Was not expecting a box
Monday November 15th 2021, 9:23 pm
Filed under: Friends

The best story of the day is not mine to tell. Other than this: I love my new shawl!

Can’t wait to meet her
Sunday November 14th 2021, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

There’s nothing like a new baby in the family to make the world feel like a beautiful place. Our niece’s new daughter Emma made Richard’s sister and her husband first-time grandparents on Wednesday.

At Emma’s parents’ wedding, the groom’s father told the tale of arriving at BYU as a freshman from Sweden with no plans for where he was going to live or what he was going to do. A man who had been a Mormon missionary in Sweden years before and knew his family from then happened to live near that campus now and invited him to come stay with his family.

Where he was taken in as if he were their own, to the point that when he eventually married, his benefactors helped him and his bride with the down payment on their first house. Everything, everything he had in his life now, he felt, had all grown from that good man’s generosity, and if only his friend had lived to see this day, how happy it would have made him. He’d recently passed, and the groom’s dad was both overwhelmed with joy for his son and grieving his friend.

He and I had already met by that point, but after hearing that I had to circle back.

“Let me re-introduce myself,” I said, and told him my unusual maiden name.

Which was Swedish.

And the same as his late friend, who was a second cousin to my dad.

He was stunned. He was thrilled. His son had just married into the family that included–!

Welcome to the whole world waiting for your discoveries, little Emma. You are greatly loved here.

Glazed ayes!
Saturday November 13th 2021, 10:29 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

One mixing bowl, two soup bowls to try out their gorgeous new blue glaze and because the new-to-me solid handles would be easier for a few people I know to hold onto, and two of their regular soup bowls with regular handles  because we’ve had two but there’s a third person here often enough. And friends drop by and I drop things so you never know. Thank you Mel and Kris!

Meantime, Zillow noticed that I’d looked at my folks’ old house and sent me a listing they thought I’d be interested in.

I was, very much, but not for any reason they’d have thought of: I found the name of the builder of my childhood house! “Designed by Ernest Cooke (a disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright), this home was thoughtfully designed to fit within the natural setting, allowing a connection with nature from every room in the house. Walls of glass, vaulted ceilings and large skylights bathe the interior spaces in natural light throughout the seasons.”

And there you go.

Not done yet
Friday November 12th 2021, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Lupus

You need the sheer walls for earthquake safety and the rotted one was replaced. Metal bracing of about 12″ high was put along the bottom edge to keep the water out. Tyvek was put over that to further keep the water out. The bottom of the siding as well as the front-facing part of it were painted to help keep the water out.

Because it turns out that when the previous contractor expanded that tiny bedroom during our remodel and poured concrete for the new patio outside it, he put it flush against the wood so that when it rained the water had nowhere to go. That was our problem. Right there.

Had he pointed out that flaw in the architect’s plans (or was there one? Was it actually supposed to be up against the house?) we would have said well then skip the patio thing, we don’t need it, but he didn’t and here we are.

Chris’s guy knocked on the door: the tape under one of the skylights had come loose and he needed to fix that. (You do not keep leaky ones when you’re about to replace the roof.)

And here I’d been wondering if I needed to bother him with that. Yes please.

He asked me what color skylights I wanted.

Skylights come in colors?

Yes, they can be white to match the foam roof or they can be–here, let me show you, you’ve got brass colored ones. I like those.

Me: I don’t care. Whatever’s cheapest I guess. What matters to me is, I have lupus, and UV light triggers the disease; can it block the UV?

He talked to Chris and that is why we have glass skylights coming. He started to explain to me and I said Oh yes, glass cuts out 96-97% of UV, that’s GREAT! (Suddenly realizing as I type this that I don’t know the color of their frames. I don’t care, but I am curious now.)

The old plastic ones were full of cracks. Glass sounds so much better.

I told him, There’s one other thing… I took him inside the bedroom they’d been working on the other side of, told him to look at the ceiling in the closet and asked him if that was something we needed to worry about.

Hoo boy. He took pictures, texted them to Chris so he’d know, and as I thought okay there goes another five grand he asked me, Is there anything else?

I took him in Sam’s old bedroom. Up there, they did some termite work in the corner but I haven’t seen any damage. But on this side, the neighbor’s tree fell on the house years ago and punctured it. The roofers fixed it but part of it’s behind the floor to ceiling bookcase and I can’t move that to look.

The paint was sheeted away from the wall slightly up there but he pointed out the lack of water damage and how I would know if there had been some; it looked fine. Phew.

I asked him if there was anything else they needed from me today and that Richard was here, so he told me, no problem.

