Ah, Well

They’ve started up the Library knitting group again. Now that the COVID situation has improved, the Library ladies asked M, the woman that originally started the group, and who was “moderating” it when I started going, to start it back up again. In the months before COVID, M’s husband’s health had deteriorated to the point where he could not be left alone, it was hard for her to find sitters for him and she didn’t like driving at night, which was when the group was meeting. Somebody offered to take it over, but it petered out after M left, and then COVID hit. M’s husband passed last year during lock-down.

The newly reconstituted group is still meeting on Tuesdays, but at 1 pm, which solves the problem of M not driving at night. Several of the former regulars are no longer with us, including my friend LB who passed from breast cancer, but KC and I went this past Tues. Apart from KC, M and me, all the rest were newbies of varying degrees of skill level. Of course, I just started a new cycle of chemotherapy today, which makes my future attendance somewhat problematic. I did go this past Tuesday though, and it was good.

After I left knitting group, I went and got my hair cut, got a simple manicure and my toenails cut. A little judiciously applied self care (that’ll be $$, thank you very much). (The past three times, I’ve gotten this young manicurist. She looks around 18-20, and she always has the coolest tee-shirts. She’s pierced in several places and wears wire-wrapped crystal jewelry. )

I had the hair stylist give me what is, in effect, a buzz cut. If all my hair is going to fall out anyway, I don’t want to be pulling handfuls of it out of brushes and shower drains, or wake up and find I’ve shed all over my pillow. What you might call a preemptive strike. (Those black things behind my ears are the Bluetooth headphones to my computer.)(Bless you, Ericsson Mobile!)

(I’ve got a pair for my phone, too, as well as two internet radio apps and a Napster app on my phone. And whatever music is playing on my phone will play on my car radio. Oh, rapture!)

Wednesday I slept in, then puttered and cleaned, changed my bed, took a shower, and washed/dried two loads, one of clothes and one of sheets and towels. I still haven’t unboxed my new computer. Possibly tomorrow, possibly Saturday. Soon, though. Still working out the logistics in my head of getting hither to yon.

I went to JACC at 9:40 a.m. Thursday morning and didn’t leave until 3:30 p.m. I had labs at 9:40 and met with my oncologist at 11:00. I’m taking the COP chemotherapy regimen. I started chemo at 12:30 with Decadron and half a liter of normal saline (and a nice little nap), followed by the cyclophosphamide (the C), followed by the Oncovin (the O) and something else I didn’t catch. After I saw my doc, the nurse called in a prescription for tablet prednisone (the P) I was supposed to take after the infusions, but they didn’t call it in until around noon. (If I’d known, I’d have suggested they call it in Wednesday so I could have already had it on hand, but, oh, well.) Mirabile dictu! They had it waiting for me when I went to the VA at almost 4 o’clock to get it. That was such a relief. I went home by way of Sonic and had a bacon cheeseburger, tots and fries to celebrate the fact that I was sloshing full of cytotoxic chemicals. . .

Tomorrow I go at 11 am to get the stuff that keeps my white blood cell count from cratering. It’s administered as an injection. In 2018, they were giving me Neulasta (pegfilgrastim), but I haven’t been able to get an ear on what they were telling me I’m getting this time. I’m going to make a point of getting the infusion nurse to show me it written down so I can read it.

As I mentioned, I have two internet radio apps and a Napster app on my phone, and those Bluetooth headphones (which I’m not very fond of as the left one doesn’t like to stay in my ear. It’s a pain to have to hunt it when it falls out and goes skittering across the floor). (I may get another set of Comiso ones for my phone. They play longer on a charge, they’re more comfortable to wear, and that little (removable) hook over my ear keeps them from falling off.)(I can use the phone set I have now with my Fire tablet — I’m not worried if the left earbud falls out in the bed!)

