I’d be chopping down those stupid Bradford pear trees all over town that just burst into bloom last week. Their pollen just rips my poor sinuses a new one, to coin a phrase. I am ambushed by sneezes like jump scares in a teen horror flick. I have what are called occular migraines — I get the flashy lights (scintillating scotomata) in both eyes, but no actual headache. They go away after about a half hour to three quarters of an hour, but in the meantime, I just have to either sit down or lie down until they’re over because it’s difficult to see. I may not have any all year, but I’ve already had three in as many weeks. Stupid Bradford pears. Pseudoephedrine + guaifenesin tablets are my friend.
And not to put too fine a point on the weather, Friday, the humidity was 10%. (!!!) It’s gone up to 29% now. At least the dirt’s not blowing today. That loud slurping noise you heard just now was me putting lotion on my poor hands. Again.
The other day it was gusty and blustery, and when I came in from running errands, my hair looked like Doc’s in Back To The Future. My hair’s about five inches long all over now and invariably I’ll get out of the car, and a gust of wind will whoosh me from behind. Like being shot in the back of the head with a leaf blower. All I can say is, “It was combed when I left the house.”
The Bradford pears are leafing as well as blooming, but nothing else is yet. That’s a wisteria vine on the pergola. Not a leaf in sight. Nor any hint of green on the locust tree outside my window. The squirrels are getting frisky, though.
Mom and I used to live in the 2BR apartment that goes with the 3 third floor windows behind the tree on the left, but when she went to the skilled nursing facility, I moved to a 1BR apartment on the same floor but in a different wing and no longer overlook the pergola. My apartment now is on the other side of the wing on the right side of the picture.
Mom’s orchid is ramping up to bloom. I’m almost ridiculously delighted about that. And my peace lily is going nuts. It has 7 blooms on it at the moment. I’ve been watering my little jungle with reverse osmosis water to avoid scale buildup in their soil. We have such hard water here.
I went to my oncologist yesterday afternoon and had lab work done. He said, “Your lab results are good, I’ll see you in August.” So, yay. Not so good is my left knee, the one I had replaced. That knee has been hurting when I walk and it pops in certain situations. I had a CT and plain x-rays of the knee done Friday at the VA in preparation for wrestling the red tape octopus to get a consult to go see the (non VA) doc who did the surgery. I swear, dealing with the VA is like pushing a rope.
There’s the old Cousin Minnie Pearl joke about going down to Grinder’s Switch to mail a letter at the post office, and when she came out, she said, “I looked up the road and here come Brother a’walkin’ down the road pulling this great big old logging chain behind him. And I said, ‘Brother, what are you doing walking around pulling that old logging chain?’ And Brother said, ‘D’yer ever try pushing one?'” Logging chains don’t push any better than ropes . . .
In the knitting news, I’ve got two more hats on the go. Another, larger, kitten hat on the left, and a kind of cloche affair on the right done in moss stitch. Moss stitch (which alternates knits and purls both horizontally and vertically) will separate the continental knitters from the throwers real fast. In order to purl, you have to bring the yarn to the front of the work first, then purl the stitch. Then you’ve got to bring your yarn to the back of the work to knit the next stitch. That’s two “throws” for every stitch. If you’re a thrower, moss stitch will wear you out.
We have some moving scenery out here in the flatlands. Monday week ago, it was moving about 35 mph and was Oklahoma-bound. We had a real howler. The trees outside my window couldn’t make up their minds between Martha Graham and Twyla Tharp. How brown was my sky? Medium tan on the horizon fading upward through pale beige to ecru/eggshell up top from the sun glare. It blew again yesterday and today, but only about 22 mph. We usually get these blustery days in March, but we’re getting them early this year, apparently .
Days like these take me back to walking home from elementary school. That was back in the 1950’s, before the farmers learned “sand fighting” techniques. Walking home through a sand storm, when the wind gusts were strong enough to knock you off balance if they hit you broadside. The air would be gritty and smell like dusty ozone. There was a park about halfway between the school and home that was bounded on the west by Orlando Avenue and on the east by Nashville Avenue, on the north by 40th street and on the south by 42nd street, which I crossed at a long diagonal, corner to corner. (In my town, north/south streets are alphabetical from east to west and east/west streets are numerical from north to south.) That was the challenging bit, crossing the park. There were no houses or fences to break the wind. It would slap me around and lull me into leaning into it, then fake me out by dropping abruptly to catch me off guard and make me stagger. We stayed with the neighbor lady after school til mom came home from work. Although she had three girls and I had a younger brother, our ages were staggered such that I never got out of school at the same time as anybody else. I always walked home by myself. There was a playground in the park, but I never stopped to play on it, not in all of the 6 years I went to that school. I always walked straight home. After we had a blow, there would be a rime of powder-fine dust along all the window sills and top sashes, the sugar would be slightly dingy. The air would have that dry, dusty smell for days as the fine dust settled out of the air.
Mom seems to hear pretty well on her new phone, which is a relief. It has a better speaker and more volume. I’ve got some mail I need to take over as well as a couple of tubes of toothpaste as she’s about to be out of toothpaste again. Tomorrow.
Finished another hat. The turquoise one is made from the same pattern as the green one, only instead of using yo (yarn over) to do the increase, I used kfb (knit front and back). The yo produces an eyelet and gives a lacier effect. The kfb makes a tighter fabric without the eyelets.
There’s a lady in the knitting group that wanted to learn cables. I did the second hat to show the difference between twisted cables (blue) which have two strands, and braided cables (pink) which have three. When you work cables, you are literally changing the order of the stitches on the needle. You pull some off the left needle onto a cable needle, work the stitches behind them, then put the stitches on the cable needle back on the left needle and work them. Whether you held those cable stitches behind the work or in front of the work (cross in front, or cross behind) when you worked the stitches behind them determines what the fabric looks like. The instruction for a cable cross is “C(number)” followed by “F” or “B” (Front or Behind).
On the blue hat, I worked the cables over six stitches against a 4-stitch reverse stockinette “ground” (which makes the cables stand out). Since a twisted cable has two “strands,” each strand is 3 stitches. The (number) in the instruction is the number of stitches in a strand. That last letter (F or B) tells how the strand crosses — in front or behind. On the blue hat, the cables that twist to the left only use C3F crosses. The cables that twist to the right only use C3B crosses.
The difference between the twisted cable and the braided cable is the number of strands. On the pink hat, the braided cable is worked over 9 stitches, which gives three strands of 3 stitches each. Think how you braid hair. The right strand crosses over the middle one, then the left strand crosses over the middle one. To accomplish this in knitting, you alternate a front cross with a back cross, but because you’ve got three strands in play, you’ve got to offset the back cross because you’re not only alternating crosses, you’re alternating the strands that cross. So across a braided cable of 9 stitches, your first cross would be C3F, k3, — you’re crossing the first (right side) strand over the middle strand, with that “k3” being the left strand. The second cross is the cross of the left strand over the middle strand but because knitting, in order to do that, you have to cross the middle strand behind the left strand (C3B), and you’ve got to get past the first strand to do that, so the second cross is k3, C3B. You don’t need to see a picture of the finished article to know what kind of cable you’re doing. All you have to do is look at how the crosses are written in the pattern.
When you knit something where the bind-off is on the knitting — like the sleeves in a top-down sweater, or the ribbing on a top down hat like the kitten hat, I like to use a variant of that bind off where you knit two stitches together, put the resultant stitch back on the needle and knit it together with the next stitch.
This works fine on stockinette but on ribbing, it doesn’t look right. What I like to do is after I’ve knit the two together, I look at what the next stitch is. If it’s a purl, I bring the yarn forward before I put that stitch I just worked back on the left needle. Then I purl the two together. Here’s the finished kitten hat for a baby.
Periodically, I like to mortgage my mythical firstborn son so I can pick up half a pound of brisket at the deli in Market Street. This works out to four or five sandwiches’ worth. Now and again I can come across the tanduri naan made in a “sandwich round” form which, oddly enough, makes an excellent sandwich. Chop up some brisket and give it a 35-second zot in the microwave. Get one of those “beefsteak” tomatoes that one slice will cover the bun, and put mayo on one piece of bread followed by a slice of tomato. I put tartar sauce on the other slice of bread because I like the pickles+beef taste combination, and then put the chopped meat on and amalgamate the sides. Serious nums! Of course, the portions of the meals Carillon provides are quite generous and it’s not unusual that if they’re serving ham or roast beef, I’ll have meat left over that’s suitable for sandwiches. That was the case today. I had two sandwiches for my meal, one of brisket and one of leftover roast beef from a meal earlier in the week.
. . . and you too have come into the world to do this,
to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine.”
“When I Am Among the Trees” ~ Mary Oliver
I have a thing for Mary Oliver. You will notice two quotes by her in the sidebar to this blog — if your device displays sidebars. They do not strew Pulitzer Prizes about like chicken feed. She won one for poetry, but her work is not effusive, precious, over wrought or “highfalutin.” It does not come out of a circus of academia with trained language that performs tricks and jumps through hoops of “meters” and “poem forms.” Her work is quiet, thoughtful, rooted in nature. It has a Frostian quality, a New Englander plain-spoken-ness that’s bald on the face of it and, at the same time, pithy with meaning. You can take a verse or phrase and chew on it all day. She did with words what Andrew Wyeth did with paint; her work has that same egg-tempera quality of clear, cold north light. (I’ve never been to New England, but I know that light. We have it here in the flatlands. By it you can see things clearly and in fine detail.) She writes poetry for people who don’t like poetry. Reading her work is like a long walk with an old friend. I recommend it.
I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday. My poor skin has been through two rounds of adverse reactions and side-effects of chemotherapy, it’s winter, the humidity has been under 50% for days and days of central heating, and Sunday night was so cold I ran the heating pad for about half an hour at the bottom of my bed to warm up my poor, frigid little tootsies. When I threw back the covers Monday morning, I noticed that the skin around the inside of my ankles and up my shins was having a fit of hysterics. I thought I knew what was going on and smeared some Sween on it, which didn’t help much. Just to be on the safe side, I called the office of that dermatologist my oncologist sent me to last year when we stopped the bendamustine because I nearly got Stevens-Johnson syndrome from it. I lucked out and instead of going to knitting group yesterday afternoon, I got in to see him. Eczema (AKA atopic dermatitis) was the verdict. I was already planning a Walmart run, and I had them send the Rx for triamcinolone cream there. Also he approved of my notion to get some cotton “athletic” high top socks to put on after I’ve slathered on the cream to act as a kind of dressing. I’ve had two applications of the cream, and I’m already seeing improvement.
Mom’s phone came yesterday afternoon, and I was going to fix it all up yesterday evening and take it to her today. Guess again. It has to charge for 24 hours before you can do stuff with it. It’s slightly heavier than mine. I lied. It’s not a Nokia. It’s an “Avid 589.” I’ve ordered an impact case and a screen protector. After while, I’ll get into it. Mostly, it needs to be activated, and her phone numbers put in, and as much of the extraneous stuff taken off as possible — stuff she doesn’t need or would not be interested in. I’ll need to get into the settings and make sure it’s all set up right.
In the knitting news, I’ve started a “kitten hat” for a child — Imagine a manila envelope shape, but instead of the opening flap, it has ribbing all round the edge of the opening. When you put it on, the corners on the bottom of the envelope stick out like kitten ears, because geometry. They’re not as complex as they look. I chose to use two 16-inch needles because I had them to hand.
I used Judy’s Magic Cast-On to cast on 40 pairs of stitches (80 stitches total) onto two 16-inch circular needles. You knit the one side on that needle, and the other side on the other needle, but the yarn goes in a spiral from side to side. (The traditional method is to knit it flat, fold it in half and sew up the sides, but I go seamless whenever possible.)
I could have Magic Looped it with a single 32-inch or 40-inch circular needle, but my magic tuchus didn’t want to get up and go into the other room and get one . . .
One of the more nimble brained among us pointed out that on a swirly hat that swirled to the left, one would want to use a left-leaning decrease (ssk), rather than a right leaning decrease (k2tog). Apologies for the cognitive cropper. Now and again, my thought-into-word converter drops the ball.
I’m using one of the skeins of Caron Simply Soft yarn I got on sale to make another swirl hat, this time using kfb’s instead of yo’s to add the stitches. I’ve got three hats in progress at the moment, and switch from one to the other as I get tired of cables or bored with swirls. One of the things I had to get on my Walmart run was trash bags for various wastebaskets, and I got a box of baggies for the hats.
I make them for Joe Arrington Cancer Center, and they like to have them in baggies with a paper label that tells fiber content and washing instructions. Makes it easy for the Auxillary people to take them round on the snacks cart they use to dispense goodies and drinks in the treatment area if they’re neatly and safely in baggies. I have an appointment with my oncologist in March, and I’ll drop off whatever hats I’ve finished by then.
Not mad, just mildly disgruntled. Coming home from visiting mom, inserted my key card to open my front door and . . . . zip. Fortunately, I’ve gotten in the habit of never leaving the apartment without my phone and my keys in my pocket. Called security. His key worked just as fine as frog hairs. Mine (neither of mine!) got a brief flick of red light and accomplished nothing. Zilch. Zipola. By then it was 4:30 in the p.m. Called down to the front desk, got them to make a new set of keys. Fortunately, I know my neighbors, so when I went out Tuesday (trolley in tow) to knitting group, Michaels (guess what I bought there!) and then Market Street, I could leave my door nearly closed but not latched, so I wouldn’t have to wait out in the hall with a trolley full of groceries, etc., for security to come open my door for me. I was in Market Street when the Front Desk called to let me know my new key cards were ready.
We ordered mom a new phone, not exactly smart, but of average intelligence. It’s a little Nokia. She can text on it. (she could text on the other one, but not as easily.) She says she’s not going to be texting anybody. I’m taking bets on how long she’ll hold out. Once she sees how easy it is to do, she’ll be texting. She’ll finally be able to text Jim S. during the Cowboy games. Joy will no doubt be unconfined. Three to five business days. Not here yet. Expecting it probably Monday. Considering how much snow places have gotten this year, if it gets here by Monday, I’ll be delighted.
The next hurdle will be getting mom to use the hearing aids with Bluetooth I got her. “Oh, but an audiologist . . .!” No, mom. At this stage of the game her hearing loss is past the point of “fine tuning by an audiologist.” Well into the brute force range. The new hearing aides can connect to her phone via Bluetooth, and hopefully she’ll be able to hear on her phone again. It’ll be an interim solution at best. Unfortunately, her hearing loss is getting to the point where nothing short of hooking the phone up to a bullhorn will help her hear a phone conversation, which is sad. She’s isolated enough already. Anyway, I’ll set it up for her with the numbers I have that I know she’ll want, and program the rest in when I take it to her.
How to tell you’ve “I’ll just do one more row and then I’ll go to bed” one time too many.
Working on David’s Hat. Need to do cable crosses and go looking for my cable needle. Not in the bowl. Not on my desk. Not under my keyboard. Not on the floor. Tore the world up looking for the durn thing for ten minutes. Then I realized where it was. (Exhibit A). I’d knitted off and left it. Time to go to bed. So, the next morning I go to pick up my knitting and realized there was something wonky about the cable I was about to knit. (Exhibit B) Realized I’d done a C3F when I should have done a C3B (crossed over right when I should have crossed over left). So I had to frog that cable back past the cross and re-do it. Sigh.
This is what I got at Michael’s after I’d run them through the ball winder. Intended to get just a few skeins, but when I got there, they were having a 50% off sale on all their yarn, so I was able to get twice as much yarn for the same budgeted amount of $$. Yes, Ma’m! Not shown is a take-no-prisoners turquoise colored skein of Caron Simply Soft yarn, which is already in progress. I’ll hat this yarn up and then start in on the bulky yarn I have in stash for guy’s hats. Guys do chemo, too, but ladies first.
I finished “David’s Hat” (what I’m calling that pattern in memory of David Crosby) but was not happy with that row of purl right before the crown decreases. Next one won’t have it and neither will the pattern.
I’ve started hat bags: I’ve put a 16-inch circular, a 24-inch circular and a set of double pointed needles all in the same size in a bag. I have a US 6 (4.0 mm) bag, a US 7 (4.5 mm) bag, and a US 8 (5.0 mm) bag.
Finished a swirly hat using yarn overs to make the stitch. Now I’m working on one that uses kfb (knit front and back) to make the stitch. (I’m using that rampant turquoise yarn.) These are such simple hats you really don’t need a pattern. Just figure your gauge, work out the number to cast on from your circumference measurement making sure it is a number that is evenly divisible by a number larger than 5, and decide how you want to make the stitches. If you want it to swirl to the right, you make the stitch at the beginning of the section, and k2tog (knit two together) at the end of the section. If you want it to swirl to the left, you k2tog at the beginning of the section and add the stitch at the end of the section. When you’re ready to do your crown decreases, you replace k2tog with k3tog. They’re sweet little hats, but they’d work for guys as well as girls.
I’ve been using that little bed table I got for mom that she doesn’t need anymore as a desk extension. I discovered the other day that my ball winder will clamp onto it. The table will become a permanent fixture, I suspect.
I am inching closer and closer to getting rid of the Windows 7 machine. Last night it wouldn’t power off and I had to “help” it by holding down the power button. Today, when I booted it up, it told me that I had an unauthorized version of Windows, which I most certainly do not. Dragged kicking and screaming to Windows 11. Yep. Any day now.
So, it’s about 3:30, I’ve just finished a leisurely lunch (roast beef with onions and celery, skins-and-all mashed potatoes, and mixed veg of string beans and carrots)(num!). I’m sitting at the computer(s). I have one of the puzzles I made on Jigsaw Planet up on the left screen (photograph of a frilled jelly (Chiarella centripetalis) against a navy blue background)(!). On the right screen, I have YouTube on the Firefox browser and WordPress on the Google browser.
I have a bowl of knitting — a swirly hat. Dead simple knitting. (Evenly divide the total number of stitches into sections and make them swirl one direction or the other by putting a k2tog on one edge of the section and a yarn over at the other. The panel “swirls” toward whichever side the yarn over is on. Crown decreases with a k3tog instead of a k2tog.
If you want a tight swirl, you do the k2tog, yo thing every row. If you want a looser swirl, you alternate the k2tog, yo thing with a row of knit stitches.) (I am loosely swirling.)
I’m pleasantly full of a good lunch, sitting and knitting, and listening to Mozart piano sonatas, as you do, and that little rocking octaves in the baseline thing Wulfi does catches my attention, and it occurs to me that Mozart (and Beethoven) does that little trick a lot. And then it occurs to me that both composers were writing at that time at the end of the 18th century when the pianoforte is gradually taking over from the harpsichord (because brass instruments, but that’s another tangent). The instrument had not yet evolved into its final form and composers hadn’t had enough time yet to fully explore the instrument’s capabilities and modify their performance techniques to exploit them. And I realize that this little rocking octaves thing (the thumb on one note and the little finger on the same note but an octave lower, alternating quickly between the two notes eight or ten times by quickly rocking the hand from side to side) is a harpsichord technique (ditto the rapid repeated striking of the same bass chord or notes) that’s been carried over to the pianoforte.
The name of that game is sostenuto. String instruments (violin, viola, cello, etc.) played with a bow can sustain (hold) a note from one end of the bow to the other. A wind instrument (clarinet, flute, oboe, bassoon, etc.) can hold a note until the player runs out of breath. But the harpsichord is a plucked string instrument. You press a key, you get a note, and that’s it. The sound isn’t all that loud to begin with and it dies out rapidly. And that rocking octave thing, and the repeated striking of the same note/chord are workarounds to get a sustained note/chord you can set the tweedly-tweedly bits against.
But here’s the thing. It’s called a “pianoforte”because in the language of music, which is Italian BTW, piano means “quiet”and forte means “loud” — which gives you an important clue about the main difference between the pianoforte and the harpsichord. You can’t get any volume to speak of out of a harpsichord. It’s mechanics. No matter how hard you hit the keys, pling is all you get. (Most harpsichords have two separate keyboards and two separate sets of strings, and a way to “slave” one keyboard to the other to double the volume.) You put a harpsichord together with more than a dozen string and wind instrument (even using both keyboards) and the other instruments will flat drown it out.
The pianoforte, however, plays notes by having a hammer hit a string, and there is a direct correlation between how hard you press the key and how hard the hammer hits the string. This is the first time there’s been a (portable) keyboard instrument with dynamics — the ability to vary the volume of the notes played for dynamic effect. Strings have that ability. So do wind instruments. But not until the pianoforte do you have a keyboard instrument that can hold its own against an orchestra. (I’m not counting the pipe organ, because it’s not something Herr Gottbucks is going to get for the 18th century version of the family rec room so they can have the neighbors over for a fun evening of sight reading trio sonatas.)(Yes, they actually did that.)
So, Mozart and Beethoven are transitional composers, and a lot of their music for the pianoforte has holdover techniques from the harpsichord. As you progress through the sonatas chronologically, you can hear how Mozart is coming to terms with this new instrument and beginning to exploit its dynamics. Beethoven comes along somewhat later (he idolized Mozart and wanted to become his student, but somehow that didn’t happen), still using those rocking octaves and repeated notes, but using them to add an emotional undercurrent to his music.
But in the closing chapters of this Thursday afternoon, Mozart and I are sitting quietly, knitting a hat, (working my jigsaw to give my hands a break). And seriously considering getting up and making a pot of tea. And maybe some toast.
I know you folks up north have had enough snow to last you til the peanut butter season, but we don’t get it that often. So I wasn’t all that upset when I got up for a drink of water about 3 AM, looked out the window and saw this:
We got about 7 inches, which was a record snowfall for this date (stop laughing, Canada!). We don’t get all that much snow here (We are at the same latitude as Damascus in Syria.). We were lucky that it wasn’t cold enough for the roadways to ice all that much. It was wet snow, clumpy and clingy. Thank goodness I didn’t have to get out in it. We needed the moisture, though. We always do. We’ll take it any way we can get it.
This is the building where mother lives. I went to see her this afternoon to take her the Starbuck’s clear plastic covered tumbler I got her to help her drink more water. It holds 24 ounces. If she could just drink one of those a day, that would help her so much. Fortunately, there’s a way to get from hither to yon without going outside.
The activities director wants to start a group here for knitters and crocheters and embroiderers and hand quilters, etc. — There’s a signup sheet for folks to sign up and indicate their preference for day and time. The idea being to find a place and time where we can gather to ply our hobby of choice and sit and socialize with like-minded folks.
I magpied out again. Two more pieces from that Ukrainian artist who is now living in Poland. I’ve gotten quite a collection of fossil ammonite jewelry. They came today. A necklace and a pin. Her pieces have elements of Art Nouveau with their rhythmic, flowing lines and organic shapes. I do like them.
In the knitting news, in a word, hats. I’m just to the point where I’m ready for the top decreases on the green one. As much as I love the Red Heart Unforgettable yarn, it ‘s splitty to begin with, but on a US 6/4.0 mm needle, and doing cables, it’s been driving me nuts. The other hat is made from Lion Brand Re-Spun yarn (colorway Blush) that is spun from recycled polyester. It’s worsted weight on a US8/5.0 mm needle. It’s going pretty fast considering it has braided cables.
I was saddened to learn that David Crosby passed away Thursday. He, along with cohorts Stephen Stills and Graham Nash, as the band Crosby, Stills, and Nash, made some of my favoritest music ever on one of my favoritest albums ever. Their first two albums have been a major part of the sound track of my life for over half a century (!). They constructed their harmony like the Incas constructed stonework — they fitted it together so tightly you couldn’t get even a knife blade between the voices. In 1968, Crosby and Stills were working on what would become “You Don’t Have to Cry.” They were asked to play it for Graham Nash. He asked them to play it again. When they played it for him a third time, he chimed in with another harmony line, and magic happened. CSN’s second live gig was at Woodstock. (My other most favoritest CSN song is this one.)
(The ïyêdëshîäm of Lîdâ have asked me to say that they also mourn David Crosby’s passing, but will forever cherish the music he gave them for their dance.)
I’m not at all sure why humans make music or what it is about our brains that gives us the urge to do so, but it is the one thing that all human cultures have in common — vocal music. I have a strong belief, though, that if you took away that urge, that need, we wouldn’t be human anymore.
In the knitting news, I’ve taken the second option on my pattern for Braided Cable Hat with Rolled Brim, and instead of alternating the braided cables with a panel of stockinette, I ‘m alternating them with a twisted cable. This is “Meadow” — one of the more subdued colorways of the Red Heart Unforgettable yarn, which doesn’t compete all that much with the stitch work. I may call it David’s Hat, because context.
In 2021, when mom was in that “rehab facility,” dad’s niece, husband, daughter and new grand baby came to visit and brought her this lovely white “grocery store” orchid. After she moved to Carillon House (skilled nursing facility), I inherited custody of it. My windows face northwest (i.e., no direct sunlight) and are next to a deciduous tree that blocks a lot of the sunlight in summer, but lets in more light during the winter after its leaves have fallen.
I was rootling around in my own private jungle the other day and noticed what looks to me like a flower spike. It’s plant body is about three times the size it was when she got it, and it’s got aerial roots shooting all over the place. In its native tropical rain forest, the orchid absorbs water through its aerial roots, either directly from rain and/or indirectly from the high humidity in the air. I put a vase of water next to this one to help with the lack of ambient humidity (which is 31% at the moment). One of the roots found it and told its friends. (According to YouTube, it’s OK to let the orchid do this.) (The name “orchid” comes from the Greek word orkhis, and was named by an ancient Greek botanist named Theophrastos, who thought the orchid’s roots resembled a part of the male anatomy.) (I should name it “Mr. Ball.” )
I use reverse osmosis water (“Oz water”) to water all my plants as our local water is hard as a rock from the Rocky Mountain erosion deposits this end of the flatlands is sitting on. We have good water, but it has lime and calcium like you wouldn’t believe. It builds up in the soil of potted plants and can kill them. Which is why I and my own private jungle drink Oz water.
The orchid lives beside the Italian Stone Pine, which I turn on a regular basis to try to get its limbs to grow straight — with interesting results. The pine was marketed as a Christmas tree you could plant after Christmas. I really don’t get enough light in this apartment for it, but we do the best we can with what we have. I put it there to catch the afternoon light. Orchids grow under a jungle canopy and can’t take direct sunlight, which is why it’s closest to the tree. I’ve added a Christmas cactus to the ensemble. I had one when I was going to tech school in California.
In the slightly less than the year that I had that one in California, it flourished. Really cheered up the place when it bloomed. I had to leave it behind because I couldn’t take it across state lines (agricultural quarantine) never mind taking it on an airplane. I’ve wanted one since, but never ran across one when I had a place to keep it and didn’t have cats who would probably try to eat it. I got it on sale just after Christmas at — you guessed it — the grocery store.
My peace lily is going nuts. It has five blooms on it. My bamboo plant is doing well also. I need to repot the Christmas cactus, the elephant ear philodendron and the Stone Pine, among the zillion other things I need to do and haven’t.
In the knitting news, I finished what I’m calling the Origami Tam with No-Sew Rolled Brim because the way I did the increases and decreases make it look like it’s folded. It’s made from Red Heart Unforgettable yarn in the colorway “Parrot.” Almost got the pattern written up. I’ve started two new hats, one is a new hexagonal design that will have braided cables and a rolled brim. The other one is this hat but in DK weight purple Patons Metallic yarn.
At left is the new hat I’m designing. It uses Judy’s Magic Cast-on which I think I like better than Turkish Cast-on to do the provisional cast on that will get rolled under and knitted together with the working stitches to roll the brim.
When I start the hat, I use two separate circular needles for Judy’s Magic Cast-on, the upper one for the working stitches, and the lower needle for the “provisional” stitches (see above). In the picture at left, the brim has been rolled under toward the inside of the hat. The lower left needle has the working stitches, and the upper left needle has the provisional stitches.
The right needle is the other end of the “working” needle. (It’s important to keep straight which end is which!) In the picture above, I have just slipped a stitch knitwise off the working needle and put it on the provisional needle in the orientation shown, being careful not to twist it. Then I knit it and the provisional stitch behind it together through the back loop. You continue doing this until you have no more stitches left on the provisional needle. Then you don’t need the provisional needle anymore.
These hats have all had a narrow brim, but you can use this technique to make a toboggan with a wide band of double thickness over the ears. You can use this technique to make a hat with color work around the bottom, and then roll the brim under to cover the floats.
This is more of that Red Heart Unforgettable yarn, which is acrylic and very splitty, but the colorways are beautiful. Forgot what colorway this one is as I can’t find the ball band. With the rolled brim actually knitted into the fabric of the hat instead of being rolled and sewn, there’s no chance of it coming unsewn.
Apart from the fact that its “splitty-ness” can make it a pain to work with, the fabric the Unforgettable yarn makes has a very soft hand, which makes it good for chemo hats. The yarn weight category of the Unforgettable yarn is 4:Medium, which includes Aran and worsted weight yarns, but this is more toward the DK side. Progress on both hats is to be reported as it is made. Stay tuned.
At about 10 o’clock Sunday morning, my phone rang. It was the nurse on mom’s unit at Carillon House. Mom was having nausea, vomiting and stomach pain and they’d called an ambulance. She was en route to University Medical Center (UMC) emergency room. So, I suited up and, since I am BTDT* status when it comes to hospital emergency rooms, I found and packed a small carry bag with a bottle of water, knitting and an extra purse pack of tissues, and scrambled the fighters.
As the grackle flies, UMC is only a hoot and a holler to the east of us. However, in order to go east, I had to first go south because streets. Evidently, they had called me right when the EMS folks got to her room because I beat her there by about 20 minutes (that’s counting the 10-minute hike from where I had to park, which was, thankfully, just east of the county line). I had about a 15 minute wait in the ER waiting room before they would let me back.
I have all the papers — the POA, the POA for health care, her insurance cards, and the sheet with her medical history and medication list. and I have no trouble hearing and understanding English Second Language speakers and women (who have higher pitched voices and “mumble”). (Her most profound hearing loss is in the higher frequencies, oddly enough.)
IMPORTANT ASIDE: I cannot stress too much how important it is to make a list of your medications and dosages, a list of all the operations you’ve had and (approximately) when you had them, and a list of all your medical conditions, keep it up to date and carry it ***PRINTED OUT ON A SHEET OF PAPER*** in your purse or wallet, ***NOT ON YOUR PHONE***!! If it’s in your phone, the doctors have no way to get it out where they can put it on your chart for all your treating medical professionals to have access to. If you have it on a sheet of paper, they can copy it and put it in your chart. Doing this could save your life. If you come to the emergency room, your treating medical people have no idea what medications you’re taking or what your medical conditions might be. They’re essentially flying blind. If you are unresponsive or badly hurt, obtaining a coherent medical history could be difficult to impossible. But if you have this sheet and your family member/spouse/friend know you carry it in your purse or wallet, they could save your life by letting this sheet speak for you when you can’t.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming, which is already in progress. It was sneaking up on 11 o’clock before I made it back to where they had her. I got out all the cards and papers, and one of the admissions people, who was really on the ball, noticed that on my POA for health care, mom is DNR/DNI – she wants no cardiopulmonary resuscitation of any kind and she does not want to be intubated. Carillon House had her status as “full code,” meaning using any and all heroic measures to keep her alive at all costs, which is not what she wants. We also discussed the fact that my durable POA for health care does not cover “out of hospital” codes. It also does not cover if she codes while the EMS personnel are in the process of transferring her from her room at Carillon to the hospital. (I’ve also got to get with the Carillon House people and get her code status sorted out with them, too.) This helpful person got us the proper form, which I now have in my purse with the other papers, which has that covered. I will also put up a copy of it up on the wall in her room so EMS people can note it and honor it. So, that was one good thing that came out of this episode.
Naturally, we waited and waited for lab results, x-ray results, doctors — It’s why they’re called “patients.” Mom is a class M patient. (Think about it; it’ll come to you.) Her kidney function tests were out of whack (what a surprise NOT!), and her bilirubin (a liver enzyme) was 4 times what it should have been. They were most unhappy with her liver enzymes (and weren’t thrilled with her kidney functions either). She was very dehydrated, so they gave her two bags of fluids. They took her for an ultrasound of the liver, pancreas and gallbladder. Her white blood cell count indicated she had some kind of mild infection, so they hit her with the good stuff — Flagyl and Rocephin.
The upshot of it all was that the ultrasound showed mom had a gallbladder full of gallstones. There was concern that one was lodged in the duct that goes from the gallbladder to the intestine, which would explain her symptoms. This could be serious in a patient of any age, but especially at her age. (My 78-year-old paternal grandmother died because she had a lodged stone they didn’t know about and her gallbladder ruptured. The 98-year-old lady who used to live up the hall from me also required emergency gallbladder surgery and didn’t survive it.) There is an endoscopic procedure where they can use an endoscope to go down the throat, through the stomach, into the intestine and grab the stone from that end, but it obviously requires sedation, which is risky in a patient her age and with her lung function.
Ultimately, about 1 p.m., they decided to admit her for observation. She didn’t get up to a room until nearly 6 o’clock. The ER is on the west end of the hospital. The room she went to was on the east end of the hospital.
One of the ER nurses pushed her bed up there because transportation was too busy. She was going at a pretty fast clip, considering she was pushing this hospital bed with my mom in it. I tried to keep up with her but she left me in the dust! Fortunately, I knew where she was going.
However, her liver enzymes gradually trended back to normal and her kidney functions normalized once they got her rehydrated. She may actually have passed a gallstone, which would explain her symptoms, especially her belly pain. It would also explain her periodic bouts of nausea and vomiting if she’s got a gallbladder full of gravel. (The liver makes digestive enzymes — bile — which is stored in the gallbladder. When you eat foods that contain fats, proteins and carbohydrates, bile is squeezed out of the gallbladder into the small intestines as part of the digestive process. If the liver can’t put bile in the gallbladder, it backs up into your blood and causes jaundice — you look “yellow.”)
The GI doctor decided that since her liver enzymes were coming back down to normal, no intervention was warranted, and she went back home to Carillon House Tuesday afternoon. The same song, third verse, is that she does not drink enough water. Period. Certainly not enough to keep her kidneys flushed out. As a result, her bowels are going to recover all the water they possibly can from her food to keep the kidneys functioning, which is why she’s frequently constipated. Drink water, folks. It’s your kidneys’ job to keep garbage flushed out of your blood. You can’t flush a toilet if there’s no water in the toilet tank.
In the knitting news, I realized that all the projects I’m working on right now are shawls, and big. Also in knitting group last week, one of the ladies mentioned knitting chemo hats. Chemo hats are small and almost as portable as socks. I’ve got a big bag of suitable (acrylic -because it’s hypoallergenic and machine washable) yarn to make chemo hats left over from my last attack.
I’m contemplating creating a Scots bonnet and there were some techniques I wanted to try out. The first one was using Judy’s Magic Cast-on instead of a provision cast on for a rolled hat brim. Worked like a charm, I’m happy to say. The secret is to use two circular needles, a 16-inch and a 24-inch, for the cast on. When you use this method, you don’t have to go back and pick up your provisional stitches. They’re already on the needle. Just make sure your 16-inch needle is the needle you start knitting with as that’s what you’ll use for the hat. Then, when you roll the brim (working stitches in back, provisional stitches in front), you can take the provisional stitch off knitwise, put it on the 16-inch needle and knit two together through the back loop (k2tog tbl) to secure the brim without having to go back and sew it. Then you just keep knitting on your hat.
If you orient the stitches right when you take them off the “keeper needle,” the join is “invisible.” I like to rib the inside part of the rolled brim to make it more elastic.
I started this hat Sunday night, and I’m on the decreases at the top now. I’ve got two more balls of yarn earmarked to try some other versions. I didn’t get a lot of sleep Sunday and Monday nights for one reason and another. I slept all Tuesday night and most of Wednesday though. I was just exhausted. I spent Wednesday evening watching YouTube with my feet up, taking it easy. I think YouTube does not consider you to be a a legitimate homesteading channel unless the guy has a beard and/or the lady has long hair . . . .
I spent hours last night going round and round with the new computer. I connected some Bluetooth earbuds to it and tried to listen to SomaFM’s Drone Zone, a perennial favorite, and the sound volume fluxuated up and down, up and down. I jumped through hoop after hoop to no avail. In the process, I accidentally turned Bluetooth off on the new computer, which precipitated a bit of a crisis since both its keyboard and mouse were Bluetooth and I suddenly had no way to control the computer. So I had to resurrect the old intellimouse (which dongles) and get out the new Logitech keyboard which has a “war”* and plugs into a USB port so I could get into the computer and turn the Bluetooth back on. Lo, and behold, unpairing and uninstalling that rinky-dink mouse and keyboard fixed the sound issue. Expletives were not deleted.
On the crest of that wave of anger and frustration, I (finally!) plugged in the 7.5 TB Western Digital external drive that’s been sitting on the counter since October and started copying files to it. The music file on the 1 TB Seagate took over an hour to copy. It was a big file. I’ve copied graphics and photos, and am in the process of copying games which may or may not play on the new machine. The new hard drive is not big enough for all my stuff, so I’ll transfer it to one that is big enough and plug it in as an external drive. So there.
I’m glad I got the new keyboard out. The backspace on the old one is wonky. Crumbs are no doubt involved. I will replace it with the new one when I finally accomplish the changeover to the new computer that’s been nearly a year in the making. Anyway, I had to clear off mom’s rolly table and bring it round as there wasn’t room on the desk for two big keyboards. (One came with her room and she didn’t need this one anymore.) I was using her table as a staging area — a place to park my purse and put the things like mail I needed to take to her — she still gets some magazines that I collect and take to her.
The lady that helps mom bathe suggested that she get a certain kind of cream for a fundamental skin irritation and itchiness she’s been unable to get rid of. I’ve ordered her some. I’ll be interested to see what she says when I bring it to her. (It’ll also be interesting to see if I can resist the straight line . . .) Anyway, I hope it works for her. A skin irritation that itches is no fun, no matter where it is.
In the knitting news, I’ve swatched but I ain’t felted yet. I measure the swatch, shrink it, measure it again, then calculate the percentage of shrinkage. Fortunately, there’s an app for that. I hate doing percentages. If the swatch shrinks, say, 10%, then I make the hat 10% larger than it needs to be. It is essential that I know the percentage of shrinkage before I start as I’m going to try knitting one from the bottom up so I can use this band turning trick I know, but that means I have to know how many stitches to cast on. I’ll do the other one the “right” way, which is top down. The band turning trick involves a provisional cast on. It’s the same trick I use here. Mostly, though, I’ve been working on these two versions of Savannah Squares: