Alone Again

We got Mom, her two plastic grocery bags full of medications (current and refills), and her lift chair over to Carillon House Monday. Once we got her settled, I brought a cart load over. I got her charge cords for her phone and tablet situated, got her lamp situated, and I brought over her personal effects (toiletries, etc.) two changes of clothes and her gown in the first cart load. In the second cart load, I brought over the bedside commode (which has arms) that goes over the toilet so it’s easier for her to get up and down, as well as her shower chair and her thick, “side sleeper” pillow that she needs because she is so kyphotic she can’t lie flat. I then left for Wal-Mart to buy the grocery stuff I can’t get at Market Street (like this cereal I like) as well as ten of those clothes hangers where you can hang pants and a top on the same hanger. I also stopped in at Market Street for a few groceries (I was out of my kind of bread and almond milk).

Last night was the first night I’ve spent alone in the apartment in two months. I’d like to say I slept in, but I had too much to do. I woke up out of a strange dream about my mom. I was holding her in my lap and she was about the size of a three-year-old. I knew she was weak and not doing well. We were waiting for the ambulance to come. It was one of those dreams that take you aback. It didn’t pack quite the same punch as the “you need to see about this” dreams I’ve had, but it got my attention. One of the “strong” impressions I carried out of the dream was the feel of her in my arms. What a way to start my day!

I got the address changed on her newspaper delivery, so she’ll get her paper there now. I got her room number written in laundry pen in all her clothes and got the “matching sets” of pants and tops hung on the double-decker hangers. That was my load today. Her new standing beauty saloon appointment is on Tuesdays at 3 pm. Since the lady that does hair, does hair at both Carillon House and our neck of the woods, just on different days, we worked out an arrangement where I can pay her by the month when she’s here. One less thing for Mom to stress over. I took her clothes over and got them all hung up, as well as about six boxes of tissues — enough to last her at least a week! LOL!

Tomorrow she has what will hopefully be her last visit to the wound care doctor. Thursday, I meet with the Carillon House lady to sign all the paperwork. Hopefully I’ll have gotten the white laundry marker pen by then and can mark her socks and this one black night gown.

I’ve been drinking Peach Tea flavor Crystal Light in my 32 oz stainless steel water bottle but with about half a cup of actual peach juice in it — tasty. Since I’ve made about five trips back and forth to Carillon House now, I’ve been knocking back quite a lot of it. I’ve still got at least one more load to take over — pictures to be hung, odds and ends, and the three poinsettias she’s gotten from her friends. They’ll Christmas up the place something fierce.

By the by — if you’re looking for a quick, relatively inexpensive way to make multiple gifts, here’s a craft idea: A pincushion jar. You need some cotton fabric, some kind of fine sand or finely ground buckwheat hulls or finely ground walnut shells, some lace edging, satin ribbon, needle and thread, small canning jars with rims and lids, and a glue gun. You cut a circle of cloth that is two inches larger in diameter than your jar lid. Sew a gathering stitch around the outer edge of the fabric and gather the edges of the circle into a bag. Fill the bag a little over 1/2 full with sand. Pull the gather tight and wrap thread around the gather to hold it closed. On the top of the jar lid, lay down a circle of hot glue around the edge of the jar lid and then squiggle the hot glue generously in the center. Put the gathered edge of the fabric in the center of the jar lid and press down on it until the fabric is glued to the jar lid. This is your pincushion. Glue the outer edge of the pincushion to the inside of the jar rim. Glue lace around the jar rim, tie satin ribbon around it. Screw the rim onto the jar. Using sand in the pincushion keeps the tips of the pins rust-free and sharp. I store buttons in my jar, but you could put anything in it — packets of needles, measuring tape, sewing notions, whatever.

Unsweetened Dreams

I suppose I may have had nightmares, but I was never aware of them. I don’t ever remember having a frightening dream. My dreams are typically neither happy, nor sad, nor scary. In terms of emotional overlay they’re all kind of ‘meh’ bland. The worst they would ever get is when I’m looking for something I can’t find (like where I parked my car or or a destination I’m trying to reach) and feel either low-grade frustration or low-grade anxiety from time pressure.

