September 2011 archive

Start the Ball Rolling

this ball won’t run away from me!

After what felt like weeks of spinning (really about 2.5 weeks in all in all), I finished the incredible batt of mohair/wool fiber that dear Arleigh sent me, dyed by a friend of hers, Leola! What is more, I set it warm water (to make sure it wouldn’t twist back on itself!), stretched it for awhile (as it was super dee duper curly!) and today finally put yarn loops on the back of a chair and then proceeded to put the yarn into a ball. Wow that was a lot of work! Sheer the animal, wash the fiber, pick and card the individual fibers, dye the fibers, spin the fiber, set the fibers, and ball. I only had to do 3 of those things. Imagine if you followed the process start to finish. How rewarding! I am very pleased with how it turned off…for singles (meaning only one strand, versus many strands making up a thicker yarn) it is very evenly spun (meaning that it is almost all the same thickness!). I have no idea what it’s going to look like knit up, so I just can’t to figure out what I can make with it and cast off!

top view

Unlike a lot of mohair yarns, this one is very soft and dreamy, which has mostly to do with the animal and perhaps from where on the body it was harvested. It is mixed with sheep wool too, which would help add softness. The yarn has a wonderful sheen to it, and it almost sparkles in the light. Spinning handspun yarn is supposed to be one of the most enjoyable experience out there for a knitter. I can’t wait to report back all the wonderful bonuses of knitting with your own yarn. All that treadling and sweating paid off enormously, and I feel very proud of myself. I feel that in the coming weeks/months I might have to ease back on the amount of spinning I’m doing per week, because the IV meds exhaust me.

I am already noticing icky affects from the medication. The most annoying being that I am very tired and lethargic, and that my mouth tastes of rubber bands and deceased mice all the time. Because IV meds enter through the bloodstream, and because my dosage is so high, I can taste the medicine through the tiny spider webbed blood vessels in my tongue and nasal passage. It would be much more fascinating if it wasn’t my own mouth. These vessels are very close to the surface in this area…maybe that’s why it can be tasted? I wonder if anyone else has noticed this while taking Clindamycin? I did a bit of research about it and a lot of people mentioned a bitter taste. This seems a bit non-specific to me, because for me it so very clearly tastes like rubber bands…as though I have been chewing on them in place of gum. My naturopath said that people who can taste the saline and heparin flushes (done before and after IV) have trouble detoxing. I found this an interesting principle and wonder if it also applies to the medicine, or maybe it’s just caused from a side effect.

Yesterday when I had yoga class with Barbara, I had to take lots of breaks because I was so exhausted. Bringing my arms and legs up made me feel so weak and faint, something I haven’t been complaining about in previous weeks. I was so exhausted after the practice, rather than feeling energized. This is disappointing and frustrating, but hopefully as my body becomes more adjusted to the rhythms of the medication this will improve? It will be interesting to see what happens when I am off the IV meds for 3 days (we ‘pulse’ 2 weeks on, 3 days off).

The Far Reach of Dear Big Brother & the Octopus

Another day with a mix of sun and clouds. As long as there ratio of blue sky to clouds leaves room for the sun to poke through, it’s a good day. We went to a Smart Meter rally at the legislative buildings. All homes in BC are going to have a Smart Meters installed, a program which started in July, and is projected to be finished by the end of 2012. It isn’t really an option, and there was no discussion with the public before this decision was made. Scientists are pointing in both directions about whether or not EMF’s (electromagnetic field) causes negative health problems. For me, this is an important question, but having the right to choose to have a Smart Meter at your house or not is equally important right now. I have the choice to smoke, or not to smoke, to eat healthy or unhealthy foods, to ride a motorcycle, or not to, and I used to have the choice to use wireless technology or not to. If you feel something is damaging to your health, or could be, like smoking, the foods we eat, or riding a motorcycle (I just picked 3 hot topics, but you could interchanged them with any risk-related choices), then you have the right to opt-out of these things. It’s a choice, and my family, and many others, would like to choose to not have a Smart Meter. It should be that simple, but it’s not.

