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.

Little Wisdoms

Thought I’d share:

Changing sheets: Don’t bother trying to figure out which is the short or long edge of a fitted sheet before you put it on. Just grab a corner, check to see the sheet is right side out, and put it on. You have a 50% chance of it being the right corner. If you don’t get it right on the first try, you have a 100% chance of getting it right on the second try.

Do the bed by halves longways. Get the fitted sheet all the way on, then put half the top sheet on, and half the blanket/quilt on while you’re standing on one side of the bed. (This means you have to notice and remember how much the top sheet and blanket need to hang off the side of the mattress when they are centered on the bed!) Then go round to the other side and fix the top sheet and blanket/quilt on that side. The fewer times you have to walk around the bed, the better. Wait to tuck your top sheet in until you have your blanket/quilt on. Then you can tuck both in at the same time and you only have to lift each corner of the mattress once.

Emptying the trash: I used to keep all the boxes of different size trash bags together in a drawer. Then, when I’d go to empty the trash, I’d have to mentally go through the house and pull out a fresh bag for each of the various trash cans and waste baskets and carry them all around in my hand as I worked my way around, juggling the full bags and the fresh bags as I went. (I’d invariably forget to get the right number or size bags and have to go get them!) Nope! Discard the boxes and put the roll of bags in the bottom of the empty can they fit. If you have several waste baskets/trash cans the same size, get a roll of bags for each one. That way, you pull out the full bag, and there’s the roll of fresh bags right there. Pull off a fresh one, put it on, and you’re done. Also, put as many bags of trash inside other bags of trash as you can. Fewer bags to schlep around.

Dish washing: If you wash your dishes by hand, get one of those decorative soap/lotion pump bottles and put your dish washing liquid in it. That way, you don’t have to be bending down and getting your dish soap in and out from under the sink each time you wash dishes. You can leave it sitting out by the sink in your nice decorative pump bottle. One good “pump” of dish washing liquid is usually plenty to do a sink full of dishes. You’ll find you don’t use as much dish soap, which saves you money. Then, instead of buying a whole new bottle of dish soap each time you run out, you can buy the large economy “refiller” size of dish soap and refill your little pump bottle when you need to (which also saves you money and puts less plastic in the landfill!).

Clothes washing: When you’re starting a load of laundry in the washer and are getting out your laundry washing products, etc., get a dryer sheet out at the same time and toss it in the empty dryer. This saves you a step when you take the clothes out of the washer to put them in the dryer. (Better yet, get one of those “dryer balls” and just leave it in the dryer all the time. Then you won’t have to buy — and throw away — dryer sheets!)

Floors: There’s a reason those floor cleaning mops with pads and the special squirty stuff attached and those dusting wand gizmos are so cheap. The company makes their money on the bottles of special squirty stuff and single-use pad thingies you are constantly buying and throwing out. You can buy floor sweeper/moppers with cloth pads and microfiber dusting mitts, both of which you can wash in the washing machine and reuse. The mops and pads are a bit pricey, I’ll grant you, but then you can use the handle part for years and years, and those pads work great wet or dry on the LVF plank flooring that’s all the rage these days. Any cleaning accessory — cloth, mitt, pad — that you can wash and reuse will pay for itself in the money you save not having to constantly be buying single use/throw away supplies. And a trigger spray bottle of Pine-Sol or Windex works just as well as their special squirty stuff.

Bath Linens: When you buy a new set of towels, buy extra washcloths and hand towels — If you buy two bath towels, buy three wash cloths and hand towels. (The wash cloths and hand towels are what wear out first.) Leave the extra washcloth folded on the counter beside the bathroom sink to wipe down any water splashes on the counter, especially if you have hard water where you live.

