Saturday, March 18, 2017

Family tales

Every so often I have coffee with my 91-year-old aunt. We both enjoy it, and I often end up learning things about family history that I never knew.

My grandfather knit. As in two (or more) needles, lots of yarn, mittens, scarves or sweaters at the end of the process, knit. It always seemed a bit odd to see my ex-Italian navy, world war I vet grandfather with a pair of knitting needles in his hands, but callow youth that I was, I never thought to ask how/when/why he learned the craft.

According to my aunt, he was laid off during the Great Depression, like a lot of other folks. Having him hanging around at home drove my grandmother a little crazy, so she taught him to knit to get him out of her hair and give him something to do.

Makes sense to me.

Apparently, he liked it enough that he kept it up, off and on. When I was in grade school, I wore a winter scarf he knit. While yarn arts are not my thing (I crochet fairly well, and can knit/purl straight rows if pushed), you can see that my craftiness comes from both grandparents on that side.

Then there are the more recent bits of family life that may become stories to pass through the ages. As we were getting up from the table to leave, my aunt mentioned that she had recently crocheted three p*ssy hats for my cousin's wife for "a big national event". They were "really easy to make, and they had to be red, you know."

My aunt is a dear, sweet woman and I am 100% sure she had no real idea exactly what she had done.

My cousin's wife, however, is going to get a talking to the next time I see her.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Quick (yeah, right) update

Nothing is torn, out of place or in danger of falling out of my knee. According to the ortho, it's worn (oddly, the left is nowhere nearly as decrepit; I attribute this to my long habit of twisting my right leg under me to sit on it) and unhappy.

The solution? Move the heck out of it. Physical therapy, in other words. The downside? Their PT department does not have any openings until April 10th. Why yes, this injury happened March 3rd.

As soon as they open (half an hour from now) I'll call the campus Physical Therapy Clinic. I didn't think of it until I got home last night, but if I can get in there more quickly, the service is not only covered by our insurance plan, but co-pay and deductible free. Yay for that.

The doc said I could have a corti-whatever shot "depending on my frustration level" (??He just met me, obviously he doesn't know me), but it would mess up my blood sugar for a few days. No, thank you, I do a great job messing up my blood sugars myself. Though if I'm still in this kind of pain by this time next week, I'll jab the needle in myself and sugar be darned.

I'm really a whiner about pain; most of the time, what I have is an ache. Turn it wrong, or put weight on it unevenly, however, and not only does the leg buckle under me as someone sticks flaming hot swords into my knee, but bad words come out of my mouth. Sometimes, just moving my leg under my desk sets off the pain.

Note that compared to when it first happened, this level of pain is nothing, and passes quickly once I correct my behavior. But I am, like most reasonable people, pain-phobic. Perhaps more than others, I am very Pavlov's dog about behavior and reward. Consequently, I'm moving very slowly and carefully.

Eh. This too, will pass? That's the theory, anyway.

As I may have said in the prior post, driving does not hurt at all, as this is my right knee. Neither does using the presser foot on the sewing machine (which, actually, would not be an issue if I used the other machine, which has a start/stop button that can be used in place of using the presser foot). So I can go out for coffee (at places that do not require you to stand in line) or stay in and sew. Life's little pleasures.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

On getting older

Friday I took a vacation day, for something being done in the condo. I was up early, tidying up, when a good friend called. We chatted for quite a while, and after I hung up, I went back to tidying.

I'd sat down to do some sorting in the living room. When I got up out of the chair, I felt a sharp, piercing pain in my right knee, almost enough to floor me. Yikes.

This has happened once or twice before over the last several months, and it generally clears up with ten minutes of sitting still and cursing softly under my breath.

Well, the cursing may not actually have a direct impact on the healing, but it makes me feel better emotionally. This time, however, the pain didn't go completely away. Note that through this, driving actually felt fine - no pain at all. Thankfully, it's my right leg, not needed to push in the rather stiff clutch.

As long as I stay still, I'm fine. But putting weight on it is a tricky business. About one step in four feels fine. The rest bring back the shooting pain.

I managed to get through the condo business, which necessitated me vacating the premises for a couple of hours. I went to Panera, which thankfully has order-from and deliver-to table service. By the time I'd finished lunch, I'd resigned myself to going to the urgent care, which is considerably closer to where I live than my doctor's office.

I'd had a horrific experience at this urgent care several years ago (hence taking several hours to decide to finally go), but this time was much, much more pleasant.

At least as pleasant as it can be to find out you have severe arthritis in your knee.

I'm assuming that if one knee is like this, the other is as well. Apparently, it's possible for the pain I'm experiencing now (possibly a ligament hung up on one of the arthritis-induced bone spurs) will resolve on its own. I do need to see an orthopedist, who can assess the current state more thoroughly and recommend lasting treatment. As I understand it, the first line is steroid injections. Eventually, I'm assuming I'll need knee replacements.

Thank heaven for Amazon Prime and same day delivery; I was able to order and receive a cane (!) today. The nurse practitioner suggested it, though I'm not sure I'll use it except outside the house. There was a purple version available, but I'm not quite well adjusted enough yet to have fun with this.

