Category Archives: Bicycle

The Friendly Skies

http://www.avionics-intelligence.com/content/dam/avi/online-articles/2013/09/DeltaMD88.jpgGerry and I are embarking on something we haven’t done in over 17 years – a trip alone together.

I’m sitting here staring at a huge pile of clothes and an empty suitcase. My task is to sort through the garments and choose ones that will work for 10 days in Amsterdam, but still leave room to bring home presents.

I’m still jet lagged from visiting Puget Sound University with Andy (née Hannah) earlier this week [spoiler alert, she loved it but she won't be going there, too rich for our blood...] and—as always—I dread compacting my former 6′ frame into a coach seat for 7 hours. But we’re heading out this evening, and we’re excited.

It’s not entirely pleasure, I’m doing a bit of business while I’m there (ostensibly the reason for the trip) but we’ve been reminded time and again over the past 8 years that life is very short, and it’s meant to be LIVED, so we cashed in a bunch of frequent flier miles and Gerry’s going off with me!

We’re staying in a B&B not far from Anne Frank House (recommended by a friend) The B&B supplies bikes, and we have plans to visit another good friend over Easter weekend far from the city.

We haven’t researched or planned this trip as much as we might have, but that’s because just getting alone together is such a new experience that we’re pretty giddy about it! My friend, Alison, visited Amsterdam with her husband in October so she’s been passing on tour books and great tips.

One thing we’ve been told about Amsterdam is that the mass transit is excellent so if Gerry finds himself exhausted we can spend a day on a canal boat tour for a restful sight-seeing adventure.

Andy will be in her dorm most of the time we’re gone (just home next weekend), and the benefit of having a business partner is that Kathleen will be working in the ModeKnit Yarn offices (my basement) so Max can touch base with an adult every day when he gets home from school.  Food has been prepared, friends and neighbors drafted to ‘check in’ on the boy during our absence.

I get the distinct feeling he’s looking forward to these next 10 days as much as we are!

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/57/Keukenhof_May2006.JPGWe plan to visit Keukenhof to see the tulips, Delft to see the china and KinderDijk to see the windmills.

But I’m MOST excited about seeing the knitters of Amsterdam! I’ve scheduled a few get-togethers with folks (and I’m definitely open to do more!)

Obviously, I’m also crazy nuts to get on the aforementioned bike and get some riding in.

I Like To Ride My Bicycle

Giving Joy

I made a documentary! It’s on the subject of Care Giving, and it’s called Giving Joy.

This summer I was accepted into a program at our local public access TV network (SPNN) called DocU, where we spent 15 weeks learning how to plan, shoot, edit and craft a short, 10 minute documentary.

It’s in a competition right now, and if you’d care to vote for it, I’d be thrilled!

I loved this process. It was exhilarating and exciting, and I feel like I’ve had a door opened into a whole new world.

No surprise, my favorite part was the planning and the editing. The actual shooting was fun, but physically a bit rough some days.

Which brings me to a different subject.

I know I’ve been low profile this Summer. I feel that I’m hermitizing myself — trying not to be in public more than I need to — and of course, that’s not healthy.

That’s one reason the DocU program was so great this Summer,
it was a place I needed to be once a week to see other people
(and it was a reason to get out into the world for shooting).

I’d hesitated to write this, but I feel that I’m slowly disappearing in some ways, and I wanted to explain that it’s not permanent. I just need to figure out how to get on top of the continuing pain from my Fibromyalgia, which wreaks havoc both physically and emotionally.

I felt like a fraud some days when making my documentary, because my health’s been so iffy this Summer that there were days that Gerry was the caregiver, and I was the patient!  I don’t know exactly what is changing, but I do know that my pain levels are increasing and I don’t feel able to control them with biking alone, as I have for 3 years.

I’ve been experimenting with different ride lengths, riding at different times of day, in different temperatures, and it seems that riding between 10-20 miles on a 70-85F degree day is best for me if I want to try to control my pain levels (Yesterday I rode 30 miles, and discovered that it might be a bit far for me).

But bike riding’s not doing the trick it has  for the past few years, I’ve been shaking.

In fact, a few times this Summer I’ve gotten the ‘shakes’ so badly while riding I got off the bike and rested a bit until my hands calmed down. I’ve been ‘shaking’ in various ways for years, usually while I’m yawning or sneezing, but now it’s spilled into other moments, too, and has spread to beyond my hands.

