Saturday, May 02, 2009

It's MAY???!!!

Good grief! It's amazing how time flies when you're lost in the haze of acute illness.

Yes, I'm always sick, but sometimes the chronic stuff flares into acuteness, and opportunistic things take advantage of the whole situation. That's pretty much what I've been dealing with since December: painful and brainfoggy flares of Lyme and Bartonella, gut infections, acute muscle spasms, and now a whalloping case of bronchitis. Spending much time zoned out from pain, fever or side effects of drugs. Blech. I didn't get into "recreational drugs" in my teens or twenties because I hated what they did to my head the few times I had to take similar drugs for medical reasons. I don't like the side effects any more now, but it sure beats the alternative.

So, there's not been much in the way of knitting, or picture taking, or writing. I thought I'd do a sort of catch up post, of the things I've been intending to write about. and fill some of the space with some photos.

I have been doing some knitting, completing a couple of kitchen towels for me and one for a friend, along with a matching washcloth that I used to wrap a cute soap in for her birthday. I also knit a week's worth of washcloths for baby who should be making her world debut within the next couple of weeks:

I knit a pair of socks for myself out of the worsted yarn I dyed a couple of years ago, using a sort of progressive vat dye (dunk the yarn in then immediately pull some out, and keep pulling some more out every 15 min or so, the result being shades of color:

I knit a pair of wrist warmers for Rose, using Cascade 220 Superwash in a lovely teal. I also knit a sock in Cherry Tree Hill's Sockittome Country Garden. I was going to use it to make a pair of Kathleen Taylor's Simple Stripes Fair Isle socks, but needed a gem-tone color infusion for my soul, so the yarn is going to be just plain (Jaywalker) socks instead. I also started (and finished) a sock using the yarn I originally dyed as a gift for my niece (part of my sneaky plan to try to get her knitting again), but didn't gift it as it didn't turn out the way I wanted, and so I overdyed the whole mess in blue, giving me a yarn with some deep blues and a variety of nice-to-yucky (to me) greens (excuse the blurry photo - gots me a bit of the shakes, I do):

In April, Karen had to fly to another town to get her plane's avionics looked at because the company here totally flaked on her. Having nothing to do (well, unable to do much of anything), and not having been terrified in quite a while, I went with her. Shifting weather fronts made for lots of turbulance, the day was overcast and sort of bleak, and watching Karen work her cobbled-together radio as she communicated with the various towers and such was, er, interesting. A few of the photos I took that day:

Part of the mothballed fleet off Mare Island:

Infineon Raceway:

The wetlands along Highway 37:

The Napa River running out into the San Pablo estuary, alongside the aforementioned wetlands:

After some lovely summery days and working on conserving even more water as we head into mandatory conservation season, we actually started getting some rain yesterday in most of the Bay area and points east. My rose bush, which had been covered in blooms, looks a bit beaten down this morning:

In context, however, despite the overcast, everything is looking pretty happy with the rain:

Speaking of conserving water, I finally found a siphon that works for me, for transferring Mikey's bath water into buckets for use in my yard, to water the plants that need assistance throughout the summer: my fig trees, jasmine, rosemary, lavender, and mint. I got this beauty at one of my favorite places to browse and shop, Harbor Frieght.

To water my pots of succulents, and my lemon balm and chives, I use cooking water used to steam veggies.

Treppie, who is still a bit out of synch after having come out of hibernation too soon due to the unseasonally summer weather we've been having since February, wandered over to my desk to see if I could do anything to make the sun any hotter on a cool day earlier this week.

Tobago is in her typical Spring "I want to eat every worm in the world" mode:

And, Mike is....Mike. Getting ready to shed, checking out my shoes to check my pheromones, and actually being very good about not waking me up for his baths on morning's I've finally been able to sleep.

Here's sprawly boy asleep last week:

I also helped do moulage for a drill at the local airport for fire departments who will be called on to respond to airport disasters to assist the airport's own fire department. For those who are not squeamish, you can see some of the photos of victims and the rest of the exercise in the Kodak Gallery Photo Album I've created.

