Sunday, September 12, 2010

Nearly Packed

Tomorrow is the big day! I’ve done my best Google-Fu and we have maps and directions. We’ll be heading through the North Cascades in WA state and then down to Leavenworth (cute little fake-Bavarian tourist town) and then all the way down to southern Oregon to Crater Lake and the Oregon Caves. After that it’s a short hop through the northwest tip of California and back up our beloved Oregon Coast before heading home. This will be 3 weeks of short hops between campgrounds with lots of hiking and relaxing – weather cooperating. Glad we aren’t leaving today however. It’s been pouring rain all day with no respite. Supposed to be nicer tomorrow. Perfect! Anyhow I’m packed for just about everything: shorts to longjohns, sleeveless t-shirts to raingear. I am not a minimalist. I might be camping but I like at least some creature comforts. Our poor van is going to burst at the seams!

T-Man has been having a great time with his woodturning buddies at the conference. He brought home an expensive tool that just looks like a fancy handle to me but he assures me he can use it to make spindles. I’ll believe it when I see it but I’m hoping it’s true! We both seem to be stocking up craft supplies for his retirement in a couple of years. Or sooner. You never know. Anyway, he says he’s learning lots of good things and I don’t mind delaying our departure for a couple of days. The cleaning and packing a lot of stuff by myself is a bit draining but it’s not like I haven’t done it many times before.

Unfortunately I’m very sad that I have to leave yummy produce in my garden to the kids or the compost, whichever comes first. We can’t take any of it across the US border. There are grapes nearly ripe! But not ripe enough to do anything with yet. I dehydrated a lot of the Juliet tomatoes though and they came out very good so I’ll remember that next time I have too many to deal with. About 1.5 ice-cream buckets worth (maybe 6 litres?) dried down to one small ziploc baggie. Amazing. And easy. And I made fresh pickles with a lot of the cucumbers. We’ve been eating a lot of our own produce since spring so I don’t feel too heartbroken – and there’s always next year.


This damselfly posed for me last weekend in Manning Park. There were lots of these pretty blue ones plus a couple of different varieties of their big cousins the dragonflies.

Even though I’m bringing my little netbook computer with me, chances are we won’t stop anywhere where there is free wi-fi so this is a fond farewell until after October 2!

One more sleep! Yippee!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

September Woad Day & A Holiday

My! It’s been a week since I blogged last. I’ve been a busy damselfly! First it was Woad Day on Thursday with half of my Spectrum Study Group. The 4 of us picked my woad leaves, keeping the Chinese woad separate. We got about 2/3s the amount of Chinese woad than the regular kind. We could have picked more of the regular leaves but I didn’t want to exceed the size that my pot could handle. We used my usual recipe for both, adjusting the proportions to suit the smaller Chinese woad pot.

There was so much blue right away in the Chinese woad! It was amazing how strong it was. The colour was closer to indigo than regular woad usually achieves. Here’s a very pleased Masami hanging up her woad-dyed things alongside the others:


You can see how different all the blues are! My wool on the right is dyed in the Chinese woad. Some things also got hints of a purple which later oxidised to grayish. I believe that’s the indirubin colourant that is also in the woad along with indigo. It’s what gives it such unique shades. (As a side note, there is some evidence that this chemical is useful in cancer treatment, particularly for leukemia.) I hope to grow more Chinese indigo next year when I have a chance to start the plants earlier. We’ll see how well it overwinters because I’d like to get at least one plant to seed. Not at the same time as the regular woad though so they don’t cross-pollinate.

Because I’ve been feeling so much better, we were invited to go with T-Man’s brother and sis-in-law to share their campsite at Manning Park for the long weekend. I was so excited to go somewhere finally! Saturday was shirtsleeves warm and mostly sunny but Sunday and Monday were plagued with intermittent rain. It was so cold that at one point I had on 5 layers including 3 fleecies and my Gortex rain jacket. Not to mention 2 pairs of socks plus sweatpants with nylon/lycra capris underneath. And I was still freezing. We had lots of fun though, see?


We saw a pileated woodpecker (think Woody Woodpecker), cheeky Clark’s nutcrackers and whiskey jacks, a mule deer doe and her fawn, and a flock of very tame grouse. This is the only one who posed for me long enough to get a picture.


You can still see lots of beetle-killed lodgepole pines on the mountain slopes. But it’s still really scenic. We took several long hikes:


T and I were falling behind because we were nibbling on the thimbleberries and black huckleberries. Yum! The black currants were not so tasty – too seedy and sour.

On our way home on Monday, we stopped at Sumallo Grove in the midst of the huge cedars. There’s a circle trail where you can see the grove’s trees but we went further along the Skagit River trail to the Delacy wilderness campsite, about an 8 kilometre round trip. Just off the trail and right beside a lovely waterfall is an old mine site:


Don’t know if you can just see the “Danger” sign in there where someone has broken open the blocked entry. There’s also the remains of an old cabin and even more interestingly a truck:


It’s been there for so long that trees have grown up around and inside it! The engine and tires are still there though. I love the front grill:


We were prepared for the rain but we were all pretty soaked and muddy by the time we got back to our nearly-matching VW Westphalias for lunch. I was really happy that I was able to walk with only a bandaid or two on the worst cracks on my soles.

