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.

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.

All the News That’s Fit to Print

Sorry for the dearth of updates. Here is a progress report.

I have been instructed by the physical therapist, the occupational therapist, and the social worker that the very worst thing I can do for her is to do everything for her. I’m to make her do as much as she can for herself. I am not to fetch and carry for her, but make her get up and get things for herself. Lying in bed/recliner all day and being waited on hand and foot is how she went from living totally independently by herself and walking without any assistance (and driving!) in May to being wheelchair-bound and being “maximum assistance” in all her activities of daily living by July, having a sore bottom by August and a bedsore on the back of her heel by September.

Earlier this week, the home health person that changes the dressing on her heel requested that she be taken to a wound care doctor (which I was going to ask about anyway — she’s had that open wound for over a month now). She got us an appointment and we went yesterday. It was a big production. Carillon has wheelchair vans and will take you to doctors’ appointments. It was “freezing” yesterday (46 F/ 7.7 C) so we had a fleece jacket over our sweatshirt, and a lap robe over our legs. We go down to the lobby where they pick us up, put her in the van and lock down the wheelchair with straps and lock her in it with a seat belt. Off we went to the doctor. (Oddly enough, the driver, who has worked for Carillon for 6 years, already knew the address of the doctor we were going to.) Since we were new patients, we had the usual ton of paperwork to fill out. (I made her fill out most of it.)

The purpose of the visit was for the doctor to assess the wound and cut away all the dead tissue to minimize the risk of infection. The wound bled freely after he did this, which is great. That means she has a good blood supply to her foot and the chances of the wound healing completely are good. He ordered an x-ray of her foot (to make sure there is no infection in the bone underneath the wound), and an ultrasound of her leg (to make sure she has no clots or blocked blood vessels in her lower leg). But, he commented that the fact that her wound bled freely suggests there are no clots or blocked blood vessels in her leg, which she is at risk for because she spends so much time in her recliner. He also wants her to get what is called a “Multipodus boot” to offload the heel as much as possible when she walks.

At some point, the home health folks are supposed to come out with a portable x-ray machine and a portable ultrasound machine and do both these tests in the apartment, so that will be exciting. (You can bet this service won’t come cheap!) They will also get the boot for us. Once she has this boot, she can start wearing a shoe on her right foot, which means she can graduate to the Rollator. Once she’s built up enough stamina, she can start using the Rollator to walk downstairs to lunch. (I’m sure she’s noticed she’s the only one in the dining room in a wheelchair, but about 20% of the people there use 4-wheel walkers of some kind. I’m hoping her desire to “fit in” will help us make the transition.)

It’s such a big production for her to use my computer (She had to get up and go get in the wheelchair so she could sit at the desk, my chair had to be moved out of the way, I had to change to another mouse because she can’t work the one I use, etc.) that I’ve gotten her a (reconditioned) Kindle Fire 10-inch tablet. I’ve gotten it all set up with her email, Facebook, and a web browser. I’ve uncluttered the “desktop” as much as I can, putting all the zillion icons she doesn’t need or want into a folder called “Stuff.” (Amazon, like Apple, considers you a captive audience and constantly bombards you with “buy me!’s.” Of course, the programs that do this can neither be deleted or disabled.) I also put her some solitaire games on it, too. The new skills she gets to master is to learn how to use a touch screen, and how to get into and out of programs. I had gotten a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse to connect to my TV for when I set the TV up with a Bluetooth dongle, which I haven’t had time to do. I was able to get the keyboard to talk to her tablet (when all else fails, read the instructions!) so she can type on a regular keyboard instead of poking at letters on the touch screen (which, for a touch typist, is incredibly frustrating!). I’ve ordered her a lap desk, which comes tomorrow.

She still spends 60-70% of her waking hours vegetating in her lift chair, and consistently resists my attempts to get her to do anything for herself, like carry her glass/cup back to the sink, get her own water, etc. It’s an uphill battle. I’m the one who catches flak for trying to get her to follow her therapists’ treatment regimens. I have succeeded in getting her to dress herself and hanging up her gown in the morning, although I do have to put her socks on and help her with her slacks. She is so kyphotic and has lost so much flexibility and muscle tone due to age and inactivity that she can’t get her foot up high enough to put her socks on, and I’m afraid she would pitch over onto the floor if she tried to lean over to get her feet into the legs of her slacks.

