Monday, August 25, 2014

We have a winner!

Gd'ay all!

Sorry for the delay in posting - I had clear forgotten about DH's BBQ.

I had ten comments of one form or another that weren't duplicated, so I sequentially numbered them one to ten, then stuck them in a random number generator I found online, and then


came out!

KittyKat, you are the winner!  You get your choice of one of:

a nice skein of yarn either from my stash or undyed or hand-dyed by me,
some Liberty fat quarters
a mug rug or similar (undoubtedly in bright colours because that is what I keep!)
a printed, matted photo of a pic from my blog or flickr.

Let me know - email me at natiel311atgmail (the last two characters before the at are ones, not Ls).

Have heaps to relate but no time to do it in at the moment.  Been a bit busy..

anon!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Awooga, awooga, we interrupt this blog

G'day all!

This post is brought to you by ten.

Ten what?

Ten green bottles, hanging on the wall?

Ten toes? (Sorry, no pic because my toes are filthy after spending half of summer in the garden in my Tevas... and DH's toes are hidden in shoes and aren't coming out for love nor money!)

Ten t'riffic flowers?

Hmm, that photo is a bit fuzzy...


Ten homegrown strawberries?

Tiny tasty berries!


Ten skeins of yarn?

Acquired this year.  Oops.


Ten quilts?

I forgot one... sorry, left out quilt,
two are quilted items, not quilts - I cheated!


Ten finished objects?  (Ahem, too lazy to find these, though I certainly have them.  Anyway, who wants to see pairs of well loved socks?  No, you are in luck, I have ten finished tops to share with you.  I've knitted all bar one whilst in Seattle!)



Ten works in progress?



There were ten in the bed and the little one said?

Why the focus on ten?

Can you guess why?

Leave a comment and tell me why you think I'm focussing on ten.  I'll do a draw on hmm, let's say Saturday 23 August at 9pm Pacific Daylight Time or whatever the local thing is at the moment from all the comments.  There will be something nice in it for you, a skein of yarn - I've got some nice undyed merino/cashmere/silk blend (I can dye stuff too!) plus lots of stash as long as you like mermiady colours - a little quilted thing, three Liberty fat quarters, a printed/matted picture?  Depends on what you like.  But you have to leave a comment to be in the draw.

CONTEST NOW CLOSED.  Sorry for the wait on the draw, I am frantically busy, having forgotten about DH's birthday BBQ....  House cleaning waits for no blog this time around!

anon!

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Four years

G'day all!

Four years ago today I had a cancer cut out of me.  Two cancers, really, since I had a bad lymph node as well.

It's strange, looking back on those times.  I was terrified - I'd never had a "proper" operation before.  I didn't count my wisdom teeth as a proper operation for whatever reason, even though it meant having a general anaesthetic and staying in hospital overnight (I was the last operation of the day and they were running an hour or two late by the time they got to me).

Surf's up!  Again!














I remember the nurse asking me to open my eyes when I was in the ward and me refusing to (and they said I was not responsive - I told her I wasn't opening my eyes as the dizziness/nystagmus weirdness was so bad I shut them again.  Anyone who has dealt with an old fashioned tv when the horizontal or vertical hold has gone will understand what I'm seeing if I say that my vertical hold had gone.  It was very offputting!).  I don't remember much in the way of pain - stiffness and uncomfortableness yes, but not pain in particular.  I discovered the joys of regular obs - the nurse waking me up just when I'd gotten to sleep, though sleep was pretty scarce due to the woman in the next bed constantly asking for more pain medication (and when they took her out for a test, the nurses gossiping that she was addicted to pain meds).  I've never been so glad to see the back of someone.  Two nights in hospital was enough for me - I missed dinner the first night I think and the second night the only thing the kitchen could give me was a little rectangle of fish about the size of three fish fingers.  No vegetables or anything.  Jeez I was hungry - I needed food to recover from surgery and all they gave me was a little chunk of protein.

