Thursday, March 29, 2007

Wow, what a great response to that last post! I was overwhelmed by all the positive comments. Thanks!

Fiber work has been sporadic here of late. I finished weaving the huck lace warp, and am in the process of twisting the fringe. I also pulled the spinning wheel out again yesterday, and got a lot more of the sapphire merino/silk done. I have two small nests of predrafted roving left, then can figure out what I want to make with this yarn. Plied on itself? Ply the purple and blue together? Use as singles? Knitting? Weaving? We'll see.

Cobalt seems to be doing a bit better. She still staggers around, but it's not as bad as it was. I just don't know. It may still come down to a quality of life decision. The vet said it could take a month or more for her to recover, or she may never. It's been about three weeks since this started. Basically, it's a waiting game, and there's not much guidance on how long we should wait. She doesn't seem to be in any pain, just dizzy and not herself. She's able to do her "backyard business" by herself (though somewhat unsteadily), and is eating and drinking fine. She knows us, and responds when we call her, but she is definitely not her normal self.

It's very heartwrenching to see her like this.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Disclaimer: This post will have nothing to do with knitting, weaving, or anything fibery. It will have to do with the sometimes messy reality of being a woman. It may very well fall into the realm of Too Much Information, so if it bothers you, just stop reading and move onto the next blog on your list.

First a little personal history: When I started menstruating at 13, my mom only let me use pads. I hated them. I hated my period and what my body was doing to me. When I was allowed to start using tampons at ~15, it was a whole new way to look at the world. I felt free. And when I discovered applicator-free o.b. tampons at 19, I finally began to make peace with my body. It was so great to be able to tuck supplies for an entire day into one pocket, and they didn't leak. I no longer dreaded my period. I had total brand loyalty to o.b., and never used anything else after discovering them.

Now, let me ask a question of the women reading this. How much do you spend in a year on “feminine supplies,” tampons and/or pads? Where I shop, a 40-pack of o.b. tampons is $6.19. A 50-pack of Always pantiliners is $4.49. A 36-pack of regular Always pads is $7.49. I can go through most of a box of tampons in one cycle, plus daily pantiliners and the occasional pad as backup on a really heavy day. What’s that in a year? Well, figure about $7.00 per cycle, thirteen cycles a year, total of about $91 per year. This, of course, assumes regularly spaced, normal length cycles. (Insert hysterical laughter here.)

The fact is, I’m a heavy bleeder, and I use a lot of supplies. This bothered me over the years, as I thought about all that cotton and paper and plastic ending up in the landfill/sewer. However, I had no desire to use cloth pads, given my aversion to pads in general. Using applicator-free o.b. tampons was my compromise between environmental consciousness and personal comfort. I was comfortable with this decision.

Until last month. I was reading a thread on a bulletin board, and came across mention of a menstrual cup. I had never even heard of such a thing. My first response was “ick…” but then I got thinking about how much more environmentally friendly it is. After 23 years of “womanhood,” pregnancy, and childbirth, I’m fairly comfortable with the way my body works. I felt like this was something I should be able to handle.

So I acted. I got a DivaCup. I actually got it at a natural-foods store in Maine, while my dad was in a meeting. It was an all-day meeting, and Emma and I were tootling around Bangor by ourselves, so I didn’t have to explain this to my dad. (I can’t even imagine how many shades of red he (ok, we) would have turned.) I used it for the first time in Maine.

And you know? It’s great. It’s not messy, it’s comfortable, it’s easy to use. It didn’t leak once, and I never have to buy tampons again. Ever. The cup has a lifespan of about 10 years. At $30, my DivaCup will pay for itself in about 4 months. I’ll probably use a small pantiliner as backup against leaks, but I’m going to make a couple cloth ones instead of buying disposables. Since the cup never leaked, not even on the super-heavy days, the pad will only be insurance, not the front line of defense. Once I get more used to the cup, they may not even be necessary.

There’s apparently no risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome with a cup, it doesn’t dry out those sensitive tissues, it doesn’t contain bleaches, dioxins, or fragrances. It's cheaper. It's environmentally responsible. What’s not to love?

I’m torn between excitement at this cool new thing I discovered, and anger at the society that doesn’t discuss this option with newly-pubescent girls. Most mainstream stores don’t even carry them. Why did I have to wait until I was 36 to discover this? Menstrual cups have been around since the 1930’s, though not much used in this country until the 1980’s. I suppose it’s the “squeamish factor.” Really, it’s no worse than using an applicator-free tampon. Aside from all the pads and tampons that you wouldn’t be sending to the landfill, just consider the possibilities for living-ease during your period. Camping! Hiking! Travel! School! Nothing to carry or dispose of!

