Flaked and Sneeted

It was supposed to snow last night. Didn’t. Waited until I was out driving around today to flake in a rather desultory fashion, with a little sneet thrown in for flinching. Wasn’t cold enough for it to stick, thankfully, but it was cold enough — in the high 20’s F/-2+C all day. It was that wet-shock cold like stepping out of a long hot shower into air-conditioning set at “large men in suits and ties.”

Monday, I got a copy of my PET scan. Yep. Quite a little tumor burden you’ve got there, toots. No wonder I’m so tired all the time. Tuesday, I washed two loads of clothes, worked out a way to start a semicircular shawl without using a garter tab (it uses Turkish cast on)(there’s advanced-knitter knitting and then there’s knitting-geek knitting . . .), finished blocking shawl #3 and blocked shawl #4,

and put away the folding banquet table, blocking tiles, felt pad, steam iron, etc. (Did you know there are channels on YouTube that have like 7-8 hours’ worth of all different kinds of very nice music? God, I love rechargeable Bluetooth earbuds!)

I saw the cardiologist this morning. He used to have office space actually in the hospital; you had to park in the hospital parking garage and then make this “better pack a lunch and take a map and compass” hike to get to his office. He has new office space across the street now which is at ground level and has a parking lot right beside the building, which is such a relief. We fist bumped, touched bases and I got a hug out of the deal. He has a great “bedside manner” for any doctor, never mind a cardiologist.

I had to check mail and mail mom’s PEO dues before I went to the cardiologist, and wasn’t forethoughtful, so after I made my Walmart run, I had to come all the way up to the apt to get my wagon, go all the way back down to the car to load it up, and haul my goodies all the way back up. Sigh.

This afternoon, one of the movers brought the containers to pack my books, so I have that to do. (I haven’t gotten the keys yet. Haven’t moved anything yet. Haven’t packed anything yet.) Changed out of my good top and put on a well-worn fleece tunic top after I got home (which I don’t care if I dribble spinach dip on) which helped to thaw me out. The electricity was flickering on and off earlier this afternoon (I’d be willing to bet that pickups and telephone poles figured into it somehow), but they seem to have sorted that out. There are some navy beans that have been calling my name all afternoon and I put off heating them up because of the electricity shenanigans, but here directly, I’ll go see what they want. There’s some wild rice with mushrooms in there, too. Also a pair of tuna salad sandwiches. I may make another travel mug’s worth of hot tea and do some serious noshing.

I have this thing where I make tuna salad sandwiches, wrap them in cling wrap, and let them sit in the refrigerator overnight before I eat them. (I’m on the spectrum. Quirks come with the territory. Some are backed by sense or logic; some, like that one, spring forth fully formed like Athena from my neurodiverse little noggin.)(A logical quirk is if I’m making a lunch meat sandwich with cheese, I always put the cheese on first and put the rest of the cheese away before I even get into the lunch meat. If I get into the meat first, then I’m handling cheese, part of which is going back in the package, with meat juice on my fingers. It’s called hygiene.)

The packers are coming tomorrow to pack the dishes. I’ll be packing books tomorrow, too. Hopefully I’ll get my keys tomorrow and I can start moving things over. I’ve got four days to pull this whole move thing off and I really need to stick the landing.

Things be fixin’ to get busy . . . .

To Do: 2. Get Rear In Gear

And hit the ground running. Monday I see the oncologist, but that appointment is not til 1 o’clock. I’ve got to take mom’s mail over for her. In addition to everything else I’ve got to keep up with, I’ve got to get her taxes done. (Mine are plain vanilla basic with a squirt of stock dividends. Takes me maybe half an hour to do mine.) Mom has assets, plus proceeds from the sale of a house, plus some tax thing we get from Carillon that’s the same difference as buying a dwelling. All her statements and info come to me (her POA), and I’ve got to track how much I’ve got of the statements, 1099’s, etc., I need vs what I’ve got and when I get it all, schlep it over to the accountant. While I’m going through chemo. Yep. Thank goodness her accountant sent a checklist. He also moved from about five blocks away to 126th street, which is WAY the heck over on the complete other side of town (we technically live on 17th street. I’ll need to pack a lunch for the trip.)

The estate sale people finally came and got the stuff they’re selling for me. The lady I’m selling the bed to still has one more payment to make and they need to come get the bed. Like yesterday. There’s no room for it in the new apartment and I think they’ve already gotten this apartment leased, so it needs to be taken to its new home tout de suite

So, Monday, take mom’s mail over, snatch some lunch, see the oncologist, and stop at the grocery store on the way back for almond milk and butter. Tuesday is general rounding up the turtles day. I’m going to do another wardrobe cull. Wednesday, I see the cardiologist. I need to do a Walmart run afterward for shelf liner, toilet paper, and other such essentials, and drop off the stuff I’m donating to Goodwill. I’m also supposed to be getting the key to a move-in-ready apartment. That’s when the schlepping starts. Pictures, start coming down and I start taking whatnots and objets d’art over. Thursday the packers come and pack dishes and the contents of my china cabinet. I can line shelves and drawers that afternoon. Friday the movers come. They’ll put my clothes in those closet boxes and the books in these stacks of drawers on wheels. Those are the major time and energy eaters to unpack and put away. I’ve already plotted out where 98% of my furniture goes. (The one thing I haven’t figured out where to put yet is my yarn stash.) That gives me the rest of Friday, Saturday and Sunday to unpack everything and put it away because chemo starts bright and early on Monday the 31st for three consecutive days. I will have to get with the movers about when they’re coming to pick up boxes and those stacks of drawers on rollers. of which there’ll probably be at least six. I know where I can stash the empty packing boxes. It’s those drawers on roller thingies once they’re emptied. Hopefully I can get them emptied and picked up by Monday afternoon.

I think tonight I might make a bowl of tuna salad. I’ve already “started” an onion that I “pulsed” some of in my little chopper thingie along with two of the three generous pieces of pork loin roast from lunch and mayo. I spread the result on crackers and cut up an apple for a “side” and had that for “tea” at mid afternoon. I also have some rice and navy beans left over from lunch, and I’ll add part of the onion I “started” to the navy beans in the time honored fashion. (Maybe I can score some cornbread at lunch tomorrow to have with the navy beans for supper.) I’ll pick up some naan when I make my Walmart run. When you cut a piece of naan in two and toast it in the toaster cut side down, it opens up nicely and I can have some pocket tuna salad sandwiches.

In the meantime, I’ve just been taking it easy, resting up, sitting quietly and knitting or reading, self isolating as much as I can what with Omicron, as well as all the lovely antibiotic-resistant bugs to be found among the elderly.

Lately, I’ve taken to watching French videos about Versailles and the various chateaux associated with the Bourbons. In French. I had three years of high-school French entirely too long ago, so most of it goes right over my head, but I like the sound of the language, and 80% of learning a language is training the ear and acquiring vocabulary. And the funny thing is, the longer I listen to them, the more I’ve started catching. I kind of got onto this kick because M. Habit, whose YouTube and Instagram channels I follow, after having lived in Chicago all his life, upped stakes and moved to Paris. His channels reflect this. I’ve traveled in France on two occasions, and have been to Paris briefly. France is one of those places, like Britain, where you can hardly turn around without tripping over something historic, ancient. Eh, bien. Tuna salad.

ACK! Math!

A friend wants to participate in this baby blanket KAL (Knit-A-Long) which (assuming you use the same kind of yarn and needles they use, and your number of stitches and rows per inch is the same as theirs) will result in a baby blanket that measures 36 x 52 inches. Only she doesn’t want to end up with a baby blanket. She wants to end up with a much narrower rectangular shawl. She knows I write knitting patterns so she sends me what she’s got so far of the KAL pattern and wants me to cut the width down.

My first break is that even though the blanket uses a whole bunch of different stitch patterns, all the stitch patterns have a 12-stitch repeat.  For a finished width of 36 inches (36.36 inches, actually), the cast on is 200 stitches, but 20 stitches of that is border (10 stitches on each side), which leaves 180 stitches (15 repeats) that I can play with.

My next break is the way the pattern is written. You’re supposed to put markers 10 stitches in from each side (for your borders) and then after you slip the first marker, you repeat from * to the next marker, so the number of stitches you have on a row is immaterial so long as the number of stitches between the two markers is evenly divisible by 12 (12-stitch pattern repeat). So I don’t have to rewrite the pattern; she can knit it as written.

The tricky bit is coming up with the number of stitches to get the desired width in inches.  Assuming you can get gauge (22 sts = 4 inches), you divide the total number of stitches you are to cast on by 22 and multiply the result by 4 to get total width in inches. Show your work:  

(number of stitches to cast on) = (20 stitches for the border) + (number of pattern repeats x 12 sts per repeat) = (number of stitches cast on divided by 22 sts x 4) = total width in inches.  

