Sunday, December 24, 2006

wishes you and yours the same thing, too


May you reflect on the peace, joy and comfort of the gift of the Christ Child as you enjoy your holiday celebration.

Friday, December 22, 2006

and this song of mine in three-quarter time


Time does strange things to one's memory. Always a witty individual, Mark Twain said, "The faintest ink is stronger than the best memory." How true that is in my life today.

For a variety of reasons, many Things from my Past have been resurfacing (or dredged up, depending on how you look at it), and over the past several weeks I have spent much of my time at home thinking about, praying about, writing about, and effectively "dealing with" these Things. This morning I was bumbling about the apartment, not terribly motivated to get up and going, since I only have three small things to do at work and then I'm headed back to pack for Christmas in Michigan and get some last-minute shopping done. As I was putting gel in my hair, I had the inspiration to find a particular CD to listen to while I ate my raisin bran, and thus began a fruitless search. I really wonder where that CD is...but in the meantime I ran across an old journal, which I had been thinking about finding because I know a particular entry exists in the journal about one of the Things, and I wondered what the date was.

Abandoning my search -- oh wait, I just realized that the CD is here in my desk at work...aah... -- abondoning my search for the CD (which now, in retrospect, was a very good idea!), I instead picked up the journal and perused that during breakfast. I was astounded at what I found. (And I was astounded by how faint some of the ink was!)

As I look back and reflect on the Things from my Past, I have a certain sense of how I was feeling when I made particular choices and participated in various activities. But when I looked back in my journal to see what I was actually thinking (or at least was recording as what I was thinking)...I discover that the sense I have is wholly false. The way I think I not how I was! I was surprised to discover common themes of questioning, searching, remorse, and a deep longing in my heart -- the most surprising of all was that these themes are nearly identical to ones I could find in my journal today!

That is not at all what I had expected to find, and it drastically changes my view of myself way back when. How is it that I have come to forget who I was? Have I been making excuses for or trying to explain away my "old" self for all these years? Has it been too hard for me to admit I really was who I was? And why oh why didn't I go back and read those journal entries sooner? Sure, they were from 7 to 10 years ago, but I actually had quite a few wise things to say back then -- I could really have benefitted from my own experience and advice!

But, perhaps one cannot fully appreciate the wisdom of one's own thoughts and ideas until she has marched on, experienced more, and can now bring the wisdom into the new contexts of her life.

All that said, I encourage everyone to keep a journal. You might hate writing, you might think journaling is stupid, but I for one think that it not only has immediate benefits (one entry I read said something like "Writing has benefits over talking to someone because you can sit and organize your thoughts and not worry about saying them the right way or having someone else ask you probing questions about what you're trying to say - you can just get them out!"), like clearing your head, but also serves as a remarkable resource for you when your memory fails. That happens when you get older. Believe you me - it happens even if "old" is only 26!!!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

may your new year dreams come true

As 2006 draws to a close, I look back over what all has occurred this year. Wow. A lot. My thesis project went from hopeless to hopeful...some of my friends went from bad to worse, others from good to great...I moved...I got 2 pets...I've met lots of new people...I've knitted various items...I went to Europe... It feels like the year has flown by so quickly, but when I think about all I've done, it seems really long.

But the biggest question...did I live up to any of my New Year's resolutions? Um...not really. I was fairly successful in many of the areas, but certainly not perfect. ...I really should have revisited that post a few times throughout the year - I had completely forgotten that I had made some of those goals!

So...well, I don't feel too guilty. The items I would normally have the hardest time feeling okay about not having achieved would be those related to my spiritual growth (e.g. reading Bible, setting aside time for God); however, I have learned a tremendous amount of stuff about God and how He relates to me and how I relate to Him and what being a part of the church means and how I am to respond to others based on how God feels about me and others... There are many ways I have grown spiritually that I never, ever would have imagined at the beginning of this year!

Well, what are this coming year's New Year dreams? I'm going to keep it short and simple: 1) graduate 2) love God and love others. (Although, based on my inability to achieve goals...perhaps I should make more goals just so at least I'll complete something! It would be pretty lousy if I both didn't graduate and didn't love God and others...) There are other dreams, too, but those are just dreams, not goals really, so they aren't worth sharing (and, based on my recent State of Brain*, I don't think they're really good for me to even be spending much time thinking about).

I will note, however, that I want to put some concentrated effort into these people:This is my small group Bible study - with a few people missing and with an additional creature (dog) and a leg** - with whom I meet every Wednesday. They're super. They're one of the groups I'm no longer leading. And there is much change in the air! We're a big group, and I've discovered that it takes a lot of time and effort to build and then maintain strong relationships with them all - and I'm pretty poor at doing that. So it's going to be a challenge, but one I'm excited to take to know them better so that when I move (hopefully by the end of 2007!) into the next phase of my life, I will have left an impact on theirs.

And I suppose that's what life is all about - making sure you have something of you left after you're gone.


*It seems that something, or Someone (more likely - the current hypothesis is "D") is sucking my brain cells out... Truly. I forgot to send in my rent check this month - and I have never, EVER forgotten to pay any bill ever! I just completely forgot. Then, Tuesday, I got home from work, curled up to do some reading and writing, and made sure I was ready to leave for hockey practice at 8. Except that when I got in the car at 8, I realized that...practice starts at 8. I was supposed to have left at 7...uh...yeah. Why was I thinking 8? I do not know. I thought that was the end, but the next morning I made up vaccines to give to my mice for my current immunization experiment. After doing careful calculations, I figured out how many doses I needed and found that I had JUST enough of all of my materials to make that many. I made them. Then I realized...I actually needed 10 less than I had made. Not a big, bad deal, but...what was I thinking? And finally, this morning, I got in the car, set off to work, and realized that I was driving in the opposite direction of work and was driving to the highway instead of the busway. Oh me. I conclude that all the brain cells normally devoted to useful and beneficial thoughts about items such as these have been diverted to the far corner of my brain that thinks girly thoughts about guys. Thus, "D" is the culprit.

**The leg. Yes. Like the one in A Christmas Story (see the Clip 1 on the "Sneak Peak" portion of the site if you've never had the pleasure of viewing the leg lamp). Except this one wasn't a lamp, it was just a leg. It was the unofficial winner of "Best/Worst Present" in this year's White Elephant gift exchange. It is actually a Victoria's Secret leg, retrieved from the dumpster behind one of their stores around here. Why? I'm not sure. But...lucky Scott got it! Scott was one of the first to leave the festivities after the gift exchange, and when the doorbell rang not too long after his departure, we knew what we'd find on the front porch: the leg. War has begun...he shall certainly be re-receiving the leg...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

every song you hear seems to say, "merry christmas"

There are some songs that should not be sung operatically. I don't normally say that, because I rather enjoy opera, and I think the singers are amazing. Did you know that (real) opera singers don't use microphones! That's some major lung power there - I can always hear them fine, and I sit in the very back of the auditorium where the seats are cheap!

But - there are some songs that should not be sung that way. I realized this last night as I was driving out to the store (Goodwill) to find some white elephant gifts for tonight's annual Bible study group gift exchange. On the radio (classical station) was some great woman singing a Christmas carol that I can't for the life of me recall right now (it was so horrible, I had to just delete it from my memory!) - and, oh my!, was it wrong. Gone was the tenderness, gone was the sincerity. It sounded like the woman was trying to embellish and force out difficult notes for all she was worth, was very bad.

It has occurred to me recently that I am totally out of touch with music. I enjoy music. I listen to music - it's just that the only music I listen to is classical music. Most of the composers are dead. There are few radio stations that play the music. It's just plain old not popular! I thus can't tell you much about the music most people listen to. I attempted to keep up a little bit for the four years when I worked with high schoolers, but even then I fell far from actually knowing much about what was hitting the airwaves. Today I know even less! I at least know that Justin Timberlake released a long-awaited album, but that was months ago. That's about it.

Perhaps it's time I familiarize myself with this culturally relevant topic. Not "culture" the way I usually think of it, but popular culture. ...But as I consider that, I realize that it's a gigantic monster of a beast. There is so much to know, so many styles, so much to wade through to get to the point, so much to remember... ...Ugh...what a monstrous undertaking this seems! ...Perhaps it's not time...

