, I’m aware I have to shut off the water supply to the house if I am to make the repair. I can do that and have done that before. But, here is my fear: what if I can’t fix the problem? Then I’m stuck with a shower that would spew out water and the only control is no water to anything. Can I risk that? This is one time where I need to follow up and fix the whole problem and not just a part of it.

Next! Believe it or not, both our bathroom sinks are malfunctioning. They were both clogged up. No problem, I have done this many times before, get down on the floor unscrew the trap, clean it out, and reattach. With my frozen shoulder it has become somewhat of a bigger problem, but I can still do that. Unless part of the metal pipe breaks off. No problem, I put a plant in there so no one is tempted to use that sink. And after all there are two sinks in this particular bathroom. So I go clean the other sink and reattach the trap and guess what, something is wrong and now water leaks out of the trap. That has never happened before. The only solution I can see is get a new trap and keep my fingers crossed. That will be a purchase made later today.

At least the sink in our second bathroom still works, but I’m starting to feel squeezed. We have not renovated our bathrooms since we moved into our house in 1992. My belief is that we still deal with fixtures from 1976 when this house was built. But the new roof and gutters ate up our extra money and we’ll have to wait for a while before any thoughts of a new bathroom get to cross our minds.

No wonder my knitting mojo left this house new roof and all, who wants to live in a one bathroom sink home?

I’m still struggling somewhat with the heart anniversary, and I’m following along and reliving the events. You can stop right here or follow Stephen’s posts from last year.

“October 18, 2012

Still uncertain about the atmosphere on this planet…. A pretty rough day here: another transfusion and a many-syllabic-named lung problem, on top of the usual pains, discomforts, and indignities. I hereby predict much better things for tomorrow. Marianna on the Mend! -S

October 19, 2012

What’s the point of surgery if you don’t have scars to show off? This is a lesser one, of course, on the arm that graciously gave of itself – the one that hopes to soon join its partner in knitting. All in all, a better day today. The highlights were pretty high – including several hours of visits from 5 friends (asked if she’d seen the tunnel of light, Marianna responded no, it was dark and smoky, with jazz playing); and the lows were manageable. Onward! – posted by the husband of the Bride Of Frankenstein

October 20, 2012

No sugar-coating in this update (that would be bad for M’s diabetes). The only good news is mostly symbolic: 8 days after our ambulanced arrival, she’s finally out of the ICU and into her own room. Other than that… Not a good day, sorry to say. From a pre-dawn attack by a seemingly psychopathic (but presumably incompetent) couple of syringe-wielding nurses, through an entire day and evening with energy tank registering empty-minus, this has been the one step back that paves the way for tomorrow’s two steps forward. As for tonight… I think I’ll stay right here and create my own ICU. -S

October 21, 2012

The Creature Walks Among Us!

Best day yet. Two hallway walking journeys, a coupla hours of chair sitting adventures, and another good visit with friends. Marianna is well spent after all that, but definitely on the road to the road home. As always, thanks for the supportive e-shouts! -S

October 22, 2012

If you’re following Marianna’s journey from death’s door to health’s highway, you know what to expect: this was another 1-step-back day. The apparent culprit: meds that kept her blood pressure too low. Way too low, like ~74/45. Less pressure on her healing heart, but it prevented her from doing anything beyond breathing. With blood pressure meds on hold, she’s back to her self, as we look forward to morrow…. -S

October 23, 2012

A pretty good day in general – a little more walking, a lot more waking, and a major post-surgery highlight: sitting in a chair for an hour’s worth of bathing, hairbrushing, and braiding by 2 attentive nurses. I (Stephen) promise you: Marianna was in full radiance.

Still no word on our return date (probably accompanied by an oxygen tank), but I think it moved a lot closer today. -S”

Anniversary

It’s been a bit quiet around here. Not at our house, just here on the blog. It hasn’t been so loud at our house since my teenagers got into punk and them or me blasting the music. Enough suspense: we got a new roof.

As a typical German I was prepared with food and drink for the workers, but they hardly accepted anything. My grandmother used to get a case of beer and food whenever a repair project got started at her house. I watched and learned. But people here don’t let me be nice to them, I feel ripped off.