We received some lovely letters from BC Hydro, ensuring us that there was no danger from Smart Meter technologies, and that even the Health Minister assured citizens that there was no risk. As if the Health Minister has never been wrong! Remember, there used to be no health risk in smoking, handling mercury and asbestos, or the cocaine in cough syrups, to name a few.

If the health affects don’t concern you, or you think the science isn’t all there, reasons of privacy might convince you that the Smart Meters aren’t such a sweet deal. The devices transmit information about the goings on in your house…it doesn’t take a genius to judge from your power consumption when you are home, or not home, what kind of appliances you are using, how often you get up in the night…that sort of thing. Power companies can remote shut off your power, or turn off specific appliances. By closely monitoring our power consumption, power companies can decide what times to charge more for power (when people are using it the most). And the only thing standing between your personal data, and hackers, is encrypted user data. Ann Cavoukian, The Privacy Commissioner of Ontario assured residents that, “The best response is to ensure that privacy is proactively embedded into the design of the Smart Grid, from end to end.” Thank goodness BC Hydro’s “privacy principle will remain the same“. We’re being well looked after. Big Brother is making sure that we are safe, we’ll pay less, we’ll save energy, and they’ll fix outages sooner. It sounds almost too good to be true!! Oh wait…it is. 

recycled side panel
waste-not waistband

On a lighter note, I also got to work on my Octopus Tee-shirt Skirt this afternoon! I am nearly finished, and am really pumped with how it turned out. I always felt the octopus tee shirt would make a super awesome skirt, because putting an octopus on any article of clothing obviously increases its’ awesomeness ten-fold. I love that I found a use for the legs of my old jeans (after turning them into shorts!). I saw the legs sitting in the cupboard and thought, “Oh my. How fetchingly that color goes with my octopus!”, and figured placing side panels would give me some much-needed stretch and only add to the stylish nature of this getup. The waistband was crafted from the bottom of a faded, stretchy black Jacob tee, which was much too small and closer to gray in color than black anymore. I got many years of loving out of that top, and now can use it to make a few more waistbands. As always, would love your feedback! I have only basted it together, so the final sewing will happen later! Can’t wait to rock my new look in the street of Victoria. And hopefully on my own two feet (as if I needed another incentive to walk, but skirts look awesome when their human is standing!).

It’s alliiiiiiivvvve!

Reflections in a looking-glass pool

Underwater life animated on a historic building

I thought that the days of summer were truly over, but today the sky was an exhilarating riot of vivid blues, stormy grays and white. A mix of sun and clouds, with a touch of rain, and the occasional brilliant-eye-squinting ray of sunshine. Dad and I went down to the Inner Harbour, walking along one of the few paved paths in Victoria that is in a moderately tranquil location.

Regal Parliament, resting on borrowed lands

We walked along the smooth path, taking in the sights like any good tourist. It is noisy in the Inner Harbour, with the sea planes taking off towards the distant mountain, motor boats tootling around, people laughing and skateboarding, biking, dogs.

no school like zee old school

The one thing that you must listen hard to find, to separate it from the roars of city life, is the sound of the ocean, persistently lapping against the raised concrete path. I wonder what this place looked like before the shoreline was smoothed out and raised up. Were there beaches paved over, and did they use the smooth pebbles littering those ancient beaches to decorate the gray cement? A small piece of the bay is still intact, where you can see the remnants of crystal pools of green water, which carve holes in the rock-face. There are no big waves that rock into the Inner harbour any more. Not since the extension and creation of the breakwater, a few kilometers away. The water feels almost stagnant, until some boat or plane disturbs its’ surface. Just remember that this water is also full of raw sewage, one of Victoria’s very dirty secrets. Yes, that’s right, in the historic capital of this great province, our toilets flush right into the once pristine coastal waters. Pollutants don’t belong here. Not anywhere.

