Friday, December 29, 2006

Just a teaser today. . .

I'm finally doing the edging for Fleur.
I hope you like it.
(I hope I like it.)
My mother is in town until the New Year so I was in the lab for only a half-day. It feels just like one of those post-call days in Texas: I came home at 1pm and went straightaway to bed. I awoke at 4pm with my makeup on and contacts in and feeling beat-up. It's so weird to wake up and see the world clearly immediately, and be ready to walk out the door with your "face" on. I opened a window and have been watching the sun slowly fade away from my east-facing apartment over the courtyard. I have no idea what the evening holds but I hope it's really low-key.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

6 Weird Things About Me

I've been tagged! Now it's time to pull out 6 weird things about me.

1. I licked the bottoms of my shoes as a child.
2. I hate eggs. I suppose there are weirder things out there, but I absolutely abhor them. Once in a rare while I'm in the mood for a spinach and feta omelette, but that's about once a year. Even as a child, I hated eggs. The first time I got a Cadbury creme egg, I was nearly hysterical because I thought the yellow creme inside really was the yolk.
3. As a child, my parents bribed me with dried, salted fish. To this day, I remain an addict of pickled herring and other similar goodies.
Hmmm, so far most of these revolve around food. . .
4. I'm nearly 28, and I don't really care to have children, and have never had that yearning. Don't get me wrong, I get along well with kids. I babysat the same family of 3 girls through high school and they were quite attached to me, but I just don't want to have kids. Even growing up, I NEVER had those fantasies of "2 girls and 2 boys, and their names will be . . ." yada yada yada. I can't explain it.
This is harder than I thought it would be. Plenty of people have told me that I'm more than a little quirky, but to enumerate things is another matter.
5. I have freakishly large hands and "knuckle-draggin'" arms. Kristina and I have kvetched at length about our struggles in this area when it comes to knitting sweaters and finding gloves that FIT. Oftentimes, I wear larger gloves in the O.R. than my male counterparts (they don't typically like that). It turns out Kristina and I both shop in the men's department for gloves.
6. I can't come up with a 6th one right now. We shall save it for a rainy day. *Update* Alright, here it is. . . I have ZERO desire to 1)knit Fair Isle and 2)knit socks. As for the socks, I prefer none at all, but if I must, they must be the finest, thinnest available, preferably in a lace or pointelle. And as for Fair Isle, perhaps I'm missing out, but changing colors every 2 seconds just does NOT appeal to me. No WAY, Jose. There you have it.

My mother, who is visiting until the New Year, would like to add to the list of weird things that I love to visit museums and wear (what she considers to be) ugly glasses. I think these say more about my mother than me. . .

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Anybody out there want to design a motif for my Fleur that has art nouveau influences and peacock imagery???

I just don't have the wherewithal to execute my ideas.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Fleur edging

I've been thinking about Fleur's edging all day. I checked out the link from Laritza and decided it was too. . .stagnant? Predictable. Calculated. What I want is fluid, scrolling, undulating, alive. A little Eunny Jang circa December 17. Throw in a little Rivendell. What it really needs, though, is some art nouveau. And there is plenty of peacock imagery there.

While I was revising my research paper, I was doodling motifs on old drafts.

I'd like to include the "eye" of the feather at the center back of the edging, and have sinous feathery strands wander from it to the top front of the edging. I thought about embroidering the eye.

I don't know how to chart something like this, let alone take into account the increases I need to make this garment LONG ENOUGH. I think I'm in over my head.

The ribbing option would be SO much easier. . .

Alternate edging option

Here is the other option I'm considering as far as edging goes. I like the effect of the ribbing--how it curls over on itself for a nice collar and hugs the body. I think it would be a lot simpler than a cable, a lot easier to add stitches, etc.

