30 June 2007

Vest Swatch

I'm really not trying to be coy with this particular project. It's a very special project, yes, but I'm not one to keep secrets when it comes to my knitting. It's just been moving relatively slowly. I'm now just slightly less than halfway through one pattern repeat on the swatch, but it's starting to take shape enough to be interesting.


You can see in this shot the vertical lines of the steek. I made a 5 stitch steek for this practice run, but for the real item I'll probably go with a 7 stitch steek, just to be sure. I probably won't go with this particular color combination, as it's higher contrast than I really want, but it's a good one for evaluating the stitch pattern. There are also some shaping matters to be worked out for the garment itself, but I wanted to check the stitch pattern first to make sure it's going to work well. It's promising, so far.

29 June 2007

समर्टईम ब्लाह (Summertime Blah)

Not a great deal to write about this week. Work has been worklike and busy, as is usually the case in summer. It's been hot, but is supposed to be much nicer today. A little knitting has been getting done, albeit slowly. To prove it, here's a photo of Scout sock #2 with the leg halfway done - 35 more rounds of 2x2 rib to go and I can finally wear them. I'm just a bit tired of doing ribbing already, so the only motivation at the moment is that I love the yarn and want to be able to wear it.


Progress on the vest swatch continues slowly, too, and I'm currently still only 12 rounds into the 36 round repeat. When it's actually at a point where it'll look like something to someone other than me, I'll share a photo.

Oh, and in case you haven't clued in, I've been making progress learning Devanagari (Hindi) script. Not the language so much yet, but doing fairly well with the writing. If you can read the title and it doesn't look right to you (given allowances for the possible variations of phonetic interpretation, of course), then it's a problem with your browser and not my typing. I'm doing this in Firefox on a Windows machine at work, and it looks okay at the moment*, but Firefox actually doesn't always render Indic text very well (especially not on a Mac, which is my biggest beef with Mozilla).

What People Want

For fun I keep an eye on what searches are bringing folks to this blog. I do get quite a number of people stopping by for the Sherman short row tutorial or the generic widdershins. I'm even a fairly popular stop for people looking for "tricot machine lyrics", but in the past day I've had a search for "fox poo" and one overnight for "mouse poo in house". Who knew there was such interest?

*Actually, it looked okay until I hit publish. In the published version, it looks like hell in Firefox. IE renders it fine, as will Safari, I expect.

26 June 2007

In Your Satin Tights, Fighting for Your Rights

Last week, while picking up a couple items for the workplace at the local wholesale club, I happened to walk through the video section and spied the complete third season of Wonder Woman. Then I saw Season Two, and I got all excited. Might they possibly have Season One? Yes!

I showed great restraint and only bought Season One, and David was every bit as excited when I got home and showed him my purchase. So we have been working our way through the episodes (interspersed with episodes of The L Word - such lesbians we) and having a blast watching them. I think the show was one of those iconic programs that really defined childhood for most of us who grew up in the 70's, and for gay men who grew up then, the campy and drag queenish nature of the show gives it special resonance.

I had forgotten that only the first season took place during World War II. The photo above is from Season One. After that, they moved Wonder Woman up to modern day and gave her a decidedly sexier (and higher budget) look.

We have been loving low budget Season One, though. It took them until the 4th episode to do the flash of light as Wonder Woman spins into costume. Before that it was a double exposure of her in two costumes, and one particular shot was used in two episodes. Then there are all the old stock footage clips spliced in, and especially the mountainous desert landscapes of Maryland and Virginia. And then there's Wonder Woman's feminism-in-tights message - so very 1970's, feminism à la Enjoli. It just doesn't get any better.

Of Mice and Wool

Like KnitNZu, we have been having some rodent issues. They actually moved in last fall and drove the cats nuts all winter long running around in the walls. We thought it was perhaps an infestation of elephants, but it appears that it's just mice. I bought two Havahart traps - one big enough for a rat and one big enough for a mouse - but I only recently set them up in our attic crawlspace where I had found evidence of some tunneling into the insulation.

The first mouse trapped met an unpleasant end, I'm afraid. After not catching anything for a few days, I forgot to check the trap for a couple days. It had not been long dead, as there was no odor, but the crawlspace is not well insulated and is on the south side of the house, so it gets hotter than a half-fucked fox in a forest fire (to use a colorful expression of my grandfather's). Something did die inside the wall on that side of the house a few weeks back, and it was rather unpleasant for a few days.

