Sunday, November 27, 2011

Winthrop and Bella

Malcolm sure does love his box.

Dozens of soft, comfy places around the apartment, yet he gravitates towards his Grocery Gateway delivery box, that sits on a hard table. I tried putting in a liner from one of the cat beds? He was having none of it, and was seriously offended. I removed it, and he resumed napping in his happy place.

I knit precious little over the summer. As you can well imagine. Most of what I did consisted of small, mindless projects. To be honest with you, I don't think anything I may have started during that time survived the wrecking ball. Either too ambitious, or not ambitious enough... Everything was in fits and starts.

I'd decided to do a little yarn stash re-org, which was very therapeutic. I thrive on organizing, reorganizing, and making things look organized. I'm weird that way. I figure it's a bit like Christmas, rediscovering yarn you'd forgotten about, and neglected projects you'd hidden away. A few of those neglected projects found their way back into my WIP bin. I was quickly reminded why I'd hidden them away in the first place. *sigh*

One of the forgotten yarn stashes I'd found was a bunch of "Felted Tweed Aran" from Rowan. Nice stuff - soft enough, good colours, and just enough of a wool content to keep my inner yarn snob satisfied. Of course - no clue why I'd purchased it in the first place. May have even been a gift, who knows?

So, I made this!

Cute, huh?! A pretty simple and easy knit, it's call "Winthrop". Interesting construction, knit in one piece from the bottom up. The sleeves are knit separately, then attached as you reach the underarm. From there, decreases are made at regular intervals by simple k2tog's until you reach the neckline. It makes a lovely A-line, swing jacket that fits very nicely! The neckline's a bit large for my liking, so I'll be adding a button or two up top to keep it from riding down my shoulders. It was a quick knit, I think I'd whipped it up in a couple weeks, give or take.

But that Felted Tweed Aran? One slippery yarn, let me tell you. Probably because of all of the (*gasp*!) viscose in it. Oh. And the other, uh, issue I have with this yarn? The 25-freakin' % angora. God love the little bunnies, but man oh man - never will I use a yarn with angora in it again, unless it's a yarn that has pictures of angora bunnies hopping around on the label. Sheds ridiculously.

But yay for a finished piece of knitting!

It's been exciting these past few weeks! Sasha, my neighbour Brian's dog, has a new baby sister!

Her name is Bella.

"Hi Bella, well aren't you just the cutest little ki..."


"No Bella, I'm your Auntie Brigitte!"

"I need an adult!"

"Don't mind her, she's a And slow. No Bella, this is our Auntie Brigitte! She comes over in the evenings when Dad's at work to let me outside."


"Yes, really. Now say hello, and be nice."

"OK, Sasha. Hi Nice Lady! Don't mind the mess around here, Daddy's renovating!"

"Much better Bella. Now, Auntie Brigitte and I are going outside for a bit."

"You don't want to use my box, Sasha?"

"No. No...I'm good, kid."

"She's right behind me, isn't she? Going after my tail? Can we go now?"


Now that she's used to me, she's a little cuddle-muffin, that Bella. She'll run up to the door when I come down in the evenings, and purr like a machine. She's so cute! And she'll

"Hey! Remember us?? HEY!! Mom! MOM! Dammit... Hey Brigitte!!"

Sasha, who had a few litters of puppies at a puppy-mill before being rescued, is very patient and gentle with Bella. And Bella? She sure loves her some Sasha! Sleeps with her, follows her around, plays with her tail. And Sasha just lets her. Once she gets tired of it, she'll put her in her place, much like she would have with her puppies. It's really something to see.

"I for one would like to meet this Bella. She sounds cute."

"You're not helping, Gandalf!"

"So, can I come up and hang out with you and the dudes for awhile, Auntie Brigitte? You least until Bella's finished running around and falls asleep?"

I have some major cleaning to do today. Brian ripped out some walls yesterday, and I now have a fine layer of dust in my kitchen and living room. Ugh. Time to bring out Mr. Scary (the vacuum), and Mrs. Less-Scary-But-Not-By-Much (the steam mop). The guys are gonna love that.

Have a great Sunday everyone!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


The Super-Friends!

