Easing into a Saturday Evening

What with one thing and another, I decided to coddle myself today. We’re having roller-coaster weather (for months now) — it warms up to the 80’s F/26 C then cools down into the 60’s F/ 15 C, then warms up again, and cools down again.  We’re in a trough at the moment and it’s a little nippy (high of 70 F/21 C today, predicted low of 36 F/2.2 C tonight).  Later in the week, we’re heading for a predicted high of 90 F/32.2 C on Monday, then back down into the 70’s again. . .  It’s still bone dry with no precipitation and a humidity of 18%, and we’re under a wildfire watch because it’s windy (22 mph/35.4 kph).

I got a late start to the day because I had a good long lie-in, not stirring out of my snuggly warm bed until noon.  Didn’t have to get up, didn’t want to get up, so I didn’t.   I had cinnamon toast for breakfast, and made a big carafe of hot Stash Spiced Chai with almond milk, followed not long after by a can of Amy’s Kitchen vegetable soup for lunch which was major nummy-noms.  (Amy’s Kitchen has a line of Mexican frozen entrees which I love, and I saw they had soups, so I got some to try.  This is the first one I’ve tried and I really like it.) The bread I was using for toast is “artisan,” which is to say, it is fresh-baked in the store from frozen dough, and is sold as “English toasting bread.” It’s a white bread with a nice taste and some substance to it — it doesn’t dissolve into library paste like the crap the Big Bread companies pass off as white bread. (Wonder Bread! — if there’s any real food value in it, it’s a wonder!) This stuff toasts up nice and crisp, so I had two more pieces with just margarine on to go with my soup.

Blue Diamond packages their almond milk in little quart packages that don’t need refrigeration, and that have a nice long shelf life, which I really like.  I don’t use that much “milk,” just on cereal and in tea. (I do not like cow’s milk and it doesn’t like me either.  The only actual “dairy” I eat is yogurt, cheese and the odd bit of gelato or ice cream.)  I like being able to keep a couple of cartons of it in the cupboard without having to sweat the “use by” date.  I get the vanilla flavor because the vanilla makes it sweet enough I don’t need to add sugar to my cereal (Kashi Cinnamon Harvest), and I like it in tea — Spice Chai, Earl Grey, English Breakfast — both hot and cold.

I noshed my soup while at the computer working jigsaw puzzles I created from pictures of Anne Bachelier‘s paintings which I’ve downloaded off her blog to make puzzles with.  I love her stuff.  I just took it easy, listening to SomaFM’s Drone Zone music channel, eating my soup and toast, drinking my chai and almond milk, and working this puzzle of one of Anne Bachelier’s paintings, with her wonderful palette and magical-surrealist imagery, and it was very, very nice.   Just a total chill out.  Nice way to spend a lazy Saturday.

I leave you with this little parting shot:  In searching out links, I ran across this clip from my man Sam Elliott.  What he has to say about almond milk struck me as LOL funny.  Be warned, though.  He drops a couple of F-Bombs, too, if that kind of language bothers you.

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The Eyes Have It

I know I’ve mentioned it here, although not lately, that I have a thing called ocular migraines.  Many migraine headache sufferers report an “aura” prior to their headache, a warning symptom(s) that a headache is coming.  Many of these “auras” are visual — scotoma, scintillating scotoma, etc.   Some people, like me, get the aura without the headache.  If you have to have migraines, and you get a choice what kind to have, choose the kind I have.  I get maybe 10-15-20 minutes of visual disturbances, and that’s it.  No headache.  No pain.  Just these annoying visual symptoms.  There is a genetic component to migraines, and women are more likely than men to have migraines of any type.  I have female cousins on both sides who have full blown migraine attacks — and who know their triggers.   Me?  I got off dead easy.

