Where did July go? Man…

I had a weekend that scared even me in its hyperfocussedness. Cenobyte needed a steampunk costume for GenCon too (yes, needed!) and that apron just kept calling to me, since it’s adjustable enough to fit both of us.. So I made one. And embroidered it. And made my goggles. And shopped for the cybernetic hand.* And started the embroidery on my costume.

I wonder if I should pursue the possibility of doing stuff like this for a living wage more assiduously. Or would it, Tom Sawyer-like, become a chore once I have to do it?

For your consideration… The Case of the Disappearing Coffee. R:tAG had an early morning physio appointment, so when I dropped him off at work I came in to steal a cup of coffee. They had no lids, so I drank the coffee down to half-way and hoped for the best. Driving to my workplace, I got engrossed in the radio** and forgot about the coffee. I got to work… and the coffee was almost gone. I swear I didn’t drink it (when you drive a standard in the California rush-hour, there is no such thing as absentmindedly taking your hand off the wheel or the gear shift) but there was no detectable spillage. Oooooo, mysteeeerious.

Oh, and a cooking tip, do not use a really hoppy beer (like an IPA) to deglaze a pan and make a sauce. The good flavours of the beer go away, and all that’s left is palate-assaulting bitterness.

And just to make this post be a completely random collection of statements, here are some links! An abnormal number have to do with fashion, since I’m sort of in a costuming head-space.

Before and After Makeovers - Some of these cannot be considered improvements, by any standards.
What-the-hell-is-this Knitting - Well, as costumes...
I Don’t Do Walking - Horrifying.
Facebook: Big Brother with a Smile - Noooo! Don’t do it!
Literary Lolcats - I mentioned the Lolcats thing before… this is really, really, funny.
Scary Soap - Because a list of links just isn’t complete without a horrifying picture.
Beautiful Wildlife Photography
World’s Biggest Yarn Stash – This is not a shop. This is a private collection. I now feel better.
Construction Site Floods – Wow!

* Not a euphemism

** A discussion on veterans’ health administration… some caller was trying to use the current VA mess as an example of why socialized medicine could never work. Because, somehow, people working for the government can never have the best interests of a patient in mind, but people working for an insurance company always do. Grrr.

R:tAG is doing much better. The physiotherapist seems to be throwing a grab bag of treatments at him (twisting and pulling - which I’m sure has some fancy medical term - massage, electric shocks, ice, and ultrasound. Not all at once) but some of them at least seem to be sticking.

He was well enough that we walked around a farmers’ market on Sunday. It’s peach and plum season, and I’ve never seen such huge peaches. Grapefruit-sized, some of them. So there’s lots of peach pie in our immediate future, which is A-OK by me.

We also went to the local military surplus/camping/survivalist store to get some goggles for my GenCon costume… I’m doing basic steampunk this year so of course one needs the goggles. Here are a few links that I’ve been perusing for inspiration:

The Motherlode of Steampunk Costuming
Steampunkifying Welding Goggles
Awesome Apron
Awesome Monitor - and also see the keyboard... so beautiful!
Cog Embroidery

Oh, and you know that knitted lace Mystery Stole that I’ve been boring you with talking about for a while? It got a bit more interesting when the rumour went ‘round that it was going to incorporate Satanic symbols, which caused some people to state that they weren’t going to work on it any more until the designer reassured them, which caused other people to deride the first group, which caused other people to weigh in on religious freedom, being mean, persecution of Christianity, and a host of other topics. I am so glad that I don’t actually subscribe to the message boards for the Mystery Stole group.

As far as the original rumour, I can only quote dear Mr Babbage: “I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.”* The whole concept of this Mystery Stole thing is that you don’t know what the final product will be, but there’s certainly an element of trust. I looked at the designer’s previous work and read her blog, and I was fairly confident that the design would not end up being a) her name in 12” tall letters b) a huge phallus c) swastikas d) a high-res rendering of an alien abduction, or e) anything else that would appeal to the thin end of any given bell curve, including overt religious symbolism of any flavour.**

But even if you did think that the designer was deliberately including Satanic symbols to fool you into wearing The Lacy Mark of the Beast, why would you expect her to admit it?***

* Mr. Babbage of course was responding to the question "Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?" but I find the phrase appropriate to many situations.

** Though now I have some great ideas for my Mystery Stole knit-a-long…

*** I really don’t want to know more about this, and most of the discussion is apparently in a forum to which I do not have access (thank goodness) but there seems to be a possibility that all this started because someone guessed that the theme of the stole might be Dante’s Inferno. Can’t see it, myself, but I don’t even want to think about the mindset that would equate Dante with Satanism.

