Graduation!

I graduated from hand therapy today! My last OT session with Amy was this morning, and though I still have a ways to go to be even close to normal, the rest of the work is on my own. (No comments from my family members on the use of the term “normal” to describe myself.)

The main thing that is still missing is strength. While my hands have never been particularly strong, my right hand is still at about half the strength of the left. And my dexterity is still a bit lacking, though improving daily. My penmanship sucks. (No comments from ANY of you about doctors and their handwriting. Mine actually was pretty good before all this.) I am officially due to go back to work in about two weeks, so I’m working on it. I’ve sporadically kept an offline journal over the years, and have gone back to handwriting it for practice.

I got new jewelry out of the deal, at least. When I cut the tendons, I also cut the fibrous sheath/pulley that holds the tendons in place, so I have to wear a protective band on my index finger for the next year to protect it. I finally got tired of the adhesive tape thing that I was doing, and we went to buy a ring last week. Here it is:

knitting_photos_52605_007

Purty, eh?

My knitting is doing better than my handwriting. I’m not a speed-demon yet, but it’s getting there. Here is where I am on the Birch shawl:

may_2005_096

And I finished the Beaverslide scarf:

may_2005_098

This will get sent to the Dulaan project eventually. I’d like to do one more item so I don’t feel like an idiot just sending one stupid thing.

And here is where I am on John’s Striped Socks:

knitting_photos_52605_005

Just before I got to that last yellow stripe, there was a knot in the yarn. Not just any knot, the yarn  was cut and retied, and of course the stripe sequence was all off. This is the only time this has happened in three skeins of this yarn, but I was truly pissed off at having to dither around and figure out how to get the stripes right. This should just not happen in self-striping yarn.

And now for the audience participation portion of this blog entry. As you can see, I will finish these socks soon.  I have yarn in the stash for about 9000 pairs of socks, and am having trouble choosing just one. I picked a few, and am asking for a vote. Leave your choice in the comments; I’ll go with the winner. These will be for me, as I haven’t made myself a pair of socks in awhile.

First up is a pretty orange and pink Opal:

knitting_photos_52605_002

Next is Happy Trails, in the color Amelia:

knitting_photos_52605_004

Or, how about Lorna’s Laces Watercolor?

llwatercolor

Last is Sockotta Watercolor:

sockotta_watercolor

I’ll decide the winner on Sunday, so cast your vote in the comments before then!

Fargo, Not the Movie

No, I didn’t drop off the end of the earth in North Dakota. I had a great time with my sisters; two biological, and one cousin who is an honorary sister. We partied as hard as can be done in Fargo, which is growing into a surprisingly sophisticated little city. If it wasn’t for the weather, I could see living there. It’s that sub-zero winter weather that would very seriously deter me from moving to ND. Snow I don’t mind as much, though it was a bit absurd that it snowed while we were there. Yes, in mid-May.

We ate, drank, shopped, laughed, and visited my mother’s only living sibling (out of nine of them). And played cards. Is it only in North Dakota that people do this when they get together? Whenever we’re in a family bunch, inevitably the cards come out.  Hours can be spent around the kitchen table playing card games, gossiping, and eating munchies (and drinking bourbon). There were a couple of nights that we were up until 2 AM playing “hand and foot”, a canasta-like game that got rather wildly competitive.

I did manage to get one yarn-shopping experience in. Moorhead is just over the river into Minnesota, and the Knitty Gritty Cafe is there. It is a lovely place; if you ever get in the vicinity, check it out. Here are a couple of photos:

knitting_update_51705_011

knitting_update_51705_010

knitting_update_51705_009

That last one is my sister Diane pretending to be interested in yarn. Neither of my sisters knits; they try to be good sports when I drag them to a yarn shop. This place has mostly yarn from higher-end companies, including Southwest Trading Company, Colinette, Mango Moon, and Anny Blatt. I bought this:

may_2005_102

It’s a little hard to tell from that picture, but there are six skeins, enough for a little summer top.

I did manage to knit on the plane. Here is the evidence:

knitting_update_51705_004

As is usual for me, I arrived at the airport in Seattle with about an hour to spare. I get quite anxious about flying and missing planes, and drive my spouse crazy by making him get us there way ahead of time. I worked on the Birch shawl while waiting for my plane to arrive. I have been putting in a floss lifeline every other repeat, and am still using markers as well. I had decided that I wasn’t going to use the lifeline any more, as I hadn’t made any mistakes up until now. “Up until now” is the operative phrase in that sentence. Fortunately I hadn’t taken out the last lifeline, as I screwed it up the second row into the pattern repeat. The more I tried to fix it, the more messed up it got. So out it came. This stuff is not fun to rip out; I only had a row and a half to take out, and I think if it had been more, I’d have just cut it off. Here’s a picture of me getting the stitches back on the needles.

knitting_update_51705_003

One word of advice. When you are threading a lifeline through the stitches on your needle, make sure you get ALL of them on the lifeline. I missed one towards the end of the row, and just managed by dumb luck to notice it as it was attempting to unravel down the shawl.