My ocular migraines typically involve a scintillating scotoma in my left visual field.   It starts as a flickering point just left of center in the area of sharpest vision.  It’s something that happens in my brain, not my eye, and because it happens in my left visual cortex, it affects both eyes.  (Anatomical aside:  The optic nerve from each eye branches and half of it goes to each side of the visual cortex of your brain, so each eye transmits to both sides of the brain.  If you lose an eye, you lose your depth perception.  However, if the right visual cortex of your brain is damaged, it doesn’t take out the vision in the right eye, it takes out the right half of the vision in both eyes.  Because you still have some vision in both eyes,  your depth perception is preserved.)  The scintillating point expands into a “C” shape, with the “gap” oriented toward the right lower corner of my visual field.  The “C” moves diagonally up toward the left upper corner of my visual field, getting larger and larger as it moves, until it expands off the edge of  the visual field and goes away. It only affects my sharp vision for a minute or two, but it’s visually disruptive until it goes away.   If I get one while I’m driving, I pull off out of traffic as soon as I can safely do so, and wait them out.

The whole reason I brought this up is that on the whole I may go months and months without having one, or I may have two or three over the course of a week.  Yesterday, I had four, and one was atypical — it was just like the ones I always have except it was in my right visual field instead of the left.  I’ve had another typical one today already.

Now, some migraine triggers are dietary (MSG, artificial sweeteners, nitrates, etc. ).  I eat Chinese food with impunity (and chopsticks).  I eat lunch meat and hot dogs with impunity (and mayonnaise), so MSG and nitrates are not suspects. Although wine is a migraine trigger for one of my cousins,  I can and will drink wine when it’s offered, and it’s not a suspect.  Changes in hormone levels are not suspect either; I’ve been on estrodiol-only HRT for (literally) decades and my hormone levels stay constant.  I suspect that changes in weather may be one of my triggers — possibly rapid changes in barometric pressure and such like —  and the polar vortex has been wreaking havoc with the weather here lately.  We had some nice warm weather earlier in the week, then Wednesday, it got cold again, and was drippy, drizzly, mizzly and dreich.  It’s the first moisture we’ve had in over a month.

I don’t care for artificial sweeteners and rarely consume them.  Saccharin has an unplesant “wang-y” aftertaste that I don’t like.  I’m not real wild about any of the others, either.  I just don’t care for the way they taste.   My mom uses both Sweet’n’Low (saccharin) and Equal (aspartame).  She likes the taste (300-500 times sweeter than sugar) and finds nothing “off” about it.    My dad never cared for diet drinks, and it is very likely that I get my dislike of them from him.*  (His tea was never sweet enough unless about half an inch of sugar had settled out of it into the bottom of the glass.  Yep.  I’m daddy’s girl.)

But the standout atypical thing about yesterday, apart from my having four attacks, was that I had this “zero calorie” bottle drink I hadn’t had before.    I bought four bottles of the stuff, but I bought it for the bottles — nice substantial, washable, refillable,  17-oz plastic bottles**.  The drink  was carbonated, contained several of the vitamin B’s, and it had green tea extract.   I’ve got three more in the fridge.  I’m going to try another challenge Sunday when I know I’m going to be staying in all day.

In the meantime, I think I hear some spinach focaccia calling my name.  I’d better go see what it wants.

*Taste breaks down to chemistry and your ability to taste or not taste certain chemicals is inherited. 
**I hate buying bottled water and throwing all that plastic away.  It's stupid and irresponsible, and it supports those criminally-irresponsible environmental-toxic companies who make them.  Not only is it much more environmentally friendly to get a set of bottles and reuse them for months and months, it's cheaper in the long run.

Snowing Outside as Well as Inside

I’ve finally finished crocheting all the snowflakes I plan to crochet this year.  There is glitter EVERYwhere, especially in the living room carpet by where I have the ironing board set up. Whoopee!(I have it set up in the living room right next to the dining area so I can use the dining table to put the bottle of stiff stuff, and the containers of glitter and straight pins, and what not on.  I still have two snowflakes that need the second side stiffened and glittered, and then glue the ribbon loops on, and then packing one bunch to mail.  I was going to try to get them there before Christmas, but obviously, that isn’t happening.

Then I have to clean up the mess.  Ugh. I out-and-about-ed all day yesterday — I went to the dentist and the verdict is that the post is looking great.  I’m supposed to come back Wednesday-week to get the impressions made for my new molar.  I had the tooth pulled in May.  I’ll finally get the implant/replacement in January.  I will be so glad to finally be able to chew on that side again. (Oh, I can chew on that side, but it’s a bootless undertaking . . .)

