What We Have Here Is A Failure to Communicate . . .

This is a first: The first time I’ve posted from the little reconditioned HP laptop I got. Frustrating. I’m used to a large gamer keyboard and this jicky little keyboard is a PITA. If I situate it in my lap, where I can reach the keyboard, I can barely read the screen. I already knew from using my BFF’s laptop that I hate touch pads, so I got an “el cheapo” wireless mouse and a mousepad, but there’s hardly any room for it on the little lap desk. Yeah. I know. First world problems.

Anyway, the failure to communicate mentioned above reared its ugly head yesterday after I’d gotten my labs drawn and my port accessed and was in my oncologist’s office. Turns out this is my fourth session of Rituxan (he counted) and not my fifth (I miscounted; chemo brain strikes again), which means I still have two chemo sessions to go, which means I’ll be having my last chemo session in September right around the time of mom’s 98th birthday (the 23rd). The degree of bummer-tude of this development will depend upon how far into September that last session falls, as my white blood cell count needs at least a week to recover from the preceding chemo session before I’ll even risk removing my mask, never mind be among a group of people of unknown COVID status. My sessions are three weeks apart. My penultimate session is 29 August and three weeks from that is 19 September. I can ask my oncologist if I can have an extra week between the last two sessions so I will be four weeks out from my last chemo instead of four days. He’s done it before. I bet I can sweet talk him into doing it again.

The best development out of this very mixed bag is that I have a chin again. The lymphomas in my neck had gotten so large you could barely tell where the bottom of my jaw was. But they have all shrunk drastically and those lymph nodes are back to normal size, which means I’m showing a good response to the chemo regimen. It will take a CT scan to check the response of the rest of the lymphomas in my chest and abdomen which he will probably order when I’ve completed all six of my treatments in September.

My chemo infusion went OK and I got the Udenyca shot this afternoon to boost white blood cell production and get my white count back up to normal. I gained seven pounds between Sunday night and Monday night, all of it from the chemo regimen. I get the decadron and anti-nausea medication in 0.25 liter of IV fluid, followed by the Rituxan diluted in a full liter of IV fluid, followed by 0.25 liter of IV fluid to flush the line, followed by the cyclophosphamide diluted in a full liter of fluid, followed by 0.25 liter of line flushing, which is 2.75 liters of fluid over the course of about four hours, plus the 32-ounce stainless steel bottle full of Crystal Light I sucked down between yesterday and today. A liter bottle of soda weighs 2.2 pounds, so imagine having three of them strapped to you. I lost 2 pounds between last night and tonight, but my poor little kidneys are having a hard time keeping up. I don’t have to go anywhere tomorrow so tomorrow morning, I’m going to take a Lasix (“water pill”) and see if I can’t get my legs emptied out. (I should have spent yesterday evening and the rest of this afternoon and evening in bed with my feet elevated instead of sitting at my desk puttering on the computer.

I saw my cardiologist this morning and he said my oncologist was concerned about me, so the cardiologist wants to do a stress test — not the treadmill thing, but what they call a chemical stress test. His office is used to dealing with the VA, and they will set it all up and let me know when. I’ll have to get a ride because I can’t drive myself home after it, but Carillon provides rides to and from doctor’s appointments at no charge. I just have to give them 24 hours notice.

Saturday, I spent the afternoon downloading the requisite drivers (software) for my little Epson printer from Epson’s website onto the new computer so it could talk to my printer and I could scan financial and bank statements to the computer that has working email and email them to Mom to keep her up to speed. (Gmail won’t run right on my old computer since Google stopped supporting Windows 7 — Google is the “G” in “Gmail — which is why I got the new computer in the first place. The setting up of the software was a fairly straightforward process, but getting the computer and printer to talk to each other was tricky and expletives (and more than a few pejoratives) were not deleted!.

Among the groceries I got Monday was one of Market Street’s fruit bowls — the one I got had chunks of cantaloupe and honey dew melons, chunks of pineapple, a handful of raspberries, a couple blackberries, a handful of blueberries and a couple grapes. It’s a big enough bowl that you can get two servings out of it. I supplemented that with some cherry tomatoes cut in half and some whole black olives. I had the second serving tonight likewise supplemented, and as a side to a brisket sandwich on a big ciabatta roll which I’d already inhaled half of before I could get the camera app on my iPhone limbered up. Copious nums.

