Friday, February 28, 2014

Setting the World on Fire

I am ending February having used:

Yards of fabric:  1.75
Yards of yarn: 440
Skeins of yarn: 2

Whew!  It's hard to know what to do with all the space THAT cleared up.....................

Thursday, February 27, 2014

There Is Going To Be A THREE Year Badge

Ever since one of the brilliant members of the Stashdown group designed the Cold Sheeping badges for us, I have been obsessed with them.  First it was getting the gold one-year badge.  Then the bright 15, 18, and 21 month badges were introduced, and I was a lost woman.  Then she introduced the PINK 2-year badge, and I have thought of little since.  And now she's said that there will be a THREE year badge.......

The badges are like Alcoholics Anonymous--they are for consecutive days with NO yarn purchases at all.  Pre-badge, I always allowed myself to buy yarn to finish a project if I needed to, and I had done various "reward yarn" experiments, which were always pretty much a disaster.  I'd like to think that my stash has shrunk a great deal in the last 6.5 years, and I think it has, but I never had a full tally of ALL my yarn to begin with, and the "I'm-feeling-sorry-for-myself-over-the-back" binge was a WHOPPER, but now that the stash is all contained within the sewing room, I think it must have shrunk.  Now with the badges it is REALLY shrinking, though having knit up only 6600 yards last year, it's shrinking slowly.  But if I held on and went for the three year badge, I could do some serious stash-reduction--if I can do it.

Of course, I have enough yarn to do it.  And I'm a lot less tempted to buy yarn on stressful days than I used to be.  But I won't hit the 2-year mark until November 1, so I'm still a long way from that 2-year badge.  I've been sorting through my stash on Ravelry and assigning patterns to yarn, and aside from WIPs, I have 94 projects lined up for existing yarn.  Actually, there are even MORE than that because some of the yarns are lined up for more than one project, so if I focused on getting through that list, I could do it.  The problem is, I've gotten a bit weird about not wanting to use up certain yarns.  It's not that I want to keep the yarn exactly, but I do have trouble committing the yarn to a specific project.  Some of it has been with me for a very long time, after all. We have history together, and may some day want to laugh over it with a cup of tea and a shot of Woolite.  The idea that there is not going to be more yarn coming into the house for some time has made it almost impossible to commit some of my yarns to patterns, which probably sounds insane, but since we're talking about a 10-year supply of yarn anyway, I think we've crossed that bridge a long time ago...............So yesterday I went digging through my stash (the part I can reach without having to lift anything heavy) to see if I could find stash that I moved into this house 7.5 years ago to use for my March Madness Sweater

One contender is:
this is a cotton worsted from Elann, and it's one of those that shrinks when you wash it and grows really, really soft like an old pair of jeans.  This cone is probably 1760 yards or so, and the pattern that came with it was for a cardigan.  But since it was going to be soft and comfy, I wanted a pullover for it, and in the pre-Ravelry days, it wasn't so easy to figure out either the yardage or what to do with it.  I'm considering using this for Braveheart.  I actually have 3 more cones in purple somewhere, though I'm resisting the urge to go looking for them just yet because half of that yarn is reserved for Mystic by Alice Starmore, and I'd like to actually FINISH this year's March Madness sweater in March, and even I have enough sense to not attempt to try to knit anything by Alice Starmore in less than a year.

Another contender is:
turquoise mohair (what is it with mohair lately?) that I'd purchased to make a sweater from one of my very first pattern books, only to discover that it was the wrong weight (again, pre-Ravelry, so I couldn't look up the gauge of the initial yarn.  I think this might even predate the yarn standards everyone uses now).  The pattern I'm considering for it is Millet, but I do hesitate just a bit to commit to knitting mohair solidly for one month--even in stockinette.

Also a possibility, is a cardigan made from the leftover yarn from this:
cardigan, which is one of my FAVORITES, and while the yarn was technically bought a month AFTER we moved into this house, it's still pretty old AND I have enough of this particular yarn to make 5 sweaters in 4 different colors after having made 4 sweaters with it already, so high marks for using up some of it.  It's an alpaca blend, and while lots of people on Ravelry complain about it, I love this yarn.  So they've discontinued it. Sigh.......

Another idea was to finally use up the last of my "what-if-I-run-out-of-yarn" purchase in December of 2007 right before attempting my first year of Cold Sheeping. If I remember right, there were 75 balls of yarn, and this
is what has not been used yet.  It's Knit Picks Shine Sport, and I've already made a sweater from the Shine Worsted in pink that was also in this purchase, and the pink pills and sheds and looked ratty after the first time I wore it.  I thought about selling this off, but I do wear the ugly pink sweater whenever I don't want to chance ruining a better sweater, and it is really soft, so I've kept it for making an around-the-house only sweater. 

And the final contender,
Lion Brand Wool-Ease that's been around a while (though not longer than 7 years) and would free up the most space AND would make a lovely cardigan on size 7-9 needles.

