Pairs of socks knitted in 2014

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

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Family and Christmas insanity

In spite of the fact that so much snow has fallen on the Willamette Valley that snow chains are required to drive in downtown Portland, this is the largest amount of snow that my back yard has seen so far this winter. Thank God!

The other two "B's", Billy and Brad, came to visit a couple of weekends ago for the annual computer game festival. Now that everyone has steady jobs and significant others, it's a bit more difficult to find time to get all three of "the boys" together, but it's well worth the effort when the plantets and everyone's schedules align.

I love it when family comes to visit! And while I enjoy spending time with (most) of my and Brian's assorted relatives, there's no avoiding the fact that some visitors are more enjoyable than others. I love it when Mom and Aunt Tig visit, but life is just a bit wilder when Billy and Brad come calling. (Most of this is no doubt due to the fact that my parents do not stay up until 2am with us, swapping ribald stories and watching offbeat movies.)

They introduced Shirley to soda. No, no one let her drink any. But she had a blast playing with a full can of Fanta. If you refrigerate them, the rounded bottom rim of the cans make great teething objects.
She has also reached the "security object" stage of development. Specifically, the Mimi has developed a bizarre fascination with my socks, especially this one. (As though I wasn't feeling guilty enough about going back to work!) So she spent much of the morning crawling on the floor, soda in one hand and a sock clutched in the other chubby fist.

Now that she's walking by holding onto things, decorating for Christms has become a major challenge. We decided against a Christmas tree this year, but I did hang stockings and make the house look more festive. (What? You're saying that you don't have a dummy covered in chain maille to decorate for the holidays? Poor deprived souls!)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bedtime stories and counselling funds

Before Shirley was born, we started a counselling fund for her. As I see it, all parents WILL eventually make some stupid mistake that their children would benefit from a bit of therapy about. But good parents not only try to make different stupid mistakes than their parents did, but they also try to not make so many mistakes (or such catastrophic ones) that they won't be able to afford the shrink's bill.

In my more cynical moments, I have serious doubts about my ability to do the former. However, I realized that thanks to the power of compound interest, we should be able to do the latter if we started saving early enough. So every time Brian or I say or do something that could conceivably result in a need for therapy, we put some money in the jar.

How much money we put in the jar is directly proportionate to the severity of the offense. Saying "That's Mommy's little nudist!" as she's squirming wildly and protesting getting dressed in the morning--fifty cents. Saying "You're so happy being naked I worry you'll be a Playboy bunny when you grow up!"--empty your entire wallet into the jar right now. And then write a check to the fund for twenty bucks.

We average about fifty dollars a month.

This week, Audrey sent me a ginormous box filled with all kinds of fibery goodness. Cotton, five different colors of wool, and pretty close to a pound of light tan alpaca. (It's hard to tell how much. The only scale we own in this house is used for our ancient coin collecting fetish and therefore refuses to weigh anything heavier than 100 grams.)

I washed up the alpaca yesterday. I've never washed alpaca locks before, so I was slightly concerned that I might have felted it. But I divvied it up into a pile of natural-colored fiber for Pop, and dyed the rest of it in the oven with food-coloring.

Tonight, Shirley was being a real Screaming Mimi. Brian had to deal with the worst of her, as I went down for a nap about 1300 and didn't emerge from my blanket cocoon for another five hours or so. After she failed our "polite society" test several times ("Coo, and the world coos with you. Scream incessantly for no apparent reason, and you scream in your crib alone.") I finally resorted to feeding her and doing her bedtime routine an hour early.

Since Brad and Billy were here this weekend for the annual brotherly computer game festival, I've had very limited floor space for drying fiber. So the alpaca has been drying on towels in the only unused floor space in the house--under the Mimi's crib.

She wasn't calm enough to get to sleep yet, and I wanted to "fluffet" the fiber and spread it out so it could dry faster. Thankfully, it didn't felt too badly, just a little bit around the edges. It turned out so amazingly soft and fluffy that I was sorely tempted to spin it right then--until I remembered that the smell of wet alpaca is akin to the smell of wet dog as far as scents I want permeating the living room go

So I told the Mimi some stories, as she's more likely to overlook the fact that no one is holding her as long as someone is talking to her. And being short on inspiration, I just started rambling with whatever stories wandered into my head. El Cid, how Odin made some questionable decisions, and the less salacious bits of
Wagner's Ring Cycle. It settled her down nicely, but now I need to go stuff a ten in the jar.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Belated blogiversary

As I woke up un-wantedly this morning at 0530 (so much better than yesterday morning's awakening at 0230) I realized that I've had this blog for awhile. It's been over two years since I started it.

