Sunday August 16th 2009, 6:44 pm
Filed under: My Garden

Remember this?

That little broken-off bit of tomato vine never did get planted. Its vase nearly dried out while I was in the hospital, since it wasn’t exactly the focal point of the family just then.  It only had a little spot inside the window and what water was left to it.

And yet. It kept on doing what it was created to do. One orange cherry tomato, full size and fully ripe.

Time to purl up with a good yarn
Saturday August 15th 2009, 8:32 pm
Filed under: Friends,LYS

First it was an email. Then a phone call. Then: the prisoner escaped!

Kathy showed up from San Jose, the sweetie–I’m hardly on her way–and took me to Purlescence for some rather desperately-needed hanging-out time.  Not only that, she gifted me with hand-dyed yarn she’d bought as a souvenir for me from Sock Summit: a gradient set of five skeins of seacell/merino from Three Irish Girls, whose work I highly admire. (I voted for their Georgia Peach colorway that not only won in its Dye for Glory category, I ordered some.) And, two skeins of Double Bambu, on mini-cones.

Sandi and Kaye wound up a skein of their Purl Up and Dye merino, Purlescence’s own hand-dyed, and refused to ring it up for me.

Lisa came in, and Sock Summit stories started zipping around the room, to my great delight.

After two hours, Kathy looked at me and asked, Are you ready to go?

Not that I wanted to admit.  But she picked up on the fact that I was fading, for which I’m grateful–I wouldn’t have had the sense to kick myself out, I was having just too good a time being with friends.

I went home, crashed, and woke up with a new design idea bouncing around my brain that I can’t wait to try out. Creativity: it’s contagious. Thank you, Kathy, Sandi, and Kaye, and everybody, for that matter!

A clean kitchen and a brain cell!
Friday August 14th 2009, 8:34 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends

Today, the surprise box was for Richard.  It looked to me at first like something maybe from the Monterey Bay Aquarium?  From Sam again, this time trying to replenish her father’s brain cell supply.  (Well, dear, see what happens when you tell your wife to blog it? Heh.)

Meantime, I reluctantly admitted to a friend who asked me that, yes, we could indeed use some help; Michelle’s on crutches and can’t stand for very long, and Richard had minor surgery two days before mine and it was botched–they accidentally punctured the wrong spot and gave him an unexpected spinal tap. That leaked.  Last Friday, he came to visit me, called his doctor five minutes later, and spent the rest of the day in the ER. We’re a cheerful if rather sorry bunch.

Said Andrea, say no more. And so AlisonF and Julia of the Julia’s Shawl fame came over today, with Michelle telling me to lie down and take it easy (while not doing so herself) and them all cleaning away on the house. I can’t tell you how much better it feels–thank you!

I wanted to go pick them tomatoes as a thank you. I started towards the sliding door–and–most of them were gone. They were there yesterday, nice and big and bright and red and ripe.  But… But!!!

That does it. I am not knitting those raccoons any sweaters. So there.

Perk of residency
Thursday August 13th 2009, 8:34 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Crohn's flare,Knit,Life

Thinking back to the first pre-op appointment: there was a parade of people, from a medical researcher hoping to sign up a new subject to a physician’s assistant to a younger woman who came in after the doctor with forms in hand, asking my permission to let her be a part of the surgical team as part of her training.

I liked her on the spot and told her yes.

When she greeted me just before the operation last Wednesday, I looked her in the eye, smiled, and told her in a tone that I think affirmed that I believed she would, “Do a good job.”

She stopped by often afterwards to check on me, and Sunday, from my hospital bed, I reminded her that I had said that. And then I told her: “When I was brought into the recovery room, I saw your face.  I knew that you knew you had.  And you were proud.”

I got to see her beaming proudly all over again.

I’ve been thinking for a few days, and it seems only one yarn will do.  There’s enough for a good scarf yet.  If you’ve read the story of the Bluejay shawl, shown above (with most of its fulness at the back of the chair), you understand why the leftover yarn I have from that project would be the perfect yarn for a young colorectal surgeon.  A beautiful outcome from a situation rather less so, and… Yeah. That one.  My way of saying thank you.

And, like every patient–and doctor or nurse for that matter–that skein of indigo baby alpaca, so unusually custom-dyed, is a one of a kind. As far as my dyepot adventures are concerned, having no desire to, say, scatter suet or peanuts or birdseed on my wet hanks and wait for the moment, there will never again be anything quite like it.

Owl always be amused
Wednesday August 12th 2009, 5:05 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

One more story from Marley (oops) Farley Mowat:  you know how cats like to catch small creatures and bring them proudly inside to show their not-thrilled owners?

Farley had a science teacher who encouraged him to find and study a great horned owl nest, which he did.  And–this was in something like 1929, a bit of a while ago–he eventually pocketed one of the fledglings and took it home.

And then later found another one of a slightly different subspecies being tortured by some other boys; he rescued it by trading a prized possession for it.

The tortured owlet stayed a timid thing for life, but the other was “pretty sure of itself and its place in the world.” Which was, thank you very much, with him.  Mary’s little lamb had nothing on an owl disappointed that the kid disappeared and went off to school on his bike come September; he went looking for him and landed on his shoulder on a bridge, settling its five-foot wingspan down in triumph and nearly causing a car accident by a startled driver.

He was finally able to bribe his birds to stay home with bacon in the kitchen. But not before the one had extracted a child’s dream of revenge on a nasty teacher.  His descriptions of the comings and goings of those owls makes me wonder if JK Rowling picked up any ideas from him.

And there was this: those owls hated skunks. The smell made them furious.  They were on them like a mongoose on a cobra, and one time one flew through the open window just as the family was finishing dinner and it settled down next to Farley with its prey.  Mind if I join you?

The skunk wasn’t quite dead yet.

Now aren’t you glad your cat likes mice instead?

Pink alpaca and a good dog to the rescue
Tuesday August 11th 2009, 7:49 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Knitting a Gift

A stray thought: as I told Carol, I’m dilaudid to know how to spell that med finally.

I overdid it yesterday. I paid for it. Talked to the surgeon’s nurse. Don’t want to go back in this time around, so I’m trying to take it easier today, but it’s hard to stay down.

While I was knitting away in the hospital, I asked someone their favorite color.  They quite liked the one I was working with, but it was already earmarked and I didn’t have enough of it for two, so I was thinking, not a problem. I’ll just go dye this lovely white that’s in my stash when I get home.

Oh. Wait. Not supposed to lift anything over 10 pounds for six weeks, and how heavy is that dyepot?  Right.  Purlescence may just have to put up with me buying yarn.  I think they can manage that.

So I’ve been finishing up the pink alpaca project at hand, alternating with lying down reading a good book Robin sent me called “The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be.”  As in, he wouldn’t act like a normal dog: he could climb up and down ladders, trees (down: not so much), walk along six-foot-high fencelines. Marley Fowat is the author, it was originally published in 1957, and I wonder if that’s where the famous dog Marley got his name.

My favorite part is when someone from New York, whose train was just about to leave, got told by the local yokels there on the plains in Saskatoon that Mutt was a Prince Albert Retriever (there was no such thing) and the finest hunting dog on the planet.

He bet them $100 Mutt was not.

It was July, not hunting season at all, but local dignity must be maintained. So the men showed up hoping for a demonstration.

Mutt’s owner got out his rifle. In the middle of downtown.  Mutt was immediately interested but confused because… Summertime? Here? And the guy shot off his unloaded gun, declaring, “Bang Bang. Go get’em, Mutt!”

The dog took off like a shot, nearly mowing two women down. Came back very soon after with a perfect ruffed grouse in his mouth.

The men were going wh a a a …. Then one noticed it was stuffed. Moments later, the owner of a store down the street came running in, yelling about the dog stealing the stuffed grouse they kept on display in their shop’s window.

Hey. Owner uses gun, owner wants bird, owner gets bird, right?

The man’s son, writing this memoir years later, said that that story made national Canadian news.

And it’s helped me take it easy like I needed to.  I’m afraid of letting it end. So I’m up for just a few to go blog.

