The Musk Ox Farm in Palmer, Alaska
Wednesday June 15th 2016, 11:00 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Family,Friends,History,Life,Lupus,Wildlife

Sam, a knitter herself these days, asked us if we wanted to see the musk ox while we were there? She’d never been.

Hey, couldn’t keep her from having that experience, right? And so Saturday we went to the Musk Ox Farm in Palmer and took their walking tour of the grounds.

Domesticating a species takes 250 years, they told us, and we’ve had 50 so we’re on our way but we’re not there yet–so please don’t put your hands past the fences.

(A few days later at a different farm we would be told, as reindeer walked freely among us and looked us in the eye while licking alfalfa from our hands, that the difference between caribou and reindeer was that the reindeer had been domesticated for about 250 years. Alright, I see where that number maybe came from.)

Parents were asked to keep small children close so as not to spook the animals into thinking small creature=wolf. On the flip side, when the man who set up the farm with its first set of animals 50 years ago was approached by a small dog, the musk ox had taken their human’s small size relative to their own as meaning he was defenseless and they closed ranks in a circle around him as they do to protect their young, horns pointing outwards and ready to charge the threat on his behalf.


The white along the tops of the spines of many of them: the guide said they weren’t sure but they think that’s to reflect the sun away during the summers so they don’t overheat.

The curves in their horns? Those tell you about how old the animal is. Short and stubby, you’ve got a young’un; the next year they start to turn forward, and at I think she said four you get those iconic half loops in front. Most of theirs have their horns trimmed to protect the humans but she pointed out this one old guy over there that had the full set.

Back in the museum/gift shop, my sweet husband was the one who picked up the musk ox-topped knitting needles and asked me if I didn’t need these? Then the grampa in him wanted me to take a soft little stuffed one home. And we couldn’t come all this way without some qiviut. We just couldn’t.

We’d just been told about the musk ox playing with a fifty-pound ball given to the farm after the oil pipeline had been built, y’know, something for the animals to play with or rub their backs on or something.

They’d managed to get it rolling down the hill, and bam! Right through the fence! Oops.

So for now, mine is playing with a ball. It’s a deep red. It’s a mere ounce, because I just could not bring myself to spend that much more money on yarn when a single ounce would make me just as ecstatic.

The book? While we were out in the fields (yay sunblock and hats and I’ve been holding my breath but no major flare yet) I’d asked them if they had it and explained that Donna Druchunas, the author, had been the text editor for my own knitted lace book.

They were delighted at the connection and told me enthusiastically, Oh yes! It flies off our shelves!

I had previously wondered what on earth was holding me up that I hadn’t already bought it. Now I know. It was waiting for me to support the husbandry of the very animals Donna had written about as well as Donna herself with that purchase. It was worth the wait.




She saved the day and neither of us knew it at the time
Friday May 27th 2016, 11:02 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Garden,Lupus,Wildlife

1. That Black Jack fig tree planted March a year ago has a tiny fig for fall growing at almost every leaf junction and one single big spring fig left that the squirrels didn’t quite get to before I clamshelled it away from them.

I’ve never picked a fig before. I assume I wait till it’s darkened (given the variety) and softened, right? Still hard as a rock.

2. Somebody went to the AT&T baseball park in San Francisco a few days ago and put their drink down in the cupholder attached to their seat.

And–sorry, couldn’t get the link to the photo to work, it’s inside a Yahoo group–a fledgling peregrine falcon landed and perched on the edge of that clear plastic cup, its talons huge and in each other’s way. A small red straw poked out between its big yellow toes, its big eyes taking in where it had suddenly found itself.

Well hello!

3. And most important to me. My friend Carol is a knitter whom I get to catch up with every year at Stitches and, when I’m lucky, by random chance at Purlescence during the year. She worked on the recovery post-earthquake and tsunami of the nuclear power plant in Japan (side note to my local friends: that Carol.)

Ever since I met her years ago I’ve been trying to put my finger on just who she reminds me of. And now I know.

Yesterday I was off to see my much-loved Dr. R, the doctor who saved my life in ’03, to wish him well in his imminent retirement. I left early because there was no way I was going to be late for that one.

