Pairs of socks knitted in 2014

  • Roxanne's socks
  • Brian's Cascade socks
  • Shirley's lacy socks
  • striped Meredith socks
  • striped stranded #1

Monday, December 17, 2007


In spite of all the insanity of the last month (which has included two patients leaving AMA, learning the hard way what "mandatory reporter" means under California law, and caring for an elderly Spanish-speaking lady who refused to believe that I was a woman until someone told her I was pregnant) I like my new job. I'm still getting used to it, and there are many days where I get done with my charting, drive home, and think "Thank God it's day shift!" but overall, I enjoy my work.

Unfortunately, I was hired on in the middle of a six-month long labor dispute between the hospital's parent company and the California Nurses Association. In mid-October, I was actually in the Kansas City airport preparing to visit family in Washington when I saw "[Name of Corporation] nurses on strike at ten Bay Area hospitals!" on CNN and realized "Oh my God! I just got hired by them!"

So as the negotiations between the union and the administration have continued and bogged down once more, I have made no secret of the fact that "I have no idea what's going on!" When they voted to strike again, it wasn't hard for me to decide what to do. I mean, how difficult is it to not show up for work?

Picketing, however, is another story. Picketing implies that not only do you support the cause enough to hold up signs and demonstrate about it, but that you are willing to share your convictions with others. And although I've been deluged with competing propaganda from both the union and the administration ("[Name of Corporation]'s Last Best and Final offer refused to address any of your concerns!" "We're sorry the California Nurses Association values their profits more than you our your patients...") I still find it difficult to filter through all the spin to sort out what the real issues are.

So I told the union rep that while I wouldn't cross the picket lines this weekend, I wouldn't picket for them, either. And I asked if they had some form of e-mailing list for keeping people up to date on what was going on. Receiving official e-mails has been a marked improvement over listening to workplace gossip for sorting out what's going on, but it leaves quite a bit to be desired.

For one thing, I'm getting sick of "solidarity." I think the concept is fantastic, but the word is starting to be just a bit over-used.

And then there's Jim. Jim goes to our church, and is also my uber-manager. I'm not sure what his official title is, but he manages at least three nursing units, one of which I work on. He's several steps above me on the org chart, and I'm reasonably certain that he's been a nurse longer than I've been alive.

He's also single-parenting two toddlers.

While my part in this whole strike and lockout mess has been fairly simple (don't show up for work) Jim has been working eighteen hour days to make sure patient care continues and all goes smoothly for the hospital. (Yet another reason why you couldn't pay me enough to work in nursing administration.)

But the church has really rallied around Jim and his kids. Families from our church have been watching his kids for the last several days. Just to make sure that in the midst of all the strike insanity, Jim has one less thing to worry about.

Union politics be damned--now that's solidarity.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The family that freezes together...

(Front row: Larry, Mom, Grandma, Audrey, Jevan. Middle row: EJ, Shawna, Aunt Sharon, Shannon, Aunt Tig. Back row: Uncle Al, Jesse, Me, Brian, Aunt Bonnie, Uncle Stan.)

At the very end of last month, Brian and I flew back to Washington state for Grandpa Honn's funeral. It's been in the 50s here in San Francisco for the last month, so we knew we'd have to do a bit of adjusting to the usual winter weather in Whitman County. (Which is generally 25-30 degrees, and snowing. With nasty wind.)

So I packed the amazing silk long johns I bought when we were living in Nome. (Being true Nomeites, my coworkers at Nome's outpatient clinic got much amusement out of my complaints that I was wearing long underwear all summer--and was still cold. Meanwhile, they were celebrating 22 hours of daylight and 55 degree weather with tee shirts, shorts, and lots of fishing.) And my thickest socks, gloves, hats, scarves, and as many layers of other clothing as I could still fit my pregnant body into.

And I still was cold! The worst part was at the graveside service, where it was snowing and the wind was driving it in our faces. My teeth were chattering too hard to hear Pastor Dennis' kind words. (As I've never known any minister to complete a graveside service in under fifteen minutes before, I take comfort in the fact that I was not the only human Popsicle at Winona Cemetery.)