While I initially started it to create a better photo record of my stash and WIPs (and the rare, endangerd completed project!) as well as give Brian some relief from the regular babbling about fiber, it's somehow taken on a life of it's own. (Cue campy horror film music: "It's the Blog! AAAAAAAH!") And that's been a surprising source of support in the last several months of crazyness.

So to celebrate both the support and the blogiversary, the first two people to leave comments will get either handspun yarn or fingerless mitts (their choice) from handspun yarn.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The downside of democracy

Remember my impassioned plea of a few weeks ago to motivate people to get off their collective backsides and vote? It turns out that an unfortunate consequence of allowing people to vote for whomever they want is that they vote for whomever they want.

Por exemplo...

Sodaville, Oregon is about nineteen miles from where I live. (If anyone who lives in Sodaville is actually reading my blog I should probably appologize for this post, but you have to admit that this is pretty weird.) Thanks to the recent elections, it has a new mayor. Who also happens to have a criminal record stretching across a decade and three counties.

Tell me this isn't funny!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Back to being nocturnal

I've started working nights again. After working days at Mills-Peninsula and contintuously having my nursing "groove" interrupted by physical therapy, family members, speech therapy, physician rounds, telephone calls from family members, questions from family members who are present, etc. I'm very happy to be back on nights. It's a bit less friendly to my own personal sleeping and waking cycle, but I'm truly enjoying working a shift where the flow of the day fits better with my personal philosphy of nursing: Keep people's pain under control and let them get enough sleep to allow the body to heal.

I'm working at a local hospital, which thank God turns out to be the only one in the five-hospital constortium that offers 12 hour shifts. "Twelves" are rough on the nights I'm working, but leaves me with a lot more free time during the week with Brian and the Mimi than eight hour shifts do.

Mimi, by the way, is teething. She's got a visible tooth coming up on her lower jaw. She was much happier than usual this morning, and then turned into a complete Screaming Mimi this evening. I interpreted this evening's fussing as "I bit my tongue! And since I have absolutely no frame of reference for this event, I think it deserves a full-out four-alarm panic! WAAAAAAA!"

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Glad I borrowed a drum carder!

Last month, thinking I wanted to blend some of the wool I got from Carol's shop with some other fibers, I borrowed Pop's drum carder. (I'm too lazy to run upstairs and snap pics of the batts of Cotswold/soy silk/tussah silk I blended.)
Then, last weekend, we went to the Albany Oregon Natural Fun and Fiber Festival. (At least I think that's what it's called. I got distracted by the yarn before I had a chance to process the sign.)
I got to meet more spinners, and there's a spinning group on Mondays at the local senior center! I'll be working nights as of Sunday, so I might have a chance of going to the group meetings now and again.
Shirley was great at the festival. She babbled and cooed at everyone, and several of the ladies said how much they wanted to take her home with them. (I resisted the urge to blurt out "Please, take her!") Then, having exhausted all of her reserves of diplomacy, she turned into a Screaming Mimi and was a fussy irrational Mimi for the remaineder of the day.
I'm glad she's well behaved in public, but it'd be nice if she was on "good behavior" at home occasionally!
I picked up some amazing dyed Romney locks from the local farm Iron Water Ranch, which I'm plying with this "leftover batt" from Superior Fibers. (Charlotte says she calls them that because they're composed of bits of fibers from her commercial fiber processing and "I'm not sure what exactly's in there. I know there's some Shetland and alpaca and all kinds of stuff." Spins like a dream!) I'm not sure how it'll look when it's all done, but it's so much fun to work with!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Be afraid...

Very afraid. I just found this news story about a local girl who apparently has great difficulty maintaining a safe speed while driving. (Bonus: her defense to the state trooper who arrested her was that she "had trouble seeing while talking on her cell phone.")
Just when I was starting to get excited about not having to deal with San Francisco traffic...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Vote, dammit!

While I shamelessly use my blog as a platform to yak about whatever is bouncing through my head, I try to avoid mentioning the sorry state of American politics. (I haven't even brought up Dolores!)

But this last month has convinced me of two things: First, while I believe our American system is "fundamentally sound," it's got a lot of issues. But most importantly, it's convinced me that disengaging and whining is not going to make those issues go away.

These last eight years of the Bush administration have made me alternately very proud to be an American (all those heroic pictures from September Eleventh are quite moving) and equally ashamed to admit I'm American (Guantanamo Bay, need I say more?) But on Tuesday, we have a chance to do something about this crazy mess we call a democracy. We get to vote for someone else to be President.

