sweetfigs   s w e e t   f i g s


                in pursuit of a fruitful life


Monday, July 31, 2006

Man it's hot!

We're still in the grips of a serious summer heat wave. Very humid and high temps above 90F.

I spent most of the weekend squirreled away in the house, with the AC & ceiling fans.

The good news is that I had lots of time to sew, and now have an FO. I'll get photos loaded tomorrow.

Friday, July 28, 2006

You've got mail

Do you remember how cool it was to get mail when you were a kid?

I'll bet Libby is feeling like that.

Her canine cousin in Colorado heard she's got Lyme Disease and sent her this little get-well card.

Since you probably can't read the card (Google's bug fix for Picasa made the uploading problem even worse), it says "May love surround you, May faith sustain you, May hope encourage you ..... day by day."
On the inside, he wrote "Woof Woof Woof ..." and added his paw prints.

Little dude, thanks.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Back in business

My sewing machine is back from the shop, so I can finally get cracking on the little project bag I'm making for my swap partner in the ksks kit swap. Mr. Sweetfigs & Libby will be out of town this weekend, and the weather forecast calls for steamy heat, so it's a perfect opportunity for me to get the pieces cut out and more.

The patterned fabric is for the exterior and the purple nylon fabric is for the lining.

I also learned that Google has fixed a bug in the Picasa2 beta software. There was "an issue with BlogThis not posting pictures correctly." Don't I know it!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Where have you been?

I have a love-hate relationship with Douwe Osinga's Visited Countries map generator. It's a little depressing to see how many places I haven't visited.

One of my dreams is to take a low-tech trip around the world. You know, hiking, biking, sailing, probably some trains and other mass transit, but no planes or private cars. I'd like to devote about 2 years to the trip.

I've still got a lot of ground to cover ......

create your own visited countries map
or vertaling Duits Nederlands

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Jaywalkers for Kermit the Frog

I started using Google's new Picasa2 to upload pictures. Sometimes they upload properly and sometimes they don't. I'm not sure if it's me or the beta ware that's messing things up.

I modified the heel on the Jaywalkers and had to guess a little at the appropropriate length. The PGR is not my usual heel technique, so I erred on the side of being a little big instead of too small.

After I knit part of the foot I tried the sock on again and decided the heel was going to be just way too big. The white knitting needle in the photo marks off the excess rows -- there are approximately 8 (4 on back of heel & 4 on bottom of heel). So the Jaywalkers have gone to the frog pond.

Instead of leaving 8 stiches unwrapped, I may leave as many as 12 unwrapped.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Lyme Disease Strikes

It's official -- the blood test results came back and Libby has been diagnosed with Lyme disease.

The good news is that we seem to have caught it fairly early and that she started feeling better within about 48 hours of starting the antibiotic treatment.

She was vaccinated against the disease, but I've been reading on the internet that the vaccine is kind of iffy because a single tick bite will spray multiple mutations of the bacteria into the dog's blood stream.

She was also on Frontline, which apparently worked because the tick hopped off before we could find it. But now we're questioning whether there's any point to keeping her on this stuff.

Friday, July 21, 2006


I've made some progress on my first pair of Jaywalkers.

I wanted to avoid color pooling in the heel, so I found a shade of Louet Sales Gems Merino that closely matched the base color of my self-striping yarn.

The heel on the left is a short rowed garter stitch heel a la Lucy Neatby. It's a great heel design, but I decided the garter stitch didn't look right with this yarn combo, so I ripped it out and did the heel on the right.

The new heel on the right is a short rowed stockinette heel based on instructions from Priscilla Gibson-Roberts.

Here's a picture of the stockinette heel in progress. You can see the pairs of wraps & stitches, just before I turn the heel. There are 84 stitches in the sock, 42 stitches in the heel, and I wrapped all but 8 of the heel stitches.

It's very easy to work this PGR heel, since like all knitting it's just a step-by-step process, but it's a little tricky to get the tension right.

I have to really tighten up the wrap before proceeding to the next stitch. If the stitches don't bunch up into these little pairs, the tension is too loose.

Thursday, July 20, 2006



This is my amazing dog Liberty a/k/a Libby.

She's a 68 pound blue Weimariner and will be 7 years old this month.

