Saturday, November 24, 2007

How long must I sing this song?

Joe asked, "How long until you can get back in the pool?"

I suppose technically I could get in the pool (not really to swim but to do therapy) after I get my stitches out on Monday, but the word from my PT is that I can go back to swimming in 8-10 weeks, which is mid-January or early February. Then it will be a very slow and gradual start, and I do not expect to be able to compete for quite some time.

But just being on the improving end of all this is a nice thing. Remind me of that when I get impatient.

For now I am doing very minimal PT exercises--pendulums, passive range of motion, external rotation to 0 degrees and forward elevation to 90 degrees. I will continue to do those thing for about 3 weeks, and then move on to full range of motion for external rotation and forward elevations. Then, in week 5, I start on active range of motion exercises. In the sixth week I can move on to seated rows, standing forward punch, shoulder shrugs, bicep curls, and bear hugs. I start weight training in week 78, but with a fairly limited range of motion and with minimal overhead activities.

Joe's question also made me think about a few other milestones:

Sling off: 4 weeks
Computer work: 4 weeks (though I can type one-handed in the meantime)
Driving: after I quit the big pain meds and get clearance from my doctor (2-3 weeks? depending on pain level)
Reading: once I back off the pain meds enough to concentrate for more than half a paragraph at a time
Teaching: once I am capable of maintaining a non-surreal conversation with more than one person at a time (though my students have assured me that they would like me to come back sooner. . .)

Sometimes I think that the pain meds don't have a real effect, but then I ride in a car, and I find that although the driver is only going 15 mph or so, it feels like we are careening around. Or I try to participate in a conversation with numerous people, only to find that I cannot keep up. Or I go to a yarn store to by yarn for a new sweater for myself, and I look at the label, wondering, "how much yarn is in this skein?" Then I look at it for a little while longer and still have no idea how much yarn is in this skein.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Lying on a slag heap of blankets and magazines.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Luckily for you, I'll keep this brief, because the left arm is only partly armed and operational and I get feeling a bit dizzy if I am sitting up all the way for too long.

But yes, I am home, and the surgery went well. The doc says I had a type-2 SLAP lesion, which means there was "Separation of the superior portion of the glenoid labrum and tendon of the biceps brachii muscle from the glenoid rim." That clears it all up, right?

Essentially "separation" is the key word there, and now I have two little anchors (ahoy, mateys) reattaching the labrum to the glenoid rim. (I have some great photos from the arthroscope, so once I'm a bit more operational I'll post a couple of those.) Also, he sanded down the bone a bit, to take care of some impingement elsewhere in the shoulder. I was pleased that he was able to find such obvious things and then easily fix them.

Also, the whole thing went SO much more easily this time than back in April. I suppose not being really sick from an infection makes a big difference. And this time, since the surgery was planned in advance, I was in an actual orthopedic ward of a brand-new (and nasty germ-free) hospital, so the staff was very knowledgeable about how to deal with what was going on with me. I.e., no begging for pain meds, and they brought me broth after the surgery instead of a full meal--that kind of thing.

Now it is very good to be home, as I have company from the little kitties and such familiar comforts. (I do miss the movable hospital bed, though.) And it is "slingle bells" for me for about a month, and then gradual recovery.

As for all of you, I hope you get everything you want at Alice's Restaurant!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Amuse yourselves.

Meez 3D avatar avatars games

Keep yourselves busy for a few days, won't you? Isis has an appointment with some strong pain meds.

Monday, November 19, 2007

For you are not ready for thought.

Driving to Easley today, I saw again what I see every day, that every day, our fall leaves are brighter. Somehow, something about the weather--was it the drought? the high temperatures? the sudden cold nights?--gave us the most glorious autumn that I have seen since I moved to South Carolina. I had pretty much given up on the fall leaves, because here they usually go directly from green to brown. But this year? Golds and reds and brilliant oranges, so that sometimes the combination of it all makes it seem the light is coming from inside the tree.

Thank you, trees. I needed that.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


You might recall that a week or so ago, I was declared an asshat by the Oracle of Starbucks. I told my friend about it, and he wondered about what precisely an asshat is.

Incidentally, this is my same friend who requested the Ducks hat, which I have recently finished. Here it is:

Not wanting to disappoint, I consulted the Urban Dictionary, which defines an asshat (or ass-hat) as "One whose head is so far up their rear end it could pass for a hat." I thought that was that, but as I looked around a bit more, I found that, as is often the case, things are not so simple. These people have had a rather extensive discussion of the origin of the term. Here is an array of photographs dedicated to discovering and displaying examples of parking-lot "asshattery" (be sure to scroll over the photos for commentary). This blog entry is dedicated to the great dilemma of asshattery, "Who's the bigger asshat, the Harley rider or the Hummer driver?" This entire blog is devoted to consciousness-raising.

The question of how best to represent such a thing visually leads directly to this, this, this, and this. Here is a modest request from New Zealand. And a business venture I could get "behind." Some introspection.

Later that same day, I learned that when my friend's elder son consulted the Oracle, he was declared an "assclown." Wondering about the precise distinctions between "asshat" and "assclown," I again consulted the Urban Dictionary and learned that an assclown is "A person who, while under the influence, makes a complete fool of himself while attempting humor. An assclown may wear an asshat."


Now, my question for all of you is: given that I agreed to make my linguistically-inclined friend this hat even though Oregon squashed Michigan AND even though he gave me grief about it, does that make me an asshat?

On second thought, perhaps you should keep your answers to yourself.

Friday, November 16, 2007

An update from the Christmas factory.

Not that I manufacture Christmas, mind you, but rather that today has been one of those days when all I have really been doing is working on Christmas presents.

Mind you, some of my work is already done: I have three scarfs ready for three different people. And then there is one thing that I cannot really name, and it is in progress, too.

But back to my work today, in which I played hooky from schoolwork. For one thing, I took a trip to the LYS to buy the yarn for a hat that a friend of mine requested in the University of Oregon colors. Given that he didn't exactly keep his mouth shut when the Ducks did in the Wolverines earlier in the season, I think it is mighty fine of me to be making him such a hat.

In the last week, I have also made the same hat for the PP in this yarn, and man was a pleasure!

Mostly, though, today has been about weaving in ends and sewing seams on a couple of sweaters.

(Jacques Monod likes weaving in yarn ends but not the flash.)

I will confess, weaving and sewing are my least favorite parts of knitting. I never was much of a seamstress anyway, and this always feels like the burnt out ends and days of knitting. At the same time, though, there is something cool about seeing your raglan sleeves attach as they should to the body of a sweater. I just kind of stared at them for a while.

(Sazha does not care about knitting: she eats plants.)

Am I tempting the Christmas fates if I say that I just might get all my gifts done in time?

Don't answer that.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Little Gidding.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Dry Salvages.

It seems, as one becomes older,
That the past has another pattern, and ceases to be a mere sequence--
Or even development: the latter a partial fallacy
Encouraged by superficial notions of evolution,
Which becomes, in the popular mind, a means of disowning the past.
The moments of happiness--not the sense of well-being,
Fruition, fulfilment, security or affection,
Or even a very good dinner, but the sudden illumination--
We had the experience but missed the meaning,
And approach to the meaning restores the experience
In a different form, beyond any meaning
We can assign to happiness. I have said before
That the past experience revived in the meaning
Is not the experience of one life only
But of many generations--not forgetting
Something that is probably quite ineffable:
The backward look behind the assurance
Of recorded history, the backward half-look
Over the shoulder, towards the primitive terror.
Now, we come to discover that the moments of agony
(Whether, or not, due to misunderstanding,
Having hoped for the wrong things or dreaded the wrong things,
Is not in question) are likewise permanent
With such permanence as time has. We appreciate this better
In the agony of others, nearly experienced,
Involving ourselves, than in our own.
For our own past is covered by the currents of action,
But the torment of others remains an experience
Unqualified, unworn by subsequent attrition.
People change, and smile: but the agony abides.
Time the destroyer is time the preserver,
Like the river with its cargo of dead negroes, cows and chicken coops,
The bitter apple and the bite in the apple.
And the ragged rock in the restless waters,
Waves wash over it, fogs conceal it;
On a halcyon day it is merely a monument,
In navigable weather it is always a seamark
To lay a course by: but in the sombre season
Or the sudden fury, is what it always was.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

East Coker.

