Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Survival of Christmas Trees

In response to all the video being shared this year of cats disturbing and sometimes knocking over Christmas trees, I offer photos of Christmas trees I've had with my cats that were relatively undisturbed and survived intact.  I don't count pawing an ornament or rubbing whiskers on branches.

I had one cat with an odd habit.  I kept finding the bottom row of lights pulled off the tree.  Even so it wasn't very destructive just very puzzling.  I bided my time and waited to see what happened.  My cat Jenny pulled the wire with her paw to look at the lights more closely.  She might have been near-sighted and definitely an intelligent cat who wanted to know more than your average one.  Eventually I had to spoil her fun by attaching the bottom row on the tree with florist wire.

This is as close as we got to destruction:

Emily surprised me by admiring the ornaments at a distance.

Christmas 2003

Christmas 2004
I believe 2004 was the year where I added red and white twisted canes with bells on the bottom.  Midnight liked to pass underneath the tree brushing them to make them ring.

Somehow I never took a full photo of the tree in 2009.  Here are a couple close-ups instead. (Yes, I skipped some years.) I had discovered that real Christmas trees emit thousands of mold spores inside and I was allergic to mold.  I found a tree on sale for $37 on-line and ordered it.  I wanted a tree that looked real, and not like a prickly upside down cone. I didn't have much room either. It's sort of Charlie Brownish, but I like it.

Molly decided she liked to run into the living room and leap over the branches of the tree to go behind it.  That might be why that area is a little sparse.  I've always tried to put the more sturdy ornaments on the bottom.  I don't recall any major problems.  It was her tree diving act that was a little nerve wracking and disruptive.  She isn't a light-weight kitty.

Christmas 2010

I changed the theme drastically for 2010.  I had never done so completely.  I decided on a natural theme, no doubt helped by the beautiful fleece deer I bought locally.  I liked it so much I kept it up a long time.  The cats liked it too.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Getting There

I've had a sore right shoulder since late September 2014.  I knew how it happened and that my job made it difficult for it to heal.  This past week I figured out what was adding to my misery.  Somehow my chair got set lower and I had to lift my arm to use my mouse, which I do constantly.  I also discovered the hydraulics no longer worked.  Think they're connected?

I played Goldilocks with the chairs in my office until I found one high enough to work.  Already my shoulder is better.  My toes just brush the ground and I continue to use the footstool that I brought in after I was assigned a cubicle.  I'm either really a short person (which I am, but there are others just as short or shorter) or I pay more attention to my working ergonomics.

This improvement is just in time. Every day at work I'm reminded that Christmas is coming closer.  I want to knit fingerless mitts for a friend at work. I was lucky enough to find the one remaining skein of yarn in her favorite color in a not-so-local yarn shop.  I favor Amanda Gill's Fingerless Mitts on Ravelry.

I also want to knit fingerless mitts for a cousin who has occasional assignments working outside.  I thought I would be using the black metallic yarn in my stash, but it turns out it's not wool at all.  It has no elasticity.  My next guess is that it's cotton and linen  I had intended to knit it in a shawl and sell it, so I guess I will.  Her husband said black was the color (I guess the love of color is not genetic paternally), and luckily I have some hand-dyed Plymouth Happy Feet sock yarn in black that should do nicely.  I think for her I'll use Julia Davies' Birdie's Mitts.

At the Southern Adirondack Fiber Festival I bought the yarn below with the succinct name of "Nothing Says Screw You Like a Rainbow" by White Birch Fiber Arts.  My love of colors got to me, despite the price.

I think I'll knit myself a pair of fingerless mitts for work on days when I need some cheering up. The best part of knitting fingerless mitts is it doesn't take a long time.  A week or two and they're done.  I think I will indulge myself over the long Thanksgiving Weekend.  I have an extra day off too.