On the other hand, the ribbing lends a "sporty" look and is better for a "deconstructed" garment like this. Fleur, in contrast, seems a little more "constructed" and has a neckline closure. I wouldn't be able to repeat this ribbing exactly as below because of the different neckline, either.
I think overall I should stick with some sort of cabling option, perhaps something more intricate (i.e., more "strands" to the cable). I thought also about a traveling stitch/Bavarian stitch pattern, but I've never done twisted stitches before and I'm not sure this is the time/place to learn.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Whaddaya think? I'm going to alter the edging from the beading option to a sort of cable option. I'm going to knit one long cable starting at one side of the opening and going aaaaaallll the way around to the other side. Then a neckline and 2 cuffs. I think I'll go for the larger cable swatch.

Game on.

Monday, December 18, 2006

weekend photo essay

wrapping gifts and fashioning bows. . .

Documenting the appearance of Aunt Mem's gifts, so she knows how pretty they were before the mailman smushed them. . .The scarf is getting revamped. I don't like the drape to it. More on that later.

Note to self: round cookie tins are impossible to wrap.

And because I just don't have enough drama in my life, I've decided the apartment is too small and I must G.T.F.O. So I'm packing.

Fleur marches along. . .I may run out of yarn before I can do the finishing. In the event of the worst case scenario, I'm lining up color options for the borders/edgings. I have a camel riding skirt I'd like to wear it with. I'd also like to wear it with my heather grey skirt. I've ruled out black, heathered tan, or grey (not one of them can be worn with both skirts). I'm leaning towards purple, navy, or a fern green (like in the scarf on the couch in the above photo, that is also nearly the mallard/peacock color of Fleur you see, and I think the combo is great). My first choice is the fern, because I can get the most flexibility with that color combo, what do you guys think???

Moth update: Good news: I haven't seen the sucker (you may substitute the first consonant there if you wish) since I bought mothballs. Bad news: the mothball scent has overtaken my piney, Christmasy air freshener scent. Can it harm people in large doses?

Saturday, December 16, 2006


I'm taking a break from Aunt Mem's scarf. I'm nearly dizzy trying to finish it. It's long enough to actually stop--she could wrap it over her chest when she dons her coat, but I'd really like for her to double it and pull the ends through the loop, which will require at a minimum the rest of the third skein. I plod on.

I'm working on Fleur again to rest my fingers and mind. Mind > fingers. I think I may have discovered a typo:

Oh geez Louise, there's no typo! I really didn't figure it out until I circled the numbers! I told you my brain was fried. How embarrassing.

I was going to throw a question into cyberspace, ask for help, but it's all so anti-climactic now.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Aunt Mem's Scarf

It's reached the "plop" stage.
I've reached the "stall" stage.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


What a disaster today has been. It's only been in the last few minutes that I've managed to pull myself together.

The pre-op workup didn't happen. I've never had a good feeling about this surgeon from Day One, but he IS the chair of the Oral/Maxillofacial Surgery department, and my sleep doc highly recommended him, so I figured, What the heck.

I've never met a surgeon who has dragged his feet when it came to operating, especially on a really cool operation like this one. But for the last six months I've met a brick wall. Every time I went to clinic, the studies were never good enough. It was always Just one more sleep study and then we'll operate. The first time he said this, I already had 3 studies in the span of 5 months under my belt. Because of this man, I've been to the Mayo Clinic and Stanford, and had to fight my insurance company tooth-and-nail for coverage, and am still fighting. Shoot, I've had to fight my surgeon, too. He wants to do some lame-a$$ one-jaw procedure that involves extracting some teeth, having me in braces for a YEAR, and then coming around to operating. He knows that is unacceptable given my timeline for returning to residency, and besides, it's not even the standard of care for my problem.

The pre-op workup can't happen until I see the orthodontist. Braces must be mounted to get a proper mold for a proper fitting splint for post-op. I made appointments for early January, and then found out my dental insurance doesn't cover any adult orthodontia, not even when it's needed for surgical reasons. So I'm eating it all. And never mind that the surgeon waited six months before giving me the name of the ortho guy. I could be all prepped by now.