20140802_purplemartinhomes

And then there was radiotherapy and starting work and the long haul of recovery, all with the looming spectres of recurrence and mets hanging over me.  That's the danged thing about the sort of cancer I had (I hope it is had!) - you can never be quite sure that it is gone.  At the end you are sent out into the world with the promise of regular check ups (which are a trauma in themselves).  They don't even say it is in remission.  I've heard Americans say no evidence of disease, which my online BC buddies call dancing with NED.

yay, achieved another sunset!














The good news is that I am still here four years later.  I didn't expect to survive a year - my Mum and my aunt hadn't survived a year from their diagnoses.  The not so good news is that it seems I will never be back to 100%.  There are things that I just can't do now and I don't know if it is ageing or if it is the aftermath of chemo and the operation (the lymphedema is certainly due to the operation!) or a combination of them.

Still I'm here, and that is a good start for life in general!  I can't knit and quilt and type nonsense out at you chaps in the webisphere if I'm pushing up daisies.

So here's to life!

20140802_presunset

anon!



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Summertime....

G'day all!

I am being a very bad blogger.  Sorry!  This summer seems to be quite busy.  The garage project continues - it got massive again, the garden project continues, work continues, knitting and quilting continue...


Guess where?

Last week I was talking to a friend about dating.  I don't think I ever really dated anyone.  I got to know them a bit before going out with them.  I met all of my boyfriends through uni.

Daw, pretty!

I guess I was lucky - being a geek girl meant that I had quite a number of boys to choose from.  I say girls because even though we thought were were all grown up, we weren't.  We had a lot of learning to do.  So did the boys for that matter.  Some of the girls went through the boys like a rash.  Some of the girls developed harems of boys all fluttering around them, desperate to be noticed and to be the boy she'd take home that night or not kick out of the shared house that night...  And then there were girls like me who were totally amazed that boys would even look at them.  What on earth did they see in me?  I was boring and not particularly pretty - as one of my friends put it, we were attractive in an unusual way.  High school had been pretty rough as I was not interested in boys, well not most of the boys on offer there, and umm was quite sturdy of build shall we say.  I must admit that it never occurred to me to pursue other girls and it still doesn't.


Love this place

Anyway, at least for a while, there was always someone interested in me that I was interested in too.  I never knew why or what anyone would see in me but apparently they found some value.  It surprises me that I'm married - like why would anyone put up with me and my vagaries?  My interest in cooking and cleaning mirror each other.  I like to knit and quilt and garden and drive places and take pictures much more than housework.  I only cook because I don't want to starve.  I forget things.  I'm nearly always late - as my mum used to say, I'll be late to my own funeral.  It's a perpetual surprise that people seem to like me.  I know my perception of myself is not how others see me - how could it be?  Everyone sees things differently.

Many greens

Speaking of liking quilting more than housework, I participated in the Modern Quilt Guild Michael Miller Petal Pushers challenge.  (what a mouthful!)  We get given a little bundle of fabric and have to make something quilted out of it.  There are prizes given at the end of the challenge to the winners - in this case Michael Miller fabric delivered once a month for a year!

As you can imagine, the challenge was rather popular.

I looked at my fabric and decided I wanted to do wonky bulls eyes.  So I cut the fabric and sewed it and was amazed that it went together relatively easily.  Then I realised with a border around them, the three wonky bulls eyes would make nice new cushion covers.

My cushion covers

This of course meant getting online and buying more fabric because I didn't have enough in stash and my local quilt shops don't stock any of the lines that I needed.

Retro!  Cool for cats.

Which then meant I had a really cool idea for the back of the cushions.


Wonky cats

In my usual style, I really like the back more than I like the front.  Typical!

Anyway, I won't win because you should see some of the totally amazing entries.  There are some very very talented and clever quilters out there.  (Speaking of which, pop over to my friend Dana's blog and check out her new book :-)

Top left clockwise: boysenberries, marionberries,
strawberries, boysenberries, loganberries.  Nom!