And with that I was off at last to San Mateo to see Mel and his son Corey. Turns out they were set up facing the door right as you walk in so I didn’t risk any other exposure, I just saw them. Kris didn’t make it this trip so I sent her my best and had a great chat with her loved ones.

I’m chuckling that my house photos came through and my pottery ones haven’t yet, but they’re there. Mel and Kris and sons do beautiful work.

And now I need Chris to replace the cheap original contractor’s shelves in my kitchen cabinets so that that weight doesn’t finally, after all these years, get to them.

Hold on
Thursday November 11th 2021, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Friends,Life

Given that it hasn’t happened since the year I had my colorectomy surgeries, ie twelve years of carefully doing this ten-minute procedure right after one long slog of misery teaching me why I’d better, I thought I would write it here (sorry) so that I can find it to reference the date later.

I ended up at the dermatologist’s as an emergency appointment.

She looked up what the other dermatologist in ’09 had prescribed for such an infection under the dressing, just to be sure, because there are so many ways it could go wrong. At first she started to say apply it three times a day, till I laughed, and then, yeah, because you seriously shred the skin if you take that thing off before it’s ready to, no matter what. It is designed to stay on. As one would hope.

Every third day, I told her. That’s when I can get to it. Except that the infection itself is messing with that part of the adhesive, so, yeah. The partial antidote to that is the 4″ Eakins the Stanford nurses gave me, but you cannot just walk into a drugstore and pick up a box. I ordered, as someone with a permanent prescription for all such, but it’s a holiday and it’ll be Monday if I’m really really lucky. Could be–who knows.

We worked out a compromise. And then we laughed ruefully together at the randomness of it all: heart, eyes, skin, that should be enough for awhile, don’t you think?

She’d almost given me an oral antibiotic and said it might yet need one. If I start running a fever over the weekend she wants me in to Urgent Care for that and to for sure call her Monday and tell her how I’m doing.

I promised I would.

Tomorrow is the start of Mel and Kris‘s last Harvest Festival show ever. Mel’s past 70 and Oregon is a long hard drive with so much physical work at either end. After thirty years of friendship and pottery, I want so badly to see them. No stupid stoma tricks getting in my way. Okay? Is it a deal?

Termite country
Wednesday November 10th 2021, 8:40 pm
Filed under: Life

Turns out it wasn’t just that little spot under the left side of the window. (Saw that coming a mile off.) And so I signed the change order, the entire wall that goes between the wallboard and the siding was replaced with termite-proofed wood outside that bedroom, the window was taken out and put back in, the new siding was given an undercoat of paint, and tomorrow the siding goes up.

And on a different note, I woke up at 5 a.m. and reached over for my phone on the side table to see what time it was.

I SAW the phone. From the bit of moon and the city light reflected downward from the fog through the upper windows I was able to see where it was, and realized with a shock that completely woke me up that I had not been able to at night for some time now and hadn’t consciously realized it because I’d always fallen back to sleep and the blind searching to find it by feel had been forgotten by daybreak.

How many times had that happened? I could only guess.

I clicked the button on my old 6S–and saw the time bright and clear just like how it always used to be, and you know, I could get used to that.

Two single-drop doses of steroids for my Fuchs. That’s all I’d had. And I could see again.


So far it works
Tuesday November 09th 2021, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Life

The left eye pain got worse and the night ointment only helped some and I was back in to Dr. S. today. He happened to be wearing all blue, the shade of blue of the soft wool hat that he did not know was waiting for him. He was thrilled and turned it over in his hands, admiring the stitching and the pattern of the decreasing at the top and the color and exclaiming how much he was going to use this and he wished he’d had it last week.

(My bad. I hadn’t yet run the ends in two weeks ago--the day I knew he’d so earned one. This is an old picture.)

He’s actually an optometrist, although he runs a lot of the tests for most of the doctors, and of the two ophthalmologists I’ve seen over the years, one recently retired and one is on leave and I was at a loss to know where to start anyway, so I figured he could direct me.

He noted that things did look worse than two weeks ago, and the right eye was affected somewhat, too. No it wasn’t just dry eyes like he’d hoped. He pulled one of the new doctors into the room, who did a quick look and confirmed what Dr. S. thought: I needed to see the cornea specialist–today.

He told me quietly afterward that having the two of them calling meant I would get that appointment.

Dr. M’s office called before I even pulled out of the parking lot and I had to explain that I was at the satellite clinic in a different city. I was told to come straight there, pronto. I knew his schedule was crazy busy.

And that is how I met the doctor who did cornea surgery on a member of my family. He brightened up at her name and asked after her with enthusiasm, and I thought, I like this guy. I can see why she did. He took all the time I needed. He listened. He asked questions.

