Well, Pshaw!

After this round of chemotherapy on Wednesday and the nonstarting of my car, the shot on Thursday, and ricocheting off the walls from Wednesday afternoon til half past Friday, when I finally crashed and burned Friday afternoon, I went from being too strung out on steroids to do anything to too asleep to move. Finally, today I had found most of it and managed to get enough of it back together to try to do something about my car. Battery Joe’s could put a new battery in if I could get the car to their place, but not today. The guys I talked to at Battery Joe’s and Gene Messer Toyota both cautioned that it might not be the battery that was bad, but the alternator or the starter, in which case a new battery would do me little good — and it was a valid point. I also called Messer’s “recommended” towing service to find out that if jumping the battery proved bootless, it would cost me $80 to have them tow the car to the dealership to get it fixed.

So, noonish, I girdled my loins in my big girl panties and called Security to get them to bring their car booster thingie and meet me at the car. While I was waiting for them to come, just for s**ts and giggles, I put the key in the ignition and turned it. The car kind of cleared its throat and started! Several times, in fact. Well, hmmmm! I decided I’d better take it to the dealership where they could check it over, in case something was loose or a belt was thrown, or my “wars” were crossed. I wended my way clear down 19th Street, under the Loop, and out to Gene Messer Toyota, drove it into the service place and sat there in the car for at least five minutes waiting for one of the people sitting around noodling on their computers or talking on their phones to realize they had a customer and come see what I wanted. Finally, I got out of the car and picked one at random and told him I wanted my car looked at and why. (You’d think they’d at least be glad to get my business . . .) We figured out who I was (I bought the car from them, after all), and I told my tale of woe.

After about an hour and a half, the guy comes into the waiting room and says my battery flunked the test, and my cabin filter was dirty (gasp!). It took them another hour and a half to install a new battery and change the cabin filter. That’ll be $188, thank you very much. (I shudder to think what they would have charged if there had actually been something wrong with the car, like the starter was broken or the alternator was shot, or the gazinta had come out or something.) Anyway, the Greyola is fixed now.

Messer Toyota is even farther down the same street than the library branch is where the knitting group meets. Seeing as how I am very familiar with the local landmarks in the vicinity, I stopped at the Arby’s for a Gyro and curly fries, as any normal person would under the circumstances. I was even on the right side of the street to just swoop right into the drive-through lane.

Just as a cultural side note, Arby’s (We have the meat!) sandwiches come with a choice of sauces: Arby’s sauce, or a sauce which contains (among other things) horseradish, which is called, oddly enough, Horsey Sauce. When you get your food order, they ask you, “Do you want Arby or Horsey with that?” — and then put packets of your choice in the sack with your order. I always go for the Horsey.

At the end of March, the maintenance guy reset one of the grab bars in the bathroom because it was coming loose from the wall. A couple of weeks ago, a different guy came to plaster the holes in the wall from where the grab bar used to be. He was supposed to come back and paint the wall after the plaster dried, but never showed. Today, as I was coming up the hall, my Arby’s goodies clutched in my little hot hand, there was a painter at the end of the wal. He was touching up the paint on my door frame and on my door. It was the same guy who was supposed to paint the bathroom. He said he hadn’t come back to paint the bathroom wall because he’d been in the hospital. He’s coming back to paint the bathroom wall tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

Homonyms are two words pronounced the same, but which are spelled differently and have different meanings, like “meet” and “meat.” I have long noticed that, even though I know which is which, as I’m typing along, now and again, I would type the wrong one. I’d meat friends who would introduce me to there friends, etc. In rereading the previous paragraph I noted that the guy had come to plaster the wholes in the wall . . . I’ve noticed this has been happening more and more frequently of late. Chemo brain strikes again.

Well, I’ve eaten my Gyro (brought to us by Greek immigrants, and pronounced “Hero”) and my curly fries. Now I’m going to kick back and watch some Philomena Cunk videos from the BBC. Her malapropisms and ‘splanations are just brilliant. Some of her topical humor sails right by me because I don’t have the cultural context to “get” it, but the rest of it is hilarious.

My Best Laid Plans . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the knitting news, ongoing projects are ongoing.

