Sunday, January 29, 2006

happiness is...

- peanut butter on rawhide (a treat that keeps the dogs busy for a good half hour)
- sleeping on the couch so the early morning trip to the door is less dangerous. (the combination of the 4:30am wake up from the dogs and attempting steep farmhouse stairs at that hour is not a good one)
- my car being safely parked at the repair place after a tow truck trip yesterday
- having bought a set of sock needles earlier in the day and having sock yarn with me yesterday (the result was a few inches knit while waiting for said truck and while taking the 45 minute drive back to the repair place.)
- the people of this house leaving me the keys to their car "just in case" something happened
- plans to catsit for someone else the entire month of March (I can leave yarn wherever I want during that time)
- a cup of hot English Breakfast Tea and peanut m&m's for breakfast
- hoping that this week will be better then the last one.

All in all, this hasn't been the best week.

I had car problems on Monday (thankfully after returning home safely from the great Boston area!) and after some finagling borrowed one of my parents cars so I could get to the hospital to work on Tuesday while my car was being worked on. What we thought was an alternator problem ($$$$) wound up being a simple "regulator" problem ($$). That fixed I headed on my way without any problems.... until yesterday. After a lovely day on the coast with a friend of mine, my car pulled something that it hasn't done in over a year. It'd start, but not go anywhere because the traction control system was screwed up. The problem came out of the blue and without warning, so I could only call a tow truck and wait and knit. The two fixes are unrelated, and my fingers are crossed that I am lucky and this repair is another of the ($$) sort. My fixed income (student living expenses don't take into account that we're driving 1992 cars) has taken a hit and there's no telling what else might happen...

The dogs I'm taking care of are great animals but they are used to a different (much earlier start in the morning) schedule. One is younger than the other and still has a bit of puppy playfulness. It is great to watch and play with while the older, gentler dog is patient and willing to wait a short bit for his turn to be fed and petted. Together they keep me on my toes. The cats aren't used to having so many knitted things to play with and it seems to me they are more adventurous now - I can't leave things sitting out or they'll be covered with fur and stitches risk being dropped off the needles.

That being said, I'm still knitting. The Rogue sleeve has been ripped and I'm going to take a few hours out of this afternoon to try doing both at the same time again. I had used circular needles before, and my hate for circulars (unless I'm knitting something in the round) is going to have to take the blame for my previous tangles. I'm going to cast on again with some classic metal straights (cringe away - I think you're in good company) and see if I can't get the cabled section done in one sitting. I learned to knit on metal straights and think it could be the key to success.

The housekeeper/student housing "expectations" meeting (last week) was an awful time reminiscent of being hauled into the principals office for something I didn't do. I could go into great detail about the encounter, but doing so would lead my blood pressure to creep into the unhealthy range, so instead let me sum it up by saying that I have no business having yarn and other "craft" things out in the house because it's breaking the contract. (the contract that simply says we will keep the common areas clean....) The woman accusing me of things stood up for the crazy housekeeper and then asked me "when I had time to craft?" if I was such a busy person (inferring that I left yarn out because I was too busy to put it away somewhere) and scoffed at the idea that I could knit and read at the same time. (If only she knew how much yarn I have tucked away in my room...) Being somewhere else for the month of March is going to be a breath of fresh air.

I've also been dabbling on the other side of the medical fence and had to spend some time on the patient side of things this week. I'm going to be intentionally vague and appreciate your understanding - I'm okay, and will be fine. Some results of medical tests came back a bit abnormal and the plan of action for what is next involves more medical appointments and a few more tests.

It's hard to be a patient. It's hard to have access to the medical journals and references that spell out, in great detail, rare diseases and obscure findings. Nothing of that sort is going on, but while waiting for results every possibility ran through my mind. Medical students are notorious for self diagnosing and having whatever it is we're studying at the time, and talking about it with other medical students simply invites even more awful sounding diagnosis. As much as I like and trust my doctor, I, believe it or not, hate being a patient and would much rather avoid seeking out care until I need it. I hate taking medications, and hate dealing with appointment schedulers and the health insurance ($$$) people. It's been a good lesson in what the people I see everyday have to go through and is one that I am not likely to forget anytime soon.

my plan? keep knitting.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Rogue and I, Round #4

Dear Theresa and PumpkinMama,

I know I said I was going to knit Rogue and you both said "me too!" and I was glad to have company in this sweater-making-thingamajig and hoped that I'd be able to keep up.