Dorothy’s sparkly slippers time
Monday August 10th 2009, 2:19 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Life

I was just coming out of my room on Richard’s arm for a walk when a young dad approached with a baby in a front pack, I’d guess about 14 months old,  wiggling her little legs in delight at life in general.

Turned out they belonged to my new roommate.  I got to hear happy baby babbling sounds at the same time I was reading an essay in Sharon Randall’s book about her son’s wedding, wherein she reminisces about what it was like to be a first-time mother to him and how wonderful it was to see her son a happy man with a wonderful wife, and yet, admitting how much she missed hearing the language that only the little ones can speak.

I wanted to hand my roommate the book on the spot.  But instead, when her baby started sounding fussy, I called out to them, (well yes of *course* I had one with me) and offered her husband a fingerpuppet for her, figuring he was the most mobile person in the room just then.

Then I got to listen to happy babbling sounds mixed with little-person giggles. If I hadn’t had a newly-stitched-up belly, I’d have asked for a chance to get to hold the baby, too.

The dad was in and out for a moment here and there, and after that fingerpuppet, as he was coming back in, his daughter in his arms, she eyeballed me with the very biggest grin on her face.  She knew a grandma type on the spot.  I was utterly charmed.

One last thing I had to go through before they could send me home: they had to remove a tube.  It didn’t look so big or bad, really, and a medical student was sent to go do the job.  I was on vicodin, but my stars. I couldn’t help but gasp and I was holding tight to the side of the bed and Richard’s hand.

The student said, It’s not supposed to be this bad, excuse me a moment, and she went running for a member of the surgery team.

They decided to give me a dose in my IV of dilaudad to make it easier on me. Almost immediately after it went in…

…Their voices got thin and tinny like a static-y radio, the highest frequencies (ie some of the consonants in the words) disappeared, and I was struggling to hear.

Oh! Was I on that coming out of surgery?

Yes, answered the resident.

Now we know.  Now we know.  Thank goodness for a tube that didn’t want to come out.  And then when it did come out, I could see why: the part inside was a whole lot wider. Think about a size 13 needle trying to squeeze through a size 5 opening, and they mentioned there were probably blood clots getting in the way as well.

Anyway, that’s done and I’m home.

And came home to what Michelle had described as looking like a pillow from Peru.  It was a thin muslin fabric, hand whip-stitched closed along one edge.  I carefully cut it open and she and I spread out and sorted 100 finger puppets.  Dolls, fish, birds, animals, alligators, bugs, even a few cartoon characters.  Cost with shipping was 36 cents each.

I felt like a little kid counting their Halloween loot. I said to Michelle, “Look at all this happiness waiting to happen!”

She got the first smile.

Angel food cake-powered
Sunday August 09th 2009, 2:21 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Knitting a Gift,Life

I love Romi’s *roving badge touring Sock Summit!  So much for Monty Python: “Badges? Badges! We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!” Yes, we do.  What a cool idea.

I tried to catch up on my email yesterday and found it too big a job, but I want you all to know how much I appreciate every note and every comment. I didn’t say things too well on the blog, though: they took me off the IV painkiller, but oh goodness, I am definitely still on vicodin.

The roommate I’ve had all along got discharged this morning and came over to say goodbye before she left. She couldn’t quite stand up straight yet, she said.  She was wearing bluejeans and I winced for her and silently wished she had a jumper to go home in too.  But I realized afterwards that I’d let that distract me and I’d missed my chance to tell her something far more important: that when her husband and family had come in every evening, the joy and the love that radiated through the curtain was just wonderful to hear and a real blessing to me that I’d needed.  I’m too deaf to have overheard any conversations, but the part that mattered, that came through loud and clear.  The caring. The joy.

My abysmally low blood pressure was getting in the way of my healing–there’s a risk of pneumonia if you don’t get moving post-op, and I did just enough coughing to realize I surely didn’t want to go there.  But at the same time, they didn’t want me walking if I couldn’t get that top number to 80.  One of the surgeons on duty decided last night to try infusing me with albumen to see if that would help.

Boy did it.  I was walking for ten minutes soon after, with the very last of the IV bottle bubbling up–Richard said it looked like angel food cake batter being worked up. So now I can say I’ve mainlined angel food cake (still waiting to be able to claim that on chocolate.)  Pass the whipped cream.