Since then, we have been much more diligent in checking and have caught two more mice. We have taken them way back on the farm property to release them. They might make their way back, but they may also become food for the fox or for the feral cat who has taken up residence in the barn. Either way, they're at least out of the house for now.

There's been no sign to suggest they've gotten into my stash, most of which is in plastic bins and all of which is kept in areas where the cats have frequent access. I've tried not to think too much about the things stored in the crawlspace and how much mouse poo might be on them. I'll spare you photos of mouse poo, but the next time I catch a mouse, I'll try to remember to snap a pic of it.

Right now, though, there's some swatching to be done.

22 June 2007

Beach Boy


When I got off work this morning and headed home, the weather was about as perfect as could be - sunny, breezy, warm but not hot. And as it was the first day of summer, it seemed right to go to the beach. Seapoint Beach, our little local beach, is only about 2 miles from our house. The photo above is a blurry Photomerge that I'll have to replace someday with something nicer, but you can see how uncrowded it is. There are no concessions, no touristy shops; the beach is a municipal park and only locals are allowed to park in the small gravel lot right at the beach.

The natural breakwater right in the center has a lot of tidal pools just like this.


So after I set up my little beach chair, I headed over with camera to see what I could find in them. Unfortunately, I don't have a polarizing filter for this lens yet, so my apologies for the glare.

A fairly large green crab trying to hide

The blurry peach-colored blob is an anemone.

And here's a brown anemone.

This urchin had used some of its hundreds of sucker "feet" to camouflage itself with snails, some of which didn't seem to thrilled to be there.

This little guy was about the size of a penny, for you folks who need a reference.

When I arrived, I set my little chair up at a respectful distance from any of the other 4 or 5 groups who were already there, as beach etiquette dictates. When I came back from taking photos, the beach was barely any more crowded, but two women with small children had set up their blankets and collection of beach toys only about 8ft. away from my chair. With about a football field's worth of open space available to them.

Not particularly caring to listen in on their conversation about which disposable diapers are best to prevent chafing when taking the children to the beach (yes, this was the actual conversation-in-progress), I put away my camera in the car, then came back and picked up my things and moved them about 200ft. further down the beach, to an area that was not only very open but also closer to the water, so that the incoming tide would wake me up if I happened to fall asleep in the sun too long.

Guess where they decided to bring the kids to play in the surf? Some people are just oblivious. A minor annoyance, fortunately, and not enough to ruin a very pleasant afternoon. My knees got a bit sunburned, but it should fade to brown in a few days.


Despite all the nature photography lately, I have been doing some knitting. Got a bit more done on the sock last night work, and tonight I started doing a swatch of the latest iteration of the wedding vest motif. I'm doing a circular swatch with steek so I can a) get an accurate representation of my gauge, and b) play around a bit with steeking, since I've not done it before. Photos of those when I've got something worth showing.

20 June 2007


I was going to do this last night but got caught up working on the wedding vest motif in Knit Visualizer, and now I need to get ready for work. Anyway, JoVE also wanted to see it, which means more than one other person is interested. Plus, I figure I've shown surgery photos and other gross stuff on here. So here's the fox poo.


Lots of vegetable matter in it, as they are very omnivorous.

And in a somewhat similar vein, here's a keychain my sister-in-law gave me the other day.


Don't see the connection? Well, look what happens when you squeeze the shit out of it.


19 June 2007

Down Goes the Gauntlet

So I'm reading Steph's blog post today, in which she recounts more of her Alaska trip and her visit holy pilgrimage to the fabled and glorious Oomingmak co-op store. If you have ever held lovingly stroked qiviut, then you know. If you've only heard about it, then believe me when I say that it is truly that transcendental. Anyway, Steph is expounding away upon the glory that is qiviut and then she writes, "It's hypoallergenic and like wool, it stays warm even when wet...though it's 8 times warmer than wool (italics mine)."