Today, a year ago, I was in surgery. This is what Stephen posted on my facebook page at the time:

“October 15, 2012
After 7 hours of *successful* surgery – quadruple bypass – Marianna 1.4 is inching her way toward consciousness, to be followed by weeks/months of healing. Whewwwww. I’ll report more when we know more; for now, see – and read and repeat aloud – previous sentence; repeat as necessary… -S”

It probably was the most difficult time for my family ever. Both our kids were around, our daughter Liana having flown in from Denver and Toby was able to take a few days off from firefighting. I have no idea how Stephen held it together, whatever the “it” is. Turn this situation around and you can be assured I would have fallen apart.

Some recollections from Stephen who was posting updates to my facebook page then:

“October 13, 2012
Hi friends of Marianna Greenberg… If you’ve got some spare prayers/love/good healing thoughts/golden circles — whatever you’re into — please send ’em her way. We’re at Sacramento’s Mercy General Hospital, where she’s recovering from a massive heart attack and will have open heart surgery within the next coupla days. She should be sleeping peacefully right now, after a very nightmarish few hours. Visited a few minutes ago: tho really weak of course, she seemed to be pretty much back to her full self — enough so, that she asked me to let folks on her 1000-truffle-benefit page (sorry, no handy link) know there’ll be a delay…. G’night for now, happy birthday to Toby who’s sitting/dozing across from me, and LOVE for Marianna — more massive than anything else. – Stephen

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October 14, 2012

Update: We’re still deep into the woods, but on a clear path toward home. Probably tomorrow morning (depends on how Marianna’s doing, according to all the tests and numbers and evaluations), the path will become a surgical journey through a triple (minimum) bypass. In the meantime, she’s pretty stable, glad our kids are hanging out with her – Liana’s braiding her hair right now – and really appreciative of your love and support. (She said, “Tell them they’re sending so much light, it’s keeping me awake.”) More thanks from me – feeling much more like me after actually *sleeping* (in a 3-question-mark motel!) last night.

Following up on our previous update – re Marianna’s concern about getting so much light from y’all, see pic. In other news, kids and I moved out of – make that escaped from – the seedy motel and into a nice hospital-related apartment across the street; from homely to homey. And the uppest update: Marianna’s on track for surgery, tomorrow around 8 am till midday. Soon, friends….”

Right now I’m reliving this and trying to process. I’m not aging gracefully. But then I have always totally thrown myself into any experience good or bad. There is no half-way for me. Let’s make this a massive heart attack seems to be my modus operandi. And then go for the quadruple by-pass. And then let’s have a pulmonary embolism to top this experience off nicely. I bet my life will end in the ultimate: death.

Since it’s Halloween season I might as well creep you out a bit with the arm picture after surgery:

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All that is left now is the line down the arm, no more Frankenstein look.

Today I get to indulge, indulge, indulge. Just try to stop me. Bored? Come back another time. Though eventually this all leads to knitting.

At some point during my second heart attack or escalating heart attack I was technically dead. I have been asked about the white light and flippantly answered seeing smoke, hearing jazz, etc.

I can report nothingness instead. Whenever I came close to dying, I felt myself falling into emptiness and nothingness, falling asleep without dreams. Often my thought then was, this dying is not so bad, this feels like easy death. Every time I would wake up again and realize that my death would be much more difficult for my family than myself. At some point during my initial stay at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital I asked the doctor if I would die. He answered: You could. I asked Stephen to call Toby. I had this grand idea of a profound good-bye, but all I managed to tell Stephen and Toby was to take care of themselves and each other and that I’m OK dying.

The image of hell as a 30s nightclub with lots of cigarette smoke and jazz stayed with me for days. In my morphine induced semi dreams and pain state of my body, it morphed into deeper and more desolate pictures. I saw dumpsters and rats and the refuse that used to be people, the music long gone. I wrote poetry in my head about it, but that is long gone too and all I’m left with are the images.

After coming out of surgery, mostly unconscious and breathing tube still in my mouth, I remember Stephen saying that I looked like crying and screaming at the same time. I remember thinking that he can read me well. And then a memory of someone dying behind the curtain next to me. Discussions about DNR and that a decision needs to be made. Next I hear a priest saying a prayer, and then an announcement that it’s over. I could not wait to be able to speak again and talk about this. And the nurse confirmed that it really happened.

Before surgery I assured the surgeon that it would be OK if I died on the operating table. No hard feelings since I brought this on myself. He replied that no one dies in the operating room. Well, but apparently they can a short while after.

