Sunday, August 10, 2014

Weeding


Quiet start to the month as I wait for a temp assignment. It’s August in Washington. Congress is recessed; people are on holiday. Between interviews, testing, and emails, I’ve been doing some serious weeding. The eye that had the surgery has less inflammation and longer periods when I hardly notice it all. At my last visit, the IOP was 6, which is totally normal.

Weeding

I am seriously weeding my books and contributing them to the sharing space in the laundry room. Last week’s lot went in under 30 minutes. It’s been a revealing look at myself. I’d forgotten about my Somerset Maugham phase; but well remember the Thomas Hardy phase.

It’s also a revealing look at the past. I estimate about 80 percent of my books were purchased in bookstores. Looking at the inventory labels and sales receipts (interesting how many sales receipts I used as bookmarks), only Barnes and Noble and two local shops: Kramer’s and Politics and Prose remain. This is the loss of an experience, of a way of making a consumer choice. With many of these books, I can remember, even without a sales receipt or inventory label, where and when I purchased them. How the impetus to explore and read came not from Amazon reviews and the frustratingly limited look inside but more often than not from the physical act of browsing sparking curiosity leading to reading either the back cover or a chapter and the spontaneous decision to invest not only my money but also my time. There was no waiting for the two-day delivery, but the immediate visceral satisfaction of allowing the pages of my purchase to transport me as soon as I boarded the bus.

Make no mistake; it is not my intention to knock the Amazon experience. I find it gives me a greater option for purchasing used books and it is great purchasing option when you know what you want. There on the screen is not only the price but also the in stock status. In addition, I do remember the bad old days when a non-mass market book required phoning around or even placing an order through a brick and mortar store with the publisher and the subsequent 5 to 10 day or more wait.

None of this disruption has made Toupie happy. The stacks of books in the foyer cut into his play space and he has tired of sniffing them. If there is a successful way to undertake clearing out without making a major temporary mess, I haven’t found it.

I like being on top of the drying rack
Knitting

Meanwhile my knitting continues. I have an Ishbel, a Citron and the Skyp Socks (still) on the needles.

I’ve completed the Bodhisattva class. I take my vows next month. The class was a good in deepening my understanding of the material I’ve studied and confirmed that I am ready to commit to the aspiration.

Monday, July 14, 2014

June-July 2014


Sock Blockers

Yes! I finally took the plunge. I ordered a small size and thought them too large, but they are perfect. My socks dry faster and it is easier slipping them on the blocker than trying to lay them out perfectly to dry.

Eye Surgery

For years now, I have inter-ocular pressure that isn’t caused by glaucoma, cataracts or my diabetes and I’ve been on a daily regime of drops, which has managed but not significantly lessen the pressure. The pressure continue to damage the eye nerve and my vision continues to deteriorate. About two years ago, I had laser surgery on my right eye to create new drainage channels for the fluid. Again, the pressure dropped but remained steady after dropping. Last week I had a trab, a surgery that creates a permanent drainage channel where the eyeball and lid meet. (Shiver inducing isn’t it). I was beyond nervous about the surgery, but for several factors:

·         I have total faith in my ophthalmologist’s skill

·         There’s nothing wrong with being afraid

·         If the surgery works—it will be several weeks before we know—it will stop or severely retard vision loss.

I haven’t had pain as such. Just discomfort, like having a grain of something in your eye that doesn’t move. That is mostly from the stitches. The eye is a bit gloopy in the morning but once I do the series of drops and gently clean my lashes, I can see well out of the eye with occasional tearing episodes. The swelling has gone down considerably and I can almost open my eye normally. I feeling less fragile and was actually awake all day yesterday—I think the tiredness from the stress, the surgery, and the 10-12 hour days I’ve been working the last month finally wore off.

Toupie, of course, is very happy that I am “around”. He immediately was aware that something was different when I came home with the eye patch. Lots of considered staring. He alternated between sitting on top of the futon to watch me carefully when I curled up to nap and curling up next to me. He has gotten used to my neighbor, who has been keeping an eye on me, coming over and even jumped up on the dresser as an invitation to pet me during one of her visits. He was even friendly to another neighbor last evening during our kitchen sink clog drama.

