Friday, January 21, 2011

It snows here a lot.

Thursday I met with the surgeon woman, whom I like very much (Dr Morgan) and signed papers full of cheering things that will probably not be a problem (infection, incontinence, death, you know). The main thing is that I don't get to have anything but clear liquids for 48 hours BEFORE the surgery, which is not going to have me in the best frame of mind (although I can have tea, but no milk). And even after I am all better she does not think I should lift anything heavier than 25 pounds. I am hoping this is something I can work on. First we shall get through the surgery, which several more women have told me is not great fun but they felt way better afterward.

After the surgeon I met with the mechanic, who replaced my windshield wipers. WHICH COST $40, and the labor was free. Holy CRAP (sorry, but you know?). I diagnosed the need myself. I figured that fact that one of them was split all along its spine could not be good, though there seemed to be nothing wrong with the business squee-gee side. The new ones are much better, oddly.

Before going to see the surgeon I made an appointment at the a local lawyer's to bring my will up to date, since my current one says I have a husband and one child.

By this time I was feeling poor and doomed (the old, fat, and politically frustrated may be take as read, ptc as the doctor pointed out that the two days on clear liquids was a GREAT kick-off for weight-loss. Thanks), so I went to the Coop and got food and some interesting clear liquids.

Then I went to the bead store, Doug's Christmas gift certificate burning a hole in my gift-certificate pocket. The youngest one made me tea. All of them made me welcome. They revitalized me. I played with a late Christmas gift for Kimberly for two hours and ruled out several design ideas, and rid myself of the potentially hazardous gift-certificate by enrolling in a class on bead embroidery.

Then I went to Borders and met Doug for dinner at the Japanese restaurant, where I ate endangered fish for the first time in a couple of years. And bought him a ski mask to protect him during his hours plowing snow with the tractor. Man is a saint. And crazy, but the driveway is excellent.

The awesomely nice woman at the bead shop (one of three answering that description) suggested a site called They are a little gung-ho sparkly (all members are Princesses!!!) but the good outweighs the twee and commercial and the site rules would be funny if they were not so sad (Your username cannot allude to your children because a lot of women on the site are not going to be able to have any) (we won't discuss what I think of women who base their identity on their kids, if that's okay). And as usual in these things, reading other people's stories makes me realize my life has been and continues to be a PICNIC.

I also learned a useful word: rectocele, (ew. you don't want to follow the link)and here is an excellent picture:, only you need to at least double the size of my uterus. I would say my rectocele is moderate. And IT is apparently why they don't want me doing heavy lifting anymore. We'll see.
We are resolutely maintaining a good attitude.

I get my own morphine pump (or similar) until I can take pain medicine by mouth.

The kittens are getting bigger but they are still cute and even Willow doesn't hate them as intensely as she used to.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A modest proposal

World Charter for Compassion

"The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves.

Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others — even our enemies — is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.

We therefore call upon all men and women

• to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion;

• to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate;

• to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures;

• to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity;

• to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings — even those regarded as enemies.

We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensible to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community."

Friday, January 14, 2011

Stuff I made at Christmas.

I forgot that the shirt I embroidered for Sarah was supposed to be an addition to the picture of the other things (except for a dazzlingly ugly scarf, in a color she already had a handmade scarf from me of... never mind, she appreciated the thought...) I made in a burst of pre-Christmas industry.


Here we have the Poems mittlets for Kimberly -- a lovely American-made yarn with great similarity to Noro, only cheaper and not so itchy; the Cascade red Scrunchy Scarf for Kimberly's father Joel (he's my son's fiancee's father -- does that make him my husband-in-law?); the pillow case and the patchwork tea cozy I made for my daughter (the patches were leftover from the quilt I made her a while ago); the punchneedle embroidery I made for Doug (it might be him and me, it might be him and Barb; he makes a great friendly protective snowman, and he's not afraid of cute); and the tea cozy I made for my mother out of some fat quarters that were stacked next to one another in my LQS and smote me with their colors.

If you make a tea cozy, you put the outside together with the batting, and then sew the LINING inside out over the whole thing to the bottom, leaving a hole to turn it all inside out and hiding the seam. Chirality and topology and my head nearly exploded, yes.

