In Memory

November 25th, 2009

In loving memory of:

Julia Kathleen Craver Collom

October 31 1939

September 24 2009

I miss you little sister.

This blog will continue in due time.

 Please check back.

How do you know you have become acclimated to Texas weather?

July 22nd, 2009

You know that you have become acclimated to living in Texas when a cold front moves through and drops the high temps to upper 90’s and you actually believe that it has “cooled off“.

Looks like it will be a long, hot summer.  Long string of 100 plus degree days.   Little if any rain.  The tomatoes and peppers and most of the flowers I planted in the spring have pretty much burned up even though I have watered them every day (sometimes twice a day).  I am enjoying the few tomatoes I am getting.  I have to be quick to get them before the birds do.

Not much knitting getting done.  The house is air conditioned but when it is this hot if I turn the thermostat below 85 degrees the air conditioner runs constantly.  We have the highest electric rates in the country so I use a fan to cool things off a bit and keep the thermostat set high.  Too hot to knit but I am catching up on my reading. 

I did finish the socks and have started another pair.   The purple and teal socks show up blue and white in all the photos I have taken so far.  If I get a better picture I will post.  I decided that I do not like the February Lady sweater so have put it aside.  It is the yarn that I do not like.   I will give it away and find something else the knit the sweater.   I do like the patten.

Poor D’Argo just sits and looks out the french door and sighs.   I guess he thinks he is never going for another long walk.  I do take him for a short walk early in the morning when the temp is ”only” about 80 degrees, but it does have to be short because that is when the mosquitoes are out in full force.

There is an upside to this:  when the weather is this hot and dry my joints do not hurt.  No pain, no stiffness.   That is why I left the beautiful Pacific Northwest, which I miss every day, to move to a dryer, warmer climate.

Complaining aside I do love living in Texas!     

Much too young to be this old!

March 27th, 2009

Great birthday yesterday.  Lance brought me a cake, took me to On the Border for late lunch and gave me a pair of mocha Birkenstocks.  I had no idea he had gotten them.  I did not think he knew my size.  He is so very thoughtful.  I am greatful to have him in my life.  The sun came out as we were leaving On the Border so we were able to eat cake on the deck.   It was a beautiful, perfect afternoon.

About the age thing.  I do not feel 73 years old.  Those numbers should be reversed.  The birthday picture Lance took (which I will never post) does look like a 73 year old woman, but nothing else about my life makes me feel 73.  Guess you really can’t judge a book by the cover. 

The first purple and teal green sock is finished and fits perfectly.  The second sock is in progress.  True to form I started another project before finishing the second sock.   I am knitting the Februaly Lady sweater using some beautiful purple yarn from the stash. The yarn is Pingouin Confort, 50/40/10, wool/acrylic/mohair and was purchased at a bin sale at Weaving Works in Seattle many years ago.  

I am trying not to start yet another project but I have the perfect yarn to knit socks to wear with the mocha birkenstocks.   It is Cherry Tree Hill supersock 100% superwash merino in the Java color way.  I am going to try to wait for Wendy’s new sock book to find a pattern to use for these socks but I am not sure I can wait until April 14th.  I could just start knitting the toes and wait for the book to decide on a pattern. 

So much yarn, pleanty of time, so much fun.   Life is good.  

And then there were socks

March 19th, 2009

Well, there will be soon.  The purple and teal socks are back.   I am working on the gusset on the first sock. My hands are holding up.   Dare I hope to finish this sock tonight?  I would like to set a goal to finish this pair of socks.  The last time I did that it did not work out well.  It is possible to start the second sock tomorrow and have the pair finished by the 26th.  I would love to give these completed socks to myself for my birthday. 

I do not want to jinks this by setting a goal.  I am knitting as fast as I can.   The socks will be done when they are done. If the Universe smiles on me that will be in time for my birthday. 

 I am enjoying the process.   The socks will be beautiful with my purple Birkenstocks.  

Lost the battle but won the war.

