It Ain’t The Gin

Because of our ongoing drought conditions, cotton production here in the flatlands is way down — like from an average of between 28,000-35,000 bales to between 3,000 to 5,000 bales (A bale is 480 lbs/218 kg of ginned raw cotton, and contains enough cotton to make 200 pairs of Jeans, 250 single bed sheets or 1200 T shirts). So, what’s ripping my sinuses a new one can’t be the cotton stripping and ginning (which throws all kinds of herbicide and defoliant laced organic matter and soil into the atmosphere).

Odds are it’s juniper. We have a lot of Ashe Juniper (Juniperus ashei) here and southeast of us, as well as some Oneseed juniper (Juniperus monosperma) and Pinchot’s juniper or red berry cedar (Juniperus pinchotii). Winter/spring is not a good time of year because of a thing called “cedar fever” — which is like “hay fever” except caused by cedar and juniper pollen. We’ve recently had some rain, and that’s evidently set off another round of it, and it has been reading my sinuses the Riot Act.

It also gives me what I call “sniper sneezes” — Like you’re innocently and unsuspectingly going about your daily life, unaware that a sneeze sniper has you in the crosshairs. Then BANG! you’re hit with this massive sneeze without warning. Usually, with a sneeze, you get that inhale bit at the start, which is like cocking the thing and dropping a round into the chamber, so you have something to sneeze with (which is the whole point of the exercise). Not with a sniper sneeze. Your sneezer goes off whether there’s a round in the chamber or not, you gasp reflexively and that immediately sets off a second sneeze. I have actually banged my head on stuff . . . .

So, Walkers Shortbread makes Christmas shapes! — which go down just as easily and deliciously as their regular ones, especially with a pot of Twinings’ Christmas Tea, which is a nice black tea with cinnamon and clove spices. No, I did not eat the whole box of cookies at one sitting. I only ate half the box. I am exercising self discipline. Sorta. But actually, I’m not really into cookies in general (except shortbread and soft sugar cookies with icing), or cake (unless it’s got buttercream icing and squirty icing shapes), or pies (except mincemeat, cherry or pumpkin). Cheese cake, though. And ice cream. Those are my Achilles heels. (One on each foot. Fair is fair.)

I have to confess I’m not all that into chocolate, either. (Yes, I am a heretic and have betrayed my sex. Deal with it.) Rolos and Ghirardelli’s dark chocolate raspberry squares are the only chocolate I eat consistently, but I can take it or leave it.

I ran across this the other day and it’s brilliant. This is what the autism spectrum actually looks like. We all have all the traits, just in different amounts. I have a lot of a couple traits but don’t have much of most of the other traits, which means I can “pass” for neurotypical.

Speaking of which, the Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year holiday season is an exhausting time of year for me. Parties, family get-togethers, dinners. I’m expected to mingle in crowds of people, do lots of group stuff and socialize. Crowds make me very claustrophobic; the babble noise of a bunch of people in a room is overwhelming; I don’t like to be touched, let alone get unsolicited hugs; and I am schmooze-impaired. For those of us on the spectrum, socializing is a “fake it till you make it situation,” except we can never make it. We’re the cat among the cows. All the cows instinctively understand how to be cows. We cats have to play it by ear. All the time. We never get to see the sheet music. Ever.

There’s going to be a party tomorrow from 4:oo-6:00 p.m. I’ll attend. There will be food involved. Since I’m not on chemo anymore, a glass of wine to make the spirit bright might be in order.

I saw a Twitter quote the other day that made me guffaw: “What do I want for Christmas? I want what every girl wants for Christmas: Death to the patriarchy and pockets in all my clothes.” Amen! Me, too.

I have a pair of fleece-lined snuggly house shoes but I can’t put them on without having to bend down and straighten out the back of the heel. I found myself opting to walk on cold floors in bare feet rather than take the time to do that. So I got me some house shoes I can just step into on those occasions when I can’t sleep through the night without a potty break. Eliminating life’s little annoyances one at a time.

In the knitting news, I have one bootie finished, one bootie that just needs the little green edging, and about 17 rows and sleeve edging left on the dress skirt. Gauge is 10 rows to the inch. Skirt is 9 inches long + 9 rows of seed stitch. Going to try to get it finished, blocked and in the mail by Monday. Good thing the relative humidity is 38% and it’s merino wool sock yarn.

C. S. Harris has a new Sebastian St. Cyr novel coming out in April, 2023. Oh, joy! Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have a new Liaden novel coming out in July, 2023.

Have you seen that Kraft mayo commercial that says there’s no such thing as too much mayo? I agree in principle, but not in brand. (Hellmann‘s mayo. Please.)

