Stone house, Lynne Stone
Friday February 26th 2021, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Life

Anne was right on that last house: it *is* an elevator! Now with photos of a bit of the upstairs, too, to make more sense of the place and with total art world speak to describe how it came to be.

Meantime, here’s someone I’d definitely want to take textile art classes from. Look at those flowers: she made them. With embroidery thread. Bottlebrush plants took her 20 years’ work to get just right, but it helped her figure out what she needed to know to go much faster with the process. Her work is in a museum, as well it should be. Gorgeous.

Home sweet –whoops!
Tuesday February 23rd 2021, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Life

Houses again.

Tell me: how is this up to code? You take something out of the dishwasher, you step towards the table to set it, and you’re falling backwards down the stairs.The condition of the wall down there implies you wouldn’t be the first.

Or picture #30 in this one, because don’t we all need space in the garage of our 1.84M house for an almost-new supersized backhoe? With room left over for your tools, bicycles, and a leather couch!

And now! Drumroll. For when your inner unicorn needs its sparkle polished. This one. Michelle calls it a cross between an office and a YMCA. I noted the Ikea-imitating bed in the 7.77M house, the only sign that the thing actually has the bedrooms it says it does.

That figurine knife holder seems to be auditioning for Shakespeare’s, “Et tu, Brute?” line. While the fat chicken smirks.

We debated whether picture 16 was a bathroom or an elevator. Maybe both?

I can’t help but notice that the property tax is estimated at $7260/month and the rental value at $1802/month. I’m just not sure that that works out.

Snow days
Saturday February 20th 2021, 11:43 pm
Filed under: History,Life

Things I learned:

If you have a defibrillator, do not put an iPhone 12 in your chest pocket–its magnet is strong enough to turn it off.

If you go camping in the out yonder in Alaska in the winter, take a flashlight with you and look down in the outhouse because you don’t want to be bitten by a bear when you sit. (She’s okay.)

But the best story was the woman who was delivering groceries to a couple in Texas but her car slid down their hilly driveway and got stuck in their flower bed. There were just no spare tow trucks out there.

She got taken in by the couple whom she’d delivered to, offering her heat and power and a safe place to stay, whereas it turned out her own apartment had none of those things and no water. They tried to help with her car but had no snow shovels.

So they took her in as if she were their own, just as they would want someone to do for their own grown daughters. For five days.

I mentioned that one to my husband and he told me his sister in Ft. Worth had taken people in, too. Power, water, warmth, and safety. Because she can. So you do.

Burnt bridge
Thursday February 18th 2021, 11:38 pm
Filed under: Life

Here, let me distract you from the rest of this post with a picture of the August Pride peach that is still somehow blooming despite two days of rain since it started to.

My old audiologist told me a year and a half ago that he was going to be retiring and selling his practice, by way of explaining the new guys working with him; they would be taking over then.

The younger guy is a total sweetheart. I wondered if he was out of grad school yet, he looked so young.

The one maybe ten years older sexually harassed the receptionist with me sitting there in the waiting area perfectly capable of seeing what he was doing. The expression on her face was, Get away from me with that.

It wasn’t long after that that she quit.

And then we had this year of pandemic.

I got a call yesterday from a voice I didn’t recognize. It was not the young guy.

I was coming in for a hearing test appointment, he told me, and he was making sure this was a good time.

(???!) I have no appointment… (I did not say, I had a hearing test last week at the medical clinic while they were ruling out a brain tumor. But I knew I had had absolutely no contact with this office since before I got sick with presumed Covid last February.)

Right, we’re making you one and this day this time and does that work for you.

I answered, There is this pandemic going on and we are so close to the vaccines. I’m not coming in before then.

His voice escalated from officious to angry. He blustered. We fully protect our patients…we wear masks…

(Well yes because you’d get fined $500 in this county if you didn’t and I know that as well as you. I didn’t say that.)

It had to have been that guy. I bet he remembered that day just as well as I did and what he’d printed out on the office’s printer and waved close in the receptionist’s face while invading her personal space and that whole little scene and likely the look on my face, the only patient in the waiting room, as he made her flinch. He knew who I was.

I knew who he was.

They have years of my records so I didn’t burn any bridges.