I had been using a gamer chair with a foot rest, a birthday present in 2020, as my computer chair. The desk I was using at the time was on casters, so it didn’t matter that the gamer chair wasn’t. I could just sit down and pull the desk up as close as it needed to be.

After I moved to Carillon, I had to get a longer desk so I would have a place to put my printer. I was putting it on my filing cabinet, but when I moved to the smaller apartment, there was no way I could get the filing cabinet close enough to a plug to continue doing that. This new longer desk doesn’t have castors and it was very difficult to get in or out of the gamer chair if it was too close to the desk. Unfortunately, “too close” was not close enough. So I got a desk chair with casters. It is also higher than the gamer chair, which puts my shoulders and forearms at a more comfortable angle when I’m keyboarding and mousing.

I’d gotten in the habit of just swiveling the chair around to the side to get in or out of it. I’m having to learn to roll the new one back back from the desk before trying to get out of it. I’m going to list the old chair on Craig’s List and see if I can’t sell it to offset the cost of the new chair (which wasn’t all that much, really).

In the knitting news, my dive into my button stash proved bootless, so I swung by a local fabric store on the way home from JACC and picked up what I needed. I’ve finished the little baby top. I just need to weave in ends and sew on buttons and it’s done. I’m at the heel increases on the second matching bootie and the crown decreases on the little sun hat. I’d like to get this stuff in the mail by the end of the week and get it out of my hair. I’ve got until Thanksgiving to finish the little red dress(es). I’m thinking I’ll have enough yarn for a little matching red headband with two crocheted holly leaves in the green yarn, and some red shanked buttons for berries to decorate the headband. or else I could just do the holly leaves and button berries as a kind of removable corsage that could be safety pinned to the front of the dress for Christmas, and removed later.

However, in the several matters mentioned above, the plan is that bridges will be crossed when come to.

The first season of Neil Gaiman’s dramatization of his “Sandman” graphic novels dropped on 5 August on Netflix (early reviews are that it sticks very close to the novels, has a brilliant cast and is visually fabulous) and I still haven’t watched season 2 of The Witcher (Henry Cavill!). I may be crossing The Bridge over the River BingeWatch after a certain package gets posted. Not to mention the Bridge of TV Knitting . . .

I Went On A Little Binge . . .

I was watching a YouTube video by Bernadette Banner Friday morning in which she was constructing the blouse portion of an Edwardian “lingerie gown” (she was recreating a period accurate version of the gown Julie Andrews was wearing during the “Jolly Holiday” scenes in the film “Mary Poppins”). She mentioned binge-watching TV while she was hand-sewing down all the gathers at the top and bottom of the blouse to the respective lace panels and waist band. (This is a woman who considers hand sewing garments a (mostly) soothing, meditative activity in the same way I consider knitting to be, i.e., a kindred spirit.)

Friday afternoon, I finally reached the point in the baby blanket where it was time to begin the knitted-on lace edging. The thing about “knitted on” edgings (versus an edging that you knit as a separate piece and sew onto the work) is that you knit the edging at right angles to the thing you’re edging, and at the end of every other row, you work some kind of decrease, typically a k2tog or ssk, where you knit together one stitch of the edging and one stitch from the work, thereby attaching the edging to the work as part of the finishing process. Knitting on an edging is really just a very fancy way of binding off your work.

I had chosen a “toothed” garter lace pattern with an 8-row repeat, which is to say, working the 8 rows of the pattern gives you one iteration (or “tooth”) of the lace pattern, and you keep repeating those same 8 rows until you have enough to go all the way around. (The original lace pattern was for lace you sew on, so first I had to adapt the pattern to make it “knit-on-able.” See below. ) Each iteration of the lace pattern binds off 4 stitches along the circumference of the blanket. Since the blanket is 513 stitches (9 panels x 57 stitches per panel) in circumference, that’s 128 iterations of the lace pattern. Now, I’m sure you math whizzes have already figured out that 513 cannot be evenly divided by 4. So here’s the math. The blanket has 9 panels. 9 panels x 56 stitches per panel is evenly divisible by 4 (= 126 repeats), but I have to cast on 5 stitches and then knit a “freebie” row to set up the lace pattern, and that setup incorporates 1 of the circumference stitches.