No such thing as too much tomato either. I make Christmas BLT’s — no L. (Think about it. It’ll come to you.) Just a slice of toast, mayo, tomato slices, four or five slices of bacon, tomato slices, mayo and a slice of toast. You will notice paper towel diapers on both sandwiches. Necessary. After one sandwich, the paper towel is too soggy to use again. Serious, if soggy, nums.

Woke up from a dream the other morning with the sad knowledge that Honduras is closed to me now. Sigh.

Giving Thanks

Friends brought us food for Thanksgiving. It was a loving gesture, and we embrace them for it. They’re dear friends and have been for a long, long time. And he is an excellent cook.

They wanted to have us over to their house for Thanksgiving, but that plan was defeated by the logistics of getting my mom there and back again. We could get her into my car, but it would take a chain hoist to get her out of it. (I have trouble getting up out of it). Not to mention that her wheelchair won’t fit in my trunk. These friends have a place down near the Gulf Coast (where it’s warmer), they took both cars, and the vehicle they came back up here in is his gigunga diesel four-door pickup. The cabs on those things are so high up off the ground that it would take a fork lift to get me into and out of one, never mind a 98-year-old woman with a bum back who needs a walker and/or a wheelchair to get around. So they brought the food to us. Right about the time it started sleeting. But it was good (as I say, he’s a great cook) and we loved it and them.

Mom and I have so much to be thankful for, and this Thanksgiving is a case in point. When you find friends like these dear people, you hold onto them and cherish them. Sorry, no pictures. We were too busy being in the moment.

Is That Me Buzzing?

I brush my pearlies with one of those battery powered spin brushes, which buzzes as it spins. But then I noticed that when I was brushing my lower left back molars, they were buzzing, too. Curioser and curioser. That back molar and the one in front of it are both implants. Turns out the crown on that back one has a tiny bit of play in it. The dentist I went to for years and years had already done one implant back in 2017, and had gotten this implant all the way to the point that all that was left to do was put the crown on. Then he died of COVID in December of 2020. He had one of those setups where two dentist went together and bought the building, but then each practiced out of one side of it. The doctor who practiced out of the other side was the one who ended up finishing the implant. So, I left a message with his receptionist yesterday, she called me this morning, and they worked me in at 1 pm this afternoon. I was in and out in 10 minutes, no charge. He said there was only a little play in the crown and that it wasn’t in danger of falling off, but to come back if it got worse. Everybody had a good laugh at my buzzing tooth.

On my way back from the dentist, I drive right by what used to be my friendly neighborhood package store, so I stopped and picked up some Harvey’s Bristol Cream (sherry) so I could have my nog with appropriate holiday spirit.

Mom has to take a distribution from their IRAs before the first of the year or get penalized. It’s a nice little chunk of change and I’m not all that wild about having to schlep a check that size from her broker over to the bank. Her broker mailed a direct deposit form which came today, and I’ve got to fill it out and take it over for her to sign, and then mail it back with a voided bank check and all. Then they can just direct deposit the dough. I’m sure the bank won’t mind.

While I was at the dentist’s, the front desk called me and asked me if I was aware I had four packages down there waiting for me to pick up. Yep. Mom wanted a little Christmas tree with lights that she could plug and unplug. Most of the “ready made” ones were two feet tall (and battery powered), which is too big for what she needs, so I ordered the parts off Amazon and DIY’ed one. I’m still waiting on the star for the top. Should be here by the end of the week. “Assembly required” was actually a cheaper route to go than the “everything included” for a tree that was too big. She’s not getting it until after Thanksgiving, though. This business of starting to put up Christmas decorations before Halloween is for the birds.

I didn’t get to sleep until nearly 6:00 o’clock this morning. I was reading Cyteen by C. J. Cherryh, one of my all-time favorite authors. She got the Hugo for this one. I started it at 8:00 o’clock Sunday morning, but that sucker is 850+ pages.

Yesterday being Sunday, I shifted the bed into “recline,” got some nice music going on my Kindle Fire and dived right in. It’s a real page turner, though. My Alarm went off at 9:00 a.m. for my first set of meds. I’d taken my second set and had gotten back in bed to sleep some more when the dentist called. I set the “movable” alarm for 11:30 and went back to bed. When that alarm went off, I was dreaming about trying to get to my dental appointment, but the mechanics messed up my van. While I was trying to find their “loaner” vehicle so I could get to my appointment, I got tangled up in a party Emma Thompson was throwing in this house the loaner was parked behind. Sam Elliott was there and handed me a half eaten gallon tub of cherry vanilla ice cream, but I wouldn’t take it. “I can’t eat ice cream and drive a car at the same time!” was what I was protesting when I woke up. I’ll be going to bed early tonight.