Brian finally got to meet almost all of my first cousins on Mom's side. (The only one who's missing from the pictures is Rachel, who gave birth three weeks earlier.)

(And my cousin Larry (in the Hawaiian shirt) wins this trip's award for what not to say to a pregnant woman: "I know I shouldn't pat your belly, but you're like my sister--it's so weird to see you fat!" He's fortunate that potlucks always put me in a good mood.)

I also got to see my friend Renell, who I hadn't seen since high school.

Grandma said that since we were all together, she wanted to make sure that family pictures got taken, so we took lots of family pictures. Have you ever considered how hard it is to get sixteen people to all look at the camera at the same time, let alone "smile naturally"?

Here's Mom and her sisters and brother:

EJ got back from Iraq less than two weeks earlier, so he was able to make it. Since we were there for less than 48 hours, I didn't get to spend much time with him, but he and Brian were able to squeeze in a round or two of pool. This might not be the most flattering family portrait we've ever done, but the matching shifty expressions are true-to-life.

Friday, November 30, 2007

my un-vacation

When I visited Grandpa last month, I told him if it was at all possible, I would be home for Christmas.

Since I made that promise, I have learned that I am scheduled to work December 23, 24, 25, 26, and 27th. I'm not really sure when I'm going to celebrate Christmas.

Grandpa went to be with the Lord on Thanksgiving, so now I guess it's a bit of a moot point. (Toss in the fact that this is probably the last week that the airlines will allow me to fly, and you've got an interesting situation.) So instead of flying back for Christmas, Brian and I flew back to Washington for his funeral.

The funeral was Friday, and I've rarely had such a good time. I shed some tears when they sang "The Way of the Cross Leads Home," but it was alright. I know that Grandpa is with the Lord, and few things can compare with that. I miss him horribly, but he was in such poor health these last few months that I'm glad he's finally at peace.

When my friend Travis was killed in Afghanistan two years ago, I had a great deal of trouble understanding his death: What does it mean to say that someone is "with the Lord?" The traditional imagery of clouds and harps and insipid angels left over from the Victorian era didn't help in the slightest.

Then I had a dream where I saw Travis and some of my other friends who'd died playing poker with Jesus. And while that metaphor undoubtedly would make many people a bit queasy, if you knew Travis at all, you'd know that it fits.

Grandpa was never one for cards, but he loved hunting and fishing. I don't know what forms of entertainment there are in heaven, but I do know he is enjoying himself immensely.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

more family pictures

I visited my family and some of Brian's family about a month ago.

Grandpa Honn (Mom's father) was in the hospital again with sepsis and pneumonia, so it was good that I got to visit him. I told him that if there was any way I could finagle it, I'd make it for Christmas. Unfortunately, as the newest person hired at work, I am working Christmas Eve, Christmas, Boxing Day, and the day after that. I'm afraid that by the time I'm able to request enough days off in a row to go visit, I'll be too pregnant to travel!

I got to spend lots of time with the "parents" (Mom and Aunt Tig.)
Aunt Tig is one of the three women named Shirley who we're naming the baby after.

And the obligatory grandma and baby-to-be picture:

Since these pictures are all a month old, (baby) Shirley is now much more obvious. I had to go pants shopping again this week. Tomorrow, I plan to go shirt shopping, as I'm down to three long sleeved shirts that still fit. (And I refuse to wear scrub tops out in public if I'm not working.)

Brian's sister Meegan quit smoking 25 hours before this picture was taken!

(My somewhat manic expression is explained by four plane flights in five days.)

We're slowly but surely getting the house set up. The living room looks quite nice right now.

We've still got many boxes of books to unpack, but the two large bookcases really helped make the place feel more like home.

And unlike any of our previous residences, we have a BACK YARD! (This is the view from our bedroom window.) I was so excited I went out and bought books on gardening.

I'd love to make it look like the neighbor's yard. Hopefully the plants will feel the "peer pressure" and decide they want to live.


I had my final (thank God!) day of nursing orientation today. I realize it's very hard to make any sort of required orientation entertaining, but by the time I got off work today, I felt as though all will to do anything had been sucked out of me.

One nice thing about working the floor is that being on my feet and moving for eight hours generally rocks Shirley to sleep. Unfortunately, sitting still for six to eight hours each day this week during orientation keeps her awake. And when she's awake, she likes to kick my internal organs.

This has caused me to realize something: I have the bladder capacity of a gerbil. Between the fact that Shirley takes up a surprising amount of space in my abdomen (leaving me with the uncomfortable realization that I have enough room for her, a full stomach, or a full bladder, but certainly not all three at the same time) and her regular karate kicks to my bladder, I had to go pee every hour and a half!

Every so often I start to wonder if catheters are really as uncomfortable as the patients claim. Sometimes, I think they'd be really convenient...

Thursday, November 8, 2007

I believe...

After much encouragement from Brian, I finally got off my lazy bum and tidied up one of my patterns enough to submit it for publication.

Remember this picture?

It is the result of reading Debbie New books late at night and thinking, "Hey, that could be fun!" The final product looks like this:

And now it lives at one of my favorite online magazines.

The new job is going well so far. I worked my first shift on the floor yesterday. And because I still (a) occasionally have to dash to the bathroom when I'm worried I'm going to throw up suddenly and (b) grimace and spasmodicly clutch my abdomen when Shirley decides to perform a complete 360 degree sommersault, I was up front about the fact that I'm five and a half months pregnant. (I'm not going to be able to hide her much longer, even if empire waisted shirts are back in.)

"I don't believe it! You don't look pregnant!" was what several of them said.

"Just because you don't see her, doesn't mean she isn't kicking my bladder," was my response.

And on the drive home, it struck me that with a bit of tweaking, this is a pretty standard response for believing in God or other spiritual things. (Without tweaking, it's a very scary comment on God.) I shared this with Brian.

"You're right love, it does work as that. But it's also an argument for pretty much anything you can't see--like the existence of elves."

Maybe I can convince the Keebler elves to bring me some cookies....

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mini golf and earthquakes and new jobs, oh my!

On Friday, we were asked to go along to the monthly youth group outing. This month's activity was mini golf and arcade games at this place about 45 minutes south of us.

There were about thirty teens there, and I was very grateful that when Kimily co-ordinated rides for people, she made sure that someone picked up Brian and I. Why? Because otherwise the chances for getting lost go up exponentially.

"Go easy on the junior highers!" someone teased me before we started golfing. As if! They completely and utterly toasted my butt. I don't know what my final total score was, but I had several holes that I scored higher than 9 on. Thankfully, the kids didn't harass me too much.

Orientation for my new job started yesterday. The weird thing about pregnancy is that I can't tell if I've just got butterflies in my stomach, or if Shirley is being exceptionally active. As Shirley's main form of entertainment at this point seems to be kicking my kidneys, I was glad she decided to sleep through the majority of orientation. (If your butterflies know judo, it's probably the baby.)

I'm accepting bets for the final number of times I will need to purchase new pants before Shirley arrives in March. I'll keep a running tally on the blog, and the winner will get... something. (Probably sock yarn dyed in colors of their choice.)

I felt all domestic this evening, and made a Dutch apple pie from scratch. And just as I was putting it in the oven, we had a 5.6 earthquake. At first I was fine, because it felt just like when the Air Force jets would break the sound barrier over our house when I was a kid.

