Symmetry and Balance

As you get further into the craft of knitting, you begin to get into the mechanics of it, how a stitch is made and what makes a stitch look the way it does. From there it’s a short jump from why a k2tog (knit two together) looks different from a ssk (slip, slip, knit). Which brings you to the idea of “leaning” — left leaning decreases and increases and right leaning increases and decreases. and that brings you to the idea of symmetry.

To use this shawl as an example, the right border (that’s the direction you’re knitting from) is (ssk, yo) x 3. The left border, however is (yo, k2tog) x3. In the first place, you want the border lace on one side of the shawl to be the mirror image of the border lace on the other side, so you have to reverse the stitch order on the left border in order for that to happen. But there’s something else going on here: stitch orientation. Even though they’re both -1 decreases, an ssk is different from a k2tog because of the orientation of the stitches. In the ssk,, the two stitches are slipped knitwise before they’re worked, which turns them around to the right, so instead of being oriented parallel to the needle like a knit stitch, the worked ssk stitch “faces” 45 degrees to the right. This affects how the stitch looks and how it hangs. On the other hand, a k2tog “faces” 45 degrees toward the left. So, when you are working with left/right symmetry, you need to know your left/right pairs of increases and decreases.

One of the first things you learn in knitting is front/back symmetry. You learn that the opposite of a knit stitch is a purl stitch when you learn to work stockinette stitch. The lace panel at the center of this shawl is a case in point. The right side is worked: k1, (k2, yo, k2tog, k1) x 3. It would seem logical that the wrong side would be: p1, (p2, yo, p2tog, p1) x 3. Nope. Turns out that p2tog is not the exact opposite of a k2tog. Turns out that the exact opposite of a k2tog is a ssp tbl — slip two stitches knitwise and purl them through the back loop. That’s the only way you can get the stitch before the “crisscross” to lie flat. If you p2tog, it’s twisted and doesn’t look right.

I’m contemplating ripping out and reworking a whole half of another shawl I’m working on because of the way the p2tog doesn’t look right on the wrong side. I’m trying to decide how bad that bugs me.

In other knitting news, all that’s left to make this a FO is to weave in one last end. The pattern is here if you’re interested.

First World Problems

Now that I’ve got the deadline knitting out of the way, I can work on some shawl WIPs. I actually started jonesing to work on this one, which is a simple, straightforward, bottom-up triangular shawl with a center lace panel.

The yarn is three 550 yd/503 m skeins of Mohonk Light, 100% lamb’s wool, colorway “Wet Bluestone,” that I got on closeout because the colorway was discontinued. It’s hand-dyed yarn. All that in the picture above is out of the first skein, with what’s left of it in the bowl, and a whole skein beside it for comparison . . . .

It’s basically a one-page pattern, worked bottom-up, with 29 rows to set up the lace border, and establish the center lace panel. Once you’ve done that, there’s a 2-row pattern repeat. The top edging is a knitted on lace panel with a 2-row pattern repeat. The only complicated thing about it is the ssp tbl (slip slip purl through the back loop) in the center lace panel. It’s the exact reverse of a k2tog (knit two together), which you have to do to get the vertical stockinette bits in the lace panel to look right.

There is a garter stitch section on either side of the center lace panel. At the point between the garter stitch section and the lace border (where the outer white markers are), you increase 1 stitch on each side on the purl rows, so the shawl gets wider by two stitches every other row. You are supposed to have the same number of stitches in each of the garter panels.

I did want to mention this little trick. See that yellow marker? Once I got the shawl going, I counted the number of stitches in each garter panel and made sure I had the same number on each side. Then I put a yellow marker on each side at that point.

I know my stitch count is correct up to the yellow marker. As I continue to work the increases, I’m adding a stitch between the white marker and the yellow marker every other row. To check that I haven’t left out any increases, instead of having to keep counting all the stitches from the center lace border out to the end of the garter section (there’s 90 now), I count the stitches between the white and yellow markers on each side. If that number matches, I’m still cool. When there are 11 stitches between the white and yellow markers, I move the yellow markers over 10 stitches.

The problem comes when I want to knit on this shawl while I’m in bed with my feet up (like after I’ve had chemo and I’m trying to keep my feet and ankles from swelling) and I’m watching videos on YouTube on my Kindle tablet. It’s on a 60-inch circular needle, and the excess needle keeps hitting against the touch screen and starting some other random video. So annoying.

Yesterday while I was out at the nail salon, I stopped by Market Street to pick up toothpaste (among other things), and while I was checking out, somebody called my name. It was a lady who had worked as a dental assistant for my late dentist (who died of COVID). He’d been my dentist for at least 15 years and he was so great. It was such a shock when he died. It’s nice she remembered me.

