Almost there
Wednesday December 15th 2021, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

The skylights are all in, the last piece of siding got installed, the windows that needed to be replaced have been now (that upper blob on the big one is paint that got smeared because it was coming out anyway) and now the painters can do the last side of the house.

I looked at how the previous contractor had framed the narrower window with that splintered-off piece of wood and thought, yup, that’s him, that’s how he worked.

They took the mailbox off the wall.

The moment I saw it it struck me hard: I don’t have to live with that anymore. Why have I been putting up with that. Out with it. It had once had two curved lower arms to hold magazines, but one fell off some time ago and the mailman learned to jam them anyway till the second fell off.

Then the lid. The hinges died of rusty old age. We’ve been carefully balancing it on top of the box for about a year now, and the mailman helpfully tosses it to the ground rather than covering the mail from the rain. Except on occasions so rare as to be noticeable.

A mailbox. A wall mount mailbox. A locking wall mount mailbox. A decently-designed locking wall mount mailbox. A decently-designed, big enough to actually hold stuff locking wall mount mailbox.

No not 30″ tall! Ohmygoodness. Start over.

I headed out for a quick trip to the grocery store wondering what our guy would do without a regulation mailbox at regulation height. One of the crew had wondered about him finding it, too, and pointed out to me how he’d brought it back to right below where it had been affixed, its topless self opened upwards.

When I got back the worker was gone for the day–and the mailman had leaned over and put our mail carefully in. That was nice of him.

And then, after all that, my husband insisted. I thought it was silliness. He did not want another slumped grumped Christmas and insisted on wrestling the garage for the tree, with the help of Michelle, who is ever so briefly in town on business.

You know what? They were right. We needed that.




Old crank
Tuesday December 14th 2021, 9:29 pm
Filed under: Life

It rained hard yesterday and early this morning, it’s going to rain hard tomorrow and then hopefully/probably all week next week (we need every atmospheric river, creek, and meandering little stream we can get) so after a late start, today was an all hands on deck day. The painters–let me just say here that they are heroes, they were willing to reach into the 4″ space between a towering spiky prickly holly bush and the house to do the job right–told me they want to be done by Saturday and were disappointed the windows weren’t replaced yet nor that piece of siding because they couldn’t do those parts till they are.

While I thought, well, but you were here all last week and you knew the other crew wasn’t while they waited for the parts. And that the problem with yesterday was that it rained cats and dogs.

Half-literally: with the help of the mud for the digging I looked up at one point to see the neighbor’s new dog romping in my yard, thrilled to explore new space (happy birthday to you too!) and then suddenly stopping to stare at me, like, Wait. You’re not my owner. This isn’t my house?! He raced around back to the other side. I stepped out the door over there now. It IS that lady’s house! And he scrambled over to the newly-enlarged gap we’ve been talking about getting fixed and back to his side of the fence.

Just as well there weren’t any open paint cans or precariously-leaned glass yesterday. So many opportunities missed. Right?

The siding is done. So are half the skylights. No on the windows, sorry.

I walked around to admire the work after they’d all left in the late afternoon and went, Wait. They left the stickers on??

It seems to me there are two types of glue: the type that dissolves right away if water touches it. And the type that immediately pitbull-jaws onto whatever it’s stuck to. And those are at roof level.

I don’t expect anybody to show up tomorrow, but the rain will.

And that is actually quite a lovely thing to be able to say after the extremity of the drought.

The doorbell rang at one point. The guy came in to make sure the skylight with the inner screen in the kitchen was squared up from the inside as well as out, and asked me, How does it open?

I grabbed the extender thingy that reaches way up and hooks onto the bottom of it so you can crank it open or shut when you’re trying to avoid the smoke alarm going off.

No, no, he meant which side do I want it to open from?

I guess this side like it was so the water doesn’t come in when you open it, except that you wouldn’t open it if it were raining anyway so I don’t think it matters except that we’re used to it being this way.

Great. That way it is.

Everybody called today
Monday December 13th 2021, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Life

So I was submitting a happy memory of a story yesterday to somewhere that asked for submissions of such (if that somehow doesn’t go nowhere I’ll let you know) and their questionnaire asked you to tell them your age.