I talked about this shaking with my rheumatologist, and a few years ago all kinds of tests were done (brain scans, other cool things) but there seemed to be no indication of Parkinsons (with which my Aunt Wanda suffered for many years).

Two weekends ago I began shaking while with a friend and our daughters in public, and aside from being humiliating, it was a bit terrifying.

So new appointments are being made, perhaps new meds will be tried. I love my bike, but it’s not doing for me what I have needed for so long (but I’ll never give it up!)

As I write this I realize how damned lucky I truly am! I have a source of income which allows me to work at my own pace when I feel strong, and to rest when I feel that’s necessary. I have a few good designs coming out in the next few weeks (more blogging about them in the next few days!) and, of course, there’s always History on Two Needles (more news about THAT coming up, too!)

I’ve cut down on my teaching because, well, I tire easily and I shake more when I’m exhausted. That doesn’t mean I’m NOT teaching (I’ll be at Interweave Knit Lab in San Mateo in early Nov 1-4) but I’ve definitely cut down on the extended gig trips that I feel may have contributed to my initial Fibromyalgia.

Pain Identifies Me

It’s been a crazy, pain-filled few days and I don’t know why.

I’ve been living a relatively clean life; no gluten, biking as much as I can (in the heat), keeping the sweets & dairy to a minimum.  But the pain has been rather intense.

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Me, ostensibly working, in my sky chair in the backyard. Why do I always look drunk?

I’m beginning to wonder if one of the triggers for my Fibromyalgia may be heat? Who knows. Almost 4 years in and I’m still learning stuff.

When I was in my 20′s, my 30′s, even my 40′s, I had SO much more energy.

I could do anything – and many days I did!  I could bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pain, wash the pain (and the whole kitchen) PAINT the kitchen, remodel the kitchen, and THEN make you feel like a ma-a-a-an!

But I am utterly exhausted almost every day.  Physically, mentally, emotionally.

I am just drained. And I hate it.

Recently we spent a weekend with some friends, and the fact of my constant exhaustion was brought home when I needed to take not ONE but TWO naps one day. This is the kind of thing I can ignore within my own family, but it becomes noticeable (and noticed) when other folks are around.

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The sleeping doxy

The dogs were thrilled, both Jasper and another guest’s sweet little doxy crawled into bed with me, and we three tired pups slept the afternoon away.

I apologize if I sound whiney -  I didn’t used to be so worried about whining, but a few years ago a rather nasty blog commented on how odd it was that I was always “moaning about my health, but could ride my bike to the top of the Wallace monument”  Yeah, whatever. 

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My bike by a tiny Free Library in St. Paul

Some folks are always going to be nasty about something, and it shouldn’t matter.  Except the comment is trapped in my head like a wasp against a window and it buzzes every time the pain overwhelms. me.

 

I know my exhaustion comes from pain. Pain EATS energy for breakfast, then asks for more for lunch. If no energy is forthcoming, pain goes on a rampage and sets the garage on fire before fleeing the scene. Pain is a perp.

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My bike at the Lyndale Rose Garden

And, as I’ve related ad nauseam, I deal with the pain with my bike, with yoga (in the winter) and with stretching.

Usually I can beat the pain back.

Or at least I can reason with it and
distract it while I make my escape.

 

So today I took a pain pill – not something I do regularly (perhaps I should take one prophylactically when I know it’s going to be so hot) – and I’m feeling on top of the world right now.  Where’s that frying pan…?

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I offered a “Heat Wave” discount during my class last night, the current temp minus my ideal temp of 70º = 29% off on my books!

DARN KNIT ANYWAY

Last night I taught a lace class at Darn Knit Anyway, which is SUCH a lovely yarn shop in Stillwater, MN!  I love to visit there, I always find inspiration in the choice of yarns they carry (they have a good eye – or perhaps it’s that we share the same taste!)

The class was smallish, but that allowed me to really dig into the theory of lace, why stitches move the way they do, how to create scallops and waves in the edges of your work (intentionally!) and different ways to make a decrease / increase.  Overall, it was a very good class (and I sold a few books, too!)

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St. Paul Cathedral at 9pm, on my bike ride home from SPNN

I’m excited to be teaching the same class next Saturday, this time the class is full, 16 folks at last count.  Perhaps they’ll have me back to teach classes on some other topics, that would be great!

All in all, a really terrific experience on a hot, hot day!

My plans on this steamy day are to bike downtown, sit at an air conditioned Caribou Coffee and knit, then head over to SPNN and edit from 4-9 (it’s ALWAYS cool in the edit suite!)

