July, July!*

It’s amazing what a week of sleep and blobbing can do. And being sent home. And taking the hint. And relaxing. My natural propensity towards the nocturnal has also recalibrated itself. This is going to make rejoining the workforce properly interesting, because it’s also July. The Ashes started last night. And there’s Le Tour (which I’m about extol. Again), and next week, The Open. I mean, look at this video. Look at the passion, and the pride. This is why I love golf. And when golf comes home to St Andrews… that’s always very special.

But while July late nights of sport mean I’m not too anguished about being unable to do anything, I’m not coughing up furballs all that often. I was able to take a full, deep breath yesterday for the first time in about 5 weeks. I have managed to get through the last 2 days without several naps and have actually managed to be productive. Things are starting to look up. Even sitting here with my heater, hot water bottle, quilt and tea while it snows on the hills opposite makes me smile. I’m not sore all the time. It’s a relief.

Of course, I have had some distractions. I’m not going to lie. I’ve been watching the second season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. again. And there has been the League of Legends Champions Series Summer Split (yes, I watch LoL – have you seen these guys? I even have favourite teams). And my beloved Le Tour de France.

Having Le Tour on has made me insanely happy. I’ve missed it. I was up all night watching the cobblestone stage, and I can’t wait for the mountains again. Tourmalet and Alpe d’Huez this year. Hooray!

Of course, with Le Tour, there must be the KAL (knit along). After my pity party for one last week, I decided I really wanted to knit something for me – and I had just picked up this beautiful skein of Fyberspates Vivacious sock yarn in a colour called Pebble Beach. No photograph does it justice. But it had to come with me. It’s friend Verdigris nearly did too, but I was restrained. Anyway, Pebble Beach has been calling to me, and since I wanted something for me, and it was Le Tour. I answered her call. And she was going to be socks.

No photo will ever do this colourway justice.
No photo will ever do this colourway justice.

Then came the question. Which pattern?! I went through all my sock books and ravelry, and then had a good look at my yarn cake. There was only one pattern that could so this justice. Back in 2008 when I first learnt how to knit socks, I rewrote a pattern of a sock I really liked to knit it from the toe-up, and then I attempted to knit it. Surprisingly, the mod worked, and it has become my old faithful. It looks good in semi-solids, variegated and solid yarns. And it was made for this colourway.

So on I cast during the Prologue, and I finished the first sock last night during Greg Lamond’s recap of the cobblestones. It really is just so pretty. It also helps having something where you can actually see your progress. And because it’s the TdF (and I really want another pair of socks), there’s no worry of Second Sock Syndrome (SSS) here. I may even get something else finished out of this year’s TdF. Who knows?

One sock down, one to go
One sock down, one to go

But for now, I need one more nap, as I dream of venturing out in weather warmer than this. See you next time.

*Because I’m in a The Decemberists Mood.

Feeling sorry for myself.

So this week hasn’t been a complete failure. I managed to get into the office for a couple of hours each morning (and slept all afternoon). Today is just a rest day. It’s also a wallowing in self-pity day. (I am self-aware enough that I am, but the situation being what it is, I can’t exactly snap out of it. Yet.)

Bear with me while I have a mini rant about being stuck in a body in which I cannot be active. Those who have followed this blog for a while know how much I love walking, that I dabble in watersports and feel quite at home in a yoga studio. Imagine my frustration when a 100m walk to my bus stop makes me want to sleep for 3 hours. And don’t get me started at basically being banned from pools and asanas. Being (hyper)active has kept the Black Dog at bay. All those happy endorphins and serotonin levels keeping my depression in check. But now… maybe this is just anticipating the worst and it won’t be that bad – but I am genuinely afraid of backsliding without the ability to be active.

