The Resident Jungle In Flower

In 2021, when mom was in that “rehab facility,” dad’s niece, husband, daughter and new grand baby came to visit and brought her this lovely white “grocery store” orchid. After she moved to Carillon House (skilled nursing facility), I inherited custody of it. My windows face northwest (i.e., no direct sunlight) and are next to a deciduous tree that blocks a lot of the sunlight in summer, but lets in more light during the winter after its leaves have fallen.

I was rootling around in my own private jungle the other day and noticed what looks to me like a flower spike. It’s plant body is about three times the size it was when she got it, and it’s got aerial roots shooting all over the place. In its native tropical rain forest, the orchid absorbs water through its aerial roots, either directly from rain and/or indirectly from the high humidity in the air. I put a vase of water next to this one to help with the lack of ambient humidity (which is 31% at the moment). One of the roots found it and told its friends. (According to YouTube, it’s OK to let the orchid do this.) (The name “orchid” comes from the Greek word orkhisand was named by an ancient Greek botanist named Theophrastos, who thought the orchid’s roots resembled a part of the male anatomy.) (I should name it “Mr. Ball.” )

I use reverse osmosis water (“Oz water”) to water all my plants as our local water is hard as a rock from the Rocky Mountain erosion deposits this end of the flatlands is sitting on. We have good water, but it has lime and calcium like you wouldn’t believe. It builds up in the soil of potted plants and can kill them. Which is why I and my own private jungle drink Oz water.

The orchid lives beside the Italian Stone Pine, which I turn on a regular basis to try to get its limbs to grow straight — with interesting results. The pine was marketed as a Christmas tree you could plant after Christmas. I really don’t get enough light in this apartment for it, but we do the best we can with what we have. I put it there to catch the afternoon light. Orchids grow under a jungle canopy and can’t take direct sunlight, which is why it’s closest to the tree. I’ve added a Christmas cactus to the ensemble. I had one when I was going to tech school in California.

In the slightly less than the year that I had that one in California, it flourished. Really cheered up the place when it bloomed. I had to leave it behind because I couldn’t take it across state lines (agricultural quarantine) never mind taking it on an airplane. I’ve wanted one since, but never ran across one when I had a place to keep it and didn’t have cats who would probably try to eat it. I got it on sale just after Christmas at — you guessed it — the grocery store.

My peace lily is going nuts. It has five blooms on it. My bamboo plant is doing well also. I need to repot the Christmas cactus, the elephant ear philodendron and the Stone Pine, among the zillion other things I need to do and haven’t.

In the knitting news, I finished what I’m calling the Origami Tam with No-Sew Rolled Brim because the way I did the increases and decreases make it look like it’s folded. It’s made from Red Heart Unforgettable yarn in the colorway “Parrot.” Almost got the pattern written up. I’ve started two new hats, one is a new hexagonal design that will have braided cables and a rolled brim. The other one is this hat but in DK weight purple Patons Metallic yarn.

At left is the new hat I’m designing. It uses Judy’s Magic Cast-on which I think I like better than Turkish Cast-on to do the provisional cast on that will get rolled under and knitted together with the working stitches to roll the brim.

When I start the hat, I use two separate circular needles for Judy’s Magic Cast-on, the upper one for the working stitches, and the lower needle for the “provisional” stitches (see above). In the picture at left, the brim has been rolled under toward the inside of the hat. The lower left needle has the working stitches, and the upper left needle has the provisional stitches.

The right needle is the other end of the “working” needle. (It’s important to keep straight which end is which!) In the picture above, I have just slipped a stitch knitwise off the working needle and put it on the provisional needle in the orientation shown, being careful not to twist it. Then I knit it and the provisional stitch behind it together through the back loop. You continue doing this until you have no more stitches left on the provisional needle. Then you don’t need the provisional needle anymore.

These hats have all had a narrow brim, but you can use this technique to make a toboggan with a wide band of double thickness over the ears. You can use this technique to make a hat with color work around the bottom, and then roll the brim under to cover the floats.

This is more of that Red Heart Unforgettable yarn, which is acrylic and very splitty, but the colorways are beautiful. Forgot what colorway this one is as I can’t find the ball band. With the rolled brim actually knitted into the fabric of the hat instead of being rolled and sewn, there’s no chance of it coming unsewn.

Apart from the fact that its “splitty-ness” can make it a pain to work with, the fabric the Unforgettable yarn makes has a very soft hand, which makes it good for chemo hats. The yarn weight category of the Unforgettable yarn is 4:Medium, which includes Aran and worsted weight yarns, but this is more toward the DK side. Progress on both hats is to be reported as it is made. Stay tuned.

Oct-over and Hallo-went

One more day left in October. I’ve got running around to do tomorrow. Gotta do a Walmart run (TP, paper towels) and vote early.

My poor old Logitech M600 Touch Mouse has become decidedly arthritic and unwilling to scroll. I’ve had it for like six years and the poor thing’s just plain wore out. I love it because it doesn’t have a scroll wheel (that’s the part that invariably wears out first on my mice). You just stroked with your finger in whichever direction you wanted to scroll and I really liked it. But I can’t get them any more (because I love them, naturally they quit making them. . . are you listening, Logitech!). So I decided to live dangerously and get a vertical mouse. I’ve only had it a day and I’m still getting the hang of it, but I think I like it.

The typical mouse has the hand lie flat on it, which twists the bones in the forearm, with the added potential of resting the flat of the wrist on the edge of a desk — not good!. The vertical orientation of the hand with this mouse is kinder on the carpal tunnel by having the hand in a vertical orientation, with the weight of the hand on the outside edge.