The truth? I need a remedial rogue group. This is attempt #3 (of a single sleeve; I'm going to skip right over the 2-3 attempts of doing both sleeves at once) and it's not going so well.

Evidence of this? I warn you that it isn't pretty....

See that not right area at the top of the cable? Something went wrong, and though I usually can look past such mistakes and keep going, this time I can't.

(bad picture of color, not great picture of cable, not bad picture of the cable mistake mess.) (and after looking at pictures of their finished sleeves, something doesn't look right with my purl row as the cable border.....)

frogging said mess - actually, make it Mess (with a capital M). Those yarn pieces are all interwoven and tangled from being cabled together.

really, how does this happen? (once, I can understand, but twice?) It's a wonderful pattern that everyone else has had great luck understanding. I'm going to blame in on trying to work on this after a long day at the hospital when I'm not at my best. (The EtherKnitter can attest to this as well....)

attempting to pick up stitches - notice the huge gaping spaces between stitches. They're too big, and what I got out of it didn't look right. (The cables were fixed but the gauge was waaaay off.)

I'd take a picture of it now, but it's going to be re-ripped when I get home later tonight. I finally got the cabled mess figured out but grabbed the wrong needles to get it going again and there is an obvious change in my gauge. I could leave it and see if it blocks out; I could rip out the whole thing and start over but at this point I feel a bit of emotional attachment to this silly piece of cloth.

I'm dogsitting for the next 10 days and won't have access to my computer to put pictures up, but with any luck I'll be done with both sleeves by then. I'll keep you updated.

(I will finish it; I will continue to work on it, I will continue to be in awe of both of the red rogues in progress. If I suddenly give up with the green and buy red yarn to try it again it won't be a conincidence.)

Sunday, January 22, 2006

happiness is...

- the sun, shining all afternoon
- hitting 178,000 miles in my car
- Trader Joe’s salmon in the freezer and dried fruit in the pantry
- a fiber and yarn event at Claudia’s this afternoon

(at this point I’ll have to invite you to head around the web to see pictures – my camera spent the afternoon on my kitchen counter, right where I’d left it so I wouldn’t forget it…)

The gathering this afternoon was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before; the sheer number of cars parked gave me an indication that this was big, but I didn’t expect to hear the laughter and chatting outside from down the street.

I met up with people I’d seen before (I can't even begin to link to all of the knitters that were there), saw several new faces, collected a few new blogs to look up and knit a bit on a new sock. Many of the people there have hundreds of readers, have invented patterns and invoke some sort of “ohmyit’s__fill in blank with your name here___” dumbstruck reaction from me, but my fear of large groups of unkown’ish faces is fading the more people I meet. I had a wonderful time listening to the discussions happening around me - sock heel preferences, swatch-gazing, spindle teaching, and saw several new patterns that I might invest in at some point in time. There was also plenty of food – everything from appetizers to desserts and everything in between!

I brought a dish that my mom and I love, and will make for almost any occasion. I’m a child of the pot-luck era, and know better then to hold back on a recipe when people ask for it….

Carrot Soufflé / Carrot Custard
(when it’s warm it poufs up like a soufflé; when chilled it takes on a more custard texture; we use olive oil and honey instead of the butter and sugar)

1 lb carrots, cooked and drained
3 eggs
1/3 cup sugar (or honey)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
½ cup melted butter (or olive oil)
1 Tsp flour
dash of nutmeg and cinnamon (I used a bit more then a dash)

Put all of the above ingredients in blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Pour into greased dish, top with the following:

½ cup cracker crumbs (any type of cracker works)
2 Tsp melted butter (or olive oil)
3 Tsp brown sugar
¼ cup chopped nuts (or more – we use pecans but any nut will work)

Mix together and sprinkle on top of the carrot mixture. Bake at 350 (or higher, depends on your oven) for an hour. (It's done when a knife inserted comes out clean.)

