Pandemic

When I came back to my blog last week I had something entirely different in mind to talk about.  However in light of the global health crisis, I want to talk about THE VIRUS.  Yes SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19 disease.  I work as a nurse in an emergency room at the only trauma center in a large west coast city. We are busy on any given day with traumas, strokes, heart attacks, drug overdoses, stab wounds, gunshot wounds, falls, alcohol withdrawals, psychiatric emergencies….. I could go on and on.  Since we are  the county hospital we also take in our share of homeless seeking shelter and sandwiches, patients in custody, and sexual assault cases.  This time of year we are geared up to handle people with the flu and other respiratory infections.

When I first started hearing about this novel virus, I thought, as many did that it was going to play out just like the flu, but maybe just a little worse because it is new and we don’t have a vaccine yet.  We already had a protocol for masking people with coughs and fevers, we assumed that would be enough.  Fast forward to the last couple of weeks as the data started rolling in from around the world showing that this virus is more deadly and likely more contagious than the flu. We watched as China, Italy and Seattle shared their experience and their data.  Each day I would go to work and be briefed on the current status for handling patients and testing, and what we should be doing to protect other patients in the ER and ourselves.  We rearranged triage areas, changed workflow, brushed up on higher level PPE. Every day we were told that the tests are limited, with very strict criteria for testing patients. At first the samples had to be sent to the CDC for testing, then much later we got the capability to test in our state, but still limited quantities. As I write this we are still not testing health care workers in my hospital.  As far as I am aware, though  several nurses are out on quarantine for having been exposed, some have symptoms but since tests are scarce none have been determined to be positive for Covid-19.

Earlier this week all our local counties were asked to shelter in place, and yesterday the governor initiated a statewide order. Only essential workers can go to work and only essential activities are allowed outside the home, such as grocery shopping and medical appointments.  Schools, theaters, restaurants, bars, gyms, all closed.  My days have not changed, no Netflix and chill for me, I am still going to work.  My family has been instructed to wash hands when they walk in the door, and watch for fevers or coughs.  College is online and graduation is cancelled for one of my children, two of them have little or no work. We are a multigenerational household with some concern for bringing the virus home so we are all being vigilant.

It is hard to keep up on all of the data coming out, but it has become clear that two  significant assumptions we made have to be adjusted.  First, a study came out showing the viability of the virus on surfaces and in aerosols. Now that we have more information, actual data that shows the virus behaves more like the SARS-CoV-1 (from 2002) with persistence in aerosols, this information makes me more concerned.  This requires higher level of isolation and precaution similar to that of TB.  If we get a surge of patients testing positive, we are not prepared to maintain that level of isolation on many patients.   Second, we have been thinking that this new virus does not affect young people that much, that they would only suffer mild symptoms.  Two studies have shown this not to be true one from China and one from United Kingdom, while young people (under 60) still have a significantly lower risk of death from Covid-19, many do get hospitalized and some even need intensive care.  What this says to me is that young people still must be careful and not assume they will not get sick.

Some other sobering news came out of UCSF Infectious disease meeting, more than half of the US population will likely get the virus and with a 1% fatality rate that means 1.5 million Americans may die.  We will need 1 million ventilators, we have about 160 thousand.  It is time to mobilize manufacturing in this country as we did for WWII; build ventilators, produce masks, gowns, gloves and sanitizer.  We haven’t seen the likes of this since 1918 with the Spanish flu.

This brings me to being a canary.  Those of us who work with sick patients, are 4 times more likely to get the virus, it is imperative that we have adequate protection.  Enough PPE, support of hospital leadership, cooperation of the population to do their best to shelter in place and minimize the spread of the virus.  We are crazy dedicated to our work and often put caring for our patients before our own safety. I don’t want to face the decision of do I care for my patient or not because I don’t have the necessary PPE.

Every day we learn something new, about the virus and about ourselves in a global state of crisis.  Our lives are changed, our priorities reordered and gratitude for the small things we overlooked becomes our focus.  Stay positive, stay connected (virtually) and remember all of us have an important role  in slowing and eventually halting this pandemic.  Step up and lean in with a smile, check in with people, and if someone is struggling, be present with them through the fear even though we don’t know all the answers. STAY HOME AND WASH YOUR HANDS.

