One More Time . . .

Mom’s 98th Birthday was yesterday. Her dear friend CK organized the cake and goodies, and got the activities room on her floor at Carillon set up. I got her a new top and some clip on ear-rings (she’s let her holes close)(just as well). There were over 20 of her friends present, including her nephew and niece-in-law from NM. Mom has been working with her walker (and I have a sneaking suspicion that said dear friend may have put a bug in her ear), and she very proudly walked from her room up the hall and around the corner and into the room, making quite a grand entrance. (She did forget to put on her shoes, though!)

The activities director decorated the room so nicely, and there was cake and ice cream and punch. She had asked that there be no gifts, but evidently edibles are not considered “gifts” — she got candy and munchies galore. She had great fun opening all her cards and visiting with friends.

Mom has made friends with the young son of one of the activities ladies who came to work with his mom over the summer holidays, visited and made friends with mom and the others on her floor. He still often comes by after school to spend time with his new friends. He got out of school early so he could attend her party! He has made several pictures for her and they have become great friends. He had his heely shoes on, which students are allowed to wear in school!

Because my oncologist “threw in” an extra week between my treatments, the treatment that was scheduled for the 19th was moved to the 26th, and I was able to attend mom’s party (so long as I behaved myself and kept my mask on).

I went over early and got to help decorate and set things up, and serve goodies and visit with folks. It’s the first time I’ve been able to go over there since the end of January when I started treatment. It was a chance to see people I haven’t seen in a while, including my cousin and his wife.

Happy but pooped, the birthday girl took a post-party nap. (and so did I!)

I picked up mail on the way back including some Nivea skin cream I ordered for mom off Amazon (the local Walgreen’s was out and back-ordered). I had turned her on to it a while back and she loves it as much as I do.

I had supper when I got back and crashed out at 6 p.m. (!) Of course, then I woke up at 2 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep until after 4 a.m. As I start my last(!) cycle of chemo Monday, I had some errands to run today. There’s this nail salon I’ve been going to for years now. I went there today just to get my toenails cut — no spa treatment or pedicure, or anything, just a cut. I’ve pretty much given up trying to cut them myself. For one thing, there’s too much me in the way, and for another, I don’t seem to have enough pinch strength in my hands (or else my toenail clipper isn’t sharp enough) to cut my big toe nails. Anyway, as I was coming along 50th Street to where the nail salon is, I noticed that there was a Goodwill truck in the Market Street parking lot across the street (which there hasn’t been for months!). I swooped in and emptied my trunk of three trash bags full of items which have become “surplus to requirement” since I moved.

And speaking of moving, I realized the other day that 1 September marked my one-year anniversary of living here at Pointe Plaza. I did change apartments in January when mom moved over to Carillon House and I moved to a 1-bedroom. At the time I moved, only three of the six apartments in this hallway were occupied. Then my next door neighbor slid off the couch one time too many while trying to stand up and was moved to assisted living, and the lady at the end of the hall (aged 98) had to have emergency (damned if you do/damned if you don’t) gallbladder surgery and didn’t make it, and there were just two of us.

Then, three weeks ago, we were besieged by power tools for over a week while the renovators got the apartment across the hall (which I had been shown, but didn’t take) ready for occupancy. Took him three days to move in (rumble rumble bang bang). Then just as things were calming down, an army of renovators and carpet layers occupied the apartment next door and we had a brisk couple of days of heavy hammering. Now she’s finally all moved in (rumble rumble bang bang).

What makes all this activity even more fun is that stuff (like flooring, carpet, furniture and household goods) goes in and out of this floor via the freight elevator at the end of the hall one load at a time. And every time the elevator doors close, they make this CLANG! noise like whacking the side of a 500 gallon propane storage tank with a 10-pound sledge hammer — and if the elevator foyer door is open (which it invariably is), you can hear it clear to the other (my) end of the hall through closed doors (or at least I can). This might explain why the other apartment at that end of the hall has remained unoccupied for years now.

I will also report that I have finally (mostly) succeeded in teaching myself to sleep through the daily rolling of the trash cans from the kitchens to the dumpster which kicks off smartly at 8:30 every morning, passes en route through the doors right across the patio from my window and proceeds up the concrete walkway between the two buildings (and back again).

I’ve been pretty much resting up for my last go-round with chemo, which is Monday. I’ve been doing some knitting, but mostly I’ve been reading. I re-re-reread Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s Crystal Soldier and Crystal Dragon. Every bit as satisfying a read as the other two times I’ve read them. I read them practically back to back. They are not the first two novels that were written in the Liaden Universe/Clan Korval series, but they are the first two in terms of internal chronology. So if you want to begin at the beginning, so to speak, read those two books in that order, as they are the stories of the four founders of Clan Korval and how it came to be founded: The genetically engineered soldier M. Jela Granthorn’s Guard, spaceship pilots Cantra yos’Phelium and Tor An yos’Galan, and the sentient tree.