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

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

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

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

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

The Cursing of the Cursed

I have gone on record multiple times as one of those who excoriate that abomination from China, the Bradford pear (Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford’), which is right up there with that other abomination from China, the “Tree of Heaven” (Ailanthus altissima). Both are aggressive invasive species that are even more obnoxious than kudzu. You may recognize the Greyola parked there with its door ajar, and guess what’s growing right next to my parking spot. Yep.

The way my sinuses have been carrying on about it, it’s a wonder I’m not exhaling blue air. Although I’m on cetirizine (Zyrtec) daily*, I’ve been having breakthrough symptoms because the stupid Bradford pear trees are all over town (see above) and their pollen is inescapable. I’ve been honking and sneezing at annoyingly frequent intervals for well over a week now, and as short on spoons as I am these days, I don’t have much energy to spare. We’ve also had a particularly brown spring with frequent bouts of high winds kicking up the surrounding agricultural-chemical-laced dirt into the air. Between the pears, the blowing dirt and the COP chemotherapy, I’ve started wheezing again, which I haven’t done since I moved out of the duplex with the leaky roof and black mold in the attic where I lived for 12 years. Wearing a face mask helps, but not much.

I had my cycle of chemo on Wednesday, the white cell booster on Thursday. I gained 7 lbs between Tuesday and Wednesday, and lost 9 between Wednesday and Sunday, all of it “water” weight. I got through this time without any digestive symptoms, although I didn’t have much of an appetite. When I finished ricocheting off the walls from the five tablets of prednisone I had Wednesday, I crashed and burned, sleeping 10 and 12 hours at a stretch. I spent Friday through Sunday mostly in bed with my feet up, emptying my legs out one trip at a time. That bed, with the uppy-downy head and foot, and the memory foam mattress, has been a Godsend. Wednesday evening, I couldn’t see the bones in my feet. Now I have ankles. Monday and today, I went for a liter of fluid. I go again Friday, and that’ll be it for this cycle. Three weeks from now I get to do it all again, but the specifics are not yet known.

Carillon is organizing a bus trip next Tuesday to Silver Falls, which is outside of Crosbyton, where a picnic lunch will be served, and then we go to the museum in Post to see their Fabergé Egg. It’s about an hour to Crosbyton and back, and over an hour to Post and back. I’d like to go, but I’m not sure I’ll have the stamina for it, so I probably won’t. Sigh.

We had a “tower” meeting Tuesday and afterward, I got to have a little chat with JH, one of mom’s PEO friends. Apparently, there’s a lady in their PEO chapter who makes jackets to sell at their auction. Mom already has one of her jackets. This lady took the scraps from making jackets and made a patchwork quilt and brought it to mom, which I thought was sweet.

*I have seasonal allergies. I’m allergic to all four of them.

Busy, Busy

I was supposed to have a lab draw followed by a PET scan bright and early Monday morning. I had hardly driven around the building on my way there when the radiology department called me (in the car! — Thankfully, the Greyola syncs with my iPhone and I can answer/hang up from the steering wheel and hear through my sound system speakers). It seems the isotope thingie they inject me with hadn’t arrived from Dallas and they had to reschedule. I get to do it tomorrow. The good news is that I will not have to hike clear around to the hospital radiology department like I did for the CAT scans as their PET scanner is just downstairs from where I get my labs and chemo and is about a minute’s walk from the parking lot. The brow-furrowing news is I will be bristling with positrons (slightly radioactive) for 48 hours as a result of the scan and am to avoid people in general and babies and young children in particular. Whoopee.

Since my three already-scheduled appointments for the month (labs, oncologist and cardiologist), I have also picked up an appointment to get an MRI of my right elbow (an x-ray of same showed “degenerative arthritis”) and have another appointment to get a bone density scan pending whenever they can get their schedules and mine to mesh.

I had gotten a set of Bluetooth headphones and a Bluetooth transmitter to use with my TV in October but hadn’t had the time to futz with it. The other afternoon, I took the time. Delightfully, all I had to do to get the TV and the headphones to talk to each other was plug the dongle into the TV and turn the headphones on. *stunned gasp of delight*

This afternoon, I turned on the TV, found a YouTube playlist of old BBC documentaries on the Anglo-Saxons presented by Michael Wood (major nerd crush!) and spent the afternoon binge watching them while I knitted on the Savannah Square Mark II — the one in “proper yarn” (i.e., Malabrigo sock, colorway “Whale’s Road”) as opposed to the restart of the original in acrylic yarn (below).

