February 22, 2012

Serger R & D: Arm Warmers and First Sleeved Shirt

Last night I took a night off from grading and sat down at my retro (and recently tuned up) New Home Serger. It was time for R & D. My first productive procrastination involved two sets of arm warmers, in different sizes.  To start, I designed a few patterns based on some arm warmers I already have.

My arm warmers, as it turns out, are a lot longer in length than previous ones I sewed or the ones from Canari, Sugoi or Primal, which I looked at for education and inspiration. The longer length (22 inches) has its advantages as the extra length can be pulled over chilled hands and pushed up onto wrists when not needed. I also explored sewing on the rubberized elastic bands. These help immensely. 

When I ran Stone Cat marathon last November in my signal orange arm warmers, I didn't have the special material for the upper arm area. While it is NOT essential; it helps keep the warmers on da pipes.

Before I get too itchy to make stuff for others I need to practice practice practice. I have some amazing printed spandex material and want to be sure I don't waste it away with silly serging slip ups.  The Gator-Bait Gaiters are also getting a sweet overhaul in their construction, thanks to my little serger friend. Any newly sewn gaiters from this point forward are more durable at the seams and edges. Considering a blow-out spring sale of the last edition and start a new. Working on an Etsy shop (still in the noggin') where I plan to sell versus the way it's been happening so far. Good news for folks who like PayPal.

For my first shirt with sleeves, I deconstructed an old tee shirt and reworked the pattern, added a funky collar, changed the sleeve length, etc. I bought the fabric back in 2003; it stretches slightly,  is a super vented knit with a shimmer. The collar worked out quite well as I did not want the wonky look of a "guess-timated" cover stitch.

Next time I will add length but didn't have enough fabric to do so with this sewn experiment.

Bottom line: I am that much closer to justifying the purchase of a high-end serger.

February 17, 2012

Plantar Fasciitis: Back to the Boots

Yesterday at Physical Therapy (for my hips) I asked them to check out the tell tale ache in the arches of my feet. I've been an unlucky recipient of Plantar Fasciitis (no running for nine months one time) so I know when it starts to lurk and dodge and approach and then pounce! I was beginning to feel its loitering...
The PT felt the arch on my right foot and called over the other therapists,   "You have GOT to check this out. Feel this; it is SO TIGHT!" Then the comments..."Anyone have a guitar pick? Let's make some music!" "You need to get that loosened up... wow." " So we'll be seeing you again....soon?!"

Back to the Boots. I've tried a few different boot "flavors" but I enjoy these the most:  Futuro. They are a shorter profile and do not interfere with the knee like the taller versions. They are adjustable and not too hot. They keep the foot in a neutral position at night and tend to not get too tangled up in the blankets. They are inexpensive and do not require a prescription. They are available at CVS, etc.  As a "durable good" they last....

The PT's recommendation when "working my arches" was to do the folllowing:
  1. warm up/heat the arches;
  2.  then work them with roller and nubby ball; and,
  3.  ice them.

Hello, old friends.

    February 16, 2012


    One of the joys of having a father who loved to save is the trove of delightful vintage cards. This little beauty is from the 1930's, signed "Uncle Dicky." Happiness for Valetine's

    February 13, 2012

    Little Alters: Pondering Sabbatical

    I make alters; little compositions arranged from my collections. When the homily needs refreshing, I rotate the congregation, rearrange the pews, move the church. Home is my chapel.  I am not "religious" now though I was raised Roman Catholic, attended church, knew the Our Father by heart,  attended CCD, and celebrated five of seven sacraments. I confess—my faith lies in the power of nature. I am at home in the woods. I am spiritually alive around trees, in the water, touching moss—this mushroom, spotting the doe. Smells resurrect with each step. I am devoted.
    I ponder what it means to leave my sanctuary for the fall 2012, where comforts and the familiar bring me peace. I am nervous, excited, exposed and free. As an artist I collect and arrange and nest and organize. I make. My projects are like stations of the cross; they are stations of my creative life. Which ones do I pack for pilgrimage?

    (Painting by Melanie Christon, "Maudslay Field," oil on board.)

    February 11, 2012

    A Day with "Captain Chainsaw"

    This morning Ken (aka "Captain Chainsaw") and I met in the woods to prepare the trail for the TARC SPRING THAW 6 HOUR. Ken is a fellow A.V.I.S. warden (Vale Reservation), an avid paddler (SRWA), and a HUGE help! What I anticipated as a hit and run mission evolved into five rewarding hours in the woods, two beers and a burger (and a herd of goats). Our trail accomplishments felt like hard-work soaked in satisfaction sauce.

