Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Slow Start to the Amazing Race, er, Lace

Ok. Monday night, I cast on all 437 stitches for Creatures of the Reef. Then I knitted the first row. That took quite a while to get done. Last night I knitted for a few hours on this. I am nearly halfway through the 9th row. Not too bad, considering each row has more than 437 stitches. Row nine has a lot more than 437 stitches, because there are so many yarn overs. They all disappear in row 10, and that will be the end of the Seashell row. Like my stitch markers? I didn't have enough stitch markers, but I did have a tub of 1000 paper clips, so I used them. Not ideal, but so far, they work out pretty well, as long as I am careful to make sure they don't catch.

I have mixed feelings about the Twinkletoes yarn. I love the colorway, but the yarn is not as soft as I thought it would be, and I did notice that some of the color comes off on my fingers. For one brief moment, I thought about frogging this thing, and restarting in Helen's lace, but fortunately, sanity returned quickly, and I am knitting on. I do like the colors in this yarn, and I like the way it's turning out, although 9 rows knitted on size 4 needles is not a really good representation. I'm working the next couple of nights, so I won't make too much progress.

Monday, May 29, 2006

All Set

Nothing like doing things at the last minute. I have been waffling back and forth for the last few weeks trying to decide what to do, and what yarn to do it in, for the Amazing Lace. Last night, I picked up the skein of Twinkletoes lace, and wound it into a ball (by hand, while I was watching "Surviving Christmas"). This yarn is beautiful. It is shades of green, blue purple, and reminds me of ocean colors. Come to think of it, I think the name of the colorway IS "Ocean". Anyway, I have been trying to decide between this yarn and Helen's Lace in "Jeans", which is a blue and grey colorway, which also reminds me of the ocean (well, it is summer, after all!). So, I think I'm going to cast on with Ocean.

I haven't done too much knitting lately, and the reason why is I finally got my camera. I bought a Canon Powershot A540, at a very reasonable price. And, the nice thing is, I didn't even have to dip into my checking account to get it. I sold a lot of my NCLEX study matierals on ebay, and made more money than I thought I would - enough to get the camera. I have been playing around with it this week, and am finally starting to figure out more things on it. I've been having a lot of fun with it, and the nice thing is, I can delete the not-so-great-pictures right away. Now, all I have to do is figure out how to get them on a service like Flickr or Photobucket, and then I can start transferring them to this blog. The picture at the top is Calvin, our one-eyed cowcat. I didn't want the picture there, but i'm still working on getting pictures where I want them.

I still have several flats of impatiens I have to plant. Chris has been digging up around the yard, so I need to wait until he is done. However, the temperature is climbing, and I know I feel like a vegetable during the summer, so I need to get these things in the ground this week, or they're not getting in at all. My shade garden is looking good.

I am nearly up to my frogging point on Clapotis. I really like the way this is turning out, and I think it is going to be a very warm shawl. However, it takes forever to wrok those ladders down. This is a "fuzzy" type of yarn, all that silk notwithstanding, and the fuzz really grips the stitch above it. I work the stitches down when I am too tired to knit.

More trips to the vets this week. I'm starting to feel like I live there. We took Alex and Murdoch this time. Both sweet cowcats. Alex is large and fluffy (Hence, his nickname - Fluffypuff. Good thing he doesn't know it, or he would probably die of shame. But, he is a fluffy cat.) Alex has conjuctivitis and an URI. Murdoch, who is smaller, and has a sweet babyface, has some dental work to be done this week. Both cats need meds, which none of us are thrilled about. I wrap Alex up in a big bath towel - known as as a "kitty burrito" around here - and get his meds down with a syringe. Baby face or not, Murdoch is another matter entirely. I think we both need tranquilizers - him beforehand, and me after the process is done. He freaks out at the sight of a bath towel, and has ripped his way out, so I am trying to hide his med in some cat food. Which hasn't worked too well so far, but I'm out of ideas.