One last photo that gives just a little hint of the good time that we had:

knitting_update_51705_008

BH&G

No, it’s not the acronym for a mystery sheep and wool festival that I get to go to. BH&G stands for Better Homes & Gardens, the magazine. If you are out and about, stop by a magazine stand and pick up the June 2005 issue. On page 276 there is a short piece titled “Knit Your Way to Wellness”, by Eric Metcalf. Mr. Metcalf contacted me several months ago regarding the medical benefits of knitting, and then interviewed me for the article by telephone. It was fun doing a bit of research for the interview, and it is most definitely a hoot to see my name in print in a major publication. Now if I could only get the New England Journal of Medicine to answer my calls.

I will be out of the blog-o-sphere until early next week. Though I will try to get one more post in before I leave on Thursday, with some actual knitting content, I am heading to North Dakota for the annual pilgrimage to the homeland. My sisters are both going to be there, and another cousin is meeting us for a long weekend of gossip and partying. I was a little nervous about travelling by myself, as John for some reason doesn’t consider ND to be a valid tourist destination, but I’m relatively independent at this point. They also threatened to talk about me if I stayed home, so there you have it. I can shower by myself and mostly eat independently, so there really wasn’t any excuse not to go. The rest of this week in hand therapy will be spent practicing signing my name so I can handle the credit card issue by myself. At the very least I can probably punch in numbers to the ATM.

My sister that lives in Fargo mentioned that there is a place in Moorhead (just across the river) called the Knitty Gritty Cafe, “apparently a place to knit, buy stuff for knitting, and they have lunch time sandwiches. We can go there while you’re here.” She doesn’t have to ask me twice. Anybody heard of it or been there? Any other great yarn stores in either Fargo or Moorhead? I’ll make sure I remember to pack the camera. I’m off to practice my best credit card signature.

I’m Not Bitter, Part 2

If any of you were to have the chance to go to any of our local farmers’ markets, you would immediately sell your belongings and move to western Washington. My favorite is in Olympia, a lovely little town that is also the state capital. Pike Place Market in Seattle is bigger, flashier, and more famous, but the Olympia market has the advantage in that the actual real-life farmer is usually the one selling the stuff. They are passionate about their produce, and can tell you exactly how it was grown and where. They will tell you when the lettuce was picked, and when and where the fish was caught.  It is also a true seasonal market, with almost all locally grown/raised stuff. You have to wait for corn and strawberries until they are really ready here. You get chanterelle and morel mushrooms in season, usually handed to you along with the farmer’s instructions on how to cook them. Every time we go to the Oyster Man’s stand, we get a different idea on how to serve them this week. The ‘Mater Guy will cut you a slice of his heirloom tomatoes, tell you where the seeds came from, and tuck a sprig of basil in the bag. You can get rabbit meat at the Meat Lady’s store on occasion. There is a Dairy Lady and a Bread Guy, and a Lady that occasionally is there selling knitted items. There is also a local cheesemaker, often manned by their young son, the Cheese Boy. Every weekend, all summer, here is where we forage for supplies for the next week.

Here we are arriving at the market.

farmers_market_5705_001

First stop is this stand. right now they have apples and pears, and this week they had the first of the spring onions.

farmers_market_5705_002

There are also many plant stands here. There is a place that sells mostly lavender plants, several flower places, and a lot of tomato seedlings and herb plants.

farmers_market_5705_003

farmers_market_5705_019

The apple stand also has nice asparagus this week. We usually plan our meals on the fly here. “Oh you know, they had “x” back there, that would go well with this. What if we cooked this with that??”

farmers_market_5705_004

Another sample of the bounty:

farmers_market_5705_005

The fish stand is one of our regular stops. Again, what they have varies, but it is always impeccably fresh. Sometimes it’s  clams, sometimes mussels, and right now they have the prettiest halibut on earth. This will be dinner tonight. When the Fish Lady saw us taking a picture, she made us wait until she polished the glass on the case.

farmers_market_5705_007

Then there is the Egg Lady. She is not particularly talkative, but carefully puts your eggs in a cardboard container and tapes it shut for you. And yes, you can get duck eggs here.

farmers_market_5705_008

Then there is my favorite, the Oyster Man. He even comes here in the winter when the market is closed. People who know anything know that the Oyster Man is in the market square on Saturdays all winter, selling oysters that he collects himself. He can tell you exactly where he got them, and when he got them. And tips on how to open them, as well as how to cook them, if you are one of those who likes them cooked.

farmers_market_5705_013

Here are the oysters. This week we bought a dozen of the European flats, and a half dozen of the Kumamotos.

farmers_market_5705_011

And the Oyster Lady giving us a close up of the Flats.

farmers_market_5705_012

The Oyster Man also has geoducks, which is pronounced goo-ee-ducks, for some reason that escapes me. I’ve never tried these, and really have no intention of doing so, at least not sober.

farmers_market_5705_010

On weekends there is always a different band. Here they are:

farmers_market_5705_014

There are also several food stands and picnic tables, and this is just the greatest place to have lunch on a warm spring day.