Today was productive in many ways. Not only did I get out of the house, I got out of my own way; something I’ve been trying to do for a long time. I had time to think as I drove today and when I wasn’t concentrating on where the cars around me might be going….

(Dear Greater Boston Area: I realize that speed limits, passing lanes and turn signals are simply suggestions to you, but could you please remember that though I can anticipate which direction they might dart to in their way too big cars, I only have a fifty/fifty chance of being right and my mind reading training isn’t finished yet. Perhaps next time I’ll do better with my guesses….)

….and I finally acknowledged that I do not like doing what I am doing on my current rotation. Up until now, I hadn’t given myself a chance to even consider that possibility. Was I worried about what other people thought about what I thought? Am I supposed to like it simply because the doctors I’m working with love oncology? Or is it that I am constantly hearing that I should specialize and that primary care is a bad choice? Some doctors seem to continually insist that I re-think what I might want to do; I realize that I shouldn’t put all of my eggs in one basket but these experiences are helping me to figure out both what I want to do AND what I don’t want to do. Right now I know that I like working with healthy people, I miss working with kids and really miss labor and delivery.

Right now I’m at the halfway point and after this week is finished I’m 2/3 of the way through this six week rotation. It feels like a loooong time, but with any luck time will start flying and it’ll be over before I can say “psychiatry is next.” I’ll keep on keeping on.

The debacle with the housecleaner will work itself out on Tuesday; it’s been a long time coming and I’m sick of feeling as though we’re being spied on by someone who can’t stand us. Chances are we’ll be told that I have to pack up my yarn and keep it out of sight, and we’ll be required to do a few other things that I find a bit absurd. Tomorrow my roommate (who returns to be with her husband on the weekends) and I plan to sit down and talk about what is next and how we’re going to approach this. Yes, it’s student housing, but we’re unsure of where the lines are and I don’t understand why they care how we live. I miss my apartment from last year, with the claw foot tub and park view…..

Thursday, January 19, 2006

What I've learned so far in this rotation...

This, as I've said before, has been a much different rotation then I've previously done. The patients are sicker than even the sickest patients I've seen before and the attitude toward death is strikingly different. We're all going to die. We might not all die of cancer, but we're all going to die at some point.

- False hope can be more devistating then the truth, especially if news is delivered as though the family knows the true extent of the situation. When this happens the family can feel as though they have a double blow to think through, and as though everything they'd been holding onto is wisked away in a few minutes.

- it is possible to have a "good" death.

- A "good" death means more to the family then it does to the patient.

- Guilt comes in all shapes and sizes, and can take on any form of emotion. It's important to remember this when talking with family members and patients. People who have no reason to feel guilty will.

- Some people gain years from cancer treatment, even if they will never be "cured." Some people decide that the treatments are not worth it and live what time they have left doing what they want intsead of spending hours in the clinic. Some try everything and die knowing that they gave it their all. There's no wrong way to do it if it's what the person wants to do.

- people with cancer die from non-cancer related things such as heart attacks and accidents.

- a spry looking 84 year old can make a very ill 60 year old look twice their age. The age a person is means nothing if it's not combined with their health and activity level.

- the drug plan "part D (The D must stand for "araagagagggDhrrrrgh")" has created more paperwork for doctors and more confusion for patients. It's a mess that is very unneccessary. (doctors are now filling out even more forms then before, and all of those forms take time away from patients even though patients can't get their medication without filling out the forms.) If you know someone who qualifies, please help them to figure out what is best for them. And know that if they don't sign up for drug coverage now, they'll pay a penalty for not signing up when they, eventually, do sign up.

- the cleaning lady for this student housing house will make our lives crazy. I'm not sure how this one is possible because her job is to simply, well, clean; but somehow she gets the office staff to page me with insignificant requests that don't make any sense and then she doesn't follow our polite written notes requesting something such as leaving a door between the mudroom and kitchen closed because otherwise the house gets cold. I have a feeling that my yarn, which meets the roommate's approval, is up on the chopping block next. The fact that she has never vaccumed the carpet shouldn't stand in the way of me leaving yarn out....should it?

- hopsital coffee is awful.

- people with cancer can still have senses of humor.

