Here We Go Again

That line from the Mary Chapin Carpenter song comes to mind: “And we dwell in possibilities on New Year’s Day.”

I got my new glasses Friday. I should have known better than to get round lenses, never mind that I like the way they look. The frames had come slightly loose and the lenses had turned in the frame. When I put them on, my center vision was fine, but when I tried to read, the bifocal part was not where it was supposed to be. They had to be adjusted. I had a pair of glasses with round lenses before, except they were lined bifocals and easy to readjust if the frames got loose and the lenses got cattywompus. I even got a little screw driver just to tighten the frame (still have it, as it happens). Worth the aggravation, though, not to have to fool with those stupid bifocal lines that drive me nuts.

Overall, though, I like them. They’re gold frames and very slender, light, and unobtrusive. They also have the little “feet” on the nose piece instead of resting directly on your nose. I got the special lightweight lenses and I noticed the difference right away. Lighter frames and lighter lenses. The bridge of my nose is much happier. I’m about 20/450 in my right eye (What chart?), and Coke bottle bottoms are hard to come by anymore. I also got the nonglare coating and the kind that turn dark in the sun. (For what I paid for the little darlings, they ought to sing opera, too.) I have yet to get a pair of glasses that fully corrects my astigmatism, though. I still see a slight double image on print when I try to read with both eyes — which is why I read with my right eye and without my glasses. I’m about 20/45 in my left eye, and between the two of them, I can see perfectly well to do everything but drive. I can read street signs at a fair distance again, though, which is a big plus.

I’m going to try to get a handiwork group started — open to knitters, crocheters, tatters, embroiderers, hand quilters, etc. I’ll have to put a flyer up in the elevators and by the mailboxes in both buildings to gauge the interest, and to see when and where people want to meet. In the meantime, there’s still a knitting group going at the library that has been infiltrated by crocheters and my friend KC has been urging me to attend.

This was my Christmas present from me to me. They’re copper wire around fossil ammonite shells. Found them on Etsy. The cool thing is that I can wear the earrings with both necklaces. I need to get a copper chain for the one necklace as the gold chain doesn’t match. Yes, I have stoppers for the earrings. Better yet, I got the lot on sale almost 50% off. I’m such a magpie. The necklace on the left is by a Ukrainian artist, Lena Sinelnik. I’ve bought several of her beautiful pieces.

In the knitting news, I finally got around to winding the yarn I got for the Scots bonnets and am in the process of swatching. They’re Aran weight, 100% wool yarns and the pattern calls for US 7 (4.5 mm) needles. Since the bonnets are made from the center out and top down, I’ll have to start them on double pointed needles. However, I’ve got to knit the swatch, measure it, felt it, then remeasure it so I can calculate the percentage of shrinkage and calculate how “too big” to make it. Stay tuned.

I follow a comic called XKCD, which is a collection of “one off” cartoons by Randall Munroe which have to do with various STEM and computer-related topics. I found this one particularly hilarious. Of course, in order to “get” it, you do have to know what a Lagrange point is . . .

Teetering On The Brink of Christmas

It got down to 3 F/-16 C last night, for crying out loud!

We have this thing where if the front desk needs to get the word out about something, they text us. We got a text yesterday afternoon to dribble our faucets all night to keep the pipes from freezing. The one bedroom apartments here are set up with European style en suites which has the sink in the bedroom proper, and the toilet and shower in a separate “water closet.” So I got to listen to my sink dribble all night.

We are mercifully free of snow. (We got a flake or two yesterday for flinching.) I guess after dumping so much snow everywhere else, this storm must have run out before it got to us. As much as I hate what it’s doing to the rest of the country, I can’t help breathing a sigh of relief that we didn’t get any snow out of it. Our high today is 36 F/2.2 C. Officially colder than a wedge.

I spent the morning in bed knitting and watching videos until I heard a cheese sandwich calling my name. Sharp cheddar on toast with BACON! zotted in the microwave long enough to melt the cheese. And a big pot of Twining’s Christmas Tea served piping hot with vanilla almond milk in. Yes, Ma’m!

It’s hitting the spot as I type. The perfect combination of goo and crunch.

Thought I’d get a little meta.

They’ll serve Xmas dinner starting at 11: 00 tomorrow. I’ll get mine to go and take it over to Carillon House and eat with mom. She’ll open her Xmas present. (She’s getting me new glasses this year, which I need.) We’ll be quietly jolly, and then I’ll come back home. It’s not as sad as it sounds, at least on my part. I’ve never been a big fan of the hustle, bustle and jollity anyway, and even Mom’s getting kinda party pooped, which is not surprising. She has reached the point where doing anything requires so much time, energy and equipment that it’s exhausting.