Next stop is the ‘Mater Guy. Right now he has greenhouse tomatoes, and he always makes you taste one before you buy.

farmers_market_5705_015

Note the caption on his sign: A tomato a day keeps the doctor away…

This is one of our favorite produce stands. Right now they have several kinds of kale, green garlic in bunches, and fresh sorrel, which I adore. Make yourself a classic potato-leek soup, toss in a couple of bunches of chopped sorrel, puree it in the processor, add cream, and you have sorrel soup from heaven. I have been known to eat it leftover for breakfast.

farmers_market_5705_016

Last but not least is the Worm Tea Guy.

farmers_market_5705_018

Here is their website: Wiser Worm Farm. (They are really going to wonder why they are getting traffic from knitting blogs!) They sell Red Wiggler Worms, and Worm Tea for your garden.

All of that foraging tired us out, so we had a big lunch when we got home with the goods. We always buy several bags of mixed lettuces, and we made a salad with that, and fresh radishes, green garlic, avocados (those were from Trader Joe’s), and leftover roast beef from a couple of nights ago.

farmers_market_5705_022

Yum. It’s time for a nap!

Update:
Here’s the website for the Olympia Farmers Market! You can even find out what band is playing, and what’s for lunch.

I’m Not in Maryland,

Or, Not Bitter, Part 1

Julia of Moth Heaven has put out a call for all of us stay-at-home bloggers to post today. I’m not really bitter about MS&W, as I have many other lovely things to do today. It hasn’t actually been Saturday around this house long enough for much exciting to happen, so I’m going to start by showing you what we did yesterday. Today is starting out gray and rainy in the Pacific Northwest, but yesterday was glorious.

We had lunch on the patio for the first time this year. John had leftover barbecue (Georgia style, if you’re curious. He ate it so fast that I didn’t get a picture.) I had a mozzarella, basil and tomato panini. I don’t have a panini machine, so we improvised with a griddle and a cast iron pan to weigh it down. Yes, that wine glass is real glass. I believe in getting back on that horse as soon as possible.

knitting_update_50705_001

I spent part of the afternoon knitting on the patio while John made the herb garden ship-shape. I’m working on Birch, and have one more repeat done since the last time I showed it. At this rate, I will be done with this shawl in time for Christmas, but who’s keeping track? It’s the process, as Margene would say.

knitting_update_50705_005

John replanted parts of our patio herb garden while I played. We now have parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, as well as cilantro, mint, bay, marjoram, basil, chives, and a few patio tomatoes for good measure.

knitting_update_50705_011

The pets also had fun. Riley and Will basked in the warm outdoor temperature.

knitting_update_50705_009

Lucy was too much of a chicken to come out. She did run out once, nibbled on the chives for a second, then ran back in. She prefers the great outdoors from the safety of inside the patio door.

knitting_update_50705_016

After everything was planted and watered down, Riley got to play her favorite summer game, “hose”. We shoot the hose water off towards her, and she runs and jumps to bite at the water. She gets soaked, and will play this game as long as water keeps coming out of the hose.

knitting_update_50705_018

knitting_update_50705_017

Today we are going to the farmers’ market in Olympia to pick up essentials for the week. After that we have a few errands to run, then have plans to meet friends this evening for martinis and dinner. Who needs sheep and wool?

It’s Spring!

Well, technically, I guess it’s actually been spring for a while by the calendar. I date it from the first appearance of baby ducks on our lake. We have a great weedy patch by the dock that serves as duck habitat (that’s my current excuse for not cleaning it up, anyway!). I looked out this afternoon to see this little family.

knitting_update_50505_005

The papa is very protective, and took his little brood and mom away as soon as I sneaked close enough for a picture. Earlier I saw him giving another male Mallard hell and driving him away from the family homestead. They are so funny when they are learning to swim. Once they start getting a little more independent, they race back and forth, but they don’t have very good directional or speed control for the first few weeks, so they go off in all sorts of comical directions.

And I found a blooming lavender plant on the way back up from the lake, where I really don’t remember anybody planting it. I guess it’s a volunteer*. You can see that nobody on this particular “farm” has been out weeding yet.

knitting_update_50505_009_1

Here is a close up picture of those purply flowers from yesterday. Anybody from the Pacific Northwest know what these are? They grow wild, a lot of people think they are weeds, but they have a lovely fragrance, and most importantly, I don’t have to plant them. They just come up; more volunteers. One friend called them bluebells; anybody know for sure?**

knitting_update_50505_001

*John confessed to moving this from someplace else; so it’s not a volunteer after all. I’m apparently just clueless about what goes on in our yard.

