It Fooled Around And Snowed On Us

I know you folks up north have had enough snow to last you til the peanut butter season, but we don’t get it that often. So I wasn’t all that upset when I got up for a drink of water about 3 AM, looked out the window and saw this:

We got about 7 inches, which was a record snowfall for this date (stop laughing, Canada!). We don’t get all that much snow here (We are at the same latitude as Damascus in Syria.). We were lucky that it wasn’t cold enough for the roadways to ice all that much. It was wet snow, clumpy and clingy. Thank goodness I didn’t have to get out in it. We needed the moisture, though. We always do. We’ll take it any way we can get it.

This is the building where mother lives. I went to see her this afternoon to take her the Starbuck’s clear plastic covered tumbler I got her to help her drink more water. It holds 24 ounces. If she could just drink one of those a day, that would help her so much. Fortunately, there’s a way to get from hither to yon without going outside.

The activities director wants to start a group here for knitters and crocheters and embroiderers and hand quilters, etc. — There’s a signup sheet for folks to sign up and indicate their preference for day and time. The idea being to find a place and time where we can gather to ply our hobby of choice and sit and socialize with like-minded folks.

I magpied out again. Two more pieces from that Ukrainian artist who is now living in Poland. I’ve gotten quite a collection of fossil ammonite jewelry. They came today. A necklace and a pin. Her pieces have elements of Art Nouveau with their rhythmic, flowing lines and organic shapes. I do like them.

In the knitting news, in a word, hats. I’m just to the point where I’m ready for the top decreases on the green one. As much as I love the Red Heart Unforgettable yarn, it ‘s splitty to begin with, but on a US 6/4.0 mm needle, and doing cables, it’s been driving me nuts. The other hat is made from Lion Brand Re-Spun yarn (colorway Blush) that is spun from recycled polyester. It’s worsted weight on a US8/5.0 mm needle. It’s going pretty fast considering it has braided cables.

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.

A Brief But Enlightening Sojourn

At about 10 o’clock Sunday morning, my phone rang. It was the nurse on mom’s unit at Carillon House. Mom was having nausea, vomiting and stomach pain and they’d called an ambulance. She was en route to University Medical Center (UMC) emergency room. So, I suited up and, since I am BTDT* status when it comes to hospital emergency rooms, I found and packed a small carry bag with a bottle of water, knitting and an extra purse pack of tissues, and scrambled the fighters.

As the grackle flies, UMC is only a hoot and a holler to the east of us. However, in order to go east, I had to first go south because streets. Evidently, they had called me right when the EMS folks got to her room because I beat her there by about 20 minutes (that’s counting the 10-minute hike from where I had to park, which was, thankfully, just east of the county line). I had about a 15 minute wait in the ER waiting room before they would let me back.

I have all the papers — the POA, the POA for health care, her insurance cards, and the sheet with her medical history and medication list. and I have no trouble hearing and understanding English Second Language speakers and women (who have higher pitched voices and “mumble”). (Her most profound hearing loss is in the higher frequencies, oddly enough.)

IMPORTANT ASIDE: I cannot stress too much how important it is to make a list of your medications and dosages, a list of all the operations you’ve had and (approximately) when you had them, and a list of all your medical conditions, keep it up to date and carry it ***PRINTED OUT ON A SHEET OF PAPER*** in your purse or wallet, ***NOT ON YOUR PHONE***!! If it’s in your phone, the doctors have no way to get it out where they can put it on your chart for all your treating medical professionals to have access to. If you have it on a sheet of paper, they can copy it and put it in your chart. Doing this could save your life. If you come to the emergency room, your treating medical people have no idea what medications you’re taking or what your medical conditions might be. They’re essentially flying blind. If you are unresponsive or badly hurt, obtaining a coherent medical history could be difficult to impossible. But if you have this sheet and your family member/spouse/friend know you carry it in your purse or wallet, they could save your life by letting this sheet speak for you when you can’t.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming, which is already in progress. It was sneaking up on 11 o’clock before I made it back to where they had her. I got out all the cards and papers, and one of the admissions people, who was really on the ball, noticed that on my POA for health care, mom is DNR/DNI – she wants no cardiopulmonary resuscitation of any kind and she does not want to be intubated. Carillon House had her status as “full code,” meaning using any and all heroic measures to keep her alive at all costs, which is not what she wants. We also discussed the fact that my durable POA for health care does not cover “out of hospital” codes. It also does not cover if she codes while the EMS personnel are in the process of transferring her from her room at Carillon to the hospital. (I’ve also got to get with the Carillon House people and get her code status sorted out with them, too.) This helpful person got us the proper form, which I now have in my purse with the other papers, which has that covered. I will also put up a copy of it up on the wall in her room so EMS people can note it and honor it. So, that was one good thing that came out of this episode.