When I realized "Oh crap, that's an earthquake!" I got considerably more nervous, especially in light of the 2004 tsunami and the fact that you can see the ocean from our bedroom. But I'm guessing if the house didn't shake enough to knock over my potted plants, I probably don't have to worry about tsunamis too much.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Family ad nauseum

You can't fit three adults in the cab of a Ford Ranger. Well, I suppose you could, but only if they were all midgets and on exceptionally good terms with each other. But when these are the three adults in question,

driving cross country together seems a remarkably bad idea. Toss in the fact that it's a standard transmission and as the shortest person in the vehicle I'd get to sit in the middle, and it wouldn't be pretty. Faced with the prospect of spending several days squashed between two Mackey men and getting elbowed in the stomach every time someone needed to shift, I quickly developed a plan B.

While Pop and Brian drove the Ranger from Overland Park to San Francisco, I'd take advantage of the chance to visit my family for a few days, and then visit with Brian's family for a few more.

Like other Plan Bs, however, this had a few side effects. One of them was that, due to a layover in Denver, I had four plane flights in five days. I don't mind flying, but that seems a bit excessive.

Because my new job will be day shift (thank you God!) I've been trying to make myself less of a nocturnal creature. I was hoping that doing things in daylight and sleeping at night would also make the "evening sickness" much less of an issue, and it worked--kind of. Except for one spectacular episode where Shirley made it blatantly obvious that she was not in the mood for Subway, I didn't have any "moments."

I did, however, get to spend five days of pretty much constant nausea in strange houses. It got so bad that when I did my usual 0300 meanderings and realized that I WASN'T NAUSEOUS, I generally made a piggy of myself. (No matter how good the book is that you're reading and snacking by, you do NOT want to eat an entire box of Aplets & Cotlets in one sitting. Don't do it. Just eat the serving size the box recommends and call it good.)

I'll post pics and stories from the trip in a few days. Right now, it's 0445 and as I'm not currently nauseous, I'm going to go eat something. In moderation, of course.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


I finally managed to get off my lazy bum and post. So, let's pick up where I left off last with pictures.

For Labor Day weekend, we went to the Tall Grass Prairie again, and I got to meet Silfert, whom I've known through the blogosphere and knitting forums and e-correspondence for the last few years, but had never met in person. I cannot tell you how much it amazes me that the internet allows one to correspond with total strangers regularly. (The fact that Audrey is an incredibly nice person and even knitted juggling balls for the baby out of organic cotton (!) just adds to my wonder.)

On the same road trip, I got to see the Wichita Corvette Fanciers out for a drive. I'll probably never own one, but I love Corvettes!

And apparently it was just a good weekend all around for those who like shiny cars, as I also got to see this:

At the last OB visit, we learned that Genghis is actually a girl, so we're naming her Shirley. She's doing well, and it looks as though we can expect her about March 10th, 2008. Given my family's tendency towards preterm labor, I'm guessing she'll show up the last week of February. But a February 29th baby would be great too!

As we move to San Francisco in three days, the living room currently looks like this:

Only more so.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Sick, but less whiny

Two and a half weeks later, I still have the @#$%ing cold! Thankfully, the doc gave me antibiotics and they work reasonably well. I've stopped running a fever, coughing up green stuff, and feeling like an asthma attack was going to happen at any minute. But I'm still coughing. While it's been about a week since I had a coughing fit so bad that I started puking (The first night I was back to work after I started the antibiotics, I accidentally vomited all over the staff bathroom. I appologized profusely to April the night housekeeper when I asked her if she'd mop up.) the regular coughing fits are annoying.

I had an immunocompromised patient earlier this week. (Medicalspeak for "we don't know why, but your immune system has decided to take off on an extended holiday, so don't be surprised if you get deathly ill from some common problem that doesn't trouble most people.") She asked me why everyone else was wearing gloves before they cared for her, but I was wearing a mask as well. "Does this mean my family should be wearing masks too?"

"I have a cold," I told her. "I've had it for nearly three weeks now, so it seems to like me. But I don't imagine you want it." She agreed that this was a reasonable precaution.

We got to hear Genghis' heartbeat at the doctor's office visit. Apparently, in spite of all the worry I've had over losing eight pounds due to morning sickness while not being able to take in much calories, he's doing all right. Since the morning sickness has eased a bit (when I'm not coughing) I've started gaining the weight back. I'm only about two pounds heavier than my usual non-pregnant weight, but the baby bump is growing steadily.

