|Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.
Happy New Year, Bess, and have a great time at the spa! Can you get away with not answering the phone?
Happy New Year Bess, to you and yours! We will be Thin and Fabulous at MDS&W!
Happy New Year miss Bess! Warmth, love, health, and abundance of goodness to you.
I loved what you wrote and I wish you a wonderful new year and I look forward to your posts on KR.
By 6:58 PM, at
THAT was one of the most wonderful blog posts I've read in the knitting/spinning blogging world. Here's to a great new years for you!
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Saturday, December 31, 2005 Your week ahead: You can't have everything at once. You can't expect 2006 to get off to a perfect start. You can't hope for a future free of conflict. These, though, are just about your only limitations. If you want anything else, there's a fair chance you can get it. It may not seem this way to you, but your year starts strongly. You have support where you need it and protection where you feel most vulnerable. You are aware you will have to start carrying out a difficult, delicate plan. That really need not be a problem. You just have to be sure as well as sensitive. I have just recorded your first in-depth forecast for the New Year. To hear great news - click here and take out a free four week trial of your weekly spoken forecast.
Now, you all know how much I really love Mr.Horoscope. He’s the only astrologer I’ve ever found who actually as good things to say about Virgos - most of the time. And I am sure I will find golden nuggets in future forecasts. And I am not saying this week ahead prognostication is full of gloom and doom.
But I want this week to be like white noise - like REM sleep. I want NO, as in ZERO, delicate issues with no vulnerability this week. I expect 2006 to get off to a perfect start. A perfect start to healing this achy body and stupid Pavlovian Dog Brain that dashes into work at the first phone call. Bad bad bad horoscope. I want PERFECTION! I do not want to have to step delicately. Sheesh. I am sick to death of difficult delicate plans. Sick of it, do you hear?!? It feels like my life is constantly hobbled by dainty steps around issues and responsibilities and egos. I want to be the center of the universe for 11 days. I am throwing a linguistic tantrum about a horoscope prediction! I am out of my mind - and I don’t even have a crazy smiley face for the icon dependent.
Which just goes to show you how badly I need this week of R&R. Though it started officially yesterday, it starts in actual factual mode today. The dear PT guys have created a little 20 minute exercise routine for me, with lots of elastic bands, tied in knots, held tight by shutting the knot in a door, and against which I pull my head and my ankles. Not at the same time, mind, but sequentially. All of these exercises are small things that you could slip into a daily routine. Only - who would? Who does? I know how those “easy to slip into your day” things are - especially when they are new and different and most especially when you feel tired and stupid. You forget to. You don’t do the exercises because they aren’t old familiar friends. Because your body hasn’t learned them. So for the next 9 days I am going to be at TheQueen’s Spa. Three times a day I will do my little 20 minute routine. Once a day I’ll take a gentle stroll out to the mile point. My freshly stocked kitchen will produce nothing but new and delicious WW meals. My big bed will be spread smooth for naptime-with-dogs every afternoon. There is a basket full of bright knitting in the living room and a bag full of merino/tencil by HeyBaby. If there is any time left over after sleep and baths and naps and meals, I will spend it working on class handouts for some classes I’d like to teach. But that is secondary - something completely unimportant for this first month of 2006. No matter what else happens - if I am called by library staff, even if the library is broken into again, like it was the last time I tried to take a week off to heal this whiplashed neck - I am just going to tell them to call the police or give them equivalent nonchalant and disinterested advice.
All this naval gazing begins today, though I did get in a great PT session yesterday. Since I shan’t take down the tree till tomorrow, I probably won’t do any other house cleaning either, though the house desperately needs it. Usually I begin each new year, after tree removal, house cleaning, and bubble bath, with a brand spanking new notebook, but there is no notebook lust this year. About 2 weeks ago, a beautiful New Year’s Resolution was born, over lunch, bounced off the head of S, my favorite lemony girlfriend. It involves a lot of people and it is quite elaborate and it won’t be fully formed till sometime in the middle of January. So this New Year’s Day I will do things a little differently. I will make a list of Good Ideas, but I only plan to make the one serious resolution which I promise to share with you as soon as it’s fully presentable.
Our NYEve routine usually involves cozy dinner, cozy books, cozy movies, and bed by 10:30 for me. BD will take the gun out and shoot it at midnight. If the YD’s are home, I expect LD will likely do the same. All over the flats there will echo the sound of midnight shotguns. It’s a precious custom that makes me feel I am home, where I belong, ready for anything a new year might want to send me. May you feel the same on this starry turning night. posted by Bess | 8:38 AM
Happy and Healthy New Year Bess! I will try to read your blog more this year, promise.
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Friday, December 30, 2005 I am officially out of the office for the next 11 days. Unofficially, it will be this afternoon before I’m actually out of the office - because the computer priest still has some more blessings to confer on our network, as well as, (thank you geeks), a filter on that computer in the genealogy room. Some day I will wax eloquent on filters on public access computers - but not today. Just know that I do not believe that it is the public’s obligation to give every unemployed 18 year old unlimited high-speed access to pornography.
Anyway - I need to let in FatherWiseOne at 9:30 on my way to the PT. I have every hope that I’ll have a grocery list to shop from on the way back through town, when I’ll get a lesson on operating the new back-up program. After that, I’ll be absolutely, actually and officially off till Jan. 9. And wouldn’t you know it? I am already homesick for the office. Homesick for the work I haven’t gotten done all these past weeks when I swung from the ache of post PT to the euphoria of post-post PT. The worst thing about an illness that involves your spine and neck is that it leaves you dopey. So, while my body’s been in the building - the brain has been lost in the Fog of Unfocus.
Happily - if my body had to go into Acheland and the brain slipped over to Stupidsville, at least there wasn’t anything of pressing momentous note that had to be done. The ubiquitous cataloging never ends. The bills got paid before the 15th. We had a lot of days off anyway. Story Hour doesn’t gear up again till the 12th, and on one of those clear windows between exhaustion and exhilaration I got an article for the paper written and delivered. I can afford to be absent and by golly I will make myself give that place a rest. I do like my job, but being homesick for it before I’ve even been away from it is downright silly.