Yes, I’m working on a project for a documentary class I’m taking at SPNN (St. Paul Neighborhood Network), our local public access station.  It’s going very well, and I’m LOVING the editing portion.

More on this later as it transpires…

Facsimile of the Chocolate Cake

Traveling & Caring

Today we pack up to head up to a friend’s lake house for the weekend. Lucky, lucky us!

We’re SO looking forward to it, and it gives Gerry, Max and myself a chance to enjoy some MN ‘wilderness’ while Hannah’s up at Camp Menogyn doing her wild-girl thing!

The thing about traveling these days is that I know I have to be the mom and the dad; I have to make the packing list AND I have to get everything packed up and in the car.  It’s not that Gerry doesn’t, but the amount he can carry, etc., is limited (as it is for me, too!) and I have to admit that today would be easier if Max didn’t have his part time job this morning (we’re picking him up from work and traveling from there…)

So while Gerry gets a couple shipments of books together (he IS my shipping department) I get our clothing and toiletries packed, get the dog crate folded and stowed, police the backyard and put away everything that shouldn’t be left out (cushions, tools, etc.)  I do some gardening that can’t wait (cutting fast-growing sprouts off of trees, do some visible weeding that is getting out of hand…)

I go through the house and empty the garbage, drag the huge backyard container around front and make sure all of the compost stuff is in the composter (not left under the sink for a long, hot weekend – ick!)

Gerry is handling the kitty litter (and for that he deserves a medal!) and while he tackles that odious task I load the car, get the bikes up on the rack, do a house walk through and make sure doors and windows are locked, contact the neighbor kid to look in on the cats (and leave money for him along with the cans of catfood – he’s an old hand at this by now!)

We have this down to a science, the quickest we did it was when, on the spur of the moment, we decided to go to TNNA last month. But it’s friggin’ exhausting.

I am ashamed of how easily I tire, but if I’m honest with myself a lot of that exhaustion comes from the stress of keeping so much on my shoulders. There’s no remedy – I pass along to other folks what I can – but at the end of the day there is a lot that I MUST be in charge of (and I’m actually quite fortunate that I have so much to be responsible for!)

Please don’t read this post as a complaint, rather as a catalog (I am a virgo, I love a list!) – for myself as much as for anyone else – and the love that comes back to me from my tasks is huge and outweighs everything.

But it’s a different kind of life than the one where Gerry did the “dad” stuff, I did the “mom” stuff, and it seemed that both of us had more opportunities to just sit and have a glass of wine together!  I’m hoping we’ll have that chance this weekend!

Myrna's CLASSIC book on lace knitting

Myrna’s CLASSIC book on lace knitting

Our friends, Myrna & Bob, are such gracious and kind hosts, we love to spend time with them. Myrna’s also a knit teacher and designer, as well as an attorney (oh, how I admire that!) and she’s a lovely, funny, down to earth friend.

Gerry doesn’t make friends as freely as I do – I have the grease of knitting/crochet to ease myself into many situations – so spending time with another couple who mesh well with us is a delight!  Husband play date!

Bob was recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease, so I’m making one of my favorite GF cake recipes, a chocolate/coffee bundt cake by Joy The Baker that Gluten Free Girl tweaked on her blog. This cake is moist, crumbly in the best way, and totally does NOT feel like a GF cake.  I’m experimenting with using only honey in the recipe today, no refined sugar – I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

BTW, If you’re gluten sensitive, you MUST put
Gluten Free Girl and The Art of Gluten Free Baking
on your list of recipe sources!

Max is always great company, we were discussing today that he hates for anyone to be disappointed or upset, not unusual in a younger child, and it’s probably something that he’ll grow out of (as we all do!)  On the positive side, that makes him a stellar companion, and makes us very proud to take him anywhere with us.

I wish Hannah could join us – she, too, is a great traveler, and is so helpful that she makes herself welcome everywhere.  But it’s been really great for Gerry and I to have so much one-on-one time with Max this past year & Summer while Hannah’s been at school and at camp, it’s good for Max, good for all of us!

So we’ll spend a lovely few days chatting about life, knitting, politics, Minnesota and bicycling around Pelican Lake. We feel immensely fortunate at the friendships we’ve made here in MN, Myrna & Bob are two of the nicest!

The down side is that another new friend (this one a MN native who lives in Florida) will be in town for the weekend and it looks like I’ll miss her.  Dang.

DESIGNING STUFF

I’m sending off three sweaters today, a twin set and a hooded jacket.