They’re on the east coast. They wouldn’t be reading it before morning.

I stared at that screen for a minute or two, trying to decide: do I answer what I am as I’m filling out their form, or with what the answer will be when they see it?

What the heck, why not, and I aged myself a dozen or so hours forward and called it good.

A concerted effort
Sunday December 12th 2021, 8:53 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

In the springtime before Covid my niece Emily, who hadn’t had a flu shot, caught the flu and ended up in the ICU for some time with sepsis. It cost her the last joints on most of her fingers and her toes, but she beat the odds and survived.

She’s a piano teacher.

She adapted an old Christmas song for how her hands are now and played it as an offering to the world for sheer joy and gratitude and I thought, how many kids get to have a teacher who has so much love and so much for them to learn from.

It’s not just the ability to play, it’s the power to share your innermost music with the people around you.

Saturday December 11th 2021, 11:08 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

The forecast said a small-scale atmospheric river Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, about 2.5″ worth.

The boss man showed up at the end of the shift yesterday, gathered everybody around out there and clearly polled them.

And then came and asked me a favor. Would it be okay if they worked Saturday rather than Monday? So as not to be painting in the pouring rain?

It made a lot more sense, if they didn’t mind, sure!

And that is how, with curious eyes on the other side of the glass quietly noting the afghan’s growth, I have two layers of dreidels vs Thursday’s one (I’m counting 9512 stitches per pattern repeat) and having started it Tuesday, it’s past 15″. It’s hit that magical point where it’s self-propelling now. It’s past the, I can’t see how this could ever be finished in my lifetime stage to, ooh, this is pretty, this is so cool, I can’t wait to see this all done!

The house is looking pretty good itself–like it’s brand new out there on the parts that are finished.

(A non sequitur p.s. I blew an order. Chocolate Alchemy‘s default setting is whole beans, I ordered two types, and forgot to change the Zorzal to nibs so we get to finally figure out how to do the entire process of bean to bar by hand. Neither of us would have chosen that extra work but both of us are intrigued. Wish us luck. And I will learn from this to always always remember to change that box from here on out.)

Not mumbling
Friday December 10th 2021, 9:25 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

High-frequency hearing loss is by far the most common type. And what it means is that you lose pieces of words, because consonants are done tongue against teeth and at much higher pitches than vowels’ vibrations in the throat.

So you hear the song of someone’s voice but not the lyrics, and more so the more background sound you add. This is one reason why the hearing impaired are good at picking up other people’s moods rather than what is being said. A crowd is an orchestra warming up. (For Bartok’s Etudes at times.)

I remember sitting on my brother’s bed when we were teens while he played some of his music collection and worked through with me what Elton John was actually singing. And then a song from the next artist and the next but one can only do that for so long in a day.

Now the words are all out there for the reading, and I have to admit I’ve had some serious disappointments on some really beautiful music. Not to mention it’s a pain to have to go look up my earworms before humming them out loud because you never know what they might mean to someone else who can actually, y’know, hear. Being a deaf musician has drawbacks.


There’s been a crew of five prepping and painting our house all week. The kid across the street 35 years ago who bought a paint sprayer to set himself up in business and got our former owner to hire him to douse the house really quick? Uh, no: these guys power wash, scrape, scrape some more, primer, paint, second coat of paint. By hand. And it looks fabulous where they’re finished.

One guy out there in particular is quick to laugh, quick to sing, and occasionally whistles. Now, I wouldn’t know what he was singing anyway and I don’t think it was in English and as I sat there knitting away, singing being a compelling thing, I had visions of adding in a tune or two myself.

In French. Because then the words would be as nonexistent for them as any in English or Spanish might be for me and we’d just meet at the purity of where the tune carries us. Right?

Except the only French song I can remember the lyrics to are–I apologize in advance–Frere Jacque.

Think Chopsticks on the piano.

How about I not.

