On the Downward Slope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

There And Back Again

I had been planning a trip since August to attend the Bauer family reunion in Round Top, Texas. Carl Siegismund Bauer was a stone mason by trade, and immigrated to Texas along with a sizeable portion of his 10 children and numerous grandchildren. We are descended from his daughter Christiane Caroline, who married a man named Carl Wilhelm Rummel.

It was her daughter Emma Amande (at left, who came to Texas at the ripe old age of 6) who married the Reverend Adam Neuthard, the first pastor of the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Round Top. It was his grandfather-in-law, Carl Siegismund Bauer who supervised the construction of the church building that still stands today. Adam and Emma’s daughter Martha was my great grandmother.

My cousin JP drove up from New Mexico and spent Thursday night in the guest room on our floor, and bright and early Friday morning, off we went in the Greyola, with me driving and JP navigating, bearing heirlooms and heading for Dripping Springs some 373 miles to the southeast, where his son EP lives. We had fabulous weather — sunny, clear and hot, and made good time (a little over 6 hours). We were to spend the night in EP’s house (he is my first cousin’s son, which makes him my first cousin 1x removed).

It was the first time I’ve ever been to Dripping Springs, or seen his house, or met his lovely wife and family. (Only the two younger boys are still at home, the rest of his brood having flown the nest, but his youngest daughter just got engaged, and she and her intended ate with us Friday night.)

I slept Friday night in an old friend. My cousin JP’s mother’s bed. She got the bedroom suite this bed was part of before she married, and kept it til the end of her life. I remember it from childhood visits to their home at Christmas and in the summer. When she passed, it came to her grandson EP. It was like meeting an old friend.

We got an early start Saturday morning for our drive to Round Top for the reunion. It was foggy and humid when we set out from Dripping Springs, which is just west of Austin, to Round Top, which is east of Austin, a journey of about 2 hours (98 miles), but the weather cleared and was sunny and hot (high of 91F/32.7C).

Round Top is approximately 80 miles from Houston, and it’s two main attractions are the Spring and Fall Antique Fairs, and the Music festival in the summer. However, its nearness to Houston make it ideal country for the weekend getaway cottage, and land values in the area are rapidly increasing. However, the inevitable development has been kept very sympathetic to the historical context of the town. Old buildings have been restored and repurposed, which gives them a new lease of life without destroying their historic character.

The reunion was held in the church meeting hall which was built on the site of Reverend Neuthard’s house, which was unfortunately pulled down in the 1930’s. Here are two of its treasures.

Here are some views of the interior of the church.

As a special treat, my cousin AMcI, who is my first cousin 1x removed (you may need a score card — I often do!), had arranged for us to tour the Rummel House, which is now used as a media center and a place for student education. This house was built by Carl William Rummel, Jr., brother of Emma Rummel Neuthard. Here are some pictures of it.

Here are my cousins WM and JP, and my 1x removed cousin AMcI by the old live oak that is out front of the house. To the left just below the stair railing is the old cistern (capped now for safety). These live oak trees are easily old enough to have been present when the house was built.

I had to include a picture of the house where my grandmother was born (at left). It is the house the Schiege Cigar Factory provided for its foreman, my great grandfather Paul Helmecke and his wife Martha Neuthard Helmecke and their family. It and the Schiege house and the Cigar Factory buildings are now part of the Round Top Inn.

After a visit with our cousins, JP and I wended our way back to Dripping Springs. That evening, EP who is managing the development of an exclusive residential edition which will feature houses built around an 18 hole private golf course took us out to see the course, the first 9 holes of which are finished. They are having the same problems everyone else is with the supply chain disruptions and are somewhat behind schedule, but what they have so far is very impressive.

We got a late start Sunday morning, but we had good weather until we hit Sweetwater, where we drove into a robust little West Texas dust storm. It was gusty and dusty the rest of the way home. As we were nearing home, my cousin was wondering why we could not see the skyline — but then there was so much dust in the air that we couldn’t even see the sky!

Our adventures were not over, though. The key to the guest room where JP was to stay Sunday night didn’t work. Fortunately, the guest room on the floor above was available and Security got us the key for it (which worked!). But there for a while, we thought he was going to have to inaugurate mom’s new bed! After another visit with mom on Monday morning, JP headed back to NM.

It was a good trip (average 30.2 mpg), and I was very glad I was able to go. But now I’m back and mom moves in on Monday, which will be the start of a whole ‘nother adventure. Stay tuned.

Well, Zut Alors!

