Thursday, June 18, 2015

Another day, another mass shooting.

I posted most of this to Facebook, but I wanted to write about it here, too -- partly to make it a little more permanent than a status update, and partly because I keep going back and adding more and I keep thinking about the horrific mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina that occurred last night. Nine more people lost to gun violence. Nine more black lives snuffed out by an avowed racist who said, in plain language, that he was there to kill black people. Hell, he left one woman alive specifically so that she could tell people what he said before he opened fire. 

And yet we have people like the talking heads on Fox News trying to spin this as an attack on Christianity. We have people claiming that "we don't know what Dylann Roof's motivation was!" Yes, we do. He said it himself. "I have to do it. You're raping our women and you're taking over our country and you have to go." (And then shot six women and three men to death. So much for that argument.) He wore racist patches on his jacket. He talked to his roommate about how much he hated black people, and how he wanted to kill them. His motive was hatred and racism. Period.
This mass shooting, this terrorist attack, was not part of Fox News' make-believe "war on Christianity." It was an attack on black people at a prayer service in a historic black church, by an avowed racist. Why is that so difficult comprehend? Why do they, and their ilk, have to try SO HARD to make it about something else?

Is it, perhaps, because people like the Faux News talking heads. and everyone else who is lamenting that "Oh, we don't know the shooter's motivation" and "It's an attack on Christianity" are desperately trying to find a reason to condemn what he did, because the fact that he was a racist isn't bad enough? Is it because you can't bring yourself to care about more black lives snuffed out? You can only muster up outrage if the people murdered are like you? If the mass shooting happened anywhere other than inside a church, would you even be talking about it? Or would you ignore it completely, since the shooter isn't black? (If he was, of course, Faux News would ignore it until it was convenient to trot it out as an example of how police violence is justified because of "black-on-black crime.") It has to fit the narrative, and heaven knows the tragic loss of nine people who happened to be black doesn't fit that narrative.

Black lives don't matter to people like this. They don't give a shit unless they can spin it to be about what they deem worthy enough. It's sad and sick. And if you find yourself agreeing with the arguments that this wasn't about race, it was about attacking Christians -- if you find yourself agreeing, stop and think about why. Really think about it. Think about why the loss of more black people isn't sufficient to provoke outrage and sorrow. Think about why that isn't horrific enough all by itself. And really think about why you feel the need to push the racial motivation for this killing away, why you feel compelled to deny it or gloss over it. Racism comes in many forms, and most of them aren't as blatant as wearing a white hood and burning crosses. It's as subtle as denying the fact that these victims were targeted for the color of their skin, period.

And if you still aren't convinced that racism is a problem, that it permeates this entire country, chew on this: the day after these nine black people were gunned down during a prayer meeting in their church, the Confederate flag is still flying high at the South Carolina state house. It's not even at half-staff, not that that would make it better, but still. It's there, a very visible sign of deeply-ingrained racism that cannot be denied, no matter how people try. 


Cynthia Hurd.
Susie Jackson.
Ethel Lance.
DePayne Middleton-Doctor.
Clementa Pinckney.
Tywanza Sanders.
Daniel Simmons Sr.
Sharonda Singleton.
Myra Thompson.

May they rest in God's peace, and rise in His power. And may we learn from this, please God, so that we can try to keep it from happening again.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Pignic!

Oh, whoops, I forgot about my blog again. Hi! What's new?

What's new with me, hmmm... well, there hasn't been a recurrence of Migrainepalooza, which is good. I've had one nasty one, and a couple little ones, but nothing too awful. No emergency room visits, anyway. I have to have some minor surgery in a couple of weeks -- nothing huge, but I'm not especially looking forward to it. Mostly because I have to be at the hospital at 6:15 in the morning, ugh.

Knitting-wise... meh. My knitting mojo is on its annual summer vacation, I guess, because I'm just not getting anything done. The plain ribbed socks I'm working on? I ended up ripping the heels out at least three times on each one, because they just weren't coming out right, The sweater? In time-out until it stops messing with me with extra stitches, dropped stitches, etc. The socks are behaving now, at least, and are progressing very very slowly. (And yeah, okay, part of the slow pace is because of Skyrim. Oh, Skyrim, you make me stay up too late and never get anything done, but I love you anyway.)

I did manage to get out of the house this weekend, though -- we packed up Jasper and Oliver and headed out to Wellesley to the annual Pignic! The Pignic is a gathering of guinea pigs and their devoted humans at a lovely grassy park by the Town Hall. (The city doesn't use any chemicals or anything on the grass there, so it's safe for the piggies to run around on and eat. And oh, did they eat! Photographic evidence to follow...)

