Tis the season to be sneezing.  The Bradford Ornamental Pear trees (Pyrus calleryana) are blooming all over town and my sinuses are in a howling uproar.  Of course, if you followed the link and read the article, you’ll know I’ll have my revenge on the owners of the dang things sooner or later. . . .

And not to put too fine a point on my day, . . . .Coming out of the parking lot at the doctor’s office this morning, a pickup (what else?) backed into me.  His bumper got all four side panels a good lick and did a number on my front passenger door handle.  It’s the pickup’s fault; I’ve got his info, but it’s all a big hassle I’ve got to deal with.   They’ll probably have to replace both the front and rear fender panels and both door panels and the door handle.   His insurance is supposed to furnish me a loaner while they’re fixing it, but that’s a hassle, and taking it in and however long it’s going to take to fix it is a hassle.  I’ve got too many things going on in my life right now and the last thing I need is one more hassle to have to deal with. AAAARRRRRGGGGHHHH!

And not to put too fine a point on this absolute bummer of a Pi Day, Stephen Hawking passed away.  On Albert Einstein’s birthday.


In Memoriam

Sad news from Shoreacres

In Memoriam

On silent feet, the furry folk arrive,
Leave paw prints all across my days,
Scatter catnaps in my sunshine places.
Oh, how their presence graces me.
Quicker than a winking eye, as agile as a smile,
they stalk the pathways of my heart
And what great emptiness they leave behind
When it is time for them to go.

Poem "In Memoriam" ©2010 The Owl Underground

Life Is What Happens To You While You’re Busy Making Other Plans

Some life happened, folks.  I’ve been having some health problems, which I won’t go into here.  One of them I knew about and I’ve been coping with it.  The other one came flying in out of left field and caught me flat footed. Add in a couple of adverse drug reactions (HIVES!) and these past two weeks have not been fun.  The scariest thing about it, though, is how the VA came through for me on some drugs that would have otherwise cost me $94 for 20 pills, as well as the other meds I needed.  Anyway.  Hopefully, things will settle back down again and I’ll have more frequent updates.

I’ve started working on this Cable Edged Shawl pattern which I’m doing in a Lion Brand Heartlands yarn called “Glacier Bay.” It’s worked as a garter tab from the leading edge downward, and you put the edging on last, working at right angles to the shawl body.  You work the whole body first, and I’ve got a way to go on that.  Simple garter stitch, but with a nice edging.

I’ve also gotten a little farther along on my modification of this pattern.  I took the hint of using dental floss as lifelines, putting in a lifeline after every pattern repeat.  I like the way it’s coming along so far, especially the texture of the shawl body.

I’m on my third pattern repeat.  You can see how the garter stitch lace edging is shaping up.  The only hard part about it, actually, is the garter stitch lace bit.  The rest of it is pretty straightforward.  So far, so good.  I will post the pattern on my knitting blog when I get it worked through.

I’ve been doing a re-re-re. . . read of C. J. Cherryh’s Foreigner books, which has been instrumental in helping me keep my sanity through the fun and games I’ve been having.  I’m about halfway through.   There’s a new Sebastian St. Cyr book due out, which I’m looking forward to.  Regency murder mystery . . .!

That’s all the news that’s fit to print for now.



The Eyes Have It

I know I’ve mentioned it here, although not lately, that I have a thing called ocular migraines.  Many migraine headache sufferers report an “aura” prior to their headache, a warning symptom(s) that a headache is coming.  Many of these “auras” are visual — scotoma, scintillating scotoma, etc.   Some people, like me, get the aura without the headache.  If you have to have migraines, and you get a choice what kind to have, choose the kind I have.  I get maybe 10-15-20 minutes of visual disturbances, and that’s it.  No headache.  No pain.  Just these annoying visual symptoms.  There is a genetic component to migraines, and women are more likely than men to have migraines of any type.  I have female cousins on both sides who have full blown migraine attacks — and who know their triggers.   Me?  I got off dead easy.

My ocular migraines typically involve a scintillating scotoma in my left visual field.   It starts as a flickering point just left of center in the area of sharpest vision.  It’s something that happens in my brain, not my eye, and because it happens in my left visual cortex, it affects both eyes.  (Anatomical aside:  The optic nerve from each eye branches and half of it goes to each side of the visual cortex of your brain, so each eye transmits to both sides of the brain.  If you lose an eye, you lose your depth perception.  However, if the right visual cortex of your brain is damaged, it doesn’t take out the vision in the right eye, it takes out the right half of the vision in both eyes.  Because you still have some vision in both eyes,  your depth perception is preserved.)  The scintillating point expands into a “C” shape, with the “gap” oriented toward the right lower corner of my visual field.  The “C” moves diagonally up toward the left upper corner of my visual field, getting larger and larger as it moves, until it expands off the edge of  the visual field and goes away. It only affects my sharp vision for a minute or two, but it’s visually disruptive until it goes away.   If I get one while I’m driving, I pull off out of traffic as soon as I can safely do so, and wait them out.

