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So I showed my friend her Cowl [that I wrote about on my Handmade Gifts post], that I had knit up for her and she was amazed at the work and all, but it turned out she really wanted something more in the line of a scarf than a cowl, so over-riding her protests, I ripped it all back to loose yarn, balled it all back up and started over with a different pattern idea.  So far she is happy with my plan and we shall move a bit more slowly to ensure she is on board with any changes or final stages before finishing it off.  I want her to be VERY happy with the final item and I don’t care how long it takes to get right, but hopefully sometime this winter so she has a chance to wear it.  😉

Mom’s vest continues to be a work in progress… The bloody thing weighs more than expected and it is a work-out hauling that thing around in my lap to get seams and ends dealt with.  Once mom had a real chance to take a look as the final pieces, she requested that the pockets be wider than they were long, please.  So they are getting ripped out and knit again so they are the right way around.  Then they need to be sewn on the vest and the whole thing washed and blocked to settle all the seams and such.  Hopefully things will be done soon so she can actually have the vest to wear.

I went out Thursday to a regular appointment and got stuck in the snow 5 times. The first 3 times I managed to wiggle and work my way out of the jam, but the last two times were just beyond me and the chair.  The 4th jam up was near where son works, so I made a call to ask him if he might get of work out long enough to help me, he asked me were I was and then all I heard him say was he was on his way and a click.  I can’t begin to tell y’all how bloody much I love that boy of mine!!!  While waiting for son to come rescue me, three older teen boys, immigrants from some African country, suddenly came up and started to work on getting me free from the snow.  They spoke English, but didn’t stop to ask if I needed help, they just stepped in and helped, suddenly I was free and moving on my own again.  I thanked them and they took off to get back to what they were doing, all I could think was how grateful I was for their help.  Thinking to get to the corner where things looked clear and meet up with son, I got not 100 yards down that same sidewalk and I was jammed again!  All this snow that looked packed down was, in reality, really loose in some areas and this kept causing my wheels to get jammed.  Good thing son was on his way, by then I am really tired, sore and running out of energy.  Son arrives, gets me broken loose once more and delivers me to my appointment.  From then on I take only the roads and the cars can crawl behind me for all I care.  Don’t like it, shovel your damn sidewalks properly!!  My last 2 jam-ups happened on sidewalks belonging to the Big Mall’s property, which they sort of cleared enough for able-bodies people to manage to get through… buggers!

Speaking of clearing up the snow, son was attempting to dig me out from the pile the snowplow left in my parking spot and the walkway in front of it, when the plow tried to bury him in yet another load of the white shit it was clearing off of the parking lot in my co-op.  I had to go out and have word with the operator and tell him that I didn’t care what anyone told him, this area had been maxed out for the dumping of snow and he was now blocking wheelchair access.  My son was having to dig me out so I could get out, not just for any daily access, but in case of an emergency and I didn’t give a damn where else he put the bloody snow, as long as he didn’t put anymore of it there.  Now with the plus temps we have been getting the past few days, the snow has melted off some, but I will still be ripping the snow removal guys a new one if they pile snow up next me like that again.

I have had fun cooking lately… I made Gramma Ladybug’s recipe for homemade Hot & Sour soup and tried making green onion pancakes from a recipe I found on the internet for supper Friday night.  The soup was easy, but the pancakes didn’t quite work out as I had hoped.  They were good and edible, but didn’t have the flakiness they are supposed to have.  Then last night I used some online inspiration and my kitchen-witch powers and whipped up a meal of Curried Pasta and Asian Flair Pork Burgers with Ginger Caramelized Onions that was all my own in the end.  Got smart and wrote things down ASAP so I have my recipes available to make these yummy dishes again [I might share the recipes if anyone is actually interested].  The kids were super thrilled with both meals and happily ate well both nights. *wink*

All this activity has pushed me physically, so of course I am sore and hurting, but some meds and my stubborn attitude are keeping my going.  Working at little bits every day gets things done, whether it is cooking, knitting, working with my fibre, spinning, cleaning or tidying up, I try to do at least one thing that I can count as an accomplishment… even if it is just getting out of bed that day!

