About Me

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Four years into widowhood, after one year of incredible happiness and nearly 14 years of single blessedness. Have given up perfect manicures and pretty hands in order to resume playing the soprano recorder and to see if I can figure out how to play bluegrass banjo. Singing in the shower. Still really, *really* love to knit!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"A" is for Apnea

My sleep doctor's office called me yesterday afternoon with the results of my sleep study. I slept for 5.5 hours at the lab last Friday night, stopped breathing 101 times, an average of 17 times per hour when I was not dreaming and an average of 58 times an hour when I was. [Fourthborn heard 101 and instantly thought Dalmations. I thought WRR, the local classical music station.]

There will be a second sleep study, utilizing whatever they call that breathing machine. As my doctor's assistant says, this is something that we can and will fix. I hope the breathing gizmo comes in red.

Feeling profoundly grateful to know that my weariness is not “all in my head”.

Toes are healing nicely. Still not ready to take them dancing, but I can envision a time when that sounds like fun. The left toe is itching like crazy this morning. It feels like the good clean itch of healing tissue, not the painful one that signifies infection.

I spent a couple of hours tweaking the blog on Monday night. I guess that counts as my Family Home Evening activity for the week. And I spent maybe an hour on Ravelry last night, detailing the WIP and linking it to blog posts and getting my sheepie icon copied and pasted from here and Flickr to my cubby at Ravelry.

Last night was Knit Night, and I was too tired to go. Plus, I needed a little time and space to ponder the diagnosis and try to place it in context with the growing assortment of minor health issues over the past several years.

I am amazed at how productive I've been. I wonder how much more productive I would have been if I had had enough sleep and enough oxygen? Cue Jackson Browne singing Running on Empty.

Reaching for a mug a milk and my Supermom cape...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

R◊A◊V◊E◊L◊R◊Y!!!!!

I’m in, as of about ten minutes ago. And we leave for seminary in about ten more.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Twisted Knitster asked...

...awhile ago, why people comment on his blog. Here is the response for which Blogger kept insisting I was not putting in the correct password. Jerry, if any of my half-dozen responses got through, I trust you deleted the surplus.

I found you through Punkin’s blog. I think she linked to one of your posts, or maybe I was scrolling down the list of blogs that she reads and the title caught my eye. Why do I keep reading? Your projects, your humor, your obvious love and respect for your wife, and your “voice”.

Why do I comment? Great FOs, or something you write that sparks a memory of a similar event in my own life, a bit of inspired lunacy on your part [such as that aerial frolic in your yard], or just because. Maybe it’s the fellowship of those who have found a way to reconcile a love of math and order with a love of grace and beauty. Who but a knitting engineer-type would see GPS and think “yarn crawl”? For the first time I can see a justification for getting GPS on a future car; my internal GPS has always been so good that I wouldn’t need it for conventional reasons.

Congrats on the 6K+ views [this was a month or so ago]; I just passed 4K myself!

Ravelry Update:
69 people are ahead of [me] in line. Looks like tomorrow might be the day!!!!!
18589 people are behind [me] in line.

Miner Blanket Project Update:
Finished the fourth part of the megablock at church yesterday. Was not pleased with it. Frogged the fourth quarter and then the first quarter today at work and am happily reknitting both, simultaneously. Am about to try some serious intarsia and will get back to you.

Sabbath Sock Update:
Languishing until my toes are healed. I might be intermittently wacky, but I am not stooooopid!

Mystery Stole 3 Update:
Stalled until I finish MBP and get that in the mail to Ms. Knitingale.

An update on the dream that I *didn’t* have, the night of my sleep study. I sent that portion of my blog post out in my weekly email to friends and family, most of whom don’t read the blog. And I got the following response from First Hubby, who [30+ years after the divorce] is once more a good friend:

“I am probably your only reader that can accurately picture you sitting on the curb with your 25 year-old body. Did you think of that when you wrote it?”

Um, no, I didn’t, not until after I read his email today. Mark Twain said that man is the only creature that blushes, or needs to.

I will now go sit in the corner. Fully dressed, of course.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Yee Haw Crawdaddies II

LittleBit has a job! She has been filling out applications right and left. After we finished shopping at BigBoxStore – more accurately, after Fourthborn and Fiance had finished shopping, and I was dozing over my knitting – we stopped at first at the bookstore, because Fiance needed a new sketchbook, and they brought us out cream-based frappucinos, and then we drove to our former favorite Tex-Mex restaurant so that LittleBit could get an application.

Tim the Manager came out to give her a hug while somebody else was rummaging around for an application, and he hired her on the spot. She starts Monday after school. We are going to have to be creative about the white shirt and black pants until payday, but she has two black skirts, and Fourthborn has another, and LittleBit’s best friend may have some black slacks that fit.

Talk about answered prayers!

I went to the company’s website, and even the hourly employees have access to health insurance and 401K plans, which will be Heaven-sent once LittleBit graduates. Without insurance, her Nexium is over $150 a month if memory serves correctly.