Which is French for dadgummit, goldurn, blimey, and other such family-friendly exclamations of annoyance.  I was going to be a good girl and not do any more Foreigner shawls, even though I’ve been thinking about a leaf-lace pattern and Tirnamardi’s famous hedges . . .  Ilisidi has one (two, actually), the assassin’s daughter has one, and then I got to thinking about little Irene and what a special young lady she is, and how nice this “Teal Feather” colored Malabrigo sock yarn would look against her dark skin, and you know what?  Rene-ji, this one’s for you, darling.  Even in the far future, Black lives matter.

This is the best picture I’ve gotten so far of the side of the shawl with all the kfb’s on it.  It has such a nice textural detail, and this is the version of it I frogged.  I threw a p1 between the kfb’s and the ssk on the newer version which makes it one stitch wider.  You know what?  I’m going to post the whole pattern for this little goodie right here:

2-3 skeins of Malabrigo sock yarn, color Teal Feather
US6 (4.0 mm) 40-inch circular needle

Cast on 3 stitches
Row 1: k
Row 2: (kfb x3)
Row 3: k
Row 4: (kfb x3), k to end of row

Row 5: k until 6 stitches remain, kfb, yo, k2tog, p1, ssk
Row 6: k until 6 stitches remain, (kfb x3), p1, ssk

Repeat rows 5 and 6 until the shawl is the size you want.

K3, *yo, k2tog, repeat from * until 3 stitches remain, yo, k3
Knit 3 rows. Bind off.

That’s it. That’s all there is to the pattern. Short, sweet, easily memorized.  I’ve got five skeins of the Malabrigo ; I’m going to see where three skeins gets me.  There’s 440 yards in a 3.5 oz skein of this sock yarn because it’s skinny yarn for knitting socks, 100% Merino wool, machine wash cold, dry flat.  It’s a bit pricey but, like the man sez, you get what you pay for.  (Look at me knitting with yarn snob yarn!)  Evidently, they’ve discontinued the “Teal Feather” colorway.  Pity.  But that Cian . . . .  Here’s a detail of the eyelet border, as yet unfinished, never mind unblocked.

Anyway, I was I was sipping Crystal Light Peach Mango out of my stainless steel 32 oz water bottle (with a whole tray of ice in) and knitting on this newest shawl and enjoying the newest video from Liziqui’s YouTube channel.  Oh, another lovely, peaceful video.  There’s a reason she has 11.4 K followers.  I love the relationship she has with her granny.  You don’t need to be able to read or understand Chinese to enjoy her videos.  Recommended viewing.   Just get your cool beverage of choice, kick back and enjoy.

Heard my phone ding and looked to see why, and noticed it’s 101F/38.3C outside just now, which is why I’m inside with one of my pedestal fans on low blowing at me.  These things are work horses.  Second summer on this one, third summer on the other two, going 24/7.   I have one in the living room, one here in my “office” and one in my bedroom.  Money well spent.  I like that you can angle them up and down.  The newer models come with a remote.  (Doesn’t everything these days? Kind of makes you want to buy a carpenter’s tool belt to carry all your remotes around in. . .)

The older of my two first cousins x2 removed just got her driver’s license.  Where does the time go? The other one is nearly five.

This one is my mother’s sister Jean’s great granddaughter.  Her daddy is a brigadier general in the USAF.  When her daddy makes major general, they will be entitled to sing the song. *

The other one is my mother’s sister Verna’s great granddaughter, and a ringed-tailed doozy.

I may be committing tuna salad in the near future.   I think that’s tuna that I hear calling my name. . . could be something else.  I’d better go see.

Oh, wait!  This first.  This! (Thanks, Terri!)


*Yes, that's a young Linda Ronstadt as Mabel, one of the Major General's daughters, with Rex Smith as Frederic and Kevin Kline as the Pirate Captain in the 1980 Joseph Pap production of "Pirates of Penzance" put on in Central Park in New York.  The movie version of this casting is very good if you can find a copy of it.

Happy Mother’s Day

To all the mothers who came before, are here now, and are to come:  Without you, there would be no us.

Maternal Great Great Grandmother, 1842-1881

Maternal Grandmother 1886-1970

Maternal Grandmother (far right) and her 12 children

Mother 1924-

Three Generations

Paternal Grandmother 1892-1974

Paternal Grandmother (center) and her five children.

Getting a Handel on this Quarantine Business

Bored with quarantine yet?  Thought so.

This  is a video of a recording session for a very under-appreciated duet from one of Handel’s operas, “Giulio Cesare” first performed in 1724.  (Never heard of Handel?  Oh, I bet you’ve heard his greatest hit.)  I thought you might like to play a little mind game.   Position your mouse over the play arrow, but close your eyes before you click it.  Wait till after the harmony bit,  until they get to the bit where they sing individually.  Periodically see if you can guess who is singing, then open your eyes and see if you’re right.