Of course, this isn’t permanent. Getting ill the your body’s way of saying slow down. Maybe I have been too frenetic and my poor immune system freaked out completely. Maybe. I am as patient as a saint with others, but I don’t afford myself the same graces (sound familiar?). How does one actually begin to teach yourself to do that? Clearly, there is no silver bullet or instant solution. But I’m sure I have learnt to be more mindful of me since the Dengue fiasco of 2013. So why does the prospect of needing to be sedentary for a few months terrify me so much? What is it about being unable to do activities you take for granted that causes such despair? I am still mobile (although at 25% of my usual speedy pace); I can still think, communicate, and reason; my brain has stopped being fuzzy so I can read, and write – although concentration levels are low (doesn’t help the knitting either)… it’s just the being able to get up and go places and do things and be social and explore. Without the painful lungs and the need to cough up furballs constantly, the tight chest and the light-headedness. I cannot wait for the day when this all ends.

Yet I am endeavouring, stubbornly, to still improve myself. Unfortunately there’s 20-odd pages of Sagan I’m going to need to re-read because it just refused to go in. But in light of a tragedy I’ve been following for the last few years, I have finally ordered myself a copy of The Art of Asking. From what I’ve read about this book and seen of the TED Talk, this may be a little bit of a revelation to me. I also ordered Tessa Dunlop’s The Bletchley Girls, as I heard the interviews about it on Radio NZ a few months ago and it sounded fascinating. A different perspective of life and existence is always healthy.

So here I sit, hot water bottle on my back to ease the muscles tired from all the coughing. Watching the rain hit the windows, the wind blow and the birds outside in full voice. I know life isn’t that bad. 80 years ago, this pneumonia would have killed me. Now, I’m warm and dry and convalescing. I’m not in hospital, and I almost have my voice back completely. I have several people constantly reminding me to take it easy. I’m drinking Lapsang Souchong and eating the last of the box of chocolates my team at work bought for me as a get-well-soon present. A very good friend in London pointed me in the direction of Serial during an emergency talk-me-out-of-a-meltdown last night – so that may be my afternoon. And maybe finishing some knitting. If I can pay attention for long enough to do so. If not, my Pinterest will certainly get more love. And so will my pillow as I’m due another nap soon.

Thank you, dear reader, for putting up with my self-pitying wallow. I love the comments I get from my tweet stream and on the blog. You’re all a brilliant bunch and I ought to comment on those with blogs I follow instead of lurking like I am.

Keep warm if you’re in the southern hemisphere, and I hope it cools down if you’re in the north. Until next time, with hopefully a more upbeat post. ~S

An ode to Pneumonia

So that, “we caught it before it became Pneumonia” spiel? Not so much. You see, they were looking in the wrong place. My pneumonia didn’t act as it should. Oh no. Instead of starting in the bottom lobe of the lung (right lung as 3 lobes, left has 2), mine had to start in the right top lobe (which has quite a bit of surface area) and spread into the middle lobe. It also had to ignore all types of antibiotics that *should* work as though I was having sugar pills.

So when I had a coughing fit that ended up with me seeing stars, I decided something wasn’t right. And went and saw my GP. Again. She looked bemused until she checked my oxygen saturation levels. Then she just looked panicked. And called an ambulance. So my saturation levels were 77. No wonder I was feeling very light-headed. I actually couldn’t get enough oxygen in to function.

So I had a fun ride in the back of an ambulance and two awesome paramedics poking me full of needles and giving me oxygen. To add to that 77 sat level, my resting heart rate was 115. 5 hours in ED isolation, another chest xray (apparently I looked too healthy to have pneumonia, according to one of the registrars), and a dogged theory that I had Whooping Cough TB, and I ended up admitted “for the night” so that they could do a CT scan in the morning. (My blood tests seem to contradict everything the doctors assumed. Amusing).

The nice thing about being possibly contagious (even though you really aren’t) is they put you in an isolation room. Private bathroom, relatively quiet. You can cough and doze without bugging anybody and having anybody bug you. This can be a good thing and a bad thing. Especially with the coughing and struggling to breathe and you’re far away from the nurses. Still, the doctors were adamant I had pneumonia and TB (I’m from Africa and why else would the medications not work?!) Finally, they were forced to concede that I did not, in fact, have TB, only atypical Pneumonia and that my body just isn’t going to do what they expect.

So that one night turned into 5. The isolation ward turned into a single room in a different pod. There was a stunning asthma attack (the spray disinfectant they were using in the corridor caused my throat to close up in spectacular fashion) – at least I gave the doctors something to do at 10am on a Sunday morning – more nebulisers, steroids, inhalers, chest xrays… It was all quite painful and a little exhausting. But the cocktail of antibiotics they put together started to work, and I managed to escape on Monday afternoon.

