Betty
Thursday December 07th 2017, 11:50 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life,Lupus

The repairman will be here in the morning.

Meantime, a friend who’s turning 93 this month had a small stroke this week along with some cardiac funkiness and just returned to her assisted-living facility today from the hospital. She’s been blind from birth, her hearing’s going, and although she remembers Richard–he once worked for a company that developed the software that read her her longtime computer, and for years she would call him as a friend for help about it, which he was glad to do–but she no longer remembers me. So when we found there were no parking spaces for blocks around and that the long walk in the sun was going to be a hazard to my own health, Richard hopped out to go visit her while I drove over to the chocolate shop. It seemed the best thing to do at that point; in her disorientation, I wasn’t sure my presence would be a comfort anyway.

I’m glad he got there so soon after she was discharged: he was able to find out what bothered her. The AL staff had moved her bed while she’d been away, not enough that a seeing person would be bothered but she could no longer find her computer nor her things nor was she capable of walking to go search for them. He got the staff to let the bed be moved back. A few feet–and having time to listen–made all the difference to her.

The doctor came by, and quietly told him that everything he could say that could help her reconnect to her memories would help. Betty had lived in Alaska decades ago, so, Richard told her about our Thanksgiving in Anchorage with our baby grandson and got her reliving the days.

She worried whether her seeing-eye dog, naming one of the ones she’d had over the years, had been fed well enough while she’d been away.

He’s been gone for several years.

I, meantime, got to go see Timothy and Adams, both. It had been awhile and I had missed them and it was a comfort to see them. The 65% hot chocolate? Well, yeah, I’d missed that, too, sure.

Richard texted that he hoped I’d ordered him one, too.

I grinned at my phone. 85% dark, just how you like it, coming right up.

We waved to each other as he spotted the car across the street from the nursing home again and we discussed as we drove off how we could best help her next. From his description, I wasn’t sure how many more nexts there would be, and he wasn’t sure, either.

And yet.

“Betty’s a tough old bird,” I pronounced, and he agreed strongly. He told me then that she had wondered herself if things were coming to an end now.

He’d told her, “You’re here as long as you want to be, Betty. And we’re with you.”



Boxing match
Thursday August 24th 2017, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life,Lupus

It was a dumb, weird thing of no worth and no consequence.

Until it wasn’t.

I just couldn’t seem to get rid of it. That box was labeled Heavy, and it was; you could really twist an ankle trying to stomp it down for the recycling truck, and having once fallen off my roof sweeping away the leaves so the rain would stop leaking in, I am a little particular about that part of me. Shove the sides in? Don’t make it laugh. It would trampoline you right back. I put it by the side door to go out with the recycling bins anyway, knowing they only take the pre-broken-downs, hoping it would somehow cave in to my will if not my feet nor his, but it just never made it out there and it stayed stubbornly clean, dry, intact–and inside. And the next week, too, and the one after that. I would look at it, determined this time, and it would go nope, nope, you’re not doing that.

I gave in and put it where it wouldn’t bug me. Still inside. Still looking brand new. That thing was designed to last.

There was an email on the ward chat list last night, a young couple that were suddenly having to leave; they were flying to Arizona this weekend to find a new apartment and did anyone happen to have any moving boxes? Help?

We’ve seen this before: someone finds themselves between jobs with a renewal on their year-to-year coming right up, or a sudden job offer somewhere else, and if they can’t talk their landlord into a month-to-month during the transition they’re out of here. Rents are far too high in this town to risk it.

I only had the one, but it was bigger than the usual moving box; not worth their coming to get it but worth my dropping it off, I told them before heading over. I figured they had enough to have to do right now. I fervently wished I had the energy to offer to help them pack.

Let’s see, that was 380 #2, not 320 #8. Right? Right. I was sure of it.

But there were no numbers on the doors, and there were a lot of doors opening up over the courtyard cum driveway. If I walked over to the… But it was a time of day when the sun was still an issue and I could spend a lot of minutes wandering around those open-air walkways looking. No can risk.

Just then the UPS guy, who’d parked out on the street because there’s no way his truck could turn around in there, walked by. Well, everybody orders everything online so if anybody would know–so I asked him.

“Sure,” he smiled, “it’s that one right there,” pointing to the door nearest us just steps away. I looked again for a number, wondering how he knew, while he chuckled; yeah, it is like that, isn’t it.

