MacKenzie Speaks: Another Tegna?! (The Mother of Cats is out of control…)

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Hot Cat
It is still hot here. 

The Mother of Cats and I are still staying inside every day because of the heat. You’d think that she would devote herself to helping me cope with the unacceptable weather, wouldn’t you? I mean, look at this fur! Nope. She just turned on a ceiling fan for me and went about her business. I’m not sure she really loves me… She spends more time babying her plants outside then she does me. How could I come in second to a rose? Ridiculous!!

Tea Rose
She has managed to get one of her tea roses to bloom.
Hydrangea
Her hydrangea that she bought this spring really got cooked by the heat (check out those crispy leaves…), but it has put out some new blooms too. Yep, you guessed it. She fusses over this plant more than me too!

When she isn’t outside ignoring me and feeding her plants she spends her time downstairs knitting away on new projects. She started two new ones this week, and would you believe that she started another Tegna sweater?

Swatch
She even made a swatch this time. This yarn is cotton and linen and she wasn’t sure about the gauge (whatever that is… Yellow Boy wants to know if it is a kind of bug…), so she had to try out different needle sizes.
Paw on yarn.
I helped her with that!
Cat and Knitting.
I closely supervised her work, and after a week look at what we have accomplished!
Lace detail on knitting.
Ta-da! Looking good, huh.

She took a break from the sweater over the weekend and made a sock. So cool. So perfect to sleep in my bed with me. Did she put cat nip into it and let me have it? Nope! I’ve discussed this before, but with the Mother of Cats it is always NOPE!!

Yarn
This is the yarn that she started with…
Sock.
…and here is her sock. She plans to make the second one this coming weekend.

So that was the whole week. She did go off and leave us from time to time, and there was some reading, but whatever. What is important is that she spends her time with me.

Cat and Knitting.
Tonight we are back to knitting the sweater.  Finally I am getting the attention that I deserve: grooming, petting, cookies. Lots of cookies!

I’m such a good boy. Do you see how much I am helping the Mother of Cats?

Can I have some cooking now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • I bought this cotton/linen yarn to make a cute lacy summer top but I was not able to get the gauge that I needed, and because of the lace it was going to be hard to adapt the pattern, and knitting tightly on small needles hurt my hands. Total fail. The solution? Another Tegna! I am so happy with the first one I knit and I think that this one will be a nice layering piece as fall arrives with the longer sleeves I’m going to put on it. My Ravelry notes are here.
  • Poor garden. Even though the heat goes on it is more humid now and plants are doing better. I feed everything in the hopes that roses will bloom again; so far only the tea roses in pots are responding well. That hydrangea is in a pot as I can’t decide where to plant it. I think that it is going to need shade at least part of the day. Poor thing; it really got fried in the first location I tried out. I’m wondering if it can winter indoors in the pot with a grow light on it. Hmmm…
  • The socks are another of the vanilla sock pattern Dave. I’m having fun playing with the colors. My Ravelry project notes are here.
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Goodbye “Science and the Scleroderma Girl”… I’m Heading Back to the Garden

Today is World Scleroderma Day. Gosh, there should be a huge post today that pulls together my whole monthly effort… nope. That sounds just exhausting, doesn’t it. How about we just head out to my garden to see what’s up. After that I can show you the big picture on what I’ve been doing all month in “Science and the Scleroderma Girl”.

Getting into the garden has been difficult for me since the sun and I are not friends. Last week I went out for a couple of hours to weed in the morning in the shade, and yep… I developed a rash on my arms and then the flare arrived. I was holed up for days getting over that little misadventure. After I  recovered I tried out weeding after dark. Gosh, I’ve had more fun moping floors. It just isn’t the same if you can’t actual see what you are doing. I wonder why that is?

Arm
But look at what I scored today while I was out shopping!! Do you see that the pattern is teal colored butterfly wings? How more appropriate for World Scleroderma Day can you get?
Sun protection!
Do you see what is written on this arm? This is a outfit designed to provide full sun protection for people playing in the surf. It is cool, wicks moisture, and will protect me from the sun. This is exactly what I need!
Jacket
Check out the whole top. This plus a hat should set me up for morning gardening, don’t you think?