For now, the good ol' Christmas tunes (NOT sung by opera stars!) will do.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

it's that time of year - when the world falls in love

It's knitting day.

I knit a few rows of the Retro Rib sock this week. That's it. Why??? I do not really know. I suppose it was a busy week with Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights full of activities and Friday night full of shopping and Saturday full of cleaning and hockey games. But I really think that the major reason continues to be that I still haven't unearthed the I-modified-them instructions created during the construction of the first sock of this pair, and I am just plain old too lazy to sit and think about what I changed in the pattern. And I've been reading some pretty good books on the bus. Nevertheless, here is the sock in its current state...
While shopping for Christmas presents last week, I was in JoAnn and just had to pick up copies of the newest knitting magazines (it helped that I had 40% off coupons and a gift card), and inside Vogue Knitting's Knit Simple, I ran across a book review for something new from Judith Durant, "Never Knit Your Man a Sweater (Unless You've Got the Ring)." If you are unfamiliar with the Sweater Curse, please read about it here. This is serious business, folks! Bad things happen when items are knit for special men! Thankfully, this new book has plenty of solutions, and I'm actually considering purchasing it, which is certainly not something I normally would ever think of doing (neither purchasing a new book nor knitting something for a man).

Perhaps my interest in the book is due to my subconsciousness's response to a new man in my life. No, I did not get another fish. This man actually is a man, a human. "D" and I met a few weeks ago and have been making our crazy schedules to collide every now and then, and it's interesting and enjoyable, and we shall see what happens. But today is knitting day, so why am I writing about this now? ...D, perhaps unwittingly, scored gigantic points (not that we're keeping score...) by saying while we were wandering around a store, "Hey, there's yarn here - let's go and you can tell me about yarn."

Wait. You want to hear about yarn??? Obviously not, so what I take it to mean is, "Knitting is important to you, yarn is used in knitting. You are important to me, I want to hear about yarn." Aw. I did not, however, acquiesce to his request, since we were in Wal-Mart, and I just absolutely refuse to oggle over yarn at Wal-Mart, because I am a yarn snob.

Monday, December 18, 2006

the christmas waltz

That's a good song. I have a hard time chosing a favorite Christmas tune. There are so many - ones that celebrate the birth of Christ, ones that celebrate the snow, ones that celebrate the gathering of loved ones...all these elements that are so precious to my Christmas in my mind's eye. Here are some thoughts about the Christmas season, with excerpts from a couple Christmas songs.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Outside, not so much - it was 62 degrees F yesterday! Certainly snow is not blanketing the earth... It's been hard for me to get in the Christmas spirit this year, in large part because of the lack of snow. However, little by little things are shaping up. I hung stockings several weeks ago and put up a little tree. This morning I finally dug out the nativity scene I had purchased in Salzburg over the summer (it was still in the suitcase...which means I haven't unpacked the suitcase I used in that bad?). And last week was the departmental holiday party for work.

As the shoppers rush home with
their treasures

Since it hasn't felt like Christmas, I was greatly surprised when I realized last week that there were only 11 days left until Christmas! I had purchased exactly zero presents! And I had sent precisely zero cards! ...Things were looking bad, and the schedule of life wasn't appearing to give me much free time to go out shopping. Instead of trying to figure out how I could possibly manage to combine shopping with some other activity I had in the schedule (hockey and shopping...? church and shopping...? having dinner and shopping...perhaps, although indigestion was a quite possible outcome.), I decided to leave work early on Friday and go out - I was sort of forced to do this, in actuality, because I needed to have many of the items on my list purchased by Sunday, and Saturday was filled with hockey games and work.

I must not have been the only person who thought Friday afternoon shopping was a great idea, because it was packed. For the most part lines were short, but I was glad I'm a big fan of finding a very far away parking spot and walking a long ways to get to stores, because that was what I had to do, and trying to find a "good" spot would have quickly drained all holiday cheer I may have mustered at the time.

The afternoon of shopping turned into a 6-hour ordeal, and I'm not a big fan of shopping to begin with, so by the time I got home, I really felt I knew the meaning of "shop 'til you drop."
the spoils. i even managed to only buy one thing for myself that was completely unnecessary...
But since I really had to get those presents ready for Sunday, I wrapped. In the end, I had a pile of gifts ready to be given to the family my Bible study group adopted through the Salvation Army.We did this last year and now again this year, and it is fast becoming one of my favorite Christmas traditions. It is so rewarding to meet the needs of others, and even the wants of others! for other people is way easier than shopping for myself, particularly when it comes to clothing. Nothing ever fits me, and I usually stomp out of stores in a rage (not really) - but when items are for other people...I'll do my best, but in the end, it's not my problem.

I even managed to make it to a mall in my shopping excursion. Gasp! They had a delightful little place for children.I sort of wanted to ride on the train, myself.

Caroling, caroling, through the snow
As already stated, we haven't got any snow. And so I suppose it's appropriate that I also haven't gone caroling. I had gotten all excited that I was going to go caroling last Thursday, and that certainly added to my holiday cheer, but then that didn't end up happening. I had somehow messed up the dates of two activities the young adult ministry at my church were planning, and when I showed up Thursday night set to go caroling "in the hood", I was surprised to find that it was not indeed caroling night and it was indeed the night we were going to be helping with the high school students, but for some reason that got cancelled, so it was just a little chaotic instead. Ugh, that's what I get for not going the week before when apparently all of this was announced! Oh well. Sadly, I will miss caroling (which actually was scheduled to be this Thursday) because I will be out playing ice hockey. Well, at least there will be ice there!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

out of control

Lots of stuff is changing in my life right now in a variety of areas. Change, in this case, is good, but it's not easy.

Some of the major changes are my "retirement" from a variety of leadership positions related to both school and church. I'm passing on the torch to others so that when I leave the city (oh, please be soon!) the groups I've been helping with will be in very capable hands. It's almost like giving up a baby to someone else - I've put in a lot of time, effort, though, and energy into the groups, and while I embrace the shift of leadership, I find it hard to completely let go.

In essence, I'm going "out of control".

There are good things and bad things to not leading. One of the very good things is not being criticized - criticism is a natural reaction to leaders, and I think it's important for a leader to seriously consider all criticism that he or she receives. That doesn't make criticism any happier to hear, though. Another benefit of not leading is that you are less responsible for dealing with conflicts that arise within the particular group you lead. Already I've seen a new conflict sprout in one of the groups I no longer lead, and I'm so glad I'm not the one who has to mediate the differences. Not leading also gives (in theory) one more time to focus on things in life other than the project being led. This was one major motivation for me to step down from leading one group in particular - I want to devote more concentrated effort to my thesis research in these hopefully last few months of PhD studenthood.

However, with the benefits come difficulties. It's hard to completely let go and allow someone else to go a different route with something one had led for a time. Inevitably new blood brings new ideas and new direction, and such is the way of innovation and progress. However, I find it easy for even the most secure and most detached people to feel a bit of resentment or hurt when a program or concept he or she created or nurtured gets revamped by a new leader. One quickly begins to question if all their previous followers hated the Old Way so much as to so willingly embrace the New Way. The old leader wonders if he or she could have done better and dreams about what might have been if this, that, or the other thing had been done just a tad differently when he or she was leading. And sometimes it gets more personal - ideas that had been offered by the old leader and shunned by the followers but are accepted under the new leadership cause the outgoing leader to wonder if anything he or she said ever spent more than a second between the ears of the followers. It's hard to let go of the power and watch traditions or concepts that had been dear and assumedly vital to the group become abandoned and forgotten. It's hard not to step in and demand, "You have to do this! Because...I said! Because, I know - I led this group for so long, don't you think my experience has taught me anything?"