The whole reason I brought this up is that on the whole I may go months and months without having one, or I may have two or three over the course of a week.  Yesterday, I had four, and one was atypical — it was just like the ones I always have except it was in my right visual field instead of the left.  I’ve had another typical one today already.

Now, some migraine triggers are dietary (MSG, artificial sweeteners, nitrates, etc. ).  I eat Chinese food with impunity (and chopsticks).  I eat lunch meat and hot dogs with impunity (and mayonnaise), so MSG and nitrates are not suspects. Although wine is a migraine trigger for one of my cousins,  I can and will drink wine when it’s offered, and it’s not a suspect.  Changes in hormone levels are not suspect either; I’ve been on estrodiol-only HRT for (literally) decades and my hormone levels stay constant.  I suspect that changes in weather may be one of my triggers — possibly rapid changes in barometric pressure and such like —  and the polar vortex has been wreaking havoc with the weather here lately.  We had some nice warm weather earlier in the week, then Wednesday, it got cold again, and was drippy, drizzly, mizzly and dreich.  It’s the first moisture we’ve had in over a month.

I don’t care for artificial sweeteners and rarely consume them.  Saccharin has an unplesant “wang-y” aftertaste that I don’t like.  I’m not real wild about any of the others, either.  I just don’t care for the way they taste.   My mom uses both Sweet’n’Low (saccharin) and Equal (aspartame).  She likes the taste (300-500 times sweeter than sugar) and finds nothing “off” about it.    My dad never cared for diet drinks, and it is very likely that I get my dislike of them from him.*  (His tea was never sweet enough unless about half an inch of sugar had settled out of it into the bottom of the glass.  Yep.  I’m daddy’s girl.)

But the standout atypical thing about yesterday, apart from my having four attacks, was that I had this “zero calorie” bottle drink I hadn’t had before.    I bought four bottles of the stuff, but I bought it for the bottles — nice substantial, washable, refillable,  17-oz plastic bottles**.  The drink  was carbonated, contained several of the vitamin B’s, and it had green tea extract.   I’ve got three more in the fridge.  I’m going to try another challenge Sunday when I know I’m going to be staying in all day.

In the meantime, I think I hear some spinach focaccia calling my name.  I’d better go see what it wants.

*Taste breaks down to chemistry and your ability to taste or not taste certain chemicals is inherited. 
**I hate buying bottled water and throwing all that plastic away.  It's stupid and irresponsible, and it supports those criminally-irresponsible environmental-toxic companies who make them.  Not only is it much more environmentally friendly to get a set of bottles and reuse them for months and months, it's cheaper in the long run.

That Trough Between Winter and Spring

Really tired of winter and want it to be over.  Not ready for it to be summer and too damn hot to do anything.  Have a bad case of the blahs.  Shouldn’t go grocery shopping when I do because I blow money — especially going grocery shopping at Market Street which has things like spinach foccacia  and Seven Layer Dip.  Did it anyway and dropped $100 on four bags of groceries — good sized bags, though.  Still.  Got some things I shouldn’t have, like Gold Peak Raspberry Tea and Gold Peak Peach Tea, which is just loaded with sugar (32 g of sugar in 59 oz!).   However, in my defense, I do dilute it — about 4:1 with water.   I also got a couple rolls of prosciutto and cheese which our friends C&DK turned mom and me onto when we visited their cabin between Christmas and New Years.  Pricy stuff, but so, so good.  I also got some yogurt — a two-pack each of blueberry, peach and cherry — and some baby carrots, cherry tomatoes and some celery sticks, plus some Ranch to dip them in.  The lion’s share of what I got wasn’t junk food.

So for supper just now, I had some Seven Layer dip spread on a couple of pieces of spinach foccacia and shoved it into my little kisser pretty quickly.  The Seven Layer Dip is refried beans, guacamole, scallions, tomatoes, black olives, sour cream, and sprinkle cheese.  It’s all pretty much real food.   So’s the spinach foccacia.  It was that pint of Blue Bell Cherry Vanilla ice cream  I had for dessert last night . . . .