Today, I used the internet radio app on my phone to get Soma FM’s Drone Zone channel, which is just about my most favoritest of their channels. That was what I was listening to when I left the apartment, and all during my visit. (So soothing!) It provided just enough sound masking that I could take my little nap during the infusion, while still being able to hear someone talk to me — although my earphones provided a little moment of surreality when the people over at Carillon House returned my call about my mom’s care plan. When I get a phone call, I don’t have to lunge for my phone and juggle it trying to answer the call. The ringer overrides what I’m listening to, and all I have to do to answer is touch the right earbud and talk (they have have built in mikes). I was chatting with the infusion nurse who was hanging IV bags when the lady at Carillon House called, and it took her a moment to realize that my seeming non sequitur was me talking on the phone. That’s a downside to those Bluetooth earbuds — if you don’t have wires coming from your ears, and aren’t holding a phone in front of your face, it kinda makes you look like you are talking to yourself.

In the knitting news, I’ve discovered three mistakes on the 9-pinwheel hat, many, many rows ago and didn’t catch them until now. Rather than frog back to the earliest mistake, I’m fixing them one by one. Wrestling the octopus. It will be tedious, but I broke out the DPNs, which makes it easier though no less tedious to fix. ($%#^@#!)

It’s usually much easier to just frog back the section where you made your mistake and rework just that bit than it is to frog the whole thing back to the mistake — unless you’ve messed up so badly there’s just too much to fix. (The law of diminishing returns applies to knitting, too.) I would have had to frog the whole thing back almost two and a half inches to fix three small mistakes — not worth it. Because my mistake here involved adding a stitch that shouldn’t be there, I’m going to have to take a tapestry needle and redistribute the slack backwards and forward on each row so it’s much less noticeable. (It’ll just look like a small area of uneven tension. Blocking it will also help.) You can fix your mistake on the needles you are using on the project, but having a set of DPNs that are the same size as your working needles makes it much easier and faster. Nuts. Make that four mistakes. (&*^%$#@@!@#$!)

After I all I went through in 2018 after my first round of chemotherapy, I decided to treat myself.

I found the lovely pendant below left on Etsy. The stone is Labradorite wrapped in silver. The seller lived in the Ukraine, and was putting herself through college making jewelry. The longer I wore it, the more I loved it, so I went back to her shop and got the necklace on the right in 2019. I wonder about how “Kedikekik” is and if she’s safe.

Getting On The Stick

It has been brought to my attention that I have not blogged in a while and that I had better get on the stick. Ç’est la.

Part of the reason for the radio silence has been my mom. She’s got a major hitch in her “get-along.” She already has pronounced age-related kyphosis, which indicates some collapse of the vertebral arch, and now she seems to have developed some leftward scoliosis in her lower back just above her hip — or at least, that’s what I get from what the PA at her doctor’s office was saying. I haven’t seen the x-ray. She also has some arthritis of the left hip, which is not surprising in a 96-year-old woman who has been active until about two weeks ago when all this hit.

It’s similar to an episode she had in 2016, with the same symptoms, but at that time, a methylprednisolone dosepack sorted it out and relieved her pain. This time, her pain was so severe, I took her to one of these emergency care places where they did the (AP and lateral) x-rays of her lower back and said she had the scoliosis, and that was what was causing her pain. They gave her acetaminophen/codeine (Tylenol No. 3) and a steroid shot, neither of which fazed her pain. She went back to her doc, who sent her for hip x-rays, and gave her hydrocodone, which helps with the pain, but which sends her to LaLa land. She also had another methylprednisolone dosepack over the weekend, but this time to no avail. She’s been using the walker I used after my knee surgery that I got a folding tray for, which she likes, but it’s not suitable for use outside the house because it’s only got wheels on the front. I’ve ordered her one with four wheels and a seat that has a bag underneath it where she can put her purse. It folds up so it will fit in the back seat of the car. It’s supposed to arrive tomorrow. Her doctor is also referring her to an orthopedist who specializes in backs and hips. I think her pain is either from from osteoarthritis of her hip, or she’s having sciatica, or a combination of both.