I'll leave all the fancy words about "civic duty" and such to the poor saps who actually want to run this country. But if you aren't satisfied with how the country is doing and you don't bother to vote, don't bother whining.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

random photo

This is for La's contest. Celebrate her happy news with her!

Monday, October 20, 2008


Ever been too sick to knit? We caught a nasty cold at our house last week, and I'm still recovering. I've started knitting again, but am posponing new projects until I'm confident I can count reliably.

As befitting one lacking in fine motor skills, the Mimi does not knit. (I'm postponing teaching her until I'm certain the danger of her poking out her own eye with a knitting needle is past.) At this stage of development, her major form of entertainment consists of chewing on objects. If these objects are ones which her parents have told her are "no-nos" and will bodily remove her from, so much the better. (It's a challenge!)

Now that she's started crawling, picking her up and placing her on the other side of the room from the "attractive nuisance" only seems to encourage her to crawl right back to it. Perhaps she thinks it's a new game...

Here is a picture of her chewing on the blinds at the new house. While we have since rearranged our furniture to block off most of the blinds, she's still fascinated by them. She's also attracted to electrical cords, waste paper baskets, and (perhaps most disturbing of all) Brian's elderly slippers. I felt lunch coming up when I caught her gnawing on them!

Mom's old adage is proving true: "Your children will eat disgusting things that won't make them sick in the slightest--but you'll feel mighty queasy watching them!"

Monday, October 13, 2008


The movers broke contract several times, charged us outrageously, and were several days later than they'd originally told us they would be, but our stuff is here! Most of it, at any rate. Given that the movers tried to give us several boxes from another family, I have my doubts as to whether or not all of our boxes reached us.... Still, the important thing is, my fiber is here!

I have a job lined up, but it doesn't start until November. That, combined with the amazing economic gyrations the world markets have been doing over the last several weeks, has caused me to view my yarn and fiber stash in a completely different light.

Anyone interested in doing a fiber or yarn swap? It's just like shopping online, but cheaper, as all you have to worry about is postage.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

How I spent my September vacation

Right after Labor Day, we drove 590 miles north to visit Brian's parents. Shirley had a fantastic time, as this effectively doubled the number of people available to hold her.

We also managed to introduce the Mimi to Brian's adopted grandmother Shirley. So far, we've introduced her to two out of her three namesakes!

Then, Brian's mom drove back to San Francisco with us to help us pack. We took a couple of days off to see some of the sights of the city, such as an exhibit at the De Young art museum by my favorite sculptor. Extra points if you can guess who it is and spell his name correctly!

(Although he's really not a bad painter.)

This is from his Persian Ceiling installation. It was like imersing myself in colored light. The entire room pretty much looked like this:

We have safely reached our new home in Albany, Oregon, for those of you who were curious. I will be regularly posting vacation pictures until the novelty of them wears off or I locate the camera so I can take pictures of my current knitting projects.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Baby pics

The Mimi has discovered her feet. She's also about 16 pounds now, so she finally fits the cute hat and sock set that P made for her and sent all the way from the UK. (P wins the award for the longest distance to send a baby gift from.)

Saturday, August 30, 2008


It's been a lousy month. We were blind-sided by church politics and will be moving soon. So while we're trying to sort out where we're moving (The front-runner is Corvallis, Oregon because it's close enough to Brian's family that we can hang out with them yet far enough away that we have a bit of distance.) I'm making a list of blessings.

A lot of people at the church have gone out of their way to show support for Brian. And perhaps responding to my "denial is bliss" approach to church politics, most of the church members haven't changed how they treat me or Shirley.

Dad's doing better and at a rehab hospital.

I don't have to work at [Fill in the Blank] hospital! Ever since the day when I had a 78 year old man who'd had his gallbladder out and he was my healthiest patient, I knew that my current job was leading to nursing burnout. (Out of any given five patients on my floor, at least one will be on hemodialysis, three will be diabetic, two will be incontinent, four will be obese, and all of them will be so weak that they can't walk safely unassisted.) Since the last move demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that working until just before the move is not conducive to sanity, I gave my two weeks notice two weeks ago. While I've got a lot of boxes to pack, not having to go spend ten hours a day at a job that makes me feel like a failure at nursing is a huge blessing.