How about a bit of give and go?
Knitting

I finished the Ann Budd socks using KP’s bare Donegal Tweed yarn. I started a knitting the Weaver’s Socks using KP Essential in soot and the remaining KP Tiger yarn but I have to put these on hold as knitting with black yarn and 1.5 eyes just wasn’t working. I think I shall move on to the Mobius Cowl pattern featured on the cover of Vogue Knitting Winter 2013/14 as a stash-busting project.

Sock picky time!
Bodhisattva Vow

I have been accepted to take the Bodhisattva Vow in September. It is a vow of aspiration that by cultivating Bodhichitta—the mind of compassion--following the Noble Eightfold Path, and the six paramitas, I dedicate my life to alleviating the suffering of all sentient beings. No this doesn’t mean I rush out to do good works. It simply means that through following the disciplines I develop the ability to be genuine, awake and compassionate as skills to help others become the same.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Deer


I saw deer from my window for the first time this spring. I always see them in pairs. These two casually grazed the grass mown earlier in the week. 

I washed and wore the Diagonal Rib Socks this week. The Jackalope yarn has that perfect balance of softness (without being limp), roundness in the fibres, and twist. The socks were soft as butter on my feet.
 
I’m on the foot, which I’m knitting in stockinette, of the first Simple Skyp Socks. Whilst trying on the sock, I dropped one of the dpns. Despite my best efforts in and under furniture, the dpn has disappeared. Therefore, I took the plunge and order a set of the Knit Pro Karbonz dpns. One of the reviews on Amazon best summed up my experience: the needles have enough grip to hold the stitches but are smooth enough to allow the easy movement of stitches on the needle. Skimming through Vogue Knitting Early Fall, there is a short article on the Knitter’s Pride company. 

Finally accustomed to the Zitron XXL yarn. It’s a bit hard without being hard on the hands. It really shows the ribbing in the pattern. 

I thought I’d lost my utilitarian pair of glasses. But lo and behold during my weekly tidy up I found the meaning I can postpone my visit to the opticians until the beginning of July. But this experience has taught me that I do need a backup pair. 

I’ve finally perfect my black bean recipe. I’ve been looking for another alternative to tofu and lentils as a non-meat protein. What I’ve been aiming for is sort of a Cuban citrus and vinegar-like flavor. I achieved that today with half an onion, a bit of rice vinegar, the juice of two limes and a variety of spices (Garam Masala, cilantro, turmeric, cumin, chili lime salt, red pepper flakes and ground black pepper) to a cup of dried black beans. Delish!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Another Post about Socks


I kept my vow of knitting from stash for six months this year. Yes, it would have lasted longer had I not gone to Looped Yarn Works to get needles and stitch markers. However, I need blue socks to go with my blue shoes. I found a skein of Zitron XXL sans label and it’s hard to match colorways on the monitor so I’m out of luck. I didn’t want to match either the shoes or trousers I’d be wearing so I purchased a skein that is navy with blue-grey and turquoise in it.

My other purchase was a set of Knitter’s Pride Karbonz needles. They aren’t cheap, but they are light in hand and a dream to knit with.

I finally finished the Diagonal Rib socks. YaY!
Diagonal Rib Socks in Light Brown Hare Jackalope Kitten #2 colorway
In an effort to move out from plain vanilla socks, I settled on the Simple Skyp Socks pattern by Adrienne Ku. I am taking Shirley Paden’s advice: always use stitch markers to separate your pattern. Really loving the Clover XS Triangle Stitch markers for sock knitting. They are just the right size not to wobble around and the triangle shape means they don’t appear to create move space between stitches.

The shawl-knitting urge has passed, but with the sock knitting remnants, I’m thinking about a colorwork cowl.