There are leggings too to provide complete sunblock for the surf enthusiast, but that probably is more than I need to tend to the roses. I usually get wet while I’m watering in the evenings, and once again this baby should handle it fine. I am so set up for the rest of the summer!

Let’s see what is still alive in the garden after a week of amazing, blistering heat. Yesterday it was 105°F; these plants are no longer happy.

Purple flowers
The flowers in the tub on the back porch made it…
Veronica flowers
So did this Veronica. I’ve been transplanting this into several flower beds since it does so well.
Strawberries
Even the strawberry plants are producing well. Look at the berries that I had Tuesday afternoon. I decided to wait until Wed morning to pick them…
Bare strawberry plant
Unfortunately a squirrel beat me to them. This is all that was left, and I’m sure that he left this half eaten berry just to taunt me!

This weekend will be cooler, and I gave all the plants a good watering this evening so that they will recover over the next few days. Poor plants. Life has been tough for the last couple of weeks: heavy rain for a week followed by triple digit temperatures and blazing sunlight.

Now that we are leaving the garden here is my Scleroderma Month of June:

What I didn’t put into this was a lot of actual information about what scleroderma is. Oops. This post that I wrote for Rare Disease Day should cover that glaring omission.

So, this is World Scleroderma Day. All over the world people have posted the pictures of their smiles in an effort to make an invisible, but pretty darn serious, disease have a face. My smiling face is above: a little crooked these days, my lips have gotten too thick to smile right, and my hair is falling out, but I am doing well. Every day brings a new challenge, but still, with good luck, humor and a touch of science, I rise.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Snapshots from the Garden

The monsoon arrived right on schedule a couple of weeks ago here in Colorado. The days are now cooler, we get rainy days every week, and almost every afternoon there are thunderstorms. Some of the storms have really been memorable: serious rain, with thunder and hail. The cats have been staying inside, and the closet is getting quite a workout as they shelter in place waiting for the thunderstorms to pass.

Cat in the Closet
Is it over yet?

Yet, every thunderstorm has its silver lining. After struggling through the heat of July, the yard has burst back into bloom, and with the flowers and water I’m seeing more wildlife. Flocks of birds congregate in the back, and squirrels have been chasing each other across the roof, through the trees, and along the fence, and insects are everywhere. This morning was warm and sunny, so the cats and I returned to the yard. Here are some of the highlights.

Butterfly
The butterfly bush is now covered with blooms, and the butterflies have arrived. I think that this is a Painted Lady
Yarrow
The yarrow that I planted early this summer is now putting out new blooms.

Squirrel

Squash
My acorn squash survived the hail storms okay, but the plant lost most of its leaves. I’m hoping that the squash will make it to maturity.
Cat drinking from water
The outdoor water dish for the cats was full of fresh water. Yellow Boy moved right in.

I spent the morning drinking my latte, pulling weeds, and tending to plants that were damaged in the storms. By noon the clouds were piling up again over the mountains so the cats and I packed up and went back into the house. As I write this post the thunder is sounding, the rain is on the way, and MacKenzie is back in the closet.

Knitting time!

 

 

The Scleroderma Chronicles: Days of Wonder

The last time I chatted about my systemic sclerosis status I had just seen my doctors and I was doing great. I had sustained very little additional damage to my lungs and heart, I was taking a new supplement (tart cherry) that was an anti-inflammatory that my doctors thought I could tolerate, and I just flat out felt great. I could walk without pain, I had energy and I woke up most mornings feeling *normal* which was pretty darn amazing.

At the end of June I headed off to the clinic for my usual blood tests, joked with the man who draws my blood every 60 days, and bought myself a Starbucks on the way home to celebrate another successful outing. Two days later I was wondering why my blood results hadn’t been posted to the online portal. I was outside drinking my morning latte with the cats and the roses when the call came; my liver results were fine, but my kidney function had dropped dramatically. Oops. No more tart cherry for me!