- I've made so many comments about patient's socks that one of the doctors finally asked what was "up" with all of my sock questions. I can't help that he sees more patients with handknit socks then the other doctors...but I will say that nothing gains a knitting patients respect then sharing the name of the local yarn store and then mentioning that they're having a 20% off sale right now AND they have a great selection of sock yarn. Even if they already know about the sale, they can appreciate that I'm a 20something who knits socks. (best pair yet was knit out of stripes of "leftover" scrap yarn and they matched exactly. Nothing like recognizing leftover koigu, regia and Lorna's laces all knit up into one pair of socks.)

- attempting cable work, even simple cables, is a bad idea after being in the hospital all day.

- some older men won't like that I'm a female med student. I may, or may not, be able to convinence them that I'm competent.

- (if I have to pack up all of my yarn simply because the cleaning lady says I have to I will not be happy. Not happy at all.)

- The unlabed mixed cds that I put in my car will be the best part of my drive to and from the hospital as I'm never quite sure what I'm going to hear from them.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

happiness is.....

- snow (after a day of torrential rain yesterday I'm glad to see the more solid version)
- a grande decaf non-fat cinnamon dolce latte from the cafe inside the local big box bookstore
- a new Grey's Anatomy (sidenote: where is my George? he seems like the perfect intern and I think we'd be good together....)
- lentil soup
- a trip to my local yarn store and having the owner greet me by name and ask how things are going

Cascade 220 in a heathered olive green color won in the swatch contest for Rogue.

This is attempt number (to be determined) of sleeve #1 for Rogue. There's a mistake that just occurred and I can't figure out how to fix it. Now isn't the best time for me to be working on it, so I'm putting it down for the night and will re-examine it tomorrow. (I thought I'd be slick and do both sleeves at the same time but that, er, was simply a mess. Instead of learning from my mistakes I attempted both again (and again) and wound up with wonky numbers that resulted in ripping and restarting. I have the first few inches of this pattern memorized and not a whole lot to show for it.)

this is what I got done last week though...(only thing keeping me from finishing it is that my chibi and needles are MIA...they are somewhere safe, of that I'm sure....).

some have SSS: second sock syndrome.
Me? I have SSWSS: should stick with socks syndrome.

My ribbed "no fail" pattern of socks fall into one of three categories:
1. the start of a sock, the cuff that can essentially go on forever and doesn't need any specific counting more past a 3/2 k/p or 4/2 k/p and can be done under a table during a meeting or lunch presentation.
2. the heel and gusset, which I can't do without looking and needs to be worked on when I'm not too tired and I like to get it all done at once.
3. The foot portion, which is similar to the cuff in that I can knit around and around and not worry, but more than once I've knit past where toe decreases should have started.

These categories help me to justify having more than one sock on the needles at all times, preferably one at each point because otherwise they all get stuck at the heel... and then I run out of needles. And at that point I find myself trying to come up with another simple sort of project to work on during the week, when in truth I should probably just buy more needles. I can only wear so many scarves, but socks? I could wear a new pair of handknit socks each day and be happier than happy.

The sock above is from the yarn I wound on New Years Eve; I was aiming for striping and it sorta stripes. The repeat is a bit shorter then I'd like, so next time the chairs need to be further apart so the colors are "thicker" in the sock.

I have been trying to figure out a good way to explain the service I'm on now and truthfully I'm at a loss for words. I'm doing a 6 week stint in heme/onc: hematology is the study of blood (anemias, and bone marrow diseases for example) and oncology is the field of medicine that focuses on cancer. Some of the patients that we are caring for in the hospital won't go home, and the process of dying has been a real education for me. The doctors I'm working with do not do pediatric care and seeing some of the patients I do is humbling; they've come to a point in their life where they can accept the cards they've been dealt and it's emotionally taxing on me. I am completely aware of my own mortality and am not afraid of my own death (that's something that I hear changes if/when I have kids of my own) but seeing patients hours before they die is hard. Seeing the families go through the process (potentially before they are ready) is hard.

This rotation is one that I set up with the hope that it'd help me learn more about cancer and see if doing a rotation at St. Jude's cancer research center would work for me. Right now I miss kids - they bring so much to a day - and the cure rates can vary from cancer to cancer and with age so some childhood cancers are more "curable."