Needless to say, this is a very concerning turn of events. The longer Mom can stay up and active, the better off she is. Nothing wears you down like chronic pain and the depression it brings with it. We have been so lucky that her health has been good and that she has been able to be active as long as she has been. Unfortunately, the prolonged COVID quarantine cut her activity level way down and has not done her any good. I suspect that this prolonged period of inactivity (sitting in a chair that is basically one giant pillow) is a significant contributing factor. Although she did get outside and walk up and down the block (weather permitting) and/or walked about in the house, she was unable to attend any of the social functions that are such a large and very important part of her life, and the social isolation has also been a significant contributing factor. (She’s such a social butterfly!) Bless her heart — she outlived all the friends she’s had for years and years, made a new, younger set of friends, and now has already started outliving them, too!

To change topics sans segue, in July of 2018, my hair (what there was left of it after chemotherapy) was about 2 inches long all over my head.

My BFF (who now lives NW of Houston) wanted to know what my hair looks like now, almost three years later, which is why I took this. There’s still some blonde left but I’m afraid that over the years, I’ve become Hiyo, Sliver, away! I’ve still got a good little bit of natural curl, but my hair is so fine that the weight of it is enough to pull most of the curl out.

This being fan season (although it’s 80 F/26.6 C in the hall by the thermostat, it’s 82 F/27.7 C according to the thermometer on the wall by my desk), the fan I have blowing on my computer desk tends to pick out the new “replacement” hairs up around my face that haven’t grown long enough to be caught by my barrette and blow-tickles them against my forehead in a very irritating way. This provoked a dive into stash which produced some Paton Grace (1.75 oz/50 g, 3:Light) mercerized cotton yarn. I modified the 9-bladed pinwheel shawl pattern to make a top-down beanie on US 3 (3.25 mm) needles.

I’ll write the hat pattern up and put it in my knitting patterns blog. I’m about half an inch from starting the hatband. The nine “blades” are formed with a yarn over at the edge which increases the diameter by 9 stitches every other row. Once the blade gets to 16 stitches wide, I “froze” the increases by adding a knit-two-together (k2tog) after the yarn over. That gives a diameter of 24 inches which the 1 x 1 rib cinches in nicely. (I have a 22-inch head.)

I dived deeper into stash and found some odd balls of Classic Elite Yarns “Gigi” (85% cotton, 10% silk, 5% stretch polyester, 142 yds/50 g) which I’m using the same pattern, but on US1 (2.25 mm) needles. I’ve got three balls in three different colors: A lavender purple, a medium grey and a silver/white which I’ve started it with.

Since it’s a top-down beanie, you have to start it on double pointed needles (DPNs), but once it gets to where it’s nearly too big for the DPNs, you can switch it over to 16-inch circulars. In other knitting news,

Progress on the “Waves on a Wine Dark Sea” shawl — the inside curve edge and the outside edge.

I’m liking how the “stripes” are turning out — sorry the picture is so dark.

Because I am of the female ilk, I’m allowed to change my mind without notice. About a week and a half ago, I decided the Huyri shawl (at left), while interesting, was not sparking joy so I frogged that sucker and wrote another triangular shawl pattern that had a bit more pizazz to it.

The new shawl pattern, while keeping the garter stitch “wings” and open-work edging of the Huyri shawl, has a lattice lace insert down the middle which sparks much joy.

This is the new shawl pattern I’m calling “Latticia” because of the lattice lace panel in the center. It’s a bit more complicated and consequently more interesting. The increases are knit front and back stitches (kfb) just at the edge of the garter stitch “wings.” I was watching a video of a lady blocking a shawl with a lace edging on it and instead of pinning out the edges of the shawl with humpty gazillion T-pins, she had these metal rods which she looped through the edge of the lace. Yep. Got some. They’ll come in handy for this shawl — which requires more attention than I’d realized.

Forgot I was doing garter stitch and purled part of a row on one “wing”and didn’t catch it until about 8 rows later! — Oops! But I only frogged the stitches I messed up back to where I messed them up, got a DPN and reworked them. All fixed!