I also need to finish up the vests that I've knitted.  I have just the ribbing left. It will probably take longer to find where I put the buttons than to knit the rib.  Looking for them will be very entertaining for the cats.  Molly is a good looker, but not a good finder.

Who? Me?

I had a dream the other night of Susie playing with the little toys she liked. I wished I could have saved it somehow.

At least work is going well.  Management likes me.  I was ranked 13th in the office when it came time for shift bids, so I got exactly what I wanted.  My rank gives me a little more confidence. I'm developing some friendships at work and I'm getting along with my neighboring co-workers.  I am hoping with the New Year I can get back to my historical research.

To respond to a previous post, my cats, especially Molly, seem to like the aquarium lights.  I found two second-hand.  One stopped working entirely.  The other I hope I can change the light bulbs.  They make good night lights too.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

New Saying Needed

I think we need to start a new saying.  I'm sure I'm not the only offended by the saying "crazy cat lady." I have thought of another one and I encourage everyone to start using it, unless you know one better:

Caring Cat Lady

I plan to add permanent information on cat and toxic plants, but my health and spirits have been low.  The time will come soon.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Good-Bye Susie

See these Peruvian lilies?

They are toxic to cats. Susie loved to drink the water they were in and lick the leaves.  I told my mother  I wasn't sure she should be doing that and to ask the vet about it.  I trusted her to ask the vet, and Susie did, too.  I guess she never did because she never stopped buying the lilies and indulging Susie. Today the poor sweet little kitty was put to sleep due to liver failure today.

 Susie was nine years old, one of the sweetest cats in the world. My heart is breaking.

Always, always, always be very careful with plants and flowers around cats.  If you don't know, ask!  Don't assume everything is all right.  If you have an elderly parent, you need to double check what they say and do, even if s/he thinks you're being obnoxious. Your parent may be not wanting to listen to you and not be as sharp as they used to be.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Arvel Bird, Indian Summer Showcase

This video gets the official Molly Paw of Approval.

I haven't been very creative this year.  I was given an older camera that broke.  I'm still waiting for my right shoulder to heal.  It's difficult when you use a computer continually for eight hours a day at work, I keep having setbacks, like my doctor testing it to see how badly it was injured (not much).  It sure hurt afterwards, though. Sometimes even my hand hurts from work. I've had to cut way, way back on knitting. I haven't beaded since I lost Midnight.  She liked to help me bead.

People have called this year's allergy problems a pollen tsunami or supernova.  It got me from spring to fall.  The most irritating part is it makes me foggy-headed and tired.  I don't know how much was caused by medicine I became allergic to, though.

On the very first day of my vacation in June I sprained my right ankle, my driving ankle.  I'm still waiting for that to heal as well.  At least the doctor didn't test that, too. I had to give up my daily walks.  I couldn't go to outdoor activities and walk around.  I've been using a support bandage and icing it.  I also discovered that minimizing climbing stairs and putting my foot up right after I got to work has helped too.

A few weeks ago my body decided it was allergic to Benadryl and all the different over the counter antacids I'd been using.  It was not a lot of fun trying to find a way to calm the fire in my stomach without an antacid. I barely got any sleep. I switched over to Zyrtec and my doctor gave me a prescription for an antacid.  Fortunately for right now, that problem is over.  

I am cautiously optimistic that my minor physical problems will resolve themselves soon.  I might even be more clear-headed, too. Wouldn't that be wonderful?  I wonder what I'll do first to catch up on things.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Yarn Ode to Kay ten Kraft

Dalegarn Baby Ull Violet
Dalegarn Baby Ull Pale Violet
Garnstudios Baby Ull Green
Garnstudio Baby Ull Royal Blue                                                       
Knit Picks Palette Edamame
Knit Picks Palette Ivy
Knit Picks Palette Blue
Knit Picks Palette Semolina
Knit Picks Stroll Twinkle Heather
Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock Purple Club
Plymouth Yarn Encore Colorspun in 7129 (turquoise, greens, purple)
Unknown gray heather alpaca metallic silver fingering
Unknown black cotton and linen (?) metallic silver fingering
Unknown turquoise merino, possibly sport weight
Unknown spring green cotton tweed yarn with flecks of yummy colors like pink, purple, dark blue and green