**They are hyacinthoides, as per Laurie from Etherknitter, not only a doctor and a knitter, but a gardening whiz.

Knitting & Shopping


Your Inner European is Russian!


Mysterious and exotic.
You’ve got a great balance of danger and allure.

It must have been the vodka and caviar answer that landed me in the “Russian” category.

I want to thank everyone who commented on my last post. I can’t imagine going through all of this nonsense the past two months without all of you cheering me on. Most of my non-Internet based friends are non-knitters, so though they’ve been supportive, they don’t understand the frustration that I’ve had with not being able to knit. I’ve been knitting this past week, but can only manage a row or two at a time. Between the weakness of my muscles and the discomfort, it’s slow going. But it is better than just fondling all my yarn wistfully. At least I’m knitting. I’ve found that knitting heavy worsted wool requires just a bit more tugging than I want to do for very long. So I’m back working on the Birch shawl, a project that I started a long time ago. This has been hanging out in my project bag for months while I was working on Rogue. Laceweight hairy dental floss is easier on my hands, though possibly not my sanity. Here’s where I am:

knitting_update_50405_001

Five repeats done, twenty-five to go. The lace pattern is actually fairly easy to memorize, though I’m planning on sticking with my stitch markers and lifeline for now. My hand isn’t agile enough to fix any complicated screwups just yet.

Here’s the shopping part of the post. I haven’t bought any yarn up until now since my injury, but have been looking for a special project to save for when my fingers are back to normal. This yarn came in the mail a few days ago. I ordered it about ten minutes after Amy told me that it was OK to start knitting.

knitting_update_50405_004

It’s KnitPicks Shimmer, which is a laceweight baby alpaca/silk blend. I plan on making a shawl out of it, though I’m not sure which one. I ordered several patterns also, from Red Bird Knits. They are all shawls; the Flower Basket Shawl, the Estonian Garden Wrap, and the Leaf Lace Shawl.

Everybody in blog-land seems to be posting pictures of beautiful flowers this week. Here’s what’s in my garden:

knitting_update_50405_009

The rhodies here are very prolific. Mine are a bit behind some, as this part of my yard only gets partial sun most of the day. Willie really likes his yard much better than the shelter that he came from.

knitting_update_50405_018

I don’t know what these flowers are called, but they grow wild in everybody’s yard. They smell divine, and when you go out in the yard in the early evening, the fragrance is almost overpowering. Nice weeds, eh?

Last but not least, here is the little wall that I tumbled over two months ago.

knitting_update_50405_014

Here’s Will demonstrating that he is fearless. “Wall, what wall?”

knitting_update_50405_016

Hand Update, Again

Today I’m at 7 weeks post-op. I’m still going to therapy twice a week. Today was the first day that my spouse took the camera (he still comes with me, as I can’t drive yet). Amy, my OT, suggested that I bring my knitting needles with me today so she could watch me knit in order to determine if it was safe to try it yet. Ever thinking of my blog readers, I had John take pictures to document the event. I knew you guys would not want to miss this.

The most fun thing I do in therapy is the corn husk machine. It is filled with ground up corn husks, and is heated. After you stick your arms in it, the fan comes on and blows the corn around your hands while you do exercises. It feels really good, and enables me to do a lot more with my fingers than I can do without it. I think it’s partly the heat, and partly the tactile stimulus of the husks that helps. Here is a picture of me in the machine.

knitting_update_42805_002

And a closeup of the corn.

knitting_update_42805_003

After my splint came off at six weeks, I noticed that my hand is extremely hypersensitive. This is partly from having it in a splint for that long, with the resulting sensory deprivation, and I suspect partly from having all the skin peel off my entire hand about a month into this. It’s getting better as I am able to use it more, but the weird sensation in that hand has been very disconcerting. Amy assures me that this is normal and that using it will help.

I’ve started doing manual tasks with my hand. She has told me that it is OK to type, though my hand is very awkward, and I can’t type for long without getting very tired. Here’s the other gadget that I started using this week at OT.

knitting_update_42805_008

I have to pick up the pegs, turn them over in my hand, and put them back in, while curling my wayward fingers around the peg. It’s harder than it looks. Here’s another view, with Amy supervising and cheerleading.

knitting_update_42805_010

And now the picture that you have all been waiting for.

knitting_update_42805_012

I’M KNITTING!!! After carefully watching me knit a whole row, Amy said “Those are just the movements I want you to be working on”. I showed her how I could knit continental style to take the work off my index finger, and she said that she would rather I use that right hand so I start getting some dexterity back. (This is a very good thing, as I am a thrower by nature, not a picker.)

HOORAY!!