But he had already, and just did again.

My old audiologist used to have an office near here, which is when I met him, but he moved it years ago to have a shorter commute and for me it’s been a real hike across bad traffic to get there. I’ve been wanting to make an appointment with a much closer one for some time so I can get started: they can ask for those records and I can get some new aids. Or at the very least replace the chipped ear mold that has been causing me grief for lo these too many months.

Three weeks till that first shot–if all goes as announced.

While all I can do is to shake my head that man, what a way to kill your business and you can’t blame the virus for it, either. But it was his choice.

Want to grow a superb apricot?
Thursday February 11th 2021, 11:50 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden,Life

Being able to putter around, checking on my seedlings, doing laundry, making a lemon almond cake just because the daughter wished out loud for one, making a spinach souffle with vegan parmesan (for her dairy allergy) and bacon bits that turned out surprisingly good: vegan cheeses aren’t great on their own but it turns out they do pretty well in recipes.

After yesterday, it was a day of just being really happy about all the little things. It’s raining and cold? Have a second mug of cocoa. Why not. He loved it.

I have Anya apricots starting to sprout again and a bunch more kernels still in the fridge.

Last year I followed instructions online that said that after the required cold months, soak them overnight–and had a 70% rotting rate. This year I followed instructions that said for the next stage put them in a wet paper towel in a ziplock in the fridge, did that for a few weeks and I have eleven that are looking good so far and one that rotted. I put them in Root Riot plugs that have rooting hormone added, and the roots that are just starting look much bigger and healthier than anything I ever saw last year.

Probably you should just stick them straight in the Root Riots out of the fridge without the whole paper towel nonsense.

So I have a question for you all: does anyone want some of those saved dry kernels? You cannot buy the trees anywhere, they’re not on the market, period, and the developer’s orchard of them has been ripped out and replaced with almonds. If you want to taste these you’ll probably have to grow your own.

I bought Anya apricots at Andy’s Orchard last summer: so at least one parent is an Anya. Andy only grows what tastes good. The other parent might be one of John Driver’s other two varieties that Andy grows, it could be a Blenheim or something, there’s no way to know.

It should take three to five years before you have fruit.

But then oh what fruit. Anyas are what apricots were always meant to taste like and never could be.

Yours for the asking and the willingness to take care of them.

Okay I’m gonna spill here
Wednesday February 10th 2021, 11:02 pm
Filed under: Life

Three weeks ago I was suddenly hearing a loud low buzz, and acutely aware that our modem had done that in warning before we happened to luck out in finding it smoking just before it became something much worse I went looking for what the source of that sound could be.

Except not only did everything seem fine, the sound didn’t stop when I left the room. The furnace maybe?

Why didn’t that plane flying overhead stop flying overhead?


It was sudden onset, it turned out to be in one ear only, I’ve never had low-frequency tinnitus in my life (high, yes, forever) and I have a friend who went through an acoustic neuroma.

Which is why I linked to that article on tinnitus the other day–after sending my doctor a note.

Plus I fell three times last week, which was getting a little ridiculous but probably didn’t have anything to do with it.

Her nurse almost immediately wrote back to tell me to make an appointment. Half an hour later, she checked, I hadn’t done it yet so she got right on the phone to make sure that happened.

Oh okay.

Tuesday my doctor would be in.

So yesterday I went in and she ruled out a bunch of ordinary stuff and referred me to ENT and audiology. I was quite sure she would, but we are still new to each other and I wanted her to be there from the beginning of this with me should it come to anything. When I mentioned my friend, she nodded a definite affirmative of yes: we needed to rule that out.

I went home and called. The ENT receptionist told me she could schedule the one in eight days and the other the week after that. Yes she was seeing the referral, it had just come up on the screen.

Usually when a doctor is the one saying the patient needs to be seen you get in a lot faster, but no.

I hesitated, and when it was clear we weren’t going to do better than that and having just waited four days that had felt so very long that it reminded me of when I was five days overdue with my first baby (I cannot begin to tell you how many years long those five days were), I told her why I was trying to get in.

She exclaimed, “Ohmygoodness!” Suddenly, with apologies for making me wait on hold (take your time! And thank you!), she got me in on both for this morning, with their permission.