As a result (of the early mornings, and experiences I'm having, and the grey days that make up the weekends and the clear days that I spend inside in the basement clinic (only to emerge after the sun has set)) I am tired. I know what signs to look for and am taking care of myself, but blogging will probably be hit or miss for a little while longer.

I hope those who are here in the northeast are able to enjoy the snow!

Monday, January 09, 2006

happiness is....

- the sun warming up the garage door enough for it to defrost and unstick
- ruby red grapefruits
- my friend Katie saying "I'm not sure if the pattern is called 'My First Cabled Sweater' because it's for a 6 month old or because it's in a beginners knitting book."
- thinking I've finally gotten the right swatch for Rogue

The swatches and their respective yarns. (colors are a bit off because I'm relying on artificial light)
The sweater (folded in a tealy-green color) is one of my store-bought favorites and the Bartlett yarns (in a teal/blue color and a blue/purple color) are sitting on top. (I thought the color looked familiar...) I think I got the right gauge in this yarn, but I need to wait and see what it looks like when they're really dry. In the middle is an olive greenish cascade 220 and it was the most difficult to get the right stitch count. On the far left (sitting next to my new favorite face cloth from Theresa) is the icey purple Jo Sharp yarn. Getting gauge with this was a big stretch but I thought I'd try.

All in all, I can get 5 stitches to an inch with multiple needle sizes and multiple yarns - getting 4.5 was nearly impossible.

I know that swatches can lie and hemming and hawing about half a stitch per inch might not be a good use of time, but I really want to get this right. Tomorrow they will all be dry and I can measure them without bias (just picture me trying to force them into the sizes I want and then trying to feel the resulting fabric to see if it's sweater-able). I know blocking can help and that might ultimately be what I need to rely on. The bartlett is a thicker yarn and I thought it'd be easier to get the right gauge but even that swatch feels a little bit thin to me. The cascade is thinner but sleeker and softer, and though the "right" swatch feels thin to me, it might feel different when it's dry.

With any luck I'll have two sleeves on the needles tomorrow...

Saturday, January 07, 2006

what is in my closet vs. what should be in my closet

It's coooooold and clear here - seeing the sun is a welcome change from the gray days and I'm glad to be able to look out the windows and see a blue sky. My new "home base" for my current rotation is a clinic in the basement of the hospital; I can see the new morning light as I drive in at 7:30am and that's all I get because when I leave at 4:30-5pm the sun has all but left the sky. The lack of natural light has done a number on my sleep cycle and mood. Next week I hope to have some flexibility with where I eat lunch but this week I had to get into the swing of things and figure out my role as the student.

I've been thinking and re-thinking and over-thinking what I wear and what I think looks good on me. I've done what most recommended and dug through my closet to compare the store-bought sweaters to see how different styles look on me. I've also had to re-evaluate what I am comfortable in and if what I am comfortable in is what actually looks good on me.

what I own:
fitted cardigan with set in sleeves
pullovers with drop shoulders
button up shirts with major shaping (not a sweater, but it's another fit)
shirts/sweaters with:
-lengths that range from "top of hip" to "below hip" (nothing cropped, nothing to my knees)
-sleeves that are 3/4, the "right length, and "too long that need to be rolled up"
- necklines that include turtleneck, mock turtles, crew, boat, v-neck, collar and one with a hood

(I'd try and share pictures of what I'm talking about, but student housing is lacking a full length mirror, so in order to get a good picture of what I look like I often have to climb up onto the edge of the tub and bend and twist into various positions to see what I'm looking for. (yes, I know that "back of door" mirrors are not that expensive and easy to find and that I should probably buy one instead of continuing to risk falling off the tub ledge while trying to see if my shirt cuts me off at the waist, or makes me look too thick at the shoulders but that would require remembering what I need while I'm at a store and it's a little known fact that med students brains loose the ability to recall such information. I hear the ability to remember what I need without making a list (and then loosing the list and being unable to recall what was on the original list) returns - I'm looking forward to that.))