Which means I had time.

I stepped off the elevator to a very surprised face as someone did a double take at seeing mine. A lupus event damaged my visual memory years ago: I was stuck on, Carol? Wait. That’s not Carol. So, so close, but no. I know I know…!

As the woman in great excitement started catching up with me almost instantly the question was settled. Heather! I hadn’t seen her in 24 years! She’d been a lifeguard at the therapy pool where I met Don Meyer and his wife Amalie the year my lupus was diagnosed.

“Your face is the same! It hasn’t changed!” Heather exclaimed.

Everybody who had attended that now-closed pool had to have a prescription to get in and everybody knew it: for the most part the people there were the types who looked out for each other. It was a good place.

I told her I’d run into Don a month after Amalie had passed and that because of that, he’d had some support in his last five years. (I didn’t add that his son had moved in at the end to take care of him nor about his setting up a blog with our encouragement here and all the interaction he got from that–sometimes the details are too many and need to wait for later, so I’m putting these in here and hoping Heather sees it.)

Amalie was gone. Don was gone. She took that in, sorry to hear it.

I got to see happy photos of her sweetheart and her son.

And I’m just now realizing I can’t believe I forgot to tell her that Conway? Remember my tall, large, stooped, slow-moving, cheerful friend Conway who used to chat with me every day after his exercises? They’d thought he had ALS. Turns out he’d had bone spurs growing into his neck and spine, which they operated on and he started to regain mobility before he died. From a heart attack at that pool. I was across the country at my 20th high school reunion, but I’m told the lifeguards, joined soon after by the paramedics, did CPR for 16 long minutes trying to save him. She might well have been one of them.

If you read this, Heather, his widow moved to San Diego to be near her grandkids. Then she passed. Then her granddaughter there went off to college–and met my son: and they are the parents of my three sweet little grandkids, ages 1, 3, and 5.

Small world.

I got to see Heather today.

Small world.

Who told me who her favorite doctor was, so much so that she drives in from across the Bay to be seen by her.

I asked Dr. R. whom I should go to should my Crohn’s come back; he demurred a bit and asked which others had I seen–at the hospital, the clinic, whom had I liked best?

It had been seven years since my surgeries but Heather had reminded me of that one that had done my throat endoscopy and I said her name.

He was pleased. He told me she was very good and that I would be quite happy with her.

And between my experiences and Heather’s, I knew he was right.

And I probably would not have thought of her first had I not run into my old friend, been recognized by her, and had the time to talk.

Tuesday May 17th 2016, 11:11 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Lupus

Since when were there no direct flights? What happened to them? I had to take Salt Lake to Phoenix to home.

I’m very glad now I did.

As I sat in the first airport yesterday a man walked briskly up and asked if I minded if he sat next to me. There was a small gap between the two seats and of course, no problem, and his friend appeared a moment later and sat down on the other side of him. He too appeared to be the outgoing type.

Which is probably how the woman who sat down a few minutes later next to that guy suddenly burst into tears and sobbed out her story, all pretense of control in public dissolving away.

After a few minutes I leaned over to the man nearer to me and told him, “I’m hearing impaired. I can’t hear what she’s saying and I don’t want her to feel isolated.”

He said he couldn’t hear it all either but that there had been an accident in Moab and one of her loved ones was involved. “Bad one,” he added quietly, “I heard about it. One person died.”

We looked at each other, so sorry.

He decided I could be trusted with his story and that it was the place to tell it: his infant son had seemed to be fine…till suddenly at six months old he was in the hospital needing heart surgery. They had had all these wires and things attached to him and the sight of it was just so hard.

His baby boy reached his arms to his daddy, his whole body pleading fervently, Hold me Daddy. I need you.

And he wasn’t allowed to.

They wheeled his son away.

He had had to go down to the hospital’s garage to deal with the car (move it, feed the meter, I wasn’t sure, but the incongruity of the importance of it to those who manage such things was just blowing him away in those moments) and as he stepped into that garage it just washed over him that this was life. It was out of his control. All he could do was live it and do the best he knew how and it was enough.

“It’s in the hands of God,” I answered.

He held me in his eyes, affirming.

“My son’s fine now; you’d never know it. He likes to play basketball.” He laughed a little, the joy at the possibility measured against the memory’s pain.

I told him, “Two years ago, we got the call no parent wants,” and I described a little about my daughter’s being hit on the freeway. Physical therapy is a necessary and ongoing thing, still–but worth it.

“Two years?”

“Two years.”

He took that in.

I started digging around in my purse that at times like these just seems too big. Hmm. Maybe I did give it. But no, it was bugging me, so I looked again–and I found it. It had to be that one. For whatever reason out there it really had to.

I grabbed my cane and walked over to the woman who’d been crying. In my hand was a small very vivid pink knitted octopus with a tiny black hat (I have to wear a hat in the sun, lupus and all that) and that pink was very much the color of the shirt she was wearing. “This is silly, but,” I said in a quiet voice that affirmed that no it was not as I opened my hand and offered it to her.

She reached for my arms and I into hers and we held each other.

This which I have goes with that which you have. I see you.

As I sat back down in my own seat the young man to the other side of me, who up till then had seemed engrossed in his phone, touched my shoulder ever so gently. I turned to see him and he told me, Thank you.

Last call for flight # (whatever) to City (whatever).

We were at gate 14. The two men who’d started the conversations suddenly realized that this whole time they’d been in the wrong place and grabbed their bags and dashed across the aisle to gate 15 in time. Close!

You know they were where they were supposed to be when they were needed right where they were with us.

The airline pre boarded me and I sat on the second row where I wouldn’t slow too many people down.

The woman who’d gone through so much this past weekend went past a few minutes later, saw me, and made sure I saw her telling me, Thank you.

I wanted to thank her. She’d let me.

The young man who’d touched my shoulder, he came down the aisle a little after. I was ready for him. A small alligator, and bless him, his face lit up in gratitude that he would have the perfect memento of all of us strangers wanting to come together for her in those moments as he accepted his small finger puppet.

I had to enlist the help of the young woman sitting in the middle seat to get it to him and explained, “He was very kind.”

“Do you give those to everybody?” she asked, amused, having no idea as far as I know of the context of all that.

I considered a half second. “Pretty much!” and found her one.

She loved it.

Balm of Gilead
Sunday March 13th 2016, 9:48 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life,Lupus

We had stake conference today, which is when a group (i.e. a stake) of wards (i.e. congregations) all come together for a really big joint meeting. Happens twice a year.

Parking is a bit of a zoo and it lets out at noon: a bad time sun-wise for a lupus patient to have to take a long walk, and so as is our usual we decided to get there about forty minutes early.

And as is our usual I brought something to work on before the meeting started, the cowl I’d begun right before we’d left for Salinas yesterday. I was quietly working away on it when the stake president walked by, shook our hands, pointed to the project in my hands and said, We’re going to be talking about that.



Okay, this I wanted to hear.

He spoke last in the two-hour meeting and in the course of his talk he told the tale, sharing a few more details with me afterwards, knowing I’d be interested. (Not so much so as to give away any hint of who it might have been; he simply chuckled fondly when I eagerly offered to share yarn or at least my sources of the good stuff. I’m sure if she wants to know, he’ll make sure she finds me.)

A woman had come to him for counseling. She had had some experiences that had left her struggling with an unwanted sense of bitterness. She had come to him seeking a blessing.

And after hearing her out, he offered up that prayer with her.

And in that prayer he found himself, quite to his surprise, telling her she needed to knit.

That was it. Just, she needed to knit.

I asked him afterwards, Was she someone who used to and her hands had bothered her and she was hoping for healing? Or…?

No, he smiled at me, she never had. This was new.

Now, as he said to the congregation, My mother doesn’t really knit. My wife and sister don’t really knit, I mean, they have, but they don’t… And my daughter has, a little. (He was struggling to describe a Knitter with a capital K without having really experienced one personally, but he knew there were such people and that those who were would instantly understand, and probably everybody else who knows a real Knitter. Or Crocheter for that matter.)

I asked him, So did she?!

Oh, yes! And he told me how she’d made things for all her friends and had created so much happiness around her by it. As he said it, he knew that I would know exactly what that would be like. Even though he doesn’t really know me.

But he knows that I knit, and he understood.

Playing hairdresser
Tuesday January 12th 2016, 12:04 am
Filed under: Family,Garden,Life,Lupus

Well, that certainly worked.

He called me at about 4:30: there was a meeting about to start, please pick him up an hour late.

I checked the UV index: a grand total of zero. January, you’re wonderful.

I had enough lupus-friendly sun time to get out there and prune all four peach trees. A little more off the top here, trim this side a bit more… No pictures because there just wasn’t enough light by the time I finished, but I am quite pleased. I did it and it looks good and all the growth buds are pointing in the right directions and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

And we’re off to a good new year.

Heard that one coming
Sunday January 10th 2016, 11:54 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus

I went to the audiologist this past week, concerned that perhaps my hearing was getting worse?

Looking the thing over, it only took him a moment: no, actually, the problem is this is broken.

With my pair of hearing aids, there’s a speaker in the aid itself, which is normal, and one in the earmold too, which was a novelty when these came on the market three years ago. (Maybe it still is, I don’t know.)

The tiny filter piece had gone missing, I knew that, and for all I knew it was still in my ear. He looked: nope. But under where it was supposed to be there was supposed to be a spring keeping that first speaker at a particular distance but that speaker was quite dislodged. The only thing for it was to replace the whole thing.

No earwax in the way, good: and so he injected my ear with pink blob and had me wiggle my jaw around while it dried to help shape it so as to be comfortable when I’m talking or eating. The model got sent to the manufacturer and the whole process would take about a week.

I had him make two, as long as he was at it, both of them going further into the ear than my current ones. We know from three years ago that doing this delivers a lot more sound. But also that they hurt to wear if I’m not really really careful, because of the whole connective-tissue-disease thing that wants no pressure anywhere especially from hard objects like these. No fiddling with the things. This time, at least, I know all that going in: if I irritate anything it means several days of not wearing them at all while it settles down and maybe even having to give up again and go back to shorter ones, so let’s just not. I want to hear everything possible.

This could actually be the start of things being much better–I think I need to tamp down the hyperactive hope a little bit because after all, once I get used to them they’ll simply feel like normal. But a much better normal, hopefully.

So you heard it here first: when it comes to hearing aids, I totally broke the mold.

She was all about the joy
Wednesday December 23rd 2015, 11:46 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Lupus

No matter how ready you think you are, when house guests are coming you keep seeing one more thing that needs to be done. Oh yeah and that too. And that. And endlessly that.

In the middle of the madness we decided to do what we had decided not to, yesterday–going near Costco? Were we crazy?

Yeah a little bit.

Then when we were just getting back to the car to load it up I suddenly knew exactly why we had needed to come, and not last night but now: she was just arriving and had parked a car or two further down from ours on the same side, same aisle. The choreography of G_d, right there.

It was my kids’ old high school French teacher. (Flipping through old posts…) I guess I didn’t write about it…

About a year and a half ago? After three years of abnormal blood tests, I got sent to the hematologist and that means in the cancer department. Saw him twice, didn’t have to have a bone marrow biopsy after all to rule cancer out (phew!) and I got off lucky.

But as I was coming out from what would be my last appointment with him, there she was in the waiting room. We both did double takes–my hair was gray and a little longer now, and she was the last person I would have expected or wanted to see in that particular space–and then she had me sit down (gladly!) next to her and we caught up until they called her name. And when they did, I said to the nurse, “She was my kids’ favorite teacher!” Which is true. They adored her. Two of my kids scored seventh and eighth in French proficiency in all of northern California and she is the reason why. She totally rocks.

She had already gotten her results when I saw her.

Her tests hadn’t come out as well as mine. I was so glad I got a chance to bring some joy to her day in that place at that time by bearing witness to who she is.

She has quietly been in my prayers every single day since.

She saw me first today, waved hi as I blinked in surprise and ohmygoodness! and we threw our arms around each other. She was still here!!! She looked great!!! And shopping! At Costco! The day before Christmas Eve! Brave woman. It takes a certain level of health, too. Having some experience at being a patient myself those were not the things that actually came out of my mouth, just, How ARE you?!

Our kids and hers are all coming home for Christmas and she was so happy for us that we got to have that joy too!

The parking lot was crazy with a line of cars waiting for me to get in mine and get the heck out of their way and we kept it far too short. Bone marrow transplant in January, she said…

And it wasn’t till after we left that I realized that with my hearing and the freeway running close by I wasn’t totally sure whether she meant last January or the coming one. But I can tell you this: she’s clearly ready for anything now.

I remember when being able to run a single errand was a triumph over lupus
Thursday November 12th 2015, 11:28 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Lupus

Dropped Richard off went to the clinic went to pick up my new glasses prescription went to the approved pharmacy across town went to the bank got a receipt for that check and the small Martingale royalty check eight years after publishing was fun too went home hugged daughter dropping by for a moment called the audiologist got told oh oops our bad come back and we’ll fix that for you put the laundry in the dryer grabbed a bite of lunch drove to Los Gatos got the filter put back on the hearing aid that they forgot while cleaning them yesterday went to the bird center as long as I was there anyway got birdseed had them put it in the car left birdseed in the car for the weight and the recent mild back injury tried new glasses on went oh wow how far away is the floor put new glasses back in new case put old glasses on have to drive you know wished again I could settle on what to start for my next carry-around knitting project started more laundry grabbed Time magazine disappointing knitters worldwide picked up Richard from work read while waiting put laundry in dryer made dinner covered mango tree did dishes vegged out at the computer a bit

and oh right I’d better go make that bed now that the sheets are fresh. Extra covers for the mango and us at 38F already out there. Brrr. Done. G’night.

Opportunities knocking
Friday October 02nd 2015, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus

Way too much sun today. Hopefully it will turn out just fine.

The doorbell rang 3:30, 3:45ish.

My first impulse was to point apologetically at the no solicitors sign and he was leaving but something propelled me to open the door and call after the guy.

I’m sorry, could you say that again?

Are you interested in selling your minivan?


Okay, that van had been sitting dead in the driveway for two years now, the battery drained well away, with us wondering, should we try to sell, should we donate, should we let it sit and pretend someone’s home when we’re not but hey look at that thing, it’s not fooling anyone. The cobweb on the side handle is a dead giveaway if the dust isn’t and we weren’t about to use drought water on it.

It’s got a bad transmission and a bad axle, I warned them, and look at those (slightly sagging) tires. It’s a PNO. (Planned Non Operation status with the DMV.) I was in front of the driveway now, talking to what turned out to be a grampa and his son while the son’s wife managed the small children in Grampa’s truck.

The son’s family had just lost their apartment when the landlord had died. And they needed a car with carseat space.

Father and son jumpstarted the thing and with the dashboard alive now, Grampa got a look at the mileage, which if I remember right was 115k–not bad at all for an ’00. And it was an Lxi, a nice model, leather seats, heated in front. (The young wife did not look impressed on that last part, but even in this climate I know from experience that she will like it more than she knows yet.)

Grampa was doing the buying and he asked me for a price. I said $500 off the top of my head. Turns out the bluebook for poor condition was $1200, but you know? They would have a lot of work to do on that thing and we both knew it.

Grampa wanted to test drive it around the block and I warned him that if he pulled it out of the driveway it might not shift to go back in again; he was willing to take that risk. He pretty much had to to at least see for himself.

He came back a few minutes later with, Axle?

I reiterated it had one bad axle.


Richard just happened to be working from home today, a rare thing, and I was really glad he was there. His conference call ended and he joined us a moment and pointed out that there were disability plates on the thing and you cannot transfer a title with those on.

And thus began the mad scramble: Friday afternoon. It’s after 4:00. The closest DMV was two cities away across rush hour traffic. The son pulled out a screwdriver (do men carry these, like, everywhere? Like a woman’s bottomless purse? But then wait, Richard does too in our glove compartments. Okay) and he got the plates off the van for me. After saying for two years that we should, I was at long last going to the DMV to have them switch the handicapped plates to the Prius and then the other one would be free to go.

Of course there was an accident on the freeway. C’mon, quit rubbernecking, people….

I got there before five. I actually got in that door.

Her weekend was just about to start and the facility was nearly empty. The DMV lady smiled and handed me a form to sign and a fistful of screwdrivers to take the plates off the Prius, with a, “They BOUGHT that?!” after I described the minivan. I wondered about my hand strength and she wished but said they weren’t allowed to help me. Well that makes sense, okay.

So I got out there and swapped the plates and the dour security guard let me back in and I made it and it was even still before five.

Where are the other plates?

Ooooooh (facepalm)… I apologized for my poor hearing, went back out there with just one screwdriver of theirs this time–they have to let me back in with that, right?–unscrewed the handicapped plates again and the security guard opened the door again and even cracked a smile this time. I thanked him.

I would have gotten the car washed if I’d known. I would have at least washed the plates of the van if I’d known. A few small crumbles of dirt and old rubber from the frames fell repeatedly from the sets of plates, and of course my Prius fob picked today to die: taking it apart to enter with the tiny physical key embedded in it is a fingernail-breaking, long hard process when you’re watching every second on the clock and I simply carried the screws around in my hand rather than trying to put them down inside a cupholder. Because of course today is the day I wore a skirt with no pockets. For the first time, it’s new. With a silk blouse. I was dressed a tad frumpy yesterday and I’d tried to make up for it today. Grease and driveway oils come out, right?

I got out of there at 5:17, the security guard opening that door one last time. They can rush you really well without an appointment when nobody else in their right mind shows up near 5:00 on a Friday afternoon.

They did not give me the van plates back. It was a PNO.

The height of rush hour home: just set the car at coast and brake as needed. Past the bridge construction…

The family came back. The van had no plates. You can legally drive a PNO for one day at point of sale to pick up new plates and registration, and our transfer of title will protect them should they be pulled over for no plates that day, and so they left the car here and will pay for it Monday. Monday I will go to the DMV myself with my sale of title form on the pink slip.

Cleaning out the car, I found one of my kids’ high school class schedules tucked in a compartment in the back. That car’s had so many good memories. And now, with a grandpa watching the mechanics on that thing, a new family will grow up with it for as long as they need to.

Nice people. And it feels like they were who it’s been sitting there waiting for all this time. I expect Monday to go smoothly.

Wednesday August 19th 2015, 9:11 pm
Filed under: Food,Life,Lupus

We were all the way to the Aquarium Saturday before I realized I didn’t have a face mask in my purse. I usually do. I like to just go live a normal life as much as the next person so I didn’t think much of it.

I don’t do crowds very well, do I. Pass the grapes (zinc content in a healthy delivery package) and orange juice.

Great Danes
Saturday July 18th 2015, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Food,Life,Lupus

They let you fill out an order online a day or two ahead and pick it up, and I’ve thought many times that it certainly would make sense to go that route.

But twenty-five years of conditioning by having lupus says that today I can do this/tomorrow could be a complete train wreck. Run Go Do Now!

So yeah, spontaneous trips, yes, pre-orders, none yet. It’s life and I’m glad to have it.

Meringue with almond paste mixed in makes for the perfect crunchy texture while at the same time it doesn’t shatter in your face like a plain meringue, and then it has a fruit and almond or plain almond filling at the center. Chef’s Surprise. I’d been craving one for weeks.

And so yesterday in the early afternoon I called Copenhagen Bakery to see if they had any of those left, knowing that they tend to sell out early in the day and the chances weren’t great.

The voice on the phone wasn’t one I recognized. Which is kind of funny, the idea that I would have some idea of who works there, given that the place is a good twenty-five minutes away when the traffic is good. She said they had two there, still.

Oh good! (Thinking, then I can have my meringues and not overindulge, too.) I gave her my name and asked her to put them aside (because I know that they do that) and told her where I’d be driving from to get them so they wouldn’t think I wasn’t showing up. I would be right on my way, then.

One of the people behind the counter when I got there made a point of picking me out of the small crowd to offer to help. She was clearly the manager and she clearly had been waiting and looking for the person who had called, and yes, that was me.

Her shoulders and face fell as she apologized profusely. The two had just been sold and the other woman hadn’t bothered to check before promising them. She was SO sorry, she’d tried to call me to keep me from making such a trip, she knew I must be so disappointed. She was so sorry.

I pictured her in agony with the other woman, going, you didn’t get her phone number? And maybe getting a response of no, why would I ask for it? And then, Oh…

But she’d tried and I was grateful for that, and by taking personal responsibility for it and by wishing so hard she could make it right, that was enough: she made it right. There was nothing left to worry about. I simply looked around at All The Good Things there and told her it was okay–it freed me up to discover something new! Cool!

It was a treat to see her relax. She thanked me.

She told me that this cookie over here was almond paste… Well, hey, that’s close enough, and I asked for two. I found later she’d slipped me three. One of these, too, I said, and over here, what is this?

I found out just what she meant by hazelnut pastry later when I sliced the little thing open with Richard: a thin cookie layer enclosing hazelnut paste–hazelnut paste?!–chocolate mousse on top of that, dark chocolate enclosing the whole thing and a hazelnut topping it off. Wow.

That right there is a whole new reason to drive to Burlingame for way too many calories way too often and I never would have known if I’d gotten what I’d wanted. Wow that was good.

I’ll be back.

I’ll call ahead in the mornings.

Best Costco story yet
Saturday July 11th 2015, 6:16 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life,Lupus

Batteries, sun-dried tomato sauce, shrimp, blueberries and raspberries. (Phew!)

Oh wait no that was mine.

He always did have a sense of humor.

And so. I was heading down the milk aisle when I did a double take and stopped to say hi. Totally out of context (and did he even know I was about as tall as him when we’re both standing?) he was lost for a split second (it’s been a year, but it’s been 25 years) and then he stopped, too. Richard was coming right up behind me just then after looking for something else, his wife was right behind him, and so we got to introduce each other all around.

But the funny part was right off the bat when he put on this fake-panic voice and exclaimed, “Don’t look in my cart!”

Laughing, I assured him I hadn’t, and actually the only thing I did see over his shoulder was baby spinach which reminded me we needed baby spinach so I sent Richard to get some after that little meet-up.

But as we got to the far end of the aisle with them out of sight going the opposite direction, Richard turned to me, not quite remembering, wondering, it having been twenty years since he’d seen the guy, “C’est qui?” (Who was that?)

“My cardiologist.”

Five from my family
Sunday June 28th 2015, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Lupus

So I checked the weather there to see what to pack: summery, yes, but the cousins reunion is going to be way up in the mountains and it’s always cool up there. The cabin that our grandparents owned forever was to be sold when they passed away–and one of the grandkids bought it and kept it in the family and there you go.

A hundred and nineteen today?! That’s thirty-six hotter than here. Yow. Okay, so the rest of the week is only going to be 100. Yay for SPF 100, because that sun jacket layer just got a whole lot less appealing.

Airfare for a holiday week was as soaring as the temps so it’ll be just me going. It’ll be in the low 80s here, meantime, with AC should anyone faint in the sultry heat–I told my sweetie he would be the one in the resort vacation place. (And that I was very glad that this didn’t get scheduled on our anniversary, and thank you everybody for the kind words both on and off the blog re that milestone.)

Seventeen years ago all but one of the cousins made it to the last big reunion on what would have been our grandfather’s 100th birthday. So much has happened in that time. I can’t wait to start catching up.

Fruit of the vine
Thursday June 18th 2015, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Garden,Lupus,Wildlife

Three of the seven peaches gone overnight, of course all the ripest ones. The remainders are even more barricaded in now.

There were some Costco grapes in the fridge we hadn’t quite finished off in time. Most looked mostly okay but it only took one mistake in that last smoothie to doom the rest. Putting them out in the bin though meant risking the sun time or waiting for evening–so they were still in the fridge.

Coming home from knit night I thought, well wait, we could use those after all. Going out by flashlight long after the diurnals out there had turned in for the night, they’re now a decoy in the center of the yard away from the fruit trees: no clamshells, no hassles, come and get’em. Eat your fill. Leave my peaches alone. (Go where the Great Horned owls can see you.)

You know they won’t still be there when the squirrels start to stir.

Suddenly thinking…hopefully that was not a mistake…we haven’t had midnight fights between the raccoon and the skunk so far this year like so many times last year. But if it works, hey, anything to save my Babcocks. Murphy’s law of course is surely rubbing its paws with glee.

Meantime, Sunday is solstice (not to mention Father’s Day), which means we usually see the hawk a lot and in the best years, his mate. It felt like it had been awhile. The ravens seem pretty much gone after fledging, with one lone caaah caaah overhead last night just to make sure I didn’t get too sure of myself on that one.

You called? This afternoon I looked up just in time to see the Cooper’s do a magnificent wide-wing swoop around the hanging suet cake right on the other side of the window from me, in no great hurry and with no one around to pursue, simply a statement that this territory was his and his alone.

A minute later I saw the scrub jay dart into a tree at the neighbor’s and the hawk diving in after.

A jay did show up awhile later but it had the sense to keep its distance.

Wednesday June 10th 2015, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus,Wildlife

So here’s what happened.

I kept waiting for my asthma med to be dropped off by the mailman. It didn’t come. Monday I finally went looking for why. They had not recorded the doctor signing off on the thing, and whether she (likely the nurse) did or not I don’t know.

I emailed her and Caremark, since they hadn’t followed up on it.

Their system said it could not handle requests from this page, do it through that part of their system.

I DID do it from that part of their system! Their UI (user interface) is terrible! Their site is designed to make it even harder to reach them there than it is to sit through their phone tree. I sent again. I got through to someone, but they were not helpful.

So I called them, sitting through endless we are trying not to serve you diversions and finally, finally got a live human being and told them I am too deaf, I tried to do it online, and I’m afraid you are just going to have to put up with me.

She chuckled. Good for her. It helped. And she was very patient with my please-repeats.

I explained that my doctor had filled the prescription but at this point I had two doses left and their mail order system simply wasn’t going to work. Was it true that the prescription could be sent to and filled at the local CVS pharmacy?

Yes it was.

Would you please do that.


So they had that information in their system in two places to the best of my ability and definitely via the phone conversation.

I woke up yesterday to a cheery, We have your prescription and we will be mailing it out some time in the next five days.

Facepalm. I expected this to be here two weeks ago. Think of the potential consequences of not getting an asthmatic’s meds to her in a timely manner as contracted to do.

I printed out the notice to me from the doctor and took it into the local CVS anyway. I explained my problem to the young clerk. She told me I probably didn’t want to wait there, she didn’t know how long it was going to take.

She got every detail right conveying the problem to the pharmacist, who was a helpful, earnest young voice on the phone last night and highly apologetic. He had gotten nowhere with them, and he was having a hard time with that because he knew I needed that med. They had told him there was one last person he could try–in the morning. It was the best he could do.

I thanked him profusely. He’d put a lot of effort into it and that meant a lot to me.

I woke up to an email from the mail-order folks saying they had shipped it.


Meantime, the 32% chance in the forecast of .02″ of overnight rain started at midnight and lasted till about four this afternoon, rain blessed rain clearing the smog out of the air, seven times the amount of water they’d said probably wouldn’t happen anyway. But boy did it. So, so wonderful.

I went off to the annual summer lupus luncheon and had just the best time. Old friends. Good people. Good times. And came home to a message from CVS: they had my med ready for pickup.

YES!!! THANK you, persistent compassionate pharmacist pushing on the big guys!

Was it the three month supply the prescription had been written for? No, just one. He had told me he would be obligated to fill the prescription as it was written but someone above must have decided otherwise.

I’ll take it. I’m taking them at their word that the three-month is actually in the mail like they said. And I will breathe easier tonight.

Oh and on the wildlife front? A mockingbird was displaying its tail again and again as it if were a peacock: this was his place now. A white-breasted nuthatch, and I have never seen one here before! Or never close enough to get to see at all what it was. There was what I think was my first sighting of a western meadowlark.

The ever-threatening scrub jay is gone and the whole bird world turned out to party.