Several people have called and texted me that they called her to wish her Merry Christmas and that she really had difficulty hearing them on her phone. Her hearing has been gradually deteriorating for a long time now, and she can’t get her phone loud enough anymore for her to hear it, especially the higher pitched women’s voices. But she adamantly refuses to get a new phone because she doesn’t want to have to learn how to operate it. Her phone has Bluetooth capability, but she refuses to spend the money for new hearing aids that have Bluetooth capability. She got some new hearing aids a couple of years ago that were very expensive, but she was unhappy with all the futzing and trips to the hearing aid place to get them adjusted, and she went back to wearing her old ones because she said they worked better for her. Change is hard (and confusing). She has a land line in her room, but then if she used that, she’d have to look up phone numbers on her cell phone and dial them . . . In the meantime, she’s becoming more and more isolated from her friends and relations, and I don’t know what the answer is.

That loud slurping noise you heard just now was me putting lotion on my hands. Again. It’s been so dry here, and the heating just makes it worse. Since that last bendamustine treatment I had such a bad reaction to this last round of chemo, I’ve had trouble with dry cracked skin on the outside edges of my index fingers and the tips of my thumbs. Knitting doesn’t help. I also have assorted dry patches on my forehead and cheeks. I have a tendency to dry skin anyway, and the bendamustine really did a number on my skin.

Friday, when I went out, I wore my red knitted hat with the selburoses on it to keep my ears and head warm. The humidity was 21% and when I got home, I pulled off my hat to predictable results — the Dandelion Clock Do. It’s one of the hats with the rolled brim, the inside of which is ribbed.

I want to make another one in black and white with the Death Flake motif — Boomer Goth — but living where I do, I wonder if it would be considered in poor taste . . . .

In the knitting news, I’ve been working on these two projects mostly. The one on the left is the Malabrigo Sock version of the Savannah Squares scarf/shawl. I haven’t put the pattern for the right one up yet, but it’s dead simple. One row repeat. (It’s also the visual equivalent of this.) Both are ideal for TV knitting.

I really need to start working on the Scots bonnet that you knit and then felt. I have two different types of 100% wool yarn. I may use the black Savage Hart Farm yarn first. I want an historic 17th century pattern, though. I’ll have to swatch and felt the swatch to gauge the shrinkage. I may also get some Plötulopi yarn (Icelandic unspun yarn) and try one out of that as it felts really well. I have a feeling I’ll end up writing a pattern for it. Stay tuned.

The North Wind Doth Blow

But we won’t get snow. Thank goodness. It’s blowing a hoolie, though, and the wind is almost straight out of the north at 21 mph/33.7 kph. It’s 18 F/-7.7 C with a wind chill of 2 F/-16.6 C. Mom called yesterday and wanted me to get her some tooth paste (she also wanted some $ for some little tokens of appreciation to her care givers), which I naïvely thought I was going to do today, but nope. Not with that kind of wind and that kind of wind chill. Mañana. It’ll still be as cold, but the front will have blown through by then and the wind will have died down. That wind is brutal. Like the man says, “Ain’t but one fence between us and Canada, and it’s down . . . “

They’ll be serving a nice Xmas dinner on Sunday here, with turkey and all the fixin’s. I’ll get mine “to go” and take it over to Carillon House and eat with mom.

The other day, I figured out how to get from here to there without having to go outside. It’s a pretty straight shot.

I’ll take her Xmas present with me. She’s getting me some new glasses this year.

Proper glasses with some light-weight lenses (I’m only 20/40 in my left eye, but I’m 20/400 in my right eye and my right lens is so thick my glasses tend to sit cattywompus on my nose), and some new, lighter frames. They won’t be here until the 30th, though.

I’ve got one of those throat tickling “drainage” coughs where you get into a coughing fit that’s so prolonged you almost pass out from not being able to breathe for coughing. I’ve been taking guaifenesin (a mucus thinner) and pseudoephidrine (a decongestant) for it. It’s allergies, not a bug. As I noted, it’s not cotton ginning related, but whatever it is that’s setting me off makes my eyes burn as well. I’ve managed to stay well so far (touch wood!). With my sinuses already in an uproar and this wind kicking up the dust, yet another reason not to get out in it.