I still have the memory of being wheeled to the operating room on my bed. Thoughts of what a big mess this room is, sort of like my house with stuff all over. Not much color though, mostly monochrome. Many, many people bustling about. Then everyone trying to explain what they will be doing until I told them to just put me out and that I’m hoping I will not feel any pain. And that no matter what they explain now, it will make no difference. They will do their job and I’m down the rabbit hole now and hope to find my way back eventually. Next: I’m out. Thanks guys.

After almost 7 hours, I wake up, kind of, almost…. The difficulty was my family waiting all this time. They are the heroes in this story, and of course the doctors and nurses. It’s unimaginable to me what I put them through. I will never, ever be able to show my appreciation and gratefulness and love to them. All I can do is knit whatever they want.

And here we are at knitting, finally. The Zombie BBQ scarf has stopped me. I’m avoiding working on it because it’s not what I wanted and I’m settling for what it is. So many new projects were started until I realized what’s going on. Avoidance. So I made a pact with myself: finish this scarf and you get your knitting freedom back. You’d think this would work, right? No, instead I do all other kinds of crazy stuff.

Here is one crazy project: I signed up for online classes with edx and coursera. 4 of them. Two have started. One is Care of Elders with Alzheimer’s Disease. The reasons for this class is that my life might be affected by people with this disease. The other class I signed up for is Science and Cooking, a Harvard class. Am I over my head in this class! Want to know the molecular weight of food ingredients or the number of molecules in the food? This is the class for you. But they won’t bring me to my knees, though I am close many times. All I have to get is over 60% to pass, I might be able to do that. This is so absurd from someone that had to get the highest grade or feel like a failure. I’ll keep trotting along until the next class How to Change the World and Scandinavian Film and Television.

All this because I don’t want to work on the bloody scarf. There are socks to knit, shawls to finish, mittens to start. Do you realize that Hanukkah starts a day before Thanksgiving this year? Is this crazy or what? It will have to be lots of I-Owe-Yous this year.

Something I believe I did not show you yet is an Ashton shawlette worked in silk for my MIL. I was hesitant to post a picture in case she’s reading here. Her birthday and present giving over, take a look. A silk scarf does not stretch as wool does, but it still turned out.

Pre-blocked and while blocking. One of the next posts will be about my fiber fleece adventures.

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Angst

For days, thoughts of a one-year anniversary have been haunting me. Yes, it has been that long since my little and massive heart attacks and all that came after: the bypass surgery, the embolism, the 20-day hospital stay, recovery, and on and on and on.

Life has changed dramatically since then. My spiritual life has taken a turn for the worse, if that was even possible. I talk about it, I push it away, thoughts keep on creeping back, I can’t shake it. “It” is what I consider my short death. Probably everyone I know is sick and tired of me talking about It or about the ordeal itself. After all that happened, we have few friends left.

We used to host parties, at least dinner parties, almost every weekend. Since heart attack and bypass, I wasn’t able to put out that much energy anymore, but no one invited us in return. In the past year we had two dinner invitations, or only one? And I’m lucky if everyone actually shows up when I invite them. I’ve kind of given up for now.

Back to the “short death” part. After the massive heart attack and being ambulanced to the hospital in Sacramento and resting in ICU, I either continued with the heart attack or had another one. Never figured that one out. I remember saying that my heart is starting to hurt again and lots of commotion around me. My mind started sinking into depths I’d never experienced. There was a physical and mental distance to everything around me, and it grew and grew. The void between me and others and material life as well as spiritual life became so vast I didn’t want to make the effort to overcome it. I was content drifting farther and farther away without any regrets or misgivings. Until it all stopped, just nothingness I could only talk about afterward, since at the time there was no experience at all.

Apparently I mouthed to Stephen through a window that I loved him, because by now the family had been herded out of the room and I was surrounded by 10-plus medical responders. Stephen later told me one of them exclaimed there was no pulse anymore. There was talk about using the paddles, but no agreement on that. This is when a nurse did some resuscitation on my chest, and I came back without any knowledge of having been gone.

There seems to be an out-of-synch problem now. I feel my life never caught up with the few moments I missed. What happened in those moments must have been monumental for me. I’m afraid to admit it, but since then death has a whole new meaning for me. Of course I don’t really want to be tested to make sure it’s so. My death has a new meaning, not so sure about anyone else’s.