When I made the first start on the original, I guesstimated (and allocated) three 279-yard skeins of the Red Heart Unforgettable acrylic yarn in the colorway “Dragonfly” would be enough to make it the size I needed. I have about a golf ball size amount of the second skein left now with a 36-inch diagonal and one skein to go. Needs to be around 45-50 inches on the diagonal for the tails to hang right.

The yarn is still available, so depending on how big the Mark I is after 3 skeins, I may have to buy two more skeins of the stuff to get it to that size. It’s meant to be worn “bib” style, i.e., folded into a triangle along the diagonal with the “tails” wrapped around the neck and left to hang down the front. I may also put tassels on it. Small ones. We’ll see what kind of yarn I have left. The Mark II version with sock yarn will be an around-the-shoulder shawl so it will be a lot bigger. Malabrigo sock comes in 440-yard skeins and I have 5 skeins of it. I’ll see where three skeins gets me and go from there. This afternoon the 16-inch circulars were getting crowded so I knitted it off onto the 24-inch circulars. Moving right along.

I found out today that I’m going to get another first cousin twice removed. My Dad’s brother’s daughter’s daughter is pregnant again. (My first cousin’s child is my first cousin once removed. My first cousin’s grandchild is my first cousin twice removed. Got that?) I see some baby knitting in my future . . .

After I get home from my scan tomorrow, I’m not going anywhere until Monday, and am going to be pretty much of a hermit until I’m no longer radioactive, which means I’ll be either knitting and binge watching TV, or listening to music and knitting or listening to music and reading, or listening to music and working on stories, or any or all of the above. A very low-profile weekend.

We Were Thrown Quite a Curve*!

Took my mom to the orthopedist this morning. We were instructed to come 30 minutes early so we could do the new patient dance and so they could get some x-rays. Now that things are digital and computerized, the doctor could show us the x-rays on a little flat-screen monitor he had set up in the exam room.

He showed us the x-ray of her hip, and she did have some osteoarthritis, but nothing massive and he doesn’t think that’s the problem. So that was a big sigh of relief! She doesn’t need a hip replacement.

But then he showed us the x-ray of her back. She has had a noticeable kyphosis of her upper (thoracic) spine for years, but talk about hit-you-over-the-head obvious! Her lower backbone has this huge “S” curve in it. She has severe degenerative scoliosis in her lumbar spine. This is not the kind that shows up in adolescence and the kid wears a back brace for humpteen years or has rods put in. This kind doesn’t start showing up until a person is in their 50’s. The disks and facet joints of the spine deteriorate over time and the vertebral column just kind of slumps. No wonder the woman hurts! I hurt just looking at the x-ray! Unfortunately, the treatment they’d offer a 50-year-old — putting rods in to straighten the spine — is not an option for 96-year-old. She has lost bone density as well, and screws can’t get a good “bite” in such brittle bone.

The orthopedist is going to do an injection into her hip joint to see how much that helps, but he has referred her to a spine specialist and/or pain management specialist for nerve root injections. (I don’t know if some kind of brace would help her, but I intend to ask.)

He very much approved of the rolling walker I got for her, too, as her fall risk has gotten very much higher because of all this. He wants her to use it all the time. (She can use it to pull herself up from sitting on the bed if she’d just remember to lock the wheels first — this is all so overwhelming to her and she’s having difficulty processing it all. Hopefully, she’ll adapt as time goes on.)

He also said to quit taking the pain pills (codeine and hydrocodone)(!) since the only thing they are doing for her is increasing her fall risk. He prescribed some muscle relaxants as he thinks the majority of her pain is due to muscle spasms from pinched spinal nerves as a result of her scoliosis.

He also prescribed her a lift chair (Hallelujah!) As it happens, she foresightfully added my signature to her checking account several years ago, so I was able to go rannygazooting way across town into deepest darkest yuppyville to the La-Z-Boy store and get a lift chair for her in a color that matched her couch — which is what she wanted. It will be delivered late tomorrow morning. I also picked up some prescriptions for her and got her the two items she forgot when I took her grocery shopping after she’d gotten her hair done at the beauty saloon last Friday, and then made a third trip to the pharmacy to get the prescriptions the orthopedist gave her– all of this in 95 F (35 C) heat, no less.