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 12.11.44 PMThe yarn I’ve used for the jacket is Freia by Tina Whitmore (KnitWhits), and it is astonishingly beautiful to work with!

The colors are crisp and bright, changing beautifully, making the whole project pure delight!

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Freia’s Flux colors are AMAZING! (Could you plotz?!)

Databases for Back Pleat Jacket

The various databases I use in my pattern writing / designing

I can’t post pics of the pieces, but I’ve been making copious notes of the process, step by step, keeping everything well documented in my various databases (yes, I’m a FileMaker ho’!)

When the jacket is published in Interweave Crochet I will run a companion blog post walking through the process of designing, swatching, patterning, crocheting, ripping out, re-crocheting, blocking, measuring, packing and shipping this garment.

SoulMateThe Twin Set’s been worked up in SoulMate by Lorna’s Laces.  I don’t think I’d used this yarn previously, and it’s amazingly resilient!

I’ve ripped out and re-worked both pieces several times, but the yarn looks as if it was just pulled out of the ball this morning, fresh and virginal.  Add to that the lustre and shine of the yarn, the softness, the pure, understated quality of this beautiful blend of  Superwash Merino, Nylon and Outlast (my first time using this last fiber, it feels magnificent!)

It’s good for me to keep track of these things, and my ‘Anatomy of a Design’ posts have been pretty well received.  Look for these in the Winter IK Crochet!

First attempt at a colorwork repeat.

First attempt at the colorwork repeat – I want something that will echo the cable motif.

MORE DESIGN STUFF

I received a big box of lovely Drops yarn for a piece for The Knitter (a UK Mag I feel very fortunate to work with from time to time – it really is a great publication!)  I’m working up a “Men’s Quartet”, scarf, gloves, hat & sweater.  Colorwork AND cables are involved, two of my favorite things in the world. The hat is finished, it only took a few hours, but that doesn’t include the two PREVIOUS hats I knit and ripped out to get to the one that works well.

Designing IS making decisions,
and ripping out.

The colors are woody and natural and understated (lovely tan, brown, white and deep green) rather like our weekend will be!

I Like To Ride My Bicycle

Signing Books & Saying “Hey!”

Shepherd's Harvest FestivalIf you’re in MN and you like fiber related stuff, you HAVE to go to Shepherd’s Harvest.  It’s held every year during Mother’s Day Weekend (or, Fish Season Opener, as it’s known in MN) at the Washington Fairgrounds in Lake Elmo, MN.

I’ve taught here several times, and I’m always blown away by the variety and quality of the vendors and displays at this show! I visit a LOT of fiber shows, and perhaps it’s because this is in my backyard (in a large-backyard sense…) but I just adore Shepherd’s Harvest!

I’ll be signing books on Sunday at noon at Shepherd’s Harvest, I’ll have several of my books, including my newest (History on Two Needles) and I’ll be able to take credit cards (but hugs are just as good!)

Cycles For ChangeIN OTHER NEWS

It’s well known that I bike a lot – I LOVE my bicycle, I love traveling around the twin cities on two wheels, I love the exercise and how great I feel after a nice, long ride!

There is an organization in St. Paul that helps an under-served community experience the pure joy of cycling and bike ownership. It’s called Cycles For Change (formerly known as Sibley Bike Depot) and it’s a wonderful non-profit organization that offers classes, bike share programs and bikes and parts for sale.

They offer Youth Programs, amazing “Earn a Bike” programs and Women/Trans bike repair class nights

I’ve taken advantage of a few of these and they’re GREAT! I have no problem with male cyclist, I love them! But sometimes learning about the mechanics of bike repair can seem like a cool-boys-grunge-club, and a middle age woman can feel out of place.  The women/trans friendly bike nights have helped me gain a lot of confidence in my bike repair skills

In early June they’re having a Bike-A-Thon – basically a fund raising bike ride around St. Paul. Of course I’ll be there – with BELLS on – and with my son, Max, who will be riding with me.  It think we’ll do the 20 mile loop, (but I reserve the right to do the 10 mile if I’m feeling less than 100%)

It’s a fundraiser, so if you’d like to sponsor me I’d be thrilled!  Click on this link to support our ride to help Cycles for Change!

Bridging Fear

We think about our lives in different ways, on different days, trying to make sense of the incomprehensible.

Some days I think of my life as a long trip; a rough journey at times, an easy skate at others. In the movie Parenthood, Steve Martin comes to a place of peace when he envisions his life as a roller coaster. I find this a helpful analogy.

But there are periods when my life feels like a war zone – I think all of us feel that way at times – but it’s never been so vivid as in the past few years.

And, of course, being a child of two members of The Greatest Generation, loving history as I do, and making a hobby of reading about Europe in the 1930′s and 40′s, the war I can most easily reference is World War II.

This past year I’ve read several first person accounts of London before, during and after the war. The courage of the citizens is well documented; the steadiness, humor and ability to keep some semblance of a daily routine have resonated in my own personal life.

Early in the war, the citizens of London found ways to cope with incomprehensible terror. But exhaustion and time led to a war-weariness that made subsequent rounds of bombings 4 or 5 years into the conflict harder to bear. I identify with those late-war Londoners, too bone weary to head to the air raid shelters, numb with daily terror.

As many of you know, Gerry, my husband, has cancer. Multiple Myeloma, to be specific. When he was diagnosed in 2007 – soon after our family moved to Minnesota – the prognosis was poor; 2 years. At the Mayo for a second opinion this was reduced to 1 year, and a blessed numbness settled over both of us when we heard that.

A friend refers to this sensation as ‘god’s anesthesia’ and that’s not a bad way to think of the mind block that keeps overwhelming pain at bay. I wrote about our first year with cancer in my book Knit With Courage, Live With Hope, and it was a helpful way for me to face fear head on. I’ve heard from other caregivers that it has been helpful for them, too.

Fast forward 5-1/2 years and Gerry’s still with us, we feel that we are the most fortunate family in the world, even though the anesthesia has long worn off.

And I am exhausted.

This past Autumn Gerry’s cancer came back (his numbers were slowly creeping up since last Spring) and a new round of a trial drug, Revlamid, seems to be working well. His test numbers are up where they should be, down where we want them to be, including the dreaded M-spike.

But during those 5-1/2 years, aside from the many joys that our family has shared, something started happening deep inside of me; the slow, steady, unrelenting rise of fear.

A deep, broad river of apprehension runs through my life, fed by tributaries of dread and panic.

The first fear is obvious; fear of losing Gerry. But in the time we’ve had since his diagnosis I’ve lost so many friends and family members that this fear has been wrestled into perspective. It’s an understandable fear.

Right behind that first fear are all of the regular fears anyone in my position might feel: fear that I won’t be able to earn enough to keep the family going; fear that the kids will be strongly affected in a negative way by our experience; fear that Gerry will have more pain. All understandable fears.

The less understandable fears are the ones that haunt me: Fear that I won’t deal with this graciously (I haven’t at times); Fear that I will be harshly judged by outsiders (I have at times); Fear that as I struggle through this adventure I’ll behave in ways that are erratic and incomprehensible (I’ve done this, too).

And these fears, in turn, breed next generation fears that often DO overwhelm me: Do folks look down on me because I’m unable to cope with the fear? Am I really just plain weak, deep down inside? If I ride my bike an average of 8 miles a day and eat fairly well, why can’t I get thinner? (okay, this last more of a whine than a fear…)

Enumerating these anxieties helps me understand how fear can spiral out of control, overtaking common sense with panic, shoving self esteem out the door and replacing it with it’s doppelganger, pride.

Unlike self-respect, which is positive, life enhancing and resilient,
pride can be easily bruised and shattered.

Then, on the worst days, terror comes in uninvited. It kicks pride to the curb and allows self doubt, self loathing and self hatred to make a house call.

All of this anxiety creates stress, which overwhelms me.

I’m certain that – to a large degree – the genesis of my fibromyalgia is rooted in this stress. I believe that my current week-long intense back pain is a product of stress.

Spinning my wheels is how I deal with stress; sometimes I spin my wheels with non-productivity (Tetris and Scrabble, anyone?) and other times I bicycle. The biking is much more effective, and has a double benefit of reducing stress and physical pain while increasing strength and overall fitness.

But it’s winter, not a lot of bicycling is going on, and my body and mind are paying the price. I do yoga in the cold weather, I was swimming but found myself feeling so panicky in the pool that I had to stop, but nothing is like my bike.

It’s been a very rough Winter for me, fearful and painful and so many other bad-ful things. I second guess myself, my work, my abilities, my looks; then I third and fourth guess everything just for good measure. I’ve been in a bad place, re-living every negative interaction I’ve had, replaying every nasty comment I’ve overheard (or over-read), and it hasn’t been helpful.

And because I’m in a rather fragile state, the casual nastiness of an online comment or a thoughtless action are weightier than they would be if I were in a more stable, healthy place of mind.

