Tuesday, December 09, 2008

my cup runneth over

it has been a strange time since last i wrote. much has changed and much remains in flux yet some things stand constant.

Christmas still fills my heart with heady joy, wonder and an almost maudlin tenderness for my brethen. there is something profound and humbling about the way humans rise above themselves at this time of year to care for those around them and honor those who have gone before them.

over the years, decorating the tree has become more meditative and almost prayerful for me. i find myself savouring the precious gifts life has afforded me and honoring lives lived while still embracing all the living and lives to come. as i finished dressing the tree with my late grandmother and great grandmother's ornaments this year, i could not shake an impression of emptiness, lonesomeness, to the tree. finally, i realized this would be the first year in the history of my particular tree that Mr. Head did not spend beneath it. when the feeling did not pass after a couple days, i decided to take matters into my own hands...

Mr Head, sort of

i am sure he is much happier now.

Christmas in Knoxville

With a heart full of love, joy, peace and thanks, I wish you all a safe, full and meaningful holiday season!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Mr. Head: 1993 - 2008

it was a good ride.

today, Mr. Head finally hung up his spurs.

Mr. Head

here he is as i will always remember him - my pushy, lovey baby.

it was a good death...

even more importantly, it was a wonderful life.

we are inconsolable.

but time will bring the healing.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

so sick

a scratchy cough began immediately after super fun times putting in a subfloor with Habitat on Saturday. at first i thought it was irritation from the sawdust. (did i mention i am the standby powersaw chick of doom?)

when it persisted into Sunday, i thought all that healthy fresh air had set off my allergies.

Monday morning, i was still on the fence. after all, i know of no one who has been sick recently. by Monday afternoon, there was no denying i had contracted The Blech.

Tuesday i was so puny that i wasn't even up to managing my email. i actually took a real sick day - you know, like we did when we were kids. just lay on the couch with a box of Kleenex, lip balm, warm compresses for muscle pain alternating with a fan for fever spikes, and plain crackers. i watched some really really bad movies - you would be shocked by the OnDemand selection. by mid-afternoon i was at least able to knit a bit. i wasn't up to watching the presidential debate, but today i was able to sit through the SNL VP rehash. i highly recommend it.

today i think i am on the upswing. i can sit and type for short spells. i can blow my nose without getting dizzy. i may even be able to do some work. that would be good since there is a lot to do before we leave for Colorado Saturday. cross your fingers...

in other news, over the weekend i did put a face on the rabbit,

Ears above

frog the cabled vest,
Cabled denim remains

and almost finished preparing Enid for steeking.
Enid already! Ready for the steek

to close, a photo of Elise as Queen of the Mountain taken during our recent carpet cleaning escapade:
Queen of the mountain

Monday, September 29, 2008

not on vacation

i really haven't been on vacation this whole time. honest. actually, it is just that i have been too busy doing to spend time reporting.

craftwise, there have been a few successes and one major tragedy.

first, the pain... remember the gorgeous 'Cabled Denim' vest? it was in fact too big for Roland but it was a proportionate bigness. Mom and i judged that a blistering wash and hot dry would actually bring it right in line...

en route to the frog pond

not only did it grow in the process, it acquired plaques of bizarre white something. in spite of my mother's best efforts to make lemonade, it has been banished to the rarely visited craft room for frogging and reknitting on smaller needles with smaller overall measurements.

we actually learned a very important lesson: Do not attempt to outsmart the knitting gods. Failing to retreat at first smiting will only result in more extravagant plagues.

what, on the other hand, has gone well?

here we have a completed pair of Christmas socks, a cuddly [out of focus] teddy bear,
Diagonal rib socks by Ann Budd Beary sweet!

and the Shoulder Shawl in Syrian Pattern (by Jane Sowerby) from Victorian Lace Today.
Shoulder Shawl in Syrian pattern

the Syrian shawl was started a million years ago (May) but had to go into stasis after i determined it was impossible to have an adequately ginormous shawl given yarn constraints. [i am completely incapable of buying the right amount of yarn for any project. somehow, i always end up either a tetch short or 8 balls over.]

the yarn is All Thing Heather Handpainted Superwash Merino in Periwinkle (on US 10.5s). the yarn is to die for soft, a dream to knit and washes beautifully. i got a killer deal on it because it had a weird colorfast issue and was fading where hit by light. i loved the way the yarn was fading and was looking forward to its progression over time. now there wasn't enough yarn- at least not for the comfy, cozy, every night, cuddly shawl i was envisonin - and of course there was no mutant fading yarn remaining.

i was bereft. eventually i decided i would knit the border from an entirely different color as a contrast. my LYS had nothing that would work so i emailed Heather. out of nowhere, she offered to try and match the yarn. off i sent a big sample. Heather tried and tried but couldn't not replicate the flaw. she sent me back something 'close-ish' with an offer to overdye the whole shawl when it was complete! i remain overwhelmed by her helpfulness in the face of my stupidity and poor planning. i will be buying a lot of ATH (as should you) in the future.

in the end, the border turned out so beautiful that i have elected to keep the shawl as is.
Shoulder Shawl in Syrian pattern

currently in progress are two sweaters bopping along, a sock, a stuffed bunny (the teddy got lonely), a crocheted table runner, two spinning projects and of course a lace project. i don't particularly care for multi-tasking but it seems like i never have the right project in process for my current logistic and anatomic constraints.

speaking of anatomic constraints, did i mention that Travy and i are knee-high in Habitat for Humanity work? we are having so much fun working together to make a difference for others. we hopefully will be taking on more regular responsibilities as volunteer team leaders.

work? we aren't talking about work these days. some of it is bad, some of it is super-exciting but confidential, and the rest isn't worth the copy. i will just say though that I cannot wait until I can scream at the top of my lungs about the super-awesome top-secret thing!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

me, on vacation!

me on vacation!
Originally uploaded by jacquichris
it's true - i went on vacation. between all the chaos and family, i enjoy sitting under a tree, listening to the cicadas and wild turkeys... oh yeah, and spinning around with my arms outswept like a little child. everyone should make time for whirling about like a dervish.

vacation was too short. it reminded me how desperately i miss backpacking. Bear + wild turkeys + horsey = highcomic relief.

there isn't really much more to say.

go spin about like a top! it is good for you. i'm a doctor. i know these things.

Monday, August 11, 2008

i win!

in preparation for vacation*, i made a big push to finish projects. here i present to you my flurry of recent FO activity.

first we have the Back-to-School U-Neck Vest by Stefanie Japel in Moda Dea Silk 'n Wool Blend on US 8s and 6s:

Prep school Prep school

i am pretty happy with this. i should have increased the bust darts a bit so it would fit better. its not that i am that busty, but apparently the pattern is set for negative A cups!

next we have Riverstone by Just Jussi in Bernat Boucle on US 8s:

Riverstone for Aida

this was a test knit. it is a child's pattern that i made for my [almost] nieceling. she is 3 and completely gorgeous. it will be perfect on her.

finally, we have an oldie but goody - Cabled Denim by Kathy Zimmerman in Plymouth Encore on US 8s. [do you sense a theme?**]

Cabled denim

this is for my stepfather. it turned out lovely, but i am rather concerned it will be too large for him. we find out Friday.

as an aside, i recently found an unposted entry... did i ever show you this? my first completed project made with my own lovely handspun - the Zetor Scarf by Jatta Saukko:
Zetor scarf, take 2

is it perfect? no. is it wonderful all the same? YES!

i also finished the Diagonal Rib Socks by Ann Budd but haven't had a chance to upload the photos yet.

in other news, my Syrian Shawl may soon get to come out of time-out! stay tuned for exciting updates once the yarn arrives.

oh yeah, it was vacation so i cast on another project. i converted to knit in the round, finished the back in the dark, and then when i went to shape the armholes for the front, i discovered it was INSANELY big. frogged to the cast on. removed 20% of the stitches. knit 3 inches. remeasured. STILL too big. frogged again and recast to reknit. either it works this time or i burn it. [i would put it in the compost now but it is part acrylic.]

* it was awesome, i am rested and i hope to repeat again soon.
** of course it wasn't on purpose. US 8s are soooooooooo outre. damn gauge swatches. they are all out to get me.

Monday, August 04, 2008

zoom zoom!!

the hummingbirds returned in force this Saturday. during hummingbird season, my morning ritual is much brighter. there was one bird last year that liked to hover in front of the kitchen window, watching me make my latte each day. i am very happy to report that he seems to be back. for two days now, i have had a companion for the daily 'opening ceremonies'. i plan to remove the window screen, after which perhaps i can capture my pal on camera. in the meantime, please enjoy this series that Travy captured.

Hummingbird contemplates the feeders - which might be tastier?
Hummingbird attacks!

the art glass. definitely. drinks always taste better when served in art glass.
Hummingbird attacks!

oh uh. human in range. better get going before he gets any crazy ideas!
Hummingbird attacks!

happy Monday, all!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

goodness from heaven... or Canada...

i get confused. after all, they are both 'up' from Tennessee... right?

after a taxing stint on clinics complicated by the Allergies of Doom, all i have really be capable of the last two-ish weeks is staring vacantly at the walls while entropy molds me to the couch. that has all changed.

thanks to an amazing pick-me-up package from Lara, i have lovely new pretties to comfort me in my time of sloth and eextract me from seat cushions for a swash-buckling laceweight adventure! behold the most glorious of bounty:

an absolutely gor-ge-ous cap to ward off chills, grumpy rays of Planet Zarnon, and the overzealous AC in my office.

IMG_0003.JPG IMG_0002.JPG
here you see the most lovely of yarns, Lara's own handmade stitch markers, and an absolutely killer sock bag. (Gir got his paw in the mix as well, sending me awesome Invader Zim mints.)

finally, the most spectacularly intricate and well-executed sockies. (to truly appreciate them, you really must click through to the larger version.)

all in all, an amazing and unexpected box of joy with just the right balance of toys and 'source' material. what a lucky girl am i!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

i lied

i said i would share Roland's slippers, the black hole that is my Syrian shawl and the cast-on of such poor judgment that i deleted any evidence of its existence, but i lied.

the bound official copy of my dissertation just arrived (yes, i know it has been 14 months), so instead i am sharing something much, much more special to me. something i have kept secret these long 14 plus months pending official publication. without further ado, i bring you the Dedication Page of my dissertation in all its semi-eternal permanency...


I would like to sincerely thank:

Dr. Michael R. Lappin, for his inexhaustible support, friendship, and mentorship.

My colleagues Jennifer Steinberg, Nicole Bennett, Dennis Macy, and Kristy Dowers for their counsel on matters both scientific and real and for their friendship.

Jennifer Hawley, for always being there to say, “This time I just know it’s going to work,” and for being there when it didn’t to help me dust myself off and start again.

My dearest friends, Bill and Kelly Christie and Dave and Nancy Rocknich, for their support and good-natured harassment throughout the years.

My parents, Meredith and Lynda Ramp, and Roland Schneller for all the years of patience and humor.

My late grandmother, Marguerite (Mickey) D. Osburn, for always believing in my strength while worrying about my softness. Together we traveled many roads and collected many stories. I miss her every day and save my stories for our next meeting.

Finally and most specially, my mother, confidante and best friend, Pamela Jo Schneller, for teaching me that I can do whatever I want and be whomever I would like, if only I am willing to try.

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!), but 'That's funny...'
-Isaac Asimov

Monday, June 16, 2008

PIF to me!

things have been pretty crazy here in K-ville... after an unsettling but brief post-vacation lull (think stillness before a natural disaster), work came like a fierce tsunami to swamp me. as usual, i was burning both ends of the candle in anticipation of an externally imposed pause. in this case, Roland's hip replacement surgery on Thursday. [after a very rough patch, he safely arrived home today. Mom and i could both use a cookie - her more than me since i had to come home last night for work today. what a ROK star she is - not to mention Roland's amazing grit and good humor!! Roland has high level narcotics so he may not have the same cookie needs.]

amid all the rushing, a fabulous package arrived that has filled me with pleasure - in spite of my having no more than moments with it before flitting off to Nashville.

'what what?' i hear you query... why, my PIF package arrived, courtesy of Magnusmog!

a gorgeous card that i suspect will find its way to my work introduced me to the loveliest and most handy little notebook:

PIF prezzies

then there is this gorgeous felted brooch with which i can dazzle myself and others:
PIF prezzies

and finally the most lovely handdyed, handspun Scottish Wensleydale for which i already have plans! plans for joyous, undulating fuzzy drapey fabric.
PIF prezzies

too bad i have eight jillion several summer projects already cast on. hmm... perhaps it will be my bribe for enduring the long Tennessee summer...

oh, yeah - i don't know why i was so worried about Adrianne's ribs. i finished with almost 12 inches of yarn to spare!
Adrianne's rib socks

stay tuned for the next episode in which Roland gets new slippers, my Syrian shawl gets torn back twice yet i still end up short of yarn for the edging, and i wake from a drunken high aneurysmal judgment blackout to frog an horrific sweater pattern that required US 17s to get gauge.

Monday, June 02, 2008


although it has taken a while to have much to show for it, i have actually been quite productive on the knitting front. as the objects kept accruing, leaving only dreaded finishwork and/or photos. this weekend, between various 'destroy the allergen' projects, i was able to focus on sewing seams, weaving ends and shiny happy photos (only moderately thwarted by gloomy skies).


Sunburst infant sacque
this is a darling pattern from a vintage book (Columbia Baby Book, 1944) that i picked out for my neighbors' impending baby girl. the sacque knitting up quickly during the Florida trip, with only minimal seaming and crochet trim remaining once i got home. i used about 2 skeins Plymouth Dreambaby DK and US3s.

picking the right buttons was a titch more time-consuming and then there were all those photos! i only wish Travy had taken a picture of the backside of the hems - it really is some of my prettiest seaming. i think my neighbors are going to be thrilled!

Ballet-neck cardigan

Ballet neck twinset cardigan Ballet neck twinset cardigan
a kicky little cardi designed by Annie Modesitt. needles as called for the in pattern but i substituted Gerifil Spaghetti for the yarn, ~7 skeins. it is an entertaining construction but got slightly dinged on my enthusiasm meter for the irritating reverse pattern demands (when adding stitches for the arms). this also pretty much finished itself in Florida, leaving only tedious trimwork for my return. the crunchiness of the Gerifil really makes the pattern pop and will hold the swing. can't wait to see it on Mom to ensure it is truly the 'right' fit (and to get some pictures in better light!).

Rockport sweater

Rockport for Travy
finally, last but certainly not least is the Rockport sweater, by Martha Ann Hoffurann. it is from Columbia-Minerva #763, Hand Knits for Men 1969, Windemere Aran Denims yarn, US 6s and 8s.most of this was hospital knitting, but one sleeve languished quite awhile and then there was about a mile of seaming before the neck could be added. this one still needs to be blocked but i couldn't wait to share...

Adriann'es rib socks
i was hoping rather strongly that i would have all the 'old' projects off the needles before leaving for my annual convention tomorrow. so i would really really like to say that Adrianne's rib socklets are also done, but alas it is not so. mainly because i am 80% sure i haven't enough yarn and refuse to redo the damn things again. if indeed i am short on yarn, i believe i will simply throw the completed sock and its offending mismate in the trash. a shame because the pattern is quite charming (thanks Adrianne!), but i haven't the patience to keep fiddling with leftover yarn when i have such a surfeit of 'whole' yarns in stash. the upside of throwing them away is that the second sock isn't pooling like the first so their mismatedness would persist even if the yarn holds out. grumble grumble.

tomorrow i fly to San Antonio Texas for 4 days of uber-learning, because Texas is really where i want to be in June. sheesh. at least next year it is in Montreal- watch i won't get to go...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

beach holiday

there is nothing like going on beach holiday to remind you how long it has been since your last beach holiday!

Travy and i are just back from a week of sun, sand and smiles on Oklaloosa Island, Florida with the fam. it has been 3 years since the family last made a trip to Fort Walton Beach. a lot has changed since then - Grandma left our crew while Travy has signed on, Travy and i moved to Tennessee, i got a grown-up job, many of Oklaloosa's fixtures fell to the last hurricane and were rebuilt and so on...

what hasn't changed?

the sea for one:

(this is a wee video taken with my stalwart Powershot S60 camera from our balcony. the resolution kinda sucks but you get the idea...)

the mighty excellence of a beach walk, a swimming pool
The beach walk Sea otter or man - you decide!

and making sand sculptures...
Gunterschnickel guards Castle Whitdurschnel Gunterschnickel guards Castle Whitdurschnel

if that isn't enough, there is always the joy in each other's company whether at dinner or sea
Rol, Pam, me and Trav Mom, Rol, me and Trav

at 800 feet
Mom and Rol go 'all the way'! Mom and Rol go 'all the way'! Travy and I go 'all the way'

at the bridge table (yes, we taught Travy to play) or at dinner (again).
Bridge is serious business Rol, Pam, me and Trav at Caffe Italia

and of course, there is always the sea (again).

Sunday, May 11, 2008

been doin' plenty but nothing to say...

my creative fires have been exhausted by work and general living so instead i give a picture of the sight that greets me each day when i get home. as you will see, my 'winter' flowers are now fighting for real estate with the mounding perennials i planted last summer:

Spring in Tennessee

isn't it love-er-ly?

every day i drive home, half-expecting the violas to be on the wane, and every day i am joyfully surprised!

Monday, April 21, 2008

sorrowful rite of passage

today, I got the following:

...the passing of Dr Suzie Peterson, CAL'00. She was only 35 years old. Tragically, she was diagnosed in 2001 with the first prong of what became a progressively debilitating disease.

I am very sad to report that Suzie Peterson finally lost her battle with chronic lung disease on Saturday (4-19-08).
Katie Kangas and I and 2 of our other friends were with her the Tuesday before, eating sushi and drinking wine. She looked good even though she was hooked up to constant oxygen and iv drugs. We laughed and talked about fun stuff. On Friday she took a turn for the worse and they called in hospice care. On Saturday they knew she was close and called the family. She passed at home with her family.

I have known Suzy since she was 19 as a volunteer at my clinic. I watched her through her education and blossoming into an incredible woman and veterinarian. It is so sad her life's dream was so short. I was lucky to have her as a veterinary tech, a veterinarian, and mostly as my friend.

the first of my vet school classmates has just died. those of you who have met me in the flesh know i am not so much the 'Reunion' type, but my vet school class is different. you just don't go through four years of close quarters, 80 hour clinic weeks, endless course work/tests/cramming with 'optional' beer-associated study sessions in the anatomy lab without changing into something closer, into family.

i hadn't talked to Suzie in years, but she was family. kind and gentle with a smile always at the ready. better people than most will ever meet.

damn the tears!

Monday, April 14, 2008


five weeks have passed. five long weeks of clinics. five weeks of minimal crafting and positively spartan blogging.

now that is coming to an end. i am off clinics for one whole month. the expansion of my horizon is staggering. i see flowers everywhere - the trees have been gaily festooned [in my honor i am sure] and the ground fairly bursts with new life.

i am not yet to the point of coherent communication but soon i promise, soon.

in the interim, i am happy to report that what crafting has occurred has been sent tripping gaily along the postal lines to PIB/PIF! i haven't quite nearly completed all four of the packages, but Jeni and Shannon will soon have parcels on their stoops!

actually, i just received an arrival email from Shannon which means i can now share this little monster with you all:

Felted hedgehog

two last bits of joy to herald this clinic-free phase:
1) the pee/poo-a-thon has ended! Mr. Head has had normal poops for over a week and everyone is happier for it!
2) Mom is now on Ravelry (PamelaJoS)! all you Ravelrousers, please give her a big ol' welcome!