The one thing I don’t like about it is that you can’t pick the mouse up easily. I’ve got this huge monitor (22-inch diagonal) and if I have to get the mouse pointer from one portion of the screen way over to another, I can’t hop the mouse as easily — move it over a couple of inches, pick it up, move it back, put it down and keep moving it in the same direction. This “hopping” maneuver minimizes how much you have to move your whole arm to get the mouse pointer from hither to yon, especially useful if your mouse pad isn’t very big. With the vertical mouse, I have to take my fingers off the control surfaces to pick up the mouse. Oh, well. I’ll cope.

I follow this YouTube channel called “The Last Homely House” run by a lady named Kate who lives in the north of England. She got the name of her channel from J. R. R. Tolkien’s books. She’s an older woman whose parents are both gone, her children are grown and married, and she has a grandchild. She likes quilting (English paper piecing in particular), sewing, knitting, cooking, gardening, and cats. She promotes local crafts, and craftspeople in what she offers on her channel and in her shop. Watching her videos is like visiting a friend for a cuppa and a natter — over 78 thousand other people feel the same way I do and have subscribed to her channel. Quite a long lime green sofa.

She has roped her daughter-in-law Anna into helping her with the photography, and with her shop and the various activities. (Anna’s husband John is a woodworker who has made several items for her shop.)

It’s getting to be “need a new calendar time,” and she put one together (Anna’s photos) so I ordered one. She’s also into jigsaws and had put out a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle. They sold out before I could get one but I caught it on the second go-round. They came Saturday. There are a lot of jigsaw enthusiasts here, and I thought I’d contribute this one to the cause (after I worked it myself!).

This is a good place to plug the website “Jigsaw Planet” which is a free website that allows you to set up a free account, upload whatever photographs or graphics (.pdf, .jpg) you want and make them into jigsaw puzzles. You can also work other people’s puzzles. I’ve made a ton of puzzles — I like artwork (Anne Bachelier‘s paintings, for example) and photographs. I make 200 piece puzzles because I have a nice big monitor to work them on. I love working jigsaws, especially while listening to some nice music. The nice thing about working puzzles on Jigsaw Planet is you get puzzles for free and you can’t lose any of the pieces!

In the knitting news, I’m going to try knitting something that has to be felted — a Scots Bonnet! (or tam or beret, or whatever . . . ) I’ve already got the yarn — 100% wool. Enough for two bonnets.

I’ll have to swatch so I’ll know how much this yarn shrinks and take that into account. (Ah, yes. Adventures in math . . .) You knit the thing too big, “felt” it by washing it in hot soapy water, and it shrinks down until it fits. Or that’s the plan at any rate. You’re supposed to block it by putting a plate in it. Stay tuned.

Here is the natural habitat of the indigenous knitter. I got that little hexagonal table when they had the estate sale of the lady up the hall who I regret not being able to have gotten to know better. Notice the bowls. I have one of those LED pole lamps that remind me of the saucer ray guns from the 1953 version of the film “War of the Worlds” with Gene Barry, but it puts out great adjustable-level light for knitting. Out of frame at left is a reader’s table with a bowl of knitting notions and a Kindle Fire with internet radio apps for music purposes.

Venice Classical Radio is a big favorite, as is Soma FM.

Here’s a little trick. When you’re knitting a scarf or some other long flat piece that’s getting long enough to be a pain, roll it up and “pin” it with a large stitch holder. Makes it much easier to turn your work without that great flapping length hanging off your needle getting all twisted up in your lap.

It’s gotten cold enough in my bedroom that the heater has come on. (Thermostat is set at low of 68 F/20 C) Hot tea drinking weather has returned. I’m having a “two-bagger” in my stainless steel commute mug — a bag of Twining’s Irish Breakfast and a bag of Stash Tea’s Moroccan Mint. Scrummie.

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.

What We Have Here Is A Failure to Communicate . . .

This is a first: The first time I’ve posted from the little reconditioned HP laptop I got. Frustrating. I’m used to a large gamer keyboard and this jicky little keyboard is a PITA. If I situate it in my lap, where I can reach the keyboard, I can barely read the screen. I already knew from using my BFF’s laptop that I hate touch pads, so I got an “el cheapo” wireless mouse and a mousepad, but there’s hardly any room for it on the little lap desk. Yeah. I know. First world problems.

Anyway, the failure to communicate mentioned above reared its ugly head yesterday after I’d gotten my labs drawn and my port accessed and was in my oncologist’s office. Turns out this is my fourth session of Rituxan (he counted) and not my fifth (I miscounted; chemo brain strikes again), which means I still have two chemo sessions to go, which means I’ll be having my last chemo session in September right around the time of mom’s 98th birthday (the 23rd). The degree of bummer-tude of this development will depend upon how far into September that last session falls, as my white blood cell count needs at least a week to recover from the preceding chemo session before I’ll even risk removing my mask, never mind be among a group of people of unknown COVID status. My sessions are three weeks apart. My penultimate session is 29 August and three weeks from that is 19 September. I can ask my oncologist if I can have an extra week between the last two sessions so I will be four weeks out from my last chemo instead of four days. He’s done it before. I bet I can sweet talk him into doing it again.

The best development out of this very mixed bag is that I have a chin again. The lymphomas in my neck had gotten so large you could barely tell where the bottom of my jaw was. But they have all shrunk drastically and those lymph nodes are back to normal size, which means I’m showing a good response to the chemo regimen. It will take a CT scan to check the response of the rest of the lymphomas in my chest and abdomen which he will probably order when I’ve completed all six of my treatments in September.