It was all very well. I felt a little bad giving my mother a tea cozy and my father a corkscrew (one that worked, unlike the one he had). My mom prefers teabags and my father only has wine around for me, so I wrote "A Blatantly Self-Serving Gift from Laura" on both of them, and I did get them other things, too.

If anyone has a plum-pudding recipe they like, I need one. It is true that it only has to be a vehicle for the hard sauce, but I would prefer it to be more.

A final holiday note, though from a previous holiday:

Pan de Muertos (see, it has bones on top) is a perfectly delicious Mexican treat for living and dead alike. You can get a good recipe from Convivio Bookworks (write and ask, and you should look at their splendid little calaveras while you're on their site. Because I am a King Arthur Flour junkie, I used their Fiori di Sicilia and their crunchy sugar and I am looking forward to next November to make it again. Maybe in little rolls. With carpals and metacarpals on them.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

And in other news

So I have AMAZING fibroid (benign) tumors in and around my uterus that stagger ultrasound techs and preclude laparoscopy. They make it harder to bend in the middle and do weird things to my innards and are doing my knees no favors (like, an extra 15 pounds to carry). Except that I think details of gynecology are a topic for small, mostly female conversations, I am not embarrassed and I am, I think, excited. And appropriately frightened, since pain and inconvenience will be involved.

Naturally I hope to spread the latter around.

We are aiming for February 4 at Concord Hospital, which will mean I need to be dropped off at SIX AM. I am really sorry about that, Doug. The usual length of stay is two nights and then I hope to be home.

I have met with Dr. Martha Louise Morgan (associated with the Concord Dartmouth-Hitchcock center) once already and I like her very much. We are intending to leave the ovaries. The fibroids are too big and in the wrong place for anything but abdominal surgery. I think it will be along the same lines as the Caesarean that brought us Sam, 26 years later, but not with 9 months of bad sleep, 24 hours of labor, and a delightful non-sleeping baby and fluctuating hormones afterward. So it should not be any worse. It hurt and it itched and I got over it.

I meet with the surgeon person again on January 20 and I will not know more before that. Then I have a pre-op on Feb 2 at Concord Hospital.
I will try to keep you posted, you lucky people.



Odd, really. Unusual this time of year? After I wrote up my Instructable and suggested the prudent person might scan their new wool (or floss, or fabric) buys as they bring them home, I had occasion to go to Northampton for the day. Sarah and I had lunch with Grace and Debbie and behaved sedately (as these things go) in WEBS. I was delighted to see that Socks That Rock have colorways named The Slayer, Spike, and Drucilla. Photobucket
(top to bottom. I think the orange is for the hunting aspect?)

I do admire good marketing. I succumbed and bought Drucilla (whom I wish they had spelled correctly). I also bought some green silk-cashmere (it was ON SALE) and another green-multi colorway from Trekking. I scanned the other colors, too.

In a similar Sisyphean, or perhaps more Herculean (I am thinking Augean stables, here) line as organizing my DMC, I have started putting my not inconsiderably messy CD holdings onto iTunes. I have an external hard drive on my old Apple desktop, which is too old to upgrade but still has the best speakers I have ever owned. I am finding a lot of music I had forgotten I have, and a lot of empty cases. The CDs I find without cases only rarely correspond with them. I finally realized that I was bad at putting them neatly back into their cases and the pases back onto the shelf at least partly because there was no room on the shelf. As I copy the disks, I am putting them into a cardboard box to put in the attic (apparently if you burn the cds to your computer, you're not supposed to set the originals free or sell them). This will make one corner of the living room less awful, and as the kittens are in the 'poltergeist' stage of their development I won't be fishing CDs from behind the baseboard heating as much if they are securely stored. The computer also puts everything in plain sight, in alphabetical order, and I think I am going to like it.

In the meantime, however, I wish I could find "Guys and Dolls."

