Friday, September 30, 2016

Missing Out

Did my nightmare look like this? No such luck. I dreamt about a lost laptop and messy school storage.

It’s almost 2 pm and I’m just starting my day. I don’t know what happened to the morning. I woke up at seven when my husband’s alarm went off,  got up to feed the pets, closed my eyes again for a couple of minutes, and it was 1:30.

I missed a bridal shower last weekend. I miss most things I'm invited to. I probably didn't attend a shower thrown for or by you. Chronic pain is always either my excuse, my reason, or both. (If we've never met, that's a pretty good excuse too.)

  I am definitely not a party animal . As an introvert with more than a touch of anxiety, I like to say that I've never seen a party I wouldn't rather miss.

 I tend to choose seats by myself and stay at the edge of things, then feel conspicuous for doing so.

Here I am lurking. (I'm still upset that my patronus is a hyena.)
I also worry about being stuck with a group of women talking about facials or pedicures and being completely unable to relate. (Nothing wrong with either thing. I'm just cheap and have issues with people touching me. But if they legalize pedicures by hungry fish in my area, I will totally have to try that.) 

Maybe I should get a tank of these.

When I do get into a conversation, it seems like  I talk too much and say things I shouldn't. 
Over-sharing in October

 Rheumatoid arthritis gives me an easy out. Everybody knows I don't feel well. 

But I do like people. You are funny and interesting and have valuable ideas. So sometimes   I push myself out the door on an adventure. When I feel brave enough and hurt less than usual. Just not most of the time. I am stingy with my limited energy. It's easier to drop a  (hand knit) gift on your porch. 

 I really feel bad about missing that shower because it's for close family.  My soon to be sister-in-law. So I want to make her feel welcome, show support, get to know her better. 

Also, I had planned to ride with my mother-in-law and my husband’s sister. It's an hour long drive each direction and I could use some girl time .

 I tried for three hours the night before to make myself get up and wrap the present but never got past mentally picking out wrapping paper. (I chose the only roll that isn't technically For Christmas.) 

Yummy. And they say binge watching isn't healthy.
After a strenuous day of using Google Images to find blog pictures while binging on  season 5 of Longmire, my body was finished. I there was no way I'd be getting in a car at 9:30 the next morning. I called Mom with my apology. I miss half of the Sunday dinners she invites me to. She understood and said something kind about me needing to take care of myself first.
You're welcome. This is what I'm watching right now. Don't you wish you had nothing better to do?

Sadly, as my body rests my spirit withers. sometimes it hurts to miss out. All week I’ve felt like I was moving underwater. At times like this, I think it would be all too easy to disappear. 

Two things prevent this. The most obvious is family. Even when I stay in bed most of the time, I am responsible for hunting and gathering. So if I was somehow replaced by a convincingly body-shaped pile of pillows in my bed, when we ran short of soda, someone would realize it wasn't me.

My church also keeps track of me. Mormons are assigned friends. Some people are bothered by this concept, but in my insecurity, I have often feared that people are mostly nice to me out of Christian charity, so I appreciate the honesty of it. 

The program is called Visiting Teaching. two nice ladies visit me monthly to see how I’m doing and share a spiritual message. I also meet up with a partner and visit two other ladies. That means, through no real effort of my own, I have five friends—a support network.



Knitting went better than anything else this week. I finished the Christmas present. I also finished the green scarf of knitted lace mesh.

I had created that as a practice for knitting my hombre yarn into a square shawl. The shawl is finished, kind of. It still needs to be blocked, which will add a few inches, but I’m still not sure it works. 

I’ve started an orange sweater for myself. It has me very excited. I’m sure I’ll find another good project for my shop as well.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Self-Driving Cars: Star Trek or the Rise of the Machines?

Not the best car choice, except maybe for off-roading

I hope future models won't be identical. I want a green or orange one.

I would love a self-driving car. Driving is often not fun for me. The angles are all just right to aggravate arthritis pain in my hands and feet. Add to that brain-fog, which makes me take wrong turns driving to familiar places, and the exhaustion that sets in after any exertion.

For two years, I had a chauffeur, kind of. My oldest son drove me to and from school because his high school was only half a mile down the road. It was wonderful not to put my hands on the always to hot or too cold steering wheel. Plus, I could knit in the car.
Those men look at her like she's doing something wrong! Sexist, right!

But my son is all grown up now and driving his own way and time to work. My youngest son doesn't drive. A self-driving car would be great for him too.

I imagine taking road trips by myself, letting the car do the hard work while I enjoy the scenery or a good book.
I prefer books with fewer pictures. 

A lot of people are worried about self-driving cars. The movies we grew up with give us a mixed message about their intentions.
The most advanced self-driving car

I don't think I've seen any of these movies.
Herbie and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang only want to help, but Christine and other scary Christine clones want us dead. But all those cars work by magic or demonic possession.
Haven't seen this movie either.

We need to think about technology. Movies help us with that too. I'm hoping that cars of the future will work like those in I Robot. People give a destination and are taken there safely. The cars have enough artificial intelligence to navigate and avoid obstacles. They are machines without feelings or agendas.
Nice shape  Boring Color

Which brings us to another fear. Machines that are programmed to be too smart. According to scientists, that is a long time away. They also claim that good programming will keep robots on task. But it's hard to ignore the Terminator nightmare--machines that take over because they don't need us any more. However it's good to consider an optimistic view of the future. In Star Trek the Next Generation, the Enterprise becomes self aware, and after a few communications issues, boldly goes back to work.
How do you start a Star Trek  fight? Find someone who doesn't agree that  STTNG is the best Star Trek  series.

