Long and straight and no, not infinity-ish, she answered
Tuesday April 15th 2014, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

The connection was iffy. Sound came and went. The damaged hearing aid worked for the memorial concert after I toggled the battery case a bit, like I mentioned, it worked through the hours of the cousins gathering afterwards (with just a few moments where it randomly cut out and back on again a few times), and I simply left it on all that night, afraid to risk opening it again, after getting assurance from Marian that it wasn’t feeding back. I put it on in the morning thinking it should be okay that day too but so much for that, it was dead.

But by then it was just my folks, my brother, my sister, her friend, my son, my niece and her fiance… So I guess quite a few people actually but where it was easy to say, talk to my left side.

I kept the right one in, though, even if as custom-but-dead electronics it plugged up that ear a bit because at $4444 *each* (and that was at a discount from $7k) you just don’t lose those, y’know?

I opened the battery cases again on the plane home to turn them off, glad there was nobody in the middle seat this time, and after we landed I turned the left aid back on.

It went through the exasperating little overly-long tune it plays inside one’s head to let me know it was ready to go. (I would love to someday ask Oticon, hey, whose idea was that? Just–why? Why not make that part reprogrammable?)

Closed the other one, wishing if only, since I was going to need to call Richard to come out of park’n’call shortly. But I knew I could make the bluetooth work with just the one.

–When–hey, I know that song–it played! Look at that! Whyever, I’m happy, and we were able to talk all the way home on the noisy freeways, catching up after I’d spent three days with So. Much. LIFE! crammed into them. Small/great blessings.

And then this morning it was dead again. And intermittent again.

Yesterday, after seeing Dad’s museum and taking Bryan to the airport, Marian had said, call your audiologist right now and I looked at the clock and realized it was still before 5:00 California time. Hey. So I did.

They got me in this afternoon. They replaced the battery door (now I know the right way to describe it) under warranty. Done. And that was clearly all it needed.

And now I can go back to talking about things like handing cousin Bruce in person the cashmere/silk cowl for his wife Paige in handdyed turquoise, a color I knew she loves, as I asked how her treatments were coming. Still in radiation. He was so thrilled, and he told me how much she loves her shawl I’d already sent.

I was just grateful there was something I could do to be with them where they were in any way.

And how another cousin said she was moving to England and said it with so much embarrassment mixed with such fervent hope, something about how she was going to be needing a scarf and hat in seven months when they go, that I laughed and told her, “Of course. What color?”

“Surprise me.”

As I grinned but thought of my friend Constance’s line that color is everything, wondering just how adventurous I should be, she added, motioning at my blouse, “My coat is that shade of purple.”

Having twenty-three cousins on that side plus aunts and uncles and spouses, I almost told her, Just don’t let the word get out, okay?

Made it
Monday April 14th 2014, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Family

Home again. So good to be home.

Memorial music
Sunday April 13th 2014, 8:50 pm
Filed under: Knit

The memorial concert was beautiful. Friends, family playing and even Uncle David taking part–my cousin found a recording of his dad playing in an ensemble from 1977.

And I got to listen with both ears. It occurred  to me that I’d had the battery cases hanging slightly open during the flight because that’s how you turn those aids off. That made the right one more vulnerable to the unwitting kid with the backpack.

So maybe I could nudge the case a little? I tried it and it worked. It cut in and out at times but basically I had both ears for the day. Such a relief I can’t even begin to say as I saw cousins I hadn’t seen in years. In a noisy environment.

I am so grateful.

Saturday April 12th 2014, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Knit

Had  two boys about ten and eleven sit next to me on the plane. Nice kids. The one next to me went oh cool!  when I pointed out Lake Tahoe below us, and then the Great Salt Lake.

He swung his backpack on when we landed and never knew it smacked my face.

I couldn’t hear Mom very well when she greeted me–huh. I just changed that battery yesterday. We got in the car, my son John at the wheel, and I took it out. Weird–it looked scratched. I put a new one in. Dead. It now looked scratched. Repeat one last time.

Its broken. I’ve never had such a thing happen before.

It’s under warranty, but meantime I now know why I kept feeling I should take my old hearing aids on the trip. That made NO sense and I left them home.

But at least I have one ear.

Suet do you do
Friday April 11th 2014, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

Another 4:47 am alarm and off to the airport again–only, no baby snuggles this time, just a fly-in fly-out bleary-eyed business trip for him and now home.