It has been a long time since I’ve had that thorough an exam in audiology. Tympanometry–I remember that from a class in college even if I’m not sure I remember how to spell it right. I also remember being taught that if you push a tone and the person hears it and then stops hearing it while it’s still going, they have a brain tumor.

That stuck with me: the idea of being able to help uncover a problem on that level, to be able to help a patient that much as a non-medical person–wow.

So I wondered if she was going to test that.

She didn’t as far as I know but there have definitely been equipment updates since my time and part of me wanted to ask her to explain this and this and remind me the details on that.

A few minutes in the waiting room with my knitting, and then a new-to-me ENT: my old one had retired at the pandemic.

The doctor was late. I knew he’d squeezed me in. He complimented the purple Mecha hat in progress and started to ask questions about it but realized he needed to get a move-on; I thanked him and we went on from there.

He was quite pleased with the hearing test results: bilateral and still the same as the last time they’d tested. My hearing aids, however, particularly the right one, need to be replaced. He knew his stuff: when I told him they were the latest and greatest Oticons when I got them, and when that was, he knew about them but also what’s out there now, and in my experience, the ENTs leave that up to the audiologists but he was up on what the patients would want to know about.

Had there been an acoustic neuroma one ear would have been markedly different now from the other. They were not. He offered a brain MRI if I wanted one, it was up to me; but to him it all looked okay, and he was clearly relieved to be able to tell me that.

And that’s as close to a brain tumor experience as I hope I ever have.

Thank you, Ruth
Monday February 08th 2021, 11:54 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Lupus

Eleven years ago Scrabblequeen Ruth very generously gave me her treadmill so that I could get my exercise while doing the no-sun lupus thing. For which I have been very grateful and I have put it to use day after day year after year–if nothing else, I had to make it worth what to me was her sacrifice.

Starting a few months ago, the belt gradually got a little off-center, but it didn’t seem to hurt anything.

Two weeks ago it was suddenly slowing down intermittently just enough to risk throwing me off it and then it would get going again. A few days later it jammed. It started up again, jammed again, and with that I turned it off afraid of burning out the motor and went and googled treadmill problems.

I think we can fix it, or at least, he can.

We haven’t, though. I am intensely grateful for how much good that exercise has done for me for all this time.

But let me try this a bit longer first.

It wasn’t till I stopped using it–while still having the habit and the need to–that I let myself fully consider the thing.

The floor holds still.

My compensation for my destroyed sense of balance is purely tactile and visual and the treadmill is a distinct challenge on the tactile feedback part. I got good at it–but it required constant paying attention to where and how my body was so as not to fall, and you don’t want to on one of those. There’s more than one way to get tired.

Race-walking in circles entryway/living room/family room/kitchen/dining, I find I’m free to walk faster and take longer strides than I dared before and am comfortable doing so for a lot longer–it’s so much easier for the three-dimensionally-challenged. In these two weeks I’ve doubled my exercise time without having planned to.

But none of that would have happened had that machine and even more, the generosity of the gift behind it not gotten me to establish that good habit in the first place.

Two cans and a piece of string
Sunday February 07th 2021, 9:51 pm
Filed under: Life

A new thing learned: according to the American Academy of Family Physicians, apparently some–not all–types of tinnitus can be heard by a physician putting their stethoscope against the patient’s head. (I’m assuming that’s assuming the doctor has decent hearing.)


I’ve had ringing in the ears apparently since I was a toddler who overdosed on the baby aspirin I got into while Mom wasn’t looking. I studied audiology in college and learned a lot I wanted to know but walked away from it after being told I could never find a job in the field because my hearing wasn’t great. It would be years before an astute ENT doctor linked that overdose and the progressive loss since to an allergy to NSAIDs I didn’t know I had.

That’s okay, the English major thing turned out better anyway.

But they can actually, objectively listen to my inner-ear hair cells screaming that they’re not responding to sound anymore but only doing what they want to do like a kid in a temper tantrum?

I had never been told that one in my life.


Taking a good look
Friday February 05th 2021, 11:56 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

Yesterday morning I reached over and picked up my phone, looked at the time and thought at it, it’s too early to be awake, put it back down and went back to sleep.