Mom’s here, which is a godsend. I’ve spent most of these last few days passed out. In fact, that is probably what is going to happen again today, and for the foreseeable future. I value my lungs so anything I can do to fix them…

It is frustrating talking to the doctor’s about what to expect. With pneumonia as widespread as this, it’s going to take weeks before it is all clear. And months before my energy and lung capacity is back to normal. I’m sure you can see my headdesking even now. So frustrating. Looks like it’s going to be a while before I can even make the 15 minute walk to work without causing damage. Baby steps.

In saying that, I can take this opportunity to actually work on my diving and swimming properly. From scratch. This is a good thing. Well, that’s what I keep telling myself.

And the knitting and reading will get more attention then. But I just don’t have the energy now. All my WIPs are calling me. But I just want to sleep.

So keep yourselves warm. Look after your lungs. And stay tuned for the further adventures of Shelley the accident prone.

Pressure on my chest

Chest infections are the bane of my existence. I can pinpoint the start of the whole sad story to o’week in my hall of res during my first year at uni. I was there when they were still hazing people, and I got ‘fresher flu. It took 4 months and a trip up north to see a doctor who would actually listen to my chest rather than dismissing me to get the antibiotics to clear the damn thing up. (No, I’m still not bitter – Dunedin Student Health – you ruined my health for the rest of my life). Only, it never cleared up. As my GP a home was sorry to tell me, I was going to have a crackle in my lungs and need an inhaler for the rest of my life. She continued, I’d always have a propensity to now get a chest infection. And so it goes. And she hasn’t been wrong on any count yet – 14 years later – and it still stands true. Mind you adding a compromised immune system to the mix is never going to make life easier.

So here I am. No voice to speak of, struggling to breath, and cursing my tired and aching lungs. This one hit me fast. Last Tuesday I felt odd. By Wednesday – there were shivers. Thursday I was home from work early, and Friday was spent in a fevered daze. So come Monday, when I finally make it to the doctor, she listens carefully to my lungs, takes blood pressure, and my blood oxygen saturation. “You’re lucky”, she said, “we caught it before it became pneumonia. Just.” Got the trusted antibiotics and a medical leave note which she said I was to use, and sent me home.

The last time a doctor told me I was “half a sandwich short of pneumonia” it was 2011 and there was a world cup on. I was sick, but I still did stuff. I went out. I watched games. Which is why there was 6 weeks off work. I wasn’t taking it seriously. This time, sitting up is akin to running a marathon. Breathing is a fine balance of shallow and considered (as to not start a coughing fit), and any thought of even going outside is enough to make me break into a cold sweat. Well. That’s happening anyway, so I guess that’s moot. I wonder now if the Dengue really has messed my system up enough to lie me low for what is going on a week and a half. The antibiotics and my body as still in negotiation as to how they’re going to resolve this problem, and I’m left a sleep-deprived and uncomfortable battleground. I mean really, I’m too old for this sort of thing, but I feel like it’s only going to get worse in from here.

There’s no knitting (brain too fluffy – when you’re messing up stockinette – you know you’re in trouble), no reading (eyes too sore – also difficult to keep a place when coughing up a lung, or, at least something bronchial). So there’s been a brain on some serious wacked out sleep-hungry scenario walk-throughs (attendance has been mandatory), some docos, a few movies, and staring mindless into space. I hate being sick. I’m not a good patient. I’m not actually given a choice here (maybe my body has learnt from previous experiences…)

I’m mildly concerned I won’t be anywhere near well enough come Monday, and we’re hitting crunch time at work because suddenly everybody is sick. What is this next week going to hold? It’s also frustrating because I’d just worked out some gym circuits to do to help with the swimming and I was planning to get in the water and you know? That’s going to be knocked back 4-6 weeks which is a real blow.

And I was supposed to Wagner tonight. Am quietly devastated that I won’t be. I think I will be lamenting that for a long time to come. There was just no way I was going to make it through a 2 and a half hour performance without being lynched for coughing while Brunhilde warbles.