My chemo infusion went OK and I got the Udenyca shot this afternoon to boost white blood cell production and get my white count back up to normal. I gained seven pounds between Sunday night and Monday night, all of it from the chemo regimen. I get the decadron and anti-nausea medication in 0.25 liter of IV fluid, followed by the Rituxan diluted in a full liter of IV fluid, followed by 0.25 liter of IV fluid to flush the line, followed by the cyclophosphamide diluted in a full liter of fluid, followed by 0.25 liter of line flushing, which is 2.75 liters of fluid over the course of about four hours, plus the 32-ounce stainless steel bottle full of Crystal Light I sucked down between yesterday and today. A liter bottle of soda weighs 2.2 pounds, so imagine having three of them strapped to you. I lost 2 pounds between last night and tonight, but my poor little kidneys are having a hard time keeping up. I don’t have to go anywhere tomorrow so tomorrow morning, I’m going to take a Lasix (“water pill”) and see if I can’t get my legs emptied out. (I should have spent yesterday evening and the rest of this afternoon and evening in bed with my feet elevated instead of sitting at my desk puttering on the computer.

I saw my cardiologist this morning and he said my oncologist was concerned about me, so the cardiologist wants to do a stress test — not the treadmill thing, but what they call a chemical stress test. His office is used to dealing with the VA, and they will set it all up and let me know when. I’ll have to get a ride because I can’t drive myself home after it, but Carillon provides rides to and from doctor’s appointments at no charge. I just have to give them 24 hours notice.

Saturday, I spent the afternoon downloading the requisite drivers (software) for my little Epson printer from Epson’s website onto the new computer so it could talk to my printer and I could scan financial and bank statements to the computer that has working email and email them to Mom to keep her up to speed. (Gmail won’t run right on my old computer since Google stopped supporting Windows 7 — Google is the “G” in “Gmail — which is why I got the new computer in the first place. The setting up of the software was a fairly straightforward process, but getting the computer and printer to talk to each other was tricky and expletives (and more than a few pejoratives) were not deleted!.

Among the groceries I got Monday was one of Market Street’s fruit bowls — the one I got had chunks of cantaloupe and honey dew melons, chunks of pineapple, a handful of raspberries, a couple blackberries, a handful of blueberries and a couple grapes. It’s a big enough bowl that you can get two servings out of it. I supplemented that with some cherry tomatoes cut in half and some whole black olives. I had the second serving tonight likewise supplemented, and as a side to a brisket sandwich on a big ciabatta roll which I’d already inhaled half of before I could get the camera app on my iPhone limbered up. Copious nums.

I had been using a gamer chair with a foot rest, a birthday present in 2020, as my computer chair. The desk I was using at the time was on casters, so it didn’t matter that the gamer chair wasn’t. I could just sit down and pull the desk up as close as it needed to be.

After I moved to Carillon, I had to get a longer desk so I would have a place to put my printer. I was putting it on my filing cabinet, but when I moved to the smaller apartment, there was no way I could get the filing cabinet close enough to a plug to continue doing that. This new longer desk doesn’t have castors and it was very difficult to get in or out of the gamer chair if it was too close to the desk. Unfortunately, “too close” was not close enough. So I got a desk chair with casters. It is also higher than the gamer chair, which puts my shoulders and forearms at a more comfortable angle when I’m keyboarding and mousing.

I’d gotten in the habit of just swiveling the chair around to the side to get in or out of it. I’m having to learn to roll the new one back back from the desk before trying to get out of it. I’m going to list the old chair on Craig’s List and see if I can’t sell it to offset the cost of the new chair (which wasn’t all that much, really).

In the knitting news, my dive into my button stash proved bootless, so I swung by a local fabric store on the way home from JACC and picked up what I needed. I’ve finished the little baby top. I just need to weave in ends and sew on buttons and it’s done. I’m at the heel increases on the second matching bootie and the crown decreases on the little sun hat. I’d like to get this stuff in the mail by the end of the week and get it out of my hair. I’ve got until Thanksgiving to finish the little red dress(es). I’m thinking I’ll have enough yarn for a little matching red headband with two crocheted holly leaves in the green yarn, and some red shanked buttons for berries to decorate the headband. or else I could just do the holly leaves and button berries as a kind of removable corsage that could be safety pinned to the front of the dress for Christmas, and removed later.

However, in the several matters mentioned above, the plan is that bridges will be crossed when come to.

The first season of Neil Gaiman’s dramatization of his “Sandman” graphic novels dropped on 5 August on Netflix (early reviews are that it sticks very close to the novels, has a brilliant cast and is visually fabulous) and I still haven’t watched season 2 of The Witcher (Henry Cavill!). I may be crossing The Bridge over the River BingeWatch after a certain package gets posted. Not to mention the Bridge of TV Knitting . . .

Nose In A Book

Pretty normal posture for yrs trly. Except mostly it’s been my Kindle Fire. Pretty hard to have your nose in a book when your “book” has a touch screen . . . But text size is adjustable on a Kindle, so no need to get my nose that close to the book, even if I needed to. The Books Read List was last posted on 11 June, at 35 books so far this year. List just posted was at 52 books. That’s 17 books in 34 days. Not too shabby.

I’ve been pretty much doing nothing but reading these past couple of days. Finished 3 books that I was about halfway through and had kind of lost interest in. Finished another one I’d started and set down for a couple of days. Read 7 more, each pretty much at a single sitting, but spread out over the past three days.

Every time I take that whopping dose of steroids at the start of the chemo cycle it royally screws up my internal clock and in order to get it back on a “normal” (sic) schedule, I end up staying awake for extended periods of time (aka “hanging”) to try to get my days and nights sorted back out again. Just about the time I’m almost back on schedule, I have to do it all again. This will be the sixth time since February. Added to that is that I’m fighting my body’s natural biorhythm. The upshot of the whole deal is that I stay “jet lagged” all the time. It’s starting to get a little old. (ya think?)