The fear of death has disappeared, and all that remains is the fear of pain. So many times I’ve said it would have been better if I’d died then. It would have been a very easy death. For me. One that I could have accepted. Whenever I die now, I’ll have to experience it all over again.

I didn’t experience any white light or god, or any inkling of other or bigger or anything for that matter, less than even sleep. There was a time during the hospital stay when I did experience a white light. With the pulmonary embolism. As soon as I was deprived of oxygen, my surroundings started fading from colorful to washed out, and it became brighter and brighter, to the point where I wished for sunglasses. Or at least for someone to turn those overhead lights off. I can only deduce that a lack of oxygen gives one the type of “I’m about to die and I see the light” kind of experience.

Take into consideration here that death is probably a very personal and different experience for each of us. Don’t draw any conclusions from what I’m saying. If I had a shred of faith left in me, it’s gone now. My belief is in nothingness. And there’s no fear associated with that. No regrets, no bucket list, no worry about the mess I leave behind, just OK, everything is OK.

Two myths, perhaps only personal ones, but myths: you can’t have a heart attack while exercising, I proved that wrong. And no matter what my grandmother said about wearing nice underwear, I didn’t care, because if they were clean when I put them on, they certainly were totally messed up when I arrived at the hospital. I had no control over any functions during the heart attack, it seemed that I was going to purge everything. Hugging a trash can, throwing up while sitting in a wheel chair instead of on a toilet. And this is the dirty truth.

There’s a barrier now between me and most of the rest of humanity. That part of humanity that doesn’t share my experience. Is this why support groups are so important? As a society or as individuals we don’t have what it takes anymore for empathy? Instead, we direct everyone to their own kind to deal with problems? Weren’t we able to support all who lived in our communities, no matter what their experience? Or is this a case of the way we never were?

I tend to have nostalgia for the olden days, sometimes I call them the Little House days. Everything was alright then, life made sense, people were connected to each other. I could write books on the changes from back then or perhaps speculate how it really was like to be a woman back then, or a child, or a man for that matter. Life was hard, and perhaps it is all a trade-off. No alienation, but instead overworking yourself. No time for alienation, because no time for socializing, because you had to work so hard.

If I seem like a whiner in this post, I’m not trying to nor do I feel like I’m whining. Just trying to get some thoughts out. I guess I could keep a diary, but then again, I’m a Gemini.

The night of my MIL’s birthday was the little heart attack; this anniversary is coming up in a few days. Then Toby’s birthday eve was the massive one. I sure know how to pick my dates, eh? Yes, I’m nervous and scared. Though a calendar year is arbitrary, it does have meaning in our lives, if for no other reason than to mark the seasons.

What if instead of a year being a year or a month being so many days, we would mark time differently? Mark it with events we don’t have in our consciousness right now. Imagine not noticing the changing seasons, there has to be something we’re unaware of that could be used to mark time. And no, it won’t be every time I finish a knitting project. That would get me in all kinds of trouble.

Back to the year though, perhaps we could rush ahead and make it, let’s say, November? I returned November 1 from the hospital, so let’s make it later in November, OK?

I will find myself in the same boat knitting-wise as I did last year, except this time around I have even more water to bail out. I had so many started or unfinished knitting projects and finished them all within a couple of months. This year it might just take me next year to finish them all. What the heck is wrong with me? Because I don’t see myself breaking this pattern. With gift-giving holidays coming up, I even have excuses for my bad behavior.

Seems I’m back on the knitting track and have left more morbid thoughts behind.

Go ahead, start another project on me!

P.S. I don’t want to be ungrateful. I thank all my friends who cooked for us after I came home from the hospital. At least twice a week for several weeks we didn’t have to give any thoughts to cooking. Thank you!

Hoarding

I am beat! Worked all day in the garage. I’m a bad hoarder, but not ready for prime time TV yet.

The problem? Probably how all hoarding starts. Hmm, I could use that for something or other, and if not me then someone else. Sound familiar? That worked for most of my life until many years ago when I had so much, I never could find what someone needed. That’s when I knew I had gone overboard.

At this point in our life we actually rent a storage unit. That started a few years ago when we had a rat in the house. It took us weeks to catch the darn critter. At some point I slept at a friend’s house, at another point the rat was cornered but managed to run past everyone back into the house.