March 16th, 2009

Several weeks ago while D’argo and I were playing in the courtyard, I noticed a large weed growing in one of the planters.  I was not planning to do yard work but thought I”d just pull that one weed out.  It was a large weed and was not going to give up without a fight.   I grabbed it with both hands, braced my knee against the side of the planter and pulled!  The weed let go taking out most of the soil with the root ball.   I was breaking up the soil from the roots when the most excruciating pain hit both my hands.  I can only describe it as shocking.  It felt like hundreds of hot needles were stabbing my hands.  It took a few seconds for me to realize that all those black specks covering my hands were fire ants.

I tried to shake them off or brush them off anything to get rid of them, but those little suckers were angry and they were not letting go.   I had to kill them to get them off.   My letter carrier saw what was happening and told me to go inside and put chlorine bleach on my hands to neutralize the  poison.   After soaking my hands in bleach for a few minutes, I washed them with antibacterial soap and then slathered them with hydrocortisone plus.  By this time both hands were swollen and red, the bites or stings (don’t know if the bite or sting) had raised red buring welts.  My left thumb and forefinger had the most bits.   They were consentrated on the knuckle in my thumb and the large joints at the base of my thumb and forefinger.  I could not bend my fingers.  The hydrocortisone and two Ibuprofen lessened the pain but did not completely remove it.  The fire ants won this battle.

Next day my hands were still too swollen and painful to do much, but I was angry now.   I have always admired ants for their work ethic and have tried to peacefully coexist with them.  (even when they got inside my air conditioner and ate the starter switch and I had to pay $100 to get it replaced) But this was war.  Ortho and I went after them with a vengeance.   I eradicated them not only in my courtyard but outside on all my property and one hill on my neighbor’s lot. I went back next day and applied another round of pellets just to be sure they were gone.  I will not give them another chance to live on my property.  If they had gotten D’Argo the way they did me, I think they would have killed him.   His little nine pound body could not have withstood such a shock.   I now know of a boxer that died from fire ant bites.  Had I known that earlier, I would have taken action to protect D’Argo from day one.

There has been very little knitting or anything else for the past several weeks.  The swelling is finally gone. There are still scars.  I can type, can hold a book, and can do a bit of knitting.    I still have a great deal of pain in the large joint at the base of my left thumb.  I have mild arthritis in my hands especially the left one, but this pain is different from the arthritis pain.  I have heard that some people say they got releif from their arthritis from bee stings.   I can attest there is no such therapeutic value from fire ants. 

Sock knitting has been impossible since I could not bend my fingers enough to hold the tiny needles.  I tried working on a mohair shawl I have in the works that is knit with size eleven needles.  The large needles hurt my hands.  I started a shawl that I saw on display in Weaving Works in Seattle more than a decade ago.  Before I left Seattle I purchased a cone of  Claret Jaggerspun Zephyr 2/18, 50/50 merino wool/tussah silk yarn and the pattern for the shawl.  The shawl was knit by Mary Aston from a pattern marked ww #307.  I am knitting it with size seven needles.  I still cannot knit for a long stretch and have to stop often to let my hands rest.  None the less I have finished the center section which is a garter stitch square and have picked up stitches along one side and am knitting the lace for that side.   There are sixty rows of lace then the peaks are knit for that side.  All four sides are knit this way then the sides are put together with herringbone stitch.   I am on row twenty.   I have a way to go but may finally after all these years get my beautiful shawl make.   I guess in a way I could thank the fire ants for that, but I will not. 

Last thursday while I was waiting for D’Argo to get his spring hair cut I tried to knit a bit on the purple and teal sock.   I knit a few rounds, about and inch or so but stopped because it was aggravating the left hand.   I do not know when the socks will be done.   I have decided I do not like the pattern I knit in the first one so unraveled it and started over.   I am going to knit them plain because I want the beautiful colors in the yarn to show and any pattern I have tried detracts from the colors.

We have had much needed rain for several days.   The sun is finally out, the sky is blue and the temp is warm.  D’Argo says it is time for him to take me for my walk.   He is insistant.  He will not give up until we go so more later.

What a difference a day (or two) can make!

January 5th, 2009

Happy New Year! 

Saturday was in the eighties.  Warm, sunny, blue and gold day.  D’Argo and I spent most of the day on the deck.  He was exhausted Saturday night from his strenuous day of duck watching and trying to get everyone walking past our yard to stop and play with him.   Most did.