So. That’s where we are at nearly three weeks out. There is no knitting news because I haven’t had time to say boo! never mind sit down long enough to try to knit. Sorry. I doubt there will be any knitting news for the foreseeable future. It took me three days to put this post together.

There And Back Again

I had been planning a trip since August to attend the Bauer family reunion in Round Top, Texas. Carl Siegismund Bauer was a stone mason by trade, and immigrated to Texas along with a sizeable portion of his 10 children and numerous grandchildren. We are descended from his daughter Christiane Caroline, who married a man named Carl Wilhelm Rummel.

It was her daughter Emma Amande (at left, who came to Texas at the ripe old age of 6) who married the Reverend Adam Neuthard, the first pastor of the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Round Top. It was his grandfather-in-law, Carl Siegismund Bauer who supervised the construction of the church building that still stands today. Adam and Emma’s daughter Martha was my great grandmother.

My cousin JP drove up from New Mexico and spent Thursday night in the guest room on our floor, and bright and early Friday morning, off we went in the Greyola, with me driving and JP navigating, bearing heirlooms and heading for Dripping Springs some 373 miles to the southeast, where his son EP lives. We had fabulous weather — sunny, clear and hot, and made good time (a little over 6 hours). We were to spend the night in EP’s house (he is my first cousin’s son, which makes him my first cousin 1x removed).

It was the first time I’ve ever been to Dripping Springs, or seen his house, or met his lovely wife and family. (Only the two younger boys are still at home, the rest of his brood having flown the nest, but his youngest daughter just got engaged, and she and her intended ate with us Friday night.)

I slept Friday night in an old friend. My cousin JP’s mother’s bed. She got the bedroom suite this bed was part of before she married, and kept it til the end of her life. I remember it from childhood visits to their home at Christmas and in the summer. When she passed, it came to her grandson EP. It was like meeting an old friend.

We got an early start Saturday morning for our drive to Round Top for the reunion. It was foggy and humid when we set out from Dripping Springs, which is just west of Austin, to Round Top, which is east of Austin, a journey of about 2 hours (98 miles), but the weather cleared and was sunny and hot (high of 91F/32.7C).

Round Top is approximately 80 miles from Houston, and it’s two main attractions are the Spring and Fall Antique Fairs, and the Music festival in the summer. However, its nearness to Houston make it ideal country for the weekend getaway cottage, and land values in the area are rapidly increasing. However, the inevitable development has been kept very sympathetic to the historical context of the town. Old buildings have been restored and repurposed, which gives them a new lease of life without destroying their historic character.

The reunion was held in the church meeting hall which was built on the site of Reverend Neuthard’s house, which was unfortunately pulled down in the 1930’s. Here are two of its treasures.

Here are some views of the interior of the church.

As a special treat, my cousin AMcI, who is my first cousin 1x removed (you may need a score card — I often do!), had arranged for us to tour the Rummel House, which is now used as a media center and a place for student education. This house was built by Carl William Rummel, Jr., brother of Emma Rummel Neuthard. Here are some pictures of it.

Here are my cousins WM and JP, and my 1x removed cousin AMcI by the old live oak that is out front of the house. To the left just below the stair railing is the old cistern (capped now for safety). These live oak trees are easily old enough to have been present when the house was built.

I had to include a picture of the house where my grandmother was born (at left). It is the house the Schiege Cigar Factory provided for its foreman, my great grandfather Paul Helmecke and his wife Martha Neuthard Helmecke and their family. It and the Schiege house and the Cigar Factory buildings are now part of the Round Top Inn.

After a visit with our cousins, JP and I wended our way back to Dripping Springs. That evening, EP who is managing the development of an exclusive residential edition which will feature houses built around an 18 hole private golf course took us out to see the course, the first 9 holes of which are finished. They are having the same problems everyone else is with the supply chain disruptions and are somewhat behind schedule, but what they have so far is very impressive.