380, it has to be…

The door opened and there the guy was. Phew!

I reached back into the car and pulled out the box that was filling up the back seat.

“Oh that is *perfect*!” he exclaimed, lifting it from my hands, very very pleased.

And I thought, you could put every book you own in there and it would be as solid as a bookcase in the transit. But then how would you pick it up to load it in there, but never mind.

And I am left marveling at how that all worked out for him and his wife in spite of all that I’d thought I’d wanted to do for lo these weeks.

I need to find out her favorite color. Got to take some of California with you wherever you go from here, right?

The kicker? I have no idea what was originally packed in that box. Something was sent to my daughter’s friend in San Jose and somehow its empty box got brought back here, where it could be ready for the day when a young couple really needed the help in their moment of change and chaos and stress.

 



Mathias saves the day
Tuesday August 15th 2017, 10:58 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life,Lupus,To dye for

The color of the sky, she said. That was her favorite.

I looked over the blues in my stash yesterday, and then again today, willing it to be there. I have some really nice yarns that were close but they just weren’t quite…they were my types of blues, not hers.

I could wind white yarn and haul around dye baths and wait for things to dry and hope I guessed right on amounts or I could go for a little more instant gratification. Besides, I hadn’t seen Kathryn in months and I missed her.

Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco was a hike, but: “Today you can do it–do it today,” I tell myself all the time and I wanted to get started and I wanted to see what Malabrigo had to offer these days (turns out she has a new shipment coming in soon, too) and if anyone in the area had the inventory it would be her. There. Talked myself into it. So off I went.

I wanted superwash for a young mom; she helped me find the most perfect colors of Malabrigo Mechita and I had myself envisioning an entire cowl finished by bedtime.

Yeah as if. But I got to meet her daughter! Too cool that hers is also named Sam–and that it was her birthday.

Came home to a robo-call to pick up my prescription before they returned it to stock. Fudge. That had definitely not been in the plan. Wound a ball of Mechita and headed back out into the early rush hour.

Hit the top of my head, hard, on the car at the pharmacy. Klutz. Had a quiet little freakout to myself over head injuries but seemed to be okay.

Still, it took me a couple of hours to pull myself and my sore head together and actually finally sit down and start knitting, and oh did it ever help. That sweet anticipation as beautifully dyed wool wrapped around wood, again and again and again as I pictured my friend’s face…

My phone buzzed.

Our Sam and her family are in Texas, visiting Mathias’s Great Grandpa. (Where our Alaskan born, on being taken outside into 100 degree heat, was initially stunned: what IS this?! Make it stop!)

After all the news of these past few days–weeks–months–it all comes back to that poster in my obstetrician’s office years ago: “A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.”

Baby giggles, or even just pictures of baby giggles. They make the world whole again.

 



For J and A with love
Monday August 14th 2017, 10:44 pm
Filed under: History,Life,Lupus,Politics

There are times when I really, passionately regret and even resent that my lupus does not allow me to spend time in the sun, not even five minutes in the middle of a summer day.

Because I want to be one of the counter-protesters when they come here. They intend to come this weekend, these evil men who are trying to out-Westboro the Westboro idiots. Maybe they’ll see how many of their peers are being identified and arrested or fired after Charlottesville and do like Westboro does half the time these days: make lots of noise and threats and then stay home.


With so much going on that is so beyond words, I took comfort in reading accounts of good people who took care of others in Virginia, and in finishing this today, one of the softest things I have ever knit. In looking forward to seeing my friend’s face when I get to give it to her.

Knitting it was also my way of conveying to her immigrant husband how glad I am that he is here and that he is married to her: he’s a deeply good man. We are fortunate to have him here.



Healthcare bill
Tuesday July 25th 2017, 10:55 pm
Filed under: History,Knitting a Gift,Lupus,Politics

Being the political junkie that I am, I got some good knitting time in while watching the Senate vote 50-50 today with Pence tipping the scales. Watched John McCain give the speech of his life after casting the vote that utterly mocked everything he would say immediately thereafter. He could have put a stop to it all right there, and it would have been over for good just like the version in April was. This was a vote to allow the bill to continue to the floor, and he promised not to vote in the future for that bill as it now stands. (Knowing full well that after amendments and arguments it would not be as it now stands, for better but also for worse.)

