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!!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

closure ROKs!

allergies have left me dizzy and short of breath, and the profound sinus pressure has laden migraine on top of it all. still, i hate to 'waste' free time and am happy to report i was able to use my limited energy to put a few more things behind me before starting back on clinics... after dragging along for months, both Mystic Waters and Valpuri hurtled to completion this weekend.

Mystic Waters has been blocked and is currently drying on my high-tech blocking board:

Mystic waters

Valpuri is so complete, i may wear it to work tomorrow!

if my eyes hang tough, my Rovaniemi wristlets may even be finished today, but first i am off to finish email catch-up.

UPDATE: The Rovaniemi wristlets are fini!
Wristlets of Rovaniemi

Thursday, March 06, 2008

my job is so interesting

one of the great things about my job is that you never really know what is going to happen next. coming from a control freak like myself, that may sound weird but it is definitely true.

sure, i always know i am going to have more planned than achievable. that my To Do list grows more than it shrinks. that each question answered will lead to two more. that no research idea will go smoothly or as planned.

but the unexpected occurs regularly and without fanfare.

i started this week working on lectures i am giving come April. mid-week i got word that a human drug company might finally be interested in a veterinary application and shifted to a hells' bells grant-writing frenzy so i could finish before going on clinics Monday. then Thursday, somewhat out of nowhere, i was trundled over to the zoo to do a procedure on Debbie:

Debbie gets rads


it was really really interesting.

my work was called elegant. my efforts appreciated (though not by Debbie).

Debbie says no!

totally worth the delay in completing the grant.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

and now class, let's all share what we did on winter vacation

Day 1: Kaki-what?

IMG_3998.JPG Barbara Glickman (right) IMG_3997.JPG
Day 1 was a course in Kakishibu, a Japanese technique of dyeing using fermented persimmon juice and a variety of oxidative agents in concert with mechanical resistance to create patterns. It was entertaining, required minimal brain function (handy since i only had minimal residual function thanks to the plague), and some pretty results were achieved. In addition, I made a new friend Barbara, shown in the center above. That said, I don't think I would pay such a hefty registration for something like this again.

Kakishibu scarves

Day 2: Mittens of Rovaniemi with Susanna Hansson

IMG_4002.JPG Susanna Hannson Circle of stitches
This class is the reason I signed up for Madrona. After seeing Denise's pix last year, I was determined that I just had to learn how. Of course, it turns out that I could have simply waited and bought Piecework, but I am pretty sure the magazine would not have brought along such a cornucopia of yarn choices for our learning pleasure. It definitely would not have brought along a beautiful circle of tiny little mittens - mittens so wee as to be fit for pixies. 

Susanna is a great teacher- with just the right balance of narrative and technique, well-paced and good-humored. I look forward to taking another of her classes in the future. Not surprisingly, I met great people - Trillium below, and Melanie (featured further along in the post). I made good headway with my wristlet and have since completed the first. I may do an 'aftermarket' mod to better suit my needs (watch this space!) but want to finish the mate first.

The amazing variance in gauge is always entertaining. Below you see two wristlets knit of identical yarn on identical needles. The first, a delicate truffle. The second, a rollicking puppy. A tightly wound knitter and a loose, fancy-free one. 
Got gauge? My handiwork Trillium

Finally, a knitterly group hug - everyone's wristlets all snuggling together!


Day 3: Lolligagging

Day 4: Fine spinning with Judith MacKenzie McCuin

IMG_4052.JPG IMG_4060.JPG IMG_4058.JPG IMG_4053.JPG

Another great teacher! Good tempered, amusing, encouraging and humble. I literally knelt at her feet while she talked (hey, we all wanted a good view of the wheel!), watching finer and finer floss emerge from the orifice with each tiny adjustment. After she finished her explanation, she said something to the effect that we were good to go. That, we really didn't even need to spin - we had learned everything we needed to know. 

I scoffed a little. Not pissy, just disbelieving that my 'newbie' self could do what she asserted I would without fuss, fanfare or several days' trauma. 

And then I produced these. 

Spinning a fine yarn

That is my sock bag. It is about 4 inches across. Just to give you an idea of scale. Talk about one helluva teacher!

General carrying on (in a knitterly sort of way):

Here we have Holly with me. (no, I'm not drunk. my eyes just do that.) Then Holly and the very tip of Lara's head. Knitting in the bar. Finally on the right, Mel (as promised above).
 Holly and me (almost) Lara and Holly IMG_4045.JPG Mel
Dinnertime: Michael, Lara, me, Doug, Angela, Tina (of Blue Moon Fiber Arts), Denise, Gail, and Sheila. (Sheila and Michael are responsible for some of the prettiest glass knitting needles I have ever seen and the spectacular Don't Drop Spindles.

More knitting in the bar, and knitting, and knitting, and knitting. (no, Lara did not kill the photographer, no matter what her look promises.)

