Monday, November 30, 2009

Woke up today in worse pain than I've had since I started this therapy. Since, by law, Angelenos can only water their yards on Monday and Thursday, and must finish by 9 am, I didn't have the option of staying in bed, and hoping I would feel better with some rest. I took half a Percocet, and soldiered on.

I'm glad I've already made an appointment to see my regular physician. I'm afraid the conservative treatment has failed, and surgery is inevitable.

In the knitting department, I finished the back of the grey sweater last night, and am now working on the front. Haven't picked up the sock I'm working on. It's beautiful, but, as close as it is to Christmas, something I'm making for myself has to take the back seat to a gift.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tried to do too much yesterday. I had proposed to a friend that we go for a nice "sit" in a public garden. She counter-proposed shopping in a cute Main Street-type neighborhood. She won. The whole district is four blocks long, both sides of the street, so we're talking eight blocks walking. I was in good shape for 5, and suffered for three.

I bought "Amigurumi Knits," about knitting small, cute animals. My intention was to buy it for Sharon (she doesn't know I have this blog, so the secret is safe here), but I looked at it myself when I got it home. I may have to buy Sharon a second copy-- the patterns are adorable. I may not be able to give it up.

After getting home, Tom and I went to a local park to view the fall colors at sunset. We drove all the way through the park, and found a whole chain of other parks that we had heard rumors about, but had never visited. We'll be going back.

Of course, I overdid dinner, too. I'm going to have to swear off fried, breaded pork chops with mashed potatoes and country gravy, no matter how good they taste. I was quite ill.

Today, we went to the farmers' market, and then the regular market. When we got home, we found that our DVR had crashed. Darn-- I had a few movies on the DVR that I had been saving. Fortunately, there were some watchable shows on live satellite.

This morning, I finished the toe and started the colorwork portion of one of the socks from the handpainted yarn book Sharon gave me for my last birthday. I love and adore it. Except for Tom's Tardis hat, this is the first colorwork I've done. After a couple of hours, I was glad to go back to the plain, grey stockinette that will be Tom's Christmas present.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Boy, dinner last night went great. The turkey was the best I've ever made-- boned, brined overnight, and roasted over mesquite charcoal in the pit.

I had some hours of doubt. I had invited a few extra people after doing the marketing. It seemed harmless enough to do so, as the turkey was plenty large. After the extra guests accepted, I remembered that I had only bought five tiny yams, and one box of dressing mix. I expanded the dressing by chopping up half a loaf of French bread I had on hand. To make the yams stretch, I cut the largest ones (which were still only 5 ounces or so) in half. I also added one extra vegetable, to reduce the demand on the stuff I had in limited amounts. We had leftovers of everything, so there was verifiably enough.

I was very glad that one of the guests offered to take some leftover pumpkin cheesecake home. While pumpkin cheesecake is one of my favorite things, two pounds for myself alone is a bit much. Most of my guests were dark meat fans, so all the leftover turkey is white meat-- hurray for our side!

Tom went to a con today. He wanted me to go, too, but I wanted to veg out at home. The upside of having a bad back is having a built-in excuse to get out of anything I don't want to do. I'm catching up on old movies on the DVR, while continuing to knit the grey alpaca sweater. The tangle I was having trouble with last night defeated me; I cut the yarn and wet-spliced it, as I had with the salvaged portion. Maybe that means, ultimately, that I defeated the tangle.

I've been knitting nothing but stockinette stitch, in solid dark grey, for over a week now. It's not driving me crazy, not yet, anyway. I wonder whether I should pick out something bright and take a break, just to make sure.

I may have embarrassed Sharon last night. She admired a hat I had made. I answered, "You can have it." I meant to show her my recent output of hats, and tell her to take her pick, but she noticed the one before I got around to it. She put it back down as if she were burned. I tucked it into her bag as she was leaving; it was on her head before she was out the door. Success.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

The turkey is on the barbecue. The weather is so unnaturally nice today that it seemed a shame to do it in the oven. The newspaper predicts "sharply colder" over the next couple of days, but low 60s instead of low 80s, in my judgment, wouldn't be "sharply colder," but "sharply less warm."

