Tuesday August 16th 2016, 11:32 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Got the heart monitor off today. After two weeks it feels strange somehow not to have it attached.

I sprinkled the white afghan with a bit of water and then more water to see how much the lace would spread out.

It didn’t. At all. The stitches settled into place nice and flat but the motifs certainly grew no bigger, much to my surprise. I really had knit it tight–but there was just no getting around the fact that that meant the piece was a little shorter than I wanted.

Two days, thirty-two rows, six and a half inches and another pattern repeat later, and this time the lacework part really is done. It had needed it. An afghan should cover your feet and go up to your chin and with a fabric so beautifully drapey, it should puddle around you a bit, too, be lavish not stingy, a little extra all around. I am so glad I did that last repeat, and one absolutely can’t complain about getting to knit cashmere and silk.

A little seed stitch in the morning, a little edging, and it’s one for the history books.

Monday August 15th 2016, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden,Life,Wildlife

I picked up a peach this morning from last week’s box from Andy’s and put it right back down: an impressive puddle had been hidden under it–we should have eaten that one four days ago. I guess we handled it too many times trying to find the softest and ripest. There was a heartfelt thought of, oh if only…

I don’t feed the squirrels but I just couldn’t toss it. Not one of those peaches.

Maybe it would encourage them to search for food away from my ripening figs? Right? So I put it in a bowl so it wouldn’t weep across the carpeting and took it to the farthest point in the yard from my figs and the neighbors’ tomatoes over yonder and put it on a stump, the remains of one of the fence-threatening trees we cut down two years ago to make way for replanting in fruit trees.

I went out this evening to check if it might by any chance still be there, unnoticed.

As if!

You can see where more of that pink juice ran out onto that stump. It took me a moment to find the pit a yard away and yes, it really is that red.

But what is funny and intriguing and quizzical is this: a gently rounded stone with no sharp points had been placed right where I had put that peach down. It was definitely larger than the pit. It couldn’t have gotten there without that peach having been gotten out of the way first. Wherever it had come from it had not been there before and I don’t know how far they’d had to carry it and it would have been heavy in their mouths for getting it up and onto that stump.

But they did.

They left me a tip.

Two for us today
Sunday August 14th 2016, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift

Random thoughts:

I googled why squirrels don’t like figs, because my friend said they don’t, and oh goodness oh yes they definitely do. I guess mine just haven’t found out what they are yet.

So, more acanthus stalks now artfully placed going up the tree trunk all around like it’s ready for some Burning Fig festival.

Funky color play with the lighting there (picture taken standing up). I really do need to block that.

Time to wind another hank
Saturday August 13th 2016, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Blog or knit more, blog or knit more…

Kept knitting till my hands made the decision for me. Yay icepacks. Five more rows tomorrow and then I think I’ll add the seed stitch edging across the top and call the thing done. To quote a little more Moody Blues, “What you want to be, you will be in the end.” All along it has wanted to be bigger wider longer than what I’d originally expected and it refused to let me quit any earlier, and I’m glad of that now.

But it seems incomprehensible that I won’t have that project still demanding and nagging and bossing me around–how did that happen already? Mixed with, FINALLY! I’m–well, no, I’m not done. Almost. Close!

Yeah, right, just wait, tomorrow I’ll look at it and keep right on going past that point because I have the yarn and I can.

Maybe, but I don’t think so.

Help me out here
Friday August 12th 2016, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

I figure I’ve put easily over sixty hours into that undyed afghan at this point and tonight I realized that Cat Stevens’ song “Into White” sings in my head when I’m knitting it. Like, All. The. Time. It wasn’t the knitting I was a little bored with, it was its soundtrack. The logical thing to do would be simply to turn on the stereo and drown it out with something else, but, I didn’t. Too busy getting to the end of this row. And the next. And the next.

So I tried to come up with songs I knew that had the relevant word “white” in them, just for kicks. And presto! New earworm!

“Knights in white satin,” (so far so good) “never reaching the end….”  Oh, mannnn….


And maybe there will be more
Thursday August 11th 2016, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Garden

What they were, what they are now.

Burpee’s told me their Pilgrim butternuts start out and stay the color shown on the seed packet, so no, what I was describing was not that and that the critters must have planted mine.

I wonder if they simply had a plant that got pollinated by something they didn’t want. Either way, my six remaining squashes are gradually coming to look like what I want anyway, so, close enough, I figure.

And they’re big
Wednesday August 10th 2016, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden

A few warm days in a row and while all the others sat there green, two of the figs decided it was time to turn reddish brown: one on this branch, one on that. Just like last week. They’re not drooping quite enough yet, though, and when I tested by lifting each one to horizontal they did not come away from the tree.