So now I know why I can’t read my phone first thing in the morning but I can later and why I can’t read the clock in the car–and only the clock, everything else is okay–in the daytime. I’ve learned somewhat of what lies ahead with the Fuchs Dystrophy. I’ve had a very mild case simmering for some time; I had toddlers when one doctor told me some descendant of mine was going to have to have cornea transplants, and actually, my mom now has.

But it was time to learn more about this, because it suddenly said so.

Fifteen to twenty-five percent of cornea transplants fail, according to one major medical site. Okay, that’s it. Not moving away from Stanford. The upside of living in a crowded metro area is that there are a lot of patients and experience to keep the surgeons at their best.

He gave me steroid drops. I told him that massive IV steroids had had zero effect on my lupus or Crohn’s and that an optometric steroid solution was given me by an ENT for infected ear canals and it was, like the regular steroid drops, massively itchy.

But we had to try. Untreated lets it get worse much faster.

I got the prescription, got home, and put the first drop in my left eye. And saline drops in the other because it needed it, and because, hey, science.

Walking back across the house I felt an intense relief in the left eye, that fast. To my great surprise, it suddenly felt better than the right.

Row by row, inch by inch
Monday November 08th 2021, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Knit

Coming along…

Mummy, what do you think?
Sunday November 07th 2021, 9:37 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

We have a friend who lived here for a few years while doing very expensive work on a very rich man’s house in the hills, carefully never named (but at one point one mutual friend was pretty sure he’d figured it out); Troy’s a seventh-generation stone mason in the age-old European tradition of such. He does very careful, very exacting work. You want your 11th century castle restored? You call someone like him for that part.

He has since moved home to Montana.

But I instantly thought of him when my cousin pointed out this listing. Or at least at first.

Thirty-five million (down ten!) and they couldn’t keep the cats from playing a game of chase under the quilt on the badly made bed. Unless that’s a teenager who overslept going oh (bleep)! that the cameraman had arrived and pulling the pillow down over his face. Gotta love how the blanket beneath is throwing a wrench at the system.

Something about that wood floor entry makes me want to go bake a hazelnut torte.

The kitchen: as my cousin put it, Why is there a giant pepper mill holding it up?

Googling the Latin phrase built into the floor, it comes to “Ferocity in Heaven”–huh?–with–what are those? Sheep in wolves’ clothing?

Does Tutankhamen stay?

And was the whole thing supposed to be a set for a Monty Python reunion?

Saturday November 06th 2021, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Knit,Mango tree

I looked at the forecast and did a sudden oh, right, I have to get in the habit of doing that again, and ran out with a bright flashlight and got the mango tree double-covered for the night to protect the fruit. Winter might come after all.

Meantime, a Ravelry link: my hands don’t love knitting cellulose fibers but that would be worth it. There are no instructions, just a seat-of-the-pants this-is-sort-of-how-I-did-it.

I think I could kluge that.

It’s fabulous. A beaded lace dress with a solid bodice, using an oak lace doily pattern that Lacis in Berkeley published eons ago for the skirt, sleeves, and inset. Make it A-line and floor length and it would be a wedding dress for the ages.

Kaethe Kliot, the founder of Lacis in Berkeley, knit doilies as cotton tablecloths to sell to American soldiers to send home after WWII and saved just enough to emigrate. She established a shop and museum and essentially a bookstore for all things lace, run now by her daughter, last I knew. She collected very old doily patterns including the ones she’d used and published them in several books so they wouldn’t vanish from history.

That dress took one of those doilies back to tablecloth size and showed what it could do. Wow.

Putting the kiBosch on that
Friday November 05th 2021, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

Chris got back to me right away this morning, then again this afternoon after the manufacturer answered his questions.

That product didn’t have amyl nitrite exactly–but it had (and he named various substances) and it appears I’d had a cross-reaction. No problem, there was an alternative. The original takes 24 hours to off-gas, this would be faster anyway.

Remembering the amyl nitrite in the new carpeting at church that lingered hellishly, affecting two of us for months despite many efforts to air it out, 24 hours sounded like the best possible news except for the even better part.

I went outside to see the day’s work about 4:30 again and was quite relieved to be okay. I had ditched the errands I’d planned on for the day because I wanted to be quite sure I’d be safe to drive after walking out my own door.

And look at that–they’d told me multiple times just to make sure I had no objections that they were using 8″ board, not 6″ like the original. To my surprise, I liked it much better. And not just because it’s pretty and new.

