Going Around in Cycles

My next cycle of chemo starts next Wednesday (at 8:40 ye gods, o’clock in the morning, no less). So, between now and then, I have to wash clothes, go to the grocery store and probably Wal-Mart to lay in supplies. I would also like to go to knitting group Tuesday, but I’m playing it by ear. I have no energy, and all I want to do is sleep.

A downside to living here at Carillon is that I am living under the tyranny of other people’s schedules, which I wasn’t so much at my previous digs in the duplex. Meals here are served during a specific time period, and if you don’t do what you need to do to get your food (have it delivered, go down and get it or sit in the dining room and eat it) during that time period, then you’re on your own. You have a food allowance that comes out every month whether you use it or not (easily one, but maybe two meals a day if you work it right). Also, starting April 1st, there will be a $3 delivery charge for having someone bring it up to you.

I got spoiled living on my own. I was used to eating when my body told me to. Here, lunch is 11:00 to 1:00, which is too early. Supper is 4:30-6:00, which works better for me. But until they can fully staff both dining rooms, my ability to go downstairs to get supper in our dining room here will stop when the remodel of Windsong’s dining facility is finished. (Windsong is a separate building a long city block away.) Once Windsong’s dining facility is up and running again, lunch will be served here where I am, but dinner will be served over there. There have already been one or two days when I can barely make it to the refrigerator and back, never mind walk the length of two football fields (there and back) out of doors. I can already tell I’m not bouncing all the way back to normal between cycles, and that’s going to get incrementally worse with each cycle as the toxicity of the chemo drugs wears me down.

I had a care plan meeting about mom yesterday, and I asked about a bill I got for tablet prednisone that she was given in February (first I’d heard about it until I got the bill for it). I know she’s on prednisolone eye drops because of her corneal transplants and she did call last month to ask me the name of her eye doctor, so that’s what I thought it was for until I saw it was tablets. According to the social worker, they were giving it to her because of gout (?!?!?!). I am well aware of her medical condition and she has never been diagnosed with gout before. Turns out the doctor she has now saw her last month and they did lab tests and her uric acid levels were very high (upper limit was 2 something and her levels were 8 something). Apparently, according to her new doctor, hyperuricemia equals gout, and somehow the (now healed) pressure sore she had on her heel was supposed to have been due to gout (it wasn’t) and that’s why they gave her a short course of prednisone. Have they done any more lab test to see if her uric acid levels have come down? No. . . .

This is concerning, not because she now has the questionable diagnosis of “gout,” but because of the event back last July that precipitated this whole chain of events, when CK and I went to her house and found her unconscious and unarousable on the bed. She was dehydrated because she hadn’t been drinking enough water and had gone into kidney failure. Granted, her kidneys are nearly 98 years old, but it doesn’t help that she doesn’t drink nearly enough water because she doesn’t want to have to get up and go to the bathroom. But having to hoist herself up out of her beloved lift chair and walk maybe 10 feet to go potty is eminently preferable to having dialysis catheters surgically implanted in a vein and artery, and being taken in the wheelchair van to a dialysis center three times a week to spend three or four hours lying flat on the bed getting dialysis because you’ve gone into chronic kidney failure. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper, too. Also, there is a form of delirium that is caused by the buildup of toxins in the body as the result of kidney failure. I saw that in the hospital last July. It’s damn scary, if you’ll pardon my Anglo-Saxon. She was so out of it they had to use soft restraints on her and put a security camera on her to keep her from trying to get out of bed, pull her lines off, take her gown off and wander around. Worsening kidney function can also induce or worsen dementia. Granted, she’s nearly 98, her body is wearing out, and some decline in function is to be expected, but she’s also my mother, and I’d just as soon neither of us have to go through another hospitalization like that again, thank you very much.

In the knitting news, ongoing projects are still ongoing.

The hexagon blanket is still hexed. I’ve frogged it yet again and backed off to cogitate on it. I think I may have it sussed now, so will try again. (Attempt #4?) (A few of my collection of knitting bowls.)(There’s at least one by every chair.)