My carafe came. I need to wash it and do a load of hot chai tea in it. With a dollop of vanilla almond milk creamer . . .

I’ve got a cardiologist appointment at 2 pm tomorrow, and I need to make a post office run and a Walmart run. I’m out of tandoori naan (which goes great with soup, BTW), for one thing, and I want another carton of almond milk egg nog. I also want to see if they have any ugly Christmas sweaters . . .

I Felt The Earth Move Under My Bed

I’ve been in three earthquakes, two here and one in Monterey, CA. Interestingly, I happened to be in bed at the time in all three instances. Not surprising, though since the first one (in CA) happened in the middle of the night. The second one (here) was at 6 o’clock in the morning. This last one hit at 3:32 p.m. yesterday, 16 November while I just happened to be lying in the bed reading*. My bed is oriented almost due SW/NE, and it was like something big and heavy had silently given the side of the building a solid thump that jiggled my bed from side to side. I’m on the third floor of a 4-storey, steel and concrete building, which probably amplified the effect slightly. It was a Richter 5.2 with the epicenter located about 27 miles/45km west of Pecos (which is about 3 hours/214 miles/344 km to the southwest of us) at a depth of 3.1 miles/5km underground, according to Earthquaketrack.com. Durn frackers.

Monday was a blustery day, and on the chilly side. The poor mourning doves toughed it out for about an hour before they sought a more sheltered roost.

We have an activities director here at Carillon who organizes “expotitions” to things like restaurants, concerts, museum exhibits, theater events, sports games, etc. They have this big bus with the nice seats like you go on organized bus tours in. They herd us up and load us onto the bus and off we go. Tuesday, they had an expotition to the Plaza Restaurant and now that I’m street-legal again, I signed up to go eat what my dad called “Meskin food” (TexMex). Naturally, they had bowls of salsa and baskets of chips out on the table for appetizers. (They had various sopapilla dishes on the menu, both sweet and savory — my dad always called them “sofa pillows.”) I had a soft beef taco, a beef tamale and a heaping scoop of refried beans. I had it twice, in fact. The food was so good and the portions were so generous that I got a “doggie bag” and had the rest of my lunch for supper. The prices were very reasonable. All that and two glasses of sweet tea came to $13 and change. The Plaza is located out on Milwaukee Avenue just south of 50th street, out in the part of town I refer to as “Southwest Yuppyville.”

It was a bittersweet outing. After I got back from the restaurant, I went out to Market Street to get a flower arrangement of some roses for mom because Wednesday the 16 (the day of the earthquake) would have been my parent’s 76th wedding anniversary (except my dad passed away in September of 2015). I also got a grocery or two and a birthday card for my BFF (23 November).

I decided to get gussied up to go out to the restaurant, so I wore the above necklace, which I got on Portobello Road in London in 1974. I also wore these new earrings I had just gotten off Etsy from a vendor in Poland. As I was carrying the groceries into the apartment, I happened to notice I had lost one of the earrings. I wear a pair of small gold hoops which I only take out for CT scans and x-rays (to keep my holes open), but the holes are big enough that I can slip a second ear wire through them. I try to get lever-back ear wires or studs whenever I can, but if it’s a “fish hook” ear wire, I usually put those little rubber “stoppers” over the wires, only I didn’t think I would need them. I did back track as far as I could, but didn’t find it. They were such pretty earrings and I’m just heart-broken that I lost one — the first time I wore them! That’ll teach me.

My BFF finally got her Halloween card. I mailed it on 21 October. She got it on 11 November, after the midterm election, oddly enough. (Can you say “voter suppression,” boys and girls?) She also got her car back (we’ve finished rebuilding your transmission, ma’m. That’ll be $4.5K, thank you very much), after having been without it for over a month. The great ladies from her church really went to bat for her, organizing car pools to get her to and from work, else she’d have lost her job and been out on the street. I was frustrated that I couldn’t do more to help her besides send her a Halloween card with five cute little pictures of Andrew Jackson tucked inside it. Which apparently took the scenic route to get from hither to yon. Musta had to change planes in Dallas . . . (Texas is such a large state, it’s hard to get a direct flight from one end of the state to the other, e.g., from Lubbock to Houston. They’re usually routed through one or the other of the two Dallas airports — DFW or Love Field.) (In Texas, you can’t even go to Hell without going through Dallas.) (Then again, the argument can be made that DFW is Hell.)