Just before I stepped back in the door there was the faintest brief whiff, right there, same spot, yup, and I hurried past it. By tomorrow it’ll be gone entirely.

The funny part of all this was yesterday when Chris stopped by the site and the workers came off the roof to talk to him–as a van pulled up, searching for where on earth to park. The next-door neighbor has a contractor working at their place, too.

And so the dishwasher repairman with his bag of tools in hand found himself walking a bit of a gauntlet there down my walkway while Chris and his guys were wondering silently, Wait, who is this??

Because yes, Sunday morning we found an error 24 code on the machine and it was stopped up like a washing machine in a household with disappearing baby socks. The disposal was clear. I finally found someone who does Bosches.

Five minutes and $238 later, rounding out to a half hour for his standing there punching buttons making the thing go through its paces to make sure it stayed working, and I figured, well, if you want a repairman to be where he has to pay Silicon Valley rent, then that’s what you do. And you smile and you thank him for coming while he was clearly waiting for an argument that was not coming and you thank him for making it so you didn’t have to wait three, four months for a replacement machine like how it is these days and then you send him off with a pomegranate you tell him you’d picked that morning and you get to see the surprise and growing wonder in his face and the delight as he admired this piece of beautiful, deeply-hued fresh fruit in his hands that he was so not expecting.

I’d found a third of the shell of one on the ground a few hours earlier, the rest completely cleaned out, and had picked a few that were still in reach of those wild rabbits. My line of bird netting tents wasn’t going to block their way forever (clearly).

They may be pretty animals.

But they don’t smile back and walk a little lighter for it on their way back to their van way over yonder.

I have a working dishwasher again!

Thursday November 04th 2021, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Life

(Photo of the new in, not yet trimmed, while the old has been pulled away from the exposed yellowy part.)

Carpeting, chemical, reaction, cardiologist, nitroglycerin. Those are some of the searches I used before I finally found the old blog post wherein said doctor diagnosed my inexplicable, to me, intense reaction walking in the door at church after they replaced the carpeting. It happened again, every single week, gradually lessened by their propping the door open near us and repeatedly trying to air out the building during the week with fans for me and for an older woman having a milder case of the same problem. She felt a lot better talking about it after finding out she wasn’t alone.

So I’m typing all those searched words so that next time I’ll find the name faster.

Amyl nitrite. That was it. He said it gets into the blood stream when you breathe it in and duplicates the effects of nitroglycerin for those who are sensitive to it–and the fact that it recurred the moment I walked in those doors, every single time, later clinched it for him.

Rapidly collapsing blood pressure and heart rate alarms sounding people running to my hospital room talking rapidly to each other thinking I couldn’t hear them they stopped the tilt table test at 63/21 bp I appeared blacked out utterly unable to respond–but I could still hear.

One young doctor was blatantly rude.

They assigned him to watch over me during recovery. I figured I was part of his unfinished medical training and repeated back to him, nicely, word for word what he’d said and watched him squirm. I wanted him to see his patients as both people and equal to himself and I knew he wouldn’t forget being told as diplomatically as possible to please not go to hell, okay, sir.

The first of the replacement fascia went on the house today and there was some of the damaged old propped up against the house as I went to get the mail and thank the guys for their hard work today.

I came back inside and kind of held my belly on the couch, thinking, man, where did that come from? Pain and nausea, thanks, Crohn’s.

A little later I went back out there before the light was gone to try to take some pictures, and a few steps from the door on the way back in it hit me: I smelled it and I felt it and I got inside and shut the door and went halfway down as my blood pressure swooned.

I went and looked for the name of the stuff here, and then searched for what it might be in out there.

Solvents. A whole lot of things, but that was one of them and whatever it was they used, they were going to be having to use a lot of it.

Nausea can be one of the first warnings. Thank you Dr. Google.

This is temporary and I want the job done right because it lasted 65 years the first time and I am highly reluctant to say a word to them.

And yet. If I were to collapse in front of them they’d need to know why.

They’ve only finished installing it on one side of the house so far, and they have to do it all the way around.


Edited Friday morning to add: thank you everybody; I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with it last night. I read your comments, sent Chris off a note, and within minutes his manager was at my door apologizing for that and saying they are substituting the problematical item out, no problem. Phew!

Baby moth butts yarn
Wednesday November 03rd 2021, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

I started an afghan months ago that was three shades of earthy pink/claret/burgundy, from some 95/5 silk/lycra I’d bought at Colourmart seven years ago. My thought was, I’m finally going to use this up; I wanted something simple after finishing the incredibly finicky fish afghan; and it could go to anyone who might be allergic to animal fibers and they would be so thrilled. Because silk.