Not leading is teaching me a lot. It's causing me to trust more and to think harder about how to lovingly convey what I'm thinking when I disagree. In the terms of the Green Lady from C.S. Lewis's Perelandra, it's "making me older."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

product review: lip balm

I've been doing many things lately that are highly uncharacterstic of me. One was to attend a "makeup party." Actually, it was more of a spa party. My friend Karen's aunt is an agent for BeautiControl, and Avon-esque company that sells skin care and bath products and makeup. Karen had friends over for a spa night where we tried out a bunch of the products. I managed to pick up a couple gifts for people and will be trying out some of their sensitive-skin face solutions (incidentally, the non-sensitive-skin samples I stupidly tried I think are responsible for the just-at-the-brink-of-breaking-out-terribly state in which my face currently is, which is unfortunate because the next week or so I have many people to whom I'm like to put my "best face" forward). The Therma Del Sol line products, particularly the detoxifying bath, smell absolutely incredible, and other friends who've tried out the bath have said great things about it.

My favorite, however, was the lip balm. Perhaps it was a combination of the Lip Apeel "lip mask" with the lip balm, but whatever the case, I've been completely impressed. I've always been a sucker for lip balms. I have an incredible collection of Lip Smackers from days of yore, and I think I own one of every flavor of ChapStick's Flava-Craze line. In the past couple years I've been trusting a combination of Blistex and Burt's Bees to keep my lips from cracking horribly, especially during the winter. But, I've never experienced anything quite like the BeautiControl lip balm.

I applied the lip balm on Sunday evening after treating my lips with the Lip Apeel stuff (which has a consistency much like that gook orthodontists cram in your mouth to make impressions with...that's not so super - but once it's off, it's as my friend Angie declared: "I feel like my lips should be kissed!"), and to my utter surprise, on Wednesday morning my lips were still feeling smooth and soft. That's despite windy weather, hockey practice, standing out in the evening air, working out at the gym, and taking multiple showers.

Conclusion: I approve. More lip balm should be arriving in my possession in about a week. I'll let you know if I ever withdraw my praise.

getting back in the knit of things

It's been a while since I have really worked on knitting anything... Oh, and I still haven't got a picture of Joelle's stocking! But finally over the weekend I pulled out a work-in-progress and got back to work. I wanted something...relaxing. Something...not too complicated. But something...that wasn't boring. I picked out the brioche bodice.

I started this project...who knows when, with the intent of using it more as a vest than a tank. It's a recycling project - I ripped up an old acrylic/wool sweater that really just didn't suit me save for the color, and now I'm reknitting it into something that does. I was introduced to the brioche stitch a while back in Interweave Knits, and I made my first brioche thing last year - a scarf for a friend (which I found out was recently regifted to one of the children she nannies for, who really loved the pink and purple stripes). I enjoy it because while it really only uses the knit stitch, the yarn still moves around purlwise, so my wrist doesn't get hurt from the repetitive motion as easily. looks really neat! It's a wonderful alternative to ribbing. Progress has been slow, even with the rather big yarn (I think it's something like 3-4 stitches per inch in stockinette - for someone who's been all about socks and worsted weight yarn for a long time, that's quite big).

And speaking of socks, I also dragged out the Retro Rib Sock #2 and am looking at it and contemplating putting more work into it. I am so reluctant to do this because I lost my copy of the pattern, which has all the markings for the adjustments I had made since I'm knitting at a different gauge than the original pattern called for. Continuing this sock will require much Thinking, and I'm not totally up for that yet. I believe a thorough cleaning of the apartment might aid me in finding the lost pattern, so I'm motivated to wait until I do that...which might be a long, long time. Nevertheless, I'm wanting more and more to wear the socks, and wearing only one and a half instead of the complete pair isn't really going to cut it.

...Hm. I was just setting up the socks and vest to take pictures and discovered that my camera has no juice in the batteries. Being the forward-thinking person that I am, I had put an extra set of batteries in my camera case. However, in my infinite brilliance, I apparently put in a set of decharged batteries, because they're not working either. ...Yeah...

Well, instead of viewing pictures, might I ask you to think and give some suggestions for a project I'd like to start? For the past four years I have had a World Vision sponsor child named Minteha who lives in Ethiopia. We're supposed to be able to send letters and flat gifts (e.g. bookmarks, coloring books, etc.), and I've never done so. But I was thinking about Minty last night over dinner and thought it would be nice to knit her something to make up for the many years of "neglect." ...What should I make? She's about 12 years old and lives in a rural village where she goes to school and lives with her parents and younger siblings. Any great ideas?

Friday, December 08, 2006

boofy bunny butt

When I was in high school I had the pleasure of having Mrs. Flynn as my English teacher for two years. Mrs. Flynn was enthusiastic and energetic, and I later found out that she had been a physiology major before she became an English teacher, and that's pretty darn interesting. Mrs. Flynn made her students work hard, but we also played hard with her - every now and then we'd have "tea and crumpets"!

One of the fondest memories of English class with Mrs. Flynn was the introduction of the word "boofy." I'm not positive that this is how it is properly spelled, but being that the word was presented in oral but not written form by Mrs. Flynn, I'm not sure it really matters. (I was, however, able to find it spelled that way via Google. See the picture here.) Mrs. Flynn used this word to describe her appearance: she had boofy hair. I knew exactly what she meant! If your hair isn't stick-straight, has a little bit of frizz and a little bit of wire...then you probably know what she means, too! It's sort of like when your hair...raises itself higher than it normally is.

It's like a combination of "big" and "poofy." I personally believe the word (if it's really a word) stems from "bouffant." The classic Jacqueline Kennedy picture gives the gist - it's just that boofy hair doesn't come from hours of styling - it just happens. Especially when there is a significant amount of moisture in the air.

All this comes into play, because poor Miss Joelle, who has been looking very sorry indeed recently - complete with a poly-collar to prevent her from scratching at the drains inserted into the side of her face for two weeks - finally got a haircut! However, it isn't complete yet. I cut from the neck towards the rump, and when I gave up (Joelle can't stand being groomed for an incredibly long time), she ended up with a bit of "boof" on her behind.

When I pointed this out to her, she gave a sniff and flopped onto her side by her favorite chair - just the perfect angle for me to get a picture of the bunny with a fur tutu!

Now, Bethany, that is a very odd looking rabbit!

it's the little things that count

One microliter.

Do you know how much that is? It's 1/1000 of a milliliter. Can't picture a milliliter? A milliliter of water is the "size" of a centimeter cubed. That is not very big. Now, divide that into 1000 parts. That's a microliter.

That's not much at all. Shouldn't matter a single bit, right?


It is the failure of me to add that one microliter that has made my arrival at the lab at 2:30a.m. a complete and utter waste of time and has deprived me of precious sleep. As part of The Big Experiment being carried out this week (starting yesterday, hopefully culminating tomorrow), I spent 16 hours at the lab, grabbed some LuLu's, let the very bored (made a lovely mess by throwing her litter pan around) and upset (much snorting at the Hand that Feeds) rabbit (at least she's not outright ill) out for about a half hour, and went to bed for a mere three hours. Now I'm back, and as I was working on Step One of the 2:30a.m. part of The Big Experiment, I realized...I had forgotten to add one microliter of monensin to the samples I was working with. Which renders the entire experiment completely and utterly useless.

Smart. I am quite sure I can accurately blame this on the fatigue that comes from 15.5 hours of being at the lab and lack of sleep the night before. But it doesn't make it any more enjoyable. Plus, now I'm stuck at the lab, because I need to be back here at 5:30a.m. anyhow to start working on today's regularly scheduled part of The Big Experiment, so it's not worth driving home, trying to sleep for one hour, and driving back. (Plus, I might lose my parking space. ...AND it's totally freezing outside.)

I'm going to go find a corner in which to curl up...

Doesn't it make you want to pursue a PhD in microbiology?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

update in brief

...The blog has not been a priority in Somebody's life of late... That would be me. Apologies to all who are longing for a peek into my life.

What can I say? My brain has been stuffed with Other Items, mostly people (and a rabbit) and work. An odd combination, considering that I am usually all about only one or the other - life seems to shift between being 100% for work, overcommitting myself to it 24/7, or 100% for other people, putting less thought into my work and more thought into being with others. I've been trying to learn (and apply) a balance between the two. It's tough! Both require a lot of time and effort if they are to be done properly and with quality. And, obviously, other things thus get pushed aside.