A more realistic concern these days is how to regulate who can travel independently in self-driving cars.    Can I send my car, without me, to pick up takeout? Would a car be an acceptable designated driver when its human has been drinking?  I can imagine parents sending kids to play dates and soccer practices by themselves. It might not be a bad idea, if/when the cars are that reliable. But I would hope that for the first decade or so, there would be a modified drivers test, to prove that the driver knows how to operate the vehicle and is at least at a responsible age.


My knitting was all over the place this week. On Sunday, I intended to crochet. My scrap yarn was all tangled. As I rolled it into balls, I started seeing color combinations and sorting them for hats. Then I had to knit a couple. If I have enough yarn left over for mittens, they will show up in my shop.

The strings aren't a quirky fashion choice. I just haven't finished the hats. If you look closely, you'll see strings on my new sweater too.

 I also worked on a lovely Christmas present made of alpaca. I had a few problems. First, My needle broke. This happens to circular needles. The joint between metal and plastic eventually flexes too many times.
I lost stitches part of my mind.
Fortunately, I had an extra just like it, but it was already in use.
That inspired me to finish the orangey hand-spun sweater I've been working on. I'm going to keep it.
This was a short photo session. Notice the rain drops. We like those out here in the desert.

The alpaca shawl pattern includes a knitted lace stitch which can be pretty complicated. I want to use it on the new square shawl I'm designing. But this pattern is worked side to side, while the square has to be knitted "in the round."  Also, the written pattern is knit on the bias, so I have to figure out how the stitch works straight up and down. It took some trial and error, but I got it. I'll make an infinity shawl in that stitch to get it memorized.

It really needs work because I somehow screwed up even while I was reading the pattern. I don't know how I did it, especially since I only did it one one side, but it means carefully unpicking an hour's worth of work.

I have nothing new to put up for sale, but you can find some great Christmas gifts  in my shop.


Better. We have health insurance. I think. I will try to use it next week and find out. We still have the 28th hanging over us when we find out if my husband keeps his job. Also, I would love to be more productive, but can't seem to get to sleep at night or get going in the morning. This article about fibromyalgia is worth looking at.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Access, Sheep, and Fat Food at the Utah State Fair

One of many sheep I cuddled at the fair

You know how you start to notice other people’s shoes when you are thinking about buying a new pair? I often catch myself staring at people in wheel chairs, not just because I lack manners but because I’m shopping. 

Right now I walk without a limp, but there have been years when I needed a cane to get outside for a fire drill. Just two or three years ago, I often shook so bad when I was tired that I used the furniture in my classroom to stay upright.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a degenerative disease, which by definition is a disease that gets worse rather than better. If I had first gotten ill twenty years ago, I would probably need joint replacements by now. Modern miracle drugs have kept my joints and bones from disintegrating. But it’s hard to predict the future. I like to be prepared.

The biggest obstacle, but there is an elevator.
So when we went to the fair on Monday, I was on the alert for accessibility issues. Parking was a concern. We went into the back parking lot, which was gravel and a good distance from the fairground entrance. There were “handicapped” spots, but they were just another patch of gravel. If I was in a wheelchair, I’d choose the main front lot. 

Inside the fairgrounds, all is well. Walkways are wide. Everything is paved. I thought the three flights of stairs to the photography exhibit would be a problem,  but I eventually spotted the elevator. There are bored volunteers at the front of each building that would have been happy to point the way.

As soon as the fair passed the accessibility test, I was free to look at the sheep. They were in the sheep barn, 
One poor sheep who is not quite ready for judging

Got to love the colorful coats

in the 4-H building, 

in the fine arts exhibition, 

and in the baby animal barn.

One farmer had a baby Icelandic sheep that looks like this one,

and will grow up to be only 150 lbs. of this.

My husband is too unreasonable to buy me one, so far.

Thankfully, he also didn’t buy me any of the food there. Not that I wanted any.

 It probably helps that I have never had poutine, funnel cake, or deep fried Oreos, so I haven’t developed those cravings.

I’m trying to eat healthy and saw little there that fit that description. Most tempting were the slushy stands, because it was hot outside.

There was Korean BBQ in a cup, corn on the cob on a stick, and an actual sit-down Mexican restaurant.

If we were stuck at the fair, we could have found something healthier than the food we picked up on the way home—McDonalds. My guys like food to be predictable. I can at least eat the last semi-healthy item on the menu—the Southwest Salad.


I finally found the right form for my funky pink and grey flax/cotton blend. I love the yarn, but everything I’ve tried just hasn’t been right. This is the first square shawl I’ve knitted. it can be worn folded in a triangle or rectangle. The fabric is light and crisp for warm weather and will soften with wear. It is available in my shop.

I’ll be knitting another square with my homespun next week. I also need to get serious about Christmas knit and crochet. 

I’m still working on the orangish sweater too. It needs one more sleeve and to be completely sewn together. It is strange enough to be mine, so I plan to keep it. 

(Update on us--My husband’s vice president announced that on September 28 they would know who still has a job. No stress there.

The next step in this disability journey is waiting for health insurance to pass between companies. I'm supposed to pay for things out of pocket for now and be refunded later. Right. I don't want to know what my drugs cost out of pocket. I expect to spend Monday on the phone making sure I’m clearly covered.)