We got a late start Sunday morning, but we had good weather until we hit Sweetwater, where we drove into a robust little West Texas dust storm. It was gusty and dusty the rest of the way home. As we were nearing home, my cousin was wondering why we could not see the skyline — but then there was so much dust in the air that we couldn’t even see the sky!

Our adventures were not over, though. The key to the guest room where JP was to stay Sunday night didn’t work. Fortunately, the guest room on the floor above was available and Security got us the key for it (which worked!). But there for a while, we thought he was going to have to inaugurate mom’s new bed! After another visit with mom on Monday morning, JP headed back to NM.

It was a good trip (average 30.2 mpg), and I was very glad I was able to go. But now I’m back and mom moves in on Monday, which will be the start of a whole ‘nother adventure. Stay tuned.

Well, Zut Alors!

Which is French for dadgummit, goldurn, blimey, and other such family-friendly exclamations of annoyance.  I was going to be a good girl and not do any more Foreigner shawls, even though I’ve been thinking about a leaf-lace pattern and Tirnamardi’s famous hedges . . .  Ilisidi has one (two, actually), the assassin’s daughter has one, and then I got to thinking about little Irene and what a special young lady she is, and how nice this “Teal Feather” colored Malabrigo sock yarn would look against her dark skin, and you know what?  Rene-ji, this one’s for you, darling.  Even in the far future, Black lives matter.

This is the best picture I’ve gotten so far of the side of the shawl with all the kfb’s on it.  It has such a nice textural detail, and this is the version of it I frogged.  I threw a p1 between the kfb’s and the ssk on the newer version which makes it one stitch wider.  You know what?  I’m going to post the whole pattern for this little goodie right here:

Materials:
2-3 skeins of Malabrigo sock yarn, color Teal Feather
US6 (4.0 mm) 40-inch circular needle

Cast on 3 stitches
Row 1: k
Row 2: (kfb x3)
Row 3: k
Row 4: (kfb x3), k to end of row

Row 5: k until 6 stitches remain, kfb, yo, k2tog, p1, ssk
Row 6: k until 6 stitches remain, (kfb x3), p1, ssk

Repeat rows 5 and 6 until the shawl is the size you want.

Finish:
K3, *yo, k2tog, repeat from * until 3 stitches remain, yo, k3
Knit 3 rows. Bind off.

That’s it. That’s all there is to the pattern. Short, sweet, easily memorized.  I’ve got five skeins of the Malabrigo ; I’m going to see where three skeins gets me.  There’s 440 yards in a 3.5 oz skein of this sock yarn because it’s skinny yarn for knitting socks, 100% Merino wool, machine wash cold, dry flat.  It’s a bit pricey but, like the man sez, you get what you pay for.  (Look at me knitting with yarn snob yarn!)  Evidently, they’ve discontinued the “Teal Feather” colorway.  Pity.  But that Cian . . . .  Here’s a detail of the eyelet border, as yet unfinished, never mind unblocked.

Anyway, I was I was sipping Crystal Light Peach Mango out of my stainless steel 32 oz water bottle (with a whole tray of ice in) and knitting on this newest shawl and enjoying the newest video from Liziqui’s YouTube channel.  Oh, another lovely, peaceful video.  There’s a reason she has 11.4 K followers.  I love the relationship she has with her granny.  You don’t need to be able to read or understand Chinese to enjoy her videos.  Recommended viewing.   Just get your cool beverage of choice, kick back and enjoy.

Heard my phone ding and looked to see why, and noticed it’s 101F/38.3C outside just now, which is why I’m inside with one of my pedestal fans on low blowing at me.  These things are work horses.  Second summer on this one, third summer on the other two, going 24/7.   I have one in the living room, one here in my “office” and one in my bedroom.  Money well spent.  I like that you can angle them up and down.  The newer models come with a remote.  (Doesn’t everything these days? Kind of makes you want to buy a carpenter’s tool belt to carry all your remotes around in. . .)