Okay, here's the thing: The exact same claim gets made about alpaca (and pretty much any other exotic animal fiber, as far as I can tell), and the number varies nearly every goddamned time you read it. The problem is that neither David nor myself have ever seen any reference cited to support the claim, and he's got a background of 15 years in the fashion industry, including experience on the production & technical side. He's even discussed it with a textile scientist friend who had no idea where the numbers come from. Alpaca people write glowingly about the "superior insulating capacity of alpaca's hollow fibers", but the hollow ones are the coarse guard hairs that you don't want in a fine luxury garment, even though they work great to help insulate the animal. Alpacas have actually been selectively bred to try to minimize the number of guard hairs they have. But still people gush these numbers, while we just roll our eyes and remain ever-hopeful that someone will step forward with the data.

So I made this public challenge to Steph: If she can find a verifiable source (I'm talking cold, hard scientific data with a proper statistical analysis) for these numbers and share them with the rest of us, I pledge to buy her good beer (I am a proudly self-confessed beer snob) whenever our paths may cross...forever. We are talking free beer for life here, folks. I have even offered her our spare room here on the alpaca farm by the sea if that's what it takes for her to collect.

If you are a textile scientist and have information that can help her in this challenge, then you are allowed to share it with her (Seriously, tell her and not me. More people read her blog, and I'd like this question answered for everyone). I really don't want to deny the woman beer, because I think it could get really scary. She has already tried fielding an argument that is not without merit to sway me, but there are many variables that would have to be taken into consideration when you consider a finished garment - fiber diameter, air space between fibers, scale structure & the related degree of twist required to hold the fibers together in yarn, etc. - so I'm thinking that a solid multivariate analysis is a necessity in order to answer this question. I'm also thinking that "8 times warmer", or whatever figure happens to get tossed around at any given moment, is just an arbitrary value along what is likely a fairly broad range - which is what happens when the final number is dependent on several factors.

David says she should get the MythBusters to look into it.

Fox Update

When I got home from work today, I discovered that the fox has apparently claimed both our lower driveway and the huge mound of cedar mulch at the top of our driveway (not more than 10 feet from our door, in fact). I was going to take pictures, but I think you all know what poo looks like and I don't know if anyone other than KnitNZu would really share my biology nerd interest in it.

Shawl Update

Carol received the shawl today. She e-mailed me to let me know that she put it on right away and sat in Bill's chair a while to remember all the love they'd shared. Which is why it wanted to be hers.

18 June 2007

For H.P. Fans

In case you haven't already seen this:

The sorting hat says that I belong in Ravenclaw!


Said Ravenclaw, "We'll teach those whose intelligence is surest."

Ravenclaw students tend to be clever, witty, intelligent, and knowledgeable.
Notable residents include Cho Chang and Padma Patil (objects of Harry and Ron's affections), and Luna Lovegood (daughter of The Quibbler magazine's editor).

Take the most scientific Harry Potter
ever created.

Get Sorted Now!

Guess I'm gonna have to make myself a scarf. Should I do it in book colors or movie colors, do you think?


Our upstairs bathroom window looks out over the boys' pasture, which is just behind the house. Yesterday at around 5AM, I was flossing and brushing before bed when I noticed the boys suddenly coming out of their shed and staring intently towards the back of the pasture. So I looked over into the pasture and saw a fairly large grey fox trotting across it towards the girls' pasture. When it encountered the fence, though, it turned and ran down towards the house and slipped through the small gap at the bottom of the gate, then across our small strip of back yard and over the stone wall into the neighbors' yard.

When I called David from work tonight for our usual bedtime (for him) call, he said that he had also caught a glimpse of it when he was out in the yard during the day. We've seen red foxes in the neighborhood fairly frequently (which is one good reason the kitties don't go outside and the landladies keep their ducks penned), but grey foxes usually tend to be a bit more elusive. This one seemed rather round in the belly, though, so I think it had either fed recently or may be a female about to give birth. In any event, the fact that it was spotted twice in such a short time period makes me think the den is probably nearby. We heard a fox yipping a few weeks ago, but I wouldn't know if it might have been this one or a red fox. I'm kind of excited to see if this one sticks around and if we start seeing any kits.

17 June 2007

Rockin' Sock

No, not this. Remember this?


This is sock #2 from the merino/nylon sportweight I got from Scout as a birthday present to myself. I was about ¾ of the way through the foot on this one when I set it aside to start the shawl. So now that it's had a nice rest, I pulled it out so I can finish it and have a completed pair on my feet. I also just love this yarn, so it's been nice to have it in my hands again. I can't wait to have it on my feet.