looking-glass pool
We strolled across the Blue Bridge, a first for me. I’ve never crossed from Esquimault to Victoria on foot or wheels. From there, Solstice Cafe, a haven of organic and homemade (many vegan!) delights, is just a few stoplights and a hill away. Steaming cups of rich cocoa, and a granola bar. Isn’t that the definition of culinary heaven? 
history unknown
I have always been fascinated by this building front on Pandora. Only the historic front remains, an eerie skeleton, a face with no body, a lid without a box. Ironically someone painted a few blue pacman on the front.  In the good old days of my freedom with strong legs and a healthy sense of adventure and liberty (always willingly accepting serendipitous situations as they arrive), I used to think to myself that the bodiless building would make an incredible picture, or a sweet backdrop for a photo-shoot. Finally, camera in hand and blue sky to boot, I captured the haunting beauty of the place on film a plastic memory card. 
I was so exhausted when we came home, although I am trying not to show it. We started my IV antibiotics a few days ago, after almost half a year without them. The medicine is caustic, and burns my heart and veins as it enters my blood stream. I feel weighed down with sickness, as though my bones are suddenly filled with lead instead of 900 mg Clindamycin.
When in sickness or pain, try chanelling your frusteration into a creative outlet. 
Don’t speak the anger in your mind and body, but instead try to look at the flipside, turn everything terrible into something good. 
An example? Today I am really suffering, and I feel like crying with the pain of the medicine going into my heart and neck. 
But someday, when I’m a doctor, and I decide to put a patient on a drug with a biting, bitter, derisive and acerbic personality, I will be able to understand their suffering. 
I am being given the power to heal, through the knowledge of suffering I am receiving. 
A further plus side is my extension tubing is 14 inches long, leaving me plenty of room to knit!
Once you start moving in a postive frame of mind, everything become lighter and warmer in my mind. I hope it can do the same for you.
I channeled my pain in sewing this afternoon. I have many incredible animal-print tees from the Sierra Club, that Dad used to bring home for me, some of which I have had since kindergarten. The sky blue and navy octopus shirt, which is too small for me and a bit faded, has just been recycled into a trendy skirt. Cut off the sleeves and neck, added a bit of denim on the sides from a pair of pants I cut off into shorts, and created a waist band from a faded black stretch shirt. I will post pictures when I have it fitted and on ma body! Should be pretty sweet once it’s done…and all recycled…how cool is that? 
<3

Up to Batt!

My family doctor (who deals with my non-Lyme illnesses, if I ever get such a thing) suggested that because I have never had a psychological evaluation, and have been sick for so long with many neurological symptoms, that I should see a psychologist. He was very clear that he didn’t think I was crazy, just because I had Lyme disease, but anyone, especially a young person, who suffers a chronic illness probably suffers because there life has been changed so much. So bright and early this morning we went to see a psychologist downtown. The verdict: I’m officially not crazy. Yay! I suppose that just means I have a whole whack of serious neurological problems, which is not so much fun.

We went window shopping around the lower Johnson St. area, where a large portion of eco-friendly and locally owned businesses. It’s kind of uncomfortable doing yoga in lingerie with under-wire and lace (it’s fun to be girly!), so I was looking for an alternative to that. And just browsing.

After resting for awhile in the early afternoon, we headed on down to Knotty By Nature, the incredible fiber arts store in Victoria. I was looking to create a little hand-spun accessory for my lovely yoga teachers (can’t say what in case they read this!). The amazing and talented artists who own and work at KBN helped me pick about 5.5 oz of fibers that would blend well together: local wool, alpaca, and mohair, hemp, and bamboo fibers. KBN has drum carders people can use to blend the different fibers together into a batt, something easy to spin with. There are also wheel for customer use, and looms to rent or use there. It’s a pretty incredible place. This was my first art batt, and I’m really excited to start working with it. Dreamy softness, warmth, incredible caramel-y brown colors. Mum helped me turn the handle of the drum carder machine in order to blend the different textures together in order to have a more uniform yarn. I am exhausted from all this work and moving and thinking, so I am looking forward to just resting tonight.