Still, I’ve been able to catch up on some really interesting history docos on the Tudors and the Stuarts, and some amazing stuff on Al Jazeera too. Tonight will also hopefully see a less dreadful game of cricket played by the Black Caps.

But what do you do when you get sick? I mean well proper sick? Do you plan your next escape in your head, or ponder life’s mysteries in that gauzy daze you get when you’re not well? Do you try sleep through it? Drink tea and will yourself better? How do you cope with being sick?

What’s this? A blog post?

Hello dear readers! I have not forgotten you! It’s been one of those sorts of years so far. The type where I really have needed to look after me, and put the computer down from time to time.

There have been adventures! Knitting!! Awesome plans that were then scuppered and have needed to be remade!!! In short, it’s been a roller coaster with the black dog, and finding out who my friends really are after being cut down badly… and now needing to build myself back up.

Still, it’s been a learning experience. I’ve been really, really hurt. And I am still angry, but I have forgiven the parties that have made my life unnecessarily difficult – holding onto ill feelings would not help me in any way – so I’m just closing my eyes, taking deep breaths, and going to continue to live my life with as much patience and kindness and I can give. Dealing with this has taken much of my time and energy, so apologies for my absence.

I’ve done some diving (got to 28m FIM in March – outside of competition), competed in my first Catfish Cull (so much fun – will do that again), did my first wreck dive (in 10m of water but it was awesome), went to the Eng vs NZL world cup cricket game at the Cake Tin, the semi-final between SA and NZL at Eden Park (what a game!), and some roller derby games now the season has started. Also saw Jason Webley at Bodega and some fantastic NZSO concerts – with more NZSO concerts, Bic Runga & Tiny Ruins, Renee Fleming, and Robbie Williams in the music line up for the rest of the year.

KAN2015 will be happening too (doing the continental knitting class) – I’m so looking forward to it. And an AIDA judging course in Brisbane ahead of the PanPacs in November: all registered and ready to go. Quite excited about that.

And then there’s the knitting. I’ve fallen in love with Quince & Co (5 hats in Owl, and I’ve snaffled some Piper for something). I’ve expanded on my Dark Harbour stash, my MadTosh awesomeness and some more smooshy Zealana air. I’ve also some Outlaw Vanitas DK lined up for a chaleur and some of the Bohemia Worsted happening in a Strider Cowl. The first sample I saw in the Vanitas knitted at too tight a gauge – it was prickly and I was unsure of it. When I knitting a sample up on the 4mm needles… wow. I can’t wait to see it on 4mm or larger to really highlight the loft and drape – hence the chaleur. I also have a Hudson in Bendigo Melody on the needles for mum (I owe her a sweater), some kanoko pants x2 for two new mommies I know (just in time for winter), and some other bits and bobs. So all in all, the needles are working hard and competing for time with the books I’m reading: Kingdon, Sagan, and Kneale. It’s an interesting mix. I’m rather enjoying the philosophy of it all.

I’m hoping that the rest of this year allows me the time and energy to blog again. I really have missed it (as all the half-written blog bits on paper in piles around my apartment will attest). I’d love to share my thoughts on my books, the knitting I’ve doing, and the books I am reading with you. (As well as my adventures in yoga and freediving, amongst other things).

I hope to see you again sooner than later, dear reader. Until the next time! 🙂

But seas between us braid hae roar’d sin’ auld lang syne.

Happy new year.

Yes, I have been quiet. That’s because I’ve been building websites and doing social media comms, and yoga and swimming, and knitting, and I finally have a job (until April).

Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday to me
Tori Amos, at the Sydney Opera House. 2 bucketlist items: check.
Tori Amos, at the Sydney Opera House. 2 bucketlist items: check.

Last time I wrote, I’d been to KAN, and to Sydney for UWR. Since then, I went back to Sydney to see Tori Amos at the Sydney Opera House (a birthday present), saw Nick Cave live at the St James here in Wellington (the man is just amazing), finished the blanket, my Elfe (which I am currently wearing), the ravello and a Gemini in Jo Sharp DK Soho cotton.

Twice in 2 years.
Twice in 2 years.
Nick Cave playing The Ship Song at the St James.
Nick Cave playing The Ship Song at the St James.

