Friday, October 31, 2008

Don't Trust the Fairie

I grew up with Irish music and stories. I have to laugh at the new trend in little girls treating Tinkerbell like Barbie. Don't they know that fairies will trick you, switch your child and enslave you? Remember, Tinkerbell tried to kill Wendy.
I'm not a big Disney fan, either.
But it is Hallowe'en and this is my Grade 10 daughter looking enchanted in her costume she made herself. Thanks Alison for the tutu tutorial.
And yes, this fairie had an altercation with her teacher yesterday when he questioned her authority. Very Disney with all the special effects. Today seemed to be the remedy, but it's cold and rainy (as always) for the little trick or treaters.
I had my last lab: central lines, PICC lines, TPN, PCAs and most of the rest of the alphabet. I sucked it up, took control, and booked my skills test for the middle of November. So now my fear has a deadline. It's a tough thing to study for. I remember the casualty simulations in the Medical Corps. They had quite a festive atmosphere (and lost of simulated blood). Here I get to be in the lab (not in the field) and I get to verbally identify my mistakes rather than being expected to not make any at all. Now then, (oops) I've just broken the sterile field... again.
Not this weekend. Tomorrow is clean up at the camp and I sing at church on Sunday, the only song I have ever written.
Now I shall mindlessly knit in circles as the Pi shawl develops.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fighting For It

Since January adn the beginning of my course, I have had to give up a lot of my creative creating. I still knit. That is a regular nursing duty. But today I did some ribbon embroidery and made some thank-you cards. Most of my creating has been focused on caring for others and showing my appreciation for them.
It's hard to keep your head down, regurgitate data, squeeze the dormant grey cells and explore no further than "Critical Thinking".
So today, in the shadow of Christmas (OK, more like Hallowe'en) I started heating up the inovative juices.
I like making things with no pattern from the scraps in my basement. Hence the scrappy basement. I gave up a lot of crafts to have a manageable house. My kids grew up and weren't so interested in play dough. But I have always made things. My sewing machine is out and taking up the half of the dining table that my nursing books do not cover.
I never intended to spend so much time studying. It was advertised as a part-time course, but none of us can imagine that. 3 years of work and practice summed up in a few months.
I'm on the good end of the tunnel, though. The family has learned to get by without my constant intervention. I know, it was too much mothering. But I'm still getting the flack tonight from the teenage daughter. One of our first big big storms.
Tomorrow I drive away before she's up. I can't say I'm sorry to not be here to say once again that I won't drive them to school.

I was a fan of Disc Drive. And Here's To You, and the morning music show. Ironically, I won a CBC mug in the last request show. And now I don't really listen. Too much change. I may go back and get to know the new people, but I am hurt that my taste is undervalued. It's different when they were invited in to your house while you had your morning breakfast or cooked supper.
This is a huge time of change for me and defining (not redefining) my self. What really matters. I have had such a time crunch- how do I priorize? How do I fit it all in and still have time to create? Some how.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Storing My Ideas

I have now graduated to the "naked desk". When I wake up in the morning, the only thing I have left on my desk is my planner (D*I*Y* Planner). These baby steps are starting to make a difference. My papers are being filed in the right places, my homework is done and handed in. I went to a meeting today and said "no" to a few tasks because I just couldn't see myself honestly doing them. Normally I would say yes and then phutz and quiver with guilt, and then start practicing my apologies. This is much quicker to me not doing something that doesn't need to be done by me and doesn't fit into my own priorities. Good idea, why don't y*o*u* do it?
When I am done my studies, I hope to slide my organization skills into my stash. D hates the look of my yarn in baskets and containers. I had a lovely cubby system that held small plastic bins of yarn. But he moved the wool into the pantry. I rather like the look of this cupboard.

I could probably find space for that in the music room that used to be my very own office. That way I won't have to wade through the recycling and bulk foods to eyeball my dreams.
What do you use?

Monday, October 27, 2008


I have had a poor sock year. I knit a jaywalker in lovely dark Mountain Colours and then ripped it in March, or so, because some of the decreases didn't work. I told myself I needed to knit the dark yarn in brighter light.

I cast on brighter blue. Knit and re-knit, I tell you. Then the foot was too big. So I knit the second foot smaller and ripped back the first foot. I don't want to wear them. They're just a titch small and so they are a gift for my sister who has a titch smaller foot. Plus she took pictures of my feet in my red sock like a hunter on safari.