I kinda want to read up onto Seanan McGuire’s new October Daye book that just came out, but it’s the 16th in the series (and reading 16 books in a row is a serious time commitment). (Goals. I haz ’em.) McGuire does write herself some serious page-turners, but she is so hard on her protagonist. Beats the crap out of the poor girl physically and emotionally every durn book. I’m not sure I’m up for sixteen straight books of that just right now. I might read up onto the latest Murderbot book by Martha Wells, which I’ve just gotten. There’s only six of them in the series. But I’ve gotten some other new books I might read.

Or I might just sit and knit and listen to music. Or not.

Gratuitous picture of a faun and a unicorn from The Day of The Unicorn ©2022 by Manuel Arenas

On the Downward Slope

Tomorrow is the last fluid infusion of this session. I have to be there at 8:00. So after Monday’s infusion I got home just before noon, in more than enough time for the housekeeping lady. While she was there, the maintenance guy came to say he needed to turn my shower on because there was a leak downstairs. Turns out my shower was leaking somehow (why suddenly is it leaking now and not earlier?) He had to calk it and the calk had to set, so I couldn’t use it until he came by today to put everything back together.

He said he’d be by this morning. He didn’t show up until after noon. Of course, by the time he came, I’d washed my dishes and started a pot of chai tea with vanilla almond milk. I’ve got as far as making the chai tea, which is cooling at the moment. It has to cool to room temp before I can add the vanilla almond milk. Then it’s into the fridge.

Anyway, I can use my shower now, which is good because I have to go get my last infusion for this session tomorrow, and I’ll want to shower before I go. Never mind that you don’t work up much of a sweat sitting around in an air conditioned room, I just think it’s manners if you’re going to be in a situation where somebody has to do something as up close and personal as inserting an IV rig into the chemo port on your chest, that you should have showered pretty recently. Kinda common courtesy, which doesn’t seem to be all that common any more. . . .

Saturday, my cousin’s daughter had her baby (she was due Friday), and I need to really get my rear in gear and finish stuff and get it blocked and mailed. Don’t know anything about her except her name and that she’s a healthy little newborn girl. She’s my dad’s youngest brother’s great grandchild. My dad would have been delighted. My mom got to meet her older sister. Hard to believe it’s been almost a year since they came to visit.

Mom had been transferred from the hospital to that nursing home by then and I was in the middle of getting mom moved to Carillon House to finish her rehab, and getting us both into Life Care at Carillon, but hadn’t yet started in on the estate sales and selling mom’s house and getting me moved in and settled. September 1 will be a year since I moved into Carillon. Time flies when you’re having fun, I guess.

My bank sponsoring an ice cream social this afternoon, but I didn’t go. We’ve had people test positive for COVID here in the building, and eating requires taking down my mask. Not worth the risk.

My BFF who lives outside of Houston finally got COVID. She ended her period of quarantine last Thursday and was back to work. But while she had it, she was as sick as the proverbial dog.

I gulped down Aliette de Bodard’s Dominion of the Fallen series and the adjacent Dragons and Blades duette from the same universe, which was a great if slightly grim read, and I’ve started in on a reread of the four-book Finishing School series by Gail Carriger. Carriger’s books are set during the reign of Queen Victoria in a Britain where werewolves are obliged to serve in Her Majesty’s army and vampires are arbiters of style. It’s fun and steampunk and ever so slightly silly. The finishing school for young ladies of quality is located aboard a dirigible and, in addition to the usual finishing school curriculum, includes coursework in intelligence gathering and assassination. It is the prequel, if you will, to her Parasol Protectorate series, and there are three books which deal with the subsequent careers of three of the friends the main character makes at school.

In the knitting news, I did get that little baby top started, and I’m losing a game of Yarn Chicken as I don’t think I’ll be able to finish it with one skein of yarn. But I have two more skeins of that yarn. I might do some booties to match. We’ll see. I need to get the top finished first, and fish out some appropriate buttons from my stash.

I’ve got to finish that one sun hat, though, before I start on matching booties, or a sun hat for the top. I’ve got about 15 more rows to go on the top but, except for the last five rows, it’s all stockinette, which means purling 117 stitches every other row. That much purling is a pain. It’s less of a pain if you’re a continental style knitter, but it’s still a pain. The pattern is only a page and a half long. You could make one in an afternoon if you put your mind to it.

Waiting for Laundry

Doing my laundry is kinda like going to the laundromat. I mean, it’s just down the hall, probably 50 feet from my door, so I don’t actually have to go outside and use a car to get there, but I still have to schlep everything there — laundry basket full of dirty clothes, soap, dryer sheets, like you do when you go to the washateria.

There’s a really nice seating area for gatherings and parties just across from the laundry room, and there’s usually a jigsaw puzzle in progress on one of the tables. (it’s a me trap. Traps me every time. I love jigsaw puzzles.) It takes about 30-45 minutes for a load of wash to wash (One day I’ll think about it at the right time and time it with the clock app on my phone so I’ll know. God gave us kitchen timers for a reason . . . ).

There was a jigsaw puzzle just begun on the table. It trapped me until the washer finished.

I threw the clothes in the dryer and went back to my apartment because I’d broken the fingernail on my thumb getting the dryer door open and it was super raggedy and snaggy. My fingernails are very brittle anymore. Partly due to age, but I’m sure chemo also has something to do with it, too. They break off in layers like mica. Anyway, I set the kitchen timer for 60 minutes and sat down to do this post because . . . .

Yesterday, I ran across a video by this guy (his name is Martijn – which makes me think he’s Dutch) who bought some acreage up in the alps in the Piedmont region of northern Italy. It has two stone buildings on it, and he’s renovating them with a view to eventually living there. He’s spent the last ten years doing very long bicycle camping trips and he’s very used to minimalist living.

So I’m watching one of his videos (the scenery is breath-taking!) and as he’s building a stone walkway and sweeping out the cabins and setting up solar panels and otherwise puttering about, on the voice over narration, he happens to mention that his nearest neighbor is a priest. Then he films a segment about visiting the priest, and I’m thinking, Kirsten Dirksen did a segment on a priest living in the mountains of Italy, and it’s this same guy! Then come to find out she did a segment on Martijn, too. I watch a lot of Kirsten Dirksen’s videos for the same reason I watch HGTV. I like home reno and home decor kind of content.

Kirsten Dirksen describes her channel as: Videos about simple living, self-sufficiency, small (and tiny) homes, backyard gardens (and livestock), alternative transport, DIY, craftsmanship, and philosophies of life. She and her husband and her children travel all over the world making videos about people who have renovated, innovated, and retrofitted various types of housing in mostly urban but also rural settings (what a great childhood her kids are having!). They interview the person and find out the story behind the house, the whys and hows. If you’re into that kind of thing, you should check their channel out. The ingenuity, inventiveness and creativity of people is just amazing.

A Little Spontenaiety, and 4, and . . . .

On a whim, and a very small one at that, shortly after I posted yesterday’s post, I packed up and went to the Market Street on Indiana and 50th, on a Saturday, and there was a Goodwill Truck in the parking lot! So, yay! I offloaded donations, Goodwill made out like a bandit, and I was a happy camper. I was limited to three grocery bags, because that’s all I can carry free-hand, and my car trunk and back seat were so loaded down with Goodwill donations, there was no place to put my little fold-up wagon to take anything more than that back up to the apt.

I was proud of myself. Little bag of baby carrots, bag of cored apple sections, two bunches of green onions, container of cantaloupe chunks, and a small bottle of the best Ranch dressing ever, Litehouse Homestyle Ranch which is thick enough to either dip or dress. Got some mixed nuts, two big bottles of peach juice, some broiled chicken wings, fried okra, some lunch meat, couple loafs of their great specialty bread. And for “tea,” I had half the fried okra, a dinner plate with a small handful of carrots, five little green onions, a handful of apple sections, a couple of chunks of cantalope, and a little sauce dish of Ranch to dip. A DIY salad. Yum! (The green onions were peppery and good!)

Maybe later today I’ll load up the drawer bin units in my wagon and take them down to my car and try for another run on Monday because my spontaneous Saturday grocery run was listless and I forgot a few things as a result. Crystal Light for one thing. I’m getting to the middle of this cycle where I’m starting to bounce back from the chemo and get some energy back.

Once I get the empty bin drawer units out of the way, that will only leave the two boxes. It will open the place up more and leave me with one last push to get everything unpacked. In the meantime, I might tackle the tchotchke shelves, which only need sorting and arranging artfully to display the collection of Chinese cloisonne mom and I have accumulated over the years, as well as some treasured pieces of blue and white, my teacup collection and what have you.