I’ve started a Lemongrass in Cascade 220, another pair of toe-up Spring Forwards in Knitsch “Idris”, a Puerperium Cardi in Needlefood “Pukeko” and modified Dream Mitts in Knitsch “Fawkes”. (The Spring Forwards and Dream Mitts are on a very tight deadline and are currently at 50% each). I have some more baby stuffs and the Lemongrass to finish before I can knit for me again, so I’m really enjoying the gorgeousness that is my Elfe and my Gemini (Elfe has been worn to work several times now. Such a gorgeous pattern, and the Dark Harbour yarn was an absolute pleasure to knit with. Will definitely use both again, and often.

The job is interesting, completely out of my comfort zone, but I’ve managed to get my head around it. The team are a pretty decent group – the problem is in dealing with a bias against contract workers. Having done nothing but contract work ever, this is the first time I’ve encountered it, and I must admit that I’m finding it really strange. But onwards and upwards, and it’s just another experience to learn from and be mindful of. Here’s hoping that this year doesn’t see me unemployed for 6 months though.

I’ve also been reading: a few old friends and some new ones. I have read much on the Antarctic Exhibitions of the early twentieth century. I finally acquired and read Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea; and borrowed and read (3 times), Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine. Find it, read it. Read it slowly and enjoy the language. It was absolutely glorious to just absorb and savour. Seriously. Read it. I have Tartt’s The Goldfinch to finish and the Carrie Bebris Austen Collection to start. (As well as some Sagan and Hunter S. Thompson). So 2015 looks like it’s going to be just as varied a year as 2014 was on the book front.

2014 was also a year of endings and learning. And I did learn much. And at a time when the Black Dog would have really taken its toll on me, it didn’t. So I celebrate that success. I reorganised my priorities. I didn’t get hideously sick as I usually do once a year. I had a quiet birthday and a peaceful Christmas. I have finally been able to relax. The most recent ending, however is one I’m still reeling from.

My beautiful Acushla "Moofs" Machree at Ohope beach, March 2014
My beautiful Acushla “Moofs” Machree at Ohope beach, March 2014

My beautiful pup, who has graced my posts from time to time for years finally went to join all the other dogs I have loved and let go on the 27th December. She was 13 and lived a life of adoration and kisses. While I have been expecting this for 3 years now, her absence still hasn’t quite sunk in for me. I’m expecting it will hit me hard when I go home later this month and she won’t be there to talk to me in greeting, bounce towards me and shy away, only to return to press her cold wet nose against my cheek and then become my shadow. She was old, and she was loved. And will continue to be loved. My parents have buried in the garden in a place where she can sniff the breeze, and planted a Dogwood with her to remind us of our pup. Acushla was a purebred Angevin Briard, and she was absolutely beautiful. She was always happy, with the sweetest temperament and the gentlest heart. She was smart too. She would count the people in a room on a regular basis, and if one left, she would find them, and herd them back. She understood our names. She knew when we were coming home or thinking about home. Her eyes were those of an old soul. She hated being alone and loved to go to the beach or the park. She was mad for persimmons and baby carrots. She was all bark and no bite – and would love to chase the “bad birds” (starlings and Spanish miners) and cats out the garden. She and the blackbirds had an understanding though. She was mum’s constant companion and my darling fur-sister. She was there through my ups and my downs. A source of calm and loyalty through it all. And it is incredibly difficult knowing and accepting that she isn’t here anymore. Not just for me, but especially for my parents. Losing dogs is always heartbreaking, Acushla Machree was more than just a dog or a pet though. It is going to take a great deal of time to not feel her passing.

The last time I saw Moofs in October. She kept me company while I wrote job applications.
The last time I saw Moofs in October. She kept me company while I wrote job applications.

So my 2015 looks much like my 2014 – but hopefully without the angst and drama of the first part of the year. There will be sport and fitness. Reading, tea, and knitting. Some travel and some good contract work. There will be more looking after me and mindfulness. And there will be spoiling several friends all having their first child and all due within weeks of each other. 2015 is going to be a busy year.

Don’t be strangers people. I’m sorry I’ve not written for so long. I’ve missed you all. Have a wonderful 2015. Be bright, glorious things.

