Sunday, June 26, 2016

Summer and My Stupid Foot

If it could only be like this always – always summer, always alone, the fruit always ripe and Aloysius in a good temper... ― Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited
All of a sudden, it's summer. It seemed to arrive without checking with me. The solstice came and went, and I find myself in shorts and a t-shirt on a Sunday afternoon, when last weekend I was shlepping around in sweaters and sweatpants. Time flies when you're not looking.

I had a doctor's appointment on Wednesday to see if I could get a referral to a physiotherapist to aid in the recovery of my fractured foot. I'd been feeling really good recently: I feel like I'm getting a lot of strength back on that side. Oddly, the day I went to see the doctor, she looked down at it and said, "It looks pretty swollen. Is it painful?" And when I looked down, my foot looked like blown up water balloon: kind of puffy and smooth-looking. 

"I guess it is kinda swollen," I said. 

She ordered me to x-ray, but still gave me the referral for physio. She told me it was normal for it to be like this, but man, I was so depressed. I don't think it's still broken, but I'll find out for sure tomorrow. I think it might have been the extra few minutes on the elliptical machine at the gym that did it. It's not at all swollen today, but I'm being extra careful. Two steps forward, and a tumble back. Sigh.

I'm trying not to get trapped inside my head with the disappointment, but it's tough-going. I went to pick up my weekly veggie box from the local farm this week, and after I put it in the car, I looked up and saw this in a tree across the road:


My dream is to run again. Or at least be able to trot about a bit... maybe have a little canter around the hallways at work. It's not a big dream, but hey, when you're low, it's not hard to reach upwards.

Meanwhile, I seem to have chosen the slowest possible pattern to work on for one of the rare times I've assigned a knitting due date. Granted, I've had a busy couple of weeks at work and had to work late on a few days, which is a big switch from all the knitting time I had while I was home recovering with my stupid foot, but I really feel like each row of this pattern is a sample of an eternity. Of course, the only way to finish a knitting project is to knit (so they say). I can either get on with it or get over the idea that it'll be finished before the Tour de Fleece. We'll see, I guess:


Except I'm always easily distracted this time of year, especially with all of the fresh produce available. I spend far too much time devising interesting weekend lunches. Here's some salmon lox and scrambled eggs on an English muffin, with a touch of cream cheese and sprinkled with some fresh dill from my veggie box:


And I took advantage of another cool day yesterday to bake some pandesal. The hubby had a hankering for some hot dogs this week, and I far prefer these as hot dog buns than anything else:


And today, I decided to roast some sweet potatoes, red and yellow peppers, and red onions on the barbecue. I mixed in a can of chick peas and tossed them in a bit of olive oil and fresh basil. Lunch this week is gonna be great:


If anything, I won't starve.

I can't decide it it's better or worse that this broken foot happened this time of year. The sunshine, the flowers, and all of the nice fruit and veggies are a nice distraction, but I can't help but feel like I'm missing out on all of the outdoor stuff I want to do. This week, I'm going to go back to swimming and take it easy on the foot: lots of gentle stretching, lots of rest, and lots of elevation. I went for a walk on a trail this afternoon, and it seemed fine, but still: I don't want to mess this up.

I'm off to a pot-luck barbecue this evening. I'm bringing my world-famous hummus and some fresh veggies for dipping. Perhaps an evening of good food and good friends will be just the thing to save me from this bout of self-pity... hopefully the garlic won't put them off.

Hrm. Maybe I should have thought this through a bit more. Oh well...

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Bake Cake While the Sun Hides

Hindi matutumbasan ang kasipagan mo.
Alam ko na gagawin mo ang lahat para sa ikakaunlad ng ating buhay.
Salamat sa lahat ng pagsasakripisyo mo.
Maligayang Araw ng mga Ama!
 
(Your hard work was not for nothing.
I know everything you did was to make our lives better
Thank you for all your sacrifices.
Happy Father's Day, Dad!)
I think I inherited my inability to sit still from my father. They are both hard workers (and I think I inherited that, too), but my father and I are the kind of people who refuse to sit calmly, even when we're obviously tired or too ill to do anything. He'll go out for walks, even when the rain is threatening to come down. I'll keep hobbling around, even when I'm nursing an injury.