Part of the problem is that I am basically a night owl forced to live on day twink schedules. I’d be perfectly delighted to be just left to a schedule I was happy with for 20 years, that fit my natural body biorhythms. But, one thing I learned about day twinks while I was in the Air Force: They seem congenitally unable to understand that not everybody’s body clock is set to “chicken time” (Get up at sunrise, go to bed at sunset). Another thing I learned in the Air Force is that day twinks think their way is the “normal” way and can’t understand why anybody would want to be any other way. They simply don’t get it.

Like tonight, I put my first load of clothes in to wash at almost midnight and my second load in to wash at about 3 a.m. It’s almost 5:30 a.m. right now and the second load is in the dryer. My first load was clothes, and they’re hanging on the clothes rack where they’ll stay for about 24 hours, until they’re fully evaporated and completely dry. (I’ve never had trouble with musty-smelling closets, oddly enough.) My second load was sheets and towels. They’re in the dryer now. There are only two washers and two dryers for the three wings on this floor. When I do my wash during the night, I don’t have to wait on anybody to finish doing theirs and nobody has to wait on me to finish doing mine. I’m not worrying about how safe it might be to be batting around at that hour of the night. I’m in the equivalent of a gated community. Nobody is entering the building after 8 o’clock unless they have a key or security lets them in.

I did finally get my bamboo plant transplanted to a bigger “pot” (Amazon). I had to get some of those hydrophilic balls (Amazon) to anchor it. It was in this rinky little pot with a stupid decoration. This pot is much nicer, I think. It has a dragon on, and the design is much more appropriate for feng shui “lucky bamboo” (three stems). The bamboo plant seems to like it. I really needed to get something bigger for it as it was getting dangerously top-heavy. The sickeningly cutesy vase it came in will go to Goodwill. It’s kitschy enough that somebody will want it, I’m sure.

I moved the new Windows 11 computer over to the desk. That’s it on the left. The left hand monitor is hooked to the new computer and the right one to the old Windows 7 computer. My three working brain cells don’t have enough band width to deal with anything else right this now, but at least I check my email more often.

I need to scan the bank statement and the ML statements and email them to mom, but the email on the old (Windows 7) computer, which is the one the printer talks to, doesn’t work any more because Google, so I will have to scan them to one computer and put them on a memory stick to get them over to the new computer which has working email. I ought to see if I can find a feed reader I like that works on Windows 11, but the thought of it just makes me tired.

So, I get back on the chemo merry-go-round Monday. I have to get there at 8 o’clock so I can wait in the waiting room for at least an hour before they call me back for labs. Then I see the oncologist. If my lab work is OK, then it’s off to chemoland I go. Chug 100 mg of prednisone and be awake for 48 hours because I’m too wired on steroids to sleep, Then crash and burn, etc., etc., rinse and repeat.

I’ve washed and dried two loads of clothes, schlepped the laundry basket back and forth 2x, changed my bed, and had a bowl of cereal. It’s now 6:30 in the morning. The sun isn’t even up yet. I’m going to try to stay up until 1:00 or 2:00 o’clock as they’re having something good for lunch . . .which will be my supper. Sigh.

Two people in the building have tested positive for COVID. When the housekeeping lady came by, she was obliged to announce that she had tested positive and had quarantined for 5 days. (They’re saying you need to quarantine for 8 days for the new variant de jour, which is the most contagious variant yet.) Yet another argument for being a night owl is that it keeps you away from all the contagious people . . .

In the Home Stretch?

Wednesday the 22nd, I start my sixth round of chemo. Supposedly this is the last one for now. I assume at some point in the near future, I’ll get a CT scan to assess tumor shrinkage. So, I have to be there at 8 o’clock in the morning on Wednesday and with labs, seeing the oncologist, and receiving the chemo, I’m going to be at JACC all day, like until 5:30 or 6 in the evening. Thursday, I go for the Udenyca shot that stimulates my body to make more white blood cells to replace the ones the chemo kills. They didn’t give me the times for the three sessions of IV fluids, so I will have to call and leave a message to remind them. The chemo must be working. At least the lymph nodes under my jaw have shrunk and I’m starting to have a chin again.

I’ve been sleeping a lot lately. It’s as if I know I’m going to be awake from Wednesday until probably Friday because of all the stupid prednisone, and I’ m trying to get ahead of the game. I’ve been reading a lot, too, mostly in bed with my feet up. I read two books yesterday.

I got my table assembled and put in place. The size is just perfect. I need to make a Wal-Mart run (before Wednesday) to get some other stuff (like TP!) and when I do get it together to go, I need to get a roll of that plastic shelf-liner like I put over my computer desktop to protect the top of it from spills. I got the least obnoxious color pattern is the faux marble, and I’ll get some more of that.

Still haven’t repotted anything yet. Manaña.

In the knitting news, I’ve started on the baby dress.

The pattern calls for Malabrigo Sock yarn which I got in “Botticelli red,” which is kind of a brick/oxblood red. The pattern is two pages long (so not very complicated). The top part went fast, but the skirt is 9 inches long, on a size US 4 (3.5 mm) needle. At 10 rows = 1 inch. That’ll take a while. Still, I might have time to make the older sister the same dress with the same yarn. I have the yarn. We’re talking Christmas card photo/Hallmark moment. Of course, I don’t have to send it before the baby comes. I could hold off and send it in, like August or September. I was thinking of making some booties, and maybe a sweater, but Richardson, Tx. In August, or September. Not sweater weather. I may make some booties anyway, just because. I haven’t made any in a while, and I have a sock set of good ChiaoGoo double pointed, stainless steel needles now, not those jive plastic needles that warped. And I have yarn left from the baby blanket, both the pink and the rose. Hmmm. Still haven’t finished the sun hat.