So anyway, that’s my evangelizing for the day. I’m opening myself to public embarrassment by revealing the intimate workings of my body. I may regret this post, but if it makes even one woman think about trying a cup, it’s worth it. Anyway, why should I be embarrassed talking about something that nearly every woman goes through once a month? (I shouldn’t be, but I am.)

Here are a few links:
DivaCup (silicone, Canadian company)
Keeper and Moon Cup (latex rubber and silicone respectively, US company)
Mooncup (silicone, British company)
Lunette (silicone, Finnish company)

(Now I'm off to splash some cold water on my face and try not to hyperventilate at the thought of what I just posted for all the world to see.)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Quick list-y post, because I can't seem to get it together enough to write an actual post:
  1. Emma and I are back from Maine. The return flights were nicely on time and boring, despite going through Chicago again. It was nice to revisit all our old haunts in Chicago's O'Hare airport. (Not.) They hadn't made much progress on the construction zones in a month and a half.
  2. Kiri is stalled where I left off in the airport. I think I have 17 layers of leaves done. I haven't even pulled it out since I've been home.
  3. I spun for half an hour yesterday. Still working on the Sapphire merino/silk. I put the wheel away because I wasn't into it.
  4. I wove for half an hour today. I have about a repeat and a half of the huck lace left to do, then I'll be finished with the third stole and at the end of the warp. I put the shuttle away because I wasn't into it.
  5. I have spent the past two days doing (Shaun's) laundry and cleaning my house. It's really great to be home and with Shaun, but I swear, in the 13 years (!!!) we've been together, I have never known him to clean a bathroom. His tolerance for surface grime and laundry piles is astounding. He did clean the kitchen, pick up, and vacuum before I got home.
It may seem from that list that I have been in an apathetic funk. I have. Cobalt, our dog, is not doing well. About two weeks ago, she had an attack of what the vet is telling us is Old Dog Vestibular Disease. She also had an ear infection, which likely precipitated the Vestibular Disease, and she is very slow in recovering. She can't stand straight, walk a straight line, or hold her head level. She can't get onto the couch, her favorite napping spot, by herself. She bangs into everything when she tries to walk, because she staggers so much.

She's a pretty old dog, 13 years. She has been a part of Shaun's and my shared life since the very beginning. I don't know if I can face what I think is coming.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

I have been making progress on Kiri. This is where I stand now, 14.5 layers of leaves complete.

It measures about 20", stretched, along the center point. I'm trying not to think too much about how if I were using the yarn and needle size that are listed in the pattern, I would be done with the body and working on the edging now. It's coming out small, but that's to be expected with tiny yarn and #1 needles.

I do like the fabric, though, very much. It gives a subtle all over design that I think will expand just the right amount after blocking.

The knit side will be the "pretty" side after it's blocked, but it's the back (purl side) that's more interesting in the pre-blocking lace blob stage.

It looks like egg crate. Very three-dimensional.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Today was another Schoodic Point day for Emma and me. Dad had another church meeting, so Emma and I went to play. We went to the point first, to rock-hop and watch the beginnings of the sunset.

I love the way the rich, saturated, late afternoon sun really brings out the color in the lichens and rocks.

It was sprinkling off and on, and breezy. The waves were crashing and breaking in beautiful perfect 3-foot barrels at the tip of the point.

After an hour at the point, we went for an hour's walk on the Alder Trail, on the eastern side of the peninsula. It was nice to get out and walk on a trail, instead of just driving through in the car like when Dad's along.

Notice that Emma is not wearing a coat- it got all the way up to 48˚F today! Wool sweaters and hats were enough. Woo hoo!

This trail was beautiful, so I'll leave you with this visual feast.....

birch trunk

alder cones

turkey tail fungus

a massive shelf fungus

It was a lovely way to spend a couple hours of the afternoon.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

We went to Roque Bluffs State Park today, another favorite place from college. This is a sand/pebble beach, unusual in that it is more sand than pebble.

It was fairly warm, all the way up to 35˚F! The wind was still chilly, but Emma had a great time with her bucket and shovel, collecting shells, and running on the sand.

I do so love walking along the water's edge, looking for treasure.