  • 200 sts = 20 sts (borders) + 180 sts (15 x 12-st repeat) = 36 inches wide.
  • 164 sts = 20 sts (borders) + 144 sts (12 x 12-st repeat) = 29.8 inches wide.
  • 140 sts = 20 sts (borders) + 120 sts (10 x 12-st repeat) = 25.45 inches wide.
  • 116 sts = 20 sts (borders) + 96 sts (8 x 12-st repeat) = 21. 9 inches wide.

Hows that for 9 o’clock in the morning?  

But wait! When I was talking to my friend last night, we got to talking about knitting and math, and I was talking about the Savannah Squares shawl and figuring out how big to make it. It’s a square shawl meant to be folded on the diagonal and worn bib stile around the neck. I’ve already determined that I need a diagonal length of 52 inches (130 cm) for it to hang like it’s supposed to.

Since it’s being knitted “in the round” (i.e., outward from a center point), what I’ve been doing is measuring from the center point of the square out to one corner and doubling that measurement.

But then I realized: The corners of a square are 90 degree angles by definition. Folding the square in half on the diagonal to get a triangular shape makes that triangular shape an equilateral right (45, 45, 90) triangle. So if I want to know how long the sides of the square have to be to get a diagonal of 52 inches — wait for it — I take the pythagorean theorem(!), make C=52, and solve for A and B where A=B! And guess what? There’s an app for that . . . (It’s 36.25 inches/92 cm, BTW)

I also realized I’m going to Need More Yarn. . . . so after my MRI tomorrow, I’ll have to beetle over to Michael’s because they carry the Red Heart Unforgettable yarn, and hope they have 2 skeins of that colorway like their website sez they do.

To Do: 1. Gird Loins

Girding one’s loins is the biblical equivalent of fastening your seatbelt, it’s going to be a rough ride (to misquote a classic). It’s 1. on the To Do list for a reason. Had my PET scan yesterday (piece of cake). This morning, my oncologist’s office called to tell me he wants to start chemo when I see him on the 24th. For those who are playing at home, I’m scheduled to move to my new apartment on the 27th/28th, which I explained to them, and the oncologist agreed to see me on the 24th to give me the results, but start the chemo a week later on the 31st, the particulars to be mailed to me. The chemo drug he wants to use is bendamustine.

I’ve already emailed my VA PCP about prescriptions for odansetron (anti-nausea drug) and loperamide (generic Immodium, anti-diarrhea drug) to get the govermental agency molasses moving. If she can prescribe it, fine. If she has to have a prescription from the oncologist, then I asked her to have her nurse call me with a fax number so I can call his office and have them fax the prescriptions over. The thing is to use these drugs to prevent side effects rather than treat them after you’ve already gotten them, so I need to have the drugs in my little hot hands before the 31st.

I see the oncologist, as noted, on the 24th, and see my cardiologist on the 26th, which is the day I’m supposed to be able to move into my apartment. (I need to remember to give a release of information to the oncologist to release the PET scan results to my cardiologist, since my heart was part of what got PET scanned and PET scans will show stuff about the heart that cardiologist want to know. I also need to remember to tell the cardiologist I’ve done this.) So, the plan is to start moving stuff over in my wagon on the 26th. But here’s the thing. Nothing has been done to the apartment yet.

They are supposed to lay LVF floors, change out a shower pan, switch out appliances, replace obviously water damaged window sills, replace obviously moldy wallboard (they assure me the water leak has been repaired) and reinstall a wall HVAC unit, but none of that has been started, and as of today, they’ve got 10 business days to get the apartment ready for me to move in. The movers are already scheduled. The water guy is scheduled to move the reverse osmosis water unit and most importantly, I’ve got three days to sort things out and figure out which end is up, unpack dishes, hang pictures, and put everything away, before I start three days of chemotherapy administration on the 31st. I’ve got to get this move right the first time and really stick the landing.

In the meantime, I’ve noticed a gradual but noticeable increase in how quickly I get tired and how tired I get. The CT scan I had in August showed lymphomas that were an inch in at least one dimension, and the oncologist evidently got so excited about the results of the PET scan (the CT scan located the tumors, but the PET scan shows which ones are growing and how fast they’re growing) that he wants to start chemo in two weeks. That tells me I’m fairly rapidly accumulating a tumor burden which is siphoning off more and more of my energy.

The last 8 days of January are going to be nothing if not interesting. They’re also going to be exhausting. Maybe I need to amend my To Do list: 1. Rest Up. 2. Gird Loins. 3. Get My Rear In Gear.

