Elizabeth Moon's Blog, page 9

July 9, 2014

From last Wednesday, the one-week checkup, to this, I had some exercise restrictions lifted, while others (not lifting weights over 5 pounds) stayed the same.  I could ride the bicycle.  Medicated eyedrops continued on the same schedule, but I was told I could discontinue using the eye shield at night on the Monday (I actually used it Monday night, but not Tuesday).   And I was able to get a plain glass lens put in the left side of my regular glasses, so I could see better.  Over the course of the week I rode my bike (a total of 54 miles, with three days 10+ miles) and could tell that my vision was improving, though the astigmatism still made it a bit weird.

Today I had my two-week post-surgery exam.   As with last week, the first part was a measurement of the eye's size (a measure of any swelling or irregularity in shape, compared to the measurements taken before the surgery) and placement of the implanted lens.  The next part included tests of visual acuity (is the operated eye at its full-recovery acuity or not--is it improving from the previous visit or not?) and intra-ocular pressure (the glaucoma test) to see if pressure was building up in the eye.  One of the medications used for the healing process can cause increased pressure in susceptible individuals, so they check for it every time.   My visual acuity had improved from last week, but not to the final intended level, with correction of myopia to 20/20.

At this point, I could have gotten a new prescription, but it would likely have been only temporary, as my vision is still changing, so on the advice of the eye surgeon, I'm waiting another two weeks for that.   The eye surgeon said that four weeks is a more typical period for the operated eye to settle into its final visual acuity.   All exercise restrictions except swimming (underwater) and diving have been lifted; I can return to weight work and floor exercises and as much impact exercise as I want.   For swimming underwater (I don't even want to!) he said to wait another full week.   I am continuing to take the medicated eye drops; two of them will run out before the third (prednisolone) which has to be tapered off.    Because of the astigmatism, I won't be driving until I get my new glasses, though if I didn't that problem, I would--overall, my eyesight is already better than before the surgery, when I was driving.  

I tried to find clip-on sunglasses at several places, and finally found them at a pharmacy.  Unfortunately, they are made in sizes to fit currently fashionable glasses, and none had lenses as large as my glasses (I like BIG lenses because they protect my eyes, like a windshield, when I'm outside riding a bike--bugs--or in blowing dust, which we have at times.)  I bought the best match I could find and will wear them while biking until I can get my own full sunglasses.

Two-week post-op:  results good, vision much clearer, colors brighter (as others have reported),  and I now share the very positive opinion about the value of the surgery that others have expressed.   I never had more discomfort than "there might be something in my eye"  on the first 36-48 hours, and it was never as bad as actually having a piece of grit in there.  It was the incision, I was told.  It really, really helps to have someone put the eye drops in, rather than trying to do it yourself.  It's a three times a day thing, and it's important to do it right.   People trying to do it themselves, using an eye that now has no ability to focus close up, often spill some of the drops, and then they can run out and have to get more.

Discomfort: Minimal in my case.   The IV was the most, really, with a tiny bit from eyedrops until the incision healed completely.    I took one dose of Tylenol in the recovery period and it wasn't for pain in the eye, but for a headache.   There was no discomfort aThe eye shield itself isn't uncomfortable but un-taping it in the morning can be, and if your skin is "loose" you have to hold it down so as not to yank on the eye lid and thus annoy the operated eye.    Those with astigmatism and the resources might want to seriously consider the implant that corrects both basic focal length (myopia) and astigmatism, if it's right for their eye.  It would give better uncorrected vision and you might not need anything but reading glasses for near vision afterward.  I think I'll try that when the other cataract matures (assuming it will).   Even if 20/20 isn't possible,  going from 350ish (I think was my most recent one) to more like 20/50 is a huge help.

The first week post-op, as I've mentioned, I was able to do light writing on the computer within 24 hours, about a half-day (in patched) the next day or so.   Some people I was told, have a problem with double-vision before they get their new prescription, but I haven't had it.