This video, ya’ll. This video is entirely too cool! It has a quiet, solo piano sound track. It’s also 10 hours long, so you could play this on your big screen TV, turn the sound off, and it’d be like having an aquarium. I think I’m going to go get it on my 55-inch TV, turn the sound off and listen to Soma FM’s Drone Zone on my Kindle Fire tablet, and knit. Sit. Breathe. Knit.

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.

Words Worth Sharing

To Love Someone Long-Term Is to Attend a Thousand Funerals of the People They Used to Be

– Heidi Priebe

The people they’re too exhausted to be any longer.
The people they don’t recognize inside themselves anymore.
The people they grew out of, the people they never ended up growing into.
We so badly want the people we love to get their spark back when it burns out;
to become speedily found when they are lost.
But it is not our job to hold anyone accountable to the people they used to be.
It is our job to travel with them between each version and to honor what emerges along the way.
Sometimes it will be an even more luminescent flame.
Sometimes it will be a flicker that disappears and temporarily floods the room with a perfect and necessary darkness.

From the excellent blog In The Margins

Having a Ball

Now that I have my knitting mojo back, I’ve noticed that I’ve fallen behind in my reading (my average so far this year is 42 books for the year to date). If I could learn to read while I knit — or would it be knit while I read? — but I haven’t mastered that particular trick yet. I’m a pretty single-minded reader. My eyes attach to the first word at beginning of the page and pretty much suck in the text like a vacuum pump, release at the end of the page, and reattach to the first word at the top of the next page without me having to think about it. If it’s a really good book, I can start the first page, suddenly run out of story, look up and discover that it’s hours later.

I’ve been a good citizen and stimulated the economy on the three occasions that the government has encouraged me to do so. (I have been blessedly fortunate to be in a situation where COVID had no effect on my income.) Several of my purchases have been what is known in the parlance as “snob yarn” — i.e., any yarn not purchased at a large retail chain (Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, Walmart, Joanne’s, etc.), that is either not acrylic or not “washcloth cotton,” and is typically produced by small, independent, typically female-owned small

businesses or cooperatives that typically knowtheir wool producers by name because they’ve raised them from lambs. I’m including Malabrigo, Berroco, and Schachenmeyr in this category because even though they are large companies, their yarns are all made from natural fibers, and they don’t sell any other retail merchandise besides yarn and the accoutrements you need to make things out of it.

Late in 2019, I was finally able to allocate funds to acquire a swift and a ball winder because I had earlier acquired the Malabrigo 100% Merino sock yarn that would become the Sweet Irene shawl. I had five hanks of it. Hanks are harder to wind into balls than those pull skeins (which are tools of the Devil!) that most acrylic yarn comes in. That’s where a “ball” winder comes in.

These don’t wind yarn into balls, incidentally; they wind yarn into what are called “cakes.” (see left.) I’ve been caking my yarn purchases here lately. I was able to score some Berroco “Modern Cotton” yarn in both worsted and DK weight on sale through Yarnspirations. I scored some Ragg-Time yarn from The Green Mountain Spinnery, which is what my Infinity wrap is being knitted from. And I’ve picked up a couple of skeins here , here, and there on sale. All of this yarn is in hanks.

While I have been merrily winding yarn, I have been considering. I had decided that instead of Kitchnering my infinity wrap together into one big circle that I would have to wrestle myself into, I would close it with buttons. Wooden buttons. But — how many buttons? and which color buttons? I’m thinking three dark ones, because five looks too busy. I started the infinity wrap with a provisional cast on, thinking I would Kitchner it, but I could just as easily pick up those stitches and do a button band.

So now I have all this beautiful new yarn, and I can’t stand it. I’ve dropped everything to work on a pattern for a wide-winged triangular shawl with a knitted on edging that can be crossed over the chest and tied behind, and there’s this Mohonk yarn in the colorway “wet bluestone” that’s been begging me to become this thing. . .

I have also been listening a lot to Venice Classic Radio, an internet radio station based in Venice, Italy (oddly enough), which I can listen to through Winamp on my PC, an internet radio app on my Fire tablet, and an internet radio app on my iPhone. If you like European classical music from the 18th and 19th century, this is the radio station for you.