What I wear all the time without giving it a second thought, thus the things I am "most comfortable in":
-pullover sweaters that are boxy with crew necks or turtle necks and sleeves that are just right or too long and a length that falls just at my hip. To be honest, I have a lot of sweaters that fall into this category and they could be comfortable because I grew up with these
- cardigans of all types
- button ups with shaping for my days in the hospital

What looks absolutely awful on me:
- dropped shoulders (a closer-fitting sweater doesn't look as bad as one that is just too big all over)
- sleeves that are too long and rolled up
- sweaters that seem to cut my up across the middle - ie, ones that aren't "long enough" and don't fall below at least the start of my hip
- cardigans with buttons that look pulled or too tight when the sweater is buttoned up
- crew necks that are trying to be mock turtlenecks

What looks not so bad: (or What Looks Pretty Good)
- shaping and fitted things
- v-necks and collars that are "open" a bit (= top button or two undone...thus a, um, modified v-neck?)
- sweaters (cardigans) that fall well below my hip
- 3/4 sleeves and sleeves that are "just right"
- again, just because I need to make sure I get it, shaping and fitted things

I was surprised, but after thinking about it, I probably shouldn't have been.

I have broad shoulders (I had to buy a men's white coat because the women's versions just weren't comfortable and didn't fit when I moved my arms) and my years of swimming and lifeguarding didn't help. In order to get things that fit my shoulders I often had to settle for a boxy, all-over-big fit. Now, however, designers of my button up shirts figured out a way to cut a shirt so that it's fitted without making me feel as thought I'm all SHOULDERS. Set in sleeves don't drag my eye out and make me feel as though I'm a triangle just waiting to tip over the same way drop shoulders do. Raglan (there was only one poor example but I looked at the fit) looks okay, as long as the rest of it isn't too big (which was the case with my Noro sweater.) The Raglan looks very very long to me, but overall it's somewhat flattering.

The decent thing about having SHOULDERS is that it helps to balance out my HIPS. I've got a childbearing set that could allow a 10lber to slide right on through. Theoretically the top balances out the bottom, but not when either one appears too bulked down or baggy. Thus, no more baggy sweaters for me, even if *I'm* the one that made them. The weight I've gained (and am working on getting rid of) settles around my hips and thighs and I look better if a sweater/shirt hem hits fairly low down on my hip. I have a long torso (comparatively) and thus finding things to hit at this spot is a challenge - but now I know it's a challenge worth taking on.

The sweater I'm wearing today is my latest guilty pleasure (thank you LLBean) and is a simple yet incredibly soft set-in-sleeve crewneck version. I went with a large in order to get the length (and shoulder freedom) and it doesn't look as bad as other boxy-ish sweaters do. It could use a little more shaping, but this fit allows me to layer another (warm) shirt beneath it, and all in all I'm pleased when I look in the mirror. I'll use this to help me get future sweater measurements - that alone should justify the purchase...

Now the trouble is that I'll need to continue to feel comfortable in things that don't look great on me - it wasn't a problem last week because I didn't know any better. Amazing what a bit of knowledge can do for my wardrobe.

All that being said, someone was 100% dead on with a cardigan Rogue sounding like it'd fit me perfectly (forgive me for paraphrasing). What I used to love the look of (as in, sweaters that I've been waiting to cast-on for) isn't what actually looks good on me, and though it might take some work to find a compromise, I'm not going to think of this as pattern-limiting. Instead I need to look at what is out there and see what I can do to get it to fit me. (or just knit socks instead of sweaters - don't laugh because it's something I've given a lot of thought to...)

I've tried casting on for Rogue a few times, and each time something didn't work. Too many stitches, too few stitches, not a long enough tail, the wrong size needle - you name it, I've done it. Add in the exhaustion (both physically from being up at ungodly hours and emotionally from facing that cancer patients do die) and I decided to put it aside until this weekend. That means that tonight I'll sit down and try again - and then I'll be good to go.

(I need to swatch again before I finally cast on too, as my gauge while "on break" is considerably looser then my "in session" gauge.) This might correlate with my neck/back pain and headaches that appear when I start a new rotation. Posture is telling, and students/doctors who stand up straight appear to know what they are doing. Without knowing it (at least consciously) I've been slouching and leaning this week - a sign that I don't want to look like I know what I'm doing (that can lead to lots of questions and pimping* from doctors) and in turn my ears feel like they are hovering just below my ears. It hurts. Hot, hot showers, a heated rice rabbit and lots of layers around my neck have helped things to relax and I'm going to make an effort to breathe through things instead of calling on my SHOULDERS to answer questions. Standing up straight and (potentially) being taller then the doctors I am working with is okay. I'll look good (see above) and somehow that'll translate to what I appear to know. Or something.)