As I wonder what I forgot to pack for tomorrow.

Meantime, the last few nights a raccoon (I think–possums don’t jump, right?) has been getting up on the wooden box and shoving the plywood cover and the 2x2s supporting it partly aside to get at the leftover suet crumbles. It hasn’t gotten the cover all the way off yet, but it’s tried. One of these times it’s going to push a 2×2 out and smash its paws, which is the last thing I want; I’ve moved the things further under to where they’re less accessible in hopes of the animal not getting hurt.

The Bewick’s wrens like to dart into the tight space under that cover (why I keep that box) and it is the one place I can feed that endangered species where the other birds can’t or won’t go and I wanted to be able to set out food to last them while I’m gone.

There is now a full gallon of water sitting on that cover. Maybe those seven pounds will outwrestle the critter.

Yarn to take, yarn to take, between projects, I have no idea what yarn to take. Pattern, idea, I need something! I’m thinking I’m probably not going to be cone-iverous, though; that bit of cardboard would be one extra thing to squeeze in. Plain old prewound wool.

I have time to decide in the light of the morning.

Longer newer louder
Thursday April 10th 2014, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus,Wildlife

After all that rejoicing over all those things I was hearing for the first time since I was twelve after getting the latest-and-greatest hearing aids a year ago, all of that was starting to quietly…fade. I was loathe to admit it. I was still occasionally picking up sounds I didn’t used to but I was often having a hard time hearing ordinary conversations again. It was quite discouraging.

When I got them I was used to soft earmolds, and the new ones, given that they had electronics in the molds as well as the main part, were hard. My connective tissue disease responds to pressure as pain and the hard ones soon hurt, so John-the-audiologist had to make the molds shorter–which meant I heard less and they fed back more but at least it left me knowing that someday they could make them longer in a material I could tolerate better and I would hear even better come the day. Something to look forward to.

But not if my hearing itself was going down again. And feedback can cause that.

Two weeks ago it finally dawned on me that this past year of finally, finally, slowly getting my weight back (due to the funky thyroid) from my big Crohn’s flare of ’09–maybe that was the problem with the hearing. One changes weight in the face and the ear canals first when the pounds go up or down and it changes how sound is transmitted. It was worth a shot. Ten pounds? John totally confirmed the possibility. So I went in.

This time I’m used to using the harder-material earmolds and this time I know to put them in and leave them alone, no fiddling, do nothing to irritate.

John did the impressions, he sent them off, the new molds came back and we chose to try for longer again. Yay! I went back to get them last Thursday glad they’d come just in time to be able to hear Parker and Hudson so much better…

…And the right one broke in the technician’s hand as she was affixing it, to her great surprise.

It was okay, though. I meant I went off to see the grandkids with one ear much louder, hearing all kinds of new things again, and the other ear not–giving me extra time to adjust to the EVERYTHING IS SO LOUD changes.

I got to hear Hudson saying Yawrrr at twelve months after the pirate book reading. How perfect is that!

There is still some small chance the replaced earmold will come tomorrow, before I fly off to a memorial concert in honor of my late Uncle David. (Just me this trip.) Either way: it is enough.

And what got me to sit down and write all this. I was watering my blueberry bushes this evening when a seagull passed at a goodly height overhead, its cry faint in the distance.

I knew it instantly. And almost as instantly I realized that I only recognized the sound from my childhood. After all these years I was finally gull-ible again. Wow. And it’s going to get even better.

One other thing. Being too cheap to pay Turbotax the $25 for submitting the state taxes over the ‘net, I went to the post office today. There is a place where the Bayshore parkland lies just past the next road, where, as I sat at my light, there were two lanes of onramps to the side and nine lanes of freeway behind, cars, cars, cars, and tucked between the ramps and me was an oasis of a triangled culvert.

Green and lush in a way few places are in the drought we’ve been in and with a bit of water at the bottom. Overflow from the marsh starting at the other side of the road ahead, it seemed.

The most magnificently colorful duck dove in there, too fast to be sure what type.

And I looked across at the wetlands ahead and the mountains away on the other side of the Bay and this one little wildlife-sustaining spot of thick and thriving and green despite all that hedged it in and thought, Nature adores a backroom.

Our full support
Wednesday April 09th 2014, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Lupus

My lupus group meets once a month and I’ve already missed two months this year. But somehow, today felt different and for the past few days I’ve felt like I must not brush this one off–I must go.