There was a time when I had a lot of dreams about walking in a straight line and when I came to a house, I would walk into it through the front door, through it, out the back door, through the back yard, the back gate and into the back yard of the next house, etc., in a long line of houses, one after the other. There was never any sense of destination, only walking in a straight line through a succession of different houses at night.

Sometimes my dreams will have characters and a coherent (and actually a rather good) plot, but most of the time they’re rather random and amorphous. Sometimes I’m “first person” — the point-of-view character to which the dream is happening — and sometimes I’m “third person” watching myself within the dream. But I only very, very rarely had a dream I was glad to wake up from.

However, in the last couple of years, my dreams have taken a “nonpleasant” turn. The subject matter has become darker. Thank goodness the emotional intensity – or lack of same – has remained the same. But the dream content tends to leave a bad taste in the mouth.

Night before last, I was having a dream about being in a big box store like Home Depot and people outside started shooting. I knew they had automatic weapons and that we had better get on the floor because they were going to rake the building with weapons fire. I wasn’t frightened, but was in that hypercalm, focused frame of mind that is fortunately my reaction to a crisis situation. I managed to get out of the building, but it was night and foggy, and I was trying to find police officers to tell them what the situation was, that there were active shooters in the area and people in danger in the store. Couldn’t find any police, although I felt certain somebody must have called them. Then the real-life phone rang and woke me up.

It was my mom. She’s always so chipper on the phone, like Stevenson’s birdie with the yellow bill, wanting to know if I was eating lunch. (I wasn’t. I’d been sound asleep.) The reason she called was she was still feeling aftershocks from the email crisis that erupted when AT&T gave Mozilla Thunderbird the cut direct and she’d had to revert to the Yahoo website to deal with her email. With emotions still running high over that, she had gone a whole half a day without having gotten any emails (it was just after noon). She was convinced something was wonky with the Yahoo website and she wanted me to go send her an email to test if Yahoo was working. I told her I would have to go boot up my computer.

Now, you have to understand that my mom and I have a major philosophical difference. We march to two very different drummers. She gets up at the crack of dawn, boots up her computer on her way to the front door to get the morning paper and have breakfast, and checks her email about 10 times during the day. The idea that anybody would want to sleep in the daytime is inconceivable to her. Why, something might happen, and they would miss it! I, on the other hand, am allergic to mornings, spent nearly 30 years working nights, loved the peace and quiet of it, and would continue to be a night owl if I had my druthers.

I had gone to bed after midnight, couldn’t get warm (the low was 38 F 3.3 C and the place I live in has no insulation to speak of). I finally got up at 3:30 in the morning and took a hot shower, and finally warmed up enough to go to sleep. Come noon and I wasn’t done sleeping yet. What I was done with was that dream.

But here’s the take-away from all this. There are prescription drugs which have the side-effect of causing nightmares, and I’m on two of them: Cetirizine (antihistamine) and metoprolol (blood pressure and heart rhythm disturbances). I’m pretty sure because of the chronicity that it’s the metoprolol, either by itself or in addition to the cetirizine, that is the culprit. So far, these nonpleasant dreams I’ve been having are not unsettling enough to ask my cardiologist if I might be able to switch from metoprolol to atenolol, which does essentially the same thing but with a lower incidence of that particular side-effect. I guess if I can put up with the constant ringing in my ears from the aspirin, I can put up with these dreams . . .

To end this post on a more pleasant note, I thought I’d leave you with my current earworm:

The lyrics to this one are haunting. . .

Hotober

Here it is October and it was 90 F (932.2 C) yesterday.  I just wish it would get cool already.  Yet another 90+ day is predicted for the 7th, and the 10 day forecast contains only a couple of days with predicted highs below 80 F (26.6C), with lows in the 50’s F (10+ C).

If the weather will just get cool, I can pull the folding banquet table out from under my bed and block some shawls, which will involve using a steam iron since the shawls are made from acrylic yarn.  There’s no point in using a steam iron unless it’s going to help heat the house.

