Blog, I’ve neglected thee, so on with this nothing sort of a post so we can catch up.
I’ve been knitting like crazy again because son No.1 and GF bought me a knitting book for Christmas featuring animal patterns by Sarah Keen. This follows a long period of knitterly inactivity and major loss of interest in knitting blogs. I did Sarah’s baby hippo first, being its cuteness out-cuted the other patterns in her collection.
Disappointed in the aesthetic nature of most of her patterns, particularly the giraffe, lion and panda, I went in search of other animal patterns on the net and found the website Knitables, by Sarah Gasson, which features really cute animals and loads of clothes to put them in (bit weird but it’s what the animal designers do, and it definitely worked for Beatrix Potter.) Her latest creation is a cow in a tartan kilt (make of that what you will, ‘cos I haven’t a clue.) Funny how we like to anthropomorphise the animals we eventually consume. I’m deciding more and more that I should become a veggie, particularly since a recent family meal out in a local olde Worlde pub we’ve never tried before. The menu was costly (the pub employs four properly trained Chefs) and the husband ordered smoked wood pigeon breast as a starter. I declined a starter (trying to lose weight) and balked at the fact the husband was going to scoff down a bird that regularly visits our garden, feeling I might possibly know the pigeon in question. This is a problem I have with eating my fellow Earth inhabitants. It’s sort of ok, so long as I only see their body parts wrapped in cling film at the supermarket, which creates a sort of distance between the poor animal that got slaughtered and the bit of it on display. There’s no part of me that could kill anything, so it feels a bit hypocritical that I ‘sanction’ animal slaughter on industrial scales by buying the animal products.
The husband’s starter arrived (£7.50) on a large oblong plate, to reveal a smidgen of pigeon about the size of half a golf ball. Two miniscule, weirdly purple balls of something else had been placed at either side of it, and the husband made the obvious but probably anatomically incorrect joke. At the side of the plate was a fancy squirt of a mysterious sauce (the husband couldn’t remember the menu description.) To say the husband was disappointed is an understatement. He ate his starter in a couple of mouthfuls and then spent a good few minutes complaining about it. I agreed that there was much more plate than there was grub and that £7.50 was taking the p*ss, but this was how ‘proper’ chefs do things and we were probably paying for their years at Chef school, where they’d been taught that ‘less is more’ and that everything must come with fancy squirts of sauce, in the manner of a Jackson Pollock painting. Moreover, some poor wood pigeon had had its life cut short, maybe leaving baby pigeon orphans behind, just so the husband could whinge about what a crap starter it’d made. You can’t put a price on life, but it seems you can when it comes to the food we eat. If this sounds like I’m a real downer during family occasions, it’s quite the reverse, for I can be found laughing helplessly and hysterically, usually at the husband, aided by the one glass of wine I drink on sporadic outings. My drinking days (such as they were) ended after a bout of labyrinthitis many dizzy moons ago. And, as an indication of the perverse stance I take towards humans shoving animals down their necks, I then ordered a gigantic burger. But I’m determined to give vegetarianism a go and will soon be ordering Joe Wick’s lean in 15 veggie cook book, as recommended by son No.1.
Blog, apologies for I majorly digressed. Ms Gasson’s animals all look like cute, pot bellied toddlers but I soon discovered they were on a different level (knitting-wise) – particularly her giraffe (below) -which took me hours of fiddly knitting, with four balls of wool on the go at the same time. The mane, which only appears at the top of its head in this photo, was supposed to be in ‘eyelash’ yarn, but my local haberdashery only had ‘fake fur’ yarn, which was a huge mistake as it’s very thick. Knitting it, along with the DK yarn on my 3.25 needles, nearly broke my fingers off. I later discovered that ‘fake fur’ requires size 10 needles, so it was completely my fault thinking it was doable on diddly 3.25s.