I've been knitting EJ a pair of socks for his birthday next month. (As usual, I'm too lazy to go find the camera.) I'd forgotten just how hard it is to knit a full size pair of men's socks in Army desert tan. Cursed short attention span!

On Sunday, we went to a different church to watch Nancy, one of the gals I work with, dedicate her baby to the Lord. She adopted Lydia from Guatemala earlier this year, and she is a beautiful little girl! (The usual toddler preference for pink coupled with her dark hair means that the resemblance to Dora the Explorer (her favorite character) is striking.) It's been wonderful to see Nancy's joy at motherhood these last few months. When I do get around to downloading pics, I need to post the ones I took of the service.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Sick and whiny

Since I'll probably spend the vast majority of this post whining, I might as well start off with the good news we've recently received.

Brian got "the call" from New Start, so we're officially moving to San Francisco! I'm still apprehensive about the move and job hunt, but so excited that Brian found a church.

We got woke up the other day by a 30 second message on our answering machine from my brother EJ saying he got to Iraq safely and was okay. He'd signed off before I was able to get conscious enough to grab the phone, but praise God he's okay!

I received a lovely package from my Fiber Frenzy swap secret pal. She sent me a whole big ball (I think it's about six ounces!) of aqua superwash merino roving, and chocolate! (Alas, chocolate is apparently on Genghis' list of "foods that induce morning sickness." But as it keeps indefinitely, I'm going to save it for later. Perhaps the nausea will abate in a couple off months.) I'm too lazy to go find the camera and snap pictures right now, but the roving is lovely.

I've been spinning it up lace weight and plying it with lace weight silk that I dyed myself. The silk is in a nice complimentary teal color--I dyed it several weeks before I got the package, though. It's always nice when things work out so well like that!

The morning sickness has tapered off somewhat. The amount of Zofran I require to keep food down has steadily decreased over the last several weeks. (I mostly need to use it on nights I'm working. Who would have thought that being around puking people makes me vomit?) Unfortunately, I always seem to realize too late that it wears off after about ten hours. The sympathy I've received from my co-workers is nice, but I hate having to interrupt the end-of-shift patient hand off even more than the puking itself. I still haven't gained any weight over my non-pregnant weight, but the baby bump (Until we know it's gender, we're referring to the baby as "Genghis.") keeps on growing. (I lost about eight pounds from morning sickness, but I've gained them all back.)

But right now I've got a cold, and it makes my mood rather lousy. I was so happy to get through the winter without one after catching one every month we were in Nome. But I guess it's that time of the year again...

The stuffy nose doesn't really trouble me after having had one constantly for the entire pregnancy. The coughing fits, however, feel disturbingly like the first few volleys of "the old Dash 'N' Heave" of morning sickness. It hasn't turned into that yet, but I really hate puking.

I think I'll see if the Yarn Pixies (who seem to visit more freely when I take medication of some sort--perhaps there's a lesson here) were correct when they suggested that I could crochet socks if I tried hard enough.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Emtala Mackey?

It's been a bit since I posted anything more personal than vacation photos on this blog. As the Internet has unlimited potential for both good and creepy people to use it, I usually error on the side of paranoia when it comes to how much personal information to post on it. But now that I'm officially past the "magic" twelve week mark, I feel free to announce my good news with the Blog-o-Sphere (all six people who care enough to read my blog as (ir)regularly as I post on it).

I'm pregnant! The new fiber enthusiast is expected to arrive in early March. (Because I miscarried early with the last pregnancy, I wanted to wait until the first trimester and the greatest danger of miscarriage was over before I posted about it. Neurotic, but true.)