We’ve already hit 107 F/41.6 C degrees here and had a whole week of 100+ degree weather — and it’s only June. We may be gearing up for a long, hot summer. Hope not. I just looked at the highs for the next 10 days and they range between 94 F/34.4 C and 100 F/37.7 C. Not good. No rain in the forecast either. Not even partly cloudy.

Two Cycles Left, and About That Many Brain Cells . . .

As if my life wasn’t complicated enough, Google has decided that after May 30, 2022, it will not play with Windows 7 or anything older than Outlook 2016 any more. Since I use Gmail, that means I wouldn’t be able to get email on my Windows 7 machine after that. So, I got another computer with Windows 11 installed on it, and I’m having to figure out how it works.

I hate the “comes with” Windows 11 email program. I have five different emails (one associated with this blog, one I give to friends and family, one I use to sign onto things like bill paying websites and banking websites, one I use to sign onto websites I buy stuff off of, and one for games and streaming services)*, and I liked the way Windows Live Mail displayed things. Windows 11 is more like having a smart phone with a computer monitor, keyboard and mouse attached to it. It has a jickiness about it I don’t like., but I do have my email switched over to the new computer, so I can now get all my email, and not just email from 4 of my 5 email addresses like I do now.

I’ve got to find a feed reader that will display all the blogs and webcomics I read the way they are displayed on their own website, and one that is as user friendly, intuitive and logical as NewsFox was. So far, no luck. Once I do, I’ll have to set that all up (20+ blogs and about that many webcomics).

I’ve got to figure out how the newest version of Word works now and set it up to work the way I like it to (the fonts I like, the formatting I use, etc.) and then transfer all my files over and transition each one of them to the new version of Word, which will screw up the formatting and the fonts, which I will then have to sort out on a document by document basis. *&^%$#@!

I’ve got to get the display working the way I like it. It’s got stuff pinned to the task bar that I don’t want there, won’t ever use, and can’t unpin. I don’t want anything pinned to the task bar. I want icons!

I’ve got to re-sign into my banking apps on the new computer during the daytime so I can call customer service when they lock up on me because I’m using a different computer.

I’ve got to download a version of my backup software that works with Windows 11 and re-set that up. I have to move an F-ton of files. I have to redo all the shortcuts I had on my desktop. I’ve got games I want to try to bring over that I probably can’t because they probably won’t work on Windows 11. I hate the “comes-with” solitaire game on Windows 11.

Right now, I’ve got one monitor hooked to one computer and the other hooked to the other computer. I’ve been using the old computer with just one monitor and it’s been driving me crazy. It’s like trying to work with one eye closed. I don’t have enough room to do anything. I can’t have more than one or two programs open at the same time, and can only look at one at a time.

And not to put too fine a point on things, because I have chemo brain, I only have about three working brain cells, so everything is harder to do and takes about three times as long.

It’s going to be a long, drawn-out process.

We have gotten a new internet service/TV provider here, and I’m not very impressed with them. My internet was poor before, stuttering and slow. It’s even worse now. I called about it three times before someone came out and tinkered with it. I have a wire running from my bedroom under my bedroom door to my TV because the only other connection in the room is behind my china cabinet, and I’m not going to rearrange all my furniture to put my TV facing all the windows in that room. The guy said he would escalate my ticket. That was three weeks ago. I called and complained again Monday, and they fixed my internet by turning it off. I called the resident director about it, and he came up and hooked up my old WiFi modem (which I could have done myself if I’d known I could). They hadn’t discontinued the old service because they were having such problems switching over to the new one. Now I have the same pisspoor internet I had before. To be fair, part of the problem is the wiring in this building that was built in the 1970’s. But still, did they have to turn it off when I was right in the middle of reassuring Google that, yes, it was me signing in to my five GMail accounts on a different computer . . . Sigh!

Mom has been complaining about her neck hurting. Her back is so kyphotic (“buffalo hump”) and she is so stooped over that when she tries to lie flat on her back, the back of her head is about 6 inches off the bed (not an exaggeration!). I thought perhaps she needs another/or thicker pillow and tried to tell her that, but she proceeded to explain that she has one of those beds that the head and foot raise up — which is neither here nor there. The problem is that her back is so bowed that if her pillows are not thick enough to adequately support her head, that’s going to put a strain on her neck.

I had a birthday last Saturday, such as it was. My knitting friend KC and I went to Outback Steakhouse for lunch. She got me this darling arrangement and a card.

I’ve had this thing where I just hit the figurative wall and I have to go lie down. It happened while we were at lunch, and I ended up bringing 90% of my lunch home to eat later after I’d slept about five hours. (KC has been through chemo for breast cancer, so she was very understanding.)

It happened again the other day, and I’m beginning to think it’s one of my meds because it seems to happen within about 30 minutes of my taking my meds. I think I know which one it is, the PreserVision. I’m supposed to take two of their big peanut M&M sized pills, but I can’t tolerate that dose so I just take one. I’m not going to take today’s dose and see if that makes a difference. It could also be side-effects of the Rituxan, which include bloating, stomach pain and loss of appetite, as well as weakness and tiredness. Part of it could also be the cumulative effects of the 3 sessions of COP chemotherapy.

I start chemo cycle 5 of 6 on 1 June. Once that’s over I’ll only have one more to go. During this cycle, I also get to see my orthopedist for the yearly checkup on my knee replacement. I’ve had it for three years now. Still very glad I did it. And I also get to see my PCP at the VA. Why do I always seem to get other appointments right when I’m in the middle of chemo sessions?

In the knitting news, ongoing projects are ongoing, sort of. I just haven’t had the energy or the brain bandwidth to do much.

Mostly what’s showing on CatTV around here are doves (ring-necked and Inca, but mostly mourning) and grackles, with the occasional guest appearance by a blue jay, mocking bird or robin. This guy has been serenading me for a while now. WooHoooHooo.

