Thursday December 15th 2016, 12:19 am
Filed under: Life

Area service shutdown still ongoing. Still promising to be back up in yet another dozen hours. No access to my mail. Neighbor next door is affected too, neighbor down the street has it slow but still working.

Tuesday December 13th 2016, 12:33 am
Filed under: Knit

Our ISP is having a meltdown in our area and promises to restore service around 1:00 am. I’m just not that dedicated a blogger. Signing off on Richard’s phone’s data usage for the night.

Stanford Hospital
Monday December 12th 2016, 12:15 am
Filed under: Family,Life,Mango tree

It is safe to say it did not get better in the morning. Walking into church, all the colors and the movement and the people and I could barely walk holding onto the cane and Richard both as every muscle kept trying to give way on me. I, um, scared a few people. They felt better after I promised to go to Urgent Care afterwards.

Home first for a moment to get ready because I knew it would be a long wait, where I looked out the window and went oh right and got the silly mango tree covered for the night. Somehow the green (can’t call all of it grass) and the stillness in the yard soothed my firing neurons and it wasn’t too hard. I wanted to be the one to do it.

We headed out.

The doctor at Urgent Care, prodding around: Does this hurt?

Yes, up a bit–here.

Then he said the last thing I ever expected to hear: Do *not* move your head. You might have broken your neck. He called for a c-spine and told us we had our choice of ambulance or having Richard drive me, but recommended the ambulance, but in no way was his facility equipped to deal with this–go straight to Stanford. He would call ahead and let them know.

As Richard put it afterwards, to justify me in my decision and help me feel better about it, If he was sure it was broken he wouldn’t have given us options. The c-spine was on and we skipped the $300 co-pay.

The ER took me immediately in, no waiting.

And then, as one always does there, one waits.

I was glad I’d brought reading material because I wasn’t sure how I was going to knit like that.

The young doctor was highly pleased and relieved to be able to come back and say that the CT results were negative: no broken bones, no bone fragments in the brain, the diagnosis was a pulled muscle in the neck and a concussion.

This was very good news at this point and we all knew it. He took that c-spine off me and at last my neck could relax after holding the one position for hours. I told him I’d been wondering how I was going to be able to wash my hair in the morning and he chuckled. I still don’t know how one does it when one doesn’t get to take it off so fast.

But it will be a good long while before I’ll be in any shape to drive anywhere. Given what could have been, I can live with that.

And the mango tree glows its quiet, warm blue in the night.

Ramping it down
Saturday December 10th 2016, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

We wanted to set up the tree, and we wanted to get some work done on cleaning the garage. We’d gotten a good start a few weeks ago but it was time to get back to it.

Richard at one point slipped on something that had fallen on the floor and did this wild little arms-flying half-dance that I so often do but it was unnerving to see that big guy nearly falling backward like that. Close!

Next on his list was to get the wheelchair ramp back in the garage. We’d loaned it out for awhile, I thankfully hadn’t needed it myself in a very long time, we don’t even own the minivan anymore to use it with and it was past time to get that thing put back away. Glad we had it when we needed it, glad my health is much improved, and we hoped to stay done with it for a long, long time to come.

That thing is seriously heavy. And with its unsteady handle it is very awkward.

Richard was halfway to where he was going with it when I saw that thing he’d slipped on a moment earlier and, waiting till he was enough steps away, ducked right in there to grab it quick–if he fell holding onto that ramp he could do serious damage to himself. (Or not holding it, for that matter, given that he would have put it down by the time he got back to that point. Things you think through afterwards.)

What happened next was that he had to pivot to go around something and the back of the ramp where he wasn’t looking suddenly swung backwards hard against his efforts–bam! into the back of my head as I was leaning over. I screamed out in pain (which very much surprised me–wait–do I DO that?!) as it dropped me right there and I grabbed my head as he put the thing down, coming, astonished to see me there, not even grokking yet what had happened.

We got out of the *bleeping* garage (“I’m not going back in there!” “That’s okay!”) and spent the next ten-fifteen minutes holding each other with me bawling hard in fear as well as pain, him saying he was so sorry, me saying it’s not your fault I didn’t tell you I was coming behind you I should have, I’m so sorry, and all we could do was be there for each other.