I bought amazing sock yarn this summer. Just a few skeins. But there it languishes in the basement pantry next to the laundry soap and cans of pineapple and mushrooms.

Then, on Friday, I get an idea to make my Grandma a blanket- to keep her cozy in her little apartment and maybe go with her to the hospital. As a nurse I feel strongly about tags that mark a patient as loved and important. Make them. Accost the nurses- this is my Grandma and she is loved and important.

Just as I adopt the runty kitten, I spoil the neglected sweet patients who deserve more attention and love from their significant others.

I have said before that baby sweaters are my socks. I'm hot flashing all over the place and buying lighter weight socks, so I won't be wearing warm cozy socks for a while.

But I am so tempted by all the socks on the net. The sock yarns are amazing. Harry Potter sock yarn? How can I resist? I hope I'm not doomed to make "clever" scarves and other items out of this great yarn.
I have a sock cast on in a travelling bag. But I have a big blue blanket at hand.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Try Harder

Fall is coming to our valley. The trees and mountains are turning golden. It is crisp in the morning and sometimes foggy. This is a long season for us. It has been surprisingly free from rain, so the leaves are showing their colours.
Listening to Merlin Mann (of 43 folders) on CBC Spark- try the podcast- was interesting. The show is about technology and culture. Now I'm not that deep into technology, but I love sociology, archeology- culture. He said to really narrow the focus of your blog. I know, this is a knitting blog, but knitting affects many areas of my life. And this is a blog about the knitting in my life. Still, I'll try to keep the knitting focus.
Then he said to just keep trying harder. He's right. This is writing. But some of my favourite blogs are just conversational. I pick up so much from the stories and projects posted.
The blue pi blanket is growing. I had to duck out of my daughter's music practice to buy some circulars and keep the stitches from leaping off the dpns. I've already knit those 24 rows and am on the next increase. It seems to go so quickly. So satisfying. I know it will slow down as the diameter grows, but I'm prepared to distract myself with some simple lace. Unfortunately the Grandma for whom I am knitting spent the weekend in the hospital. It's just for observation from medication change, but it was the big new hospital across the road- not the one in her complex. I think of her warm brown bread and local honey and say a little prayer.
I bought honey at the local place on Saturday and ended up engulfed in a bus load of Japanese tourists. Who knew? I always try to have some of this delicious honey on hand for gifts. It even had "Chilliwack" on the label. Sorry it's not good for mailing.
Black Diamond also grew. This is a lot of acrylic. The silk is calling to me. But they are gifts I want off the needles. We watched a video lastnight and I finished the first repeat and then some. I'm finding it a challenge to count each knit row. Hence the simpler stockinette in the round of the pi.

Emily's inaugeral practice of the Chilliwack Metropolitan Youth Orchestra was stunning. She and her friend played french horn. I knew so many of the people there. Parents I went to school with, other skating moms, a nurse who taught me in Calgary Childrens' Hospital, the son of my math teacher. And they played the music through the first go. Impressive. I'm looking for a suitable practice space this week. Today she walked with me and the dog. It was a nice time to chat with a lower level of drama.
I take my last lab class this week. Shocking. Like getting your drivers' license, you're never entirely ready. I want to get on the floor for my preceptorship on "telemetry", but I am wanting to stay in this supported student/ lab environment, too. I'll have at least 2 weeks of practice before I can test. I'm making cards to identify the most important information, but there's just too much. I hope this system works. I don't think it helps to try harder unless you try smarter.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Idle Hands

Idle hands are the devil's workshop. That's what I read today in the Yarn Harlot's book. Did it ever bring back memories. Not all good. I used to go with my sister to visit our Grandfather at the church camp where he preached. Nanoose Bay Nanaimo. He was all fire and brimstone. And Grandma D was harsh. She tried to teach me to knit several times because I begged, but, being a lefty, it was a steep learning curve. We were her cross to bear. Noisy, active little girls who couldn't nap in the day so they could stay up all night for the tabernacle.
In contrast, my Grandma Friesen is shy and quiet and hard working. 12 dozen buns every Saturday and cinnamon buns for her seven sons. I spent so many hours in her kitchen, helping her cook, or sitting next to the furnace while the uncles joked. I practiced on her piano afterschool. My dad and my son are quiet like her.
Well, she's in a home. I made D's grandma an afghan last year. Why not one for my sweet G'ma. She's also in an apartment in a multi-level care housing complex. It's not in our town (long story) so I don't see her much. I bought this soft blue acrylic (hospital friendly) and I think I'll make another pi shawl. I need a travel project and I would love to give her a hug.