Philippe Jaroussky is a French countertenor.  His voice falls within in the very highest male vocal range, the male equivalent of a soprano.   Nathalie Stutzmann, on the other hand, is a contralto.  She is singing in the very lowest female vocal range, the female equivalent of a bass.

OK.  So, in this next  blast from the past (1791*), the lady with the spikey crown is The Queen of the Night (Diana Damrau), and she is not a happy camper.  Her  little rant, “Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen,” is one of those virtuoso,  blow-the-dust-off-the-chandeliers numbers.  What it is, actually, is Mozart’s take on a royal hissy fit.  In German.

In the interest of equal time, lets have some pyrotechnics from the men.  This is a little number called “Vo solcando un mar crudele” from the opera “Artaserse” by Leonardo Vinci (no, not that one) first performed in 1730** The role of Arbace is being wrestled to the ground here by countertenor Franco Fagioli.  This 2012 French production is remarkable for its period accuracy:  All the female roles (that would have been sung by castrati back in the day) were sung by male countertenors in drag, and the singers’ costumes are period accurate.  Seriously.  Grown men used to walk around in public, in broad daylight dressed just like this guy, makeup and all.  (Both men and women wore heavy, clown-white make up in those days.  Mostly to cover up small pox scars.)

Yeah, they make faces when they sing. They’re using their mouths and faces to focus and project their voices in much the same way a traditional stage actor does.  If you’ll notice, these singers don’t use mikes for performances.  This is opera.  You’d better put on your big boy knee breeches, because if you can’t hit those high C’s up into the nosebleed seats, you might as well take your ball and bat and go home.

One more by Handel.  “Addio, mio caro bene” from the opera “Teseo” first performed in 1713.*** This time with mezzo soprano Natalia Kawałek countertenor  Jakub Józef Orliński.  This duet is about lovers saying goodbye as he goes off to war.

I’m throwing this next one in because I have the whole opera on CD with Natalie Dessay in the title role.  Lakme was first performed in 1883*#.  Listen to the echoes she gets in the concert hall. You’ve probably heard something else from this opera on a movie soundtrack or two (like the love scene between Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve in The Hunger, and more recently, in films such as Meet the Parents and True Romance).  But this is the aria that brings home the bacon.

Ballet is serious, highbrow stuff.  Right? Um, no. . .

*1791 -- the French have been revolting since 1789, Louis XVI is still on the throne, but not for long.  The Americans have won their revolution (1783) but are still trying to figure out this states thing and which end is up.  Geo. Washington is in the third year of his first term as President. 

**1730  The year the city of Baltimore, Maryland was founded.  A year before  Benjamin Franklin founds the first  public library in America in Philadelphia.  Geo. Washington will not be born for another two years. 

***1713 In America the first of the French and Indian wars begins.  The treaty of Utrecht ends the war of the Spanish Succession and puts this guy on the Spanish throne. 

#*1883  Chester A. Arthur is President.  The Brooklyn Bridge is finished and opened for traffic.  The first Rodeo takes place in Pecos, Texas.  Americans began raising funds to build a base for the Statue of Liberty a year ago. My maternal great great grandmother, who immigrated to Texas from Saxony (Germany) at age 6, died two years ago, as did her youngest child, a daughter, aged 2. My maternal grandmother will not be born for another three years. 

Down The Rabbit Hole

As in Alice falling down the rabbit hole to Wonderland.  Except that the rabbit hole I keep falling down is YouTube.   Did you know there is a video game in which you choose which of a selection of baby dinosaurs you want to be and then have to find food and evade predators until you grow to be an adult?  It’s based on the prehistoric ecosystem of the Hell Creek formation and many scientists who study the flora and fauna of that era consulted on the game.  From what little I’ve seen of it, the CGI is better than the various Jurassic Park films, and a good deal more scientifically accurate.  If I had a kid, that would be the kind of video games I’d want them to play instead of those ghastly shoot-em-up games or kill-them-before-they-kill-us zombie/monster games.   I may have to get a trial download for PC just to see the graphics.

I’m telling you, rummaging about on YouTube turns up some of the most interesting things — like video of ROV exploration of the deep oceans, or those great BBC English history videos, or some lady using a pattern from the 1940’s to make a dress, or twenty years of Time Team, or people building their own houses/homesteads, how-to videos that teach you how to do practically everything,  videos  about every hand craft you can imagine, videos about every hobby you can imagine.