My poor mom. You'd think we would have outgrown this by now.

The weather has gone all rainy and chilly here on Vancouver Island. It's quite the switch from the wilting temperatures we had a couple of weeks ago. I'm actually grateful for it: the droughts we experienced over the last two summers mean that rain in June is a welcome sight for me. The trees look happier, and I sleep so much better when it's cool outside. Most people take the opportunity to nap on a cool, rainy afternoon, but no... not me. This weather is so much more conducive to my favourite hobbies.

Behold, the baking:


I hadn't planned to bake anything today, but I changed my mind after the hubby and I braved the cool morning to go kayaking in the bay this morning (the rain stayed off, thank goodness). As soon as we got home, instead of wrapping up and resting, I whipped up some lunch, and then decided I was going to finally bake the Madeira cake that the hubby has been hinting at for a few months now. The thought of turning on the oven was madness a couple of weeks ago. Today, I felt that I should grab the chance while I could.

It's a buttery cake, so light and fluffy, and so NOT a health food, but heck, we paddled for two hours in the ocean, after all. And when you have the chance to bake a cake, well, you should bake a cake.



And, of course, when the weather is cool, you knit scarves:


This pattern is Ojos de Bruja by Sybil R. I didn't expect to like it as much as I do. I merely chose the pattern in a desperate attempt to find a pattern that would work with this skein of Alegria, a sock yarn by Manos Del Uruguay. I'm very happy with it. It was so simple, it just flew off the needles. I think the short rows are so clever: if you look carefully at each row, you can see the "switchbacks" from turning to knit back to the start of the row. Each turn was calculated carefully by the pattern-writer, and I am so impressed with the result (even if I messed it up near the end - you can't really tell, though):


I wasn't planning on taking any selfies with it, but freshly washed hair and all, I figured I might as well before I lost my nerve:


Incidentally, that cardi I have on was super wrinkly before I started, but I've been using this DIY Wrinkle Release Spray on a lot of things recently, and it totally works. A couple of spritz, then a couple of shakes, and voila: instant adult. I recommend it heartily:


I think I might be hitting the end of my finished-objects streak. I hit a snag with my current project this week. I thought I had a pattern all picked out for this skein of Handmaiden Lace Silk, but after casting on (and then ripping out) two different patterns, I was starting to think it was going to have to go into the naughty corner. I think I had a breakthrough with another one of Rosemary Hill's patterns, but I've already ripped it out once to try a different needle size:


I came down from a size 8 needle all the way to a size 4, and I've added a bunch more stitches to make up for the gauge change (I can't remember how many - I just kept on knitting). I think it's working, but it's hard to tell from these photos.


Of course, I'm all anxious now about it because I set a date for myself to be finished with all my knitting projects so I could concentrate on Tour de Fleece this year. It starts on July 2nd, which means, according to the count I just did on my fingers, I've got just under two weeks to get this thing finished. I better stop messing around with cakes and get knitting, then...

Or maybe I better sit down and take a nap first. One of these days I'll learn to sit still... I promise, Mom. Just as soon as Dad learns to chill out a bit, too...

Happy Father's Day!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Mrs. Potts' Cousin, and an Argument with a Cat

`How is it you can all talk so nicely?’ Alice said, hoping to get it into a better temper by a compliment. `I’ve been in many gardens before, but none of the flowers could talk.’ 
`Put your hand down, and feel the ground,’ said the Tiger-lily. 'Then you’ll know why.’ 
Alice did so. `It’s very hard,’ she said, `but I don’t see what that has to do with it.’ 
`In most gardens,’ the Tiger-lily said, `they make the beds too soft — so that the flowers are always asleep.’  --The Garden of Live Flowers, Alice through the Looking Glass 
-----
`But I don’t want to go among mad people,’ Alice remarked.
`Oh, you can’t help that,’ said the Cat: `we’re all mad here.' --Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Today I spent some time outside giving new life to some old things. I found this colander at a vintage shop last weekend. I was instantly charmed by it: I think it looks like it could be Mrs. Potts' cousin from Beauty and the Beast. Maybe we could call her Ms Strain... or maybe Madam Noodle.