Actually, I was going to take a friend to the airport this morning, hoping it wouldn’t make me late (and that, once late, I wouldn’t go oh forget it); but another friend stepped forward to offer to do the ferrying without even knowing it was being a problem for me and suddenly my path to that meeting was wide open.

There is no such thing as a small act of kindness.

Due to all kinds of unusual circumstances all playing out on one day, after the first of the two hours we were scheduled for there were only three of us there. I shut the door to the loud voices in the hospital hallway that were drowning ours out, which gave us our privacy.

And one woman in that room had needed to be heard. One does not open up one’s inner soul in a noisy crowd, but two friends, she decided she would.

The rest of that story would be hers to tell alone and not mine.  It was one of those moments where one could look back years later at how the pieces fell into place for her sake and how it all began at last to come out okay.

I fervently pray.

I gave her a hug and she was grateful. I was, too.

Beating around the bush
Tuesday April 08th 2014, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Lupus

“You’re doing it backwards.”

This was yesterday evening. I caught my breath a moment, mindful of the zero-UV to too-dark-to-work sliver of time I had to work in and told the guy, “I’m doing the best I can.”

There was a very dead large bush at the corner of my older neighbor’s yard right by the edge of my front walkway, ugly and a fire hazard; she had asked her gardener to take it out and he apparently had looked at that thing and thought, you have got to be kidding.

Or whatever, but, he didn’t touch it, so when I happened to ask her if I could try to tackle it she said oh please do thank you.

It was amazing how big that stack of branches was getting as I clippered away: near as long as me and getting pretty darn tall too and I was, well, bushed. I’d gotten all the smaller ones and the majority of the middling ones. Some of those, though…

And that is when the guy across the street walked over.

“You should start with the bottom!” he added to his first statement.

I was trying to read his face–he couldn’t be serious.

He was, though, just not in the way I thought. He walked back to his own driveway and chatted with his teenage son a moment. When I heard the plan, I said, Wait, she told me she wanted it out but let me just make sure she knows what we’re doing, (yeah, kinda late there, hon, but I knew this was way more than she was expecting) and I ran and knocked on her door.

The kid had one question for me: it really was dead, right?

Oh yeah, had been for some time.


Don’t do anything that will damage your truck, it’s not worth it!

He laughed. Not a problem.

Back in my own driveway stepping well and clear as he and his friend put a thick yellow strap around the lower part of the multiply-trunked-above-ground deadwood. Made quite the little tree. They were going to back the truck up onto the grass–nah, got another length of that strapping, don’t have to, here you go–and they linked the two and then the end of the second to the hitch on the truck. Fire’er up!

REVVV *thud*!

And that was that and it was done. We all left it all there where it lay.

I knew today was the day her gardener came and I quietly offered to pay him to haul my pile and that short log away; he laughed and waved me away, the hard work already taken care of, and when he was done you couldn’t even find the hole in the ground to see where it had come from.

It looks amazingly better to have that big dead bristly thing gone. But the surprise of the teamwork was the best part.

I came home from a trip to the post office this afternoon to find a raven standing in the spot the stump had been dragged to. Staring at where that bush had been. Transfixed. Not able to replace its missing landmark by the power of its mind. Poe thing.

PRE board
Monday April 07th 2014, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Family,Life

The promised story.

We set out for the airport in time to get there before the one-hour pre-flight requirement; thought about trying for earlier but at dark o’clock like that we just couldn’t make ourselves enthused enough.

There’ve been a lot of changes to the place and we don’t often leave a car there (like, once, I think). We missed the exit to the right parking lot and had to circle back around (twice!), waiting at one point for a large team of athletes to cross in front of us who were going to be on our flight.

Which was much cheaper than the more-reasonable-hours ones and the airport was surprisingly a zoo–and our gate far away, with pleas there over the loudspeaker for someone to volunteer to be bumped. $150 towards future flights plus a refund on the ticket for waiting for an hour? Hey. Had Richard been there I might well have taken the offer. If they would do it for two.

My ticket, unbeknownst to me when we arrived, had randomly been stamped TSA PRE. I had no idea what that meant. The security person working her way from the back of the line forward did, though, and I got hustled over to a roped-off line with all of three other people, told not to take off my shoes nor take out my laptop (which was home with a bad battery) and to just go. And no he could not come with me. Express service through the screening and out of there.