Isn’t That Always The Way

First off, I’m really bummed about the Queen passing away. Tears in my eyes bummed. Watching the Queen’s coronation (in B&W) on our floor model Motorola TV is one of my earliest memories. I had just turned 4. My brother was at the “cruising” stage of learning to walk and kept getting his head in front of the TV screen. The Queen was two years younger than my mother, who will be 98 in about two weeks. Stay tuned for that.

One of the things that has been holding up my transfer to the new computer was finding a feed reader that worked as well as the old NewsFox reader that FireFox had. I follow a bunch of blogs and webcomics, and NewsFox organized them all in one place and made it so simple to keep up with them. I think I’ve finally found one: QuiteRSS. Which is good, because this evening I was trying to clean up my NewsFox feeds so I could export only the feeds I actually wanted and accidentally deleted a bunch of feeds I didn’t mean to. Fortunately, I had already exported the “dirty” version of the feeds, but when I tried to reload the feeds in NewsFox (which runs in the FireFox browser I stopped updating about three years ago just before it was going to stop supporting NewsFox), it discombobulated.

So I set up QuiteRSS on my Windows 7 machine and imported the great mishmash of past and present blog and webcomic feeds I had on NewsFox. Then I spent about two hours going through and deleting the defunct and abandoned feeds and completed webcomics and then I had to go into properties on each and every cotton-picking feed and untick a box so QuiteRSS would display the whole webpage instead of just a “headline.” Then I could export a clean copy of the .opml file to the other machine.

QuiteRSS does almost everything NewsFox did, except it’s not set into a browser so I can’t use the browser “Find” feature to find words in the text, and when I want to look something up, I have to go to another program (web browser) instead of to another tab. It only took me about an hour to set up QuiteRS on my Windows 11 machine. Unfortunately, I still had to go into the properties on every stupid feed and untick the box so it would display the way I want it to. I also figured out how to resize the type and change the font. The font that comes off the rack with the program is some off the wall typeface I’ve never heard of and the size was miniscule. I changed it to good old Arial 11 so I can read it without binoculars. The date was given in European format (2-digit day.2-digit month.2-digit year) and I figured out how to fix that, too. So. That’s one more thing I’ve moved over to the new computer.

The hard drive on the new machine is only 250 GB, which isn’t big enough for all my music and graphics and photos. I’ve got two hard drives in the old computer, one of which is a Seagate 1 TB. I’ve decided to get an external hard drive. It would be easier than schlepping my computer tower to someplace so they can look at it to see if I can transfer the Seagate drive from my old machine to the new one. I can get a 6 TB Western Digital external hard drive for about what it would cost me to pay somebody to switch out the drive from one computer to the other — assuming the new computer even has a slot for a second drive — which it probably doesn’t. My final chemo session is the 26th. An external hard drive would be a perfect “good girl” treat for FINALLY finishing chemo.

I’ll be glad to stop straddling computers. Gmail doesn’t work on my old one anymore, and I have to boot the new computer up so I can check my email. I’ve got this jicky little Bluetooth keyboard and mouse hooked up to the new computer, and I’ve been operating for months with two mice and two keyboards and only one monitor per computer. I’m so used to having two monitors that it’s like doing everything with one eye closed.

Maybe once I get done with all the chemo stuff I can settle down and finally sort this computer mess out. Trying to write on one monitor is the pits. I’m juggling between the time line document and a dictionary app, the reference document and the actual story manuscript. So much easier when I don’t have to play peek-a-boo between what I’m writing and some other document I’m referring to. I can have references and the dictionary app, and a browser and some kind of music app open on one screen and the manuscript open on the other and I can revise and change the reference document and the time line as needed. Or I can listen to a YouTube video like a TED talk or scholarly lecture, or some music playlist on one screen while I’m working a puzzle on Jigsaw Planet on the other. My amigo Shoreacres found a version of my old werewolf monitor widget (it has a little graphic of the moon that displays the phases) that I could get to run on Windows 11, and now I’ve found a replacement for NewsFox.

Except for my writing, which is going to be a booger to transition from Word 2010 to the newest version of Word*, and transferring some programs, the rest of the computer change over is mostly just moving files – lots and lots of files – and setting up the external hard drive and the little (4 TB) external backup drive. And then when I grab a mouse, I won’t have to stop and remember which mouse goes to which computer, and I won’t have to use that jicky little keyboard anymore. (I have this lovely Logitech gamer keyboard that has a wrist ramp, a 10-key pad and a feather-light touch.)(This is my third. I’ve already worn two out — good thing I’m a touch typist. I had worn the letters off most of the keys before some of the most-used keys just quit working. Logitech has been making them for a while. I got the first one while I was still working as a medical transcriptionist. )

In the knitting news, there isn’t any. Now that the most urgent baby knitting is off the needles and gone to Garland, I’ve been taking a breather.