But that is pure hubris anyway. He might be in the hospital then, he might not even be alive.

I don’t know how many people know that the current Republican bill, among its many other problems, would allow employer-based health insurance to reach in and deny coverage to the chronically ill—lupus is specifically targeted, hey, it was nice knowing you all–coverage that the employees are paying for out of their paychecks, and with the ACA gone we patients would be unable to buy any anywhere else, either.

But hey, I got a lot of blanket knitted!

I called McConnell’s office, got through on the first ring, and told whichever intern answered the phone that McConnell is only pushing on that bill because my uncle the late and generally-right-wing Senator Bob Bennett of Utah is dead. Because McConnell wouldn’t have been able to look Bob in the eye.

Bob was a Republican, but he also believed American businesses could not compete as long as their workers knew they were one medical crisis away from losing everything. He had lived through losing his job and his insurance when he’d had a young family to support. He knew.

So he wrote, with Ron Wyden, a Democrat, the first draft of a bill. Romneycare had worked in Massachusetts, so…



Up the canyon
Sunday July 23rd 2017, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life,Lupus

The hats: they knew I loved to knit but they never at all expected me to knit for them.

And I never really expected them to instantly treasure them that hard, but they did, which made me want to jump right in and do that again for someone else. Some people just recharge the knitting batteries by who they are, y’know?

The figs: rolled in melted butter, roasted, then drizzled with a little honey–mostly because they were from the store and picked before they were as ripe as they should have been, and once you pick them off the tree they’re done. Not much to these on their own.

And yet.

The scent didn’t quite pull me in all the way but then that first bite did: instantly I was back at the summer when I was eight and a half and my little sister turned seven. Our grandparents took us on our first plane rides (one dressed up for it in those days) to stay with them for two weeks in Utah.

And part of that stay was at the cabin they owned up near one of the ski resorts high in the mountains. There was no phone service, unless you took a goodly walk down the road to the country store there, and that made it perfect for Grandpa to have an actual vacation: nobody could reach him unless he wanted them to, or unless they were willing to make the long steep drive up that mountain, and if it was that important it would be something they didn’t want discussed on a public phone in front of everybody, in which case we kids were to clear out of the cabin till called back.

My grandmother tells the story in her autobiography of being woken up in the middle of the night by the phone ringing in the next apartment over at their DC place, and as soon as she was awake enough to be glad her freshmen Senator husband wasn’t important enough for reporters to flock to for a quote and started falling back asleep, by their own. The Cuban Missile Crisis had just broken and reporters wanted these two Senators’ reactions to the news. Well, actually, they were sound asleep and oblivious, thanks. Were.

Grandpa very much believed in being of service to his constituents, but those two weeks every summer he wanted his time to hike and think and just be. To have a break. I think they said that just once, someone on staff had made that drive up, but I’m not sure.

There were a few paths through the woods and there were rules: one does not play in the creek. The drinking water is taken straight from it to all the cabins up there as is and one does not contaminate it. Ooh, but look at the fish! And that tiny chipmunk. It’ll take a peanut from your outstretched fingers if you hold very very still. This over here is stinging nettle–if you touch it you’ll find out how it got its name, and you don’t want to. (I did, twice, but not on purpose, and Gram was right. It hurt like mosquito bites itch.)

I remember how very very cold the water in that creek was (I let it run and splash over my hand but I did not put my feet in it. On purpose, anyway.) It curved right below their patio out their back door. The idea that it could be barely melted snow in the middle of summer was a wonder to me.

I pulled lunch out of the oven this afternoon and wondered, what…something…

Something wild that grew at that cabin that my brain could almost, almost pick out from half a century ago, so close, and if the figs had been ripe I think they would have missed it entirely.

I could hear my grandparents’ voices again, from when I thought they were old but had no idea. They would have been 67 and 68, with 96 and 95 still to come.

When they died, there was no way to pass the place down in the family; there were too many of us to divide it up amongst. But a cousin bought it, and she and her husband are generous in sharing the space.

And so, two summers ago, we cousins were nearly all of us there again taking in the familiar old log cabin essence, with maybe an extra couch now as we squeezed in. I didn’t take the hikes through the woods that the others did for old times’ sake, thanks, lupus, and yet the air was crisp and cool as I remembered it, full of unique growing things that do not live where I do, the wildness in the elevation and air and trees.