When the rat started living under the fridge we finally caught it. Not before trying every trap known to man or woman, even the unspeakable ones. We were desperate, OK? What did it in the end was one of the humane catch it alive thingies.

It was caught in the middle of the night and the noise this animal made at the moment of capture was loud, you would have thought we were trying to kill it. A kind of loud moan I’ve never heard a rat make. We released it at the closest park to our house and we have not seen it since. There were no babies anywhere nor any partners. And, knock on wood….

But back to the garage. The stuff that is collecting now or rather has been collecting over the years are things I can’t throw away that belonged to the children. Three or was that four? huge bins of books, childrens’ books. A box of toy cars, a box of stuffed animals, a box of toy horses, a doll house with all that accompanies such a toy, all wooden toys, clothing from when the kids were little and I find special…. You get the idea.

And then there is our old camping equipment, all the books we collected as home-schoolers and other paraphernalia that comes with the territory of homeschooling. Then there are the rejects from the board game collection we have. Games that should be given away or be sold.

A long time ago I started a board game lending library at our local library and kept lots of duplicate games so we could replenish lost game pieces. And we had games donated that were questionable at best. Well, all that is in the garage. And all the leftovers from previous garage sales.

And so much more that somehow a garage is able to attract. When I look at the garage and my house tonight it feels to me as if all I did was reshuffle but a full trash can and recycling container should give some hope.

There were absolutely no treasures. No long lost items found. And it serves me right that it is so much work and I feel beaten and will feel that way until all is done. Can it even be done?

I would like to move all our storage stuff back home and use the money saved for more  stuff, like yarn perhaps? So what is in storage? Old stereo equipment, my old Bose speakers the 901s. Lots of things from Stephen’s grandfather’s house that no one wanted and I felt sorry for. Tons of slides and old movies and pictures. The unsold copies of the book we published written by Stephen’s grandfather. If you would like a copy of “Tales of the Shtetl” the price is good right now.

This is getting depressing. Stuff is depressing. Except yarn stuff, and board games, and quilting stuff, and kitchen stuff. Somehow I have to keep my eyes on the proverbial prize. But what the heck is that prize in this situation? And do I have what it takes to get there?

I shall report back.

Fire and Hotshots

This year our son Toby got his dream job with the Tahoe Hotshots. Not very relaxing for his parents, but he’s doing what he loves most: fighting fire up close.

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Most of us are aware what hotshots do and what dangers they face after the tragedy of the Granite Mountain Hotshots this summer. And most of us have moved on to other topics. And that’s good because we can’t live in a constant state of sadness and tragedy.

We have more awareness and knowledge now. I would like to add 3 books and a song to this.

The Books

Most likely we will never read any books about fire, but that would be a mistake. There are three excellent ones out there. Hard to put down and very informative and page turning reading.

1. Young Men and Fire by Norman Maclean. It tells the story of the Mann Gulch fire where 13 firefighters died August 5, 1949. This date, just a few days ago, inspired this post.

2. Fire on the Mountain by John N. Maclean, Norman Maclean’s son. This is about the South Canyon fire in Colorado where 14 firefighters were killed, 9 from the Oregon Prineville hotshots.

3. The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt & the Fire That Saved America by Timothy Egan. This is more history than anything else. I would read anything by Timothy Egan he is so knowledgeable and informative on the subjects he writes about. The fire he’s reporting on in this book is the massive 1910 fire where over 100 firefighters died.

And here is the incredibly moving song about the Mann Gulch Fire:

The experience I have with hotshots is watching our son. They work extremely hard. The qualifications might not seem so daunting, but keeping in shape by running up mountains with gear on your back on a daily basis. And if this were not enough, push ups and pull ups right after. It is extreme, but has to be considering the situations they are facing. Toby works with a tool and trades off as a swamper. If you want to know a little more, wiki has a nice article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interagency_hotshot_crew

And if you are interested in the Tahoe hotshots here is an article from last year. Some of the personnel has changed but some are the same people Toby is working with now.

http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/nature/Life-on-the-Line-Firefighting-Kyle-Dickman.html

 

 

Weather

The seasons are confusing me this year. Did I miss spring? Somehow summer seemed to follow winter in my neck of the woods. Then, big surprise for me, as I had given in to missing spring and had planted tomatoes et al., someone noticed and slapped some spring on us. Now, I’m not sure, but looks like summer again. I like a rhythm in my weather and watering. Back to watering and summer it is. But stop confusing me!