Don’t use fabric softener when you wash your toweling. Fabric softener has silicon oil in it as an antistatic agent that gunks up the fabric and lessens the toweling’s absorbency. To keep your towels, hand towels, kitchen towels and washcloths soft and fluffy, add a half cup of distilled vinegar to the wash instead of fabric softener. Don’t use dryer sheets with your toweling for the same reason. Your towels will dry you (and themselves) much faster.

When you wash your bath mats, don’t dry them in the drier. Over time, the dryer heat will ruin the non-skid backing. After you wash them, throw them right-side-up over the top of the shower stall or over the shower curtain rod and let them dry in the air. Then, your bath mats will last as long as the towels you matched them to so carefully!

Remember: Styrofoam is forever. It and most other plastics takes centuries to biodegrade, if at all. The world of plastic waste and trash you are creating now is the world your children and grandchildren will have to live in.

Reuse, repurpose, recycle.

The Demise of the Clock

(Note: The new party line is that if you want to know how mom is, call her on her cell, or email her at her new email address for the official version. If you don’t have her contact information, leave a comment with a way I can get in touch with you and I’ll get the info to you. )

The clock in question is an old friend, this carriage clock, which expired at 4:20 in the afternoon on Monday. I got it when I was “B” in the first duplex I lived in. It was donated by the lady in “A” to my mom’s garage sale because it had a “freewheeling” hour hand that dangled and would only show 6 o’clock. It never made it to the garage sale. Instead, I fixed it and kept it because it played the (Westminster) chimes, and it was a nice looking clock.

I don’t know how long the lady in “A” had had it before the hour hand malfunctioned, but I had it for eleven years and three moves. It used a D battery and it had little hammers that struck little metal rods to play the chimes. But, for the past year or so, I had noticed the chiming mechanism was becoming a bit arthritic and was beginning to falter. Then, Monday, it just stopped and could not be revived. Not bad innings for a clock I got for the time and effort it took to fix it. Anyway, we looked at it for a while. (It’s a nice looking clock). Then Mom said she missed the chimes. (Me, too.) So I got on Amazon and got us another, considerably more expensive one.

It’s a Seiko, about half again as big as the old one, and it’s completely electronic. Runs off a C battery, which is supposed to last it a year. It also chimes at the quarter hour. It’s a good thing mom and I are musical, because the apartment doorbell also plays the Westminster chimes only at a higher pitch (and at a teeth-rattling volume!). However, the clock has two chiming tune options, the other one being the Whittington chimes. If all the Westminster chiming and bonging starts to drive us crazy, we can change the clock to the other chime tune.

In the knitting news, there is knitting news! I have snatched some time to knit on the infinity scarf. I reckon I’ve gotten about 1/4 of it done.

I have gotten yarn (100% pima cotton in black) as the first step to designing an iPocket for my iPhone that will fit around my waist to carry my phone and key card in when I wear leggings (which don’t have pockets). If I can get enough time to have two coherent thoughts in a row, I’ll try to sit down and work out how I want it and write a pattern for it. It’ll be like a strap-on pants pocket, a rectangular bag with a slit opening along the back edge. Stay tuned.

Milestones

We put mom’s house up for sale in August. Within three days, we had a contract on it. We expected to close on it by the middle of September, and I had to hustle to arrange for the estate sale and get the house in shape for people to move in, as well as have an estate sale for myself and get my house packed up and be ready to move in to Carillon on the first of September.

Then came the reality of dealing with (a) supply-chain issues related to the world-wide COVID epidemic, (b) governmental and institutional bureaucracy and (c) a lending institution in a place where English is not the language of business.

The supply chain issues and the inability to get flooring delayed my move-in for a week. Mom’s rehab went slower than expected, and delayed her move-in until late September, and my planned trip to central Texas delayed it even longer, but her therapist says she will have all the skills she needs to move in with me next month. Now we are set to close on the house on the 5th of October (knock wood!). It will be another milestone behind us. Once we close on the house, I will call the electric company to have them read the meter and send us the final bill, and that will be another item checked off the To Do list.