Hey, I can now count this blog as something else I’ve done today… I’m doing good…

All in a creative day’s work…

I have a standing invite every Monday [that isn’t a holiday] to go to a friend’s Open Art Studio day.  It runs from 3 pm to 9 pm and typically I take advantage of the full 6 hour stretch.  She encourages me to do painting while I am there to get my head into a whole different artistic space for awhile, it’s genuinely fun, all the folk who show up end up spending time talking, laughing and sharing stories over a coffee or tea and I have come home with some fantastic work that is actually worth framing and hanging on my wall.

So today I was not feeling so great, my head and body are all achy, head and nose are feeling like they are full of cotton and my nose won’t stop yelling for tissues – STAT! –  It’s the fall allergy season; I’m used to this after years of suffering…  I know it is going to be a stretch to haul my aching self there on the bus and then the congestion & cotton brain is just not the kind of thing that makes creativity spring up happy and free, so I opted to stay home and try to do something even mildly creative here.

Today’s creative project was photography…  No matter if you are a hobby crafter, an artisan, a cottage industry seller, or a whole sale Ebay master, you need pictures of your product if you are going to sell your product.

Since I am a crafter of various crafts and try to sell what I can to help pay for the multiple hobbies I partake in [and for the simple fact I like the feeling when my stuff goes to people who are just keen for the handmade stuff], I needed to do the photo shoot thing to give my prospective buyers a decent idea of what I am selling.  You see, while there is a huge truth in the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, but there is also the codicil that says the wrong kind of picture can kill your story before it starts!

I had taken a bunch of photos of my hand-spun yarns awhile back, but I needed GOOD shots of the yarns if I was to post them for sale.  Starting with the brighter yarns in the small case I usually take to markets, sales and festivals, I set up my mini studio on the trunk in front of the living room window to take advantage of the natural light as much as I could.  I will tell you this little fact, natural light can go from fantastic to shitty in the time it takes to shift one skein of yarn off and the next one on, but I digress…

The pictures I took back in February were only intended to be a visual inventory of what I had on hand and ready to sell, the pictures I was trying to get today are intended to interest buyers in these skeins of hand-crafted yarns; they have to make the product look good and that can be hard.  There is a lot that goes into taking product shots; first you have to get it to look appealing, then you have to get the lighting right so the colours stay as true as possible, you can’t forget to keep them clear and focused so they can make out details you are trying to highlight.

For example, the inventory shot of a pair of skeins

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vs. the for sale shot

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You can see the presentation is different…

So my afternoon has been filled with controlled chaos and my already aching body has now added tired to the list of complaints, but I am a stubborn and move on… I need to try to keep track of what I have already done, don’t forget to work the presentation, lighting is important [keep an eye on it!], details & keep it in focus, get multiple shots to cover all the bases – then times all that by a couple dozen skeins – it is very time consuming and a great deal of work, but in the end you look them over with fingers crossed that they look as good on the screen as they did in the camera – all that work for a bunch of crappy shots can break your heart and make all that work a futile effort.

If they have all turned out as you hoped, then comes then next hurdle in selling online. You see posting and/or uploading them is the easy part, it is adding all the right details along side the right photo that can consume an afternoon or evening before you know it… so I cheated a little bit and made sure to take photos of the labels as well so that I can refer to the photo itself for the information, saving me the hassle of needing a written inventory and making posting them for sale soooooooo much easier!

Then there is dealing with the clean-up afterwards, because you know you wanted to get the light while you could, so you just draped the skeins in a pile so you could move fast.  A couple dozen rounds of twist and tuck gets them looking neat and tidy and so they don’t get messed up and/or tangled while in transit.  In the end they are all tucked back into their travel case and stacked back with the other cases of items for sale.