Toupie spent the entire day—with his usual resettling moves and a few ventures to the food bowl and box—in bed yesterday. Got up this morning and ate an entire can of cat food. I gave him a hard look this morning. Does sleeping burn that many calories?
Sun-dappled paws
 
Sleeping Puss

 
 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Anticipating the World Cup


I’m off to Baltimore every day for the next three days for a Buddhist class. I am hoping to sit with minimal twitching. Since I won’t be staying in a hotel, it means daily travel back and forth. I have my train tickets and I’m taking Monday off to recover.

The World Cup starts in a week. It’s an that event none of my current colleagues or local friends are interested in. Everyone that I’ve shared the experience with is now scattered: other parts of the US, Germany, Malaysia, China, except of course Toupie.
 


Talk about totally engrossed in England v. Germany in the 2010 World Cup.

What is encouraging is the exponential growth since 2002 in the number of bars, restaurants and other venues showing broadcasts of all or most of the matches.
 
My knitting is suffering from the amount of work I’ve had to do at home preparing for our summer conference. I’m finishing the toe on the second Diagonal Rib Sock. I have recommitted my self to knit at least one project during the WC.

The achievement I’m so pleased with is changing my clothes and keeping them in order by color in the closet for over two weeks. It’s such a simple idea, but it makes all the difference.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Twitching Termite

Truly, I can’t recall have such a difficult time just sitting on the meditation cushion as I had this weekend; hence the title of this post. I still find the Lotus position challenging but I usually can settle after the first hour of sitting in a position that allows me to keep my head and shoulders with minimum leg discomfort. Now I have been experiencing occasional pain in my thigh just above my left knee. I’m seeing the doctor in a week about it. However, this weekend, it was my left knee, both feet and ankles which seem to have painful flares up that kept me changing my position, or pulling my knees up or any variation that would achieve relief. Finally, in the last two hours of sitting, I found straddling a gomden with zafu on top comfortable. Yes, I have the option of sitting in a chair; but from experience, I am more likely to doze off in a chair than sitting on a cushion.

This weekend marked the end of the foundational series of Shambhala teachings. It’s an achievement, but what is more important to me is that I followed my heart and mind and stepped away two years ago to focus and practice what I’d learned in the previous year and half accompanied by study to really understand the view, philosophy and implementation of the teachings.

What those two years gave me is a real aspiration to take the Bodhisattva Vow.

I haven’t knit as much as I aspired to. I just finished the first of the Diagonal Rib Socks and will cast on the second sock today. But I am still knitting from stash, which is a good thing.

I listened to a marvelous audio book, The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. It is the Mahabharata narrated from the point of view of Panchaali, the wife of the five Pandava brothers. The Mahabharata is a marvelous Indian epic, comparable to the Iliad and the Odyssey in Western literature that his part myth part history with underlying moral and ethical lessons. I’ve actually seen two productions done for television. One a truncated Western retelling of the story as a play and the 89-episode Indian television production. Most Westerners have heard of the Bhagavad Gita. The Gita is a part of the Mahabharata.

Toupie was slightly traumatized by the installation of the new HVAC unit and system. I think it was the drilling and banging that got to him. He still stares at the unit when it comes on, but it was about two weeks before he would jump up on to go to the windowsill. I was amused by the Internet video sensation of the cat who defended the little boy being attacked by a dog. Cats are territorial not just of their space but of the people they live with. In the days when I would order a Chinese food delivery. Toupie would chase the deliveryman down the hall, return to the apartment and attack the bag of food. I’m sure the local Chinese eateries are happy that woman with the mad cat doesn’t call anymore.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Make the Bed, Mum

Proof that a long session of brushy tames the tiger in the kitty.

Started the Contemporary Brewster Socks to Knit sometime in 2011 in Knit Picks Essential Eggplant Hand Dyed Yarn. Perfect example of second sock syndrome. Finished the first sock shortly after casting on. It languished on the computer table for at least a year. Can't remember when I started the second sock. I found it during a stash organizing session and moved it to the to be finished bag. Finally finished it on Monday.


Currently on the needles is a pair of socks using Plymouth Yarn Sockin' Sock.