    How does one lure Captain Chainsaw out on a Saturday morning? 
    These magic words: "You cut, I haul."
    Bye-bye Blockage.

    Armed with heavy duty loppers and over-sized Cartharts, I led the way to sections with multiple trees blocking the trail.  While trail runners view such natural obstacles as minor, the "hopping-over" exercise could get old quite quickly on a repeated loop during a six-hour ultra. We cut it out of the equation. 

    I was thankful to enjoy Ken's upbeat company and guidance about what, how and why to clear along the trail. He is thorough. He is meticulous. Ken spent part of Friday night preparing his chainsaw, ensuring he brought enough fuel for at least two tanks, and packing ear protection for his guide, the Trail Pixie. Ken smoothed every two-plus-inch stump he spotted, felled dead wood, and freed widow-makers on the verge.  He illustrated that by removing certain trees across the trail we'd encourage greater use of the reservation by hikers, cross-country skiers and folks on snow shoes! The trail was already in decent shape (thanks co-wardens) and we made it even more passable. 

    These goats endorsed our day's work:
    Whoever is responsible for these curious creatures
    is also potentially in charge of unlocking the gate at the top of the field.
    Good to know.
    We took down a few small trees that were unstable upon closer inspection. "Emily, one wind storm in the next two weeks and this rotten tree will fall across your path. Then what? You'll wonder why we didn't 'drop it' today."  Spoken like a seasoned trail man; thus is the logic of Captain Chainsaw. As a fellow warden, I am well aware that the saplings, weeds and invasive species grow back gang-busters. I prune aggressively. Captain Chainsaw and the Trail Pixie were well paired for this outing; we were on a mission. 
    While I started the morning with two areas of concern, Ken and I walked the entire loop and made  improvements that would have taken me alone three or more weekends to accomplish. Thank you, Ken! The runners of the upcoming race are grateful (in advance), as are the community members who frequent Rafton and the adjoining Andover Trails! 

    The TARC SPRING THAW 6 HOUR loop still has it's mud, rocks, water-crossings, and mischievous stumps. But now it is more open and accommodating. 

    Below are photos along the course taken on 2/4/12.

     Ken informed me this is called "Corduroy"
    We added more cuttings to the section on the left (of tree) for reinforcement. 
    Still, expect to get your feet "damp" through here.

     We opened up this trail and removed the log between the stone wall.
    It's near "Abbot Pasture," which is actually no longer used as a pasture.
    Depending on how you are feeling after repeated course loops, 
    you may want to be "put out to pasture."

     If you want to take a nap you may do it here...
    on this firm bench. 
    "But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep."

    Ken informed me this is NOT "corduroy," as it is oriented in the wrong direction. 
    So, I now pronounce it "Seersucker."
    This section remains "AS IS," so passersby
    may enjoy the diverse fabric of these woods... 


    Flat, open, potentially wet: the loop crosses 
    the power lines in three different sections.
    This is the approach/view of the second of the three crossings.

    "Harold's Trail"
    One of the few inclines along the route before the "Scout Camp."

     Pine-needle party at "Scout Camp"

     Along "Helen's Trail."

     While cutting through the Hammond lot, enjoy the view of this open field as you head left (violet line) back into the woods, which are lovely, dark and deep.

     Two trails diverge in a yellow wood. You get to travel both, many times.
    Green line shows the running direction heading into the loop (.6 mi);
    Violet line indicates the direction returning from loop (approx. 2.9 mi).

    "On second thought, I think I am more crazy than my goat."

    February 02, 2012

    Royal Portable Standard

     Royal Portable Standard, c.1935

    Sometimes I can't help myself. Like today. I saw this beautiful relic and without pause it was paid for and on its way to my desk for some clippetty-clap-tappetty-tap tap brrring, crriiick click clik, ding. 

    I wrote a letter to my mom and dad. I miss them since they moved away. And when I see typewriters, I think of my father.  We spent a lot of time cleaning out his brother-in-law's house who kept a typewriter or two. Like my uncle, my dad saved a lot of stuff, which was a normal part life during the Depression. I am grateful for their keeping collection; it continues to teach me about history, reusing and appreciating design. I inherited my first typewriter from my father and on it I typed out many school reports like he did during his college years. Yes, I still have that typewriter and will post about the other members of the fleet eventually.  For now, I welcome my "Model O" to the family.