The older of my two first cousins x2 removed just got her driver’s license.  Where does the time go? The other one is nearly five.

This one is my mother’s sister Jean’s great granddaughter.  Her daddy is a brigadier general in the USAF.  When her daddy makes major general, they will be entitled to sing the song. *

The other one is my mother’s sister Verna’s great granddaughter, and a ringed-tailed doozy.

I may be committing tuna salad in the near future.   I think that’s tuna that I hear calling my name. . . could be something else.  I’d better go see.

Oh, wait!  This first.  This! (Thanks, Terri!)

 

*Yes, that's a young Linda Ronstadt as Mabel, one of the Major General's daughters, with Rex Smith as Frederic and Kevin Kline as the Pirate Captain in the 1980 Joseph Pap production of "Pirates of Penzance" put on in Central Park in New York.  The movie version of this casting is very good if you can find a copy of it.

Happy Mother’s Day

To all the mothers who came before, are here now, and are to come:  Without you, there would be no us.

Maternal Great Great Grandmother, 1842-1881

Maternal Grandmother 1886-1970

Maternal Grandmother (far right) and her 12 children

Mother 1924-

Three Generations

Paternal Grandmother 1892-1974

Paternal Grandmother (center) and her five children.

Rollercoaster Weather

For a noticeable period of time now, we’ve been having what I call “Rollercoaster Weather.”   For a day or two, we’ll have cold weather, nighttime temperatures will drop below freezing, daytime temperatures will hover in the 40’s and 50’s F (4-10 C), then over the course of about 5 days, everything warms up 15-20 F to highs in the 60’s to 70’s  F (15-21 C) and lows in the 30’s and 40’s F (-1 to 4+ C).  Then, over the next five or so days, it’ll go back down again, up and down, like a rollercoaster.  The whole winter so far has been like that.

To put things in context, my city is at the same latitude as Casablanca, Morocco, which sits at the edge of the Sahara Desert, and we are about 600 miles north-northwest of the Gulf of Mexico (the source of the Gulf Stream, which is what keeps Britain from having the same climate as Maine, Quebec and Newfoundland ).  We’re pretty much the buffer zone between the furthest reaches of the cold weather that sweeps down the Great Plains unopposed and unobstructed from Canada (“Ain’t but one fence between us and Canada, and it’s down. . .”) and the hot humid mess that is the Gulf Coast.  One peek at our average rainfall (16 inches/46.6 cm) and average humidity (44%) will tell you we don’t get much of that hot humid mess up here, which is just as swell. . .  Our climate is classed as “semi-arid” which is to say, on the hot, dry side.  Such cold weather is not unusual for us.  We’re used to crashy-bangy thunderstorms with torrential rain and hail.  However, we are not used to snow.

Yesterday’s high was 34 F (1.1 C) and we got a light dusting of snow overnight.  A winter storm warning was issued.  Last night’s low was 19 F (-7.2 C).  This is what I woke up to this morning.   We got between 3-5 inches of snow (8-13 cm) today, but the high was 54 F (12.2  C). Tonight’s low is predicted to be 17 F (-8.3 C).

Naturally, I had to get out in it.  I had to be at the VA clinic at 8 o’clock for lab tests, and had an appointment at 11 o’clock to see my primary care provider for my yearly health check and — most importantly — to get all my prescriptions renewed for 2020. By the time I was ready to leave, it was actively snowing, big wet flakes.  Fortunately, I didn’t have that far to go to get home, and I made it home upright and in one piece.  Thankfully, I don’t have to stir until Monday, when I have another doctor’s appointment.

I’m also pretty popular with my dentist right now, too.  We were “waiting for the bone graft to take” that was placed in the socket of the molar that  I had pulled last year, which takes 4-6 months.  It is the “middle” molar that was pulled, the one next to the (impacted) wisdom tooth I haven’t had since February 20, 1962.  My mom has large teeth and a large jaw structure, as normal Human size distribution goes, and my dad had small teeth and a small jaw structure.  Wouldn’t you know, both my brother and I inherited my dad’s jaw and my mom’s teeth.  Apparently that size mismatch affects how much clearance there is between my upper and lower front teeth when I open my jaw as wide as I can.  (I can get it open wide enough to get a foot in, but apparently that’s not wide enough!)  My dentist is concerned he might not be able to get the gear into my mouth that he needs to be able to set the post down into the bone for the tooth implant, which I very much want.  I only had 3 working sets of molars (top and bottom) coming into this process.  Now I’m down to 2 sets.   The dentist has made a “mouth guard” sort of thingy which I’m supposed to wear at all times, except when eating, with the aim of getting some slack in my jaw muscles and hopefully gaining enough clearance to proceed with the implant process.  I have to go see the dentist again next week.

In the knitting news, I’m on the fifth skein for my “Assassin’s Daughter’s” Shawl.  I may go ahead and provisionally bind it off to see if I need to add the 6th and 7th skein, or if five will be enough.   Time will tell.

Where Blue Heavens Began

This is a boy-meets-girl story.  It began seventy three years ago.  America was a very different place then.  The country had just gone through the grueling ordeal of a world war.  Boys who should have been setting about the tasks of becoming men and building lives for themselves had instead been sent off to distant places to spend four long years amid the death and horror and wreckage of war.  They saw first hand the terrible cost of it, not just to the people who had the misfortune to live where it was being fought, but to their brothers in arms, and to themselves.

But now it was 1946.  The war was over.  The boys had come home and wanted more than anything to put the nightmare of war behind them and get back to normal as quickly as possible.  They wanted wives, jobs, families, homes of their own, all the things they’d fought to protect during those long, terrible years.   They wanted the happily-ever-afters they’d paid such a high cost for.

Boy

This particular boy was the fourth of five children who wanted to finish high school so much that he was willing to work 40 hours a week in the evenings so his family could afford to keep him in school.  Even so, he still managed to graduate half a year ahead of his classmates.  But after Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the Marines and went off to war in the Pacific, island hopping from Tarawa to Okinawa, and then, after the Japanese surrender,  to mainland China in what was an (eventually futile) attempt to help Chiang Kai-shek.  What had brought him home was not the end of the war, but the death of his father and a humanitarian reassignment to recruiting duty in his home state where he could be closer to his newly-widowed mother.  He was on a weekend pass to see his family.  His sister and her husband, and he and a girl he knew from high school were going to go out dancing, but he’d brought a friend along who was not from the area and didn’t know any girls there to ask out, so his sister fixed his friend up with this cute secretary who worked for another business in the same building as the dentist office where she worked.

meets Girl

The girl was the last of twelve children born on a farm to a mother who, as the saying goes, had had a tough row of her own to hoe, and who had taught her youngest child two of life’s most important lessons:  that if something is worth having, it’s worth working for; and if you want something, don’t wait for somebody to get it for you, go get it for yourself.  She wanted more for herself than to be a farmer’s wife and saw education as the way to get it.  She worked hard in school and graduated at the top of her high school class.  Then she went to business school to learn the skills she would need to get a job in the city, working in an office.  It was her ticket to the world.  She got a job, did well, got a better job.  The money she made gave her the independence to buy for herself the things she wanted — her own space to live in, nice clothes, opportunities to travel and see other places.  Then, one day, her friend who worked in the dentist’s office up the hall told her that her brother and his friend were in town.  She and her husband wanted to go out dancing with them but the friend didn’t have a date.  Would she like to go with them?

The boy had asked his high school friend to go dancing because she was somebody he knew well enough to ask out, but that friend of his sister’s was really something.

The girl didn’t much care for the brother’s friend, but the brother was not only good looking, but very nice — but wasn’t he dating that girl he was with?  No, actually, he wasn’t.

Engaged May 8 1946

Just Married, November 16, 1946

At right, 25th Anniversary, 1971

40th Anniversary, 1986

50th Anniversary, 1996

60th Anniversary, 2006

November, ‎2013 67th Anniversary

Their happily ever after began on November 16, 1946, and lasted for 67 years, 10 months, and 6 days.  On September 22, 2014, he quietly went on ahead, to be there to welcome her when she comes to join him.

Semper fidelis.