I also tried one of these little gizmos. They have a spindle on a little turn-table affair which spins on ball bearings and is supposed to allow your cake to unwind smoothly, but the yarn kept slipping up off the side of the cake and hanging up around the spindle, and I kept having to lean over and give the spindle a turn to “un-hang” it. I found it happened too frequently and it became too annoying, so I sent it back.

I’ve tried center-pulling from cakes, but ran into the same problem as I have with those tools-of-the-devil pull skeins — skein implosion resulting in yarn barf. I’ve decided putting a cake in a bowl and pulling from outside-in is as good as it gets with cakes, and that has become the preferred method. The bowl allows the cake to spin if it needs to and keeps it from rolling away.

I got a bigger bowl just to see if bigger is better. It is for the bigger cakes. Let’s face it. I like my pretty bowls, and I have enough variety of sizes that I have something for every project.

I’ve been listening to Soma FM’s “Illinois Street Lounge” channel while I blog. They just played “Sunshine Superman” by Donovan, as sung by Mel Tormé which has given me a cramp in my frontal lobe, and I’m just about cha-cha-cha‘d (and blogged) out. A judicious application of Venice Classical Radio ought to do the trick. So, as the Liadens say, until soon!

Turkey and Other Cold Cuts

(Did I mention I hate the new WordPress block(head) editor? If it’s supposed to make using WordPress easier, it’s a spectacular failure. It’s harder to do everything than it used to be.)

It has been a rough week. Tuesday morning I was watching YouTube and knitting, and about 11 o’clock, my internet went down. The thing is, when my internet goes down, so does my VOIP land line, and my cable TV. After multiple calls to Suddenlink on my cellphone, I was told there was an outage in my area, and that it should be back up by morning. Come morning, no internet. We tried this and we rebooted that and we poked things with paperclips, and no joy. A technician was scheduled. He would be out Thursday morning. In the meantime, my only connection with the outside world was my cell phone, I had been without internet for going on 24 hours. I could not stream music, watch TV or connect to any of the usual suspects on the internet. If I had not already dowloaded a book to my Kindle, I couldn’t get to it to read it.

The Suddenlink technician was scheduled to come between the hours of 8 a.m. and 11 a.m., which meant I had to get up at 7:30 to give me time to shower and otherwise accoutre myself like a respectable human bean. He called at 10:45 to say he was on his way. (From Midland, as it happens, which is 120 miles south of us.)(He’s trying to find an apartment in town. I don’t blame him. Heck of a commute.) We went through the spiel. He connected his little gizmo, and the line was deader than the proverbial door nail. There had, in truth, been an outage in my area, but it was fixed now so something else was going on. He went out to the alley to check the “war” and, lo, and behold, the “war” had been pulled completely loose from the pole. Some tall truck had evidently driven down the alley and snagged it. He not only reconnected it but replaced the “tap” which had been gnawed by squirrels, and was probably to blame for the intermittent loss of connection that has been driving me crazy for months. He also moved the tap higher up the pole which took up some of the slack in the line to the house.

Just like you don’t realize how much you depend on electricity, you don’t realize how much you depend on internet until you don’t have it. I’d think, well, I could do this — but no I couldn’t. No internet access. I’m telling you. I was about to the point of hunting out that CD player I’ve stuck up in the closet somewhere and playing one of the CD’s I have stockpiled. Unfortunately, I cannot afford a cell phone plan with unlimited data, or I could have streamed music over my phone. (I wonder if I ought to look into getting one of those solar phone charger gizmos?)

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.

More Thinky Thoughts

“There is much I don’t understand . . . Much the world does not understand. But we should not be afraid.  How else will we discover the answers?”

An uplifting quote from a graphic novel I’m reading*.  Thinky thoughts with lovely artwork = Win/win.

I went to rehab Monday (treadmill 30 min, recumbent bike 20 min), stopped briefly at my mom’s house to lend moral support for the plumbing disaster that thankfully didn’t materialize, shopped all over Wal-Mart, shopped all over Market Street to get the things Wal-Mart didn’t have, schlepped it all home and put 95% of it away.  I managed to muster the energy to eat something, crawled into bed about 9 p.m., crashed, burned, and slept through most of Tuesday.

Baked three small potatoes the other night.  Wash the potato with a brush, dry it with a cloth, smear the skin liberally with olive oil and bake at 360º for 1 hour.  When you bake them in the oven with the olive oil, the skins become so soft you can eat the whole tater.  I bake them three at a time because energy efficiency. The oil baked into the skins seals in the goodness and allows them to be refrigerated for up to a week without losing their moist, flaky texture.  I like to slice them open and lay them out in a soup bowl, throw all kinds of toppings (finely chopped meat, drained vegetables, butter, maybe a little Ranch dressing, or whatever else is handy) on them, top with sprinkle cheese and nuke in the microwave.  I just finished hoovering one up moments ago, in fact.  Serious noms.

Monday the 21st is my last session of cardiac rehab before Xmas, with two more sessions left in this annus horribilis.  I’ve got three more Julekuler to knit before Monday (little tokens of appreciation for the cardiac rehab therapists).  Won’t be hard.  Snuggle into my knitting knook, deploy a lap robe, conjure up a little music, a little yarn, a little time . . .  A pleasant interlude to stoke up on some serious Christmas spirit.

Next week, I get to mom-clean** the house and orchestrate a Christmas dinner for two.  As I have mentioned on several occasions previously, my threshold for critical mess*** is a good deal higher than that of other members of my immediate family, and roundtoits have been a little thin on the ground of late.  But now I have Bluetooth earbuds, and there is Psychedlik.com with 24/7 psytrance music.  Yowsa.  I find I can get busy better when there is appropriate music to get out and push. . .

Next week (Tuesday, in fact), I also get the long awaited crown seated which marks the final installment of the dental implant process that has been a work in progress for lo, these many moons.  I’ll have seven molars again, just in time for Christmas Dinner!  Oh, frabjous day.

I really, really need to haul the fold-up banquet table out from under my bed, get out my blocking squares and T-pins, the steam iron, an extension cord, a couple bath towels, a tea towel, and my spray bottle and block some shawls.   These two are among the three made from acrylic yarn that I need to kill.  Whether I will or not remains to be seen.  As I mentioned, roundtoits have been rather thin on the ground of late.

Got my name in print.  Thursday, I received my hardback copy of Trader’s Leap by Steve Miller and Sharon Lee, in which my name appears in the forward as one of the Mighty Tyop Hunters, as I helped proofread the E-ARC**** for oopsies, fingerfumbles, and say, what?’s — which I would have done anyway for no other reason than to express my gratitude for the many years of Liaden Universe reading pleasure I’ve gotten from the books of this literary dynamic duo. They are among the few authors whose books I keep in dead tree editions for post-apocalyptic rereading because, unlike ebooks, they require neither electricity nor technology to operate.   Space opera at its finest.

Two weeks left in 2020.  Thirty two days left before we get that dumpster fire out of the Oval Office.  There is a vaccine!  The VA will be getting and giving the Moderna flavor of it.  I may have to drive to Amarillo to get it, but I will be able to get it.  I continue to hope against Hope that the light we are glimpsing faintly at the end of this long, dark tunnel is not another train.

*Caveat: The one this quote came from is for the open-minded reader.

**Clean enough for you is not necessarily clean enough for your mom.  Still, a house ought to be mom-cleaned at least once a year. The only clean cleaner than mom-clean is feng shui clean, which happens in the week before Chinese New Year.

*** critical mess -- the point at which your inability to stand the mess any longer sets off a chain-reaction of house cleaning. 

****E-ARC - Advanced Reader's Copies are nowadays sent out as ebooks.

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.

It Fooled Around And Got Cold On Us

We had a high of 92 F (33.3 c)(!) on the 17th, a high of 88 F (31.1 C) on the 22nd, a high of 61 F (16.1 C) yesterday and, ya’ll, our high today was 28 Fricking degrees! (-2.2 C!) Our lowest low since summer was Saturday night, which was right at freezing — until today.  A while  ago, my arms were feeling cold and when I looked over at the clock by my computer desk (one of those fancy day, date, time and temp jobs), it read 66 F degrees! (18.8 C)  To be fair, all I was wearing was this long-sleeved, ankle-length flannel “leisure dress” and a lap robe, but I have since added a flannel vest and a pair of half-handers.

I’d put my little twin size  fleece blanket on top of my bedspread, and had been using it on and off for a couple of weeks now because nights had been getting down into the 40’s F (4+ C) occasionally, but I only actually switched the HVAC unit over from AC to heat yesterday because I knew it was going to be downright cold today.  (I surfaced briefly from sleep at about 3 a.m. last night, heard the whoomph of the gas jet that presages the heater actually coming on, which was followed shortly thereafter by first-use heater stink as the gas jet burns off all the dust that’s collected on it over the summer.)  Now I’ve got socks on and my baffies on over them.   And not to put too fine a point on it, our current humidity is a whopping 97% (yearly average here is around 44.5%), which is probably why it feels colder than the proverbial wedge.

I suppose I shouldn’t whinge about the weather.  Winter storm Billy is dumping feet of snow all over the Rockies (as bone dry as it’s been this year, they’re probably breaking out the champagne!).  Still, the weatherbeans say the flatlands could get 2-4 inches of snow out of the current meteorological shenanigans.  A hurricane named Zeta (which means we’ve officially gone through the hurricane alphabet twice! this year), and a winter storm named Billy are happening at the same time, and there are still people who say climate change is not a real thing.  Of course, there are still people who insist the Earth is flat.

Because  of COVID19 and the government mandated social distancing policy, the VA changed the format of its annual walk-in flu shot clinic to a “drive-by” clinic, which was held Thursday week ago. (Only in America. . .)  It was from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.  I got there at quarter after 3, and there was already a line of cars.  I tried to find the end of the line, only to discover that it went up the street, around the corner, up another street, around another corner and up another street for least three intersections!  That was when I said, to heck with it, gave up and went to Market Street to get one.

Market Street is not your grandma’s grocery store.  We’re talking one-stop-shop here:  They have an in-store pharmacy, an in-store bakery, an in-store cafeteria,  an in-store sushi-teria, and an in-store Starbucks.  You can cash checks, pay your utility bills, get your car registration sticker, buy gas and vote there — and they deliver!  The pharmacists give flu shots, and they accept most forms of medical insurance including Medicare.

Upon inquiring at the pharmacy, however, I was informed that they were all out of the plain-vanilla  3-valent regular-strength flu vaccine, which is the kind I usually get.  All they had was the heavy duty 4-valent industrial strength vaccine.  I decided to go for it.  (At this stage of the game, I’ll take all the immunity I can get.)  The little pharmacy clerk warbles, “There will be an approximately 25-minute wait while we process the paperwork.  If you’ll give us your cell number, we’ll call you.”  Well, I hadn’t yet done my grocery shopping for the month, and since I was already there . . . .  So yrs trly gave her my cell phone number, fished my cell phone out of my purse, dredged up the matching ear buds, connected same, put the cellphone in my pocket, the earbuds in my ears, grabbed a freshly-sanitized-for-my-protection shopping cart, and headed off into the store.  (I might add in passing, that was the last significant Samsung Galaxy event.) Five bags of groceries and an armful of flu vaccine later, I was on my way home again, home again, jiggity jig.

The new case for the iPhone came the next day and I ported my number to the new phone. I have been iphoning for over a week now, and have since discovered yet another moue-provoking feature of the iPhone.  It uses the same jack for both the charge cord and the earbuds, so I can’t listen to music with the iPhone on charger so as not to run the battery down like I did on the Galaxy.  Unless I buy a wirele$$ charger, that is.  Sigh!

 

Cold Snaps and Heads Up

This is such an evocative video for all the things this strange year has lacked — friends, food, music and convivial fun — especially this summer.  It’s a catchy tune, too.

We’re currently having a cold snap — a wet towel pop on bare skin kind of snap, that is.  It went from the 90’s F (30’s C) to the 40’s F(4-6 C)  in a 24-hour period and for the next 24 hours never climbed out of the 40’s F.  We’re in luck today, as the predicted high is 57 F (13.8 C).   After a predicted high of 77 F (25 C) tomorrow, our highs will be in the 80’s (26+ C) for the next 9 days.   I have resolutely refrained from turning on the heat despite the fact that it’s noon and 70 F (21.1 C) at my desk, which is consistently the warmest spot in the house.  I just put on more clothes (and got a twin size snuggle rug out of the chest and put it on the bed).

My sleep cycle is out of sync again — what a surprise (not).  I was drowsy and threatening to go to sleep in the chair, so I went to bed at 5 p.m. and, not surprisingly, woke up at 3 a.m. to discover it was 68 F (20 C) on the hall thermostat.  I did the most intelligent thing I could do.  I went back to bed and covered up.

Time was, I could play various android games on my Kindle Fire 10 while listening to internet radio on a streaming app, a most enjoyable pastime.   Alas, no more.  As of about three weeks ago, the games suddenly decided to promptly kick the stream off line the minute I try to play them.  Repeatedly and stubbornly.  I am nigh unto a state of screaming rant trying to find a fix — an hour on the phone with Amazon’s help person, hours more fiddling with the tablet to try to hit on the right setting.  I emailed the streaming app people and the various games people and told them which, what, when, and screenshots — and expressed my excessive displeasure at whatever they did to break up what was once a happy pairing.  Did it help? Nope.

I’m so disgusted with the whole shooting match that I’m about two inches from uninstalling the games, which is a shame, because they’re nice games, but listening to my music while I play makes them so much nicer.  That’s one more pleasure the world has stolen from me, and I vascillate between disgruntled and irate.  Having to give a miss to this opportunity to snuggle up beneath covers and play games has not improved my mood.  I realize that I should be grateful that I’m not burnt to the ground, hurricaned into sopping pieces, or COVIDed into an early grave, but that doesn’t stop me from my God-given right to feel like a thwarted two-year-old named Karen.

Now that I’ve established my mental state when I got up out of a warm bed into  a cold 7 o’clock this morning to get dressed and dutifully trundle off to that epidemiologist’s Valhalla  that is the VA clinic for my yearly labs . . .  It’s cold, I’m in so many risk groups it’s not funny, I get past the Spanish Inquisition at the front door, go up to the desk to check in, only to discover my appointment was cancelled and nobody bothered to tell me.  I came home chilled and even crankier than when I left.  I actually made a pot of hot TAZO chai tea in my stainless steel 32 oz water bottle when I got home.  I’m thinking I may need to get up here directly and zot some soup in the microwave — and a melted cheese sandwich on toast also sounds appealing.

This bout of unseasonable frigidity would be the perfect time to murder some of the acrylic yarn shawls I need to block .  A thorough death by steam iron would warm up the house.  Of course, I’m not in the mood to.   Or else boil up a box of rotini to make a chicken and pasta salad would also take some of the chill off, but I’m not in the mood to do that either.  MOOMPH!

Venetian Internet Radio

I was in the mood for some classical instrumental music and went to my old standby, Internet Radio.com to see if I could scare up something commercial-free to stream and found Venice Classical Radio from Italy.  The music they’ve been playing is from the 1700’s and 1800’s (which was the desired time span) and a lot of it is by composers I’ve never heard of, many of whom are from other European countries besides France, Italy, Germany and Austria, which is refreshing.  So many classical music stations stick to the more well-known repertoire from the “big names”  that you’ve heard a thousand times already.

Just to set the mood . . .

I use an older version of Winamp to stream internet radio stations on my desktop computer.  The “skin” of this version of Winamp has a crawler across the bottom of it that tells you the name of the station, the name of the song and the name of the composer.  Oddly enough, the crawler text for this station is in Italian.  They identify their key signatures differently in Italy.  Instead of using letters of the alphabet (A major, B minor, C, etc.), they use “do, re, me, fa, so, la and ti.”  So right now, I’m listening to “variations per violoncello e contrabasso” in the key of “do maggiore” (C major) by Frederich August Kummer (1797-1879), which is rather nice.

While ago,  I was listening to a sonata for chamber orchestra and oboe by somebody else I’ve never heard of — it was delightful, though — and I happened to notice that “oboe” was rendered into Italian as “oboi”  instead of “oboè” on the crawler because apparently the crawler font has no “è”– both words derive from the French “hautbois” (apparently, they invented the thing) because it has a high pitch range (“haut”) and it’s made of wood (“bois”).   Nancy Rumbel of the duo Tingstad and Rumbel (a long-time favorite) plays the oboe among other instruments.

I have this vision of some 16th house in Venice that maybe Titian or Canaletto painted into the background of one of their paintings, and in one of the upstairs rooms in this 500-year-old house is this state-of-the-art computer/server setup.  (. . . and here’s me in my leopard print sleep shirt* sitting at my computer 5600 miles away in Tx, streaming from it and grooving to a solid sender by that Salzburg boy).

*Hey, my robe à la français is at the cleaners. Fight me.

 

SOS*

*Save Our Sanity.

Emilio Sanchez-Perrier Winter in Andalusia 1880

I worry about those people like my mother who have a wide circle of friends and derive a lot of satisfaction from socializing.  This is a hard time for such people.  Social isolation is very telling on the psyche.  (That’s why solitary confinement is a punishment, y’all.)  It would not be so worrisome if she didn’t live by herself.  This social isolation thing has cut her off from a major source of what makes life fulfilling for her:  Interacting with her friends.  She has never been very tech savvy (operating cable TV is a challenge).  She has no smart phone, and has no idea there is such a thing as Skype or FaceTime, never mind how to use it.  Unfortunately, she has a significant hearing loss, which makes following dialogue problematic so she mostly watches game shows and sports on TV.   Reading does not appeal;  she neither knits nor crochets.  (How can I be related to this woman???)

When the social isolation is beginning to tell on you and you are bouncing off the walls from boredom, give a thought to people like my mother.  Call them, chat with them, engage with them.  Back when AT&T was just a telephone company, their advertising slogan was “Reach out and touch someone.”  Guess what.  That reaching out and touching someone works both ways.

Personally, I’ve not noticed a big change in my life in the time of COVID-19.  At my end of the spectrum, solitude is peace, and I cherish it.  I’m pretty much doing what I’ve always done, blogging, reading blogs, keeping up with the YouTube channels I follow, reading, knitting, watching Netflix.  I’m lucky in my self sufficiency, seeing as how I’m in three or four high-risk groups.

Avebury House

I thought I’d share a couple of pieces of eye-candy from my collection, as well as some goodies I’ve discovered:

The Corning Glass Museum has a YouTube channel with commentated videos of glass artists making glass art using varied techniques.  This stuff is fascinating, educational, and suitable for children.

Some of us are old enough to remember when Pride and Prejudice was a BBC miniseries on PBS, and Colin Firth was (the definitive IMHO) Mr. Darcy (the lake scene!!).  Elizabeth Bennett was played by an actress named Jennifer Ehle.   For those of you who are into audiobooks, here is a YouTube series of Ms. Ehle reading the book.  If you’re on Instagram, Ms. Ehle’s ITV channel there is the source of these videos, and you may prefer to follow her from there (it’s ehle_jennifer )

For the knitting crowd, Arne & Carlos are having a quarantine knit-along on their YouTube channel with free patterns on their blog.  It’s color work, so if you haven’t tried it, you might give it a go.  They have how-to tutorials on their channel, oddly enough.

There’s a YouTube channel with relaxing ambient music.  If you like that kind of music, check out Soma FM which offers that genre as well as many others.  It’s all ***commercial free*** music you can listen to for free, but if you like what you hear, contribute what you can.   They’re listener supported and you can buy stuff from them with their logos to help keep them on the air.

Stay safe and stay sane, y’all.  We’ve got this.