I had some serious doubts the past several weeks whether I would ever be posting knitting pictures again on this blog. Here’s a closeup of what I’m making.

knitting_update_42805_014

The color is actually more amethyst , more like the first picture. I started this before my injury; it will be a simple 1X1 rib scarf.  The yarn is Beaverslide Dry Goods fisherman weight, in a color named Prairie Aster. I intended this to be for the Dulaan project, started by Ryan, of Mossy Cottage Knits. Ryan, this might not get done by the deadline, but it WILL get done and sent eventually! I’m not going to win any speed races any time soon, but I’M KNITTING!! Did I already mention that?

Another Book Thing

There is another of those book memes going around, and it was sent to me by Justine, of Adventures in Asia. I have indeed had a lot of time on my hands to read since my injury, though I have been doing some medical reading to catch up, so haven’t gotten a lot of novels read. Nonethless, here are the questions and my answers.

Q: You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

Not sure I would want to be a book at all, in that world. If I had to be, it would be one of the banned/challenged ones. Maybe Darwin’s “Origin of Species”; one of the most revolutionary scientific books of the past few centuries. It amazes me that there are still people who can say with a straight face that they don’t “believe” in evolution. It’s not a religion, it’s a scientific fact. Saying the world is flat doesn’t make it so. My alternate choice would be “A Wrinkle in Time”, by Madeleine L’Engle, one of my favorite books of all time, and also on a variety of banned books lists. It’s a wonder that humans have survived as long as we have, as stupid as we can be at times.

Q: Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Not really. If I had one, it would probably be the swashbuckling Francis Crawford of Lymond, from Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond series. Handsome, brilliant, daring, dangerous. My kind of guy.

Q: The last book you bought is: “Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine”. Oh, you probably meant NON-medical reading. That would be Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s bookbookbook “At Knit’s End”.

Q: The last book you read: “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell”, by Susanna Clarke.

Q: What are you currently reading? “Snow”, by Orhan Pamuk, and “East of Eden”, by John Steinbeck. And the “Collected Stories of Grace Paley”, by Grace Paley. (And Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. Pretty exciting reading.)

Q: Five books you would take to a desert island. Most of these I have never read. I’ve read parts of Twain, parts of Trevor, and Tolkien once, but certainly could re-read it. They’re all big books that would last until I was rescued.

1. “Collected Works of Mark Twain”, the unabridged edition
2. “Collected Stories”, William Trevor
3. “Remembrance of Things Past”, by Marcel Proust
4. “Make Way for Lucia, the Complete Lucia”, by E.F. Benson
5. “Lord of the Rings Trilogy”, by J.R.R. Tolkien

Q: Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?
1. Laurie, of Etherknitter. She also has lots of time on her hands to read after surgery.
2. Cara, of January One. She is a librarian, a reader, and started Knit One Read Too.
3. Wendy, of The Bookish Girl. How could I not, with the name of her blog?

————————————————————————–

Every so often I check out the Google search strings that got people to my blog. Here are a few favorites from this week:

“things that could be worse”
“bourbon girl” (my favorite)
“one handed knitting”
“one handed zipping technique”
“internal pictures doctor ass” (I can only imagine what this person was really looking for.)

I’m not making those up.

International Pajama Day!

Celia, from Unraveling, has a mission in life. She is trying to spread the word about the joys of spending a whole day in your jammies. Yesterday was International Pajama Day IV, and I’m proud to say that I participated. I changed into flannel pants and a warm fleecy top and passed the whole day lounging around the house.

knitting_update_42505_003

Celia did it in much higher style; she’s had several chances to perfect her pajama performance. Check out her blog post from yesterday for her great photos.

I spent the day reading and playing on the computer. In the evening, John cooked me a nice little spring risotto.

knitting_update_42505_029_1

knitting_update_42505_025

knitting_update_42505_024

Here’s me helping. I’m still not allowed to handle any sharp objects.

knitting_update_42505_019

And here’s the recipe, as best I can reconstruct it. It’s a modification based on lots of trials and several recipes. Once you figure out how to make a basic recipe, you can add whatever you find that looks good. We got all the fresh ingredients at the Farmers’ Market in Olympia this weekend. If you ever see green garlic in the market, buy it and try it. It looks like big green onions, and has a wonderful flavor. You can use it wherever you would use garlic.

We usually blanch whatever vegetable we’re going to add in the broth, and saute any raw fish or meat bits separately. That way you can add it all at the end and not have to figure out how long each part will take to cook. You can use leftover stuff in this as well. About the only thing we haven’t tried in risotto is Spam, and I suppose you could use that if you were desperate.

Some people frown on cheese in risotto with fish or seafood. I like it, so there.