I’m ditching AT&T. The TV guy FINALLY came yesterday afternoon to hook up mom’s TV. (My TV is too new (!) to have a cable connection, but he got it on the internet (I didn’t know it could receive WiFi on its own) and said I could get my own modem and use it, plus a dongle to have WiFi for everything, including my desktop, and not have to pay through the nose to AT&T for intermittent service that’s slower than molasses in January. The modem and dongle will be here tomorrow.

My fuzzy house slippers came today. (The duplex I lived in had carpet, and I just wore heavy socks in winter. Won’t work here.) Yesterday, I got my unicorn prints by the late Susan Seddon Boulet back from the framer. I am extremely pleased with how they turned out. I may hang them tonight, or wait until tomorrow. I’ve got a cord switch to put on the cord of the lamp I’m using on my bedside table as mother is now using the one I was using in the duplex. It’s a simple task. Slowly but surely things are sorting out and settling down, and my To Do list is getting shorter and shorter. Last night we had our first rainstorm since we moved — a right little thunderboomer. Another milestone. Mornings are starting to be downright nippy. We’ve passed the autumnal equinox and the days are beginning to draw in noticeably.

I’ve got another of Seddon Boulet’s prints, Spider Woman, that I think I’ll have framed also as my Xmas present from me to me. Na’ashjé’íí Asdzáá (Spider Grandmother) is an important personage in the mythology of the Navajo, a helper and protector of the people. She is said to have taught the arts of spinning and weaving to the Diné to help them survive the cold of winter. As a knitter, I can relate to Spider Grandmother.

They’re Here . . . .

I read my last post and had a good laugh.

I got packed on 30 August, and got loaded up and schlepped to an empty apartment the 31st. I spent the next 8 days taking care of this and that (I made a good profit on my estate sale, mom made big bucks)(the closing date got pushed back on the house because the bank hadn’t scheduled an inspection yet, come over to the real estate office on a Saturday and sign the addendum, etc., etc.,), the next 8 nights sleeping in the guest apartment, and moved in on September 7th. I spent the night of September 7th in my own little beddy-boo. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind (and the available funds) to go to the unlimited data plan on my phone and get my phone’s hot spot turned on, as I would have gone into severe YouTube withdrawal otherwise. I couldn’t get a good “house WiFi” (signal in the guest room)

When the RO water guy and I came over to set up the RO unit, the flooring was 80% in and looked nice. The valves on the water lines were stuck shut and the RO water guy wasn’t about to try to force them. Maintenance was called and there was the usual bit of pfaffing and futzing with valves and pipes and the poor RO water guy finally managed to get everything connected. The installers keep putting the RO faucet handle on the right, which makes sense for a right handed person filling a glass, but what I fill with RO water is mostly my electric kettle and 48-oz stainless steel water bottle, and my right hand is my stronger hand, which is holding the heavy kettle/bottle, so I need the faucet handle on the left. Got that sorted.

I was finally able to move in on the 7th. Carillon paid for a pair of guys from a different company to move my stuff from the empty apartment to my real apartment, so I don’t know who left the deep scratches on my bed, the top of a night stand, and who nearly pulled the legs off the sideboard I use for a TV stand. (It is so frustrating when you know exactly what you need — wood glue and a ratchet strap — to fix the sideboard, and when you ask if one of the maintenance men has a ratchet strap, you get a blank look, get patted on the hand and told not to worry your little head about it.* I’m tempted to wear my tee shirt that says “Underestimate me: That’ll be fun.”)

The only thing of my dishes that was broken was one of my big cereal bowls (it wasn’t my favorite one), but my large statue of Kuan Yin standing on a dragon got one of the dragon’s horns broken and two of her fingers broken. Pretty upset about that.

I’m short some stuff — I still have books to unpack, and hopefully there’s at least one more box of “office decor” among them that has my missing stuff. I still have a few pictures to hang, as well. Going to try to do that tomorrow.