Including knitting! Can you believe it? I have not knit for over a week! I have not even wanted to!! I had finished the knitting construction of Joelle's stocking sometime during the Thanksgiving weekend, and then the sock with the un-closed toe sat and sat and sat in the Knitting Bag for about 10 days. Finally I decided to sew it up on Sunday and hang it. Of course, now I'm not truly satisfied with it - I should have used a different size needle on the stranded knitting part - but I'm too lazy to un-do it and reknit, at least for this year.

I also have concluded that I am going to give up on the Aran sweater I've been making zero progress on for the past year. I love the yarn, I love the cables and double seed stitch, but when I think about it, I actually really do not love the pattern. It is a "traditional" Aran design - a "square" body with unshaped arm holes, and the sleeves stick straight out to form a T. And, goodness knows why and when this occurred in my unfashionable mind, I just don't want that sort of dumpy sweater! I want something more fitted. Something like I know I saw in a Vogue Knitting from I believe last year - it's somewhere in my Pile of Knitting Magazines. ...And that means I'm going to rip out some 16 inches worth of ribbing, cables, and textured knitting, which pains me to think about, considering I also painstakingly tubular-cast on the bottom edge of both the front and back sides of this particular project - a first for me, and something which took an entire evening to do properly!

...When I will get to that is anyone's guess!

Monday, November 27, 2006

the twilight zone

It has been an extremely busy past week. I had to take blood samples from an incredibly number of mice and administer vaccines to all of them last week before I left for Michigan for Thanksgiving. A lot of work and time, but also nerve-wracking, because I always have the fear that the immunization won't got quite right and two months worth of toil will be a complete loss from day 0. Once the mice were all set, I scrambled back to the apartment to rapidly throw various items into a laundry basket, grab Joelle's medicine, stuff her (very unwillingly) into her carrier, dismantle her cage, and put it all into my car so I could finally get on the road for the long drive home across the Ohio Turnpike.

The plan was to meet my brother, Jonathan, in Ann Arbor, where one of his friends from college resides. It breaks up the trip for both of us, is completely not out of the way, and gives me someone to keep me awake for the final 2.5 hours of the trip across the very flat and sometimes boring Michigan expressways. I made the decision to take a little bit of a different way to the meeting point - I generally drive the Turnpike to Maumee and connect to US 23 to drive towards Ann Arbor, but this time I decided to follow MapQuest's suggestion and get off an exit earlier, hit 75 for a short period, drive across Toledo on 475, and connect to 23 north of Maumee. Good in theory, and actually it was going great until I approached exit 16.

I have no idea what is at exit 16 or how far away it is from 23, but as I approached, traffic came to a near stand-still. I thought I had hit some rush-hour traffic, although it was pretty late for that. Instead, it turned out to be a police car blocking the road and directing all cars to the right with red burning flares. I obliviously followed the flares and the traffic and suddenly found that I (and everyone else) was on the exit ramp of exit 16! I figured that there would be a DETOUR sign telling me what to do next, or that I could at least jump back on the highway, but there was no sign, and there was another police car and flares blocking the on-ramp.

So I started following some cars, but they all turned off the main road, and I was pretty sure that wasn't the way to go. So I stopped and asked at a hotel for some directions, but the person at the desk had no idea how to get anywhere. So then I thought I'd trust my intuition and head the way I thought I should go. Fortunately, I didn't trust my intuition very long (it was wrong, anyhow), and I stopped at a restaurant to ask for their suggestions. Everyone there told me how to get back onto 475, and it took me a while to get them to realize that I COULDN'T and that was the whole problem. So, finally a person who actually knew how to drive around the area was located from the throes of the kitchen, and I had my directions. I turned around and went back from where I had come. I noticed that cars were driving in both east and west directions across the overpass that was 475. I wondered...and indeed, I now COULD get onto the on-ramp! So I did. And I got to Ann Arbor in no time.

I had to ask myself many times whether I had just imagined all of that. It took me no more than 10 minutes to get the directions once I was dumped off the highway! I'm sure there's a perfectly logical explanation (a crash or accident being cleaned up, for example, and I just caught the tail end of it before the roadway was reopened), but I felt like I had entered and exited the Twilight Zone.

Maybe it was just not a very lucky day for me, because as I approached Ann Arbor I checked my voice mail on my cell phone and was able to listed to two of the three messages before the battery went caput. Having no car charging capability, I was stuck and guessed that the third message was Jon telling me where precisely to meet him in Ann Arbor. I arrived at our desination and saw his car and went to the restaurant we had discussed as a meeting place, but he wasn't there (and there was no outlet in the bathroom for me to plug in my phone!). I figured my best bet was to just go to the house I thought looked like the one where Jon's friend, with whom we were leaving his car, lived.

I picked wrong.


And nobody knew Jon's friend, even though he lived right next door to them (well, okay, so his parents lived there, but...still).

Fortunately, just as I was starting to despair and contemplating going back to the first wrong house to ask if I could plug in my phone to check the messages, Jon showed up, and we squashed his luggage into my car and were off after showing the man at the nearby convenience store what my car looked like under the hood because he thought he was getting ripped off by the repair shop his friend's same-model-as-mine car was being serviced by. We confirmed that the part the shop said he needed did not appear necessary for the proper fixing of the car.

...Ah, life. It is so deliciously confusing and amusing and random.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

bad things come in threes (or more)

Blogger won't publish the posts I painstakingly write these days. Hopefully this one makes it...

Bad things that have occurred in the past 12 hours:
  • I found out my sister suffered a minor concussion this past weekend and is having continuous headaches as a result.
  • A friend from high school was killed in a car accident
  • Joelle, who had surgery for another abscess on Friday, stopped eating this morning and is acting very strangely
I don't feel much like celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

it's (almost) christmastime

I decided to do Christmas knitting quite differently this year than last. Last year I knit something for a very large number of my friends. I am not quite sure how I did it, to be very honest. One of them only got half of her present by Christmas - just one sock out of the promised pair.

But this year...this year I learned my lesson: don't knit for others! Unless you really, really want to and don't care if they have absolutely no appreciation for the fact that you spent every non-working waking moment hunched over your knitting needles to have a finished product for the gift exchange. I didn't care to experience that this year (although, I didn't actually care very much that people didn't ooh and aah over their gifts. That's not why I made them!), so I went a different route -- knit for myself!

Specifically, I'm knitting up some stockings for decoration around the apartment. And, if time allows, I want to knit some ornaments for a little tree I plan to acquire. I spent hours and hours searching for the perfect patterns, and I finally picked out three from Christmas Stockings put out by Interweave Press. One for for Joelle...and one for Sheamus.

Speaking of Sheamus, he hasn't been for the past month or two. Basically that means he doesn't make "FEED ME!" faces and doesn't even really eat. A very keen visitor to my abode pointed out that this was probably because his water is really cold, which is probably because I don't use the heat much and prefer to just wear more sweaters as the air cools. I tried moving him to warmer spots of the apartment, but so far it hasn't done much good. A little bit worried that he won't make it much I must admit that I'm holding off for making his stocking until last.

I'm working on Joelle's first because she doesn't have one at all, and if I desire/don't get to making my own, I can grab the one my aunt made for me long ago, which I really like and which is at my parents' house, where I'll be for Thanksgiving (isn't that convenient...). Of course I forgot to get a picture of it (and left my camera at home when I left way early this morning), but I'll assure you it has multiple colors, and I have been VERY pleasantly surprised to find how much easier stranded knitting is now that I have conquered English Knitting. It's downright FUN! I'm very inspired to make something Nordic. I suppose I'll settle for generic Scandanavian - as that's what pattern I have picked out for me is!

Joelle's stocking, by the way, is the "Chubby Sock" - it happens to be on the cover of the book. It seemed so "her" when she was all "chubby" with her gobs of hair. But, since the Great Abscess and the subsequent Shaving of the Face and subsequent haircuts, she's not so much chubby as just warm and fuzzy. The sock'll still do.

Pictures as soon as I get my act together!