So, R:tAG’s X-rays show nothing wrong with the spine (yay!) and the physiotherapist says it’s “innominate pelvic shear” or something like that (R:tAG didn’t hear him quite right and I wasn’t there*). The important bit is that it’s a fairly common thing, there’s a standard series of exercises to do, it can happen to almost anyone, anytime** and R:tAG is getting better each day and ought to be able to go to work on Monday. This is a huge relief. R:tAG will have to go for physio twice a week for the next while, but the clinic is fairly close by and he says even this single therapy session helped noticeably. Double yay!

And it’s Mystery Stole Friday and Clue #4 has just been posted! Triple yay!

Here’s the progress after Clue 2, with half-assed pinning-out (that's causing the scalloped edges):

Mystery Stole Clue 2

And Clue 3 with no pinning out:

Mystery Stole Clue 3
These pictures make the yarn look lighter than it is, and don't show the beads very well. When it's done, I'll have to actually make an effort to figure out the camera settings and get better lighting.

At this point, according to the author, it’s 1/3 done. So I have to decide whether that’s going to be long enough…lace is tricksy before it’s blocked but it seems short-ish right now (the above picture has some foreshortening happening but it's still pretty stubby). She gives directions for lengthening it in 11” increments, which is a fair bit but I guess that’s the shortest repeat for the border and the centre to get back in synch. I’ll have to do a quick on-the-needles blocking, measure it properly, and see how an extra 11” would affect the proportions. I don’t want it looking too skinny, or be so long that I'll pull an Isadora Duncan.

* The clinic happens to be near my favourite LYS. Hey, what was I supposed to do, just sit yarn-less in a waiting room? I don’t think so! And besides, I had to go back there because I'd bought some sale yarn there and then changed my mind about what I was going to do with it, so I needed two more skeins, which I found out was exactly the amount they had left. So obviously that was the right thing to do.

** The physiotherapist said that one of his patients had had this happen just by shifting his weight in a chair during a long meeting. Eek! We’re such fragile bags of thinking water…

So, Reason Number 48 for not being a complete slob; if EMTs have to come to take your husband away on a stretcher, they won’t be tripping over books, piles of clothing, and Rubbermaid bins of yarn in your bedroom.

No, it actually didn’t come to that, but at one point I’d dialed the first two digits of 911 while waiting to see if R:tAG was going to start screaming again. That was pretty horrible. It’s his lower back… he merely leaned the wrong way on Saturday afternoon and something went terribly wrong. The pain kept getting worse until he had to remain flat on his back and immobile to get any relief, and then even that started hurting. By 5:00 AM on Sunday he was having full-blown back spasms. Not fun, and there was no way I could get him even to my car, much less into it, to get him to any place where they could help him. So it looked like it would be an $X,000.00 ambulance ride.

However, R:tAG is a trooper and we agreed that since it had been about five hours since he’d had any medicine, he’d take some more and see what happened before we called 911.* Thank goodness, the spasms responded to the drugs, and the pain gradually ebbed and his mobility returned to some extent… enough that he could stand, sit, and walk (with help, and considerable discomfort, but still a vast improvement over the previous blinding agony). We saw the doctor this morning** and got the good painkillers and anti-inflammatories, and we’re waiting for the X-ray results and physiotherapy recommendations.***

So, we had a lousy weekend.**** How was yours?

* Which also gave me the chance to pick up the bedroom a bit. Now we are ready for EMTs!

**I guess we’ve never been in quite this situation before, having a really-urgent-but-not-actually-life-threatening medical situation, so I can’t really compare the Canadian and American responses. It helped that all the doctors in the clinic are part of our HMO deal, so R:tAG could see the first one available, but being able to be seen within two hours of calling was sure nice. We had to wait about an hour for X-rays… comparable to my experience at the Community Clinic.

*** On the various papers documenting the experience, R:tAG’s condition was listed as "Lubar Spam," which would be a great name for a rock band, and also as "Back Spasums." The first might have just been poor handwriting, but the second was typed. I guess they don't teach spelling in med school. Oh well, as long as they give us Vicodin!

**** Never did get to that Bastille Day picnic, but I didn’t get the costumes finished in time anyway. Plus, it was stinkin’ hot.

Lots of pictures! First some of the ones that should have illustrated some of the events I missed:

Carl and me at the Digital Moose Canada Day celebration. I managed to look away from the iPhone long enough to sing the anthem, but it was a close thing.