And I have finished half a pair of mittlets for my son, whose hands get cold because apparently the Apple store has only only door (no airlock), and it's in the John Hancock Building wind tunnel. I finished embroidering Sarah's Christmas present:
Photobucket, Leafy Earth from Urban Threads

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Fiber, really

Hue, value, chroma. Okay, that's out of the way. I believe it has something to do with how much black, white, and purity of color, but, it's more axes to me and like chirality, I am not so good at it. I think about it partly because of sites like Colourlovers and partly because I am trying to organize my embroidery thread holdings. These are comparable to my wool holding, only much smaller in area, thank God. It's bad enough. Little DMC skeins everywhere.

So I have been doing the embroidery thing again, partly because of a need to have more sugar skulls in my life, and from there to Sublime Stitching and Urban Threads and Mr. X Stitch and partly because it was my first real craft. When I was about eight, my mom tried to quit smoking by taking up crewel work. She did not succeed in quitting smoking, but I was interested in stitching and she bought me some kiddy embroidery sets (polyester penguins in herringbone. I still can't do good herringbone). Sometime not much later she gave her friends a copy of Native Funk and Flash and I must have nearly worn it out staring before she gave it away. Around then I started my father a shirt, which I worked on at various times, letting him wear it in between.

And other stuff. I fell for counted cross stitch in about 1980, and pursued that (I also learned to knit and crochet) until a) my son was about 5 months old and b) I left my bag of threads and patterns on the curb one day and it was gone when I came back. I hope someone enjoyed the Beatrix Potter patterns. You cannot do them with a newborn unless you have a nanny or much more powers of concentration that I do.

So I sent out for ALL the DMC colors and organized them and didn't do much embroidery again until about 1990, when I did some ecclesiastical cross-stitch. Do not put smouldering incense in the wastebasket of the church you are using. When you burn down the sacristy, as some Ethiopian Rite Christians did to mine, you make bad, unecumenical feelings. It was a lovely Advent/Lenten stole in eight colors of blue and purple on ash-grey linen and it was about nine feet long. Perhaps I shall see it in heaven.

No, I am over that. Of course I am.

Anyway, I read in my entry of August 23, 2008, that I was asked to make Alice an embroidered tea cozy, so I promptly began a shirt about the Gault project (there are two blue chambray shirts in that Flickr set, one his and one mine. I need to record the one I made Doug). My shirt is about 2/3 finished, as far as the things I intended to illustrate, and I actually made half of a splendid weird tea cozy for Alice this past fall, only then I had Christmas and so on.

I had a bunch of things to craft, so of course I spent a lot of time putting that off and became serious about overhauling the whole darned embroidery stash. I have a fancy thread color card with real thread from about the mid-80's, and a supplement, but that's still missing DMC's latest new colors. Apparently someone there bit the bullet and rearranged their cards into color families, much more useful than the old way. They sell a photographic color card, or you can download them off the web. Then, if you are insane, or OCD, or avoiding housework, you can Photoshop each column onto a separate piece of cardstock, and affix ziplock snack bags (they're small, and they open on the long axis) to it, and be able to see what and where your threads are.

There are something like 75 colors of green alone. Whitish green, yellowish green, murky green, different intensities, different amounts of blue in them. A reasonable person would pick maybe 5 and let it go, but I have never been reasonable, and if you embroider trees or lawns or flowers... well, you point out, fine, but you can pick them by eye. And for self-generated projects you can, but I also occasionally like to do... kits. Other people's patterns. Needlepunch tends to come in cutesy Olde American Primitive patterns; sometimes I find it restful. Sometimes I don't want to make something up, I want CUTE or EASY or tattoo-flavored. And then, though I am ashamed to admit it because I am usually so damned snarky, I ... I follow the directions. And they ask for specific colors, so you need to be able to find specific colors. If you have an iThing (Phone or Pod) you can get a very nice DMC floss app called X Stitcher, and you can feed your need for tidiness by recording what colors you actually have.

I have made three Instructables: Organize your embroidery floss (first steps)

Making a color card (embroidery floss mostly)

and Organize an unreasonable number of embroidery floss

It takes longer to do an Instructable than you would think, despite an excellent interface. Working with me is always an exercise in patience and mislaid files. But I hope it will make thins easier for someone like me. I think I would have run across them.