22 February 2018

Three Days of Limited Fun

This past weekend was a holiday weekend in the U.S. - it was Presidents' Day.  We had a three-day weekend at work, which was great.  Usually I would have a bazillion plans in my head, and do maybe two of them, but this time around something specific was happening:  this past Tuesday, I was scheduled for a colonoscopy.  Ugh.

Over the years, I have learned that prepping for this procedure is a slog for me.  Most people fast for a day, use the solution prescribed by the dr, have the procedure, end of story.  That was what I tried to do about the first four or five times, without success.  Apparently I am one of the few people who have an extremely long colon.**  Mind you, I can't win the lottery, but I can be one of the fewer than 2% of the population with an extra long colon.  Sigh.

What does this mean?  It means I get to fast for three days - two of them strictly liquids, and the first day I can have some breakfast.  To say this is unpleasant is making it a family friendly statement.

So on the one hand, I was lucky enough not to have to use an extra day off from work on Monday, since we were already off.  But it meant that it was a long weekend in more ways than one.  So in honor of Three on Thursday, I am sharing Three Days of Limited Fun.

Day 1:  I am allowed to eat breakfast on this day.  Ever since reading on Ellen's blog about some biscuits she had made, I wanted to try the recipe.  So I gave it a try.  My results were good but mixed, since I am not good at determining the thickness of dough - so some were not as "biscuit-y" as they should have been.  But it was my first try, and I'm calling it a success.  If you like biscuits, try this recipe - these are really really yummy!

So my baking success made me very happy on that day.

The first day is never too awful, since I've at least had something for breakfast.  And though I would have liked to have some dinner, missing it on that day did not make me overly miserable.  I think having the Olympics to occupy my time definitely helped.

Day 2:  OK, I woke up hungry for breakfast.  Or anything really.  I had a cup of tea and some jello and decided that reviewing and organizing my stash was way overdue, and that it would be an excellent activity for that day.  I try on a regular basis to do this, because I accumulate yarn in various ways other than by purchasing it myself.  A lot of people give me yarn that someone has given them or that they received when grandma or Aunt Tilly died or downsized to a nursing home.  I'm not a yarn snob, but a lot of it is just not stuff I'm that fond of, or the colors are ones I don't like.  Also, there are bits of yarn left from projects where I know I will never ever want to use the yarn again!  

Whenever I do this activity, there are also yarns that I have that I really like, but realize I'm never likely to use.  Those yarns get a one-time reprieve, but at the next go-round, if I haven't been inspired to use them, they go to the donate/give away pile.  

This time, I had a lot of things that I was not keeping.  Most of it I put into a box to take to Interim House for their Knitting Club.  I've donated yarn, magazines, needles, etc. here for years, and it always makes me happy because they are so incredibly happy to receive it.  The coordinator told me that it NEVER goes unused!  Then there are a few skeins I put aside to give away to certain people.  (If you decide to donate to Interim House, please let me know and I'll forward you the info for the knitting group coordinator.)

In any case, this activity took the better part of the day.  After which I was tired and hungry, and had a headache from not eating.  Let's just say the furniture even started to look tasty.

Day 3:  This is always the worst day.  I always wake up with a KILLER headache, and of course cannot take anything for it.  I'm grumpy, and tired, and miserable even more than just any given day.  I start to think even more than usual that everyone in the world should just DIE.  I have hardly any energy.  

The plan was to spend the day knitting, reading, and watching the Olympics or anything else that appealed at all.  I didn't do quite as much knitting or reading as I had wanted to do, due to my headache and difficulty concentrating.   The Tim had the day off, so we watched the Olympics and some shows we'd recorded.  Then in the evening, I had to start the prep for the next day's procedure.  The less said about that, the better.

So, I obviously survived and lived to tell the tale.  The procedure was successful (thank you GOD), and I don't have to do it again for three years (last time I only got a 2 year reprieve, so that extra year pleases me), and though I don't feel really great, I can at least eat and drink what and when I want to.  Fortunately, I drink a lot of liquids anyway, so it's not hard for me to do the prep liquids-wise.  It's everything else that makes me miserable!

I think I did pretty well this time around keeping myself occupied while fasting.  Even if I'm feeling hungry, when I have something to keep me busy, the distraction keeps me from focusing on wanting to eat.  

But it's not pretty all the same.  