Maine Coon cat with a bob tail.
Yellow Boy hanging out with my squash plants. Amazingly, he did not run away when the call came.

That’s when the days of wonder began. Wonder as in: “I wonder what will happen next?”, “I wonder what this is?”, “I wonder if I should call this into the doctor?” , and “Good grief, what now? I wonder when this will end?”

As soon as I went off of the tart cherry extract icky symptoms came back with a vengeance along with some new ones. It’s like they all made new friends while they were gone and couldn’t wait to show them off. Here’s what has been happening over the three weeks.

  • I woke up one morning with pitting edema in my arms and face. I looked like a chipmunk. I also had shooting nerve pain in one side of my face. Fabulous.
  • Two days later the edema was gone, but my knees hurt so bad they woke me up at 4am, and that was it for the night. Ugh! They also had swollen lumps on them!! In desperation I smeared medical marijuana cream (from a neighbor – this is Colorado and we have this stuff!) on them to see if that would help. The pain shut off within moments! I need to get me some of this stuff!!
  • The next day I slept through the night, but when I woke up in the morning the skin across my knees was so tight that I couldn’t bend them until I warmed things up with a heating pad. They itched and were warm to the touch. Maybe marijuana cream isn’t such a good idea after all. I’m losing patience, I tell the cats, who have piled onto my legs too since there is a heating pad in use… When will these cats learn how to make a morning latte?
  • Shooting pains start in my lower abdomen the day after my knees stop hurting. Diverticulitis, says the internet. Seriously! I wonder if I should call this in? I wonder if I should see that gastroenterologist after all…

Over the next several days I experienced scary low blood pressure episodes, chest pain, fevers, itching, more joint pain, and to top things off I started losing my balance and falling over without warning a few days ago.

Days of wonder, indeed. Nothing lasts; it appears that I’m on a roller-coaster of symptoms that will provide my summer thrills and scares until the ride ends (hopefully soon!). My repeat blood work showed that my kidney function had improved, and my rheumatologist isn’t saying scary things to me any more. My blood pressure is again stable, the chest pain and edema are gone, my balance is restored, and the pain in my face has vanished.

Cinco de Mayo rose.
This is one of the roses in my garden. It is called “Cinco de Mayo“, and I planted it in memory of my mother, who loved roses, who died on May 5th many years ago, and who remains the benchmark for all time for patience, grace and courage in the face of adversity.  Of course this rose has been blooming beautifully during these days of wonder.

This could be a really bad time, but I’ve discovered that it is best to just go with the flow and to focus on the ridiculous side of all of this; lumps on my knees, my chipmunk face, and falling over without warning. Really, don’t you just want to bust out laughing at the thought of all that? Thank heavens I didn’t develop a rash! It is also important to notice all the wonder around me. The beauty of my garden and the flowers, the days in bed reading new books, great dinners produced in the crock pot, the antics of the cats, and the joy of putting together a new knitting project. Wonder is endless, easy to find, and costs nothing. Okay, let’s be honest. Binge watching shows on Netflix helps too.

Today I feel a little dizzy, but much better. Hopefully I’m coming to the end of the tart cherry withdrawal. That’s right. Best to stay positive and cheerful.

I wonder what will happen tomorrow?

MacKenzie Speaks: a little this, a little that…

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Handsome Cat
Have you been missing me?

The Mother of Cats and I have been very busy. May is always one of our favorite months as we can finally move back out into the yard to begin summer living in earnest. Here’s a little update on all that we have been up to:

Flowers
The Mother of Cats cleaned the garage and then went out and bought all of these flowers for Yellow Boy and me…
Roses and flowers
but then she put them all into the front yard! I’m not allowed in the front yard. These are at the front window
Flowers
…and these wax begonias and the alyssum are along the front walk. I love laying down in alyssum; don’t you? Why doesn’t she let me out front!! I think that it is high time that I threw a cat tantrum. She just doesn’t know how lucky she is!! Lots of people would just kill to have an alyssum-loving cat like me!
Cat and toys
Or I could just sadly dig around in my toy basket. Sniff. I’m not sure she loves me…
Necklace
As soon as she got those flower into the ground it rained. Serves her right!! We stayed inside and made this little cat toy necklace together out of some stitch markers she made last week. See all of my cat fur in the picture? Funny, she didn’t add it to my basket the way I thought she would…
Bricked Garden
After days of rain it was time to move into the back. Do you remember Darwin’s Garden and the evil purple spiky flower? The plant that took over the garden and killed all of the other plants? I totally thought that old purple had won the fight, but look at what the Mother of Cats did to it… she dropped almost 800 pounds of brick on top of the plant, covering the whole garden, and then moved our garden swing on top. Hey. This is nicer anyway because now we’re in the shade!
Cat in swinging chair
Ha ha, purple plant! We win!
Rose Cuttings
She even took some cuttings from the Darwin rose before she dropped the bricks. They are going to a new Darwin’s Garden.
Cat
While we were out moving bricks (hey, I wanted to help. Why does she get upset when I’m in her way?) the cat next door came to visit. I don’t like him. I call him Enemy Cat. The Mother of Cats calls him Dobby after some Harry Potter character. Whatever.
Cat
I still keep my eye on him when he visits. He lives with the dogs next door, and if I get too close to him they bark. Hey. They have some nerve. This is MY YARD!!
Weeds
The Mother of Cats finally poked him with the hose and chased him of. I like her style! We moved on to weed another flower bed. This garden has 5 rose bushes in it. Can you see them?
Flowers
Oh, there they are!
Cat
There’s more gardens to weed, but the Mother of Cats has to buy more soil and flowers… That means we get to hang out in the swinging chair. That’s better anyway, because that way she spends more attention to me. Except when she tries to knit out here. I put a stop to that right away. Outside is for cats!!!

Next week we are going to put up the loom and start weaving. Woohoo!! You haven’t lived until you have put a warp on a loom with the Mother of Cats! This is more fun than a Christmas tree. Yarn chomping is tame compared with the fun of rolling in the warp!

Stay tuned. Next week should be a big one.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats: I also finished up every single WIP last month and completed the latest round of doctor visits and testing, but those will be new posts. I’m still trying to catch MacKenzie sleeping in the empty WIP basket. Every time I get up to get the camera he thinks I’m handing out cookies and comes running… rotten spoiled cat…

The Cat Days of Summer

It is still hot here and things are really slowing down. Most of the plants in the garden have stopped blooming and the cats are on strike under the largest bushes in the yard trying to stay cool. Smoke from western USA wildfires have made the air quality where I live less than optimal so I’ve been staying indoors as much as possible; this is easy because… Olympics! Prime knitting weather!! Today I’m watching volleyball (Serbia vs. USA. Go USA!!) and cranking away on the Antarktis shawl. Okay, that’s enough detail. Here are the pictures. 🙂

Close-up of Knitting
I’m loving the colors of my Antarktis shawl
Shawl
Here’s a shot that better shows my progress. I’m now at about the halfway point.
Cowl
I’m about half way through the Hawkshaw cowl too. I love, love, love this yarn from Spincycle Yarns.
Butterfly bush
My butterfly bush has finally started to bloom, about the only color in the entire yard. Not that any butterflies are bothering to come see the bush in the heat. Even the grass has stopped growing. Mostly it is managing to stay alive. Mostly.
Cat
The cats are too hot to chase any butterflies, anyway. Yellow Boy sleeps spread out on the damp ground under a shady bush.
Cat
Yellow Boy: I can haz matted fur…

That right. This cat grows new balls of matted fur daily. I’ve been shaving him when they get really bad, but he can get a little scary while this is going on (growling makes me nervous, and then there are those teeth!) so we do what we can. Last night I got almost everything off except some lumps of fur on his chest. This should be an Olympic event! I wonder who would get scored… me or the cat? We could call it single-handed cat clipping. Points are deducted if you resort to using a foot or sustain a scratch.

Cat
MacKenzie: I have superior fur: no fur mats for me!