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Published on July 09, 2014 15:29 • 38 views
A week ago, at the one-week checkup after my cataract surgery, I was given permission to resume riding my bike, and also permission to get a plane lens put in the left side of my glasses.  I wasn't sure how this would work (having been warned I might have double vision since the lens wouldn't fix the astigmatism or help the eyes coordinate for true binocular vision.  But I found it much, much better than wearing the glasses with the old corrective lens on that side.   And that evening, I got on my bike and very cautiously rode up and down the street at its "dead time" for about 6 3/4 miles.    It felt wonderful!  My vision is a little peculiar, but not so peculiar that I can't, at the speed of a bike ride, navigate well.

The next day, when I'd planned another late-afternoon/evening ride, we had a thunderstorm.  OK, no ride.  On Friday, I rode 5 1/2 miles on the street, end to end several times.  Still very carefully, learning to suppress unwanted input from the left eye (like seeing double when looking sharply to one side)  but allowing it to help out the right one when possible.  The right one was still dominating, as it had been when the cataract was in.  The rest of the body thought this was great fun, much better than hanging around inside being careful not to move too fast or anything.

Saturday,  I rode 10 miles in two rides (morning and evening, the only times I would ride without sunglasses.  The plane lens is in my regular glasses, so no sun protection at all.)   Sunday, only 7.24 miles in the evening, but Monday 11 miles in two rides, and Tuesday 12.  This morning (before the next visit to the eye doctor) , 6.3.   My goal for the week is 50 and--barring accidents--I should have no trouble reaching it handily.    While we're in the city, I will try to find some clip-on sunglasses that give good UV protection, so I can ride a little later in the morning (to pick up the mail, which isn't put out until 10:30 am, and go to the bank).    Later, when I get my new prescription for that eye, I'll get prescription sunglasses as well as regular non-sunglasses glasses.

For whatever reasoh--fun on a bike when I was a kid, or whatever--riding a bike is the most fun kind of exercise available to me right now.   My bike skills have come back, pretty much, in the past two years, and I feel generally competent on the bike--and also there's the "kid" factor--I feel very connected to the 11 year old riding over to the library, out to the airport, all over the place.  It's freedom, without the need for a car.   The left eye is working well enough that I experience no visual problems now, and have even ridden (one car-free block)  with my right eye closed, just to see if it would work.   My speed is up to what it was before; the heat is enough now (evening rides are done at 90-95F) that I'm not pushing for speed but am still going somewhat faster while using a little harder gears than last year.

It's good to be back on the bike.  I look forward to having many more miles of fun on it.

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Published on July 09, 2014 09:51 • 48 views

July 8, 2014

Writers get a lot of routine questions, some of which we find amusing, some annoying, and some tiresome because we've answered them fifty million times already.    "Where to do you get your ideas?"  (They falleth like the gentle rain from heaven...)   "How much did you have to pay to get your book published?"  (Nothing--the publisher pays me for the right to publish it.)   "Do you make as much as Stephen King?"  (No.)   "J.K. Rowling?"  (No.)   "Have you been #1 on the New York Times bestseller list?"  (No, alas.  But I have crawled onto the lower rungs of the extended list a few times.)   That answer doesn't count with them.  The best question I was ever asked came from a first grader in an elementary school where I was spending the day being a writer in residence.   "Can you go to the bathroom any time you want to?"  (Yes!  Brilliant kid--goes right to the essence of what makes a writer's life great...we can indeed go to the bathroom--or get a drink of water--or stand up and move around--any time we want.   I did add that if I kept going to the bathroom and not writing, the book would never get done.)

But one I find personally annoying, because it comes from people who sorta know I'm a writer, but haven't learned anything about the life of a writer, is the "Are you still writing?" which is often given in the tone of someone who hopes the writer will outgrow that rather disreputable activity.   To such persons, apparently, the only reason someone would write all those books is (hopefully  temporary) insanity.  They would be glad to welcome me back to the land of the sane.   Upon my response, that yes, I'm still writing as I still like to eat and have electricity,  and expect the next book to come out in X months,  they give me a long hard look.  They used to suggest things I could do instead (none of which I'm any good at) but now that I'm almost 70, they've run out of economically feasible suggestions other than "You could teach writing."   No, I say, I could not.  I can teach things that I know well, and that are factual (geometry, for example, or how to turn the heel of a sock, or what keeps airplanes up in the air, or how to make bread) but writing is far more complicated than that.  Which makes their next comment even more galling, "So...you're just churning 'em out, are you?"

The urge to stuff the person into a butter churn and start churning--to teach them what churning is, and writing isn't, comes clearly before my eyes, but I know better.   They have the kind of mind that could churn forever and not find a plot if I threw it in the churn with them.   But that leads into statements that annoy writers, rather than questions, so just remember not to ask writers "Are you still writing?"   Most of us will be well-behaved, and you may not notice the gritted teeth even as we answer.  But someday, someone's going to snap...

Yes, I'm still writing.  I expect to be still writing until  I die (for writerly definitions of "die" which includes losing the ability to write.   I may not be writing the same thing, but I'll be writing.
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Published on July 08, 2014 12:06 • 108 views

July 4, 2014

So I had some leftover light-medium blue (same as on the sunset canyon pair, and the blue stripe on the first of the shorty socks) and some leftover emerald green, and quite a lot of Bitterroot Rainbow, and some other colors I knew I wasn't going to use for a whole sock.  And after holding various yarns together, this happened:


It will use up all the remaining blue (which is actually just a little lighter & "dustier" than that, a lot (but not all) of the green), both of which are Ella rae Classic yarn (blue is color #45, green is #90.)   The corn yellow is Cascade 220 Superwash, color #821  (and I don't want to use much of it, because that Superwash tends to go really limp after handwashing).  And the multi-colored yarn is the Bitterroot Rainbow from Mountain Colors, and is actually a bit brighter (so yes, I fiddled with the colors for the best overall realism.   in natural light from the window, the green is distinctly "brighter' than the blue.  For this pair, the foundation color (Color 1) is the blue--so it has the rolled edge, the "ankle" and heel flap, and will have the toe.  Color 2 is the Bitterroot Rainbow, and it and the green will have almost the same amount, I think.  I'm not counting the rows of each to make sure.  The alternate colors are all in the wide colored band that works the gussets.   I've considered making the toe stripe yellow.

The second sock isn't on the gusset yet--the heel's turned, but I got excited about working on the stripes, so I moved ahead on A, and will pick up the stitches on B this afternoon or evening.  What I don't have yet is a name for this pair.  The other striped ones all have names: Rainy Day Roses,  Sunshine 'n' Roses, Desert Canyon Sunset, Tropical Lagoon.  But this?   Suggestions will be accepted, but no promises that I'll pick one.  The only think I've thought of is Summer Wildflowers (becuase the sky is the right color for Texas summer sky, and we do have some wildflowers this year, but the Bitteroot Rainbow doesn't have enough bright yellow in it, and the yellow stripes are for the other wildflowers. that are solid yellow.

Meanwhile the back pair are royal blue regular socks (the same royal blue used in this pair:


They're planned as solids if I have enough of the royal blue left. Otherwise the feet may acquire some stripes (but toes and heels will be blue, whatever else happens between.)  Those stripes will probably be green, if they're needed to eke out the blue.

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Published on July 04, 2014 12:06 • 44 views

June 28, 2014

Three days ago I had a cataract removed from my left eye.  Years ago, my left eye was the stronger of the two (but not by much...I was myopic from childhood, severely enough that I was put in contact lenses at age 15 to stop the progression.)   Several of my friends had had cataract surgery and told me what to expect, but every eye is a little different and mine chose an alternative route back to sight.  I have been wearing bifocals for years.

