Covid covetings
Sunday March 07th 2021, 11:27 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

The closer we get to being vaccinated, the harder it feels to wait. I’m trying not to be antsy.

We had a great time Facetiming with the northern grandkids today–but Lillian wanted us to BE there, not just be pictures that interacted with her.

With you all the way, baby girl, with you all the way.

The state is allocating doses by county and has decided that ours having had the best compliance and the fewest cases and deaths with ample resources to deal with the illness means we’ll be the last to get the vaccine.

Which feels a little like punishing the well-behaved, but on the other hand there are so many people whose circumstances put them in so much more need than us. We can simply stay home and wait a little longer.

We’ve proved that.

But I do not blame the friend younger than I who drove into the next county and got his first shot. I so get that.



Takes two to tumble
Friday March 05th 2021, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

In answer to Chris and Sharon, Richard was the one who started talking over a year ago about eventually retiring near the grands. The ones south have a great deal of family very close by, the ones north, none whatsoever. But right now he’s happy to be here and in the After Times they’ll all be easy to fly to.

But you move to a place where you’d want to live anyway even if the kids were to take a new job and not stay where you’ve moved to. He does like Portland. I think I was ten the last time I was there other than in the airport so I wanted to familiarize myself a bit.

But we’re happy with our neighborhood and friends, and peaches and blueberries that blossom in January, I mean, how do you beat that?

Speaking of those peaches.

The one that started blooming a month ago is now about 2/3 of the way leafed out and it’s finally going to rain tonight.

The growing-leaves stage mixed with cold weather is how you get peach leaf curl attacks; once they’re fully leafed out the fungus is somehow powerless, and it can’t grow in warmth. It wants new growth on a chilly night.

We get ocean cold with our rain.

The local gardening columnist said to put a lightweight frost cover over to help keep the rain off. Well, we have those for sure, although it would take two of us to try to wrangle it over.

My sweetie was very dubious about this idea but he wanted to be supportive. I couldn’t do it by myself: after days of warning spasms from having to haul all those wet clothes around in the water heater blowup, after carefully doing back exercises to ward off what they threatened to become, this afternoon I bent over a box that had been delivered and without even picking it up it felled me right there for a moment. Protests of innocence at it got me nowhere. Here we were again.

It took me awhile to be able to stand up so as to go get an ice pack.

But I really wanted that tree covered, and the ice packs were helping some, so we went out there tonight together to try to wrangle the thing. Visions of summertime peaches right outside the door can get the better of you like that.

He got the fruit picker to try to maneuver the thing over the top–and not knowing I had just fallen down on the other side of the cloth with my foot tangled in the acanthus stems that border the tree, he caught his own foot and fell with the picker and bloodied his face–thankfully not against the tines. I finally extricated myself at the sound of his voice and got over there, where he then tried to get up by holding onto the picker held upright for leverage so I tried to hold onto it on the other side to steady it for him.

With a man more than twice my weight and a back already like that.

And now his matches.

He wasn’t surprised when I told him his shoulder was green.

It’s a really good thing our house is a ranch right now.

It’s time to look at each other wryly and say in unison, and not for the first time, Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to do that?



The kitchen in the attic
Thursday March 04th 2021, 11:06 pm
Filed under: Life

A few moments of, wait, what?

I pictured the balancing act of trying to lift something heavy or awkward in or out of these cabinets. If that place were a business OSHA would be having words with them.

On this one, I started off thinking, wow, you can get an actual mansion for what you could sell a Silicon Valley postwar tract house for–and then I got to the master bath. Where the tile edging on the vanity and up the side of the shower is a motif of lipsticks. With walls the color of–okay, Tammy Faye Baker’s old news, who’s famous these days for outrageous shades of brilliant rosy red on their face?

And then we get to a cute old house that the owners were clearly trying to make over for its big day on the market along with its ADU over the garage.

But someone way mismeasured for that countertop. And you know it’s new, because the backsplash behind it is the latest fad that will age every house it’s in 30 years from now and that home has already been around the block. I did a double take. Go look at that sideways fridge, it’s a hoot, and the cart blocking it from being rolled out is even funnier: you WILL diet. No more pandemic munching for you!

To be fair, maybe it’s the angle of the camera and the corner of the fridge isn’t bumping the ceiling.

But oh, then there’s this one. I’ve always adored stone houses. And with a play structure for the grands, room to run, and the waterfront just far enough away for while they’re little?

I clicked on the street view and thought it was showing the wrong address. It wasn’t; it was just showing what it used to look like.

Man did that house get Cinderalla-ed.

That light-filled addition at the front completely changes the whole character of the thing and it’s just stunning.

Note that the child’s play structure at the side got changed to one for an older child and the trees have grown since Google drove by.

And there’s enough light and space in that atrium that you could grow a dwarf mango in a pot there. Y’know, the important things.



