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!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Not feeling the love.

Worry not: Beloved is in no danger; neither is the cat. I am just not feeling affectionate about Color Affection, and the worm in the apple of my knitting Eden is the yarn I built this project around: one short skein of old-school Jitterbug in a color that knits up into mud no matter how many or how few the stitches I put on my needles. It looked pretty good with the pale pink, until I added the zinger of a deep cherry third color, and now we are back to glorified mudpile. Cygnet to swan(ish) to oh my heck, Ugly Duckling.

Oye. I am sorely tempted to frog back to where the pale pink ended, and put the project in time out until I find a medium color that works. Maybe the brighter red, maybe not. I am also sorely tempted to rewind the small skein and list it as for sale or trade on Ravelry. I think I might haul out my ruana and work on it awhile, as a palate/palette cleanser. The ruana is just that much too large to go back to work with me, if I remember correctly. Progress on it ended a few hours before I said I do. Since then, other long-term projects have caught my fancy, not to mention the Sisyphean effort to finally get our stuff merged in a way that makes sense.

Work was good. I fixed a simple but tasty dinner. Beloved is about ready to come in here and crash. The dishwasher is running. While I am pleased with my desk at work, I want to have at least a taste of that level of success before I call it a day. I am tired. Half an hour of happy knitting would change tired into relaxed.

Ms. Tola? you hanging in there in Joisey?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

♫Thank you, Alison!♪

She had a wonderful post on memory, with links to Rick(y) Nelson singing Garden Party. And then his sons, who were either too young or too old for my girls to fall in love with, singing it as that trio, below. I don’t know which Nelson is which, but the dark-haired one in the middle is the spitting image of his dad, on whom I had a deep and abiding little-girl crush.



This video had me all misty eyed.

Much progress on the shawlette yesterday, and this morning before breakfast. I have nearly completed the last stripe sequence in the second section, and most likely while I am at church today will add in the third color.

My guys made tremendous progress in the dining room yesterday. I spent the better part of an hour shredding documents. A good chunk of the stuff they unpacked is going home with Trucker, and we found spiral notebooks that the Beloved grandkids can use. Five or six boxes of non-family-specific genealogical research information (old manuals) are out on the curb for pickup on Tuesday. I have a backup paper slicer (for scrapbooking) and a spare blade, which I put into my original slicer. I had just not quite managed to get to the craft store to buy more blades.

Anybody besides me remember the old Gillette commercials where they sang, “How are you fixed for blades?”

I’ve had a bowl of cereal and need to fix myself some toast and grab a chunk of cheese for additional protein. We have rehearsals this morning for the Primary program that will happen in two weeks. Gotta gird my loins.

Beloved is still very tired but continues to gain ground, we think, after the transfusion last Wednesday. One of our friends at church, who was at the preparedness activity yesterday, told me to tell Beloved that he probably got Democrat blood. I roared. Then on the way home I came up with the perfect riposte: no, it has to be Republican blood, because [most] liberals are only interested in giving away other people’s assets! And it will be Tom’s turn to roar.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I love math! (80% of my kids are shuddering.)

When I got home from work last night, I looked at the amount of variegated yarn left; it began as 100g or 320 yards. The new skeins are 150g or 400 yards, just that much more plump than the preceding generation of Jitterbug. I fired up a spreadsheet while dinner cooked, and I played with numbers. When I had something that looked plausible -- how much I have used vs. what proportion would be necessary for the short rows that will soon be my pleasure to knit -- I weighed the dwindling ball. I needed to have used no more than 45%. I had used 55%.

So when I went to bed last night, I had decided there would be tinking, and I was pretty sure that I knew just how much would be necessary, which would turn Color Affection into more of a scarf than a shawlette, unless I chose to put a wider solid red border on it.

But after sleeping on it, I have decided to finish out this middle section with the variegated yarn; I think I will have just enough and maybe enough to start the third section as written. And then I will decide if I want to do the rest of the third section alternating the pale pink solid with the dark red solid, or just the dark red solid. It’s not a decision I need to make right away.