In the meantime, I’ve been listening to a traditional jazz band called Tuba Skinny (just go to YouTube and search for “Tuba Skinny”) It has a lineup of clarinet, cornet, trombone, a singer who plays the bass drum she sits on, two acoustic guitars or guitar and banjo, percussion of washboard and cymbals, and a for-real Sousaphone style tuba. They play early jazz from the Roaring Twenties, the jazz that gave the Jazz Age it’s name. It was the heyday of F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby), Gertrude Stein, and Ernest Hemingway in Paris. What was left of the Lost Generation, the generation that had survived WWI, kicked up their heels and partied hearty for a whole decade. This is the musical setting for the Bertie Wooster and Jeeves stories of P. G. Wodehouse that have been so exquisitely portrayed by the young Hugh Laurie as Bertie and Stephen Fry as the inimitable Jeeves in the BBC dramatizations. The print stories are now in the public domain and can be acquired for free from Project Gutenberg, or from your preferred purveyor of digital content for free or really cheap. The 1920’s were the dawn of the modern era. Our modern world has its roots there.

If you haven’t figured out by now I have pretty catholic (2) tastes in music — in fact, I’ve rarely met a musical genre I haven’t liked — yep. My first exposure to this music was in my childhood and TV’s — which happened to coincide. This would have been in the mid 1950’s. One of our two local TV stations broadcast old movie cartoons from the early 1930s through the early 1950s. They were cheap, readily available and were “socially acceptable” content for that awkward part of the afternoon between the kids getting home from school and dad getting home from work, that 3:30-5:30 pm time slot when mom needed the kids out of her hair while she was cooking supper and getting it on the table by 6 pm. The assumption was that kids and cartoons were a “natural.” What nobody seemed to have realized at the time was that these cartoons were aimed at adults, the demographic that bought movie tickets and took their girls and wives out to the movies in the evening for a short, a news real, a cartoon and a feature film. They had a level of sophistication and assumed a common cultural context that gave them meat and depth, wit and sparkle. And the ones from the early thirties (the Harmon-Ising “Merrie Melodies“) frequently were themed around popular tunes of the day, and they were in this “Trad Jazz” style. This was the golden age of the animated cartoon — Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes and the later Merrie Melodies, vintage Fleischer Popeye the Sailor, Woody Woodpecker and Tom and Jerry. As an uncritical child, I took them in at face value, and as I rewatched them over the years, I would grow into them, bringing my increasing knowledge of historical context, life in general, and experience to bear, and “get” more and more of the gags that had gone over my head as a child.

Anyway, grooving to Tuba Skinny makes me smile, and I need all the smiles I can get. Feel free to get you some, too.

So, Anyway . . . .

Woke up this morning dabbling in this thought puddle: So women already have to play the men’s game because it’s the only game in town, and they have to use the men’s rules and the men’s cards, and the men change the rules halfway through the game at random and then they insist on all these elaborate arcane handicaps, and then change what you have to do to win three fourths of the way through the game and we still win, and men immediately launch into this big rant about how we take unfair advantage and how ruthless we are and how unfeminine that is, and going on and on about it, and we’re having to stand around listening to it while we’re doing the teenage eyeroll thing and thinking, “Oh, grow TF up already. . . ” So I’ll just park that here like a piece of chewing gum. Strange morning.

My BFF called last night from Outer Houston and we talked for four and a half hours (!). I mean, sit the phone down and gab while we’re making and eating dinner and cleaning up after and talking about books and music and fashion and where our heads are at right now and our respective creative processes and where each of us is going with our respective version of it. (She’s very eye/visually oriented, has a fine arts degree, paints, draws, was a scientific illustrator for the Carnagie Museum in Pittsburg for a zillion years, and I’m very verbal/ear oriented, have a degree in English (Rhetoric), etc.) (In a parallel universe, we might have done graphic novels; I the story and script, she all the drawing.) We both love music but we use different types of it and in different ways and want different things from it — another interesting conversation thread from last night. That transmogrified into an exploration of our respective creative processes in and of itself, and how it involves different circuits in her brain than it does in mine (never mind that I’m on the spectrum and wired differently anyway).

We’ve both become devotees of the Boomer Goth fashion look, it seems. (She bought some black pretend leather slacks and black ankle boots with tire tread soles. She has the height to pull it off.) (You have no idea how funny the whole concept of “Boomer Goth” is; we laughed uproariously about it all evening.) We both have that slightly off-kilter world view, only tilted at different angles (but that’s OK) and the same offbeat sense of humor. We’ve been friends since age 14 and we have that whole private language that only comes from long acquaintance and little shorthand referents that nobody else can get because it’s one of those you had to have been there. . . .