The RNs at [Fill in the Blank] hospital have a contract! After two strikes, fifteen months without a union contract and God only knows how many ineffective negotiations between the administration and the union, [Name of Corporation], the California Nurses Association and the hospital have come up with a new contract that they both can live with. (Because irony is a cruel mistress, the announcement that they'd reached an agreement came the exact day I turned in my letter of resignation.)

I received a new box of wool! Carol over at the Sheep Shed Studio offers a pound of mixed-color Cotswold locks for $12.50! I used my mad money to buy a couple of pounds, sorted the colors according to the color wheel, and have been spinning my way through the red-orange-yellow locks. (I still have a bag of pink-purple-blue-and blue-green-yellow to process.) It's pretty much endless entertainment for twenty five dollars.

At first, the locks look like this:

Then I beat the locks with a flick carder to open them up and remove the bits of vegetable matter. (Apparently sheep hang out in places where there's grass. Who knew?)

I spin serendipitously, grabbing small handfuls of each color out of the box. Then I ply it with itself. The final yarn looks like this:

I have no idea how much I'm going to end up with for a final product. So far I've got about 250 yards and about half the box left. Should be enough for a hat and mittens or something like that.

The Mimi has figured out how to put large objects reliably in her mouth. While this means that we have to keep her in the play pen (another huge blessing, as Jim just gave it to us) while we're packing, it also means that she's growing more able to amuse herself without someone holding her.

Friday, August 29, 2008


I just read the most heart-warming tribute to nurses--and from a MD! You can check it out here. The Happy Hospitalist's words made me feel incredibly proud to be a nurse--and even more determined that my next nursing job will have adult patients who can walk, talk intelligibly, and take care of their own bathroom needs.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Babysitting and funeral-crashing

Brian and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary on Friday. Since I had to work Friday, I tried to find someone crazy enough--I mean willing--to watch Mimi on Saturday so we could celebrate together.

Most of the people who have watched for us before were on vacation or at camps, so I was afraid I wouldn't be able to find a sitter. Out of sheer desperation, I asked Mary, one of the ladies from church. She replied that she'd love to watch Shirley, but had to go to a funeral Saturday.

So I resigned myself to a Mimi-filled weekend. An hour later, however, Mary called back. "I talked to the kids, and we'll just take her with us to the funeral."

Then she proceeded to tell me that we could just leave the kid with them all day and "you can pick her up after your dinner about 8 or 9pm," and that she didn't want paid. At this point, I wanted to hug her, and offer to do all her laundry for the week.

Brian and I had a lovely day doing touristy things in Santa Cruz. When we retrieved the baby from the Lam's, I asked how their day had gone. "She was great--she didn't cry once!"

I'm sure I made some sort of slack-jawed face at this remark. It took a bit before intelligible sound came from my mouth. "Not even during the funeral?!"

"No, and everyone said they'd never seen such a good baby. But don't worry--we didn't hold her all day long. She sat on our laps for some of it."

(Brian and I would consider that "holding," but pointing that out seemed in remarkably bad taste. The important thing is that she was in a good mood for going out in public.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Perhaps I should mention that my patient who died was a Do Not Recussitate patient and therefore checking to make sure she was "really dead" was the right thing to do. If she'd been a Full Code I would have started CPR, pushed the big blue button in the wall, and had someone go grab the crash cart.

Monday, August 11, 2008

can't sleep

It's been a lousy week, and it's only Monday! (Although to be fair, my week started on Saturday due to my work schedule.)

I have a cold. My brain feels as though it's stuffed with cotton, and my nose is running constantly. Yesterday, I started coughing so hard I threw up in a patient's bathroom. Haven't done that since I was pregnant!

One of my patients died on Saturday. Although it was expected, it's never good when the CNA says "She's not breathing and I can't get a blood pressure on her." And while she was totally past caring, putting my stethescope on her still chest and listening for the required full minute to make sure she was truly gone was possibly the most awkward thing I've ever done in the name of nursing.

My father is having a bad congestive heart disease flare up and is in the ICU at one of the big hospitals up north in Spokane. We're not particularly close, but it's hard not to worry.

And to top it off, I've been dealing with idiot doctors all weekend.
[Said doctor, after I called about really lousy blood pressures in a patient:] "She's probably orthostatic, just watch her."
Me: "But her blood pressure goes down to 71/38 when she's sitting up--do you want to do anything else?"
Doctor D.: "No, just watch her."

Me: "The patient hasn't had a bowel movement since the third, and milk of magnesia isn't working."
[Different patient, same attending physician:] "What do you want me to do about that?"