Just this evening, I stumbled onto the channel of a Russian woman who is evidently a naturalist of some kind who cares for (rehabilitates?) birds of prey, mostly owls.  She has an eagle owl, some smaller owls, as well as frogs, lizards, millipedes, and a cat.  Some of her videos have titles or brief explanations in English, but they’re all narrated in Russian.

I studied Russian for 18 months once upon a time, and I’m fascinated by the sound of it.  It’s been a while, but I still recognized words and phrases.  More and more comes back the longer I listen to it.   Every language has its unique sounds, its unique rhythm and meter.  Russian has oddly shaped vowels interspersed with snarls and globs of consonants (the word for “hello” has 8 consonants and only 4 vowels — здравствуйте –zdravstvuite.)  Whereas the English alphabet is derived from the Roman alphabet, the Russian alphabet is derived from the Greek alphabet, and it has more letters than ours.  Russians only need four letters to spell “borscht”  – борщ  – that last letter is pronounced “shch.” The word for “bird” is птица  (ptitsa) and both the “p” and the “t” are pronounced.  It’s an infected language like Latin, with cases and endings, and a truly mind-bending system of verbs.  It has no articles (“a/an” or “the”) and the verb “to be” has no present tense.

. . . Anyway, in one of the videos, she and three of her besties went to a lake in the country so that one of them could take a baby otter swimming.   (Baby otters are not instinctive swimmers.  They have to be taught.)  — it was on a leash the whole time.  Despite the surrounding vegetation being green, the lake water was so cold she had to put a wet suit on to go in swimming with it.  One of her other besties is a veterinarian, and there was a video about her examining two birds (with some really state of the art equipment!) — a fairly good sized owl and some sort of hawk or falcon.  The cat (named “Murloc”)  walks on a leash, too.

My hair is finally beginning to get some length to it.  It’s long enough to just barely touch the top of my shoulder and the hair across my forehead is down past my nose, i.e., if I want to see, I have to part my hair in some fashion to get it out of my eyes (the medical term for it is “growing out your bangs syndrome” and it’s a PITA).  For some strange reason, I started parting it on the right.  Then last week, I had a “DUH!” moment.

I have anisometropia, which is to say, the vision in my right eye (20/400) is very much worse than the vision in my left eye (20/40).   I have excellent vision in my right eye until about 2 feet from my head, at which point it quickly deteriorates to “what chart?”.  My left eye has fairly normal vision and I can function quite well without glasses — except I can’t drive without them. I usually read without glasses — and with just my right eye.  (The left eye just tunes out.)  Most of the time, I don’t wear my glasses in the house unless I’m at the computer or watching TV.

So, “duh!” if I part my hair on the right and don’t put a clip in it, the hair falls down over my good eye.  (It only took about three weeks for me to realize this!)  So now I’m parting my hair on the left, so if I don’t have a clip on it, the hair falls down over my right eye, which can’t see the furniture anyway.  This situation will eventually resolve itself when the front part of my hair finally gets long enough that I can pull it all back into a pony tail.  In the meantime, we are dealing with less-than-satisfactory interim solutions.   And barrettes.

My mom called a while ago and during our chitting and chatting, she informed me that she just found out that my first cousin once removed’s husband (who is in the Air Force) just made brigadier general.   She is the daughter of the cousin who drives in from New Mexico to take my mom and me to lunch ever so often., and her daughter (removed x2) is the one I send all the books to.

My “office” (and computer) is in the spare bedroom, which is carpeted.  I have most of a sheet of 3/4-inch plywood on the floor under my desk and chair with one of those heavy plastic chair mats screwed to it because not only does my chair have wheels, so does my desk.  I don’t have speakers hooked up to my desktop computer.  I have an extension cord plugged into the speaker port on the computer which is taped to the underside of the desk with packing tape with the business end just under the front edge of my desk.  I plug my ear buds into the extension cord jack.  This set-up is a hold over from my medical transcription days when I was required to use headphones for transcription because of HIPAA  privacy regulations regarding patient confidentiality.   I have a pair of speakers, but I don’t use them.  I’m just so used to putting on headphones/earbuds when I sit down at the computer.  I noticed the other day that if I I have my earbuds in and shuffle my feet across that plastic mat, I get a double earful of static electricity.  Gets your attention, I can tell you!