Spring Risotto with Green Garlic, Asparagus, and Shrimp

2 cups arborio rice
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Another tablespoon butter
3 stalks green garlic, chopped; use regular garlic if you can’t find this.
Shallots, chopped, about 3 tablespoons (or leeks, if you have them)
1/2 cup white wine
6 1/2 cups broth. We used fish stock that we buy frozen, but you can use chicken or veggie.
Asparagus, cleaned and cut into 2 inch pieces. We used about a dozen or so stalks.
1 cup peas, shelled; fresh or frozen
Handful of chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
3/4 pound shrimp, cleaned and shelled, tails off
Another 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese. Please don’t use that stuff out of a can or the risotto gods will get their revenge eventually.
Salt & pepper

Heat the broth to just simmering and keep it there. Dump in the asparagus and cook for a few minutes to blanch them, take them out with a slotted spoon and set aside. If you’re using fresh peas, blanch those too and set aside. Put the first tablespoon of butter and the oil in a largish pot and saute the onion, garlic, and shallot till soft. In another pan, melt another tablespoon of butter and briefly saute the shrimp, just till they turn from pink to white. Turn off, and set aside.

Add the rice to the pot with the butter, garlic, shallot, and onion, and stir briefly until rice starts to look translucent at the edges. This will just take a few minutes. Add the wine and stir until liquid is almost absorbed. Now start adding your broth to the rice about a cupful at a time, stirring most of the time and watching closely. When most of the liquid from each cup is absorbed into the rice, it’s time to add the next cup of broth. As the rice gets closer to done, add the broth in smaller amounts, and taste the rice off and on to make sure you’re not getting too much liquid. You want it done but not mushy; the rice should still have a firm bite to it when you’re all done. When the rice tastes like it’s just a few minutes from being done, add the asparagus, shrimp, parsley, and peas, and keep stirring and adding more broth in small amounts till the rice is done. You may not have to use all the liquid in the pot.

When the rice tastes done, turn off the heat, add the last tablespoon of butter and the cheese, and stir in. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve. This should easily feed 4 hungry people as a main course, or 6 as a side dish. Leftovers are wonderful: we form patties out of it, about the size of a big burger, and saute in a bit of butter. Yum. I’m off to find lunch.

I Dyed!

Or, Kool-Aid is Fun!

Yesterday was the big Kool-Aid dyeing project, courtesy of Kristen. Check out this post for a rundown of what she sent me a couple of weeks ago. I finally got around to making a mess in my kitchen yesterday with this.

Knitty has the instructions here for doing this. Check that out for details; what I’ve written here is just a brief rundown. If you do a Google search for “kool-aid dyeing” you will get other resources as well. John helped me with the photo shoot.

knitting_update_42205_004

First I washed the yarn in mild soap and water, then rinsed and left it to soak in water while I was getting everything else ready. Kristen was nice enough to put the yarn in two separate skeins and tie them for me. I decided to do one color rather than a handpainted look.  After a little experimenting on bits of yarn, I chose Strawberry.

knitting_update_42205_005

I actually added a bit of red food coloring, as I had a very vibrant strawberry in mind. You can use the dyes that are made for cake decorating as well, and these come in a wider variety of colors.

knitting_update_42205_006

After you get the yarn in the Kool-Aid, you either put it in the microwave or on the stove and heat not quite to the boiling point, stirring a couple of times to make sure all the yarn is under the water.

knitting_update_42205_008

Take it out of the microwave and let it cool, again stirring a few times. Wash again in mild soapy water, rinse, and dry. Be careful not to manhandle the yarn too much, or to shock it with different temperatures of water, or you will have a big felted wet strawberry.

knitting_update_42205_013

Here is the finished yarn, ready to knit when my fingers start to cooperate.

knitting_update_42205_017

You might notice something missing in this photo. Yes, the splint is gone, as of yesterday. I got a good report card from both my OT and my surgeon, and am now starting to work on range of motion and strengthening in earnest.

I also received some lovely gifts in the mail from my sister Diane today. You can tell that a warped sense of humor obviously runs in our family. The glasses are plastic, of course, to prevent further injury the next time we head off over the hills to the neighbors’ house to share wine.

knitting_update_42205_021

And a closeup of the authentic crown:

knitting_update_42205_015

Yes, that’s Riley licking her butt in the background. I didn’t notice it until it was up here, and I’m not doing it over. At least I have a puppy picture, so I won’t get kicked out of the Purling Puppy Webring.

What’s On Your Ipod?

As Laurie from Etherknitter pointed out in her post today, health complaints tend to have a short half-life. While my tendon saga is no doubt endlessly fascinating to some of you, even I am getting sick of hearing about it. But I can’t knit, so what to write about? (And John has this insane idea that I shouldn’t buy yet more yarn that I am unable to knit. He has a point.)

And yes, I have tried to knit. Amy the OT, if by some chance you’ve found my blog, this would be the time to take a break and get a cup of coffee. You don’t want to know, trust me. I very carefully picked up my needles and gave it a try. I guess I needed to prove to myself that I could do it. And I couldn’t, of course. My muscles are way too weak, the tendons feel a little iffy when I try it, and I don’t have the fine motor control. Hell, I don’t even have gross motor control. Yet.