Barbara also posted some lovely suggestions on the March Madness website, and aside from Medeival, which would do simply ghastly things to my hips, I've now added all of them to my Raverly queue as well.  :)

Decisions, decisions, decisions........................

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Or Not........

I think it might have been the horror at the very idea of going near Joann Fabrics, but yesterday I ended up with an upset stomach and spent most of the day resting.  I suppose some people might have put such time to good use and worked on the project with the biggest looming deadline, but I always have to be different.  I spent the day with
a different mohair project!  It's a year and a half old now, and the pattern calls for 19 32-row pattern repeats, and yesterday I finished number 11.  Believe it or not, I can get extremely excited about checking off another set, so stomach issues aside, I had a pretty good day.  It's in the ostrich plume stitch pattern, so I could work on it without consulting the pattern on every row--unlike the new mohair pattern--so I listened to an audio book and knit for much of the day.  I broke my WIP-finishing streak, but I still want to finish them, and this would be a BIG one to finish.  And now it's more than 55% done!  Honestly, I did well at math in school, but I never got excited about it until it involved yarn.

And it was good to get some progress on a WIP, because this year again I'm going to be joining

March Sweater Madness!

Technically, my sweater from LAST year isn't finished yet, but 1. It is actually pretty far along and I am insane enough to think that if I finish the new sweater soon enough, I can finish last year's during March as well, and 2.  I'll be looking though my queue to find something that ISN'T made with size 4 needles, and 3.  I still have 2 1/2 days to work on those WIPs.................

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Maybe Today

I have my Great Decisions group this afternoon, and I could drop by Joanns on the way there to see if they have any more of these:
which are the buttons I used on the floral jacket that I lost and the ones I wanted to use on the replacement.  They are fussy buttons that cannot be washed, which is the sort of button I am likely to end up having a dozen of.  But, no. And there isn't a chance that I have them stashed away somewhere because my button stash is one of the few things that is REALLY organized.  These
are the normal buttons.  (Children's buttons have their own box)  They are sorted by size and are all machine washable.  I tried buying them with projects, but the buttons I think will work in the store never really do at home, so I switched to buying them when they're on sale and then sorting through to find what I like when the project is done.  Then there is the little box,
which contains buttons that are hand-wash only or that cannot be washed or dry cleaned, which were obviously purchased by mistake and are destined for ornaments or something.  There aren't buttons anywhere else, which is sort of a nice feeling in my sewing room.  Something is organized!!!!!  Doesn't make up for having to brave Joann Fabrics, but being able to wear the jacket might.
I also have a second finished object,
courtesy of getting too carried away with my PT exercises on Sunday.  A day on the heating pad is sort of easier to take if one has caused it by overdoing by exercising rather than overdoing by just being UP, but still not the day I had in mind.  But getting a scarf out of it helps. 

Saturday I started cutting out Andy's Valentine's Day pajamas,
and THIS time I double checked my math AND am starting with the sleeves:
which are cut out flat.  With a pattern this wild, that's probably a good thing, since I can be sure that all the music notes will be going the same direction--another mistake I've managed in the past.  Since I can't seem to learn anything in sewing without first making the mistake, I suppose I should be very thankful that skydiving or hang-gliding has never appealed to me, but I would still like to learn to avoid mistakes in the first place.

Speaking of mistakes,
 the wedding shower shawl has now been started, and I had to tink 5 rows of mohair yesterday.  I really, really love mohair, though there is nothing more annoying to knit with.  I had put it off to continue with my existing WIPs because the original wedding date was set for fall of 2015.  Imagine our surprise when the wedding was moved up to June of THIS year.  Oops.  I think we can rule out having a finished shawl for the shower, but I can probably manage a nice I.O.U.  There probably are knitters who can manage a knitting marathon in mohair, but I m not one of them.  So far I can manage about 8 rows without whimpering, but as the shawl grows and the number of stitches increases, I'm guessing that number will go down. Had I simply cast on when they announced their engagement, I could have maybe made it..............

Glad to see those wonderful procrastination habits I worked so hard to perfect in college are still with me.  :)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Executive Decision

If one finally finishes the buttonholes on a sewing WIP, then gets out not one, but two containers of buttons to look for the buttons one THOUGHT one already had, only to find one doesn't have any of them left, one still gets to count it as a Finished Project because going to a fabric store on a weekend is simply out of the question....................

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Things I Am Trying To Remember Today

*  Even a zipper I am not happy with is still going to function

and if someone is close enough to my backside to see the errors in the zipper, I probably have bigger issues than whether my seams are straight.

*  Just because the pattern designer puts in a zipper differently than I would, it doesn't make them "deranged" or "sadistic" and whether his or her parents were actually married is none of my business.

* Some people consider hobbies as things that are "fun" and "relaxing."  For their own protection, I will avoid these foolish people when I have just inserted a zipper or frogged mohair.

*  Even if it has never happened before, just because under-stitching is  actually easy to do on a project, it might not mean that I'm doing it wrong:
*  Getting the idea to frame my favorite thread experience really WAS a good idea:
* Measuring the piece of fabric BEFORE buying a frame would have been an even BETTER idea.........