We went to friends’ for a July 4 BBQ* and I finally had the excuse to make this cake. I halved the recipe and got an 8”x12” cake, which I thought would be plenty, but damn, this cake is astonishingly good and we probably could have eaten the whole thing. You certainly don’t have to do the flag pattern with the fruit… I strongly recommend that you make this cake even if you end up just dumping a couple of handfuls of berries on top of the icing.

And finally, a schwack of knitting.

The Arrrgyle socks with some additional help. I’ve never wanted to make argyle socks before, but these overcame me. Unfortunately, they ended up too big for me, but R:tAG says he’ll wear them.

This is why I never wanted to make argyle socks. I really dislike weaving in ends. Unfortunately I didn’t convince R:tAG that they were meant to be shaggy on the inside (“No really! They’re thrummed!”) so I made all the wretched little ends disappear. Eventually.

A shawl for me dear Mum.** I meant to get a pre-blocking picture, but the heat made me forget.

I also blame the heat for something else… I’m not much of a joiner, so I passed on the the whole Mystery Stole thing last year, and had no intention of doing it this year. But then I saw that the sign-up closed this Friday. So I signed up, just to see if I liked the design. It looked very nice. It began with a point. I love things that begin with a point.*** But I didn’t think I had any unspoken for laceweight…

Well, not counting that Merino Oro that I was going to use once and discovered upon winding it up that carpet beetles or something had turned it into Simpson’s Individual Stringettes**** However, I’m a pro at spit-splicing now, so I could use it. But I don’t have any suitable beads, and I hate stringing the little buggers anyway.

Huh. I do have suitable beads. And the pattern uses my new favourite way of adding beads, instead of pre-stringing them. But I don’t have time to even swatch… I have a bunch of work to do this weekend.

OK, so I have the fiercely-blocked swatches and chose a needle (3.75mm... the top swatch), and the yarn will work well, and the beads look great, but I really should wait until I have enough spare time…

Oh dear. That’s Clue #1 done. I blame the heat.

* Highlight of the evening: watching some neighbours set off some (illegal) fireworks and having the box tip over so that the fireworks – real grownup go-high-in-the-air-and-explode-many-times fireworks – were shooting horizontally a foot off the ground into someone’s yard and ricocheting off the house. We were too far away to see the aftermath, but apparently nothing and no-one was damaged. Amazing.

** "A Curved Shawl" from Victorian Lace Today, 2 balls of Misti Alpaca laceweight, 3.75 mm needles. Addi's new lace needles are awesometastic.

*** Literally and figuratively.

**** Two points for getting the reference.

I’ve missed posting about a bunch of birthdays… Canada’s, America’s and this blog’s. Well, I guess I’m not technically too late for America’s. Happy Fourth!

I’ve been working a normal full day (or a bit longer) plus every evening has been taken up by a conference call to Bangalore. We’re in the middle of a crunch, and the time has just flown by.

Today’s a stat holiday (one of the few) and so I’m idling at home. R:tAG’s still asleep because he was up ‘til 6 AM playing Overlord. Silly, silly R:tAG. I tried unwinding just now by playing Katamari Damacy, but perhaps because of stress, perhaps because I’ve been staring at a screen every day for the past two weeks for 8+ hours, it’s making me very motion sick (a lot more than normal). Too bad; I think I’ve finally figured out the route for the level 8 star but it’s not worth throwing up over.

So instead, I stare at a screen to update the blog! Oh well, the cosmos’ loss is your gain.

So, changing subjects completely, I don’t put a lot of pictures on this blog, do I? I finally found one of me that I don’t mind. I don’t think I’m very photogenic (I’m not fishing for compliments here, it’s just a fact. Some people look good in pictures. I’m not one of them. I made my peace with that a while ago). But I think the key might be not smiling. And a 3/4 profile to showcase my pointy nose.

This was at my company’s summer picnic, at a place called Saratoga Springs. R:tAG’s summer picnic will also be there; there must have been a deal. The person who took this picture titled it "Look into my eyes." I think R:tAG must have asked if he had anything in his teeth.

Changing subjects again, I’m sure you’re familiar with the whole “lolcats” meme, as particularly showcased on I Can Has Cheezburger.* There are three spin-offs in particular that made me very happy:

Oh, and as I was idly browsing, following links that other people seem to like, I found Girls With Slingshots on Carla’s new blog. This one is scary in the same way that Something Positive initially scared me… do I have a stalker, or am I just more predictable than I ever thought?

* Personal fave. The whole “lolrus” thread is the best in general, I think. This is the one that started it all.


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