Saturday, August 30, 2008

more about Kelsey

I received this email today from Kelsey's mom and am posting it here along with my reply:

Hi Mrs Z,

I was surfing the internet this morning, and came across your blog, below is an email I sent to Kelsey's teachers this semester, to let them know how Kelsey was doing, what she could and could not do,,,
Im not a "Blogger" but thank you to those who visit your site and sent Kelsey all the post cards. Kelsey even received a a few pairs of knitted socks. She has the socks on display in a cabinet, because they are "too nice to wear".
Kelsey is feeling pretty good, and looking great, she had gained over 30 lbs in about 6 weeks when on steroids to reduce swelling in her brain, then lost it all and then some after the surgery.


I thought I would send a quick update to all Kelsey's teachers.

For those of you that did not have Kelsey in one of your classes last school year I will give a bit of back ground info,,,

Fall 2007 Kelsey was developing usual symptoms, tremor in her right hand, rigid right hand, weak right leg and drooping on the right side of her face.
She finally had an MRI in Feb 08, and a Tumor was discovered on her brain stem. She had surgery in March, which was only successful in removing a small portion on the tumor ( they could not remove more, due to location). The tumor is low grade, benign in "make up" but malignant in location. For now there are no further plans for treatment. If her symptoms get worse, they will decide what to do then, but most likely Radio-surgery.

Despite missing lots of school in the 2nd semester, with the support and flexibility from the staff at Martin, Kelsey managed to complete 4 courses/credits by June. She will need 5 credits total in Grade 12 to graduate but is currently signed up for 10 classes. We are trying to encourage her to drop one or two, so she can focus on what she really needs to accomplish, but we have not had much luck, she wants to take everything she signed up for so far.

Wascana Children's Program worked closely with Kelsey all summer and she attended appointments with the Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, Dietitian and Rehabilitation Nurse. Unfortunately with 2 months of frequent appointments, we are not seeing much improvement on Kelsey's right side. (6 months post surgery). She was right handed "before", but now she does most things with her left hand. Kelsey is encouraged to use her right hand, but doing this is very time consuming, and tires her out, so she most often does not bother to use her right hand.

Also Kelsey's energy level is not great, she has spurts of activity throughout the day, with lots of resting in between as she tires easily. Sleep is a huge issue, with her not being able to fall asleep, and not being able to stay asleep. Waking up at 5:00am in the morning is pretty common these days, after 5-6 hours sleep. This is very frustrating for her and us,,

Over all her summer was good, she went to Yellowknife by herself, on a funded exchange program though Interchange on Canadian Studies, that many Martin Students participated in, and we went on a family trip to Mexico,, but she also had a few bad days, severe headaches that resulted in spending quite a bit of time in Emergency, getting CT scans and seeing her surgeon.

What might you expect from Kelsey in the class room?
- A tired student somedays.
- A student who may have trouble keeping up with written work
- A student who may miss more classes that usual, hopefully only for planned appointments
- A student who may not want to be known as the "girl with the brain tumor"
- A student who may want to do it "all" , when it at times it would be in her best interest to rest.

As suggested by Wascana, Kelsey does have "Dragon", a speech recognition program for her lap top, to aid in longer writing assignments, as her typing is the one handed hunt and peck method. She also has a small voice recorder that she tape "lectures" with, which may be effective if she will review them after taping the lessons.

Feel free to contact me any time at work or home, if you have any questions or concerns about Kelsey.
If Kelsey gets a head ache please call me as she will need to go to the Dr/emergency if the headache continues/progresses or is severe at any point.
If Kelsey faints, becomes lethargic, her right sided weakness suddenly becomes more severe, if she throws up, or has a Seizure she will need to go the hospital ASAP. I can be to the school in less than 5 minutes if at home or work, of if urgent, call an ambulance to take her to the General Hospital.

I do not expect sudden illness to be an issue at school, generally she will wake up with the headache/vomiting, it does not usually develop during the day,

I will drop off her Assessment from Wascana Children's program, to go into her file at school.