*  Impatience does NOT make a knitting project go faster...
 ...but could possibly make the ball of yarn bigger than the first one--I must consult an astrophysicist on this one............

*  Having a place to keep "in progress" sewing project patterns is a fabulous idea
*  It would be even more fabulous if I used it and hadn't just spent 3 days looking for this
so I could finally mark the buttonholes on the floral jacket

*  Wanting to NOT count embroidered ornaments for more than a few of my 100 Finished Projects is an easier decision when one is not falling behind............
 *  When one is trying to use up 100 yards of fabric for the year, two projects that will each use about 5 yards of fabric that I have already washed and ironed
makes a LOT more sense than a couple quilted spring table runners on which one wants to try some time-intensive quilting techniques,
 and which one might be able to bribe oneself with...say 3 finished sewing WIPs before starting?

*  If one can't control one's inner child, at least have some good ideas for bribing her................

Friday, February 21, 2014

Finishing Friday!

Yesterday I had a physical therapy appointment, and although I have explicit instructions to rest every-other day for the next two weeks, she was still really pleased with my progress.  And the fact that I'm starting to hurt most afternoons probably makes this a wise decision.  She also gave me a new exercise for strengthening some little muscles that don't seem to mingle much with the other muscles.  Standing near a wall or counter or something to balance, I'm to close my eyes, lift one foot off the ground just a bit (ankle height) and hold it.  She said closing one's eyes helps to work the muscles as so much of our balance is sight-based.  I thought this was a brilliant new addition, because my next stop was the post office, and having something constructive to do in line made my day.

It seems that if a muscle is hard to get at--say, doesn't really get involved in walking or other exercises--it may strike some people that it could easily get overworked.  Some people--just not ME.  I was happily doing my new exercise in line, congratulating myself at how long I could hold it each time, and was altogether pleased with the whole visit.  I hopped in the car, drove to my next stop, and was halfway around the grocery store before I noticed a bit of a twinge.  And it was only at this point that it occurred to me that 30 minutes of a new exercise to work muscles that don't get out much might have been less than brilliant--especially that "let's-see-how-long-I-can-hold-it" thing.  I think what amazes me the most about this entire thing is that--through all the pain and all the set-backs--I still manage to be shocked every time something is hard or needs to be approached gently or hurts.  All things considered, it would make sense if I sort of expected pain.  But, no--I just go on with all the subtlety of lime green Fun Fur and am shocked when it doesn't work.  Hm.......

So, I spent yesterday afternoon with my old friend, the heating pad, and am being very, very good today.  Or trying to.  It's 10:00 AM and I haven't done anything wrong yet, so that's a start.  :)

I'm still REALLY excited about my progress, and decided a small celebration is was in order, so this
arrived in the mail yesterday.  The "celebration" is the perfume on the right.  Andy & I exchange fragrances every year for out anniversary, and while I have always loved perfume and cologne, now it's even more fun.  I thought about clothes, but that doesn't work until I can wear something other than athletic pants, and going away for a weekend is still a LONG way off, but I wanted something associated with being OUT AND ABOUT.  So, I bought a new perfume.  I like picking out scents in person, but there's also a great deal of fun in buying one without knowing what it's going to be like, because I end up with things I wouldn't have picked out but are fun and different and I've liked almost everything anyway.  So that was fun.  The other two items aren't a celebration at all, but and admission that now that I'm up and about and only settle down to crafting at the end of the day and the blasted cross-stitch projects are a bit of a struggle to see by then, so this is a pattern holder and a magnifier with a light.  I probably could have put much stronger lights near the bed, but I thought I might regret that--like the first morning I turned a 100-watt lamp on.  I am ignoring the "includes bifocal point" part entirely.  I was going to wait until this year's craft purchasing ban ended, but I decided that since this was not a fun purchase AT ALL and I was going to drive myself crazy trying to come up with alternatives, I thought a "maintaining sanity" exemption might apply.  I haven't tried it yet as I'm still a bit surly over the "bi-focal" thing, but the perfume is great.  And doesn't make me feel old at all....................

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Hoping for Rain......

Yesterday I was out and about most of the morning, starting with a dental appointment followed by errands, and at about 1:30, my back hurt so I came home to rest.  Today I am trying to take it easy, but this
is not helping.  So far I have managed to keep myself away from the garden, but I think I might need a break from walking today, and that's a problem.  It's supposed to rain this afternoon, and I am probably the only one around who is hoping for it. I'm much easier to control when it's icky and raining.  A solid month of icky weather while I get stronger would be ideal.  Since it was an unseasonably warm 57 degrees on Monday, I don't think it's going to happen, but one can hope. 