IMG_4046.JPG Mel, Greg and... Angela, Denise and Lara me, Denise, Hope and Lara

Finally, I leave you with photos of the Sock monkey celebs and the indefatiguable papparazzi:

Denise and the monkeys Sock monkilicious!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Gateway to limbo?

so on the last night of a wonderful Madrona trip, the decision was made to go to Gateway to India for dinner. the restaurant was not within walking distance - based on total distance but also general shadiness of the intervening area - but it was anticipated to be worthwhile since Denise drives in with Mr CPA to Tacoma from Olympia to partake.

Hope, Vanessa, Jen and i all trundled out to await the taxi requested by the bellman. [Jen should have already been back in New England by then, but her flight had been canceled and she had spent much of the day finding another flight home.] said taxi was roughly on time though curiously inhabited by both the driver and a 'friend' he was giving a ride. negotiations ensued within the cab (eg out of our earshot) that resulted in said 'friend' being left on the sidewalk until he could return from the call. secretly, we regretted not waiting for another option since the cabbie blared bad hip hop and had a penchant for running red lights with oncoming traffic. he totally missed the restaurant - good thing Hope and Van were keeping a close eye - and we were quite happy to escape the cab.

unless i am seriously mistaken, we all silently thought, 'Thank heavens we'll have a different driver for the ride back.' big mistake.

the restaurant was charming, the food killer and the staff quite friendly. as we started to concede defeat to enormous portions, we requested the hostess call for a taxi, which she did quite promptly. '10-15 minutes wait time.'

no problem.

it was only 7, we were with friends, and Jen's shuttle to the airport wasn't due till 9:25.

as is often the case when knitters unite, 15 minutes easily turned into 30 before we noticed. we asked the hostess whether she would check on the cab, since it had been so long. 'They said they hadn't forgotten. 10 minutes wait time.'

okay... obviously the cab company measures in 'football' minutes, not real time, but it was only 7:30 and we were a fun group indeed.

tick tick tick

come 8 o'clock and no cab, concern began to set in. i was displaced to follow-up with the hostess and arrived to discover her hard at work and highly stressed. 'I don't know what the problem is. I have called the other two main companies and they all say 15 minutes. I got a number for a 4th company I am trying right now.'

our waitress offered us her car, but it was only a two-seater and we were fuzzy on the area.

the hostess came back to our table. she looked like she was going to cry. 'They all say 15 minutes. I have requested them all. I don't know what else to do. I would take you myself but I don't have a car. I take the bus.'

tick tick tick

Jen's blood pressure was increasing visibly. as 8:15 rolled around, we started eyeing customers we could pay for rides. a fairly clean-cut guy came in that looked like he had potential, but then he began twitching and arguing with himself at his table. Hope began getting instructions on the public bus. we began quietly missing our suicidal cabbie from earlier that night. Vanessa called the hotel. they said they would send someone but called back to say the bellboy had no car and there was no one else to send... but not to worry because Yellow Cab crankily said someone was on the way and due within 10 minutes.

we decided to wait outside, continuing to eye potential customers/chaffeurs through the window. crazy man starting yawning but then his face seemed to get stuck in a half-open grimace. we rethought our second thoughts about approaching him. Hope and Jen hailed the public bus, but it was headed the wrong way. they were sent across the street and down the block to wait for the right bus. Vanessa waited at the restaurant in case a cab showed up. i stood in the middle as a communications relay.

tick tick tick.

8:35. the bus was coming, the bus was coming!! i yelled to Vanessa. Vanessa started running. Hope conferred with the driver. Vanessa kept running. 'I'm COMING!' we payed slowly. Vanessa arrived.

Hope and Jen sat down. i plopped into the third remaining seat at the insistence of Bruce, one of the passengers. (Bruce was very nice and cleanly.) Vanessa grabbed onto a bar for stability then suddenly a (quite unsanitary) vagabound lurched forward and rustled about. he'd loosened a bench for Vanessa's use, leaving her no choice but to settle into the path of his consumptive cough. (cough cough)

our driver was a friendly chap. he'd driven for the Black Cabs in London and also driven double-decker buses. (did you know it is a four year rigorous training and testing program to drive Black Cabs?) he'd let us know when we reached our stop - 9th and Commerce. Bruce shook his head No and explained we needed 12th and Commerce. 'He's a new driver.'

Vanessa's phone rang. 'Hello?... Oh, thank you. We're on the public bus... YES, I'm serious...'

it was the hotel, calling to check on us. the bus rolled to a stop and the vagabond gathered all his parcels and bags. after one last hack on Vanessa, off he stumbled into the night. two more stops and we were let off 1/2 block from the hotel. we scurried on in. 8:45. Vanessa, determined to wash immediately, darted to the only bathroom on that floor to find it closed for cleaning. the hotel desk manager, relieved his marooned customers had arrived unscathed, sent us to the bar for a complimentary drink. he assured Jen that he would hold the shuttle for her should she be a titch late in coming.

we trundled into the bar no worse for the wear. the bartendress recognized us immediately as the stranded guests and pampered us well. we all shared a laugh and glass of wine while recounting our tale to some of the Blue Moon crew before calling an end to our last night at Madrona.

as for next year, the Indian restaurant was too good to forgo - we have agreed to take the bus from the start to avoid all the drama...

that is, provided Vanessa doesn't succumb to consumption.