Then, I get a call from OMFS that after Dec. 31, my insurance company no longer covers the surgery! This surgeon stalled for too long! That means that within 2 weeks, I have to meet the ortho, have braces placed, have molds made and a plan ready for splaying open my face, and the surgeon who has a 6-month track record of stonewalling me has to operate. Yeah, right.

I'm hell-bent to have this surgery. I've got a plan up my sleeves. It involves my mentor from medical school. He hooded me at graduation:
He's a plastic surgeon. Not exactly on-target, but it's a starting point. Because it's not WHAT you know, it's WHO you know.

Monday, December 11, 2006


So. Tomorrow it's a pre-op workup for Jaws' jaws. Oh, the irony. If you've been a faithful reader, you know that 'Jaws' was the nickname given by my uncle, because I got all my teeth at a very young age (get it, jaws, shark, teeth?). You would also know that I've had some sleep problems (that's putting it mildly) that we think now are related to a somewhat underdeveloped jaw (mandible, actually). I'd like to think I wear it with grace, but when you wake up nearly 300 times every night because you can't breathE, something must be done.

This was the reason for the San Francisco trip. I went to Stanford, the mecca of the sleep medicine world, for a 5th and hopefully final sleep study before we proceed to the OR and advance both upper and lower jaws. The fight with the insurance company for coverage came down to the deadline. If it wasn't December, the next available time Stanford had was March. March!

This is what they plan to do, if they will actually commit to it, as for some reason 4 other sleep studies weren't convincing enough.

Just ignore the little bit about the chin. We're not doing that. Yes, they make a cut in the bone around the nose level and advance the upper jaw (you have to advance both because of the whole bite/occlusion thing) and plate it back together. They also make cuts in the bone behind the teeth and advance the lower jaw. They fill in the gaps with bone from your hip or skull or synthetic stuff. I'm hoping for the skull option--no scars, no foreign materials.

I'll be wired shut for a month once we set an OR date.

Lovely, eh?


Why is America obese? (I'll avoid using "fat" so no one is offended--unless it's referring to actual fat.) And the corollary, why are we so sick?

1. America's egalitarian principles have gone too far and have made obesity socially acceptable.
2. Clothiers have accomodated it with sizes nearing triple digits and elastic waists. There would be no obesity if the alternative were going naked.
3. We have simply no clue what healthy eating is. I have had patients inform me that they are vegetarians because they eat vegetables with their meat and potatoes. I have overheard patients waiting for CT scans talking about their diets, and the one asks the other incredulously, "So what made your husband decide to eat vegetables?" The more I read up on it, the more I am convinced that this is why they are patients and I am not--although this is not entirely true, because tomorrow I go in for my own pre-op work-up! (This will require an entirely new blog entry. Don't worry, I'm not terminal!)
4. We are not active. These days, everyone has a car and drives everywhere, even if it's just down the block. Cars equal wealth, that you have made it, and if you walk anywhere, you must be short on cash. I'm not advocating that we all hit the gym--heck, I can't stand that and don't go there myself. But what's wrong with WALKING to the coffee shop around the corner? I myself walk nearly a mile to, and then from, work every day. Why do we go back the parking lot to move our car closer to the next store in the strip mall, or circle the parking lot at the gym to find the closest spot to the door? Why? Why?
5. People think that "healthy" living equals self-deprivation. Far from it. There are so many foods that the typical American diet excludes because they are "yucky" for some reason. Remember that saying, "Black is Beautiful"? Well, I say Green is Beautiful. And yellow and red and purple and orange--basically anything NOT (animal) flesh-colored. There are hundreds of cancer-fighting chemicals in just cabbage and onions alone, really and truly. Celery has been shown to lower blood pressure. And what about brown rice? You lose a few coatings of the grain (where all the anti-cancer and constipation-fighting goodies are, I swear, if I have one more patient tell me about their constipation, I'll scream) in white rice. And eating too much animal protein has been proven to cause you to lose calcium in your urine. Osteoporosis anyone? Have an EXTRA steak! I don't think the problem lies completely in our high-fat, high-animal protein diet, and I'm certainly not advocating vegetarianism, although it is the ideal. The problem is what is lacking--all the high-fiber, anti-cancer, antioxidant goodies in vegetables and whole grains that vegetarians embrace and that may just balance out the high-fat, high-animal protein diet if we would simply eat them. So you tell me, who is really being deprived?