I said to my soul, be still, and let the darkness come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theatre,
The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed
With a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness,
And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama
And the bold imposing facade are all being rolled away--
Or as, when an underground train, in the tube, stops too long between stations
And the conversation rises and slowly fades into silence
And you see behind every face the mental emptiness deepen
Leaving only the growing terror of nothing to think about;
Or when, under ether, the mind is conscious but conscious of nothing--
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Burnt Norton.

Here is a place of disaffectoin
Time before and time after
In a dim light: neither daylight
Investing form with lucid stillness
Turning shadow into transient beauty
With slow rotation suggesting permanence
Nor darkness to purify the soul
Emptying the sensual with deprivation
Cleansing affection from the temporal.
Neither plenitude nor vacancy. Only a flicker
Over the strained time-ridden faces
Distracted from distraction by distraction
Filled with fancies and empty of meaning
Tumid apathy with no concentration
Men and bits of paper, whirled by the cold wind
That blows before and after time,
Wind in and out of unwholesome lungs
Time before and time after.

About one week left.

I had my pre-op appointments last week, and they made me nervous, as hearing about familiar-sounding worst case scenarios always does. And questions about living wills. And persistent and judgmental questions about religious affiliation.

(Have you noticed how ubiquitous TVs are in waiting rooms these days? My orthopedist’s office has recently moved to a fancy new facility, and their long waiting room has two sections: on the day I was there, one section had 3 big-screen TVs playing ESPN and the other had 3 big-screen TVs playing morning talk shows. The only area you could sit not in front of a giant TV was a small, had bench between the two sections, but since the sound was on in each zone, you then heard the sound of both. When I was moved into an examination room, I found another TV, though I did ask the nurse to turn that one off.)

But I also feel fairly prepared. I’ve stocked up on clothes that fasten in the front, on magazines for reading when I cannot focus on anything longer, on a couple of light books for when I feel ready. I have found folks to cover a few classes for me. I have some good stuff on the way from Netflix. My final exams are as far finished as they can be at this point. Some friends are supplying us with meals. I have written and submitted millions of letters of recommendation. We have juice, soup, and herbal tea in the house.

Meanwhile, I am reminding myself of several things:

1. I cannot prepare for every eventuality, even when I have sufficient notice.
2. I will let some things slide. People can deal.
3. It is OK to eat too many potato chips from time to time.
4. I have an entire week of work and life between now and the arthroscope.
5. The things that will be painful and inconvenient after the surgery will also get better over time.
6. Number 3 applies to chocolate, too. And sometimes whiskey.
7. There is more swimming on the other side of all this.

If all goes extremely well, I will get to have Thanksgiving dinner with friends. And they have kindly offered to supply us with a Thanksgiving dinner on any other night of our choosing, if we cannot do it Thursday.

Meanwhile, looking at yarn makes me happy.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Fingerless mitts.

Those of you familiar with the history of knitting will know that some of the oldest remaining knitwear comes from Egypt. Therefore, you won't be surprised that you favorite Egyptian goddess has a knitting achievement to brag about.

When I first moved to Upstate SC, I was coming from Michigan, where there are real winters. I quickly made friends with a person who had moved about the same time from Rochester, New York--ditto the winter. We are both frugal yankees, and both tend to try to wait as long as possible before turning on the heat for the first time. So without really realizing it, we started a sort of contest over who could wait the longest. (But this was not Toronto, for goodness sakes, so the stakes were fairly low.) Inevitably, whoever lost would blame his or her spouse or friends or visiting family or whatever, but we both knew the truth.