In front of Richard in the large crowd was a couple that hadn’t known they had to buy a ticket for their infant, too, and “They were in a world of hurt,” he told me later. Basically, he got stuck in security-line delays while I was already being called onto the plane–and we never cut it close like that. But it happened.

I boarded. I pulled out my knitting to add a layer of calm to the inwardly-loud prayer going out there and watched. A few late stragglers came dashing up but still no Richard.

Then there was no one. I told the stewardess my husband was back there somewhere and she worried a little too and took the edge off it for me simply by caring.

He was the last one on and they shut the door after him but he made it. Phew.

Someone must have asked after all if they could have two vouchers: because there was one single empty seat on that whole plane and we had it. I had told people asking to sit in my row that they’d be next to my 6’8″er and they shook their heads no and passed right on down the aisle. He had room to stretch out in.

We made it.


And on a different and far more important note: there are those here who will remember when Caremark refused to send my Humira prescription five years ago while I was fighting for my life with a Crohn’s flare, with a clerk saying on the phone that they didn’t know if they wanted to be responsible for selling me such a dangerous (FDA-approved!) med, and that it took five days and you all storming the gates by phone and by email for them to come through. I am eternally grateful to you all, and your support is part of why I am still here. (We loved the, We don’t know WHO you are, but WOW! as they approved it.)

So this hit close to home. I was very happy to sign the petition asking Caremark to honor the prescription that has already shrunk a young dad’s tumors and is his last chance but that they are denying him. Life as a very clear long-term possibility and even likelihood, while they are consigning him to certain death. They should be better than that. If you all would be so inclined as to join me, I’d be much obliged. Thank you.

Birthday baby
Sunday April 06th 2014, 8:19 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

And so there was a birthday party, three days early because weekends rock.

Grampa Richard read the Pirate book, the current big favorite in the household as it turns out. I turned to another parent and marveled, “The Pied Piper,” as he got swarmed by small children all trying to climb in to get a better look at the pages.

There is nothing in this world as funny as a twelve-month-old with that early-walker stagger growling, “YAWRRRRR!” I’d been told about it but I got to actually hear it in person. Twice.

Richard and Kim both exclaimed in delight at the sight of Hudson’s new sweater to go with his big brother’s, totally making my day, and they loved the hat, too, far more than I did. Next thing you know there was a proud Parker parading with great glee towards us down the hallway in his digger sweater, Hudson was then dressed in his (I was very pleased with how it fit–a thank you to the Bev’s Country Cottage site for the measurements), and cameras were being whipped out all around for some play outside on the grass where the light was good. (Pardon the sleep-deprived thumb.)

I did at one point put the hat on Hudson and he looked up at me with this suddenly sad little face as if to ask, Gramma? Why are you doing this to me? I laughed and hugged and took it off him and promised him I was all done now.

There was a bounce house set up during the party. I had never actually been inside a bounce house before, but after the party was over and the neighborhood little kids and the cousins had gone home, Parker and I ran races inside it, going along the blue outer-perimeter lines.

Parker stayed within those lines. I could not and keep up and keep my balance at the same time; seems that being somewhat bigger means you sink somewhat more and kind of evens out the little one’s chances of beating you. We did the “we all fall DOWN” ring around the rosie part, too, and the sudden oooof was a surprise–I am not three anymore and that was not as soft as I expected. I bounced down twice more with him just the same but am quietly fine with not doing that again soon. I’m still glad I did it.

I don’t usually have multiple projects going, and yet the night before the trip I was just not satisfied with what I had going somehow and I grabbed the  Stitches West, Jimmy Beans-bought Technicolor Dreamcoat MadTosh yarn and some needles and cast on a random stitch number and threw it in my purse. The tag said it was worsted, I’d call it more chunky–it was a cowl and it went fast.

I started knitting at the airport, on the plane, to keep my calm when Richard almost missed the flight (more on that tomorrow), during random quiet moments (Hudson napping, Parker playing in the sunshine when I couldn’t go, company gone home and Kim out for a moment’s errand.)  Kim exclaimed over how pretty it was. I asked her her favorite colors, and she said browns and navy blues and brights, like that.