*If one of my emails gets hacked, I know immediately what things have been compromised and what I need to do about it, and I only have to change that email address on the websites I use it on, instead of using one email address for everything and having everything compromised, and then having to change the email on everything.

My Best Laid Plans . . .

. . . Gang a-gley this morning when I put my car key into the Greyola’s ignition, turned it, and it clicked at me. The car wouldn’t start because the battery was dead. The Greyola is a 2015 Toyota Corolla bought in November of 2014. It has 18,499 miles (29,771 km) on it, which includes 4,754+ highway miles (7651 km). When I got my first car shortly after Rome fell to the Goths, my dad cautioned me not to drive the wheels off it. I took his advice to heart. Which is to say, the battery that died was the battery that was in it when it left the showroom. (I’m the one who traded in the Crayola, a 27-year-old, 1987 Toyota Corolla with 44,489 actual miles on it for this car, remember?)

Well, zut alors. Decision time. I have to be at JACC in 30 minutes (I allowed 15 minutes to cruise through three parking lots looking for someplace to park.) I could call Security and get them to boost the car with their battery pack thingy and maybe start it, but then what? Will it start in the parking lot when it’s time to go home? Decision made. Hauled my chemo bag and purse out of the front seat and schlepped as fast as I could manage back up the hallway, round the corner, past the swimming pool and the weight room, across the front lobby, up to the receptionist’s desk. J is on duty this morning and without the benefit of antihistamines by the look of it. Puffing and blowing like a steam engine at the station, I explain to her the situation. Takes me 5 minutes to talk her through the decision making process it took me 20 seconds to go through. Transportation provides rides to medical appointments for free, but they need at least 24 hours’ notice. I need to be there in 25 minutes.

Thankfully, they had a driver who could take me, and I got there at 8:45 a.m., right on time to wait the obligatory hour in the waiting room before going back to the lab for port placement and blood draw. Then I went up the little stairs and across the hall to wait the obligatory hour in the doctor’s waiting room to see my oncologist (to be fair, they needed time to process my lab draw and obtain results). The oncologist talked about a trial of Rituxan. Now that COVID seems to have settled down and Omicron has burned itself out, he’s throwing it back on the table. Rituxan is the brand name of rituximab that is used to treat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (what I have) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (what it could convert to — i.e., bad to worse). (Yeah, some of the side effects are bad, badder, and very bad, but my oncologist thinks it’s the best bang for my buck.) That -mab suffix at the end of the generic drug name means that it’s a Monoclonal AntiBody. What monoclonal antibodies do is put a big red tailor-made target (antibody) on the baddie cells just like a vaccine does, so your immune system can find and attack the (cancer) cells the Rituxan has targeted. This means swatting flies with a claw hammer instead of a nine-pound sledge hammer. Or, for the NRA crowd, selectively targeted .22 rounds versus both barrels of a 12-gauge shotgun at close range x 6. Yes! x 6. After today, I’m halfway through a course of 6 rounds of COP chemotherapy. (*does the happy dance seated in a desk chair because it’s 10 p.m. and I’m running out of spoons.)

To tell the truth, I’m thinking seriously of going for the Rituxan. I’ve had it before, but I had it in combination with bendamustine. Both my oncologist and I are pretty convinced that it was the bendamustine causing the lion’s share of the problem I had then and not the Rituxan. It is a more targeted therapy. Granted, it has some scarey potential side effects but I’m relatively young. What’s important to me is quality of life. I don’t want to live another 25 years if those 25 years are a continual never-ending, Sisyphean, rolling-the-boulder-uphill slog.)

I’m going to talk to my oncologist again about Rituxan and when/how he thinks it should be given and tell him I want to go for it. In the meantime, I’ll call my cardiologist’s office and see if I can get in, because I do have a slight heart arrhythmia (occasional PVC‘s left over from scarlet fever at the age of 21!) which is corrected by the metoprolol I’m taking. But my blood pressures are concerning — my top number is high (125-135) and my bottom number is low (40’s-50’s). I’ve been taking a split dose of the metoprolol because taking a whole one in the morning makes it very difficult to keep myself from sitting and staring at the wall all day, but both the metoprolol and the cetirizine I’m taking for allergies have the side effect of causing nightmares, and I’ve been having more non-pleasant dreams with that second half-dose at bedtime. I need to get the top blood pressure number down and the bottom number up to my usual normal range of 110-115 over 70-75. I’m also wondering what having to push large volumes of fluid through my system to flush out the chemo drugs is having on my blood pressure.

Anyway, I had knitting, I had my old Kindle reader and my iPhone (and charge cords for both — I come fully equipped.) I had my five tablets of prednisone. My labs were good. I bunged down the prednisone and we hooked me up to the IV rig and let’er rip. (I’m currently devouring book 3 of The Bear, the Otter and the Kid 4-book series by T. J. Klune, after having read The House in the Cerulean Sea by him, which is such a good book on about umpteen levels, m/m but tame, with magic, found family, and Happily For The Foreseeable Future ending. His characters are very relatable, and very well rounded. They are people you could actually meet and know and really like. He does m/m shifter books, too.) (They should make a movie of The House in the Cerulean Sea. They really should. But only if they could do it justice and not screw it up.)