I’ve had a box of Barilla Rotini and the big covered pyrex bowl sittting out on my counter for about 10 days now nagging me to make pasta salad, which I finally did early yesterday morning before it got hot.  I cooked the whole box, but I only put about 1/3 of it in the pasta salad.  (I’ll eat the rest of it straight tossed with olive oil and zapped in the microwave.)  I chopped half a white onion, about five green onions, put in half a little can of chopped olives, a small can of Delmonte mixed vegetables (peas, corn, green beans, lima beans, diced carrots) and diced Carving Board turkey, with mayo to moisten.   Very tasty.  Some quartered cherry tomatoes or chopped celery would have been nice, if I had had any. . . .

After that, I’ll be having chili cheese dogs.   (Why do hot dogs STILL come in packages of 8 and buns come in packages of 6!?)  I’ve got half a pack of hot dogs (4) and a package of buns (6) in the on-deck circle of my fridge and a can of Wolf Brand chili in the pantry.  I’ll chop up the other half of the onion I used in the pasta salad, and I’ve got a package of sprinkle cheese.   They’re “artisanal” buns, so I guess I could have two hoagies with the extras.

There’s a series on YouTube called Cocktails with a Curator, where one of the curators of the Frick Art Collection discusses a painting or an objet d’art, while having an appropriate cocktail — recipes are given in the program notes on the website — evidently you’re supposed to mix yourself one of whatever they’re having so you can sip along with them.  The videos are pretty interesting, but I’m telling you, some of the cocktails they come up with, I don’t think I could even finish half of one before I’d be hooter than a drunk owl.  When you’ve already combined absinthe and vodka and the mixer is champagne, that’s a little hard core, guys!

I keep having these stupid dreams where I can’t find my car, or I can’t find my luggage or my purse, or I can’t find a place I’m supposed to go to.  Like, every night.   Then I wake up mildly anxious and unsettled.   Of course, some of the medication I’m on (metoprolol and cetirizine (Zyrtec) list “nightmares” as a potential side effect.  I wouldn’t class these dreams as “nightmares” per se.  Nightmares are frightening.  These dreams are just disquieting and annoying.

I did have one the other day where I attacked this woman — I’m talking hitting and punching and strangling.  She was not somebody I knew.  I only knew she needed to be stopped.  I was shocked by the violence of my actions in that dream.  Very out of charracter.  I don’t remember ever having such a violent dream.  If I have any more like that, I may have to change to another allergy medication or cut back on my metoprolol a bit.   When I take a whole tablet, all I want to do is sit and stare at the wall.  I cut back to half a tablet, which was an improvement, but my cardiologist kept wanting me to take the full dosage, so I’ve been taking half in the morning and half in the evening, and that was OK.  I may have to see about cutting back again.

I got my mom a sound bar for her TV for her birthday and I got it installed the other day.  I thought at one point I was going to have to go get my Act of Congress to get the thing to work.  The sound bar comes with both a m/f plug in cable and a fiber optic cable.  There was only one place for the plug in cable to go, and it wouldn’t work.  Of course, my mom’s TV is 11 years old, so forget there being a product manual that might have told me where the fiber optic cable jack was located.  I finally found it, and got the thing connected, and voilá.  Worked like a champ.  I hope it helps her.  Age related hearing loss runs in her family and her hearing loss is pretty bad in the speech frequencies so about all she watches are game shows and sports — things you don’t have to understand dialog to follow.   Of course, if you have a sufficient drop-out in a particular frequency or frequency range, no amount of volume will help.

Unfortunately, she’s not interested in reading books.   All she wants to do is sit in the chair and watch TV.   I suspect she has a significant amount of situational depression.  She is a very social person and her inability to socialize due to COVID has hit her hard — that on top of the fact that she keeps outliving all her friends.

 

Dreamscapes and Other Weird Places

Yesterday morning, I awoke out of an intense dream that had what I felt was fascinating imagery.  Anxious not to lose it, I flipped on the light, grabbed the message pad by the phone and scribbled, then flipped the light back off, rolled over and went back to sleep.

My handwriting is not especially legible at the best of times, but even less so when I’ve just awakened from a deep sleep and am writing on a little scratch pad while lying in bed.  It says:  “Dream about a man who carefully unpicks embroidery and brushes weaving smooth.  When embroidery totally unpicked, he turns into an old woman who embroiders something different on the cloth using the unpicked thread.”   Of course, he brushes the cloth to even the threads of the weave out to close up the holes where the embroidery needle pierced it.