This is my classroom. There are 10 beds and 10 dummies with interchangable genitalia. We practiced tracheostomy care on this poor guy today.

Happy skeleton helps us with chest assessment. Don't worry he's plastic. Behind him is the chart of our Nursing Scope of Practice. A huge document that has changed our approach. Our poor young instructor has made the mistake of referring to "the olden days" (when we were practicing). We really tease her about that. "What would Laura Ingalls Wilder do?"

And freaky "granny passedaway" keeps us on our toes. She is so ready for Hallowe'en. It was a good class but I'm exhausted. D's on call, so I have a bit more schedule freedom this weekend. I stayed up a bit later last night and got a good lot done on the black diamond. Hope to knit a bit and sit. I'm mostly over my cold, but time seems to have slipped away while I was down.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lots of Sound

Tuesday night was the highschool band concert. What a rush! My little girl played french horn in the concert band, sang alto in the vocal jazz, played trumpet in the jazz band, trombone in the jazz combo and then snare drum in the drum line. I loved it. Gagnon, the teacher, made me hostess and dispatcher of programs, which I did right next to the donation jar. I also got roped into the 50/50 which was fun (I always say I hate it) and had a big winner. Counting the money was tricky, but Jean and I have done it together before on pizza day. Her son played his Beethoven- wonderful!

With the intention of simplifying my crazy life, I bring you some solutions. This is my kitchen mat at the sink. We need something soft there. It picks up a lot of the spills and such. This is a non-rubber backed bath mat in a low pile and neutral colour. I have two. I can always (flip it over) throw it in the wash and put down a clean one. I have 2 back door mats, too. If I was smart, they'd be the same.

We have a big black dog. I found this boot tray after months of searching. Her oversized dishes fit on it. I can wash it in the sink when I mop the floor and the dishes too. Even my very-tidy oldest sister thinks I buy a new one all the time.
I have had two days at home to catch up on the big: miscellaneous. Whew. My list is so long. I miss Long Lake in Whistler and put this here to distract you.

A final solution (not the final solution. you know that). I want to have some bright cushions in the mostly neutral living room. I refuse to pay $35 for something that would take me 10 minutes to sew. Neither do I have the tie to drive to and scour the high end fabric shops. My solution is to make my own needlepoint cushion. I've done it before. But I can't pay $160 for a kit. I am the maker of my own prolems.
Because I can't work from a chart any more (not enough brain left) I found the pattern I wanted, blew it up and copied it onto canvas. Cheapola!
This is the Strawberry Thief from William Morris. I saw the original at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. I have a tangle of needlepoint yarn, and Hanne at my LYS said I can use "Smart" sport weight, too. I love that idea and they have a wonderful tapestry blue.
I'm not loving the black diamond shawl. I have a Christmas deadline and so many hoops to jump through and cram in before that. I resent it just a little. Also it's for a friend who feels a bit cheated on her 50th birthday (not my fault). Am I trying to put salve on my own guilt?
Solution: just knit the next stitch. Just knit the next row.

What are the solutions to your life problems?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Slow Food