At about 1 o’clock, while I was still in medias res chemo infusion, Carillon Transportation called and wanted to know if I’d gotten a ride home. I told them no, I had labs then a doctor visit then chemo and I should be finished around 3. They said they had me covered. Which reminds me, when I get the Rituxan to let specific people at Carillon know so they’re on scramble alert just in case of side effects (nurse on duty 24/7 in assisted living downstairs, Security on campus 24/7, etc.). JACC also has this deal where you can call a home health nurse/EMT and have them come out at any time day or night, so I feel like I’ve got a good safety net. (If you have it, you don’t need it; if you need it . . . )

So, about the car. The Battery Joe up the street and round the corner has bays and they do car batteries. I’m going to call them in the morning, tell them my make and model and see what my options are. If I go that route, Security can give me a jump-start. I’m also going to call Gene Messer Toyota and find out what a Maint Rec’d light means. If I have to do anything through the dealership, though, it’s going to cost arm$ and leg$ and I’d rather not. But whatever I’m going to do, I’m going to wait to do it until after I’ve stopped bouncing off the walls and have gotten some sleep. Like Friday.

This was yesterday’s supper. A dunk salad (green onions, cherry tomatoes, cantalope and baby carrots) with Ranch dressing dunkage and a side of Muenster Cheese melted onto toasted Rustic Italian bread. Two plates worth of nummy goodness thoughtfully snarfed.

Today’s supper was baked chicken breast meat with asparagus sauce, rice pilaf and Italian green beans.

In the knitting news, ongoing projects are ongoing.

I’ve done the brim on the baby hat the same way I do my Hemmed Toboggan with Internal Ribbing, which is to say with a provisional cast on using scrap yarn instead of the three needle bind-off like the pattern said. Just easier for me to pick up the ready-made stitches from a provisional cast on, than try to pick up stitches off the lower edge of a long-tail cast on and come up with the right number. That (k2tog yo) trick that gets the picot edge on the brim is nice. Definitely adding that technique to my repertoire.

I haven’t started the Rita Dress because that one skein of Malabrigo sock spontaneously yarn barfed and I don’t have enough yarn now. I alerted the Malabrigo folks about the skein that self destructed and they were very nice about it and promptly wrote back saying that while you may get a knot in the skein from time to time and it’s unfortunately the nature of the beast, they very rarely have any difficulty with a skein miswinding like that. They very kindly offered to send me a replacement skein (which I didn’t think they’d do) and I very thankfully took them up on it. After I had already ordered a replacement skein from Webs. Plus two more skeins and five skeins of a redder red (colorway: Boticelli red!) which I like better. I have this Valley Yarns Southampton “garnet” mohair and I want to see what happens to the fabric when I hold it double with the Malabrigo sock, but not on a baby dress, on a cowl or something. Maybe I’ll consider doing this after the baby knitting is done and I’ve knocked out some more WIPs. I could use the darker Tiziano red for the dark lines and the lighter Botticelli red held double with the garnet mohair using stockinette stitch instead of garter stitch. Hmmmm. . .

The pinwheel blanket is getting larger than the 40 inch circulars. I’ll have to see if I have 60 inch circulars in that needle size. Not sure I have some free, because WIPs. . . sigh.

They’re supposed to come install my cable today. They’ll probably get to my room about the time I’ve left for my Udenyca shot. Which means Security will let them into my apartment when I’m not here to ask that they not mess up the programming on my smart TV, please. I’d better leave them a note about my WiFi modem and how it’s plugged in behind my china cabinet because that’s where the only coax cable connection is in this room of my apartment and how pissed I’ll be if they move the china cabinet and platters fall and stuff breaks, and no I am not going to rearrange all my furniture because that is the only coax cable connection in that room and there’s not one on the wall behind my TV, unless they want to run the cable from the coax connection in my bedroom under my bedroom door and around to my TV which is on the other side of that bedroom wall, and I’ll tape the cable down to my baseboard with clear packing tape. Of course, men decided where the coax connectors were going to go solely based on ease of installation. A woman would have also given thought to furniture placement and that putting a TV there would have it sitting directly opposite the windows. DUH! Grumble. . . . grumble . . . . grumble . . .

(*insert sound of a box of Lego blocks being dumped here*) And my icemaker just lost another game of Jenga.

Wouldn’t Ya Know . . .

Last night it was blustery all night. I know that for a fact. The Decadron (steroids) I got with my chemotherapy had me bouncing off the walls all night long and I didn’t even bother to go to bed. To finish off this dose of COP, I had to take 5 prednisone (steroids) tablets this morning. With food.

I got a notice yesterday that they will start charging a delivery charge as of 1 April if they bring your food up to your apartment, so I’ve started going down to get it and bringing it back up to eat. (This morning at 7:30 a.m., I hunted down two eggs over easy with hash browns and sausage and brought them back to my burrow for the “with food” so I could take the prednisone.)

When I’m eating under any kind of time constraint I have a tendency to bolt my food down, and always seem to swallow a lot of air in the process. (My stomach be like, “Girl, I am NOT your lungs. I don’t do air. Now I got to sort all that air you swallowed out from all that food you dump-trucked down on me and get it out of my way, and until I do, you get to figure out a lady like-way to burp it all back up. Dang, girl! Slow down!”) When I eat my meals in the apartment, I can graze at will and not worry about how long I’m taking and whether I’m holding up progress for the people who want to clean up after me and get the table set up for the next person, and worry about getting done by 1:00 o’clock when the dining room closes, etc., etc. Besides, I need to stay as active as I can to maintain muscle tone and promote circulation, and not get so debilitated like I did last time and wind up in the hospital again. So I’ll be going down to get my food as much as possible.

Now that I’ve gotten off that tangent, what I was leading up to was the stupid snow squall we had today. (Yes, snow squalls are a thing.) I had to be at the cancer center (JACC) at 11:00 a.m. I knew it was going to be cold because what all that blustering was about last night was a cold front coming through. At 10:30 when I looked at the weather app on my phone to see how much coat, hat and scarf I was going to need, it was 23 F/-5 C, and the app said there was a 90% chance of snow (?!?!) starting at 11:00. I donned outerwear accordingly and headed out.