Since it is summertime, it is also jam making time.  I've been going bonkers making jam.  I missed out on getting any of the yummy little blackcaps that I love so very very much - did you know that they are native raspberries?  There's a west coast species and and east coast species.  I am so getting some for the garden.  They are sooooo yummy!  Small, seedy and blackcurranty.  Anyway, I've got boysenberry, strawberry, marionberry and loganberry.  Loganberries are weird - they are sorta fizzy on the tongue.  I've got one plant in the back yard but it got brutalised recently during an incident with the deck (I should log all of this in the house blog, eh?).  My plant did fruit quite well for a first year plant and the berries were sweet but fizzy.  They make absolutely amazing jam.  I do add sugar to my jam (and pectin so that I don't have to boil the heck out of it) - about a cup of sugar for each cup of fruit.  I thought boysenberry jam was my favourite but I have to say that loganberries are pushing to the front.

Umm, loganberry?  Boysenberry? jam in progress

The strawberry jam tried to escape!
It nearly boiled over.

And my beloved tayberries?  I have some frozen, I wanted to go a-picking but couldn't get coordinated enough to get out the house in time.  I will make jam from some of the frozen ones.

I've been knitting too.  I finished the top that I started on the London trip.  Can't remember if I showed it off or not - I doubt it as I didn't have pics of it.  Here's a quick shot I took tonight.

London Calling.  On ravelry too.

It is quite flattering, non?  The angle makes me look super curvy.  It is knitted in a cotton/silk/nylon blend.  The pattern is called Gemini and you'll find it in Knitty.  It was an easy knit and only took as long as it did because I got fussy about the raglan sleeves and then ended up just making them little puffy sleeves - the original yarn was a lot more drapey than what I used and the sleeves draped nicely in the original but in mine they just stuck out stupidly.  Little puffy sleeves look better!

I knitted some stuff for a friend's kid and sent it off.  I was amazed.  Last time I sent stuff to Australia, it took two weeks.  This parcel I sent to NZ and it was there five days later!  They liked it, so hopefully it is working well for them and not shrinking or going weird or anything.  I used superwash wool.  I may be mad but I'm not totally stupid.  I'd share a pic or two but they are way back in the phone list and I'm feeling too lazy to scroll all that way back.  (All the pics I'm sharing with you are taken on the phone.)

A month between tomato
plantings makes a difference!

The garden is flourishing.  I am having to water it quite a bit because we've only had about 10mm of rain since the start of June and not much in May either.   The dry season started early this year.

I have yet another favourite
flower.  This made my car
the prettiest in the world!

I'm also planting in a fit of madness.  I love the wild colours that you can get echinaceas in, so a heap of them are going in.

A little slice of garden.

The plants that went in earlier in the year are flourishing.  The sunflowers have been growing like the clappers and are starting to head up.  I need to do a garden post because there is soooo much happening in it.


Boat sheds.

The weather has mostly, not entirely, been amazing.  It cooled off last week.  I know that saying 28C is hot is funny, especially given where I come from, but it is hot here, and it is often associated with a lot more humidity than I'm used to.  After all, the Sound is less than a kilometre away.


Yacht at sunset

We discovered a new place for sunsets too.  So pretty along the shipping canal on a good sunset night!

Low light and the graininess looks like a painting.
I've been thinking I'm quite often tired at the moment and I'm starting to get an idea of why.... LOL  But it is summer and you have to take advantage of it as much as you can cos soon enough it will be manky winter again.

anon!




Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Well hello there!

G'day all!

I've been missing in action.

Well I've certainly been active.

Early this month DH resigned from his old job.  He had found a new job.

This means going and getting new visas.

yay.

not.


Peonies, taken on the new phone
Actually getting the visas is fine.  It is the amount of work I have to do to organise it all that is the PITA.  Y'see it is up to me to deal with the paperwork.  This means encrypting mountainloads of images and scans and getting more scans and information together for the immigration lawyers, and providing all sorts of details for their side of the deal.  This takes a number of hours.  Then one has to do stuff online to schedule an appointment at any of the US consulates in Oz, Canada or the UK.  Canada is close and we've never been to Quebec and it is close to Nathan's works head office, relatively....