I'm part of the "Slow Food" movement. I got the craziest look at a party a while ago. But my kids have been trained to answer to "What is the secret ingredient?"... "Time" they say with their eyes rolling. But I'm serious. There is no substitute for a good long cook on the stove or in the oven. On Wednesday I was home last week (the other days were in the lab), so I made supper and I also cooked down some onions for French Onion Soup. This is a real favourite in our house. It doesn't take a lot of work, but it takes about 3 or 4 hours for those 6 giant walla walla sweet onions to cook down to carmelized.
Yum. A bit of olive oil and a bit of butter. The trick is to have really good broth. If you can't make it, I've been enjoying Campbell's organic chicken lately. And I like to use "Herbes de Provence". I forgot to put red wine in this time. Of course the fresh baguette is a must. It was a nice treat to come home to D heating it up and getting the dinner ready.
October's square was also from Alice Starmore's Inishmore. I loved this one. I set it up for the carpool commute and finished it Saturday night. Just as well because I'm a bit stuffed up and stupid now.
Miss February had her debut at a birthday lunch and was very comfortable. It's a big deal for me to have a sweater that fits. At first I had the wrong buttons! They were too small. So back to the fabric store for more. It just takes time. The sewing is quick. I even had to give the website to the check out girl at Safeway and there are few things more satisfying than that.
The new buttons had been my second choice, and next time, at 60% off, I'll just buy both sets and save myself a trip.
On Friday night D took our kids and youthgroup to the corn maze. Unfortunately God decided to rain down on them heavily. They were exhausted. And I had to be a nice spouse and drive Emily to her thing early Saturday morning. I didn't feel guilty sitting at home with my knitting and a Cranford DVD. We love Elizabeth Gaskell.
While in the city of Abbotsford (30 minutes west) I decided to poke around at a few shops. Michael's had Paton's Classic Merino on for $5 a ball, so I got enough for a nephew sweater in sweatshirt grey. That's all I've seen nephew six wear. I also bought some tulle for a tutu Christmas present a la "the Blue Blog". I'm sending it to a girlie girl cousin in California.
At Rietman's I found a few t-shirts to replace my plethora of turtlenecks because there's no way that I can manage with a covered neck when the thermostat starts fritzing. I know when this started. I think I'm going to invest a year or so before I see the doctor because I don't want to take hormones. Like I told him, "I didn't take anything for puberty." I just bought plain brown and black and grey. I tend to brighten up my wardrobe with scarves and jewellery. I'll bet you do too.
On the plus side, lighter sweaters also look better on big girls, according to Amy Singer.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Autumn Light

Miss February is very please with herself and the gentle blocking that did not stretch her too much (I hope). She is made of lace, so I made the sleeves a titch short and the hem, well, I don't know. She's taking her time drying in the sunny spot in the living room. I'll have to practice flute somewhere else.
Buttons were easy to find and hard to photograph. I hope you can see how quirky cute they are. And more than half price! I'll get them on as soon as her lay about is done.
Couldn't resist another Whistler picture. The leaves here are green and then they go brown and wet and make mush on the ground. Today is sunny, so I'm good with green.
My niece has joined Ravelry. What a great surprise. She has started spinning (like her mom, my sister) and it has taken off for her. In defense, she has learned to knit again. What a great young artist she is. Say hi from me if you come across "electrictree" on Ravlery and give her some of that beginning support we all need every day.
This is a crazy week of driving in to Surrey. I'm glad for my carpool mate. I really feel pretty confident with sterile technique (it hasn't changed) and I always was good at changing dressings. I found a method to compile some of the information on cards to weed out the noise. I should get back to that. But thanks for keeping me company here and posting on your own blogs to keep me going.

Monday, October 13, 2008

There Was Pie

We feasted yesterday. Mom had a full turkey dinner, eventhough it was just my little family. We enjoyed it anyway. And that meant there was more pumpkin pie for all. I haven't made pastry in so long. I was not on my game. My hands are no longer freezing cold all the time. It's my turn to have a broken thermostat. It really throws your concentration. Luckily I'm already into whole foods and enjoying this third week of ballet/pilates. I'm finally feeling a bit more flexible. My core is strengthening, too and my posture is improved. I'm prepared for it to be a slow process. The key for me is to find something I want to do and to keep doing it. Today is raining and no imposition on my plans for basement workout.
The black Arctic Diamond shawl from Interweave Knits Winter 2006 is coming along. Amazingly I cast on, did the first 13 rows edging and the first 10 rows of pattern with...wait for it... no mistakes! The acrylic Berrocco Comfort Sock is not my favourite, but this is a gift for someone with deadly allergies. It isn't spun enough and splits. But the softness and drape are delicious.
I'm off to a light lunch at my best friend's and I was crafty enough to cook some of the pumpkin in custard cups to delight her in her dislike of pastry.
This is a big week for travelling to the campus in Surrey: Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. I'm thankful I have a good carpool friend. She even knits a little.
I'm also thankful that my penny scheme was embraced by the congregation. All 50 tins were snapped up and more are coming and requested. I, too, need to practice gratitude and if a penny can trigger the habit, that's a bonus.
Hope you are surrounded with abundance and comfort this Thanksgiving.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Having a Good Time