Last night I heard a snippet of news and that 60% of U.S. citizens don’t think that climate change will have any effect on them. Ha, keep on dreaming.

Since I’m still in stealth knitting mode I have nothing to show for my efforts. I did manage to blow it last night though. I ordered a pattern via mail: Elizabeth Zimmermann’s baby surprise jacket. Apparently it is a mandatory project if I want to keep my knitting credentials. I have the book with the pattern in it. But the book is from long ago and the pattern had me confused. The pattern I ordered is new and rewritten to make a modern and simple person like me understand it. But, I was going to cast on and knit the first 6 rows in garter stitch to get ahead and be ready when the pattern arrived. Casting on 160 stitches is not for the weak, and 6 rows of that, well, you do the math of how many stitches I did. First off I cast on with too short a tail and had to start over. I counted several times and was content that I had 160 stitches. But just incase, I started counting along as I knit the first row. But then got distracted. That’s OK I thought, I’ll count with the second row. Again, some confusion, I did not get 160, but 162. How can that be? OK, count with the third row. Yup, 162 it is. Now what? Well, instead of starting over I could just knit two together at each end or, decrease in the back. Keep on knitting I though, this can be worked out.

Then at row 6 I’m starting to have knitter’s doubt. Better look at the pattern again. Perhaps I can even knit a little further. I read and reread and there was no denying it, there were no 6 rows in garter stitch. The project immediately starts with decreases, a very important design point. Where did I get the 6 rows from? Probably casting on too much lately and some other project had these directions. Darn, there goes my good idea. I will wait for the pattern at this point. 160 stitches are a lot of time to waste.

To give you a picture today, I’ll post a finished project from a few weeks ago. I liked it so much, I went out and bought two more skeins of yarn to make two more. I knew my lys (local yarn store) had two discounted skeins just right for the project.

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It’s a cowl. A very quick knit. And fun to do.

Excuse me while I go water and knit.

The Domino Effect

Or how I lost free will and learned to go with the flow.

A few days ago with the help of a little spring fever, I decided to wash our extra pillows, well, at least wash four of them. While they were drying outside, it started sprinkling and I had to move them inside into the dining room. At the best of times one has to negotiate around the dining room table that takes up most of said room (did I mention we have a smallish house?). After two days of maneuvering around the racks with the pillows I saw it was time to act.

A few years ago I bought these wonderful colorful plastic bags that one can suck the air out of and manage to store bulky soft items in less space. Me being me, I never bothered to suck the air out or for that matter even use these bags. But today was going to be the day. It worked beautifully. Why didn’t I do that before? Never mind, it’s me. I vacuumed the hell out of these bags, finding more and more items to store that way.

Even these compressed items need a little storage space of which we happen to have very little in our house, since I’m a collector of many things, not just yarn. I emptied a shelf of clothing I had not seen for years wondering what it was doing there. Ah, buttons missing, wrong size, but so pretty and could be used for….

Clothing that can’t be worn but using up space is of no use. I ended up sewing two buttons on shorts, two buttons on shirts, patches on two pants and another button on a sweater. Felt pretty good and proud.

In the meantime I had stripped the bed and the laundry was ready to be hung outside. Perfect outside laundry hanging day, sunny and windy. Darn, what’s that? A broken clothes line? Yup, apparently since yesterday our neighbor’s tree snapped a few branches and then snapped my clothing line. I had another clothing line and immediately installed it. So far so good. I’m several loads invested into this line now and am counting on it not snapping again.

Did I say I have not knit a stitch yet? That is correct. Tonight! I did finish my fraternal fingerless mittens. I’m not excited how the colors worked out, perhaps a hat would have been a better choice. Usually I love long repeating colors, but not sure it worked here.

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Instead I made the bed with new sheets (that’s sort of redundant, why make bed with old sheets? I mean dirty sheets. The sheets I used were old but not dirty). This was the time to switch sides with Stephen. My shoulder has been bothering me and in spite of a recent cortisone shot, the pain continues. I’m working on a new theory: it’s caused by holding books and ipad with my left hand that puts strain on my arm. We will see if I only get pain on the right side now or if the pain stops on the left.