On behalf of her generous partner:

Sliver Moon denim fingering
Sliver Moon superwash merino fingering sock yarn in Amazon
Sliver Moon merino lace yarn in lavender
Sliver Moon black merino fingering

Unknown thick and thin hand-painted wool in dark red, blues, and purple

I thought this was a decent tribute to a dear late friend since I can't write poetry. It's the yarn I bought from my late friend's stash at a sale her family had recently.  I think it will be reminding me of her through most of the seasons.  As I looked through the yarn, I couldn't help but wonder what the stories were behind the yarns.  Usually she had one for each yarn she shared with the knitting group.  Her former business partner Laurie said she thought of stories she knew as she saw the yarn throughout the day. I'd rather there was more time and more stories, and less yarn.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

An Open Request to American Physicians

An Open Request to American Physicians

When you are with a patient, please give the patient the courtesy of giving them the benefit of the doubt, that they may know what they’re talking about, and not immediately rely on your own pre-conceived ideas.  If physicians had done so in my earlier, more productive years, I may have been able to obtain a career that would have given some satisfaction and financial stability.  You are not only affecting people’s physical health, but their mental, economic and social health as well.

Unfortunately I’ve had too much experience with physicians who would not listen to me. 

  • The first was an intern at my college, who thought the allergic rhinitis I was developing was all in my head.
  • The second was the emergency room doctor who also worked at a local urgent care center. I went there because of cervical radiculopathy.  All he did was tell me not to use my arm, not even anything about using cold or heat to treat it.
  • Then I decided to see the colleague of my friend’s brother-in-law as a primary care physician.  He would not listen to me.  He would not believe that my stomach got worse after I ate, not before.  I guess he didn’t bother to learn about food allergies.  Despite sinus infections, congestion and migraines, he never referred me to an allergist, even though I’d been through two rounds of allergy shots. His physician assistant diagnosed me with asthma.  I was at least forty then.  What topped it off was the severe pain I experienced during the pelvic exam he gave me.  He never stopped and never gave any indication of wanting to find out why it hurt me so much.  Right then and there I decided to quit the practice entirely.
  • Three physicians failed to pay attention to my migraines, that they may have been due to an allergic trigger.
  • I went to one allergist, at the practice I was sent to before in the past.  She told me that if it was below the head she couldn’t treat it.  Didn’t she know the mucus membranes did not stop past the throat? And what about food allergies?
  • A gynecologist failed to give the sore cysts in my breasts and the continuous vaginal discharge any serious consideration, leaving me to fret, pursue a mammogram and use many fungal applications to try to stop the discharge.  Both symptoms improved after I started getting treated for my allergies.
Thankfully I now have a primary care physician who listens to me, as well as a good allergist who treats allergies as a result of the whole picture.  I only wished it hadn’t taken me at least twenty years to find them.  I don’t know what I could’ve done with those twenty years, but I bet it would've been more than I did.

Monday, June 8, 2015

New Photo and New Shawl

I have a digital camera again.  The manager of the garage where I get my car fixed gave it to me.  It's a Pentax and seems to do everything I want.  It took a little while to get used to.  The controls are so easy I haven't needed to read the manual. 

I couldn't download the photos, though.  Since the USB port worked for my printer and flash drive, I think it might be the cable.  I elected to buy a card reader, though, and it worked like a charm.  I think it's also safer to use, too.  How many people don't want to admit the camera fell to the floor because you were using the cable plugged into the camera to download the photos?

And now from my new camera is a photo of my newish Camilla shawl that I finished last fall:

The macro function works pretty well, too: 

It took a little while to figure how to fix the camera so the flash would go off and come on again and the cat wouldn't be blurry:

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Patchwork Dress

I bought this pattern a long time ago and forgot about it.

It would be great in batik fabric. You can find it at Sewthankful.

Cats Like Fish Lamps

The cats and I have had problems trying to carry on after losing Midnight.  She was a big part of all of our lives.  Molly is very intelligent and spent a good part of the day playing games with Midnight.  She was getting bored easily. The birds were gone for the year.  I was tired from work and allergies and sometimes sore.

 I remembered a lamp that my aunt had when I was about three and visiting her with my parents.  It had a shade that was motorized somehow and made it look like water flowing in a waterfall. That made me think of fish lamps I thought I saw for sale.

Not long afterward, I stopped at a yard sale and found a fish lamp for sale. Molly loved it.  She likes to lie in the laptop box and watch it. The colors in it are a little odd. I think they were toned to go with the current decorator colors.  I found a more pleasing one at a second-hand store which was also well appreciated.  However, both light bulbs blew and I have yet to get all the screws off it to replace the bulbs.  I think the screws might need some lubrication.  It's not a bad idea to have two fish lamps if you have the room.  Even cats can figure out that it's the same fish all the time.

Sometimes Nice People Win

Recently at work an employee was moved to a new cubicle near mine.  I suspect it was because the management hoped that her positive attitude would have a positive affect on her neighbors.  About a week later one of her neighbors was very rude to her.  

The rude neighbor also frequently criticizes the callers with her other neighbor.  For the most part I keep my opinions to myself, but I wonder what makes these twenty-somethings feel they have all the answers.  I sure didn't at that age.  I wonder if the rude woman thinks she's a Christian.  She sure isn't loving her neighbor.  Our job is not to sit in judgement on people but to help them obtain what they need.  We are not judge and jury.

It didn't take me long in the work world to learn that I certainly didn't have all the answers and I had a lot to learn.  I was a lot better off mentally when I realized that.  However, I have also been overlooked because I was support staff, not a professional person.  That hurts, but it's not an excuse to take it out on other people.  It's a reason to show people "your stuff," and a reason to treat people how you would like to be treated.  Does that phrase ring a bell?

Also recently, upon taking my car to the garage for inspection, I learned that the radiator was splitting from the top down and needed to be replaced right away.  The brakes needed work and the battery replacing.  Somehow the conversation with the garage manager led to the fact that I needed another digital camera so I could post photos of items I'd made to make more money.  The manager very kindly offered to give me a camera.  He was moving, had three cameras and didn't need them all.  Later he said he didn't think he'd ever used it. As I discovered later, it is a good digital camera that had to have cost over 300 dollars. Needless to say I made him know how grateful I was.  Why else did he offer the camera to me than I've been nice to him every time I've been in the garage?

I've been so overwhelmed that I haven't even played with my new camera yet.  My sprained right shoulder is getting better.  I found using a bag of peas, or any tiny vegetables, really is the right treatment for some parts of the body, mainly my underarm.  However, the spring allergies have already arrived.  Maybe they'll be offset enough by sunshine, warm temperatures and green growth so that I'm productive again.

I am also happy that the turquoise and purple fingering yarns I bought for a shawl are also the right shades to go with a skirt that I found at a rummage sale.  It's linen blend with large, modern abstract flowers.  I found out last year that I'll need a shawl in the summer too. Now I need to decide on a pattern.  I've been pondering it for a while.  I also want to figure out how to shorten the very long skirt and use what I cut off to make a vest.  It's too pretty to waste. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

From Startitis to Finishitis

I seem to have left my phase of “startitis” behind.  It’s a very descriptive term I remember from Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s writing.  My startitis didn’t have the same characteristics that hers does.  Mine came about because I attended a weekly knitting group.  I learned quickly that it was not a good idea to knit anything very complicated there.  The talk would make it a little too difficult to give the necessary attention to anything fussy.  I’d have to tink it back later at home and start over.
Vest waiting for finishing, Spring Mist colorway dyed by my late friend Kay ten Kraft.
I reached the part of a vest requiring some attention so I decided to start the body of the next vest.  I let this continue until I had almost finished 3 vests and 2 pullovers, knit one vest to discover it was much too large, one variegated vest knit in one pattern that I unraveled to knit in another for which I don’t think there’s enough yarn, and a hand-painted vest I changed my mind about.  I did manage to knit and finish 2 pairs of slippers (that still need to be felted--its difficult when you don't want to pay six dollars at the laundry mat to do so), a shawl, a hat, a holly leaf and berry tree ornament and a holly leaf and berry barrette.

Not to mention the sock it took me about two years to turn the heel on.  I was knitting a sock from the toe up and no one else from my group had done that.  I had trouble understand the short row instructions.  I looked for instructions for other kinds of heels.  Several sets of instructions on the web seemed to stop in the middle of the instructions.  At least this woman who knit her last heels thirty years earlier didn't know how to continue on from the instructions given.  I eventually found one heel pattern to use, but I wasn’t thrilled with the way it looked finished.  I’m going to try the Sox Therapist’s Fish Lips Kiss Heel.  I like the way it looks finished.

This past summer I tried to knit the Bold and Blended Striped Wrap, twice, and it never came out right.  I kept running out of one color.  I wonder possibly if not all skeins in the brand are the same yardage all the time. Tre o Molti might be a better choice for my selection of yarn.  It is more like I saw in my mind’s eye.

At the end of September I began knitting the Camilla shawl.  I worked on it steadily, despite having to take it back countless times, especially the fourth (Garden Gate) pattern, and after Emily caught her foot in a loop of yarn and ran away from my effort to slip it off her foot, pulling many stitches off the needle and creating a lovely hole in the knitting where all the yarn-overs pulled out.  I am proud to say that the shawl is finished.  I even wove in the ends.

This winter I ordered some beautiful Wool of the Andes Hand-Painted Special Reserve yarn to knit pretty leg warmers.  I bought Plume with lovely shades of purple, blue and a color I haven’t decided is turquoise or bright teal.  I was getting tired of the tan cabled leg warmers my mother gave me.  I’ve finished one leg warmer.

For me finishitis is the complete opposite of startitis.  I really don’t feel like finishing the garments I knit because I needed to wear them.  I’m not a big fan of picking up and knitting the rib.  It’s very easy to have too few or two many stitches.  Sewing in the ends isn’t that much fun either.  My life has been very stressful in other ways, and I expect that has something to do with it. The office temperature at work continues to fluctuate so that might motivate me.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Where Are My Glasses?

Sometimes I put my glasses on the table beside me before going to sleep.  I discovered this morning this is not a good idea.  Molly also likes to walk over the table, maybe looking to see what new thing might be on the table.  When I woke up this morning, I was unable to find my glasses.  I had to wear my old pair, which are much older, to work today.  Finding them tonight is my main task.  I hope it entertains Molly.  I know now where not to put my glasses from now on.

Media Cat Deigns to Watch Cat Video

Molly is my media cat.  She loves music and the British archaeological series Time Team.  She will start complaining if I don't put something on soon enough for her entertainment. I hadn't been able to get her interested in videos for cats.  She had had her sister Midnight to play with.  Now she doesn't have her sister, there's nothing to watch outside and she's bored.  I found the video below and thought she might enjoy it.

She watched it!  Her eyes got big and she crept toward the laptop.  Instead of trying to reach a bird, like most cats, she circled the laptop warily, then climbed onto the arm of the chair and then the back.  She sat there starting at the laptop.  She seemed puzzled as to why there were birds on my laptop and their songs were coming out of the speaker.  I told her she's a cat and she's not supposed to be smart enough to be bothered about that.