I just added a couple of product reviews to my Miscellani blog, one on Get Serious Products stain remover, and the other on shipping reptiles and other stuff via UPS - at about 30% off - at and

Now, off I go for some long-overdue hot tea...

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of your illness. Last month my friend and I went up to Mt. Diablo and hike up Eagle Peak to look for some reptiles. We found some coast horned lizards, whiptails, and a lot of fence lizards and a lot of harvester ants which the horned lizards eats. Anyway, I cam home went to bed, woke in the morning, went to the bathroom and started to scratched myself. And there it was this black looking thing on the side of my body. I couldn't get a good look at it because of the angle in was in, so I thought it was a scab. I tried to pull it out, but it wouldn't come off, and so I kept looking at it and wondered why this thing hanging from the side of my body wouldn't come off. Then the thought hit me like a rock.... I remembered reading the guide on Mt. Diablo that ticks are common there and hiker should be aware. I felt it and look at it more carefully, and there it was a tick. I got a little scared and pulled it out as hard as I can. The body of the tick came off when I pulled on it really hard, but the head and the mouth part was still stuck to my body. So I went into the other room to grab a pair of tweezers, and I was able to pull off the head. I was a little scared and was thinking "OMG I'm gonna get lyme disease!". Anyway, thinking about now it was kindda hilarious, though. I didn't get sick from it! thank God! It was the first time I got a tick on me! LOL

10:59 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Don't get too cocky, my friend. Most people don't get sick right after a tick bite. It might be days, weeks, months, even years later.

Don't feel comfortable if you don't get a bull's eye rash, either. These "hallmark" rashes don't always appear, and if they do, they may or may not be in the "classic" bull's eye shape, and may or may not appear at the site of the bite. In fact, only 50-55% of people who know they got bitten by ticks (because they found ticks feeding on them) actually get a rash; the rest, like me, never do. The rash may appear weeks, even months, later, if they do appear

Another untruth is that "the tick has to be attached for 72 hours to infect you." The organisms that live in the tick, including Borrelia, the spirochete that causes Lyme disease (borreliosis), hang out in the tick's saliva glands. When the tick bites into your skin, it injects its anticoagulant saliva into you...along with Borrelia and whatever other organisms are in there. Being a spirochete, Borrelia doesn't even have to ride the saliva wave into the blood stream - it just screws itself through your skin, happily spreading out and away from the tick insertion site within seconds of the tick's bite.

In hindsight, I realize I got bitten when I was 16, during one of the summers I spent attending, then working, at a residential summer camp in Simi Valley. I never saw a tick on me, never got a rash (that I know of - if it appeared on my back in areas that would have been exposed when wearing shorts or a bathing suit, no one ever said anything). I got a mono-like illness the following October. In fact, my pediatrician thought it might be Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), known to be endemic to that area. (I now know that Borrelia was also endemic to that area back then, but STILL most physicians don't know that and public health departments keep downplaying it, greatly contributing to the increasing numbers of people who get infected and eventually ill, many too ill to continue their lives as they were).

Other than developing an allergic reaction to contact with newspaper inks, photocopy toner, carbon paper, and carbonless paper chemicals (and to the airborne particulates of these chemicals), my life was healthy from then until it all went to hell in my mid 30s. Took another 10 years to get properly diagnosed. I've now been sick and disabled for 20 years.

There is a wonderful Lyme disease documentary, Under Our Skin, that will be released in theaters in June. I highly recommend seeing it.

I also highly recommend going on a prophylactic round of antibiotics for Lyme disease (doxycycline 200 mg BID for 4 months). I'm not a doctor, and most doctors simply do not get how bad this is and how widespread it is. For proper diagnosis and treatment, you need to see a doctor who is 'literate' in these tickborne diseases.

So, still feeling complacent?

PS: Please read the article on how to remove ticks properly - it's linked to my Lyme Disease page. Squishing the body and head when trying to pull ticks out just shoots more of the organisms into your body.

Be careful out there, y'hear?

11:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the info and the warning! I will have to make an appointment to see my doctor. Thank you again!