Donna Rice
(Kelsey's mom)

Hi Donna,
Thanks so much for sending this! I will post it to my blog today. I have received a number of inquiries about her health over the summer and I know that there are a couple of people in particular anxiously awaiting updates.
Please, please tell Kelsey to wear the socks! Knitters want their handknit socks to be worn and enjoyed! In fact, if you could send some pics of the socks on Kelsey's feet, I will post those to my blog as well!
I'm so glad to hear that Kelsey is able to attend school and some trips! I know that there are still difficult times to weather for her and the rest of the family. There are many people world-wide thinking of you and sending prayers your way.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Kelsey update

I know a few of you have been wondering how Kelsey is doing. School started here this week and Dan has seen Kelsey at school. He hasn't heard anything from a medical standpoint but he says she looks really good. I'll update again when I hear anything more. Thanks go out to those of you that have taken the time to send her postcards and gifts!

taking pictures of my own hands

I hold my needles in an unorthodox way when I knit. From time to time discussions pop up on knitting lists about how our knitting styles are similar and/or different.

I have yet to see my style replicated on the internet (although Yarn Harlot is close except for the way the yarn is tensioned) but, interestingly, I have two friends who also hold the right needle like a pen, as I do. Maybe it was the style to teach it that way around here when we were kids. My mother was an avid knitter; she held the right needle with her hand over top of it and threw the yarn which is quite a common way of knitting. I remember her telling me that she didn't hold her needles right and that I should hold the needle like a pen so I taught myself based on that advice. I don't remember anyone knitting Continental style when I was a kid.

Anyway, a discussion about sock needles is happening on the Townsend Socks Yahoo group today. I have tried most of the needles out there and I love the Hiya Hiya needles best. Because of the way I hold my right needle, the join and the length of the Hiya Hiyas is most comfortable for me. I love my Addi circs for knitting larger gauge items like sweaters but they're not pointy enough for comfortable sock knitting for me. I have a lot of Knit Picks and they have great points but knitting with them for a short time makes my hand hurt where the needle joins the cable. I know that most people love them dearly and they are great needles at a great price. But I have fallen in love with the Hiyas.

As a result of all this talk I decided to try to get a photo showing you how I hold my needles. I'm the only one at home now so it took a little ingenuity.

First, I tried holding the camera with my left hand to show you what my right hand does. Worked pretty well.

But I wanted to show you what both of my hands look like so I tried holding the camera under my chin and using the delay timer. That didn't work too well. I got several shots of the front of my shirt and few that looked like this.

So I propped up the camera on the arm of the chair, set the delay timer, contorted my body so that my hands were somewhere in front of the lens and managed to get some very strange pics as well as these two that aren't too bad. My method allows me to knit quite quickly and alternating between knits and purls is easy. The yarn is constantly at the ready over my forefinger so a simple flick of the finger does the wrapping. It allows me to knit for a long time without my hands getting tired.
The only downside is that the rubbing of the end of the needle where the cable joins irritates my hand when I'm using most cable needles. I have a little support glove that I can put on to cover my hand at that spot but I usually can't be bothered. Also, knitting this way, I find that I want my double pointed needles to be longer than most people but getting 7" or 8" sock needles is easy.

P.S. I could probably be persuaded to part with some of my Knit Picks circular needles at destash prices. If you're interested, drop me a line.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

fruit mania

I went for a mammogram today. Here in the land of universal health care, if you're a woman, when you turn 50 you automatically get a notice in the mail inviting you to book a mammogram appointment for breast cancer screening at no cost to you. It's a good program and one of the perks of being Canadian.

Anyway, after that I went to pick up the fruit order. Someone here makes arrangements with someone who lives in B.C.'s beautiful Okanagan Valley to bring in fruit when it's in season. There is nothing finer than fresh fruit picked at its peak of ripeness and transported immediately. Well, okay, a garden tomato might be finer but it's a close call between the tomato and a fresh ripe peach. I have fond memories of the aroma of ripe apples wafting throughout the house when I was child. Relatives used to send us crates of apples every fall.