I’m home from our ward disaster preparedness activity. Which, thankfully, was not a disaster. The premise was that North Texas had had a 500-year ice storm, power was out, houses were damaged, etc. I woke up this morning, realized that I needed to be at church in an hour and a half because I had a part to play as a member of the Primary presidency (!), muttered a few childbirth words because we need to get a new inside fridge today, and there are pomegranates to slay, but I went and did my duty and even managed to have fun, especially when we were sitting in the gym, eating cold sandwiches and bags of potato chips and bottles of water, and a piece of fruit, and I got to talk with grown-ups.

(I spent my stint of service reading stories to small kids, using a flashlight, because I am not a crawl around on the floor kind of grandmother. I am a sit quietly in a chair and read books to you sort of grandma. I discovered some new favorite books that need to end up at the Bitties’ house, and rediscovered some old favorites from when my kids were little.)

More work is about to ensue. OlderTwin helped us haul off the spare boat trailer for scrap and has found us a new fridge which we can get on Monday, huzzah! So Trucker and Beloved and I are going to tackle the boxes in the dining room, and I am ridiculously hopeful that by the time Trucker leaves on Monday night, we will be able to use the dining room as a dining room, and on to the next project. Which, please Heaven, will be my closet?

Friday, October 26, 2012

An *interesting* experience.

Work went well. Life? a little more difficult. I got distinctly teary-eyed during my morning-commute prayer. (What? you don’t pray when you’re driving to work? Then you obviously don’t live and drive in North Texas!)

The teary-eyed bit is not a new thing. It has happened frequently over the years, and it doesn’t necessarily signify sadness. It happened when I was serving as Relief Society president in my old ward. It happened when one or another of the kids was plowing through a major struggle. And sometimes it happens because of a breathtakingly beautiful sunrise.

After cycling in and out of depression for eight years while married to the childrens father, I keep a very close watch on my mental health dipstick. I will not claim that all is [root] beer and skittles in the Ravelled household; Monday’s bad news is a lot to process. But really, for the moment, I am OK. And Beloved is perking right up after yesterday’s transfusion. His color is good, and his twinkle is back, and his voice sounds way more like him than recently.

The last two days I have taken my lunch at 2:00 rather than the usual 1:00 or thereabouts. I have just gotten into a flow and waited for a natural break. Made for much shorter afternoons, let me tell you! Yesterday the only other co-worker in the break room when I finally broke for lunch, was there with her copy of That Book. (She is the latest of a bunch of my co-workers to be reading Fifty Shades of Ick. And cheerfully acknowledges that it is smut. Just in case I was in any doubt.) I sat at her table, because the one where I usually sit was greasy from other people’s lunches, and I was not in the mood to wipe it down so that I could knit unscathed.

As I sat on the other end of her table, I got progressively more cranky and verklempt. It was really weird. I didn’t say anything to her, I was not thinking condemnatory thoughts about her, but I could feel myself feeling more and more sad and frustrated about Beloved’s health issues and the prognosis. Ten minutes after she finished her lunch and went back to her desk, I felt like me again.

As I pondered it on the drive home, what I came up with is this: reading the kind of stuff she was reading, does not attract angelic attention, but the opposite. I think if I had had eyes to see, there was all sorts of dark stuff swirling around her end of the table. And, because the Adversary and his minions do not have a veil of forgetfulness over them, as we mortals do, they know exactly what Beloved and I are facing, where our vulnerabilities are, and are eager to play upon them. I think some of that dark stuff swirled over to my end of the table.

I love her dearly, and I will be finding someplace else to sit at lunch today. Maybe down in the atrium amongst the trees, with sunlight trickling down from the skylights through the leaves. I played the Primary music tape (for our Primary program next month) one and a half times on the drive home, and sang along, and when I got home I only needed a bear hug from Beloved to finish putting my day aright.