Last week I went to see my primary care physician and she ordered me the oxygen-to-go equipment and changed my blood pressure meds. Now my heart rate is up, my blood pressure is down, and my oxygen levels are better. I feel pretty good and have stopped the daytime oxygen. OK, I take the support tank with me when I leave the house, but things are still better. It’s a win!!

So that’s the cat days of summer. Olympics, heat, matted cat fur, oxygen level checks, and knitting marathons.

I’m on the home stretch of the Antarktis shawl. Time to decide which shawl to knit next.

 

 

Road Trip: My Sister Knits

Every Wednesday I go to a local yarn store to knit with a group of ladies who have become my friends. Okay, let’s be honest, they are one of my main support systems. I love the ladies in this group, and last week we all headed out on a road trip to the yarn stores of Fort Collins, Colorado. We visited three stores and treated ourselves to a fun lunch. It was a great (if a little exhausting) time, and it is always exciting to explore new yarn shops, but one store in particular was a huge hit with me.

My Sister Knits is located in the carriage house behind a lovely home on a street shaded with mature trees. We drove by twice before we figured out that there was a discrete sign under a tree out front; the low profile might be due to its presence in a residential section of the city. I really don’t know about that, but it is totally worth the extra time to locate it! To get to the shop you walk through a bright and inviting gate to the side of the house and…

Yard
you enter the sweetest yard with brick patios and walkways, tables and benches for knitting, sparkly lights and lovely plantings. I was struck with envy.
chickens
Then there were the chickens… these pampered chicks have this lovely house for their coop, and the metal and wire structure to the right (which is much larger than shown in the photo) is their courtyard. So cute! I want chickens for my yard too. I want these trees and the decorations, and maybe that birdbath while we’re at it. Do you think a bee hive would be over the top? I got great ideas for my yard before I even made it to the yarn shop!
My Sister Knits
Oh, there it is. The store is located in a converted carriage house that used to be a two car garage with upstairs storage and an office used by the previous owner. Now it is a lovely yarn shop. Let’s go in…
Yarn
OK, the shop isn’t huge, but everything that is there is JUST PERFECT!! Seriously, I wanted everything. Yarn that is hard to find, too wonderful to ignore, and in a great selection of colors. I felt like I had gone to heaven!
Shop Owner
and I met Julie, who is the most positive and helpful owner you could hope for. No wonder her shop is so appealing.
Yarn
Upstairs you find all the fingering yarn…Madelinetosh and Hedgehog Fibres in every color and weight you could wish for, along with knitted samples, patterns, and cute kit packaging. There were other yarn brands, too, but I never made it that far. 🙂 This table had kits to make Melanie Berg’s On the Spice Market Shawl along with kits for the shawls you can see. You know I bought the yarn to made one of these shawls… There was a Stephen West The Doodler hanging on the wall, with every color of Hedgehog Fibers yarn lurking nearby just waiting for you to put together a three yarn combination… The shop has a license to sell Ravelry patterns, so anything you wanted, they printed it for you and you were in business.

So I got silly and bought yarn. I bought some of the kits that were shown, the yarn for some shawl patterns that have been waiting patiently in my Ravelry shopping cart, and some yarn that was too beautiful to just leave sitting on the rack. I have put together the kits to make seven new shawls (lucky seven… can you feel a new post coming on?), and launched into some small projects that are rich in color and learning. Here is the one that I started first.

Yarn kit
Downstairs on a high shelf these little kits were on display: brioche knit cowls. Hey, I always wanted to learn how to knit brioche…
Brioche cowl
Look Mom! I can knit brioche!! Look at how nice these two colors go together. Even the little stitch marker came with the kit. This is the Hawkshaw Cowl by Kate Burge and Rachel Price. That yarn is a single worsted weight merino yarn. Yum!
I-Cord Cast O
I even learned how to do the i cord cast on that Julie recommended I use. Thank you You Tube!

Today it is cool, overcast and threatening to rain. The Olympics starts tonight, and I have lots of yarn on hand and visions of shawls dancing in my head. Forecast: major knitting.

What a great road trip!