Thinky Thoughts and Bowls

“The great secret that all old people share,” wrote Doris Lessing, “is that you really don’t change in seventy or eighty years. Your body changes, but you don’t change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion.”

I love that quote.  It’s spot on.

I paired the Bluetooth earbuds with my iPhone and I’ve been listening to the Suburbs of Goa channel of the SomaFM internet radio station all evening.  (SomaFM has so much music in one place! I love it so much!)  Energized by the music, I folded unmentionables and other assorted laundry, put the dressing in the oven to cook, read blogs at the computer, worked a puzzle at Jigsaw Planet, all with my iPhone on charge in the bedroom and me wandering all over the house with music in my ears.  No dangling earbud wires to catch on stuff, no need to make sure I have a pocket or pouch to carry my phone.  Joy electric.  I have a set of cordless infrared headphones for the TV, but infrared is line of sight only, and the moment you get out of sight, you get an earful of white noise.   As inexpensive as these Bluetooth earbuds are, maybe Santa will bring me a pair for the TV for Crimmers.

Sunday night’s supper was the end of the chili casserole.  Good to the last elbow.  Monday, I went to the cabinet to get a bowl for some cereal and guess what.  The cupboard was bare.  Fortunately, the dishwasher wasn’t, and had finished its cycle some hours ago.






Now I’ve started in on the cornbread dressing, chicken breast meat, and cranberry sauce that are standing in for the “leftovers” I didn’t get to have because we ate Thanksgiving dinner at friends’.  I’m having them now.   So good.

Speaking of bowls, I have bowls of knitting scattered all over the house . . . Guess that means I have my knitting mojo back.

Two bowls by the computer.

A second iPouch with earbud pocket in progress and a bowl of yarn for Christmas balls (Julekuler).

The large rectangular shawl in the big basket with the reader’s shrug stalled at the start of the lower sleeve decreases.

The Art of Hygge


(pronounced:  ˈh(y)o͞oɡə,ˈho͝oɡə/)
a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).

See, this is what we should have been doing while we’ve been sheltering in place — rearranging, revamping, renovating those sheltering places to make them more hygge.   Instead of going stir crazy or spending endless hours playing with our phones, we should have been relocating and repurposing furniture and re-allocating space to make that medium-slow* make-shift, stuck-off-in-a-corner “home office” into a decent workspace, or rethinking and reconfiguring  the furniture in the den so you can watch the big-screen TV without that distracting window reflection on the screen and without having to go to the chiropractor to get your neck readjusted after you decided to binge watch all the Harry Potter movies (and hitting up Amazon for a couple of flat-pack end-tables so you have a place to put the the snackies, the drinkies,  and an organizer for the umpteen remotes that keep sliding off onto the floor and getting kicked under the couch.)   (Oh, and sofa cushions and a warm microfleece lap robe . . . )   It’s time to up our snuggle game, people!



The Circular Revolution

Prior to the invention of the circular knitting needle, the only types of knitting needles available were rigid lengths of wood or metal in various diameters. The length of a needle was limited to about 13 inches because anything longer quickly became too heavy and unwieldy to be easily manipulated by the hands.  These long needles typically had a point at one end and a “button” at the other to prevent stitches from sliding off, ranged in length from 8-13 inches and typically came in pairs.

The flat pieces that are sewn together t make a cardigan sweater.

For practical reasons, the width of any single piece of knitted fabric made on this type of needle was limited to the number of stitches you could fit onto the longest needle you could conveniently manipulate. Because of this, knitted garments had to be constructed “flat” — in the same way cloth garments were constructed — from pieces that were sewn together.  For example, to make a cardigan sweater one knitted two sleeves, a left front, a right front, and a back, and sewed the pieces together.   Consequently, historical knitting patterns, traditions,  and techniques reflect this constraint.