Anyway, today the sock went to Boston with us for our birthday present to each other, viz this concert. And no, I did not knit through the entire thing. The need to shake my groove thang was a bit too great, though the shaking was, without question, rather sedate considering the need to avoid falling over the zip-tie-connected folding chairs. We were there early, though, and I had a while once the gates had opened to sit and knit, which allowed me to get the 12 rounds above the heel done so that I could start the ribbing. A bit more ribbing was completed after we got home while listening to the newest Cast On.

Of course, given the recent good news in Massachusetts, the mood was very celebratory. It was heartening to see so many couples sporting wedding bands. In fact, the couple seated next to us had rings very much along the lines of what we've been looking at. The half of the couple sitting next to me asked early on what I was knitting, so I asked them about their rings in return. They got them in Provincetown, so I guess now David & I will have to make a trip there, since we've never managed to come up with a good excuse to before now.

No photos from the concert, I'm afraid, since we don't have a camera phone and I'm a follow-the-rules kind of person when it comes to risking having my camera confiscated. One very pleasant surprise, though, was this band, whom I had not heard before. The combination of sexy, big gal blues vocals with a driving, stripped down rock beat is just impossible to listen to without moving. If you get a chance to see them, do it. If you hear them and don't at least start tapping a toe, then you are most certainly a zombie. There could be no other explanation.

15 June 2007

They Read It!

An excerpt from this post was read tonight on the Open Source radio program's Blogsday 2007 show. It's near the end of the program and edited ever so slightly for radio audiences, but it was just unbelievable to think that something from this little blog, something that I wrote, would be picked up for general consumption.

The show itself is just an incredible listen. It's fascinating to read/hear what other people are writing about and get just that tiniest glimpse into other lives. It also makes me think about what motivates people to blog. I know that for me it was nominally to write about my knitting, but it's also been an interesting and challenging way just to make myself write. I enjoy the way it stretches me to try to write something that will be of interest to others. I've always been a bit of an essayist, but I see so many other writers out there who are much better at it than I and it inspires me and challenges me to push my abilities in this realm.

A really good blog post isn't something that I just sit down and zip out. I will typically spend a couple of hours thinking about what I want to say and how best to say it, because I know that other people will be reading it and I want to do the best I can to give those readers a little insight into what's going on in my head. In some respects it becomes a didactic exercise - how best to release my inner academician - but it's also something more, a part of something bigger. At the risk of sounding pretentious, I think that blogging serves as a mirror of Zeitgeist.

Taken collectively, the blogosphere offers an incredible look at not just the "big issues", but also the tone and shape of our mundane lives at this point in time. And while some people may conflate "mundane" with "boring", I think it's anything but. Okay, perhaps PhD dissertations about life in the "post-modern" world tend towards the dry and self-important, but people's real lives are vibrant, tragic, joyous, tear- and laughter-filled, and sometimes deadly dull and boring, and I want to chronicle my little piece of that, for whomever wants to read it.

That someone felt it was worth reading to the world, well, that's just about the most amazing thing that's ever happened to me.

14 June 2007

Washed & Blocked


Pattern: My own design, traditional Shetland stitch patterns
Yarn: Merino Lace from Knitivity
Colorway: Grape Ice
Needles: Addi Turbo circular, 3.25mm x 80cm

And a Big Doh!

With all the buzz lately about Ravelry, I was pretty sure I had put my name on the waiting list, but my memory being what it is, I got to thinking that I should see if I could find anything in my e-mail about it. I found something all right. Turns out Stitchy had sent me an invite to sign up over a month ago, which I had stupidly set aside until later and then, predictably, forgotten all about. Thanks, Stitchy!

So now I'm signed up, and can see myself wasting a lot of time playing around on the site. And taking photos of all my stash (Well, maybe not all). One funny thing, though. On the map feature, where people's locations are marked by red pins on a Google map, Brenda Dayne's pin is actually stuck in Richmond, Maine, which is not even remotely close to Wales. Wonder how that algorithm got messed up.

13 June 2007

Off the Needles!

The end was in sight this evening, and I decided that it would be helped along by a little blast of knitterly energy. So I got up and showered in time to make it to Chicks with Sticks night down at The Yarn Sellar with this bunch of rowdies.