The photo was taken on the 4th of July, while we were in the U.P. We had just returned from the parade in town, and she's wearing some of the beads that were thrown from a float.

I wish that I could take Libby with me every where I go, and I think she feels the same way. Sometimes this is not so good. When Mr. SweetFigs and I squeezed into the Laser for a quick sail (it's built for just one person), Libby swam out into the lake to join us. He hauled her up into the sailboat and then shifted her weight from side to side when I tacked.

We think that over the 4th of July week she was bitten by a tick carrying Lyme Disease. We're waiting for blood test results, but since the potential for permanent nerve & joint damage is so bad, we've already started the treatment.

If she winds up with chronic pain, she probably wouldn't be swimming out to join us in the dinky sail boat.  Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 17, 2006

Summer Sunset

Ok, maybe a 6-lane highway and interstate direction signs don't make for a scenic backdrop, but this is what we saw while driving through Green Bay, Wisconsin, last week, on the way to the U.P. for a long weekend.

Surprisingly, Mr. SweetFigs took this photo. In the 8 years we have been together, he might have taken about a dozen snapshots.

He happily dug out the camera when I told him it was in my bag.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Sewing machine in a ditch

I don't sew very often, but I've been on a roll lately, making handbags and a simple skirt. So I decided to sew a project bag for my ksks swap partner. We're on a short deadline with this swap, but I'm starting well in advance, so that I'll have time to think through the little custom details.

Last week my sewing machine was lurching a little, so I decided to give it some oil. The paper shredder's oil bottle was sitting out, so I grabbed that and .... uh, totally gummed up the machine. It's lurching eVen MoREe this week, and I'm going to have to take it to the shop. According to this website, my Necchi Julia Supernova from the 1960s is the pinnacle of Necchis, so I hope I haven't done permanent damage.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Never enough time

Been too busy to post lately.

No time to post on Monday night, when I went fabric shopping for my secret swap partner in the Knit Sock Kit Swap She wants to walk & knit at the same time, so I settled on a small messenger bag. I found the perfect fabrics for her (I hope), even though I am still working out the cpnstruction details. I might add a compartment that will protect the yarn from keys or other stuff she carries. Once I finish the design, I'll go back to the store for grommets or zippers or whatever.

Didn't post on Tuesday night, when we went to visit Mr. SweetFigs mom. She's 85 and she's starting to slow down. There's a bunch of stairs in the house she raised 7 kids in, and lately she's been stumbling a little bit, picking up scrapes and bruises, so she's giving serious thought to moving into a retirement community. She knows Home Sweet Home will probably be demolished by a real estate developer, so that makes the decision to leave all the harder.

On a lighter note, we're headed out of town again. We'll be in the U.P. for a long weekend with about a dozen old friends. There will be adults, kids, and dogs everywhere and I'm so excited! I've always enjoyed this annual trip, but this is the first time I won't be struggling with the weight of crushing pain. I woke up this morning feeling great and crowing about it! Mr. SweetFigs was a little apprehensive about getting through the work day, but he'll come around by the time we're on the road.

When I get back I'll have time to figure out this photo hosting thing. :) Here's a couple more from Dolly Varden.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Technical Difficulities

'Scuse the appearance please, I'm still trying to figure out html and the best way to host pictures.

Some friends invited us to go listen to Dolly Varden on Friday night. I've seen them play before, but I've never sat this close. I'm not sure if I'm suppose to disclose the venue, since the band invites only a few people they know. Our friends are Dolly Varden superfans. Listen to their MP3's here.

Friday, July 07, 2006

More Flora

Finished the 2nd Jaywalker heel last night.

It's a little windy on the lake this morning, so I grabbed the camera and took the dog for a walk along the road. The neighbors and their dog were also out, doing a 3 mile power walk.

We saw lots of foxgloves.

some yarrow, and some wild hemlock:
The neighbor said she once mistook the wild hemlock for a carrot and took a nibble but it didn't taste much like carrot so she took it home for identification.

Good thing she stopped eating it -- it's the stuff that killed Socrates.

It's also time for the ramps, which are also known as wild leeks, to flower. Ramp flowers look like oversized clover flowers, but the stalks are stiffer and they smell like garlic.