"...Heeeere we are! Born to be kings, we're ...nananana... the Universe!..."

"No Malcolm! We're not playing Highlander! This is the first meeting of the Super-Friends, Operation No More Crappy Food!"

"But Atticus, I want to be Immortal! I have inside me blood of kings! HEY!"

"Dibs on Wonder Woman."

"Yeah yeah Gandalf, you can be Wonder Woman. Now where's Mae?? We can't have a meeting of the Super Friends without Mae!! MAE!"

"Waddup, Ladies?"

"C'mon, it's time for our Super Friends meeting. We have to figure out a way to get Mom to stop buying that crummy low-calorie food."

"Really. "Super Friends"? What are we, 5? And are have there, Atticus?"

"Ha ha Atticus! You have cankles! Hee hee..."

"You're not helping, Wonder Woman. I do not have cankles!"

"...I have no rival, no man can be my equal...nananana...future of your world..."

"You guys are lame. Fine. Eat the crummy low-calorie food then. I'm going for a nap."

"...I am Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod...and I am Immortal!! *snore*..."

"'re a wonder, Wonder Womaaan..."

And in the end, the Super Friends decided that there best bet would be the tried and tested method.

Ignore it in the hopes it will go away. It hasn't.

"So, you doing better, Mom?"

"I am Mae, thanks. Things worked out for the best."

"So, you're not going to court?"

"Nope! Remember? My ex-company settled at the 11th hour."

"Oh right. I'm supposed to remember that. Geez lady, I sleep 20 hours a day. Anyway, well you have really good friends you know."

"I do, and I'm very fortunate."

"Say thank you."

"Yes Mae, you're right. I do want to thank all of my wonderful friends who were so supportive of me during that time."

"So, what now? You gonna stay at home with us?"

"Next post, Mae. Next post."

"Oh. And uh, Mom?"

"Yes Gandalf?"

"Um, I say this with nothing but love and respect, but really. You need to get out more."

"...patience, Highlander. You have done well..."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What Do Lawyers, Seizures, and Streakers Have in Common?

They've all been part of my summer so far.

"Do you think they missed us?"

WOW. Where to start?

Lawyers. Or, lawyer, to be precise.

Here's a rundown of what's been going on. I think most of you are aware of the condition of my right knee - extensive arthritis, and needing a knee replacement. Sometime in late April, I went to my doctor for my yearly checkup, and she was a tad concerned. My blood pressure was very high, I was in a lot of pain, I'd gained a lot of weight from the previous year; really, I wasn't doing too well. I had just started going into the office 3 days a week per my manager's request, and it was taking a toll on me (normally I work full-time at home). Because of the location of my arthritis, I have a hard time sitting for any length of time with my knee bent. So, the simple act of sitting on the streetcar to go into the office was difficult. Then add in sitting at a desk with my knee bent (I have a pretty sweet setup here at home to elevate my knee), coming home on the streetcar, and then having to do it all over again the next day? It wasn't long before I was exhausted, in constant pain, and stressed beyond normal limits.

So, my doctor sent me home, armed with a prescription for Naproxen (an anti-inflammatory), a referral for physiotherapy and a strict warning about my blood pressure.

"Should we wake him up and tell him he looks like an upside down pineapple cake lying like that? And that Mom's taking his picture??"

"Shhh Mae! Why?"

I booked my first appointment for physiotherapy, and started taking the Naproxen (an anti-inflammatory) to help with my arthritis pain. And I still continued going into the office downtown 3 days a week. And finding it very hard.

At what point did this all go down the toilet? Around this time. I developed an allergy to the Naproxen, leaving me with no form of pain control for my arthritis. I'd started the physio (which was a good thing), but found it very hard coupled with work. So I made the decision to take a Short Term Disability leave of absence from work. That way I could concentrate on my health for a bit, and try to at least learn how to better live with my arthritis through the physio. Doing both (work and physio) was almost counter-productive.

To say my manager was none too pleased about me going off for 4 months is an understatement. Once he'd found out, he made it his mission in life to make my life miserable. In the space of 5 days, he made things so difficult for me that I had to go on my short-term disability 2 weeks early.

I was a mess.