Usually I bring it out by the computer after I get up. And maybe I did. But I also went in the kitchen, stepped sideways looking down at the mug in my hand I was mixing the cocoa into, looked up–and creamed my head on the overhead cabinet door.

Which I always always shut so that I don’t do that. Um.

Shortly thereafter I realized I didn’t know where my phone was.

Which apparently was in silence mode.

The sheets have been changed, the blankets shaken out, there are no iPhone bits in the bottom of the washer, nothing under the bed, it’s not in the Instant Pot, it’s not in the chocolate machine, it’s not under the microwave, it hasn’t fallen behind the computer desk (although that’s nicely dusted now), it didn’t fall behind the piano, it’s not inside the printer, it didn’t land in his shoes, it didn’t end up in the ziplock bag with the hat project, it’s not outside where I was pruning the cherry, nada.

So that’s what I mostly did today, too. At this point I’m beginning to eye the fridge and wonder if we should pull that out to look behind there, too, having a tall husband who occasionally puts things up there briefly because he can see up there whereas I cannot.

Because I really wanted to take a picture of the first peach flower of the year that opened this morning. I love how short winter is here.

Just watch your head on those branches is all.

Saturday morning update: I woke up and felt the impulse to roll over and grab my phone.

As if. I ignored it.

A few minutes later, the feeling persistent and pushing at me, I did roll over and look to prove to myself I was being silly.

And there, black against black, was the edge of my phone just barely discernible, lodged between the bed frame and the box springs. Even looking at it, I had to reach down and touch it to be sure.

And the little stinker was even still half charged.

Silly things
Thursday February 04th 2021, 12:10 am
Filed under: Life

The pandas had their turn, now it’s the crows rolling down the hill of a windshield and rear window in the snow. The lid of the trunk just didn’t offer that same momentum, so it tried the next car.

Random bits
Tuesday February 02nd 2021, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

Our own comic, grandma stereotyping and inverted needles aside. You do need a few more spiders if you want to create the golden Madagascar tapestry. (More details at Wired magazine.)

The pandas in DC sledding downhill backwards on their backs in the snowstorm.

And… I actually got some knitting done today. It felt great.

It costs a lot of dough
Friday January 29th 2021, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Food,Life

(The full moon with an atmospheric river last night.)

The algorithms are at it again. But then, who needs butter when you could have healthy vegetables with your fat?

I’ve posted the occasional picture on Facebook of my fruit trees and I’ve been poking around via Zillow at a few houses for sale, as I’ve mentioned. Facebook knows all and tracks all: I am told that even if you clear all cookies off your computer theirs will still be in there, hidden.

So. Clearly what I really really need, according to their ad, is a 40-acre avocado orchard in SoCal with a house with lots of windows looking out over the ocean!

My first thought was, man, that’s a lot of toast.

I didn’t even make the connection when I started up a loaf of sourdough this evening, the first one in over a month–till just now writing this.

Buyer be wary
Thursday January 28th 2021, 11:51 pm
Filed under: Life

We’re so not ready for contractors (not to mention, hey, pandemic) but we’re going to need one. The corian could be seamed, yes, but that seam clearly wouldn’t be able to support the weight of the smaller range that’s going to have to go in: we need to replace the countertops, too.

The old range has two burners out of five working again, just enough to take the pressure off the timeline and the quarantine pod.

I’ve been trying to get one definite thing done on the house every day to feel the progress so as to create more progress and am using the whole kitchen thing as motivation.

That sixty-five-year-old bathroom fan that is permanently open to the outdoors has *got* to go. Take a bath, feel a few raindrops on your head in the tub. Roof juice with your shampoo (not to mention a path in for moths where I hang sweaters to dry.)

But still, there are the things I can do. Michelle’s “Oh wow” as she came around the corner this evening felt really good.

For anybody appliance shopping, I did find this one review by a guy who’d ordered a 23″ cooktop and had gotten a 22″ one. It was written two years ago, so maybe the Trump-donating owners of Home Despot have improved things since then. Right. If there’s a paywall blocking you, let me quote:

“I talked to a store manager who actually told me that Home Depot doesn’t sell appliances – they contract to a third-party company – so they don’t accept returns. Then she said they might accept a return within 24 hours of delivery if I brought the super-heavy, bulky box to the store, but I’d absolutely be charged a $225 restocking fee. Website specs are misleading? Not Home Depot’s problem, she said, because I’d “accepted ownership” of the cooktop when I signed the delivery receipt.”