The other day, I ran across a teaser/trailer for the 2011 version of “Jane Eyre” with Michael Fassbender as Rochester, which I haven’t seen but will order the DVD for because Michael Fassbender(!). That next morning, I woke up from a dream about this young woman who was hired to keep house for this man who lived in a big stone house out in the Yorkshire Dales. He had a secret, too. His was that he was a time traveler who had escaped from BREXIT England to live in 1840’s England. (Feel free to steal the premise, you writers out there . . .) They had these two 8-week old kittens , a black one and a white one, who got tangled up with half a dozen of these pale green beetles that were bigger than they were and had to be rescued for their own good. I woke up wishing that the kittens were real and mine.

*BTW, in my defense, I walked all over the world Tuesday, walking all the way to and from the front desk to get the bus to the restaurant, then going out to shop groceries, taking them up to the apt, then taking the flowers over to mom at Carillon House and getting mail on my way back. The weather was cold, my motile appendages were unhappy with me, I still haven’t gotten my stamina back, so Wednesday, I took it easy. What’s the point of having an adjustable bed if you can’t adjust it until it’s comfortable and snuggly warm on a chilly day and then having a good read in it? (And ride out the occasional earthquake . . . ) I gulped down a good three-fourths of Cuckoo’s Egg by C. J. Cherryh and quaffed hot tea for most of the afternoon. The only thing that would have made it better was curb service. Oh, and BTW again, did you know they make almond milk eggnog? I gotta get me a bottle of Harvey’s Bristol Cream. T’is the season.

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.

Four Down, Two to Go

I was a bit more rested going into this one. I was actually out by three o’clock Monday since I don’t take the vincristine anymore. The oncologist stopped that one because I was starting to get numbness and tingling in my fingertips. Just the prednisone, the cyclophosphamide and the Rituxan. Found out one of the side effects of Rituxan is it makes you sneeze. I discovered that when I was looking for which one gives you blurry vision (take your pick). And thank God for Depends because one of the side effects of this chemo regimen is a marked tendency to leak. I’ve gone through eight of them in the past two days. The furosemide (diuretic) I took yesterday didn’t help matters, but it cleared the swelling out of my feet nicely. I gained almost 7 pounds of fluid from the three bags of chemo plus what I drank to keep from drying up in the heat.

Since I got out early, I stopped by Market Street on the way home to get some chicken wings and veggies for supper (since I missed lunch) and got some groceries and some more of those BodyArmor drinks I like. Naturally, they’ve quit making the peach-mango flavor because that’s the only one I like. I like it because it has electrolytes, vitamin C, is only 20 calories (2 g of sugar) a bottle and has no added sugar. I was a bad girl and got a package of microwave bacon. I’ve been craving bacon and tomato sandwiches something fierce. (Not a big fan of lettuce.) My cardiologist won’t like it, but I’m going to have me a couple BT sammies. It’s not like I live on the stuff. This is the first bacon I’ve had in months. I also got a pot pie size frozen spinach quiche, some pulled chicken, a container of their good spinach dip, two small loaves of bread, a couple of roma tomatoes and a container of cherry tomatoes, and replenished my frozen food cache. I’m trying to eat as nutritious as I can. Four little sacks of groceries was $168. (*Rant deleted*)

We do get a meal allowance of one meal a day. I’m doing the intermittent fasting thing and supper works better for that than lunch. Unfortunately, our facility hasn’t been able to get enough staff to do three meals so all we get here is breakfast and lunch. To get supper, I’d have to go over to Windsong to get it or else pay a $3 charge to get it delivered. I budget accordingly. I need to have food on hand, though for when I simply don’t have the energy to go down to the dining room to get it.

I had to go by the VA Tuesday to get a refill on the antidiarrhea medication, as that’s another side effect of chemo I tend to have. I was down to two doses, which is not enough as it usually takes three to stop an episode. Got the refill and then went to get my shot of Udenyca to boost my white blood cells back up after chemo. I finally managed to catch about two hours of sleep between potty breaks, and got about six hours total last night. I don’t have to go back until Friday for the first of the three IV fluid infusions.

The Rituxan makes the back of my neck sore right at the base of my skull, and the sneezing is annoying. So is the cotton mouth. I woke up with a sore throat, too, also from the Rituxan. By now I know what to expect, though, and I’m prepared for it.