I asked the nurse where the albumen comes from; she didn’t know. Richard promptly googled from the laptop and answered, Cows.



So does this mean someone who’s allergic to eggs could still have angel food cake? (Notice the one-track mind.) Freeze some crushed Heath bars to sprinkle in that whipped cream, okay?

Meantime, nobody’s been able to find that ziploc stuffed with scarves since I arrived. I’m sure I’ll find them immediately once I’m the one looking. But I managed to sit up long enough to finish a nearly-done one this morning, and the nurse I’ve had for the last few days was not comprehending as I explained how to rinse and lay it out to dry for the lacework to stand out and the thing to lengthen. It matched her shirt pretty well.  It was fun watching her face light up when she realized I really meant this thing she’d seen me working on was for her. Elann Baby Silk yarn, baby alpaca/silk.

Seeing someone’s face light up at being knit for.  Reclaiming Real Life in that moment.  Getting better is a cakewalk now.

*Roving is the word for fiber that has been washed, carded, and is ready to spin. I just needed to let Don in on the pun here.

Sock it to me
Saturday August 08th 2009, 11:17 am
Filed under: Crohn's flare

During my pre-op appointment, I ratted myself out to the surgical team and told them about my oxygen levels setting off the alarm at 78 and 80% post-op last time, warning them that whatever amount of morphine the self-administering pump had been set for, it was too high, even though I knew how much I was going to want that med.

That was one of my biggest issues going in.  Untreatable pain. What I didn’t expect was, they took that into account, took me seriously, and put me on a slightly different painkiller, and, they put me on oxygen so it wouldn’t be an issue. I don’t love plastic up my nose, but for that, it’s definitely okay with me.

I’m off both now. I’m far from fine but still, I keep telling myself this is easier than last time.

The surgeon’s first words out of his mouth on Wednesday when he saw me were, So. You decided not to go to your knitting conference?

As if!  I wish. I’d have been there! But it showed he cared what was important to me.

You up in Portland, is it wonderful there or what?

Day 3
Friday August 07th 2009, 7:55 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare

They tried to get me to walk today. but at 78/35 bp when I stood up… A little later we got it to 83/39 and I did actually make it across the room and back.

That phlebotomist hasn’t come back in here. They did hear me on that one.

I wanted to knit today, always a good sign. One problem: the resident who put in my IV (always have a nurse do the needles…) put it in the crook of my arm. Every time I bend my arm I set off the alarm, but hey, I can hear it now.

Somehow my bag of scarves didn’t make it in here as far as Michelle could tell. I haven’t made it to that side of the room yet to see for myself, but she looked pretty carefully.

day 2
Thursday August 06th 2009, 4:25 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Life

Coming into recovery was scary–I couldnt hear. With my hearing aids. Nobody knows why.  It’s gradually coming back and is better mostly.

the phlebotomist filled a glove with warm water to raise a vein–and dropped it casually on my belly. The small scream she got still didnt clue her in much–she then leaned it against my belly.

ive made a point of saying shes not to work on me again. she wasnt mean, just in way too much of a hurry.

Im trying to be a nice patient but Im not doing a great job yet.

Wednesday August 05th 2009, 9:34 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Family,Friends,Life,Non-Knitting

Alison is too out of it to post tonight. As one of the children said, “Another part bit the dust” I just left her side and she is pretty beat up. Believe it or not but she is frowning while she drifting in and out of it. The anesthesia knocked out her already bad hearing, but that seems to be improving slowly. They are trying to get her pain under control. She does not remember much of the day. They were happy with how it went. Maybe in a few days she will be, but not right now. Don’t expect much for a few days as she needs to recover. I will show her comments tomorrow if she is up to it.

You can’t fight City Hall
Tuesday August 04th 2009, 5:38 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Knit,Life

(Scarf adapted from the Wanda’s Flowers shawl. Chloe Sparkle, this is the leftover dyed-by-me baby alpaca from your shawl.)

Pride. I could have been knitting. But the pride got me.