*why just Pay It Forward when you can also Pay It Back? at least, that is what the little prezzinator in me was screamin' so PIB i did!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

it was a rough ride 'til Travy set the kitchen on fire

it has been a brutal week and a half. we have been overbooked and understaffed (due to illness and tragedy) at work. almost every case i have seen has had a tragic outcome or ending foretold. as seems common in veterinary medicine, the higher the stakes ('Fluffy is the only remaining tie to our son and we may die of heartbreak if we lose her') and the nicer the people ('but we are so very appreciative that you let us come for an appointment and wait when you ran 2 hours behind because we got to reflect on what a wonder life is') and the sweeter the animal ('and Fluffy has just been through it these last weeks but she continues to bring hope and love to all the neighborhood kids and abandoned people at the rest home'), the worse the disease ends up being and the less room there is for any intervention or hope.

the last two days have been true exemplars of this experience and i was quite close to breaking when i got home after an epic 14 hour slog in our hugely overcrowded, overstimulated, overnoisy hospital. (thank heavens the addition opens SOON.) i figured i would recharge in the dark while Travy was at softball practice and then buckle down to the ~2 hours of catch up on work email etc.

i walk in the door to find Travy at home and a distinct cat pee smell permeating the house. really glad for the former or i couldn't have handled the latter.

... Mr Head's diarrhea has continued to get worse in spite of treatment. surgical biopsies might kill him given how poorly he did under anesthesia in February. we are trying a few last things before risking it all on biopsies.

apparently Miss Priss has decided my continuous litterbox scooping is not adequate given Mr Head's tendency to 'let go' just inside the box so she spent today annointing all parts of the house. then Bear got so stressed by all the drama that he pooped all the way UP the steps.

i have no idea what we will do to handle the pee...

or the diarrhea for that matter...

or the pooing...

and i feel a terrible internist and 'mom' accordingly. (even though no OTHER internist has any ideas beyond what i am already doing.)

so instead of settling down from the epic overstimulation and sorrow to breathe and refuel, we set about making our home livable again and i try not to lose it and cry.

once the house is put to rights, i sit down at the dining table with my laptop to catch up on emails marked URGENT, Response MANDATORY, and [more importantly] emails from clients.

Travy puts the kettle on for tea (because he is an awesome dear).

i tica tica tica away on the emails for a few minutes but suddenly my eye is drawn to awesome flames dancing across the stove.

i rush in to discover that Trav left my (kandknit) cotton potholder on the kettle which (because it is that kind of week) slid down to rest on the burner and erupt into flames. i pulled it from the flames onto a nearby cookie sheet where the flames dance merrily across my basket stitch beauty. i was shocked and thought i might be upset but, before i could say for sure, Travy rushed in behind me and urgently motioned that i move the potholder to the sink (for dousing in water). i kinda would have rathered take pictures but complied nonetheless and then suddenly found myself chortling uncontrollably.

there was no longer danger so Trav's eye was obviously to the potholder's health but there was seriously no saving the potholder. it was cotton for cripes sake. it was over 60% flame when we reached it. in fact it literally disintegrated as the water fell upon it. yet Travy's delivery suggested lives were at stake. he may not DO it, but he has plenty of appreciation for a good handknit.

it was bound to happen eventually.

it was very amusing.

laughter is curative.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mystic Waters floats along

so here they are, the promised photos of Mystic Waters. the winds are excellent today and it was all i could do to keep it from flying away like a kite in Mary Poppins! enjoy!!

Mystic Waters Mystic Waters
Mystic Waters Mystic Waters

i also finished my Mischievous feet socks and am almost through with my first project using my own handspun. stay tuned to this space!!