Gah, I hate scammers and telemarketers!!!  I’ve had four (!!!) calls just during the time I’ve been typing on this blog post.  They call to tell me they are about to deduct $299 from my bank account for some subscription unless I call their toll free number.  They call pretending to be somebody from Microsoft telling me that the license on my copy of Windows is about to expire.  They call about problems with my (nonexistent) credit card.  They call me about a problem with my social security account.*  Unfortunately, the brand of cordless phone I have on my land line doesn’t have the number blocking feature like my cell does and at any given time, about half my voicemails are from stupid scammers or telemarketers.

*Don't people realize that if the IRS, or the Social Security Administration, or any other governmental body has a problem with you, they are not going to call you on the phone? They are going to write you a letter about it and snail-mail it to you.


Lows and Highs

Great Aunt Evie

Friday, my mom and I got taken to lunch by my cousin from NM (her oldest sister’s boy) and it was fun. My mom’s 95, he’s 83.  (His momma was born in 1910; mine was born in 1924) We always get heavy into genealogy when he comes to visit.  He’s got this treasure trove of both photographs and information that has been amassed over the generations about the “inlaws and outlaws” as he calls it.

Great Aunt Emma

(One of my momma’s daddy’s sisters  is reputed to be the first woman to work in a bank in Texas; the other one worked for a Brigadier General.) When my cousin and mom get into it, jaw-breaking German surnames are freely bandied about and they can get in over my head pretty durn quick.  I swear, it’s like Wagner’s Ring Cycle* — Long, involved, confusing,  and hard to tell who’s who without a program.

Then Saturday, my dear friend LB had to go to the emergency room, and Sunday, she ended up in the hospital again.  Her situation is not good.

Then, Sunday afternoon, one of my molars threw a shoe (the crown came off one of my back teeth).  Fortunately, it was not due to anything traumatic (or costly!).  The crown just came loose and fell off — while I was eating ravioli, no less.  I immediately realized what had happened and rescued the crown, cleaned the ravioli sauce off it and put it in a baggie.  As luck would have it, I was able to get in to see my dentist early this afternoon.  He squirted more cement on it and shoved it back on — and didn’t even charge me!  (I should think not — I’ve probably put at least one of his kids through college!)

Last week I had a CT scan to monitor a chronic health condition, and today I went to that doctor to get the results.  They were excellent.  The chronic health condition is firmly under control at the moment, which is great news.  I took myself to Applebee’s and had a steak and onion rings to celebrate (and because humongous portions, I brought half of it home, so tomorrow!) .  However, my celebrations are tempered by worry about my friend.  I even hesitate to tell her the good news from the doc today because none of her news has been good for weeks now.

Because I chose to dine early (4:00 p.m.), there were only about 4-5 other customers in Applebee’s.  The music they were playing on the sound system was classic hard rock –Queen (“Fat Bottomed Girls”), Van Halen (“Hot For Teacher”), Def Leppard (“Pour Some Sugar On Me”), AC/DC, early Genesis (“That’s All”), a Kinks cover, — all vintage MTV.  It’s kind of hard to head-bang and eat at the same time . . .

It’s true.  We do.

*Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen.

And Bob’s My Uncle

The inside latch on my storm door sort of self-destructed last Friday.  I naturally started googling for a replacement.  I found a latch assembly that looked just like the one I had, but I didn’t need the whole shebang, just the inside latch, which I found on both the Home Depot and Lowe’s websites.  Naturally, none of the local stores had it in stock, but  I could order one and have it shipped to the store, wait 5-7 days for it to arrive, and once it did arrive, I’d have to go to the store to pick it up.  Since I was going to have to order the durn thing anyway . . .  Yep.  Amazon.

My cousin who lives in Capitan, NM, was driving over (4-1/2 hours) to take me and my mom and my brother to lunch at Red Lobster today.  It didn’t take me as long to get ready as I thought it would, so I had about 15 minutes to kill before it was time for me to go to my mom’s house where we were meeting up.  I checked my mail, and discovered the latch had come.  I thought, what the heck, went to my tool box and got my Phillips screw driver, unscrewed two screws, took the busted latch off, put the new latch on, and put the two screws back in. In less than 10 minutes.  The only difficult I had was I dropped one of the screws and had to bend down and pick it up!

The way my luck runs, I was all ready to find out the new inside part wouldn’t fit the old outside part, and I’d have to order a new outside part and wait another 5-7 days for it to get here, but nope.  Bob’s your uncle!   I am still chuffed at how simple it was.

After a very delightful lunch (crab legs!), I set out to do my Wal-Mart grocery shopping for the month, during the course of which I indulged.  No idea what these little darlings are called, but according to the label, they are “hispanic pastries” and came four to a box.  They had a fruit filling that tasted like apple.  (That’s a salad place, for scale.)   Me gustan mucho.