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.

Plus ça Change . . .

My knee was doing really well on the diclofenac there for a while, and then I hauled a waste basket full of about 30 lbs worth of used kitty litter out to the dumpster and now it’s howling again.  (Instead of spending $19 a box for 10 Littermaid containers, and throw them away when they got full, I put a trash bag in this waste basket that had a lid and dumped the contents into it, and reused each Littermaid container until it wore out.  When the waste basket was full, I tied off the trash bag and dumped it into the dumpster.   Since the waste basket was only half full, I didn’t think it would be so heavy that I would need to use my little red wagon to haul it to the dumpster.  Famous last words . . .)  There for a while, I was walking normally with no pain.  Now I’m cripping around again.  Sigh.  Used kitty litter is one problem I won’t be having to deal with now –a very tiny upside to a very big downside. . .

I’ve started reading the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik. It’s like a mashup of Horatio Hornblower and Jane Austen but with dragons(!).  I’m just about halfway into the first of the nine (soon to be 10) books in the series, and so far, I like it.  I thought I’d give it a try since I liked her novel Uprooted enough to keep my copy of it to reread.

For literally, like, 20 years I have had this clunky old desk lamp with a weighted base with the light part on an extension arm that I am continually having to futz with because, while the extension arm has knobs that can be tightened to hold it in position, the light part does not.  It will only hold the light part horizontal when the extension arm part is in certain positions.  In any other position, the light part will either slowly but surely lose its position, or suddenly decide it doesn’t want to do this any more and just give out, whack!  I finally got tired of fooling with it, saw another desk lamp I liked the look of and thought I’d order it –without checking the dimensions. . .  Yup.  Too short to fit over my computer screen, but it works on my reading table just fine, though.  It’s an LED lamp and the second of its three brightness level lights up my tablet without putting a lot of glare on the screen like my bedside light does. It has a goose-neck bendy part so it’s easy to position and stays put.  The lamp cord ends in a USB plug so you can run it off your PC or laptop — being LED, it doesn’t draw much juice at all — but it also comes with a USB to AC adapter that lets you plug it into a wall outlet.   Reminds me of the ray thing on the Martian saucers from the 1953 version of the movie “War of the Worlds”, though. (I look up at it, think, “I am under attack by Martians,” and giggle. . . )  I did some rearranging and finally found a way to get my old lamp base and extension arm positioned so that the lamp part is parallel to the line of my screens and so far (touch wood!), I have not had the lamp part suddenly flop down and bang into the top of the screen and startle the bejezus out of me. . .

Yes, I am self indulgent and like to read in bed (pourquoi pas?), so toward that end, I acquired one of these, and one of these to go with my this. As you might know, plug strips have holes in their undersides that allow them to be screw mounted to things.  I have a plug strip with a 12-foot cord mounted to the underside of the table to plug my tablet into so it doesn’t run out of juice right in the middle of the exciting part and make me stop and recharge it.   Yes, I have a Kindle Fire (have had for about 5 years, in fact),  but the Kingpad has a bigger screen and I can see a whole page at a time instead of a third of a page, which is all the Kindle Fire will show me, unless I make the type so small it defeats the purpose.   I have an internet radio app on the Kingpad on which I can tune into SomaFM’s Drone Zone, or listen to my Napster app and have music while I read, and I am happy as the proverbial clam.

I am currently in love with Prokofiev’s Cinderella Waltz.  It is the perfect fairy tale waltz, with an arcane and quirky melody with dark, minor-key magical undercurrents, occasionally bursting into major key exuberance, only to fall back into the minor key to keep reminding us that while Cinderella has made it to the ball and is dancing with the prince, this is not yet, and nowhere near, the triumphant, happily ever after bit.  I think I also love it because it is so very not-Disney.  (Right after the oddly abrupt end is when the clock begins to strike midnight.)

In the knitting news, I was going great guns on this toboggan with ribbed hem when I noticed I was not going to have enough yarn to finish it.  I couldn’t match the yarn, so it got completely frogged*.   I’ve started over using one of those Caron Cakes, (I don’t like the cakes any better than I like the pull skeins, which is not at all and, no, I’m not going to get a spike just so I can use them.)  Judging from the size of the ball (I had to get my big-ball bowl out), there should be plenty of yarn to finish a ribbed hem toboggan.   I’ll use the other yarn to make a hat that just has a simple ribbed brim.  That dark turquoise string dangling about is the length of cotton yarn I used for the provisional cast-on. I use the cotton yarn for my “scrap yarn” because it’s a sturdy yarn that I can reuse over and over, and it doesn’t leave behind any yarn fuzz when you pull it out.

Just a note:  Whenever I’m doing something circular like a hat, I never count my slip knot from the cast-on as a stitch. I start counting with the first cast on stitch.  To join and begin knitting in the round, I move the slip knot over to my left-hand needle and do a k2tog with it and the first cast-on stitch.  I especially like this method for hats as you don’t get that little “jog” between the cast on row and the first row of knitting.  This is also why I use a slip knot on my working yarn with the provisional cast-on instead of knotting it to the scrap yarn. — I use the scrap yarn method of provisional cast-on because I find it easier to work with when turning the hems on these toboggans than the crocheted method.

I’ll leave you with a couple of pieces of nerd candy I chanced across the other day.  For the trivia nerds, the woman in this video is the mother of a very famous princess.  Can you guess which one?. . .  The one below is for the science/math nerds.  I’m sure Neil DeGrasse Tyson, my personal astrophysicist,  has been tweeted this one so many times he’s sick of it . . . .

*rip-it! rip-it!

If My Words Were In My Hands And Not My Mouth

I.
If my words were in my hands and not my mouth,
If my sentences were framed by hand,
If agile fingers were my eloquence,
How would I whisper secrets in the shushing darkness?
How could you hear me on the moonless nights?

II.
If my words were in my hands and not my mouth,
And it was eyes that hung on every word,
Would flirtation be a tango for four hands?
Would anger
Jazz and swash like Martha Graham?
Would fingers knot and tangle in frustration?
Would praise unfold like flowers?
Would joy arise like a lark in the clear air?
Would being incommunicado involve rope and blindfolds?
Would girl talk
Swirl and flutter through the fingers like a restless flock of sparrows that
Without warning
Burst into a flight of giggles?
Could I talk to myself without a mirror?

III.
Oh,
If my words were in my hands and not my mouth,
. . . And I were not so palsied with self-consciousness . . .
I would let my hands dance out my heart.
But, oh,
I would have to say it to your face.
And, oh,
Whenever you are looking at me,
I am suddenly all awkwardness and elbows.
Your gaze tongue-ties my hands,
And my words come out all thumbs.
My shyness puts my speech in mittens
When what I want to do most
Is let my fingertips
Whisper soft “I love you’s” on your cheeks
Over and over.

 

I woke up in the middle of the night last night, decided to read for a while, was well into His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik (which is shaping up to be a really good read, BTW), when I suddenly had a squirrel moment and my little magpie mind went ricocheting off of oooh-shiny into a mental tangent about sign language and people having to talk with their hands, and how that would play out in language and imagery. I was reading on my tablet, which has a WordPress app on it, so I stopped and wrote a small stone about it because they were interesting thoughts and I wanted to put them someplace where I could find them again.  Because you can't insert images on that jive (8),"medium-slow*" Android WordPress app, I had to go back today on my desktop PC and put the stone image in, and of course re-read it now that it was good and cold, and give it a tweak or two, and snatch a copy off it like a new toy and run outside and play with it on this blog. . . 


* half-fast