I have the next two days off from work, so I'm hoping to get some knitting and gardening done, but right now, both are getting a run for their money from the book I am reading - Elie Wiesel's "Night". I started reading last night in bed, supposedly for just a few pages, but I read 66 pages (it only has 121 in the book). I wanted to finish it, but I couldn't. It is so intense, I needed a break. I cannot imagine living through this kind of horror. I can't imagine that he had so much trouble getting this book published. More people should read this. My son said it was required reading in his high school English class, and I'm glad it was.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Enough With the $%#&*!! Rain, Already

Holy cow!! What the heck happened? For a while, we were having a normal, if slightly dry spring. Then it started raining. And raining. And raining some more. My front yard is so squishy, I can sink up to my ankles in some spots. Beyond my backyard, there is a lake forming in my neighbors yard. And, if it's not raining, it is murky and damp. When I woke up this morning, we were having the usual monsoon, punctuated by passing thunderstorms, which made it rain even more, if that's possible. Then, all of a sudden I noticed something weird. A strange light coming in the window. What he hell? Oh, yeah, that's the Sun. Silly me, I thought it had stopped raining. I had errands to run, so I figured this would be a great time to get them done, without having to come home and change out of soaked clothes. Off I went. When I entered the Cingular store, the sun was out. I did notice that there was a very large, very black cloud on the horizon. By the time I came out of the store less than 10 minutes later, the skies had opened up, and the parking lot looked like a river. Aarggh. Slogged across the lot, and dove into my car. By the time I drove to Superfresh, it was really raining, and there was another thunderstorm right on top of us. Waited in the car for a few minutes to see if it would stop, gave that up as a lost cause, and dashed into the store. Arrived in store looking like a drowned rat. Left store to find it had stopped raining, again. Decided to fortify my soggy self with a hot coffee, since I was freezing from standing in an air-conditioned store while soaking wet.

On the other hand, my plants are loving this. Everything is growing at an incredible rate. My gardens look so green and lush. The hostas survived the hailstorm the other day with only minor damage. The pots on my porch have suffered somewhat, because the rain gutters overflowed into the pots. it was like Niagra falls out there. Unfortunately, the grass is growing, too. It's too wet to mow, so my yard has that jungle look to it. I hope it'll dry out long enough to mow.

Not too much knitting again. I did some more on Clapotis. it irks me no end that i had so much done on it before I ripped it. Truth to tell, it would have been ok as it was, but I just wasn't looking for a shawl that was the size of an afghan. I've been trying to get my stash organized. I don't like having a large stash. I know a lot of people will wonder what that's about, but I don't have the money, time, or room to do a large stash. To that end, I've been selling some Opal, Regia, and Rowan Magpie Tweed that I know I will never get around to knitting. Along with selling a lot of NCLEX stuff, I made enough money to get a digital camera without even touching my paycheck. That's a nice perk for me.

I worked a twelve hour shift yesterday. It was very busy, with quite a few births. I'm almost off orientation, and I will go back to nights in a few weeks, and I'm happy about that. I really hate getting up at 5 am. I did that for many years with my other job, and now I'm ready to do a later day. I'm wondering if I will be able to sleep in the day during the summer. The people behind us are very noisy (log-splitters, chain-saws, radios turned up full blast, etc), so that may be a problem. On the other hand, when I'm tired, I really sleep. I was pooped when I came home last night. I fell asleep on the couch for two hours before going to bed.
I'm working all weekend, so I'm pretty sure I won't be doing much knitting.

Monday, May 15, 2006

It's Pouring Because I Finally Broke Down and Broke out the Hose

Not much knitting since Saturday. Yesterday being Mother's Day and all, I had other things to do. I went out to breakfast yesterday with four of my sons. Breakfast actually turned into brunch, because 27,000 other people all had the same idea we did - let's go to the diner for Mother's day breakfast! Not too bad, actually, and good food, and great company. I love getting together with my kids. They always make me laugh. After breakfast, or brunch, some of them went to work, and some went elsewhere. Chris and I spent the afternoon working on the front yard, and a little on the back yard. I planted impatiens in beautiful shades of picotee pink, white, and a deep violet color. I love this combination. The violet really "pops" at dusk, and the white impatiens just glow. We planted an entire flat of white impatiens along the path under the trees. Now, I hope I can see the path when I come home from work in the dark. Since Chris missed breakfast with us because he was teaching skating, we ordered dinner in. Before we ate dinner, I noticed that the remaining flats of flowers, and some parts of the garden looked a little droopy. We haven't had much rain in the last several weeks. So, i got out the hose and watered the bejeezus out of everything, thus running my water bill up into the stratosphere. And we all know what happened next...