Now, because you are knitting the blanket from the center out, you need to keep increasing the number of stitches at the outer edge in order for the blanket to lie flat — this pattern increases 9 stitches every other row. So, by adding two more rows (the row where you work the yarn-over increases at the end of each of the 9 panels, followed by the row where you work a knit stitch into each of the yarn overs on the previous row), my panels went from 56 stitches to 57 stitches wide, which gives me 9 more stitches to play with. 9 more stitches (57 stitches per panel x 9 panels = 513 stitches in circumference) gives me two more pattern repeats (8 stitches) plus one extra stitch for that setup row. Et, voilá.

Bernadette (see above) reminded me how pleasant it is to binge watch TV while you knit, so I streamed some Acorn TV and binge-watched a 3-part series about the interiors of Buckingham Palace in London, and a 6-part series about traveling in the wilds of Scotland, and got 4 of the 9 panels edged. Tonight I edged another panel and a half, so I’m in the home stretch on this project.

For those of you who are into that kind of thing, here’s how I adapted the pattern for sew-on lace so that it could be knitted on. I had to add in an extra stitch for the ssk that would be worked with one of the work stitches as a means of attaching the lace to the work, and I had to add in a set up row to get the pattern oriented correctly to the work.

Sewn On Version:                     
Cast on 4 sts.

Row 1: K1, yo, k2tog, yo, k1.
Row 2: K5.
Row 3: K2, yo, k2tog, yo, k1.
Row 4: K6.
Row 5: K3, yo, k2tog, yo, k1.
Row 6: K7.
Row 7: K4, yo, k2tog, yo, k1.
Row 8: Cast off 4 sts, k3.

Repeat rows 1-8.

Knitted On Version: 
Cast on 5 sts using e-loop method, k4, ssk, tw.

Row 1: Sl1 wyif, k1, yo, k2tog, yo, k1.
Row 2: K5, ssk, tw.
Row 3: Sl1 wyif, k2, yo, k2tog, yo, k1.
Row 4: K6, ssk, tw.
Row 5: Sl1 wyif, k3, yo, k2tog, yo, k1.
Row 6: K7, ssk, tw.
Row 7: Sl1 wyif, k4, yo, k2tog, yo, k1.
Row 8: Cast off 4 sts, k4, ssk, tw.

Repeat rows 1-8.

Sl1 wyif = slip 1 stitch purlwise with yarn in front
tw - turn work
k2tog - knit two stitches together. 
yo - yarn over (same as yfwd, yarn forward)
ssk - slip 2 stitches knitwise onto the right needle, return the two stitches to the left needle and knit them together through the back loop.  In this instance, the ssk is worked between the last lace stitch and the next stitch of the circumference stitches, to join the lace to the work. 

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.

A Problem of Size

A while ago, I saw most of the movie “Girl with a Pearl Earring” on network TV in an “edited for television” ( we’ll cut lots of tiny bits out of practically every scene, the viewers will never miss them, and we can have a commercial every 10 minutes instead of every 15 minutes) version. What I saw was good and I wanted to see the whole film without interruption, the way it had played in theaters. It has two actors I like a lot, Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson, and it’s about the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), whose work I like. The screenplay of the film is based on the novel of the same name by Tracy Chevalier, which speculates about the life of Vermeer (about whom very little is known), his model for this one painting (about whom nothing is known), and how the painting came about.

I picked up a “gently used” DVD of the film on Amazon for cheap as a little treat for myself. It came yesterday and the mail carrier put it in our mailbox.

It’s still there.

You see, mail carriers access our mailboxes from the front with a key that causes the whole front wall of a block of about 30 post boxes, individual doors and all, to swing open as one piece, revealing the mailboxes behind. Unfortunately, the opening made by unlocking one of the individual mailbox doors is about an inch smaller than the opening of the box as a whole. The mail carrier could put the DVD in my mailbox, but I couldn’t get it out!

I left the mail carrier a note to that effect on my mailbox door. Sigh!

In other disgruntlements, we are paying AT&T $107 bucks a month for 5 megs of internet (which is infuriatingly slow when you’re trying to stream something especially when it intermittently freezes for minutes at a time starting around 8-9 pm) and one phone line. Thing is, I could get 20 megs (as in 4x faster internet) from Carillon for $27 bucks a month. Both* my DVD players are hooked up and working, but there’s no way I can connect my TV to the internet because the stupid AT&T modem has to be in the bedroom because wiring, which means I can’t stream on my 55-inch TV — although doing it would be equally as infuriating as trying to stream movies on my computer. I’ve been living in the apartment for 18 days now and we still don’t have our TVs hooked up. I’m going to try again Monday and re-fill-out the forms and resubmit the work order, and I’m going to opt for internet as well as TV and send this hunk of junk modem back to AT&T.

*One DVD player is about 15 years old, is region-locked to region 1 and will only play DVDs from the US and Canada. The other DVD player is new and is not region-locked, meaning it can play any DVD regardless of which country it’s from.

Par For The Course

Friday night, we had a little cold snap and Saturday morning, we woke up to this — We only got a light dusting, and with a low of only 32F /0 C, it wasn’t cold enough for snow or ice to stick to the sidewalks or pavement.  The snow quickly melted, but it was picturesque while it lasted.  I understand other parts of the country have not gotten off so light.

In the knitting news, I know I should check my work for mistakes every inch or so, but I got to watching YouTube videos and made a (very noticeable) mistake on one of the borders and didn’t catch it until about four inches later.  Not gonna lie; swearing happened.  Fortunately, I was able to just frog that corner back to the mistake and fix it, and didn’t have to frog the whole durn thing back that far.   It’s my latest pattern, ( it’s a 3-ball shawl, and I’m on the third ball).

I’ve been watching episodes of the BBC’s “Digging for Britain” on YouTube.  It’s a show about British archaeology.  The presenter is a lady with a very posh accent .  She’s a bit precious but bearable.  However, we’ve already met a couple of former Time Teamers.   In Britain, you can’t hardly turn around without tripping over something historic. They’ve got Celts and Romans,  Angles and Saxons and Jutes (oh, my!), Vikings and Normans, kings and castles.  What do we got  out here in the flatlands?  We had some Clovis folks wandering through once or twice, hunting mastodons and leaving their trash at a nearby lake, then zip for the next 11,000 years — nothing but buffalo and prairie dogs and the odd Comanche.  My town’s only been here since 1891,.   I’m so jealous.



Fall Has Finally Fell

For a couple of weeks now, our temperatures have been faffing about in the 80’s F/26.6+ C, with intermittent pyrotechnics and gullywashers.  I’m still in summer bed linens — top sheet and a heavy cotton spread — but night before last, it got so cold in my bedroom that I went rummaging in the blanket chest for that little fleece twin blanket that I use as a lap robe when the weather gets below-zero, two-feet-of-snow-on-the-ground cold, and put it over my side of the bed.  I think it may be time to get out the waffle blanket.

In the early owls of the morning yesterday, the thermostat in the hallway said 72 F/22.2 C, and the one on the box of my desktop computer said 71 F/21.6 C which was a real eye opener, because that particular location is usually the hottest spot in the house, whether the computer is on or off. (Don’t know why.  The only window in that room is covered in aluminum foil, shiny side out, to keep the sun out of my eyes and out of the house. That should make it cooler, no?)  Supposed to be a high of 83 F/28.3 C tomorrow, then down into the 70’s F/21+ C again for the forecastable future.  I’m in long-sleeved, mid shin cotton now.  If this keeps up, I may have to start putting socks on.  (The city I live in is at the same latitude as Casablanca, Morocco.  Your climate challenges may vary . . . )

I have been in a kind of slow bummer for the past couple of days.  The “Rememberance” for my friend BL who passed away Sunday before last was this afternoon. It was a kind of secular wake, no body, no clergy, just people sharing food, beverage and grief.   My mom went with, as much out of solidarity as because I don’t do well in those sort of situations.  On my part of the spectrum, emotions are very close to the surface and often quite intense.   Her poor husband and daughter were practically propping each other up. He’s doing as well as can be expected for a man who has just lost the love of his life.   She and her daughter were particularly close, and it’s been a steep hill for her, too.

L.O.R.D. Critical World

I’ve run across another couple of those Chinese “historical fantasy” TV series, “The Untamed” and a spinoff of “L.O.R.D. Legend of Ravaging Dynasties” called L.O.R.D. Critical World.  The plots are what I would call “high Wagnerian” — i.e., convoluted and involved, deadly serious in tone, and with various characters and groups of characters being put through the wringer of traumatic experiences for no apparent reason.  The first one is the only one of them I can find with subtitles, which is really not all that much help, actually. Most of the time I have no clue who’s on first or what’s going on.   But they are visually stunning in terms of  hot young actors in long wigs and gorgeous costumes martial arts-ing about on fantastic sets, and who the heck cares if it makes sense or not? it’s just so “oooooh, shiny!”

I am slowly but surely being sucked into the super massive black hole that is the Outlander franchise.  I’m fighting it, but it’s a loosing battle, especially the TV show, because I keep running across clips from it on YouTube featuring Lord John Grey, a character I’m kind of hooked on at the moment.  In the books, Lord John is 5’6″ tall with blond hair and blue eyes.   The actor (David Berry) they’ve cast to play him in the TV show isn’t.  But, I know exactly why they cast him.  If you could CGI him shorter, and give him blond hair and blue eyes, his looks would be as perfect as his acting.  The fact that Lord John is so short, and that Jamie Fraser, the male main character, is well over 6 feet tall is part of the interpersonal dynamic between these two characters. . . . grumble. . . grumble. . . grumble. . . If I can just hold off until after Christmas, I will swan dive down that particular rabbit hole with abandon and probably go off on one long bender of binge-watching/reading.  Might make having to live through an election year a whole lot less maddening/infuriating/exasperating/all of the above.

As I’ve mentioned, the main Jamie+Claire story  Outlander books average out at around 300,000 words apiece.  If you’re tempted by the story, but are leery of committing to reading 8 such doorstops, you might try one of the Lord John stand-alone spinoffs,  which range in length from short stories, to novellas, to more manageable-sized novels, to see if you like her style of storytelling.

This just in:  The BJD sweater lacks about 5 rows on the remaining sleeve and weaving in the ends to be complete.  Film at 11.

And this because Steely Dan.

Woop! There It Is!

A while ago, when I was doing laundry, like the time before last, I came out short a sock.  It was one of those “low-quarter” socks without a top like you wear with sneakers.  It wasn’t left in the washer, or caught in the dryer, or left behind in the clothes hamper.  Nuts.  I put the odd sock on top of my dresser to remind me there was a sock loose somewhere, and life went on.  So, today, because I’m not going out, I put on this pink and red sleep shirt with cats and hearts on, because cats (and because why not?).  It’s light cotton and it’s been washed enough that it’s soft and comfortable.  I faffed about and puttered around, booted up the ‘puter, read the latest installments of the blogs and webcomics I follow, started working on a story, exchanged texts with a dear friend, LB, who’s in the hospital again having to have worrying things done to her.  A while ago, I realized I was hungry, noticed it was after 1 o’clock and went into the kitchen to make me some lunch.  Toast and these frozen enchilada things.  I was putting the margarine away in the fridge when I stepped on something.  It was one of those topless socks just like the one that had been sitting by itself on my dresser for weeks.  It was lying on the kitchen floor. The universe is a strange and wonderful place.

Caught a trailer from SDCC for the new CBS All Access “Star Trek: Picard.”  I was already interested when I first heard about it, and then I saw this:Star Trek with Elves!  Be still my geeky heart!  The actor’s name is Evan Evangora.   Yowsa!

No More Stuffing!

I’ve been knitting away in my knitting nook, knitting on washcoths a while, then knitting an Xmas ball or two.  I’ve knitted 7 so far, and I plan to do three more — one is already on the needles.  (“knitting” has a “k” but “needles,” and “nook” don’t — and because I tend to spell phonetically, keeping them straight drives me knuts.  But for once, it’s not English being obtuse and arcane.  Big difference between “knits” and “nits.”)  But for the moment, my production of finished Xmas balls has ground to a halt — I ran out of polyester fiberfill — I’ve got no stuff to stuff them with.

I’m like the mice in Beatrix Potter’s story,  “The Tailor of Gloucester.”  They ran out of “twist” — a particular type of sewing thread that they were using to make buttonholes on the Mayor’s waistcoat.  They pinned a little note to the waistcoat written in teeny tiny writing which said, “No more twist.”

Except the little note pinned to the three latest knitted balls would say (assuming you can read my handwriting!), “No more stuffing!”

The stuffing makes a big difference.

The ones at right have already found new homes — two were hostess gifts to the couple who had mom an me over for Thanksgiving dinner, one went home with my mom for her tree, and one is going to the lady in “B” of my duplex as a token of appreciation for all the help she’s given me during this annus horribilis.   Some knitting I can do while I’m watching TV, but not stranded colorwork — I’ve got to keep my eyes glued to the grid pattern!  Instead I turn on my internet radio and listen to SomaFM’s DroneZone, which is their ambient music channel.

I’ve gotten one washcloth basket finished, and have three more to go, but the washcloth patterns I’ve chosen are simple and easily memorized — TV knitting.  I’ve been knitting and binge-watching the “Sherlock” television series that Steve Moffat and Mark Gattis wrote and produced with Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock and Martin Freeman as Watson.  (All four seasons are available on Netflix, which I have been watching on my tablet in my knitting nook, with my feet propped up on the otttoman, a lap robe on, and a pot of chai au lait to hand.)

This pic shows you how I’m packaging the washcloths — each basket will have three rolled washcloths and a bar of glycerine soap.  I pop the basket into a cellophane bag and tie it with gold ribbon.  They’re intended to be put in a guest bathroom, or given as gifts. (There’s another orange washcloth in that basket which I finished after I took the picture.) I’ve got five more washcloths to knit by the end of the first week of December,  and one of those five is nearly done.  (It will finish the orange basket.)

I’ve got to do some running around tomorrow — get my car’s oil changed, get my state inspection and get a new license sticker.  I also plan to visit my friend LB and her husband C. He had open heart surgery in October with a triple bypass, and she’s going to have a corneal transplant the first part of December.  I’m going to take them each an Xmas ball. While I’m out and about, I’ll get more polyfill so I can stuff my balls!  I think I’ll go to Joanne’s (store) as Michael’s didn’t have any actual stuffing, only quilt batting.  It works, but you have to pull it apart into “tufts” with your hands just like you have to do with raw wool before you can card it.

As much fun as this all is, I’ll be glad to get over this “hump” of projects and get back to the WIPs* I’ve been longing to work on.  But everything is pretty much on hold until I get these two projects out of the way.

WIP – Work In Progress

Done All My Kitchening For the Week

So, yesterday, I cooked a package of small elbow macaroni and made some pasta salad with chicken, made a pitcher of tea, emptied the dishwasher, and washed up the dishes from making the pasta salad.  The pasta salad was my standing recipe — elbow macaroni, chicken, canned peas and carrots mixture, chopped black olives, chopped kosher dills, chopped white onion and Hellman’s mayonnaise.  The pickles and onions give it a nice crunch.  I’m tucking a bowlful into my little kisser as I type.  Scrums.

My friend LB has two more chemo sessions left.  However, they are going to be pretty rough, especially the last one.  She starts the next to last one today.  We are all heartened by the information that her blood work seems to indicate she has a shot at remission.  It is fervently to be hoped for.  Her daughter A is a professor in theater arts at our big University, but she has taken a semester’s sabbatical to help get her mother through this session of chemo. This time at knitting group, LB brought this hat knitted in scarlet red yarn to show.  She does such beautiful work.

The young Hispanic man came back to the group this time.  He’s been before.  He’s trying to learn crochet.  We had, in fact, three crocheters this last time, but most of the knitters in the group also crochet (including me).  We are an inclusive bunch, and we do not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, national origin, political affiliation, or craft.

This time, KC brought a whole box full of cakes of fine weight yarn to give away.  She had them given to her, but she had no use for them. Most of the yarn had two cakes of the same color, and I got four cakes, two each of the same color.  It may be too fine for socks but maybe not.  If it is, I’ll think of something to do with it.

I started this post a good deal earlier this morning, but when I tried to upload the yarn cakes picture, I discovered I’d used up all my free picture storage space, so my solution to the problem was to rename that blog “The Owl Underground Archives II” and start this one.  I thought if I changed the URL and blog name for that one, nobody would have to make any changes to make the transition to the new one, and that it would be simpler to do it that way, but apparently not.  In retrospect, what I should have done was set up a new blog as an archive and migrated all the posts to it. Oh, well.  Sorry about that.  Since I had to start from scratch again, I’m trying out a new theme, and I think I like it.  In the course of all the rigamarole of sorting this out, I discovered I’ve been blogging since December of 2005.

My mom has “broken” her computer again, bless her, and the trained chimpanzee (yrs trly) is going over later this afternoon to find out what she was trying to do and do it for her.  It has something to do with 400 emails that won’t go away.  There’s no telling . . . . .

My BFF came over Sunday and I “fixed” her Kindle again. (She has gotten the idea lodged in her brain that her Kindle is full and won’t work any more.  It was, but I fixed it and got it working months ago.  Last week, she asked me to fix her Kindle because it was full and wouldn’t work.  It was still fixed and still working from the last time I fixed it — except in her brain, apparently, where it is still broken.) She is slightly more technologically competent than my mother (which isn’t saying a whole lot), but she also has strong Luddite tendencies and her relationship with technology tends to be adversarial.  She also has a very, very low frustration threshold, which doesn’t help.