How now brown cow?
Thursday December 09th 2021, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life,Lupus

It was the last of that jug of milk–it tasted off. I tossed it out, sorry I’d swallowed a swallow and hoping I wouldn’t get sick from it; at least it had been early in that process. I opened a new one.

It was the same.

I wondered if it was the brand/the cow/the feed or what and did those two come from the same place?

Today was the same, only something else tasted not quite how I expected and it hit me with a clue-by-four.

Propafenone HCL side effects, I googled, not sure I wanted to, sure I would find out things I didn’t want to know but I’m one who has to know anyway, so, yeah.

Black box warning? Not my first such. No grapefruit with it? I am definitely not going to cry, although I will miss lime added to things because lime has a lesser amount of the same substance in grapefruit that interacts with various meds. Oh wait that probably means I can’t try my ripening tiny Page tangerines: they’re a quarter grapefruit.

But what I also read is that for people with structural heart damage, the drug is more dangerous, and for people with supraventricular tachycardia, it seems to be definitely less so–and starting it early on in the disease before the muscle weakens is a good thing. (Ya think?) This is all according to Dr. Google, so take it with however much salt you like in your dish.

I had not realized how often how off the beaten track my heart had started to be. The improvement is a welcome relief.

Oh, and, re the knitting: does this kind of sort of look like a spinning dreidel to anyone else?

Wednesday December 08th 2021, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

I wrapped presents for eleven people this afternoon, got them into five boxes, addressed, sealed–yes we do have another roll of packing tape (the starting edge shreds mercilessly) whoops that’s a no yay there’s another!

Had it all planned out down to the long-unused walker in the trunk to get all of those into the post office without losing my mind.

Says me.

Somehow the thing shrank markedly when confronted with all those big boxes, and the swinging backbar kept shoving them off by the side of the car.

A young man saw the little old lady with the walker and came to the rescue, thinking I had three boxes, and was determined to carry the big one in for me. Which is cool, but then I reached back into the car for more boxes (oh) and so he helped me reverse-Jenga those with the others on that thing.

Except for the big one still in his hands. Having offered to help carry it in he wasn’t giving it back. Cool, thanks!

At the counter, the one on the bottom had wedged in there by now and didn’t want to come out and the clerk motioned a plea to–the same guy, it turned out, who ran to help again.

If I’d had a hand knit hat in my purse he might have gotten one on the spot. Or a crocheted scrunchy for his man-bun? (Um, probably not.)

That was likely the earliest I’ve ever gotten everything mailed that needed to be mailed, kids, grandkids, grandkids’ Christmas-week birthdays, sibling and spouse, but then this is the year you don’t want to procrastinate on the post office. Right?

Got home. Sat down. Turned around.

And saw the box I was supposed to mail to my friend Afton two weeks ago.

The Robot Apocalypse dance
Tuesday December 07th 2021, 9:40 pm
Filed under: Life

Fan-wise I’m more James Taylor and Joan (edit: Judy, silly person, Judy!) Collins than Mick Jagger, but, I saved this video while the spotlight was on next door because start it up it was never going to stop and all that.

But mostly just because this is hysterical.

Well that was unexpected
Monday December 06th 2021, 6:59 pm
Filed under: Life

I exercise every day, my weight is good, I eat lots of fruits and veggies and I get to feel like 62 sounds weirdly old for one more week.

Someday I’m going to want to look back and see which day was the day, and it was today, so sorry for this but here goes.

It has been surprising to me how well I’ve held up despite all that intense sleep deprivation I’ve mentioned the last few days; for years now, once you get past two or maybe three nights’ worth my autoimmunity starts to take off. Not this time. Yay.

I hoped really hard that that would hold.

You know where this is heading. Except that I didn’t at all.

This morning started with a small tachycardia episode. I waited a bit, then got up and was doing the usual when suddenly I had to lie down quick before I might faint, only, too bad for you no can do not till this is done (opening the Eakins seal fast.) Ileostomies are a tyrant.

I managed to hold off long enough to get all that done and then after about five minutes in bed, got up again, doing okay now, and re-started my day: watching the clock as it slowly slowly stretched towards 9 a.m. when that office opened, at the speed of a cat that you wish would do something.