I pulled into the pharmacy parking lot and saw a parking spot right in front of the front door. That’s the Greyolla (mine) on the right. What are the odds?!

Needless to say, I didn’t get any knitting done today, but here directly, I’ll have me a bowl of tuna salad and put my feet up and relax.

*To be thrown a curve

A Narrow Escape

We’ve had a cold snap here these past couple of days.  Good sleeping weather.  I had been sleeping with a sheet, a spread, and this pretend fur twin blanket as the weather yo-yo-ed between too cold for just a sheet and a spread and too hot for a blanket, but yesterday, I bit the bullet and winterized my bed.   I have this undyed unbleached cotton blanket that is made out of thread that is about the same diameter as DK weight yarn woven in a herringbone pattern.  It’s wonderfully heavy and “hand woven” looking, and although I have a queen sized bed, I got it in king size because cotton will shrink somewhat in the dryer over time, and I like my covers  to reach clear to the top of the mattress.  My bedspread is heavy cotton, too, in a jacquard weave.  I also have a microfleece blanket in a leopard print that I keep “S”-folded across the bottom of the bed, so I can just reach down and pull it up when I need it.

So, yesterday, I changed my bed, and not only washed the sheets, but the bedspread, too (which took forEVER to dry!).  I washed a load of clothes, a load of sheets and towels, and a load that was the bedspread.  While I was waiting for the bedspread to dry, I took all the garbage out to the alley.

I have this foldable hanger rack in the laundry room so I can hang up stuff right out of the dryer.  When I put hang-up clothes in the dirty clothes hamper, I take the empty hanger and hang it on this rack.  I have just enough hangers for the clothes I have.  If I get something new, I have to get rid of something so there’ll be a hanger for it.

In the knitting news, the infinity wrap is coming along.  I have six skeins of this yarn, and I haven’t used up one ball yet.   The yarn is a 2-ply DK weight, 100% wool yarn from Green Mountain Spinnery  called Ragg Time in the colorway “Bessie 9461.”  One ply is dark, the other ply is various shades of blue, so the color tends to be heathery.  It’s a very grabby yarn and it doesn’t want to “flow” through my fingers.  I can only knit on it for about an hour or so before I have to stop as it “fights” me and tires out my hands.  Still, I like the color and it makes a good dense fabric on US9’s (5.5 mm) needles.   That white bit at the bottom is the provisional cast on because  I’m going to have to Kitchner the durn thing together.    At some point, I’ll take a length of yarn and wrap it around me so I can measure how long I need to make it.  I just hope 6 skeins (@ 306 yd/279 m each) is going to be enough yarn.   We’ll see.

Today after cardiac rehab, I went to get my car inspected and the oil changed.  When the guy was doing the inspection, he brought to my attention that the license plate number on my last-year’s registration sticker did not match the license plate on my car, and when he ran the license plate number on my sticker, it was for a Nissan SUV (my car is a Toyota Corolla sedan).  Now that I think back, when I got my last year’s registration sticker, there was somebody else getting theirs at the same time, and I bet the lady gave us the wrong stickers.  Here all this time, I’ve been driving around with somebody else’s car registration sticker (and somebody has been driving around with mine!).  I would have never known it if the guy at the oil change place hadn’t said something.  But if a cop had checked me, I would have gotten a ticket for driving around with false registration!!  I got my 2021 registration sticker at the same place I got my 2020 one, and told the clerk about the mix-up.  (She didn’t seem nearly as excited about it as I thought she should be. . . )  But, you better believe I checked the plate number on the new sticker she gave me!

Playing Catch-up

Got my ‘puter fixed.  It was the power supply. Took him ten minutes.  $37.89,  including shipping!  But it’s fixed.  It’s been fixed for almost a month now, but I’ve not been doing much of anything else blogworthy except doctor’s appointments.

I had an EGD (upper end) and colonoscopy (other end) last Monday which had had to be rescheduled because my cardiologist wouldn’t let me stop the clopidogrel (Plavix) (in case they had to do a biopsy or remove a polyp) until he saw me, and I couldn’t get in to see him before the day after my procedure was scheduled. The prep included drinking, like, 64 oz of what is essentially salt water, which is just plain nasty, followed by FOUR Dulcolax, and, not one, but TWO Fleets enemas the morning of the procedure.  June 14 was Slosh Sunday, spent prepping for the procedure the next day.  My mom could take me to where they did the procedure, but she couldn’t come in.  Between the prep and the procedure, I felt like somebody owed me damages, or at least pizza.  Once I got home, I had some lunch (Pedro’s tamales, refried beans, etc.), then I crashed and burned, because I had gotten no sleep at all the night before.  Let me tell you, making somebody drink all that salt water and then take four Dulcolax is cruel and unusual punishment in my book, y’all, never mind the enemas.