Busy, Busy

I was supposed to have a lab draw followed by a PET scan bright and early Monday morning. I had hardly driven around the building on my way there when the radiology department called me (in the car! — Thankfully, the Greyola syncs with my iPhone and I can answer/hang up from the steering wheel and hear through my sound system speakers). It seems the isotope thingie they inject me with hadn’t arrived from Dallas and they had to reschedule. I get to do it tomorrow. The good news is that I will not have to hike clear around to the hospital radiology department like I did for the CAT scans as their PET scanner is just downstairs from where I get my labs and chemo and is about a minute’s walk from the parking lot. The brow-furrowing news is I will be bristling with positrons (slightly radioactive) for 48 hours as a result of the scan and am to avoid people in general and babies and young children in particular. Whoopee.

Since my three already-scheduled appointments for the month (labs, oncologist and cardiologist), I have also picked up an appointment to get an MRI of my right elbow (an x-ray of same showed “degenerative arthritis”) and have another appointment to get a bone density scan pending whenever they can get their schedules and mine to mesh.

I had gotten a set of Bluetooth headphones and a Bluetooth transmitter to use with my TV in October but hadn’t had the time to futz with it. The other afternoon, I took the time. Delightfully, all I had to do to get the TV and the headphones to talk to each other was plug the dongle into the TV and turn the headphones on. *stunned gasp of delight*

This afternoon, I turned on the TV, found a YouTube playlist of old BBC documentaries on the Anglo-Saxons presented by Michael Wood (major nerd crush!) and spent the afternoon binge watching them while I knitted on the Savannah Square Mark II — the one in “proper yarn” (i.e., Malabrigo sock, colorway “Whale’s Road”) as opposed to the restart of the original in acrylic yarn (below).

When I made the first start on the original, I guesstimated (and allocated) three 279-yard skeins of the Red Heart Unforgettable acrylic yarn in the colorway “Dragonfly” would be enough to make it the size I needed. I have about a golf ball size amount of the second skein left now with a 36-inch diagonal and one skein to go. Needs to be around 45-50 inches on the diagonal for the tails to hang right.

The yarn is still available, so depending on how big the Mark I is after 3 skeins, I may have to buy two more skeins of the stuff to get it to that size. It’s meant to be worn “bib” style, i.e., folded into a triangle along the diagonal with the “tails” wrapped around the neck and left to hang down the front. I may also put tassels on it. Small ones. We’ll see what kind of yarn I have left. The Mark II version with sock yarn will be an around-the-shoulder shawl so it will be a lot bigger. Malabrigo sock comes in 440-yard skeins and I have 5 skeins of it. I’ll see where three skeins gets me and go from there. This afternoon the 16-inch circulars were getting crowded so I knitted it off onto the 24-inch circulars. Moving right along.

I found out today that I’m going to get another first cousin twice removed. My Dad’s brother’s daughter’s daughter is pregnant again. (My first cousin’s child is my first cousin once removed. My first cousin’s grandchild is my first cousin twice removed. Got that?) I see some baby knitting in my future . . .

After I get home from my scan tomorrow, I’m not going anywhere until Monday, and am going to be pretty much of a hermit until I’m no longer radioactive, which means I’ll be either knitting and binge watching TV, or listening to music and knitting or listening to music and reading, or listening to music and working on stories, or any or all of the above. A very low-profile weekend.

Hanging Fire

I know what I need to do (move in, get settled, and get hunkered down for chemo) but I can’t do any of it yet. I do have a move-in date (apartment available for move in on the 26th) but I see my cardiologist that morning. The packers are scheduled for the 27th, and the movers (three guys with furniture dollies) come the 28th. I have three more medical appointments scattered throughout the month. I see the oncologist on the 24th to plan What Happens Next. In the meantime, I’m hanging fire, gathering strength and getting ready for the frantic activity that has to happen in the last week of January to get this move done and dusted ASAP.

But in the meantime, I’m a knitter. I’ve always got stuff I could be doing. I’ve got shawls to block, Works In Progress, yarn to wind, all kinds of stuff to keep me busy. Lately, I’ve been killing these four shawls I’ve finished that were knit with acrylic yarn.

I’ve got two more to do. The rust colored one is this one, with a different knitted on edging than the pattern calls for. The blue one is one of my own patterns, Cobblestones and Lace. I did a second version with a lighter blue yarn which is next on my hit list after I do the one that’s on the table in the picture above, which is the Cable Edged Shawl.

And I’ve got shawls in progress all over the place, never mind that I want to do this shawl in Tiziano Red Malabrigo sock + ruby mohair held double, except for the edging in just sock yarn, but then I want to take a crack at a Faroese shawl with its characteristic center back gussett, but then . . . . I want to knit all the things!!!