Yesterday I did get some knitting in,
and the scarf is now more than halfway done.  I'm dragging a bit on finishing sweaters right now, and I think it might have something to do with the back issues as well.  For well over a year now, I haven't been able to wear jeans or slacks or even some of my dresses because I can't stand anything touching my back.  In some ways, it's sort of handy because I wear athletic pants or shorts (or pajamas) all day every day, so I can stop and do stretches and exercises at any time, but I haven't worn a sweater in more than a year, and haven't ever worn the last 3-4 I've finished, so my motivation might be low.  But perhaps if I thought of it as planning my fall wardrobe, I'd get somewhere.  And planning a wardrobe might be quite fun....considering I've never done it.  My clothes shopping has usually been more along the lines of  "Oops, I have nothing to wear--better check out the clearance racks."  Sewing has been even MORE haphazard, but maybe I could branch out and make things that coordinate and match at least one thing I own.  This could be exciting.  Especially since aiming for FALL would allow me some time to work on getting back into shape and losing the weight I've gained while being a complete and utter slug for so long.  Hm...............

Monday, February 17, 2014


Friday we had a truly delightful evening with two of our favorite people, then Saturday morning we decided to go out and about to look for an inexpensive desk for me to use in our back bedroom, which we are hoping to convert into a library/guest overflow/office for me and is currently a junk/boxes/disaster area.  Eventually, Andy will build some permanent furniture in there, but we had run across a fairly decent desk for $50 at a charity shop that had just been sold, and 7 years is a long time to not have a desk with drawers.  So it was such a novelty to be OUT and it gave us the chance to meet up with another one of our favorite people for lunch, so we ended up being out most of Saturday and had a wonderful time.  Being in the car was the hardest part of the week, and when we got home I still went for a walk around the neighborhood to loosen up the muscles, but mostly I was just exhausted.  Yesterday I went for another 3.5 mile walk, though a bit faster than last week because there was a REALLY cold wind going, and while it felt good, it did pretty much take whatever I had left, so there was a lot of resting yesterday.  I'd had to rest much of Thursday as well, but it wasn't as depressing as I thought it might be.  Resting because one is simply worn out is a very different thing than resting because one can't DO anything, and on Thursday it was pretty much everything EXCEPT my back that was worn out, so while I was tired, I wasn't depressed.  I'm still a bit restless, but I did get threads 2 and 3 done on the never-ending cross stitch:
and in a few years I might be willing to figure out how long it will take to finish doing 12 threads a year.  I'm thinking it's probably a good thing that longevity runs in my family......

Yesterday my back was actually sore and I was nauseous most of the afternoon, which now happens automatically when my back hurts, whether as a learned response from the accompanying drugs or because it's a natural response to pain, so I spent most of the afternoon in bed.  There was finally some knitting,
and I'm almost at the half-way point on the scarf.  When my hands got tired, I switched to
which is easier to work on in bed because of the white background.  The fact that it's also a much, much smaller project is also a perk. 

I don't sew when I don't feel good, but I did get up and about some as well, and got out a beeswax candle kit.  Years and years ago I'd gone to a party with a large group of women to make candles out of beeswax sheets, and it was a lot of fun--aside from the logistical problem of 20 blow-driers going at once in an old house and extension cords everywhere.  I'd often thought about trying it again, and maybe hosting my own party, but in the pre-internet days I didn't know where to get the supplies or even where to look, and it got "back-burnered."  But one of the great things about the year-long spending bans is saving enough money to try things one has been thinking about for a while.  I had found a little kit through Amazon, and had set it aside as a "treat" for this year.  And yesterday it was definitely time for a treat.

The fact that this was a kit for children 5 and up didn't, in any way, make this less of a challenge for me, and I still managed to overheat the sheets and get wax all over myself, roll them crookedly, and pretty much have every issue a 5 year old could have, but by the end of my session,
I only had one candle that was truly sad.  I think it could be a good party idea, though I love the smell of honey from beeswax candles as they burn, so even that sad little crooked one on the right will burn nicely.  I've often fantasized about burning my crafting mistakes, but one doesn't actually get to do it very often. 
I had heard candles could be therapeutic--I just didn't quite understand why I guess......

Today I'll only do a small walk to loosen the muscles, but my big challenge is going to be
finishing the skirt today.  Last week I had diligently added the waistband facing, found the zipper.....and realized yesterday the zipper should have come BEFORE the waistband.  Had I not attached the waistband with the serger, I would just unpick parts of it.  It's not a big mistake, and I've added enough zippers that it's easy enough to do it either way, but to find that I'd yet again failed to follow directions was a bit frustrating.  This is why I don't sew while on any medication--I do it badly enough without meds..........

Friday, February 14, 2014

And It's Valentine's Day!

I thought by now I might have become sort of interested in the Ravellenic games again, but I don't think it's going to happen.  The fun of it was the silliness and having uninterrupted knitting time.  Well, with the whole back saga, uninterrupted knitting time has really lost it's novelty and I can't quite find the silliness in it just yet.  Maybe next time.