She was put on clonazepam (Klonopin is the brand name) for like 20 years for chronic anxiety and is finally off it now. Her brain is coming out of the drug haze, and she is astonished at how many of the symptoms she attributed to “old age” and nerve damage from hazardous chemicals she was exposed to at her museum job were actually side effects of the clonazepam and are now dramatically improving now that she’s not taking it any more (not to mention all the foods she stopped eating because she thought she’d developed a food allergy to them, but that were actually clonazepam side effects affecting her digestive system.) (Stevie Nicks has gone on record as saying if she were to ever meet the person who initially prescribed clonazepam to her, she would want to murder them because of what the drug did to her brain for eight years.) After over 20 years, my BFF is finally reconnecting with her art — drawing and painting, and rediscovering what she thought she’d lost forever. It’s like she’s having her own personal private Renaissance.

We talked about books and she wants to start reading (and rereading) again, which is problematic at the moment because of her cataracts, but her first surgery will be in March. But once she gets past that, she’ll be able to get back into it. And all of this is happening to her as I’m about to start dealing with chemo brain. Again.

We had a front blow through last night. It blustered and blew all night. I’ve transferred my yarn stash but it hasn’t made it under the bed yet. Sufficient unto the day . . . I’m probably going grocery shopping tomorrow morning, but I may blow it off until Monday so I can check to see if the Market Street at Indiana and 50th has a Goodwill Donation truck in their parking lot. I need to offload my car so I can load it up with those drawer bins.

I love my little kitchen. The peninsula could have barstool seating on this side of it, but I have my metal filing cabinet (with bowls of knitting on) and the printer end of my computer desk pushed up under it. Anyway, I eat at my computer desk most of the time anyway. I have ample cabinet storage (although I’d rather have more drawers than shelves). Still, I have a place for everything and the “above” cabinets (above the refrigerator, microwave and sink) are all empty because I have more room than things to put in it.

Here’s my little pet Italian Stone Pine and the orchid I inherited from mom. I need to repot both of them. I have the stuff to do it. My windows face northwest, and there are deciduous trees in front of them, so currently I have a lot of bright indirect light. (The Stone Pine can take full sun and would do well if planted outside.) I’d like some more plants, but I’m undecided/picky about which ones. I’ll have to wait until the trees leaf out to see what the spring/summer light level is like and let that be my guide. I’m thinking a shallow, pretty bowl with succulents in wouldn’t go amiss. . . .

Details! Details! Details!

I’ve been making a big push on the Latticia Venezia shawl because I was getting close to the 66 stitches I needed in the garter stitch panel so I could start the next lace panel. Latticia Venezia is an asymmetrical triangular shawl that has three lace panels separated by garter stitch panels. The lace panel interleaves four columns of stockinette with three columns of lattice lace. There will be three such lace panels evenly spaced across the width of the shawl: Lace panel, garter panel, lace panel, garter panel, lace panel, garter panel.

The edge that swoops away to the left is the increase edge, with an increase of 1 stitch every other row using yarn overs (yo), and that nice little slip 1 with yarn in front, k1 edging (which may or may not be some variant of I-cord edging). The stockinette panels are 3 stitches wide, with the first one on the right hand side formed by the little s1wyif, k1 edging. I thought I’d show you some details. I’m rather chuffed with how it’s turning out. The flash on the iPhone tends to wash out the color sometimes.

The shawl will need to be blocked and probably judiciously steam pressed to get the lattice lace to open up properly and the stockinette to lie flat. The yarn is mercerized Pima cotton, so it can stand a little pressing. The bottom row of photographs give you a better idea of the yarn color — this lovely bachelor button blue they’re calling “Waterman Pond.” I’m loving the drape and the hand of this Berroco Modern Cotton DK yarn. I’m using a US3 (3.25 mm) needle which is a bit small for DK weight yarn, but I like the dense fabric it gives. It’s a single ply yarn, which can get a little tricky as the single plies have a tendency to split..

Mom has finally gotten an appointment with the spine doctor. Unfortunately, it’s not til the 27th. Don’t know if mom would be a candidate for a TENS unit, but that would be a great option if it would work for her, and if they could/would implant one in a woman her age. We’ll see. In the meantime, I take her to the beauty saloon on Friday to get her hair done.

