02 October 2006

By Way of Exposition

Before I move forward in the chronicles, perhaps I should give a bit of background as to how the obsession came about, because it does have definite roots. Until somewhat recently, I was only a casual yarncrafter. Most of my efforts were put toward scarves and matching hats (especially around Christmas time), plus two or three blankets I gave away as very special gifts, a couple of knitted helmetliners for the boys in Afghanistan, a few adventures in felted bags, and a beaded crocheted wedding purse which I consider my highest achievement, at least in these early, pre-full-blown-obsession days. Here it is, you may not be able to see the detail, but you can get the idea:

(The pattern for this bag - which I did carry at my wedding - is from Donna Kooler's Encyclopedia of Crochet.) It might sound like a pretty fair turnout of projects, but you must understand that this list of projects spans about a three-year period. Furthermore, while my crocheting skills were fairly advanced, my knitting had not really progressed beyond garter and stockinette stitch, with perhaps an occasional I-cord if absolutely necessary. My creativity was split between yarn and beads and, once in a while, a paintbrush; and none of these was really a daily habit. Then, around the end of May this year, my dog (a gigantic, 50 lb, 10-year-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Riley) began suffering a series of mysterious health problems.

(Me, pre haircut, with healthy Riley)

(Riley at the start of his health issues. Note the icky foot.)

Anyway, I will spare the details but to say that between May and June we were at the vet for assorted things about 8 or 10 different times. The culmination of the series of my dog's strange health issues came in the form of severe nosebleeds. (My vet, who is not my favorite person in the world, started talking to me about the possibility of nasal tumors, and how sometimes the treatment involves amputation of part or all of the dog's muzzle, and how he had seen dogs recover "remarkably well functionally, though maybe not aesthetically" from such a procedure.... Eww. Don't worry, it didn't happen to Riley.) One afternoon in June, I was in my comfy oversized chair - aka my work station - with my laptop perched on the chair's arm and the tv on, when I heard some doggy sneezing and sputtering going on. I glanced over and sure enough, Riley was sneezing blood all over the carpet. Leaping up to go help him, or at least move him hastily to tiled flooring, I knocked my laptop off the arm of the chair and cracked the display.

At the time, whenever I was home, I had been playing quite a bit of Sid Meier's Civilization III. I had purchased Civ IV, but my laptop was 5 years old and wouldn't run such a beast. And even when I wasn't playing Civ, I was on my laptop doing something or other, with the tv on and my brian cells essentially being sucked out of my head. So the death of my laptop was a little bit devastating. Sure, I could have replaced the screen, but as I said, the thing was 5 years old and it probably wasn't worth the cost of a new screen. But a new laptop wasn't really in the budget, especially with the mounting vet bills, and particularly when we do own a very nice desktop computer (which does, by the way, run Civ IV); a friend had built the tower for us not 6 months earlier, and the monitor, well, words cannot describe it. See?

That keyboard, by the way, is normal sized. Plus, the thing does picture-in-picture, so that you can watch tv and do computer-y stuff at the same time, on the same screen. The only problem is that my husband is usually parked in front of it. That, and the office chair is not nearly as comfortable as the big comfy chair I always sat in with my laptop. Still, I had to cope at least for the time being, and the outcome was that my major pastimes of gaming and internet browsing were no longer such an integral part of my day, and a void started to appear. I couldn't sit around and JUST watch tv. I had to have something to occupy my hands...

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