In short, I feel old. Really old. There are so many things I'd wanted to get done this weekend, and I can't do much of any of them. In fact, I spent much of the day in the recliner with my leg up and iced. That wouldn't have bothered me, except for two things. One, just sitting is always chilly, but every single quilt and blanket on the first floor was in the basement, waiting to be washed. Every.single.one. I'd not thought to put socks on before I came downstairs, and did not have the oomph to withstand the pain of coming down the steps (up feels fine) just for socks.

Two, I seriously think the new ISP is choking off my download speed. All three streaming services keep cutting out the show to reload, on both roku players downstairs. The range extender doesn't seem to be getting much of a signal. Even upstairs, right next to the router and connected directly to the primary network, my kindle is taking an hour to download something that should take five minutes. Yes, I'm stuck in a chair with no access to electronic entertainment. There is a stack of real books next to the recliner, but it still sucks not being able to watch a movie.

Yeah, feeling both old and sorry for myself.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

I know what I'm doing this weekend

At long last, I've set up an appointment for the local second hand furniture place to come and look at (and hopefully buy) my old bedroom set.

It's a bit bittersweet, as either my mom or I have had various pieces of this set for, well, pretty much my entire lifetime. She sold off what she had when she downsized a decade or longer ago. I finally bought a "big girl bed" almost two years ago.

It took a while to figure out alternative clothes and sundry storage space (including the realization that a good, thorough decluttering would make those decisions easier). Then there was the matter of finding a place that might want the furniture.

Found a local place that is interested. They will come and look at it Wednesday night. If they want it (and I highly doubt they will not), they will write me a check on the spot and take it away.

Between now and then, I need to finish emptying the dresser and chest. Quite honestly, I've not even looked at the clothes in the bottom two drawers of both pieces in at least a year - making it easy to put it all in the donation box. Then everything will get a gentle wipe down and a decent polishing.

Once the extra furniture is out of the way, I can finish up rearranging the bedroom and loft.

Progress.

Friday, February 10, 2017

The usual Friday brain dump...

I really do want to pay less attention to politics, but it's like watching a circus where someone let out all the monkeys: screeching chaos and poo flying everywhere, sliding off the combatants but clinging to the onlookers. It's hard to look away.

David French has a great piece at the National Review on the latest installment of the immigration halt. One portion of that decision holds that the state universities could potentially suffer harm as a result of students, professors and researchers from the affected countries not being allowed in to pursue their studies/goals/research.

H1-B visa holders are only supposed to be hired if there is no American available with the required specialized skill set. Hmpf. I can tell you that hiring foreign professors and researchers is more about the perceived "prestige", "diversity", "collegiality" and "globalization" of the university than about a shortage of American talent.

As for the students...I've personally processed the work-related paperwork for a fair number of students from Iran who are here to study...civil engineering. Am I the only person whose brain explodes a little bit at that thought? They all seemed like nice guys (yes, guys - all male), but you do wonder.

In other news, my quilt guild's workshop day is tomorrow. I'm the teacher for this one.

The pattern is called "Summer in the Park" by Missouri Star Quilts.

My own quilt top looks quite a bit different. Instead of white, I used several different shades of ecru. My prints are not the bright batiks shown here, but the leftovers from a baby quilt I made this summer, mostly muted rose, grey, green and blue. Not at all my colors, which is why I wanted to use the leftovers all up in one scrap style quilt.

The construction is very simple and quick, thanks to a cutting technique that lets you cut the entire block at once from sewn strips. I'm hoping to send participants home with a partially completed quilt top rather than something destined to become another UFO.

Speaking of which, the dual February challenges of quilting twenty minutes a day and working on a UFO are coming along nicely. I'm currently piecing a twin sized quilt called Galaxy that I cut out a couple of years ago. I take no credit for fabric choices; this is a kit. When finished, I plan to hang it on the wall in my bedroom. Unless I change the d├ęcor in the bedroom in the two years it will take to get this finally and completely done, that is.

To avoid confusion, I'm making one block at a time. The piecing method involves sew-and-flip, and if you go in the wrong direction, everything is wrong. There isn't enough extra fabric in a kit to make up for that kind of mistake.

I'm halfway done with piecing the blocks, which is the fun part. There is a narrow sashing with cornerstones between each block which creates the secondary pattern. That portion of construction will be a royal pain.

Otherwise, not much is new. Trying to keep my head both above water and out of the firing line at work. Lots of changes going on. Lots of furor in the homeowner's association as well, which will culminate at the annual meeting the end of April. I've checked the by-laws: I can very easily call for a vote for removal of the current board. En masse would be easiest and quickest, but it can go individually if need be. Unfortunately, the people who would replace them are just as crazy.

Whatever you do this weekend, have fun!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Challenging

I know, it's not Friday. But as usual, I've little to say, and am determined to say it.

The "UFO" (unfinished fabric object) challenge I'm doing this year has us number a dozen of our UFOs, one through twelve. Each month, the organizers draw a number on the first, so we can work on that UFO for that month. By the end of the year, you will have finished (or at least made progress on) all twelve.