I knew from experience that the stuff shrinks by about a third so I’d started it on size 10.5s: big needles to use up my stash and create that yardage fast.

Silk likes to jump off needles, and three strands at once? It was not fun. Twelve plies per strand spun tightly together and yet each individual one just waiting to snag on your hands if you had any rough spots that day?

I wanted it done, I just didn’t want to do it.

So it sat there at about eight inches long and not useful for anything. For months. It didn’t help that I thought I only had one more threesome of those cones, which meant I would not be able to make it as long as I wanted.

In the middle of the summer I stumbled across more cones. I DID have more! That shawl I’d made hadn’t stopped me from having enough! I could actually do this. I got about five more inches done on it.

Malabrigo in the hands it is not. It sat forlornly in a second timeout.

The redwood blanket. Done. But what if Kat, if I were to ask directly, were to confess she loves the idea of it but not how it looks? What if she’s allergic to wool? Shouldn’t I be prepared to offer her options? This is about making her happy, not me. I started wondering towards that silk, was it really so bad? (Do they have a pet whose claws will shred the snot out of the stuff?)

And then the phone rang yesterday. It was an employee of the contractor who had originally planned to come in September along with the roofers to repair the termite damage, till life had thrown the boss a curveball; could he come by in an hour and go over the parts where the work needed to be done? It’s the fascia all around, right?


And so he did that. Appraised the situation–yup, the woodpeckers went after the termites there, set up stuff for the morrow and left, telling me they’d be here between 8 and 9 a.m.

I dug out that silk afghan project. I’d stored those rediscovered extra cones with it. Phew!

I got up this morning and another employee was sitting in a truck out front waiting for it to be 8:00 so he could start.

And while that wooden fascia started coming off from all around the house, I knitted silk. I took breaks of course, but basically I tried to feel productive to live up to their example. I decided I was going to finish off that first set of 656-yard cones and at about ten p.m. I finally did.

Twenty-nine inches. Not bad. Not bad at all. And all this time it was just waiting for me to get a move-on, fer cryin’ out loud.

So don’t be an idiot
Tuesday November 02nd 2021, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Life,Mango tree

(Edited to add: First mango of the year. When it falls off the tree it’s telling you it’ll be ripe in about two days.)

My friend Heather from our old Purlescence days posts a query on Facebook every Monday: How’s your heart?

Yesterday I responded that I’d just read the summary of the two-week heart monitor and that it had instantly given me the earworm, Play That Funky Music Live, Boys. (Okay, I just looked it up. All these years it was white boy, not live, boy. ‘Live’ should work too given its origin story, except that it doesn’t at all. They would never have had their one-hit wonder my way.)

A little tachycardia, with my lightheadedness reports matching the tachy times. Which makes sense. Apparently if it constantly goes off before enough blood gets in there it’s not sending enough when it does.

My family practitioner asked me last week if I’d had any episodes while on the monitor like the one that had made them put me on it?

I said, Just one: much much much more minor. (Plus all those other little times that didn’t count, and they didn’t.)

Oh good! She was so glad that that at least would be documented.

One string of nineteen beats of tachycardia. Way, way better than an hours-long episode and the distinct certainty that I was not standing up and walking across the house and getting in the passenger side in the middle of the night, I couldn’t do it. I was just going to breathe deeply and hold on.

Whatever was setting all that off seems to have settled down now, and having only seen what he’s seen the cardiologist isn’t worried.

I need to gently remind him that I’ll take any soothing words and run with them–if he ever wants me in the ER if it does XYZ, he has to tell it to me straight.

Except that his nurse already did in no uncertain terms. When I left that note describing the night before. Good for her.

The son of their former Republican Senator
Monday November 01st 2021, 7:42 pm
Filed under: Politics

There is an election in Virginia tomorrow, but also one in Utah. Where my cousin Jim is a candidate for mayor. (Please vote if there’s an election where you are!)

He reported two phone conversations he’d had today, and I’m going to mostly-quote from his Facebook post, especially for my mom since she won’t see it otherwise.

In one, a woman asked him, Are you vaccinated?

Jim: Yes.

Why do you hate the Constitution!

In the second, the guy asked him, Why are you trying to get people to cheat in the election?

Jim: I’m not.

That’s a lie. I got a postcard from you where you tell me I can mail in my ballot.

Jim: And?

And all voting by mail is cheating! Don’t you know that? How can I vote for a candidate who doesn’t know that?

Jim said both conversations ended abruptly after he told them, essentially, You’re nuts.

One of his readers asked him about representing people like that, and his answer was those two weren’t voting for him.

As in, let’s have it just be just two people who think like that. Right?