*I’m going to take the opportunity to work out a “universal” manuscript template so all my manuscripts will have the same margins, line spacing, font, etc., which means I will be reformatting everything. Sigh.

The Penultimate Chemo Session

This time has been an exercise in frustration. Every other time, I go in, they access my port and do a lab draw, then I go see the oncologist, then I get my chemo. It’s a long day, but it’s one and done. Then the next day, I get the Udenyca. So Monday, I’ve had my lab draw, I’ve seen the oncologist and I’m all accessed and sitting in the waiting room waiting to go back to get my chemo. And I’m waiting. And I’m waiting. And then after about two hours, the person who checks you in and gives you your arm band comes over and says, she can’t find me on the schedule for chemo until tomorrow. So I call the scheduler and go round and round with her, and that’s the way the oncologist’s office has me scheduled, to come back tomorrow for chemo.

Turns out this is the new policy that the local people come for two days instead of the one, which would be fine IF THEY WOULD JUST TELL SOMEBODY THEY WERE GOING TO DO IT ahead of time instead of springing it on you out of the blue. And by now, it’s already too late to get me rescheduled for the afternoon, and I can’t go home with my port accessed because I can’t sleep with a gigantic IV rig in my chest, nor shower, so I have to wait another half an hour until they can call me back to the lab and take the access out.

I had to come back the next day and get chemo and the Udenyca on the same day, and instead of having a wanking great half-inch long needle stuck into my port once, I get the wanking great needle stuck into my port two days in a row. If I had known ahead of time, they could have drawn my labs from a vein in my arm and saved me a stick in my port. Now I get to do the Rituxan deal where I feel like I’ve rolled down a mountainside while I bounce off the walls from the prednisone for the next two days.

You better believe I insisted on going back to having the labs, doctor’s visit and chemo all on the same day for my last session, which will take place on the 26th.

Friday, I got my first fluid bolus and guess what? I’m not home half an hour when I get a text alert saying the water in the building is going to be shut off starting at 1:30 and it’ll be off most of the afternoon. I’m full of fluid (over 2 liters in two days) and I can’t flush the toilet for four hours. What fun.

One good thing, though, I was able to get the extra week in between this session and the last one as originally my last session was scheduled for the 19th, and mom’s 98th birthday is the 23rd. However, the oncologist said he thought with the extra week, I would be OK to go over to Carillon House briefly for her party so long as I wore my mask and was extra careful.

My cousin JP is coming over from NM for a brief visit around noon on her birthday. I told him he could stay in the guest room overnight and drive back the next day, but he said he couldn’t stay as his wife recently had hernia surgery (that she should have gotten years ago but kept putting off, and no surprise that she isn’t doing as well as she might have done had she not waited so long) and he didn’t want to be away overnight. But at least he’s able to come.

We’ve been rainy of late, and the playa lakes around town are filling back up again.

In the knitting news, I have stuff finished! One more thing to finish before the package goes to Garland. I just need to sit down and do it. Poorly motivated, though. I’m just so tired of all this chemo business and of having no energy and having chemo brain since February.

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 . . .

Here We Go Again

Important news first. Mom’s second COVID test was negative.

The fifth of six sessions of Rituxan starts tomorrow bright and early at 8 AM. With any luck I’ll be out before six, but not much before. I get the WBC booster shot Tuesday and then three sessions of hydration. Then I’ll have only one more to go.

I’ve got a load of sheets and towels in the wash, and after them will be a load of clothes. I need to get something to eat, too.

Friday I did all my running around. I got my refill of prednisone. I got my hair trimmed, which means I had about an inch whacked off the back along the back of my neck, and the rest of it just trimmed to even it out. I’m working toward getting it all one length. Until it’s long enough to go into a ponytail, it’s going to be a PITA. And, I got some groceries. Since they stopped making my favorite flavor of BodyArmor, I’ve quit drinking it. (So there!) I did get some peach flavor frozen things on a stick, though, which helps with the heat.

We’ve been having raisin weather again (still, actually) — high 90’s F/35+ C at around 30-40% humidity. The heat just sucks you dry. (You’re a grape til you walk out the door . . .)

They were supposed to get the AC fixed downstairs last week. It’s still not back up. Hopefully, they’ll get it up soon. Of course, the time to get the AC fixed is in winter; now that we’re in the dog days of summer, everybody and his cousin wants their AC worked on. Don’t know if that’s the delay or what. All the business offices have relocated to vacant apartments for the duration and are scattered all over the building. You can tell the moment you get into the hallway by the mail room. The temperature goes up about 10 degrees. Like walking into an oven.