The first number was actually drawn December 26th rather than January 1st. Naturally, some smarty-pants, attention-craving lunatics were posting on December 27th that their January UFO (#6, if you care) was done! Done! Done!

Things were pretty calm until around a week ago, with people posting pictures of their progress or finishes. A number of those aforementioned smarty-pants, though, along with some others who had finished their #6 projects, started lobbying pretty hard on the facebook page for the next number to be drawn early.

The challenge is global; naturally, someone posted this morning that it is indeed February 1st in New Zealand, where they are anxiously awaiting the next number.

Good grief, people.

It's not a contest.

Participation is voluntary.

No one is checking to see if you are "working ahead", or just lazing in the recliner eating bon-bons and sipping red wine, waiting for the next number to be drawn.

Me? I finished the weekend of the 7th. It's not a completed quilt, but a quilt top that is the sample for the Super Saturday I'm teaching for my quilt guild on February 11th. I'd hoped to get it layered and quilted, but knew I probably wouldn't get to it, as January tends to be a bit busy at work (evenings after work in January I do laze around in the recliner, eating bon-bons (or pizza) with a glass of wine).

Ay.

I have a question for those who finished so very early in the month - if it took so little time to finish up these projects, why didn't you do them sooner?

And before you ask - yes, someone on the page already asked if the number was going up at 12:01 a.m.tonight.

Sheesh.

This is supposed to be fun? LOL.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Oh weekend, I hate to see you go

Don't we all feel a bit like this, no matter what part of the week in which we take our "weekend"?

Friday after work I went out to a friend's house for dinner. We each do a birthday dinner for the other, sometime in the approximate neighborhoods of our birthdays, which are very conveniently about six months apart. She cooked for me this time, and boy, did she ever...

Beef tenderloin. Sauteed shrimp. Carrots. Sweet potato fries. Death by Chocolate cake for dessert. No wonder I slept two hours later than usual the next morning - it was really an extended food coma.

Puttered on Saturday, reorganizing a bit of the studio, reading a bit, not doing too much of anything too strenuous. Though I did put a cover on the electrical outlet behind the studio door. That door is never closed when I'm in the studio (truth to tell, it's only closed when I have company and don't want them seeing the creative mess), so I don't remember there is an outlet back there. Back when I had the condo painted, I bought nice new covers for all the outlets, but kept forgetting to put that one on.

I had the screwdriver in my hand because I switched out the light switch cover in that room. I have a "thing" for pretty switch covers. This particular one was Monet's "Waterlilies", or at least a small portion of it, done on a standard size cover. The new cover is a bit bigger...

It really is rather large, at 9 inches long. But it looks great and fits with the theme of the room.

Today was spent lolling about a bit, then in the kitchen. Not one, but two new recipes. A small bit of arborio rice has been languishing in the cabinet for months. I need the space, but as much as I adore risotto, I hate standing there adding liquid, stirring, repeat, repeat and on and on for half an hour or more. America's Test Kitchen's Casserole cookbook has a recipe for a baked risotto that sounded a bit less labor intensive. I see the book isn't directly available on Amazon anymore, no wonder, since it's more than ten years old.

Putting everything together was easy. The end result? Not as creamy as traditional risotto, even though I know the liquid I added may have been a bit on the higher side. The rice still had a tiny bit of bite to it. Eh, next time, a little more liquid and a little more baking time.

The second recipe was the ultimate broccoli with cheese sauce. Rather than just pouring the sauce over the veggie and calling it good, this recipe has you put it in a casserole dish, top it with the Best Breadcrumb Topping Ever, and bake it. (BBTE consists of a couple of slices of squishy white bread, torn and put in a food processor along with a tablespoon or two of melted butter. Plus until coarse crumbs form. They brown beautifully and provide a delightful crunch). While I had the two bunches of broccoli the recipe called for, my bunches must have been small. I ended up with a rather high cheese sauce to broccoli ratio. No complaints, though.

This particular cheese sauce (made from scratch) is pretty much the same one you use for macaroni and cheese (complete with a BBTE topping there, too), so the skill is worth mastering.

Needless to say, after pairing servings of each of those with some cod for lunch (pfft - I microwaved the cod with lemon pepper - I'd been fussing over the others for over an hour and I was hungry, darn it), I spent the early part of the afternoon dozing in front of the fire in another food coma.

There are worse ways to go.

The leftovers on the side dishes will give me a headstart on dinner for the next three nights. Porkchops, salmon and more cod all thaw fairly quickly in cold water, so I don't need to make a decision on a protein until I get home from work (translation: forgetting to take something out to thaw isn't a big deal).

It looks like being full of good food has made me chatty. Eh, it's time to decide what, if anything, I want for dinner, and what, if anything, I'm going to pack tonight for tomorrow's lunch. It's not that I won't take a lunch, it's more that I simply don't have the energy to fuss with it tonight. There are things I can pull together in a hurry tomorrow morning that will still end up as a decent lunch.