Actually, there were more rowdies than these, but I was a man with a mission and didn't pull out my camera until the very end of the evening. My diligence paid off, though.


Thanks to Julie for snapping the photo. Tomorrow I shall be washing and blocking, but it stretches out very nicely and should be perfectly shawl-sized. This project has been a labor of love and has been my sole project since April 26, but I'm glad that I shall soon be able to let it go, as I've put quite a bit on hold over the past month and a half.


I can't think of a better word to describe my reaction to this comment, which I received today:

Hi Mel,

I'm writing from Open Source, a public radio show based in Boston and distributed around the country.

Two years ago, we started what's become a yearly tradition for us called Blogsday. Based loosely on Bloomsday, which celebrates "Ulysses" as an evocation of the world in a single day (in Joyce's case, June 16, 1904), the idea is to create a mosaic portrait of the blogosphere by reading excerpts of blog posts written all over the world on the same day, for one night, for one hour, on live radio. This year, we chose this past Tuesday, June 5, to collect posts from, and the show will air Thursday night from 7-8pm EST.

I'm writing because we loved this post, and it's on the shortlist to be included among our Blogsday Best of the June 5th Blogosphere collection. Congratulations!


I won't get my hopes up too much that my post will be included, but it's just staggering to me that it would even receive this much recognition. I still plan on listening to the show, though. Just in case.

One More Thing

I have before mentioned Glenn Greenwald's political blog on Salon.com. If you're not a reader, I highly recommend it, as I find his writing to be very insightful and well-reasoned. Today's post has a quote from Gen. Wesley Clark that is particularly worth reading.

12 June 2007

You Know You're a Goner When...

... that 3.25mm needle you've been working with is starting to look huge.

Only 7 more edging repeats left on the shawl. FSM willing, I should finish it tonight!

09 June 2007

Home Stretch!


I'm just over halfway through the edging on the shawl - 33 34 of 61 repeats completed - and it should block out to a very nice size once it's finished. You can see in this the border pattern I worked out. Very simple, as I've said before, but I think that it will work well to visually accentuate the draping of the shawl. And, of course, Ray's dye job is just gorgeous. This is my biggest lace project to date - my first really and truly proper lace project, actually - and I've been quite pleased at how it's gone. I expect I should have a finished and blocked shawl to share by next week sometime.

In other news, there was a package from Carol waiting for me when I got home. Because her Black Bunny Fibers shop is so popular and because I'm usually asleep when she updates her inventory, I pretty much never manage to get there before she's completely wiped out. I managed to be awake and remember her latest update about an hour after she posted it, though, so there were still a couple items left and I ordered a skein of sock yarn that I knew was going to push the envelope for me a bit colorwise but was too nice to pass up. She e-mailed me the other day and let me know she'd slipped a little something extra in the package. Turns out it was a lot of something extra!


I know this is really out of focus, but it's late and I'm not up to doing any more retakes. The skein on the left is the one I ordered, in colorway "Margarita"; next is a skein in colorway "Selma-la-la" (Care to share the provenance of that name, Carol?); then a little bundle of merino roving that immediately made me think of fresh peaches and citrus. I'm calling the colorway "Fuzzy Navel". The colors are all really lovely, as is to be expected. Thanks, sweetie!

I'm not certain if they'll end up being for me, particularly since yellows and oranges generally make me look jaundiced if I wear them (This complexional feature, I think, is why people have asked me if I'm mixed race in the past), but I'm looking forward to playing with them and seeing what happens. The sock yarns may make a fun dubbelmössa type stocking cap, or maybe socks (or mittens, or hats) for my sister's girls, who are much fairer than their uncle. I may try spinning up the roving and test plying with some natural brown merino I've got, when I actually get around to sitting down and spinning again. I need to do some serious work on using up stash. My first order of business after finishing this shawl, though, is to finish those socks I started from the yarn I got from Scout.


We got word from Brian last week that there had been an IED explosion near the base where he's stationed in Afghanistan. One guardsman stationed at the base, Sgt. Charles R Browning was killed in the explosion, and a few others were wounded.

06 June 2007


Take a moment today to remember those who gave their lives 63 years ago today, when the Battle of Normandy began. And remember those who are in harm's way today.