Keep in mind that this comes from the chick who, as a toddler, ate brussels sprouts as if they were candy. (I also licked the soles of my shoes.)

Also, I want to make it clear that I really do care about my patients. I try to enlighten them without passing judgement. I'm very passionate about their health, and it really irks me that for some reason they cannot or will not see that incorporating some minor changes may really improve their lot or keep bad things from happening in the future (yes, they really are minor, when you consider the alternatives--the surgeries I can perform to remove a variety of vital organs or limbs, in any combination thereof).

That's all for now. Carry on.

Pet Peeves

Two of my pet peeves have come to the forefront this Christmas season. OK, make that three. . .

First, "Holiday" v. "Christmas"---I understand that there is more than one religious holiday going on around this time of year and I have no problem with that. But when stores use red and green colors to decorate, and reindeer and sleighbells and decorated evergreen trees and they speak of "visions of sugarplums" and the sales only last until December 25th and the stores STILL REFUSE to use the word 'Christmas' despite employing every tactic to evoke images of it in the mind of the consumer with the express purpose of making money off of it, then I have a problem.

#2, inappropriate use of the apostrophe S. Folks, please learn the difference between plural, possessive, and plural possessive, in particular if English is your first language. I hate shopping at the store and seeing, "Watermelon's, $4." I discovered the latest setback in our country's collective intelligence just the other day: "Happy Holiday's!!"

And #3, I'm just too tired to remember it now. 12-11-06: I remembered as soon as I stepped away from the computer: Obesity! Mind you, I'm coming at this from a purely medical point of view. I read somewhere that 80% of healthcare costs are due to behavioral issues (using psychoactive substances, not wearing helmets or seatbelts, not being active, overeating, bad eating, staying with the man who beats you, etc.). And obesity is a major risk factor not only for hardening of the arteries and heart disease, but contributes to congestive heart failure, sleep apnea, arthritis, diabetes, and poor venous return in the legs (which leads to nasty, I repeat nasty skin infections). And as a surgery resident, I have seen waaaaaay too many incisions get infected and never heal for MONTHS because fat has bad blood supply and easily harbors infections. And yet, somehow complications like this are always the doctor's fault (this is why I'm mad). When I was in France, my penpal's friends came up to me and grabbed my arm and asked (in French), "Is it true that over 60% of the US population is overweight or obese?!" with the tone of urgency normally reserved for discussing natural disasters or sudden war. Yes, my friend, it is. Unfortunately, we can't all be supermodel thin (also an unhealthy extreme), most people have a pound or two they would like to be rid of (I'm in this category), and I'm not talking about these people. I'm talking about extreme cases here, and even these are too prevalent.

Why do I bring this up at Christmastime? So I'm in the store looking at Christmas decorations and see a stuffed reindeer toy that talks and snores. I press on it to hear what he says: "Oh boy [yawn], am I tired! I do all the work, and you're just a fat passenger!! [mumbles and begins snoring]" I swear, I thought I would fall down in the aisle.

Typos and corrections

OK, make that KwanzaA.

And it's rennet, not rennin (rennin is just one of many digestive enzymes in rennET).

This is what happens when you blog after midnight.

It's just like Mama said, nothing good happens after midnight. . .

Mothballs and homemade cheese

These should do the trick. They are actually mothballs, not real lavender. Somehow I don't have faith in that Provencal blossom (by the way, does anyone know how to get the cedilla-I'm hoping this word translates from the French-on the 'c' on Blogger's site?). At least not for this job. Maybe for wooing Mr. Tall-Dark-and-Handsome, but not for killing moths.Look at her go! Here we are, one day later. Kristina apparently thinks I'm the world's fastest knitter. She's doing pretty well herself in that area, check out all the hats!! I prefer to approach it as Eunny does--not necessarily fast, but squeezing in a row here and there while the water boils, another while the cheese sets. . .