She and I had the best talk while the kids – which is how I sort of unconsciously refer to any of my girls and their respective beloveds when we are with them or have just left them or are about to be with them, just as any siblings not present were collectively “the sissies”, as in “time to go get the sissies from school” – were finishing up their shopping. I told her that I hoped she didn’t feel like I was nudging her to the edge of the nest. And she said “Push away, I’ll start flapping, oh, not quite strong enough, better wait a few more months.” And we laughed. She knows that I don’t want to just boot her out, and I know that she won’t be moving out because she’s fed up with me or life at home or some combination of the two.

This is a miracle on the order of the loaves and the fishes, and don’t think that I’m not properly grateful. When the other girls flew the coop, there were harsh words or wounded feelings or the sort of maimed peacefulness that follows the cessation of hostilities. In at least two instances, it has taken years to arrive at a mutually respectful, balanced, and affectionate relationship. Perhaps we wouldn’t value what we have if it hadn’t taken so much effort to get here.

And I’m not naïve enough [how naïve *am* I, you ask in your best Ed McMahon voice] to believe that LittleBit’s senior year will be drama-free. She is, after all, my child. But I think this may be the time that both of us get to get it right.

And in the meantime, today is the day for six hours of church. Three in our home ward, because LittleBit is the chorister for sacrament meeting, and three more in Secondborn and Hubby’s, because BittyBubba is getting blessed. Firstborn is cooking dinner for all of us in Secondborn’s kitchen, and I baked a double batch of brownies last night before going to bed.

Good times.

And now I have to go figure out what sort of knitting project might be suitable for a ward where they are not gradually becoming used to seeing me knit in meetings. Particularly since it is also the no-longer-lamented Brother Abacus' ward. [But if he gets snippy I shall have sharp sticks in my hand, bwa ha ha, and not a jury of knitters in the world would convict me.]

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Y◊A◊W◊N

I am home from my sleep study. It was weird. I know that I slept somewhere between six and seven hours, which is a lot for me, and that it was interrupted a little after midnight by Mr. Lasix warbling “Toreador, don’t [p**] on the floor” at the top of his lungs. Which meant that the technician had to unplug me so I could shuffle down the hall like the Bride of Frankenstein. And then plug me back in.

And of course the technician couldn’t tell me whether I snored or stopped breathing or talked in my sleep. I don’t remember dreaming, so I hope it wasn’t the one where I’m sitting naked on the curb with my 25-year-old body and my 55-year-old brain, waiting for the school bus and having a philosophical discussion with a complete stranger who never notices that I left my clothes at home.

Those dreams must not be taking place in Texas, because I would never park my derriere on the curb here in fire ant country.

I started HP7 on Wednesday night and finished it at 1:30 yesterday morning, which made for a long and interesting day at the salt mines. I spent very little time at the switchboard, as the principal scanner was out on vacation, so the data clerk handled the phones and helped with the mail, and I scanned the bulk of the mail and incoming faxes, aided by my office manager and one of the legal secretaries, bless them both. Thankfully, we had relatively little mail yesterday, and thankfully I’ve been scanning the fax confirmations into the system for three months now, so I understand the process and am loads faster than when I was first trained as backup.

By 3:30pm, my body was screaming for sleep, and I had six hours to go before check-in at the sleep clinic. I did have sufficient sense to grab a small burger and small order of fries (I wish it were possible to get a child-size portion of fries from the regular menu; that would be just about perfect in terms of volume and sodium intake) and a non-caffeinated soda for the drive home, otherwise I’d have been one of those sad statistics.

I nodded off at the keyboard while working the AARP Sudoku puzzle, so tired that had Sean Connery rapped on my door and proclaimed, “There you are, darling, I’ve been looking for you all my life!” I’d have told him to wait on the couch until I got home this morning. He could have read HP7. LittleBit spent the night at her best friend’s, as it spooks her to be here if I’m not. So it’s not like he’d have had to arm-wrestle her for the book.

So. I am home, and I’ve eaten a bite of breakfast, and I need to wash my hair for the third time in 24 hours to get rid of the goop that held the electrodes to my scalp, and Fourthborn needs for me to take her to the store, and I am So. Infernally. Tired.

I think I will go lie down on the couch and see what happens.

The megablock for the Miners Block Project is a little over three-quarters done, and I don’t want to play. But I do expect to finish it later today and haul out the last dregs of the black Cascade 220 to crochet around the edges. Photo when that’s done, maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow, maybe not until Monday.

Ravelry Update:
398 people are ahead of [me] in line.
17897 people are behind [me] in line.

That’s all the knitting content you’re getting for now.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

This just in from our newsroom!



I found the news clipping generator at Mason Dixon Knitting.

Knitting on the Miner Blanket Project continues at work; I am about 3/4 done with my mega-block.

And I began reading HP #7 last night.

I’m playing “Mom’s Taxi Service” for Fourthborn and her fiancé for the next few days. Her father, who usually takes them to work, will be out of town. The drop-off, on my way to work in the morning, will be no problem. It’s hard to forget two delightful humans Apparating on my doorstep just after dark-thirty. The home jaunt will be more of a challenge. I will have to put a sticky-note on the dashboard. Or print off a “go get the kids” note before I leave this morning and put it on my seat when I lock my car in the parking garage at work.

Done.

They’ll laugh at me, but it’s better than having them upset because I drove home on autopilot, leaving them stranded on a hot sidewalk in Texas in August.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Dead Frogs and a Side Order of Crow

Inspired, at least in part, by this post.