Moving takes boxes and wrapping paper. Once I unpacked the boxes, I had nowhere to put them. The maintenance guy who came in to install grab bars on mom’s toilet and fix the paper holder and my towel bar said to put them in this little alcove up the hall. Last Wednesday, I called the people who packed and moved me and they said they would come get them. They’re still here. Turns out they were calling my land line, which I no longer have. Now that they have my cell, hopefully the boxes will get removed from the hallway. Kind of embarrassing that everybody knows they’re my boxes and they’re still here . . . .

I’m not even going to go into the hassle I had with AT&T getting mom’s land line phone number moved to the apartment because she has such a time hearing on her cell phone. I got the phone she had at home that I know she can hear on (and so can everyone else!) and I got the phone number she’s had since 1975 moved over too. Finally. And I wonder why my blood pressure goes up 15 points if I even think of having to deal with them.

The air conditioner on my mom’s car went out and poor MK, who flew out to drive the car back, had to drive all the way to Richardson with no AC. Mom’s niece, CK and her husband MK paid to get it fixed and we will reimburse them, especially since the reason their daughter and SO bought the car is that it had AC and their other one didn’t and they have this new baby. I need to get a check cut at the bank and send to them. Thursday.

Today, I took mom’s hearing aids to the place and got them cleaned, and got her next installment of batteries. I ordered a ratchet strap off Amazon (kind of overkill — you could haul a truck out of a ditch with it . . .) and some wood glue to fix my sideboard the movers tore up. I’ll do that tomorrow. Thursday I have a meeting with the Carillon House people to do discharge planning for mom to see if she is done with rehab.

I’m so ready for things to settle down and get back onto an even keel. I’m so tired of being in crisis mode. I’ve been going at pretty much a dead run since the middle of July when all this started.

If I could just get somebody to hang drapes in my bedroom I would be so happy. There is so much light pollution outside my bedroom windows that even in the dead of night with the blinds closed, I can see perfectly well to get up and move around without having to turn on a light. I have a sleep mask, but I hate it. I can tell I’m not getting good sleep. They tell me the maintenance men won’t hang drapes, and I’ll have to hire somebody outside to do it. See if I don’t do just that.

Since you are reading this, you will deduce I have finally gotten my computer set up and hooked to the internet. I wisely upped the plan on my cellphone and had the hot spot turned on, or I would have been in severe internet withdrawal. I had my 10-inch Kindle tablet with me, and I was able to get on the internet with it using my phone as a hot spot. (I’m a good deal more computer savvy than some of the people who work here, never mind the people who live here.*)

I’m planning a trip to Round Top, Tx, on 8 October. It’s the Bauer Family Reunion. We are obliquely related to the Bauers through the preacher’s wife. I have family heirlooms that need to be passed down and they are too delicate to mail. I’ll have to find people to stay with mom for the three days I’ll be gone. We are going to stay with my cousin JP’s son EP who lives outside of Austin. Round Top is about a two-hour drive from there. It’ll be about a 7-hour drive to get to EP’s house on the 8th. The reunion is on the 9th and I’ll drive back on the 10th.

This is an important “handing off of the baton” event. These heirlooms are related to the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Round Top, a picture of Emma Rummel Neuthard, the wife of their founding preacher, J. Adam Neuthard, (my great great grandmother), and this picture from the old manse, which is no longer standing, where the Rev. Neuthard also had a school. There are also some daguerreotypes of mother’s daddy’s people.

Hopefully, in the near future, I can find out why the VA sent me three 75-pill bottles of clopidogrel (Plavix), when I already have two, one of which is unopened, and didn’t order a refill. At least they sent it to the right address. I did go get my COVID booster shot last Thursday, at the insistence of my oncologist. I am now immunized up one side and down the other, which is unfortunately more than I can say for all too many of my fellow Americans.

*Help! I’ve been mistaken for June Cleaver and I’m trapped in a 1950’s sitcom!