Now that the weather has gotten colder, my feet have been so cold at night that I’ve started putting the heating pad in the bed to warm them up. I’ve got one with a timer on it that turns the heating pad off when time’s up. No, I don’t need an electric blanket. I’ve already got a microfleece blanket on. Once I get my feet warmed back up, I’m good.

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.

As The Seasons Turn

We’ve finally had a freeze, although not much of one. Just a few degrees below freezing. Today’s high was 57 F/13.3 C, and our low is going to be 31 F/-0.5 C, but those will be the highest temps for the next nine days. We’ll have lows as low as 22 F/-5.5 C, and our highs will be around 50 F/10 C. It’ll be blustery tomorrow, but partly cloudy to sunny for the rest of the week. Finally beginning to feel like the seasons are turning.

We had to play the clock game last weekend. I wish they’d leave the durn clocks alone. I have to get a stepladder to reach my chiming clock (on top of the hutch), and that sucker is heavy. I still have one wall clock that isn’t atomic (self resetting– I will replace it this year with one that is), and I still have to reset my alarm clocks. (Yes, I have two. One goes off at 9 PM when it’s time for my evening meds, and the other one goes off at 9 AM when its time for my morning meds. The other alarm is for use when I have to get up some other time besides 9 AM.)

I have seasonal allergies. All four seasons. I have a different set of allergies for each season. Right now, I’m suffering from the fall set as they are stripping and ginning cotton again, which kicks off at about half past September and goes until they finish ginning this year’s crop, usually after December. Usually what I get for Christmas is a month or two of relief from the fall allergies before the spring ones kick in.

I had an attack of housework today. Took out the trash, stripped and changed my bed linens, washed dishes, picked up a little. The first load of wash (sheets and towels) is in the dryer at the moment and the second load of wash (clothes) is in the washer. Timing is key. The washer takes an hour. The dryer takes two. I can’t start the second load of wash until the dryer is halfway done drying the first load. There are two washers and two dryers in the communal laundry room for this floor, but one of the dryers doesn’t very well, so we get the kitchen timer out.

I banged the inside of my leg against a table the other day (why, yes, I am a droit). That left leg has a tendency to swell anyway as it’s the one I’ve had three surgeries on, the last one being to replace that knee. Couple that with the blood thinner I’m taking and I got a nasty bruise that wants to swell. I’ve been keeping it elevated as much as I can. We’ve gone from black and blue to Technicolor now, but I’ve still got quite a knot there. (I do have a full set of toes on that foot, but they’re covered up by the sheet.)

In the knitting news, I’ve picked up a really old WIP. When I first started knitting again, it was discount store worsted weight acrylic yarn on US 7 and 8 (4.5 mm and 5.0 mm) plastic needles. Then, when I taught myself continental style knitting, it was Takumi bamboo needles and acrylic yarn. Then I graduated to natural fibers and “snob yarn” — cottons and merino wools and leveled up to ChiaoGoo stainless steel needles — fingering and DK yarn on smaller needles. This WIP is from when I was still using worsted weight acrylic yarn (mostly because that was all I could afford). I’ve gotten used to natural fibers and smaller weight yarn, and this worsted acrylic yarn feels odd. I may rework this pattern in natural fibers and smaller weight yarn now that I’ve got the pattern worked out, but I want to finish this version because I like the color.

This pattern uses a Turkish cast on and starts with that top cable band. But, instead of working both sides of the cast on, you only work one side of it until your work is long enough that you can pick up stitches along one edge of it to start the center cable band. Then you start working the top band from both ends and fill in the garter stitch middle bits. It’s really quite a simple pattern once you have it started. Anyway, I’ve pulled it out and put it in the rotation.

Otto and Victoria © Brian Kesinger

Think Fast!

Now that they’re on this new system, cancer center i go to (JACC) doesn’t mail out appointment notifications, so I only found out I was supposed to have two appointments this morning when they texted me about it Saturday. I had a blood draw and talked to my oncologist. He says all my blood work looks good and that I can get my COVID booster now (and will as soon as I can arrange it).

They had these cute little pop-up Halloween cards at Market Street and I got mom one of a skeleton playing a theater organ which urged her to Stay Spooky! I took it by to her Friday. After giving her multiple bags of IV fluids, they’ve managed to get her hydrated and flushed out again, and she was alert, with-it, and in good spirits.