But the disturbing doctor quote of the month comes from Doctor G., who's one of the hospital's vascular surgeons. He's a brilliant surgeon, but his order sets are somewhat lacking. He's notorious for forgetting to write an order for a diet after the patient's surgery, leading to calls from the nursing staff wondering "what do you want us to feed the patient?" Apparently we'd called him recently, because I had the following conversation with him a couple of weeks ago:

"I'm a surgeon. I do surgery. When my cell phone goes off, I assume it's because someone's bleeding out."
As I stood there, attempting valiantly to keep my poker face plastered on, he apparently mistook my silence for agreement, for he continued on. "If they need a diet order, call the hospitalist. Or just write something. I'm a pretty relaxed guy--write something and I'll sign it!"

Saturday, August 2, 2008

stuff in the mail!

Two weeks ago, as I was in mid-whine about cramps and periods and "why don't heating pads have a setting hotter than high?" I received a lovely prize package from Barbara.
Not only did she send me a Baby Surprise Jacket kit, but also a (signed!) copy of one of her books. It didn't make the cramps go away, but it really helped with the whining.

As promised, here is a picture of the finished Tour de Fleece silk: (Yes, I realize that it is wound around a picture frame. One of these days I'll get around to making/buying a niddy-noddy, but this works fine for now.) 215 yards of silk, now wound on a bobbin (known as a toilet paper roll in other households) awaiting something to ply it with.

On Thursday, we were awakened by the Screaming Mimi. Some time between her 0615 feeding and sunlight hitting the living room, she had managed to kick off all of her covers. After waking up cold and with a full diaper, she announced her displeasure to the world. Brian changed her, and handed me the 13 pound ice pack to warm up.

She cheered up promptly, but this is what I look like without caffeine.

In other news, the neighbors had a yard sale last month. And for under ten dollars, I managed to pick up an eight quart enamel stockpot, and a 12 quart one. With lids! I'm going to use them for dying fiber, (hooray for non-reactive cookware!) but they do a good job of amusing Mimi as well.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Crampy and cranky

As much as I hated the last month or so of pregnancy, the hiatus from menstruation for fifteen months was fantastic. Not bleeding and feeling crampy for 25% of every month was wonderful.

Unfortunately, my "friend" made a sudden reappearance this week. (Where did we get that euphemism, anyway? What sort of "friend" makes a woman want to grab a weapon and go to the grocery store screaming "give me all your chocolate and no one gets hurt!"?)

The bleeding is annoying, but it's all part of womanhood. The cramping, however... I'm sure "incapacitating" is probably a bit of hyperbole, but I've spent the last two days sitting on the couch with a heating pad. Not only have I been too ill to knit, but the only reason dinner happened at all yesterday was because all I had to do was throw spareribs, tomato sauce, and a can of peaches in the crock pot. Fortunately, the last two days were my "weekend" off from work.

I'm supposed to be at work right now, but as I've been using the Lortab left over from my C-section to keep the pain under control, I called in sick today. I know how short-staffed they are and I hate to make it worse, but if non-narcotic pain killers aren't touching the cramps, I have no business taking care of other people today.

I don't think it's worth adding a new family member, but I'm really starting to get nostalgic about pregnancy and not having a period for at least nine months. Guess it's time to call my sister-in-law and see how the fetal boxing practice is going.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I managed to spin up 215 yards of silk for the Tour de Fleece, so I'm very proud of myself. No pictures yet, as I'm not quite sure where the camera is.

After all the stress at work (I'm reluctant to go into details here, but let's just say that it's time to re-evaluate what sort of nursing I'm best at. I'm starting to get very frustrated and burnt out caring for patients who are so constantly chronically ill that the best I can hope for them is that they go back to the nursing home.) it's very nice to have some nice, tangible proof that I'm talented at something--even if it's merely "playing with string."

Speaking of "string", what's better than silk string? Free string from people you've never met! Through the magic of her random number generator, I won one of Barbara's Yarnapalooza prizes. I can't wait to see what she sends me.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

First words

Shirley has hit that developmental stage where she's started babbling. She talks to us, the radio, her hands, her toys--anything that strikes her fancy. She spent most of the time I was watching her before work Saturday talking to our bookshelves!

But it's always "ah-goo gaba gaba" sort of stuff. Nothing remotely recognizeable as any form of English, even babytalk.

Except for yesterday. Yesterday as she was in mid-fussing to be picked up, she said "me me me!"
Brian and I were shocked and wondering if we'd really heard what we thought we'd heard. Sure enough, thirty seconds later, it came again: "Mimi!"