But one has two tiny droplets of sugar on the outside of the skin halfway down already, something the ones I’ve picked so far have not. I was tempted. It wants to be sweeter still? Okay, I can wait–probably won’t have to for long, like, tomorrow, probably.

My birder friend Alice told me that I would find the birds would go after them but the squirrels somehow really don’t seem to like figs, to which I say well Hallelujah for that! I guess they don’t like the smell of the latex in the sap? They tend to walk carefully around the mango tree not too close and that’s the one thing those two trees have in common.

One of the ripening ones hadn’t even been covered in a clamshell but I guess the jays hadn’t figured out how to get at it among the ones that were. It is now.

I like this idea of them ripening a good snack worth’s for two at a time. I don’t know how long the process will stay that way, but if we get a whole bunch at once I will roll them in melted butter, roast them, and drizzle honey on top. If they need it. Which clearly they won’t.

Go sit by that woman. Right there.
Tuesday August 09th 2016, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

That was the strong feeling.

Urgent Care had told my husband to follow up with a podiatrist on Tuesday and he wasn’t up to driving yet so I was there, too.

Three different medical specialties use the same check-in desk, which is why that familiar face of a perfect stranger was there. I sat down by her. She was about my mom’s age.

We instantly started talking as if we’d known each other forever. I told her, You live on our street! We go past and kind of wave at you all the time, you’re where the road does that steep turn. Do you remember Larry and Terry? We bought their house almost 30 years ago.

She did, and she was pleased to find out why we looked so familiar and exclaimed, I just love our neighborhood!

I do too!

It was only natural in that setting for her to soon start telling me a little of why she was there. First she told me the good parts: that she’d discovered some kind of pooper scooper where she could keep walking her dog without having to bend over.

Does that help?

Oh yes! She told me of some half-way measure her doctor had been doing for her–because she (clearly very much) didn’t want to have a knee replacement.

My mom had that! I told her. She was, let’s see, 83 and it’s been a couple of years; she’s always taken long walks every day and she couldn’t and now she can again and she loves it. No pain!

At that the woman stopped and looked at me like that was something she’d been afraid could never be, so sure of it, had not let herself see how badly she wanted it. I think she’d needed not a doctor but someone who’d been there (if only via second hand.) Someone else who liked to take walks, someone who had made it through the difficulty of surgery and downtime and physical therapy and recovery at that age, who knew it had been worth it. There was this sudden fierce hope in her eyes that didn’t want to let mine go.

Right then they called Richard and I told her how glad I was to finally get to meet her and hurried off after him.

Monday August 08th 2016, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life

A few more thoughts on Saturday: my hubby wanted the traditional family Emergency Room Medicine–which means a cone of ice cream on the way home. I had no interest but he’s the one who went through all that, so, hey. Tradition. Sure. I stopped at a Coldstone Creamery, ran in, got his favorite and ran out.

Then to the drugstore to get his phoned-in prescription at the only pharmacy for many miles around that was open at nearly 8 pm on a weekend.

Your insurance will refuse to cover it, they told me, because we’re not in their network.

You’ve filled it already?

They had. CVS *might* still be open, he said. Probably not. (The doctor had said he was phoning it to that Walgreens because he thought they were the only place in four cities that would be.)

And if it’s not… And even if it is. I was so very very tired, and more importantly, his very life might well depend on getting that med in him quickly. “It’s under a hundred? Fine. Go.”

I got back in the car where Richard was still trying to keep his foot propped up as best he could in that space and went off to Trader Joe’s: we had to do some grocery shopping, and we had to keep going while we were going because collapse was so close.

The innocent clerk with the gentle smile asked me, “And how was your day?”

I will forever be grateful for that and for his listening; I tried to keep it brief.

I started loading the car and Richard said Michelle had gotten stranded and had been trying to reach us and we had to go get her right now. He was worried and pushing me to hurry.

I stopped right there, having not had lunch yet and the sun was nearly set on this fine summer evening and said firmly, “I am going to drink something and I am going to eat something or I am going to burst into tears.” I considered what I’d just bought and realized it was his favorites to make him happy with–but no drink. I have this drink 8 oz every two hours or your kidneys fail thing going on for life, this was serious. The clinic’s drinking fountain had been awhile ago at this point.

He handed me a ten and I dashed back inside. I grabbed a mango smoothie and another clerk saw me coming and opened a line just for me and got me out of there fast (blessings on her! I think she’d overheard the earlier conversation.) I chugged it fast, we got to Michelle in no time, and then at long long last we made it home.

Where I wondered why on earth I hadn’t bought one of those two-minute bags of microwaveable dinners they sell, and generally pretty good, too.

Actually yeah I did. Richard found that grocery bag the next morning after it had been left out all night.


And then.

Then there was the respite of the rest of Sunday. Church. Old friends, new friends, the services themselves.