At JACC, the nurse gave me a handout sheet with all the scoobies about the injection I got today. It’s Udenyca. (which is pegfilgrastim, just like the Neulasta I had in 2018, but it’s new and improved with extra added “-cbqv” (whatever that is), to make it neater, keener, cooler, and less expensive (!) than Neulasta — there’s a refreshing change!)

When I went in the building at 10:50 we were having what I call “sky dandruff” — widely scattered, tiny white bits — not even big enough to qualify as sneet (snow that froze into tiny pellets of sleet on the way down). When I came out at 11:40, this is what I saw:

The driver’s side of my car was facing into the wind and enough of that fluffy, wet snow got plastered on my car that I had to get my scraper out and scrape off my windshield, back window and both driver’s side windows. Because I’m short, I also got snow all over the front of my jacket and on both sleeves up to the elbow. (Stop snickering, you northerners!) (The latitude of my town falls just south of Beirut, Lebanon, and just north north of Baghdad, Iraq. Oddly enough, it doesn’t snow all that much here in the Tx flatlands, which is one of the things I like about living here.) It had quit snowing by the time I got home. The coldest day in weeks, with the first precipitation in over a month, and wouldn’t ya know. Perfectly timed to occur just when I had to get out in it. Grumble . . . grumble . . . grumble. Here directly, I’m going to get into my snuggly bed and sleep til I get hungry or until 11 p.m. (medications), whichever comes first.

On a side note, this is the noisiest refrigerator I think I’ve ever had. Sounds like a cement mixer truck, except when it makes a sound like a sarcastic sheep. And then at random intervals, the Jenga Tower falls over. But to be fair, this is the first time I’ve ever had any kind of a fridge in my “office,” never mind a full-size one — and only about 15 feet away from my desk at that. Ah, well. That’s why God gave us hours of Mozart, Bach and Chopin on keyboards for free on YouTube. And Tuba Skinny. And Bossa Nova jazz. By the sea. Oh, and cordless, Bluetooth earbuds . . . Ooop. There goes the Jenga tower again . . .

All Right, Then

Thank goodness I shopped for glass by phone this morning. About half the stores I called only did auto glass. Michael’s framer guy called in sick today. Home Depot’s glass guy didn’t come to work either. Lowe’s didn’t have a piece of glass longer than 36 inches (I needed one 38-1/2 inches), but the Lowe’s guy referred me to Abercrombie Hardware, who had a piece of glass long enough, would cut it while I waited, and only charged me $12. Great, except it’s WAY the heck out on the northeast corner of town at 3rd Street and Buddy Holly Avenue. (I had to go under Marsha Sharp* AND a railroad track to get to it.) (Yeah, Holly was born here. The parents of a dear family friend used to live across the street from them, and I’ve met Peggy Sue.)

As I was girdling my loins preparatory to setting out on my pointy rounds, the accountant doing mom’s taxes called to tell me that I had gotten our social security statements mixed up and sent him mine instead of mom’s. While we talked, he cautioned me to be prepared for how much tax she owed because she had sold some stock. Capital gains tax hit her a hard wallop. (That loud howl you heard this morning was her bank account taking a direct hit . . .) So, in addition to the other errands I had planned, I had to take mom’s social security statement out to the accountant WAY out on the southwest edge of town at 122nd Street and Slide Road. (On a historical note, Slide Road is so named because it’s the road to Slide. I’ve been to Slide. To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, there’s not a lot of there, there.) And because of the figure the accountant gave me, I added going to the bank to the agenda as I needed to transfer funds from the back pocket to the front pocket so the accountant could file her taxes electronically and I could pay Uncle Sam and the accountant with a debit card once her taxes are done.

Already on the agenda was another sack of things to donate to Goodwill, (further culls from the last two boxes), and getting printer ink cartridges. I left the house at about 1:30 pm and actually got all the things done that I needed to do, including picking up a soft drink at Whataburger on my way back up Quaker going to the bank from the accountant, and picking up a chicken strip box at Whataburger on my way back up Quaker again from completing the last item on the agenda, getting a set of printer ink cartridges. After zigging and zagging all over town, I got home at a little after 4:30. Not too shabby.

The piece of glass I had cut was 38-1/2 by 9-1/2 inches and thin enough to bow slightly when I was cleaning it. It was an awkward shape and once I got it safely back home, I got my rubber gloves and a Phillips screw driver, and put it in place immediately.

(I always put on my rubber washing-dishes gloves to handle pieces of glass like that and the glass in picture frames. Not only does it protect my hands from being cut, but the rubber helps me hold onto the glass more securely.)

I’ve had my supper and gotten things all put away in the china cabinet. I’m as moved in as I can get until the maintenance guy comes to fix the blind and put that one bin up on the top shelf of the closet.

I’ve always loved blue and white together and I’ve wanted a set of “Blue Willow” dishes since a child.

This set was made by Churchill China of England. I bought these in the 1980’s when I worked for Texas Instrumets. Since I intended them to be my “forever dishes,” I got 12 of everything (except serving pieces) to allow for breakage over the years. So far, I’ve been lucky.

In the knitting news, I’m still working out the increases on the hexagon blanket and as yet have nothing to show for it. I’ve also started a 9-bladed pinwheel “beanie/skullcap” for my impending baldness using an “oddball” skein of Malabrigo Sock in the colorway “Tealfeather” that was left over from the Sweet Irene shawl. (I had four skeins; the shawl took three and a smidge.) The hat is extrapolated from the pattern for the 9-Bladed Pinwheel shawl. I’m using US 1 (2.25 mm) needles, a set of DPNs to start it and a 16-inch circular needle. I may write up the pattern, but then again . . .