Sometime yesterday, round about lunch time, my body clicked over into the feelin’ good track, a fortunate thing, since about then the winter monsoon let up and everyone plus his brother wanted to use the computers. I was flying solo yesterday because 2 people are on vacation and 1 called in sick. It’s never easy to handle the library alone, but it is particularly trying now that we have public access computers and only limited computer skills. Even my least skilled staff have a lot of computer skills but being cast into the role of “The Person Behind The Desk - who has read every book in here and can build a new computer in an afternoon” is a guarantee for lowered self esteem. You would not believe how much the public wants us to know and in fact, I sympathize with them. You would not believe how uncharitable the world has become now that every business has a technology expert and an on-line presence.
Did you know that you can’t apply for a job at Old Navy by walking in and talking to the manager? You have to apply on-line? For a minimum wage sales clerk job you have to have the skills and cash to afford Internet access to a freakin’ job application. Ditto The Gap, Banana Republic, Mary Washington Hospital ... What gives? It’s all of a piece, in a world where those least able, who get the least reward, will also have the most onerous demands put upon them. Think of it - teachers, who make only so-so wages at best - are required to take recertification classes almost every year - while it is only recently that doctors - who make so-so much better wages - have been required to. And I know that my lawyer friends all get to claim the convention weekend at Virginia Beach at the height of the summer vacation season as their continuing education. Sweet, no? But some little girl who is trying to find a sales clerk job has to already own a computer with internet access and know how to use the pdf files to apply at The Gap? The one down the street at the mall? The one she’s shopped in all of her 4 teen years? Weird.
Hmmm. Where did that come from? Ah yes. Public access computers. Well. Hmmm. Yes.
There’s the grandma who is trying to get her Medicare classification straightened out. There is the decrepit 53 year old woman (that’s my age, but she looked like she was tottering over the edge of the grave) whose daughter said “Just go to the library and find your social security disability benefits forms on-line. They’ll help you.” For every daughter who says that to her Not-A-High-School-Graduate mom, I wish a perpetually frozen dsl line and a Monday edition of WindowsXP on her next computer. Not that we don’t help. But don’t go thinking that a job in the library would be fun, because then you too could get to read books all day. It ain’t that way, darlin’.
So. Of course this has nothing to do with anything. Not even with the next 2 weeks of my life, since I am going to be spending it lolling and napping and doodling and napping and spinning and knitting and napping some more. I brought home the limit of checked out items yesterday - books and DVDs and an audio tape. I have one magnificent book I’ve borrowed from a university library, Color and Fiber. That one I want to delve into. The other temptation is At Day's Close - a book about society before technology gave light to the night, when nighttime meant darkness, to cloak the hidden life of sex and crime and secrecy. That one just came yesterday - I’ve been looking forward to reading it and the introduction had just the alluring style to keep me hooked at least a while longer. Another new book that I did not bring home, because one can read only so many, is a Prayer: a History. Intriguing. Prayer is something I am always thinking about and doing. I cast little imprecations heavenward all the time - as I am sure most people do. But I often wonder - what am I really asking? What am I expecting? What is my duty and why do I pray and to whom? Ahh well. I will save that one till the end of January when we are expecting bitter snowy weather - Old Farmer’s Almanac promised!
I also have a goodly number of sock knitting books at home - but since I have to go back in today, albeit briefly, I may return some of them. Especially since I don’t plan to knit socks soon and when I do they’ll be the plain kind for BD followed by that star-toed sock in the winter issue of SpinOff for me! What I will be doing the next 11 days will be knitting on the Brown Sheep Handpaint ribbed sweater. I’m well into the second ball and it has begun pooling. Normally I like pooling and wonder why people work so hard to prevent it when they bought yarn that, by the very nature of the way it was dyed, must pool. But this yarn, in this stitch, does not look good pooled and when it doesn’t pool it looks fantabulous. It looks like starry lights in a dark night. The contrasts are extreme - glowing reds and yellows and oranges against the blackest of blacks, dark greens and browns - with a soft tan to lead the transition between them. It’s a very TheQueen-ish yarn. It really makes a statement. Except when it pools and the reds stack upon each other making it look like badly planned vertical stripes. So I am alternating 2 balls of yarn every 2 rows. I didn’t rip out the bit of pooling already knit, since this is the back of the sweater. Let us hope that doesn’t turn out to be the thing that niggles at me as long as I own this garment.
My plan is to knit this sweater, which is ribbed stretchier than an accordion, so it will fit me in my avoirdupois but will still fit after the next 3 months of being a good WW girl. Then I will get back on my NBP and knit it the size that will fit the body I want to have. The goal is to have both of them done before MS&W. Maybe even way before MS&W. The goal is also to have that body again, by MS&W.
To further myself along the path to goal #2, I have begun mapping out menus and shopping lists. Fogbrain kept me from finishing the shopping list yesterday but I’ll try to get it done before I leave this morning. In serious contemplation of this weight/food issue I came to see that I was bored out of my skull with the tastes of things that, 2 years ago, were new and exciting. My repertoire of recipes and cooking knowledge was stale and unable to compete with a busy schedule, an exhausted body and that box of white cheddar cheese crackers. But I own 5 really interesting, tempting WW cookbooks and there’s no reason I can’t find excitement and fulfillment in the kitchen again with no more effort or preparation than I’d give, say, a new boyfriend.
So - in the last half hour before I have to get ready for the Traction-Man, I believe I shall work on those menus. posted by Bess | 7:24 AM
My mental image of my future has been defined by Lee Meriweather - Google her if you haven't seen her lately. She was on some PSA the other night and Girlchild and I were agog, she's a vision of silver-haired perfection. A new "what I want to be when I grow up" has been defined. Along with Sally Field and Goldie.
Ahh yes but being 5'pleanty" helps a lot with the aging process. Nevertheless, proud to tuck in my shirt tails really is an achievable goal for me. Still working on the 2006 master plan and still planning on taking next week off - to sleep.
I'm back, catching up on over a week of your lovely posts. Your description of what we would all like to look like in the future is so correct - I think of Kate Hepburn as well, lovely and fit for so many years. I don't need glamor, or even perfection really, just a little less of me into my mid-50's would be good.
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Wednesday, December 28, 2005 La - time is so compressed these days. I am well and will sit down and write a real post soon. There are thoughts whirrling around inside this head - and I still want an opportunity to completely and utterly trash the new P & P movie - it is so deserving.
I have physical therapy today and each time I go I feel a giant step towards being all fixed, but I also feel like crashing into bed. This time I'm not going to be so stupid as to go back to work. After PT it's PJ's. I am also seriously thinking of taking next week off. I still haven't had that whole week of rest prescribed by the emergency room doctor last August. The one my inner subconsious Queen decreed. I have 720 hours of sick leave. I think I better use some. The rest of my staff but one are all on vacation this week, but next week? Hmmmm. Yes. It's a plan. A good one at that.
I've finished knitting up one ball of the Brown Sheep Hand Paint in the garter rib stitch. It came to 5.25 inches of sweater back. Rough math tells me it will take 12 skeins to knit this sweater. I think I have that much. I actually think I bought 15 - but I'd better check. This is a knit-in-pieces&sewn-together sweater. Be nice to see how it turns out.
hokay - time to get ready for PT. Oh - but one other thing. WW base line is bad - but not as bad as it might have been. Like Aphrodite, I am again a WW Maiden, ready to start fresh, complete with new food log, and the stack of WW cookbooks. I had two good revelations about the fat fix I'm in. One is an old familiar one - that inner picture I have of myself as just another soft round Gilbert Girl. Groping in my memory this week I found a substitute image - one from my pre-teen days - of a trim grey haired lady with a simple skirt and blouse on, walking out of the old Safeway store, looking just lovely. There isn't any reason that can't be my mental image, now, is it?
The other road to Damascus revelation was that - I have to plan my meals out for the week. In order to have the right sorts of food in the house - and only the right stuff - I have to know what I'm going to make that week. In the past I've always resisted that sort of careful plotting with an oft repeated wail "How do I know I'll be hungry for that on Wednesday?" Alas - especially this year - what I have been is too tired to cook at all on Wednesday, so that I just gobble whatever is easy - which is often not particularly healthy. So - with this quiet time at home to look forward to I believe I will restock my kitchen, map out the week's menus, and maybe even do a little cook ahead stuff.
Mindset alterations. They have to come first before the body can follow.
And wherever you may be, Barbara - happy birthday. posted by Bess | 7:46 AM
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Monday, December 26, 2005 Happy Boxing Day to you. I hope your Christmas Day was sweet and lavish, with a richness of the important things that left you feeling like one of the Magi.
We lay abed yesterday for hours, talking about past Christmases, first remembered Christmases, favorite Christmases. It was a long time before we finally shifted the dogs off the bet, swung our legs over the edge and actually got up. Of course, I’d been up at my normal Crack-0-Dawn time, had a cup of coffee with real cream in it, (the last one, I swear) and perused my daily digital domain of on-line newspapers, obits, email and blogs. But I had not peeked into the living room, because BD said my gift couldn’t be wrapped.
He said it was because it was too big to wrap - but I found out later it was also too wet. It was also exactly what I'd asked for: A a large bird feeding tray that hooks into the living room window, where the screen goes in summer. It has a single leg that props up the front, rims around the edge and two drain holes in case it ever gets wet. It ought not to, because it will be placed right below the roof overhang, but some storms can lash in from the south and send rain flat against that southern wall. It’s painted a lovely green, but the paint wasn’t quite dry. He told me he’d been sneaking it in to sit by the fire every day last week, though he had to sneak it back in time to air out the paint smells before I got home.
I love it when BD gets sneaky like that. It was an absolutely perfect gift - the only thing at all that I wanted, and this one is particularly fine because I can fill it without having to go outside. Just lift the window - toss out the seed - and voila! Live entertainment right by my knitting chair.
In the afternoon we set up the new VCR/DVD player we bought as our big Christmas gift to ourselves. We bought it a week ago and I’d come home every day to the disappointment of an unopened carton. “I’m waiting for LD to come help me set it up.” he’d say, but that had a hollow ring. I had dreaded the process, since the instruction manual is written in acronymic technoeez, BD resents bad language, has a low frustration level, and I suspect, also gives off electricity that makes remotes stop working. I kept hoping to just come find it all fixed. But when he asked me to help him I actually quaked. I need not have. He was the Prince of Patience and we got the whole thing set up and even programmed the remote to run the television and happily, it knows if you’ve put a DVD in or a VCR - so you don’t have to punch buttons to make it shift modes. A technology triumph!
It doesn’t work with our old amplifier, so the sound coming out of the dinky television is tinny and shrill - but we can buy another amp. The kids gave him a subscription to netflicks wrapped up in a Victoria’s Secret catalog - I’m not sure which thrilled him more.
We had the YD’s and BH for dinner last night. I’d ordered a 10 lb. rib roast - well, actually I ordered an 8-10 lb. one, not knowing exactly how much I wanted, but feeling in years past we hadn’t had quite enough. It was huge. It was - 10 lbs, fer cryin’ out loud! But it was delicious and filled the house with rich fragrance. And for desert I made an ice box cake. This is an old family recipe from my dad’s mother. It’s something like a Charlotte Russe but doctored up some. It’s rich, it’s chocolatey, it’s sinful, and yet, it’s light. And it was the standard fare for my grandmother’s New Year’s Eve party, lo those decades ago. I was probably 14 or 15 the last time I went to one - and that would be in 1966 or 7.
The cake is made in a spring form pan, lined with liquor drenched lady fingers, half filled with a heavy, butter laden chocolate moose, layered with more drunken digits, then filled with whipped cream. The final decoration is always the same - well drained maraschino cherries. It is a confection that towers as it proclaims itself master of any occasion. It was always the center of attention on my grandmother’s large dining room table. No matter what other delicacies surrounded it, it sang the siren song of wet mouths, staring eyes, and anxious worries. For in our day, children were never put first. There was no coddling of wobbling tempers. If a child began to whine, he was spanked soundly and put in bed. Woe betide the child who dared return to the family gathering after being banished to bed. We small ones knew to bit our lips, keep our thoughts to ourselves, and hope that those horrible uncles would confine themselves to the nasty tasting bourbon balls. Always, some beaming aunt would arrive with a plate of those chocolate nuggets, looking like a gift from the Sugar Plum Fairy. How any person could so ruin good chocolate with anything as vile as bourbon, we children never understood. That sort of knowledge lay await for us, off in the future.
But the cake. Oh, the icebox cake. How we trembled as those huge laughing men would amble in from the living room, scan the laden table, and then say to some smiling aunt, “I’ll have 3 fingers.” Three fingers!?! There were never more than 24 or 26 of the upright stalwart little sponge soldiers standing sentinel around that chocolate base. How could there ever be any left for us? And what if something worse happened? What if there was some left, but not enough? Then some of the children would have to be kind and sweet and good and say “You can have my share.” And most of the time, that meant the older ones had to be nice to the younger ones. The dictum that age had it’s rank did not trickle down to the under 12 set.
My grandmother lived in Washington, DC and we always spent the night when we were there for the NYE party. Most of the cousins lived nearby and only came over for the evening, but one other family, with 4 children, just like us, drove down from New Jersey. We visiting cousins had the whole day to play while the grownups got ready for the party. On surreptitious trips to the kitchen, I never saw more than one icebox cake, but no matter how much damage the Large Uncles did to that first display cake - my grandmother always had another one hidden away and as the last slice fell, to some big eyed kin clutching a desert plate, my grandmother would step through the swinging door, triumphantly holding the secret and second cake. It took some time, but eventually, as I neared my teens, I realized that there would always be enough for everyone.
A very good lesson to learn.
The recipe has come down to all my sisters. We all feel the same way about it - that no other confection is as special as the icebox cake. When something really important needs to be celebrated - that is the cake to make. It’s expensive with all that butter and cream, and lady fingers are a real chore to track down. But it’s worth all the effort. It always is. It was last night. I made a somewhat smaller cake, since I don’t have a springform pan. I used my angel food pan with a cardboard base wrapped in foil instead of its regular base with the long tubular center. Slice after slice fell to the knife and before the meal was over it was all gone. I hope everyone slept all right last night.
And now I am off to visit my parents and sister and nephew - on this wet warm day in December, feeling more like early spring, but with that strange barren winter look to the woods. It will be good to see them all. It will be even better if I can avoid anything that looks like it has sugar or butter or cream in it. Tomorrow, I will be born again in weight watcherdom, looking to find that inner svelte who appeared so briefly 2 years ago. posted by Bess | 7:28 AM
The very merriest of Christmases to you, Bess, and to all your family and friends. It's in the 80s here. All our snow is cotton and the beaches are crowded. But you can just tell it's Christmas. What could be lovelier?
Merry Christmas! Can't wait until we can get together again in 2006! Much love and fun to you, Jane
Christmas Blessings to you, Dear Bess. May you enjoy a Fibery Christmas Eve with all that is loved and lovely around you.
Darling, dearest Queen, you are more beloved than your subjects know how to say. The giganticist of cyber hugs to you. We'll see you soon and tell you in person how lucky we are to have you in our lives.
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Saturday, December 24, 2005 I had not intended to quote Mr.Horoscope again, but his Christmas week predictions for Virgos hit me, not close, but smack in the middle of my heart - ka-pow!
Your week ahead: 'Then one foggy Christmas Eve/ Santa came to say/ Rudolph with your nose so bright/ Won't you guide my sleigh tonight?' Of course, these days, Santa has Satnav. He no longer needs to read his map by the light of a radioactive proboscis. There will, though, always be a place in this world for the odd ones out, the ugly ducklings, the red-nosed reindeers - the folk who don't fit in. Why, even Virgos eventually find their niche! You are not quite sure how you feel about the 'other reindeer' in your world at the moment. You are about to discover, though, that they are exceptionally fond of you. Prepare to be appreciated... at last! If there is something you are uncomfortable about this Christmas, let me cheer you up.
Now, you and I know that TheQueen is ... well, after all, she’s TheQueen. But she has also been feeling decidedly unloved by the general population. Everything out there in the rest of the world has felt like a pinch, a slight, or a snub. And within the inner circle of loved ones, nobody has felt very healthy so we haven’t been able to stroke and soothe each other as we generally would. BD, the YD’s, parents, etc. - have all had navels of their own to gaze at.
Well. I couldn’t be more delighted to find out I’m beloved. Everybody needs to feel that way at Christmas time. I wish it for you all.
My shopping is done - it flew into hyper-spend a little yesterday afternoon, but I shan’t be whipping out Mr. Visa again for some time. There is some very interesting cooking that will be done in my kitchen today and there are several Christmas movies that will be watched. Not that I haven’t already watched them this month, but a second helping of It’s A Wonderful Life and White Christmas won’t do anyone any harm. Tomorrow we’re going to eat Christmas dinner, English style, though with a decidedly American desert. After that, my body, if not my soul, belongs to Weight Watchers. I have cheesed and chocolated myself through the past 2 weeks. It’s time to live differently.
With a long empty day ahead of me, I plan to cast on the Brown Sheep handpaint sweater. It’s going to be a close fitted thing, knit in a deep garter stitch rib; a 4 stitch pattern, best knit flat. I’ve never designed my own flat knit sweater before - not one with sleeves - with set-in sleeves that require sleeve cap decrease calculations. I’m leaning heavily on the Ann Budd book, though converting her numbers from stitches into inches, since this yarn decidedly wants to knit up at 4.5 stitches to the inch. Definitely, my kind of math.
The fun part of this project - or rather, another fun part of it - is that I’m keeping everything in a basket I bought for myself last spring. It’s a darling oval basket with a sheep’s head on one end. It’s all covered over with pompom-ey fluff, mine is in black. It's been in my office at work for months. I couldn’t bring it home till a few weeks ago, because we had Baby Puppy Jack in the house and I didn’t want this thing to become a chew-toy. But I have these interior decorator visions of a cozy couch and a sheepy basket and a fire and a cup of tea and of course, a queen, knitting productively, as the focal point of it all. Perhaps today I can make these dreams come true.
Let us also hope I will actually finish this sweater, and not just knit it up to the unsolveable math problem and then hide it away.
And so I bid you a Merry Christmas and wish that your holiday spreads out like a huge comforter, all downy and soft and able to mold to your exact dimensions. posted by Bess | 8:12 AM
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Thursday, December 22, 2005 Yesterday I got one of those gifts you can put no price on - a surprise visit from B. Those of you who saw me at MS&W will remember her well. She’s been pulled in a different direction all fall while I’ve been becoming familiar with various medical professionals. We had the best lunch, sharing all the news and all the gossip and talking about our fiber goals. She missed the December knitters night so we had a lot to catch up on.
It put me in a celebration mood the rest of the day. I am counting on another happy lunch partner today, though time is flexible here and we may not actually get to dine together. One of Santa’s elves is delivering the last Christmas gift. We close up shop today for a few holi-days and repeat ourselves next week. That weekend ought to be more low key, though even Christmas isn’t going to push me too hard this year. I am following astrological orders and taking it easy.
A PT appointment and a manicure will definitely mellow me out this morning. I wonder if I can just be poured back into the library.
No knitting or spinning at the moment, though I have all the sock books in the library checked out. Not that I’m going to knit on more socks right away - but I might. Or maybe something else. I’m thinking I need Mindless Knitting and the first 25 rows of the NBP are definitely not MK. I’ve been doing the math for a ribbed sweater knit from the Brown Sheep Handpaint - I might cast on for that. Or I might not. And it feels good to have that sort of freedom spread out before me.
The only dark shadow on things at the moment is the amount of chocolate still in the house. It ought to be all out of here by Monday - and on Tuesday, in an Aphrodite move, I plan to become a Weight Watcher Virgin again, get on the scales, recommit to the enormous task before me - and get back into the half of my wardrobe that I’d be ashamed for anyone to see me in now.
Happy Thursday to you all. posted by Bess | 6:44 AM
L'chaim! A toast to your whiskey with mine (my fave? Laphroig single malt)! An' all the best o' the Season to ya -- and yures! (Best I can do on a brogue in text!!)
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Wednesday, December 21, 2005 Happy Solstice Day. Welcome long dark night and thank you for the opportunity to sleep hard.
Yesterday I put on my Essex granddame persona. I slipped over to Richmond. Or, at least, what passes for the edge of Richmond, and had a perfect shopping experience. There were 2 things I needed to buy that could only be gotten in the city but there were some few other things I was looking for as well. The lady fingers were available at the Mechanicsville Ukrops (venerable, high-end Richmond grocery store) and the second thing I suddenly realized I didn’t have to get after all. I could substitute it with something super cool I found at a Ben Franklin, of all places, where they were also having 75% off Christmas items sales so I was able to pick up All the rest of the stuff I needed to get except the gifts for my parents. All in the same few square miles of suburban shopping. Is that cool or what? I had no idea shopping 5 days before Christmas was such a wise thing to do - for I am a Virgo and I Make Plans. I shop weeks and weeks before Christmas, or I make for Christmas and I never get such good sales as week before Christmas sales. The week before Christmas I have always consigned to men or those lesser beings who hate shopping. I should have guessed the guys would have rigged week-before prices to suit themselves. Though - as I say this - I would have to admit that Ben Franklin has a decidedly feminine clientele and as such I ought not be so crusty in my opinionating.
So here I was, snuck off to the city, with time to do a little browsing. I lingered in B&N a long while picking up cards for next year, some other stationary, that prompted another NYR (New Year’s Resolution), gifts for my parents, and a great pop-up book/toy about life in Rome for the library. Our cardboard castle is really showing its age. This isn’t as much fun, without any movable parts, but it’s SOL approved. The kids will all have heard about Rome. I also had, for the first time in about a decade, time to wander around Pier 1. This shop used to be my favorite place to linger when I was in high school. I often made my boyfriend spend our entire date perusing the isles, touching all the pretty glassware, flicking them with fingernails to make them ring, sighing over brightly painted Itallian crockery, stroking that heavily carved Mexican furniture, trying out all the Papa San chairs. I dreamed of having my own little pied-a-tere - truly a walk up in one of the old Fan townhouses, with a balcony and a bay window and completely furnished from Pier 1. I was very into that 60’s Bohemian image. They had a 50% sale on hampers and there was a huge one made of woven wood chips that I could have brought home for $25. I thought a long and a long time - for in spite of $ shortages, I've been generous enough to me this holiday. The price was so good and it would look so much better than the huge black garbage bags my Wall-0-Color fiber is stuffed in. I just had to find a reason to not buy it and I did - it chipped easily - and in my house, with JustBoys - it would not be able to retain that lovely marquetry look. It would look like chipped wood, not woven wood chips. It stayed in the store.
Better than all the fun shopping – was the ease with which I could move about, now that I’ve had 2 sessions with the PT. I am impressed. I go again tomorrow – perhaps by the time we’re done I will be all fixed.
It is deadly dull at work these days. We have a half a dozen local kids who want to hang out on the computers all day and perhaps another 2 or 3 dozen book addicts who simply can’t be without a back up for their holiday reading. There is always a ton of paperwork I could be doing, but I have yet to get started on it. I’ll see some bills get paid and after that – nada. My creativity is working on only 2 cylinders and I’m not about to try to fire up the missing two.
With the exception of picking up Christmas dinner on Friday and some gift wrapping, I’m done with preparations. That feels suspiciously good. I am guessing I’ve forgotten something or someone but I’m at the Mr. Horoscope section where I X out one third of my plans, duties, and obligations. I’m ready for an evening with egg nog. And this year we’ll be making this tipple with this:
Who could resist? The last time we had any of that it was in a plastic gallon milk carton and it was not potable until it had mellowed in the jugs of homemade eggnog, made with my fresh eggs, for 3 weeks. JA got it for us and we called it by one of LD’s favorite new words.
Tomorrow is our last work (snigger) day and Friday is our office party and I don’t plan to get out of my PJ’s at all on Saturday. posted by Bess | 8:03 AM
Just wanted to pop in and wish you a most happy Christmas. Tons of hugs and love to you and BD!
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Monday, December 19, 2005 Drugz4U.
Now, if you were sick and concerned for your health, would you purchase from this company? No. I didn’t think so. But who is the market this company is targeting? Generation X? Generation Y, or Z? Some other consumer group who will one day be signing my pension check? Be afraid - for this is the future and it is not just frivolous. It is stupid.
Okay, now that we’ve dealt with my junk e-mail we return you now to our regularly scheduled program: Christmas in the Castle.
Yesterday was a much better day than Saturday - and not just because my house was clean, the tree was up and my back didn’t hurt much. First off, I wasn’t so blue - and I feel bound to give credit where it is due and admit that part of the cheer-me-up came from an article in the January issue of Ladies Home Journal, which I had snuck home from the library, lured by the Lose 10 lbs FAST headline. I’m a sucker for that sort of copy. But as I flipped through the surprisingly thin first 2006 edition, an article on dealing with stress by listing the things for which you were grateful spread open before me. Even as I jerked with dry sobs, on my stripped bed, with all the dirty laundry piled on the floor, I had to admit there are an awful lot of things I am glad of. And, list maker that I am, I couldn’t help but shed the blues as the sum of the parts began to swell way beyond any whole I might have imagined. Nothing like a good friendly slap in the face from reality to jolt you out of the ring of pity. So kudos to LHJ and thanks to the guys in charge of the universe for guiding me up out of the slough of despond.
Most of the day was spent way off in the city. The shopping list was short but we were too late for almost everything on it. Who would believe that all the copies of Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg were sold out. I swear there were 3 at Tower Records just last Sunday. It was to have been one of BD’s Christmas gifts - nix that. We did fling caution to the wind and purchase a new piece of entertainment technology - a combination VCR/DVD player. Although I know that the VHS dinosaur is just about extinct, I am not ready to give up all my fiber videos, which are not yet on DVD. Besides, the library has a fabulous vhs collection which it can’t afford to replace any time soon. I hate Random Access Memory technology when it comes to watching a film. It presents you with way too many superfluous choices. No, I do not want to watch Love Actually in Swedish, thank you. I am not interested in the silly interview of the director at the end. I believe I can make up my own mind about the artistic merit of Spiderman. The format is still way too jerky as it flicks backwards or forwards to some spot that is sort of where you wanted to go and it can be/even has been programmed so that if you want to watch segment a of a disk, you also have to watch whatever other message is programmed into it - a prime avenue for politically indoctrinating the entertainment addicted. Nevertheless, I can listen to other broadcasts with a filtered ear, so I can do the same with RAMed entertainment especially if that is all the future holds.
Today, while I am fortunately off at work, BD will hook it up, one hopes, through our existing amplifier. I am very very very glad I shan’t be there to suffer with him through his frustration.
The other big item on the shopping-in-the-city we failed to find was lady fingers. You know, those little sponge cakes baked in rows of 6, looking like little boats sprinkled lightly with powdered sugar. Only one store that’s open on Sunday sells them, and there was a single package spread among 3 huge Kroeger stores. What is going on? When did lady fingers, so seldom stocked, become the hot Christmas item? More should be available by Tuesday but I am going to call our local grocery stores and see if any of them can order in a couple of packages for me. I have to order our rib roast too, so this is as good a time as any.
We got in a fabulous visit with D&P. This much needed hugfest pushed the last shreds of blueness out the window. I have got to find some way to get them to move closer.
While driving over to the city I finished the toe of the last Christmas sock. Yippee for me. With that out of the way I dug in the knitting bag that held the socks and found a ball of Brown Sheep Handpaint Original which I had been trying to swatch in an interesting broken rib stitch, in the round. When I finally realized this was NOT FUN, I ripped back and knit it flat. I love this stitch - and I love this yarn and I became aware that the two were meant to be together in a marriage of close fitting ribbed sweaterdom. This is so pretty and so much fun to knit it may usurp the NBP’s place in the line-up of Projects to Start. After all, I’ve had this yarn longer. It will knit up at 4.5 stitches to the inch on #8 needles. Time to get out the old calculator.
As for this week, one thing I can’t scratch off the list is a visit to the physical therapist at 10 today. I felt much better yesterday but I did not sleep well last night - it is hard to find a position to sleep in with arms, back, & shoulders all squawking at the same time. We have a salesman coming to the library after lunch so the afternoon will be light and pleasant. One of my staff has an enormous crush on him so I always include her in the selection process when he’s the salesman. But tonight I will sit down with the seasonal tipple and X out anything I think I can, in the interest of a sound mind and healthy attitude.
Off to start up a Monday. posted by Bess | 7:45 AM
Aargh! As Martha noted (below), sometimes your Mr. Horoscope is far too accurate. The last two have me blushing and cringing simultaneously! I have a quilt to tie this afternoon and then a Big Tidy Up, because my studio (formerly the living room) has been earmarked for the Tree!!
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Sunday, December 18, 2005 I managed to weep my way through a full house cleaning yesterday. I am taking neurontin to help with peripheral nerve issues and the side effects are delightful: "may cause nausea, weight gain and depression." But I also think some of the mood swing has to do with a very low grade pain that just doesn’t go away, coupled with the ordinary seasonal frustration of unmet subconscious expectations.
I’ve been around long enough to know that there is no Christmas like the Madison Ave/Famous Star Holiday TV Special ones. They don’t exist. You won’t look like that in your holiday outfit. Your kids do not smile tenderly at each other. A chorus won't break into song when you haul out the Christmas meal. yadda yadda yadda. I know that and in fact, since we don’t have TV piping into our house I don’t get led astray by those fantasies. I’ve long since whittled my list of Christmas traditions down to a manageable few. Cards, tree, token gifts for library staff & volunteers, small gifts for immediate family, real gift for BD. Oh. Yes. And secret gift for me. An easy Christmas eve dinner of oyster stew and a Christmas Day dinner of roast beef with Yorkshire pudding. Sometime in the holiday week I will visit my folks - this year, on the 26th. Sometime during the season I’ll watch White Christmas and cry happy tears.
Doesn’t sound like too much, now, does it? But Mr. Horoscope thinks it is. Here’s what he has to say about this week:
Your week ahead: This may be a festival of celebration and spontaneity, but you appear to be planning your holiday season with almost military precision. You have so much you want to organize, so many commitments to honour and such a long list of people to please that you can hardly spare yourself a second to rest and relax. Do yourself a favour. Write it all down with a pencil. Then, pour yourself a nice drink of something seasonal and grab an eraser. Rub out at least a third of the items on your agenda. Don't trouble yourself with logic, just remove them randomly! If you absolutely have to, write something back in, and make sure you get rid of something else. Your sanity is worth more than your ability to say, 'I got it all done'.
Hmmm. Sounds like very good advice. I’m sure I can find ThingsToDo I can NotDo. Happily, we put up the tree last night and I only nagged BD the slightest bit about perfect draping and Please, don’t string the lights in knots or I’ll never be able to take down the tree. You’d think after 30+ years I’d quit obsessing about how the tree is decorated. BTW, ours is the most decorated tree in the world. It’s covered with everything one could put on a tree, including icicles - you know, that tinsel hair that girls hang, strand by strand, and boys throw at the tree, sure they will float down in perfect Disneyesque animated symmetry. I forgot to buy candy canes this year and now the tree is up, I shall omit them altogether, but know that they are usually on my tree.
Nothing so fills a house with magic like a lighted Christmas tree. We don’t have those pretty mini-lights, though I like them very much. We have the big fat colored bulbs of my childhood. Interspersed among them are a few bubble lights, some of which fail to bubble, but all of which bring back memories of a little brick house off Rockwood Road in western Henrico County. When all the decorating is done and the boxes have been moved out of the living room, BD and I like to turn off all lights except the tree, turn on the CD player, stacked with Christmas music, and sip egg nog (something else I forgot to purchase on Friday). This year I was so exhausted, I was good for only about 30 minutes, before I crawled into bed, but the beauty of something so glittery, so colorful, so sparkling and magical still has the power to lift my mood.
I remember how sweetly my parents used to indulge us when we were small. The tree was a Saturday project. This meant that we could not only enjoy it all day on Sunday, before school laid its powerful claim upon our completely distracted little minds and squirming little bodies, but it also meant that we could bring our pillows and blankets downstairs and fall asleep under the fragrant, lit and bedecked boughs of that noble symbol of the season. The tree was not just an art object, a piece of interior decoration intended to create an atmosphere. It was the world’s biggest toy. It was the playhouse you always dreamed of owning. It was the doorway to Oz. We were allowed to fiddle with, move, rearrange, and handle anything on it - even the glass ornaments that were as beautiful as any jewel worn by the Magi. There were two little elf dolls, cloth with plastic faces, that lived in the tree and even in high school I used to play “dolls” with them for hours after school.
Mama never had anything to do with decorating the tree other than to bring us something nice to drink and lay out snacks. Daddy was the one who helped and he was also, being my direct antecedent, the one who got fussy about things being perfect. I am sure there was at least one Christmas when I was sent to bed during the tree trimming because I got into an argument with him about how it was supposed to be done. That perfectionism that pops up in everyone, now and then, seemed to be drawn forth from the two of us every year, though, I soon learned not to argue with the Man In Charge even if he was putting the lights in the wrong place.
Fortunately, all that sugar and spice driven tension was short lived. And once the tree was actually up and the ornament boxes were empty, there were days of glorious play just waiting for you after school or during the long Christmas break. I don’t have elves on my tree - though in the early days I did - many of them, all made of bread dough baked in the kitchen and painted with tempera paint. They’ve long since been eaten by mice or crumbled away in our baking hot attic. But perhaps it’s time I got some. Two little elves who live in the Christmas tree, each with his own little “house” among the branches. Elves who like to visit each other and who go on adventures in the secret hidden recesses of the Kingdom of Christmas Tree.
So. The biggest task of the season is done. I had thought to hold a holiday party but I am thinking now it might be one of the items I’ll erase off of my list. And there is all of Sunday to wallow in holliday feelings. We’re going to Richmond to visit with friends but other than finding a grocery store that sells lady fingers I don’t think there is anything else we have on the agenda. It’s a hug and snuggle trip, not a hustle and bustle one.
In fiber news, btw, I did not finish the Christmas sock toe - too busy house cleaning, of course. But I did block that sleeve and wow - the cuff really flares out. This is good. This is very good, because it means I can knit only the 8 repeats, then do all the increases at once and they ought to block out into something like a rectangle. This happy news lays out the plans for the NBP in nice mathematical order. The only thought still niggling my creativity is whether I want a little bit of seed stitch at the sides, separating the front lace from the back. Hmmm. Well, time enough for that to perk while I knit a sock toe.
We get Friday off this week and I am going to take at least an afternoon off, since there is one shopping thing I really must do and must do alone. Remembering that - and typing it just now, seemed so happy - good to feel the gladness of a holiday task. posted by Bess | 7:41 AM
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Saturday, December 17, 2005 Once again Mr. Horoscope has hit the bull’s eye:
You are honouring an obligation. You are protecting something (or someone) vulnerable. You are summoning great strength and great determination but you are not finding this easy. It's partly faith that's keeping you going and partly fear. You don't know what else you CAN do. You can't stop. You can't give up on an objective that means so much to you. Yet there must be a breakthrough soon or you'll end up exhausted. Try not to worry too much and also try reducing the number of items on your impossibly long 'to-do' list.
Of course, this is probably a generic Weekend before Christmas horoscope he puts out for everyone, with only slight modifications, but that doesn’t make it any less true for me. Something tells me that I will get it all together, but there is a grey fuzz in my head that spreads its fog over my critical thinking cells, whenever I get the slight urge to wonder if I can meet even my own meager holiday wishes. We’re pretty low on the Christmas frenzy scale as it is, but this year I can barely see a jiggle down there at the bottom line. I haven’t any gift for BD and can think of almost nothing to ask for from him. Of course, we neither of us have any $, so perhaps there should be no gifts, only - sorry folks - it just ain’t Christmas without any gift.
“Let’s just all be together and love each other” might work in theory, but I’m not sure I’ve matured enough to be cheerful and bright about a Christmas tree with no gift beneath it. Just not sure. Weird thing is, though - I can’t think of anything I want. Or rather - the only thing I want is not something that can come as a gift.
What I really want is time - a long, long time to rest, sleep, heal this back of mine that is not healing very quickly (if at all). I am giving very, very serious thought to taking a week, or even 2 weeks, off in January. Or perhaps working half time for a little while - maybe 3 days a week. I think my dr. would write an order for that and goodness knows I have the sick leave saved up - decades of good health has left me with something like 95 days of it. I’ll talk it over with BD - since, as important as it would be for my dr. to agree, and the county to permit, how TheKing behaves is even more so. He works at home, so his reality is: the moment I walk through the door it’s play date time. In delightful puppy fashion, he scampers about with books and ideas and plans and ThingsToDo and suggestions and aren’t we going to have fun! This makes for rich, rewarding weekends and delightful evenings that give deep meaning to my life. But it is not restful - and rest is perhaps the most precious thing I could add to my life.
So - the idea just popped into my head as I sat here writing,Perhaps the weekend will allow it to gel.
I have also been putting together A Plan. It has to do with New Year’s resolutions and with knitting and I am laughing even as I sit here thinking about it. The idea was born while having lunch with a wonderful, lemony girlfriend, who has been roped into being my assistant, but it’s genealogy goes back to my Tuesday Night Knitting group. Well, to be truthful, since it concerns stash, it goes back much further than that, but I must stop typing about it now. It’s not time yet. Fear not, though, for I will reveal all, with photos, in the New Year.
The Christmas socks are done. No. There is a toe on one sock to finish and then they are done. After that it is going to be just knitting for TheQueen. Not that the items will all be for me, but none of the choices will have a holiday attached to them. I’m getting very excited about future fiber adventures. I plan to block the NBP sleeve today - to see what the cuff does when it blossoms. It’s knit in the same lace as the hem but I didn’t increase all the stitches at once after I’d finished that lace cuff. When I knit the sweater body I will have to do so, if I stick to my plan to knit only 8 repeats of the pattern. Just in case nobody but me remembers, the original idea was to cast on 10 repeats which would equal exactly the number of stitches I need to continue with the body in st. st. But 10 repeats of the lace pattern would be very wide indeed and might look pretty stupid once I switch to st. st. Thank goodness I knit that sleeve as a swatch because now I can see just how much flare I’m going to have to compensate for with increases.
But that is all for post-toe knitting. And post tree finding. And post Other Stuff. So off I go.
BTW - I am seeing a physical therapist for my back/neck/arm. Who would have thought one could tape a shoulder for much the same reason one tapes a knee? In fact, who would have thought one could actually tape a shoulder? But - one can. posted by Bess | 8:58 AM
Bess, you are the most amazing woman. Just wanted to let you know how in awe I am of you. See you Sunday :)
By 8:42 AM, at
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Wednesday, December 14, 2005 Thank you dear ones for your kind words. The holiday season is sweeping me away early and keeping me out late - but I'll be back soon with lots of words. And yes, Amie - I plan to shred the latest travesty of P&P with all the joy of righteous indignation coupled with my own Bennet like sense of the ridiculous.
Busier than beavers around here. posted by Bess | 10:12 AM
Oh, so sorry for the loss of B, and kisses and prayers for sweet Jack to feel no pain.
Sympathies to you, Sweet Bess, for the loss of B, and prayers for continued healing for your back. May the Ghost of Christmas Present visit your house and bless you abundantly!!
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Monday, December 12, 2005 For several days I’ve been meaning to put up a post, but I’ve been struck with an attack of Mr.Darcyism - becoming of a taciturn nature, unwilling to say anything at all unless it can amaze others.
But I must thank those of you who have posted comments and sent e-mails wishing me well. Your kind messages have been a real perk-up for me and have warmed my heart. I am some better. I do not have carpel tunnel problems, I have an injured spine from a fall I took last summer that has been refusing to heal - well - and how could it - I have been refusing to treat it - or at least - not knowing quite how to. Dr was wonderful last week as he poured over charts and texts and pulled out the PDR and we discussed the whole range of treatment - which is mostly wait but also some PT, and a medicine for peripheral nerve problems. For those who have suffered from hurt spines - the problem is in the T4 zone but that is sending scrambled signals to the T2 zone which controls the hands. Maybe I will go to a chiropractor - but I did so in September and had a terrible (as in TERrible) experience and am a wee bit gun shy at the moment. Intellectually I can see the good it would do - but I am not ready to try again at the moment.
The good thing about having a doctor who will give you time (as in an hour and 15 minutes of talking) is that as the conversation progresses things come to light that might not have surfaced in a 15 minute examination. I’d been working out on the treadmill - which is a machine - and completely insensitive to any slight nuances of position, tempo or exertion my body may need at the moment. Nix that. For the time being I’ll confine my exercising to walking and swimming.
I had a second wonderful doctor experience on Tuesday when we took Capt. Jack in to Cousin John’s. Jack has developed swollen hocks and our regular vets were stumped. Cousin John spent most of Tuesday morning, a lovely snowy day when few folk were likely to drop in, examining, x-raying and pondering. The x-rays show that our darling pup has arthritis, new bone growth trying to form a natural splint over painful joints. With no pathogens or parasites showing up in his blood work, he’s been diagnosed with osteochondritis and is being treated with aspirin and glucosamine. Of course, it wasn’t wonderful that our puppy has arthritis but it was wonderful to have lots and lots of time with the doctor and to leave in a hopeful frame of mind. At least we have a plan. And Jack just thought it was all good fun.
We ended the week on a sad note, when another cousin died in his sleep. I do think there ought to be some sort of cosmic rule that nobody dies at Christmas time. B was a tender gentle man and this was unexpected, so we are all down about this. There was no sense of relief or the ending of a long chapter or even of balance. We just feel cheated.
Since this is a knitting blog I’m pleased to report that there is less than half of one sock left to knit for Christmas. Then I can knit with something other than size 2 needles. I’m thinking a lot about what’s in the stash and about the NBP sweater and all the other yarn-ish things that are waiting up ahead for me.
And to bring this post to a lovely circular conclusion I do want to warn you that when my brain is ready to really function again I will regale you with my criticisms of the new Pride and Prejudice movie. I saw it last week with GD and it fulfilled all my expectations. It was as completely horrible as I suspected it would be, once I heard who the cast was. I promise a full and scathing review of it, as soon as my loquacity stream begins to flow. posted by Bess | 7:22 AM
Keep an eye on your neck and back, Bess. I've heard that a lot of hand and wrist problems originate in that area. I know that if I swim (I hate to swim, oddly enough) my hands and wrists are much happier. Chiropractic? Massage?
By 1:11 PM, at
Oh no, Bess, I hope you're feeling better soon! Take card or yourself! Jane
Yes, please take care, Bess! I miss your wonderful writing; at least I know you're out there collecting life to write about later.
I'm sorry Bess! Ditto what others have said about neck and back. Also check your elbow, since the nerves run through a discreet little slot there. Missing your words already...
Checking in daily to see if you're well enough to post. Saying a little prayer you'll be well soon.
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Saturday, December 03, 2005 Dear ones
I seem to be suffering from nerve problems, i'm guessing carpel tunnel. my job involves lots of typing and then, i type a good bit for personal communication. i always did talk too much!
anyway, wrist is strapped - and feeling much better for it. So much so, i'm full of hope. i'm off to dr on Monday.
going cold turkey here is sooooooo difficult. but there is good news. I can knit if my arm is supported!!!
so - no great loss w/out some small gain.
typed w/ one hand -
TheQueen posted by Bess | 7:38 AM
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Thursday, December 01, 2005 boo hoo - my wrist is really acting up so i'm typing with 1 hand. but i promise a report of the super fun i had here as soon as i can type again posted by Bess | 5:07 PM
Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]I'm back - I have stories to tell - but no time.
A real post will come, sometime later today. posted by Bess | 8:02 AM