The VA, TriWest, and Covenant are still going round and round about this one bill for a chemo treatment from March 10th. They’ve already billed Medicare and Medicare has paid their portion. The bill is for what Medicare didn’t pay, which TriWest (the VA’s insurance) was supposed to cover and didn’t. The opening salvo of this, the third go-round, was an email from Covenant warning me that if I didn’t cough up their $745.03, they were going to send the bill to collections. The VA gave Covenant a community care authorization number to send the bill to TriWest; TriWest didn’t like their number and kicked the bill back (twice now). This has been going on since August. This whole business is beginning to get a little “Kafkaesque“. . . .

My poor BFF is still trying to get her car’s transmission fixed. She can’t live on what she gets from Social Security and has to have a part time job. The transmission on her car went out on 25 September and she’s been going round and round with the dealership about getting it fixed and supply chain issues, and blah-blah-blah. . . for nearly a month now. She can’t afford to take Ubers to work or rent a car. Thank goodness the people in her church are stepping up to bat and giving her rides to and from work or she’d have lost her job weeks ago. I sent her one of those pop-up Halloween cards with a little surprise tucked inside. She should get it tomorrow or the next day.

We had a good little rain early this morning that persisted until about 8:00 o’clock. Our high today was 67 F/19.4 C with a low of 40 F/4.4 C. Tomorrow night it’s supposed to get down to 38 F/3.3 C! It’s windy and blustery right now, and is supposed to rain a little more. We got 0.15 inches/3.81 mm of rain this morning. We can use every drop. We’re in that Spring/Autumn transitional period, what I call the “not enoughs.” — not hot enough to kick on the AC, not cold enough to kick on the heat. I may have to put a “pull-up” blanket across the foot of my bed. Supposedly we sleep best when we sleep warm in a cold room.

Apparently, I feel it is necessary to make a libation to the refrigerator gods whenever I put ice cubes in my drink bottle. I invariably drop at least one ice cube on the floor and have to chase it down and toss it into the sink. (To be pedantic, they’re not actually cubes. They’re flat on three sides, and curved on the fourth –). When the icemaker periodically Jengas, the “cubes” fall into this square tub underneath it, and I sometimes have to break them loose before I can get a handful.

I’m not sure what kind of tree this is outside my window, but it’s fixing to be a bald one. The leaves are turning yellow and beginning to fall.

In the knitting news, I’ve finally gotten the pattern for the “No-Tears Toe-up Baby Booties” using fingering weight yarn whipped into shape. I’m still working on the skirt of the little dress this goes with. The dress is in sock yarn on a US 3 (3.25 mm) needle so it takes about 10 rows to equal an inch, and the skirt is 9 inches long. This bootie is what is in the bowl on my desk (the first of two). The dress is in the bowl by my TV watching chair.

The bootie uses the Turkish cast-on, which is a neat trick if you can do it. I prefer the toe-up to the top-down construction. I hate Kitchner stitching (grafting) the toe closed. I’ll put the pattern in my knitting blog when I can find my roundtuit.

Shakespearean Sleep

You know. The “Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleave of care.” That one. I’ve been doing a lot of it lately. Healing. Trying to get my body back onto an even keel from this roller coaster chemo ride I’ve been on since February.

I woke up today from a dream about a house. Such a beautiful house. I don’t know what the outside looked like, but the inside had sort of a Frank Lloyd Wright low/wide vibe going with those high, oblong clerestory windows with shelf-deep sills of his prairie style. The interior was all white, white-glazed terra cotta tile floors, white walls, white ceilings. I had this fabulous collection of hand thrown pottery bowls and vases and teapots and whatnot out on the shelves, a built in computer area with three big monitors, a 3-D printer and a large format color printer that could print the map sized full-color artwork I drew. It had mid-century modern style furniture. There were two complete bathrooms, one in front of the other. The back one could only be reached through the front one(?!). The back one had 1940’s style plumbing and a bathtub. The front one had modern fixtures and a fully-tiled walk-in shower. Both bathrooms were all in white. (There was this older black woman who rented the back bathroom and slept in the tub(?!).) The really wonderful, amazing thing thing about the house, though, was that there was this special fiber-optic coating on all the walls that you could download pictures or videos into — like moon jellyfish swimming in a cerulean ocean, or a coral reef with swimming fish, or a birch grove in a forest. It covered the walls like wallpaper and you could change the display on any wall whenever you wanted to whatever you wanted. That was a really nice dream, and I wanted to roll over and go back into it. Sigh.

And here it is half past October. Mom and I have been at Carillon for just over a year now, and I’ll have been in this apartment a year in January. (When mom went to Carillon House, I moved to a 1-bedroom apartment.)