It's getting there, but it's not "there" yet, in terms of stability enough to get a new prescription for glasses.   Some people go from severely impaired vision to not needing glasses, but I knew going in I would not be one of them.  I have astigmatism as well as myopia and presbyopia (the presbyopia has moderated the myopia a little bit, but has stolen my ability to put my nose on a page and read teeny-tiny print...that went before the distance vision changed at all.)   Although it is possible to get a lens insert that corrects astigmatism...or a lens insert that give you both near and far vision...there's not a lens that gives both astigmatism correction AND bifocal vision, which meant even if I paid a lot more for the astigmatism correction, I'd still need glasses.  But then--except for the ~15 years I wore contact lenses, I've worn glasses for most of my life.  No biggie.

So what I have now is a left eye with better uncorrected distance vision than the right eye...but so much astigmatism that it would not be safe to use in driving...the bending of edges can be enough to make things pop in and out of visibility as I move.  With my glasses on, the left eye's astigmatism is corrected, but the world looks as if someone smeared the lens with petroleum jelly.  Oddly, the distance vision is better through the bottom, "near" part of the bifocals than through the top.   Meanwhile, the right eye has blurry vision for anything with glasses off, but decent (not perfect) vision with glasses on.

The most annoying thing when I first got the left eye unbandaged was a distinct pink haze over everything.  Close it, and colors appeared normal.  Open it and there was the pink.  White things looked pink.  Red things looked very dark to black.  That has, thankfully, faded, becoming more what was described to me by others...colors looking "cooler" but more vivid.   One possibility is that everything IS pink-hazed...but more likely, when I think about it, my cataract was greenish, and having become used to that filter, when it was removed I saw the complementary color until my brain got over it.  OH--you mean you aren't needing compensation for that filter anymore?  OK.

An interesting thing is how easily my brain switches eye dominance with clarity of vision: whichever eye sees more clearly takes over and input from the other one fades.  I'm typing wearing glasses, using my right eye.  If I shut my left eye, everything on the monitor is blurry, but I don't notice any blur while typing.  If I turn to look out the window, it seems that I have, indeed, normal distance vision with the right eye and there's no blur from the left eye.  But if I push up my glasses, the left eye instantly "takes over" and gives me a full-field view with that eye, becuase--though not perfect--it's much stronger distance vision than the uncorrected right eye.   It's fairly seamless.  I've discovered that I can read (as I often do) with my glasses off by holding a book close...but glance up and the left eye's better distance seeing takes over and lets me see the folds of the window curtain, clothes hanging in the closet, etc.  Then glance back at the book and the near-sighted right eye locks in on the print.   If I had opted for the astigmatism-correction lens implant, I would have useful vision both very near and far without glasses (monocular in both, however, and missing  in the 1 foot to maybe 4 foot range.  )

Supposedly over the next two weeks, about, the left eye's visual acuity will settle down to what it's going to be, and I can get a new prescription, so that I can see out of both sides of my glasses, with only astigmatism correction (or very little myopic correction) in the left eye, plus the bifocal correction for closer sight, and the usual in my right eye.   The right eye also has a cataract, but it isn't nearly as bad as the one removed, and I won't be having that surgery until it gets worse.
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Published on June 28, 2014 07:04 • 55 views

June 24, 2014

I mentioned somewhere in the various sock posts that I'd gotten the idea for the short socks from a book, but it had vanished into the chaos.  Found it again today. The Sock Knitter's Workshop, by Ewa Jostes and Sephanie van der Linden.  I bought it when I started thinking about doing socks, because--at that time--I was looking at every source for how to knit socks.