Here's hoping that all of you reading only ever have average-sized colons ... ;-)

**The Tim says this is medical proof that I'm full of s**t.  He's a laff riot.

21 February 2018

Words and Stripes

Hello there - it's Wednesday, so we've just about gotten this week under our belts.  Yesterday and supposedly today, it's supposed to be in the mid- to high 70s, so we are getting a little bit of spring to tide us over.  Of course, on my way to work, I was behind two girls who looked to be in their 20s, and they were both dressed in tank tops, shorts, and flip flops.  One said to the other, "Now that the weather has changed, I spent last night putting away all of my winter clothes.  It felt so good!"  I can only wonder if it will still feel good when it goes back to being winter.  Then again, who am I to judge?  Maybe she's a glass half-full person ...

At the moment, I'm working on two knitting projects (soon to be three).  One is not really that photographically interesting, as it's just plain stockinette for a while on a darkish blue yarn.  Not much to see, and even harder to photograph.  So for Unraveled Wednesday, I'm sharing the other project, my Vanilla Valentine Socks in progress:

As you can see, one is ready to have the heel turned, and the other nearly at the heel flap.  Since the yarn is so happily stripey, I'm just making plain vanilla socks.  The yarn is from Must Stash, and I've had it in my stash for a year or so.  The colorway is Be Mine, which I think is appropriate for February, don't you?  I do have to say that I had forgotten how much fun it is with self-striping yarn to watch the stripes unfold!

I'm also currently involved with two books - the one above, that being a language and word nerd, I am loving!  I can however, easily see that for a lot of people, it would be a total slog.

I've also just started The Amber Spyglass in audio form.  I'd read the two earlier books in this series, but had never gotten to this one.  And since the author just published a prequel which I'd like to read, I decided it was time to finish the series.  I'm not very far into it yet, but am enjoying it already.

And what have you been up to, knitting- and reading-wise?   Anything you particularly love in either area?

18 February 2018

Finally an FO!

This year has involved a lot of knitting on my part, but as for finishing ... well ...

In my defense, some are bigger projects, and some are long-term (Cozy Squares of Memory Blanket) - but finishing a pair of socks?  That shouldn't have taken long at all, and yet it did.  But they are finally finished as of a week ago and here they are.

Project:  Basic Spats
Pattern:  Classic Socks for the Family, by Melinda Goodfellow
Yarn:  Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, in the Spats colorway
Needles:  Size 1 US
Modifications:  None
Notes:  I've had this yarn in my stash for a couple of years, and decided that I would use it for the first project of 2018, to make a pair of socks for The Tim (I bought it with him in mind).  I started out using the Blueberry Waffle pattern, but when I got to working the heel gusset (yes, more than halfway through), I realized that the leg would look too different from the foot to suit me (I had planned to just do plain stockinette on the foot).  So I frogged back, and decided to just go with the plain rib.  In the end I'm glad I did because I like the way they turned out.  But it took me a while to then finish them because basically by the end I had knitted 2 1/2 of the same sock, and I was tired of it!  But when I realized that it was nearly the middle of February, and I was still working on my first pair for the year, I pushed to get them finished. 

They are now blocked and happily put away in my Box o' Socks for this year.  You may recall that last year, my Box o' Socks were unofficial, since a) I had not officially joined the KAL, and b) they were not all fingering weight.  Well, this year, both of those are true again, but I'm also including some pairs that I'm planning to knit for The Tim.  As far as I'm concerned, socks are socks.  And since it's my own KAL, I can make whatever rules I want!

Here's an "artistic" shot for you to enjoy.

I'm already well into my second pair of socks for the year, a pair for me, and so far, so good.  I could possibly finish them during February, but I've also told myself since March is a long month, it's OK if I finish them in early March because then I would still have time for a pair for that month.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  :-)

16 February 2018

A Poem for This Friday

Letter Beginning with Two Lines by Czelaw Milosz
by Matthew Olzmann

You whom I could not save,
Listen to me.

Can we agree Kevlar
backpacks shouldn't be needed

for children walking to school?
Those same children

also shouldn't require a suit
of armor when standing

on their front lawns, or snipers
to watch their backs

as they eat at McDonalds.
They shouldn't have to stop

to consider the speed
of a bullet or how it might

reshape their bodies.  But
one winter, back in Detroit,

I had one student
who opened a door and died.

It was the front 
door to his house, but

it could have been any door,
and the bullet could have written

any name.  The shooter
was thirteen year old

and was aiming 
at someone else.  But

a bullet doesn't care
about "aim," it doesn't

distinguish between
the innocent and the innocent, 

and how was the bullet
supposed to know this

child would open the door
at the exact wrong moment

because his friend 
was outside and screaming

for help.  Did I say 
I had "one" student who

opened a door and died?
That's wrong.  

There were many.
The classroom of grief

had far more seats'
than the classroom for math

though every student 
in the classroom for math

could count the names
of the dead.

A kid opens the door.  The bullet
couldn't possibly know,

nor could the gun, because
"guns don't kill people," they don't

have minds to decide
such things, they don't choose

or have a conscience,
and when a man doesn't

have a conscience, we call him
a psychopath.  This is how

we know what type of assault rifle
a man can be, 

and how we discover
the hell that thrums inside

each of them.  Today,
there's another

shooting with dead 
kids everywhere.  It was a school,

a movie theater, a parking lot.
The world

is full of doors.  
And you, whom I cannot save,

you may open a door

and enter a meadow, or a eulogy.
And if the latter, you will be

mourned, then buried
in rhetoric.

There will be 
monuments of legislation,

little flowers made
from red tape.

What should we do?  We'll ask
again.  The earth will close

like a door above you.
What should we do?

And that click you hear?
That's just our voices,

the deadbolt of discourse,
sliding into place.

13 February 2018

A Perfect Rainy Day

When I don't have to slog back and forth to work in a downpour, I love rainy days.  They just seem to provide a chance to slow down, and either do nothing at all, or tackle a project that you want to do, but find excuses not to when the weather is nice.

This past Sunday was a serious rainy day - starting overnight, and just pouring until Sunday evening.  It had been in the forecast, so I had already decided I wasn't going to make any other plans to do anything that required being outside.  And that worked out perfectly, because when I can, I try to remember on the Sunday prior to Ash Wednesday to make some Hot Cross Buns.

I'm not much of a bread maker - The Tim has that down to an art, and bakes bread at least once a week, so that works for me.  But I have always liked hot cross buns, and in our family, they have always been something we had during Lent, rather than at Easter as many on Facebook have pointed out in such a lovely fashion.  (I mean, really, is there nothing that someone can't find to "correct" you about???)  Of course, that always meant store-bought or if we were lucky, bakery versions of hot cross buns, but that was fine.

Years ago, when we lived in Chicago, I was perusing a Prevention magazine one day at lunchtime when I had forgotten my book and was at the mercy of what freebies were around the lunchroom, and I came across a recipe.  I decided to be adventurous and give it a try, and I was beyond pleased with the results.  So that became a yearly tradition, except for years I completely forgot, or last year, when I was in my cast for a broken ankle, and standing for any length of time was uncomfortable.

Over the years, as with any recipe you make over and over, I've tweaked things a bit.  This year, I decided that rather than adding only the cinnamon and nutmeg in the recipe, I'd just put in an amount that seemed right to me.  Turns out, that was one of my best ideas ever - this batch is seriously tasty!

So Sunday morning, I gathered the ingredients, mixed things together, and put the dough in a warm place to rise.  Then I sat down and did some knitting.

Then it was time to punch down the dough, let it rest, and form it into the individual rolls, which had to rise again.  So I did that, and sat down and did some reading.

I put them in the oven to bake, washed up the mess of dishes I'd created along with breakfast dishes, took them out of the oven to cool, and then took a shower.   By then The Tim was home from work, and we caught up on our days, and had dinner.  After dinner, I did the icing, cleaned up, and he did the dishes (our deal is that one of us cooks, the other washes the dishes).  And then we watched the Olympics and I did some more knitting.

Now *that's* what I call a perfect rainy day, and a nice end to the weekend!

Here's a shot of the buns before baking.  As you can see, the recipe makes a lot.   Since they freeze well, we will have them for breakfasts during all of Lent.

And here they are, baked and iced.  Boy did our house smell good!

We were laughing, remembering a few years back when I made a batch, and then we went out for about an hour.  When we got home, Dug had helped himself to about 10 of them!  He was so pleased, we just couldn't even be upset.  And fortunately it had no bad effects on his system, if you get my drift ...  we only wish we still had that problem, I have to say.  :-(


I'm glad so many of you enjoyed my Knit-taalik story, and I only hope we can get a group going at work, that would be excellent.

Today at work was also really cool.  They are renovating two of the dioramas in the museum, and the glaziers were here to remove the glass (the panels are about 200 pounds each!).  It was so nerve-wracking (for us, for them it was their work), but really cool!  And then, I came back up to my desk and was able to see the restored LOVE statue go past on its way back where it belongs.  As I mentioned on Facebook, it was actually worth coming to work today.  Though unfortunately, now they expect us to do something.  Work really does cut into my day, you know?