Monday 16 August 2010

Running a Creche for Adults

Dear Readers,
My friend Jeanne-ming recently wrote to ask how I was and where I was, and I realise I am not blogging with any consistency this summer. Two months after my last treatment the waters started closing over me and each day I take the oars out and push the tide just far enough to keep breathing and smiling. I am awaiting the next admission with an eagerness that is not entirely normal :) Hospital tea! Yay! The narrow white cot-like bed that I somehow don't fall out off! Yay! And the needles! Er... no. No yay for the needles. I am not that far gone. My lips curl into a snarl at the thought of that particular familiar invasion.

Meantime, wolfish things aside, I have taken to a rather demure sport. Knitting. My grandmother, who lives in Vancouver most of the year, spends her summer here with us in England, and she is a champion knitter. I have put her to good use this year and am now the proud maker of a tiny sample of orange wool in garter and stocking stitch.
Grandmere is a beautiful and impatient woman who is teaching me new stitches at the rate of knots; so I took my knitting along to the eye clinic a few days ago. In between the ghastly facts of my growing cataract, my inflammatory cells, the myopically curved disc of my right trabeculectomy, old scars, new floaters.... I discussed knitting techniques with my fellow patients. Every female patient and staff member could knit! At one point, as I was sticking my tongue out at a few fallen stitches, a Chinese lady snatched the offending sample out of my hands and speedily corrected my mistakes. She was gone as quickly as she had appeared, so I followed her direction into the adjoining waiting room, but it was empty. It was late evening by now, and I snagged a friendly nurse to ask after the Chinese patient. "She's not a patient!" scoffed the nurse. "She's our visiting doctor from China." I mumbled something to her retreating back, but she suddenly re-appeared with the doctor! I think I blushed but the doctor (Ching) just tut-tutted and sorted out more mistakes. She had met me once before; I, sans contact lenses, had not recognised her. We stayed chatting awhile about me learning Mandarin (Ni hao! Wo jaio Shai!) and her mother's knitting expertise at home in Beijing, until my blue-eyed surgeon (the one who reads my blog) hustled his visiting doctor back to the safe seclusion of work. I floated back to the receptionist's desk and three nurses manifested, discussing the merits of crocheting and Carmen, head nurse, asked if I knew how to cast off. She had just begun the lesson when my medical ophthalmologist shimmered into view. (A quick visual image for you - he looks a little like Robin Williams' character in Good Will Hunting. Beard, eccentricity and all). "I know knitting is far more important," he seethed, "but could I have my patient back?" I scuttled after him, and when we'd settled into the ghostly dark room, he griped, "I feel as though I'm running a creche for adults here!"

So there you have it. I am knitting and pearling and learning Mandarin (which brings me back to my friend Jeanne-ming!) and awaiting the next installment of an IV drip. There are two more weddings looming, one which is about to fall on my birthday. So I shall write about the serendipity of that as it occurs.

So much love to my blogging sangha x

first painting: henrietta mabel may, 1884-1971
second painting: nichiro ishimura, 1946-97


Maggie May said...

i want to learn to knit again, it is so soothing. i am saying a prayer for you sweetie, and glad to hear your update.

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

You're always learning and growing. I guess that's what makes it always beautiful to visit your blog, Shaista. Stay strong.

Jeanne-ming Brantingham said...

I am smiling. Not over the news of your health, no, but over the visual of you knitting with a chinese doctor...AND because you have painted the picture I will now record with paint and plaster.
I have been searchng for this image since I met you.

Ruth said...

The way you knitted culture and curiosity into this writing is as good as writing and joy and living get. The way you face your obstacles is inspiring to me, because you interact with life like this, with ferocious beauty. All good things to you, open hands.

Unknown said...

Great knitting company! Oops, can't be one 'coz I don't knit. I enjoy visiting your blog .

Yin said...

Hello Shai! I've been wondering how you've been too and hahaha have to laugh to see one reason is that you've been bitten by the knitting bug! Beware the stashes of wool is all I can say :) but also if you're looking for patterns this membership website Ravelry is particularly good!

Being Chinese and a slightly lapsed knitter too am also taking this as another mark of the race of Joseph. Happy knitting with grandmere!

Cloudia said...

How have I not been imbibing your extraordinary posts before today?

Thank you SO much for finding my Hawaii blog where you are most welcome. I recognize great beauty in your words.

Warm Aloha from Waikiki :)

Comfort Spiral

Dave King said...

Quantity may have dropped off. quality hasn't.

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chiccoreal said...

Dear Shiasta: Thank-you for commenting On The Poetry Bus this week. What a hoot! Your writing shows a great deal of energized spunkiness!Fun comments about your tx. Do you drink Constant Comment in England or is Green Tea or Chai the going thing. We have Red Rose Tea here, and it is "Only available In Canada, Only in Canada you say". Do you have Red Rose tea in England? Knitting! I love knitting. I have only made scarves, mainly. I once made a 30 ft scarf for fun for an old bf! What are you making? Love hand-made knitwear. We'll have to find you some better tea. Maybe start a patient's union! Thou doth protest! ps have you checked the internet for new ideas and have you tried homeopathy/naturopathy/holistic health modalities? Sending good vibes to you! Blessings dear! pss what is the creche all about (I know the Christmas creche).

A Cuban In London said...

I'm so pleased to read that you're well (under the circumstances) and that your creativity has not been stifled.

Many thanks for such a beautiful post.

Greetings from London.

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