Tour de Fleece, kilt hose, highland games, other nonsense

Things have been quiet on the blog, but they’ve been humming along here.

First of all, you must be wondering what the Tour de Fleece is…well, it’s a worldwide phenomenon.  It takes place every year on the same dates as the Tour de France.  We spin every day that the Tour rides, and have special challenges along the way like the Tour riders do.  For instance, there’s a speed stage – how many yards/ounces can you spin in one day?  For the mountain stage, we do special challenges — if you’ve never attempted spinning bamboo, this would be a perfect opportunity to try.  There are teams you can join on Ravelry.  I belong to two teams:  Team Russian Underpants (sponsored by the Antique Spinning Wheels group) and Team Bring Me a Shrubbery (sponsored by the Knitters Who Say ‘Ni’ group).  You set your own goals for every stage of the Tour, and you are basically only competing with yourself, but you do that along with thousands of other spinners all over the world.  It’s a lot of fun, and makes me wish the Tour was more often than once a year.  My goal was to spin every day, at least for a few minutes.  I have not accomplished this goal, but I have gotten quite a bit of spinning accomplished.  I had a tragic accident with Ms. Grace on the third day of the Tour which required major surgery; she is not without scars after my botched surgical repairs.

The accident photoMy temporary repair (which worked, but was more than a little rickety): New leather – this involved exacto knives of various sizes, dremel tools, a drill, neatsfoot oil, needle nosed pliers, a trip to Flagstaff to the leather store, a full week of trying to get that leather out, many swear words. This is a poor repair, and I should be embarrassed to post the photo, but I am proud of myself that I actually accomplished a repair on something well over 100 years old.  It’s not perfect, and as restoration goes it’s not even OK, but I didn’t break the maiden (the wood post) and I didn’t affect the functioning of the wheel.  I am happy to once again spin on my workhorse!  I will fix it better eventually, but this repair will last me for quite a while.

I’ve also finished a pair of kilt hose for someone with a 10 inch circumference foot and 17 inch circumference calves.  I think there were enough stitches in those hose for two entire sweaters!  They were a commission and I was so very worried I wouldn’t get them done in time; I even had to put out a nationwide plea for matching yarn to finish the cuffs because the four skeins I had weren’t enough, and the stores don’t carry that yarn in anything but colors now.  No white.

Not very pretty just laying there, but MOST attractive on the wearer.  Thankfully.  I had nightmares they weren’t going to fit, even though I measured both him and the hose throughout the process!

Mr. TF and I went to the Arizona Celtic Highland Games in Flagstaff this past weekend.  Below is what I think is the best shot of the festival:

Isn’t that the most adorable sporran you’ve ever seen???

In other news, I interviewed for a Master’s Program in Family Nurse Practitioner this past week.  Today I found out I was accepted…but I am on a waiting list and my tentative start date is EIGHT TO TEN MONTHS from now.  Apparently they’ve been overrun with applications due to the upcoming change to requiring a doctorate by the NP licensing board.  Hopefully enough people get in at other programs that I don’t have to wait that long.

That’s about it.  Just working on my business (like spinning or weaving is work – yet), cleaning and organizing, and taking it easy.  Trying not to think about what will come next, because that makes my stomach knot up and my heart race.

TEOTAWKI preparations…why?

For those of you not in the know, that stands for The End of the World As We Know It.  This blog was designed originally as a political commentary on topics close to my heart — TEOTAWKI among them.  Now, while the CDC did recently publish a preparedness memo for the Zombie Apocalypse,  I’ m sure it was more than a little tongue in cheek.  HOWEVER.  That does not eliminate the fact that their preparedness memos are designed for EVERY citizen, and it would behoove one to pay more than a passing bit of attention on their list of *must have* items in one’s storage.

Why?  You ask.  And well you might.  I have a good reason, from my own experience.  When I was growing up, we lived for a time in a cabin in the woods of Northern Michigan.  In the winter, we had no running water — the pipes froze from October until June.  We often had no electricity — snowstorms knocked out power lines. We were snowed in, sometimes for weeks at a time — we lived 6 miles from the main road.  We had no central heat — we had a wood stove (that kept the house pretty warm) and a fireplace (that was pretty to look at but mostly just sucked the heat out the chimney).  So:  we had a large store of canned goods, both those that my mom canned and those we purchased at the store.  My dad hunted and we fished from the river for our protein (meat) needs.  We had kerosene lamps, and gallons of kerosene for those nights we didn’t have electricity.  We had cords and cords of wood cut and stacked.  We heated snow on the stove and bathed as well as cooked and cleaned with melted snow.  All in all, other than the time that I broke my little sister’s collarbone by playing the overly rambunctious bucking bronco (she was 2, I was 7), it was a pretty good life.  Oh, and when my rabbit ate the feet off my barbie dolls wasn’t so great either….  But back to preparedness.  Now, this was a long time ago, and it was special circumstances, and maybe you think that would never ever happen to you.