That ramp had hit my head where it had smacked the headrest twice in the car accident that had killed my sense of balance. It did not help it. Later calling the cream in the fridge shrimp and then going what?? at myself did not reassure.

He brought me an icepack right after that good bawl and I put it to the back of my head for some time. He cooked dinner. He told me to take it easy.

A note from Holly at just the right time (thank you thank you Holly) allowed me to answer and just spill the whole story and to start to feel the beginnings of being able to cope; I told her I would go fire off a note to my neurologist, and did.

A few hours later, I got the last few rows of that Madeline Tosh ball knitted up into that cowl and bound it off and it was done and someone could love this, and that felt very good, even if I have no idea yet who the who is. I wish I did. It would help.

I’d already stripped the bed and washed the sheets and making the bed had to be done, and I did it after dinner myself, such a little thing but at that point such a great sense of accomplishment. Claiming and clinging to normal life.

Dang. And I had that brain MRI *yesterday*.

We are taking nothing for granted. We are watching carefully for symptoms. We know the drill.

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.

The Santa clause
Thursday December 08th 2016, 9:48 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

I was steadfastly and adamantly a parent who did not tell my kids that Santa was real, ever, to the point of having been told by one of my siblings ages ago not to say anything to her kids because they believed.

Well I did, too, on the importance of the meaning of Santa, and I talked to my kids about that a lot. Starting with peace and going straight to the with goodwill for all men part.

My cousin pointed today to an essay on the subject. It is brilliant. It is exactly what we parents all hope for for our kids. I wish I’d thought of it but I’m glad someone else did.

Stitch consistency: getting it right
Wednesday December 07th 2016, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Knit

Slowly, slowly….

Crunch time
Tuesday December 06th 2016, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

Outside: 35F and going down. (Mango tree: 62F.) I have no doubt this will be our coldest night yet and the mandarin oranges are shivering under their covers, too.

I got a good laugh at my own reluctance to head out for a grocery run–hey, you, didn’t you used to live in New Hampshire? A little perspective check in the video from Montreal: five cars in the snow that got rear-ended by a long bus that got rear-ended by a pickup that got rear-ended by another bus that got rear-ended by a cop car that–

–and you can hear a voice yelling, “Hey! Get out of the car!”

And the cop did, just before the snowplow doing that same long no no no don’t! skid with its tires turned uselessly thataway (c’mon guys, steer into the skid and then away!) smashed the officer’s car.

Drive carefully out there, you all.

And to the Californians: keep an extra sweater or jacket in your car, willya? You never know when someone else who isn’t prepared for real cold is going to need it.

Kids don’t try this at home
Monday December 05th 2016, 11:48 pm
Filed under: Life,LYS,To dye for

Since for the last nearly three weeks the idea of carting a full dyepot around was out of the question, that of course was what I most wanted to do.

So today I just decided I was going to. And then since there was still dye left in that pot, I did it again. And (add the last of that purple in that bottle, I need to remember to order more–I miss Purlescence!) again. I figured that weight-wise, the trick was to spoon the thing over into a second, empty dyepot and carry it and then later the full dyepot separately across the house to break the load down into smaller tasks, and I let the water go pretty low by the end. (One does *not* pour any amount of dye down the kitchen sink. One scrubs the purple porcelain.)

Watching a faded-gray-blue $5 closeout silk T and a mousy earthy-mauve (not my color) $6 eBay v-neck cashmere sweater turn out matching shades of purple to wear together was a lot more magic than I expected to get. Oooh, that’s what I’d always wanted that sweater to be! It was really cool.

But one of the things I’m in the habit of doing when I’m overdyeing sweaters is to tuck the wooden dye spoon under the object and lift it mostly out of the pot right at the beginning and let it hang a moment midair to try to make sure there are no wrinkle lines in how the dye latches on. Stir, lift again.

This did not go so well using, out of habit, my right hand. Which did not hold up its end of the bargains.

Somehow, as I raced for the bathroom for a towel and the mirror, sheerly by the grace of God is the only way I can describe it, only one big droplet of purple landed on my head and it hit exactly in the part line on my scalp.

Not (other than that) in my hair.

This was protein-fibers dye and it was at a low boil, the temp at which it affixes to the material at hand. Or head. Which, however, was not boiling, so maybe a few shampoos should do the job. I got some on my hands too and it’s all gone now.