The air conditioner that supplies the Pointe Plaza building lobby and the business offices has been out for a couple of months now. Evidently supply train issues have struck again. They were going with these big portable blower units for a while, but as hot as it’s been here lately, that hasn’t helped much. There are a few empty apartments in our building and the business offices have relocated to them for the duration. It’s been ungodly hot here, over a week of 100+ F/ 37+ C temps. Raisin weather. You’re a grape until you take two steps outside. High today is 104 F/40 C at 31% humidity. The heat just sucks you dry. High Monday was 107 F/41.6 C. It’s 98 F/36.6 C right now and trying to rain. At 31% humidity, it won’t amount to much. I guess it’s the thought that counts.

In the knitting news, there is knitting news. I’m working on some baby booties to match the little dress I still haven’t finished. The kid should be here any day if she isn’t here already. I need to get my rear in gear and send what I have finished. The dress I haven’t finished won’t fit her until Christmas anyway so I still have some runway on that. I have the blanket and a couple pairs of baby booties finished and I can finish the sun hat in a couple of hours if I’ll just sit down and do it.

I think I’ll do a crochet edging on the sleeves and hem of the dress as well as on the cuff of the booties. I have this nice green that was the “so sorry” freebie I got when Malabrigo replaced that miswound skein of Malabrigo sock I bought for the dress. I’ve got enough of the red to make a second dress for the older sister who will be 22 months old at Christmas as well as socks for her. There will be plenty of the green for what I need.

I’ve got some blue cotton thread. I might do a little top out of it. I could do it in a day if I’d sit down and do it. But right now, I’m reworking the pattern for the booties for fingering weight yarn, which is thinner than baby yarn, plus I’m using smaller needles (US 1/2.25 mm instead of US 2/2.75 mm), which means I’ve had to recalculate the gage, and that changes the number of stitches you start with and means I have to go through the pattern line by line and redo all the math. Guess what. Chemo brain + math = an uphill battle. I’ve been at it all morning. The pattern uses the Fleegle heel, and I’ve got it to the point of completing the heel gusset. I think I’m going to give it a rest for a while because the next bit is very calculation heavy. I don’t have to go anywhere until Friday, so mañana. Once I get the pattern worked out, I’ll test it with the second bootie and then I’ll put them up in Knits From the Owl Underground.

I just now printed out the pattern for the baby top. Think I’ll go hunt up a US 6/4.0 mm 6-inch circular and a bowl, find me some nice music on the internet radio app on my Kindle Fire tablet, crank up the bed and unload my feet while I knit. I’ve still got the prednisone munchies. I may have to eat a BT sandwich first . . .

Oh, here’s the green gang. Still haven’t repotted the two that need repotting . . .

Three Down, Three to Go

It’s a slog. Nothing neat or interesting about it. Just one foot in front of the other. I made it through Rituxan #3 with only a minor bout of diarrhea which might have been as much food related as chemo related. I read, I watch TV and YouTube, I play games, I knit. I’m tired all the time. I’ve got three more to go, and I’m not thinking about it until the day, which is July 18.

I’m making a big pitcher of chai tea with vanilla almond milk. I have this heavy glass pitcher that was intended for sangria (it has the plastic insert for the ice to chill it without diluting it). I think I’ve made sangria in it once. What I make in it all the time is iced tea, either just straight tea or the chai tea with vanilla almond milk, which is as good cold as it is hot. (I’m using 3 chai and 2 Irish Breakfast instead of 5 chai, as the Irish Breakfast gives it more of a caffeine punch.)

Because I’m using a glass pitcher and I’m making the tea with hot water and tea bags, precautions have to be taken. I put the pitcher in the sink and run hot water into it. It takes a while for hot-hot water to come from the water heater to the sink tap, so the glass in the pitcher heats up gradually. When the water is fully hot, I dump the pitcher and let it fill to the rim with the fully hot water. Then I fill my electric kettle over-full and start it heating. It takes five teabags’ worth of tea, a clothespin and a cake server. I used to use a big ladle, but that went in the last downsizing. But, anything large and metal works. That’s what you pour the hot water on to absorb the heat shock.

Timing is everything. The pitcher is full of hot water in the sink until the kettle begins to boil. Then I dump the pitcher, clothespin the five teabags to the pitcher rim, gently put the cake server in and pour the water in the kettle onto the blade of the cake server slowly, pausing now and again. It’s very important to pre-heat the pitcher. (Just like you preheat the teapot before you make tea in it — or you should — for the same reason. Yes, it keeps the tea warmer longer, but it also cushions the teapot against the shock of the boiling water and keeps it from breaking because it has expanded too quickly.)

Then you let the pitcher sit until the glass has cooled to room temperature before you remove the teabags. Pour in the whole 16-oz bottle of vanilla almond mix and stir. Cover the top of the pitcher with cling wrap and refrigerate. Enjoy.