Within Feet of a FO

I’m within about two feet of being finished FINISHED! with the Sweet Irene Shawl. It’s on a 40-inch circular needle, which is just fine when you’re working on the humpty gazillion stitches you end up with in the body but now that I’m working on the knitted-on edging, which only has seven stitches, it’s a bit much. I stoppered the aft end of the circular needle and got one of my US6 (4.0) 6-inch DPNs so I can just use one end of the circular needle and the DPN, and I don’t have to wrestle the whole body of the shawl just to work back and forth over those seven stitches of edging. You’ll notice I’m also playing yarn chicken. Thrilling times! I started this project in June of last year. Slowly, slowly up Mount Fuji . .

I have managed to get the yard raked. It took me three separate sessions with days in between to finally pull it off, but I got it done. It only took about 8 trash bags this time instead of the 14 it took the first time I did it the year after I moved in. The first time, I managed to do it all in one day. (This was before I had two stents, chemo, four hospitalizations, pneumonia and a knee replacement all within two years’ time.)

I have also gotten my new sewing table, which is currently leaning up against the wall in my kitchen doorway, so there’s that. I am now in the process of washing all the blankets I intend to make lap robes out of (some of which I’ve been intending to make lap robes out of for literally years and still haven’t yet). I need to get up and put the last load into the dryer now. Then, I get to decide where I want the sewing to take place and see if I have appropriate sewing notions. I have made no progress on my yarn stash sorting out or major house cleaning. Let’s not get carried away, shall we?

Some people (my mother) seem to have gotten the idea from jocular comments made herein (usually involving trained chimpanzees) that I’m intimating that my mom’s intelligence is less than stellar. This is not the case. Let me set the record straight. My mom was a legal secretary for half a million years to one of the partners of a very prestigious local law firm. She’s been retired for a number of years now, but she was, and still is, legendary at that firm for her organizational skills, her clerical competence, her people skills, her meticulous attention to detail, and her elephantine memory of cases.

Considering that she came from a time when cultural norms and societal constraints made career opportunities for women problematic, to say the least, and considering where she started and what few opportunities were available to her, she came a long way, baby. I’ve often wondered if she had been born in this century instead of last, and got a halfway decent shot at a college education, where she would end up. Board room? Cabinet post? Who knows? I do know, though, that whatever she ended up doing, she’d be really good at it.

That said, when it comes to contraptions of any kind, she’s a visual learner. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just the type of learner she is. Give her the thing and the instructions, and no matter how simple or self-evident the device, she will be thoroughly frustrated within a very short time, throw up her hands and give up. Show her how the thing works, and she gets it right off.

A YouTube Channel to Check out.

I love this guy’s channel. The videos are short, usually about knitting, always about life, light and chatty. His work room is next door to a brontosaurus hangout, and just around the corner from Mr. Rogers. He reminds me so much of a dear friend, JT, who has moved to another state, and who I miss being able to visit with.

The other day I received the DVDs (to replace my VHS version) of the 1995 Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle version of Pride and Prejudice, which is a miniseries, and I got to thinking about how many dramatizations of this novel there had been over the years. (I prefer my P&P in accurate period costume, reasonably faithful to the novel, and without the zombies, thank you very much.) It’s kind of like Doctor Who. Immediately two Doctor Who fans discover their mutual Whovianity, the next question inevitably is, “Who is your Doctor?” (David Tennant) Your answer helps plot you along the time and relative dimension in series. When two fans of Pride and Prejudice meet, the corresponding inevitable question is, of course, “Who is your Darcy? Need you ask? Firth forever!

More Thinky Thoughts

“There is much I don’t understand . . . Much the world does not understand. But we should not be afraid.  How else will we discover the answers?”

An uplifting quote from a graphic novel I’m reading*.  Thinky thoughts with lovely artwork = Win/win.

I went to rehab Monday (treadmill 30 min, recumbent bike 20 min), stopped briefly at my mom’s house to lend moral support for the plumbing disaster that thankfully didn’t materialize, shopped all over Wal-Mart, shopped all over Market Street to get the things Wal-Mart didn’t have, schlepped it all home and put 95% of it away.  I managed to muster the energy to eat something, crawled into bed about 9 p.m., crashed, burned, and slept through most of Tuesday.

Baked three small potatoes the other night.  Wash the potato with a brush, dry it with a cloth, smear the skin liberally with olive oil and bake at 360º for 1 hour.  When you bake them in the oven with the olive oil, the skins become so soft you can eat the whole tater.  I bake them three at a time because energy efficiency. The oil baked into the skins seals in the goodness and allows them to be refrigerated for up to a week without losing their moist, flaky texture.  I like to slice them open and lay them out in a soup bowl, throw all kinds of toppings (finely chopped meat, drained vegetables, butter, maybe a little Ranch dressing, or whatever else is handy) on them, top with sprinkle cheese and nuke in the microwave.  I just finished hoovering one up moments ago, in fact.  Serious noms.