When I woke up this morning it was raining. Really raining. Really, really raining. As in, "oh look, honey, here comes the Ark!" raining. There is nothing like slogging to work at 6:30 in the morning, feeling bleary, and not being able to see anything. Yes. Gets the circulation
going, it does. Especially when you see a very large SUV sail right through a stop sign not too far in front of you. I think we are getting the rain that has been drenching New England. Today we had a hailstorm, along with the rainstorms, which we haven't had in a while. One of my sons was driving home, and said he was just crawling down the street in the car.

Our poor Phoebe is having a heck of a time keeping her eggs in the nest. There is a catbird who keeps stealing the eggs. And I assume since she is stealing the Phoebe eggs, she is laying her own in the nest. This Phoebe could wind up rearing a bunch of catbirds.

I'm going to have to check tomorrow to see which of my plants survived the downpour today. Some of the pots on the porch look pretty beaten, and a lot of the dirt washed out. I hope the impatiens survived. I was keeping my fingers crossed that we wouldn't get a frost in the next few days. (It's happened before), but now I'm hoping these plants don't drown.

Lacy Scallops has been languishing on my desk. I'm too tired to work on the pattern. Clapotis is coming along, although at a very slow rate. I have the next two days off from work, so maybe some actual knitting will get done.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Ribbit, Ribbit...

Spent way too much time at the frog pond this week. Have knitted along on Clapotis, three balls worth, and start thinking, hmm, this thing looks huge. Guess what. It is huge. Although I checked my gauge at the beginning, and was knitting at the correct gauge, I guess I must have relaxed, because it was more than a shawl. Gauge is 19 stitches/4 inches. That's what I started out with, but somewhere along the line, it became 17 stitches/4 inches. Do the math, folks. I did, and it wasn't pretty. So, I spent an entire evening ripping it out, which wasn't easy. Silk Garden is a lovely yarn, but it is a bit, um, fuzzy, so, ripping meant a great deal of cursing was also going on. I finally got it ripped out and wound into a nice neat ball, and now I'm knitting on it again, this time on two-sizes-smaller needles.

Although I signed up for the Amazing Lace along this week, I must have done it in a moment of total insanity. I am also working on Lacy Scallop socks from Sockbug, done in Opal Petticoat. Lacy Scallops started out life as a perfectly respectible pair of normal socks, until I started thinking "hmm, this yarn is too pretty to be a pair of plain stockinette socks. I need to do something else with this stuff". So, masochist that I am, I started Lacy Scallops. I spend more #$%@!! time ripping these suckers than I do knitting them. I knit two rows, rip two rows. I am ready to dropkick these things into the middle of next Thursday. And, just to add to the fun and games, I've decided to knit Creatures of the Reef Shawl for my other project. I'll be easy to find - I'll be the knitter in a straight-jacket, muttering about crabs and fish.

I'm also totally ignoring the fact that I have a partially completed Flower Basket shawl festering in my knitting basket. I love the yarn - Jaggerspun Zephyr. I bought it off ebay, and the picture showed a lighter blue. Well, we all know "different monitors may show colors differently, blah, blah, blah." And how. What I got was NAVY. Navy was not what I had in mind for Flower Basket, but I decided to try it anyway. And, it just isn't doing it for me. So, I have it sitting under a few cats, so I don't have to look at it for a while. (It's in a bag under the cats, so I won't have to pick out a half-ton of cat fur when I make up my mind what I'm doing with it).