I said to her just before we left for home, right after casting off, that knitting serves to me as a kind of mental marker of various events in life, as in, I was making this when that happened. And so, I said, this was for remembering Hudson’s first birthday, and I surprised her with it and would have been surprised myself the night before–but not very. The chance impulse had become the perfect one.

Parker drove with us to the airport, his favorite digger toy in his hand the whole way. He teased us and pretended at first not to say goodbye because maybe that way we wouldn’t really go.

And my brain woke me up at 5:00 this morning so I wouldn’t miss the alarm and the flight and I thought nice try, and went back to sleep.

San Diego
Saturday April 05th 2014, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Family

4:50 am alarm. 6:40 flight.

9:15 flight. 11:17 walked back in the door after a grand glorious wonderful day celebrating Hudson’s first birthday (which is actually in a few days, but hey.)


Goofy car hat
Friday April 04th 2014, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

So I wanted a hat to go with Hudson’s birthday sweater (not that he really needs one in San Diego).  And I wanted it to have a car on it, but cars take lots of stitches and there were only so many to go around a small head.

So I plunked one on the top of the thing instead, and unstretched, darn if the thing doesn’t look like I turned a heel on his head, poor kid–it’s pretty funny looking. Stretched, though, it’s okay (I guess).

Looking at the thing it’s immediately easy to see what I could do to make it a lot better next time, but not in the amount of time left at this point. Can’t wait to see them.


And she is an angel
Thursday April 03rd 2014, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

She admitted that she was really hoping for an angel food cake.

“It’s in the oven, honey.”

“Oh good!”

My husband has taught all our kids that the One True Birthday Cake is always that 12-beaten-eggwhites type, and when I made myself a chocolate plain old ordinary one once since hey, it was my birthday and hey, I was the one making it and cake isn’t even my favorite dessert so I was going to make what I was going to make, he was quite surprised at the blasphemy, uttering the memorable “That’s not a birthday cake!”

It is to me. Chocolate it was.

But this is April, which around here means stocking up on a whole lot of eggs. Happy birthday, sweetie!

Say you’re sorry, show they matter
Wednesday April 02nd 2014, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

Have you ever read something so good, so powerful, and so important that you immediately wanted everybody else to read it? And it’s not just for children–it’s for all of us.

Meantime, on a totally different note, lesson learned: a big heavy empty glass jar of peanut butter put outside for the squirrels to clean up for recycling is a hoot to watch, but the small plastic one? Not so much. One good taste and the thing knew he had to hide this treasure immediately and it was small enough that he could. Amazingly fast with it up the tree, across the shed roof, and maybe leaping to the redwood from there? Blink and he was gone. I really didn’t want him stowing plastic.

He’s just lucky he let go when the raven spotted it. I found it half-floating in the rainwater at the curb in front of the house, one long viciously-stabby black beak deep inside, a scavenger hunt won and not a bushytail in sight daring to challenge.

So that’s why it swooped across my yard…. They never come here.

We don’t feed ravens. They harass my hawk. And now that that one knows what the stuff in there tastes like, no more squirrels sneaking up on each other’s exposed backsides and wild leaps away. No more peanut butter jars.

(To the neighbors: I’m sorry I put it out there. It was wrong to have my trash show up in the street we share. In the future I will stick to birdseed. And hopefully you didn’t see that.)

Mechanical failure
Tuesday April 01st 2014, 8:59 pm
Filed under: Life,Non-Knitting

Okay, I’m being growly surely for the fact that I just did a faceplant at my own front door (oh hello new neighbors across the street coming out just then! Hi!) and I had to ice my wrist for the second time today. I am a klutz. (And the grapes I just bought right before Costco closed turned out to be rotten below the top layer in the large box.  Such a hard life.)

But. The brake warning light came on in the car last night in the dark in the rain and there was only one place that thing was going and that was straight to the mechanic.

And since we’d just had the big 45k mile checkup two thousand miles ago, we took it to the Toyota dealer where that had been done.

Apparently if they’d found something it would have been covered under warranty. Apparently if they had found something our rental car for the day would have been covered too. And I do believe in paying someone for labor done.

But I’m trying to wrap my brain around shelling out $200 to be told they didn’t find anything so they simply reset the warning light and bring it back if it comes on again, ‘k, ‘bye.

And if it comes on again in several months rather than sooner, do I shell that out again?

Does your mechanic charge you if they don’t find anything to fix? My old one didn’t–and I used to argue with him that I owed him for his time.

Well what does that tell me.