After that, I went to visit my friend LB and took her a snowflake.  She had knitted a bunch of snowmen and gave me one.  She is currently dealing with her third recurrence of breast cancer which has now metastasized to her bones.  ( She’s being treated at the same cancer center where I donate the hats.)  She’s had a third round of chemo and radiation treatments to her ribs where it first showed up in the bone.  Her latest MRI showed she had lesions in all but two of her thoracic vertebrae.  She’s trying to stay upbeat.  They’ve started her on this new pill type chemo that is supposed to be really great.  I hope it works.

Last week, the battery on my computer UPS device died — I have two UPS devices, and the battery on the other one died first, and I changed them out.  Now this one died as well — and I had to go get a new battery.  I took one of the dead ones in to be sure I got one that would work, and since both devices use the same battery, I got two.  I left the dead battery with them to recycle (it contained lithium), and one of the errands I had to run yesterday was to take the other dead battery in to get it recycled as well.  And I had to go to this store to get this thing and that store to get that thing, and then shop groceries. By the time I got home, and got everything sorted out and put away, I was pooped.  As a result, I went to bed too soon after I ate supper and had a bad reflux episode, woke up coughing and gagging, with my nose streaming.  I had a hard time getting back to sleep again, and I have a sore throat, and I’ve been wheezing all day.

I had an optometry appointment at the VA today, and they dilated my eyes.  I looked a little weird wearing dark glasses on such a grey, overcast day, but I was able to drive home.  In addition to being grey and overcast, it was also colder than the proverbial wedge (our overnight low is supposed to be 24F/-4.44C tonight).  I stopped by my moms later this afternoon, after my eyes had settled down, and  her halls are quite thoroughly decked.  Our family moved to that house in the 1960’s.  The house had a fireplace but no mantelpiece, which my mom found odd and disappointing.   At the time, my mom was doing ceramics as a hobby — one of her friends had a shop for hobbyists with molds and kilns, etc., — and she was working on this deluxe nativity set which would have been perfect to display on a fireplace mantel — alas!  My dad decided to make her one, and did woodcarving on it.  It took him forever (his projects usually did), but finally he got it done. (The reason it took forever was that he was so painstaking.  The results speak for themselves).   The white pieces pf the nativity set stood out better before mom had the brickwork (and the wood paneling) in the den painted.

The picture above the mantel is a photograph my dad took of my late aunt’s former house in El Paso all decorated with luminarias.  He had it enlarged and framed and they gave it to her one year for a gift.  When she passed, her son wanted mom to have it as a memento.  My dad’s niece made my parents promise that if they ever sold the house, she could have the mantel.   When my brother and I were little (1953), this lady in their church made stockings for us and my mom hangs them up every year.  I cropped them out of the picture, because this is not Facebook.

As mom and I were sitting in the den visiting this afternoon, I looked up through the sliding glass door into their back yard, and it was snowing — just not sticking.  When I got back home,   Lo, how a rose e’er blooming in my flower bed was sprinkled with snow.   Three days before Christmas, it’s still blooming.

After having to listen to this rock diva and that country music star warble and butcher all the popular* Christmas carols in practically every business I went into yesterday, I hunted up some little off-piste delights — trained singers singing a carol that hasn’t been sung into the ground because it’s one everybody knows.

A Day Cold and Grey

It’s been a grey, cold day.   We’ve finally gotten some wintry weather.  Perfect for bundling up in a blanket on the couch and binge watching all those great Films Noir — “Laura,” “The Big Sleep,” “Strangers on a Train,” “Woman in the Window,” “The Big Heat,” “The Maltese Falcon,” “Casablanca.”  Turner Classic Movies was not cooperating, unfortunately, and  besides, I have snowflakes to crochet, and then I remembered I had this Carly Simon album. . . .

And when this palls, I’ve got playlists of instrumental smooth jazz on Napster.  Now that I think of it, a Carly Simon playlist  — maybe mix in some laid back JT, and Linda Ronstadt did these albums with Nelson Riddle  . . . hmmmm.