One finds such interesting things washed up on the shores of sleep.

I’m Back In My Burrow Again

And it’s been so great.  I came home Thursday, so this is the third day I’ve been home.  I’ve been able to get some sleep and that, more than anything, has helped ‘knit up the raveled sleeves of care’ — to go all Shakespearean and English major-y on you.   The hardest part of my day so far, wounded knee not withstanding, has been positioning the pedestal fan to blow on me while I’m at the computer.

The physical therapy guy  came on Friday.  He helped me double check the house for “booby traps.”  He did end up switching my couch and my armchair in the living room so that my TV- watching seat is now the armchair rather than the couch.  (The couch was so hard for me to get up out of.)  One big point that he made was that my new knee is mine.  I can put my full weight on it and walk around on it right now without worrying about screwing up the implant.  I’m good to go.

What pain I’m having is 80% from the incision — which is over 12 inches long and has whacking great sutures in it, so duh!  — and 20% from postoperative swelling. The reason I’m having to use the walker is because of the swelling, which limits my flexibility and that messes with my balance; once the swelling goes down, I won’t need it.  I’m not pain free by any means, but what pain I do have is controlled by a couple of Tylenol (ibuprofen).  He says it’s very likely I won’t need the walker after about 10 days, and that it is entirely possible that I will be driving myself to outpatient physical therapy, which will start after I see my orthopedist on the 10th.  The risky bit is not the driving itself — my car has an automatic transmission — but getting in and out of the car! (In the US, the driver’s side is on the left, so the left leg is the major weight-bearing leg.)

We’re having a thunderboomer at the moment.  Line of thunderstorms moving across the city.   Rumbly, bumbly, rain.

When I sat down at the computer, I noticed this — it’s a collection of note cards that feature the art of Rima Staines.  I love the art so much that I put a loop of tape on the back of them and stuck them to some black posterboard and put them in an el cheapo poster frame.  It’s hanging on the wall behind my computer table so I can look at them whenever I wanted to.  It’s going to drive me crazy until I am able to get to where I can lift the frame down and fix it.  Sigh.

Last night I had one of those dreams that leaves you thinking, “Wow! Where did that come from?”  Part of it was about the Handel aria “Lascia Ch’io Pianga,”  A lot of Handel’s music, and 17th and 18th century music in general, that is now only sung by women (sopranos and contraltos) was originally written for the male castrati, and the only men who can sing it now are countertenors.  In my dream, though, there were two women singing it together in harmony — but Handel never wrote it as a duet!    One of my favorite versions is sung by Sarah Brightman, and I love music sung in harmony, so I guess my weird brain just dreamed up a harmony part and stuck it on.  It’s a shame I couldn’t remember the harmony part when I woke up, but I couldn’t have written it down if I had as I don’t write music, only sing it.  I’ve had the original version stuck in my head all day, though.   As earworms go, I’ve had far worse.

 

Tricks, Treats, and Tributes

According to ancient Celtic traditions, Samhain, which we had yesterday, marks the time when the veil between this world and the next becomes thinnest and it is easiest to communicate with those who have gone on before us.  I think my dream about the white cat was his spirit telling me that he is OK with how it went down and that I need to stop beating myself up about it.

Sometimes wearing earbuds while knitting with circular needles can be tricky.  Oh, what a tangled web I wove — but just until the end of the row! I was doing a proof of concept piece for this shawl pattern I’m trying to work out for the Mandala “Spirit” yarn I got, but it’s fighting me.   That tells me I need to put it aside and finish some of the (many!) things ahead of it in the queue.

I tried again on the Najidama Bay  shawl pattern and I’m still not 100% happy with it.  It’s on the back burner for now, too.   Grumble.  Grumble.  One bright light in this tunnel is the fact that I did finish the semicircular shawl

I was working on that was going to be a September gift, and now is going to be a Thanksgiving gift . . .  It’s a lovely shawl, but it just doesn’t shawl the way I like to be shawled.  I have modified the pattern to have five “rays” instead of four, but it’s a WIP* that’s on the back burner with a bunch of others right now.