I need to cross Ol’ Fear Creek, which has so overfilled itself that it’s now a raging whitewater. I’ve tried several times to throw myself into Terror Rapids, only to discover I’m no good with a paddle.

And, at any rate, Terror Rapids is probably a better place to be than Sh*t Creek…

I need to build a bridge over the fear, high enough above the raging river that I don’t get wet as I cross. I’m not exactly certain how to do this, but I feel sure that I have the tools and materials at hand.

La Jolla View

Repair and Renew

The sun is a wonderful thing.

I burn like paper, and I’ve devoted most of my life to staying out of the sun. I’m the only person in my family not to have a skin cancer (and the only blood relative within my immediate family who’s still alive…)

But when I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia 3 years ago my doctor put me on Vitamin D3 and I began to discover the link between good sunlight and my own pain-free existence.

La Jolla View

La Jolla View

Minnesota is cold, and it can be dark in the winter, and I LOVE it.  I get outside every day up there, the cold doesn’t bother me much.  But I DEFINITELY get out in the Summer more than I do in the Winter, and I feel that in my bones.

So when we had a chance to dog-sit in the beautiful village of La Jolla for a week for a knit designer friend, I jumped on it.

Laddie

Laddie

My hope was that I’d get a few days of sun – not sun-bathing, but actually actively moving in the sun – walking the dog by the beach, bicycling.

The drive out (see my last blog post) was great – but we’re a family that travels well together, and with both kids moving into the mid-teens we appreciate every chance we have to share a trip like this.

The home we’re staying in is absolutely lovely, the dog we’re caring for is a WONDER DOG! (He’s not unlike “Laddie” from that great Simpson’s episode)

All who meet him cannot fail to fall in love with Rusty. I’m in love, I know that!

BIKE DAY 1

My first foray on a bike here wasn’t great.  I got my toes caught in the clips, the bike was the wrong size for my long, long, legs, I fell over and damaged the derailléur and I totally blew it.

Guilt & disappointment, my biking companions that day.

I was more depressed than I can sensibly explain at my bike fail. The only thing making it halfway bearable was how humane our hosts have been via texts & phone calls about my fall & accident.

 

 

The Harbor in San Diego

The Harbor in San Diego

WHALE WATCH

The next day I thought I’d hit a home run when I used a Groupon for a whale watching excursion, and for the first hour it was the BEST time any of us had had on a boat.

But the water got choppier, my hubris at NOT taking the Dramamine Gerry had offered came back to haunt me.

I found myself thanking heaven and the Lays company for the empty potato chip bag I found in my purse.

I was the first on the ship to go down, and I’m not proud of that. I swear that 50% of the passengers were ill, EVERY group had at least one person who was sick.

This is NOT me

This is NOT me

I knew we were in trouble when the first passenger I introduced myself to on this ‘Three Hour Tour’ was a woman named “Ginger.”  Yes, seriously.

The cabin (what a mistake it was to go THERE) was like a rocking, too-full sick ward, and I did my best to help other folks by passing out rolls of paper towels and bottles of water for cleaning off kids (& adults) and dragging garbage cans over to folks, pulling hair from faces.

Yes, I am a saint.

The Landy / Modesitt Family BEFORE

The Landy / Modesitt Family BEFORE

No, not really, but I felt that I owed everyone compassion.  They’d all been so kind to me when I got sick half an hour earlier.

Those of you who are fans of Diana Gabaldon will appreciate my sister-feeling with Jamie Frasier.  This is not something I’d want to do again, but I feel I have a tiny sense of what those awful steerage ocean voyages might have been like.

The Waves Got Choppy...

The Waves Got Choppy…

Gerry and Max were dandy. We were very afraid for both of them, and THEY took the Dramamine, and they were okay.  Actually, “dandy” isn’t exactly the word, Max spent most of the trip face-down on a sofa cushion, but neither of them was ill the way and Hannah and I were (I discovered Hannah crouched over a garbage can, swearing at her breakfast and every egg ever laid by hen.)

Obviously the trip wasn’t fun, but it had light moments.

Sea Worthy Gerry

Sea Worthy Gerry

As we rounded on not one, but TWO whales (who were very friendly and kept near us, to the delight of the captain) he kept turning the boat to the left, and the right, and the left, and the right, to stay near them so everyone could get a good look.  Yes, I saw a whale.  Thar she blows.

Just writing that last paragraph made me ill again.