I walked around the shop twice, circling it like a hawk, looking furtively at anyone who entered the shop and who went anywhere remotely near it. I decided I'd better stop stalking it and just take it home. It was such a reasonable price, and as I peered at it from behind the umbrella stand in the shop, I came up with a few ideas of what I could do with it.


After I got kicked out came home, I sat and looked at it for a while on the table, and then tucked it away and mused about it a bit longer. This week, I pulled out a bag of wool roving from my spinning stash, and pulled out a few pieces. Yesterday, I rescued a few dying plants from the back corner of the garden centre.

I took the roving and pulled it into pieces and laid it around the edges of the colander, covering the side holes carefully:


Then, I put some stones in the centre for drainage:


I went over to get the plants that I'd left out overnight on the flower bed, and I when I returned, I saw this cat. He meowed at me a few times, and then planted himself at the door, determined to come in. I told him that it wasn't possible, but he was adamant. I left him to it, thinking he'd get bored and leave...


Meanwhile, I took my rescue plants, got out some potting soil, and started arranging, scooping, watering, re-arranging, and watered some more. I left it to sit on an old vintage pie plate all afternoon, and when I went back this evening, the plants had perked up a bit and seem to be settling in. I know it looks like a tangled mess, but I think it will sort itself out in the end. I used the roving in the hopes of keeping the water from trickling out of the sides and to help retain the water around the roots, much like the moss used in hanging baskets. Some people knit or crochet basket liners out of wool for their hanging baskets as well.

Wool: it's everywhere.


While I was at it, I refreshed the plants in the vintage wok I had used for a succulent arrangement a couple of years ago. This time, the hubby drilled a couple of holes into the bottom and I set it on the base that it came with to keep it from rocking and give it some room to drain. I'm hoping that, when it perks up, it'll have flowers tumbling out of it. Right now, it looks like the flowers are asleep:


Meanwhile, the cat was becoming impatient. He meowed a bit more, and then, to my surprise, he started hissing at the hubby inside, telling him to hurry up and let him in. I was a bit freaked out by his behaviour, and I went over and told him to stop, but he turned around and gave me attitude, and took a few swipes at me, too. I realized I was now trapped outside. There was no way I was getting into the house now. The cat and I argued a bit longer, and the hubby ended up having to come out to shoo him away. I don't like having to do that - it seems mean - but I have a feeling that this was an argument we had to win. I'm sure he'll be back. We need to come to some sort of understanding, because I refuse to become the neighbourhood cat bully. 

Yes, I know this feels a bit like Alice in Wonderland. And no, I don't care if I sound crazy. This cat and I have to work something out:


Meanwhile, I have another finished object drying on the blocking boards. It's a very clever pattern called Ojos de Bruja by Sybil R., which makes use of lots of strategically placed short rows to show off the colours in a variegated skein of yarn, particularly one that has lots of contrasting colours. It was perfect for the "emergency skein" of Alegria I got when I ran out of projects to knit last Christmas (I guess it wasn't such an emergency after all). I wanted a break from all the lace charts I've been working with over the past few weeks, and this was perfect. It's still wet, but it reminds me of the ripples in the sand just under the lapping waves of a sandy beach. I can't wait to show it off once it dries:


In the meantime, I've been thinking about finally making something with some Handmaiden Lace that has been marinating in the stash for a while now. I think I've finally chosen a pattern for it, and I think I am going to cast on tomorrow for it. The thing is: I'm determined to do some spinning for the Tour de Fleece this year. It starts on July 2nd (same day as the Tour de France), and you're supposed to spin throughout it, taking breaks on the same day the tour breaks, and challenging yourself to try something different on the uphill days. It's the most commitment I've had to spinning in a while,  and I don't want to be distracted by a knitting project while I'm doing it. There's nothing more distracting than a half-finished project sitting there staring me in the face...

Well, maybe there ARE more distracting things that could be staring at you... Till we meet again, Sir Black Cat.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Giant Expectations

Every time you see a giant, you must know that that giant might be just a dwarf somewhere else! ― Mehmet Murat ildan
Foot update: My foot is feeling good enough to walk around now, and I'm slowly and carefully strengthening it. I went swimming a couple of times last week, and it felt so good. I'm looking forward to doing a bit more of that this week. It's funny... every time someone asks me how my foot is, I tell them how it's feeling better, and no matter how much I assure anyone how careful I'm being, I'm constantly being told that I shouldn't rush it.