Good thing we didn't commemorate her personality by nicknaming her something profane!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Tour de Fleece

Le Tour de Fleece begins today.

And while I'd like to do something outrageous like spin 1200 yards of the amazing cashmere/silk Brian gave me for Christmas, I don't have the luxury of taking three weeks off to do nothing but spinning.

So I'm setting somewhat more (hopefully) manageable goals.

1) Spin at least 200 yards of silk

to use as a reinforcing ply for when I get around to using this

superwash wool to make sock yarn.

2) Spin something every day, even if it's just 5 yards.

Sleep on Shirley, sleep on!

4th of July 2007

Just like last year, I had to work on 4th of July. This year, however, was a boring, normal shift. Which was a blissful change from the insanity of last year's holiday.

There are some things in health care which don't happen very often. So when they do, people generally shrug and say "guess it was about time." However, when several of those things occur on the same night (and the moon is full to boot) people start muttering more loudly.

Last year, on the 4th of July, I was six weeks pregnant with the Mimi, and having morning sickness. (Although I was completely in denial about the possibility of pregnancy, as I wasn't as sick as I'd been with the first one.) In addition to that, I also had a very strange patient load.

One of them discovered the hard way that yes, you can be allergic to Benadryl. Thankfully she survived the experience just fine.

And then there was the pregnant teenager who was having a sickle cell crisis...

But the patient who sticks out the most in my mind from that bizarre holiday weekend was the one I'll call "Joe." Joe learned the hard way that alcohol impairs your ability to tell if venomous snakes make good pets.

Joe was a local college student. And he and his buddies had been out drinking to celebrate the nation's independence. As alcohol is a diuretic, he soon had to heed the call of nature. (Bet you can guess where this is going...) As he was using the bushes, he saw a small snake.

(Wait, it gets better!) Because he had pet snakes at home, he thought this one might make a nice addition to his reptilian menagerie. So he tried to pick it up--and got his hand bitten for his troubles. After instinctively stomping the snake to death, he realized it was a copperhead. Although still lightly "buzzed," he had the presence of mind to put the dead snake in a Ziplock bag for official identification.

Arriving home, he had his mother drive him (and the dead snake) to the emergency room. By the time he got to my floor, his hand and arm were swollen to about four times their normal size. But after several days in the hospital and a round of CroFab , he was recovered enough to go home.

I really hope Joe had a much better 4th of July this year!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Psycho patients

The title says it all. Specifically, the title says that I'll probably be getting an e-mail from the people at NAMI pointing out that such language is demeaning to people with mental illness.

They're right, but I don't care. Why? Because this last week at work was truly characterized by my psycho patients.

Midway through last week, I had a patient who was actively suicidal. And I've had many suicidal patients over the years, and the routine is the same no matter what hospital I've been working for--get the patient a sitter (just like a baby sitter, but for adults!), get a psychiatry consult ordered, and encourage the patient to tell you if the suicidal thoughts/feelings get worse. Above all, keep the patient from harming themselves or other people. But this gentleman was different. Specifically, he tried to jump off the fire escape. (Have I mentioned that I work on the 8th floor?)

I'd gotten a free moment to chart at the charting desk, and was taking advantage of it. Then I had to go to the main nursing station for something. When I got there, three or four security guards were escorting my patient back to his room. Apparently he'd managed to out-run the sitter and dashed out the emergency fire exit. He was holding on to the railing when the sitter and one of the other nurses managed to drag him back into the building. I hope he does better on the [locked] inpatient psych unit....

So when I had a different suicidal patient later on in the week, I was prepared. I politely but firmly told her that the sitter was for her own protection and would be staying with her at all times. The first day I had her as a patient, she wasn't happy, but she tolerated the sitter. The next day, she started telling me how not only did she not need the sitter (she didn't deny the suicidal part, just the need for a sitter) but that she didn't want the sitter to be privy to "confidential information."

"Ms. ----, I know you're a very private person. And that's why Mary Lou will be wearing earplugs." I handed the sitter a box of earplugs. "But she's still going to be in the room with you."

Shortly thereafter, Ms. ---- "fired" me as her nurse and demanded a new nurse for the rest of the shift. I wonder if she was disappointed when she discovered that having a different nurse didn't change the fact that she had a sitter?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Is sports a religion?

It's summer-time, and that means only one thing at our church--time for CCU. The Chinese Christian Union's summer sports are in full swing, and our church has at least seven different teams participating.