Naturally, we waited and waited for lab results, x-ray results, doctors — It’s why they’re called “patients.” Mom is a class M patient. (Think about it; it’ll come to you.) Her kidney function tests were out of whack (what a surprise NOT!), and her bilirubin (a liver enzyme) was 4 times what it should have been. They were most unhappy with her liver enzymes (and weren’t thrilled with her kidney functions either). She was very dehydrated, so they gave her two bags of fluids. They took her for an ultrasound of the liver, pancreas and gallbladder. Her white blood cell count indicated she had some kind of mild infection, so they hit her with the good stuff — Flagyl and Rocephin.

The upshot of it all was that the ultrasound showed mom had a gallbladder full of gallstones. There was concern that one was lodged in the duct that goes from the gallbladder to the intestine, which would explain her symptoms. This could be serious in a patient of any age, but especially at her age. (My 78-year-old paternal grandmother died because she had a lodged stone they didn’t know about and her gallbladder ruptured. The 98-year-old lady who used to live up the hall from me also required emergency gallbladder surgery and didn’t survive it.) There is an endoscopic procedure where they can use an endoscope to go down the throat, through the stomach, into the intestine and grab the stone from that end, but it obviously requires sedation, which is risky in a patient her age and with her lung function.

Ultimately, about 1 p.m., they decided to admit her for observation. She didn’t get up to a room until nearly 6 o’clock. The ER is on the west end of the hospital. The room she went to was on the east end of the hospital.

One of the ER nurses pushed her bed up there because transportation was too busy. She was going at a pretty fast clip, considering she was pushing this hospital bed with my mom in it. I tried to keep up with her but she left me in the dust! Fortunately, I knew where she was going.

However, her liver enzymes gradually trended back to normal and her kidney functions normalized once they got her rehydrated. She may actually have passed a gallstone, which would explain her symptoms, especially her belly pain. It would also explain her periodic bouts of nausea and vomiting if she’s got a gallbladder full of gravel. (The liver makes digestive enzymes — bile — which is stored in the gallbladder. When you eat foods that contain fats, proteins and carbohydrates, bile is squeezed out of the gallbladder into the small intestines as part of the digestive process. If the liver can’t put bile in the gallbladder, it backs up into your blood and causes jaundice — you look “yellow.”)

The GI doctor decided that since her liver enzymes were coming back down to normal, no intervention was warranted, and she went back home to Carillon House Tuesday afternoon. The same song, third verse, is that she does not drink enough water. Period. Certainly not enough to keep her kidneys flushed out. As a result, her bowels are going to recover all the water they possibly can from her food to keep the kidneys functioning, which is why she’s frequently constipated. Drink water, folks. It’s your kidneys’ job to keep garbage flushed out of your blood. You can’t flush a toilet if there’s no water in the toilet tank.

In the knitting news, I realized that all the projects I’m working on right now are shawls, and big. Also in knitting group last week, one of the ladies mentioned knitting chemo hats. Chemo hats are small and almost as portable as socks. I’ve got a big bag of suitable (acrylic -because it’s hypoallergenic and machine washable) yarn to make chemo hats left over from my last attack.