The orchid that her niece brought mom is taking over the world. I watched a YouTube video that said you could water it this way. Looks kinda mutant evil with its roots doing that, but this species of orchid usually lives in a really humid climate (which this isn’t) and its roots absorb water from the air. This way, though, it can water itself at will and I don’t worry about over-or under-watering it. The peace lily is blooming two blooms, which means I must be doing something right. The Italian stone pine looks kinda stoned. I try to keep turning it so the branches will grow straight, but it gets ahead of me.

In the knitting news, WIPs are ongoing. I may have to amend the pattern for this cowl to add in even more than 12 stitches — like maybe 15? I have a bowl of knitting on the computer desk, a bowl of TV knitting by the TV chair, and a bowl on my bedside rolling table. Nothing like being spoiled for variety . . .

We haven’t had a freeze yet. We haven’t even been down into the 30’s yet. We’ve barely just dipped a toe down into the 40’s. (The way the weather’s acting, kids will be trick-or-treating in short sleeves. . . .) The leaves are kinda ho-hum turning just because the days are getting shorter. There’s a lot of houses that landscape with these (native) post oak (Quercus stellata) trees (that acorn all over the driveway and sidewalk), and in the older neighborhoods some of them are quite big now. They turn this lovely oxblood red.

Blessed and Messed

I forget whether I frogged that stupid cowl back to the slip knot five times or six now, but I think I’ve got it. Also, cables draw the edges in, and this thing has three of them, one of which is a “double wide,” so I cast on and did the button band with 60 stitches. Then I increased four stitches on each cable on the setup row (that’s the row where you knit what will be cable and purl what will be the background), for a total of 72 stitches. I’ve done one and a half of the cable repeats, and adding in stitches into each cable worked like a charm. That was just the right amount of stitches to add to keep the sides parallel, even though the cable scrunches it. I will remove those 12 stitches in the last row before the buttonhole band.

Another thing I’m going to do is get some 3/4-inch plain buttons, and when I sew on the big buttons, I will sew through to the 3/4-inch buttons so there will be buttons on both sides. The smaller buttons will act as reinforcements and help stabilize the 2-inch buttons. I have the pattern basically written except for the two rows that create the button holes.

This is really not the yarn for cables; cables need a solid color that doesn’t compete for detail, but never mind. This is just really a proof of pattern piece. I may make a concentrated effort to finish it and contribute it to the Christmas auction of that Sekret Klub my mom used to belong to. Our dear friend CK still goes to meetings. I bet she’d take it. Proceeds go to their scholarship fund. Good cause.

One of the things I’m looking forward to now that I’m done with chemo is having my sleep cycles settle back down again. I knock back 100 mg of prednisone, bounce off the walls for two days straight while my brain goes about 90 mph in second gear, and then I crash, burn, and sleep like the dead for about 12-14 hours. My days and nights get all cattywompus and it takes weeks to sort them out again. Before, I didn’t even bother to try to deal with it because I knew there was another cycle coming, but now I can finally level out and be able to stay on an even keel for more than one week out of four. Part of the problem with erratic sleep cycles is that I sleep through when I’m supposed to take my meds. The whole point of taking medications at the times you are supposed to take them is so that you maintain steady levels of the medication in your bloodstream. If I take them late, that causes my blood levels to fluctuate, and that creates problems as well. I don’t usually like regimentation (rather atypical for ASD), but I’m determined to get back on a strict schedule, which is why God gave us alarm clocks.

Another thing I’m looking forward to is having more than three working brain cells at any given time. Past experience tells me that I might be able to get as many as six or eight brain cells back up and working, given time and lots of tuna. Goals. I haz ’em.

In other news, my hair is just now getting long enough that I’ve been waking up with some serious bedhead. We’re talking world class sticky-outy hair. That’s another thing I’m looking forward to. My hair growing out. My hair is so fine, even completely “grey” as it is, that it has to be at least four or five inches long before it has any kind of weight at all, never mind enough to make it hang down.

What’s even more fun is that when I run a brush through it to try to get it to lie down, that gives it a static charge and makes me look like a partially blown dandelion. Sigh.

I Made It . . . Sort Of . . .

So, my last chemo was actually Monday the 26th, but then I had the Udenyca shot Tuesday the 27th, and fluid treatments on Wednesday the 28th, Friday the 30th, and Monday the 3rd, so I rang the bell, which you do when you’re done, on Monday. Waited until I was home alone to do the happy dance because innocent bystanders . . .