What I need to do ASAP is finish the three hats and four cowls that go with the above shawl and several other pieces.

I’ve been watching some knitting vlogs, and I have come to several conclusions.  One is that my yarn stash which I think is so huge is nothing compared to the walls of yarn I see in these vlogs.  They do a show and tell, and whip out these especially made fabric project bags that people make and sell and buy, and it’s OK.  Whatever floats their boat.  I prefer zip-seal freezer baggies (the kind without the little slider thing, please).  They’re dust proof, waterproof, and you can see what’s in them without having to open them up.  They natter on about yarn made from this breed of wool and that breed of wool, and all these little independent yarn company yarns that feature this alpaca blend and that cashmere blend.  And it’s fine.  I’m allergic to wool, so that cuts out about 99% of what I call “snob yarn” (i.e., anything that costs more than $10 a skein!)   Compared to some of these ladies (and gentlemen) I’m just a dabbler.  But that’s all right.  Like the man says, “different strokes for different folks.”

My Halloween treat was this sunshiny little salad made with cottage cheese and mandarin orange sections.   Snarf city!  Mandarin oranges are the same thing as Satsuma oranges, BTW.  I’m having chai tea with vanilla cream in.

Absent Friends

Gobi Gobatiputtitatti
11 July, 1999 to 17 April, 2015

He had a variety of nicknames, but the one that stuck was “Pu” (short for Emperor Pu An Yu).  His father was a Godknows out for a night on the town.  His mother was a long haired lilac-point Siamese belonging to the then daughter-in-law of my then landlord and his wife.  They owned the apartment building where I lived for over 21 years, longer than I have lived anywhere else.  That building is no more, pulled down to make way for the building of the Marsha Sharp Freeway.  Where it was is now the deli section of a Market Street supermarket.

When I had Stormy put down in March of 2015, it was because she was dying of kidney failure.  That left me with two cats, Jaks and Pu, who was 15 going on 16, but was still healthy and active.  The reality of that situation was it cost $20 a day per cat to board cats at Petsmart’s pet hotel and my then 91-year-old mom wanted me to drive her places, to visit relatives and friends.  She would pay to board one cat, but not two.  I had Pu, my wingman, put down a month after I had to say goodby to my baby girl, Stormy.  That left me with Jaks, the black one I lost in January of 2018.  He was 11 when I had him put down also, right at the start of this horrible year.  He was badly overweight, had been getting clingy and very stressed by having to be boarded, and it was as if I somehow knew I was going to have a heart attack less than a month later, and be hospitalized four times over the next five months and be one sick puppy for most of the first half of the year. It was time for him to go and it was the first time in 21 years that I had been without a cat.  Yeah, I miss all of them, including my first two, Shadow whom I lost to osteosarcoma in 2004 and Jett whom I lost to diabetes in 2009, but Pu is the one I regret.  I could have kept Pu.

What brought all this on was I dreamed about him last night, ol’ Pu.  My wingman.  The one that followed me from room to room, content to be where ever I was, gruff, crotchety, opinionated ol’ curmudgeon that he was.   I dreamed he was living with my former landlord and his wife, and that I got to visit him there.  I was so glad to see him again.  I picked him up and held him in my lap and petted him and loved on him.  It was a dream of sensory memories, of having him to hold again.  The feel of his fur, the weight of his body, that one whisker (his wild hair) that grew in a quirky direction.  I started crying about the second sentence of this post, looking through my pictures of him, remembering his taste for paper, his thing about boxes, his puffy-fluffy, eloquent plume of a tail, the tufts of fur between his pink paw pads and his splendidly long whiskers. Remembering that time it rained on his house.   He was a part of my life for almost 16 years.  I had him longer than I had any of the other ones.   He’s the one I regret.  I could have kept him.

Not a Good Night Last Night

I’m not usually one for bad dreams — weird, interminable, sometimes surprisingly well-plotted dreams, yes, but only very, very rarely are they frightening or unpleasant ones.  Typically, my dreams have surprisingly little emotional content.  But last night I had a couple of whoppers.  First off, at about 2 a.m., I dreamed that my mother dragged herself into my real-life bedroom, over to my real-life bedside, threw her arm across my thighs and croaked, “Call an ambulance.” I came bolt awake out of that one, my heart pounding.  (I might point out, my mother does not live with me.  She lives in her house, I live in my little duplex, and that is a mutually satisfactory arrangement.)  I was royally spooked by that brief broadside of a dream for a good little bit.  I had to get up and move about, which is always good for shredding the whisps of most dreams that persist into waking.   I had a potty break, then went into the kitchen and had a couple of pieces of Twizzlers Bites to give me the energy to get back to sleep, which usually works.

I finally did get back to sleep, then I dreamed about my dad (who passed in September of 2014).  He was still of an age when he was active and independent and could see and hear well, but he was having an episode of delirium and I was having to deal with him myself.  I was at their house (although it didn’t look anything like their house actually does).  He somehow got outside and I located my mom and we were trying to decide whether to go look for him ourselves or call the police, or what — my dad was over six feet tall, and if he decided to struggle, even my mom and I together could not have handled him.  As we were talking, someone knocked at the door and it was my dad.  He had gotten a lift home in a UPS truck.  I remember thinking in the dream that my dad had been delivered by UPS and how ironically funny it was.  Tied loosely about him was one of those heavy cloth strips like moving companies use to secure furniture by strapping it to the side of the vans.  Then a “friend” came over.  You know how you know things in dreams; I knew he was an old family friend although he didn’t look like anybody I knew that we knew.  He and my dad were conversing, and then my dad started playing the bagpipe for him (yeah, I know).  I was sad because although his playing was good, it was not as good as it once had been.  Then I woke up.

After that, even though it was only about 5:20 a.m., I didn’t even bother to try to go back to sleep.  I read for a while, then I decided I might just as well get up. Thankfully, the passage of time is dulling the memory of those dreams, especially the first one, which was a real shovel-smack upside the head.

Now I’ve got to get ready to go out.  My cousin JP is driving over from New Mexico to take my mother and me out to lunch.  Then he will drive back to New Mexico. He does this from time to time, as he only lives about a 4-1/2 hour drive away — which is really quite near in this part of the world — to touch base with his Aunt Fluffy (my mom).  My mom was his mom’s baby sister, and his parents gave my mom a real leg up in her rise from her rural roots to venture out into the wide world and begin her career. She is my namesake aunt, the only one of her children to be named for anyone on either side of the family.  (That right there tells you how large my aunt loomed in her legend.)

Plus, we’ve got three important anniversaries coming up, what would have been my dad’s 95th birthday on 21st August (the same day as the solar eclipse, no less), the third anniversary of his passing on 22nd September, and my mom’s 93rd birthday on 23rd September. (Yes, my mom spent her 90th birthday making funeral arrangements for the love of her life.)  And I’m sure part of my cousin’s visit is to lend moral support to my mom going into this gauntlet of significant dates.

In the knitting news, I finished two more hats.  This one at right, which I’m calling “Simple Pleasures Hat” and the one below, which I’m calling “Fabled Cable Hat.” I’m not completely satisfied with either pattern so I haven’t posted them to my knitting pattern website.

The Fabled Cable Hat has braided cables, which don’t show up on the picture very well.  This one was done in Lion Brand Landscapes yarn, colorway “Desert Spring.” The “Landscapes” yarn is Lion Brand’s answer to Red Heart’s Unforgettable yarns.  Although they both say they are a medium:4 weight yarn, the Landscapes yarn is noticeably thicker.  I think the colors are a little more garish, or some of them are.  The Simple Pleasures Hat was done in the Unforgettable yarn, colorway “Parrot.”  It is pretty bright, but I like the color mix.  I think they’re cheerful.  I’m not really wild about the Lion Brand colors, although they do have a solid fuchsia pink, which I’ve gotten two skeins of.

When starting a hat, I typically either use the provisional cast on, or the long-tail cast on, depending on whether the edge of the hat will be “hemmed” or not.  Both methods start with a slip knot in the working yarn.  When I join to knit in the round, I don’t drop my slip knot.  I slip it off the right hand needle and onto the left hand needle, and then do a k2tog (knit two together) with the slip knot and what would be my first stitch of the row.  I find this makes a more secure join.