The house is mostly clean, the desserts are done, and the turkey, as previously mentioned, won't need any more attention until serving time. I have to start the side dishes as soon as I'm done blogging. I have more guests coming than I have sweet potatoes, so I hope everybody doesn't want one. There'll also be wild rice, and bread dressing, so there should be enough food to go around, even if I'm short on some individual items. Kay is bringing bread, and Sharon is bringing cranberries.

When not cooking or cleaning, I have been knitting on the grey alpaca sweater. I have used up the salvaged yarn, and am now working on vigin yarn from the same batch. Oddly, while the salvaged yarn pulled out of my hand-balled balls like butter, I'm dealing with terminal tangling in the new, factory- fresh balls. I'm spending, and this is not hyperbolic, more time untangling than I am knitting.

Guests are due in an hour; I'd better get cracking.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I had such good intentions, today. I wrote up a to-do list that included cooking up a few things for tomorrow, and cleaning the whole public part of the house.

I even started; I did an archeological dig on the stack of yarn and magazines at the east end of my sofa. That took most of the morning, and was highly rewarding. I found cache after cache of yarn I had forgotten I had bought, some really lovely things-- sock yarns in rainbow colors, laceweights in gentle pastels, yummy things in general.

Then, before I had finished, I got a phone call from my girlfriend Kay, asking me out for lunch. How could I say "No"? She lives 800 miles away. I had to cancel my last trip to Oregon, so I hadn't seen her in months. Besides, she's not just my friend, she's my hairdresser, and I've been looking kinda shaggy these last couple of months.

Tom joined us, since he was telecommuting. We had a delicious Persian lunch at Shirin, one of my favorite restaurants, and she gave me a cute Zelda Fitzgerald bob. As it turned out, she was planning to have Thanksgiving dinner with her very truncated family group in LA-- I invited the lot of them to join us. Hey, when you have an 18 pound turkey, there's room for a few more.

I did make time this evening to make two pies and a cheesecake, as well as butterfly and brine the turkey. I didn't clean house, but hey, c'est la guerre.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Twanged my back after therapy today. I'm back where I was three weeks ago-- in pain. No more therapy until next week; only three more sessions altogether. Could be better.

I took the octopus to the doc's office today, to show it off. The staff there, all non-knitters, loved it.

Finished "More Information than You Require," or whatever it's called. A worthy read; I enjoyed it very much. Even though Tom is going to read it next, I couldn't resist sharing many, many passages with him.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I should note that I'm using salvaged yarn for Tom's alpaca Christmas sweater. I tried to knit him an argyle two years ago. I set it aside, picked it up again last year, and found too many moth holes to make the effort to finish it worth while. Rather than have it lie there, laughing at me, I frogged it out and returned it to the state of balls of yarn. Tiny little balls of yarn, since the moths had cut it up into little bits.

Since it's 100% animal hair, I've been using a wet splice to connect the bits. The best way I've found is to unravel four inches of each piece, overlap the unraveled bits, and let them curl up together. Once twisted, to set them as one piece of yarn, I drip a few drops of water over the whole overlapped length, twist it tightly, and roll it between my hands to get the fibers to mesh. Then I knit over the splice, being careful not to pull on it or split it in the process. Voila: invisible join.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Knitting-- grey stockinette. Relaxing, but nothing to write home about.

Reading-- "More Information than You Require," John Hodgman, great stuff.

Extracurricular activity-- sitting on a bench next to Lake Balboa, watching the birds. This time of year, that's coots by the hundreds, and healthy numbers of mallards, a duck I couldn't identify (blue bill, back of head greenish), several cormorants, and a couple of greater egrets. The herons and pelicans must come later in the year. I like Lake Balboa in the winter.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The back feels better today. In fact, it doesn't seem impossible that I'll be hiking again before too long.

Still knitting on the grey alpaca sweater. I anticipate that it'll take a few weeks.

Saw "Planet 51" today. Not a work of genius, but definitely an enjoyable way to spend an hour and a half. Great soundtrack: predictable storyline.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Finished the octopus by noon yesterday. Weaving in the ends provided enough reinforcement to the ribbing that I didn't need to add any additional elastic. I used buttons for the eyes. The buttons don't exactly match, so the octopus looks slightly insane. It's adorable, and makes me wish Halloween weren't already over.