It’s important to cover the pitcher when it’s in the fridge. The “dehumidifying effect” of modern frost-free refrigerators will “dehumidify” the tea and a “skin” may develop on the surface. (Refrigerators were invented by accident. The guy was inventing a dehumidifier that worked by refrigerating the air until the moisture condensed out. Then he realized what else he could do with it — like refrigerate food. That’s why containers in the fridge develop condensation on their undersides. The moisture that has been dehumidified out of the food has condensed on the lid.)

In the knitting news, I finished the baby booties.

I’m working on the dress a couple of rows at a time as I can settle to it. I’ve got about an inch and a half of the skirt. I need 9 inches of skirt.

Noooooo. . . . !

The day did not get off to a good start. I’d got my arm band and was waiting to be called back for labs and to have my port accessed, and their secret special computer program crashed. Since it’s a system-wide program, it was down everywhere in the building, and possibly in all the Covenant facilities. After about 45 minutes, they announced that the system was down and they estimated it would be back up in an hour. I got there at 8:00 a.m. and it was sneaking up on a quarter after 9:00 by then. In the meantime, the waiting room was filling up like an airport when they’ve cancelled flights at the last minute. Somebody got the bright idea to go old, OLD school and fill out paper forms for each patient based on what data they could access locally.

My labs were supposed to be drawn at 8:00 and my appointment with the oncologist was supposed to be at 9 o’clock. It was 9:30 before I got my labs and access. (The computers were down in the labs, too. Fortunately they could make printouts from each piece of lab testing equipment and hand carry them upstairs, so he had my lab results.) It was 10:30 before I hit the oncologist’s waiting room and almost 11:00 before I got to see him. He is neither reticent nor stoic, and I expected him to be sizzling and spitting like a drop of water on a hot griddle considering the computer problems, but he was remarkably calm.

I have begun to experience some peripheral neuropathy on the very tips of my fingers in the form of numbness, worse on the thumb, index and middle fingers of my right hand, which I reported. I have just started noticing this in the last week or two. He said the culprit is the vincristine (Oncovin) and we can stop that. I made the remark that I was glad this was my last session, and he seemed surprised and asked me if I wanted to stop treatment, which he didn’t advise. That was when we discovered there had been a miscommunication. He had told me I would have 6 sessions, and I was under the impression that we were counting from my first session in February. Nope. Guess again. What he meant was that I was to get 6 doses of Rituxan, of which I’ve only had 3 counting the one I got today. This was very depressing news as this whole business has been going on since February and it has been just slowly but surely grinding me down. (Of course, it’s not nearly so bad as it was in 2018 when I had four hospitalizations, a heart attack and pneumonia and was on bottled oxygen for a month . . . ) He is going to give me an extra week of recovery time before I go in for #4, on July 18. (yay.) This means I might be done with this mess by September. Sigh.

Needless to say, I was kind of bummed. He did stop the vincristine, so all I got today was cyclophosphamide, prednisone, and Rituxan. Even so, it was a quarter til 6:00 before I hit the pavement.

On my way home, when I got to the intersection of 19th Street and Quaker Avenue, instead of going straight, I made a left turn onto 19th and went ALL the way out to the closest of the four Arby’s in town. (They have the meats!). North-south Quaker crosses east-west 19th Street between its 4400 block and its 4300 block. The Arby’s I go to is in the 5700 block, way the heck out past LCU and the city library branch where I go to knitting group. The other three locations are on 82nd Street. But I had my heart set on a beef gyro and a mess of curly fries. Guess what. They were out of their special gyro sauce. I said to give me one anyway and give me a couple packets of Horsey Sauce. She discounted the price a dollar because of no gyro sauce, which was the best thing that had happened to me all day (until I ate my gyro and curly fries, that is!).

In the knitting news, I’ve started in on baby booties again, which I haven’t made in years. I’m writing a new pattern for them which will appear on Knits From The Owl Underground as soon as I finish bouncing off the walls from the prednisone. It’s the No-Tears Toe-Up Baby Booties with Fleegle Heel and Crocheted Cuff Edging. I’m test knitting the new pattern using left over yarn from the 9-Bladed Circular Baby Blanket based on this circular shawl pattern. The toe starts with a Turkish cast on of 14 stitches and increases to 28 stitches total, so they go fast. I’ve got plenty of the Botticelli Red Malabrigo Sock yarn. My thought was to make a pair to match the dress.

The Fleegle Heel is a gusseted heel (versus the humpty-eleven other types of heel construction). Some heel constructions (e. g., short row heel) tend to leave a noticeable gap/hole at the end of the decreases, but this method doesn’t. It has a long Bobby Socks style, fold over cuff worked in 1 x 1 ribbing. The feedback I’ve gotten on this cuff style is that they really stay on well.