The volunteers, led by the woman who runs the Cavy Madness site, had nice big pens set up -- one for the boys, one for the girls -- with treats and hidey-houses and toys for the pigs, so once the boys were weighed and checked for mites (don't want to spread those to other piggies) we settled them into the Boys pen and let them run around. Jasper immediately decided that a wooden hidey-house was his, and wouldn't come out or let anybody else in:


"MY house!"

He'd poke his head out to grab a treat, and he'd touch noses and wheek with the other piggies, but he would not surrender his house. 

Oliver quickly discovered that grass is very very tasty:

A video posted by Jeff Carter Gilson (@jscg1976) on
Jasper lost his spot in the wooden house when we scooped him and Oliver up to have their photos taken by Joey from Salem Pet Photography (who does a great job, and if you're in the area and have a pet, you should get her to photograph it!). The pictures look like their school photos from Piggy Academy:


Oliver, a little uncertain about this...


Jasper and his green, green chin -- evidence that he, too, thought the grass was delicious! (Part of me wishes I'd wiped his face, but the rest of me loves the visual reminder of what a good time he had.)


And a shot of the two of them... Jasper is clearly thinking "Hey, somebody swiped my hidey-house. Get outta my house, you kids!"

After the photo session, the boys went back into the pen to play some more, and Jasper actually scampered around outside, since the wooden house was occupied:
A video posted by Jeff Carter Gilson (@jscg1976) on

Lookit those little butts waddling!

He had many admirers, and quickly learned that, if he approached people who were sitting near the pen and looked cute at them, they've give him treats and scritches. After a while, though, he found a nice spot under a little stool that was being used as a hidey-spot, and settled in to relax and watch the world go by:



And Oliver made friends with a piggy who looked a lot like him -- they spent ages chasing each other around, and then sacked out in a pigloo together for a nap:
A photo posted by Jeff Carter Gilson (@jscg1976) on

C. came along with us, and we sat enjoying the fabulous weather, nibbling snacks, and knitting while the pigs ran around and played. All in all, a perfectly lovely day. And Jasper rode home perched on my chest, chin resting on my shoulder, happily sniffing the breeze from the car window. (Not the safest thing to do, I know, but the two of them bickered all the way to Wellesley in the carrier, and I made sure I was holding him securely. He's an elderly little guy, I wanted him to have as much of a happy adventure as possible.) They both sacked out for long, long naps when we got home. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Brain woes

So, where have I been? Dealing with my brain, which is apparently trying to kill me.

I get migraines. Always have, since I was a wee child. My mom gets 'em, her mom got 'em... my brother does, too. It's heredity, nothing to be done about it. When I was a kid, they were brutal -- really painful, endless bouts of vomiting, all that fun stuff. Miserable. When I was about 15 or so, they stopped! I was so happy! Life was good! And then, in 2001, they came back. Right in the middle of a lovely visit from some out-of-town friends. (Including an ex-boyfriend from college and his current girlfriend, who was deeply unhappy that I existed, much less was still friends with my ex, and made it ABUNDANTLY clear that she loathed me, and wasn't THAT fun.) They weren't as bad, though -- I get the lovely scintillating scotoma, which makes my vision go all wonky (there are animations on that Wikipedia entry. I can't look at them, because it makes me want to puke), and I get some weird language aphasia, but normally, the headache itself isn't that bad. It usually feels like someone has thumped me right above my left eye, and is unpleasant, but that's it. I can manage, especially if I can get a nap in right when it all starts. 

This past week, though, whoa. Sunday night, just as Jeff was making a lovely dinner, the aura started up, so I swore a few times and went to lie down. Dozed for half an hour or so, then got up and tried to eat a little something, but the headache was much worse than usual, and I felt nauseated, so back to bed I went, for another hour or so. It was a little better after that, but of course by then my sleep cycle was all off-kilter, so I got up for a little while and read until I felt sleepy again. 

Monday, I felt okay, except for the usual post-migraine drained feeling... until that night at around 9:30, when the migraine came roaring back. It was bad, so much worse than Sunday. Hell, much worse than it's ever been! Bad enough that I asked Jeff to call my mom and see if she thought we should go to the emergency room. By then, I had a fistful of my own hair, which I was pulling on hard -- I couldn't help myself, it just hurt so much. Mom said yes, go to the ER, so we went to the local hospital, which... not the best idea. They're not very good. At least not in the ER they aren't. We should have gone to one of the better hospitals, but those were at least 20-30 minutes away, and the local one is about 5 minutes, and I felt so ill that I didn't want to be in the car for any longer than was necessary. 