Friday, November 10, 2006

stuck on salzburg

Hm, so it appears that I haven't told you anything about the rest of my trip...!* And what a shame, because the next stop on the European adventure was my favorite. After leaving Budapest, we drove across Hungary and then across Austria to get to Salzburg. While in Austria we traveled along the "Romantic Road," which is absolutely beautiful. It meanders through quaint villages, following a bicycle path along the Danube. On one side of the road you look through sparse trees and see the water and the "beaches" on the opposite shore, and on the other side of the road you take in old houses and churches and the rising hills that assure you the Alps are on their way. Gorgeous, gorgeous!! It doesn't go terribly fast - it certainly isn't an expressway - but it's worth the extra travel time. As we rode along I became more and more determined that I will return to Austria someday to embark on other adventures that I missed - like climbing and hiking the Alps, skiing, venturing to one of the small inns, smelling and tasting the alpine wine. much to love! We stopped briefly to take in some of the sights, such as one of the many lakes.(Incidentally, at this particular stop we also spotted some men wearing lederhosen and a separate man with two adorable King Charles spaniels. The highlights...)

Finally, after driving up and around bigger and bigger hills (not mountains, I guess, because there was still green stuff on the tops, not rock and snow), we reached our hotel. We could see some deer from the window of our room - they were so close! our tour guide had informed us about the grand tradition of hunting in the area. After exploring and figuring out where the 9-pin bowling alley was located in the back of the hotel (why??? For fun, I guess!), we went to dinner, which was quite good. Nobody could figure out what precisely we were eating, though. It was like beef, but very tender. Certainly not veal... Finally, we asked was venison!

A thought occurred to Lori and I. Those deer we had seen out the window appeared to be inside the fence that surrounded the cow barn next to the hotel. At least we thought it was a cow barn. But we hadn't seen any cows. ...Upon further investigation we discovered that the deer had not hopped the fence to get in with the cows. There were no cows. It was the DEER who were being cooped up in the pasture. we had eaten at dinner...

There aren't a whole lot of times that I feel I want to be a vegetarian because of the poor animals. There are many other reasons I would tend towards the more healthy eating habits of most vegetarians, but poor fluffy critters who get slaughtered and eaten isn't high on my list. However, it is quite intriguing to think about the fact that your dinner might have been in the back yard earlier that afternoon...Despite the weirdness of that incident, the area was lovely. I took a picture of the cow across the street with the backdrop of the hills and the morning mist happening in one of the valleys. ...Oh, what I'd give to be back there for a weekend! It was, without a doubt, pastoral.We drove down to Salzburg, the last city on of our trip, as the mist was lifting. Here we went past the cutest houses ever (we were told that this district is big on tourism, so the little villages are encouraged to participate in a "cutest village" contest by keeping pretty flowers growing in windowboxes, maintaining Alpine architecture, and other things you'd expect to see around the Austrian Alps - to meet the expectations of the tourists) and even a yarn shop (it looked great, but was too far from the main town to go back and check it out). Our day in Salzburg was overcast, but we could still look up on the big hill/cliff to see Hohensalzburg Fortress.Salzburg is the birthplace of Mozart, so of course we saw a statue of him, which we were informed does not look like him at all.There wasn't a whole lot of stuff to do in Salzburg that I could find, but we did get a tour where we saw some very beautiful buildings and a bell-tower that is horribly out of tune and the shopping district and Mozart's birthplace. In our free time, Lori and I visited some Christmas shops and chocolate shops (stay tuned to read about our experiment that stemmed from these visits), and we stopped by a very packed but beautiful cemetery.By the afternoon we had seen all of the old town, and it was time to leave and head back to Munich. ...And that meant we had to say goodbye to a big group of our fellow travelers, also. Alas, our trip was ending... Good thing we still had a week in Amsterdam to look forward to!

*Disclaimer: I have actually been working on this post since October 2, but Blogger seems to like to kick me off or get mad whenever I try to add photos to this post, so...the delay isn't totally my fault! It really shouldn't have been that long!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


It's Tuesday, and that means it's knitting day, but I don't have a picture of what I've been knitting, so I'm going to need some help from the source...

On November 18, I'll be attending The Yarn Ball, a charity/fun get together of needlecrafters in the Pittsburgh area hosted by a wonderful gal from my Saturday afternoon knitting (er...actually it started as a crocheting) group. The goal is to wear some fancy-schmancy thing you've made but never have any real reason to wear. AND, so we're not fully self-centered, to gather together as many scarves for the homeless and hats for babies as we can.

It's the hats that are the topic of this post. The baby hats are part of Caps to the Capital, a program being run by Save the Children, who report that "simple, low-cost practices...could save newborn lives — like warming their heads with a knit or crochet cap." They also say...

"Four million newborns die each year within the first month of life – half within only the first 24 hours after being born. But a package of simple health measures provided to mothers and babies worldwide, including antibiotics to fight infections, training for skilled birth attendants, immunizations against tetanus, education on breastfeeding and basic care such as drying a newborn baby and keeping it warm (this is where the caps come in!) could prevent 70 percent of these deaths."

To put this number of dying newborns into perspective, we HIV researchers get all fired up about the 2.8 million people who die from AIDS every year. Not to undermine this, but that Save the Children report says nearly TWICE that number of babies don't make it for 30 days. That's something we should take seriously.

And you know what...we've been working on a cure for AIDS for over 20 years. My research project isn't close to saving any person's life from HIV. ...Yet a simple hat that takes a couple hours to whip on and off the needles COULD.

...Never thought it would be yarn that would be the life-force, did you?

In all seriousness, it's a pretty good (in my humble opinion) cause. The idea is for people to gather hand-made (not bought) little baby caps, send them to President Bush with a petition for recognition (e.g. money) for this forgotten population, and then distribute the caps to the babies who need them aroung the globe. I wanted an excuse to practice English-style knitting after my realization that I had to re-learn it properly, so I grabbed a ball of the very first yarn I ever owned - some pretty ugly grey acrylic (I had these thoughts once upon a time of making socks with it. Maybe I still will, but...probably not. It's surely not wool!) - and POOF: a hat emerged. Plus, I'm fairly proficient with the English-style "throwing" now.

So, this is the spot where I wanted to post a picture of the hat as it gets ready to jump off the needles and get its seam sewn, but...alas, no picture. Please, instead, visit the Save the Children Caps to the Capital site instead, and see what you think about this project. Hint: there's stuff to do even if you DON'T knit or crochet!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

a party and a baby

I finished the baby sweater for the lady down the hall...I really like this pattern - it's neat how all the parts come together...and it involves very little sewing. Woo hoo! I'd make it again, except perhaps not with so much garter stitch... I even wasn't too put off when I realized I was 75% with one half of one sleeve, but it was pointing the wrong way! Didn't take very long at all to get back to where I had messed up.

This past Sunday was My Knitting Party, and I'm embarrassed to say that I have zero pictures of it. ...Hm. But truly, a gaggle of ladies did show up to my apartment, where they were all greeted with the welcoming smell of mulled cider - thanks to my awesome friend Jen (who also cleaned my kitchen...) and her Wonderful New England Ways - and a little somethin-somethin in a bag. As a knitter (or maybe just as myself), I have found that you can never have too many bags in which to put projects and stuff and yarn that will someday be a project. So, everyone got a little bag stuffed with some practice yarn, some fun yarn to make a scarf or something like that, a pair of needles, and half a tree's worth of papers I put together with resources for knitting help, books, magazines, stores, and free patterns.

During the party we made stitch markers (can I just say THANK YOU to Target, who just happened to have not only those cute bags, but also tons of fun beads in their dollar section when I dropped in on Friday. Yeah, Friday... ...I don't plan ahead quite as much as I should.) with the help of needle-nosed pliers and those little rings you use to make wine glass charms that you can buy in the wedding section of Michaels or JoAnn (in case you want to give it a shot yourself. I for one am very glad that I have extra rings! I seriously did not know that this craft would be so fun)...and we (I think) learned how to cast on and do the knit stitch...and we played games that had to do with knitting. I had hoped to get everyone capable of casting on, knitting, purling, binding off, and reading a pattern, but as usual my plan involved way too many things for one I guess I'll have to have Knitting Party Part II!!