Am now knitting a dark grey alpaca sweater for Tom. It may or may not be done in time for Christmas. It's likely that I'll take a couple of breaks for things that are small and brightly colored.

My back is no better than it was a month ago. I made an appointment with a physician to discuss treatment options.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Doing the terminal decreases on the eighth tentacle. The end is in sight. All I'll have to do is add eyes, elasticize ribbing (it's not robust enough to hold itself up, with the weight of the amorphous blob of a body, and eight strong tentacles), and block.

As nice as the weather is in LA, I'd love to go to wet, stormy Oregon. I'm actually envious of Yarnharlot, who is stranded in Washington by bad weather.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Halfway through the seventh tentacle, now. When I started, it took two days per tentacle; now they're flying off the needles.

I've been holding off on running errands until I had a non-therapy day. As it happened, I finished the errands early enough that I could have made a therapy appointment, had there been one scheduled.

Four over-ripe bananas on top of the fridge meant I could make both banana ice cream and banana bread. Tom will be pleased.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Finished the fifth tentacle today before noon. I thought that'd mean I'd knit another half tentacle later, enabling me to finish, possibly, two tentacles tomorrow. No, after therapy I got lost in John Hodgeman's book, "More Information than You Require," or some such thing. Inspired lunacy; I'm enjoying it.

The plan for tomorrow, it being a non-therapy day, is to either go shopping for clothes, or sew some. In either case, I intend to have something new to wear before the sun goes down. I hate that my socks are the most stylish part of my wardrobe.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Had a great time at D-land, yesterday. The park was lit up and decorated for Christmas already-- very pretty. I rented an electric scooter, since I still haven't enough stamina to stand for more than an hour or two. It's nerve-wracking, negotiating one's way through a thick crowd in an ECV, trying not to run anyone over. I wore poor Tom out completely-- we crossed the park three times, in an effort to see It's a Small World lit up. In the end, we caught it at the exact moment the lights were turned on. It involves a light show lasting a few minutes-- for me, it was worth the effort. Of course, Tom may feel differently-- he was on foot.

Knit not one stitch, yesterday. Today, I balled up my second skein of red eco-wool, to finish up the octopus. I had two 500-gram skeins-- plenty for a sweater, if I had been thinking in that direction. Somehow, knitting an octopus seemed like a better idea than an actual practical garment.

I need clothes. I should get to the mall, next time I have a whole day free.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I did succeed in knitting an entire tentacle, start to finish, in one day on Friday. I did not repeat the feat on Saturday, as I spent most of the day goofing off with my husband and friends rather than knitting in solitary splendor.

Saw "Pirate Radio," and enjoyed it very much. Philip Seymour Hoffman is one of my favorite actors, and the sound track was exactly my period. I loves me some '60s rock!

Went to a live show in the evening. The back up band was excellent, but the headliner left me cold. I bought the memoir and a solo cd by one of the back up musicians.

Off to Disneyland.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Finished the hat last night. Then, I wove in the ends of the bacon scarf, the breakfast socks, and the socks I knit in Oregon last August. Today, I started the third tentacle on the octopus hat.

My feet are much better dressed than the rest of me. Such pretty hand-knit socks I have, to go with my tattered jeans and aging t-shirts.

I don't want to start my Christmas knitting. I've promised Jim a pair of socks, and Genny a tea cozy, but all I want to knit are hats and scarves. Okay, I could knit some socks, but not conservative navy blue socks appropriate for a man in his late 50s.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The new hat is done up to the crown decreases, so I'm likely to finish today. I like doing hats, as they're quick. I have more of this yarn, so it'll probably get a scarf to match. I don't know where it'll end up.

There's autumn color in the yard. The pomegranate and smoke bush have turned gold, and the persimmon has turned all the colors persimmons turn. I like eating persimmons, but I planted the tree mostly because they are so gorgeous in the fall.

I think I'll work in the yard for a little bit.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Last night, I cast on a hat in diaper stitch, using Colinette's "Skye," in the colorway "Popsicle." The colorways in Colinette vary wildly from batch to batch-- this particular one is mostly a rich, brilliant bluish green, with streaks and patches of yellow, orange, and purple. I'm loving watching the color pattern evolve as I knit.

I can't go back to the octopus until I finish the hat, unless I buy another circular needle, I'm using one of the Octopus needles for the hat.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Finished the second tentacle. Am going to take a break, make something else. A green hat, I think; I'm sick of red.

Was in a lot of pain this morning, but feel better, now, after therapy. Gee, usually, I feel worse.

Tom's home with a stomach bug. He was very clingy this morning, but made himself scarce once he realized that, between back pain, short sleep, and not having had a day to myself in 3 weeks, trying to stay in the same room with me might shorten his life.

Monday, November 09, 2009

It may have been a mistake to start the octopus with the idea of making him realistic. With the mantle size given, his tentacles would be 4 feet long. That would be a lot of repetitive knitting. I finished the first tentacle at slightly over a foot, I think-- I didn't measure it. I've now started the second, with the notion of matching it up, approximately, as I go. Slight irregularity will only increase the realism of the beast.

Made dinner for a couple of friends last night. Back about the same-- I'm pain free at rest, but my activity tolerance is very poor.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

You've heard about Second Sock Syndrome? Try Eighth Tentacle Syndrome.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

On doctor's orders, I'm home today, resting. While I would have preferred to go to San Simeon again, for the last annual class and graduation luncheon, the doc warned me that these long drives (it's a 500-mile round trip) could be delaying the healing of my back.

If nothing else, I've caught up on the TV I missed while in San Simeon earlier this week; the motel where I stay doesn't carry the stations I watch (MSNBC, Comedy Central). I've almost finished Tom's second sock, after which I can return to the octopus.

And I'm feeling much better than I did, yesterday.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Long time since I've posted. Tuesday, I worked frantically to get ready for two days in San Simeon, before going to therapy at noon. I packed the car before I left, in order to avoid lifting luggage after therapy, which always wipes me out. Drove to San Simeon straight from the appointment; got there after dark. Had to take half a pain pill-- my first since starting therapy-- to get through Wednesday. Even at that, I sat for half the day. Thursday, I folded brochures in the office for a couple of hours before going to the bluff-- still didn't make it through the day.

It was gorgeous, though, even though I was having back pain. I certainly didn't regret going. Dynamite atmospheric effects were in evidence-- iridescent clouds both days, and a dark red halo around the moon on Thursday. There were zebra near the highway, and lots of birds. I got to see my first killdeer, and a rescue attempt of an entangled seal. The seal got away, unfortunately-- I hope they succeed. The strap was cutting so deeply into the poor seal's neck that he was bleeding. Without intervention, he'll die. That would make me sad.

In the knitting department, I finished the hat portion of the red octopus. That would be the mantle, knit in diaper stitch. Rather than start the tentacles, I returned to the grey sock, the second, so Tom can have another pair. I turned the heel today, and am already halfway up the leg. If nothing else, a persistent backache that prevents all other activity guarantees a lot of uninterrupted knitting time.

Monday, November 02, 2009

So, Saturday I had a few friends over for dinner. It was Halloween, after all, and I'm not allowed to go to Halloween parties, so I have to make my own.

Well, I did the grocery shopping, and the laundry, cooked, mopped the floor for the first time since June... I was fine, until I got up to serve the second course. I barely made it out of my chair-- near-complete collapse.

Sunday, I mostly rested up. Some friends called in the afternoon about dinner-- I told them I had a couple of extra steaks I didn't know what to do with. They volunteered to help eat them. Easiest dinner party I've ever thrown-- I really did have two extra steaks handy. Since the house was already clean from the previous night, putting dinner together was easy-peasy.

I haven't worked any further on the second grey sock. I started knitting an octopus, which has been monopolizing my mind and fingers for the last few days. I'm doing it as an oversized slouch hat. The crown is in diaper stitch, which, to my eyes, suitably approximates the corrugated texture of the octopuses I see one display in the various aquaria I frequent. Yes, octopuses can change their texture at will, but I find that the ones on display, when I'm looking, are usually corrugated. The Giant Pacific Octopus, which is the species usually on display in aquaria on the West Coast, is red or grey when I'm watching-- I don't know whether it displays other colors when I'm not. I'm using Aran-weight 100% wool in bright, primary red. I would have preferred a more subtle, variegated red, but I don't want to waste my discontinued batch of variegated red hand-dyed alpaca on a novelty item.

And the plain stocking hats I promised to write further about are the farthest things from my mind.