I am not the handbag-for-every-outfit type. Buy one good practical plain leather purse, preferably one that won’t snag lacewear every which way, and wear it out.

Which I did. I mean, it’s really worn out and I should have replaced it about a year ago. It’s big, it’s comfy, anything you want you’ve got it right there with you and you could stuff almost a whole afghan project in the darn thing–t’ain’t dainty.

I do have a nice, small purse, and when I say small, it’s iffy whether the cellphone can squeeze in.   Maybe not so practical.

So guess which one went downtown with me this afternoon?

We haven’t gotten a utility bill since May.  I’ve called and been told, Oh, you’re all paid up.  But wait, tell me, how does that work exactly?…

So given what tomorrow is and wanting things squared away and done, I simply went down to City Hall to see the printout of the bill that never came and to get it taken care of once and for all.

There was no bill. Our solar installation coincided with their changing how they processed households with solar systems, and I ended up in an upstairs office while they tried to figure out how to get their computer to generate one. Ever.  Four people were trying to figure out for about an hour how to let me give them my money; it was pretty amusing.

Finally, they cried uncle.  Good thing I came near the end of the workday, I guess.  I gave them an estimated amount that was pure guesswork against the coming amount (electric, water, sewer, refuse, gas–the city owns them all, and we only opted out of the first) and they gave me a much-desired receipt.

I’d had a feeling to take my knitting; but…  I was simply going to walk up to the counter and hand them a payment and that was going to be that.  It didn’t occur to me to put my knitting bag in the car just in case, I mean, why would I?

I could have brought my jaded, faded, coming unsewn old purse and that scarf project would have been finished.

Although, then I would have been sitting there wishing ruefully I had thought to bring more knitting.

Okay, now, back to work.

Getting closer
Monday August 03rd 2009, 8:24 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Crohn's flare,Knit

( Baby Silk, two skeins to finish, 5mm needles, Michelle shawl lace pattern, four repeats plus edging, not yet finished/not blocked. Another nurse scarf-to-be.)

Saturday, it did not look good, I admitted during my appointment today, giving the dermatologist details.

That concerned him.

But then, as he got a look at the site of the staph infection, it turned out it had gotten much better under there in the interim and I exclaimed my relief as he peeled back part of the bag. He looked in my eyes, knowing what I needed to know, and told me, his voice sharing his own relief, “I see nothing now that would give a surgeon pause before going ahead.”

Thank goodness.

A very small part of my brain that I’ve been squelching hard wants to pipe up with, No? Are you sure?  Could you, like, maybe, look harder?

Fast Sunday
Sunday August 02nd 2009, 7:49 am
Filed under: Life

It’s Sunday, the Sabbath for us, and I want to put aside yesterday’s mess and let the quiet of the day in.

And it’s Fast Sunday. The first Sunday of the month, we adult Mormons and children of varying ages as they feel comfortable doing so put aside food for 24 hours.  We donate the money (and then some, hopefully) that we would have spent on our own tables towards feeding those in need: thinking of others, perhaps feeling what some have to go through who have so little, putting ourselves aside for the moment.  Trying to focus on serving God and all mankind.

Or else simply going growly and hungry and complying out of peer pressure. Or not even.  It’s up to each to decide what they’ll do and how they’ll approach it.

It is, in its best, a discipline that shows that our spirits are masters of our bodies and not the other way around, and, as well, a time when our prayers feel intensified as we dedicate our fast towards some particular person or persons in whatever kind of need.

I used to be more fully a part of this.  But my health is what it is, and I’ve been counseled to skip the fast and not feel guilty about it.  Certainly the full 24 hours’ worth, at least.

Wistful, then, is more the word.

My niece Rachel contracted a virus and has been ill for several weeks while trying to manage a busy householdful of small children.  I am sending up an especially heartfelt prayer for her today.

I have in-person friends and blog readers that I know of who need that caring and thoughtfulness, too, and I’m trying not to miss anyone.

And, as I sit here typing this, I suddenly realize I need to say a prayer for the in-the-wrong-place collection agency guy: he so needed the changing that only comes through love, even though he’ll never know I did such a thing, and I need it to help me see him as a hurt person and let it go.