Jennie

PS some links

josh lerner MD

aerosols

Atul Gwande

Larry Brilliant

SF Chronicle on nurses at SFGH

young people

maria shriver

Up from the ashes

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars. Khalil Gibran

Helloooooo out there! I feel like I have come out of the dark, risen from the ashes after five years and I want to participate in life again.  I have missed blogging,  I want that connection with people to share stories as well as work through my growth and changes.  Five years ago I went through a traumatic explosion of my marriage that shook me to the core. There were multilayers of betrayal, lies and secrecy and at the time I really didn’t think I could go on.  I want to get to the point of being able to share the story, to have conversations and maybe even help others who feel as isolated as I sometimes do.  However, right now there is still too much shame and anger that gets triggered that leaves me wanting to hide under the covers with my cat.  It is my goal to break free from that. At the time I rallied for my kids, grateful for a job that was my refuge and a posse of friends that helped me piece my life back together. My life became small for a long time, I focused on surviving. Take care of my kids, get myself to work and pay the bills.  I really didn’t do much else. Slowly I started healing thanks to my devoted family, passage of time and the burning desire to get out of pain and feel happy again.  Now five years later my kids are grown, I am in a new relationship and I am feeling more optimistic. I am ready to reengage. Five years ago this blog was a place for notes about my knitting and other crafting, kitchen creations and a little about my nursing adventures.  I am not sure where I want this blog to go now, I still want to talk about creativity and about nursing but I also want to explore who I am on the other side of trauma.   I have done so much therapy, read so many books, gone to so many workshops; journaled, meditated, and cried gallons of tears.  I guess I thought that somehow I would get back to the confidence and stability that I had before. But no, the innocence of that former time is not coming back. I may be a stronger more compassionate human, but I will forever have a dent in my trust and a scar on my heart.3B12B943-26FE-4CC4-9B1E-73DF5B4686E4

Wash day

A good description of care of hand knits. I have been washing on delicate in my machine but I have found that my socks are slowly felting and getting smaller. Especially the ones made from Blue Moon Yarn. I need to get busy replacing some of MY socks. Maybe I’ll cast on a pair today. Happy knitting!

Glenna Knits

Occasionally in the course of blogging about knitting-related things, I get asked how I wash the things I knit. After about ten years of producing knitted things that get worn, I’ve gotten a bit of practice washing them (and I do indeed like to wash the things I wear), and actually it turns out that this is not a terribly complicated thing to do. The internet is full of advice on things like this, but here’s what I do.

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First, I’ve stopped bothering to pre-sort my laundry into knitted things and non-knitted things. I realized that what would happen is that I would shove the non-knitted (i.e. “regular”) laundry into the washing machine first, and then by the time it came around to deal with the knitted stuff it was all too easy to get lazy and post-pone it another week. Which you can get away with, of course, if…

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Ribbed Neck Warmer

No matter what I have on my needles, I am always easily distracted when my husband says, “I wish I had……..do you think you could make that?”  Well, he has been getting back into fly fishing, and it is usually pretty chilly and damp on the river. A regular scarf isn’t practical with the ends flying around getting caught in the line or snagged by a hook.  I had just made my cabled neck warmer and he said that would be the perfect thing for fishing, but plain and made of something that could get wet.  So I dropped all my other projects to whip up a special neck warmer for his next fishing excursion. I decided to make the first version out of some Lion Brand Wool-Ease I had sitting in my stash, a little bit of wool for warmth and acrylic to keep it from shrinking and keep its shape. It is super soft too.

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View and download the pattern here

Ribbed neck warmer

Turning point

Reflecting about the winter solstice and went back to this post I wrote so many years ago. I think it is time to revive this tradition and make it one of our regulars. Our lives have scattered since then, the boys are grown, and Rose is about to fly. We need more traditions to keep us bound. Move into the light.

mamatrauma

I haven’t posted for a month, some of you have been checking in to see how we are doing and I really appreciate that. I struggle with posting, these have been dark days. I have been sad, angry, resentful, weak, lost, melancholy, resigned, and unmotivated. I have had to force myself to finish the work for the three classes I was taking, I think it helped to have that to focus on, it gave my brain something to do. December 13, I was done and my friends were all asking how it felt to be done with school for the semester, and I couldn’t tell them. I couldn’t really feel anything, I expected to feel relieved and lighter but I didn’t. I felt empty, and pressured by expectations that seemed meaningless. I am still mourning my Dad, Brian is still looking for work and we are living with uncertainty. Then…

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Old standby granola

It is one of those days where everything I touch leads to a project starting with trying to eat my usual yogurt and granola breakfast.  I shook the last crumbs of our homemade granola into my tub of greek yogurt and decided I better make another batch right now if I want some for tomorrow. Brian usually makes it but that wouldn’t be till the weekend. Thankfully he keeps the pantry stocked well with all the ingredients we need. I thought I would share the recipe, many people have asked for it. It is pretty flexible, you can add or subtract things to your taste, don’t add fruit until after roasting it though. We usually measure by weight. I just tare my mixing bowl on the scale and add each ingredient, zeroing in-between. I include volume measurements as well, precise measurement is not critical in this recipe, so don’t stress.