The fruit order isn't commercially advertised. It's all by word of mouth. A friend originally gave me the information about it and we look forward to getting the emails inviting orders during the growing season. We've already feasted on cherries and blueberries and today the peaches and Sunrise apples arrived. People can pick up their order between 2:30 and 8:30 p.m.

The fruit trailer is parked on a residential bay and this is what it looked like when I arrived at 2:30.
Obviously there are a lot of us who like fresh, yummy fruit that actually tastes like something as opposed to the grocery store variety. So I patiently stood in line with my boxes until it was my turn to pay and receive. I got some strange looks when I took out my camera phone and started snapping pictures though. I'm sure that some people wondered why on earth I was taking pictures of them. They are blogless, I assume, or they would have figured it out. We bloggers have to seize the photo ops as they happen.

Anyway, here are the apples and peaches in the back of the van ready to be taken home. Between this fruit order and our garden there will be some good eating around here in the next while. Gotta love this time of year!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

socks in progress

I've been spending a lot of time spinning and trying various crochet finishes for the Esprit tank top. The tank top really doesn't have enough finishing to make it worth posting pictures yet but I will when it's finished.

Here are the two socks I'm working on. First, a plain vanilla using my hand-dyed yarn that gets toted around in my purse. I adore the colors in this yarn. They're so me.

And the Spring Forward socks using Dream In Color Smooshy sock yarn in the Some Summer Sky colorway. This is a very pretty and easy pattern.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I think tomorrow will be the day.

I've been watching the first ripening tomato for a few days now.

Garden-ripened tomatoes are my favorite food. You can't buy anything like them at the grocery stores, even those tomatoes on the vine that smell like garden tomatoes. While they're generally better than regular bought tomatoes, they still don't taste like the home-grown ones.

We've had several zucchini(s)* already. I like them but they're not as good as tomatoes.

*I just checked an online dictionary and both plural forms are correct: zucchini and zucchinis. I learn something new every day.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Wondrous Woolee Winder

The Woolee Winder continues to amaze me. I spun very fine singles from this superwash BFL that I dyed. I decided that I would divide it in half for plying and spin up some undyed superwash BFL for the third ply so that the color would be less intense for sock yarn. As hard as it is to believe, these two bobbins hold the same amount of spun singles.
The left bobbin is a regular Ashford Joy bobbin and the one on the right is the Woolee Winder bobbin. You can see how efficiently the WW bobbin packs on the yarn compared to the Ashford bobbin that I transferred half of it to. There is approximately 62 grams/1000 yards of fiber on each one.

Totally unrelated to the title of this post, how's this for a motley bunch?
The shelties go ballistic when the vacuum cleaner is running, barking and trying to attack it. It's a herding thing. It makes vacuuming very difficult. So, to get them out of the way while the vacuum cleaner was running, the dogs were in the sun room with the kitchen door closed when I took this picture.

Harrison was the only one not looking pathetic at the door. He was happily lounging in his favorite chair in the sunroom. He loves this chair so much that we have to check to see if he's in it when it's dark before we close the door or he gets locked out.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Royal Red

The Canadian National Arabian Horse Show, The Royal Red, is an annual event in Regina in August. It attracts the top Arabian horses from all across North America. A few of us dog people have made a tradition of going out for supper and then going to watch an evening of horse competition. Last night there were seven of us.

I didn't take my camera so the photos were taken by my camera and are not very good quality. I learned that using the zoom feature isn't a good idea as the pictures wind up being all blurry.

The first class in the ring were the breeding mares. They were lovely and it's fun to watch the handlers present the horses. The mares are shown on halters only so the showing is similar to handling dogs in conformation shows except that the horse people have to run a whole lot faster!

Here is the winning mare getting her picture taken with the obligatory red serge clad Mountie (if you're interesting in seeing much better pics of Mounties, check out my sister's blog).

I wish that this picture had turned out better. It was taken during the Arabian Costume class which is so beautiful...