Even though my friend has long since moved away, I do still tend to hold out as long as I can before the heat comes on. So sometimes the PP would come home from work to find me in several layers, a hat, a scarf and buried under an afghan on the couch. The one problem, it seemed to me, was my hands, because I could not wear gloves and type.

Ecco the solution! Last weekend when I was in California, I went to this store, where I picked up a copy of this book and some nice yarn and worked out some fingerless mitts that do not require me to be able to knit with double-pointed needles, which I have still not learned to do. The pattern in the book was not exactly what I wanted, because it feature sort of ruffly cuffs, and I wanted my mitts to fitt (sorry) seamlessly under my sweater sleeves. Also, I wanted my mitts to be a bit looser than the ones in the photo seemed to be, so I oculd tuck my fingers into them in moments of duress.

Here is the result:

Here they are:

Don't you like the way the self-striping quality of the yarn means that the two mitts go together but do not really match?

I am pretty happy with the way they turned out, particularly given that I did not do any gauge-swatching or math in determining how many stitches to cast on, etc. Given the chance to do it again, I would knit the ribbed cuffs with a smaller size needle (oops--just totally forgot to do that until it was too late!) so they would be snugger around the wrists.

But here is a sort of half-assed recipe for how I modified the pattern: Cast on 40 stitches. Work 11 rows in a k1p1 rib pattern. Switch to stockinette, working the next row knit and making 6 new stitches in the course of the row. Then continue working in stockinette until desired size is achieved. Finish by binding off purl-wise and leave a 24" tail. Using mattress stitch, start at the top end of the mitt weave down about 1.5" then anchor yarn. To make thumb opening, weave yarn tail along one side of thumb opening (about 1.5" or desired size) and then resume mattress stitching to the bottom of the mitt and weave in tail.

(Caution: This particular yarn is lovely to work with and it makes snuggly, hearty mitts. HOWEVER, if you pull too tightly while working your mattress stitch, it could break.)

But meanwhile I am typing with warm hands! (We have turned the heat on, but we still keep it set pretty low. . . .)

Friday, November 09, 2007


Have you read Ursula Hegi's The Worst Thing I've Done? It is not an easy book, emotionally, but it and its characters are so absorbing.

And it has given me a way of thinking about things that does not seem simplistic, but that can bring a quiet amount of peace:
TIHII. A word her father once wrote with wine on the tabletop and then said aloud. "TIHII." Like the whinnying of a horse. When Annie asked him what it meant, her father touched each letter. "This . . . Is . . . How . . . It . . . Is. And what it means is that I can do nothing about getting laid off. Not make them keep me or pretend that it doesn't matter. This is how it is." When Annie tried out the sound and whinnied, her father laugh, and the lower half of his face widened, while his thick eyebrows curved down, changing the shape of his face. On the table, the letters were drying out. Annie dipper her index finger into his wineglass and ran it across the letters till they glistened again.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Behold: I am an Asshat.

Niobe saved my mood this evening by pointing us to "The Oracle of Starbucks" (and Niobe, being of Greek origin, understands about things like oracles, and we Egyptians do appreciate Greece).

Here is what the all-knowing one told me:

Personality type: Asshat
You carry around philosophy books you haven't read and wear trendy wire-rimmed glasses even though you have perfect vision. You've probably added an accent to your name or changed the pronunciation to seem sophisticated. You hang out in coffee shops because you don't have a job because you got your degree in French Poetry. People who drink grande capuccino are notorious for spouting off angry, liberal opinions about issues they don't understand.

Also drinks: Any drink with a foreign name.

Can also be found at: The other, locally owned coffee shop you claim to like better.

Heh. OK, but back off, Starbucks Bitches! I got my degree in English poetry, thank you very much.