05 June 2007

Life in the (Animal) ER

JoVE mentioned a childrens' book about what I do in her post today. I don't know anything about the book, particularly, but I would suspect it's edited heavily for the child audience. I've been reading this book lately, and although its focus is human medicine, the intellectual and professional challenges it describes are very much my own.

My work certainly does have its interesting moments. Last week I saw both John Kerry and Jessica Lynch in the same night. Not the celebrities, just regular people with those names, but it still struck me as funny. And I see dogs and cats with porcupine quills, and skin infections, and broken toenails, and all sorts of other straightforward, routine sorts of cases that are an emergency clinic's bread and butter much the way vaccine appointments are for a day practice.

But a lot of what I do also makes people cry. We do an inordinate number of euthanasias. Sometimes people bring their pets in specifically for this reason. They've been watching their pet decline for some time and they have made the decision that the time has come to say goodbye. Many, however, don't realize that they are going to have to make this decision. They know that their pet is sick, but they don't realize just how sick. And I have to be the one to tell them. Or their pet dies in the hospital and I get to be the one to make that phone call.

After 13 years of doing this, I'd like to think that I'm actually pretty good at that part of the job. It is, for most of my clients, the loss of a family member - a major life event - and I try to be ever mindful of that fact and do what I can to make it just a little bit easier for them, as do all of our staff. Most people recognize that effort and appreciate it.

Sometimes, though, I have to deal with people who just don't get it.

I mentioned yesterday that I had one sort of frustrating case to deal with near the end of my shift. My senior tech triaged back a little toy poodle who was recumbent and too weak even to lift her head, her gums pale and dry from septic shock and dehydration and just the slightest bit jaundiced. When I put my hand on her, I realized that she had large areas of skin that were necrotizing - literally rotting on her body - with pockets of what I was pretty sure was pus underneath. I stuck a needle into one of the fluid pockets and got out a brown-grey fluid that looked and smelled like raw sewage. When I stained some of the fluid later to look at it under the microscope, I could identify at least three distinct populations of bacteria. This was a dog that was highly unlikely to survive.

As it happened, the dog had not received any veterinary care for several years, but it's questionable as to whether or not this had anything to do with the problem in the first place. It is possible that if they'd been more of a mindset to have the dog checked when she'd first acted sick two days previously that things might have gone differently. It is also possible that she had some underlying chronic disorder that had not been caught and had negatively impacted her immune function. At a fundamental level, though, what was going on with the dog was likely not directly due to any fault of the owners.

When I went into the exam room to talk to the owners, they turned out to be a leather couple who lived in town. The half of the couple who was the actual owner of the dog seemed quite nice and, I think, more or less grasped the situation. His boyfriend, however, needed to have the shit slapped out of him. Unfortunately, he was the one who was doing most of the talking for the pair.

I explained, as clearly as I could, what was going on with the dog and told them in no uncertain terms that the dog's only hope was aggressive treatment, and even then she only had the slimmest chance of survival. And even if, by some miracle, she managed to survive the immediate problem of infection, she was going to lose a lot of her skin, which would require skin grafts ideally or at the very least very long-term open wound management. The only viable options, I explained, were aggressive treatment for septic shock or euthanasia. The boyfriend responded in a thick Southern drawl, "We don't believe in that. That's murder. That Dr. Kevorkian should be in HAY-ull."

Say what? Usually, whenever I hear Southern, I have to ask where the person hails from. Earlier that day I had a client from Charlotte whose dog had come from South Carolina, about an hour from my hometown. With this particular guy, though, I just didn't want to know.

At first they wanted just to take the dog home on pain meds, where I told them that she would certainly die. That is, until I made them sign an AMA* form. The boyfriend balked at that, and then they wanted to know about admitting the dog. The initial estimate I had given them was simply not a financially viable option, so I had to rework the estimate, knowing as I did so and making it explicitly clear that it was a suboptimal approach. Still, we admitted the dog and I set about doing what little I could for her, knowing that it was an exercise in futility.

She died about a half hour after I'd left. I'm told the boyfriend complained that we were too expensive.

*Against Medical Advice

04 June 2007

Okay, So Here's What Happened

I already mentioned that the first spring cria was born to one of the landladies' girls before I got up to head to work on Wednesday. After a fairly busy night at work, I got home Thursday and went out to take this photo.