I’m contemplating creating a Scots bonnet and there were some techniques I wanted to try out. The first one was using Judy’s Magic Cast-on instead of a provision cast on for a rolled hat brim. Worked like a charm, I’m happy to say. The secret is to use two circular needles, a 16-inch and a 24-inch, for the cast on. When you use this method, you don’t have to go back and pick up your provisional stitches. They’re already on the needle. Just make sure your 16-inch needle is the needle you start knitting with as that’s what you’ll use for the hat. Then, when you roll the brim (working stitches in back, provisional stitches in front), you can take the provisional stitch off knitwise, put it on the 16-inch needle and knit two together through the back loop (k2tog tbl) to secure the brim without having to go back and sew it. Then you just keep knitting on your hat.

If you orient the stitches right when you take them off the “keeper needle,” the join is “invisible.” I like to rib the inside part of the rolled brim to make it more elastic.

I started this hat Sunday night, and I’m on the decreases at the top now. I’ve got two more balls of yarn earmarked to try some other versions. I didn’t get a lot of sleep Sunday and Monday nights for one reason and another. I slept all Tuesday night and most of Wednesday though. I was just exhausted. I spent Wednesday evening watching YouTube with my feet up, taking it easy. I think YouTube does not consider you to be a a legitimate homesteading channel unless the guy has a beard and/or the lady has long hair . . . .

*BTDT — Been There, Done That

Closer To The Brink

I spent hours last night going round and round with the new computer. I connected some Bluetooth earbuds to it and tried to listen to SomaFM’s Drone Zone, a perennial favorite, and the sound volume fluxuated up and down, up and down. I jumped through hoop after hoop to no avail. In the process, I accidentally turned Bluetooth off on the new computer, which precipitated a bit of a crisis since both its keyboard and mouse were Bluetooth and I suddenly had no way to control the computer. So I had to resurrect the old intellimouse (which dongles) and get out the new Logitech keyboard which has a “war”* and plugs into a USB port so I could get into the computer and turn the Bluetooth back on. Lo, and behold, unpairing and uninstalling that rinky-dink mouse and keyboard fixed the sound issue. Expletives were not deleted.

On the crest of that wave of anger and frustration, I (finally!) plugged in the 7.5 TB Western Digital external drive that’s been sitting on the counter since October and started copying files to it. The music file on the 1 TB Seagate took over an hour to copy. It was a big file. I’ve copied graphics and photos, and am in the process of copying games which may or may not play on the new machine. The new hard drive is not big enough for all my stuff, so I’ll transfer it to one that is big enough and plug it in as an external drive. So there.

I’m glad I got the new keyboard out. The backspace on the old one is wonky. Crumbs are no doubt involved. I will replace it with the new one when I finally accomplish the changeover to the new computer that’s been nearly a year in the making. Anyway, I had to clear off mom’s rolly table and bring it round as there wasn’t room on the desk for two big keyboards. (One came with her room and she didn’t need this one anymore.) I was using her table as a staging area — a place to park my purse and put the things like mail I needed to take to her — she still gets some magazines that I collect and take to her.

The lady that helps mom bathe suggested that she get a certain kind of cream for a fundamental skin irritation and itchiness she’s been unable to get rid of. I’ve ordered her some. I’ll be interested to see what she says when I bring it to her. (It’ll also be interesting to see if I can resist the straight line . . .) Anyway, I hope it works for her. A skin irritation that itches is no fun, no matter where it is.

In the knitting news, I’ve swatched but I ain’t felted yet. I measure the swatch, shrink it, measure it again, then calculate the percentage of shrinkage. Fortunately, there’s an app for that. I hate doing percentages. If the swatch shrinks, say, 10%, then I make the hat 10% larger than it needs to be. It is essential that I know the percentage of shrinkage before I start as I’m going to try knitting one from the bottom up so I can use this band turning trick I know, but that means I have to know how many stitches to cast on. I’ll do the other one the “right” way, which is top down. The band turning trick involves a provisional cast on. It’s the same trick I use here. Mostly, though, I’ve been working on these two versions of Savannah Squares:

*”war” – Texan, wire.

Teetering On The Brink of Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

Thought I’d get a little meta.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The North Wind Doth Blow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is That Me Buzzing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Felt The Earth Move Under My Bed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Think Fast!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shakespearean Sleep

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

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

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

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

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

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