     How often do we see this?

    Royal Portable Standard 
    "This model is frequently referred to as "Touch Control" because that is the only labeling to be found aside from the Royal logo... Many collectors refer to it as the Model O because the serial number carries an "O" prefix. Officially, Royal called this the Portable Standard. It's unclear exactly when this body style was introduced; the earliest example I have seen dates to 1934. Later versions have a raised, wear-resistant logo on the paper rest. 

    The Standard/Touch Control/Model O is one of the most frequently found pre-war portables, and its commonality causes many collectors pass it over. Yet this is classic 1930s design, and a terrific typer for actual use."   From Machines of Loving Grace.

    The Museum of Printing

    February 01, 2012

    I Heart Graston

    Sort of.  I thought I knew what pain was and I was wrong. Pain that leads to good things, like change and loosening and healing, is tolerable. I can endure pain that leads healing. Yes, it would be nice to run, enjoy this snow-less trail season, and ride my new trainer. Still, this is a long-term plan; I've been down before and feel that this time if I have to be out of the game for awhile so I can heal properly—I'm in.
    (The heart is made up of the bruised pink area on my hip.)

    After a few weeks of PT at The Off Season Sports & Physical Therapy, I can say that I know pain. I also know my part in what caused some of my situation: Hello my name is Emily and I need to stretch.

    I am also getting Active Release Therapy (ART) and Graston Technique (GT), which are basically the same thing but GT uses metal tools. They kind of look like these tools from the film Dead Ringers.
    I "like" the Fascia Buster or whatever it is called. My PT guy laughed when I called it this. When he informed me he was going to do a little GT on my hip, I responded, "Oh, I've been curious about Graston; I want it."  He looked at his colleague with a shocked expression, chortled, and joked, "Let me remind you that you said, 'I want Graston.'" While I am not a glutton for punishment, I feel that drastic measures are necessary to loosen this tight ball of tendons and fasciea that has become my body. After some GT,  I WAS more flexible. I also bruised A LOT, which I didn't expect. That was scary. 
     Bragging rights. Next Day.

     These tools resemble what was used on me.
    Now I am routinely getting a bunch of deep tissue manual therapy (sans GT tools) on my ITBs and it is exceptionally painful. It hurts as much as the tool. I have come to accept it, welcome it and am figuring out a way to continue to get it when my insurance PT visits run out. 

    Harvard Pilgrim HC is not great for Physical Therapy. They do not want me in a PT office. I am so upset by our healthcare system. HPHC approved 25 visits in 60 consecutive days, per condition—PER LIFETIME. So if I ever get "x" condition again, say in 10 years, they will not cover it. What a shaft, especially for athletes.  The insurance folks think that after a set number of visits one should be able to learn the proper methods and employ them at home. Ok this is true to an extend BUT sometimes the special equipment, heat, expertise of the therapists, and ice/stim. cannot be  replicated outside of the office. I put a bunch of Flex money away and will shop a la cart if need be.
     Healing very nicely, a week later.

    The metal Fascia Buster (I also call it the Fascist, for comic relief) is not part of my program right now but ART is (not the kind with pretty paint colors either.)   Who know someone's thumb could dig that deeply into my thigh? When they get a good "golf ball" they break it apart, roll it around, try to lessen its hold. happy happy joy joy.

    One of the many things I learned from my PT guy is that after he does the deep tissue manipulation of my ITB that I must roll on foam roller in the following days or the "adhesions will reattach." "RE-ATTACH" is a word I do not like to hear. They will reattach over time so stretching and rolling are important in delaying that process. The weird thing is, my ITB was not hurting before I went to PT (went for my hips) but I now understand its connection to feet, pelvis orientation, etc.
    What's wrong? Apparently, a lot. I am in the process of healing
    bilateral hip tendonitis and bursitis and an out-of-whack pelvis (technical term) and something they can't quite identify deep in my hip socket. I will probably end up going for an MRI on the hip thing because that still hurts today as much as it did before I started the physical therapy. Still, the PT helps my flexibility and I can move my hips and legs a lot more than I could three weeks ago. It is awesome! So along with a daily stretching program, to which I am committed, I am on the mend!