Today was kinda exciting.  My mom put out the call for the trained chimpanzee (me) to come help her change out the SIM card in her cell (flip) phone.  Her carrier, Consumer Cellular, is upgrading their cellphone network from 3G to 4G with the intention of phasing out all 3G phones by the end of the year.  So yrs trly bebopped over and did it for her.  Once you change out the SIM card, you have to call them to “activate” it, which I also had to do, twice, because my mom’s age-related hearing deficit (she turns 96 this year) is so profound in the higher frequencies that she has terrible trouble understanding girls/women over the phone, even with her hearing aids set on stun.  She has always had trouble understanding anyone with an accent (read: anybody who is not from our particular neck of the flatlands) even before she started losing her hearing.

Turns out she’s had her phone for so long that once they’ve updated their network, it won’t work any more. Fortunately, I went on their website and was able to get her another little flip phone just like the one she has now, except it will work on a 4G network. Her phone has voice mail, but she doesn’t know how to use it, so I had them just deactivate it. When she gets the new phone, I will have to see if I can download her phone book to the SIM card without having to do it entry by entry so I can just change out the SIM card, and won’t have to retype all her phonebook entries into the new phone. (Again.)  People keep telling her she needs a smart phone, but no.  Just no.  She’d probably stroke out from sheer frustration just trying to learn how to work a touch screen.

In the knitting news, I declared the The Assassin’s Daughter shawl finished at 6 skeins.  Here are some close ups for detail.  It was done in worsted weight yarn, but you can do it in any weight yarn you want.  I still have the ends to weave in, which I will as soon as I can remember what I did with the durn roundtoit.  Sigh.







Naturally, I’ve started another shawl.  I’m calling it “Trio Sonata.”  It’s in Malabrigo sock yarn (Ooooo! snob yarn!) in the colorway “Teal Feather” on a US 6 (4.0 mm) 32-inch circular needle.

Another one of those short, sweet patterns. It has a repeat of three kfb’s (knit front and back) with an ssk as a border on one side and  yo, k2tog, p1, ssk as a border on the other side, with a garter stitch center.   It’s got a nice, shallow, crescent curve to it.

What am I reading?  If you want something short, light and hilarious, check out Minor Mage by T. Kingfisher.  An inept mage whose familiar is a snarky armadillo. Not T. Kingfisher’s usual fare, which can be a tad dark.  This is a delightful little gem at a delightful little price.

The Greyola* (my 2015 Toyota Corolla) (far left) was recalled for a doodad glitch on the passenger side air bag mechanism that might cause the air bag to fail to deploy in a crash.  The Toyota dealership here was forced by COVID quarantine policy to furlough their courtesy driver, and in order to avoid having a wad of customers of unknown COVID status socially distanced all over their waiting room while their cars were getting fixed and potentially exposing their employees and each other to COVID, they cut a deal with Uber.  So now, instead of their one driver of unknown COVID status driving  customers of unknown COVID status to and from their homes, they have multiple Uber drivers of unknown COVID status driving customers of unknown COVID status to and from their homes.  So, when I took the Greyola in for the recall repair, not only did I get my first Uber ride, I got my second Uber ride.  Yee-haw.

What  other exciting things have been happening in my life . . . Oh, yeah.  I did a purse dump yesterday.  For the benefit of the non-purse-wearing crowd, that’s when you take your purse over to the kitchen (or dining room) table, turn it upside down and dump everything out of it.  Then you pick through the pile of stuff and put back in what needs to go back in, in a neat and organized fashion, and you sort through what’s left and deal with it appropriately — throw out the dead tissues, cash register receipts, other pieces of paper, candy wrappers, etc.  The two most important inventions in the history of the human race (and the wheel isn’t either of them) are shoes and pockets.  Both of them were invented by women.  Men are hunters.  All they have to carry home from hunting is a couple of pointed sticks and a dead animal or three.  Women are gatherers, and there’s no way you can do any serious gathering without some way to schlep all the produce back to the cave.  And what is a purse — our symbol — but a big pocket with a strap on it.  I rest my case.