Which brings me to today. Time to go back to Dr Serious Dermatologist. Blech. I’m renaming him Dr Arrogant Dermatologist. No, I wasn’t able to convince him to even consider that I had something else besides psoriasis. I told him I started healing without all the meds and he said I was probably just sensitive or allergic to them. Well, yeah. Then I refused another corticosteroid (which I’ve already tried and it doesn’t work anyhow) but we decided to try one more last-ditch med: Protopic (aka tacrolimus). At least it’s not steroidal but is normally recommended for eczema when nothing else works. For psoriasis or PRP, it’s off-label. But as a “topical immunomodulator” it’s worth a try, pricey though it is. My portion of the cost of 2 small tubes is nearly $40! It had better do something useful, or I give up. Truly this is the last prescription med I will allow. The very final one. (Make a note and call me on it if I renege.) I will give it a month or at least until we come back from our holidays.

Yes! We are actually going away. Yippee!!! T has a woodturning conference starting on Friday until Sunday and we’ll hopefully be leaving for parts south sometime on Monday. I’m thrilled that I’m feeling better enough (and no stinkin’ black tar!) to go. It’s our last hurrah before the dark of winter keeps us close to home. More about where we’re going when I research the options, but we’re thinking of Crater Lake and return via the Oregon coast. Much to do before then.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Is It September Already?

Whew! Finally got a photo so I can post a final Finished Object.

Stargazer’s Johnny Boy Sweater #2


Begun: June 24, 2010
Completed: August 21, 2010

Yarn: Schachenmayr nomotta Regia Design Line Kaffe Fassett, colour 4252 (blues/greens), 75% superwash wool/25% nylon, 210m = 50g, 3.5 balls.

Needles: Addi Lace circulars, 2.5mm, 3mm

Pattern: Johnny Boy by Berocco Design Team, size 4.

Comments: I never did a gauge swatch or even measured it after the fact so I have no idea what it was! I just knit it the same way I did his first one that I made when he was 1-1/2. Only now he’s 3-1/2! So I followed the pattern for size 4 instead of size 2.

It didn’t really take me that long to knit it. The delay came with the assembling because my hands have been too cracked and sore. It took several hours of sewing to put it together finally the day before I was to give it to him. Just barely had time to wash and dry it on the sweater rack in the sun.

The original sweater got lots of wear so I hope this one does too. Looks like the sleeves and body are too long still which is great – gives him some growing room. Kids always grow taller before they get wider.

I forgot to take a photo of the finished sweater so his mom coerced him into this one still in his jammies! Apparently she had trouble making him stand still long enough. Cute little beastie, isn’t he?

When my hands are up for it I’ve been knitting a wee bit – a row or two at a time – on my little handspun scarflet. It’s coming along slowly. I find it interesting that will all the colours blended into the yarn it mostly looks like blue and red stripes when knitted up. Unless you look at it v.e.r.y closely. Only then do you notice the greens and oranges mixed in. Creates a greater depth of interest, yes?

I’ve got three friends (plus myself equals half of the Spectrum Study Group) coming over tomorrow for a Woad Day where we’ll try to use up the rest of it, including the Chinese woad. I have no idea how much colour there is left in the leaves after all the cool weather and rain but it’ll be fun to find out. I’ll try to remember to take photos. I want to do some itajime (folded and clamped resist) so I need to go hunt for some appropriate fabric.

In other news, even though my skin is only a little better I’m feeling emotionally more stable these days. After the 2 dermatologists at the Skin Care Centre put the idea in my head when they were confused over what my disease was, I did some super-serious research. I think I now know what I actually have and it’s not psoriasis, though the symptoms are quite similar and the prognosis just as murky. However convincing Dr Serious Dermatologist to even reconsider his diagnosis is going to be extremely difficult. What I suspect is very rare and he may never have seen a case of it before. Plus he’s not going to take the opinion of some little old female patient (albeit one with Killer Google Skilz!) over his own education and experience. I hope to get him to at least do a biopsy, which he should have done in the first place. (Not that I really want one. Ouch.) And perhaps get a second opinion. If it’s really impossible to get him to agree with me - or preferably come up with it himself without my prompting – it doesn’t essentially matter because most of the treatment options (such as they are) are the same anyway. We’ve already tried and rejected the main one, the evil Soriatane. I’ve already stopped using the tar and have cut down on the other strong meds in favour of shea butter, petroleum jelly and other moisturisers and I’m already seeing improvements. Go figure! Though it would be satisfying to have it official, the truth as I see it helps me feel much more in control of things and that’s what really counts. More on this when I’ve seen him again next week. As my dear old mummy would say, “We’ll see.”