We received very good news from the New Start church in San Francisco over the weekend. Their church board voted unanimously (How amazing is that? I mean, how often can you get twelve people to agree on pizza toppings, let alone pastoral candidates?) to present Brian's name to the congregation for a "would you like us to ask this person to be our next pastor?" vote. So that's an important hurdle overcome in the church-finding/pastor-finding process. We really loved the people and the church, would be delighted to come there if they called Brian. So now we wait...

However, this does mean that if they vote yes (and he says yes) we will be moving with me five or six months pregnant. Our health insurance right now is through my work, and it's really hard to find a job in any field when you're heavily pregnant, but especially in nursing. With the national nursing shortage, I do have the added advantage of the fact that hospitals and clinics are incredibly desperate for qualified nurses, but mid-to-late pregnancy generally precludes the level of heavy lifting that nursing requires.

As I lay awake worrying in my insomniac moments, I am repeatedly reminded that God has been with us this far and He will not abandon us now.

I have also been encouraged by (cynical) advice from the other nurses at work. "Well, if you can't get health insurance by the time you're in labor, you can always name the baby 'Emtala.' "
(EMTALA is the Federal statute which stipulates that if you show up at an emergency room in active labor (or having other medical emergencies occur) you must be diagnosed by a physician and treated regardless of your ability to pay. Sadly, it's the closest thing the US has to "right to health care" concept.)

Even if I do have to invoke EMTALA to deliver the kid, I don't think we're going to commemorate the experience in quite that way.

San Francisco!

Brian and I went to San Francisco last weekend (the 11th, 12th, and 13th) to visit a church he was interviewing at. Brian is trained as a pastor in the Church of the Nazarene and he's been looking for a church to pastor for the last several months. Due to my evil work schedule (made evil not by the number of days I work, but by the recently rescinded rule that required me to work three out of every four Sundays) I haven't been able to go with him for any previous church visits.

The church is New Start Ministries, which is in the Richmond District of San Francisco. At the moment, they're sharing a building with Sunset Chinese Church of the Nazarene (in a jaw-droppingly obvious "Great White Tourist" moment, I tried to take a picture of their church sign just because it was in English and Chinese, and this blew my puny redneck mind, but it didn't turn out. Instead, here is the view from the corner of the church lot.)

The gentleman on the left is Dr. John Calhoun, the District Superintendent. (As I explained to the teens sitting next to me when they asked "who's the dude giving Communion?", he's a very high mucky-muck in the Nazarene hierarcy.) You can find a better picture of him and a brief biography here.

The gentleman on the right is Jack Jung, who not only made us feel very welcomed at the church, but also was kind enough to drive us around San Francisco for a few hours so we could take the usual tourist pictures. Here's a typical one, shot at a high speed from the inside of his car.

Brian shot this one:

And here's what Alcatraz looks like as you speed by it on the freeway overpass by Golden Gate Bridge:

A congregation of turtles at the Palace of Fine Arts:

I love mangos and all things mango, so you can imagine my delight when they served this at the after church potluck--mango ice cream!

The church arranged for us to stay at the Hilton, which is far and away the nicest hotel I have ever seen or stayed in. Here is a (bad) picture of their grand lobby:

And a final picture of Laura (Jack's wife) and John, one of the kids from the church. Aren't they adorable?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Couches Come in Handy

When we moved from Nampa, Idaho to Overland Park, Kansas (by way of Nome, Alaska) we did not bring our much-abused love seat with us. When we first moved to Nampa, one of the dear ladies in Brian's first church had learned that we were (gasp!) getting married without owning anything couch-like, and gave us a slightly-battered but very serviceable love seat.

After three years of life with college students, however, it was starting to look the worse for wear. So instead of carting it 800 miles cross-country, we donated it to Goodwill. Actually, we did that with most of our furniture. It was kind of fitting in a Circle-of-Life sort of way. "From Goodwill you came, to Goodwill you shall return."

This meant that we spent the first six months of living in Kansas without a couch. It was awkward at first to invite friends over to watch movies while sitting on our kitchen chairs, but we got used to it. Then, friends of in-laws of friends of ours decided to get rid of their huge couch, and gave it to us.