This is when I discovered the box of assorted board games and pieces. Might as well deal with it now. After the massive heart attack and bypass surgery in October, I did not answer any emails or inquiries from boardgamegeek anymore. This is where I log my games and do trades or sales. If you are even slightly interested in board games, this is The Site to use. I updated my information and placed the games back neatly into the storage container waiting for someone to bite and claim them.

Toilets

It’s amazing the s#%^t life throws at you. It is that kind of day. Of course it pales in comparison to the people in Boston, so sad.

This morning I woke earlier than usual to make it to a 10 o’clock meeting of yarn bombers in our area. I delayed working on my second fingerless mitten last night, so I would have an easy project to work on and get to talk and know everyone. Of course there is always the never-ending sock project. I had both tucked away in my bag.

Every single person at the cafe was on their portable computer. No yarn or needles in sight. So I strolled through town, browsed the book store, talked to friends I ran into and eventually made a loop and was back at the cafe. Still no yarn, except what was in my bag. So I went home.

For a couple of days now I had the door to one of our bathrooms closed so no one would use the toilet. There was a little wetness that could not be explained by impaired aim. Somehow my thought is always: if I can’t see it, it might not exist. But in the back of my mind I knew I would rather live in a two bathroom house, especially after running into Stephen a couple of times while heading to the other bathroom.

So when our son Toby shows up and asks what work there is, did I ever have a job for him. It builds character to learn how to do improvements around the house, and who am I to stand in the way of our son’s character.

First go to store and buy new wax seal, most likely the culprit. Then remove the tank from toilet bowl. Well, how? Rusted on nuts and bolts did not budge even after many, many sprays of WD40. One more spray Toby? He was not convinced. Instead he talked me into removing the whole toilet with tank still attached. I know the danger zone we were in. Toilets are porcelain and can break. If that happened, well, new toilet. Then we thought it best to move the whole thing outside. Yes, good idea, more access all around, but bolts still not dancing, not even one partial turn. Now what? Well, I did have the correct little saw to threaten the bolts with. I must have bought that when I installed this toilet and removed the old one. The problem seemed familiar all of a sudden. Note to toilet hardware manufacturers: please use materials that do not rust since toilets have something to do with water, unless you don’t flush, but let’s not go there.

It took a while but eventually we succeeded. And managed to saw into the tank seal. No problem, it was not looking its prime anyway. Back to the store for new bolts and nuts and seal. Yes, I know, I said all we will need is a wax seal, but bear with me, we are building character here. The rest of the story went smoothly and after three hours we had the toilet installed, but I had not knitted one stitch.

But, this is what I’m going to do next, sit down, relax, and knit a while on the second mitten. Ok, I now have four mittens that still need a thumb, I’ll get to that too.

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Taxes

If you’re like me than finals during college days would trigger house cleaning, ok, apartment or room cleaning. No way to sit down and study without noticing every detail of dirt in the room. At first I would clean the parts that would draw my attention, but in the end I had to give up and just clean everything so I would stand a chance of passing my classes.

This is what’s happening right now. Taxes are due on Monday and it’s a major stressor for me. Though you wouldn’t think so considering I am here with my almost finished socks next to me, Netflix on, all my yarn nesting in ziplock bags in bins, all my patterns in sheet protectors in new shiny binders, everything but the stack of papers on the table relating to last year’s endeavor to run a food business. If avoidance were my goal, I’d get an A. Somehow this explanation might not work with the IRS. But look Mr.Taxman or woman, all the pretty yarn protected from moths and patterns organized in binders. Yeah, sounds lame even to me. I’ll get right on it tomorrow.

Did I mention I was looking for my book on mittens? Found it, right after asking two friends if they took off with it. That’s another fact of life: ask if someone has seen your missing item and you will find it within minutes and feel like a total idiot. I’m ok making a fool of myself, just wish I would have thought of it earlier. Unfortunately, the book did not have all the cool designs I thought it had.

It will be sock knitting taxes for the next few days, with sock knitting in between, to keep sane. One of the sock knitting books I keep on coming back to is Getting started knitting socks. If you are interested and can afford to, buy locally. It’s a pretty handy reference book by Ann Budd. I covet two books of hers: knitter’s handy book of top-down sweaters and the knitter’s handy book of patterns. I’m afraid I blew my knitting budget wide open lately and don’t see these books in my near future. But a woman can dream, right?