The new crew showed up at the door to start the power washing and prep work. Their boss was supposed to stop by with paint chips for me to choose from but I had to say, Sorry, I’m out of here.

They got me right in.

The cardiologist asked me about that big episode: when was it? How long was it?

October. Eleven pm to 3 a.m. I described the symptoms.

His eyes got big. He’d had no idea, and it confirmed for me that I should have gone in right after rather than relying on messages with his nurse playing telephone. I mean, I did, to get the heart monitor he ordered, but I didn’t see him and it wasn’t enough.

And how is it going now?

Mostly okay but the occasional yow. Nothing like that, though.

And then for all the times I’ve wished he would tell it to me straight, that he would scare me when I need to be scared rather than soothing me when that makes it all the easier for me to blow off symptoms as no big deal when they really do need to be paid attention to, he gave it to me straight, in the most soothing and calming way one could ask for because that’s how he rolls.

He drew me a heart. He told me the med I take to raise my blood pressure slows the heart up here and here in the upper chambers. Where the problem is now is down here in the lower. He debated doubling my dose.

I reminded him he’d tried that once (and I wasn’t sure I was going to live through the day. It was that bad.)

Right, that doesn’t work. So, and then he told me about another patient of his my age who’d been on the same med and then gone through the same new symptoms and then had to have this other med too and she’s been on both for twenty years now and she’s doing great!

I noted that he was not telling me the side effects. I also noted that he had previously told me all the others had more side effects than the one I was on, but I did not mention that because hey, if you have to you have to and just be glad there’s something they can do about it.

So tonight I am to start the new med.

I asked about pacemakers, having long thought that like my grandfather and I think my uncle that that’s where I was eventually heading.

Oh, that wouldn’t address it at all, he told me: the next step–

(he totally, utterly blew my mind)

–is a bypass.

At long last
Sunday December 05th 2021, 1:09 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

A picture of the transom windows snapped at 5 a.m. because what else was I going to do bored and wide awake at that hour. If only the rest of the room had been as dark as that looks.

I went to get the paper this morning. Nothing in the driveway next door.

We left for church. A car!

Got home from church. Still the car.

As I’d said to one friend, I am so. tired. I’ve had this fear of calling for fear it would come out all wrong when it’s not about me, the important thing is my neighbor. I don’t want my fatigue to be the boss of me. I also don’t want my neighbor to have to try to talk loud enough for me to hear–I’m not what she should be spending her energy on.

That car was still there when we got home and there’s no telling how long it would be and if there were ever a time to deal with it, the feeling pushed at me that now’s my chance and I would so regret it if I didn’t.

I picked up that phone and dialed her number.

It was a very bad connection but it was the caregiver. Oh thank heavens. She couldn’t hear me very well, which was kind of funny, and her voice sounded enough like my neighbor’s that I wasn’t sure which one I was talking to at first.

There’s no light, she tried to tell me in confusion. What light? Where’s your house? Oh, is it over by the laundry room?

I thought as I walked over to Richard so he could help me hear, who knows? I know where the laundry room was before they remodeled, but…

She wasn’t getting it, so I talked louder and he added a bit and I explained again about the streetlight-bright spotlight on our bedroom for nine nights now–and she found it!

“It’s off now!”


She gave this delighted laugh for sheer joy that she’d been able to make such a profound difference to us so easily.

And with that our short acquaintanceship over the phone came to an end for now because she needed to attend to our mutual friend. Who I imagine was trying to ask her what all this was about.

I went outside and pulled down the ugly bird netting tents off my coffeeberries (picture taken before church.) Let the sun shine in!



Let’s try this
Saturday December 04th 2021, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

After being an hour late for the annual December Birthday Club party because I overslept by two and a half hours (!!!) I had to do something. The party was great fun even if I missed half of it.

I was at a loss.

I’d been thinking poles set up somehow inside the long tall line of coffeeberry bushes with frost covers hitched over them, but I didn’t have poles and I don’t even have a car that would be easy to transport them with if I bought any because we’d be talking nine feet tall, easily.