I kind of figured that going in and telling the ER desk-staff person that I was having the worst headache of my life would get me seen quickly. I could barely talk at that point, just sort of croak, and words weren't really working for me, but nope, I get sent off to the waiting room. For over an hour. At least they gave me a barf pan, just in case, after Jeff asked for one! It was the most miserable hour I've had in a very long time -- blinding pain, nausea, ugh. Finally, though, just as I had decided that, if they didn't see me within the next ten minutes, we were going home, they moved me into a room and gave me a lovely IV of saline, anti-nausea meds, pain meds, and, interestingly, Benadryl. The nurse said it helps with the tension that migraines can cause. Plus it knocks you out, so that was a plus. Once all that kicked in, we went home... at around 2:30 in the morning. Whee. Had a tiny snack, then crashed into bed and slept for a nice 11 hours or so. Woke up feeling okay, if even more drained then before, but otherwise okay. And then realized, while petting the cats, that I couldn't see out of my right eye properly. Another fucking migraine. Jeff called my primary care doctor's office while I sobbed in the bedroom, and they told him to just bring me right in. (The intake nurse was sort of bitchy at me when I didn't know what the various meds the ER had given me were called. I couldn't remember! And, lady, I AM HAVING A MIGRAINE RIGHT NOW. I'm lucky I remember my own NAME. Cut me some slack!) Got a nice shot of Tramadol in my butt, and then had a little lie-down in a darkened exam room, and went home again. (The weird thing was, that migraine aura was on the opposite side from the usual ones. Strange!) I'm sure the Tramadol helped, but at least that one wasn't so bad -- the headache didn't really take hold too much, so after a little nap, I felt okay again. And since then, no migraines. (Knock wood.)

The nurse practitioner I saw on Tuesday thinks it was sinus pressure from all the pollen. I don't, not really -- I always have allergies, and my sinuses were no worse than usual. I suspect it was the weather -- it was cycling between being fairly cool and dry to hot and muggy over the few days up to and during the Great Migraine Attack of 2015, and weather changes are always a trigger for me. Whatever caused it, I hope it doesn't happen again. 

There hasn't been much knitting, what with the headaches -- a little progress on the sweater, a little progress on a sock... but I did manage to make a present for my brother. Meet Gnorman:


He's a tiny gnome! He embarked on his grand adventure in care of the US Postal Service a few days before Migrainepalooza, and was a big hit with my brother. He was kind of a pain to knit, but I miss him, so I might have to make one for myself. Or two. Or 40. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

A new crafty project!

Happy Monday! If you're in Massachusetts, Happy Patriot's Day! Jeff and I spent the weekend in Vermont visiting my mom and brother -- we finally got to have our long-delayed Christmas visit with them. (We'd planned to go up in January, but the weather was awful and Jeff had to have a tooth pulled, so we stayed home. Then we tried to go in February, but... it snowed a ton. Then we planned to go in March, but, well, remember this?


Yeah, we didn't go then either. But the snow has finally melted, so we made the trip up on Friday, and had a nice, relaxing weekend of knitting and talking and playing board games (I rule at Bananagrams, as it turns out). We exchanged presents -- Mom loves Trader Joe's, and there isn't ojne anywhere near her, so we brought a huge bag of various cookies and candy and body washes and whatnot for them to share. My brother really wanted a tiny ear of corn, so I knitted one up for him. Mom gave us some kitchen gadgets, some snacky treats, some lovely scented body washes and lotions (for me), some fancy seasonings and whatnot for cooking (for Jeff, he's the chef in this house) and this cute little guy for tea-making!

There was also yarn, of course -- since Mom knows my love of purple well, she'd picked up a couple of skeins of lovely sock yarn for me a few months back:


(Cascade sock yarn, very squishy!)


(More Cascade, this one with silk. Mmmm...)


My knitting was plagued by gremlins on Saturday -- first, the cable part of the circular needle I'm knitting my sweater with pulled out from the connector that joins it to the needle tip, and I couldn't get it back in, so we dashed out to Michael's so I could get a cheap replacement needle to use until I got home. Then, later that night, I pulled the sock-in-progress out of my purse to work on, and found that two -- TWO! -- of the double-pointed needles had snapped in half! I don't know what happened -- the project back was tucked into my purse, just like always, and I'm not in the habit of flinging my purse around or stomping on it or anything, That set of needles did feel flimsy, though -- they were Knitpicks wooden DPNs, and were very, very bendy -- more flexible even than some much thinner bamboo needles I've used. So I guess I wasn't that surprised that they broke, I'm just flummoxed by how two of them broke while in my purse. 

I borrowed a set of aluminum DPNs from Mom to keep the sock from becoming an unraveled mess until I could get home and swap to an unbroken set. Good thing Mom and I share the same craft interests! (The circular needle that broke was also a Knitpicks one. I'm becoming less and less impressed with their needles over time -- I know that, when they first introduced their interchangeable sets, they had a big problem with the cables coming apart. I had several cables replaced because of that. But they've been making these sets for quite a while now, you'd think they could figure out a more durable way to put the needles and cables together. And of all the different wooden DPNs, I've used, their are the only ones that have ever broken on me -- I had three break while I was knitting the various tiny things, a couple have had the tips splinter while knitting socks, and now these two breaking... I love Knitpicks' yarns, but I think I'll be buying needles elsewhere from now on.)