*The 1987 Toyota Corolla I had until I traded it in for the 2015 Corolla was known affectionately as the Crayola.  The 2015 one is silver, hence the Greyola.  See?  Makes perfect sense.




Blueteeth and Rue, or Cheeta* Saves The Day

Went to the dentist Monday, as previously noted, when it was officially hotter than a $2 pistol firing uphill (109F/42.7C).  I have downloaded playlists to my cell phone, and listen to them through ear buds when I must endure the scraping of teeth with metal objects that is inevitable when getting one’s teeth cleaned.  I find the sound/sensation quite nerve-curdling.  The music blocks out some of the noise.  It was a Club des Belugas playlist and quite diverting.

Way back last year when the Greyola took pickup damage to his starboard doors and I had to have him repaired, I had made the remark to one of the mechanics that one of these days I needed to get the manual down and figure out how to connect my cell phone to the car via bluetooth.  With the maddening alacrity of the young, he proceeded to take my phone and connect the two in a matter of minutes, et voilá.  My phone now automatically bluetooths itself to the sound system in my car when I turn the key and I can answer it from the steering wheel.   I knew there must also be a way to play playlists through the car’s sound system and had idly toyed with the idea of figuring that out at some point.  Well, I was still listening to my Club des Belugas tunes as I got into the car, but when I turned on the key to start it, my sound cut out, and the car radio/CD player/etc. read “Press Media.”  I pressed the media button and, mirabile dictu, I had Club des Belugas on the sound system in my car.  Apparently, wonders have not yet ceased.  The Belugas and I clubbed home by way of our friendly neighborhood Taco Villa where I picked up a set of crunchy tacos and a bean burrito.

Now, I have to say that as the family’s designated trained chimpanzee*, I am possessed of a modicum of tech smarts and am demonstrably capable of reading and following directions.  I feel confident that I could have figured out how to connect my cell to my car via Bluetooth, etc., by myself, but doing so was very low on my list of  priorities.  (Of course, the easiest way to get something done is to get somebody else to do it for you!)

Tuesday was much cooler than Monday.  I had hoped to stay in out of it. However, about 2:30, I got a call from my mom.  Her telephone number of ancient memory had been restored to its ancestral wire, and she and her friends had resumed phoning each other.  But, just when normalcy seemed to have beeen established once more, she got a voice mail.  She got quite exercised about it.  She was adamant she did not want voice mail, but wanted her answering machine back (which she already knew how to operate).  A goodly bit of gnashing of teeth and ruing of the day was also involved.  Her cordless phone has voicemail settings but you were advised to call the phone company (you have to program in the voicemail access number for your particular carrier).   I drove over and called the phone company for her to see what needed to be done to drag her kicking and screaming into the 21st century.  (AT&T takes their tech support from the Phillipines.  Even when my mom was not hearing impaired, she had trouble with foreign accents, like Boston, Canada and the San Fernando Valley.  Brits and anyone speaking English as a second language might as well be speaking Swahili.) We learned, to her immense relief, that voicemail could be deactivated, thus allowing her messages to continue to go to her answering machine. I got the tech support lady to do that, and there was great joy in Mudville.  I later was able to play her voice mails for her.  She had three.  One from an actual caller, and two from herself calling her land line from her cell phone to try to circumvent voicemail and get her answering machine.

Wednesday, I thought I might go out, but early in the day, the toilet in the en suite off the master bedroom malfunctioned — the lever attached to the handle that pulls the chain that lifts the flap and starts the flush cycle when you press the handle down broke off the handle.  One could flush the toilet if one removed the top off the tank and fished around in the water for the chain to lift the flap with, but this is highly unsatisfactory as a long-term solution.  The plumber was summoned, eventually got there and easily replaced the assembly, and that crisis is also resolved.

The missing ankle weights and hand weights are still at large.  I’m durned if I know where they are.  I will spring for another pair of ankle weights because I need them as part of my rehab process, but mark my words, three days after the new ones arrive, I’ll find the old ones.  In a place I’ve looked six times already.  (They’ll be in Plainview.**)

*If something is so simple a trained chimpanzee could do it, I am the one who gets to explain it to my mom.  