When the girls were young and ravenous, they would ask me, “What's for dinner?” And I, to hush them and because I rarely knew what I’d be fixing until I walked into the pantry and started grabbing cans, would give them my patented do not ask again smile and tell them “Dead frogs.”

I hated cooking. Loved *them*, wanted them to be healthy and happy and strong, wished that I could be June Cleaver sitting at my end of the table with pearls and unruffled demeanor, passing round bowls heaped full of nourishment and love. But I was raising five kids in a thousand square feet, and some months my food budget was $125. We were not only squeezed in terms of square footage, we were trapped between the interest rate feeding frenzy of 1981, when we bought our house [the cheap mortgage was 14.25%, and the second mortgage was 20.36%] and their father’s episodes of unemployment, which were growing longer and more frequent.

So, mealtime was a challenge. We planted a garden almost every year, and that helped. We raised chickens, ate the eggs, buried the hens that died because we were both too squeamish to slaughter them when they were past their prime. And for a couple of years we had a small herd of dairy goats. The rabbits, which were bought as a source of cheap protein, failed to be fruitful and multiply [unlike me], in part because for the first year we had two does, and then when we succeeded in buying a buck, one doe keeled over from shock after being bred, and the other one backed her derriere into a corner of the cage and dared him to try anything.

I will note parenthetically that our favorite British comedy on Sunday nights was The Good Neighbors, about a family who farmed in suburbia.

We had a Magic Mill [a wheat grinder with two stone buhrs for turning our stored wheat into something useful], and my parents gave us an Atlas Marcato pasta maker one year. The best meal I ever made when we lived in that house, was a pan of lasagna. The tomato sauce was from our garden. The pasta was from ultra-fine whole wheat flour still warm from the grinding. The cheese was primarily from our goats ~ I can make a fresh ricotta that will Knock. Your. Socks. Off.

But mostly, meals were generic this and canned that, and the goal was to feed everybody as cheaply and quickly as possible so I could move on to something that left me feeling less of a failure as a wife and a mother.

One night as I was assuming the position in the kitchen, the girls came in so full of laughter that they couldn’t speak. Now, we had the garden out in the back. We also had raised boxes in the front yard, where we tried to grow potatoes and failed miserably. These boxes were made of scrounged pallets from a shipping company, and the bases stood three or four inches aboveground. I think we were hoping to outwit potato predators, or maybe that’s when we were experimenting with square foot gardening. What I do remember is one of them saying, “You know how we always ask you what’s for dinner, and you always say ‘dead frogs’? Well, we brought you dinner!” And one of them held out to me a very large, very flat, very dead garden toad.

Good times.

And on to another topic. One of the things I do at work is to scan and clean discovery. We’ve gone paperless, so most of it we get in PDF format, but there are some plaintiff attorneys out there who are just sufficiently comfortable with technology that they can send us blurry faxes of much-copied boilerplate legalese. And I get to run it through an OCR scanner and turn it into something the paralegals can work with.

Which means that the computer makes guesses as to what those black dots might mean. And sometimes it guesses wrong. The other day it translated “traffic citation” as “truffle citation”.

Yeah, we have a solution for those unruly truffles. We roll them in cocoa powder and bite their heads off, unless they’re the kind that grows underground, in which case we turn them into truffle oil and drizzle them on anything that might need a little jazzing up: pizza, pasta, or crow that we need to eat.

Speaking of which... How to give you background without embarrassing children who have repented of past errors? At the risk of being too cryptic, I will just say that two of my girls made choices about cars and financial responsibility that caused hard feelings and financial chaos on all sides, which resulted in my declaration that others would not have the opportunity to do likewise. No drivers ed, no car on my nickel, no short people carried on my insurance. Which means that one still doesn't drive, though another has a learners permit. And which means that LittleBit, who has wanted a summer job since she was ten [and has known how to drive for about that long, thanks to one sister who shall be nameless], has grown increasingly more frustrated with the situation.

We live in the largest suburb in the US-of-A without rapid transit. LittleBit and I get along wonderfully, but neither of us wants to feel *stuck* with the other. How on earth is she going to be able to work and continue her education and have a place of her own, without wheels? She will want to move out after she graduates, and I will be ready for an empty nest after being a single parent for a decade.

I have stuck to my guns for almost ten years.

And we have been given a solution that seems to cover all the bases with eye-for-an-eye simplicity. One of the older girls has given me a car that will get LittleBit around town and prevent road trips. [It has 235,000 miles on it.] I am out only the gift tax from when I transferred the title yesterday, which LittleBit will reimburse me should she wish to put the car in her own name after she graduates. If she doesn’t, I’ll sell the car for whatever I can get. And we will use the parent-taught drivers ed, which she will reimburse me from her first paycheck; it’s $20, as opposed to several hundred. She’ll also cover the increased insurance.

Because it’s a car for a car, so to speak, the bad car-ma [couldn’t resist] is now cancelled. And I don’t have to feel like a twit, or a hypocrite, for eating my words. I just have to order the packet so I can officially and legally begin teaching LittleBit. It will take a couple of weeks to get here, and the training cannot be completed in less than 20 days. So ask me about the end of September if we’re still speaking, OK?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Pottering About

When I was playing with the Bitties three weeks ago, Secondborn sent me home with a boxed set of the first four Harry Potter books in paperback, because she is gradually replacing them with hardcover copies. J.K. Rowling has my undying gratitude, as she almost single-handedly turned LittleBit into a reader. We’ve listened to HP audiobooks from the library, and LittleBit has read each of the books at least once. I’ve seen the first two movies.