Those figs. I wonder. Something surrounding that path by the creek. Someday I hope to go back and maybe I’ll find what they were trying so hard to belong to.



The old building
Wednesday July 19th 2017, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Lupus

Hang in there folks, got a long one tonight.

Part One. Written Tuesday after I got home.

 

She held the elevator door for him, and he, turning just inside, saw me coming and held it for me. I scooted to catch up not wanting to delay them but they smiled and didn’t mind at all.

A chance to be a help to someone in that place is something you don’t pass up on.

He turned to her, our having all become friends in the moment, and asked when visitor hours were?

Eleven, she’d been told.

Huh. It was eight when I was in here nine years ago, I offered.

And yet here we were, with the sun heading down, so…

The parking structure that had been new when I was here (nine years ago? Or was it the ’03 time?) is already gone now. So is all the handicapped parking near the building. It’s all undergrounded at the far end of the long block, surrounded by construction, and at a brisk pace it’s a nine minute walk to that wing. They say there’s a shuttle but in Silicon Valley terms it’s a vaporbus as far as I’ve actually seen–not that I could wait out there for it anyway. (Wednesday’s note: I have now seen the shuttle. Maybe it’s only 9-5?)

I cannot do that during the day. Not in summer’s sun.

And so I visit during my kind of hours, and he tried hard to make me feel that that’s okay.

 

Part two. Wednesday.

 

They decided to send him home early: apparently in part because they’d goofed the paperwork (and admitted to it, which was quite good of them) and the insurance suddenly said well then the charges were not their problem, buddy. I imagine they will have fun fighting that fight, and I’m sure they won’t be the only ones.

I dropped him off at the house and trekked over to CVS. It was rush hour. Ten CVS stores couldn’t fill that prescription. But with me standing there going, now what do I do, they checked for me, putting the phone aside for a half hour while the hold music blared: yes, one Walgreens way over yonder could.

Which of course our insurance won’t take, but you do what you have to do. I trekked on over there across the endless stop-and-go.

They had five doses left. Given the possibility, however hopefully remote, of paying ourselves in full for two and a half days at Stanford Hospital, I asked only for two of them, because CVS had promised to order and be ready in the morning with the rest.

Which they did not do. When I called after getting home from Walgreens to double-check, after a half hour on hold with them they said, oh, right, oh well too late, it’ll be Friday.

And so, immediately way back over yonder to get another day’s worth from Walgreen’s while they still had it in stock, again paying full price out of pocket–with, again, an extra 20% surcharge for buying so few. Four and a half hours on the road to get an eighth of a prescription, with a mango smoothie from the drugstore for dinner.

Richard was apologetic. I told him, All those times I was sick and you took care of me? Finally I get to do a little of being the hero. Not a problem. (I wanted to hug the clerk at Walgreens–she is the one who saved the day for me so I could cope.)

There is no worry and he’s fine, he’s just recuperating, is all.

It was one last evening of no-lupus-friendly gardening time. It is skunk o’clock out there and my tomato plants are just going to have to last till tomorrow on their own.

I’ve spent enough time typing. I think I’ll go offer him a glass of juice.



Blink and you’ll miss it
Thursday June 08th 2017, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life,Lupus,Politics,Wildlife

While I watched the Comey hearing…(full YouTube video.) There is nothing like observing their faces along with their words and intonations. (What on earth was Cornyn doing with his hands the whole time he was talking?) I kept half-hoping someone would call John McCain an ambulance–he   s  p  o  k  e    in slow motion, made no sense, (the ex-FBI chief is not addressed as President) and looked like he was having a serious medical event like a transient ischemic attack or a diabetic crash.

So. Five (!) hawk sightings today, including one I got to see coming straight towards me, its neck not so white, its chest solid and buff: an adult.

However many there are in its young family, it rules, and the crows and ravens have disappeared from my end of the block as of late.

What’s completely new is a mockingbird that has suddenly decided that the larger scrub jay has no right to my back yard–and the surprise that the bossy overdressed blue corvid loses every time. After being the bully of the bird feeder forever, threatening the songbirds while stealing far more than it needs to or even can eat, it was quite surprised at getting its comeuppance and having to run for it, not casually but for real, with the smaller mocker twirling around in serious chase above the elephant ears. Not learning a thing, the jay had to dash for cover again and again, the other right at its back. A brilliantly-colored tanager on the other side of the fence took courage for the first time and gave it its own “And STAY out!” over there.