Then when one has just spent three hours online putting All One's Own Details and those of one's Beloved (aka by now why can't one just throttle him and get him to do his own blasted work?) into a computer system, again, for the umpteenth time, and then one gets to schedule a visa appointment in Canada and it tells one....

No available appointments

and the next US consulate in Canada tells one

one
hundred
and
thirty-one days before the next appointment is available,

and one has ten days to get out of the country under the terms and conditions of one's current, expiring visa,

one might have had just a little wee tad of a meltdown.  A sobbing, panicked, heartbroken sort of wee tad of a meltdown.

Send yarn.  Send lots of yarn.  Like in this
department store.

So it seemed Canada was off the list of places we could get new visas.  We couldn't wait four months - we'd go bankrupt and also be homeless.

The options were going home to Oz and going to London (UK, not Ontario, Canada!).


Can you guess where we went?

Uh, yeah.  Maybe not obvious enough?

London is closer and much closer than Oz is to DH's new work's head office in NYC.  Plus it had only a short waiting before we could get an appointment.

So the company agreed to send us there and put us on a plane (Air Canada) and sent us off to London!

Holy guacamole did we have a fantastic time!

Oh and we got the new visas, though we thought for a little while that the Border Force guy would not let us into England at all.... but it was ok.

I had thought that London would be suffering from austerity.  Nuh-uh.  Venture capital, or so I am told, is funding new buildings all over the place.  I remember London as being a bit stuffy last I was there but it has leapt into the 21st century.  It is an amazing mix of traditional and modern architecture, and the modern stuff isn't just tall glass boxes.  They are quirky glass boxes.  There are weird shapes and interesting bits and the place is growing upwards madly.

We walked and walked and walked and walked.  And rode the tube.  We happened to walk past Horse Guards when they were selling tickets for their annual parade and retreat (not the trooping of the colours, a different event) so we bought cheap tickets to that.  Even the cheap seats were good.  We walked some more and gawped at the architecture and at Regent Street and Oxford Street and the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben and its tower and Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus.   We went to Greenwich and also to the Natural History Museum.  We moved from Paddington in a hotel to a cousin's place in Wimbledon, and kept riding the tube and the train and walking walking walking.  We went out to Hampton Court Palace (by train!  LOL) and DH asked me lots of questions that I could not answer about Henry VIII cos I am not AJ.

The life and the energy of the place was amazing.  I don't know if people are spending their hard earned pounds but there are certainly people out and about in London.

And do you have to ask if I went to any yarn shops?

I did a meet up with a Ravelry BC mate at I Knit London:

I'm a bit yarn-crazed and Y is leery of me....
Both of them were very adequate yarn shops with lovely selections, but I Knit London has something super special:


DH hurried down when he heard this

Yep.  What I call grog and others would call alcohol.

In a yarn shop.

Honestly!

See?  yarn.  and alcohol.  In the one shop.
I think this is a winning combo and I don't drink!

and on the last day in London we got to Loop after picking up our passports with shiny new visas and walking via St Pancras/Kings Cross stations.


Loop is an excellent yarn store

Relegated to the husband seat,
somewhat camouflaged

And there is yarn in the department stores there, nice yarn too, and I may have gone to Liberty of London and what a bottler of a store that is, particularly the upper levels with its weird (overpriced) stuff.  I always thought I had tacky taste but it turns out I've just got expensive taste.  Many LOLZ.

It was an amazing trip, so different to what I expected.  We only had one day off in the hmm ten that we were there.  There was just so much to see and do, and we really didn't scratch the surface of the attractions.  I have not walked so much in months and now that I am home and have been horribly jetlagged (I realised that I was awake for almost 24 hours after five hours sleep, with two flights and a five hour layover in between times), I have hardly walked at all.  Today I am back at work, which means only doing my exercises and going out to the garage.  Yep, that is a loooong way.

But I did do the naked bike ride on Saturday.  There was one the previous weekend in London but it was a really starkers bike ride, not a painted person bike ride, and the only bike available to me was a Boris bike (one of the bike share ones).  Can you imagine riding around nekkid on a bike that has been lord knows were?  Or riding one of the Boris bikes after some nekkid person has been riding it?