Monday the 21st is my last session of cardiac rehab before Xmas, with two more sessions left in this annus horribilis.  I’ve got three more Julekuler to knit before Monday (little tokens of appreciation for the cardiac rehab therapists).  Won’t be hard.  Snuggle into my knitting knook, deploy a lap robe, conjure up a little music, a little yarn, a little time . . .  A pleasant interlude to stoke up on some serious Christmas spirit.

Next week, I get to mom-clean** the house and orchestrate a Christmas dinner for two.  As I have mentioned on several occasions previously, my threshold for critical mess*** is a good deal higher than that of other members of my immediate family, and roundtoits have been a little thin on the ground of late.  But now I have Bluetooth earbuds, and there is Psychedlik.com with 24/7 psytrance music.  Yowsa.  I find I can get busy better when there is appropriate music to get out and push. . .

Next week (Tuesday, in fact), I also get the long awaited crown seated which marks the final installment of the dental implant process that has been a work in progress for lo, these many moons.  I’ll have seven molars again, just in time for Christmas Dinner!  Oh, frabjous day.

I really, really need to haul the fold-up banquet table out from under my bed, get out my blocking squares and T-pins, the steam iron, an extension cord, a couple bath towels, a tea towel, and my spray bottle and block some shawls.   These two are among the three made from acrylic yarn that I need to kill.  Whether I will or not remains to be seen.  As I mentioned, roundtoits have been rather thin on the ground of late.

Got my name in print.  Thursday, I received my hardback copy of Trader’s Leap by Steve Miller and Sharon Lee, in which my name appears in the forward as one of the Mighty Tyop Hunters, as I helped proofread the E-ARC**** for oopsies, fingerfumbles, and say, what?’s — which I would have done anyway for no other reason than to express my gratitude for the many years of Liaden Universe reading pleasure I’ve gotten from the books of this literary dynamic duo. They are among the few authors whose books I keep in dead tree editions for post-apocalyptic rereading because, unlike ebooks, they require neither electricity nor technology to operate.   Space opera at its finest.

Two weeks left in 2020.  Thirty two days left before we get that dumpster fire out of the Oval Office.  There is a vaccine!  The VA will be getting and giving the Moderna flavor of it.  I may have to drive to Amarillo to get it, but I will be able to get it.  I continue to hope against Hope that the light we are glimpsing faintly at the end of this long, dark tunnel is not another train.

*Caveat: The one this quote came from is for the open-minded reader.

**Clean enough for you is not necessarily clean enough for your mom.  Still, a house ought to be mom-cleaned at least once a year. The only clean cleaner than mom-clean is feng shui clean, which happens in the week before Chinese New Year.

*** critical mess -- the point at which your inability to stand the mess any longer sets off a chain-reaction of house cleaning. 

****E-ARC - Advanced Reader's Copies are nowadays sent out as ebooks.

Thinky Thoughts and Bowls

“The great secret that all old people share,” wrote Doris Lessing, “is that you really don’t change in seventy or eighty years. Your body changes, but you don’t change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion.”

I love that quote.  It’s spot on.

I paired the Bluetooth earbuds with my iPhone and I’ve been listening to the Suburbs of Goa channel of the SomaFM internet radio station all evening.  (SomaFM has so much music in one place! I love it so much!)  Energized by the music, I folded unmentionables and other assorted laundry, put the dressing in the oven to cook, read blogs at the computer, worked a puzzle at Jigsaw Planet, all with my iPhone on charge in the bedroom and me wandering all over the house with music in my ears.  No dangling earbud wires to catch on stuff, no need to make sure I have a pocket or pouch to carry my phone.  Joy electric.  I have a set of cordless infrared headphones for the TV, but infrared is line of sight only, and the moment you get out of sight, you get an earful of white noise.   As inexpensive as these Bluetooth earbuds are, maybe Santa will bring me a pair for the TV for Crimmers.

Sunday night’s supper was the end of the chili casserole.  Good to the last elbow.  Monday, I went to the cabinet to get a bowl for some cereal and guess what.  The cupboard was bare.  Fortunately, the dishwasher wasn’t, and had finished its cycle some hours ago.

 

 

 

 

 

Now I’ve started in on the cornbread dressing, chicken breast meat, and cranberry sauce that are standing in for the “leftovers” I didn’t get to have because we ate Thanksgiving dinner at friends’.  I’m having them now.   So good.

Speaking of bowls, I have bowls of knitting scattered all over the house . . . Guess that means I have my knitting mojo back.

Two bowls by the computer.