The first circular revolution was the development of knitting in the round (ITR) by using  short needles, typically from 6 to 8 inches long*, that have points on both ends ( double pointed needles or DPNs).  The ITR technique made it possible to knit tubular garments like stockings and hose without seams.  But again, for practical considerations, the circumference of the tube that can be knitted is limited by the number of double pointed needles you are willing to fiddle with — four being the practical limit.  Even so, four DPNs are sufficient to hold enough stitches to accommodate the circumference of the largest foot (which is why DPNs come in sets of five).  This technique also made it practical to knit gloves,  mittens and hats without seams.   (You could conceivably knit a seamless sweater on DPNs if (a) it was for a doll, or (b) you were willing to put up with the hassle of  working with a garment on 6-15 DPNs.  But, if you’ve ever used metal DPNs, you know how impractical it would be!)

A circular knitting needle with metal needles.

With the advent of plastics came the second circular revolution, the invention of the circular knitting needle, first patented in 1918.  This consists of two small single-pointed needles made of plastic, wood, or metal connected end-to-end by some flexible material such as nylon or  plastic coated wire to make it, in effect, one long double pointed needle.  Anyone who has used DPNs knows how frustratingly easy it is for stitches to slide off one end or the other of a DPN, or for a DPN to slide completely out and end up on the floor.  The circular needle solves that problem.  It also circumvents the width constraints of single-pointed needles as the length of the actual needle portion is only slightly wider than the palm of the hand, and the flexible cable allows the full weight of the knitted fabric to rest in the lap.

A circular needle can be anywhere from 9 inches (the shortest practical length) to 60 inches long.  This wide variation in length makes it not only possible, but practical to knit tubular fabric with a circumference large enough to fit around chest or

Two at a time socks on two circular needles.

hips and to knit very wide pieces of flat knitted fabric for making shawls, afghans and blankets without the need for piecing them together.

Two at a time socks on a single circular needle using Magic Loop Method

Necessity being the Mother of Invention**, knitters began employing the circular needle in new and inventive ways to do such things as knitting sleeves or socks two at a time using two fairly short circular needles, or using a single long circular needle in what is known as the Magic Loop technique.

For that matter, you can knit an entire sweater without seams on a single circular needle.

With the invention of the circular needle, knitting has become a three-dimensional craft, and patterns written after about 1960 begin to reflect this, moving toward more seamless construction techniques.

Now knitting has also entered the age of the internet:  If there’s anything to do with knitting that you want to learn, somebody has posted a tutorial video about it on YouTube, and a glance through the patterns currently available on Ravelry makes it plain that if you can dream it, you can knit it.

*The makers of Shetland Lace use 13-15 inch long double pointed knitting needles in conjunction with a knitting stick, which is a neat trick if you can do it. 

**FYI, the Father of Invention is "There's got to be an easier way to do this!"

Can’t Leave Well Enough Alone.

Yes, I’m having another “ooooh, shiny!” moment, but what a way to start a bittersweet, socially-distanced Tuesday . . .

There is a reason why the music of camel cultures is rhythmically different than the music of horse cultures.  (The music of Spain is a blend of the two cultures.)  Horses walk by moving the hind foot that is diagonal to the front foot that just stepped — left front, right hind, right front, left hind.  This gait produces a steady 1-2-3-4 beat = 4/4 time.  It meshes seamlessly with the 1-2-1-2 = 2/4 time of a person walking.  You hear this rhythmic pattern all through the music of Western culture.  But there are three animals that have a unique walking gait — they walk to the beat of a different drum, if you will.  The front and back legs on the same side move instead of on the diagonal — right rear, right front, left rear, left front.  Those three animals are the giraffe, the cat*, and — the camel.

Compare the rhythm of the horse:

with the rhythm of the camel:

Horses rock with a front to back motion as they walk (just like a rocking horse); camels sway with a side to side motion as they walk — riding a camel for the first time actually makes some people seasick!  But listen to the sway in the deep drum beat.

Compare it to that good-ol’ Human two-step:

*Remember that Henry Mancini Pink Panther theme?  That da-dum da-dum figure that keeps repeating throughout --  It's the rhythm  that a cat's feet would make if you could hear their silent tread.