Pony, express
Wednesday March 03rd 2021, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Life

This is so cool. A woman in North Carolina who grew up on a horse farm is volunteering her horses for kids to read to them, and sometimes ride them.

The horses feel loved that someone is taking the time to talk to them and they hold still while they do. The kids feel the attention of the horses with no correcting or feeling judged if they get a word wrong, in a community whose literacy rate needs help.

In some cases where parents cannot get their kids to the horses, the horses have come to them.

If the Washington Post’s paywall doesn’t get in the way, go read it. It’s such a great story.



He got us in hot water
Tuesday March 02nd 2021, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Life

For the record: today, March 2, 2021, the new water heater was installed by JohnA at Water Heaters Only with a six year warranty promised on the thing.

I have never been offered a warranty on one before. We hired the people who only do this one thing because they have a good reputation and they get it done for you that day, but this was better than I’d hoped.

The last time one flooded the master closet it was a Saturday when I was off at Stitches West for what turned out to be the last day my minivan was still running.

This time I was the one who had to deal with all the googling and the calling and the emptying and the cleaning.

The carpeting got ripped out that time and a new floor put in there. We may need a do-over.

There was a pan under the tank and a spigot and it was supposed to empty outside, and it did but there was way more water than it could handle. There is now a wider taller beautiful much more functional pan, not smashed in on the side by the guy putting the heater in over it this time, our beautiful new water heater, and (shout it from the rooftops) it does not have a thermocouple! The part that broke every two years!

The guy on the phone had asked me to read off the model number and when I did, went, Oh, that’s an old one!

(Yeah, it was an old model when we got it that the other guy must have gotten a very good deal on at closeout but we had no way to know that at the time.)

It is amazing how much stops when you don’t have hot water. Yes, Texas, I know, but still.

It is amazing how cold a tub can still be in the morning after three large pots’ worth of hot water off the stove gets dumped in with the chilly stuff when there wasn’t even that much of the chilly stuff.

It is mind boggling how much stuff was in that closet that reached the floor, how much water it soaked up into the clothes that didn’t, how many loads of laundry had to be done (nonstop the whole blinking day), how many things had to be aired out and dried. And oops that hanger with the paper across the bottom is still wet.

I was almost too tired to knit, but I even got a little bit of that done at a moment when I had to just stop right there and put my feet up while the washer washed. One lace motif done. Yay.

So I measured and yes my apricot seedling hit 6″ today. Grow tree grow!



Not an angora
Monday March 01st 2021, 12:01 am
Filed under: Friends,Life,Spinning

Someone in a breakout room after Zoom church said something to me about someone’s video and I explained about not hearing well without closed captions.

This is someone who’s known me for 34 years but she was astonished, and tried to explain how watching a video works. You just listen! Like we’re doing right now! Not noticing that I’d asked for repeats quite a few times while trying not to dominate the conversation by my deficits.

I explained that my hearing aids need to be replaced, my audiologist just retired, and with the pandemic I just haven’t gotten out there. I have to make do with these for the moment.

Still she stayed baffled, and hearing-splained it to me again how simple it was: you turn on the video and you listen to it. While I was sitting there thinking, wait what? Are you okay?

Then later she said something that was even more off–such that for the first time I found myself counting up to figure out how old she was (80 can’t be too far off) and wondering how her family is doing if this is becoming their normal. Huh.

It was that or be offended. Actually I confess I was, while trying hard not to be–not so much for myself but because I knew it could hurt a friend who has a lot on her plate right now.

It helped that the woman was struggling to remember if she was getting this right. She wasn’t.

I shot off an email to my very patient friend Afton and tried to be over it.

And then the doorbell rang.

It was a new couple from church whom I’d only seen by Zoom with their young son: they had baked us some bread.

I had seen their son helping his mom working on that loaf at the end of the Relief Society Zoom because that’s when the meeting was and they wanted to get it to us before dinner and the timing was what it was, but I didn’t know any of that.

The kid had the bread. The dad was holding…

…A beautiful, big, tawny-colored rabbit about the size of a Maine Coon cat. Who was absolutely chill with having a complete stranger pet it behind the ears and down its soft back. I asked if I should have it sniff my hand first like a dog would want and they said, No, just go ahead and pet him, he’s cool.

Little tufts of light and dark blondnesses wafted into the air.

I mentioned the spinning wheel and the hair scrunchy I once made from a friend’s dog.

They got pretty excited and there are now definite plans to comb the rabbit. It’s not a long haired one but we can make do.

They had no way to know they had totally saved the day. The worry over that thing someone had said who probably really isn’t responsible for it anymore? It went poof with the lightness of bunny fluff floating on the breeze.



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?

Wait…

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.)

Huh.

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.

Huh.



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.