My giraffe isn’t perfect (but then who is.) The nose bit of the face didn’t come out as cute or as rounded as Ms Gasson’s, and attaching the head to the body was a real ‘killer’ stitching-wise. That’s the main problem when knitting toys, they rarely come out looking just like the designer’s creation. This is because it’s all in the stuffing (and the tension of your knitted stitches, oh and how you stitch the limbs on, so basically everything, but mainly the stuffing.) From many years’ experience of knitting woolly creatures, I can state with authority that unless you get the stuffing right, you’re likely to produce something that looks like one of those gargoyles hanging off Notre Dame. This usually results from putting in too little stuffing, a mistake I made very early on. I quickly learned to shove in as much of the polyester wadding as the knitted piece would take, and then add in a bit more for good luck. The designers will tell you to ‘shape’ your creation, once it’s stuffed, by somehow moulding the body parts. Ignore them, as this is impossible. Once your critter is stuffed, then you’re equally stuffed when it comes to making any improvements.
On Saturday dear Blog, I won £140 on the lottery. This means I successfully chose four numbers out of six. I felt pleased with myself; with my uncanny (maybe super-power) ability to pick four winning numbers out of the ether until I realised that I’d basically just won back the money I’d spent playing the lottery for the past 5 months. Oh, what a devious ‘game’ the Lottery is, to give me the momentary rush of seeing four of my numbers come up before my eyes, only to snatch it back when my prize for very nearly getting the jackpot was a paltry 140 quid. I haven’t played the Lottery for years but started again about a year ago. I only put on a couple of lines a week and I’ve won loads of free ‘go’s’ and quite a few £25s in that time (which now appears to have gone up to £30) so have probably more than got my money back, so I’ll carry on lining Camelot’s pockets.
Last Friday evening I was on my laptop (nothing to do with you blog) intermittently glancing at the telly when I noticed a flash of white light in the peripheral vision of my right eye, coming from the curtains, just like a camera’s flash bulb going off. I took it for a possible car headlight flashing through the window and looked that way, whereupon the light flashed from a different place. Every time I moved my head, the flash of light moved location. I realised it was happening inside my eye. This is the sort of occurrence guaranteed to send me into hypochondriacal panic. I closed my eyes as a final test and ‘watched’ as the light flashed on and off inside the blackness of my closed right eye. It wasn’t what I call an ‘aura’, the weird multi-coloured moving arc of light I usually get, with what’s called a visual migraine, which also creates a blind spot in my vision. There was no blind spot and no colours. I closed my laptop wondering if computer light can cause strange disturbances in vision. I turned off the TV, in case the telly was also sending out eye altering waves of digital light. I sat motionless on the couch, willing the flashing light to stop but also waiting for something terrible to happen – was this heralding a stroke, or a TIA (TIAs have been on my mind, but hopefully not on my brain) or a retinal problem? I went upstairs and lay down in the dark, watching as the light bulb sparking off in my own head turned itself on and off. Gradually the light got smaller, until it resembled one of those dots of light in a glaucoma field test and then it stopped.
I dashed off an email to my kindly young optometrist (quite possessive about my optometrist am I) that night and described this visual incident in great and I’m sure quite fascinating detail, safe in the knowledge that, of all people, an optometrist was likely to find my email absolutely riveting. Did he think it was the sort of thing that should be looked at promptly? I sent this email on the Friday night but then decided to go to the opticians the following day, on the advice of the friend who said it sounded very like vitreous detachment to her, and I might have a tear in my retina and, furthermore, I’d probably need laser surgery (something that had happened to her a couple of years ago.) So, having successfully had the wind put right up me, I rushed to the opticians.