However, Valentine's Day is one of my favorite days on Ravelry, because they always have these wonderful old fashioned Valentine's people can send each other:
I'm just old enough to remember Valentines a bit like this before they became a merchandising plug for cartoons, so it's a truly fun bit of nostalgia.
So, while I've been staying off of Ravelry in general, I did log on this morning to send Valentines to all my knitting buddies.  However, I had forgotten that you have to send them to people one at a time, and having been a moderator for 6 years, this was going to take a VERY long time and we have friends coming over for dinner tonight and I need to get a walk in and run to the store and chase Theo around with his meds for a while, so I have run out of time.  So, happy Valentine's Day to all my wonderful knitting friends!!!!!!!  This is for you:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Found A New One!

Tuesday after our Great Decisions group met, one of the members saw the knitting in my bag and asked about it.  As it turns out, she is a knitter as well, and has promised to bring a picture next week of a scarf she's knitting that will replicate her Scottish husband's clan tartan.  I can't even BEGIN to tell you how much I love this entire idea--especially since I'm not the one trying to figure out how to knit plaid.  I know where some of my ancestors are from, but the only tradition that I know of that has been kept is the oyster stew on Christmas eve from the Norwegian side, and no matter how obsessed with knitting one is, it's just hard to see seafood soup as inspiration--especially since I don't even care for it.  But it's always a thrill to find out that someone one knows is also a knitter.  I imagine the glimpse of needles or wool in a purse must be a lot like the secret whatever of the Masonic handshake, and I made a mental note that if this person happens to ever be in our home, she can see the sewing room without prior explanation or warning--always an important distinction................

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

If You Don't Snooze, You Lose

Two days in a row completely out of bed now, though my bedtime might be creeping up just a bit each night.  Yesterday I was out and about some, meeting my Great Decisions group in the afternoon and rummaging through some charity shops for a cheap but not too icky desk for the back bedroom, and just did a short walk at night to limber up the muscles without pushing them too hard. 

Today I got up, maybe a little less enthusiastically than the previous two mornings, and took the cats to the vet for their annual check up and shots.  Since I've been hauling Theo around so much, I had bought a bigger carrier for him, so this was their first joint visit, and I can assure you that hauling around 35 pounds of cats is a lot of work no matter WHAT has been going on with one's back.  The room has pheromone mist for the cats, but they could really use a martini dispenser for the humans--or at least free chocolate. 

After their ordeal, I brought the cats back home, grabbed some lunch, and headed to the pool for some pool walking.  I am pretty sure I got my hour in--I was there close to two hours, but had to catch up with so many friends that there were lots of stops and rest periods--and my back doesn't feel it at all.  Everything else, however, is a bit tired, and I had almost convinced myself on the way home that laying down for a bit because everything BUT my back was tired was a very different thing than doing it because my back needed it.  When I got home, however,
I found my spot already taken by two traumatized kitties.  I wouldn't look even half as cute lying there, and they have had a much tougher day than I have, so maybe I can make it three days in a row after all.......

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Day Two!!!!!!!!

I made it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I was out of bed for an entire day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Okay, I might have been in pajamas and curling up in bed around 8:00 pm, but that would never be that unusual for me in the winter--and I was REALLY tired.  7 weeks of bronchitis takes more out of one than I thought.

I avoided pretty much everything I associate with illness and the last 2.5 years, so no Facebook, no Ravelry, no movies.  I didn't even knit until I had curled up in bed, and then I only did one row because I was too tired and was sound asleep well before 9:00 pm.  I tried to avoid our bedroom completely for the entire day, but it is the best spot for doing my physical therapy as the downstairs has hardwood floors.  Luckily, ever since Andy painted my sewing room and built me those beautiful shelves, I haven't really spent much time in there because I wasn't able to sit at all for so long, and so often the meds made me sick enough to be in bed most days.  So, it has no connection to illness at all for me, which is great because I think we'd both cry if I said we needed to repaint.  :)  First up,
Valentine's Day is THIS Friday, and I was so surprised to realize this that I currently feel like an American Male.  We have two of our very favorite people coming over to celebrate, and the little fortune cookies are the favors for dinner.  Martha Stewart said these could hold candy as well as a fortune, but just because something works for Martha does not mean it will work for me.  However,
this time it actually did!  And I think having a Hershey's kiss in each side makes it look more like an actual fortune cookie.  A Martha Stewart project working out for me on the very first try.....this is going to change my whole outlook on the universe.

 Next up, SEWING!  Quite some time ago, I had cut a dress and a skirt out of the same fabric, and I've been doing small things on them occasionally, but for the first time in its existence, the skirt got some real attention.  In fact,
it is ready for a zipper.  This is my stash of 7 inch zippers.  I know one can just buy one length of zipper and cut them to whatever size, but for whatever reason, I always prefer the right size when possible--I think the little metal zip stop thing just makes it tidier in my mind.  In that plastic bag--totally brimming over with more zippers than some fabric stores even carry--want to know how many black zippers I found?

I did finally find one lurking in another bag, but it seems that not only do I stash an insane number of zippers, I only buy them in certain colors.  I did have two that were in the turquoise family, but they were just off enough to not look very good.  I hope I had more sense in other sizes.