Tempted to name the mocker Comey.

Meantime, two days ago when the sun was safely low–the lupus/UV exposure thing–I knocked on the door of the little kids across the street so they could get a chance to come see the doves in the nest. I was sure if we waited a few more days the fledging would be over and I remember how much my kids loved to be lifted up to see the baby birds back in the day.

But the family was probably out in the back yard and didn’t hear me.

Yesterday we had those two doves side-by-side up there, the one no longer attempting to hide from me under momma’s wing, but again no one was home across the street till the sun had sunk altogether.

Today there was no one home on top of that ladder and no dove in sight.

Oh well. Next year.

I looked again shortly after, though, and there the two were, fluttering upwards in no particular alarm at my coming around the corner, rather as a matter of teaching the young What One Does while telling each other about me. (Old enough to fly: check. Good.) One stayed in sight about six feet past the young pear tree and I took its graduation portrait.

And when I blinked, like all good mourning doves it felt compelled to blink back. It’s one of the most charming things about them.



Amazing grace
Friday June 02nd 2017, 11:36 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus

When did that happen!? How did I not see it?! How did I miss it! I’m…

Well, at a loss is not exactly the right phrase for it.

It was clear to me that I needed a new glasses prescription. I finally went in today. Given my history, the optometrist at the clinic had the backs of my eyes photographed, ready to refer me to the retina specialist like last time. (Or rather, since that guy just retired, whoever his replacement was.)

The retina guy had told me that I didn’t need surgery on that vitreomacular traction yet and that it would likely be awhile.

Just like my early cataracts. Just like my corneas that will someday need replacing. Are you keeping count? That’s six eye surgeries in my future, three for each eye, the first involving a needle through it.

What the VMT did was make any straight lines that are more than a few feet from my face have a funky squiggle in the middle. The letters in a road sign danced–in their proper order but at slash-mark angles leaning towards or away from each other. Did that car in front of me have a dent in the center of its bumper that made the light reflect strangely off it, or was it my eyes? Who could tell? I’d have to get up close to make it hold still. And yet overall my vision was as good as always.

I’m going to chalk it up to seeing Mathias and his parents and Alaska. After we got home from that trip I noticed that the never-ending headache I’d had since my head injury in December had finally, finally gone away.

Okay, back to the eyes. To quote the site:

“Metamorphopsia, when vision is distorted to make a grid of straight lines appear wavy or blank

Some of these symptoms can be mild and develop slowly; however, chronic tractional effects can lead to continued visual loss if left untreated. In some cases, a distortion of a visual picture could be experienced without necessarily having a reduction in sharpness of vision.”

Yup on that last bit.

Now, this part:

“Some cases of VMT may spontaneously resolve.”

Nobody, as far as I heard, had told me that was even remotely a possibility.

As I boggled, the optometrist showed me the back-of-the-eye photos from 21 months ago and today. See this? This one, though. That dip there. That’s normal.

How could….! Well, COOL!!!

Some part of my brain had been trying to get it through my thick skull but I guess it had just been too gradual a process: and now all the way home, I verified it again and again and again. Those squiggles really were gone. Had been gone. I’m crediting getting to see my newborn grandson who arrived safely after such great risk as the reason because, hey, why not? As if all that joy concentrated all of everybody’s prayers for everybody somehow. Whatever, however, I’ll take it.

Anybody who’s had a relapsing/remitting disease understands me when I say this: normal is so normal that even after the extremity we don’t notice the abnormality of the fact that the normal is actually back now. It’s just there, taken for granted like it always was before.

It still boggles me that it’s over. It still boggles me that I didn’t know that it was.

I once was blind, but now I see.



Trying to scare up a little dinner for them?
Thursday April 13th 2017, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus,Mango tree,Wildlife

That time before sundown, when the squirrels have turned in for the night and the birds have the feeder area to themselves. When the UV level is zero and the outdoors is mine. I really like it.

It’s also when the temps start dropping enough that it’s time to go cover the mango tree for the night.

There are two steps to this: the first, covering the top of the two stakes with bubble wrap rolled and taped together, both to protect the frost covers from tearing on the ends and to lift the covers above the close-to-budding parts of the tree–they are growing straight up now but will droop down later to support their (hoped-for) fruit as it grows. (No President’s Day storms to whip them all off the tree this time, okay?)

