Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book 11: Really Weird

Apparently I like weird books. Books that are random and creative and maybe a touch satirical. Slaughterhouse-Five, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, anything by Jasper Fforde. And now Popular Hits of the Showa Era by Ryu Murakami. I may not always understand what the heck is going on in the book (Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, I'm looking at you) but I can get pretty into them.
“The thing is,” said Ishihara, “we’re in a battle to the death with a group of aunties.”
I don't really like them too ridiculous (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was too ridiculous; Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters meandered a bit on the line) - just off enough to be interesting. And Popular Hits of the Showa Era totally qualifies. Basically, a group of mostly-20-something loser guys and a group of 30-something unattractive divorcees end up in a gang war with each other. It starts with a random murder and escalates into the destruction of a Tokyo suburb.
Nobue furrowed his brow again. This time he looked like a hippopotamus who’d accidentally sat in a puddle of hot mustard.
Yeah, it's fantastically random and yet, within the book, it makes total sense. Crazy. I really enjoyed the pacing of this, the randomness, the overall tone. It makes me want to read more by Ryu Murakami. And since I'm still not feeling the need to read more celiac- or diet-related books, I just might do that!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Chloe Hides Well

Hiding Chloe

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

More Socks!

For the past few weeks I've been working on a lace project with some qiviut yarn I got when we were in Alaska last year. It's not a complex lace pattern by any means but it does require a bit more attention than I can give at times. I've had some not-so-great-thinking days that even simple lace has been beyond me (and some decently thinking days where lace was beyond me if I was watching something other than a documentary), so I needed a secondary project to work on that wouldn't require much thought.

Yes. That means I made more socks.

van Gogh Socks

I actually also got this yarn when we were in Alaska last year but this isn't fancy like the qiviut. It is Opal sock yarn from their Vincent van Gogh series and I simply loved knitting with it. The colorway was called Der rote Weingarten in Arles, or The Red Vineyard, (based on this painting) but the colors reminded me of my second favorite of his paintings, Cafe Terrace at Night. (My favorite is Irises and is actually the reason irises are my favorite flower, not the other way around as most assume.) So each time I would grab this project and knit, I'd start mentally imagining van Gogh paintings in my head. It was like a little mental museum visit while knitting!

As for the sock-ular details, I did anatomical toes on these, using different increases than my Watermelon socks (but the same increase schedule) and I didn't do the increase in line but instead spaced them a bit randomly. I quite like the end result since it doesn't have the straight lines down the sides of the toe. Not a big deal, but something neat, I think.

I also did an afterthought heel, the first one I've ever done. I like how it ended up and how it fits, but I had big holes on the side of the heel when knitting it. I understand why it happened and tried to fix it on the second sock but still had an issue. Boo. All holes are now fixed but I'd really prefer it not happen, you know? That will likely keep me from using this heel again in the future.

Holes, aside, I quite like these socks and am very happy with the end results. I'm not even half way through my lace project so I'm sure I'll be able to get at least one more pair of socks done before that one is finished. I think Dan is up next with some blue and green striped ones.

These socks are number seventeen(or fifteen, depending on how we are counting) for those of you keeping track at home.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Mind Boggles

Yum?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Spot the Bitty

Spot the Bitty
...
...
...
...
Hiding Bitty

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Monday, August 11, 2014

Books Six through Ten: Read, Reading, Read

It's no surprise that celiac has greatly influenced my recent reading materials. It is kind of surprising (to me, at least) where I have ended up on my latest health-related reading jag.

It started with Gluten Freedom by Alessio Fasano. First off, completely awesome book. Seriously, read it. Forget about reading Green's celiac book. If you are going to read one celiac book, this should be it. New bible. Yes. It's easier to read but has more in-depth information. Great book. I wish Dr. Fasano was my doctor (but not enough to go to Boston.) Two thumbs up.

Anyway, in the book, Fasano mentions patients that don't respond well to a gluten-free diet. (Oh look, just like me!) He mentioned a special diet he puts those patients on that helps most of them, so I ended up reading a study he did about that diet. That's what my current restricted diet is based on (though it has migrated a bit as I react or don't react to things.)

Then I started reading about connective tissue disorders and lyme disease (because there was some thought that I had other non-celiac issues going on and a resurgence of my lyme disease was mentioned (though the tests have been negative - yay!)). Well, a treatment/management tool for lyme disease (and a whole bunch of other things) is a low inflammation diet. A... what? I had no idea what that was (other than apparently eliminating gluten - oh look, done!) so I ended up reading The Inflammation Syndrome by Jack Challem.

That one had borderline too much information but it turns out the anti-inflammation diet is quite similar to Fasano's diet so okay, I'm interested. Maybe Fasano's diet works because it eliminates all traces of cross-contamination or maybe it works because it focuses on anti-inflammatory foods. Either way, it sounds good and hey, if it works, I'm all for it.

It turns out both diets (regardless of the reasons particular foods are included in the "a-ok" list) are pretty darn similar to the fad, the Paleo diet. Given how much I object to fad diets on general principal, you know I just I loved that. But I'm also desperate (and pretty much following that diet already) so, I ended up reading The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain.