On the whole, I didn't find the book particularly useful (especially when it comes to turning heels...I was completely confused by their methods), certainly not as useful as Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Knitting Rules, which is what finally unblocked me about starting socks. There's good information in it, it's just not really aimed at the kind of socks I wanted for myself.   But the picture of the Sport Socks on page 110 gave me the idea for short socks of my own...made with different yarn of a different weight, on different sized needles, with a different kind of ribbing, different heel, different toe, and different colors.   There's a resemblance--but it's not that close other than "rolled top, some ribbing, short sock."   No closer than second cousins, I would say, rather than siblings to my socks.  But this book may be useful for others, and I still refer to it for some things.
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Published on June 24, 2014 12:22 • 57 views

June 20, 2014

First wearing, with sandals.  The turquoise is more turquoise, and the blue more lavender.

tropic-lagoon-socks215Here the turquoise shows better, and one of the "hot purple" stripes (left sock.)
The pair of toe stripes are the same purple, but don't show up that way.I like to wear socks "raw", without washing or blocking, the first time, so my feet can do the blocking in the course of a day's wear.   The socks are not as soft as they will be, but they're still comfortable enough to make my feet happy.  Only the ribbing stripe and the toe stripe are intended to match in position; the others are not really random, but they're not matching.  Having one of the yarns variegated helped with that, of course.   The purple yarn is Cascade 220 Orchid Heather, and it's a fascinating blend of blue and a strong hot pink/fuschia.

Now on to a regular royal blue pair and a pair of shorties whose color scheme I haven't picked yet.  I need three more pairs of the shorties for a good rotation, and wouldn't mind having more than that.

Anyone who's made socks before can easily make short socks for sandals or low shoes...I devised the formula for my version after seeing a picture of a quite different pair in a book (different yarn gauge, color, heel, toe, type of ribbing), just substituting what I wanted instead.  Whatever makes your feet happy is a good sock!
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Published on June 20, 2014 09:52 • 32 views

June 14, 2014


Because they're not getting done fast enough because, well, LifeStuff

The yarns are Ella rae Classic Superwash (turquoise) and Cascade 220 Handpainted (the blend isn't quite that dark--more muted--but to get the turquoise to show up turquoise I had to let the blend stay darker.)  Oh, and there are two rows of Cascade 220 Orchid Heather, a souvenir from socks that color I knit for a friend.

For extreme contrast...here are the Sunset/Desert Canyon socks on my feet:
This image shows the two additional reds on the right sock (you can barely see a faint line of difference about 2/3 of the way along the widest red stripe--the more distinct purplish red was undernearth) and the warm brownish-red on the left foot (just beyond the blue stripe) and on the right between the purple stripe and the narrow blue one.
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Published on June 14, 2014 12:35 • 38 views

June 13, 2014

These are the craziest striped socks I've made yet.   I like red and purple together (thank you, Wesley Dennis, for the gorgeous picture in Marguerite Henry's book _King of the Wind_, [and thanks to carbonel for the heads-up about my stupid mistake on the title!] where the horse Sham is wearing red & purple...the first time, outside flowers, that I saw those colors together.  I was eight.)   And since I had made red socks and purple socks, I used the leftover yarn from those socks as the base for these.  But then things got complicated.

The main red yarn is Ella rae Classic #31.  The purple is not just purple, but flecked with other colors: it's Plymouth Yarns Galway Nep.  The blue is Ella rae Classic (and I can't recall the color #.) But mixed in--and not showing well in this image--are three other colors.  Mountain Colors Ruby River and Indian Paintbrush--both basically reds, one with warm coppery tones and one with cool purples--and Bitterroot Rainbow, a multicolored yarn whose online image is much paler than the reality (I like the reality!)   All are basically worsted weight yarns, but they aren't the same in diameter or "feel."  The Galway Nep is the "heaviest" (fewest yards/100g) and the Mountain Colors the "lightest" (most yards/100g).   I already knew, from previous socks, that the Ella rae Classic and Plymouth Yarns Galway Nep would cooperate nicely in these shorty socks, through repeated washings as well.   I was less certain of the Mountain Colors yarn, but figured in a stripe it would be less disastrous if the gauge was different, especially when placed in the arch of my foot, past the gusset, where my foot circumference is least.    (And if you suspect that the desire to get my hands on all three colors of a yarn completely new to me had something to do with it...you're right.)

