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Wick (Donald Murray): Week 15 – 1 July

You know the apocryphal so-called Chinese curse, may you live in interesting times? Well, I’ve found a new and rather unsettling variant: may you become interesting to the medical profession. Indeed, so many and so various have my ailments become that medical students have started following me around, taking notes; I’m familiar with predatory lawyers acting as “ambulance chasers”, but when the ambulances themselves start getting in on the act you know you’re in trouble.

Orchids and buttercups at Coronation Meadow, Dunnet

About a year ago I had a chest infection, unpleasant enough at the time but easily identified and cured. Ever since then I’ve suffered from the world’s least attractively-named illness, post-nasal drip. It’s not very serious—no heroine of an opera ever died from it, though La bohème might have turned out very differently if Mimi had developed packed sinuses instead of full-blown consumption. The symptoms are a general sensation of breathing mucus instead of air, and the hacking cough of a three-packs-a-day man. Blowing one’s nose produces a sucking, slurping, squelching noise like someone trying to lift a pig, stuck in mud, against its will. One doctor recommended a steroid spray, which resulted in nosebleeds so spectacular that my handkerchief was declared a war zone by the Red Cross, so I decided to just live with it in future. (In bygone days, certain people in rural communities took on the role of “sin eater”, someone who turned up at funerals to literally take on the sins of the deceased person; without getting “needlessly messianic”, in the immortal words of Douglas Adams, I’m starting to think I may be a less creepy but still useful “minor ailments eater”…)

Dunnet Head from Castletown

In gansey news, I’m making good progress down the first sleeve. The original gansey has a diamond trellis border between the body and the yoke patterns, which is replicated on the sleeves. This is the kind of unity in patterns that make these ganseys so satisfying to knit. Because my row gauge is rather less than the original knitter’s, I had to forgo the trellis on the body—I just didn’t have enough rows, and it would have looked wrong ending the body pattern several inches earlier. So I’m aware my gansey isn’t going to be as aesthetically pleasing as the original. (Meh—whatcha gonna do?) I’ve enjoyed knitting these recreations of Caithness ganseys, and this one, like the previous one, is intended for the local museum to complement the photographs. But increasingly I’m thinking the next step is experiment with a blend of Caithness and Hebridean patterns, to create something both spectacular and unique. Watch this space.

Sun on the Sand – Dunnet Beach from Castletown

And it’s been a week of record temperatures across Europe: 45ºC in France, 35º in England, while Wick reached… well, pushing 20º actually. But do you hear me complaining? Never a bit! I do possess t-shirts and shorts, but the whole point of living in the frozen north is that I should never have to wear them. (And let’s face it, there’s enough sadness in life without my knees being displayed in public. One I might get away with, but both of them? I think not.) The weather has been beautiful—blue skies, gentle breezes and sunlight glittering on the wide, blue ocean—but as Wordsworth put it so eloquently,  “Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive, but to be just cold enough to wear a gansey was very heaven…”

10 comments to Wick (Donald Murray): Week 15 – 1 July

  • Camilla Trondsen

    Dear Donald,

    I have year-round allergies, resulting in year-round congestion. I can’t use decongestants, because they give me massive sinus infections. Instead, I use a homeopathic product called Sinusalia, produced by a French company called Boiron.

    You let the two little pills melt in your mouth, and about a half hour later, you give a mighty sneeze or two, and you can breath. It’s amazing.

    Now that I have used them for more than 25 years, I no longer use them as directed (that is, every day). I use them as needed, and I can breath most of the time.

    My gansey is coming along. I decided to honor my Norwegian ancestors and make steeks instead of knitting the yoke back and forth. I really love knitting in the round . . . . I’ve done about two inches of the yoke, and I’m quite pleased with it.

    I hope your lovely weather continues!


    • Gordon

      Hi Camilla, thanks for the suggestion. I’ll look into it. (I’ve got to be careful about decongestants, because of the blood pressure pills I take.)

      Funnily enough we recently met a gentleman who knit this ganseys with steeks, which seems eminently sensible to me. I’d probably do it myself if they hadn’t forbidden me all sharp objects, or even my own shoelaces…

  • Jane

    Instead of a steroid spray, you could try a saline spray instead. Not quite as dramatic of results, but maybe adequate.

    • Gordon

      Hi Jane, I have a saline rinse. I haven’t tried it yet as the instructions seem to imply I should apply it by standing on my head and running cold salt water up my nose—or maybe that was the japanese instructions using google translate! Either way, it’s on my to-do list…

  • Patrick

    Stay strong Gordon! But this post is really just so I can sign up for weekly post updates in my new email…

  • =Tamar

    You mean, post-nasal drip isn’t just something that happens to everyone as they get older?

    Have they tried checking for fungal infections?

    I am resisting but will have to start the A/C soon. It’s been hovering around 93-F (34-C or so) here, with nights dropping to around 80-F (27-C, maybe).

    I wish it were cool enough to think about wearing a handsome grey gansey… but we need the heat for the canteloupes to develop flavor.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, it’s 11ºc outside, 20-mph winds, and drizzling. In July! If this isn’t gansey weather I don’t know what is.

      I sometimes picture myself in Job’s place, complaining of my lot to the Lord. Only, when He replies crushingly, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?” I’d answer, “OK, God, you’ve got me there, but on the other hand—why so much mucus? I mean, seriously?” At which point the Lord would probably shuffle his feet apologetically and mutter something about having some slime left over after the sixth day of Creation and nowhere to put it, and we’d probably forget the whole thing and go for a coffee.

  • Lynne Brock

    Well, to me, that is one of the most “aesthetically pleasing” ganseys you’ve knit! I love the way this is looking and can’t wait to see it blocked.

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