Seriously. Paleo diet. I feel a bit dirty but knowledge is power, right?

At this point in the reading chain, I wasn't expecting too much new information and I don't think I really encountered any. I mean, I've been running across Paleo things online for a while and felt I had a decent understanding of it and turns out I did so there was nothing earth shattering there. It wasn't quite in depth science-y, which I had been hoping for, but more fad-diet-y. So that wasn't awesome. Still, it had its interesting moments if the overall information wasn't shocking or shiny new to me.

One big complaint about the book though (aside from the whole fad diet thing): the author came across as massively arrogant. Everything was "I discovered this" and "my colleague So-and-so" like nothing of importance could possibly be attributed to anyone else - even other doctors and scientist in the field were only important because they were "my colleague". Yeah, that was off-putting even if the information being shared was interesting. And it was quite the contrast to Fasano's more humble style (and he's done a lot for celiac - he could crow a bit but doesn't. Sometimes it seemed that all Cordain did was crow. Ugh.)

Well, my mild dissatisfaction with that book led me to another Paleo book, The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson. It had footnotes! Much more what I was looking for. First off, the author didn't come across as arrogant. He did kind of push his website a bit, but not overly in a used-car-sales way.

The information was presented in a more logical and detailed fashion that the first Paleo (or Primal, whatever) diet book I had read so that was good. This one also walked the line more of "diet book" and "food book". Still not quite enough "food book" for me but I definitely preferred this book and would recommend it over the other. (Just in case anyone wants to read a fad diet book.)

And then rounding things out (but being more directly related to celiac), I also read Jennifer's Way by Jennifer Esposito, a gift from my delightful in-laws.

Reading her journey was pretty awful. I think I kind of cheated when it came to my celiac diagnosis. Hindsight, I was having gluten-related issues for about seven or eight months before being diagnosed, but so many people go seven to eight years. The only reason I wasn't diagnosed sooner is because I didn't go to the doctor sooner.

Of course, I was the one that asked them to include a celiac test. If I hadn't I could be on that same medical hide-and-seek others go through. But I knew I had the gene, I knew to ask. And it was positive. I totally lucked out (relatively speaking because, you know, autoimmune disease). I can only imagine what would have happened if I had not known to ask about that test as I was to the point in my reaction that I could barely walk. But my celiac horror story is remarkably short-lived. Unlike people like Jennifer Esposito. So yeah, really glad I missed the extended version!

As much as my road to diagnosis did not look like hers, I totally understood her post-diagnosis story. Food becomes the enemy? Fear at every meal? Yeah, totally get those. (I have no idea how long it will be before I decide to eat at a restaurant. I'm thinking never is a possibility.) And the detox and inflammation issues she death with? That is an experience I didn't get to skip! (And am still dealing with it.)

Honestly, at this point I think I'm kind of full up on celiac reading. I might next need to read something that doesn't make me contemplate my health. At least by this point I've pretty much figured out what my new diet is going to look like. No wheat or gluten (obviously), but no corn, no rice (I'm still having reactions to those two - corn (even in full vegetable form) now makes me feel like I've been drugged while rice makes me feet and hands hurt and swell. So far the reactions last about three to four days.), no dairy (sadly of any sort - even sheep and goat. Sadface.) There are still questions about things like potatoes - I think those are okay in small doses but do know that lots of potato chips are bad. Anyway, the food adventure will continue, even if the reading takes a slight more "for fun" bent for a little bit!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Say Hello to My Little Friend

I've been a bit stressed and grumpy lately from what seems to be an unending string of reactions, so I wanted to knit myself something happy-making. (I am working on a qiviut cowl which, while completely wonderful to pet, will not necessarily result in a fun, makes-me-giggle-like-a-child end product).

So I made myself a guinea pig.

Guinea Pig

Now this makes me giggle.

I haven't named him (her?) yet but I'm quite in love. It's about the size of my palm (a little smaller) and probably one of the most ridiculous things I've knit in recent memory. (Right up there with the knit crawfish and chicken.)

I have no idea what I shall do with it other than watch tv with it and keep the kitties from bitting his/her nose off. (It's apparently the thing the kitties want to do most. Except for Olive. Olive goes for the ears.)

In other news, I was tromping around outside and noticed that there's pretty much nothing blooming. There are a few tenacious green thread and vervain hanging about, but most everything has either gone to seed or is overgrown with grasses. There are some things that I'm hoping will be gayfeather but I saw something similar start to bloom and they had small yellow blooms so maybe we are gayfeather-less (which would be sad cause it's an awesome flower). Time will tell!

While I'm waiting to see what comes up in the gayfeather department (which will heavily influence when we mow over everything) we do have one potentially interesting plant popping up.

Eryngo

I think it is eryngo, but I'm not quite sure since it isn't purple. But it's just recently shown up so maybe it will turn purple. I'll be keeping an eye out!

Maybe our new guinea pig will help me watch.