In the knitting news, I have a bootie and a fourth done, and about ten more rows on the little top they match. I’ll likely finish the top while I’m infusing tomorrow, and the bootie won’t take that much time. That and finishing a hat will complete the haul for the new little 1st cousin 2x removed and I’ll get it in the mail. Finally. The baby was born 22 July. I really need to get it in the mail.

The yarn I’m using for this is cotton, and it is the split-y-est yarn I’ve ever worked with. It’s spun as a single ply from what is essentially cotton thread. Glad I’ve almost used it up. Gotta hit the button stash to see if I have the right buttons. I need three.

I’ve got the last load in the washer and it just has to go through the dryer and get hung up/folded and it’s beddy-boo for yrs trly.

On the Downward Slope

Tomorrow is the last fluid infusion of this session. I have to be there at 8:00. So after Monday’s infusion I got home just before noon, in more than enough time for the housekeeping lady. While she was there, the maintenance guy came to say he needed to turn my shower on because there was a leak downstairs. Turns out my shower was leaking somehow (why suddenly is it leaking now and not earlier?) He had to calk it and the calk had to set, so I couldn’t use it until he came by today to put everything back together.

He said he’d be by this morning. He didn’t show up until after noon. Of course, by the time he came, I’d washed my dishes and started a pot of chai tea with vanilla almond milk. I’ve got as far as making the chai tea, which is cooling at the moment. It has to cool to room temp before I can add the vanilla almond milk. Then it’s into the fridge.

Anyway, I can use my shower now, which is good because I have to go get my last infusion for this session tomorrow, and I’ll want to shower before I go. Never mind that you don’t work up much of a sweat sitting around in an air conditioned room, I just think it’s manners if you’re going to be in a situation where somebody has to do something as up close and personal as inserting an IV rig into the chemo port on your chest, that you should have showered pretty recently. Kinda common courtesy, which doesn’t seem to be all that common any more. . . .

Saturday, my cousin’s daughter had her baby (she was due Friday), and I need to really get my rear in gear and finish stuff and get it blocked and mailed. Don’t know anything about her except her name and that she’s a healthy little newborn girl. She’s my dad’s youngest brother’s great grandchild. My dad would have been delighted. My mom got to meet her older sister. Hard to believe it’s been almost a year since they came to visit.

Mom had been transferred from the hospital to that nursing home by then and I was in the middle of getting mom moved to Carillon House to finish her rehab, and getting us both into Life Care at Carillon, but hadn’t yet started in on the estate sales and selling mom’s house and getting me moved in and settled. September 1 will be a year since I moved into Carillon. Time flies when you’re having fun, I guess.

My bank sponsoring an ice cream social this afternoon, but I didn’t go. We’ve had people test positive for COVID here in the building, and eating requires taking down my mask. Not worth the risk.

My BFF who lives outside of Houston finally got COVID. She ended her period of quarantine last Thursday and was back to work. But while she had it, she was as sick as the proverbial dog.

I gulped down Aliette de Bodard’s Dominion of the Fallen series and the adjacent Dragons and Blades duette from the same universe, which was a great if slightly grim read, and I’ve started in on a reread of the four-book Finishing School series by Gail Carriger. Carriger’s books are set during the reign of Queen Victoria in a Britain where werewolves are obliged to serve in Her Majesty’s army and vampires are arbiters of style. It’s fun and steampunk and ever so slightly silly. The finishing school for young ladies of quality is located aboard a dirigible and, in addition to the usual finishing school curriculum, includes coursework in intelligence gathering and assassination. It is the prequel, if you will, to her Parasol Protectorate series, and there are three books which deal with the subsequent careers of three of the friends the main character makes at school.

In the knitting news, I did get that little baby top started, and I’m losing a game of Yarn Chicken as I don’t think I’ll be able to finish it with one skein of yarn. But I have two more skeins of that yarn. I might do some booties to match. We’ll see. I need to get the top finished first, and fish out some appropriate buttons from my stash.

I’ve got to finish that one sun hat, though, before I start on matching booties, or a sun hat for the top. I’ve got about 15 more rows to go on the top but, except for the last five rows, it’s all stockinette, which means purling 117 stitches every other row. That much purling is a pain. It’s less of a pain if you’re a continental style knitter, but it’s still a pain. The pattern is only a page and a half long. You could make one in an afternoon if you put your mind to it.

Four Down, Two to Go

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three Down, Three to Go

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the knitting news, I finished the baby booties.

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

Noooooo. . . . !

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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