Spring has sprung…

So I’m still looking for a job. Yeah. I’ve lost count how many job applications I’ve sent out and how much I hate writing cover letters. Here’s hoping something happens soon. But c’est la vie, no?

Since my last post, there has been much happening. Doctor Who on the big screen. Peter Capaldi is awesome. He really was born to be the Doctor. DT will always be my Doctor though. I’m glad I’m able to claim him from all of those who are now firmly entrenched in the 12 camp. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s fine.

My lovely friend Judy-san cam and visited me for a couple of days. It was great to see her. I got a Totoro and some Whovian coasters from this groovy chick. We also went and walked around the Wellington Lux festival with more mad people, including the lovely Senorita Whimsical. We sang at lights and had fun pretending to be zombies with black lights.

Kraken by Anthony Nevin at the Wellington Lux. They were sound sensitive.
Kraken by Anthony Nevin at the Wellington Lux. They were sound sensitive.

After bidding farewell to Judy, I welcomed Becky and the Ram they call Jayne. They were here for Knit August Nights. There was gelato. And Wellington on a Plate, and lost wallets, and tea and cupcakes, and yarn. And that was just a Thursday!

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Friday saw us escape with Amelia Pond up to Napier where more yarn(!) and yarn rainbows, and real rainbows, and crochet, and spinning, and yarn angels, and yarn plotting, and letting me loose running the HRYC, and panic attacks, and escaping, and taking an Art Deco fiend to the Art Deco capital, and pizza, and an amazing leather Dachshund purse happened. Oh, and Daniel Carter at Napier airport.

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Maree did an amazing job of getting KAN together, despite having a million and one things go wrong, so big kudos to her. And it was great to see Becky and Jayne again.

My KAN stash. All so pretty
My KAN stash. All so pretty

I had a little breathing space after KAN, where I smooshed my treasures. The Kingfisher will be socks, and Fawkes may be too, but the Dark Harbour Yarn (in Narwhal and Tentacle – awesome names!) will become an Elfe (when I can afford to splurge on the pattern) (SWS, you are an amazing woman and a fine knitter. Thank you!).

Because then there was a trip to Sydney. I booked it in February in anticipation of a freediving comp that never happened, and logistically, it was cheaper to go than not to. So avoided many of the places I would have gone to if I’d been able to afford it. Still, I was able to shell out a little for some special things: my beloved Lindt Hot Chocolate, an IMAX movie, decent hand-pulled noodle soup, amazing Thai jungle curry. I slipped into Kinokuniya and made some origami flowers, and walked out to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair to finish Michael Lewis’ Flash Boys. It was a stunning Thursday for me to do this. (Friday and Saturday were average, but Sunday…). I went out to Ashfield to watch the Underwater Rugby tournament – the kiwis had 2 teams playing – and caught up with some of the Aussies who remembered me from ODEX last year, and even got to look after the scorebook for a few games (yes, this is something I really enjoy doing. So there.)

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I’ve done a Sydney weekend every year since 2007. It’s almost a reset for me. And as always, it seemed to be a magic ingredient for illumination I was seeking. This time, it came with a tan. And an added dose of patience for this whole job situation. Things are just as bad across the ditch. At least here I know something will come up.

But for now, Ben’s vest is done and steeked and being worn. Alana’s baby blanket is nearly done, and Mazi’s ravello needs some finishing. Then, I can knit for me. I can’t wait to do some selfish knitting. Here’s hoping things start to look up, dear readers, my fingers remain crossed.

Fighting the good fight.

So, I’ve been quiet. It’s not for a lack of trying. I’ve lost count of how many hours I’ve spent looking at a blank post screen in recent weeks before retreating to my bed and hiding under the blankets in despair. No-guilt blogging is a good thing. Isolating yourself is not.