I was standing at the window, watching the rabbit eat the weeds now that my pomegranate tree has no fruit to raid, wondering if it has mange on its back, poor thing–when it hit me.

I found a single big black plastic bag, and it was way too small to go over the smallest bird netting tent, even scrunching it up. But I have yarn and I have a needle. Hey. I laid the garbage bag flat across the front of the thing and sewed the edges just barely around the back with the yarn continuing to where I attached it on the other side, kinda sorta like the lace and tongue on a shoe. I walked into the bushes the rabbit had fled into, told it to watch its step here I come, and set the thing awkwardly and swayingly on top of the flowers and leaves over my head. It tilted but it stayed.

I walked over to our bedroom and turned: nope. Needs to move about four feet that way. Tried again. Looked again. Tried a third time and felt like I’d gotten it, but that it wasn’t wide enough. So I grabbed another cage and put a double layer of white frost cover over it–not great but I have it, so try it. I hauled a chair over there (one leg sank into the ground, whoops, try again) and managed to get that one up there without knocking the other one down. Or me.

They are Not Pretty. They definitely make a point about why they are there–assuming there’s anyone over there to see it. I’m not sure there is. I’ve begun to think the interior lights are on timers because I know they’ve used them for traveling in the past. For that matter, code says the exterior light must be on one, and oh if only.

If we get a stiff wind those could blow into either yard.

I’ve got more birdnetting tents.

The thing is, if one of the kids took their mom home with them or to assisted living, that light would likely be on till well past the rest of their mother’s life.

Deep breath.

Okay, so, we’ll see how that goes tonight.

You light up my life
Friday December 03rd 2021, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

About a year ago, the good folks next door were the ones whose house had the hammering and the pounding going on for several months.

They had decided to expand and divide to use a bedroom and the new space to create an Additional Dwelling Unit along the side of their house closest to us so that they could have a caretaker in their old age who could have their own apartment, taking advantage of California’s newfound enthusiasm for ADUs.

Their two kids have stayed there while visiting but I don’t think a full-time caretaker ever did because Jim was still well enough to carry the load.

He died at 86 a few months ago.

She has cancer, he was her caretaker, and I quite worry about her but she is not one to share details to non-family nor to want to be helped.

Thanksgiving brought lots of cars for a few days.

And one of those people turned on the light that got installed at the side of the house during construction. (That’s a daytime picture.) The light that Jim had turned downward a little bit after we’d requested, back when it was new, but it’s still bright as ever.

I was looking at the super-bright LED street light yesterday, then theirs, and back again, and decided the street light was indeed  louder–but not by a lot. It’s simply bigger.

Theirs is a spotlight straight on Michelle’s face at night when she’s here and it lights up our bedroom, too. And I mean really lights it up.

So we have now had a full week of restless sleep for him and almost no sleep for me as I look at the clock every single hour, hour after hour, wishing I could shut that thing off while I toss and turn. In all the years we’ve lived here, in all the city light reflected off the winter fog, it’s never been like this.

Yes I could wear an eye mask–but I’ve never found a comfortable one and the recent cornea flare makes me highly reluctant to put something on that will have my eyelashes brushing against both it and my eyes all night.

Yes I could put up black-out curtains, heavier than the two-layered ones we have now–but we have transom windows as well and to cut those off would imprison the room entirely. I like waking up to tree branches and birds in the morning and a chance to check out the clouds. The architect designed that added-on room to be free of neighbors’ lights. At the time.

I sent her an email. I didn’t know if she could even walk across the house to her computer to read it, so I was really glad to see her slowly walking to her door a few days ago with two people carefully watching, arms out, ready to catch her at every frail step, and that she was upright or at least was just then–for her sake, because it’s so much better than being bed bound.

But it made it clear the answer to my question was, not really. Not readily.

The light stayed on.

I dropped off some of the other neighbor’s homegrown persimmons yesterday and a condolence card (with a short aside of, about that light, that I hoped wasn’t horribly misplaced) hoping that a caregiver would stop by and pick them up for her.

The persimmons didn’t move.