When I came back from my Walmart run yesterday, I noticed they’ve done some of what my step grandfather (AKA “Grandma-paw”) used to call “landscraping” on the pergola by where I park my car. They’ve given the wisteria on the pergola a haircut, done some planting, and put in a walkway.

Some day when the weather isn’t going to be hotter than a $2 pistol firing uphill, I’ll have to go sit and knit for a bit.

I’m trying to stay positive. Just a matter of hitching up my big girl panties and getting on with it. An Arby’s gyro and curly fries and some Cherry vanilla HäagenDazs® ought to perk me up. Think I’ll sit down and eat it.

Well, Pshaw!

After this round of chemotherapy on Wednesday and the nonstarting of my car, the shot on Thursday, and ricocheting off the walls from Wednesday afternoon til half past Friday, when I finally crashed and burned Friday afternoon, I went from being too strung out on steroids to do anything to too asleep to move. Finally, today I had found most of it and managed to get enough of it back together to try to do something about my car. Battery Joe’s could put a new battery in if I could get the car to their place, but not today. The guys I talked to at Battery Joe’s and Gene Messer Toyota both cautioned that it might not be the battery that was bad, but the alternator or the starter, in which case a new battery would do me little good — and it was a valid point. I also called Messer’s “recommended” towing service to find out that if jumping the battery proved bootless, it would cost me $80 to have them tow the car to the dealership to get it fixed.

So, noonish, I girdled my loins in my big girl panties and called Security to get them to bring their car booster thingie and meet me at the car. While I was waiting for them to come, just for s**ts and giggles, I put the key in the ignition and turned it. The car kind of cleared its throat and started! Several times, in fact. Well, hmmmm! I decided I’d better take it to the dealership where they could check it over, in case something was loose or a belt was thrown, or my “wars” were crossed. I wended my way clear down 19th Street, under the Loop, and out to Gene Messer Toyota, drove it into the service place and sat there in the car for at least five minutes waiting for one of the people sitting around noodling on their computers or talking on their phones to realize they had a customer and come see what I wanted. Finally, I got out of the car and picked one at random and told him I wanted my car looked at and why. (You’d think they’d at least be glad to get my business . . .) We figured out who I was (I bought the car from them, after all), and I told my tale of woe.

After about an hour and a half, the guy comes into the waiting room and says my battery flunked the test, and my cabin filter was dirty (gasp!). It took them another hour and a half to install a new battery and change the cabin filter. That’ll be $188, thank you very much. (I shudder to think what they would have charged if there had actually been something wrong with the car, like the starter was broken or the alternator was shot, or the gazinta had come out or something.) Anyway, the Greyola is fixed now.

Messer Toyota is even farther down the same street than the library branch is where the knitting group meets. Seeing as how I am very familiar with the local landmarks in the vicinity, I stopped at the Arby’s for a Gyro and curly fries, as any normal person would under the circumstances. I was even on the right side of the street to just swoop right into the drive-through lane.

Just as a cultural side note, Arby’s (We have the meat!) sandwiches come with a choice of sauces: Arby’s sauce, or a sauce which contains (among other things) horseradish, which is called, oddly enough, Horsey Sauce. When you get your food order, they ask you, “Do you want Arby or Horsey with that?” — and then put packets of your choice in the sack with your order. I always go for the Horsey.

At the end of March, the maintenance guy reset one of the grab bars in the bathroom because it was coming loose from the wall. A couple of weeks ago, a different guy came to plaster the holes in the wall from where the grab bar used to be. He was supposed to come back and paint the wall after the plaster dried, but never showed. Today, as I was coming up the hall, my Arby’s goodies clutched in my little hot hand, there was a painter at the end of the wal. He was touching up the paint on my door frame and on my door. It was the same guy who was supposed to paint the bathroom. He said he hadn’t come back to paint the bathroom wall because he’d been in the hospital. He’s coming back to paint the bathroom wall tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

Homonyms are two words pronounced the same, but which are spelled differently and have different meanings, like “meet” and “meat.” I have long noticed that, even though I know which is which, as I’m typing along, now and again, I would type the wrong one. I’d meat friends who would introduce me to there friends, etc. In rereading the previous paragraph I noted that the guy had come to plaster the wholes in the wall . . . I’ve noticed this has been happening more and more frequently of late. Chemo brain strikes again.