I didn't stay out watching her long because I was tired and wanted to go to bed, but I had barely gotten back inside when David got a call from New Hampshire to let us know that his oldest girl, Melinka, had delivered just after being shorn. And since it was their rescheduled shearing day because the original date had been rained out and they were shorthanded and frantically trying to get as much as possible done before it started raining again, could we drive over and watch the baby? So, no bed for me. We hopped in the truck and headed to the farm, where amidst all the hubbub of shearing day we found this little one, still a bit damp.


She was doing well, but not showing much initiative to get up and nurse. We got her up to see if she'd figure it out on her own, but she didn't quite seem to get the idea. So David held Melinka while I got baby into the general vicinity. We weren't quite sure how Melinka would react, since she's a South American import who learned early on that the way to respond to human touch is to scream, spit and pee. She's a very experienced mom, though, and was very tolerant of my milking a bit of colostrum out to give baby a taste. Once the cria smelled the good stuff on my hand, it was like the proverbial lightbulb going on and she knew where she needed to go. Actually latching on to the teat, of course, was still a bit of a challenge, because legs this long


mean that baby has to tilt her neck at an angle that is difficult for wobbly front legs to maintain. Watching this whole learning process unfold never fails to amaze me. There's a reason it's called the "Miracle of Life".

Anyway, we sat and watched for most of the afternoon (and I suggested names that I knew would be flatly rejected - Mayflower! May Apple! Maypop! Mayfly! Maypole! Eulah May!) to make sure she had a pretty good handle on the whole nursing thing before finally making our way back home. I'm told I snored a little bit during the ride, but it wasn't more than a brief nap and by the time I finally went to bed that night I had, for all practical purposes, been up for about 36 hours. I slept pretty hard and got up 12 hours later to get ready for yet another night at work.

Enter the Firemen

Friday night was a busy one at the clinic. The summer season has definitely kicked into gear (not that it ever stopped being busy during what we still refer to as the "slow" season, but it's now even busier), and we were pretty much hopping from one case to the next all night without much of a lull at any time.

Because I work such long hours, I generally maintain some small food stores at the clinic, but I've recently depleted them and had grabbed some steel cut oats on my way out the door so that I would at least have something to eat. So during one too-brief lull, I took the opportunity to set some water to boiling to make a bit of porridge. I poured in the oats, set the stove to a simmer, and zipped back to stir it occasionally in between trying to get a few records written up. Then all of a sudden the fire alarms went off and everyone started yelling my name.

Really, it wasn't my fault. My porridge hadn't boiled over and was still simmering away at the nice slow pace I had planned. The problem was that there was a bit of residue on the glass cooktop that hadn't been readily apparent and that had started smoking just the tiniest bit (the questionable wisdom of installing just such a cooktop with a group that is so domestically challenged is a frequent rant of mine at work, but we'll just leave that aside for now). That it smelled of burning steak was pretty strong evidence that it had nothing to do with me, especially since we have a receptionist who pretty much lives on steak and milk. It didn't matter, though. The fire department had already been notified by the alarm company and were on their way. Fortunately, I had another case waiting to be seen by then and had a good excuse to duck into an exam room.

KnitNZu commented, "Hope you at least got to play with the fire hoses", and I had to laugh. While there are doubtless any number of films aimed at my demographic on this very topic (well, more or less), I can honestly say that I did not even so much as see their hoses, let alone play with them.


The rest of the weekend has gone by very quickly, mostly because I've done nothing but work and sleep. I ended up working a couple hours past my shift on Saturday trying to get all the loose ends tied up. By the time I came home, all I could do was crawl into bed and sleep. I woke up for about 4 hours and David & I had dinner and watched Fried Green Tomatoes, which he hadn't remembered seeing before but then decided he had. Then it was back to bed so I could get up for my new Sunday daytime shift.

As Sundays go, it wasn't too bad. The caseload was steady all day - busy but not terribly overwhelming. In the last couple hours of my shift, though, I had two pretty sick cases that needed a fair bit of work - one of which was particularly frustrating - so it took me a couple of extra hours to deal with those and get all my other paperwork done so I could head home. At least tomorrow will be a day off that I won't have to spend catching up on sleep, but it'll be the last one for another week.

03 June 2007


Photos tonight, I promise (babies! plural!). Plus, a tale of why the fire department showed up at the clinic and my role in the whole mess.

Right now, though, I gotta get ready to go back to work.