It's a lot harder than when I was younger. D and I went to Whistler for a few days- alone. The kids were home alone for the first time. It was a marginal success. They were both alive, clean and fed when I returned, and the house was pretty tidy. This was a trial run for a bigger trip in February. But I'm really tired right now.
We had some late nights and lots of outdoor activities. I also went to a Camp Board Meeting- my first. I'll share my camp with you later.
The colours at Whistler were great. I took 180 shots. Our leaves tend to get too wet to be very pretty. We walked to Lost Lake and around it. We went up the ski hill from our side on Blackcomb across to the Whistler side. We ate at pubs (!!) and drank great local beer. We visited places we usually see and discovered new ones. There is so much construction going on for the Olympics.
This is one of my first "take your own picture" shots. I actually got our whole faces in.
And that's us on the bridge over Fitzsimmons Creek. Just stopping and talking. We really enjoyed the fresh air, the open schedule and the time to just wander into the next thing. I even did some studying.

I finished February Lady while watching DVDs (the windy highway was not good for knitting). I cast on and started the black Arctic Diamond shawl and am happy with the gauge.

Tomorrow I'm back to the lab classes and driving into Surrey. Whew. What did I used to do with my time?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Changing Gears

I totally have a crush on my new information system. It's like finding a great yarn or patter, it takes up all the RAM in your brain. I just watched the "Inbox Zero" video that Merlin Mann did for the Google team and I have to absorb this new information. I also emptied my inbox. Completely. I didn't arbitrarily delete the unknown, I set about "actionable" steps. This is a dynamic process that will require much tweaking, but hopefully will get the monkey of guilt and inaction off my shoulders.

In knitting, sleeve number one is down (or up?) and I'm pretty pleased with February Lady. For such little effort I'm getting pretty great results. I also found a yarn that my friend is not allergic too, not lace weight but close- sock weight. Then I hunted Ravelry for a pattern that suited her and , I think, the yarn. I also found the needles and packed them with the stuff I'm taking to Whistler. To a non-knitter I was just futzing. But you know I was using critical thinking in a logical action plan. It's going to be the Arctic Diamond Shawl in black. That means I must knit it before the days become too short or too dark to work with such a dark yarn. I think I can do this.
I am trying not to struggle with my studies. I'm on a practical, physical, assessment and action phase. D and I are going to Whistler for a few days to walk around and relax. So I'm using narration to write all that I would do for Mrs. Patient, given a case study. Next week I'll actually practice in the lab.
But I'd rather go to Whistler.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Two Bags Full

Mom sent me a picture of my Print O the Waves shawl I made for my sister Pat's 50th birthday last October. Pat entered it in the Saltspring Island fair and, yes, that is my (my, my) blue ribbon.
To celebrate, I knocked myself out with recycling. Actually: Mom wanted to borrow some books and I couldn't find a nice bag to put them in. When I went to look, I realized to my horror that, eventhough we don't use plastic bags much anymore, they are still freely breeding in the basement. I took them all out and sorted them by store (putting the extra ones in the middle where they may be hidden) and drove them to the groceries stores from whence they came. Whew.

I forgot to show you that Canada Post does in fact work. Tired Mom from New Westminster (just the other side of the Fraser River) had this yarn on Ravelry and I took my first chance at the private sale. Very satisfied. I hope to get a better gauge for Bristow. 2 bags full!

My blogging and reading of blogs has been curtailed by such overlooked housekeeping. Plus I'm setting up some schemes for my Sunday School. What do you think about this:
When parliament was considering to stop making the penny, I was worried about the loss. The only real value is what we place on it. I have some pretty small kiddies in my class, and I thought that, like pennies, they were worth a lot, even if small. So we've coloured a lot of papers to cover coffee cans and every family can take a can home to practice the act of "gratitude for small blessings". Sure we'd love all the money to send to Heifer International at Christmas. But the real purpose is practice a daily act of gratitude. The penny is the tool. What small blessings do you have in your life? What have you overlooked? What is that blessing worth to you? Perhaps a moment to say thanks.