Well, I’ve eaten my Gyro (brought to us by Greek immigrants, and pronounced “Hero”) and my curly fries. Now I’m going to kick back and watch some Philomena Cunk videos from the BBC. Her malapropisms and ‘splanations are just brilliant. Some of her topical humor sails right by me because I don’t have the cultural context to “get” it, but the rest of it is hilarious.

Going Around in Cycles

My next cycle of chemo starts next Wednesday (at 8:40 ye gods, o’clock in the morning, no less). So, between now and then, I have to wash clothes, go to the grocery store and probably Wal-Mart to lay in supplies. I would also like to go to knitting group Tuesday, but I’m playing it by ear. I have no energy, and all I want to do is sleep.

A downside to living here at Carillon is that I am living under the tyranny of other people’s schedules, which I wasn’t so much at my previous digs in the duplex. Meals here are served during a specific time period, and if you don’t do what you need to do to get your food (have it delivered, go down and get it or sit in the dining room and eat it) during that time period, then you’re on your own. You have a food allowance that comes out every month whether you use it or not (easily one, but maybe two meals a day if you work it right). Also, starting April 1st, there will be a $3 delivery charge for having someone bring it up to you.

I got spoiled living on my own. I was used to eating when my body told me to. Here, lunch is 11:00 to 1:00, which is too early. Supper is 4:30-6:00, which works better for me. But until they can fully staff both dining rooms, my ability to go downstairs to get supper in our dining room here will stop when the remodel of Windsong’s dining facility is finished. (Windsong is a separate building a long city block away.) Once Windsong’s dining facility is up and running again, lunch will be served here where I am, but dinner will be served over there. There have already been one or two days when I can barely make it to the refrigerator and back, never mind walk the length of two football fields (there and back) out of doors. I can already tell I’m not bouncing all the way back to normal between cycles, and that’s going to get incrementally worse with each cycle as the toxicity of the chemo drugs wears me down.

I had a care plan meeting about mom yesterday, and I asked about a bill I got for tablet prednisone that she was given in February (first I’d heard about it until I got the bill for it). I know she’s on prednisolone eye drops because of her corneal transplants and she did call last month to ask me the name of her eye doctor, so that’s what I thought it was for until I saw it was tablets. According to the social worker, they were giving it to her because of gout (?!?!?!). I am well aware of her medical condition and she has never been diagnosed with gout before. Turns out the doctor she has now saw her last month and they did lab tests and her uric acid levels were very high (upper limit was 2 something and her levels were 8 something). Apparently, according to her new doctor, hyperuricemia equals gout, and somehow the (now healed) pressure sore she had on her heel was supposed to have been due to gout (it wasn’t) and that’s why they gave her a short course of prednisone. Have they done any more lab test to see if her uric acid levels have come down? No. . . .

This is concerning, not because she now has the questionable diagnosis of “gout,” but because of the event back last July that precipitated this whole chain of events, when CK and I went to her house and found her unconscious and unarousable on the bed. She was dehydrated because she hadn’t been drinking enough water and had gone into kidney failure. Granted, her kidneys are nearly 98 years old, but it doesn’t help that she doesn’t drink nearly enough water because she doesn’t want to have to get up and go to the bathroom. But having to hoist herself up out of her beloved lift chair and walk maybe 10 feet to go potty is eminently preferable to having dialysis catheters surgically implanted in a vein and artery, and being taken in the wheelchair van to a dialysis center three times a week to spend three or four hours lying flat on the bed getting dialysis because you’ve gone into chronic kidney failure. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper, too. Also, there is a form of delirium that is caused by the buildup of toxins in the body as the result of kidney failure. I saw that in the hospital last July. It’s damn scary, if you’ll pardon my Anglo-Saxon. She was so out of it they had to use soft restraints on her and put a security camera on her to keep her from trying to get out of bed, pull her lines off, take her gown off and wander around. Worsening kidney function can also induce or worsen dementia. Granted, she’s nearly 98, her body is wearing out, and some decline in function is to be expected, but she’s also my mother, and I’d just as soon neither of us have to go through another hospitalization like that again, thank you very much.

In the knitting news, ongoing projects are still ongoing.

The hexagon blanket is still hexed. I’ve frogged it yet again and backed off to cogitate on it. I think I may have it sussed now, so will try again. (Attempt #4?) (A few of my collection of knitting bowls.)(There’s at least one by every chair.)

This video, ya’ll. This video is entirely too cool! It has a quiet, solo piano sound track. It’s also 10 hours long, so you could play this on your big screen TV, turn the sound off, and it’d be like having an aquarium. I think I’m going to go get it on my 55-inch TV, turn the sound off and listen to Soma FM’s Drone Zone on my Kindle Fire tablet, and knit. Sit. Breathe. Knit.