I checked: did I have her kids’ phone numbers? I had her daughter’s.

No response. But then who answers strange numbers these days. I was afraid to call my neighbor herself because I know how important rest is when the body absolutely demands it; I’ve been there. And how would she get up the energy to talk loud enough for my ears?

The light stayed on. It bounced off the white walls and the mirror and straight into the eyeballs.

I googled for ordinances about light pollution, and it may in fact be in violation, although residences have more leeway than businesses. But I know what it’s like to be in sheer survival mode when very very sick, and getting up to flip a switch a few rooms over is I’m guessing from what I saw just too much energy to expend with too great a risk of falling.

I can’t imagine living alone like that, though.

I finally fell asleep last night before 3 a.m., and that would be a small triumph and great improvement, except that I don’t hear my alarm clock and don’t always feel the vibrations either and my husband knows that and he knows I have to deal with all the ileostomy dressing/shower/get ready stuff before the crew shows up to work and walks around our roof with the skylight in the master bath, etc etc, so in his sleep he helpfully gave me a small nudge, and then another, to help me wake up in time. It’s our routine for when my alarm is waking up the wrong person.

Because sunrise is to the left side of the room and the left side especially was lit up nice and bright just like it had the previous six nights as if it were past dawn, even though by now I had barricaded the farthest window with a very large flat box and a big green plastic cutting board, the kind you use with roller scissors; it wasn’t much between them but at least it was something.

So here I was at 3 a.m. for the seventh night running. It would have been the blissfully dark night of a new moon but for that stupid light. I did not fall back to sleep in the slightest and at 6:45 gave up and got up.

You know, I really really don’t want to try for a second heart attack. This is getting old. So. Tired.

Those persimmons and note disappeared from her door today, finally. I can just picture the note being slid over by a caretaker to somewhere where she can read it when she has the energy to. Which she might well not.

The light was still on.

I noted the trashcan was still on the curb since Wednesday and nobody had taken care of it for her. I pulled it up against her shed. I had offered before and Jim had always turned me down but he’s not here now and that, at least, I could do for his beloved wife.

It appears someone is in the ADU right now.

The light is still on.

(And now you see why I needed that happy picture of my dad yesterday so much.)

Happy December!
Thursday December 02nd 2021, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life

Went to the Relief Society Christmas party tonight, the first one at church for me in two years. Real conversations in real life!

And then instead of coming home and blogging I came home and started a batch of pumpkin orange cranberry sourdough bread because I’d just been surrounded by sweets I was avoiding and wanted to make something really good, too (but not fattening). The enthusiasm there over everything just spilled right into my kitchen here.

And so, so you wouldn’t be disappointed about my not writing a blog post tonight (oh wait) I thought I’d share this picture from a few years ago that I stumbled across yesterday of my folks. Because this was so my dad.   

So much for being done
Wednesday December 01st 2021, 8:35 pm
Filed under: Life

Everybody got their second hat to give to someone they loved and got a chuckle out of that.


Behind the downspout where the walls do a right hand turn in this zigzaggy added-onto old house, where nobody had noticed before–and we’d all looked all around for such–I found a new damaged spot at the bottom of the old siding a few days ago. (To Mom: outside Sam’s old room.)

One of the men poked it with a metal bar and said at least it wasn’t mushy in there.

I’m wondering if I should call the termite people back on their warranty first.

Chris came out and looked at it this morning.

Me: “Do we have to”… (Thinking, there goes another eight grand or so.)  –edit in the morning after getting the estimate: the siding will be far less than that, assuming there’s not more going on behind it. One definite yay on that.

He understood, but answered what we both knew to be the truth: “It’s only going to get worse.”

Meantime, the roofing people called yesterday. They’d been bumped off till later and later to the point that they were going to patch the bubbles in the foam and forget about it till spring because they were booked solid.

But what about the rain?

That’ll be enough for now, it’ll work, they assured me.

But the good part: we had signed a contract for a recoating of the foam layer. They’re going to redo it altogether, the entire roof (not skipping the part under the solar panels) at the contracted amount to make it up to us.

Okay, but I want that in writing.