I never learn. My intent, since entering late middle-age, has been to ignore health issues and certainly to never put myself in the way of any sort of health professional. But, instead of ignoring my flashing light and comforting myself with the fact that it was probably just a sort of brain glitch, I saw a male optometrist who guided me towards an expensive machine which took several 3D photos of my eyes. I’ve been threatened with this machine before in previous eye tests but always resisted the advice to see more of my eyeballs than I really wanted to. ‘Grip the machine at each side,’ he said, pointing to grippable side bar thingies, which were strangely impossible to grip onto. What on earth was going to happen if it was necessary that I grip onto something for dear life? I had to put each eye against a hole in the machine, looking into a black void with a grid of light in its centre. ‘Open your eyes wide,’ he instructed, whereupon each eye was subjected to an intensely bright green light. Side views of my eyes were necessary, but this meant my nose got in the way, as I attempted to lay the side of my face up against the side of the machine, so I could stare through the hole at a grid of light which was way down in a black corner. ‘I can’t do it,’ I whinged at the optometrist, from this extremely unflattering position. ‘Your nose is getting in the way,’’ he said in a completely unnecessary fashion, before giving my head a good push to really slam my eye up against the black hole, which was beginning to take on the scary qualities of its galactic equivalent. He then led me back to his consulting room and pulled up my images on the computer. After some deliberation, during which I imagined all kinds of worst-case scenarios, he pronounced that the right eye, with the flashing light, was fine. Therefore, it was his opinion that the light had been a variation on my usual visual migraines. He then looked at the left eye for a long, long time and said ‘oh, that’s annoying,’ and guided me to the machine again to repeat the photos for the left eye. I remained in mute panic the whole time. Back in his room he pulled up the left eye image and said I had ‘white without pressure’ at the top of my retina and evidence of ‘pigmentation damage/erosion’ (not sure which, being I was a nervous wreck) at the bottom of the eye. I dared to speak and uttered ‘what does it mean’ in a sort of strangulated tone. It’s ok, he said, the damage is probably old damage (old damage!! Why had no-one mentioned this before) and is such that you could almost say it’s ‘ignorable.’ So why mention it thought I, and scare the bejesus out of me? We’ll monitor the white without pressure at every test and see you in 8-10 weeks.
So, I went home wondering why on earth I’d allowed myself to be guided towards this machine, like a mute sacrificial lamb (vegetarianism is really on my mind) and sent my empathic optometrist another email informing him that I’d been investigated. The following Monday I got a call from my friendly optometrist, apologising for not answering my emails but he’d just got back from Australia. In a tired, faraway voice he said that ‘white without pressure’ was quite common with a prevalence of 3-4% in the population. I squealed that that didn’t sound very common at all. ‘Well, we see quite a lot of it in practice.’ He asked if my eyes were ok, had I seen anymore lights and booked me an appointment with his very good self in a month’s time (you’ll have gathered that there aren’t enough complimentary words to do justice to this young optometrist.) I’ve only seen this young lad twice in nearly three years, so I can’t absolutely vouch that he’s the best optometrist in the world, but he is, probably.
I’ve read The Picture of Dorian Gray, in a complete works of Oscar Wilde book I nicked from the last visit to my parents and marvelled at Wilde’s absolutely AWFUL writing style – there are only so many ‘tremulous’ flowers and ‘rose leaf’ lips a woman can take. Wilde may have been a genius at epigrams and such like but his tendency to witter on about youthful ‘Adonises’ is an absolute pain in the neck. It made me re-read parts of an autobiography of Wilde I got years ago (the bit about Bosie, rent boys, Victorian pimps and sexual blackmail) and oh, what a conceited, rather stupid author of his own quite sordid demise old Oscar was, not to mention the revolting Lord Alfred Douglas (Bosie) clearly the template for Dorian Gray. Bosie was as good a reason as any for the plebs to revolt against the aristocracy.
I began singing lessons just over a month ago with a charming young lady. I must have reached the age where youth seems miraculous, being I’m now so far from it. One morning I walked into her hallway (she keeps the door open when clients are coming) to find her standing at the bottom of her stairs, in a nervous and anxious pose, her hands clasped under her chin while she looked up to the second floor. ‘I’m trying to get my cat to come down,’ she said, ‘she’s a rescue cat and very nervous. The previous owners mistreated her.’ Up to that point I didn’t know she had a cat. I’m not a cat person, or a pet person in general, and looked up to see a young, very nice-looking white cat with shy fear in its eyes. I made a sort of repeated tutting sound and motioned it to come down and it came straight down. ‘You’re honoured!’ my teacher gasped, ‘I can’t get her to do anything.’ Wondering if I’d found a new skill as an animal behaviourist, I also wondered if she was somehow transmitting her own anxiety about the cat to the cat, whereas I wasn’t bothered about the cat so just ‘told’ it to come down downstairs in a forthright and commanding manner. If only I could be as forthright and commanding with people (strangers) but, like the cat, they fill me with fear and trepidation. My teacher put her cat in the lounge and said, ‘she’s a house cat, never goes outside.’ ‘How sensible,’ thought I, ‘if I were a cat, that’s just the sort of cat I would be,’ and then we went into her converted garage, where she plays the keyboard and I warble one of her large library of tunes.