I need to discipline myself not to start something until I finish something (like that’s going to happen!), because I have WIPs. I also need to make my iPocket — a “pocket” with a waist band that will hold my phone and apartment key when I wear leggings and slacks without pockets. I’ve just about got it figured out in my head with how I want it shaped and what stitches to use (linen stitch). I’ve also got an idea for how to do a semicircular shawl top-down, center-to-edges, without using a garter tab and short rows, but using a Turkish cast on instead, but that’s going to take some mocking up with scrap yarn before I can go anywhere with it. But in the meantime, i have WIPs til the world looks level.

Not Off To A Very Promising Start

So, Happy New Year, guys, and may your year be ever so much better than the trash fire that was 2021.

My new year has not gotten off to a very promising start, alas. For one thing, it’s been sneeting (snow+sleet). (Earlier in the afternoon, I was experiencing the pitter-patter of little sneet on the windows . . .) For another thing, it’s 17 F/-8.3 C freaking degrees out. (Just a week ago, it was 78 F/25.5 C on Xmas Day. Happy Climate Change!) (That’s the Greyola parked at the right end of the line.)

For another thing, having read the weather report, I had planned to spend the whole weekend cocooned in the apartment snuggly and warm, resting, reading and otherwise generally taking it easy, but a package misdelivery has thrown a big fat monkey wrench into that plan. I ordered a little food processor to render those pieces of meat left over from lunch into something spreadable on crackers (the portions here are very generous!). It got delivered to the other building by mistake (not an uncommon occurrence, I understand). But then, with my name clearly written on it, somebody at the other building marked out my apartment number and put mom’s on it and she ended up with it. So, tomorrow, I have to get suited up for polite company as well as the cold out of doors (when I had planned to spend the whole day in my soft, warm jammies) and traipse all the way over there in nasty weather and get it. Grumble. . . grumble. . . grumble. Yeah. I know. May this be the worst problem I have all year.

My rebooted square scarf is coming along nicely; one ball nearly down, two more to go. I like it so much that I rummaged about in stash and found some Malabrigo sock yarn I got last year in the colorway “Whale’s Road” (– somebody studied Beowulf in school . . .) and started another one on US 3 (3.25 mm) needles, which is currently stalled because I’m waiting for the 16-inch and 24-inch US 3 (3.25 mm) circular needles I ordered to get here. Comparing the two yarns, both are variegated in color, but the length of the color repeats on the two yarns are different. When a yarn has long color repeats (like that on the left), it’s called “self striping” yarn, because there’s a long enough patch of color that you can knit several rows before the yarn changes color again. However, the Malabrigo (on the right) has very short color repeats, so short that the yarn marls rather than striping. It’s a much more subtle effect, which I really like.

We had our New Year’s Eve party yesterday. The party started at 4 o’clock (I remind you of the local demographic — ). All the usual suspects were there, including yrs trly. They had their own version of the glitter ball hoisted up into the chandelier on what looked like clothesline, with a very long extension cord, which had to be plugged into the wall before it would flash in colors as desired. The food service does this thing with little plastic cups where they squirt some Ranch dressing in the bottom, then add a couple carrot sticks and celery sticks, and a cheddar cube+cherry tomato+olive on a tooth pick. We got one of those “dip cups” along with a chicken wing segment and a piece of “Texas canape,” which is a flour tortilla spread with cream cheese, then a thin slice of ham and a thin slice of cheese, rolled up and sliced.

Music was provided by Junior Vasquez, who did oldies (Buddy Holly, James Taylor, Johnny Cash, etc., again, remember the demographic . . .). Wine was served. I can only take that many people at a time, at that volume level, for so long, ya’ll, and it was getting to be stifling hot. I left just as the party was getting its second wind, which was about 5:30. It was fun, but that’s the kind of fun I prefer in small, widely-spaced doses.

I looked outside again just now, and it’s downright snowing! We’re supposed to get about an inch (stop sniggering, you northerners!), which means it’ll be demolition derby day on the city streets. I’ve already heard the wail of ambulance sirens several times this afternoon. I’m less than a mile from two hospitals in two different directions. (The Life Flight copters come roaring over from hither and yon at all hours of the day and night). There’s supposed to be a way to get from my building to mom’s without going outside. I bet I find out how to do that tomorrow. In the meantime, I’m telling ya, if the weather doesn’t settle down, I’m gonna have to break out the lap robes . . .