Today is thirty three degrees and raining.   I am not complaining!  I am so grateful for the beautiful weather we had over the holidays.  Christmas day was warm and mostly sunny.  D’Argo and I went to Lance’s house for Christmas dinner.  Lance’s half sister Mel was there with her two year old Great Dane, Lula Belle.  I had not met Mel (she lives in Phoenix) and I was glad to finally meet her.  I like her and Lula Belle very much.  D’Argo of course fell in love with Lula Belle.  The little guy just has no fear of big dogs.  He was delighted to have someone new to play with

 Lance completely surprised me with my Christmas gift.   He gave me the Nameste, Malibu knitting bag and matching clutch in olive from www.theloopyewe.com.  I had my wish list with The Loopy Ewe emailed to him, but I thought he had gotten something from my Amazon wish list.   What a great gift.  I love it.  It is beautiful and just what I wanted. 

I gave Lance a lemon cake and lemon bars that I baked for him and some of my homemade vegatable soup.   We had a good day.

Lance, Hercules and Panda came over here for New Year’s dinner.  I cooked a pot roast with fall vegies.  I got the recipe at www.delish.com  it was very good.  The only change I made to the recipe was to add a pound of whole mushrooms at the end when the green beans go in and I was out of thyme so I substituted rosemary.  It was delish.  The day was so warm we were able to eat on the deck.   I also made cheese cake lemon bars and of course the traditional black eyed peas and collard greens for good luck.  D’Argo enjoyed the day playing with Herc and Panda.

I finally got the sock right.   I am using size 2.75 needles and 48 stitches.  I am currently knitting the gusset  for the heel on the first sock.   I hope to finish this sock tomorrow.   The second one should go much faster since I know how many stitches to use and am more comfortable with the pattern.  Every third row of the pattern is yo, ssk across.   My stiff fingers were having difficulty with the ssk using these small needles with such large yarn.  K2tog was not much better.  I am doing slip one, knit, pass slipped stitch over.   That is working better for me, but that decrease does make a noticable left slant to the pattern.   I have tried the sock on and the slant is not noticable so I think I am ok with this.  I am anxious to finish these socks both because the weather has gotten cold and because I have new purple Birkenstocks that I want to wear these socks with.   The socks are shades of dark purple,violet and teal green.  I found the purple Birkenstocks at www.birkenstockexpress.com.   

I still can’t believe I found purple Birkenstocks.  I needed the Mocha (dark brown) ones but when I saw purple all hope of getting something practical was gone. 

    

Grateful for a warm sunny 70 degree day in December

December 20th, 2008

Beautiful day yesterday.  D’Argo and I sat on the deck most of the day.  Did some knitting but little else.   I just did not want to miss a second of the sunshine.  I am a warm weather woman and do not do well in cold damp weather.  We are supposed to get a cold front later today and freezing temperatures.  Not looking forward to that.  I know, it is winter, what do I expect.

Here is the Sausage Dressing recipe I made up last year.  Lance liked it so much he said I do not ever have make the traditional oyster dressing again.

Sausage Dressing

2 apples diced (use someting tart)

2 medium onions diced

1 lb Sweet Italian Sausage

1/2 cup craisins

pinch red pepper

6 to 8 corn muffins (I use Jiffy cornbread mix)

chicken stock

1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese

Butter dabs

EVOO

Soften apples and onions in skillet with EVOO and a little butter, add craisins.  Cook sausage in skillet with butter and EVOO.  Transfer apple onion mixure to large bowl, add sausage, pinch red pepper, 1/4 cup parm cheese, crumbled cornbread.  Mix with a “tad” of chicken stock.  Do not make it too wet.  Put in a casserole dish, top with generous sprinkle of parm chese and butter dabs.

Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour. (until golden borwn)

ENJOY!

Love how the Hearts for Heidi socks turned out.   We had some cold days last week and the socks kept my feet warm and comfortable.   Will post pictures some day.

I am trying to get a new pair of socks started using Windy’s Summer 2008 sock pattern which is free on her blog.  The pattern is written for fingering weight yarn and I want to use Fiesta Boomerang which is worsted weight.   Windy used this yarn for her Hearts for Heidi socks so I started by using the number of stitches she used for those socks. So far I have not gotten the number of stitch and needle size right.  The pattern stitch is stretchy and so is the yarn. I have tried casting on fewer stitches, using smaller needles, etc. but still am getting a sock that is too big. I will be trying again today.