**Whenever you lose something, you inevitably wind up finding it in Plainview.

Life Has Been Keeping Me Too Busy To Blog

Sorry for the unintended hiatus.  As I noted, I have been having some health problems, which have not been helped by having had some adverse reactions to some new drugs my docs seem to think I need to take — not very nice side effects which necessitated changing things around.  That took about two weeks to get sorted out, and things were smoothing out and settling down.  Then out of the blue, I had a violently allergic reaction to something.  I ended up in the ER with hives and ITCHING from one end of me to the other.  Not fun.  I was taking several new meds and we didn’t know which might be the culprit that caused the reaction. I had to stop taking everything except two meds I’ve been taking for years that I was in the middle of bottles of, so I knew they were unchanged, and one I couldn’t stop taking.  I had to wait about a week to make sure that one new one was OK, which it was.  Then, one at a time, I added each new one back in until I identified the culprit.  Turned out it wasn’t one of the new meds after all.  The manufacturer of a supplement I’ve been taking for years decided to change the type of capsule they put it in to some kind of “vegetable capsule” to which I was wildly allergic.  Thankfully, I was able to find another manufacturer that put theirs in gelatin capsules, as it’s a supplement that makes my life a lot easier when I take it.

And then there was the matter of getting my car fixed. It did take right at two weeks and the guy’s insurance had to pony up over $4000, but Big Daddy got’er done.  I got a rental “loaner” to drive while it was being fixed, a little 2018 Chevy miniSUV, but it was one of those “keyless” ones.  So long as you have the little remote thingie in your purse or pocket, you can unlock the car by just opening the door and start the car by just pushing a button.  But I’ve got the Greyola back now, all fixed up, and my ride is back to normal again.   I missed it.

Not much to report in the knitting news, I’m afraid.  I’ve been batting around so much dealing with one issue and another that I haven’t had much peace and quiet to sit down and enjoy a good knit except when I’ve been at the computer.  I’ve got probably another 15-20 rows on the body of my (slightly modified) cable edged shawl (above) before I get it to the point where I’m ready to start the cable edging. As for the other one, I simply haven’t had the concentration it takes to work on it.  Thank goodness I’ve had the discipline to put in my lifelines after every pattern repeat, as I had to frog out a repeat and a half the last time I tried to work on it.

There’s a new Sebastian St. Cyr Regency murder mystery out by C. S. Harris (#13 in the series), and I’m reading up onto it from #7 to refresh my memory.  (Each of the books is stand alone, so you can start with any book in the series, but the reading experience is greatly enhanced by reading them in the (chronological) order in which they were written.)  The books  are well written and meticulously researched, and the characters are very three-dimensional and engaging.  One of the things I like about the books is that Harris sets her works, not in the romanticized glittering Regency of the romance novel, or the sequestered, self-contained world of Jane Austen, but in the gritty historical reality that was the Regency period in England (1811–1820) — warts and all —  the crime, the poverty, the inequities of the class system and the legal system, and the aristocratic attitudes and privileges that reinforce the status quo.

Another of the things I like about her books is that she sets them within their historical context, both in Europe and America.  Leading up to the period in which the novels are set was the American Revolution (1775-1783) and the loss of the American colonies, as well as the social upheavals of the French Revolution, which began in 1789, and the subsequent influx of French refuges into Britain fleeing the Reign of Terror.  During the time the books take place, Britain is fighting Napoleon on the continent (1803-1815).  In the first book, the hero, Sebastian St. Cyr, formerly a captain in the Duke of Wellington‘s army fighting against Napoleon in Spain and Portugal, has sold his commission and returned to England.  In one of the books, a plot point involves the British practice of stopping American merchant ships at sea and impressing American sailors off them into the British navy, one of the causes of the War of 1812, and we briefly meet Franklin, fils.   Another mentions a popular new novel called Pride and Prejudice, by the (at that time unknown) author of Sense and Sensibility,  and a certain black cat finally acquires a name.  Another involves a 3-year-old boy who will grow up to write a poem called “The Lady of Shalott.”   At the end of each book is an Author’s Note, in which Harris, who has a Ph.D. in 18th and 19th century European history, tells you what is actual history and what she changed, added, or manipulated to serve her plot — which is usually very little.  She also provides sources where you can read more about the particular issues or events featured in the plot.  Though the man character is a man, one of the historical themes that weaves through all her books is the issue of women’s status and women’s rights in Regency England and the roles society demanded that women play.  These themes are highlighted not only in plot points and the characters they involve, but are “made flesh” in one of my favorite characters in the books, a certain grey-eyed young lady named Hero.