So how about a more recent example or two?  Recently a storm knocked out the transformer that served our corner of the county.  Our community along with four others were without power for a day.  We were without power for most of the time, others were without power for part of it and intermittent for the rest.  For us, that meant we had no water –  the community pumping system has no generator backup.  We had no electricity — so no lights obviously; we also had no oven because our stove is electronic ignition and, while a lighter will start the burners, the oven has a safety backup and will not light if there is no power.  We also had no heat as we use space heaters to heat the rooms we’re in, and a heated mattress pad on the bed, and the central heating doesn’t work without power (not that we have used it in the last five years anyway).  It was wintertime, keep that in mind.  Even in Arizona, temps can get pretty low, especially when it snows where we live.

Or how about the time a friend of ours had a power outage when they lived in Yuma?  Two weeks without power, water, heat, etc.  They had to move into a hotel.

So what did we do without power?  Well, we had stored food — and we had a pressure cooker.  We have a camp oven that could have made bread (or cake) on the top of the stove.  We have kerosene lamps, which provide heat — and light — and we have gallons of kerosene stored.  We did NOT have enough water, even though we have a water filtration system, so we had to go to the store for water (and thankfully we thought far enough in advance that there was water at the local market).  We had rain barrel water storage for bathing (boil first, of course) and toilet flushing.  And we had solar power backup, which meant we could keep the cell phones charged (no land line, no power) and the computer running, as well as the HAM radio.  We also have clothing appropriate for the weather — wool sweaters, long underwear, and are familiar with the idea of layering.  I even wore a hat in the house to keep my head warm.  Our outage only lasted a day, but we would have been comfortable and well fed even if it had lasted for weeks — unlike 99% of our neighbors…who went to stay with friends or family for the duration if they could, or suffered in the cold and the dark if they couldn’t.

Why do I think *you* should do at least a little of the same?  Well, the reason is pretty simple.  The American Society of Civil Engineers (the ones who make sure the highway over passes, water systems, sewage systems, electric grids, etc — all the things that make modern life possible) say that American infrastructure is failing. 

The power outages are going to get more frequent, the water quality from the tap is going to get worse, gasoline is going to become unaffordable (even if prices drop — if you don’t have a job you can’t afford gas) and food INsecurity is becoming an increasing concern of our government regarding our citizens.  Do you want to end up having to impose on friends or family, or do you want to be the one being able to offer shelter (and really good food) for those who *need* shelter?  For me, the answer is simple.  I’m a hedonist, I want to be comfortable no matter what the circumstances — so I prepare.  I’d much rather be hospitable than impose.

I had a conversation with some coworkers this past weekend — they were talking about sources for rubber seals for their pressure canners and cookers.  I informed them that I own an All American Pressure Canner.  And that if the end of the world happened, I would still be happily canning away while they cursed their cookers and canners.

Why this one?  Well first of all, because it was given to me, before I realized the benefits.  Second of all, IT DOES NOT REQUIRE A RUBBER SEAL.  If TEOTAWKI happens, I can still can to preserve food — because my canner doesn’t rely on industry to provide rubber seals.  If seals quit being made tomorrow, I could still can.  And canning our excess is definitely a large part of our preparedness.  It’s cheaper — don’t believe anyone who tells you it isn’t — and the quality is much higher.  I KNOW what is in those cans, I grew it and canned it.

You should store water, at least the amount you drink in 48 hours — and you should rotate it monthly, and you should put either iodine or bleach into the storage container to prevent bacterial and fungal growth.  We have a 2. 5 gallon water jug but that wasn’t nearly enough for our needs for the amount of time we were without water — which is my mistake.  I had foolishly thought we would just use the rain barrel water — but when it came down to it we weren’t brave enough to run the water through the filtration system.  So, we now have several containers that I need to fill and store.  We use between 5 and 8 gallons of water daily, between drinking needs, coffee (this is *not* a luxury in our house) and cooking, as well as for the animals.  In the summer we use more, because it’s Arizona and it’s HOT.

You should store at least a week’s worth of food — peanut butter, rice, dried beans, canned veggies and meats.  Admittedly you can choose food you would NEVER eat if you didn’t have to, but why not choose foods you already eat and buy extra?  Then just rotate it through your normal stores. I believe the CDC recommends two weeks’ worth.   If we couldn’t get to a grocery store for six months, we would still eat like we always do.

You should have a lantern or two — or at least a bunch of candles.  Believe me, light makes the difference between depression and hope.  And candles put off a hella good amount of heat — maybe it won’t be 70, but it will be a little warmer, especially if you keep several in a smallish room.

For our further preparations, we have planned to install a wood stove.  It will allow us to heat without being dependent on electricity at all.  And we also plan to get solar powered lanterns.  Kerosene got *quite* expensive this last year, enough so that it justifies the cost of solar lanterns.  Unlike kerosene, though, we buy them once and they will last for many years (provided I remember to put them in the window to recharge…) – and they give off better light for knitting, reading, etc.  And are cleaner — no nasty smell.

In short, you should actually pay attention to at least some  of the recommendations of your government.  It could possibly save your life, your dignity, or your marriage.