As far as I can tell it’s off and that is that.

I think, though, that I’d probably better mention it to the dermatologist when she does my annual post-skin-cancer check next week. Just in case she sees that I’m in a purple state.

A scarf for a tree
Sunday December 04th 2016, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Mango tree

Wool knee socks, leg warmers, two layers of wool sweater, scarf, double-thickness handknit wool hat, fingerless gloves, warm jacket–and still I was a bit chilled on our walk tonight. I grinned at Richard, Almost feels like New Hampshire again, right?

He snorted, Not quite!

Me: I knew that would make you guffaw!

The covers over the mango were, as always, held down with a collection of rocks with no air gaps as far as I could tell, held down along the dripline out from the trunk so as to protect the roots. What I did was to go grab a few old covers that were now too small to go over and tucked them in a line going two-thirds of the way around that outer perimeter on the ground. A few rocks on those too so that they wouldn’t end up impaled at the top of the redwood in the middle of the night–just to stay on the safe side.

It turns out that just that little change made the whole thing seven degrees warmer. That’s a lot! And it didn’t cost any extra electricity or put any more weight on the flowers under there.

A combination of, well of course, and, who knew. And–why didn’t I try that sooner? (I’m still a little mystified that it made that much of a difference, but hey, I’ll definitely take it.)

Spreading out the season
Saturday December 03rd 2016, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Garden,Mango tree

The purple becomes orange. I love how the center of the tiny flower looks like a floating votive candle with the petals doing an exuberant Ta-Daaah! around it.

There was a tiny, narrow black streak notching one of the big flower branches this morning, maybe an eighth of an inch long but a sign of cold damage. There, in the center cluster growing almost straight down, above the upper light (they’re not touching) at the next group up. You can’t see it? Good. That branch needs to become strong enough to hold up the weight of a growing mango. I think we’re okay.

A minor part–by no means all–of one of the tomato bushes died overnight, and it looks like it dipped to 32 degrees at that one spot. I still hold some hope of having new tomatoes carrying over into the spring like they sometimes do in southern California.

This happened today on the side of the mango that had been dormant. Whether all the bud ends will actually produce flowering, not just leaves, I guess I’ll find out, but it’s clear they’re each taking their sweet time.

A steady supply of fruit rather than all of it happening at once sounds good to me.

A teddy bear Christmas
Saturday December 03rd 2016, 12:21 am
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Years ago, Richard’s oldest sister made an advent calendar for us for Christmas. The fabric was pre-printed with a cheery scene, a big decorated tree with a teddy bear family below. She lined it, sewed buttons on each day, finished the edges, made a long loop across the top, put a dowel through it and attached a fine rope for hanging the thing.

And then there were the little craft-store teddy bears that she added ribbon loops to for hanging from those buttons, one tiny toy for each of our kids.

One got rescued from behind the dryer one year (I have no idea how it got there) and two walked off and stayed off. They were actively loved. So we have two in the decorations box still, keeping each other company.

We hang her calendar every year in her memory, bringing her back into the celebrations of the season.

Cheryl fought lymphoma long enough to see her middleschooler go off to college and her second son marry a fine woman. I wish she had gotten to hold her grandchildren. But she certainly fought the good fight those eight years. They say they can now often cure the type she had, when at the time, there had been zero cures. None.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee blogged about the advent calendar she just finished for her small niece, knitting a tiny ornament for each of the days. They are SO cute.

We’ll see if hope and intent make it to created reality. I really want to make something like Stephanie’s for my grandchildren. Even if they end up being for next year.

Let’s see, the baby will be seven months by then…

On opening day
Thursday December 01st 2016, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Mango tree,Wildlife

And so it begins.

You can almost see the little dots of purple in those tiny things.

It’s been colder, though, (37 out there right now, 59 under the covers) and I haven’t seen any honeybees on the frost covers in the morning this past week. But if they’re looking for flowers they surely know right where to go. Does it make any difference that the neighbors let the hive that set up camp in their backyard keep all its honey for the winter?

Meantime, the artificial vs real tree debate has been settled. By a beaver. In a dollar store in Maryland. Reaching up to the fake ones, taking a sniff, and declaring a definite opinion on the subject.

(Yes, but no allergies and no massive baby spider hatch-out like that one year. Time to roll ours out and set it up.)