nuts and seeds

Oatmeal       695 grams or 4 cups

coconut (unsweetened)       109 grams or 1 cup

chopped pecans      130 grams or ½ cup

slivered or sliced almonds        239 grams or 1 cup

pumpkin seeds       174 grams or ½ cup

sunflower seeds     152 grams or ½ cup

peanut oil       111grams or 1/3 cup

honey   369 grams or ½ cup

vanilla extract   9 grams or ½ teaspoon

cinnamon   3.5 grams or ½ teaspoon

kosher salt  7.5 grams or 1 teaspoon

mixing

I mix it all up in my kitchen aid mixer with the dough hook on slowest speed. Mix just until blended. I use the dough hook instead of the paddle because it turns everything over well and is gentle on all the nuts and seeds.

going into oven

Then I spread this all out in my big turkey roasting pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Roast at 350˚F stirring every 15 min until it is all toasty brown. The house always smells heavenly while this is going on. Let it cool completely and store in airtight container. Don’t store while still warm or the granola will get soggy, believe me I have done this.

finished granola

Stuttering start

I joined TGKA way back in 2011 and ordered the Master Hand Knitting Program in 2012 but other than gather references, print out the instructions and then reorder the updates each year, I never really started. I have too many goals and two of them are big ones, this MHK and my CEN (certification in Emergency Nursing).  I finally ordered specific yarn for may swatches; Wool of the Andes, bare from Knitpicks, and some Lionbrand fisherman’s wool as back up.  I am not sure why I didn’t choose cascade 220 like most of the people working on this project are using. Hopefully the exact yarn we use doesn’t matter. Last night I started knitting the first swatch and am already noticing every imperfection in my knitting. I have occasional loose stitches in the field and sort of irregular selvedges.  I think I will just keep knitting the first few swatches and block them before I pass too much judgement on them. I keep going to the Ravelry page and reading about what everyone else is struggling with and how they handle it. I find I waste a lot of good knitting time reading when I should be knitting.

Here is the start of my first swatch. Baby steps.

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Felted Slippers

Back in 2002, I made my husband a pair of the felted clogs that were all the rage then. They were made using this pattern by Bev Galeskas for Fiber Trends. They lasted about 4 years without leather soles.  I ended up making them for myself and one of my kids too. Mine and then Joe’s. I added leather soles to Joe’s and they have worn well. The next pair I made for hubby, I put leather soles on and he wears them in the yard and garden and taking out the trash and everywhere. They have lasted about 8 years now, but they are wearing out from the inside. I decided I would try a new pattern and my hubby, who does not do well with change, graciously said he would love any pair of slippers that I made for him.   So I decided to use Julie’s Men’s Felted Mocs at Lavender Hill Knits.

I had some yarn that I purchased many years ago on a trip to Vermont, it would work perfectly. I had already made a hat for a friend from it but I was pretty sure I would have just enough to make the slippers.

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Using the yarn doubled to get gauge I had just enough to make two soles with sides.

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I had just this much leftover! Whew!    So I made the uppers and the heel flaps with some Cascade 220 in a charcoal grey that I had in my leftovers basket. I think it blended quite nicely.

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As with all felting projects, the knitting always ends up looking so huge and I never quite believe that is is all going to work out. Here are the slippers next to MY feet, pre felting.  Granted my feet are smaller than hubby’s feet, but still, they are huge.

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I felted them in my front loading washer.  I usually have good luck with this even though “they” say you can’t use a front loader for felting. I just put them in a lingerie bag, then toss it in the washer with a  beach towel and a pair of old sneakers.  I set a custom program to hot wash and no spin and pray.

Here they are fresh out of the washer, I made Hubby try them on while they were still wet; he is such a trooper putting cold wet wool on his bare feet while I fuss about whether they are the right size or not. They seemed a little big to me but he likes them roomy, so we let them dry in the air for a few days.

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I felt that this pair would look better with the leather patch type soles than the full soles that I usually use. I also used the grey yarn to whip stitch around the uppers and tack down the decorative heel flap. The sides of the slippers curled more than the sample in the pattern, but Hubby is happy with them and has worn them every night since I finished them. He promises these will not go in the garden, he’ll use the old pair for that.

Here are his happy feet.