I opened the door to start the preliminaries, scattering a dove and a junco. As I walked across the yard, I saw a large gray wide-winged bird well overhead, flying from the direction of the redwood in Neighbor A’s yard across us to the silk oak in Neighbor B’s yard.

Several years ago my kids gave me a Cornell Labs book for Christmas that not only listed American bird species, it had a recording for each, and the one for the Cooper’s hawk was said to be of one defending its territory or nest. (From a researcher wielding a mic, no doubt.)

A prolonged protest as I neared the mango, which stands next to where the hawks like to perch on the fence: it let me have it.

And I *heard* it!!! It was pitched two notes higher than Cornell’s but that sequence and length were unmistakable. (From Wikipedia: the males are higher-pitched than the females. Curious.)

I walked back across the yard and likely out of its sight under the awning, then reappeared again with the first frost cover and walked back towards the little tree–and again it demanded I know that I was intruding and this would not do. And I imagine it wanted its dove back.

It was coming from the redwood tree, quite close. So there were two present, then. Cool.

I got the cover over, then the second, but decided I would check the weather report and put off doing the third layer for now and let them be. (I did end up adding it later–it’s cold out there.)

After all this time I finally got to hear my Cooper’s hawks! And I think I know where they’ve moved their nest to this year, now. Away, at last, from where the corvids congregate when the silk oak is feeding them while the hawk chicks are being raised. Good.



Joel Drucker
Wednesday April 12th 2017, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus

We had a speaker at our lupus group today: Joel Drucker, there to talk about his experiences with his wife having had lupus, the ways in which they coped–together–

–until.

He coped with her death by putting her into writing and continues to heal now by sharing his story with others. (And by the way, if you see this, Joel, that quote from Dr. Rachel Remen my brain blanked out on? “Meaning is the language of the soul.”)

He had close friends who’d known his wife and would have had every incentive to read his book, and yet. They just couldn’t quite…

He knew that we wouldn’t be put off by it, and he was right. One woman said, We have faced death many times and come back, and heads nodded around the room.

(Me, I just have to find out where our long-misplaced Kindle is so I can finally read it.)

My childhood friend Karen years ago gave Richard a copy of Mainstay, by Maggie Strong. Strong, whose husband had MS, wrote that there were many books out there for those who are ill but she’d found nothing for those who love them, for those who are their caregivers on one level and yet are trying to still maintain a co-equal balance in a marriage.

At one point Joel said that after (if I heard right) seven years, it was thinkable at last to consider remarrying. And yet, all those shared memories: no new relationship could have those.

“It would be like stepping into the middle,” I said.

“Exactly!”

And yet. I told him that he was a deeply good man and he would do well when he did take that step.

He looked at me, taking in the measure of what I’d just said. “You met me forty-five minutes ago and you’re saying that about me?” (Like, how do you know I’m good?)

Joan had loved him that much. And I had just been learning how much he loved Joan. Case closed.



Turn a route is fare, pay
Tuesday April 11th 2017, 10:32 pm
Filed under: History,Life,Lupus,Politics

If you can stand another United story to go with all the others out there after they beat up a doctor for refusing to be bounced from a flight because he said he needed to see his patients in the hospital in the morning. Two days later he was still in the hospital himself. (United’s own carrier contract I am told says that once you’re boarded in your reserved seat it’s yours.)

“Because it arrived at the time you wanted.”

That was the excuse United gave me for what they’d done.

Remember that bit of a whine over the price of the airfare to San Diego for this past weekend? When I was booking tickets a month ago, I blinked at Southwest’s cheapest “Wanna Get Away” fare that was over twice the usual and googled to see what else might be out there.

United’s fare was better. Huh. Okay, so I typed in the specific airports I wanted to leave from and go to, SJC to SAN, and what time I wanted to get to San Diego by: the kids had wanted Grampa to see Parker’s 9:00 game. (Grandma here crashed on the couch for that, safely out of the sun and needing that nap and everybody understood.)

Top of the page their site took me to, it said San Jose to San Diego in big letters, with a list of flights below. Alright, then. Did I want to buy insurance against having to change or cancel my tickets? $40, but with my health, I had to say yes. (Southwest doesn’t charge you for changes or cancellations; they apply your fare to future flights if you’ve gone with the cheapest, non-refundable option. United stiffs you while reselling your seat unless you’ve shelled out that extra.)

