Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Progress, Always Progress...

Well, the shower is in May. Too soon for me! But I knit along and keep on going. 

Played a great game last night. Most knitters have played this game every so often: "Yarn Chicken." Soooooo - I was just about at the end of the first ball of yarn, and thought I could get pretty close. Boy. 

I did. 

As you can see here, this is what I had to work with. I'd just finished the first buttonhole row, and I noticed the working yarn was getting a tad skimpy. But I thought I could squeak out a few more rows. So I went on. And on. And I kept looking at the tail end. And then at the number of stitches I had left. And I wondered if I would make it to the end. Wondered if I'd have to tink back (tink = knit backward = "frog" = "rip it" [note: ribbit, ribbit = frog]). 

It turns out that I didn't have to, but whew! That teeny little tail there, above the needle? That's all that was left of Ball #1. I added Ball #2, and on we go. 

I know it's been a while, so I took a break to write this out. In spite of the Kollage square needles, which usually don't hurt, my hands are hurting. 

I think it's combined with the fact that I type a lot during my day job. Lots. Tons. Even on an ergonomic "natural" keyboard, I'm still typing probably 4 - 6 hours a day total. Not constantly, but a lot, and it takes its toll. 

Anyway, I have 5 more rows till the next buttonhole. I've got a new trick for these buttonholes: I bind off one more stitch, and I cast on one more stitch. It seems to make it more firm, and it seems to not get that little "gap" thing that I had in the last sweater. 

The sweater is coming along, and I think this week, I can make some significant progress. Hat and booties are next, and I have to look at how much of the green yarn will be left. I have some brown superwash, and I might use that as part of the booties, sort of like an accent if I need to. Or maybe I start the hat (or end the hat) with the brown. It'll work; I'd just rather have it all look the same. 

I really have to up my game. Knitting must be in the car so that I can get these projects done. I was waiting on a teacher to discuss a new workshop, and I brought some knitting to the studio. This is the striped socks, using Sole to Sole, and of course, I can't find the printed pattern. It's here. Somewhere. 

I'm thinking about making the Roman Rib socks again, using Opal (again), and doing the Strong Heel. I know - I said it here: "I'll never do THAT again!" 

But -- the "Orthodontic Diet" has been working well, and I've lost about 20 lbs. So I think I can go down to 64 stitches instead of the 72 stitches I was doing. The socks I have are now sort of baggy! 

The Sole to Sole (in the picture) are 64 stitches; we'll see how those work up. The side ribbing goes down the whole leg, apparently to "hold them up." And I'm hoping that the side ribbing doesn't stretch too far. Remember, I've got "biker calves." 

So I have a new knitting project bag. And it's amazing! I got it in exchange for a mug... Hey - barter works! 

It's a lovely "yoga" pattern, which fits, since I'm a yoga teacher and studio owner. 

I can't decide what to put into it yet. The baby stuff will stay in the red bag I always keep baby stuff in. It works for me to keep things consistent. The pattern always stays there, the needles always stay there. It's just convenient because I know that's the "baby bag." 

Easter Goodies...

So I saw these in the Target the other day. Now, since the "Orthodontic Diet," I haven't eaten a lot and I really won't do anything too sticky. It's sad, because truly -- Peeps are one of my favorites. Particularly if you leave them out in the air for 2 or 3 days, so they've got a slight "crunch" to them. It's a thing. I think I might be the only person in my family who eats them - or eats them that way! 

Our Easter celebration will be Palm Sunday, as usual. We're singing for Good Friday, Holy Saturday/Vigil, and Easter Sunday. 

Which brings me to a quandry. Due to circumstances, most of which have to remain confidential, we have a different organist for our Easter services. Of course, the most important services in the Church year. Yes, even moreso than Christmas. 

I'm a little worried. We really don't have a good handle on the music we're singing. I mean - all I know is that I'm doing a chant, and that's cool. I'm ready for that. 

It's the rest of the several services that worry me. It's in God's hands, I guess. And I hope She's got us covered!

Big Pharma, Big Gripe...

I'm very lucky. I have insurance. Hubby's policy has changed over the years, and we're now with a company which pays its CEO an insanely obscene salary. I'm not sure for what. But nonetheless - we're covered. Decently, but not like it was a few years ago. 

This is my seizure med. This is what I pay for the first refill. And I'm lucky this year, because the price dropped by a couple hundred bucks. It's been over $3,000 some years. 

Big Gripe #1: There's no reason this medication needs to cost this much. It's not new. Drug companies have bought and sold our politicians and they're kowtowing to their new corporate overlords, so we kind of get the stinky end of the stick. 

If I could take the generic? My cost would be about $17.00. Yes, SEVENTEEN bucks. 

So there's no end in sight; we don't know what the price will be at any given time. At this point, this drug is the "lobster" in the pharmacy... You know how, in those fancy restaurants, they say "Lobster" and then "market price." So you never really know how much you're paying. 

Big Gripe #2: Because my insurance company's CEO gets that obscene salary (no really, it's obscene... $66.13 million in 2014... and no, I don't know that this is actually correlated, but I can imagine!), I have the "delight" to have to pay a premium every time I refill. Because I'm unable to use the generic. 

And yes, I tried it. And I had break-through seizures. Not a cool thing. Generics, by law, have to be "similar" to the brand name. And "similar" in pharma talk means that often, they're a molecule or two different - maybe a different filler or a different component that works the same but doesn't violate the original patent for the brand name. And my doctor is trying to get me off the drug - we'll see if that works. But for right now? I'm stuck. 

So what this means is that, even though I've made our deductible for this year, I will STILL pay anywhere from $700-800 PER REFILL for the remainder of the year every time I need to refill this medication. Here's the math: I pay the $2439.55 at the beginning of the year. Then for the next 3 refills, I pay (let's round it out) $750/refill. Calculate, kids... 

That's $4,689.55. So let's round up and say $5,000. Five. Thousand. Dollars. And that's WITH insurance. 

Let's do more math... If I did not have insurance, that would be... $9,758.20. Let's round up and say $10,000. Ten. Thousand. Dollars. 

If I had no insurance. 

How can this happen in America? See the paragraph above about our politicians being bought and sold by Big Pharma and other lobbyist groups. 

We are not a Third World country. Yet. But there are great swaths of this country that may as well be. There are people who are still not covered by insurance. Who still have no access to basic health care. Who still die because of ailments that would, in a different community, in a different economy, be treatable and perhaps eliminated. 

The Orange Menace (a/k/a Twitler) tried to kill off the ACA. Thankfully, enough people came to their senses, courtesy of grass roots activism, and over 40 million people were able to keep their coverage. So now, of course, it's the fault of the Dems. Who "wouldn't play nice" and were "not civil." 

(Side note: Why must Dems be civil when they're being stomped on by totally uncivil Republicans?) 

So the ACA stays. For now. We need to get our heads out of our collective rear ends. Universal health care needs to happen. Or expanding Medicare. One of the two is feasible, if we want it bad enough. 

If we're the Christian nation some people claim we are (though we are not now, nor have we EVER been a Christian nation), then why is health care such a verboten topic? Why is health care not a right? Or only a right for the rich. Or the covered?

Random Picture...

We have a Franken-elkie... Quinn had a number of cysts removed, and as you can see, she's pleased. Not. 

Four of them. One of them burst as they were prepping her, and was deep into the muscle - the one along her back. It was, at one point, 4" long, under the skin. The one on her flank, near her tail, was removed, but since she was under anaesthesia, she pooped, and it got infected. There's also another one under her collar, which we've had to wrap, because she's in the Tube of Shame. 

I believe there was another one near her neck, but I can't tell - I'm trying to pet her where she's not shaved. She's a "patch-hound" now. 

Hopefully, this will be the last surgery for a while. Except our poor darling has to go to the doggie dentist, with a problem in her tooth. It doesn't keep her from eating, but we want to take care of it before it gets bad. 

Which is why I'll be working for a long, long time... 

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

A Baby, a Migraine, and Sleeves...

Well. It was happening eventually, but it happened last night... The baby "Pumpkin" was born last night. Mamma went into labor early, and after what I think was an insanely long labor, he was delivered via emergency C-section. Apparently, he was "sunny-side up" and never turned around. 

Little stinker. No pics. Well, I have a pic. But I have a "thing." I don't like to post baby pics on the internet. And, of course, it's not mine to post. If Mamma and Dad want to post, then go for it. But I'm not. 

Suffice to say, he's a nice size, and has a full head of hair. His first picture has him looking slightly befuddled, as if to say, "How the heck did I get HERE??" And being a C-section baby, he's a beautiful boy. 

Because, of course, he wasn't a pot roast trying to push through a Cheerio... 

Anyway, we're happy he's here, Mamma's sore and sleepy, and life has just gotten incrementally more interesting. But we'll figure it all out. 


It was inevitable. It had been months, and then I ran out of my magnesium supplement. I woke up at 3 a.m. this morning with a migraine. I worked through the day, with a dose of Excedrin Migraine, which kept most of it at bay. But I decided to skip the charity dinner Hubby and I were to attend. 

I figured that if I went and it was loud (which it usually is), or someone was unfamiliar with the fact that you don't YELL into a microphone (which they do), I'd likely not be able to cut the headache off at the pass, and I may end up missing work - which I can't afford. 

So at work, I also used my Deep Relief roll-on. It's a great Young Living product that contains a nice blend of essential oils. I put it on the back of my neck several times, and it helped me function. 

And of course I left it at work... Tonight, though, I'm going the Rx route - I need to deal with these while I can and get them taken care of before they get out of control. So I'm home now, waiting on Hubby to get back, whipping through this before the Rx takes hold and I get all sleepy. 


So we have sleeves. I put those on last night; and again - I fiddled with the original pattern. I added 10 more stitches to each sleeve to account for the smaller gauge of the Universal super wash wool. I think it works out. 

I would show you a picture, but for some reason, my computer doesn't see my phone tonight. Maybe it's me. Or the migraine. 

And it's ok - it doesn't look like much yet. I have my mug of Honey Chamomile tea here, I'll knit a bit more, take the next dose of the Rx and be ready for bed soon. Pictures will come later, when it looks like sleeves and not a formless blob. 

Women's Day...

So today was International Women's Day and also "A Day Without Women." I didn't participate in the "without women" part. 

But I did wear red. The fundraiser was a "diamonds and denim" theme, so I did have on my jeans, a red sweater, a very obnoxiously gaudy pin and ... then I didn't go anyway.

I am pleased to see the increased activism. I think it's a good sign. More women than ever are running for office. More women are energized. Of course, there are problems because a good chunk of us are told we're supposed to "check our privilege." And I get it. 

Even though we're still paid less than men, I'm a white female who is college-educated. I'm a LOT better off than women of color, than gay or trans women, than immigrant women and indigenous women. 

But then again: still paid less. Still "graded" on how we look. Still in that "filter" that says even though I'm 59, I "should be" something or someone else. 

But I do get it. 

Women need to do a better job of lifting each other up. We don't do enough of that. We're still working on it. But we need to worker harder. Each of us has a unique gift to give. We need the space within which to give it. And we need to see it in each other. We don't - at least not very often. 

Random Picture...

Usually, I can dress Tippi up and she doesn't protest too much. She's gotten to be an expert at needing to "shake" and tossing whatever hat she has on. 

One year, I thought ears would be good. I'm pretty sure you can read her thoughts. 

She. Hated. These. 


She gave me a stink eye, and it was translated in my brain as, "Human, you'd better be able to sleep with your eyes open." 

Needless to say, we didn't ever do these at a therapy visit. She wasn't having it at all. This picture still cracks me up, but I've also never put the ears back on her. 

I wouldn't dare. 

Monday, March 06, 2017

As Time Goes By...

...yeah, I know. It's a song lyric. (You did know that, right?)

So it's been busy, which is why I got distracted. But I'm back tonight, and I thought I'd update everyone. 


The baby knitting continues, and I have a bit of a problem. The Universal super wash is slightly smaller than the Cascade super wash. I've done this pattern so many times, that it just felt "off" as I got to the middle of the back, where I was about ready to cast on for the sleeves. 

I'm about 1.5" or so short of the actual length I need. So I dragged out the schematic and decided --- surprise, surprise --- to actually READ the drawing and adjust my knitting. It's amazing... mainly that I thought enough to do that. 

So I've added 6 more rows to the back and I'll use my tape measure a lot on this one. And I've learned something valuable about changing up the yarn - you have to pay attention. 

It's coming along nicely, even with the blip. I picked out buttons, and polled my knitting group. I'm not going to tell yet... Comment - and let me know which ones you think would be better. I'm open to suggestion. 

I've put all my buttons in the same bag and hopefully won't lose them again. 

The gauge I'm getting is technically correct. It's correct for what the ball band says. It's a tad small for what the pattern says. But that being the case, that's where I found the schematic helpful. As I re-wrote the pattern into my notebook, I almost didn't put the drawing in there, but now I'm glad I did. 

Occasionally, I have these flashes. So I grab 'em while I can and make sure that I've got my knitting ducks in a row. I'm thinking another 2 weeks and the sweater will be done. Then, booties and hat. I may make the hat the same size, since it's just a rolled-brim straight knitted hat. I think the "toddler" size might be too big, but the "newborn" size will stretch, even if the baby's a bit of a chunky monkey. 

The booties? They'll be a bit larger. First off, the kid will be born in July - no wool booties then!! So I want to make those a bit bigger, provided I have the yarn of course, and he or she can wear them into the cooler weather. 

I've pulled all my stash and stuck it into another bag, which helps keep my current project bag halfway organized. Maybe I might (depending on the buttons chosen) have to add some of the black-and-white yarn from Little Manu's set I did last year. For cuffs, I think. But then again, with three balls of the Universal, maybe I'll be ok. 

What's Going On In the World...

OK, I'm so upside-down that I can't see straight.  

The constant smoke-and-mirrors has really got so many of us in a tangle. It's a deliberate attack by puppeteers pulling his strings, because I don't think he's smart enough. Fool enough, yes. Greedy enough, OH YEAH. Stupid enough - undoubtedly. But not smart enough. He's letting others lead him by the nose. 

But what he IS good at is the proactive attack. The recent smear of President Obama, and the distraction that's caused has torn our attention away from the obvious problem of Russia. 

And that's just where the puppet-masters want our eyes. Not on the stuff they're pulling with rollbacks on clean air and clean water bills. Not on the stuff they're pulling with gutting essential agencies. 

But on the antics of a 2-year old trapped in an elderly man's body. Because he is elderly, folks. 

I'm picking and choosing what to react to. And I'm stepping away from the news when I need to. We have to do that. 

Because together, we can all contribute a little something and make changes where we need to make them. But individually, we'll be worn to nubs if we let ourselves. 

So be selective. Check your sources. Do your research. It'll help. You won't feel so adrift. 

The Weather is Nuts...

It's howling a gale out there. There are tornado warnings for south and west of us. A strong line of storms will likely play havoc. And it's going to be extremely lucky for us if our neighbor's dead tree doesn't take out our power lines. 

Welcome to March 2017. This followed February 2017, where the Chicago area had no measurable snow. 

Yes. You read that right. No. Measurable. Snow. 

Before you break into your springtime happy dance, let me break it down for you. 

No measurable snow points to the most obvious change in our weather patterns. So do the (now familiar and frightening) night-time tornadoes. 

No measurable snow means that, if the spring isn't wet, the farmers will be in real trouble. But yet - a wetter spring also means they can't plant early enough. 

And if it's not a wetter spring, then we're headed, California-style, into a drought. Which will be a death knell to many farmers, too. 

Have no doubt about it: this wacky weather isn't funny anymore. 

I just opened the back door because I thought something crashed into the deck. Caused the Elkhound Alarm System to activate and probably woke up Hubby. 


Random Picture...

So Quinn's favorite spot as a puppy was in my lap. And it's been a while. And she's been wanting to get back there. So the other night, we took off the cone and she jumped up. And nestled in where she's used to snuggling. 

This is what 45 pounds of Norwegian Elkhound looks like when it thinks it's a lap dog. 

She stayed up on my lap for a good hour, nudging me to pet her and to hug her. I think sometimes she gets fearful and nervous and this calms her down. She's kind of a nervy dog anyway - always has been. But when she figures out that you're ok - you're fine. She attaches herself to you and wants to play or snuggle or just lay next to you so that you know she's "your dog." 

Or you're "her human." Haven't figured out yet which way she's leaning.