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Dinner salads for a hot evening

I never seem to get enough salad on these hot end of summer days. So today I made two salads for dinner. I use the website Cookie and Kate as a resource and inspiration. Kate has wonderful fresh veggie recipes, I want to jab at the screen with my fork because her photos are so enticing. I don’t always have the exact combinations of ingredients for the recipes, so I use them as a jumping off point. Here is what I made tonight.

Kale and veggie salad and Quinoa tabouli

I had to pull it all together pretty quickly because I told my trainer, Ben that I would show up for boot camp at six, only an hour to pick stuff from the garden, pull out the veggie drawer in the fridge and chop, chop, chop.  I don’t want Ben to think I’m lame and lazy; I already know that I am, I want to keep him fooled as long as possible so I have to go.

I raided the garden for tomatoes, basil, parsley and mint.

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Rinsed my quinoa and started it cooking.  You have to rinse quinoa before cooking it, otherwise it can taste bitter. How do I know this? I am lazy and one time I didn’t rinse it and it didn’t taste as yummy. 

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I also started blanching my frozen edamame. I  didn’t have shallots that were called for in the recipe, but I found a half a red onion in the fridge and some sugar snap peas.  This time I used the tuscan kale, cutting the leaves away from the tough ribs and chopping the kale into bite sized pieces.  Using my hands I scrunched the kale a bunch to tenderize it.  Added the rest of the bag of shredded carrots I found in the veggie drawer. 

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I added the sugar peas to the edamame at the last minute just to briefly blanch, and ran them under cold water. 

Here is the kale, carrots and onion getting friendly and blending flavors. Oh, and I tossed in the minced basil too,.

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I mixed put the dressing: minced ginger, and cilantro both from a tube I keep in the freezer, a bit of garlic, rice vinegar, soy sauce and olive oil.  I set this all aside with the two ripe avocados ready to cut and mix just before we eat. 

Now the quinoa for the tabouli is done and I set it out to cool and started chopping the veggies. cucumber and red onion go into the bowl.  

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I chopped the tomatoes into small dice, and minced the parsley and mint and tossed it all together.  I raided the lemon tree for a couple of fresh lemons and squeezed them all over the salad, added salt, pepper, a bit of minced garlic, olive oil and a dash of red wine vinegar. Then I quickly shoved the salads into the fridge and threw on my workout clothes and ran to the gym.

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Back from bootcamp and freshly showered I chopped the avocado and added it to the kale salad tossing with the dressing. Then stirred the quinoa salad and garnished it with a couple of sprigs of mint and voila…dinner

 

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Rose and Brian ate leftover pizza with the salads, but I savored the freshness of the salads with a nice glass of Prosecco. yum

 

 

sometimes you need something cute

Our high school is participating in the 1:1 computing program for students. This year  each student received a Google Chromebook with a case to protect it.  We are an Apple family and Rose was disappointed that they didn’t all get MacBooks, though it seems the Chromebook is easier to integrate and much less expensive and for many families, this is their student’s first computer. They are small and cute and have a touch screen. They have many social sites blocked so the kids won’t all be on Twitter and Instagram but then they still all have their phones. However, the case doesn’t fit that well, you have to jam the computer into it and squeeze to get it zipped closed, so Rose asked if I would knit a quick sleeve for hers, and “can you get it done by Tuesday when school starts?”

So we perused my stash and found a couple of balls of yarn that were part of a gift bag from a Mindful Knitting retreat I went to back in 2006. Pink and grey, really soft and just the right weight. I swatched a little to figure out how many stitches I would need to go around the computer. I only had to rip it out once before I got it right.

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I decided to use this project to learn a new technique that I have been meaning to figure out for a while. The Jogless Join. This is where you can change colors while knitting in the round without an obvious “jog” in the stripe. It’s pretty simple once you actually try it.  Here you can’t even tell where the old row ends and the new row begins.

Then we decided we would make the stripes in the Fibonacci series, since this was for school and she’ll be taking calculus and physics and all. I was impressed that she could tell me the code for the series. 1,2,3,5,8,13,21…..  you add the two previous numbers together to get the next value in the series.

The deadline turned out to be no big deal since Tuesday night was a rare slow night in the ER and I wasn’t assigned to the trauma zone.  Therefore I could knit while I watched my admitted patients sleep.

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You can see the Fibonacci stripes marching out nicely, then in reverse so as to use roughly even amounts of each color. The pattern will be available on my revelry page soon.

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If you look closely you can see where the new color joins on each stripe, the beginning of the round moves over to the left one stitch each time. but overall I think it looks better.

The finished product with a garter stitch open edge to prevent curling.  Rose is happy and as soon as she showed her friends they immediately wanted one too. A sure sign of success with teenagers.

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