Brian's well over six feet tall, and it's very hard to find a couch that he can stretch out full-length on . So we're quite excited about this one. And, best of all, it has a fold-down coffee-table-like attachment in the middle. It has cupholders, but I generally use it for skeining yarn.

I'd wanted a warping board for some time, but have been too lazy to drive to Home Depot, buy lumber, saw it to the desired length, and sand it. So now that I know that the circumference of the pseudo coffee table is 44", I multiply that by the number of wraps in a skein, and divide by 36 to get the number of yards in the skein. It's not pretty, but it works for me.

This particular yarn is some Bonkers superwash merino. I spun it up for socks for Brian's birthday this month.

Here it is drying in the shower:

I got 286 yards out of the 4 ounces of fiber. It was pretty close as to wether or not that would be enough yarn to make full length socks for my husband's size 12 feet, but I managed. I even finished the socks before his birthday, which is quite possibly a first in the history of me giving him birthday gifts.

I even had yarn left over.

To be precise, 75 inches of yarn left over. That was cutting it a bit close--I'll definitely buy an extra batt next time.

And here's a close-up picture of my current mystery project, which I hope to post more about in a week or so. For now, I'll only say that this is what happens when sleep deprivation and Debbie New books collide.

Betrayed by Mapquest!

The other weekend, we decided to take a drive to the Tallgrass Prairie, which is a national park two and a half hours southwest of us. Apparently it has some of the last remaining untouched grassland in the Midwest. We drove, and drove, and drove some more, faithfully following's directions at every turn. We wound up here:

This is the historic courthouse in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas. Apparently it was built in the 1850s or so, and now it's time for a rennovation. Let's see what it looks like from an angle with less construction fence:

So I did what I do best when I'm lost--try to look cute and helpless (although I think I have better luck with the helpless bit) and ask for directions. Thankfully, small town librarians see all kinds of clueless people, and they were more than happy to help out.

After turning around and backtracking for five miles, we did finally find it. As near as we can figure, Mapquest gave us driving directions to get to the park's post office box.

The park was pretty, but I must confess that I was expecting taller grass.

(Due to the signs from the National Parks Service warning against stepping off the path for fear of rattlesnakes, I have no pictures which show the scale of the grass.) But it comes up to mid-thigh on me, so that's about 24 inches. (60cm, for our metric friends.) I was definitely expecting grass that was taller than I am, or something a bit more dramatic. Still, it was very pretty.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Cranky 4th of July!

Growing up, I used to love Independence Day. And I realize that part of that is every child's fascination with fire and explosives and who can resist a holiday which is devoted to them? But Independence Day has always held a special place in my heart.

This year, however, I'm finding it very hard to summon up any enthusiasm for the Fourth of July holiday. I'm really not able to sincerely wish anyone a "Happy Fourth of July!" at the moment.

One of the downsides of working only three days a week (I'm going to duck right now before the stones start coming from everyone who has to work more often than that) and having a flexible schedule is that if you're not careful, you can wind up working considerably more days in a row than you'd intended to. Like in March, when I forgot that calendar months do attach to each other and wound up working the last two days of February followed immediately by the first two days of March. Working that many 12 hours shifts back-to-back-to-back-to-back was exhausting, and is not an experience I wish to repeat.

So I was extra cautious when I "finessed" my schedule to get the 19th through the 26th of June off, without taking any paid time off. This meant that in order to avoid working the last three days of last week and the first three days of this one all in a row, I had to schedule myself for the 3rd and 4th of July. Normally I don't mind working minor holidays--my hospital pays overtime pay for holiday shifts, and I'm always happy about extra money for yarn.

Unfortunately, when I checked the schedule yesterday, I was still the only RN scheduled to work tonight and tomorrow night. I'm really not looking forward to this Independence Day holiday.

But I've got a much more personal reason for why I'm not too thrilled this holiday.