My knitting might be neglected for a while, but at least it has a nice new home:
I had originally thought this would look nice on my nightstand, but now I'm thinking downstairs--perhaps near the fireplace or beside the piano. Now that the bronchitis is finally gone and I can go up and down the stairs again without gasping and panting, I am enjoying visiting different parts of the house.  If this keeps up, by the time my hands are finally healed and I don't have to be careful of them, I might even enjoy cleaning, if you can imagine........

Monday, February 10, 2014

Normal Life - Day One

I am still not willing to say there was really anything good about 7 weeks of bronchitis, but I will concede that it gave me my first day totally free of any back pain in years.  By Christmas day, the sharp, grabbing pains that are the biggest danger to me had been gone for a few weeks, and the constant aching on days it snowed had finally stopped.  But there was a chronic ache in the small of my back that never stopped or let up, and I thought I might just have to live with.  It was still the farthest I'd gotten, but it was always there.  But after the first week or so of bronchitis, it had finally let up.  And, while the bronchitis was completely and utterly miserable, my back didn't lose ground or stiffen up, which my therapist was quite pleased to see. I was pleased too, and would have been pretty giddy about the ache going away if I hadn't still been sick and stuck mostly in bed anyway.  It's wonderful to make progress, but if you still don't feel well, it's harder to appreciate how big of a difference it will be.

Last Saturday we drove to a funeral that was about an hour and 20 minutes away.  I could tell the exact point where my back had reached its threshold, and the next day I was back in bed, but more due to the bronchitis getting worse from the adventure than my back.  It was sore, but it was the first time I had pushed it too hard without being completely debilitated the next day.  I won't be trying it again for a while because pain is the most dangerous thing for my recovery right now, but even less-bad is progress.

Last Monday, I woke up pain free and able to breathe normally again.  I can't even TELL you how great that felt........right until I burned the daylights out of my hands.  And this is a very fragile recovery, because by Thursday the pain in my hands had wound my back up again to the point of misery, and I had to use the meds to stop it.  So I know there is still a long, long, LONG way to go, but until this little glimpse, it was entirely possible that I would never, ever be pain free again.  I thought I had come to terms with that, and I was even reasonably okay with the chronic ache once the snow-related pain eased up on me because the possibility that THAT was going to be with me the rest of my life was dreadful.  It turns out there are lots of things about pain I didn't know.  An intense pain that will let up if one lays still is much less overwhelming than a less intense ache that just doesn't let up.  Some pain is more dangerous than other types.  Pain that doesn't move is probably a structural issue.  And pain changes your life.

Today, for the first time in probably 2 1/2 years, I woke up, got dressed, and made the bed:
It shocked Calisto so much, she had to jump up and explore this new phenomenon.  I remake it every time I wash the sheets, but I didn't bother to make it in the mornings because even on my best days, I've had to rest at some point.  If I make it until evening, this will be my first day completely out of bed in years.  I find that astounding.  As a child, when I got in trouble I had to sit in the big green chair because sitting still was never my strong suit, and sending me to my room only resulted in jumping on the bed.  I have always gotten edgy being cooped up or having to sit still for too long, but this has so dominated my life that it has just become "normal" to need rest, and I have grown so used to this that if I got to do something fun or active but still needed to rest to recover, it was a really good day.  If I got to go do something with friends and it meant spending the entire next day in bed because I hurt, it was still terrific because there have been FAR more times when I couldn't go to things because I hurt too much.  So, I am hoping that I am restarting my life today.

Saturday my hands had finally stopped hurting enough for me to wear loose gloves and I was able to go for a walk.  It was cold and raining and I came back soaked, but it was wonderful because it was the farthest I had been able to walk in quite a while, and Boise gets such a bad inversion that in the 7 weeks of bronchitis, I could barely breathe at all outside--much less walk.  Today, however,
is BEAUTIFUL.  We have sun, the sky is clear, and I have been out walking for an hour and 15 minutes.  My back might have held up for more, but my boots were rubbing on my heels and I wanted to stop before the blisters broke.  I walked down to our library, which I used to do quite a bit but has been well out of my capability for a long time.  Even better--I "let go of the edge."  Because it has so often hurt, my walks have usually been laps around the subdivision so I wasn't far away if it hurt.  We have two loops--one just around the houses, and a slightly longer one that takes in the school.  I did start out with the larger loop because it will probably be a good idea for some time yet to do a "check," but to get to the library and back is 3.2 miles.  With or without pain, and I didn't have my phone.  I hadn't intended to do so, but the last 6 months of therapy have been partly about getting both my muscles and my brain to stop expecting pain--which would have been a lot easier if there hadn't been so much pain involved IN the therapy and in my attempts to walk during this period.  But it was so pretty and it felt so good and while I know it would  have been safer to start with a shorter distance, I wanted to keep going and that is what I would do in a life not dominated by pain.  So I did, and it felt wonderful.  The entire walk might even have been 3.5 miles total, which is a distance I would have considered decent exercise even before the back problems, so it was a real walk and not a concession to my back.  And now I am NOT laying down to rest.  Admittedly, my hands are still REALLY painful and woke me up at 2:00 AM and it was only a pain reliever and valium that let me get back to sleep, so I still am limited on things I can do for the rest of the day by that, but I'll find something and it will NOT be in our bedroom or lying down.....I hope!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

He Does It On Purpose

In the morning, Theo needs half a capsule of his "de-stress" meds, and both morning and evening, he needs a capsule of the glucosamine blend which treats his peeing problems.  They are capsules, and the vet said that it was easy and cats loved it, so all I needed to do was sprinkle the powder on his food.
I want to send Theo home with him for a weekend.  Because I am trying to give Theo wet food, he prefers dry.  He prefers his food in the new blue bowls because the disposable cat food containers I was using last fall are now no longer acceptable.  Leftover cans from the fridge must be left out to warm up slightly.  If I put the bowl too close to him, I'm too eager and obviously trying to poison him.  Seafood works best, except the expensive tilapia cat food, which neither cat will eat.  Beef is fine, but no chicken, though turkey is acceptable sometimes.  And it can't be pate--it has to be shreds or slices in gravy.  And sometimes for no reason, it's only okay if it's poured over his dry food, but then he won't actually EAT either the dry or wet food, but he will lick the gravy up from the plate, or at least sometimes.  If he walks out of the bedroom without even touching his food, I need to set it aside because he won't even consider it for the next two hours.  There has to be water mixed into the gravy--but not too much.  If I take too long mixing in the drugs and the water, then he wants water and won't touch the gravy.  He likes a particular fish in a particular brand which comes in slices and shreds, but one is much better than the other--usually the one I didn't buy.  If there are leftovers, it's best to serve them for dinner rather than breakfast because the odds of him eating it go down by 50% if I serve leftovers, but if I serve the same thing he had for breakfast, the odds are almost 90 to 1 against.  And once in a great while, when he can see my teeth clench and see the twitch start up over my left eye, he'll slurp up the meds with no fuss or hesitation, just to make sure I know that it can happen.  And this is all--mind you--to reduce THEO'S stress issues.  And this is going to happen for the rest of his life.

Next time we go on vacation, I am boarding Theo with the vet who described this as "easy."  It will serve them BOTH right.

And A Positive Resolution

What I can now tell you about the emotional roller-coaster of pain and pain medication is that you can't see it from the inside and no matter how odd or weird or trivial something really is and will seem to you after the fact, it's totally real at the time.

Because of the burns this week, I went back on the pain meds this week, and having been off of them for a while, I had forgotten what they were like.  I have a TERRIBLE time with drugs, and have been known to cry over "Star Trek" on them--and not over William Shatner's acting.  This time, I got upset over something on a Ravelry board that was not a big deal at all, but at the time seemed HUGE.  I can only imagine that the other mods must have felt that they had ended up in the Twilight Zone. 

Interestingly enough--and this is actually the point of this whole story--is that the person who responded with "chill" and "back off" was the one who could actually see what was happening and was trying to help me see it.  And had actually emailed someone else because she was worried about what was happening with me. 

So, I'm telling you all this because

1.  I have never had any experience with anything like this, and had no idea any of this sort of stuff could happen.  I don't think it helps at the time, but maybe knowing will help me recognize it in other people, or if anyone else goes through it, there really is a moment when you find yourself looking around and saying "What just happened?"  Maybe sharing this will help someone else.

2.  The group I'm in on Ravelry is even cooler than most people think, and believe me, I have tested them this week.  And they've been there

3.  A reminder to myself to give anyone around me fair warning if I ever have to venture back into the land of regular medication of any sort.  I can't do anything about the roller-coasters, but maybe with fair warning they'll know to hang in there until I'm myself again.


And Things Are Better Today

Or would be if it weren't 3:00 AM with me wide awake.  Between the valium and now almost 7 weeks of Nyquil, I may never sleep like a normal person again. 

I'm feeling much better today, so I suspect I have let things get to me because of weird drug effects again.  I hate that.  There are SOOOOOOOO many things I'm excited about now that my back is finally really healing, but one of the biggies will be to know which emotions are mine and which come in pill or capsule form.  I was depressed yesterday morning, then feeling pretty chipper by afternoon, which is suspicious if one hasn't done something like start a new yarn project.  So, thanks everyone for all your kind thoughts, I am feeling so much better, and am even excited about the Ravellenics again.  Meet my entry for WIPS Dancing:

Number 15 out of 55.  I think I'm on the 5 year plan with these things.  I had a quick wrap/cowl thing I'd planned to do for the Cross Cowling, but I have no idea where I stashed the yarn.  And I looked--there isn't a Cross-Country Cleaning event or anything.  Or in my case, search-and-rescue.............

Saturday, February 8, 2014

But On The Plus Side.....

I just went for the longest walk I've been on since December 26.  I remember that day because I was thinking how great I was feeling and was ready to try for longer walks, and the next day was smacked down by bronchitis.  And it doesn't hurt.  And my hands only hurt a bit. 

I had physical therapy on Thursday, and because when you're trying to avoid touching things people who have met you before are bound to notice how weird you're being, I explained to her that I had burned both sides of both hands.  I can't say that I blame her a bit, but she did take a step back from me before asking if I was a bit accident-prone.  I do wonder about that myself.  Wednesday I was walking into our bedroom and managed to smack the back of one of my hands on the doorknob as I went past.  As I stopped getting taller sometime time during college, my hands have been in pretty much the same location for the last 20 years, and the door has been in the same location for seven and a half, so this seems like a particularly stupid thing to do and hurt like crazy.  I think this might qualify me for a LOT accident prone personally.  I just wish I could step back away from me as well.

I had been so careful with my back all week--and had been relieved that driving to my aunt's funeral last Saturday had only hurt some and not left me crippled on Sunday--but I didn't think about the hand pain in relation to the back pain--but it seems that when we hurt, we tense.  Can't think of how this is anything but a design flaw, personally, but by the time I got back from therapy on Thursday my hands hurt so much that it was winding up my back again. and I was back on full pain meds and Valium.  Both are apparently very addictive substances, but I just don't see it.   So it's exciting to have two days in a row without back pain!

In-between all of this, knitting is still difficult, but I did finally manage to get this finished
for Finished Object #11!  And a wee bit of fabric used up, like probably an eighth of a yard.  I think if I am going to reach 100 yards for the year, I'm going to need to work on bigger projects.  Bags might do me in....

Something I Never Thought I Would Say......

Yesterday the Ravellenics (and the Olympics) kicked off, and I didn't do anything with either one.  The Olympics part isn't surprising--I never watch sports and haven't watched any of the Olympics in years.  But usually I do participate in the Ravellenics, but I just couldn't get interested.  I thought I would, because while I still needed a little Aleve, my hands were functional.  So functional, in fact, that I was able to shovel snow.  I have to work on my timing, I think.  Since it was the first day in almost 2 months that I could both breathe and not hurt, we celebrated by going out to lunch and running some errands.  So part of it was just not wanting to sit still.  But I think the larger part was that I was feeling very, very frustrated.

For almost 6 years now, I have been a moderator on one of the most active groups on Ravelry, and have led one of the most active (if not THE most active) thread on there--the Cold Sheeping thread--since I started the whole idea 6 years ago.  It's fun, energetic, keeps me focused, and is really the only group I participate in.  For 6 years it has really been my project, and while I also lead other threads, I think I am most closely identified with that thread, and when I'm feeling enormously pleased with myself, I like to think that my personality and effort have at least something to do with the success of it. However, this week I seriously considered resigning.  I never thought I would say that--especially since the thread is so closely aligned with my personality--but this week an issue came up in the thread and without my input or approval, the issue was handled in a way with which I did not agree and found inappropriate.  In the past, I don't remember anyone ever stepping in over the top of a moderator's head to make decisions in that person's thread, and I am still stunned that it happened, and angry.  To be honest, I'm surprised it bothered me that much, and I kept thinking I would get past it or move on, but it takes a lot of time and energy to moderate a busy group, and this is something I've put a lot of effort into, and after 4 days it was still bothering me, so last night I emailed the moderating team to explain how I felt and that we have never in the past stepped into each other's threads, and that I wanted them to leave my threads up to me in the future.

I received two nice responses last night, but this morning the moderator whose people skills have a lot to do with why I don't want my threads open to general moderation responded to me that I need to "chill" and "back off."  Yep, that made it even better.  I'm so glad that my feelings were addressed in such a nice, warm, understanding way and it's so nice to have people who think about the impact of what they say or how they behave toward other people.  Yep, just the sort of response one wants when one has finally expressed how they feel.  Just feeling really thrilled and finding Ravelry just about the last place on the planet I want to hang out right now.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


I probably manage to burn myself every canning season, but aside from sunburns, I've never had such a widespread burn and it's been years since I have had a sunburn, so I don't know how long mild burns hurt.  My hands hurt less today, but I was rather hoping they wouldn't hurt at all.  I managed to do a little crafting yesterday,
getting a set of 6 lace icicles done.  I had time enough I could have made more, but hooping the stabilizer was pretty painful, and I couldn't bring myself to do it again. 

One of my goals for the year is 12 threads on a needlework project that I believe I started in 2009 when I was laid up after surgery.  For a while I thought the project was doomed because I couldn't find the directions, but last week I found them with another project.
My organizational skills might be next year's project.  It's a needlepoint kit, and I thought if I could prop the frame up I could start working on it, but I can't grip the needle tightly enough to pull it, so I sorted some of the yarn.  Normally, I hate tedious projects like that, but it's amazing how much more tedious I find total inactivity.  I may sort the other half of the yarn today.

This morning I've been doing a little sewing with the serger, and one of the bags I started last year is almost done,
 and just needs the handles turned inside out and attached,
but that will have to wait until my hands are less sensitive.  Andy suggested trying a rope bowl today as he knows how frustrating this is, so I'll try that this afternoon. I even cleaned my computer keyboard out of desperation.  Anyone else ever poured hot water over their hands and have any idea how long it takes to heal?