A couple was visiting from out of town and I had this flash as the man’s eyes briefly met mine, of, Wait. I know you. Weren’t you at BYU with me? (I didn’t quite say it out loud. I’ve pattern-matched wrong on faces before.)

And thought, naaaah, couldn’t be, that guy’s way too old.

….. *blink* ….

But surely he…the Wilkinson Center, yes…

As it sank in: Wait, *I’m* that old. (Did you forget that little detail, hon? I mean, really?) Helped by the fact that meantime he’d done that same double take and flash of recognition.

Oh well, by that point it was too late to chase after them with any sort of dignity, so, that was that. At least now I know he grew up to be someone with deeply kind eyes. His wife does, too. It helped so much, and they could never know.

This morning the deep purple in the toe area, the fierce swelling in the reddened foot and lower leg: those are gone. His color is normal, normal everything as if all that hadn’t happened. He was still wiped from fighting back the infection along with the antibiotic, but he’s going to be okay.

It was one of those times when life says, Take nothing for granted. Hug your dear ones. Be kind. Be grateful.

Five filled in, nine left
Sunday August 07th 2016, 11:38 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Family,Friends,Life,Lupus

IRhythm, it turns out, has nothing to do with music.

Me, Tuesday evening: So it’s really cool, see, the new ones, you don’t have to have a landline to phone in the results every night and there are no wires or anything! (Having done this twice before in 25 years.)

Richard: That means memory has improved and gotten cheaper.

Me: Not to mention the rest of the technology. (Wondering if this was my friend Alan’s startup, it being his kind of thing. Silicon Valley can be a small place.)

I said to the tech at the time, Tell me, how does it stay on for two weeks? I have to change my stoma barrier for my ileostomy every three days or it starts to give way. Granted, it’s got digestive enzymes coming at it all the time, but still, three days vs. two weeks? Doesn’t the skin shed it by that point?

It should hold, he answered. If an orange light comes on that means it’s not right against the skin and if that happens we need you to tape it on. Do you have anything that would hold it well…?

Uh yeah I’ve got some old stoma barrier stuff I can cut up no problem there.

They saw that pulmonic heart valve being officially “moderately” antsy on an EKG once years ago. The next time they EKG’d it it was fine. I’ve had a right-bundle-branch block, I’ve had it almost disappear while I was on an anti-tumor necrosis factor med. Lupus is ever the hit-and-run disease.

To back up a bit: I had a longstanding routine appointment Monday with the cardiologist and a cardiac cough episode that happened on cue the day before got his interest. “You haven’t had that for awhile, have you? You go sometimes six months without an episode.” (Meaning, you and I both know how hard it is to catch this in the act.)

Yeah, I do usually get a bit of it in the summertime though because there’s always a little more UV exposure no matter how careful I am.

Then he said all these soothing and comforting things about how it wouldn’t damage my heart.

And then he ordered the heart monitor, which was installed the next day after the insurance agreed. It came with a booklet to make notations in about when, much how, and how long and I was assured it was okay to write down more than what it had room for if I had too many incidents.

Oh goody.

Five days. No orange light yet.

But again, this is all same-old same-old and I’ve debated saying anything here at all. Till I realized that the next time I have to go on the latest and great in heart monitors I’ll want to look up when the previous time was. So you’re stuck with this. Sorry about that.

The plans were not in the plans
Saturday August 06th 2016, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Knitting a Gift,Life

The bottom third of the Indian Free peach is tucked in because that’s where the birdnetting hit the top of it this past spring and after an initial tight squeeze, it grew right on through. Looks kinda like a compression sock on a tree.

And yes that fence is six feet tall and yes it’s eighteen months old.

Meantime my somewhat far-fetched goal for a Saturday had been to do a sixteen-row pattern repeat on my afghan (3856 stitches’ worth) but as we got past noon and there were all these errands to run I was resigned to the idea that it just wasn’t going to happen.

Turns out it was the errands that weren’t going to happen after he got out the red laser pointer thermometer thingy: the next thing you know, he was making a dot on my wool-socked feet. All it needed was a cat chasing it. What?

Then at his.

Why are you…?

Actually, it was pretty genius. His foot with the wound was ten degrees warmer, consistently, and that sealed it: he finally called the doctor.

The doctor: Go to Urgent Care. Now.

Turned out there was swelling above the ankle now and it had gotten much worse over the course of the day.

H o u r s later I finished that pattern repeat a half-minute before the nurse finished winding that white netting tape around and around. But the important part is, another day and he might well have been on IV antibiotics and it looks like we came in soon enough.

Yay $5 laser thermometers. Not just for measuring caramel sauce temps. Yay geek geniuses. Yay for antibiotics that still (hopefully) work.

The Bradfords
Friday August 05th 2016, 11:29 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden,History

Last year they had a drought and a poor crop and weren’t selling the seeds and I just had to wait.

But guess what I just got in the mail. They even came with two empty seed packets to save your own in later. If you want heritage varieties, this is definitely a heritage variety: a soft-shelled watermelon that was the best-selling one of the 1800s and considered the sweetest.

Until the arrival of the railroads induced breeding that was shipping-centric at the expense of flavor (sounds like tomatoes) and the market bottomed out for these.

Just this one family kept growing their ancestors’ variety, 170 years on their land. They got discovered. It had been thought to be extinct.

You can read their story here. And the Bradford Watermelon’s Revolutionary War history here.

They say they get an average of one watermelon per plant. How many gallons of California water to grow a single one? I’m not sure I want to know but I know I want to try. Re saving the seeds, they can cross-breed with any squash plants that might be around and although that might make for some really odd and curious future food I’m not sure I’m that adventurous. Half Bradford and half zucchini? Wait–it IS intriguing…  Baseball bat size for the win! (Yeah, but.)

I’ve got almost a year to figure out how I’m going to keep the critters from eating them.

Defensible thing to do
Thursday August 04th 2016, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Politics

Another ripe fig, and again, very very good.

On a totally different tangent, that title is both a pun and a statement.

I remember a conversation with my favorite high school teacher, Bill Cormeny, the one time I got to see him after I’d graduated from college, gotten married, and, you know, all that grown up-type stuff. He taught history, my mom was in the school’s English department and I was back visiting that day.

He found out my husband was in grad school and thoroughly approved: being married and in school? That’s the way to start out! Teaches you what’s important! Teaches you humility! Teaches you–he chuckled knowingly–poverty.

Man ain’t that the truth. I think this was when we were living on $600-something a month, rent on campus was $200 and we had been married a few years and had an infant. The memorable splurge of a year was when we bought a carton of ice cream. Many times over the years since I’ve reflected on his words and reminded myself to keep holding onto his wisdom, to not let materialism trip me up, because he was right.

That child of ours sent a link today that reminded me of that good man. I’m sure he would love to hear this little bit of new history.

Missouri’s governor with his vetoes was not obeying Missouri’s state constitutional requirement to keep the public defender’s office funded.

I wonder if he ever had to make do on a fellowship with a wife and child, if he ever learned… At least in grad school you have the relief of knowing it’s a temporary thing, but still.

After a lot of wrangling and being ignored, the head of that state office finally hit on a novel solution. The law said he could appoint any member of the bar there to take part if the poor were going unrepresented, and so he did: he ordered Governor Nixon himself to serve in a case.

I like it.

You big lug
Wednesday August 03rd 2016, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends

I said something about her lug.

“What’s a lug?” asked Catherine, picking up her flat of Kit Donnell peaches.

We had already eaten the entire flat of them that I’d bought Friday, the morning after our trip home from Texas (they were that good), and with Catherine wanting some as an excuse went back down to Andy’s today and got more: some for her and some for Michelle and some for us.

“That is,” I told her.

She exclaimed over them, sniffing one in her hand and declaring it was like an eastern peach! Here, smell this! I knew just what she meant. Back home. I thanked her for being someone who was as enthusiastic over a perfect peach as I was.

After she left, though, finding myself unsure about that definition, I went and searched around.

One site says it’s slightly less than a bushel.

Another says it’s a way of packing peaches in particular and can include several layers’ worth. (Nope! Just one, but they were cushioned.) Another said that it was an old Southern term and generally meant a big flat, like what I sent her home with.

Whatever gets that juicy, fragile fruit home safe and sound.

Tuesday August 02nd 2016, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

Just because they can doesn’t mean they should keep at it. Their only reward is seeing the boxes tumbling down.

But clearly the sport appeals to them. At this point we have a lot of green Fujis in the fridge and not a lot left on the tree and what you don’t see there is the ends of the branches that were broken in the act.

On the other hand, stepping a few feet to the right, the squirrels have not yet realized that figs are food–or rather, there was one bite in one very green ditched one on the ground awhile ago and that was that. I left it there so its buddies could all taste it and go eww, too.

And so Richard and I split our first-ever homegrown summer fig today and that, my friends, was exactly what a fig aspires to be. The depth of flavor, the sweetness, the intensity that gives one last did-you-catch-that? at the end. Two more are becoming reddish brown and starting to droop and I’m really liking this idea of my forty-nine more taking turns ripening one by one.

Oh, and, the afghan? Debby’s friend’s ‘what if I wake up stupid?’ comment is exactly why I have to rip immediately when I have to rip.

It’s so good to be able to say I got way beyond those rows today. The yarn held up well to the abuse, too.

Suddenly wondering what knitting needles made out of applewood might be like… I know, I know, don’t encourage them.