Guinea Pig

ETA: I shall call him Gilly, short for Gilbert the Guinea Pig.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Summer Shearing

While my knitting has been winter-focused, I did do something more summer appropriate yesterday: I got a hair cut.

Haircut

My hair was down past mid-back - easily the longest it has ever been (even an inch or two longer than the longest I had it in high school). Dan guesstimates that I chopped off somewhere between nine to twelve inches.

I am beyond thrilled. I hadn't noticed until it was all gone how heavy my hair was. I knew that I would get a headache if I wore my hair up all day but I didn't realize the weight of it when it was down. And oh my, was it fabulous last night to be able to turn over in bed and not have to worry about wrenching my neck when my hair got caught under my back!

Yay shearing season!

(And yes, I have a lot of gray. Dan has already helpfully pointed that out.)

It's Not Socks

I just finished my most recent knitting project: a sweater! Yes, that's two sweaters finished this summer. I suppose it is better to finish them in summer and have them ready for winter instead of the other way around. And this one is definitely a winter sweater. My first official pull-over!

Brick Sweater

I'm pleased as punch with this one. I did some major adaptions to this, starting with using a lighter weight yarn and smaller needle. Then I converted this to a v-neck, which was a tiny bit nerve-wracking since I had never knit a v-neck before and thus only logically knew how they were to be created instead of being experienced in having created one. But I think it turned out fabulously!

One problem that I did run in to was yarn - I ran out! I had plenty of yarn to make the sweater if I used the right needle but since I used smaller needles (and thus had to follow the directions for a larger size - I followed the pattern for the 49" bust to get a 35" one), I ended up running out of yarn right as I got to the ribbing on the second sleeve. Thankfully, a lovely Raveler had a ball of the same yarn (in the same dye lot) that she was willing to sell me, so I was able to finish it exactly how I wanted to. Yay!

And in the theme of knitting winter wear in summer, I'm currently working on turning one of my Alaska souvenir yarns into a lace cowl. It's qiviut yarn and, along with being ridiculously expensive, it is soft and lofty - like knitting a cloud. Or a Gidgie. The beginning of the project was a bit touch and go since I had a horrible time with the provisional cast on, but once I conquered that, I have been making slow but lovely progress. Of course, it's lace and lace is kind of thinky, so I've also cast on for a knit guinea pig to work on when I can't keep the lace pattern straight. Because everyone needs a guinea pig.

Monday, July 28, 2014

We Mowed

Post-Mowing

Monday, July 21, 2014

Socks #16 (or #14. Whatever): Birthday Socks!

I'm not a big one for celebrating my birthday. When I was little, most of my school friends were gone on vacation so there were no big parties. When I was a teenager, there would be this massive pool party at my parents' house the weekend around my birthday but it wasn't for my birthday, it was an exchange student thing. Which was pretty awesome and we would have a cake during that, but mostly it was the massive number of exchange students that was awesome and my birthday was incidental.

Regardless, I do use my birthday as an excuse to justify buying myself something I want. This year? Socks!

Watermelon Socks

Okay, so I bought the yarn and made the socks, but the socks were my present to me so I had to, you know, knit them. Which I did. Just in the nick of time!

I thought watermelon socks were super appropriate since watermelon, summer and my birthday are all tied up together in my head. I don't know if I've really had lots of watermelons on my birthday or what, but watermelons make me think of summer by the pool. And gven that my birthday is smack in the middle of summer, I ended up associating the three.

But honestly, who wouldn't love watermelon socks, right?

This is the second pair of socks I've done an anatomical toe on. The first ones weren't tailor made for my foot, though, but rather a general anatomical toe. These though, I did math and made a chart made specifically for my toe shape and my knitting gauge. No seriously. I am that much of a sock knitting nerd right now. See?

Anatomical Toes Anatomical Toe Chart

But my nerdiness has paid off! The socks fit perfectly! Honestly, I might end up having to do this toe more often.

So happy (slightly early) birthday to me! Yay socks!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Nature Not in Our Yard

Dan's parents have been visiting this past week and we've tried to keep them from being too bored with the lack of excitement in our life. Entertainment has mostly consisted of pool time, but Saturday we took them to the nearby Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge. Dan & I had never been there before, but we definitely plan on going back in the future. Lots of nature! See?

Buttonbush
Viceroy Butterfly
White-lined Sphinx with Buttonbush
Spotted Beebalm
Squirrel Tree Frog
Ironweed
Praying Mantis
Day Flower

In other nature news (though this yard related) my dear mother-in-law has solved the mystery of what this plant is:

Pincushion Plant

I have been trying to figure out what it is for the past two months. Now I know - it's a Pincushion Plant (Scabiosa columbaria ‘Butterfly Blue’). YAY!

In creepy (nature center) news, check this out:

Daddy Long Legs Cluster

It's not bark or moss or fungus... it's a mass of daddy long legs. No joke. Big ball of spiders. Apparently, this is a thing daddy long legs do. Freaky.

(I took some other pictures at the nature center that aren't posted here. To see them, meander over to my Flickr.)