Yes, this weekend I made homemade cheese! It was delicious and is nearly finished off. I bought Cowgirl Cheese (Red Hawk, holy crap is it good) while in SF and was inspired to read up on it on Wikipedia. Apparently there are 2 basic kinds of cheese (here is where it gets a little gross, don't say I didn't warn you!)--the kind where the milk is curdled by using rennin, which is composed of a number of digestive enzymes found in mammalian stomachs, or the kind where it is curdled using some sort of acid (yogurt, lime juice, lemon juice, vinegar). Feta, queso blanco, and paneer (yum yum and yum!) fall into this last category. This is the kind you can make at home. Unfortunately, it also spoils a lot more quickly. I made paneer. Then I made Palak Paneer, one of my all-time favorite foods (right up there with dolmathes) with it.

Anyway, there is your cheese primer.

The weekend is never long enough. Ay, off to bed so I can FUNCTION at work. . .

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas gifts

Whelp. It's that time again. Time to make Christmas gifts (or Hanukkah or Kwanza or Diwali, although I think it's passed already, or whatever holiday you celebrate---winter solstice?).

When I started knitting, I vowed I would never knit a gift for anyone. I kind of broke that last year with some smaller but incredibly soft scarves. This year, I'm going all out (DON'T LOOK, AUNT MEM!!!)---

61 stitches of seed stitch across in merino wool yarn (it's left over from Henrietta). I took 3 skeins and Wrap Style with me on the plane to San Francisco--I had grandiose plans of knitting up a storm on this cross-country flight. I was so wrong. I began and frogged a number of patterns from the book, most of them the "grand plan" wraps by Ann Budd. What a mess of instructions they were. It didn't help that my circular needle was too long, either.

When I returned, I thought I sorted out those instructions and thought I needed more yarn, which I bought in a delicious "mushroom" shade. Well. This attempt, too, failed.

I'm now doing this scarf in the Henrietta leftover yarn. I love seed stitch. it's fun to knit, keeps my interest, and has a nice spongey springy feel to it. Plus, the scarf is reversible with this kind of stitch. It's a wide scarf, nearly a foot, something sumptuous Aunt Mem will be able to wrap her whole head with. And still, the whole thing is uninspired and feels a bit contrived and I feel inadequate for not being able to decipher the Wrap Style patterns.

So. On to Fleur from Rowan Vintage Knits.

The back is finally done and packaged away. The front sides will have to wait while I do the scarf for Aunt Mem. To top it off, I FOUND A MOTH IN THE APARTMENT!!! Fortunately, it's not as bad as for Sigga. But now a moth with several unfinished *WOOL* projects around the place has upped the ante. . .

Thursday, December 07, 2006

City by the Bay

I had to make a half-impromptu, half-inevitable trip to San Francisco, which explains the recent silence in Sharkville.

I stayed with my mother's cousin Boots and her husband Bob, an artiste, who live in the *heart* of SF. Boots is a character. You have to be, with a nickname like that, worn with the conviction as if it were the name on her birth certificate.

The household motto is:

Here's what Boots has been up to.

Boots and Bob live 2 blocks away from Robin Williams. Yes, THE R.W. Here I am stalking RW as I walk the dog. (I did NOT let Perky make a deposit there.)

Here's the back:

Here's the front:

Woops, they left the door open!

And a half-finished brontosaurus topiary on the side:

The requisite shot--three blocks from their house.

Friday, December 01, 2006

This really sucks

Five inches of 366 stitches per row on US3s is killing me. I've done about 3 1/4 inches. It's the freaking knitting doldrums.
It's a good thing this arrived yesterday!

This is number one on the list after Fleur. Nothing outlandish, just a simple silhouette with a waistline. I think I'll knit it in navy. And yes, more stockinette! But this is different somehow.