I must say that my favorite part of the whole thing (other than the cider) was the cookie cake that my coworkers brought, on which they'd had written:
Happy Knitting

Friday, October 27, 2006

a second opinion

Well, after spending hundreds upon hundreds of dollars with a vet who first thought Joelle was a reject from the Angora rabbit farm because she was a chronic Pasteurella bunny who would suffer from random abscesses her whole life and then was sure Joelle had cancer in her face and should be put to sleep -- after that, and after the vet said that the big blob of necrotic and bloody tissue left on the side of Joelle's face looked "great" (and after never returning my Tupperware container and losing the thingy that hooks Joelle's water bottle to the side of her cage)...then I went to a different veterinarian.

Different Veterinarian was very calm. Different Vet said, "This is common." He showed me that the "great" looking blob was actually only attached by a 1/4 centimeter-wide piece of skin, and the blob was longing to come off and expose the still pus-filled opening that was (still - after a week of daily treatments and two weeks of antibiotic) The Abscess. With a tiny snip that Joelle didn't even notice, the blob was off, and the Different Vet took some surgical scrub and washed out the ooky pus that had reaccumulated in the area. He made sure Joelle didn't have tooth problems that were causing the abscess. He told me the weird bite-looking wound on Joelle's back wasn't another abscess (he was right - it hasn't gotten exponentially bigger this week at all) and was more likely a insect or spider bite. He said Joelle's previous antibiotic prescription dose was based on dog and cat norms and that she needed 2.5 times as much. But no surgery. He managed to get me the antibiotic for $17.

Yes, seventeen dollars. Not hundreds and hundreds. Seventeen dollars worth of antibiotic and a couple bucks worth of antiseptic with which to wash the abscess area for the next week, and that's it. That's the full treatment.

And I asked Different Vet when I should come back for a recheck, and he said I probably wouldn't have to because Joelle should be totally fine within the next 10 days. Yes, 10 days of antibiotics. Not 6 weeks as the previous vet had prescribed.

Now, I'm not saying that the old vet was wrong necessarily. Different vets have different styles. I just think that the old vet's means of dealing with the situation left me quite uncomfortable. And Different Vet certainly instilled huge amounts of confidence in his diagnosis and confirmed all that I had read and heard from other rabbit owners about Joelle's problem. And I also know that Joelle's abscess has looked better in the past two days than it has in the past 3 weeks.

I also think that Joelle's just happy that nobody's going to poke her anymore and that she still gets to take that yummy cherry-flavored antibiotic!Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers and encouragement. I'm pretty sure Joelle's out of the woods with this abscess thing now. Hooray!

In the meantime, she's also very happy to have acquired her own throne in the bathroom after bravely conquering the terrifying Slippery Cold Tile (and then naughtily peeing all over the bath mats).

Overall, I'd say she's doing fine. She's getting just a little sick of me taking pictures of her, though.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

i really still exist

Hm...well it's 12:11a.m., which means that it's Tuesday, which means that I'm two weeks behind in my blogging about knitting (not to mention all the other adventures of my life). We'll see what I can update you on while I wait for some stuff here at work (yes, I'm working at 12:11a.m...)

So...the super secret socks were made and sent and are now owned by **drumroll** my Sister! They could probably due to be altered a little bit, but she says they more or less fit. Good enough for me for right now. Here they are before they went on their merry ways to California:I also noticed before I sent them that the first sock has a problem.It's probably quite unnoticeable, which is why I have the "pointer" (aka needle) pointing to it. This would explain why I ended up with an odd number of stitches when I went to make the ribbing at the cuff. Hmm... I guess that's another reason to re-knit the leg if Sis ever wants it to be done. Personally, I hope she doesn't, because it's a lot of boring knitting.

So...socks - check! I then decided to use leftover sock yarn (that looks like the yarn for these Secret Socks but is actually from my First Ever Pair of Socks) to make baby booties for a person down the hall. A couple weekends ago I ferociously knit up these two to go with the little outfit I had bought. They don't match each other (I found it impossible to line up the stripe patterns with my!)I used the "Better Than Booties" pattern from Interweave Knits, and while I like how the booties come together (the heel and toe shaping is quite nice; my thanks to the wonderful Priscilla Gibson-Roberts who apparently published this technique somewhere), I am not such a huge fan of how long it takes to make these booties since Way Back in the Just Learned How to Knit era, I crafted a pair in about two hours. That was before I knew what I was doing, even. I managed to make short rows without knowing they were supposed to be "hard." The Better Thans use sock yarn, not worsted, and therefore...they take me more like 8 hours to knit up and finish.'s also a good way to use up old sock yarn!After the bootie knitting weekend, I got to work with the booties and outfit all wrapped up nicely and ready to give to the recipient at the baby shower later that afternoon. I turned to my coworker Lori to show off what I had made, and Lori noted that that afternoon's shower was not for the person I thought it was for. Her shower was next week. That day's shower was for another person in the same lab...who was having a girl... Which I knew, of course, but I had gotten the dates mixed up and had only JUST started the girl's gift that morning on the bus! Eeks! I have yet to recover from the mix-up because the sweater is still not done, though it's getting quite close. See?That is the kimono sweater from the same issue of IK with all of the stitches that are supposed to be on stitch holders on the circular needle because I'm lazy and because I got to the parts that needed to be on stitch holders when I was on the bus and was far away from my stitch holders. I like the construction of this sweater, although it took me a long time to figure out how it was going to all come together. There is much wisdom in some article I read long ago about how you shouldn't feel the need to fully understand a pattern before you start it - just trust that it will make sense when you get there. So true.

Other than socks and baby stuff, I've made a small amount of progress on the Nadia hat (aided greatly by the fact that I finally got around to joining a new skein of yarn, which was absolutely impeding my progress on this particular project)...and that's really it other than accumulating a large list of other things I should knit. I'm pretty sure after the kimono I'm going to drop everything (except the hat) and bust out some stockings for myself, Joelle, and Sheamus. I've been searching through pattern books for the appropriate ones and rummaging in my stash for the proper yarns.

...But it started snowing this evening, and I do so need a scarf to go with my Hermione mittens and hat (the hat, also, needs some finishing, and I thought about adding some ear flaps...). There is so much to knit, so little time. If only I were at home knitting instead of at work working after midnight! (Or rather, if only I were SLEEPING after midnight!!)

Friday, October 13, 2006

a lesson in knitting

Let's talk about something I like. Not bunnies being sick. Not vacuum cleaners mysteriously revolting against vacuuming. Not even lack of sleep.

Let's talk about KNITTING!!!

I've been knitting for several years now. I learned how to knit in the fall of 2003 and quickly decided I would be a Continental knitter. To those of you familiar with knitting, you know that Continental (or German) knitting is just one of many, many ways to "correctly" do the same thing. The other popular way to knit is English (aka American). I learned how to do this way back in day but abandoned it for the Continental method because Continental is supposed to be better for the sustainability of hands and wrists and is faster according to many people.


Fast-forward to now: I knit most every day. Most of my friends and colleagues are aware of this hobby/obsession. I tell everyone who exclaims, "Wow, that's so cool!" that they, too, can learn how to knit - it's easy. Most don't believe me. Finally, I realized I would have to prove it to them*. Thus, I'm hosting a "Knitting Party" whose primary purpose is to instruct my friends in the fine art of knitting.

Sounds simple enough. I obviously know how to knit. But a funny thing happened Tuesday night**...

I was sitting in the middle of my living room with huge size 17 needles and bulky yarn, practicing how I would show everyone how to go about knitting (Joelle was pretty sure I was trying to teach her, because I sat facing her. She was not very enthused, perhaps because she's a rabbit, but also perhaps because she had just arrived back from the vet's a few hours ago and was feeling rotten and rather sulky). I got through the casting on part just fine. Then I went to instruct my imaginary pupils how to do the knit stitch. I have decided that I will teach people the English method first, since for some reason it seems like a lot of people use this method, so I began.

I had to cheat a little because it's been a long time since I've actually attempted to use English for anything other than colorwork, so I was glancing down at trusty Vogue Knitting. I decided that one of the main reasons I don't use English is because I don't know how to hold the yarn so my stitches come out evenly. So I dug out a few other books to see how they said to hold the yarn. Of course, that didn't exactly help because each book had a different way, and some showed SIX different ways. Just like Continental vs. English, holding yarn is just different ways of doing the same thing.

I got through my row of knitting slowly but surely, and then realized I should probably figure out how to instruct left-handed people how to do the English technique. However, although I followed the instructions very specifically, I had some very large issues. I had to dig through more books to see what I was doing wrong. In the course of this, I stumbled upon a paragraph in Montse Stanley's The Handknitter's Handbook that stung - her description of what she calls "Yarn or needle" knitting: "A method often betraying a knitter who has learnt from books, or one who could not cope with needle as pen... It is the slowest, most awkward, most tiring, and least even way of knitting. Very little control over the work is maintained." Ooch! Now, I can deal with being non-conformist or having semi-different techniques and styles than others, but to be considered incompetent - that I am not okay with. I concluded that if I were to teach people something, I should at least know how to properly do it and not drag them into stupid-looking-ness with me.

And I concluded that, although they say you can't "knit wrong" - I was!

Thus began a rather insightful re-education about English knitting. I learned how the yarn tension is controlled - it's different than with Continental, which is probably why I was having so many issues with the yarn-holding. I learned how stitches are gently slipped onto needles, not wildly flung on with sweeping motions (which is what I invariably associate with English). I learned that English knitting doesn't have to be as slow or clumsy as I once thought, and that color work can be much, much easier and enjoyable if English is done properly! I learned that English knitting is not that bad!!!

Now, will I switch to English? Certainly not. But I sure will practice it so I can be at least fairly adept at it. If nothing else, it would be nice to be able to switch back and forth to prevent wrist fatigue or injury. And, the benefits for colorwork - I just can't get over it! I can't wait to try out my new skill on something with two colors!!

I guess it's a good reminder that the best teachers (not that I'm saying I am the best teacher!!) are always learning more about their subject. ...Perhaps after I master English I'll try to learn how to knit back backwards...

I love knitting...!

*If you happen to see the irony in this attitude in light of my inability to perform English knitting, I applaud you.
**Yes, that was Sleepless Night; I decided to do something useful with my not-falling-asleep state of mind.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

it's my birthday...!

It really is.

What am I doing to celebrate? That is a good question. Thus far I have: awoke, eaten breakfast, drank coffee, given medicine to Joelle, cleaned Joelle's cage, fed Sheamus, made a sandwich, brushed my teeth, put on clothing, and gone to work. I plan to: learn a new technique in another lab, attend a seminar related to my work, go to a fellow student's dissertation defense, finish a presentation for next week, give Joelle more medicine, feed Sheamus again, and make curried apple couscous. I suppose the couscous is the "celebrate" part. Perhaps I shall also pull out my Nadia yarn hat to savor the soft alpaca/wool blend.

I never got into the have-a-birthday-party thing. It's not that I don't like the attention - I do. :-D It's just...too much work/I'm not motivated. And I'm quite content to quietly enjoy my time, even if it's just by myself.

Today is seeming like another great day outside. Not a beautiful day, by any means. It's supposed to get colder as the day goes on and rain. I love this cool, crisp weather!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

update on joelle

I don't feel much like writing about the goings-on with Joelle. Suffice to say that I got to take her home and she doesn't have cancer but doesn't appear to really have improved abscess-wise, which I'm not entirely pleased with. I'm going to make an appointment with a different vet who has treated cases like this before (which turned out very sadly for my pal Ruth in a similar situation).
Joelle is, however, doing "okay" - eating, having normal digestion, although yesterday when I brought her home, she didn't drink at all during the night, which concerns me. That and the entire rest of the problem, including my discomfort with the vet and her treatment of this ailment, made it extremely difficult to fall asleep last night, and I think all in all I had about 4 hours of sleep. And strong coffee this morning. Stress is bad.

Anyhow, the funniest/saddest part is what the poor dear looks like now. It's rather frightening, actually, although it's simply a bunny with very little fur on her face (and a gigantic lump with oozing gook). Take a look:She appears rather like a baby alpaca (which, incidentally, I like (at least their yarn) - I just don't much like rabbits looking like baby alpacas).

And to think that merely a week ago she was a gigantic fur-ball...The hair will grow back, it will just take time - and I hope we still have a lot of that with this one!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

i *heart* autumn

No knitting today because I left my camera with the pictures of my knitting at home, and it's really much more interesting to read about knitting when there are pictures.

Instead, a bit of musing on life and such...

Last night I was a wreck. I finally called the vet to find out what the situation was with Joelle since I hadn't heard anything since Thursday. Vet says that Joelle is acting great - eating, drinking, pooping, peeing, getting annoyed when people get into her personal space. Vet also says that when she opened up the re-abscess on Thursday, she was surprised to find not more pus but caseous tissue, which is what is often found in tumors. Oh ugh. So she sent a biopsy to be looked at to see if the Jose has cancer. Ugh, ugh. In the meantime, Vet will continue to wait for the bacterial culture to come back and will treat the abscess as planned.

So last night, with all this information (and absolutely no indication about when my bun will be able to come home to me) I started crying whenever I looked at the bunny candy and thinking about how I'd feed that to Joelle before I put her down if/when it came to that. After an hour or so of this, I decided to buck up and make the apartment clean and comfortable for Joelle when/if she came back. I cleaned all around her cage, cleaned the kitchen (not that she ever goes in the kitchen - she's not a big fan of the slippery linoleum), and then was vacuuming. And then the vacuum stopped vacuuming. And I don't know why.


I said, "FORGET IT!" and put away the vacuum and layed out layers and layers of comfortable towels in Joelle's now-very-clean cage and then went to bed.

And then, this morning, I woke up (wait - no, I woke up, snoozed and snoozed and snoozed and then finally rolled out of bed) and went about the morning routine of shower and breakfast and coffee, and I went outside to bring away the trash and's a beautiful day. It really, truly is. It's that crispy autumnish weather, where it's okay to be outside in a long-sleeved shirt, but it feels even better to come inside to a warm drink. The morning was untouched, untroubled, unbroken. So calming, so nice. No worries for the day as of yet. Joelle was still alive and was in (I think) good hands, and God hears my prayers, and there's light at the end of the tunnel. But beyond all that, it is a beautiful day. (So much so that I really want to leave work and go for a long, long walk in the woods, particularly since the after-five part of my day today isn't filled with very many happy activities.)

When I got to work I did some googling to see what I could find out about caseous tissue in rabbit abscesses, and it really seems like this is an absolutely normal phenomenon, which makes me a tad more concerned about Vet doing the vetting for Joelle, but I'm fairly certain that the biopsy will not be cancerous and that Vet is doing pretty much what I would desire any vet to do in this case (meaning the care of the patient, not the freaking out and jumping to outrageous conclusions about chronic Pasturella and cancer), and I think things will turn out okay.

Thus, my concluding thought is simply that I love autumn. It's a shame to be bogged down by other worries when there's so much to enjoy in a lovely day like today.

Friday, October 06, 2006

the sick bunny

After Joelle's visit to the vet on Tuesday, I decided to cut off her hair because that's just one more thing to deal with, she doesn't particularly enjoy being brushed, and she's already way stressed out. Poor, bald bunny. She looks funny but still feels so soft!

When we arrived at the vet yesterday the first abscess had scabbed over and was reabscessing. The vet said the second one was actually an extension of the first one. So, what to do? Well, the abscess has to be either 1) removed surgically, which would require dismantling Joelle's face or 2) cut open and not allowed to close for several days, during which the abscess area will be flushed out, plus continuing antibiotic care. The vet said option 1 wasn't really an option at this point, so I went with option 2, which means that the bun actually goes home with the vet (because the vet only works at the clinic 2 days a week and the rest of the vets at the clinic know nothing about bunnies) and gets anesthetized every day for her abscess treatments.

It's kind of nice that I don't have to give Joelle her medicine or do the treatments myself, but it's kind of sad that I can't see her and that she has to be somewhere else, which might be really scary for her - and which costs much money. It's not about money, though. That I magically have and am willing to give much of to cure Joelle. I just hope she gets cured...and doesn't die. The daily anesthesia frightens me. So far she's been through at least two sessions of anesthesia - her spaying surgery at the Humane Society and her first abscess treatment - and done very well, but every time it's a little scary.

Time will tell. Oh, time. It is both a friend and a foe...

At least I will be able to get some much-needed rest this weekend!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

miss joelle

So you heard about the new addition to my household, but what has that sweet rabbit Joelle been up to lately?

Well, first of all she's grown a lot more hair. Compare the pictures...on August 13:And then when I returned from Europe on September 6:Perhaps those pictures don't quite capture the difference. How about this?Is she sleeping? Can't even see the eyes! Or how about this?She's got so much fur. I keep thinking I might just clip it and keep it short. She's still really cute cut short, and it's easier to groom her that way.

Besides growing fur, Joelle has been outside on a leash.This was quite a traumatic experience for her on a Saturday morning in early September. Joelle is not really a very cuddly bunny - she would much rather sit in a corner than on my lap. But when I set her down on the grass - which was a little dewy - she freaked out at her new surroundings and pawed at my pants leg. When I bent down to pet and reassure her, she jumped into my lap. It was so funny.

She did the same thing after her visit to the veterinarian a few days later. After the vet poked and prodded, Joelle was set on the floor and ran over into my lap. I guess if there's something or somebody scarier than me, she realizes I'm "safe." Such a funny bunny.

Joelle has also had a rather humorous mishap. With the restart of hockey practice, I left my hockey gear sitting in the living room for a few days. I picked up Joelle one day and noticed something was wrong with her foot. Upon further investigation, I discovered this:
this is joelle on her back, with her head lolled to the side because she's in a "trance" - this crazy thing that happens to bunnies when you rub their heads when they're belly-up; they basically pass out
It's hockey tape! There was hocky tape stuck to her belly, her leg fur, and along her paw. That sticky tape combined with monstrous amounts of hair makes for a very, very pathetic bunny. The removal of this required much careful trimming of fur. But eventually she was free. Poor thing.

And then...and then Saturday night happened. I picked up the Joelle, who was mad at me because she'd been cooped up in the cage for 14 hours because I had been gone all day (she had rearranged all of her "furniture," announcing she was really upset), and I found...a big lump on the side of her nose. Not good. She has been having trouble with that side of her head anyhow - her eye is runny, and it makes the hair all matted because of the accumulation of mucus around the eye. She didn't need anything more!

Yesterday she and I went to the vet, and that's when really bad things started happening. The vet first thought it was probably Pasteurella multocida bacteria and that Joelle is a carrier and would get these abscesses over and over again. The vet opened up the abscess, revealing a very gross thick white pus, and decided to keep Joelle for a few hours to sedate her, shave her face, clean out the abscess, and check for dental disease, which is a likely source of the problem in cases like this.

A few hours later I came back and collected Joelle. She survived the anaesthesia and was quite calm, but was missing the fur on half her face (it actually had to be clipped with scissors - the shaver blades couldn't get through her massive amounts of hair!) and had a big area oozing with bloody gook. We went home with some antibiotics and instructions to wash out the area a couple times a day. The vet said it might not be chronic pasteurellosis, because the abscess area appeared to be a big wound (a scratch?) that got infected. We're waiting for a culture to come back, to see if there was any Pasteurella in the abscess.

This morning I sat down with the poor dear to compress the wound. And I found another abscess. It's small, but the one we got treated yesterday started out small and had become about the size of a dollar coin by Tuesday afternoon. We have to head back to the vet tomorrow. In the meantime, I've been looking into internet information about abscesses and Pasteurella, and all in all things don't look good. For one thing, the abscesses appear to recur (as evidenced by the second one already showing up!). There isn't a very good cure for the bacteria. The best treatments involve surgery and aren't 100% effective.

I'm sad. My poor Joelle. Not only is she pathetic-looking with her half-naked face, but she's also really tired, looking more and more like she's sleeping when she's laying around, and she's extremely hot - the vet said she certainly had a fever. Please send her your good thoughts and prayers.It's tough dealing with a sick pet; I can't imagine what it's like with a sick child!!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

knitting is for babies

The baby influx continues... I have another pal who might be having a baby, and there are two showers in the next 3 weeks, more assuredly on the way. Eeeks! Exciting and much knitting to be done. I've come to the firm conclusion that I should at the very least knit booties for every one of these upcoming babies. It's the perfect gift (in my feeble mind): it's hand-made, it's practical (I think...having never had a baby, I'm not quite sure if booties are really all that practical. Seems they might just fall off a lot and/or make the baby warm, but based on their popularity, they must be practical, right?), and it's relatively easy. Thus, for mere pennies, I can a) use up leftover yarn and b) delight parents and baby alike.

So, this week I'm hoping to bust out a pair of Better-than-Booties using some extra yarn from my very first pair of socks (which, incidentally, I saw on the feet of my friend this past weekend). I have the awful problem that I am quite confident I won't be able to get the two booties to match in stripe pattern, as I am so anal about, because there's just not that much yarn left. We'll see what I think about that. I can hardly justify going out and buying new yarn for this project, however, when I have loads and loads of leftover that I have little use for otherwise.

I knit a teeny swatch this morning on the bus, and it turned out to be too small - I was using too small of needles, something that doesn't often happen to me. Perhaps I'll actually get to use the size the pattern calls for. Amazing!

The rest of my knitting has been carelessly tossed aside. I lost my marked-up pattern for the Retro Rib Socks, and I know I'm pretty close to where I need to turn the heel, and I just don't want to put in the effort right now to figure out what I need to do to alter the pattern to properly accomplish that as I did for the first sock. So, I'm waiting to see if I can find the old copy before I force myself to invest the time in actually thinking and doing math. The Secret Socks have been sitting on an end table, wholly untouched, for the past two weeks, and they only need a few rows worth of work done to them to be finished and gift-able. It's very odd but true: I just haven't felt much like knitting recently. I've been reading a lot, though! Need to learn how to do both of those as the same time...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

knitting update

Sorry for so few posts lately. Just haven't been in the mood.

The knitting story focuses on socks.

-The Super Secret Socks for Someone are mostly done. One was finished, but then I had to take it apart because I didn't have enough of the right color of yarn to get the second sock to be long enough and still match in color. So, I ripped out the first sock and cut and pasted (er...not really with paste) in some appropriate yarn and finished it again. But I bound it off too tightly so now it won't fit onto anyone's foot, so I have to fix that. In the meantime, I'm finishing the second sock. These poor socks!

-The Retro Rib sock is slowly but surely being completed on the bus. I'm about halfway through with the leg. It's slow going with the fine yarn and the ribbed pattern and the not-long-enough bus rides to and from work, which sometimes are completely consumed with slowly sipping coffee to make me wake up.

So goes knitting...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

starry night and the man

Look what's off the needles and on my person:This is the Starry Night sweater, which I've been working on and setting aside and working on a little more for far too long. I saw this pattern in a little, obscure book called Sweaters from the Maine Islands by Chellie Pingree and Debbie Anderson. I found the book in the library and have checked it out probably 10 times, usually just to look at the pictures and read the comments. I don't know what it is about this sweater, but it just grabbed me. Maybe because I love blue?

Another theory is about "the man." The authors of the pattern book write about how they have tons of people stop by and ask them who the man is who is modeling the sweater in one of the photos. When the authors tell them he's a neighbor, the questioners say they want to move to the island, too. I can't tell you who the man is, but I realized just the other day that he is also in another knitting pattern book I own! Again, the sweaters he is modeling I would really like to knit. They're simple, a little cabling, nothing special. So maybe it is the man!!

And thus some introspection... What is it about this man that makes everyone so drawn to him? He is not a Brad Pitt lookalike. We have no clue about his abs - he is wearing a sweater, for crying out loud! It's not that he's "hot" or even "cute," which seem to be draws for many women. He looks like...a dad. A clean haircut, a neat moustache atop a kind grin, and a sweater. That's it!

Perhaps it's just that he represents feelings of calmness, security, tenderness, and contentment through some combination of looks, facial expressions, and wardrobe.

All I know for sure is that I like the sweater (although I may redo the stars on my version) and I would love to experience a taste of Maine Island life.