At one point I was being ill into a smart-food bag when I heard the captain call giddily over the loudspeaker, “THAR SHE BLOWS!”  Yes, indeed.  There I blow.

I CANNOT commend the poor kid who helped to keep the cabin walkable and relatively clean highly enough!  I rallied a bit mid trip and did what I could to help him out, but then I collapsed again and was a lump sitting in the open air, head throbbing and stomach churning.  I was feebly aware of how much VERY unpleasant work this young man was doing. 

I stayed on the boat to tell him, “THANK YOU” and give him a small tip.
He deserved 50 times what I could give him.

Heads up, H&M Whale Watching!  You had a PRINCE of a crewman on the Sea Adventure 80′s 10:00 am Whale cruise on 12/27/12.  Give that kid a raise and a bonus!

They gave us an extra 1/2 hour on the cruise because we were seeing so many wales & dolphins (yay?) I felt well enough post-voyage to drive home, we got back around 2:00 and we were all SO wiped out that the rest of the day was devoted to recovery and a small bit of rice for dinner.

 

Rusty & Pippa

Rusty & Pippa

BIKE DAY!

So today I was amazed at how well I felt when Rusty awakened me with some toe licking.  I hopped out of bed, showered and cleaned up the kitchen, hitched up the doggie and took him for an hour-long walk by the ocean.  He played and rolled with other dogs, developed a huge crush on Pippa, and on the way back I passed a bike rental place.  So I rented a bike.

As soon as I brought Rusty home & checked in with the family, I immediately set off on a 14-mile ride down to Mission Bay Park.  Glorious.

The Landy's At The Gallery

The Landy’s At The Gallery

The ride was swell, roses and palm trees and happy kids all over the place!  My ride around the bay was swell, I stopped for some gelato on the way home, and I managed most hills without getting off the bike and walking (it is VERY hilly here…)

I met up with the family at the Contemporary Art Museum in La Jolla and we enjoyed some lovely art (I couldn’t look at the paintings of ships, I felt a bit dizzy and ill) and mostly just enjoyed our time together.  Gerry and the kids had picked up lobster tails and salmon earlier, so Hannah’s cooking up her special broiled salmon and G’s grilling tails while I relax from my long ride.

Bike Ride View

View from the La Jolla Bike Trail

Gerry and the kids are planning on going to the Scripps Aquarium tomorrow, I’ll take the time on my own to get some swatching and sketching done.  I have the bike for one more day, tomorrow I’ll hit the tidal pools by the La Jolla Cave and maybe get some knitting in the sun in before I return the bike.  Selfish of me, but intensely enjoyable!

Non weight bearing exercise in the sun is my formula for anything that ails me, I’m lucky I found it!

Exhaustion, et al

This is straight up complaining.  I apologize in advance, please feel free to deposit your own current nagging annoyances in the comments section and we’ll all feel better for having dumped a bit.

Tomorrow I have a nice, special book giveaway; but today I kvetch.  If you’ve noticed I’ve been quiet, it’s for 3 reasons:

1) I’m knee and elbow deep in History on Two Needles, and it’s going REALLY well!  I’m putting the kickstarter funds to excellent use licensing images, upgrading InDesign, and hiring photo assistance.  Life is good.

2) I’m friggin’ exhausted.  For the past few months my doctor’s been phasing me off of prednisone, and I’m not hungry enough to eat the cat anymore (the cat is relieved) but the Xolaire doesn’t seem to be filling in the gap.  I notice each day is a bit harder and harder on the bike – breathing is becoming more difficult.  Damn.

3) Slow pain.  Bad breathing leads to less biking, less biking leads to increase in pain, and it all happens so slowly that if I didn’t keep track of it I wouldn’t believe it.  But there it is.  My fibro is creeping up, it’s getting worse. It scares me.

Yesterday a friend was visiting from out of town, I met her on my bike and she and her kids and I went to playground.  The kids ran around, I didn’t do much (a little pushing, some kid lifting, nothing really!)  Then she drove to my house while I rode my bike.

When I pulled up behind her on my bike – after maybe 3 total miles of riding – I was absolutely wiped out.  We did a quick drive around the ‘hood and stopped at my favorite local fabric store, and that brief bit of walking just did me in.  I feel like I’m 60.  I know this deep, deep exhaustion stems from the breathing, but I just don’t know if I can face going back on prednisone.

My options seem to be:

  1. Happy and exhausted; or
  2. Fat, pissed off and able to breath.

Seriously, though, in the scheme of life this is an annoyance, but life is still damned good.  DAMNED good.  And Gerry’s making tuna salad, so how bad can things be?