Ick.

So if you get the chance, do go to London, especially during the longer days of the year (rather than the long nights part of the year).  Maybe like us you will have a ball!

I think I will stick a few pics (ok, this is me, there will be thousands) up on my travel blog - the link is on the side bar.  Just bear with me for the nonce as I should be slightly discriminatory.

anon!

PS I have been knitting!

Two Aviatrices to distribute to those with kids

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Farewell May

G'day all!

It is almost June already.  Where has the year gone?

This May has been interesting.  It is a month of changes, of farewells - both my parents died in May, many years apart - and this year is no different.

Dunno what it is about May but if it weren't for the beauty of spring and early summer here, I'd go a bit nuts.  (More nuts.)

My love affair with dogwoods continues...

A while ago, DH was approached by a recruiter.  This happens quite often - the IT industry is really quite incestuous and they are always on the lookout for good people.  They thought that he was a different person of the same name, but it turned out that DH was in fact the right guy.  They had discussions and then those turned into interviews, and the upshot is that DH is leaving Amazon.

We are not leaving Seattle...

This means getting new visas.  Yay!  Not.... Every time we have to get new visas, we have to do mounds of online paperwork.

Sorry, that is I have to do mounds of online paperwork (and sometimes real paper paperwork too!).


Magnificent peonies

We also have to supply fairly current photographs for the visas.  That took some effort because there is a problem with having nice, brightly coloured walls.  They a) are not the neutral background required and b) cast odd coloured light and shadows.  That took a while to sort out and may have involved some image manipulation of the background (but not as much as the time in California when the girl changed the white balance of my passport pics so much that my hair went brassy yellow, my skin a ghastly shade of grey and my eyes violet!  I looked like some sort of vampire with my pale, unhealthy skin and bloodless lips...).


Not Cecile Brunner - it's apricot and is Perle D'Or

So Canada is nice and close and the US consulates there issue our sorts of visas.  The waits were three weeks at Calgary and Vancouver and Toronto and Montreal but Ottawa had a three day wait so I start lining us up with to go to Ottawa.  We've never been to Quebec and thought it would be interesting.

When I tried to book the actual appointment, the system said there is a
one
hundred
and
thirty
one
day
wait for appointments in Ottawa.

I need some flower pics to calm me down.


You'll find out why!

Now this is after I've just spent two and a half hours putting answers into webpages over and over and over - like we have done this several times before, no we are still not terrorists, no we have no intention or desire to do naughty naughty things whilst we are in the States, why can't we just say yep, nothing's changed except the job?

Lots and lots of flower pics

When DH leaves his old job, we have to be out of the country within ten days.   Yes you read that right.  Ten days.  It's part of the terms and conditions of our visa - cos after all if you've been living somewhere for a couple of years, it is easy to just pack up and leave, isn't it?   Doesn't leave much time to get organised, and a wait of 131 days before the new visa appointment, let alone the visa being issued would equal losing the house, the car and bankruptcy.  And DH had already resigned, just not left quite yet.

Sometimes even flower pics don't help

Or even the cutest, silliest pants
I've ever had

Or silly shoes

Or pics of the Space Needle
with the rose "Graham Thomas"

So I had a meltdown.  A full on sobbing, tearful, snotty meltdown.

Not even knitting calmed me down.

Plus this was all on the day of Mum's deathiversary (at least in Oz), so I was already a bit wobbly.  23 years now.

Now it is sorted, mostly.  The new company is flying us to London.  England.  Hopefully we won't be there for too long as I want to get back to Seattle in time for the naked bike ride - I've been anticipating it for months.  (Must get the bike in order and see if I can manage to ride it with this stupid lung condition.)
 

Rose "Pat Austin"

Oh, yeah, I also saw a pulmonologist to see what if there is a medical opinion about my lungs.

There is!