Rush to Last Days of Summer

After making half a dozen plans to see Harry Potter 7.2, my Mum, Angela and I finally made it to the theaters. It was incredible!!! I can’t believe that there will be no year-long wait for the next film, that this really is the end. How strange it is that kids nowadays can just pick up the books and read them one after the other? The anticipation before the release of each book and movie was so intense, and made me savor every word. I suppose there will never be another world like Harry Potter, and that’s just fine by me. I don’t mind reading the books another dozen time (honest! I have them on audiobook and have probably read each more than a handful of times).

I decided that versus writing about yoga 3 times a week on my Lyme blog, which I feared might bore some of you, I created a blog about Yoga entitled “8 Limbs, 1 Chair” (referring to the 8 branches that make up yoga!). I am very excited to begin recording my thoughts after each practice, and to document my journey and improvements. Michelle has created some chair yoga videos, and I would encourage those you in wheelchair, or with limited mobility to give it a try. You just might surprise yourself. I am improving already; my arms and legs raise higher and with greater ease and assured movement, my breaths are deeper and come more naturally. Has it been two weeks? Hardly, because the teachers were away 2 weeks ago on a retreat. I practice on my own almost every day, if not the asana (poses/positions), than the 3 part breathing exercises and the meditation. Please check out my new blog and hopefully I can inspire you to try yoga yourself!

Sleeping, Singing, and Sharing

The zombie finally got to sleep! My new record is four straights nights without sleep. Does anyone else remember that House episode where this girl doesn’t sleep for almost a week, which is apparently the longest you can go without sleep before dying? Maybe that episode was a bit hysterical…but don’t worry, I wasn’t worried about this. I was just damn frustrated that I could meditate all night and not fall asleep. I slept fitfully, and for just a couple of hours, but still, I feel a wee bit more human today. Just as well, because I was starting to have a strong desire to hunt down humans, and kill and eat them. (hold on…that was a continuation of the zombie reference. work with me here. zombies eat ppl right? or is that vampires? oh lord…who cares?).

Last night was the first official practice of the Linden singers. It’s been really hot here, so upstairs in the First Met church was sweltering, even in the late evening. There was a meeting…I didn’t really understand what was going on because it was so formal. I took notes tho :). The people are all so lovely, despite our age gap. I’ve always gotten on very well with adults, even as a young child, so it didn’t seem strange to me. Hopefully I can recruit some more young people for next year…that would be nice. I am singing soprano. Oh yes, you read that right. I feel like a mouse being pinched every time I hit a note an octave about middle C. It’s not a pretty sound, but it is a sound noise none the less. I used to sing alto/tenor in school choir (mostly to make up for the lack of boys). Linden has oodles of tenors and basses…it’s such a novel sound for me!

My friend Angela, who I haven’t seen in a gillion years because we’ve both been away and just plain busy, is coming over tonight for pizza! It’s the new and delicious GF crust from the “Gluten-free Goddess'” blog. I can smell the yeasty dough from the living room, one of my favorite smells. I’m sure it rose beautifully today because it is so hot and humid. 21 degrees in the late afternoon is just fine by me. Hopefully we’ll be seeing the last Harry Potter movie later tonight. We haven’t gone yet!!! Almost out of theaters too,

I listened to the radio interview my mum and I gave the other day at CBC. The radio show is called “On the Island”, a morning favorite. Check out Sept 7th program, “Living with cougars, honouring Campbell, Lyme Liberation treatment and memorial trees“, to listen to our interview. We used to listen to a bit of CBC in the morning rides into school, and I recognize Gregor Craigie’s voice! Very tranquil. Another opportunity to spread the word about Lyme disease, and the Liberation therapy…hopefully this knowledge can help others.

I also created a chair yoga blog today, called “8 Limbs, 1 Chair“, which will document my healing journey through  yoga. I am very excited about this! Michelle encouraged me to reflect on my learning journey, and what a great thing to share with fellow Lymies, and people in wheelchairs! Hopefully I can inspire others to try it…who knows, it could make all the difference in your health!

Running Around Town

How delicious is it to be busy while your friends slave at school? Mwahaha. But in all seriousness, I am very jealous that I am not going back to school this September. What would I give to complain about the weight of my backpack and the cost of books and the bad/late profs like the rest? Good things come to those who can be EFFing patient enough to get them!!!!

On a humorous note, by big cuz Amy showed up to school at 8:30 sharp, only to learn that school starts tomorrow. Hillarious.

Last week, dear Bonnie Henry – the BCCDC’s resident expert hypocrite, with a sickly sweet voice like Professor Umbrage – was on CBC radio, assuring the public that doctors are very knowledgeable about Lyme disease (when from her OWN statistics, it states that 6 out of 10 doctors surveyed didn’t know Lyme disease was a reportable illness). Of course, these downright lies and ignorance of their own statistics anger my mum (and I), who wrote to CBC, informing them of this error and Mrs. Henry’s falsehoods.

click the pic to enlarge CDC’s Lyme findings

Around this same time, an article about the affects of my CCSVI procedure came out in the Sooke News Mirror. CBC interviewed us both this afternoon, inquiring about the results of the Liberation procedure, and why we decided to take the risks, and responding to the controversy. It was very interesting. Hopfully it will air tmr morning…sometime after 7:30 am. Guess I’ll have to wait for zee podcast version to listen!

Out interview today was so early that we could go for lunch! We went to the Solstice cafe, an organic cafe downtown, with many vegan items. The soups are always vegan, and there were samosas too! The espresso brownie, and the GF carrot cake (both vegan) are to die for. Heaven! If you’re from Victoria, or ever visit, this is one very cool and always scrumptious stop!

Right next door to the Solstice, Sarah Kramer, vegan chef extraordinaire and cookbook author, has opened up the worlds’ smallest vegan curio shop! Clothing, toys, chocolate bars, jewelry -> all %100 vegan! We had fun browsing and chatting with the lovely Sarah. She is my vegan hero…and her cookbooks made life tasty for me again!

Our goal was to really tire me out today. I haven’t slept in 3 days, and it’s really starting to make me feel awful. My brain feel raw and numb, like a sponge that has been squeezed too forcefully. I have no idea why my insomnia has been so bad this past month…this ‘not sleeping all night’ thing has happened often. I’m not stressed or thinking about things at night, I’m not in pain I can’t handle, I’m exhausted but just can’t turn the light of my brain off. Very frusterating…but at least

~Life has a way of returning lost items for you, when you least expect. I found nail polish, a gel pen, and a piece of popcorn in the back of my chair.

Hand-spun Local Mohair/Wool Skein

Indian spinner head adaption w/ niddy noddy in foreground

I feel like I have finally gotten the hang of spinning! I spun up the delicious 150 grams of local mohair and wool that the lovely Arleigh sent me, from up island. To recap, I met Arleigh through a serious of wonderfully serendipitous events. Months ago I posted an ad on Kijiji, asking if anyone had a spinning wheel that I could borrow, rent or have. I thought, who knows, maybe someone has a wheel that’s sitting around in an attic or garage? Incredibly, I connected with Arleigh, a retired spinner/weaver/artist, who very generously gave me me her indian spinner head treadle machine, with the original sewing machine head (it’s an ancient Raymond), and a beautiful niddy noddy (something to wrap the finished yarn on).

The 50/50 mohair/wool single (meaning just one ply) yarn I have created it incredibly beautiful. A friend of her dyed the fiber in variagated teal, bottle green, clay brown, and natural white, each color blending seamlessly into the next. This creates a striped of pooling affect when knitted up. I have to soak the freshly spun yarn in some water to stop it from curling back on itself, but then I will be able to knit with it! I have no idea what I will make, or what the finished yarn will knit up like…fingerless gloves, hat, wristlets? OH the choices are endless. Anyways, I am over the moon about my smooth spinning, and pretty even thickness. There aren’t too many lumps and bumps, like my first few skeins. A thousand thank you’s, dear Arleigh. You lit the spinning spark in me, and I feel that Spinning and I are going to be great friend for the rest of my days. <3

Paused in the process of spinning. The yarn on the spool reminds me of a sandy shore and sea.
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