Sunday, April 26, 2015

Books and Flowers and Running and Knitting

What day is it, anyway?

It occurred to me the other day how mixed up my days were when I opened my my timesheets for work and realized that I had been submitting them a week in advance. Apparently, I was in the future... and yet I was still running behind. A busy week does that to you.

I arrived back from Winnipeg last Saturday evening. Sunday morning, I got up and did some training, then got busy making lunches and packing up stuff to back to work. While I was away, our company moved into a brand new building, so the whole week was really a whirlwind of unpacking, organizing, learning new things and trying to catch up on unfinished things. Somewhere in there, I managed to pack a bag, and on Friday after work, we headed off for a weekend in Victoria.

Saturday looked like this:

A browse through Munro's Books:

A walk through East Sooke Park:

Lunch at a cafe in Sooke, which had these interesting plants growing outside:

A stroll through the grounds at the Fairmont Empress Hotel, where they always have the most impressive flower gardens:

And then I stopped by the conference centre to pick these up:

And on Sunday, I did this:

That's what it looked like to be right in the middle of the pack getting ready to run the Times Colonist 10k Race. I registered for it a few months ago to practice running in a big race in preparation for my half marathon in June. I've never run with 9000 other people before, but it was surprisingly fun. And I was surprisingly emotional at the beginning... being around so many excited people really hyped me up, and when we sung the national anthem, I looked up at the flag and started getting choked up. I had to really breathe through it to make sure my throat was open for the race.

I ran a good one, faster than I thought I'd do it, and learned a lot of things about me. Kilometre 6 always makes me feel like giving up. I seem to come through it near the end of kilometre 7. And it turns out I can really switch it on for the last two kilometres.

I ran next to two people dressed as zebras for most of the race (I think I left them behind somewhere... I can't remember now). And I saw a lot of children running with adults. There was one family that I recognized on the news later this evening: they were running together to celebrate their dad's heart surgery recovery. And there was one sole racer in a wheelchair. And a few visually impaired runners.

In all, it was amazing.

And somewhere, in the middle of this, I worked on my knitting project. I don't really want to show it right now, because I'm almost finished one sleeve, which is currently a mess of improvised decreases, and I'm really not sure about it. But it's there. And I'm still knitting.

It's during these busy times that I worry sometimes that I won't want to knit anymore... and that I won't want to keep up with this blog. But you know, I find myself drafting sentences in my head every day for this blog, even while running a race. I don't think I'll ever stop wanting to share my adventures.

And I kinda have too much yarn to stop knitting now. How's that for motivation?

I'm off to stretch a bit more and relax. I've got a knitting friend coming for a visit this week, so that's going to be fun. There'll be some adventures to share from that for sure!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Hospital Yarn

It has been a strange week, upside-down week.

My father had been feeling fatigued since around Christmas, and my mother had been noticing that his appetite was really poor. I didn't really think too much of it: I figured it was the long, dark days of winter that were affecting him, and that, as soon as the days got brighter, he'd perk up again.

I don't know what it was, but it finally dawned on me how ill he was on Sunday of last week (the 5th). On Monday, I texted my brother (who lives in Winnipeg) about him, and he told me he was fine. On Tuesday, I asked him again. 

"Did you talk to Mom?" his reply said.

"No," I said.

"I took him to the hospital this morning."

Then, my phone started ringing. I could see it was my mom. She almost never phones my cell phone.

I answered, but I couldn't hear anything on the other end except the sounds of people talking, some beeping, and the some echoing footsteps: the sounds of a hospital.

I hung up and called back.

No answer.

My heart was in my throat. At that moment, a coworker appeared at my door. I looked up at him, and I must have looked like a ghost because he shut my door and came over to me immediately to put his arm over my shoulder to ask what was wrong.

I can't really remember all that happened next, except that my boss had someone book me a flight home. Two hours later, I was on a plane, and the next thing I knew, my brother picked me up at the airport in Winnipeg around midnight.

I went to the hospital in the morning where my dad was under observation. He was asleep sitting upright in a chair, since he was having trouble getting his breath lying down. He looked pale and small. 

That was hard.

He was admitted officially later that day, and he stayed there until Monday, when the fluid in his lungs had drained and his oxygen levels stabilized. He's home now, feeling stronger and more normal than he's felt for months. He's being referred to a specialist and will also be going for physiotherapy. He's also had his meds rearranged to help him remember to take them to prevent fluid build up in his lungs. It about as "back to normal" as we can get right now, until the specialist visits start and we know more about what to do to keep him well.

Spending days at the hospital is easy and difficult at the same time. You don't do much, but your mind doesn't really rest. I spent a lot of time wandering around the hospital, poking through gift shops, as well as the tables people had set up in the halls were they sold baked goods, clothes and trinkets.

It happened to be the same hospital where my mom and I had our kidney surgeries last year. During one of my walks, I found the kidney donor offices, and visited with the coordinator who helped to organize my donation last year. It was her birthday. She said she never gets to see her patients after the donation is finished. It was a good surprise for her.

She gave me some t-shirts, since it was Organ Donor Appreciation Week.

Of course, I had a project to work on, my Artfully Simple Infinity Scarf. It kept my hands busy when I wasn't walking around, and with all this time on my hands, I managed to finish and block it last night:

I actually ripped it out last week during one of the first days at the hospital. I had used a larger hook to make the first chain, and I wasn't liking the look of it. I re-did it with a single crochet foundation chain to give it a slightly thicker edge, then worked the first round into the bottom of it. I worked the last round in a similar way, working a single crochet foundation chain between each pair of double crochet stitches. It worked out well.

I thought I wouldn't really be able to wear it here, since it's so light and airy, but the weather has been unseasonably warm here. I'm used to being home during the dead of winter. I packed for wintery-spring days: jeans, long-sleeved shirts, fleece pullovers. Instead, we've had a cycle of seasons each day: around freezing at night, but warm and sunny in the afternoons. I had to put the air conditioning on in the car yesterday afternoon when I took my dad out to the mall. I guess I'll get some wear out of it while I'm here after all.

I've booked a flight back to Vancouver Island on Saturday, all being well. It has been a frightening time, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about leaving. I have faith that the systems that have been put in place will help, and I feel comforted that I know more about my dad's situation now. I'm glad I came home.

In the meantime, I'm making the best of being with my family. We'll head out to the park later, if this wind ever slows down outside. And, since I finished my project, I stopped by Ram Wools Co-op this morning to find something to keep me busy until I get back to my own place:

Many thanks to those who helped us through this time. Your words and kindnesses have helped more than you know.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

My Kind of Home Decor

I had been dodging it all week: my too-short Sallah Cowl, in its net-like beauty, sat on the coffee table all week. I knew it was going to be too short, and I was too annoyed with myself to come up with a solution. It would have been nice it the problem had solved itself, but alas, this was the sort of problem that I was going to have to wade through, unless I wanted to waste all that time and yarn.

I picked it up the other night and picked up a bunch of stitches along one of the edges, and then continued using the same stitch pattern until I was nearly out of yarn.

I didn't bind off. Instead, I sewed the opposite edge onto the unbound edge, which seemed to preserve some elasticity, even if it made for a row of large, eyelet-like holes:

This made for an extra panel of fabric to work with, which gave me a couple of extra inches of circumference. I began to hope that I would actually be able to get my head through.

And then, I wove in the stray ends and soaked it. While it soaked, I cast my eyes around for an idea of how I could stretch this thing hard so that it would block out large enough to fit. That's when my eyes lit on my umbrella swift. A few minutes later, I had an interesting lampshade sitting next to my dining table.

And man, it worked. I love it. That extra panel with the stitches moving in a different direction really makes it interesting to me. I wore it out this afternoon to sit down in the sunshine at the marina... it was perfect for the wee bit of chill in the springtime breeze.

It's amazing what a bit of blocking will do. I even went so far as to block my Slipstream Hat a few days ago, and I like it way better now than I did.

And now, we'll break for my obligatory Sunday baking shot (mmmm blueberry scones)...

And a loaf of Dutch oven rye bread:

In the meantime, since my swift was in use as a blocking agent, I pulled out a ball of yarn that didn't need winding, and started working on my next project: a cowl that I fully admit I am copying pretty much exactly from someone I follow on Google+. +Casey L is so good at matching patterns to yarns, and I regularly peruse her posts to see what new beauty she has concocted. As soon as I saw her version of Moogly's Artfully Simple Infinity Scarf, I knew I had to make it... especially since I had the exact same colourway of Katia Jaipur sitting in my stash. It doesn't look like much at the moment, but I'm looking forward to seeing how mine turns out.

Since it's worked in the round, it's going to be one big loop when it's finished. I'm thinking that the swift might work to block it, if it's not too large. I could get used to seeing these kinds of lampshades around the house...

... that'd be my kind of home decor!