And now the new crafty project! The backstory: I have a couple of bottles of perfume oils that I love the scent of, but very rarely wear. I don't like dealing with the oils -- they feel messy, like I'm going to get stains on my clothes or something, and it's hard to control how much comes out of the bottle, so I always end up wearing too much. About three weeks ago, I decided to wear one of them, and when I opened the bottle, the plastic cap fell apart in my hand! So, I couldn't close the bottle securely, and I didn't really have anything else to put the oil in... and it occurred to me that I could probably make it into a solid perfume fairly easily. A little poking around online, a quick order from Mountain Rose Herbs, and voila, a few nice little tubes of solid perfume! 


(Exciting, huh? Looks like lip balm! But you probably wouldn't want to use it that way, I bet it doesn't taste good...)

I used equal parts beeswax and sweet almond oil, melted in a makeshift double-boiler, and poured into lip-balm tubes (with Jeff's help, otherwise I'd have spilled it everywhere). I got three full tubes out of my first trial run, and am already obsessed with getting more supplies and essential oils to make different blends. (The perfume oil I used this time was from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, the "Embalming Fluid" scent. It does not smell like dead people. It smells lovely, in fact. And now I'll wear it a lot more often! I have another of their perfume oils that I plan to turn into solid perfume, too, later on.) So now I have a new idea for handmade gifts! Which is always good! 




Monday, April 13, 2015

Sweater progress

The Kara sweater went to my knitting group with me tonight:



It's draped on the table, so the bottom edge is kind of in my lap. But you can see sleeves forming! Progress is being made!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Out of hibernation

So, the Bruins season is over. Ended with a whimper. Kind of like I expected it to. Let's talk about something else, shall we?

I took two sweaters out of knitting hibernation this week, in an effort to clean up some of the yarny chaos around here. The first one, my Rocky Coast cardigan, was supposed to be my Rhinebeck sweater for 2013, but it just wasn't really doing it for me. It's a lovely sweater, but the all-over cabling is just too bulky for my taste, I guess. So it had been sitting in a tote back, partly-finished -- I had the body and one sleeve done, and just needed to finish the second sleeve and pick up and knit the ribbing around the front, but... it just sat, collecting dust. So this week it went from this:



to this:


(The color in the top picture is closer to reality; it's very hard to get a good picture of dark blue yarn!)

At some point, I'll re-skein the unraveled yarn and wash it, since it's all crimped up and dusty. Then, it'll become another sweater.


The second sweater, the Kara pattern by Cecily Glowik MacDonald, has also been in stasis for a really, really long time, but it's meeting a happier fate (I hope!). I decided it really needs finishing, so I dug it out, figured out where I am in the lace pattern, and started working on it again while Jeff and I binge-watch Daredevil on Netflix. (Excellent show. But very very dark! And some parts are violent enough to make me cover my eyes, and I'm not squeamish!) Which is what I'm going to continue doing now. Happy weekend!


Monday, March 23, 2015

Not-so-great health news, and a nice surprise

I had a doctor's appointment on Friday that I didn't think was going to be a big deal -- I really only made the appointment to ask her about possible solutions for the week of misery I have every month, if you know what I mean (and I suspect you do...*). So I was surprised when the nurse whipped out needles and vials and prepared to draw loads of blood! A few needle pokes in my arms (right arm decided it didn't want to play nicely, so she had to switch to the left, which bled quite enthusiastically, and now I have big yellow bruises on each arm) and a finger stick later, I finally got to chat with my doctor and... yeah, the instant blood test thing they do shows I'm diabetic. Not terribly severe -- an a1c level of 6.5 is the cutoff, and mine was 6.6. Alas. But not a big surprise, it runs in my family and all. So, I'm on medication, and working on eating less crap and getting more exercise. (Which will be easier once the goddamn snow melts. This winter was hellish, just walking to work was an ordeal, so any exercise outdoors wasn't gonna happen. I wish we had room for an exercise bike or something, but our apartment is tiny.)

I was worried about the new medication initially, because it was making me feel really sick to my stomach. Plus, I have a nasty cold and sore throat, so this weekend was less than fun. It all seems to be subsiding now, though -- I still have a whiskey-and-cigarette rasp to my voice, though.

I did have a nice surprise this morning, though: last night I noticed a giveaway from one of my favorite designers on Ravelry, one of those "leave a comment to enter" things, so I posted a quick comment and then promptly forgot all about it... until I got a message telling me I won! I'll be getting the pattern and yarn to make this lovely shawl. I chose a nice purple colorway for the yarn. I never win anything! Such a nice surprise.