I assure you: only snails would accuse me of speeding right now.

But I am moving quickly in other ways: I finished my Fucshia Nouveau Petite Shawl earlier this week. I can't believe how quickly I finished this shawl. It seemed to fly off my needles:


I chose this pattern for a couple of reasons. I loved the petal-like motifs, and I'm currently into shawls that you can be blocked with points on the edge. Mostly, I liked the size of it... if you visit the Ravelry pattern page, the photos show how it drapes over the model's shoulders and down her back.

There are several charts in this pattern, and each time I moved on to a new chart, I glanced over at my ball of yarn, and wondered if I would have enough.


As I neared the end, I wondered if I should try to add another repeat to somehow make it longer. The memories of all the shawls I've knitted from the top-down in the past bubbled up and warned me, though. "Don't do it!" they said, "It's always near the end of a shawl when the yarn starts to get eaten up."


Well, maybe not always.

When I bound off, I looked over at my ball of yarn again, and well... there was a lot of it left. I weighed it and discovered I'd only used just over half of the skein. Hmph.

I soaked the shawl and blocked it as hard as I could... but it wasn't doing any magical stretching.


And when I put it on... well... it's so small.

Either I'm a giant, or I should have thought this through a bit more.


There is another version on Ravelry that is larger, but I wasn't all that thrilled with the double-layered look of it. After investigating some of the projects, there are a few people who modified it to be one layer, and long enough to wrap around your back.

I'm more annoyed that I have just under half the skein left. After constantly running out of yarn in the past, I think I'm having the opposite problem. Just what the heck am I going to do with 50 grams of yarn?

I suppose I could make a second one. Heh.

Oh well. I'll wear it somehow, if only as a shawlette that I drape around my neck when it's cool outside... which is not today, by the way, It's soooo hot out there today, totally not a day for wearing any kind of cover up. I'm changing back into a sun dress and flaking out in front of a fan. Maybe I'll get lucky and shrink somehow...

I know, I know... there's only one way to get smaller, and it involves much more than lying around. Thank goodness my stupid foot is coming around. And yes, I am being careful, and no I am not rushing it.

And yes, I'm tired of it. I'm packing my swimsuit now. Happy Sunday!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Knitting Time vs Other Stuff

When your hobbies get in the way of your work - that's OK; but when your hobbies get in the way of themselves... well.  --Steve Martin
Week three of the broken foot completed. I can sorta walk, but I haven't really been pushing it. I still wear my cast and use my crutches at work to protect it, but when I get home, I take it off and put a tensor band on instead. It supports my foot while I walk the short distances from the kitchen to the couch, or from the bedroom to the bathroom. I still use my crutches when I'm feeling tired, because it hurts when I'm knocked off balance. Still, it feels good to get a little bit of strength back in my right leg. It means I can carry a glass of water by myself. Imagine that.

Despite the rainy day today, I decided to bust out the white jeans and get up the nerve to take some photos of my Chevron Lace Top. On a side note: it was only last year that I felt brave enough to wear white trousers. I quite like them now, actually. I was so sure they'd get dirty in two seconds, but you'd be amazed at how careful you become when you wear something you actually care about staining. White trousers don't quite make you graceful, but they sure do make you less of thug.

I still think the top is too long. I like the colour, though, and the design is quite clever. I like the way the v-shape of the lace lands in the right spot to frame your neck and face:



Maybe I'm just not used to wearing long tops. It doesn't look too bad from behind:


I was also a little skeptical about the short sleeves, since I'm self-conscious about my arms, but I think it'll be okay if I wear a jacket over it. Maybe it's just not my style. Coupled with the fact that I feel sluggish and bloated from all the sitting around I've been doing, the photo shoot was not all that pleasant, even if I do look quite pleased with myself:


Yeah. Not thrilled with the length. I'll stop fiddling soon, I promise.


I'm amazed that I still have three balls of yarn left. A little lace sure goes a long way. I'm not used to having so much yarn leftover: I am the Queen of the Close Call, after all. If I keep finishing like this, it might start to work against me. I can see myself getting cocky about how much I could get out of each skein, and end up right back into the "near miss" situation again.