I tried the Bitterroot Rainbow first, as I was also knitting a conventional swatch of Ruby River.  Instantly fell in love with the look of it against both the red and the purple, so much in love with it that I'm thinking of reserving it as a stripe yarn to be used with a variety of colors instead of turning it into a pair of regular socks.  (If I could walk into my LYS and buy another two skeins to make a whole pair out of, I would, but I have to special-order it via the yarn store.)  You can see it just below the gusset, against purple on one side and red on the other--it's plenty bright enough to stand out.  Next, after a plain red section, I tried one of the Mountain Colors reds.  Although in the skein and cake, it looks very different from the plain red, in a small stripe this doesn't show much against the Ella rae yarn.   I think it would make good stripes against another color, and when sandwiched between the blue and the purple on the sock to the left, it does show better, is less mistaken for a smudge or a shadow.  There's also the thing about hand-painted yarns, that sometime the color you most want on top of the sock tends to hang out underneath or on the low sides, where no one can see it, with only the occasional appearance above.

But using that many yarns that weren't repeated and carried along as floats meant a LOT of shaggy ends on the inside:

Some people claim to like weaving in ends.  They're welcome to weave in mine!   I finally finished weaving the ends in last night, and strengthening the weak places in the "joins", so the Desert Canyon or Canyon Sunset socks are not in their final "weekly bag" of socks, ready to wear.  Probably today.

For this pair of shorties, I used the "eye of partridge" reinforcing stitch not only on the heel flap but under the heel itself.  My basic design for these socks makes the very top, the short stretch below the ribbing and the heel flap, and the toe all in one color (red, here, obviously) while the ribbing can be any other color (here, color #2, the purple, but in some socks a singleton color).  Color #2 is the gusset area (most or all) and the single-row stripe on the toe; in between may be two alternating colors or several, as here.  In the only "regular" sock pair I've striped so far, I've used the same basic idea--the leg and heel flap one color (the same as the top stripe of the ribbing, in that case) and the gusset (or most of it) in the second color, with the two in color #1, with a single-row stripe of color #2.


When I finish the "Tropical Lagoon" socks (turquoise and a mottled blue/lavender/aqua) I'll post pictures of them and their "parent" socks (the full size socks whose leftovers went into them.)

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Published on June 13, 2014 08:11 • 57 views

June 11, 2014

Yes, I will post more sock pictures.  But not until I get software on this computer that handles the right file format and does what I want.  Ideally, I will find my old installation CDs for the software I had on the now defunct old computer (the picture files are safe, no worries.)

Anyway.  I have finally, maybe, found a foolproof way of making striped socks that do not a) have long floats along the sock axis or b) lots of ends to weave in, and c) also don't have weird-looking places along the axis of the stripe changes.  The "sunset canyon" socks (my name for the red, purple, copper, etc. ones) ended up with a lot of shaggy on the inside, and one of them was definitely "holey" down the middle bottom for about an inch.  I tried wrapping one yarn around the other at the point of change.  I tried wrapping over, under, around twice, etc.  But what I found worked (for me) was this.

A) Changing the yarn color *not* in the middle of the bottom, at the change in needles from 4 to 1, but several stitches "back" from the change.  I had better control of tension when not at a "corner."

B) Making the change stitch with both yarns (a fat stitch) and then picking up the desired new color to go on with.

C) Repeating the "double" stitch every 2-3 rows for the width of the stripe, so the floats are very, very short, and making sure not to pull the floating yarn too snug.

The socks on which I'm doing this are mostly a two-yarn design, with only one brief appearance of a third color (souvenir yarn from making socks for a friend.  One of the yarns is variegated; one is solid).  My name for this pair is "tropical lagoon"--it's very sea-colored, turquoise (solid) and then shades of blue, aqua, and lavender.

More yarn came today...I need to spend some more time knitting, once I get this yarn packaged for storage.  Uncharacteristically for this online source, it came loose in a box, not wrapped up at all.  They've always sent yarn before in neat plastic, tightly taped.  I'm glad this didn't arrive during a rainstorm!
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Published on June 11, 2014 11:11 • 42 views

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