After a week of hot weather, yesterday was rainy, windy, and cool. Most locals put on a light jacket. Many of the Royal Red exhibitors are from the southern states. It appeared that they felt that winter had descended on them. Check out the pink arrows: the woman is wearing a down-filled winter coat and her pet Whippet is wearing a coat too! I don't imagine that they have ever experienced January in Saskatchewan.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

new Elann yarns

Elann has started carrying undyed yarn at good prices, as usual for them. I had built up enough Elann dollar credits that I could use them on this order. It's a good deal - I got $53.00 credited on this order so the yarn purchase price was next to nothing.

All of the yarns are lovely but this is my favorite: DK weight Superwash Merino/Cashmere sock yarn. It's so soft and it has nylon in it so it should wear better than other merino/cashmere blends. I can hardly wait to get out the dyes and start playing with this one!

Next up, Blue Faced Leicester, one of my all-time favorite fibers. Hmm, I just tried to find it their website to link it and it's not there. I wonder if that means it's sold out.

And finally, sportweight Superwash Merino.

Friday, August 15, 2008

It's that time again....

Sigh. It's that time again.

See this...
Look at the sunlight on the kitchen windowsill. The windowsill is sunlight-less in the summer until the middle of August when the sun starts to slowly sink lower in the sky until the winter solstice. We've lived in this house for over 25 years and this is a sure sign that summer is almost over and school will be starting soon. School starts the week after next here in Regina.

I'm sorry to see this windowsill light because Dan has to head back to work in just over a week. However, the mental me is rather stunned that I won't be heading back to work as well while the physical me is heartily relieved.

The start of the school year is much more of a new year to teachers than the actual Jan. 1 New Year. It's a very busy and exciting time but tiring too. There are classrooms to ready, new classes to prep, new students to get to know, new families to get to get to know, often new school staff to get to know, expectations to relay to new classes, expectations to complete vast amounts of paperwork, and professional and school planning to complete. I'm actually tired just thinking about it. Although it seems strange to not be a part of it, having done it almost every year of my life, I know that my body is not up to the task this year.

I like autumn. I'm not a heat-lover. I like the cooler days and golden sunshine of autumn. Usually, though, I'm so busy that I have very little chance to really enjoy the season. This year will be different. This year I will make a point of spinning and knitting in the sunroom. This year I will seize the opportunity to cook and bake using the bountiful local produce from my garden and the market gardens.

This year I will take the time to enjoy life in the moment because life is short.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

destash also on Flickr

Someone emailed me that there is still a wait list for joining Ravelry so I posted the destash information on this Flickr page so that everyone has access to it.

edited to add: Note to self - do not post your destash on Flickr. It is illegal to do so and they will shut you down. Lesson learned. Good grief.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

more destashing

I just added more sock yarn to my Ravelry destash page. I'm reducing my sock stash with a vengeance. And, yeah, they're blue. Here are a few pictures of what's there.

new toy

I've been waiting for my phone provider contract to come due so that I could upgrade to a camera phone. Here is the new toy.
Apparently the fact that is a 'slider' is cool. I picked it because the other phone in the same price range was only available in green and I'd rather have black. Yeah, I'm a techie all right.

I have a perfectly lovely camera that was a birthday gift from my husband a couple of years ago. However, it's a little heavy to carry around all the time so I wanted a camera phone for those times when I regretted not having my camera for a blog picture. Like this:
Here is the friendly neighborhood gargoyle duded up for summer.
The photo quality is certainly not nearly as good as I get with my camera but now I can take shots of things on the go without planning ahead. Cool! (I am easily entertained.)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

done and done

Socks for Margot. Opal Saphir 6 ply. I really like this yarn. In fact, I've ordered more to make a pair of socks for Dan's mom for Christmas.

Socks for me. STR Silkie in Walking On the Wild Tide. Lovely soft yarn. It's been too hot to wear them yet.

Monday, August 04, 2008

sock yarn destash

In a moment of sanity, I decided that the sock stash really needed to be culled. I will never live long enough to knit all of the sock yarn that I own and I'd like the option to buy/dye more for myself as the mood hits. So I listed a lot of yarn on my Ravelry destash page if you're interested. There are some great deals there!