12:01 AM  
Anonymous Knot said...

Shoot! Speaking of conserving water. I usually use the water from turtle pond to water the lawn. I change the water often since turtles are messy because they produce a lot of waste. In a few days the nitrate and nitrite level in the water sky rocketed and usually a partial change of water will take care of it for awhile, but then after week I have to do total water change. How do you propose I conserve water? The turtles need clean water! Ehhh!

11:03 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Knot, talk to other outdoor pond people who keep turtles - I suspect you will need to install a filter or two. I do not keep aquatic turtles (I don't consider Tobago, my Vietnamese leaf turtle to be aquatic, as she doesn't live in a water tank, instead having a plant pot saucer as a soaking "puddle") because of the need to deal with filters and pumps and lots of water changes.

If you haven't already done so, check out the aquatic turtle forum over on and talk to others who keep aquatic turtles in outdoor pond.

Good luck!!

11:22 PM  
Anonymous Knot said...

Yeah, that is with a filter. You have no idea how much waste these little suckers produce. I read it once about outdoor miniature ecosystem with live plants to help break down the nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia with some pond snails and you get some microorganism from the local ponds in the wild to help start breaking down waste in your own pond, but we are talking about spending a lot of money, which I don't have at the moment, to design a pond like that and besides that it's not my house, so can't do anything with it. I was thinking maybe more filters.

11:30 PM  
Anonymous Knot said...

You should put more logs about Mikey on I love reading it and would like to here more about Mikey and what's he's been up to. What's with the time gap? The last two you posted was between 2004 and 2008. What happened after 2004? How come you stop for quite sometime?

9:03 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Since I write about Mike quite a bit here in the blog, I don't really write about him any more at my site - perhaps I should put a link there to the LIS blog so folks can find it more easily.

I've also been sicker over the past 5-6 years than I was for the 4 years or so before then, and the sicker I am, the less I am able to write. (Which also explains my 'absence' in the email lists and forums I frequent when I am better than I have been.)

There's also the fact that, 10 years in, Mike and I live a sort of hum-drum existence, the daily routine being, well, pretty routine.

9:14 PM  
Anonymous Knot said...

I always tell people to read your site when it comes to reptile care because I think you are a genius at least when it comes to reptiles and their science. I don't know I've read many many opinion on how to care for reptiles who claim to be experts, but really no one come close with such deep understanding. I just like to tell you that and I appreciate you taking the time putting up such fabulous site.

Anyway, how did Mikey get so big? Is it from eating your salad? I know some people just greens because they feel that is more natural for them, but I tell them your salad is the best! :P

9:00 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Thanks, Knot. It's nice to know that my varied interests and areas of research comes through in my writings about herp care and behavior.

Mike's size is interesting. He is a hybrid, the offspring of two subspecies, both of which are smaller than he is. I think he is an example of hybrid vigor as much as he is iguana salad and mixed collards/dandelions/etc. greens. Oh, and nasturtium flowers - he loooooves nasturtiums. My plants died out, but he has some friends (well, I do, too ;) who occasionally brings him an edible bouquet when theirs are in bloom.

In the wild, the green iguana diet is mostly foliage, with some flowers and fruits. If we could acquire sufficient quantities of those plants and feed them in the same assortment and quantities wild igs eat, that would certainly be better...the only problem is, we can't. There are 70+ plants igs have been observed eating in some research studies of wild igs, but there has been no years-long studies to find out how much of each plant they eat on average, nor any nutritional studies of all those plants to find out the amount of kcals, protein, vitamins, minerals, fats, etc.

We do know that well constructed diets like mine do work. My diet is also something mostly doable by people who live outside of major metropolitan areas where there isn't a huge variety of leafies and veggies to choose from in their local supermarkets and farmers markets. If people live where they can find a huge variety of greens and lab work shows over time that the iguana is doing well on the diet, that's great. But if the only green available is, say, collards and lettuces, that's not going to be sufficient in the long run.

Well, off to water the jasmine with yesterday's bathwater while His Royal PITArsness lounges in tomorrow's greywater. :)

10:44 AM  

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