I hit confirm to both and only then did it say I was booked for SNA. Orange County. Two hours away. That’s the same thing, right?

I got on the phone immediately and made them deal with my deafness and demanded that they refund that ticket instantly. This was so deceptive. This was an unbelievably bad user interface and why in this day and age hadn’t they fixed it? Right there at the top of the page in bold, it said I was booking for San Diego. Unbelievable.

They did refund me instantly but said I’d have to undo the insurance through a separate company. They, too, said they’d make good on it. Okay, but this should never have happened.

“Because it arrived at the time you wanted.” Never mind that the time to get set up with a rental car and then drive it south for two hours meant that there was no physical chance of getting off that flight and getting ourselves to San Diego by, y’know, the time we said we wanted to be there. I asked again why it offered me the wrong flight and they said because they didn’t have one directly to there at that time so they redirected me to one that did land at that time.

The mind, it boggles.

We flew Southwest.



So hurry up already by taking it easy
Wednesday March 01st 2017, 11:16 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Knit,Lupus

Randomness:

Woke up in the night aching and wondering how on earth the bed got so painfully hard–oh. It’s a fever, and oh fun, the brainstem doesn’t want me to breathe on my own (not an entire shutdown, but too close), so, an autonomic nervous system flare to go with. Same old same old, diagnosed fifteen years ago with a blood pressure reading of 63/21 during a tilt table test. Y’know, that’s the lupus symptom I like the least.

But then I did okay today and am hoping that that’s the worst of it.

Meantime, a closeup of the flowers on one side of the second peach tree, with the third, fourth, and fifth peaches soon to burst out in tandem while the honeybees next door were zooming all day around their hive near the fence like electrons around a nucleus, radiant in the sunlight.

Maybe I can get the latest purple cowl off the needles tonight–there are only a few rows’ worth of yarn left in that skein.

We have tickets for our friend Russ’s concert Saturday  that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time and I really need to be fine by then.



Pink P-hats
Friday January 20th 2017, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Knit,Life,Lupus,LYS

I love that yarn stores across the country were reporting shortages of pink yarn, and that Malabrigo dyed extra due to the demand, sure that it could not arrive in time but people were asking for it anyway.

I laughed at reading that the chunkier yarns went first. Well, yes, you can knit those faster.

The original pattern, for which the New York Times said Malabrigo Rios was the recommended yarn, was as simple as it gets: knit a length with ribbing at the ends, fold it in half and sew the sides and let the ends of the square stick out for the ears once you fit it over a round head. The beginneriest beginner can do it.

I loved the photo someone posted of a planeful of women on the way to the march in DC, some with their hats on for the camera. I grew up in the DC area. I remember the marches and the hitchhikers along the roads afterwards, the sense of being part of history even as an onlooker. I fervently wish I could be there, heck, I wish I could be at the local one but I just cannot risk the sun time with my lupus.

Not to mention that my friend Diana’s memorial service, saved for after the holidays so that people would be able to come, is tomorrow. Diana herself would have changed the date in a heartbeat had she known about the march but it is what it is and I will be cheering her on her way and her loved ones in their grief. And that is how we create the changes for the better around us: one person at a time in each moment as it comes and to the best of our abilities.

I love that Kate at Dragonfly Fibers, in my husband’s hometown of Kensington, MD, posted a picture of 1,500 donated handknit hats, many of them with a note from the knitter to the wearer. She had volunteered to be a distribution point. These had filled her van and she had that many more to put in.

Every single one has been spoken for now.

I love that the project has sparked an interest in knitting nationwide. I love that some entrepreneur designed one fast and got it out there with more realistic ears, mass produced, even if it was $35 and they’d forgotten in their rush to even say what the fiber content was. (So, probably acrylic.) The more hats made, the greater the chance that everybody could have one.

I just couldn’t quite love the idea of putting the Donald’s worst denigration of women on my own personal head. But after the marches tomorrow, I imagine every one of those handknit hats (and maybe even those manufactured ones) is going to be a treasured family heirloom and a proud story for the great grandkids to come. I imagine the knitters of the donated ones and the wearers finding and befriending each other, having already together promoted the ideals our country stands for.

I just so much love that everybody’s doing what they’re doing.

I got requests, and then more requests, and then I would have had to make three for those guys and then for these other guys too and and and there just seemed to be no way to do it right–my heart was with them but if I stopped knitting the afghan I might never return to it. It was a little overwhelming, knitting-wise. I bailed.

I finally wish I’d at least made one, too.

Don’t have any chunky pink but I can double the strands…



At the post office
Saturday December 10th 2016, 12:04 am
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life,Lupus

I had two packages to mail, one heavy, long, and awkward, the other small and easy. As I pulled into the wait-for-a-spot lot at the post office there was this moment of, oh, right. It’s December.

People were pretty crowded together in that long line and I finally said to the guy behind me, not that he had but that I was afraid he would, “If you bump into me I *will* fall down.”

He apologized and backed off a little.

They processed I think two people in the ten minutes after that.

One of my quirks is that if I stand still a long time my low blood pressure starts to drop. Which does not help when you are holding heavy things. And did I mention that just for fun I had a brain MRI immediately before this errand? (Effects from that fall three weeks ago finally got me to let the neurologist run that test.)

Finally I stepped forward apologetically and placed the two packages on the table that the line starts alongside, saying first that I hoped nobody would mind if I put these down?

Note that I still have the black strips of velcro hobbling my rightmost two fingers together, and yesterday I went back in to the doctor to ask if I’d broken my foot, too? Because it’s sure not getting any better. She sent me to the podiatrist, whose take on the x-rays was, Probably. We are waiting on the radiologist. The foot was actually still swollen (I hadn’t noticed or I’d have gone in sooner) and she told me to keep an ace bandage wrapped around it for a week. She decided against the boot only out of fear that with my balance issues it would make me fall again.

So yeah, I was waiting on that line hand and foot, trying to hold that eight pounder and the cane in the other hand and and and. Yeah. That table up ahead looked really good to me.

A man further forward who turned back to say sure, put it down, took one look at me and offered to switch places in line. I was quite surprised, and then I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I was.

It was amazing to see all the stressed faces in that line visibly relaxing on the spot. The place felt different now.

A few minutes later, the man whom I’d asked not to bump me finally got up to the end of that long table, where he went searching for a pen so he could fill out a form without holding everybody up once he could get to the clerk–but the chain ended in nothing. Gone.

I fished through my purse till I found my Lisa Souza Dyeworks one and handed it to him. Paying it backward.

He gave it back when he was done and struck up a conversation. He was genuinely curious about my wavery unsteadiness, and I explained briefly the car accident and the neurologist saying it had severed the connections between the balance and visual centers of the brain, so, more visual stimulation, more trouble standing. (Sitting I’m fine.)

Had it happened locally? Yes, on X street where they’ve since changed the traffic patterns to separate away the school traffic (in part in response to my being sandwiched there.)

By this point we were friends. He looked me in the eye and asked, carefully, Maybe it’s time to consider a walker?

I’ve been resisting that, I admitted, looking back into his.

And in that moment at last I knew. Yes, there are times I do need one. Yes I’m way too young for that sort of thing, but yes, life happens and I do not want to break any more bones. Richard had brought up the subject just yesterday. This man’s question felt like a confirmation.

Not sure I can pull off doing two hands on a walker and one on the Costco cart but that’s where I most need one, but, anyway. You heard it here first. I admitted it here first.

I fished through my purse again and turned back to the guy who’d given me his place in line: a colorful parrot finger puppet, in thanks.

His face lit up: My little girl will love this!

They called me over.

I had not been able to find a box that was long enough and had had the brilliant idea that I could fit two large padded envelopes over the thing, one from this direction one from that and overlapping and taped in the middle and that would do the job nicely.

Why did you do it this way? The clerk asked. Then I have to charge you by the pound! Take it home and put it in a box and then I don’t have to charge you so much! Maybe I could find you a box, do we? No, we don’t have, take…

I motioned towards that long line and said I didn’t want to make people wait as she fussed over the thing. (And I REALLY did not want to again stand a long time holding that package. I wasn’t entirely sure I could.)

She was, in a word, slow.

(Please just charge me whatever it has to be and get me out of everybody’s way.) I was trying not to re-stress.

She took my money at last and at long last I was done.

The man who’d given me his spot was by now the next person up and he stepped forward to take my place with the most beautiful smile on his face towards that clerk that seemed to radiate for the whole world. And he saved me all over again.