So, the black dog is back and having a wonderful time. Me? Still waiting to be gainfully employed and getting absolutely stressed beyond belief for the lack of it. And yet, I have this week to look forward to, and I have been for months:

This week has Dr Who day, and Australians, and KAN. It will also hopefully have notification on whether I’ve a job or not. Really, these last two months have just reminded me of how shocking the recruiters in this country can be. And, being in the capital in the lead up to the elections… yeah, good luck with any sort of job there. But anyway. I took a gamble with the unicorn, and I lost. I’m dealing with it, but will be so much happier when I can be able to pay the rent without panicking. (Anybody interested in hiring a highly qualified problem solver with strong listening and leadership skills, good sense of humour, thinks outside the box, likes a challenge? Anybody? Just thought I’d ask).

But enough of that.

Like I said, it’s KAN next weekend. And apart from the fact that I’m not going to be able to buy any smooshiness (I’m trying hard not to think about this), I will have lots of stripes to knit while I’m there. I was toying with taking a KAN project, but, I have these all on deadline duty:

An Alberta by Jared Flood, Ravello by Isabelle Kraemer in Knitsch Pencarrow, Hepburn and Trinket, and a stripey baby blanket inspired by a pin I forgot to add to my board (grrrr), knitted in Cleckheaton cotton 4 ply and Happy Go Knitty 4ply cotton in Sunflower and Navy. I will also be learning how to crochet (finally!) and about colourwork (exciting).

I’ve also done my fair share of NZIFF films this year (prebooking everything has been a blessing). 20,000 Days on Earth (incredible editing, really interesting content), Diplomatie (an amazing adaption from stage to screen with some inspiring actors), The Tale of Princess Kaguya (Studio Ghibli at its haunting best), and the critically acclaimed and rather polarising Snowpiercer (I think the Koreans and Scandinavians share an interesting vision of humanity at the point of extinction – I put this film in the same basket and von Trier’s Melancholia).

But all in all, I’m climbing the wall. I’m knitting, yes, reading too, working on websites, and just waiting now. I’ve done all that I can, and while I am generally a patient person, there is a tinge of helplessness lurking at the moment. Still, it is a week of very dear friends next week. Dear friends, ninja sheep, and adventures. Talking geek, knitting, and escaping from my blanket fort for a while seems like a good idea.

There may even be photos…

“So the pound has dropped and the children are creating…”

There are two people in the world that I will actually listen to before making any decisions. This doesn’t mean I will follow their recommendations, but I will listen.

Then, there is an honoured second level: these are people I usually just drag around on my madcap plans. Or tell them about what I may do, and do it anyway. They don’t sugarcoat things either, but we all just carry on regardless. Months may pass and it will be like no time at all when we catch up. I spent this past weekend with one of these honoured henchpeople to celebrate a birthday of another. These two sit at the top of level 2. They are very special people. And while the three of us do catch up often, this weekend has been the first time we were together in the same location for about 8 years. (It’s usually 2 of us in one place and the other on the phone).

It was an excellent weekend. Knitting, geeky movies, cocktails, coffee, French bakeries, (disappointing) yarn shops (I miss Mishi’s), and music. And reminiscing. Oh. And Tom Hiddleston. I love these two crazy cats. They keep me honest, and make me so thankful that our lives intersected at a hall of res, and a game of rugby. That game of rugby in 2002 we watched was the beginning of a great many things, and too many adventures. I’m so happy the two of them are now in the same city: makes visiting (and adventures) so much easier. They are like a balm to my soul. I don’t have to apologise about who I am or pretend to be something I’m not. And I’ve needed that.

The week then started with another adventure. You see, out of the blue, the perfect little redheadbonnet appeared at home, and she was acquired for me. On Monday, I finally got to meet her: my dear Amelia Pond.

Come along Pond!
Come along Pond!

She’s Amelia Pond because she is red. And she has a great thirst for adventure. She was completely unexpected, desired, but unanticipated. And I love her. We drove back to the capital on Tuesday.

I would have taken photos, but, you know, it was snowing, and I was concentrating on not sliding around. Never let it be said that I didn’t learn to drive in difficult conditions: my driving test took place during a storm, and my first long trip had ice, snow, snow flurries, snow showers, hail, rain and a howling gale. I covered all the bases. Still, I’m really looking forward to that defensive driving course I’m going to book.

But she has been an absolute revelation. And one step closer to achieving another goal on my bucketlist.