But I had never actually sat down and read the books. I’ll wait while you pick yourselves up off the floor.

I finished Sorcerer's Stone the following Friday after work and Chamber of Secrets on Saturday and Prisoner of Azkaban late Sunday morning. And I read Goblet of Fire on Monday and Tuesday. One of my attorneys finished Order of the Phoenix on Tuesday and brought it to work for me on Wednesday. I finished it Friday night and will take it back today and bring home his copy of Half-Blood Prince.

Packing forgotten over that weekend. Knitting set aside. I now understand why Melanie gave us a one-week hiatus on MS3, which is languishing.

Where I am in the Ravelry queue as of dark-thirty this morning:
950 people are ahead of [me] in line.
16390 people are behind [me] in line.

Several of you have asked about my toes. Mr. Sulfa did a yeoman job and has hung up his superhero cape.

I passed on church a week ago yesterday, in part because I couldn’t figure out what to wear that didn’t scream “she’s done something painful again”. And in part because the surgical shoes, while very comfortable, were hard for me to walk in. They seemed to promote a gait that wass stiff-legged and slow. Not a bad thing in itself but not useful in a crowded hallway between classes. And then there are all those Primary children ducking in and out among the taller folks, and I didn’t want to have to explain umpteen times to anybody who didn’t know that I had had surgery the preceding Monday.

I have the best possible friends in this ward, very loving and truly Christian. And I was at that prickly stage of convalescence where I wasn’t exactly sick and not quite well, and I didn’t really need anything, and I didn’t want to be a bother, and I really preferred to sit unnoticed in a corner in the back somewhere because the smallest kindness was apt to make me cry.

Ya know?

I saw Dr. Gorgeous on Thursday. He pronounced my toes beautiful and perfect. They are healing exactly as they should. And what I am to do now, is to give them fresh air and sunshine, as much as possible. I told him that one of my medicines warns me about sun exposure. His solution?

“Just hang your toes out the window.”

When I went to church yesterday, I was greeted by several people who asked after my feet. So there was obviously some sort of announcement made last Sunday, and my lovely Relief Society president dropped by after church that day with a hug and the flowers that had graced the table during the lesson [it’s not a proper RS lesson if there’s not a tablecloth and a centerpiece; how the brethren manage in their priesthood quorums, I’m sure I don’t know] because she was there at 12:20, and church lets out at noon.

Today I have the consultation to determine what sort of sleep study I’ll be having, and when. This doctor has more alphabet soup after her name than Campbell’s! And the questionnaire was twelve full pages. I also have a bureaucracy that I need to deal with, either before the appointment or before heading in to the office. But more about that later this week.

My block for Miner Blanket Project is almost half done. I’m writing it up as I go, and I loved working on it in church yesterday. And now I'm going to curl up on the couch and work on it some more.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Death of the Good Housekeeping Fairy

The poem came first:



Montage: The Good Housekeeping Fairy

She will be flitting nowhere, this fairy;
I found her lying dead on my desk,
crushed by a tower of books that toppled.
For her, my little stack of knowledge
was a dangerous thing, indeed.

I softened her crumpled wings with my breath,
smoothing them flat between my palms,
afraid of tearing them with my fingers.

I pickled her in formaldehyde,
worried that a simple brine solution
might make her silken skin bumpy,
or green as a gherkin. She is pinned
like a butterfly in a box,
a fairy under glass, safe from mice
and the tiptoeing feet of silverfish.

Surrounded by symbols
of a homemaker’s life, she stands
entombed in a shadowbox down the hall,
a sentinel in death
over our mutual dream of order.

I salute her as I pass from book
to vacuum to iron to watering can.
A bushel of fairies
could not bring order to this place.

I am overwhelmed, not likely
to find more aid from that quarter:
unlucky woman, destroyer of fairies.
© 1999, [Lynn]

The collage came later. Note the profusion of magazines, the incoming packages from my first throes of online shopping; the gardening tools that mocked my black thumb; the sewing paraphernalia strewn about; the neglected mop, bucket and broom.



I made two dozen or more of these fairies when that movie came out in the late 90’s about the two little girls in England who claimed to have seen real fairies. We put my fairies in the candy displays at the movie theatre where I was working. When the movie moved on to the discount houses, I got to bring my fairies home. This one got X’s for eyes and a T-pin through her torso.

No real fairies were harmed in the making of this collage…

Friday, August 17, 2007

Ms. Knitingale's Mission

My dear, irreverent, philosophical friend Ms. Knitingale has had an inspiration. Go look.

And here's some more inspiration.

And in her subsequent post, she suggested this.

Angeluna beat me to the punch with her response to Flo's first post, so I'm sure that several of the Sisters of the Wool will add their two skeins' worth.

I just finished reading HP5 and can barely keep my eyes open, but I think I still have enough oomph to cast on for my first square.

Photos of sundry bits of knitting progress, tomorrow or Sunday. Night, all!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I am redolent of garlic!

I think there will be no vampire sightings in my neck of the woods today [pun intended, and I’m ducking as we speak]. Last night was the monthly dinner with Brother Sushi, and his turn to buy. He’d had several places in mind and drove past three of them on the way over, each with lines out the door in 100°F weather. We opted for a little hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant just around the corner. It is LittleBit’s favorite place to eat, other than our kitchen when I’m baking brownies.

The first time we ate there, Fourthborn and her fiancé came along. I had the lasagna; Brother Sushi had the Chicken Piccata; I don’t remember what the kids ate. LittleBit’s favorite is the manicotti, which is what I ate last night, and now I quite understand. I like it every bit as much as I like my own lasagna, which I prefer above anyone else’s, and which is the first thing I learned to cook well, back when I was married to First Hubby.

The sauce is sublime. It tastes as if it had been simmering gently for days over the merest whisper of a flame, and it’s not over-salted like most restaurant food. The seasoning is subtle and complex, and love is evident in every bite. The pasta is not tube manicotti from a box. It is squares of fresh pasta carefully rolled around the filling, and they don’t skimp on the cheese. I had hoped to eat half and bring the rest home for breakfast or lunch today. No such luck! If my mother hadn’t taught me better, I’d have licked that plate.

This is a family restaurant, the sort of place where you sit surrounded by people you love and solve the problems of the world over dinner. There were two little boys sitting at one table, coloring quietly and watching TV. Obviously the owners’ sons. There were a couple of men sitting at another table, conversing exuberantly and joyfully in a language I couldn’t quite place. I asked Brother Sushi what he thought, and he said it might be Armenian. I thought the vowels sounded Greek and the consonants vaguely Slavic. So when Madame brought us our check, I asked. Her husband was speaking Albanian with a man who grew up with him in the same village in Macedonia. She is NY-born of Macedonian parents. I came home and Googled and Wiki’d and chipped a bit more veneer off my ignorance.

How cool is it to think that these nice folks who cook so well might be related to Philip of Macedon and his rather more famous son?

And now it is morning, and I have drunk the last drops of the milk, and my ankles and eyelids are not protesting last night's dinner. [My skin is so sensitive to salt intake that some mornings I wake unable to open my eyes. This, thankfully, was not one of them.] And I am of a mood to spend a good part of the day in the kitchen. Some of it packing lesser-used tools and culinary toys, and some of it cooking and baking. It will have to be simple stuff, things that I have memorized, for I packed my cookbooks earlier this week. Thank goodness for Epicurious.

And I have to find a way to get cash to Middlest and LittleBit today; last night they picked up a new duffel or suitcase for LittleBit's return trip. Middlest’s PayPal is down, and the two major money transfer companies want $20 or $14 to facilitate that transfer. Which means that much as I hate to give my bank any more of my cash than they already take, I may have to put on my Mrs. Uppity clothes and go inside and arrange for a wire transfer, which will certainly be cheaper.

How on earth do my poorer brothers and sisters manage? Isaiah [3:15] truly foresaw our day: “What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord GOD of hosts.” I think of these good people who are working here legally and sending money home to Central America and losing what? 15-20% of what they send, to transfer fees?

I am all for free enterprise and a lawful, reasonable profit; that's what’s building my 401K after all and ensuring that I won't have to eat cat food in twenty years. But usury makes me livid, the moreso because I have experienced its effects myself. We bought our little house in 1981 at the height of the interest rate feeding frenzy. We assumed a mortage on which the previous owners had paid 7.25% interest. The savings and loan bumped our rate up to 14.25%. And the second mortgage had an APR of 20.36%.

Almost this persuadeth me to become a lawyer. Almost.

[A few hours later]

We now interrupt this relative rhapsody for another infomercial from Reality, Inc. My left toe, formerly ingrown, is now ingrate and infected. So I have made two trips to the pharmacy today: one that I expected, for a refill of Mr. Lasix. And another to pick up Mr. Sulfa. And returned my library books. And picked up a $5 pizza, because I no longer feel like cooking. Firstborn was out mid-morning, having picked up Bitty-Bit. They brought me oodles of boxes from 1BDH's sister. No Bitties for me this weekend; BittyBubba does not need my germs, and my toes do not need BittyBit's feet.

No photos today, sorry. Not in the mood to move stuff around and photograph minimal progress. Ask me again tomorrow?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Be Careful What You Pray For

The count of filled and catalogued boxes continues to rise. My local friends and family are scavenging empties for me, and I’ve raided the supply room twice this week. Plus, I’m bringing home newspapers from the break room after work each day, for packing the fragile stuff. Of which there is way too much!

I think I’ve mentioned that one of my attorneys and his wife give me their magazines after they’ve read them. And I generally pass them on to Secondborn for her enjoyment, and she recycles them, because *she* lives in an enlightened community which provides containers for weekly curbside recycling, while I do not. I’ve been a little distracted by knitting in recent weeks, and the magazines have [ahem] piled up.

So yesterday I filled an entire lidded box with magazines sorted by type. And this morning I hauled a smaller box containing the ones that Secondborn wants, and the big box with the others, out to the car. I didn’t exactly hurt my back; I just made it feel very tired and whiny. The little box will go to FW sometime this weekend, as I haven’t seen the Bitties or their parents since last Friday. I tumped [v., Texan, transitive: “tipped over” or “dumped”] the contents of the big box into a recycling dumpster at one of the school district's administrative buildings on the way home from work tonight.

And as I was buckling up for the drive into work, I casually mentioned in my prayers [I do rolling prayers, because getting down on my knees is not easy, and getting up is more like Streisand on skates in “Funny Girl”: a real production number, and very loud, but maybe not quite so musical] that I hoped my back would be all calmed down by the time I got to work. And Somebody was obviously listening, and in a mischievous and indirectly generous mood. Because the drive that takes 25 minutes if it’s a Federal holiday, and 45 minutes on an average day, and an hour and a half on a really bad day, took me –

Everybody sitting down?

two and a half hours, most of it spent along a two-mile stretch waiting for a wreck to clear. A wreck that locked up all four eastbound lanes. I got one purl-back row done on MS3. I didn’t figure I’d have enough time in one spot to keep track of the patterned rows, so I dug a little farther into my bag and dredged up the Sabbath Sock.

Neatly pulling it off the needle.

But I had plenty of just-sitting-there time to thread it back on, and to add another half inch, and to measure it. So when I got to the office half an hour before I’d normally take my break, I was way calmer than everybody else on the road, I’d already gotten in more knitting time than usual, and my back was *very* relaxed.

Even if my hips and knees and ankles and toes were complaining lustily. [Not to mention the parts that Mr. Lasix regulates. Oye!]

So, it's been a weird day, but a rather good one all things told. And I am now going to nuke a big bowl of leftover chicken soup and fire up my knitting needles. A friend is bringing me an electric footbath tonight, to rev up the healing. Toes are looking pretty good and feeling pretty comfortable; I skipped the major bandaging and just went with bandaids and real shoes today.

Woohoo!

Knitting pictures, maybe, tomorrow. Or possibly the day after that.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Toe-ing the line

Gotta love a doctor with sufficient sense of humor to draw smiley faces on the toes of all his patients who have this procedure done. He says he’s been doing this for 20 years.



The toes and I took a nice nap in the afternoon, when we were sufficiently lulled by lunch and the dulcet voice of the narrator. Later, we finished listening to Sense and Sensibility. As of dinnertime, we were still pain-free.

I had a *terrific* pre-operative blessing from my good home teacher on Sunday night, all the things I would have blessed myself with had I had the power and authority to do so, and without my giving him the slightest indication of what I wanted or hoped for :)

Sometimes I am flabbergasted by the generosity and grace of God. This has been merely a small and particularly persistent thorn in the flesh. It's not a kidney transplant or another parting of the Red Sea. It’s not a sudden transformation of my fallen, mortal nature into something sublimely Christlike. But that does not make it any less miraculous, or any less precious, to me.

God: His love, His mercy, His grace, really is in the details.

And as for knitting content? I got several rows done on the sock while Doctor Gorgeous was fixing my feet. [Have I mentioned that the man is jaw-droppingly handsome? I do not remember *ever* having been this close to a man so good looking, much less having one minutely examining my poor abused feet. The irony ~ and the waste ~ has not been lost on me.] And I am 13 rows shy of completing Clue 2. It was a good day for knitting. I listened to most of The Screwtape Letters before crashing for the night.

I’m off to sort through and repack another box before breakfast and the morning drive.

Monday, August 06, 2007

If it's 4am, must be time to call the police

I am typing this by the light in the hall, because I don’t particularly wish the neighbors to know that it was I who called the authorities. We have a new manager here who is determined to clean up not only the physical property, but the quality of the residents and their friends. She gave me strict instructions when I took her the rent on Friday, that I was to call her cell phone any time I called the police. The one thing I can be sure of, is that it wasn’t the nice ladies upstairs who were yelling and cursing and honking.

Tan commented in response to my post a couple of months ago that she and Tola live only a couple of hours apart, but that Tola wouldn’t want to live where Tan lives, because it’s a bad neighborhood. Sticking my tongue so firmly in my cheek that the pressure is making it hard for me to type, I will state that I didn’t think they *allowed* bad neighborhoods in U-tahr!

And Ms. Knitingale has posted in recent months about her upbringing and roots, with her usual gimlet eye. So maybe it’s time for me to share a few of my own experiences.

I remember walking into the courthouse in Provo to get our marriage license 30 years ago this September and being appalled to see cigarette butts on the courthouse steps. I’d only been a member of the LDS church for a couple of years and was still sorting out incongruities between the principles I was learning in the scriptures and in Sunday School, and the behaviors of individual Saints. [These days I spend more time sorting out the incongruities between what I know and what I do, an ever-fruitful field of study. I’m specializing in Beam Removal and hoping for a promotion to Mote Management.]

The girls and I laugh ruefully at the evidence that, no matter where I move, the neighborhood begins to decay rapidly. Maybe it’s my breath?

For the 14 years that I’ve lived in this suburb, it’s been along an east-west thoroughfare that might as well be named “Gang Alley”. Our first apartment was squarely in the middle of it, near a school that was the poster child for perversity, not diversity. There were black gangs, Hispanic gangs, Asian gangs, and my five lily-white, excessively-outspoken daughters. Who might have been considered by some to constitute a gang of their own, with their CTR rings [Choose the Right] and their scripture totes and their singing Girls Camp songs at the drop of a hat.

After three years, we couldn’t afford the rent there, so we moved to a place that was one step up from a homeless shelter, a place for the downtrodden and demoralized, a place where they didn’t run a credit check, they ran a criminal check, and if you had a telephone *and* a checking account, you were rich. I finished up my associates degree and my marriage to the children’s father in that apartment. I had my first decently-paying job while we lived there, and I bought my first car while we lived there and I moved us out of there two and a half years after the divorce was final, about a month after Secondborn married her DH. We’d lived there a little under four years.

Firstborn’s roommate had moved out, and I was able to add-on to her lease, which saved me from four months on the waiting list. Firstborn almost immediately moved out, which left Fourthborn and LittleBit living with me. We lived there just shy of three years. The manned security post had been shut down by the new owner and management company. We were surrounded by Boombox Hell and cars with bass so loud that I hoped it rendered their inconsiderate drivers unable to reproduce their kind. Fourthborn had voted with her feet and was living with her father.

LittleBit and I moved here four years ago. Firstborn’s hubby noted that it was better to live in the worst part of a really good neighborhood than in the best part of a really bad one. I planned to stay until she graduates next spring and then move into an old house in a gentrifying neighborhood and never have to move again until they take me out feet-first. But after having hot water only five or six days last month, and my experiences of last summer, even my seemingly inexhaustible patience has run its course, and I am packing and looking, looking and packing. Fifteen boxes by the time I went to bed last night, and one Rubbermaid storage tote gone through and inventoried on my Excel spreadsheet.

After Hurricane Katrina, we had an influx of new neighbors. Who had friends. Who had other friends. During the spring and summer, we had Mardi Gras 24/7 upstairs. People coming and going at all hours, parties on the balcony, jam sessions in the kitchen, including percussion on the kitchen counters that [unsurprisingly, to me at least] percolated downstairs through the walls. Management’s response? Call 911 every time it happens, document the call with a fax to us the next morning, and when we get enough complaints we can evict them.

LittleBit’s sense of smell is more acute than mine, so she’d alert me when she smelled weed, and I’d call the cops. It almost became a routine: 6:30 on a Wednesday evening, party starting up, we’d go out to the car to take her to her mid-week activity at church, drive around the corner, she’d dial my cell phone for me and hand it to me so I could talk. Chemically unimpaired folks might have figured out that if the church ladies leave their apartment and get in the car and disappear, and the cops appear, it’s probably the church ladies who called them.

Last Friday, rowdy neighbors woke me up at 3:16am. Not fighting, for once, but two people who were drunk or high or just socially clueless. It is at moments like that when I wish there were a third switch by my kitchen door: one for the interior light, one for the porch light, and one that takes a picture of neighbors selling drugs or conversing as if it were daylight, without a big flash to wake anyone who is managing to sleep through the ruckus.

Ahhhh, it’s quiet now. I think it’s safe to fetch the canning jars from the cabinet over the refrigerator and pack another box before rustling up some breakfast. And then I can fire up the Jane Austen and my knitting needles. I had finished twelve rows of Clue 2 before going to bed last night. I don’t think I'll be taking MS3 with me to the doctor’s this morning. I don’t want to think what a local anesthetic might do to my stitch count!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Things found while packing

1. Six old audiobooks on cassette:
The Best of the Original Chicken Soup for the Soul, read by the authors
Simple Abundance: Living by Your Own Lights, read by the author
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, read by the author
Walden, *not* read by the author, but by Michael O'Keefe who used to be married to Bonnie Raitt who is one of my favorite singers. He is now a Zen priest; talk about Something to Talk About !!!
The Screwtape Letters, read by John Cleese (woohoo!!!)

2. The audiocassette tapes I made for mallwalking, back when I was getting my AAS in interpreting for the deaf. Can my Walkman be far behind?
3. A polo ball.
4. A reason to put GPS in my car, even though I have a perfectly marvelous sense of direction: John Cleese is one of the options on TomTom. [The things you learn on Wikipedia!]
5. The Godiva card that Firstborn and her hubby gave me for Mother's Day *last year*, which is still good, but I will need to drive to the Galleria to spend it. I think there is a field trip in my immediate future, perhaps one night after work next week, assuming that my toes will be up to it.

Where I am in the Ravelry queue as of early Saturday evening:
2573 people are ahead of [me] in line.
12503 people are behind [me] in line.

Here's a shot of MS3. Yes, I know everybody else started weeks ago; everybody else didn’t just have a new grandbaby. This puts me at the end of Clue 1. So all those folks who think that I have Not-Clue-1? Guess again. [I wonder if it’s possible to notarize a stole?]



Kudos to Jo for mentioning me by name in her blog. Jo, every time that happens, my readership jumps. Bless you for all the new friends I’m making! Your Swallowtail is looking good, sister!

I have 10 boxes packed, numbered, labeled within an inch of their lives, and entered on an Excel spreadsheet, in case I need the contents between now and moving day. I scored four more empty boxes while out and about yesterday and hope to pick up more next Thursday night from the office supply store. And I have three of my kids scrounging boxes from their work, and another friend who has *scads* where she works and will start harvesting them for me.

LittleBit is going to be mighty surprised to come home and find so much of the house packed. But I strongly believe that faith without works is dead: if I expect Heaven to help me find a house within the next two months, then I think it behooveth me to pack so that move is as simple and easy as possible. It’s like that congregation which met to pray for a drought-breaking rain and was surprised when one little girl brought her umbrella to the meeting. I’m happiest when I have the faith of that little girl, do what I can to prepare for the outcome that I hope for, and give thanks when in the good time of the Almighty, I receive what Heaven thinks is best for me.

I do hope that we can get into our new home early enough to plant a couple of fruit trees this fall; I’ve wanted to try espaliering because it’s so pretty, and the trees are more productive than when they grow up naturally.

I scored a rotisserie chicken marked down to $2.50 when I stopped for milk and a fresh bag of gingersnaps at dark-thirty last night. Said chicken bubbling away in the crockpot as we speak. They're much too salty to be eaten as is, but diluted with half a gallon of water and simmered for 24-48 hours, they make a wonderful stock that smells like heaven and doesn't make my ankles explode.

I have wondered if the waxing and waning of my ankles could be related to the state of my big toes. Wouldn't it be marvelous if by taking care of this small bit of housekeeping, I could go off the diuretic and maybe even my anti-inflammatory? I guess I’ll find out tomorrow.

I do try to keep a sense of proportion about this. We have a good brother who recently had a kidney transplant. He was back at church today, laughing and smiling. The other friend who was recently widowed and attends another ward in our building, was in the hall as I walked out to my car. He’s obviously unready to turn cartwheels of joy, but he was there today to worship and to learn. My two poor rebellious toes are nothing compared to what my friends have experienced. [And the discomfort is nothing like what I felt just before I had my gallbladder out, six years ago. Post-op was a waltz in the park, in comparison.] Still, for sand-in-my-oyster irritation, there is nothing like unhappy feet.

I am now going to put them up, pop on Disc 6 of Sense and Sensibility, and tackle Clue 2.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Not crying over burnt milk!

On Monday I came home from eight hours of Bitty-wrangling, happily weary and starving to death. When I went shopping last weekend, I bought half a dozen new pasta preparations. We eat a lot of pasta chez nous, and I am still grieving the disappearance of the rotini with white cheddar and broccoli sauce from market shelves. So I am trying other options. This box called for a measured amount of water, a smaller amount of milk, and a dollop of olive oil. I put the pan on the stove, covered it, and promptly forgot about it until it boiled over five minutes later. [I told you I was tired!]

That pasta was too salty and not particularly inspiring. I won’t buy it again, but I’m glad that I tried it.

On Wednesday night, I was thinking, “fettucini and a nice sploosh of clam sauce and I wonder if there’s any parmesan cheese left in the fridge?” Filled my big pot with water, salted it lightly, and gave it a couple of goody-goody’s of lemon juice. Forced the lid down onto it – the pan has been a little warped for more than 20 years, not unlike its owner – fired up the stove, and sat down with my knitting. Less than five minutes later, a smoke alarm that I didn’t even know I had, went off. Guess who had forgotten to wipe the spilt milk out of the burner pan on Monday night?

First trip to the park with BittyBit, on Wednesday.



Pondering her next move:



Unblocked Swallowtail:



I don't know if you can click on that and get it to fill most of your screeen, but when I did so while editing, it was breathtaking! Corner of unblocked Swallowtail:



Progress on the Sabbath Sock. Note how nicely it continues to play with the skirt that I want to match.



I put another series of stripes on it yesterday. And the first little bit of MS3, taken yesterday morning. If you look carefully, you can see beads marching up the outer border. At this point I was nearly done with Chart A of Clue 1. I am now several rows into Charts B, left and right.



This will be my last day of Bitty-wrangling. Other Grandma is back from helping her other son and his bride move to TN for med school, and I will most gratefully hand over the short people into her keeping. I need a vacation to rest up from this vacation!

On other fronts, the packing continues. I packed three boxes yesterday; the contents of two went to Firstborn’s and joined her makeup inventory. She brought me five boxes from work, and I brought the two empties back. I hope to have seven boxes packed before leaving for Secondborn’s in two hours.

By emptying all the translucent rolling carts of inventory, I now have somewhere to put the craft supplies that have exploded all over my boudoir. I will not be Bittying this weekend, and I hope to greet the Sabbath with a tidy bedroom. We moved into these apartments a little over four years ago, and for the first six months all was cleanliness-is-next-to-Godliness around here. [For most of my life it has been cleanliness-is-next-to-impossible, what with too many bodies in too little space.]

And then the children’s father was out of work for a year, which meant no child support, which meant (A) I put that year on plastic and (B) I am still paying it off and (C) I also became an independent beauty consultant to try to make up the difference and (D) housework, other than cooking and dishes and laundry and taking out the garbage, was the first thing to go.

I am now in the process of taking my life back, at least the part of my life that is not consumed by sticks and string. Part of that process includes the realization that I am ready to become a homeowner again, and that I want a house about the same size as this apartment, with neighbors who know words longer than four letters.

I am now going to pack all my old VHS tapes and then curl up on the couch with some knitting and an audiobook until it's time to go play with the Bitties.