Things didn't go quite as planned with the short-term disability; I'll spare you the details. Once I'd decided to come back, I figured I'd be able to at least return back to the way things were - working full-time at home. I would not be able to continue physiotherapy, but at least working at home would save me from the pain of having to commute. I could still do some physio exercises at home. But, my manager had other ideas.

He decided that nope, he would not honour my Teleworking Agreement. He still insisted that once I returned to work, I should come into the office 3 days a week. I reached out to our Human Resources department to have them intervene and help out with this, but. They were no help at all. Despite knowing my history, and the fact I had a signed agreement to work at home, they still sided with my manager. I felt backed into a corner. How could I possibly go back to working downtown for 3 days a week, when doing so previously made me sicker than ever?? I would not be able to work at that pace, and I'd probably end up having to quit. I had no one on my side.

So, I hired someone. I decided to engage a lawyer. I explained the situation, and that I felt I was being forced out of a job because I had a disability. And he agreed. For once, I didn't feel like an idiot, wondering if it was just me who was feeling as though I was being singled out, or even if I was overblowing the whole situation. Not only was he on my side, so was the law.

I do have to mention one thing here. Did my manager do everything he could to wield his over-blown sense of power over me, and make my life miserable? Well. I couldn't help but wonder why, of the 4 or so other Teleworkers that report to him, he chose to single me out for this treatment. I was the only one who had a medical reason for teleworking. I do believe he relished kicking me when I was down. I guess he never expected me to kick back.

I have to skip through the details, but what I can say is that my company will need to agree to terms of my employment severance, or we will commence litigation in the courts against them.

To say it's been a difficult summer for me... I'm constantly stressed, I had to quit physiotherapy, I'm not sleeping well, and I'm broke. And I cannot wrap my head around how a loyal employee of 18 years with an excellent work record can be so backed into a corner and forced out of her job by a new manager who'd not even been with the company 5 minutes. How does that happen? I still can't fully grasp that one. Call me naive. But I really thought loyalty counted for something.

"I for one love that Mom's here ALL THE TIME!! (Oh, and am I pretty, or what?!)"

All I can do is take it one day at a time. Some days are good, others not so much. I still wonder at how things can go from bad, to worse, to the shit-pile (pardon my french) in such a short period of time. I'm fortunate to have good friends who are there for me, help however they can, and listen to me yammer on about the good, and the bad. And that will help see me through this, right to the end and after. The end is in site - the deadline for my company's final offer is this week. If they miss the deadline, or if it's not acceptable, then we proceed with litigation.

Oy. My head hurts.

And as if that weren't enough stress and drama.

A month or so ago, I was in the kitchen when I heard someone heaving in the living room. I went to have a look at who it was, and thought - I'll let them finish, then clean up the inevitable mess. It was Gandalf. I went back into the kitchen, and heard a bang as he somehow rammed himself into the bathroom door (scaring the bejeesus out of poor Malcolm). Just as I went over to see what was going on, he got up, stumbled a few feet, and fell onto his side.

He then lay there for at least 30 seconds - his head bobbing, his legs flopping around, and drooling. Before I could react, he got up, and somehow managed to make his way through the kitchen, to the back door. I say "somehow" because he could barely walk - his back legs were giving out, and he was wobbly. Once there, he plopped down next to the door, drooling and hissing and growling.

Gandalf. Growling.

I knew something was seriously wrong. I had to close the kitchen door leading to the back door entrance; I was afraid he'd lash out at one of the Mr. Curious' that were hanging around, or me. I checked on him every minute or so, and each time I did he'd hiss and growl, and he was still puffed up and drooling. This went on for about 10 minutes. I was about to look up what to do in this situation when I peeked in again, and saw a perfectly normal, laid back Gandalf, looking a me and meowing. I cleaned him up, gave him a drink of water, and he went on his merry way as though nothing had just happened.

I spoke to the Emergency Veterinary Clinic (this happened on Sunday), and they told me that it sounded like Gandalf had had a seizure. I took him to see his vet the next week, and she said the same thing. Without further testing (which I couldn't afford due to this whole legal mess with my workplace), she couldn't tell if there was anything physically causing the epilepsy. They did take blood and urine (he LOVED that, let me tell you), both of which came back normal, and her physical exam didn't reveal anything. If he should have another grand mal episode, to just let him be, keep the other guys away from him, and monitor him afterwards. Fortunately, there hasn't been another one.

Gandalf is the most laid-back and loving of all the guys. And to see this happen to him was heart-breaking and very scary. Poor little man...

"My brain misfired."

"...there's an understatement..."

"What was that, Atticus?"

"Nothin', nothin'. Just saying that yeah, it was your brain. Overloaded. Like Malcolm gets when he sees too many squirrels at once outside the window."

"No! It wasn't like that! Malcolm's a weenie. I am NOT a weenie. I have a condition. So you must be nice to me at all times. Or I'll tell Mom."

"Uh huh. I see your mouth move but I'll I'm hearing is wah wah wah. Let me sleep."

"I am not a weenie! MOM!!"

Enough with the drama! All I want is a calm, peaceful day without the burden of the looming possibility of a long, drawn out court case, or worrying about not having any money coming in, or sick cats, or the ever-present pain of arthritis, and the lying awake at night thinking about my future. How 18 years with a company has been flushed down the toilet.

I would say to myself - you know, things could be much worse. And there are people who have to deal with a day to day reality that sucks even more than yours does right now. But you know what? This is my reality. And it's the only one I have to deal with. And it does suck.

Let me end on a lighter note.

A couple of weeks ago, I went out onto my deck to check on my laundry drying, when I heard a bit of shouting in the distance. I looked over, just in time to see a guy running through our backyard - naked. I watched as he sprinted across the yard, hop the fence to my neighbour's backyard, run through theirs, hop the next fence, and so on. My neighbour Rhonda, who had just come home from work, was standing by her car with the same confused look on her face that I must have had. (She would have been about 2 minutes away from letting Leika, their German Shepherd, outside. Had she been in the yard, it would have been game over for this guy. In so.many.ways.). I went down to ask her if she'd just seen what I'd seen, and as we were talking, 2 police officers and a man came running up the drive asking if we'd seen the naked runner. We pointed them off in his direction.

We later heard what had happened. Apparently, this guy broke into his girlfriend's house, to uh, wait for her to come home. Only the father came home first. They eventually caught up with him an hour or so later.

Whoops. Now there's someone you want to bring home to meet Mom and Dad.

Believe me when I tell you that this summer? Less than stellar for me.

Before I go, I'd like to introduce you to someone.

This is Minou (which is french for "Kitty"). She's my neighbour Diane's cat (Diane moved into my old apartment). Minou, an indoor cat, had the bad habit of bolting out the door every time it opened, and roaming the backyard. She'd put up such a fuss about wanting to be outside (she has the cutest little mew!), that Diane decided to buy her a little harness, and a leash.

And she's as happy as a clam. She's so funny, batting at the bugs, sniffing everything, and whacking Sasha on the nose if she gets to close.

I try to imagine trying to put any of my guys in a harness and on a leash. I doubt it would end well for me. They're content to be out on the deck with me when I brush them, and that's about it.

So my friends, there you have it. A long post explaining what I did with my summer vacation. I've learned that I'm much more resilient and stronger than I ever thought I was. And that counts for something.

Unfortunately, my knitting has taken a bit of a hit during all of this. My concentration has been lacking, and I haven't managed as much as you'd think. But! There are things to show, and I will get back to showing it off next time around.

In the meantime - thanks for reading!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

So It's Really Been Awhile...Whoops

I really had no intention of letting my blogging go for as long as I have.

What can I say? I've been having a tough time focusing lately. There's been a lot on my plate, and a lot I've had to deal with. Sometimes I find myself a bit overwhelmed by it all, and I shut down. Which means to say I keep to myself, mopping and being unproductive and anti-social. Probably not the best way of dealing with things, but it doesn't happen often. It's not a state of depression, it's more that my brain can't cope with the overload, and decides that instead of playing 52-pickup, it's going to just work it out in time. Like unraveling a tangled skein of yarn.

I think what triggered it was my visit to an Orthopedic Surgeon in late January. I have developed extensive inflammatory osteoarthritis in my knees, and it's particularly bad in my right one. So bad in fact I need to have knee replacement surgery. The surgeon was very surprised to see such extensive wear and tear on someone as young as I am. But there are 2 problems.

Firstly - because I'm only 42, they're reluctant to perform the surgery. I'm too young, and the replacement joint will only wear out and need replacing in x-amount of years. OK. So, how bad does it have to be before my age is no longer an issue, I asked.

"So bad that your quality of life is impacted to the point you have difficulty or cannot perform everyday tasks."

REALLY??? And right now, my life is so hoppin' that I can barely keep up??? I left, shaking my head thinking - wow, this is nuts. I face not being able to do the things I love to do in the summer - long walks, cycling - because as it is now, I'm not in enough pain to justify surgery??

I have to say, that did not make me happy. Enter brain, not being able to wrap itself around this.

And secondly? All that doesn't matter because of my polycythemia. The lovely bone marrow disorder I have that wreaks havoc on everything. Because I'm at an increased risk of hemorrhage, and my hematocrit is too high, I'm not a candidate for surgery anyway.


Brain mush.

So, needless to say, this put me in somewhat of a funk. I absolutely hated the feeling of having no control over my life. It just didn't make any sense to me. Yes, it could be a lot worse. But for the first time in my life, that thought meant nothing to me.

"Mom was bummed."

But, little by little I worked it out as best I could. Enter my GP doctor to the rescue. She's sending me to a sports medicine clinic, and to physiotherapy. At least I can try and get some mobility. At least I'm doing something. The damage to my knee is irreversible, but I can at least try to make it easier to live with.

And, to help my health along - I did do something good! (See? It's not all bad!)


Wow Brigitte, fruits and vegetables?

No sillies! They're the raw ingredients for my new toy.

My Omega Juicer, the Cadillac of juicers. juice...

I was having a hard time with my appetite, and as a result, I wasn't eating properly. Some days, my stomach wants nothing to do with solid food. So, I scraped together my pennies, and bought this lovely model. And it is without a doubt some of the best money I've ever spent (next to yarn, of course). It's quick, quiet, and easy to clean. And - it gives me the nutrients I need.

This morning? I had an apple, pear, carrot, swiss chard, collard greens and parsley cocktail.

Mmmmm...appetizing green juice...

It may not look all that appealing, but trust me - once you've tried it, you'll love the difference it makes.

And that's a good thing!

So, did I knit while I was contemplating the meaning of life these last few months? I made some hats for my neighbours who both work for Canada Post. And I plugged away on Fulmar (I know! Can you believe it??!), socks, and other stuff that got started and then frogged. Lots of that stuff... And I made this too -

Oooo, pretty lace scarf! It's a pattern from Fiddlesticks Knitting, one of the 3 Necks-to-You designs. I used 2 balls of Fiddlesticks Knitting Silken Merino in Twilight.

And something else as well, which I'll show you next time.

Good things always come in the mail.

Meet Mavis the Monster, knit just for me by the wonderful Michele. She's a hit with the Little Dudes, although I think they're running her ragged.

"So anyway, I was all - you do that Gandalf and I'm gonna tell Mom! - and he just turned his back on me! ME! It kinda made me sad that he'd diss me that way, but being that I have hopes of one day being a Manly Dude like Atticus, I didn't let my emotions show. But it's hard you know. Is it OK for a boy kitty to cry? Mavis? Are you listening to me?"

"Oh yeah...the ladies always come over to Gan... Whoa, getting a little fresh there, Mavis."

"Let me tell you, it's sooo nice having another girl around here. We can gossip and play with Mom's makeup, and do each other's hair, and...hey, I hope you're not my friend just 'cause of my brothers!"

"Wow Mavis, I'm flattered! It's been awhile since a young lady has asked me out on a date. we hold hands? I think I should ask my Mom first though."

Thanks for listening everyone. And rest assured I'm dealing with things now. Not to say I won't have my funky days, but I now believe that in time, it will get better, and things will work themselves out.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

So It's Been Awhile...

And I'll be back soon!


Just working some stuff out.

I would have posted today, but I learned this morning that you need batteries in the camera in order to upload the contents to your computer.

Who knew?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Things Are Starting to Look Normal Again

Now. Where was I?

I think I was in the middle of knitting something a month or so ago, then stopped for some reason. Oh right. I moved. Again. (Have I mentioned I'm never moving again? Ever?)

Last weekend, I was finally able to do something I haven't been able to do since well before Christmas.

I brewed a pot.

3 teabags of Tetley Bold.

And pulled out a project that would require some amount of concentration on my part.


I scooched Atticus further down the couch.

Scooch, Atticus.


Sleeping kitties?


And check.

(That's Malcolm's new favourite spot, on the window sill right behind the couch. He can watch the squirrels without too much exertion.)

And so I parked myself on the couch, kept the remote close by, watched TV and knit.

It was wonderful.

Wonderful, because being the creature of habit that I am, I was able to reassure myself that everything is as it should be. I missed being able to work on my knitting, in particular the more involved projects.

Not to say I've been doing nothing. I've managed to work on some socks, and some stocking stitch stuff. As I was unpacking things, I realized that I have approx. 592 winter hats, and only 4 pairs of mitts. What's more, I seem to have lost a pair of "everyday" mittens that I'd made a few years back that I could wear with 2 of my winter coats. I'm sure they'll turn up in a cupboard or buried in a snowbank in the back yard at some point.

So, I whipped up these guys:

Using some Blue Face Leicester Aran wool from Fleece Artist that I picked up dirt-cheap from The Naked Sheep before it closed down. It was actually a thrum kit for mittens, but thruming is probably only second to intarsia for knitting techniques that make we want to vomit. I used my standard mitten pattern, and decided to do a flare cuff instead of a ribbed one.

I'm very happy with the results. And the colour! I don't know if I would have necessarily even looked at that particular skein had it not been on sale, but I'm glad I did. I love the finished product.

Yay me! And yay for getting back to normal.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Rome Wasn't Built In A Day

And neither will this place.

Hey! Did you know that nail polish bottles break?

They do!

And what's more?! Only your MAC nail polish bottles, the limited edition colours, to be specific, will break.

So, I've already broken my 3 items for this move (my last move ever. EVER.), so it should be all gravy from here on.

First, let's try to move a shelf with a big plant still sitting on top of it.
Then, let's get really gung-ho about organizing and putting stuff away at 11:30pm, and knock over the basket with all of your nail polish bottles in it. It's right there, sitting on that precarious spot on top of the toilet tank. Oooo, look at the pretty colours! Can't blame that one on the cats!
And lastly, for poops and giggles, let's take an 80-year old mirror out in -14C weather! Neat! Can you hear the crack it makes as you accidentally knock it against your foot?

I am never moving again. Ever. It's done. I was so disorganized, I couldn't go into the office last Thursday (I work at home, and go downtown one day a week), because I couldn't find my laptop bag, or decent non-sweatpants/jammies to wear.

This is my office/yarn storage room a week ago.

And this.

Malcolm's somewhere in that picture.

On the one hand, moving next door is great. You can bring stuff over at your leisure, and you don't have to put too much thought in how you pack things. On the other hand - you get lazy, complacent and disorganized.

This is the same room today.

Considerably better. Although why I have a roll of electrical tape (look on top of the cat thingy) is beyond me. Just one of the interesting things I found.

Right, Gandalf?

"Yup. Got my Snuggi Bear and my bed. I'm good."

I was quite pleased - the Little Dudes adjusted just fine. They slept with me on the couch that first night. 4 cats. 1 human. 1 couch. Guess who got all of the sleep.

But, it's done now. All of my stuff has been moved over. Now it just needs to be organized and put into place.

"You guys OK?"

"Yeah yeah. We're going to explore. Malcolm!"


"I'm right here! Stop yelling. What's up?"

"C'mon, we're going to explore stuff."

"OK, cool! Let's knock stuff over too!"

"Well, durr. Of course we're gonna knock stuff over. Gandalf is going to wedge himself in a tight spot and won't be able to get out. Mae says she's gonna just lie there in the middle of the room in the only spot Mom has to maneuver around in. I've got my eye on that container of Mom's straight knitting needles. I'm wondering about the sound it'll make... "

"This is gonna be awesome!!"

OK. Off to try and organize my bedroom. "Try" being the operative word here.

Have a great week everyone!