But Amelia, and things mentioned in previous posts have me thinking further, and a hot beverage/chocolate mousse with an incredibly talented lass really made me think about perception and action, and how being annoyed can be useful if harnessed properly.

If you can be annoyed about something, it means you recognise that something is wrong. This means you have the opportunity to change the situation or yourself so that the issue no longer annoys you. And then, I saw this on pinterest this afternoon. (I love pinterest):

It goes very nicely with a quote a wise man once said to me:

“The pursuit of perfection leads to destruction”*

Yoga has been so good for me in that respect. The idea of Santosha has struck a chord with me since I first stumbled upon it. Being happy where I am at this point, while experiencing and furthering who I can be. Slowing down and not being so harsh on myself for not being brilliant.

I called myself a conduit in a conversation last week. Somebody who identifies and encourages talent and goals in others. I know so many gifted people who I try to help achieve their dreams. Even in my professional life – this is what makes me happy. But I don’t see myself as anything more than that. Of course, the person I was having this conversation called my perception “sheepdip” (another word was used), but I maintain my stance on me.

It is a mile and a bit from being hellbent on perfection. Of being absolutely terrified of failure. And being afraid of being seen as a fraud – too many years in postgrad has a serious amount to answer for, psychologically.

Yes, I have worked very hard to get to where I am. But I am here. I have had the most amazing experiences and done wonderful things. And I will continue to have amazing experiences and do wonderful things. And dream big and take chances. But being a conduit puts a different lens on things. I have always preferred to work in the background, and putting a term to what I do gives better clarity to the journey I am taking.

So once again, time on my mat, and in my car, and with my friends has made me reflect on my life and my choices. And you know, despite a lot of c$@p, I haven’t turned out too badly. I am stronger than I give myself credit for. And I have people who won’t let me fade into the background.

Life is good. And my friends are great.

*Andy Gurney

new start. all over again. what will I be this time?

It’s the first anniversary of my dengue bites. I know it’s an odd thing to acknowledge, but it was a wake up call for me. This last year and a bit has been full of ups and downs, and this was a pretty significant down. But, it forced me to really analyse my life: Who I am, what I want, where I want to be, who I want to be with. Of course, we don’t always get what we want, but that’s part of living. It hurts. As the Dread Pirate Roberts tells us: “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something”. This year has hurt, but I’ve still done a great deal.

The unicorn left, and while I was sad about it, I must admit, it was a relief. There was that gut feeling about things, and reality came knocking last Tuesday to remind me that I still exist in this world, a portent before the meeting, and now I’m back to the drawing board. It was an absolutely amazing experience. A little disappointed at the lack of feedback, but this seems to be a common thing, so I’m not too worried about it. Doors and windows, doors and windows…

I have finished my Old Port and my Bohemian Raglan – and they are beautiful. I’m halfway through my TdFKAL challenge – my ravello (and it is gorgeous), but it was put on hold because mum came to visit. This time, I wasn’t in hospital. And we painted my flat. And moved things around, and I fought a stubborn bookcase and won (not before some battle wounds though), and it all looks like mine now. Not tired and run down. But smart and clean. And full of books.

I’ve also managed to start doing sets of freestyle lengths (no “reset” sets with a kickboard) – which brings me great joy. As my physio said, there’s a very long way to go to strengthen the muscles and get them used to the movement again. And the muscle fatigue is really quite something – but oh! the freedom! – getting used to the body position again, working on the stroke and glide, counting the breaths. Yoga has been amazing for this. But it is just so good to be in the water. I’ve had a week off now, but I can’t wait to get back into it. Looking forward to working back in town at some point too – so I can duck in at lunch time and swim. It’s addictive you know?

I’m also continually stunned by just how wonderful the people I am privileged to call my friends are. I know some absolutely amazing people, and I adore them all to bits and pieces. I can never say thank you enough to any of them. I’m sure most are tired of it by now. But thanks guys – you are all incredible people. My month of being a hermit really made me miss my friends, and it has been great to catch up with them – singly, and in pairs.

And so, I have some knitting to catch up on, and a heater to zone out in front of. And another week of insanity and people ahead of me.

I’m about to start another adventure. I just don’t know what it is yet. I need to reorganise my life and my routine, and see what I can find around the corner.