I try not to use this blog as a platform for my political views too often. There are many good political blogs out there, and I see no reason to join their ranks. But at the risk of sounding unpatriotic and "letting the terrorists win," I'm going to indulge my First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

I'm not a fan of the war in Iraq. For a wide variety of reasons, ranging from I think we could spend 400 billion dollars in much more productive ways to some good old-fashioned paranoia about the Patriot Act and the role of government should have in the average citizen's life. But if you had to ask me why I hate the war in Iraq, I'd show you this picture:

Or perhaps this one:

Or perhaps this one, which is the most recent one I have:

This is my little brother, EJ. And I know the fact that he's 22 means that he no longer qualifies as "my baby brother," but I did teach him to tie his shoelaces! He's a Sergeant First Class in the United States Army, and I'm incredibly proud of him.

He called Sunday night with bad news. I've been expecting it for several months, but I still didn't want to hear it. He's "going on a road trip with Uncle Sam to Iraq" again, and he's leaving the 21st. And you'd think that after nearly six years of "The War on Terror" on the nightly news, four years of having him in the Army, and two tours of combat duty, I'd be less worried.

But I'm not. Iraq is not a pretty place right now, and the idea of people shooting at my brother is not one I want to ponder.

After getting wounded last summer, and going through months of grueling rehab, EJ's ecstatic to be able to be serving with "his boys" once more. He told me, "I don't want to be one of those people who lives to be 90 and realizes, "Man, I've never done anything." I want to do something with my life, and I think this is it." And if I believe that God called me into nursing, then I have to believe that God can call my brother into the Army and rejoice with him in finding his purpose. But I really just want him to go there, do what he has to do, and come back safe.

God of All,
Please watch over the troops.
Ours, theirs, everybody's.
Bless them all--I'm not picky.
Give them a boring war.
One without the need for heroism.
Or posthumous medals.
Or brave acts of self-sacrifice.
Make them instruments of Your peace
In spite of their job description.
Give them Your wisdom,
To best know how to mend this broken world.
Please comfort the bereaved
And gather up the fallen in Your loving arms--
Regardless of color, creed, or ideology.
Watch over the troops, Lord.
Until Your children finally
Learn to stop killing each other in Your name.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

So where's the camera again?

I've been working on a wide variety of projects over the last few weeks. I've got several different spinning projects going, as well as four different pairs of socks on the needles, all in different stages of completion.

And once we got the camera back from Jon and Lindsay, I used the opportunity to snap pictures of most of my assorted works in progress.

Unfortunately, at the moment, I can't find our camera for love nor money. Which means that I can't transfer all of those lovely pictures from the camera to this blog.

So, once again, I'm going to attempt to distract you with the pictures Brian took recently that are already on our computer.

The woman in the blue shirt is my sweet-but-occasionally-demonic former roommate Sarah Maddox, who just graduated from Trevecca Nazarene University's PA (Physician's Assistant, for those who have not been brainwashed by the medical profession) program. We had a lovely time when she visited last month, complete with many conversations (for which our husbands smiled blankly and nodded obligingly) about antibiotic-resistant micro-organisms.

I participated in Black Purl's May Flower Power Swap last month. Sadly, I have yet to receive my flower-themed accessory from my secret pal. However, I am incredibly proud the necklace I contributed to the swap, which I hope my person will wear with pride.

I had to work Memorial Day weekend. However, then I got four days off in a row! So Brian and I drove to Powell Gardens over the state line in Missouri.

Due to the questionable intelligence of the Missouri Department of Transportation (I could do a complete new post on how the Missouri road system is causing me to think that perhaps one shouldn't elect officials whose IQ is lower than that of chimpanzees.) we had a very difficult time finding the place (We're starting to think that Missouri is called the "Show Me State" because the roads are so confusing that you need a local riding with you to give you directions when you go somewhere.)

Brian spent much of the time we were there experimenting with something I don't completely understand in order to better photograph flowing water. I'm not sure I'd know the difference between a focal length and an aperture if one bit me in the behind, but the final results are stunning.

And I'll end the post with my favorite picture from the trip: