Friday, March 29, 2013

Two Who Dared

A last minute realization that tomorrow is Good Friday, had Hubby and I doing some last minute date night planning.   It was T2 who reminded me that we already had plans to see a local screening of "Two Who Dared" (My calender only helps me when I remember to look at it).

Produced and directed by their grandson "Two Who Dared" tells the true story of Martha and Waitstill Sharp, "who, just days prior to the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia, left their young children to help save thousands being persecuted in Eastern Europe".    After the movie an older gentleman spoke about his experience as one of the children saved by Martha Sharp.  It was exciting and heart warming all at the same time.  The story serves as a reminder of what can be accomplished by a few people committed to doing the right thing.  

Assuming that there is a showing (listed here) near you, I urge you to go see it.   My only regret is that I did not press the boys to go with us. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pink yarn in a crown...

Two Sundays ago, I found out that someone I like very much had been diagnosed with breast cancer.   She was scheduled for a bilateral mastectomy two weeks later.   Wow, don't you sometimes wish you could just hug someone's problems away?   I immediately started thinking that, of course, the Caring Committee would give her one of our shawls (who better, since she is on that committee herself), but I wanted to make her something from me as well.

I fussed and bothered and could not even sleep that night wondering what would be just right.   Then, as he was leaving for work the next morning, Hubby suggested I make her a pair of socks.   Yes!  That man is so smart (and sweet, and funny, etc.).   His was the perfect solution.   I had a bit of mama drama to deal with that day but before I left the house, I dove into the stash and came up with a single skein of Lorna's Laces Shepard Sock yarn in Flamingo Stripe (20% of all proceeds on this color are donated to breast cancer charities).  Perfect!

A hour later I cast on while chatting with my mother.   Less than a week later, on Friday night,  I bound off the first sock.   I was on a roll.   I remember thinking that, if I put my mind to it, I could knit the second sock on Saturday.   That was never going to happen.   Still, I was sure to have them both done and ready to be delivered by the Wednesday before her surgery (when I was planning to be in her neighborhood).  

That, apparently, was also not destined to be.   I woke up last Monday to an attack of vertigo.   Now, as mentioned before, I have Menier's Disease, so this is not an unknown state of being for me.   However, circumstances were such that I could not just take my meds and sleep it off.   My mother had a Dr's appointment and T1 was up North visiting, so as soon as I was mobile (woozy but not spinning) I had to drive to Jax to take my mother to her appointment (Yes, I could have insisted that she reschedule but at the time it did not seem worth the drama).   Pushing myself before I was physically able, predictably, came back to bite me in the arse.   Not only did I end that day as dizzy as I began it but I stayed pretty ill and/or zonked from the meds for the next 48 hours.   I was not able to knit anything requiring actual thought (i.e.a sock heel) for several days.

Still, all was not lost, by the end of the week I was feeling steadier (although I am still not able to drive).   It was close but I finished the socks on Saturday night.   We were able to deliver them (and the Comfort Shawl) on Sunday after church.   However, in the rush, I forgot to take pictures.  That is why all you see at the top of this post is the leftover yarn sitting in a pretty crown (it's a magnifying glass).

The friend in question had her surgery yesterday.  All went well and there was no sign of cancer in her lymph nodes.  Whatever your spiritual leanings, please keep M.K. in your thoughts and prayers.  She is a lovely and loving lady who really appreciates hand-knits.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Eggs & Fairies

Those who know us in the real world know that my Hubby is firmly grounded in conventional reality.   He even once told the children that he does not believe in magic (I told them that we should feel very sorry for the sad life led by people who do not believe, which would have gone better if they had not told him how very sorry they felt for him).  When we lived in a haunted house, he refused to acknowledge it.   Certainly, he said, he saw movement out of the corner of his eye but that was surely due to the light playing off of the ceiling fans (All I got out of that was “OMG, he sees it too!”).   It has been said that I am the Dharma to his Greg.   There is more than a grain of truth in that.

All that, by way of explaining my delighted, surprise when just the other day he asked “Do you know how I know that Faeries are real?” (OMG! Did I hear that right?   Is my beloved Hubby about to join me on the left side?).   It seems that the night before, he had, had to go into the office to replace a jumper on an old system board.   In the process he discovered that the print on the system boards was much, much smaller than it had been just ten years ago.    Now a less whimsical person might have lamented the connection between age and eyes, but not the guy who has been living under my influence for 17 years.   After due consideration, he feels sure that, in a fit of mischief, the Faeries have gone around and rewritten all the lettering on all the system boards.

I am sure that if you think about how much harder it is, as time passes, to read yarn labels, do cross stitch, etc., you can see that his is the only reasonable explanation

Monday, March 18, 2013

Taking a sick day...

I am not feeling well at all.   Hopefully, I will be back with you later this week.   In the mean time, I went looking for a pretty picture and found this one taken, two summers ago, by the Castillo de San Marco, in St. Augustine, Fl.

Friday, March 15, 2013

For a good time...

St. Augustine, FL  9Mar13

Hubby and I had the most wonderful day this past Saturday.   I had been feeling totally overwhelmed by my mama's drama so Hubby whisked me away for a day of escapist fun.

We started our day at our local Celtic Festival.   Given reviews of past years, my expectations were somewhere in the middling, but we absolutely loved it.   The music, food, and vendors were wonderful.  Everywhere we looked were things beautiful and unique.   Among other things, we left with some awesome baked goods and a really cool shortbread pan.   My next batch of shortbread will be both pretty and yummy.

Marineland, FL  9Mar13

Once done at the fair we caught a quick lunch (at a pizza place with a balcony and a view) and drove down to the beach at Marineland.   I just love this stretch of beach.   There are no houses or hotels, just sand and breakers.   I swear it has not changed since the first time I went there when I was three. Maybe I am getting old but, to me, that is part of the charm.

Fort Matanzas  9Mar13

On our way home, we caught a glimpse of Fort Matanzas in the distance.   Hubby mentioned that it was a shame that he was the only one who like to visit it.   Not true, I said, as another unchanged place of my youth, I like it very much.   It is just that getting stuck on the ladder that leads through a narrow opening to the top level while pregnant with T2, kind of put me off of the climbing part.   Not only did we stop and catch the boat to the fort but I went all the way to the top, which felt very brave and adventurous to me.

Once again on our way home, we were going to stop at the market and pick up something for dinner, but changed our minds and ate out instead (At 16 & 20 the boys are fully capable, if not delighted, of making their own dinner).

So that's it.   Saturday was all us, all the time.   My hubby is pretty darn awesome.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

We interrupt this knitting...

Well, after all my big talk, the Citron Grande is a goner.   I just  could not deal with the oh so very delicate yarn.   It certainly looks lovely and feels lusciously soft but it requires very careful handling or it splits and/or breaks.   Having to handle it carefully, meant that I had to pay attention to what was supposed to be a zen knit.   In the end, I ripped it out and shelved it.   I think maybe it would lend itself to a "knit only" project but I am still deciding whether to try something else with it or just pass it along to a good home.

After some, admittedly short lived, consideration, I have decided not to replace the project in my queue right now.   Rather, I am going to spend the rest of the month working, and hopefully finishing, a couple of already on the needles projects.   In April  I am going to be doing a KAL (a story for another day) with a couple of friends and this would clear the decks a bit before we begin.

By way of proof that I can do this, here is the original Citron that I knit a couple of years ago.   I remember this being a quick knit.  Why did this one handle so differently?   I have no idea.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Shouting Won't Help...

According to the World Health Organization, hearing-impaired people number 275 million worldwide.    I began to lose my hearing in my mid-twenties.   By the time I was thirty, I was down 40% in my left ear.    At 40 I had lost 60% in my left ear and had started a slow loss in my right.    By then the accompanying tinnitus and severe vertigo had gotten bad enough to effect how my brain processed sound and light. After passing out four times (once in a yarn shop), I agreed to a chemical labrythectomy (thus disabling the likely culprit, my left endolymphatic nerve).    The procedure cost me the remaining hearing in my left ear (but, functionally speaking, gave me back my life).   I will be 51 in June.  My left ear is fully deaf, but has yet to stop ringing.   While I still get dizzy, I only rarely suffer from vertigo.   The hearing in my right ear is declining at a much slower rate than my left but eventually that will be gone too.

When this journey began, as a way of facing the possibility of going deaf, I read tons of books on living in a deaf world.   What makes "Shouting Won't Help" by Katherine Bouton different from the books I read then, is that it is not about being deaf.   It is about going deaf and while the experiences can be similar, they are not the same. 

Ms. Bouton's experience was different in some of ways than mine.  However, much of what she recounts is very familiar.  The embarrassment of having to ask people to repeat themselves over and over.   Being made to feel like your lack of hearing and/or understanding what you do hear (sometimes we can hear that you are talking but are unable to make out the words), is something you are doing to them.   Then, there is the anger at being treated like you are stupid just because you can not hear and the ever-present fear that it might be true.  

Hearing loss is an invisible disability.  I do not use a cochlear and am not a good candidate for hearing aids.   I speak well and, with a strong voice to my right, can even still sing.   Thanks to a combination of speech reading, what my right ear has to offer and context, I compensate very well (so says my audiologist).  However, ambient noise and acoustics can make or break me.   Once at Disney, while being seated for Epcot's Candlelight Processional,   I asked to sit within sight of the ASL (American Sign Language) interpreter .  The rather nasty usher told me to prove I am deaf.   Really?   As I understand it, only my autopsy will tell the whys and hows of my emerging deafness and I am not ready to go there yet.   