You can read the Sebastian St. Cyr books on several levels.   They are entertaining and well-plotted, with engaging, well-rounded characters, a “good read.” But there’s plenty of meat on the bone — historical, sociological, psychological — to give you something of substance to chew on afterward, and maybe explore further.  Enough meat that they hold up to rereading very well.  And, yes, what Sebastian has (Bithil syndrome) is a for-real (though quite rare) genetic mutation.


I Can Have Tuna For Breakfast If I Want To

I have never understood this “you can’t eat certain foods at certain times” thing.  Yeah, I can see structuring your food intake for what you’ve got to do during the day, so that you eat certain types of foods (proteins, complex carbs, fats, etc.) in certain combinations designed to keep you going all day long.  But specific foods being forbidden at specific time?  Nope.  ‘You can’t have that for breakfast!’  Pshaw!  Tuna salad makes a good breakfast.  It’s got protein, complex carbs (or it does the way I make it), and it’s tasty.   (And come to that, how is a piece of  fruit pie (dessert) different than a toaster pastry?)

I had tuna salad for breakfast instead of what I had originally wanted to eat because of a Mystery.  I know for a fact that I bought several cartons of almond milk when I shopped groceries at some point recently — the kind of cartons that don’t have to be refrigerated.  I know I did.  And I know where I thought I put them.  But, I’m durned if I know where they actually are.  There aren’t that many places where they could be and they aren’t in any of them.  I’ve looked.  Twice.  How can I have cereal without almond milk?  I’ve got some lovely Cheerios and some Kashi shreaded wheat, and no almond milk.   So now, here directly, I have to suit up and schlep off to Walmart and get some.   In the rental car.

Yep.  Tues, I took my poor Greyola off to Big Daddy’s Collision Center to get the collision damage repaired.  It’s going to take about two weeks, they said.  They’re going to have to replace both door panels, and the front fender panel, and work on the rear fender panel, and they have to take bumpers off and lights out to paint.  The rental car is a 2017 silver Chevy miniSUV.  I’m going to have to put a static decal in the back window so I can locate the durn thing in parking lots.   It has one of those keyless systems — not just keyless entry, but keyless ignition, too.  So long as you are carrying this fob thingie around on your person, you can lock and unlock the doors and start the car without a key just by pressing buttons!  Oh, the plonger* envy!

So, I’m going to go brush my teeth, put on shoes, beetle off to Walmart to get some almond milk, chopped olives, and TP.  Then I’ll get my adulting done for the day (pay bills), and decide what I want to do next, which will very likely involve yarn and sharp pointy metal things.  And maybe computers.  Busy, busy, busy. . .

It occurs to me that I’ve got a shawl going in every room of the house but the kitchen at the moment, all of them for me.  I’ve got a Malguri Morning shawl in Charisma yarn “Northern Light” colorway going in the living room (TV knitting at its finest), my modified version of the cable edged shawl in Lion Brand Heartland yarn color “Glacer Bay” going by the computer, and the cobblestone lace shawl in “bluejean” going in the bedroom.   I’ve got some YouTube subscriptions that have uploaded new videos, and some blogs to read, and The Ocean At The End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman to finish rereading, and a lot of TV binge watching lined up to get stuff off the DVR, so shawl knitting is really high on the list of things that will happen in the near future.  Be nice if I can get all three shawls done in time for cold weather this fall.  Goalz.  I haz ’em.


*plonger - in the family parlance, a "plonger" is a small electronic device that has buttons you push to accomplish tasks -- a doorbell, a TV remote, a garage door opener remote, the little remotes that lock and unlock your car all fall under this generic term.  In order to accomplish the task, you "plong" the appropriate button.  This came from "plonging" on the door bell, which is also a common expression in the family parlance, which is what you do to produce the "classic" doorbell "pling-plong" sound.  "Plonging" would qualify as an onomatopoeic noun (for the sound) used as a verb (what you do to produce the sound).  This term has the sound and feel of one of my dad's (many) linguistic influences on the household.