A second iPouch with earbud pocket in progress and a bowl of yarn for Christmas balls (Julekuler).

The large rectangular shawl in the big basket with the reader’s shrug stalled at the start of the lower sleeve decreases.

Baking in My Dreams

So, Tuesday, mom and I had talked about what to do for Thanksgiving since it’s just the two of us, and I was going to suck it up and clean my house and cook the dinner and have mom over, and then Friday, she tells me we’ve been invited to a friend’s house. . .  But, in the meantime, at cardiac rehab on Wednesday, I only did 40 minutes on the treadmill before I caved because I knew I was going to Wal-Mart afterward and would have to hike over to the “non-grocery” side, nearly to the garden dept,  for a new shower head (see below) and pick up some teethpaste en route.

Whilst at Wal-mart, I got a frozen turkey breast (frozen so solid you could have shot it out of a cannon!) and had to ask two different stockers where the heck they’d hidden their cranberry sauce (neither of whom knew).  (Now that I mention it, I don’t think one of them was real sure which end was up . . .)  There are apparently two schools of thought on where to stock cranberry sauce.  Some stores stock it with the vegetables (???) and some stock it where it’s supposed to be — with the fruit.  (cranBERRY sauce– duh!)  After wandering all over half the store, I finally found one little box of cans of Ocean Spray jellied stuck way up on the top shelf above the canned pineapple where you couldn’t have found it with GPS and a homing beacon.  (sniffs in annoyance)

Anyway, neatly threaded into Tuesday’s conversation about what we were going to do for Thanksgiving, was one of those oh-and-by-the-way’s — her shower head was not spraying properly, would I come look at it?  (We have hard water here in the flatlands, which is not surprising as there is a sizeable chunk of limestone between us and the aquifer.)  (The combining form for “water” is “aqua-“, n’est-ce pas? So why does “aquifer” have an “i”?!?) The problem with her shower head was that since it was probably old enough to vote, it had become calcified beyond the power of CLR to revive it.  What it put out was more of a half-hearted rivulet than a spray.

So, when I went to cardiac rehab on Friday, I had an adjustable crescent wrench, Teflon tape and a new shower head in the car seat by my purse.  (Why, yes, I am a Toolbelt Diva.)  I stopped off chez mom on my way home, and it was only a matter of moments before she had a new shower head in her shower. (Don’t I wish a lot more of the world’s problems could be solved with an adjustable crescent wrench and Teflon tape. . .)

I couldn’t stand it.  I cast on for an infinity scarf like I was talking about.

Anyway, what with all the treadmill time (40-45 minutes a pop) I’ve put in during cardiac rehab sessions (not to mention 10-15 minute wind sprints on the top and bottom bicycle), and Wednesday’s  Wal-Mart Invitational 10K Grocery Shop, when my alarm rousted me out at 9 o’clock this morning, it was plain by the way I felt that I wasn’t done sleeping yet.  After a brief breakfast in bed (some of my morning meds must be taken with food), I rolled over and sounded* like a sperm whale going for squid.  I surfaced to breathe at about noon, again at about 3 pm, and again at about 6 pm, and when I surfaced at a little after 9 pm, I knew I was done sleeping.

But there was this dream I had just before I woke up.  I was in a kind of farmhouse kitchen, at this big beautiful antique farmhouse kitchen table making pastry dough.  I was wearing a bib apron made from cotton feed sacking and the long-sleeved t-shirt I had on had the sleeves pushed up past my elbows.  I took the dough out of the big crockery bowl and plopped it directly onto the table, with sprinkled flour and everything, and began to work it.  I rolled it into a “worm” with my hands and used a roller to roll the “worm” out flat into a rectangle  about a foot wide and about 2 feet long.  I thoroughly dusted the surface of the dough with a mixture of coarse-ground brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, finely chopped nuts, and minced raisins.  Then I began to roll one of the long edges in toward the center.  I went round to the other side of the table and rolled the other long edge in toward the center.  I grabbed the ends, lifted the whole shebang off the table and plopped it onto a large greased baking sheet (one of those heavy duty kind about an inch deep with a rolled rim), pinched the ends and guillotined it into two-inch sections with a pastry knife.  I covered it with a cotton tea towel and let it rise.  Once it had risen, I spooned jam made from pureed cherries down the center trough and put it in a hot oven to cook.  I have never seen nor heard of sweet rolls made this way, but they were delicious!

*sound, verbto dive down suddenly used of a fish or whale.  (This is the 7th of 7 separate dictionary definitions of the word "sound".  Any wonder why English is such a booger for a non-native to learn? )