I have greater than average lung volume and the diffusion of O2/CO2 across my lungs is more than adequate (127% of that expected).  I have a small area of scarring at the top of the right lung, almost certainly from radiotherapy, and my breathlessness is not caused by lung problems.  My lungs are in excellent shape.

Well dang!  But good.  But dang!

Cute dianthus/clove pinks

He made me breathe in and out whilst he listened to my lungs and then made me take big breaths in and out, and was surprised by the noises I make (it's embarrassing to make weird groans and honks, and I make weird groans and honks.  Sometimes it just sounds like I'm getting ready to speak or saying hmm, but other times it is loud and obvious).  But I think it put him onto something.

He looked at the CT scan taken waaaaay back in ?October? and showed me a shot of my trachea (breathing tube).  He noted the weird position of the right vocal cord and also that my trachea is bowed inwards, partly blocking my airway, on the right side below the vocal cord.  He thinks this is causing the problems.  (The otolaryngologist never even mentioned this...)  My trachea should be a straight tube, not a bowed on one side one.

Foxgloves have always fascinated me.
Yep, I stick my finger in them.

What can be done about it?  Wait and see.  Hopefully when the vocal cord issue is fully resolved my trachea will fix itself up too.  At least he acknowledged that it is distressing to not be able to do aerobic stuff or manage a conversation whilst walking.  He suggested I try actively breathing out through pursed lips when doing more aerobic work - it might help hold my trachea out as the air in my lungs and airways will be at higher pressure and it might reduce the bowing when I breathe in.  Maybe.  A little.  He also asked me a heap of questions that I think may relate to MS, Lou Gehrig's Disease or even lupus.  Bonus!

I'm so tired of wait and see.  My whole frigging life is full of wait and sees.  Cancer.  wait and see if you are going to die - what fun!  Now this.  Extra bonus fun!

I liked this combo.

It is hard to go forth and live your life when you become restricted in what you can do.  I used to ride my bike places.  I used to walk up the hill and see things, admire the gardens, go to the beach and the Locks.  I used to walk lots of places.  I used to get up and dance like a crazy thing and do aerobics at home.  Now I drive the blasted car - it is good to have the car but I want to be able to walk without thinking I'm going to die because I can't breathe properly!  I'd like to be able to dance without having to do slow, gentle dances.  I only have one last specialist to see (a cardiologist) and then I'm done, but now that DH has quit, our health insurance ceases soon and the new one hasn't kicked in yet.  I'm sure the old one is very pleased to get rid of me, but the new one won't be happy!

There has to be a sunset shot of the mountains
across the Sound!

Vevo prettiness

I finally finished a cowl/wimple that I started last year.  The pattern is Vent D'Est Vent D'ouest and the yarn is Madtosh laceweight (whatever it is called) in Stargazing, not Cousteau!


Now with extra cheesy grin

What else has been happening?  My outrage at my government's budget still simmers.  My conversation with first ex continues.  I've swapped over to using Chromium mostly rather than Firefox because the recent Firefox update exposed a memory leak that has plagued Firefox ever since I first started using it, and when it slows a machine like mine with massive amounts of memory and disk to a crawl, it gets pretty peeving.  My obsession with 2048 has settled down somewhat, mostly because I discovered something truly truly amazing.

I am sure I am not the only person who wanted to be an astronaut when they grew up.  I could think of nothing more wonderful than going into space and walking on the Moon and seeing Earth as a marvellous big blue and white marble.

Well I'm most unlikely to get into space but I can do something almost as good and with none of the hassle of having to use the equivalent of vacuum cleaners to pee and poo in, or having reconstituted meals and ahem reconstituted water.

Watching Earth from the International Space Station is doing wonders for my geography skills, and is just enthralling me.  All of my experience is of Earth, and seeing Earth from outside its atmosphere is astounding.   All life that we know of except for a handful of astronauts exists on this one fragile planet.   Seeing the oceans and islands and continents rolling underneath the ISS is addictive.  I keep hoping that I will see my home city but so far I've not managed it in over a week of watching.   In the meantime, I remain enraptured by my planet, enchanted by what I see.

South Australia looking SE towards Victoria, Australia

anon!