This is the tip of my iceberg, but it was all I could handle today and it is better than nothing at all…

Now I can relax with a mug of tea and peruse a bit of this and that, a few hours of work to produce not so many pictures as one might think, but I have to say I am so very grateful for the digital age, this would have cost me a freaking fortune if I had to do all this on actual film!!

The Troll of Chronic Pain

It has been a fair time since I have blogged, mostly because I have not been sure what to blog about.  I am not one of those folks that feels I must advertise every moment of my day in some sort of social media and find it hard to think anyone really cares to hear about the little things I find thoughtful in my life, but endeavouring to find a tidbit to offer to the few that might care, I shall start with something that means a great deal to me today… Chronic Pain.

Have you or anyone you love had an episode in life in which you suffered a large amount of pain that you were glad to see gone once you had healed/recovered from whatever had caused it?

Were so you so thankful, glad, or giddy with joy to see the backside of that pain?

Just think for one small moment what life would be like if it had NOT taken itself off like the nasty troll it is. 

What would your life be like today if it still clung to you every day…?

Chronic pain is a companion I would rather not have living with me day in and day out.  It breaks, fractures and steals my sleep, hampers my ability to function cognitively and cheats me out of physical strength to actively engage in daily life on a regular basis.  Pain is a troll in the arse and can piss off as far as I am concerned, unfortunately a rock listens better than the troll of pain does and it has planted itself as tenaciously as a burr on my nerves.  Unfortunately this means, pain kisses kicks me daily, some days more brutally than others.  I fight back as much as I can, I am stubborn that way.  Some days I get the upper hand, some days it beats me into the floor.  Chronic pain is not a fun guest in anyone’s life… having it move in to live with you just vile.

After nearly 20 years of a slow spiral into higher and higher levels of pain that result in lesser and lesser levels of function & mobility, medications are a mandatory necessity in order to beat pain back enough to function and have any kind of life.  Daily doses of two medications keep things ticking along, but once every 8 weeks, my dad [ArchonsDen] and I travel nearly an hour to a clinic that offers a more strategic pain treatment.  The Dr. that oversees this clinic is one of very few that are willing to do this kind of work in our area as there has been a great deal of bad press about Dr’s that prescribe too much to people who are in real pain and accuse them of creating a world of addicts.  There are strict rules for Dr’s that run any kind of pain clinics and what you can expect to receive, personally I am glad for what I do get and see my family Dr for anything else I may need.

Tomorrow I am due for my treatment, an IVI [intravenous infusion] that will effectively numb my nerves and make all my muscles get all sleepy and dozy for a day or two so that my pain levels sort of reset themselves at a lower level.  It is like the shots of freezing you get with dental work or when you get stitches.  It is the same medication actually, just in a slightly different format and dosage; as an IV rather than shots that treats the whole body, not just one area.  It puts a body in sort of a twilight state [not THAT twilight, no vampires are involved in this treatment!] and blocks the neurons’ ability to transmit pain signals.  This brief period of nerve blockage numbs the pain, reduces inflammation caused by nerve irritation and reduces the amount of pain that is registered by the nerves.  It by no means removes the ability to feel pain, but brings a level of relief to the all day, every day growl of the pain troll.

Patients are only allowed this treatment 6 times per 12 months by the governmental bean counters and that averages out to every 8 weeks that I get one.  This 8 week cycle means that for the last 1-3 weeks it is “Crash Time” and it can be long & slow or short and hard.  This round was a short and hard one, so the pain troll has been a nasty bugger this past week.  Despite the massive pain spikes, I have managed to do many things and keep at some of the smaller chores, but have paid the price in requiring additional pain meds and sleep to deal with roaring pain and/or exhaustion, so all is not without the checks and balances.  

No matter how cruel the troll is, it does not steal my positive mindset or my stubborn nature and I am rallying on until tomorrow, making plans and tottering about the little things I can manage until then….