The Dark Side of the Moon

A camera 1 million miles from Earth recorded this amazing video of the dark side of the Moon

I have one of those desktop apps that puts a graphic on your desktop that shows the current phase of the moon.  (No, you can’t just go outside at night and look because the rising and setting times of the moon change on a daily basis.) Apart from the fact that this gadget shows a graphic representation of how the real moon looks as it goes through its phases, which is cool in and of itself, the person who wrote the gadget I downloaded once upon quite a while ago called it “Werewolf Monitor” — which always makes me smile.

Tonight, all we can see is the dark side of the moon, which is also the title of a really great album by Pink Floyd. (IMHO, not as good as “Wish You Were Here,” which has to have the coolest album cover, but then, as Mr. Clemens pointed out, that’s what makes horse races. . . ) (. . . oh, by the way, which one’s Pink?)

While I’m here, I want to lay this on you.  Something nice to give your eyes (and head) a rest:

©2020 Lagniappe

If you’re into nature, or photography, or just like to look at nice pictures, slip on over to Lagniappe and give it a look.

And there’s my good deed done for the day. . .

. . . . one good deed deserves another:

Here are the two daughters of the late Pandit Ravi Shankar, carrying on their father’s legacy of giving music to the world.

(P.S. I was listening to the “Suburbs of Goa” channel of Soma FM the other day while I was playing games on my Kindle Fire, and they played this duet between Anoushka Shankar and violinist Joshua Bell.  Yowsa!)

I Have A Finished Object! . . . Uh, . . . No, I Don’t . . .

I finished “The Assassin’s Daughter” shawl, using 3 skeins, but it was too small for the way I like to wear my shawls.**  But, I have 7 skeins total of that yarn, so I frogged out the top border, and I’m adding another two skeins (5 skeins total) and I’ll see how that goes.  If that’s still not big enough, I’ll go the whole 7.  Since I’m increasing two stitches every other row, and I’m adding to the top, the number of rows I can get out of each skein diminishes the more stitches I have on the needle.

I’ve been taking a leaf from the lovely Miss Bernadette Banner‘s book and attempting to suss out how a garment is made just by looking at a picture of somebody wearing it.  In this case, it’s that interesting olive green shawl being worn by Kathy Hipperson in the below video as she sits chatting with Ms. Banner in the pub.

Regular subscribers to Ms. Banner’s vlog might recognize Ms. Hipperson as the actress who interprets “Mrs. Crocombe” in the English Heritage “How To Cook the Victorian Way” videos.

In some of the comments, people were wanting to know about the olive green “sweater” she was wearing and how to get a pattern for it.  It’s actually not a sweater.  It’s a shawl with the ends crossed over her left shoulder.  My informed guess is that it is rectangular in shape, about 24 inches wide and at least 60 inches long. It’s done in garter stitch with a braided cable (3 sts x 3 sts x 3 sts) down the length, probably off center, i.e., closer to one edge than to the center.

It’s made from bulky weight yarn and worked on very big needles (possibly 9.0-10 mm/US13-15).  It would be pretty easy to copy once you had your stitch gauge. Knit a 5 inch by 5 inch swatch in your chosen yarn, with your chosen needles, measure the number of stitches to the inch, x 24 – 30 inches to get the cast on. Then allocate 9 or 12 stitches for your cable with a purl-stitch gutter on either side to give the cable a little more definition.  Put markers on either side of your cable. The cable stitches are worked per standard braided cable with 5 rows between crosses. The rest is garter stitch, and how hard is garter stitch? she asks rhetorically. . .

Of course, now I have to see if I’ve got enough yarn to make one for myself. . . . Sigh.  But it would be a fairly straightforward project, and bulky yarn in garter stitch on bulky needles goes quickly.

** There are two schools of thought about shawls.  Some people like to wear their shawls like a scarf or cowl, up around their neck.  Others like to wear their shawl around their shoulders like a cape.  Obviously, you wouldn’t want such a big shawl if you were wearing it around your neck.  On the other hand, a larger shawl would fit around your shoulders better .  Since I belong to the latter school, I’m going for a bigger shawl.