I got one of my club chairs and the ottoman moved back to the bedroom, plus the pole light and my little reader table, and now have a little knitting nook set up ready to settle in and do some serious knitting.  That area has the best feng shui of any place in the house.  ❤ ❤ ❤ ‘s to L&CB who helped with the chair.

I’m (still) working on a pattern for a shawl that has some garter stitch lace that has a 16-row pattern repeat.  The pattern I’m modifying is just “a little something on your shoulders” shawl(at left).  I want something much wider and in order to get what I want, I’ve got to work out either five or six sections to the pattern:  The beginning bit, the increases bit, the across the back bit(s), the decreases bit and the ending bit. I want it to increase  (and decrease) 1 stitch every other row up to a point, then I want to slow the increase/decrease rate and maybe stop it across the center back section.  I’ve got two monster skeins of “blue jean” colored yarn. It’s worked from corner to corner in three vertical sections with markers in between — a 3-stitch garter stitch border (E-marker), the body of the shawl proper (B-marker), and the garter stitch lace edging.   The stitch count for the border section varies from row to row so I have to note that in the pattern too. (B18)  This is the starting bit:

Cast on 21 stitches and knit 5 rows
Row 1: k3, E#, kfb, B#, k2, yo, k2tog, k4, yo, k3tog, (k1, yo) twice, k2tog, yo, k2. (B18)
Row 2: yo, k2tog, knit to B#, p1, k1, E#, k3.
Row 3: k3, E#, k1, kfb, B#, k7, yo, k3tog, k1, yo, k3, yo, k2tog, yo, k2. (B19)
Row 4: yo, k2tog, knit to B#, p1, k1, p1,E#, k3.
Row 5: k3, E#, k2, kfb, B#, k2, yo, k2tog, k2, yo, k3tog, k1, yo, k5, yo, k2tog, yo, k2. (B20)
Row 6: yo, k2tog, knit to B#, *p1, k1, repeat from * to E#, k3.
Row 7: k3, E#, k3, kfb, B#, k5, yo, k3tog, k1, yo, k7, yo, k2tog, yo, k2. (B21)
Row 8: yo, k2tog, knit to B#, *p1, k1, repeat from * until 1 st before marker, p1, E#, k3.
Row 9: k3, E#, k4, kfb, B#, k2, yo, k2tog, k8, yo, k3tog, k1, (yo, k2tog) twice, k1. (B20)
Row 10: yo, k2tog, knit to B#, *p1, k1, repeat from * to E#, k3.
Row 11: k3, E#, k5, kfb, B#, k11, yo, k3tog, k1, (yo, k2tog) twice, k1. (B19)
Row 12: yo, k2tog, knit to B#, *p1, k1, repeat from * until 1 st before marker, p1, E#, k3.
Row 13: k3, E#, k6, kfb, B#, k2, yo, k2tog, k6, yo, k3tog, k1, (yo, k2tog) twice, k1. (B18)
Row 14: yo, k2tog, knit to B#, *p1, k1, repeat from * to E#, k3.
Row 15: k3, E#, k7, kfb, B#, k9, yo, k3tog, k1, (yo, k2tog) twice, k1. (B17)
Row 16: yo, k2tog, knit to B#, *p1, k1, repeat from * until 1 st before marker, p1, E#, k3.

It’s one of those knitting projects where I need a sticky note line marker to keep my place in the pattern, and peace/quiet, no interruptions or distractions.  I saw a thing on a TV knitting and crocheting show about using dental floss for lifelines when knitting lace patterns, and I’ve got a roll or two of it.  I may need to use it for this.  Knitting lace can be a real hair puller.  Maybe put a life line in each time I complete a pattern repeat.

Giving It Up For Lent

What I gave up for Lent is all but about an inch of my hair.   Sat down in the stylist’s chair Wednesday, and told her to cut it.  She asked how much I wanted cut off, and I said, “About a foot.”  It’s getting thin, it’s so flyaway, the ends were all split and chewed up, and it took forever to dry . . . .  Anyway, done deal.   Moving right along.

Finishing hats.  Finished this one and posted the pattern.

Going to start working on finishing some other stuff for a while.  A lot of UFO*s taking up space and needles.  Hats will still be happening, just not so much.

I should go through my UFOs and frog the ones I know I’m not going to finish, and start finishing some of the others.   Whether I actually do it or not remains to be seen.  BLAH!

Sneaking up on spring.  Going to be getting back into the hot weather and high electric bills.

Loving my big ball bowl. *UFO – UnFinished Object.