Am I such an old fogey that all this thumpy-bumpy-chanty-ranty-herky-twerky modern music palls so very quickly?  I run across a nice one now and then, but they seem to be few and far between (I watched Neil deGrasse Tyson‘s interview with Katy Perry on Star Talk the other day — I’m sorry.  It was like the astrophysicist and the space cadet.)  I like melodies and harmonies.  I like the sound of orchestral strings as much as I like the sound of guitar strings.  I like music that doesn’t beat you over the head or hit you with a wall of sound, with singers who can actually sing and literate lyrics .

I don’t think I’m a musical snob.  I mean, if you look at my playlists on Napster,  I’ve got everything:   Paganini, Pink Floyd, Penguin Cafe Orchestra and the Pointer Sisters; Mozart, Moby, Mancini, and Morton; Tchaikovsky, Tingstad and Rumbel, and Tangerine Dream; Brahams, Beatles, Biosphere and boogie woogie;  Liszt, Llewellyn, Lucette Bourdin and Loop Guru.  I’ve got Eleftheria Arvanitaki and Lisa Gerrard, Ofra Haza, James Taylor and Michael Franks; blue grass, klezmer, and early Brubeck, Dadawa, Niyaz and Cirque du Soleil.  I’ve got Ravi Shankar and both his daughters.  In addition to almost every genre from the USA, there’s music on there from Turkey, Iceland, India, eastern Europe, Yemen, Mali, Ireland, Algeria, Greece, Morocco, and Norway. (Ghod, I love the interwebs so much!)

But right now, I’m in a Films Noir mood. . .

A Change of Pace

That loud grinding noise you heard a while ago was me changing gears from knitting to crochet. (Yes, I am ambicraftous.)  My mom belongs to this Sekret Klub, and every year in early December they have a fund-raising auction.  The members bring things to auction off, pay inflated prices for each other’s stuff, and the money goes into a college scholarship fund of some sort.  Last year, I made her four buttoned cowls.  This year, I’m making her three sets of five crocheted snowflakes. I’m also making several sets of three for hostess gifts.

Tuesday after knitting group, I need to dash over to Michael’s and get some stiff stuff, some opalescent embossing powder, a container of sewing pins, and a paint brush.   I’m pretty sure I already have enough crochet thread in my thread stash.  In order to turn the snowflakes into tree ornaments, which is the goal of the exercise, they have to be blocked (stretched and pinned into shape), then soaked in the stiff stuff and sprinkled with opalescent embossing powder to give them just the right amount of sparkle. When that side is dry, you flip them over and repeat the process.  Once they’re thoroughly dry, you hot glue a little loop of the narrowest white satin ribbon they make to one “point” so an ornament hook can be attached for hanging it on the tree.

One down, many to go.

I googled crocheted snowflakes and found this website that has a whole slew of free patterns for them.  More than enough for the 15 I’m making for my mom.  I’ll choose the 15 I like best, and do them.

I was searching for “Russian waltzes” on YouTube yesterday (because I couldn’t remember whether this one waltz was written by Prokofiev or Khachaturian)(It was Khachaturian.) and found this serendooglously*.

And yes! It’s from a Russian film.  And yes! An English language version is available on Amazon, . . . And yes! It’s been shipped!  (It’s dubbed in English.  I wish it had been in Russian with English subtitles, but I may just turn the sound off and gorge on the video.)

Here’s the Russian language trailer.

Matvey Lykov, who plays the guy she really loves (spoiler alert:  Not the blond guy.), is yummy.  And that wedding ensemble she’s wearing in the boat is just fabulous.

 

*serendoogle — something you find serendipitously while googling for something else.  I made this word up by mashing “serendipity” and “google” together.

Now and Again, My Brain Is Nice To Me

This little gem of a Satie waltz has been my earworm for most of the day.  Kind of like my brain is trying to be extra sweet to me because of the sturm, drang and brouhaha of the Firefox Quantum debacle of the past two days.  (Instead of “Firefox,” I typed “Firepox” — I think my Freudian slip is showing.)  My savage breast hath been greatly in need of soothing of late.  Yeth, it hath.