I’ve made very good use of my Ipod during this time. Which brings me to the subject of this post. Our local paper ran an article over the weekend about our president and what’s on his Ipod. (Originally published in the New York Times). I was rather impressed at his techological savvy until I got to the part that said he only has 250 songs on his 40 gigabyte player, and he has an aide that loads it up for him. And one of his songs is “My Sharona”. When I got to that part, any lingering respect I might have had for the man was shot down. I don’t necessarily think that his George Jones is a bad choice; I’m a traditional country music fan myself, though my taste runs more towards Hank Williams, Hank Snow, and Lefty Frizzell. Conway Twitty singing “It’s Only Make Believe”.  Floyd Cramer playing “Last Date”. And Vern Gosdin, the greatest country singer of all time. Makes me want to break out the bourbon just thinking about it.

So, what is on my Ipod? For starters, I have 5421 songs currently loaded. And 25 audio books. And the latest broadcast of Car Talk, one of the funniest shows on public radio. My musical taste would best be described as insanely eclectic. There is almost always music going on at our house. We have an extensive CD collection, though these days we mostly listen to Rhapsody; with our computer wired to the stereo we can listen to almost anything we want, anytime. And they have to put the CDs back in the cases, not me. We also listen to Folk Alley and KPIG.

About 1500 of those Ipod tunes are bluegrass or Appalachian style music, stretching over a wide range of bluegrass styles. About 600 are country or cowboy music (Wylie & The Wild West, Ian Tyson, Tom Russell). There are a couple hundred songs in the pop/rock/classic rock/oldies categories. There are 350 or so folk songs,about 180 blues tunes, a couple hundred jazz and swing tunes, another couple hundred or so songs by Texas artists…Robert Earl Keen, Lyle Lovett, Townes Van Zandt, Freddy Fender, Guy Clark, Jimmie Dale Gilmore. (Texas is about the only state that has its own music.) There is some Cajun and zydeco music, about 30 of my favorite classical pieces, and 5 or 6 opera albums. Though they’re not loaded yet, I have the complete Beethoven string quartets (7 CD’s worth) on deck to load next time I sync the thing. I have a few Hawaiian tunes (the other state with its own music), by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. No Ipod is complete without Sousa tunes, and I have 15 of them. Try it on the treadmill before you laugh. There are a dozen polka tunes (don’t ask, I grew up in North Dakota and was raised on Lawrence Welk and Myron Floren). I have 31 songs categorized as “surf”, by Dick Dale, the Hellecasters, and the Aqua Velvets. Listen to the Aqua Velvets’ “Smoking Panatelas on the Blue Mediterranean Sea”, from their “Nomad” album for a taste of what they’re like. And then there are a bunch of miscellaneous tracks that are hard to classify in any one genre.

Maybe George needs to borrow my Ipod for awhile. I think I like my song selection better than his. It might broaden his horizons considerably.

I Passed!

My tendons passed, that is. Thursday I had the tendons tested, which was a hell of an excitement, let me tell you. I actually had a dream about it the night before. In my dream I had taken my splint off to show somebody how it worked, then couldn’t get it back on correctly. I showed up at my “test” and Amy was none too happy with me. Any of you who have been through “higher education” would probably recognize this as a variant of the dream where you realize that the final is today and you forgot to go to class all semester.

The actual test took about ten seconds, then I was on my way to doing active exercises. This has been a rather distressing few days. I’ve lost a lot more power and range of motion in my hand and wrist than I would have thought possible in a month. I need to keep reminding myself that I’m not supposed to be at full strength for another two months.

The real surprise was that my splint was revised yet again. Amy replaced the tape that straps it to my wrist with velcro straps so I can TAKE IT OFF to do exercises, and to wash my hand to get the gunk off. Hooray! In case you think this less than thrilling, let me just say that a lot of gunk builds up when you can’t wash your hand for a month. I’m exfoliating the skin off my whole hand and leaving my DNA all over the house. Guess I can’t commit any crimes for awhile; Gil on CSI would identify me in a minute.

I got a great surprise package in the mail this week from Kristen. Check out her blog here. Here is a picture.

knitting_update_4405_001

Though I can’t knit, she figured I could manage Kool-Aid dyeing. There is a ball of Patons wool, which she skeined and tied for me so it’s ready to go. She included the Kool-Aid as well as gloves; a regular one for my regular hand, and a plastic bag to go over the splint. There are treats as well: chocolate for me, a knit catnip mouse for the cats, and a cookie for Riley. Here’s Willie’s verdict. He’s been trying to kill that mouse ever since he got it.

knitting_update_4405_004

And Riley’s thoughts on the matter:

knitting_update_4405_010

The chocolate is long gone, so no pictures. Thanks Kristen!

One more tip for any of you who unexpectedly find yourself unable to wash your own hair for three months. I got a little tired of looking like Phyllis Diller after the first week and went to my salon for a shampoo and style. It was wonderful, but a little spendy to do very often. John called his barber to see what they charge. The barber that owns the shop is a woman, and she charges $8 for a wash and dry. So I’m splurging and going every week.