Yep. Best to stay nervous about yardage, I say.

In the meantime, I've been working away on my Fuchsia Nouveau Shawl, and I've already reached the final chart for it. (I find "fuchsia" a really difficult word to spell. I always have to say the f-word in my head to make sure I've got it right.)

Knitting lace using laceweight yarn usually doesn't look that impressive in-progress. It usually tends to look like a crumped up fishing net, but I'm using a skein of Americo Linen Cordon, which is a blend of linen, cotton, and a little bit of silk. All of those fibres together are making for quite a nice, drapey shawl, which enough rigidity to open up the lace without blocking, even in the knitting stage. I keep stopping to marvel at how well it's holding up. I imagine this what it would be like if you could knit with a spider web.


Imagine if a spider could knit. Just think of how many sweaters they'd get done.

The Big Bike Event that I signed up for is on Monday. Naturally, I will not be riding, but when I contacted the organizers to tell them about my foot, they said that, if I showed up on the day of the event and cheered on my team, they'd keep my name on the team and I could keep on fundraising in my own name. There is a seat on the bike without pedals on it, and the team captain said I could get on if I felt up to it, but I don't think I will. I'd feel terrible making all those people carry me around while I just sat there.

I'm sick of just sitting around in general, really.

I signed up as a volunteer at the local art gallery this week. I'm trying to find other things to do, and other people to hang around with. I think being stuck at home has made me really feel the isolation of only having work as my social life. I like my work friends, but I think I need to expand my horizons a bit. I say this, but as soon as I checked the box that said, "I can volunteer at events," I could hear a little voice inside say, "but what about your knitting time?"

Life is a constant pull between knitting time and other stuff, it seems.

I'm changing out of my white trousers now and putting on something more suitable for drinking a cup of tea and eating a bowl of soup. I think I'll save my white trousers for when I feel like I'm more fit for the challenge of walking around and keeping clean. White trousers are not for the broken-footed.

Three-quarters upright. Here's hoping for a nearly-upright week soon.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Inspiration Mondays: Fresh vs Fried

Inspiration and wretchedness are inseparable... With only inspiration, we become arrogant. With only wretchedness, we lose our vision. Feeling inspired cheers us up, makes us realize how vast and wonderful our world is. Feeling wretched humbles us. The gloriousness of our inspiration connects us with the sacredness of the world. But when the tables are turned and we feel wretched, that softens us up. It ripens our hearts. It becomes the ground for understanding others. --Pema Chodron
I'm conscious of how much of a drag I've been recently on this blog. I look back at posts over the last few months, and it all seems to say the same thing: struggling through weariness and looking for reminders to slow down, looking for things to lift me up, to keep me going. As tiresome as it is for me, I'm sure it's tiring for people to read about. It's not what I want at all for this blog.

I decided I'd really spend time today thinking about something to write for an Inspiration Mondays post. I've been dodging them for weeks, feeling pretty sure I had nothing to be inspired by. I was sure I'd skip it again today until I read that quote this morning.

I went to a yoga retreat a few months ago in the autumn, and the teacher said something like, "We can be in different seasons inside of us, even if they don't match the seasons outside. It might be bright and spring-like outside, but inside, you could be in autumn... in a time of hunkering down and bracing yourself." And that's how I feel right now: feeling the need to wrap up and stay cocooned. And for some weeks now, I've felt bad about it, but I think I'm ok with it now.

Most of the time, I want to be fresh and vigorous and bright... like a nice, tasty salad. Other times, I just want to be warm and comforted... onion rings instead of roasted vegetables.

Today for lunch, I had a salad and an order of onion rings. I got that idea from someone else (thanks, D). It was exactly what I needed.

As much as I'd like to feel inspired and cheered up today, I am content enough to sit in my "wretchedness" of being injured and grounded... and to let it soften me... and mold me into another version of myself. I am curious about what may come of it... and I'm trying to be brave about it. Perhaps this is why I am so attracted to making things with my hands: it is a message to myself to let myself be molded by whatever comes.

I kinda hope I get to be onion rings soon... but I'm open to anything, really.

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, May 22, 2016

One and a Half

One step at a time is good walking. --Proverb
I went to see my doctor on Tuesday, and she told me that I could take the boot cast off whenever I wanted to try to walk on it. I have been trying it out here and there at home, but I think I'll keep it on another week to protect it while I'm at work. I can sure feel how much weaker my right leg is now, but I think the few minutes of standing and the few steps here and there are enough of a challenge for it. I am too scared of making it worse before it gets better.

I'm grateful for the ability to move around just a bit more. Being able to move around a little more means that I feel like I can drink more water. Seriously: when you can't really walk, things like drinking water and going to the bathroom become things you consider carefully. The freedom to live life being a little less thirsty is one I will not take for granted again.

I did go back to the office on Wednesday, and I'll say this much: I am so sick and tired of explaining what happened to my foot. So. Sick. Of. It. I am glad I waited that long to go back, because trying to get around with a cast outside of your house is a lot harder than I imagined it would be. I find myself constantly knocking myself against doors and desks and stuff, and that would have been really painful if I'd gone back in the first week. People have been really helpful, but I'll be glad when things can go back to normal and I can stop explaining my cast and just get on with things.

For some reason, I was strangely motivated to try to finish my Chevron Lace Top as quickly as possible. I suppose it was because I'd decided I was going back to work on Wednesday, and I was so happy with having finished knitting the back of the top so quickly that I didn't want to lose momentum. I set myself up for some marathon knitting sessions. By Tuesday night, I'd knit the front up to the point where I had to divide the stitches for the neckline. Thursday night, it was blocking,

That's a lot of knitting, even for me.

While it blocked, I started working on another project: Romi Hill's Fuchsia Nouveau Petite. I'm using a skein of Americo Linen Cordon in turquoise blue that I had been pulling out of my stash to admire. I'm glad the yarn has some silk in it, because I had to rip out my stitches three times before I gave up trying to knit it from the written instructions and switched over to the charted version. I got right into the flow of it after that, but I had to put it on hold yesterday, because I realized I needed the needle to finish the ribbing on my top.


It seems that I am productive, even when I am broken.

I seamed the shoulders yesterday, knitted the ribbing, and seamed up the sides. As much as I hate knitting garments in pieces, I am quite happy with my seaming job. Can you see where the join is? (Say no.) I don't think I'll be doing it again right away, but I'm glad I haven't lost the skill:


It's finished now. The thing is: I'm not sure I like it. It turned out really long: a lot longer than the tops I normally wear. I decided I'd soak it again and spin it in the washing machine and then throw it in the dryer to see it if would shrink up a bit. It's not totally dry yet, but I don't think it's all that different. Maybe I'll feel differently once it's completely dry and I can try it on, but I don't really feel like trying on any clothes right now. I wasn't a fan of how the pattern was written - it's full of errors. If I could turn back the clock, I would have reduced the length by one whole pattern repeat.


Heh, if only I could turn back the clock...

It's a long weekend here. Someone asked me what I had planned for my weekend, and I replied, "I will be sitting." And that's what I've been doing, for the most part. I did go out yesterday for lunch with the hubby and then made the epic trek with my crutches through a parking lot, through the mall, and back again to pick up something I'd ordered. I did some standing to test my foot. And I made it through six minutes of an abdominal circuit on the floor. All that was exhausting, since that's the most I've moved in two weeks.

I guess once you start sitting, it's hard to stop.

Anyway, I feel like I have one and a half legs now, and that feels pretty good. Today, I crawled up and down the stairs thirty times for a little bit of exercise (if you've never done it, you'd be surprised at how much work it is). After that, I showered, crawled back down the stairs, and made a batch of Peasant Bread:


And then, I transferred some applesauce I defrosted from the freezer into a couple of jars. Yeah, it's pink. That's the colour it goes when you made applesauce with the skins. And I know it says home made on the jars, and I'd love to take the credit, but my friend's mom actually made it... which I guess means the jars are still accurate:


I chatted a bit with a friend of mine who is an ultra runner (one of those mad people who run 50+km in a race). He had a stress fracture in his foot a while back. It felt really nice to talk to someone who could understand how I'm feeling. He told me that when it healed up, it would be even stronger - fresh, new bone. I hope he's right.

For now, I am at one and half. Here's hoping I make it to one and five eighths soon.