This means that Brian's schedule for evenings this week looks something like this:
Monday: Recreation League Volleyball 7:25pm, 8:55pm
Tuesday: Competitive League Volleyball 6:30pm, 8:15pm
Gold Division Basketball 8:30pm
Wednesday: Bronze Division Basketball 7:30pm
Friday: Youth Division Basketball 8:30pm

Now when the Good Lord was creating mankind and passing out athletic ability, He looked at my family and said, "Why make them embarrass themselves in public?" and passed us over. Consequently, I don't play sports. I scream loudly at any game I go to, but I'm not very "athletically inclined."

But sometimes, this disinclination towards sports makes me feel isolated from the rest of the congregation. I love my church, but from time to time I really feel like a fish out of water. (It's like the plot of a strange reality TV show: Take one redneck woman, place in an urban church in San Francisco...)

For example, at Friday's basketball game, I was sitting next to one of the teenage boys from our church. And this is what I heard him yelling: "Look at the muscles on Tony-he got them from Taiwan!"

Now I know full well that fourteen year old boys yell all kinds of strange things in public, whether or not it's at a sporting event. But what on earth is that supposed to mean?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

science ficiton and real life

Through the miracle of modern medicine, Dr. Hsu blasted my kidney stone with a laser today, and now I already feel better. Still can't go back to work until after the follow-up visit next week (or I'm off the Lortab, whichever one results in me being off Lortab sooner) so I'll be minding the offspring fulltime until I get back to work so Brian gets a break.

Tomorrow, we're going to go on an expedition to the wilds of the Ortega St. Library so I can return my overdue books and see how much my fines are. One of those "learn by example" experiences for Shirley. "See, Mimi, this is what happens when you wind up in the hospital and forget what week it is..."

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mind-blowing cuteness!

It's a good thing that Shirley (whom we have taken to calling "Mimi," as in "Do you want to deal with the Screaming Mimi or should I?") is cute. Remember how I thought she was teething a month or so back? The pediatrician says I was mistaken. Apparently screaming herself to sleep for 45 minutes before every nap is just part of her personality.

She's a very social person. The more people paying attention to her, the happier she is. She loves church because someone is always holding her. As far as she's concerned, Sunday is the day we gather together to celebrate her cuteness. (And until she's old enough to understand the real reason, I'm content that she associates church and feeling loved.)

Unfortunately, when we aren't having relatives descend upon us, there's just Brian and I here at home. And we have to do boring things like cooking, laundry, and cleaning the house. So there's a limited amount of time available for snuggling with Mimi. And the comparative lack of an audience is very disappointing to our little drama queen.

Every morning at about 0430, Brian and I have the same conversation. "She's clean, dry, in a fresh outfit, and I just fed her. Any screaming is because she's bored and wants company." Some nights we get lucky and she goes right back to sleep after feeding, but usually she howls for at least a half hour before she falls asleep.

So it's a very good thing that she's cute, as it makes the random fussiness much easier to deal with. Many people comment on her cuteness. And I know much of it's just social programming, but it's still good to know that (so far, at least) no one is going to confuse my child with Sasquatch.
But by far the weirdest praise for Shirley comes from Dr. Hsu, the urologist when he met with us before Saturday's surgery: "What a cute baby--she's gonna be a heartbreaker. Buy a shotgun NOW!"

Sunday, June 15, 2008

home again

The procedure to put the stent in yesterday went well. Unfortunately, however, they weren't able to retrieve the stone. But since I'm no longer dizzy, puking, or requiring IV pain meds, they sent me home. Theoretically I'll be having a different surgery in a week or so to definitively remove the stone.

In the meantime, I'll be off work, on Lortab, and trying to manage to get some housework done in between the regular drug-induced naps. Wish me luck!

Friday, June 13, 2008

The view from the inside

The view from the inside is pretty boring. And the people on the People's Court are pretty stupid. However, the CT scan results are back--and I DO have a kidney stone. It's 4mm X 5mm, according to the nice urologist who was kind enough to call me on my room phone to explain what was going on. Weirdly enough, the stone is on the right, even though the back pain has been most severe on the left.

So tomorrow they're going to try to manually retrieve the stone (thank God I'll be heavily sedated for this process!) and put a stent in. Should be interesting.

An insider's view?

At the moment, I'm at the hospital. Specifically, I'm at the one I work for. Unfortunately, I'm a patient right now.

After narrowly avoiding passing out during the morning medication pass yesterday, I spent the rest of my shift in the emergency room before they decided to admit me overnight. The doctors are pretty sure I don't have a kidney infection or kidney stones like they originally thought--but they still don't know what caused all my troubles yesterday morning.