Sounds like a slam-dunk small claims court win to me but I figure that’s something to know and to ask about before you plunk any money down there. Maybe they’ve improved their customer service since then. But if you do go there–I’m not going to–definitely ask about their customer policies first and in detail and in writing.

Putting the retro in retro
Thursday January 28th 2021, 12:00 am
Filed under: Life

The windstorm blew the covers off the mango tree. That has never happened before. It seems to have stayed just warm enough, though, but just in case I checked the lights and replaced three bulbs.

Rain and more rain.

A neighbor posted that she’d been given roses from the garden of a friend who had just passed away and was wondering if there was any way now to root them and grow any of them for a memorial bush?

Likely not at this stage, and I was frank about that, but I told her I had Root Riot plugs designed specifically to get cuttings to root and a matching seed starter tray to hold them up in and she was welcome to a set to try. Best to cut the bottoms and flowers off and keep it to a few nodes for the new roots to have to support.

It’s out on the curb waiting for her now, with a packet of tomato seeds tucked in a card (under the tray’s cover to protect it from the rain.) She wanted to try for five on the roses and I gave her all twelve slots’ worth of plugs and told her frankly that someone giving me a few extra tomato seedlings got me started on the whole veggie thing years ago so she was welcome to them.

Funky house find for the day (while wondering if the owner has any clue why that 11th picture will keep people from considering the place, and my apologies for its interruption. There is such a thing as too retro.)

Back to the house itself: not one but two koi ponds inside the living room–that’s one way to keep the herons and raccoons from raiding them–and a range that my husband’s Great Aunt Irma, born around 1900 and living in her parents’ frontier-era house in Downey, Idaho had one very much like when we went to visit her 40 years ago. I had never seen one like it. She took great delight in telling us of how she was able to bake bread for the amazed younger neighbors when the power went out, and demonstrated sticking her arm in to feel if the burning wood had gotten it to the right warmth yet for the dough.

Her neighbors thought but you can’t do that if you don’t know what the temperature is!

Her reaction: I most certainly do! I’ve been doing this all my life, and I know!

And she wanted to make sure we knew about that and how proud she was of this lovely old home her father had built when the railroad came through. He’d dug a well and the railroad had wanted water and so they struck a deal on just where it would be built. They had themselves a little boom town that grew around that whistle stop.

Now, probably everybody else knew this but me, but, it turns out you can have a new range like that if you want it enough; the Elmira company will even give you the woodburning oven feature if you want your bread baked just so. The Heartland company clearly made the particular one in that house listing, scrolling halfway down their blog page, but they apparently went out of business about a year ago. Which is a shame because that thing is a work of art even if it would never fit in my mid-century modern.

Everything old is new again.

For somebody else in this case.

This old house
Monday January 25th 2021, 11:53 pm
Filed under: Life

After looking at too many real estate listings–we’re not moving, but knowing what the options are is always a good thing, and it’s become a bit of a pandemic hobby–I have a few questions.

Why on earth is it a thing to have a bathtub with windows that start right at the top of the tub?

Why is it that so many of those are in a corner and have windows on two sides of said tub?

Why do so many of such listings have zero evidence of there having ever been any window coverings on those windows? What?

Entirely outdone, though, by the loft master bedroom with a half-wall so as to overlook the front entryway, with clearly echoing acoustics.

And also, why are drab gray kitchens such a big thing?

Why did the only house with a double oven go for over a million? I mean, I love my double oven but I wouldn’t pay hundreds of thousands of dollars extra for it.

Why is it so hard to find a master bedroom and laundry and kitchen all on one floor for when you’re aging or you broke something and you don’t want to do stairs?

Guess we’ll just have to stay in our ranch right here. It’s a pretty perfect setup.

Did you know you could buy a cute three bedroom house in the middle of pretty much nowhere in Maine and pay a $199/month mortgage? Although I imagine you’d make up for it in heating costs.