Author: helenkosings

The Invader – #5

Since last I told my cancer story, the news has been cautiously good. Sorry for making everyone wait so long for this most recent update – I’ve been caught up with a bunch of things and frankly, since working on my book (7 years now – gotta get serious and fininsh this thing!) I’ve fallen out of the habit of carving out writing time to do a post here and there.

I hope you know, and I’m telling you now, the comments I receive about the blog are deeply encouraging and I am so grateful. It really helps me to find the time to write. I usually have the posts all in my head – I’m just lazy about the typing. If I ever get speech-to-text for my ‘puter, well just WATCH OUT! But back to the Invader.

Since last I wrote, my chemotherapy regime has changed to a more intense therapy and so the side effects have been a good deal more serious. 80% of my hair has fallen out – let me tell you the hair coming out in locks in the shower is a really tough moment. I bought a wig over the Internet – it was a bargain – and oh my was that a mistake – wrong color big time and the style well let’s just say it inspired laughter.

Did you know you can get stones in your salivary glands? I had no idea….until I got one. So I’m already kind of a zombie because it was chemo week and Friday afternoon, while having yet another expensive scan (with radioactive dye which makes me sick every time – did I mention that they are hella expensive?) I got that twinge one gets when one’s salivary glands are gonna swell – like with a cold. I didn’t think much of it til later. By 8:30 that evening, I was in serious pain, even after taking painkillers, so we went to the ER. After hours & hours of waiting (whilst whatever pain killers I had taken wore off) I finally got in to see a dr. They gave me a pain shot which eased it for just a couple of hours, and another CT scan with radioactive resist – my second in less thatn 12 hrs (different parts of the body were scanned each time) and I learned that 1) I had a stone or some blockage of the left side parotid salivary gland (I was unfamiliar with this gland – it’s sort of kidney shaped and kind of wraps around your ear) and 2) the treatment consists of warm moist compresses, massage and chewing lemons and sour candy. The idea behind the lemons and sour candy is to get the gland to produce more saliva to flush out the blockage. And they gave me a prescription for some narcotic pain meds and a course of antibiotics.

I knew I’d be seeing my oncologist on that next Monday, so I tried to follow the instructions….but the pain was SO INTENSE. We called the after hours number for the oncologist to let him know what was happening and Studmuffin spoke to the nurse – she said I could take a double dose of the pain med – THANK GOD. Finally the pain was bearable. Meanwhile my face was swelling more and more – I was producing lots of saliva but it was backing up as the duct was still blocked The swelling was interfering with not only chewing but my breathing. I was sleeping sitting up on the couch so I could keep breathing!

My oncologist upon seeing me postponed my chemo treatment for that week and immediately whipped out his phone and called an ENT friend of his – got me in to see him THAT afternoon; a near impossible feat. I *love* my oncologist for doing that. Anyway, got into the ENT dr. and he affirmed the diagnosis and almost immediately put on gloves and got his hands in my mouth (in my experience as a kid, some ENT’s are quite reluctant to be hands on) to massage and see what was happening. That was very helpful to me because it showed me how much pressure I should be applying (hint: it was a lot more than I had been doing). He essentially told me to keep doing what I was doing, gave me another prescription for the pain meds and to come see him in 5 days. I admit that I cried right there in his office because I felt so hopeless at that point. I felt so awful and this was all the treatment they could offer in 2019? And the pain….

Well let’s talk about pain. I’m not a pain weenie. Every surgery I’ve had, except the colon resection last May, I wound up not taking all the pain meds I was prescribed, because I don’t like taking narcotics unless I absolutely have to and I can bear a fair amount of pain – the crusty New Englander part of me feels the need to point this out. 🙂 Anyway, I have saved those leftover medications over the years and they have come in handy on several occasions – earaches, somebody throws their back out, that kind of thing. I am always very, very, very careful with dosages; these medicines are serious business. When I started taking double the pain meds to make the pain bearable, well I was running out and I am very thankful that I still had a few tablets left from my heart surgery 10 years earlier (FYI – tablets are very, very stable over decades if kept in a reasonable environment (not too hot or cold and low humidity). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any kind of “stash” at all, just a very few tablets left over here and there. This helped me get through. Truly, this has been one of the most painful things I have EVER experienced – and I’ve had heart sugery and given birth 3 times!

So just as I am taking the antibiotic (a pill so big I have to split it into quarters to swallow it) I develop a yeast infection as well. This is TMI I am certain, but I feel I wanna say it because it only added to the over all misery. I had this as well as “elimination follies”* and I was not at all interested in eating; in fact I ate nothing for 3 days at one point. I did, because of a great sacrifice on my husband’s part, get to go to the Affrolachian On-Time Gathering, which was probably the best medicine I could have had. The gathering deserves its own post but I don’t have the energy to do that right now. Just know that all y’all oughta be going next year!

Eventually I was sent to Birmingham to see another ENT who has a nifty scope for this gland – the Duke of Curl had to drive me down and back, and the doc was running WAY late (2.5 hrs late) so none of that was fun. He told me that I was too swollen to scope and that I should take about 2 weeks more antibiotics to clear this thing out. He did not see evidence of what I have been calling my “face rock” so presumably it has passed. I can breathe normally, sleep in my bed and chew normally again, too. I am off narcotics and am not taking anything other than Ibuprofen for pain and inflammation.

This is the really gross part so you might wanna skip this paragraph. I started having some swelling go down and some relief after my first ENT visit and the much stronger massage. The most painful area, and the most swollen, is just in front of and just behind the ear. So the day after I finish the 7 day course of antibiotics I got from the ER doc, I’m massaging behind my ear and the skin ruptures and all this bloody pus comes draining out. I had actually given a good deal of thought into opening that area up myself with a large, sterile needle, but I’m just as happy not to have to do that and that it occurred naturally. It is still draining (almost 2 weeks now) and the B’ham ENT cultured the pus and has as of yesterday given me a new antibiotic to take (very large pills that cannot be split and are quite challenging for me to swallow).

Last week was chemo and it hit me wicked hard. When I can sleep, I have lots of vivid nightmares (my therapist calls them “poison dreams”) and I am much, much weaker than I have been – so weak that I have been afraid to drive myself places. I’m tryna take a trip to NH to see family in a week – it’s a little iffy that I can even go. Still I am feeling better today than in the last 3 weeks.

It’s been six months since my diagnosis so I guess I’m officially down to 18 months life expectancy – that’s not what I say it is and of course God has the final say in all cases. I thank you from the bottom of my soul for all the prayers and I hope you’ll keep on praying for me; the prayers are keeping me going. Next up will be the big liver ablation in November, if I’m well enough to do it. I’ll try to write more frequently and briefly in the future.

Interlude Pt. 2

So to tell more about my vacation – before it slides from my memory…..

So I don’t have that many more photos that I took; I’ll share some that others took…..

One of the things I have wanted to start here in Aba-lama-ding-dong for more than 10 years is a community sing. I’ve read everything I could get my hands on about them but had never attended one, so my lack of experience has been my stumbling block for all this time! I have been to Gospel Sings before, but I knew it would be somewhat different doing a community sing…. So I found one at the Central Pennsylvania Arts Fest that I could go to. It was held at a downtown Presbyterian Church.

Until about 5 minutes before it started, I was the youngest person in there by at least 10 years (except for the sound guy – he looked to be about 20). 2 families came in just before we started with grandparents, parents and grandkids, so a broader range of age was present. I think when it began there were maybe 70 people there. They handed out a booklet of song lyrics, which I later kept as a souvenir though we were asked to turn them in (I’m so rotten I know). Note to self – Beatles songs can be quite difficult to do well in a community sing. There were a couple of hymns sung as well and the fella leading it was quite witty throughout. I’m stealing all his best lines by the way….

I enjoyed it – though I was reminded again that I was up North – almost no one spoke to me or made eye contact, and there were zero people of color in this space. In fact as a group, we sang the very whitest version of “Wade in the Water” I have ever witnessed…… but it was good to take part. Now I feel very sheepish in waiting SO long to start a community sing here – I have all the skills to do it and I have some ideas about involving other good songleaders I know here. Singing is a wonderful way of bringing people together!

As it was Wednesday, the Arts Fest really wasn’t together or in full swing as yet but that was OK by us; we ended up meeting a couple of wonderful folks – 1 in a shop, another taking surveys on the street that we had really good conversations with. Yup, even Studmuffin was talking to folks. 🙂 That night, we stayed at an Airbnb that is usually a Girl Scout camp. Absolutely lovely location and very rustic but we were fine with that too. Could hear the bullfrogs all night long….kind of a balm to my soul really.

The next day we went to visit a family just over the PA/NY border who used to live down here. They moved away about 7 years ago and I was determined to visit them as …well, tomorrow is promised to no one and truly we were within an hour’s drive. We had a splendid visit – we went to lunch at this place that raises turkeys and makes maple syrup (which I bought some for my folks at the gift shop. Yup, Helen almost always finds the gift shop – but I love to give gifts!). So good to spend time with them – and completely forgot to take any pictures of us together. Here ‘s a picture of the restaurant we went to – food was great!

Also, I got a new guitar – a Martin Backpacker. I brought another full size guitar with me, but I knew that I would not be up to carrying it around at Augusta this year, so I got one of these – they weigh less than 5 lbs.

I got this out at our friends’ house and we did a little singing together. So good to see old friends! The guitar is an unusual shape and combined with my own shape, I had trouble playing it and making it sound good. It’s clumsy to use, though I’ve just seen an add-on thing that I might get which would make it better……… But it’s useful and I’m happy to have it. I played it as much as I could during our week’s vacation before Augusta as I knew my calluses on my fingertips were really weak.

We stayed at another lovely Airbnb in Erie PA and met the delightful fella who was the host and his dogs. I so enjoy meeting the hosts. There is such loving care put into the hospitality – it’s a spiritual thing for me. Studmuffin has also come to like it a good bit, though he’s a confirmed hotel rat. He likes the anonymity and the bland decor and not having to talk to new people at hotels. He wouldn’t do Airbnb without me along, but when I’m there to carry the conversation, he rubs along nicely. The hosts in Erie had left a bag of grapes in the fridge for us that were perfectly ripe and delicious – so very thoughtful and we ate every one of those grapes and went to bed early.

It was at this point that I think we went to Falling Water – on our way back to Pittsburgh and then Elkins. I had bought our tickets online because there is no air conditioning in Falling Water and I wanted us to go through the tour before it got really hot outside. It was a good strategy and I really enjoyed the tour. We had a wonderful guide and it was his birthday I found out, so I sang to him later at the end of the tour. Seeing these FLW houses and FLW-inspired houses has really made me want to refurbish all of my flowerbeds this fall – God willing I’ll have the energy- and to get rid of a whole lot of stuff we have. Again energy may be a problem here, and I truly loathe having to sort through our possessions in this way. It’s one of my least favorite activities, but we have lived in our little house for 21 years and the accumulation of stuff over that time period is a bit overwhelming. Our house is just under 1000 square ft, 3 bedrooms and our main bathroom is tiny (2 people can fit if one stands in the tub….). Now that we have only 1 of our progeny living with us, you’d think that I’d be using that other room wisely……alas but no. The comedian Phyllis Diller is my “Spirit animal” and I follow something she said:

“Housework won’t kill you. But why take the chance?”

We stayed at a truly outstanding Airbnb for our last night in PA – it’s called Schnoodleberry Farm and the hosts were fantastic. Really it’s a destination in itself and we were sad that we had so little time there. We hit it off so well that I’m scheming as to how I could maybe stay there again next summer (if I’m healthy enough…).

Yes, they have peacocks, and turkeys, and chickens that like to listen to Prince, and emus…. Amazing place!

So then, Studmuffin had to travel for work the whole next week, so he flew out of Pittsburgh to Southern California. He loves his work deeply, so this was wonderful that the timing all worked out. After dropping him at the airport, I headed back down to Elkins, back to my mother-in-love’s house and time to start Blues & Swing week at Augusta!

So what is Augusta? Augusta is what the Elkins area used be called before it was Elkins. Back in the early 70’s folks were noticing that the old ways of the country people were dying out, so they started the Augusta Festival to celebrate these ways and then started doing classes. Things like weaving and blacksmithing and making pottery and old-time music with dulcimers and dancing and so on. It takes place on the very hilly campus of Davis & Elkins College. I got involved a little over 20 years ago because I was having a fairly difficult pregnancy and we knew we would be in Elkins to visit his parents and grandmother in August and have them meet the baby who would be about 3 months old at that time. Studmuffin insisted that I go to Augusta for Vocal Week – he possibly may regret his insistance ….. Anyway, I went and really learned some things and stayed up late, late, late jamming with others and took a gospel singing class that changed my life permanently. The community that is built for the week at Augusta is equally important as the classes you take. It can be hard for first-timers to make their way in – it can seem like everyone already knows each other though that isn’t really true. I always try to seek out the new ones and encourage them to keep on introducing themselves and hanging out.

So I met up with friends from years before and I have a particular affinity for the dance troupe that comes (Urban Artistry). I cannot dance the way I used to (too many joint issues) but I can still dance some, and the dancers know I love them! Here I am with Russell and Mike – simply wonderful human beings and stone cold dancers!!!

This was at the outdoor concert that week. Wish I’d gotten a photo of Hubby Jenkins playing badminton….
Mike dancing just a few steps with me. My dream is to regenerate my joints to the point I could take a week of dance at Augusta. Unlikely to happen but I can dream can’t i?
Of course we gotta do the silly faces!

I took classes in guitar and voice. I think I can finally (after decades of no success) do an alternating thumb bass on the guitar. Course I haven’t practiced much since I got home. I also got some lessons on bones, gave away a pair and bought a new pair. Definitely gonna have to make time to practice the bones – they make such a satisfying clacking sound….

Augusta is good medicine for me and I didn’t stay out very late (for me) all week. I am very grateful that my oncologist encouraged me to take this time, this vacation. Studmuffin flew black to Pittsburgh on Friday and my sister-in-law was so good to go get him so I could stay at Augusta every last minute. I even wangled time to get a massage. All good!

Then we drove down to Roanoke to spend a little time with my parents. We had a little dinner party with friends we’ve had so long they are family now. Truly a beautiful time we had. I’m so grateful. So much music, nature, good food, laughter, conversation, meeting new folks….tremendous!

Then we went home. We were gone for nearly 3 weeks and it’s great to go, but great to come home and sleep in our own bed and of course see the doggies and cats.

Hope we can go and do something like this again.

Interlude – Reunion, Road trip, FLW & Augusta

So when last I wrote, I was telling you all the horrible news, just before taking off on my wonderful 3 week vacation. Instead of writing tons, I think I’ll do mostly pictures.

First let me say that I had my first chemotherapy treatment which made me WAY groggy for the first 4 days-just in time for the family reunion. There are few pictures that I took and all of them are blurry, so here goes:

Karaoke – Elizabeth singing; James’ legs. I sang “Midnight Train to Georgia” – I always do.
from L to R: the Force of Nature, the Duke of Curl, me, Studmuffin. Wish I could remember what I said to tease the FoN…..Please note that we are holding the frame upside down

So that’s about it for the reunion. It was fun…when I wasn’t sleeping.

The Duke of Curl has been getting into….wait for it….blacksmithing. Yup. He’s joined a local group and wants to get his own forge.

Duke of Curl in Action
Making hooks for Grandmother

So he decided to take a week of blacksmithing classes at Augusta – which originally was scheduled the same week as Blues week. However, when we got the final schedule, it had changed so that Blues week was the week after. Studmuffin thought that we should go ahead and drive the THIRTEEN HOURS back home to Silicon Holler and then, in another week, drive up to WV another THIRTEEN HOURS and then drive back home again THIRTEEN HOURS . Nope nopity nope nope, says I. I decide we are going on vacation in PA & NY state, visiting friends, family and tourist sites for that intervening week. Yes, there will be driving involved, but only in stretches of an hour or two and mostly not highways. I need green and lots of it.

So we visited Studmuffin’s brother and kids in PA as they weren’t at the Reunion. I hadn’t seen the kids in YEARS – we’re gonna make a much greater effort to see them more frequently. Studmuffin & his brother definitely need to see each other more often. I only took pics of the kids so I won’t be posting those. Coming soon – FLW!

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright

Before I go there, I read a book recently by Dr. Joan Vernikos called “Designed to Move” She’s retired now, but her whole career involved the biometrics of the human body as it relates to gravity – regular and space conditions. Basically, sitting so much is killing us, so stand up every half-hour. Even if you run 2 hours a day, if you sit for 6 hours, you’re still sedentary. I tried to implement this on our trip, though I changed the time period to 35 or 40 minutes. Fortunately Studmuffin went along with this gracefully. I think it helped me anyway, and we stopped at some very interesting places we wouldn’t have done otherwise. Pictures later.

So Studmuffin is a huge fan of Frank Lloyd Wright and over the years we have visited several houses and building he designed. Back when I was maybe 6 or 7, Mr Rogers visited Falling Water on his show and I have wanted to see it ever since. While on their website, I found this other place called Polymath Park. You can read all about it on the site – I made a reservation for lunch; all the other reservations were filled and that night we stayed overnight in the Balter House.

Designed and built by one of FLW’s apprentices – Balter summer house
Living room/great room. The skylight also is over the kitchen so one doesn’t have to turn on the light in the morning. The acoustics in here were just wonderful!

Time & money permitting, I would love to build a nearly exact replica of Balter House for us to live in. I Loved It!!

The food was very good. Studmuffin always wants to take photos of me in places – I dislike that so I have started doing “dead selfies” (see the backstory here – I think she’s hilarious), so here’s me in the lovely restaurant:

It was deadly but delicious….

Others in no particular order:

Previous lunch in WV
In Knoxville
Inside the Balter summer house
someplace in PA
My absolute favorite so far in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

We visited in our stops the Flight 93 crash site & memorial, and the Fred Rogers Center. Mr. Rogers was hugely important to me in case you did not know. They had a little museum and I took pictures:

Queen Sarah Saturday
King Friday
Prince Tuesday
Daniel Striped Tiger
Lady Elaine Fairchild
X the Owl – unfortunately my pic of Henrietta Pusycat didn’t come out. Meow me meow meow sorry meow.
Mr. Rogers taking a selfie…..
The famous trolley
Fred Rogers…a truly great man.

The 2 main FLW houses we went to were Graycliff on Lake Erie and Falling Water near Pittsburgh. Their websites have really good photos so I won’t take up space here with my poor attempts. I loved both houses and they are very different. I had not heard of Graycliff til a NY friend mentioned it and I am so glad we went to it. Not as celebrated as Falling Water but equally as interesting for me. I’ll share just 1 Graycliff photo – the flower arranging sink. So unusual!

You should go and visit these wonderful places…..

Falling Water surprised me in several ways – you could barely hear the water in most spaces, the overall scale of the house is small – it isn’t a grand space, there’s a freshwater swimming pool…… There’s so much to see..you really should go – though not if you have difficulty walking or climbing stairs….I got a sassafrass walking stick by joining their club and they have a simply MARVELOUS gift shop.

We stayed at several AirBNB places – all of which were wonderful in their own ways. Studmuffin let me choose whatever I wanted….once he realized we weren’t going to go visiting various battlefields and disaster sites (Johnstown Flood for instance). I told him I didn’t want to visit all the death-filled places on this trip.

I think I’m gonna have to write a part 2……..I hope by the end of the week.

The Invader – update #4

Sorry it has been so long! I have been traveling around with family and Studmuffin, and I won’t be back for another week as I’ll be back at the Augusta Heritage Festival for Blues & Swing week again this year. Not doing keys this time – voice and guitar….maybe even learn to play the bones…..

The Invader gazes upon his realm….soon to be taken from him, but he doesn’t know it yet.

So I began chemotherapy on July 2nd, when I also received my diagnosis and prognosis. I get an IV infusion every 3 weeks and the rest of the time pills – lots of them. And thank goodness! The drugs? They are really expensive! Yay! This course of chemotherapy is supposed to last 3 months, but more on that later.

The first 4 days after the IV infusion I’ve now learned that I am so groggy I am pretty much comatose/useless, which made me WAY fun at Studmuffin’s family reunion I can tell you. Studmuffin was fantastic about the whole thing I have to say. And for my own family members, yes, there’s now another thing that will stop me from talking – believe it or not! So now we have: 1) general anesthesia, 2) sleep or coma and 3) a 4 day long course of a particular anti-nausea medication. Seemingly nothing else will.

I rather think Studmuffin enjoyed the respite from the usually never-ending flow of words exiting my lips on our 13-hours-over-2-days drive to West Virginia from Aba-lama-ding-dong.

The rest of the time I am more fatigued than usual, and have been greatly disturbed in my own digestion, over and above the aftermath of the surgical colon resection I had in May. Let me just say that I now understand all those commercials I saw on tv as a kid where older folks were discussing “regularity”. What the heck was that – regularity? Why was it such a topic of interest? When I finally figured out what they were talking about, maybe age 10, I thought they were NUTS because you know, I’d never had that trouble before and how could *that* really even be a thing? Got it now, thanks. Experience is a real fine teacher!

So now here’s the diagnosis as a result of the recent PET scan – I have Stage 4 colon cancer that has metastasized to the liver. Remember my adorable liver? My sweet, untroubled by alcohol for decades liver? Turns out I have cancer throughout the liver – can’t just hack off a lobe of it either as the lesions are all the way through and all over the liver.

So what does that mean? This is kind of cancer is considered incurable…though the docs don’t like to say it. There are things that can and will be done to prolong my life depending on lots of different variables. Generally the estimate of life length is 2 years. I believe I have 4 years….but that’s a whole ‘nuther story.

There may be more surgery, more chemo – a lot depends on how I respond to treatment. What I hate about this whole thing is that I am yet again, 10 years after open heart surgery, a person who talks about their health all the time. Don’t get me wrong – I am glad to talk about it with all of my friends and family, answer questions- please don’t take this to mean that I don’t want all y’all to mention it freely or whatever, but my goodness – I learned years ago that talking about my health is very boring eventually. I may start carrying around a pre-printed FAQ page with me so people can read it and I won’t have to repeat it again.

I’m doing well I think. I absolutely know it’s because of the prayers. I am constantly lifted up in prayer by many folks I don’t even know and many who I’ve never met in person. I’m weepy with gratitutde at some point every day. Thank you!

Now let’s talk about something else for a bit, shall we? Thanks.

The Invader – Update #3

So when last I wrote, I hadn’t heard back about the MRI. Well now I have and the news is WEIRD and possibly bad. They found loads of lesions on my liver, but they cannot tell if they are cancerous without a needle biopsy. To do the needle biopsy – you’re never ever gonna believe this – they have to do ANOTHER TEST.  So it was a PET scan I had last week and yes – more radioactive contrast.  OH BOY MY FAVORITE!

 

So in the last 7 or 8 weeks, I’ve had 2 CT scans, an MRI and a PET scan, all with radioactive contrast and all of which has made me feel quite ill and has the added bonus of giving me about 12 years worth of regular radiation. There’s a certain amount of radiation you get from just living on the the planet every year, so I’ve now gotten 12 years’ worth. Hurrah.  My spirits are good but sometimes things that don’t usually hurt start hurting and the thought does cross my mind – is that a cancer pain?  Plus the radiation has made my saliva taste bad 24/7. No bueno.  All this before actual treatment (other than the surgery*.) Makes me a little nervous as to how bad the treatment might be……

So tomorrow – Tuesday, July 2nd is when I start chemotherapy.

PROS – treatment has begun, supposed to last 3 months only, no radiation treatment in the forecast, taking mostly pills and I’m not supposed to lose my hair.

CONS- the medicine is EXPENSIVE, pills everyday (my track record on taking pills daily or even on time is abysmal), plus I’ve been prescribed not 1 but 2 medications for nausea so that’s gonna suck, IV infusion every 3 weeks which takes 3 hours (which I’ll get to do tomorrow too), no firm diagnosis yet (means more tests) and so no prognosis yet, and based on last week’s PET scan results, ALL OF THIS COULD CHANGE.

After I get done with the IV infusion, I get an hour to find food (I am a diabetic so even if I feel super nauseous I still must eat) and then go over to the hospital for the pre-consult for the needle biopsy, which hopefully can be scheduled for after our trip.

YES I am travelling. I got back last night from a working weekend in Mississippi, then Wednesday, we leave for West Virginia and Studmuffin’s family reunion. Then a week of visiting family and friends as well as some sightseeing – Studmuffin LOVES LOVES LOVES Frank Lloyd Wright homes – we’re gonna *stay* in one overnight and I wanna see Fallingwater. Tomorrow’s promised to no one so I’m going to Pennsylvania and upstate New York so there. Studmuffin was looking at all the things he’d like to go see – battlegrounds and the site of the Johnstown Flood but I told him I just cannot do that. This time out I need nature, music, light and laughter, not disasters, grief and wars if I’m gonna beat The Invader.

Yes, he was cool.

After PA and NY I come back to Elkins for Blues & Swing week at Augusta and he flies to CA for work. I am determined to haul myself to Augusta, though today I decided not to take any Blues piano this year – I don’t wanna have to haul my keyboard around this time. So I’ll take pretty much all vocal stuff – or perhaps Ukelele. I have a pretty good one, they are compact and they are fun and easy to play. I won’t stay out nearly as late as usual or maybe even at all, but I want to do this for my mental and spiritual health. Then we head to Virginia to see my folks for a day before heading home. Of course I am gonna try to eat at as many restaurants that have been featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives” as I possibly can, and am booking some rather unusual AirBnb places to stay. There may be a couple of yarn or fabric shops in there too. Studmuffin said he wants me to choose and not ask him. OK – no problem!

Two of the progeny are going to the reunion and the Duke of Curl will take blacksmithing at Augusta the week we are swanning around the Alleghenies. I’m really happy about them coming – they weren’t at the last one- and I think it’s gonna be a good time. And I very much hope the Duke has a blast at Augusta! He started getting involved with blacksmithing last year and seems to really love it.

Since my diagnosis in late April I’ve had a few moments of deep anxiety, but very few – perhaps 3?  I absolutely know that this is because so many of you are praying for me. It’s truly a RIDICULOUS number of people – I need to do something pretty amazing to be worthy of it at all and I’ve got zero ideas of what it might be at this point. Maybe single-handedly fixing the broken US immigration process? Reverse climate change?  I don’t know. If I could I surely would….Thank you all very very very much.

If I have a few working brain cells left on the trip, I’ll try to take pictures and share….maybe even write an update, but I can promise nothing. Isn’t that nice of me?  Until next time…..

 

 

 

 

 

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*By the way, I had the surgeon look at the incision that’s been bothering. Well, MORE than bothering, but the details are really quite disgusting and you really don’t wanna know. It took me 3 weeks to get in to see him. He glanced at it for perhaps a whole second and then said something I really didn’t appreciate. When I told my mother – she’s a retired nurse and wants to know all the gory details, plus she is rather fond of me – she exclaimed, “Surgeons!” in such a way that 1) made me laugh and 2) indicated a certain frustration borne of long experience with surgeons.   It’s been my experience that surgeons like to cut, not to stitch up, most of them are men and do not know much at all about sewing, and they’re not very interested in wound care. Don’t get it twisted – I like my surgeon, he did a really god job on me and I am very grateful, but this last bit was not as helpful as it might have been. I will continue to treat it as I have done which has made a big difference. I *still* can’t go to water aerobics yet, though (no open wounds in the pool, right?) and that irritates me no end.

The Invader – update #2

That’s what my mother calls cancer – the Invader. I wanted to title these updates something more interesting than “Health update” or “cancer watch 2019” or whatever. I like how Mom puts it.

Remember these guys? I do. Still, they are 2 cute to represent cancer….

So when I last wrote about my health, I was just telling y’all about my surgery and recovery. Still going fairly well….I’m having a little trouble with one of the incisions, it hasn’t healed quite right but that’s minor.  Even tho’ my oncologist has been on vacation for a couple of weeks, I was supposed to start chemotherapy almost 2 weeks ago. However, I got some unexpected bloodwork numbers; a number that was supposed to go way down after the surgery went way up – it almost doubled.  So the hunt for cancer elsewhere begins………..I had a CT scan a week ago Monday (that radioactive agent they give for the ‘contrast’ always makes me ill for about a week and a half; no, it isn’t an allergic reaction).

No felines were involved in my CT scan…

There’s some good news – almost everything looks perfectly normal. And then there’s some weird news: there’s something strange about my liver. It doesn’t look like a tumor there, it doesn’t look like the cancer has metastasized to the liver; it’s just unusual so YAY! I haven’t drunk alcohol in 30+ years and I quit smoking nearly 25 years ago – you’d think my liver would be in great shape! Now I wouldn’t say my liver is weird; I’d say that it’s quirky.

Quirky – like King Kong & Godzilla having a dance party…..

What does it all mean? More tests of course. Fortunately the tests at the moment aren’t invasive; unfortunately, the next one requires more radioactive contrast…….and we’ll learn more about my adorably quirky liver. I had an MRI last Wednesday – I was hoping that I might know something more by yesterday but no.

I know chemotherapy will begin soon – I’m hoping I can tolerate it well; there’s things I wanna DO this summer. I already told Studmuffin that if all the hair goes, I will be wearing wigs. but I know how this goes; I’ll get a wig hoping to look something like this:

But I *know* that I will end up looking much more like this:

 

-/-/-/-/-/-/-

Along with my title of the Invader, I’ve chosen my character/ logo/ drawing to represent my personal Invader. Why? Because he makes me smile. I admit I came very close to using Sheldon J. Plankton from SpongeBob Squarepants (below) – he makes me laugh; he’s so dramatic and nuts, but he’s only generally, hilariously evil. He’s not a true invader…..

 

So for those of you with kids or who are into animation, you’ll already know who this guy is. For those of you who don’t – his name is Invader Zim and I encourage you to check him out, especially if you enjoy dark humor…

Until next time, please wear your sunscreen and eat carrots and kale and drink plenty of fresh, clean water. The Invader doesn’t want you to, but I do. xxxooo

I have “it”; “it” doesn’t have me.

What is “it”?  Cancer, y’all. Tho’ really, I’m just not that upset about it.

It’s been TEN YEARS since I had heart surgery – I was so much sicker then and heart surgery is way more complicated than a colon resection. Probably the biggest thing is that my children are all ten years OLDER. This is huge for me.

Two things:

-first, I have been overwhelmed with all of the support I have gotten from friends, family, acquaintances and strangers from all over the world.  It occurs to me yet again that the English language really needs more words for gratitude other than “thank you”. I mean, I do not have words for how grateful I am – “thank you” – even a million times over – does not seem to really convey how I feel.

 

 

 

-second, the amount of well-intentioned advice on what I need to do to beat cancer that I have received has been nothing short of astonishing. I cannot begin to follow even a tenth of it.

 

About half of the advice that I have received contradicts the other half of the advice…..  I receive it all as expressions of love and caring, truly sincere efforts to assist me.  I am grateful.

Here’s the advice I *am* following:

“Whenever ye fall ill, refer to competent physicians.”

(Baha’u’llah, Kitab-I-Aqdas, Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 275)

I have really good doctors and I’m gonna do what they say. Sometimes my docs are surprised by this; apparently lots of people do NOT follow their doctor’s advice……


Just a few more particulars……

  1. I had NO symptoms. NONE.
  2. I turned 50 and was scheduled for my first routine colonoscopy in April. They found a cancerous tumor.
  3. Please please please get your colonoscopy done. Do NOT put it off or think it’s not important. Of course it’s embarrassing. Of course you don’t wanna.  However, cancer is far more inconvenient (among many other things) and may deprive you of your life. It’s way more fun to tell your family the embarrassing tale of your colonoscopy than to have them plan your funeral.
  4. I had surgery May 9. Along with part of my large intestine, 39 lymph nodes were removed and biopsied. 2 were found to have cancer cells in them.  My cancer is considered Stage 3a.
  5. I will have chemotherapy – what kind is still being determined.
  6. I am recovering well. The weirdest part is how confused my digestion is……..
  7. It is quite possible that there is other cancer elsewhere in my body – the docs are starting the process of looking for it.  It also could be something else.
  8. I haven’t knit on anything in a month.
  9. I have zero gardening mojo. I never even *looked* at single seed catalog this winter. I feel bad for my new-ish next-door neighbor who is very tidy, but not so bad that I am doing anything at all to improve things. I may actually take some pictures b/c it’s so bad; I find it somewhat humorous actually…..
  10. I have remained true-to-form as with all my other surgeries, in that as soon as I start feeling better, I do too much which sets me back days or weeks. I so want my stamina back. Right now, I feel pretty weak, in that I do something – like make the bed, and then have to take a nap to recover.                                                                                                                                                                       
  11. I realize that my lifelong precociousness in various areas has continued into my middle age – I am an aging overachiever.

 

I hope to write more regularly; we’ll see. 🙂

So I guess enough time has passed now….and I’m so surprised.

So I watched this thing about Linda Ronstadt on YouTube on Tuesday. I always liked her music – no matter what she sang – and when her memoir came out and she was doing the rounds of TV interviews to publicize her book, she was asked again and again if she missed singing (she can no longer sing because of her Parkinson’s Disease).  She of course said she did, but in one interview she said that what she missed even more was being able to knit – again the Parkinson’s Disease. I remember seeing a picture of her knitting back in the day but I didn’t realize she was a real *fibertarian*!

This wasn’t the picture I remember but it doesn’t matter – there are several around. About 1975

Anyway, you know how it is on the YouTube – one video leads to another and there was an interview of her with the guy from the Old Grey Whistle Test I think from maybe 1975 or ’76 where she’s talking about how important the Troubadour (a bar & club in L.A.) was for the music scene she was a part of in southern California and I really enjoyed her interview – she was thoughtful, intelligent, down-to-earth and honest.  I especially liked how much she praised the ability of other musicians she met or heard at the Troubadour, several of which ended up in her backing band and then went on to become the Eagles.

The original 4 – l-r: Randy Meisner, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, Glenn Frey

Folks who know me well have heard me say many, many unkind things about the Eagles throughout my life. You see, where I grew up, there were few radio stations, and there were several bands/musicians whose music was played so very often I got completely burnt out on them and their music: Led Zeppelin, Boz Scaggs, Creedence Clearwater Revival, AC/DC, Fleetwood Mac, ABBA, Eric Carmen/Raspberries, Benny Mardones (he’s a little different b/c he just had the one song – that really creepy tune about the girl being underage – I heard it on the muzak at the grocery within the last 6 months and yep, it’s still way creepy). I have always thought it strange that I never got burnt out on the Bee Gees……..

For most of the other artists I mentioned, I have been surprised to learn that with the passage of time and NOT hearing their tunes for years, occasionally it would happen that I might hear one of the songs from the above-mentioned artists and found I could appreciate them anew. This has been lovely and so unexpected. Now, I despise the Doors too, but that’s almost completely for different reasons, though they certainly received FAR too much airplay in my hearing. My hot hate for the Doors burns brightly still.

But the Eagles? Well, the Eagles I have loathed them for sooooooo many years. They got played so much… they get played all the time even now! I cannot remember a time in my life (since 1972 when their 1st album came out when I was THREE) when more than 3 or 4 days pass before I hear one of their songs someplace – I cannot get away from them except for when I went to camp twice as a kid and when I have left the US, though there was that time in Tel Aviv in 1996……..!

Felder, Walsh, Meisner, Henley & Frey

I know the words to almost every song they released, including many “deep” album cuts and I have never EVER tried to learn the words to any of their songs: the lyrics are just there, stuck in my brain without my permission. There are poems, prayers and many quotes from the Baha’i Writings that I *want* to have memorized, that I want in my brain forever, but nope – they cannot take up residence because the effing Eagles lyrics are taking up SO MUCH OF MY MEMORY.  Then, there was that turbulent time in my parents’ marriage and my dad was playing “Desperado” and “Seven Bridges Road” over and over and over on the 8-track as we drove around in the truck. Nope – I have had NO LOVE IN MY HEART for the Eagles since I was about 8 years old.

Circa 1977 l-r Glenn Frey, Don Felder, Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Schmit

I have even hated the solo work done by Frey and Henley, just on principle. I know it’s unreasonable and kind of stupid – especially when Don Henley writes something d***ed magnificent like “The Heart of the Matter”; I even got mad at India.Arie – one of my favorite artists of the last 20 years – for recording that song (she kills it by the way) because even when I hear her singing it, it reminds me of Don Henley, which reminds me of the Eagles and I get mad at all the space they take up in my musical memory….. I have to admit that there is one exception: I do adore Timothy B. Schmit’s voice and some of his songs (“Love Will Keep Us Alive” is an incredible song and how he sings it….well well well). When Randy Meisner left the band, Schmit became their bassist and he has somehow escaped my ire and animus, and as I am thinking more deeply, I don’t truly hate Meisner, Joe Walsh, Bernie Leadon, or Don Felder either. Maybe I just hate Henley and Frey……No – I admit this rancor isn’t rational or evenly applied, but still I have felt this way for decades.

So in this Ronstadt interview, she talks a good bit about how much she loves the way they all sing together and how first nobody knew Don Henley could even sing ‘cos he was so shy and he was the drummer – a really great drummer. I then watched the thing when Glenn Frey inducted her into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame; I knew he had passed away, but I couldn’t remember why so then off to Wikipedia…I didn’t realize he had Rheumatoid arthritis and was carried off by pneumonia. It’s a sad thing. After watching more interviews with the band on YouTube and part of a BBC documentary and reading more stuff, I went back to YouTube to listen to a little part of just one of their songs – Take It Easy. The professionally filmed and recorded concert from 1977 came up and …. well Sweet Sally Melville, I LIKED it. Those harmonies…….they could really PLAY and sing and write songs. I am appreciating them in a new way, without the angst of the past and – WARNING! PUN AHEAD! it’s a Peaceful, Easy Feeling.  ( I hope my brother who loves puns reads that). I know so much more about music and performing and songwriting, all of which add to my astonishing (to me anyway) change of heart.

Y’all, for me this is like waking up one day, looking in the mirror and seeing a third ear growing out of the middle of my forehead – a crazy surprise. The hate is GONE and I am so happy. Heck, next week I am getting together to jam with a new friend who does some of that late 70’s country rock and who knows? we might even play some Eagles tunes.  Not hating them is a kind of relief, tho’ I still kinda resent their space in my brain. I guess enough time has passed, and I have different kind of appreciation of how challenging it can be to be in a band and get stuff to sound right, or just maybe how it is when we get older. I don’t know.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not gonna go get tickets to one of their shows, nor will I be playing any of their songs on repeat for a few weeks in the summer (this sometimes happens to me with certain bands – my kids HATE it when this comes upon me).

Circa 2018 l-r: Don Henley, Glenn Frey’s son Deacon, Joe Walsh, Vince Gill, Timothy B Schmit.

But I might listen to them some on Spotify and I certainly won’t feel bad when I hear another tune of theirs unexpectedly someplace. As John Prine says, “It’s a big ol’ goofy world.”

I will say that I thank God that the Doors are not nearly as popular as the Eagles.

 

 

FYI – this post was originally gonna be called “D*** Dog! part deux.

We got a beautiful smaller dog last Saturday. Her name is Hexie. I hope to post some pictures soon cos she is SO cute. Because of Petra and her depredations, I’d put away the last project (see last post) and begun to knit on an UFO (UnFinished Object – we are learning things today aren’t we?): the second sock of a pair of socks I’d started back in 2015.

I love the yarn – lavender/purple, grey & black stripes in a wool /alpaca blend, with solid black for heels, toes and in this pair, cuffs. Once I started knitting on it again, I realized why I had put it away: it isn’t a good marriage of yarn to the pattern. So the stripes aren’t really stripes anymore because of the cables, and the cables make the coloring so busy that you cannot see the cables unless you are up VERY close.

My problem is that I have knit so far into this project – all of one sock and about 10% of the second one that I could not decide if I wanted to rip out all the knitting and use a different pattern that I know will be a far better pairing of yarn to sock. I made the decision to finish the second sock in the less attractive pattern because I have SO much sock yarn in the stash ( I really am gonna have to show you everything I got last Nov. & Dec.) that ripping it back (or frogging as it is commonly known amongst knitters) is basically pointless because I care far more about having another pair of handmade socks for than if the socks were perfect. If they were for a gift, I’d frog them for certain but they are for me so no biggie.

Well, Hexie decided to get into the yarn. It’s not nearly so bad as what Petra did to the other project but WHAT IS GOING ON? WHY do my dogs wanna tear apart my knitting and kill my groovy sock knitting mojo? Bad word bad word bad word.

 

OK ok enough. It’s almost 4 am and I must stop writing.

D*** dog!

We have had Petra for 2 months now and we love her….but yesterday she did a big NO-NO!!!

This used to be a lovely, neat ball of yarn attached to a 75% completed sock.

 

The yarn isn’t actually damaged….but it’s gonna take HOURS!!!!!! to untangle and I just don’t have it in me to do that right now. So I’ll find a ziploc bag to put it in “time-out” for a month or a year or so.  SO FRUSTRATING!  It’s killed my beautiful sock mojo….

But never fear – I’m gonna start knitting a cowl instead.

Actual knitted things

Hell-o! Bet you thought the blog was dead, huh? Well, she won’t actually die….tho’ there has been a famine of posts the last FIVE years or so….

Happy blog-i-versary to me- I think it’s 13 years now (11 on WordPress) but I am just too lazy to go look.

On to the knitting!

Socks for the Force o’ Nature-

Twisty Replacement socks

Completed Nov 2017 (more info on Ravelry here)

Force o’Nature really appreciated these during the summer job which required regular inventory of a commercial fridge. Wool socks keep you warm!  So this led to these –

Lou’s Envy

Completed December 2018  Love this pattern – will be making some for me in this pattern SOON.

More info on Ravelry of course.

SO while I was looking for something else, I found the original socks I’d made for the FoN – which needed darning because MOTHS! AND all my darning supplies, so the FoN got both pairs for Christmas.

Moderne Cable Socks

These were completed back in 2014. This was why I made the Twisty replacement socks – first I knit one of the brown ones, then completed the second, then couldn’t find the safe place I’d put the first one. Months passed, then I found them both, gave them to the FoN in June – who said they didn’t want them til winter. Put them away then couldn’t find them AGAIN. Many months passed. Found them but then one had serious moth damage so I needed to darn them but then couldn’t find the remaining matching yarn. More than a year goes by, I suggest I make the FoN different ones – detente achieved.   Finally found everything, darned them and gave them. Phew!  project page on Ravelry here.

Grinchy Green Almondine

Completed December 2018  These are for me. LOVE LOVE LOVE them and they have 10% cashmere in the yarn blend. Luxury! Ravelry project page

A lot of this sock knitting has to do with the fact that I am a complete convert to the Fish Lips Kiss Heel.  I find it makes it easy to make socks that FIT pretty much perfectly. Found out last summer that my sock knitting sister-in-law (she’s far more productive than I am!)  also uses this heel. I recommend it.

Next up – a cowl for a dear brotherfriend-

Mistake Rib Cowl

This has been done for AGES. Finally it is blocked and photographed. Hope to get in the mail this week.

Ravelry project page

And another pair of socks for Studmuffin!

Pour Mon Mari

I’ve never made him socks before. Completed last week! (Jan 2019) And they fit.  They are not IRL as purple as this pic, much more dark green (he loves greeen).  All blocked and photo’ed and gifted. Project page on Ravelry here

Started knitting another pair for me out of a black and magenta Zauberball.  I’ve tried this yarn in 2 other patterns and have not liked the sock I was making and frogged it both times. I am using this pattern Fidelio and although I’m not getting the “rhythm” of the pattern easily, I think I like the socks I’m making, so perhaps the third time’s the charm.

Duke of Curl is up for a new hat, Bought more yarn, will post another time. Need to make something for my momma…..

 

How are you? Happy 2019!

A yarn crime….almost

Hey folks! It’s been a minute….I have no excuses.  So I do still see yarn crimes out and about and of course on the ‘net. Items with pompoms are serial offenders I have to say…..

I saw this just moments ago, but it’s so flippin’ cute, it transcends the criminal nature of the offense IMO. Here ya go!

If you have a dog (or perhaps some other pet/offspring…a POMeranian?!?) willing to wear this, here’s a link where you can get the pattern:

https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/blue-dog-hat

My intention is to post more frequently but less wordily. Maybe that’ll help. 🙂  Love to hear from you in ze comments.

Linen sheets to lie on…….

Flax plants in bloom

Been awhile. How’ve you been?  I think of you often. 🙂

Katherine Tilton has done a lovely guest post on Marcy Tilton’s website about making linen sheets. This is so serendipitous for me because I had just finished a linen flat sheet for our bed a few days ago, and am planning to make the fitted sheet this week.  Katherine has really laid it out so clearly what to do – I’m definitely gonna follow her guidance.  But…I have a wee problem. Ok it’s not a big problem or even a real problem; it’s a 1st world problem like……

One of my lifelong pet peeves has to do with putting the fitted sheet on the bed. It’s not my favorite chore, I have short little T-Rex arms which makes it more challenging for me than for other people who live with me. Countless times I thought I had the sheet oriented properly to the mattress and I have gotten 2 corners on the mattress, only to find that, NOPE! I don’t have it oriented properly and have to start over. This frustrates me too much!  I overreact to this….and it’s silly. Really, it’s such a small thing – why let it upset me so?

Tantrum GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

So I’ve been thinking about what to do and a solution came to me IN A DREAM. I kid you not.  It’s simple, it takes longer to write it out than to show it and here it is:

I will put ribbon tags in 2 colors in the corner seams near the hem and they’ll show a little bit on the right side.  I’ll be using lavender and grey ribbon b/c those are what I have on hand.  Here’s my lousy diagram A:

And so here’s how the colors will be placed (lousy diagram B):

So if I’m putting on the sheet facing either long side, I’ll know that the sheet is properly oriented if I have 2 corners with tabs of the same color. If I’m facing a short side – top or bottom, it doesn’t matter – if I have corners with tabs of different colors, the sheet will be properly oriented.

-/-

These tabs will take me maybe 15 minutes of sewing time to do, but they’ll save me so much frustration……I may do this with all my sheets. 🙂

-/-

So by this time next week, I’ll be sleeping on my fitted linen sheet and under my linen flat sheet for about 20% of the cost. Don’t EVEN get me started on the pillowcase neurosis……..!

Flax fiber in various stages of preparation for spinning

 

If you’re a glutton for punishment, enjoy silly animated GIFs and you’d like to know the whole nine yards about this linen sheet thing (and yes it has really been a THING for me), read on for the backstory. (more…)

Multi-day Music Challenge (long post)

One of my longest friendships in life is with Tina K. and I love all the stuff she posts on Facebook. She LOVES to go to concerts and she has been to more than probably anyone else I know (pssst – that’s a LOT!!!!!!).

She’s been posting these every day on FB, and since I will forget to do this every day PLUS I’m procrastinating (who wants to do what actually has to get done today?), why not write a blog post about it?

A bit of a warning – my taste is eclectic….. I could do a bunch of these using themes…… favorite songwriters only, foreign language, heavy metal, folk music, the 1970’s…..I’ll save that for another procrastination day.

Day 1 MUSIC CHALLENGE :
A song with a color in the title

Absolutely no contest with this one. 2 versions – original and SuperBowl

Day 2 MUSIC CHALLENGE

A song with a number in it

There are so many…..but I simply adore this song and have since I was a kid.

(more…)

Still alive

Sorry no blogging in so long. Been insanely-busy.

Hope everyone is well and happy. I still have loads to write about, but just have no time….nope not even for Pinterest, Ravelry or Facebook – 3 of my online faves/go-to’s. Oh well, it’s good to be useful. See all y’all later.

Let’s talk about a “made up” holiday…..

So I was talking with Studmuffin about a week ago about the holidays that are happening now, and he said something about Kwanzaa that I have heard many people say – something about how it’s a “made up holiday”…

 

I won’t go into all of the parts that offend me about that statement, and I don’t wanna go into a full on rant here, but there are a few points about holidays I really would like to bring up.

  1. The biggest holiday in the world EVER is MADE UP.
  2. What do you think Jesus might say about the principles of Kwanzaa?

So for point #1 – the biggest holiday that has ever been celebrated is Christmas*. I wish to be clear: Jesus certainly was born and it absolutely was a miracle and I love celebrating the Birth of Christ. I revere Jesus so greatly – I cannot even find the words to express my love for Him.

!!!!!!!!BUT!!!!!!!!

a.) It is quite clear that Jesus was not born on December 25th or on January 7th; the date and time is not known. The exact year and season is up for debate, but was almost certainly not in the winter. So the date for the world’s biggest holiday ever is MADE UP. **

b.) Many of the most cherished traditions of Christmas have nothing at all to do with the birth of Christ: the lights, the tree, the giving of gifts, the feasting, mistletoe, holly, drummer boys, Yule logs- along with reindeer, sleighs and Santa (more on him below).

c.)  Santa Claus is sorta, kinda related to Saint Nicolas, but most of what  is even said about Saint Nicolas is myth, i.e. MADE UP. ***

Of course the best parts of Christmas are not made up – celebration of the Birth of Christ, peace on earth, goodwill towards men, generosity, family, love – all of that is real and true and so worth celebrating. I look forward to this part of Christmas every year! But all the rest of it is MADE UP.

Coming to my 2nd point: when one mentions the made-up-ness+ of Kwanzaa, why is that the thing that gets mentioned? Is it that we are somehow concerned that a made up holiday – that is not nearly so old, so widespread or very familiar – is somehow conflicting with another made up holiday that is old, widespread & familiar? I don’t get it.

First, let’s take a quick look at Kwanzaa: it began to be celebrated in 1966. It is a week-long celebration held in the United States and in other nations of the African diaspora in the Americas. It was begun – yes, MADE UP – by Dr. Maulana Karenga, who is still living (age 76 in 2017).  It was established as a means to help African Americans reconnect with their African cultural and historical heritage by uniting in meditation and study of African traditions and Nguzo Saba, which are the “seven principles of African Heritage” – which Karenga said “is a communitarian African philosophy”. ++

Unity

These principles are:

  • Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define and name ourselves, as well as to create and speak for ourselves.

Self-determination

  • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together.
  • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
  • Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

  • Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
  • Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

 

What part of the 7 principles above do you think Jesus would object to? Unity?

 My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,  that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—  I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”      -John 17:20-23  NIV

How’s about self-determination?

“Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink the milk?  Do I say this merely on human authority? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing?”

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”

                                                                   – 1 Corinthians 9:7, 24 but you should really read the whole chapter…..

Purpose

 

OK, let’s look at collective work and responsibility:

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. …Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else,  for each one should carry their own load. ”

– Galatians 6:2, 4 & 5

Creativity

I think you can see where I’m going with this…….I’m no Biblical scholar by any stretch of the imagination, and I’m certain those that are could find many, many more quotes from the Bible that uphold these same ideas. I cannot see any conflict at all with the ministry, laws and precepts of Jesus and the principles of Kwanzaa. Goodness knows ALL people on the planet would benefit from these principles.

Faith

So I delight in wishing you a Merry (made up) Christmas and a Happy (made up) Kwanzaa!

 


* Some lists have New Year’s Eve/Day as the biggest and oldest world celebration (like this one- 10 Most Celebrated Annual Holidays Around the World wonderslist.com 2017 (March/April?). However, as all of the world religions each have a different calendar, the date of the beginning of the new year is different than January 1st for a couple of billion people, whereas there are billions of people who celebrate Christmas, whether as a religious holiday or a secular one.

**You can read more here- When was Jesus born? LiveScience.com Jan 30, 2014     And here- Was Jesus born on December 25? United Church of God’  Beyond Today Jan 25, 2011

***You don’t have to take my word for it- Five Myths about St. Nick – Dec. 21, 2017 Washington Post

+ Yes, I just made up that word. 🙂

++ from Wikipedia Kwanzaa

Falling off the “Yarn Diet” wagon

Did anyone hear a loud “THUMP”?  You should have, ‘cos that was me falling off my yarn diet and beginning a binge.

My knitting mojo has been very low for nearly 2 years..but I am thankful it is back! So I have been buying  yarn……which I haven’t done much of for the last 3 or 4 or maybe 5 years.

Aren’t you excited? Actual yarn photos! FYI – all the really good photos are not mine and ganked from the ‘net. Bad photos are mine. Perhaps you’ve already learned this…..

kroysocks_woodsie

Patons Kroy Sock yarn  in “Woodsie”  3 skeins

It started with this one – Craftsy was having a supply sale some months ago (last April?) and the Force of Nature was home from college. There’s a*long* story about the 1st pair of socks I knitted for the FoN – I may tell it here some other time – but basically, I needed to knit another pair for my progeny, so I asked her if she would choose some yarn and she did. BTW I just finished that pair a few days ago – they are all finished but for photos. Hopefully I will have photos by next week.

Then, in early November, I was poking around Etsy – always a bad idea if one wishes *not* to buy yarn.  Quite some time ago, I knitted a pair of neon colored socks – “retina -searing” bright colors…and I love them. Love love love them. I didn’t have any more neon sock yarn in the stash (well, not in the the near stash…deep stash – maybe there is, but I’m not yet that brave.) So I ordered this skein –

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Yes, it really does look like this IRL

Sock yarn, wool/ nylon blend, HeartWarmedStudios in “Black Light Bliss”. I ordered another skein of yarn from another Etsy shop the same day – it arrived only yesterday, so I’ll tell about it later.

While visiting my parents in Virginia at the end of October, I went to Wool Workshop.  It’s a terrific yarn store – if you like yarn, I highly recommend it.  I *knew* I couldn’t go in there and just look, and yet I went in ANYWAY.  What can I say? I am an addict. All my good intentions went right out the window when I saw their Wollmeise – like 40+ skeins of it just right there!  I felt very virtuous in only buying 1 skein of it.

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1 skein of Twin in Wasseratz (the blues in my skein are much darker – closer to black)

Once I’d decided to buy some yarn (Wollmeise!!!!)….”In for a penny, in for a pound” I always say.  Just know that it isn’t as if I get ALL the yarn I WANT. If that were true, we wouldn’t be able to pay the MORTGAGE.  No, I only get the ones that I know I will forever regret not buying.  Here they all are:

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colorway – #105 – Happy Summer Days

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colorway – “Nighttime Glam”

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colorway – Born This Way

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colorway – maleficent

Yup, all sock yarns and 1 more – a “bucket list” yarn: Quince & co. One of the limited edition indigo yarns!  Not gonna pass this up, no way.

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tern in “indigo 3”

An expensive afternoon…but oh so worth it.

In my quest for more neon sock yarn, I thought of Knit Picks. They really have good, good yarns for great prices and I’d like to, while I’m in spend mode, give them some business. Of course I found several things on clearance and other things on sale.

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Felici sock yarn – colorway – punch bug; 2 skeins

This one is being discontinued and since I and the Force of Nature *still* play ‘punch buggy’, I HAD to get this 1.

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Stroll Tweed in Wellies heather

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Palette (fingering weight) – Blue Note Heather – 3 skeins.

I think the 2 above reflect my wish to make more mittens with colorwork.

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Alpaca Cloud fingering – colorway- Edmund. This might also be for mittens….

I love their Chroma line – I guess they are Knit Picks version of Noro colorways.  I have at least 2 skeins in different colorways hiding in the stash, but these 2 were ridiculously low priced, so I got them as well.

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Chroma fingering – Lake front

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Chroma fingering Hollyhock

My birthday is coming up in December and I buy my own present for that (I’ll save you the sturm und drang of how that came to be).  I had been thinking a lot/becoming obsessed with knitting a sweater out of this book-

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knit, Swirl! Uniquely Flattering, One Piece, One Seam Swirl Jackets by Sandra McIver (I’ve had the book for 6 years now…..). 

To use the yarn that is used in the book (Mountain Colors mountain goat), for a person of my size, was gonna be a BIG ol’ pile of money- much more than I could afford or justify or have ever spent on yarn in 1 outing. SO, with holiday sales in mind, I started looking on the ‘net.  I wanted something lovely to look at, but also something that was lovely to knit with. My most recent projects’ yarn are kind of crunchy feeling – the yarn blooms and softens when one blocks it after the knitting is done. I know it’s gonna take a while to do this project so I wanted something I looked forward to putting into my hands.

I found several, less expensive yet worthy candidates online….but then I remembered – Small Business Saturday!  Why not got to my LYS ( Fiber Art Work)and see if I could find something I loved, and enough of it to suit me?  Yes, I knew it would cost me more dollars, but I thought I could go a little higher; it’s worth it to me to spend more $ locally for many reasons.

So I got 11 skeins of Malabrigo Rios!  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Malabrigo owns my soul. Lovely to knit with, gorgeous colors (really the pictures do not do it justice) and a very good value.

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3 skeins of Purple Mystery (my skeins are much darker and muted)

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2 skeins – Whale’s Road

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1 skein Azul Profundo – my skein is darker and less homogenous in color

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1 skein Solis

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1 skein Candombe – this colorway varies a GREAT deal depending on the skein, but this photo is close enough.

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1 skein Lavanda – another one that varies greatly from skein to skein. Mine is a little lighter in color.

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1 skein Sabaduria

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1 skein Paris Night. My skein has more black in it than this one.

You’ll have to take my word for it – these all really go together IRL. Yes, it’ll probably be a year before I finish this project – there’s a good bit of garter stitch which I find pretty boring – but hey!  I *love* this yarn and I’ma enjoy this knit I think.

But wait!  There’s MORE yarn!  I was at Hobby Lobby near the end of September and I saw this:

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Yup, it’s Red Heart super saver worsted in Parrot.  2 skeins went home with me. Red Heart has definitely upped their game and my yarn lust has overcome my yarn snobbery these days. I already knitted something from this yarn. Hopefully, pictures to come soon.

Finally, I had long admired the self-striping yarns by Berry Colorful Yarnings, and recently on Ravelry, I saw a super beautiful pair of striped socks – with bright, bold colors that drove me to by Berry Colorful Yarnings’ Etsy shop.

OH NO!  She’s closing her shop!!!! Tragedy!  Well, let’s get something….and we’ll eat more beans and rice.

I found a simply gorgeous skein of striping sock yarn in browns – not a color I have much of.  I just had to have it.  I forget now what the delay was – Thanksgiving maybe? – but it arrived yesterday!  Joy! Rapture!

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1 skein Saturated Sock in Bourbon Barrel

PLUS a wonderful SURPRISE!

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1 FREE skein of self-striping yarn – my skein’s “black” is a very dark green, and there’s more orange…

I was so shocked – friends, this just does not happen! So I wrote to the shop saying that I think I got an extra skein by mistake?  If so, I’ll mail to whomever……..?

But NO!  The shop wrote back and it’s MINE MINE MINE!  Since the colorway wasn’t listed on the label, I went looking through all of her previously sold yarn on her Etsy site and I believe I have “Girl on Fire – Hunger Games series”.

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This picture was the inspiration I believe.

Thank you SO MUCH Berry Colorful Yarnings – it was a lovely thing to do. Now back to the yarn diet…..  still I wanna shout from the rooftops:

Hey y’all!  Christmas is now canceled for me ‘cos I gots lotsa yarn!

 

 

A post I didn’t want to write

Today, the second of our beloved pair of “Labramatians” died. Miss Natasha has been declining for some time, and when I recently went out of town, I was quite sure she wouldn’t be here when I got back. But she was!

She didn’t like having her picture taken somehow.

For a dog of her size, she was very elderly – about 105 in people years; she lived 15 & a half actual years.  The last 6 months or so, she seemed to be free of the itching/scratching & everything else that went with her parasitic infection (leishmania); I think she outlived the parasite! She was a tough cookie. Her skin healed, her fur mostly grew back in and  she gained weight.

A happy, hot day at the dog park – before leishmania. She’s about 11 years old here.

 

Anyway, she had mostly stopped eating almost 2 weeks ago and I knew it would be soon that she would leave us.  Studmuffin was feeding her raw ground beef.  Tasha loved chocolate; she used to get into swap packages I received – climbing up on places I didn’t think she could get to & tearing them open with her teeth if they smelled of chocolate. Because it was clear to me she was dying, I fed her as much Halloween candy as she wanted. I’m so glad I did. Tasha seriously loved her food.

She had 2 seizures today. After the first one, I had the Duke of Curl put her on some blankets on the couch; she just loved to lie on the couch, she wasn’t supposed to do it but I often caught her at it. After several hours, she tried to get up/turn over and I helped her. That’s when she had her final seizure. I am so glad I was with her.

Natasha (L) & Boris (R) – at about 8 years old.   I’m so grateful to have been a part of your pack.

We will have dogs again I am sure, but gosh, they leave such a big hole when they go. It will be some time before I am ready again. I am so grateful to have had Miss Tasha & Mr. Boris in my life….. So sad to be writing the end of the Boris & Natasha adventures.

I sure hope, my Tasha, that in your happy hunting grounds, there are UPS trucks for you to chase, raisins & chocolate and garbage for you to eat and Boris is there to endlessly lick your ears.  I miss you already, my brown-eyed girl.

NOPE! I’m not dead…..

So REALLY it’s been too long. I’ve missed you!

There is some knitting happening but no photos as yet – sorry.  Just gonna share with you a thing I’ve just sewn. Again, no actual photos, but it looks a lot like the pattern envelope artwork:

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Except on me it’s more like this…..Of COURSE this isn’t ME!  I NEVER wear white pants…..

I promise to get somebody to take a few photos of me in the thing, and soon…. Been wanting to make this for a WHILE – certainly I have needed to make myself some clothes for quite some time…..

You can read the whole she-bang, with 5 part harmony and all, over at Sewing Pattern Review – if you are so inclined. But mainly I wanted to let you know that yes, I’m still around and the blog has only been sleeping. I’ll be back with photos…so perhaps soon.

So – what have YOU been doing since last we talked?  TTFN

Edited to add – the photos are up and over at Sewing Pattern review – https://sewing.patternreview.com/review/pattern/139322

 

A comment that needs to be….

….a blog post. Guess I need to blog more,since I’m writing my long windy comments in response to folks on Facebook.

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A friend on Facebook – that I actually know IRL even, posted this link –

Why Do Men Keep Putting Me In The Girlfriend Zone

A fella in the comments used the term “friendzoned” in his comment and indicated his disbelief that the guy is the problem. He went on to say –

I’m a little befuddled that a perfectly normal and very human instinct (being particularly nice to someone we like, and subsequently being distant when we find out they don’t share our emotions), has been turned into this feminist flash point. When did being human become such a terrible thing?

So I responded:

It’s so not about human instincts and it isn’t “perfectly normal” though I acknowledge it may be so very usual to you that you cannot even see it. It could be like the joke where 1 fish says to the other – what’s this ocean everyone keeps talking about?………. It’s completely an outgrowth of the near total objectification of women – which is a characteristic of patriarchal traditions mixed with rape culture. So it isn’t about being human or being terrible.

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Ocean? I’ve never seen it…….

 

I’m gonna try an analogy here – it may not be useful but I’m up for trying. 🙂 Imagine that you’re about 14 years old & you have a brand new video gaming console that’s really expensive and different and special. A lot of people have them in the world but not everybody – maybe you’re the only one in your class in HS, and absolutely everyone – not just 14 year olds – is excited and dying to play your console!

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Like this, but WAY cooler with lights and groovy noises and lots of shiny chrome…..

So because you have this thing – let’s call it a Zbox – a good number of your classmates are trying to get close to you so that you’ll invite them to play the Zbox. With one group of kids – that’s all they wanna talk about. Before you had a Zbox, they weren’t interested in you at all, but boy howdy, they are always trying to talk to you about it, and you’re getting pretty tired of this -even though it’s true – the Zbox *is* the coolest thing ever! Another group of kids, who were never interested in you before either, they try a subtler approach. They start hanging out with you, inviting you to their homes or to the movies or to do homework together, and you feel like hey, I’ve got a new group of friends! And that would be groovy except that one day, one of them asks why you’ve never invited them over to play with the Zbox….. perhaps you can see where I’m going with this.

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So our Zbox kid – who might really like to share this Zbox with someone else, but perhaps with someone who is interested in an authentic relationship based on digging each other, not centrally focused on the Zbox and access to it – is feeling like there’s no one who gives a damn about them as a person.

For the vast majority of the people without Zboxes – not just the 14 year olds – this group is so focused on getting access to, getting to play the Zbox, that to them, the possession of the Zbox is the single most important aspect to them – by far – about Zbox kid. Not if Zbox kid is a good person, not if Zbox kid writes really funny stories, not if Zbox kid is a genius in economics. And when that circumstance is true, not only does Zbox kid cease to be a whole individual to them; the Zbox kid’s personhood is erased.

The want/need of the non-Zbox-owning group to gain access is deemed so hugely important by them…well, it’s all about them and what they want – not at all about Zbox kid.

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See? We’re smiling so we must be your friends….now give us what WE want. What you want DOES NOT MATTER.

This is my own experience with the whole “friendzone” thing. Yup, it’s sexist as hell.

A question of discipline

A Facebook friend has a 14-year-old daughter and her husband, while she was working, took the daughter to see a horror film that was really probably not a good thing for the daughter to see. She was feeling pretty conflicted about it and asked for the opinions of other parents….

An opinion? Why yes I *do* have an opinion!  I know you are simply shocked to learn that…… 🙂

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I started writing my response and, well, decided it was way too long for a Facebook post on someone else’s timeline and so moved my reply here.

I did my very best to keep my kids away from things that I thought would harm them. When our oldest son was a toddler, my husband was out of work and so during the day, while at home with our child, he would watch anything at all he wanted to, thinking it would have no effect on our son. After a  time we noticed our son acting out more and more physically and I found out about my DH’s tv habits.

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This was one of the shows he was watching daily with our son…….

I asked him if we could try an experiment: for 6 weeks, while our son was around/awake only non-commercial kids-oriented television would be watched, saving ad-filled and adult oriented tv for night-time or when our son was out (like with Grandma). Within 2 weeks, we noticed a big and positive difference in our son’s behavior, and so we went on along that way with all 3 of our children.

So, my children were not permitted to watch PG-13 movies before they were 13, unless either one of us had seen it before and deemed it appropriate. I also had seen some scientific evidence that caffeine possibly can prevent kids from growing to their fullest height, so they were not allowed caffeinated drinks (sodas, teas, coffees,etc.) til they were 15.

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Of course, I was unable to enforce these rules when they would stay over at their friends’ houses, but I was very persistent at home. Oh and how they would argue and complain about how mean I was!!!! How stupid my rules were! Nobody else had such stupid rules and so on….

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When, in turn,each one of them came to me to really talk/discuss (not just complain) about why I had such rules, I would tell them 3 things:

1) My children are the most precious things in my life and I want the best for them, plus I’ve given a lot of thought as to what would be best for them – it’s not about a power struggle.

2) Ruhiyyih Khanum told the story of when she was young, she very much wanted to read a certain quite scandalous book and her mother refused to let her read it. Her mother gave the analogy of a pot that has been formed and dried, but hasn’t yet been fired in a kiln (the greenware stage). Anything can easily make a mark or a dent in that pot and that mark will be permanent. Young people are just like that greenware and until they have been fired in the kiln of life experience,it is better that they be protected ( all 3 of my kids had done some pottery so they knew that this was true).

 

3) When you attain the age of being able to do these things (13 for those movies and 15 for the caffeine), you will enjoy them a huge amount more than you would have if they had always been permitted to you. When you are young, those ages seem so very far away, and I know because I have been those ages – I have the perspective of age and I know that waiting will not harm you in any way. However, my rules and these protections, as stupid as they seem now, are truly a gift from me to you.

My youngest is now 18 and 2 of my 3 children have affirmed that those rules were “probably a good idea” and one of them even apologized to me for arguing with me about it AND that they had tried to stay a certain friend’s house very often so they could break these rules “behind my back”. This grown child of mine said that even then, he could see the benefit of the rules, as his friend didn’t have them and in many ways, it took away his childhood innocence too early. This same child also had nightmares for years about one scene in “Shaun of the Dead“. I’ve seen it and it isn’t really that bad, but he knows now that he saw it when he was too young and it made a big impression on him.

 

Your mileage my vary, but I am in a stand for enforcing such rules, and most of the time it’s no fun, lemme tell you. Once something is seen, it cannot be UNseen, not until somebody invents brain bleach or something, and your children are worth it. Innocence lost is exactly that – lost.

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I was never in a hurry for my kids to be grownups. Childhood is very short nowadays….

The purveyors of movies and tv advertising DO NOT CARE about what is best for your children, they care about your money; do not let them make your parenting decisions for you. We are the protectors of our children and also the educators – the responsibility is ours and the world will do all that it can to tell you just how uncool you are for doing your job.

Good luck!

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ELEVEN years?! Really?

So yeah. As of January 21, 2017 I’ll have been blogging for 11 years. That’s an accomplishment of some kind………?

I know posts have been quite sporadic the last 3 years – I do apologize. Without going into great personal detail, the last three years have been quite difficult and I certainly could have shared lots & lots more….I decided not to do that. Because to me, whinge-ing is more like funny complaining, which I believe is my God-given natural talent. Sharing woes is best done with one’s closest friends perhaps or family or most definitely one’s therapist (shoutout to Dr. F. P.!!). BTW, if you enjoy comedic whingeing, you might enjoy the BBC tv series “One Foot In the Grave” – I’m certainly not up to Victor’s level!

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I’d never planned to go on so long – certainly I cannot say that I’ve had a huge following…..but still, plugging away at anything for such a time tends to improve skill….

I believe I have gained some skill in writing, and creating the posts for the most part has been joyful. But wow, even I’m shocked it’s been 11 years.

I’ve also considered closing it down…..but as it costs me very little other than time and brain power, I’ve decided to keep going, however infrequently.

I hope to blog more consistently about knitting in 2017, God willing.

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Thanks to everyone who’s ever read this blog and enjoyed it. 🙂


P.S. You can still read my very first post here.    The 1st Knitting and Whinge-ing post

 

Goodreads book review …. Headstrong

Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-and the WorldHeadstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-and the World by Rachel Swaby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We were travelling. We were going through Knoxville – there’s usually a fair amount of traffic – and we stopped at a restaurant we’ve been to before. Around the corner was a used book store and we decided to spend a little time there. I found this book; it looked interesting. Little did I know that my head would be blown wide open!

This has to be one of my top three books that I’ve read in the last 10 years. There are so many scientists who are women that have made tremendous contributions to the world, not just to science, and we don’t know them. We don’t know their names, we don’t know their history, we don’t know the obstacles that were in their way, we don’t know their contributions. And we ABSOLUTELY should. I can just imagine how much more encouraged I would have felt as a girl to go into science had I known about these women. It’s a terrible legacy that their contributions are invisible to most all of us. Terrible not only from a scientific perspective, but also an historical one. I really could go on and on, but I’ll spare everyone the ‘soapbox’ this time.

Even though this is a book that I think you should read, I think everyone should read it, but it’s also incredibly interesting and well-written, which makes it easy to read. Each one of the essays are a couple of pages long, which makes it just perfect for reading in the bathroom.

I very much hope that this book reaches a very large mass of people, and then becomes part of the conversation about history and how we teach it in schools. Who and what gets left out? This book goes a ways into redressing the imbalance.

I give this book my highest recommendation!!!!

View all my reviews

What a summer/what a bummer and What’s for dinner? (part 2 -long)

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(Click here for Part 1)

What’s For Dinner?

I make some really yummy things to eat, even now that I am a diabetic and have changed my eating habits so that I can keep my fingers and toes and such. But overall, I’m just an OK cook. My Dad and my brothers are people who really love to cook, they really show their love to others through their cooking. My Dad wakes up every day thinking about what he and Mom are gonna eat for dinner, which – given that my mother takes a fair amount of time & caffeine to really “wake up”- has led to 50 years of him accosting her most every morning, right when she gets up, and demanding to know what she wants for dinner, which leads to a very blank and confused expression on her face that I find pretty hilarious these days.

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Of course, Mom’s not wearing the hat or the beard…..

Now I might wake up thinking of food, but it’s a completed dish I’m thinking of, preferably one that could be conjured up and served immediately by the chef/butler we do not have. Since I’m the one who does the VAST majority of cooking around here, I have tried many different ways to make the decision of what we will eat easier, and some of them have helped. I admit that we go out to eat way too often, mainly because I just don’t wanna cook much at all anymore.  One of the things that has helped a bit has been subscribing to Blue Apron** for one week a month. Since I’ve been sick or gone so much this summer, I have not been eating the way I want to and need to, and we aren’t sitting down to dinner  together nearly as often. Fresh things are going bad in the fridge, mainly ‘cos I forget that I bought them. And there’s loads of things in the pantry that should be eaten as well. I’ve fallen into a very lazy & unthinking pattern about dinners around here that is not only costly to my wallet, but to my health. So here is my latest attempt to change this downward spiral & act like an adult-

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If you click on the picture, you can see it better. I’m just happy to have a reminder of what’s going on foodwise each day. Studmuffin would rather eat chicken than almost anything else on the planet, ‘cept maybe chocolate ice cream, so that’s why there’s so many “Chicken Somethings” in the plan.  I have a lot of cookbooks, for someone who’s meh about cooking, so I put in “Use a cookbook” in hopes that I might try something new; it could happen. My favorite innovation here *has* to be “Pantry Roulette” – go into the pantry and see what interesting thing could be made from what’s there and the older the better. Please feel free to try this out yerself, or put in the comments how you deal with the daily grind of ‘what’s for dinner?’ BTW, it’s Crockpot Chicken Teryaki tonight. See? Workin’ already.

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** If you don’t know what Blue Apron is, go to the website and check it out. I have some free meals from them to give away; let me know if you want to try Blue Apron in the comments section and if you live in the USA, I’ll send them your way.

Some Actual Good Things this summer

Singing with the band Kaleidoscope & becoming a much better keyboard player because the fellas let me play more and more, singing with One Human Family Workshop choir twice, been married to Studmuffin for TWENTY-EIGHT years, traveling to Dayton with Studmuffin, traveling to WV for the Studmuffin family reunion, the Force of Nature graduated from high school – in the top twenty of her class, taking the Force of Nature to Marion Military Institute for college, the Duke of Curl spent part of the summer working in Colorado, he came home and now is in school AND has a job, paid off a fairly large loan, going to Birmingham several times for Baha’i Ruhi Institute training, YARN! FABRIC!……there’s been good things, many good things.

THE END:A Real Grievance

The day after I wrote the previous post (The Gardening groove…) on this here blog, June 1st, my beloved dog Boris suddenly died. His sister Natasha has been ill/dying with a chronic parasitic infection for the last 3 years and we thought for certain, she would be gone first. We know their deaths are coming – they are 13 or 14 years old, and for their kind of dog to make it past 15 is quite rare, so we know it is gonna happen within the next 2 years certainly. Natasha, whom I have nicknamed “the Crypt Keeper” because she looks so bad – patchy fur, flaking skin and so skinny – is still living and quite happy. She gets all the treats now.

I has a sad....

I has a sad….

I think he ate something he shouldn’t have – probably some poisonous vegetation. He always loved to eat leaves and green things. I planted zinnias every year, not because I’m fond of them, but because Boris loved to nibble the leaves so much. Others have told me that Labradors tend to get stomach cancer and that is possible, too.  I did not realize just how sick he was until about 2 hours before he passed away; I spent about 5 or 6 hours that day driving the Duke of Curl to and from his dr.’s appointment in Birmingham; I would not have done that had I known that Boris was dying. We buried him next to Bluto^^ that night, and a week later I planted zinnias on his grave.

We won’t be getting another dog while Natasha lives; she’s elderly and sick, but she was the less dependent of the 2 and I think adjusting to a new dog would be hard on her. I will rescue more dogs after she’s gone, mainly because of this video: Shy Shelter Dog gets Adopted. But it will be a while. Emmy the cat was sick this last week with a bad cold and it brought it all back.

Boris was the dog of my heart and life is really not the same without him for me. I am reminded of him everywhere in our house and yard and all the streets nearby. It’s been nearly four months and I’m still grieving, which of course, I have mixed feelings about. There are so many terrible things happening in the world all over, and I’m crying about a dog. A dog who had a seriously wonderful life, who I was privileged to have in my family since he and Tasha were 4 months old. All I can say is that grief is the price of love and buddy, your death is costing me a fortune. You were the BEST dog for me and none of us will ever forget you. Thank you Borisman.

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^^Bluto adopted us in the early Summer 1997 (est. 3 yrs old) – died January 7, 2010

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What a summer/what a bummer and what’s for dinner? (part 1 -long post)

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This has been one for the books. So let’s jump right into the whingeing, shall I?

Illness

So I’ve spent a fair bit of time this summer being sick and recovering from being sick. The only reason I’ve time to write today is because I have a cold and I don’t wanna give it to others, so I can’t go and do things, but I’m not so sick I’m gonna stay in bed all day. Studmuffin has had this cold far worse than I – I think I’ll be fine by Friday.

cattoungue

feeling yucky….

No, the mostest, worstest sickness I got was for about the first 2 weeks of August. High fever, then mega-chills, all over aches – I mean even my eyelashes hurt when I blinked. And I could not sleep for more than 30 mins to a hour at a time for nearly 2 weeks. I even went to the doctor, knowing that he probably could not help – it was a virus I was certain- but if it was one of the ‘named’ viruses*, I could be at least a public health statistic. But no dice – no help and an un-named virus, but he still took my co-pay (which has gone up about 30%) and suggested I come back in a few days if I was still sick. HAH!  I really considered going to the hospital, but then I remembered 2 things: I never get any rest in the hospital -someone always wants to ask you something or stick a needle into you the moment you’ve dropped off to sleep, and hospital stays are very expensive.

A friend from the next town over was in the process of dying, and I had previously promised his wife that I would sing at his funeral. He passed away & I was too sick to even go to the funeral, much less sing.  This is something I will regret for the rest of my life. Though I am very thankful that Studmuffin went in my place. No, he did not sing.

I lost 15 lbs. in 12 days I was so sick. I cannot ever remember feeling worse….and I was sick for all 9 months of my last pregnancy!

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*Zika, Swine, H1N1,Bird, Spanish,Influenza and so on

bummerdwight

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The gardening groove is back!

vintage seed catalogWhen the seed catalogs start arriving in December, I start dreaming of my garden. I pore over the new offerings again & again – all those gorgeous photos! – and think back to what went well the previous year and begin my scheming. At least, that’s how it has been for the last 20 years or so…….until this winter.  The seed catalogs came in as usual with all their promises and blandishments, and I remained unmoved.  By the time March rolled around, I was seriously beginning to wonder at myself – what was WRONG with me?  I’d not spent any time at all planning the garden and coming up with a budget, much less actually setting foot inside the space, except to deliver kitchen scraps to the compost. It had been on my “To Do’ list for 4 months. This is so unlike me….

Friends and neighbors, I had lost my gardening groove. My well had gone dry. Heck, I didn’t even get excited when the crimson clover we planted as green manure bloomed.

This is not my photo or my crimson clover, but it does look just like this. So pretty!

This is not my photo or my crimson clover, but it does look just like this when in bloom. So pretty!

Still I knew without a doubt that come July, I was absolutely gonna want to eat homegrown tomatoes and a whole lot of them, so gardening had to take place. In a weird way, Facebook came to the rescue.

For those few who don’t know, Facebook will often remind you of something you posted in years past; they’re called Facebook memories.  I kind of like them as they remind me of how quickly time is passing, and not to waste it…. spending loads of time on Facebook in particular! Just before Mother’s Day a few weeks ago, Facebook reminded me of a post I had written about how I’d gotten all my tomatoes in the ground on that day in 2015. UH-oh!  I needed to get it in gear.

On Mother’s Day, I went to my favorite plant nursery (as did dozens of other folks). Such a lovely sunshiny day – really very cool temperature wise for Alabama in May (which truly freaks me out, but I’ll save that rant for later). I wandered on over to where the veggie plants were and BAM!  The switch was flipped – do plants give off fumes along with fragrance? – and Garden 2016 was ON!

I only bought 10 plants that day, but I knew that I had come back to my senses.

I’m doing things a bit differently.  Last year, I had 2 keyhole gardens, and that was a lot. I decided this year that I’d do just a few plants in the front of the house and 1 keyhole garden in the back since I still have mobility issues. For the unplanted keyhole I will continue to collect more “browns and greens” for it and maybe plant cool weather stuff there. I know, I know, I *say* I’m gonna do that every year but by the time I get to the end of August, I am tired of gardening!  But my dear friend Ellen had me chock full of garden envy last fall when she showed photo after photo of fall gardening success – I’m truly inspired. I’m dreaming of heads of lettuce and cabbage, and onions and peas and carrots….

As if to egg me on, the Nigella out front bloomed right after and was its usual spectacular & freaky self.

Nigella alba, aka "love-in-a-Mist"

Nigella alba, aka “love-in-a-Mist”

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