D’Argo wants to take me for my walk before the cold front moves in.   More later.

Happy Thanksgiving

November 27th, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

 I am thankful for:

Found my sister.  She is ok.

My eyes are still working and I am still knitting

Lance

D’Argo

My wonderful friends

This beautiful, warm, sunny Texas Thanksgiving.

 I finished the crest of the waves stole (pattern generously shared by Windy) and I am very happy with it

Should finish the Hearts for Heidi socks today (another Windy pattern).  I love these socks.

Pictures of these and other projects and of D’Argo will appear soon.  Just a soon as I figure out how to get them up here. 

Also, posting on the blog will resume.

Oh sister where art thou?

June 11th, 2008

Emails to my sister pop back undeliverable, her phone rings forever, her cell goes directly to a recorded message that is not voice mial.  She did not answer my last email that did get delivered. She has had two heart attacts over the past few years.  I am getting worried.  Has she moved?  Is she in the hospital?  The morgue?

 Where art thou sister?  I miss you.

What is this blog really about?

May 19th, 2008

This blog was to have been a birthday gift to myself for my seventy second birthday on March 26th.  I have never felt old and as I neared my birthday I felt more like 32 than 72. I guess I thought it would be cool to begin my new year with a blog.  I was very excited about being a 72 year old new blogger.  Lance set the site up for me and I picked a theme and then everything changed.

 My driver’s license had to be renewed before my birthday.  I’d renewed it on line last time so was required to renew in person this time.   I thought it would be a good idea to get my glasses prescription updated before taking the eye test. My eyes seemed fine I just thought I needed a stronger prescription.

The doctor told me that I have severe macular mottling in both my eyes and referred me to a retina specialist.  He wrote a prescription for new glasses but told me that there was little chance I would be able to pass an eye test to get my driver’s license.  For the first time in my life I felt OLD!

The good news is I had no problem with the eye test and got my license.  The idea of not being able to drive and being house bound had just terrified me so this was a very big deal for me.

The bad news is I had to wait until April 29th to see the specialist.  During that time I felt like I’d aged forty years over night.  I felt like an old woman, a defeated old woman.  I begin to question all my beliefs.  And I was afraid.  I am a fiber artist.   I need my sight.  Next to working in my studio I love reading.  I need my sight.  Who would I be if I could not make my art, read my British murder mysteries, watch birds?

I got very depressed!  My dear sweet little Shih Tzu, D’Argo, got very clingy.  He stayed glued to my side.  He gave me his favorite toys to play with.  He “talked” to me a lot and he did all the things he knew to do to make me laugh.  HE FINALLY WOKE ME UP.

I realized that I do not have any symptoms of macular problems except I needed a new prescription for my glasses.  I have 20/25 vision in my left eye and 20/60 in my right with my new glasses.  20/60 is not very good but with both eyes working together I can see to do everything I love to do.

The specialist told me that my sight may never get any worse than it is now and that if it does it will be very gradual.  He recommended that I take Bausch & Lomb PreserVision Lutein Formula vitamins, cut back on processed food and saturated fat, eat a lot of green leafy veggies and fresh fruit and never, never go outside without protective sunglasses.  This is supposed to slow the progression of the disease.  He was very encouraging.

I am getting my “self” back.  I am beginning to feel like my 32/72 year old person again.  I can once again feel grateful for all the wonderful people and things in my life and not let myself be consumed with fear of  losing my sight.

I have developed a little voice that keeps telling me “do it now”.  I have lined up some books to read now that I had planned to read “later”. I am priortizing my knitting projects so that I save the things that I want to knit with large needles until later and concentrate on knitting projects that require fine yarn and small needles.  I am knitting a sock with 2.75 mm needles now and a lace shawl with fingering weight yarn and size six needles and have a lace weight shawl to knit with size four needles waiting in the wings.

For many years my favorite poem has been “There is No Time” by Ricardo Sanchez.  What could be more appropriate for this stage of my life?

So, is this going to be a kitting blog, a blog about living with macular degeneration, or a blog about hope?  I do not know.  Time will tell.