The wind has picked up even more, so we might be taking a day hike in the Sylvania Wilderness, if I can get Mr. Sweetfigs off the computer.

Edited to add that we took our day hike, then a dip in the lake, where we decided to head home ASAP. We closed up the house in about 1/2 hour and hit the road.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


We're still in the U.P., shaking off the usual routine.

The pontoon boat was fixed by this morning, so we picked it up and put it back in the water. We scrubbed the sailboat, did a little gardening, and took a swim before having a late lunch.

This summer, the foxgloves are every where. I still don't have the cable to download the pictures I've been taking, but here's one from a previous year.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A Short Detour in the Upper Peninsula

I'm taking a few days off from work this week, so we're hanging out in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. No set schedule, just going with the flow.

Mr. SweetFigs spent the last 2 days trying to get the pontoon boat running, but threw up his hands this morning.

He got the boat towed down to the boat landing, while I drove the truck & trailer down to meet him. It was tough getting the big boat onto the trailer w/o any power while the wind gusted like crazy, but we managed with the help of some ropes and an extra hand from a nice woman who came by to use the landing.

We dropped the boat & trailer off in Watersmeet, Michigan, right across the road from the Watersmeet Township School. You might be familiar with the Watersmeet Nimrods from those ads that ESPN channel ran in 2004. According to this article in the New York Times, the school managed
"to move $80,000 worth of Nimrod gear in about two months, to buyers all over the United States, and attracted interest from some of the biggest sports-apparel companies. Pretty impressive for a high school with 77 students."

After we grabbed a quick lunch in Watersmeet, Mr. SweetFigs suggested we head up the road to the Sturgeon River Gorge Wildernesss, which is part of the Ottawa National Forest. What the heck, we're on vacation.

This is a picture that I took from one of the overlook points. The digital camera was too dinky to capture the scale of the gorge. I'll bet its awesome in the fall. You might just make out a stream of water running from the center of the photo to the right -- the water is sort of a pine needle brown and it might be the Sturgeon River.
Here's a little maple tree, no bigger than the ferns.
After marveling at the old growth trees and deep gorges, we continued on to L'Anse, Michigan, on Lake Superior. Unlike the brownish water in the stream, the lake water was super clear. It was also super cold, but the dog was more than happy to jump in and fetch sticks.

We picked up some smoked fish for dinner, then headed home.

Throughout the drive I was working on my Jaywalker heels, and managed to get 1 done and the other 1/2 done. Pictures to follow.

All in all, our little detour through the U.P. was about 150 miles long.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Independence Day

Independence Day seems a good day to start blogging, since I've recently been freed from unrelenting pain that plagued me for about a decade.

I experienced increasing muscle pain and decreasing mobility, even though I had a pretty good lifestyle -- positive attitude, pretty good diet, regular exercise, lots of sleep, and other than the pain, no complaints about my health, and no need to take medication. I was very active, and enjoyed regular running and yoga sessions. Still, the muscle pain and muscle constrictions got worse, for no apparent reason.

I tried to manage the pain myself by changing my running & yoga schedule, sleeping more, drinking more water, changing out my running shoes ... no improvement. In fact, some of what I did to decrease the pain actually seemed to make it worse, especially the stretching of yoga.

Over the years, my complaints led to blood testing for various ailments, like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, some other scary stuff I can't remember, nutritional imbalance, and hormonal imbalance.

Major physical problems were ruled out with a couple of MRIs, a handful of ultrasounds, and more x-rays than I can count or care to dwell on.

Then I tried physical therapy, which helped some.

Zero Balancing therapy also helped.

I tried a few different physical therapists to see if that would help, which it did, but I quickly hit a plateau and couldn't maintain the relief. So then there was acupuncture, a consultation with a chronic pain clinic that wanted to keep me in full-time therapy for a month, and more physical therapy.

I got fed up with going to physical therapy and quit for a while, but eventually went back. On the latest go-around with physical therapy, I bought a book about self-treating trigger points, and the rest is history.

Within months of beginning self-treatment and professional treatment for trigger points, my life has turned around. I'm not 100% pain free, yet, but I'm getting there. My horizons are broad again -- like they were a decade ago. I used to sit for long periods, trying not to hurt myself and busying my mind with other topics, but now I'm free to do whatever I want. Happy days are here again!