Anyone who says that Maine is dull and bleak in the winter has never really looked at it. Once you get past the line of dirty snow at the side of the road, it is so beautiful. Click to enlarge this picture, and see if you can count all the colors.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Good grief, has it really been more than a week since I've posted? Part of the problem is that I can't really write a post easily during the day. I'm reduced to "stealth blogging," since Dad doesn't know about the blog, and I really want to keep it that way.

So, to recap:

Last week, Emma and I had the pleasure of meeting Liz, the second-ever blogger I've met in real life! She fed us yummy homegrown chicken soup for lunch, we chatted, knit a bit, I test-treadled her Majacraft Rose spinning wheel (very smooth, very quiet), and we got to meet the Pocket Farm ducks.

That was definitely Emma's favorite part. We had to go out and see them three times. She'd been talking about seeing the ducks for at least two days beforehand, and hasn't stopped in the week since our visit.

Emma and I have also had fun sledding and snowman-building . This started during the lull between the storms, early last week. I think Tuesday was Snowman Day.

Complete with spruce cone, twig, and lichen accessories (all windfalls), it was a big hit, and she had to run out first thing the next morning to be sure it was still there.

She's never really liked sledding before this. I think the times we went before, the hill was too steep and we went too fast. This hill behind Dad's house is just right, apparently, because she can't get enough sledding.

We've been to Schoodic Point several times this week. This is the picnic area at Frazer Point on the 28th, at low tide:

There were about 12 Common Loons cruising around the tiderip in the center of the channel, just dipping out the fish. Very cool.

My sister and her fiance were able to come up for a long weekend (somewhat complicated by the big snowstorm last Friday while they were traveling [aside-within-an-aside: what IS it with the snowstorms only when we're trying to travel???!!!]), and we went to Schoodic on Sunday:

Unfortunately, their long weekend was over much too soon, and they had to head home Monday afternoon. Emma was so sad. She was sobbing into my shoulder as they drove away.

Dad had a church board meeting Monday afternoon in Prospect Harbor, so Emma and I went to Schoodic again. Actually, it was mostly just me- Emma was asleep the whole time. She doesn't take naps anymore except when we're in the car, and while I'm not a big fan of the late bedtime that is now the consequence of a nap, it was really nice go to Schoodic "alone" and drive as slowly as I wanted around the loop, to look at every bird I saw. Not that I minded going with Dad or my sister- I know not everyone is a birder (and I'm fine with that). It was just nice to spend half an hour watching the murres, guillemots, and a few dovekies diving for fish. Alcids! Watching alcids from shore!!

There was a lovely sunset just before we had to get back and pick up Dad from his meeting.

The list for the day:
  • Common Loon
  • Horned Grebe
  • American Black Duck
  • Common Eider
  • Black Scoter
  • Long-tailed Duck
  • Common Goldeneye
  • Bufflehead
  • Red-breasted Merganser
  • Ring-billed Gull
  • Herring Gull
  • Greater Black-backed Gull
  • Thick-billed Murre
  • Dovekie
  • Black Guillemot
  • Bald Eagle
  • Mourning Dove
  • Blue Jay
  • American Crow
  • Common Raven
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • American Robin
  • Song Sparrow
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • Snow Bunting
Not bad, 25 species in 1.25 hours! SO. MUCH. FUN.

Because Emma had a nap, she was up late last night. Because she was up late last night, she slept late this morning. When we finally wandered downstairs at 8:30, the thermometer looked like this:

-1.1˚F! Brrr! Evidently, a cold front came through last night. We got an inch or two of snow as well, and it was so cold and so dry that it just blew around. The wind was howling, which means that with the wind chill, it was more like -20˚F. The walkway I dug 8-10" of snow out of on Saturday was drifted completely flat again, and my eyelashes froze together when I re-shoveled this morning. It was COLD. The high for the day today was about 3˚F.

So, to sum up, I've been in Maine three weeks and it's going surprisingly well so far. Much better than I thought it was going to, in fact. I'm enjoying it (sort of, mostly). We were originally scheduled to return to Oregon tomorrow, but due to the delay in getting here, I changed our tickets today. Dad had to reschedule his surgeries, and the new date to get his second eye done is the 15th. So Emma and I are staying an extra two weeks so we can be here until it's all over and Dad can drive again. New return date is the 19th. The first lens replacement last week went really great. He went from extremely (extremely) nearsighted and with a cataract, to 20/20 vision in that eye. This is the first time since he was a child (5-ish I think?) that he has been able to see without glasses. Technology is amazing.