So while I'm waiting for the CT results, I'm watching reruns of the People's Court and knitting a sock. Thank God for free Internet access in the hospital rooms, or I'd probably be going completely stir-crazy.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Random Relatives

Billy came to visit a couple of weeks ago. While Thanksgiving is the traditional time for brotherly video game festivals, the boys weren't able to coordinate their schedule last year.

So this time, in addition to the traditional electronic entertainment, Brian and Billy went hiking.

Which meant that Billy got to hike four miles with an added 10 pounds of cuteness attached to his chest (Brian carried our offspring the other seven miles) and now I have more beautiful pictures on the computer of woods and treeish things.

And here is Brian and Billy with our dear friend Katie. Nazarene pastors, all of them. I couldn't be prouder. I don't know where the future of the church is headed, but with them involved, it certainly should be interesting!

For Pop's birthday next month, everyone pooled their money to buy him a better canoe. And through the miracle that is, we wound up getting it from a guy in Fremont across the Bay. So for Memorial Day weekend last week, Pop and Penny drove down to pick up the canoe.

(This is what happens when I get vague instructions like: "Take pictures of the baby and the canoe and send them to my parents.")

We went to the Aboretum and the Conservatory. I'm waiting for my next shipment of fiber from the Yarn Barn to show up so I can translate all this into fiber. Can you say "dye-fest"?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Feeling Photogenic

Usually, I don't let people take pictures of me without makeup. And when they do, I don't post them on the blog. (With the possible exception of the first picture of Shirley. But apart from experiencing overwhelming maternal pride, I also had a lot of narcotics in my system at the time.) But I had to show this one off:

And the baby looks cute too.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Can I laugh at this?

One of the awkward things about growing up in Whitman County is that it's really white. (86.5%, according to the US Census. ) In fact, it wasn't until 2000 that they decided to change the name of a prominent local landmark to "Negro Creek Falls." (Yes, the previous name was what you think it was.)

Consequently, there's a lot of times when I feel as though the word "redneck" is permanently tattooed on my forehead. I try to not act like one, but the baggage is always there.

Living in such a cosmopolitan area as San Francisco, I'm acutely aware of the differences between my upbringing and many other people's. And sometimes they're really funny. But I'm always afraid to laugh at them for fear of drawing attention to my own "redneckedness."

For example, a lot of the nurses I work with are originally from the Philippines. Most of them were educated there and then moved to the US, although many of the younger ones moved here as children with their families. The other day, as I was on my break at work, I overheard the following conversation (names have been changed to protect the innocent) between two of the Filipina nurses:

"Is Steven [one of the yonger male nurses on night shift] Mexican?"
"No, he's Filipino."
"Wow, he's really good looking for a Filipino man--are you sure he's not Mexican?"

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"Breast is Best!"

Although all the infant development books swear she's at least a month early, it looks as though Shirley has started teething. Suddenly, I feel no urge to breastfeed her.

Why? Because even at the best of times this whole breastfeeding thing has been as though Society is pressuring me to allow a small rabid woverine to bite my nipples off several times daily. And when I've expressed reservations about this practice, Society has begun lecturing me on how vitally important it is that I do what's best for the wolverine.

Thank God for my breastpump. It allows me to give Shirley most of the benefits of breastfeeding while avoiding the puncture wounds.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Roadtrips and Relatives

It's been a bit since my last post, for a variety of reasons. (One of them has been fussing nonstop for the last hour.)

Also, visitors who came to admire both the city and the baby.

This is Kara and Caitlin, who are from Nome. Kara and her two other sisters visited us at the Bed and Breakfast last year during their spring break. This year, Caitlin was able to come, but Meghan and Hayley weren't. They'd been planning to visit us March 22-29th since before we knew we were expecting Shirley. And once we knew we were moving here to San Francisco, that just meant that they'd be coming here rather than to Overland Park.

So we took them to Golden Gate Park, etc. (Here's a picture of them in front of the DeYoung museum.)

Then Mom came to visit the next week. She spent most of the time cuddling with Shirley, which meant that I was able to get caught up on laundry for the first time in a decade or so.

And the obligatory stalking the baby for pictures photo.

And my latest pair of socks (finished last night!) and the offspring. Brian says I'm "forcing my hobbies" on our daughter, but I just think the sock wanted its picture taken with the most beautiful thing in the house.

Wednesday, we went on "Baby's First Road Trip" to Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

California might not be so bad after all.