IMG_0002

MacGyvering HoTN Together

Mentally, emotionally and work-wise, it’s been a pretty great week!

Physically, though, it’s been rough.

I haven’t been able to get out for the bike rides I’d like, which allows soreness to grow in my unused muscles, which makes me hesitant to ride, which leads to more pain – you can see the pain cycle (no pun intended) that I fall into.

I’m on a new asthma medication, it’s supposed to normalize my breathing (which has been steadily declining for about 10 years) and allow me to forego my regular prednisone battles.

Prednisone, for those of you who are fortunate enough to not know, is a wonder drug that allows my lungs to work well, a steroid – but the side effects are pretty brutal.
For me the worst are emotional fragility/sensitivity and weight gain.
(They should call it “pregnisone” because it’s the drug that mimics pregnancy.)

Anyway, this new med, Xolaire, is a monthly two-shot injection.  Three months into it, it seems to be working well.  As I’m phased off of the prednisone, the Xolaire’s supposed to pick up the slack – we’ll see…

And I’m hopeful to get back to my long rides.  When my breathing’s iffy, everything is hard.  When I give in to the difficulty, everything gets even harder.

BUT THE GOOD PART

…is that I’m getting a TON of stuff done for History on Two Needles.  Amazingly good progress!  I’m working through the layout of the patterns, trying to find ways to make the experience of reading the book interesting and instructive.

My Sketch of Tissot’s Painting

The license fees for the images are going to be heavy, but manageable (thank you kickstarter!) so I’m trying to work around that by paying lower fees for black and white images for some pieces, then augmenting those sections with my own color sketches.

It may work, or it may just look dumb, but so far I’m happy with the results.  This will also allow me to isolate the individual sections of the original artwork (which were so inspiring to my finished garment.)

I’ve been using an iPad app called Procreate, which is sensational!  I’m able to sketch – not awkwardly wrangle my Photoshop skills (as I’ve been doing – although not entirely unsuccessfully – in my previous computer sketches.)

The best part of Procreate is that it allows me to use the techniques I spent years developing in grad school, my own style of shading, detailing and softening that I thought I could only do on paper.  I really love this application.

I can use my finger for a lot of the drawing, but a stylus is better.

So I found an online tutorial showing me how to make my own stylus with a pen, a sponge and some wire.  I changed things up by using a dpn (signature, of course!) because that feels better in my hand.

It’s been working great, even if it is a little ugly, and I feel it should earn me the MacGyver level II merit badge.

NOTE: No needles were harmed in the making of this stylus, which can be easily taken apart.

So although my physical movement has been hampered with breathing difficulties and all-over body pain from the fibromyalgia, I’ve been able to get a great deal of work done, which is not bad!

I plan to get out for at least an 18 mile ride today.  With any luck I’ll push a bit of that pain away as I pedal, and I can take my iPad with me and get some sketching done during rest breaks!

I was likin' the lichen...
(no, I didn't say licking)

I’m Not Supposed To Be Here

I was likin’ the lichen…
(no, I didn’t say licking)

I am supposed to be camping an hour East of St. Paul. But here I am.

Why?

It rained like a son-of-a-gun.

We set up our beautiful camp, everything was smashing! Max rode his bike to go get wood, we started a fire, then Max and Gerry left to go get marshmallows.

During the Deluge
(Oh the humanity, and our beautiful fire!)

And then there was a deluge.

We knew there was a 50% chance of rain, but we risked it.

WHAT A STORM. When Gerry and Max returned (after I’d stowed everything under the picnic table and in the tent, where I huddled with a VERY frightened Atticus who does NOT like thunder) they sat in the car for 30 minutes because the rain was SO hard that to get out would have been to get soaked for no reason.  Because of Gerry’s mobility issues, we chose a drive-in campsite.

Plus, we have satellite radio for another month. We got 3 months free when we got the car. So they just listened to funny stuff and watched me. Ha ha.

Working by the Campfire
(pre-deluge)

So when the rain subsided a bit we packed up the necessities, stowed everything else in the tent, locked up the bikes and skedaddled home.

At 9pm it’s still raining.

But it’s supposed to be GORGEOUS tomorrow & Sunday, so we’re heading back bright and early for canoeing fun (Gerry and Max will do that, I’ll hang out at the campsite and dry stuff off, and knit…)

Here are a few pics from today. Some lichen, a shot of me working BEFORE the storm, and a shot taken from the tent during the storm.

 Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet ~ Bob Marley