"Shouting Won't Help", is at times funny and sad.    Along with detailed information on hearing aids, cochlear implants, and assistive listening devices, Ms. Bouton goes into the whys and hows of age and noise related hearing loss.    She also shares tips for talking with the hearing impaired that, if you yourself are hearing impaired, you may be tempted to copy and hand-out.  In much the same way that  "Quiet" did, "Shouting,,,"  left me feeling more comfortable with my own normal.   Not only do I feel less isolated in this never quiet place, but I feel braver about asking for what I need.    

Given the statistics, it is more than likely that you or someone you interact with on a regular basis is deaf or hearing impaired.   Do yourself and them a favor and read this book.   Then you can do what I did, and ask your hubby to read it too.

Friday, March 8, 2013

I’ll have a Grande Citron, please.

In addition to whatever I am working on of my own design, church/movie theater knitting, and a sock (handbag knitting), I almost always have something of someone else’s design on my needles.     This I refer to as my OP (other people’s) knitting.

My OP knitting of the moment is the Citron Grande using Filatura Di Crosa’s Centolavaggi Chine thinking that I was using a lace wt yarn.  Instead, I am using a cobweb wt yarn.   I am not bothered by the fact that it is not looking like much on the needles (Lace typically comes into its own once ruthlessly blocked).   But I am finding the ubber thin string like yarn to be a bit of a trial.   Just a bit of a tug and it breaks.   I bought a big skein specifically so that there would be no knots or joins.   I was so annoyed that I bought an alternative yarn, thinking that I would rip it out and cast-on with the new stuff.  

Then I changed my mind, again.   The pattern is past the fiddly part.  Wool blocks better than cotton, and I really do love the dark purple color.   Surely I can deal with the pretty, thin, thread yarn for just this one project.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Granny Blanket

Remember this post a couple of weeks ago about the Granny Square Blanket?     Even working on it only on Sundays, it is coming along.   I think I prefer the striping better on the inspiration blanket than I do on this one.   If/when I do another, I think I will try one stripe of each color rather than two and maybe a graduation of colors (like white to light blues to medium blues to darker blues).   

I have no idea how long it will take to finish.  So far, it is moving right along now but it is early days yet and the rounds are smaller than they will be.   This throw is meant for a couple who have been through quite a lot in the past year and would like to finish it sooner rather than later.   The problem is that I really don’t have the time to make it my focus right now.   Hopefully, some kind UU crocheter will step up, take it over and give it the attention it deserves.

Monday, March 4, 2013

"Prayer" Shawls

Late last year, I was asked to set up a “Prayer” Shawl group at church.   Words like “prayer” can make some UUs twitchy, so I went with the Comfort Shawl Group.   That worked for a couple of months, until it became clear that our Caring Committee was going to want the occasional blanket and maybe a couple of scarves.    Also, I seemed to have almost as many quilters in the group as I had knitters and crocheters.   Time for a new name, we are now the Comfort Crafts Group (Much more inclusive, don’t you think?).

Now that the name thing is settled, it is time to start actually giving shawls, etc. to those in our congregation in need of a communal hug.   I am happy to say, that I have four shawls ready to give (two by me and two by a goddess known as Karen).    Admittedly, it would be easier to hand these babies out if I would just get over this respiratory thing and get to church but still it is a load off of my mind knowing that they are good to go when I am.

Yesterday, I tagged each one, wrapped them in tissue paper and put them in gift bags.   Hubby had a great idea.   He suggested that rather than gift bags, I put each one in a pretty reusable bag from our local grocery store, less expensive than gift bags and the idea fits nicely with UU culture.   I am totally doing that next time.

Friday, March 1, 2013

My woo-woo notions...

Those who know me in the real world, know that I am often captivated by the odd and quirky.   Thus it will come as no surprise that when I found these Ouija board tins, at my local World Market , I had to bring one (or three) home with me.  Mystery Mints, how cute is that?

As it happened they came to my attention at a creatively fortuitous time.  Thanks to spotting these on Pinterest, I already had visions of knitting tins dancing in my head.  My notions stash had everything I needed to stock these babies except the Puppy Snips (which came super fast from here).  Prepping the tin was very simple.  First, I rounded the corners on these business card magnets and put one on the inside lid (to hold my yarn needle and snips).   Then, I cut a piece of craft felt and stuck it to the bottom of the tin (to cut down on rattle).   That's it.  I did not even have to wash the tin first since the mints were nicely contained in a sealed cellophane bag.

They are currently well stocked and in daily use.  One each in my everyday knitting bag, my Sunday knitting bag, and the basket that holds this granny square blanket in progress.  They work like a dream and bring a smile to my face.