3 Weeks Down,

Only 9 more to go. This week has been about maintaining my sense of humor. The first two weeks I was all gung ho, with an “I can lick this” attitude. I think the reality hit this week. I’m better now, but at the beginning of this week I wasn’t a happy camper about any part of this experience. Then to add insult to injury, I was in my surgeon’s office yesterday morning. He looked at my hand and said “you’re missing one of the stones from your ring”. This would be my wedding ring he was referring to, and neither I or John had noticed it. The ring has one larger diamond in the center with a smaller one on each side, and it was one of the smaller ones that was gone.

I managed to keep it together until we got to the car and then burst into tears, crying all the way home. I figured we’d look all over and never find it. I reached down to unhook the seat belt, and whacked my hand yet again on the center console, as I have been doing every time because it’s so f-ing awkward to do the seat belt with your left hand. Just for the heck of it I looked down between the seats to see if by some miracle it was there, and it WAS. So now the ring is at the jeweler’s to get fixed, and I’ve got three weeks of this under my belt, and I feel much better, thank you.

After this week, if all is going well with the tendons, I get to start doing what Amy my OT calls “baby bird” exercises. It apparently goes something like this: I passively move my fingers into my palm, then let them go and pretend like I’m holding a baby bird. I have to hold tight enough to cradle the bird in my hand, but not hard enough to squish it. I’ve never been so excited to start an exercise program in my life. Not this week though. That would be next week, if all goes well. This week is still another of the boring passive-range-of-motion-exercises weeks.

I can’t thank all of you enough for the kind words of support. Ryan, of Mossy Cottage Knits, and Margene, of Zeneedle, think I’m an inspiration. And Dorothy of Missouri Star fame sent me this after I whined about having trouble holding paperback books open.

knitting_update_4105_001

knitting_update_4105_003

Very cool. And it works amazingly well! Thanks, Dorothy! This might mean no more books lobbed across the room in frustration.

Happy Blogiversary To Me!

Today is the first anniversary of The Knitting Doctor. Unfortunately I won’t be doing any knitting to celebrate. It’s been a fun year. I started this as a way to document what I’m knitting, but it has turned into a wonderful way to “meet” a lot of other knitters. I’ve learned a few things about computers, and a lot of things about knitting. I like to look at anniversaries as opportunities for reflection; a time to set new goals, perhaps drop old ones that are no longer useful.

Julia from Moth Heaven wrote an interesting post last week about what she chooses to knit and why. I think one of the few disadvantages of blogging, and reading other blogs, is that I get very distracted from my knitting. “Oooohhh, I want to knit THAT!” “No no, THAT needs to be next.” Once my fingers get working again, I want to finish up some old projects that have been languishing, then work on some of the projects buried in those eight tubs of yarn lurking behind me. (OK, ten.) So much yarn, so little time.

I promised a list of the positive benefits of my hand injury. I have combined this with a list of things I can and can’t do with one hand, as well as just a few random things I’ve discovered. In no particular order, here goes. Some of these might qualify as “too much information” for some of you. Consider yourself warned.

I’ve learned that “they” make dental floss thingies that can be used with one hand.

I am able to wash my right armpit with ease.

I need assistance with the left armpit.

I’ve mastered one-handed makeup.

I can take my bra off with one hand.

I can’t get it back on.

Let me just say that “feminine hygiene products” can indeed be managed with one hand when one has to do so.

I’ve learned to butter toast with one hand. (If you are thinking “Ha, I can do that”, just try it.)

I can still drink a glass of wine with one hand. I can’t get the bottle open alone, but once it’s open, I’m set.

I have a lot of free time to read books. I’ve even gotten caught up on some medical reading.

Paperbacks are harder to read with one hand. Hardback books stay open better by themselves. Fortunately there is no shortage of books in this house.

I have lots of time to play on the computer.

My husband and I have had lots of time together. As long as he remembers that he has to help me wash my left armpit and then hook my bra before he goes anyplace, we’ll get along fine.

Life is much easier when people leave my bathroom counter the way I have it. Especially people who seem to think it’s funny to go in and put the caps and lids back on everything.

I finally will have time to read through June Hiatt’s Principles of Knitting. Of course, it’s a big enough book that I might not be able to balance it one-handed.

I’m able to go to the park with John to walk the dog a lot more than I ever was before.

You learn the value of little milestones. My stitches came out this week.

I’m learning the value of patience when you are a patient. I’ve only lobbed a couple of things across the room in frustration this week because I couldn’t get them open.

My splint has a rubber band that hooks one part to another part. Cats appear to find this endlessly fascinating. I’ve discovered that it’s just better if I don’t fall asleep with my splint exposed while Willie is pretending to sleep on my chest.

I can pet the cat with one hand. I can just as easily knock him four feet across the room one-handed.

That’s enough for one day. I’m sure I’ll think of more later, with all the free time on my hands. Well, hand, I guess.