(*pimping = PIMP = Put In My Place = a commonly known medical term for being asked question after question in a sometimes condescending way that stops (for a short bit) once the student no longer knows the answer. The questions can start with common medical knowledge, then progress to obscure facts and eventually tred in the areas of sports trivia and operas. It's an old way of setting up who the "alpha" doc is and in large groups of students (something I'm not that familiar with) it can pick out one person and show their weaknesses. Often the questions come from when the doctor him/herself was pimped, and it means that I need to have a certain amount of somewhat meaningless info on hand to pull out to answer questions. Other medical students/residents/doctors should feel free to add their take on my description!)

Sunday, January 01, 2006

happiness is...

- spending the week catsitting
- driving a plow truck to clear out their driveway (that was an adventure that I'm not sure I'm willing to do again but now that my car is unstuck and the long lake-side driveway is clear I'm pretty damn proud of myself)
- marathons of Law & Order (all versions; thank goodness there are so many years of them to pull from, as I've yet to see a repeat)
- spending the last day of the year with Liz and enjoying homemade tomato soup and a fantastic grilled cheese
- Ringing in the New Year with a cup of tea, flannel pajama pants and an old sweatshirt, winding yarn into a center pulled ball (I finally learned the technique) and (now for something completely different!) episode after episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus on BBC America. (I love, love, love British sitcoms - both old and new)
- a recent sock yarn buying binge

for the past week or so, this is what has kept me entertained....

kitty yoga (believe it or not, she's purring; yarn is against her back, she's curled around my arm and side of my lap)

cat naps

stretching and twisting and turning (think of the core strength she has...)

curiosity about a yarn winding operation

(didn't hold her interest very long.)

Liz's homespun, a not-quite-finished scarf for my brother, sock #1 and sock #2.

A hank that she was selling on commission at her local yarn store. Once I saw it I picked up with plans to buy it - before I realized it was hers.

socks from home-dyed yarn

Sock #1 reminds me of a ball of rubber bands - I liked it better in the ball then knit up. It's future is uncertain. Sock #2 was an attempt at self-striping yarn - next time the chairs need to be further apart though, because the stripes are only a row or so apart. (I need to swatch and measure next time....) Ball #2 is my first center pull ball made using a cardboard tube.

I've been knitting, but knitters ADD has stricken and I've been flitting from project to project. Socks, the unfinished scarf and swatching for Rogue have kept me busy during my unfilled days but I haven't spent all of my days and nights knitting. Theresa is also planning to start one (at some point - no deadlines!) and I'm hoping to keep up with her if we start around the same time.

Having time off feels strange because for the past several months I've had to be in certain places at certain times and I'm not used to having so much free time. I'm still figuring out my place in the medical world and how to keep what I see with patients separate from my own life. It involves putting up "walls" or other barriers and the lines can become thin and movable in a community where I live and shop and drive with potential patients. I'm not sure how to best handle some situations but I (think I) am comfortable with being in the process. (I don't really have a choice, so choosing to be comfortable is a step in one direction...)

Tuesday, when my rotations start up again, I'll need to have a plan - socks for the days (lunches might be knitable, but I'm not sure yet) and Rogue in the evenings is my initial thought. The scarf is going to be my main goal for tomorrow so I can pass it off to my youngest brother before he starts his weekend ski trips. He requested one that would match his winter coat and I think he was pleased with this start when I showed him. I put off starting it because if he'd gotten into one college it was to be one set of colors - otherwise it would be another set.

The new year is here and I, like some others, shy away from resolutions. I still need to loose the 15 lbs (that is now closer to 20) that I've gained since being in med school, still need to get organized (moving in 6 months may or may not help with that because I still am not sure where things went after my last move last year) and don't meditate nearly as much as I'd like. Everything is a work in progress and if I think much beyond tomorrow I'll be totally overwhelmed; living for each day seems like a manageable goal.

Happy New Year!