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Amazing Lace

I joined the Amazing Lace list last week. I didn't know what I would make, but I think I'm going to make the Lacy Scallop socks from the Sockbug site, and the Creatures of the Reef shawl, too. I'm going to make the socks from Opal Petticoat, and the shawl in a beautiful green and blue variegated lace weight wool yarn from Twinkletoes on ebay. It reminds me of the ocean on a sunny day. Or, maybe in Helen's Lace, colorway Jeans, which is a blue, grey, and dark blue colorway. Reminds me of the ocean on a stormy day. I'm going to start the socks first, since I have the pattern and yarn picked out, and just think about the shawl for a while longer.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Goodbye to a Sweet Kitty

We lost Spooky today. He grew progressively weaker over the weekend, but we were still hoping for the best. After he went to the vet's this morning, they ran a blood test to check for feline AIDS or leukemia. He came up negative on both tests. I thought we were home free. I got a call this afternoon that he did not survive the surgery. He was too weak, and the cancer was spread far beyond what showed on the xrays.

I am still stunned by this news. It's not what I expected. I thought I would be bringing him home in a few days. Now, I'll pick up his ashes next week.

I'm not going to blog for a few days. I doubt I will knit for the next few days. I can't concentrate on a pattern right now. I feel like crap.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Getting It All Together

I talked to the vet again today. We have determined that Spooky's cancer is below his elbow. It doesn't appear to have metastasized, either. His ribs seem to be clear, and there doesn't seem to be any lymph involvement. I spent last night checking out sarcoma in cats on the web, and I read the experience of Catty at Fig and Plum. So, we have decided to go with the amputation. Spooky has an appointment on Monday morning to have his paw amputated. I know there is a chance this cancer could already have spread, but I really want to do this. He's only four years old, and I don't feel right euthanizing him without at least trying another avenue first. I think he'll do ok with three paws. He's been zipping around the house now for two weeks on only three paws, anyway. And, Calvin, who lost an eye in March to cancer, seems better than ever. He is happy healthy, and very playful. So, I'm keeping my fingers crossed here for a good outcome.

We have a family of new squirrels in the tree outside Chris's room. It was fun to watch them this morning. They were running up and down the oak tree, and jumping from that tree to the sweet gum next to it, or jumping into the yew bushes directly under the window. Their antics went on for over an hour. I enjoyed watching these babies explore their world. We've only seen them outside their nest once or twice before this. The picture at the top of this entry is one of the adult squirrels raiding the feeder outside Chris's window. Drives the cat crazy, but the squirrels seem pretty blase about having a cat inches away from them, separated by only a screen.

I started Audrey last night. I've actually knitted about 4-5 inches of the sleeve. I love knitting with the Calmer yarn. I've never used it before, and I've read of others who didn't like it, or had problems with it, but I love it. I love the way it feels - I know it's 75% cotton, but it doesn't feel like a cotton yarn. And, wonder of wonders, I hit gauge with the suggested needles. That almost never happens to me.

I did a lot of planting today. I planted two mini rose bushes in hanging planters - I've done this before, and the bushes eventually hang over the side of the planter. It looks so neat! I planted more of the pots on the front steps, and added more perennials to one of the front beds. I still have the backyard beds to do. i've pulled out a ton of poison ivy, and raked leaves. I still have to pull out the dead rose bushes. I'm going to leave a couple of them in, because they have new growth, and it looks like it might be coming from the proper part of the stem, not from the rootstock. We'll see.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006



I hate that word. I've had cats with sarcomas before, and I know there is never a happy ending with them.

Now we have to deal with it again.

I took Spooky to the vet's today. We couldn't find him last night. He doesn't go outside, so we knew he had to be in the house. Somewhere. We searched everywhere for him - closets, kitchen cabinets, washer, dryer, clothes hampers, everywhere cats have been known to hide. I was more and more worried as time wore on. It's never a good sign when a cat hides like that. We finally found him inside the couch. Chris turned the couch on it's side, and there was a small hole in the bottom lining. We cut it open, and there was Spooky, looking horrible. I managed to feed him a small amount of canned cat food, but I knew something was terribly wrong.

When we got to the vet, we noticed his injured leg was swollen. They did an x-ray. It's cancer. And it may have spread. He has only a short time to live, but he is in pain. We may have to have him euthanized. I can hardly type this. I'm still stunned. This isn't what I expected. When I talked to the vet on the phone this morning, I was told that if the brachial plexus injury doesn't heal, his leg will wither, and we would have to amputate it. Bad news, but I would still have a cat. Now, here we are, talking about euthanasia.

He's only four years old.