Wingnutter’s Antisocialism Pledge

I downloaded this from somewhere, and I can’t for the life of me remember where.  I laughed out loud when I read it; it was during the height of the health INSURANCE reform debate (not to be confused with actual health CARE reform) and hit on all of the worst, most ill thought out arguments against health reform generally.

I, ________________________, do solemnly swear to uphold the principles of a socialism-free society and heretofore pledge my word that I shall strictly adhere to the following:
I will complain about the destruction of 1st Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 1st Amendment Rights.
I will complain about the destruction of my 2nd Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 2nd Amendment rights by legally but brazenly brandishing unconcealed firearms in public.
I will foreswear the time-honored principles of fairness, decency, and respect by screaming unintelligible platitudes regarding tyranny, Nazi-ism, and socialism at public town halls. Also.
I pledge to eliminate all government intervention in my life. I will abstain from the use of and participation in any socialist goods and services including but not limited to the following:
· Social Security
· Medicare/Medicaid
· State Children’s Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP)
· Police, Fire, and Emergency Services
· US Postal Service
· Roads and Highways
· Air Travel (regulated by the socialist FAA)
· The US Railway System
· Public Subways and Metro Systems
· Public Bus and Lightrail Systems
· Rest Areas on Highways
· Sidewalks
· All Government-Funded Local/State Projects (e.g., see Iowa 2009 federal senate appropriations)
· Public Water and Sewer Services (goodbye socialist toilet, shower, dishwasher, kitchen sink, outdoor hose!)
· Public and State Universities and Colleges
· Public Primary and Secondary Schools
· Sesame Street
· Publicly Funded Anti-Drug Use Education for Children
· Public Museums
· Libraries
· Public Parks and Beaches
· State and National Parks
· Public Zoos
· Unemployment Insurance
· Municipal Garbage and Recycling Services
· Treatment at Any Hospital or Clinic That Ever Received Funding From Local, State or Federal Government (pretty much all of them)
· Medical Services and Medications That Were Created or Derived From Any Government Grant or Research Funding (again, pretty much all of them)
· Socialist Byproducts of Government Investment Such as Duct Tape and Velcro (Nazi-NASA Inventions)
· Use of the Internets, email, and networked computers, as the DoD’s ARPANET was the basis for subsequent computer networking
· Foodstuffs, Meats, Produce and Crops That Were Grown With, Fed With, Raised With or That Contain Inputs From Crops Grown With Government Subsidies
· Clothing Made from Crops (e.g. cotton) That Were Grown With or That Contain Inputs From Government Subsidies
If a veteran of the government-run socialist US military, I will forego my VA benefits and insist on paying for my own medical care
I will not tour socialist government buildings like the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
I pledge to never take myself, my family, or my children on a tour of the following types of socialist locations, including but not limited to:
· Smithsonian Museums such as the Air and Space Museum or Museum of American History
· The socialist Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson Monuments
· The government-operated Statue of Liberty
· The Grand Canyon
· The socialist World War II and Vietnam Veterans Memorials
· The government-run socialist-propaganda location known as Arlington National Cemetery
· All other public-funded socialist sites, whether it be in my state or in Washington, DC
I will urge my Member of Congress and Senators to forego their government salary and government-provided healthcare.
I will oppose and condemn the government-funded and therefore socialist military of the United States of America.
I will boycott the products of socialist defense contractors such as GE, Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Humana, FedEx, General Motors, Honeywell, and hundreds of others that are paid by our socialist government to produce goods for our socialist army.
I will protest socialist security departments such as the Pentagon, FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, TSA, Department of Justice and their socialist employees.
Upon reaching eligible retirement age, I will tear up my socialist Social Security checks.
Upon reaching age 65, I will forego Medicare and pay for my own private health insurance until I die.
Printed Name/Town and State

Things heard at work.

“You know, working here really makes me hate people.”  — an ED RN.

Seriously, days like yesterday make me remember why I originally went to school for microbiology and immunology…so I wouldn’t have to deal with people.  And yesterday, it wasn’t even the patients.  It was the charge nurse and the doctors that made me want to tear my hair out and have a temper tantrum.

The originator of the above quote shall remain nameless but after a day like yesterday it sticks in my mind.  I don’t *actually* hate people, but I get sick of never being able to meet people’s expectations…..

I live for the day my bills are paid off other than maybe the mortgage so I can drop to part time.  I like my job much, much better when I don’t have to be there 3 – 5 days a week.

Am I the only one who feels this way?????

Just when you think you know what the future holds…

The Fates laugh at you.

My son Kris, the one who swore he would never have kids (in fact, once told me he didn’t need a wife because he had a dog), just called me to tell me I’m going to be a grandmother, probably mid September. The mom is Katie, the girl he’s been with on and off since he was 15  (he’s 23 now) — they’ve been together pretty much for the last 5 years, but each of them has had an ‘indiscretion’ and they broke up a couple of times over those.  The basic friendship they have had for all of these years, and the care they have for each other always wins out though, so they got back together again in December.

And I had just resigned myself to making baby knits for other people’s kids.