But wait, I had an appointment at the VA on the 4th for which they sent me two text reminders, called me twice on the phone to remind me and mailed me a reminder card. The second time they called to remind me, I was in the car on my way to the appointment. I was running a tad late (I should have been there 15 minutes early so I could wait in the waiting room for the full 45 minutes), but by the time I played their little “match your eyes to the circles” game, actually got in the building, and was standing at the line waiting my turn to check in, the lady came out and called my name to take me back. Arrghh.

This VA appointment wasn’t actually “for” anything. It was just a review. Note any changes in medications, renew prescriptions, talk over any health concerns. I got to look at my spine x-rays and the scoliosis leans to the left, is minimal, and is mostly in the thoracic (ribcage) portion. The trick now is to formulate some kind of program to keep it that way, i.e., core strength and stronger “traps” (trapezius muscles pull the shoulders back).

We reviewed my estrogen replacement therapy, which I’ve been on since my TAHBSO in the 1980’s (to prevent “surgical menopause”). I’ve consistently resisted efforts to take me off it (increased cancer risks in organs I’ve already had surgically removed, supposed to offer some protection against heart disease). Now the thinking is that it helps prevent osteoporosis. My last bone density test was normal, and I’d like to keep it that way.

I did mention that month before last, my oncologist was worried about me and sent me to see the cardiologist who said he wanted to do a chemical stress test, which he would have had to clear through the VA, but I never heard anything about it after that. My PCP said she’d check into it. (That evening, at 7 p.m. (!), my cardiologist’s office called me to schedule one. How’s that for service? It’s this coming Monday at 8:15 in the morning. Sigh.)

My VA appointment was at 1:30. I didn’t leave my PCP’s office until sneaking up on 4 p.m. because right in the middle of our visit, she was called away to deal with a hypertensive crisis over in the dentistry department. One of her patients had an adverse reaction to dental anesthesia (which contains epinephrine to minimize bleeding), and their blood pressure kinda went through the roof . . . It took her nearly 45 minutes to get that sorted before she came back and we finished talking about what we needed to talk about, but then, that’s why God gave us Instagram.

After I got done with the VA, I made a Walmart run. They didn’t carry what I went there to get, so I got clothes — some jeans and a pair of light-weight black pants with pockets. The only pair of lightweight black pants I have has ribbed cuffs, which I’m not all that crazy about and I’ve had them long enough that they’re not exactly black anymore . . . I also got some cute tops — a blue green one and a dark grey one with a crescent moon design on the front as well as some close-fitting long sleeve tops that you’d wear under a vest, a light jacket or a boyfriend shirt. (One of the basic philosophical differences my mom and I have is that she like tops that button up the front, and I hate them. The only tops I have that button up the front are a couple of velour boyfriend shirts, which I never button.) Oh, and I got yarn. And big buttons. To be fair, it’s el cheapo acrylic yarn, but I got 3 skeins of it. Lion Brand Mandala Ombre.

Wednesday, mom called to tell me she’d thrown up all day Tuesday and had been having chills. It’s always difficult when she calls because she can’t hear/understand me when I try to talk to her because of that jicky phone of hers. Since the nurse hasn’t called me about her, they are evidently not worried that it’s anything serious. In the environment mom is in, she is exposed to caregivers, residents and visitors who have (grand)children, so all kinds of goodies from the public schools (which are an epidemiologist’s delight) can get brought in. It could be some kind of Norwalk virus, or other GI bug. Those kinds of things turn up fairly regularly in the population she’s a part of. But, nasty as they are, they are only briefly nasty and tend to be self-limiting. Again, if it was anything serious that required medical treatment or hospitalization, they would call me.

The yarn I got at Walmart Tuesday is going to be a shoulder cowl, with three cables: a double braided cable down the center with horseshoe cables down each side. I actually got all the way to the second cable repeat and then had to rip it all back to the button band because the horseshoe cables were repeating too frequently, which was an easy fix, and the double braided cable, which is formed by two braided cables side by side, wasn’t braiding right, which was a temporary stumper. It’s less time consuming than diving down the rabbit hole of fiddling with search parameters until you stumble across a pattern that somebody else has already worked out for this than it is to just wrestle with the angel on the needles until it blesses you with success.

I’m also doing that nifty little selvage edge thing where you bring the yarn in front as if to purl, slip the first stitch on the row purlwise (sl1 wyif), move the yarn to the back of the work and continue with the pattern. Then you work the last two stitches in the row as sl1 wyif, k1. This is a picture from another project that shows it better. It’s hard to see in the Mandala variegated yarn.

Like I need another WIP.