 The knitting is going well. I am about halfway through the first set of stripes. Jury is out on whether there will be enough of the contrast yarn to make it through to the end. I might end up frogging back and turning this into a large-ish scarf rather than a shawlette. We shall see.

Friday. We are encouraged to wear pink, and our tennis shoes and jeans, today. The latter I can manage. I did not get out to Wally World yesterday to pick up a new pair of jeans, but if I scoot I can do that and maybe score a non-boring pink shirt to go with, inexpensively. No idea what I want for breakfast, except a whole lot of something, but I have leftover smothered steak and mashed potatoes to take for lunch. And tonight we are having salmon and steamed carrots; anything else is just the cherry on top of the sundae as far as I am concerned.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Yarn search? Successful!

I walked into the shop after work last night, asked for the nice lady who had helped me over the phone the night before, and she led me right to the perfect shade of Bing cherry that will complete my shawlette. In the meantime, I have worked four repeats of the stripe pattern with yarn #2, and it is turning out exactly as I had hoped.

Beloved’s transfusion went well yesterday. They gave him two units, plus a massive dose of diuretic to get that right leg to drain. He didn’t sleep well last night (much getting-up to deal with the natural results). His back aches, but he is currently snoozing on the bed behind me. This is his prime sleeping time. He can usually get a solid 2-3 hours, this time of day.

His brother got here safely last night and accompanied me to the grocery store, and treated us (ok, treated me) to the last three pints of Chocolate Therapy in north Texas. I know. I’ve looked. They will spend the next few days finishing up the pomegranate harvest. I told his brother that we were going to work him like a Hebrew slave while he’s here.

I found out where my favorite button store has moved to. They had a stack of business cards at the yarn shop, and they are about a block north of them, which means they are minutes away from me. This bodes well for if-and-when my sewing mojo returns.

I had another good, productive day at work yesterday. When I left the office, I had set up the most important task I will need to accomplish today, and I should get that knocked out in no time. Part of me wishes I could stay home and work around the house with the boys, but work and knitting are the only two parts of my life where I feel like I know what I am doing right now, which is a nice segue into my new calling at church.

I’m in the Primary presidency. Monday’s news crowded that out of my consciousness for awhile. Jesus wants me for the Sunbeams. And the nursery, and the kids who are older than the Sunbeams but not yet baptized, and the Cub Scouts. Feel free to chortle: I know virtually nothing about little boys. Apparently, Heaven thinks it’s time for that to change. And I am grateful to no longer need to prepare a weekly lesson.

Time for me to enter the new yarn on Ravelry, grab my bags, and scoot out the door a little early. Lorelai wants a nice drink, and the jeans I bought after Beloved proposed last year, are getting to be just that much too comfy to wear to work. If I leave now I can swing by Wally World and get a new pair and still have time for knitting before work.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Better.

Beloved has an appointment today for an infusion. What makes that different from a transfusion, I don’t know, and I don’t have time to consult the Google and Thummim. But we are thankful.

OlderTwin and wife, and Mel and Squishy, came over last night to help us lobotomize pomegranates. Notwithstanding the floor covering they laid out, the carpet looks like a battlefield. Am I upset? No, because sooner or later that carpet is going bye-bye, and in the meantime it will remind me of the love and laughter in our living room last night.

I cooked dinner. For six people. And still remembered how. Granted, Beloved had the tomato sauce simmering when I got home with the rest of the meal. But I wrangled the spaghetti (two pounds of it) and the garlic bread, and we have meals through the end of the week if we like, and just enough garlic bread for me to take with one portion for lunch today, woohoo!

The contrast color of the Jitterbug looks fantastic against the semi-solid pale dusty pink. And the yarn shop which is near the temple, has Jitterbug in stock in what sounded, over the phone, like promising colors. I am heading there after work today.

This is the part where I pick out which shirt to wear, and what accessories, and get the heck out of Dodge. Hoping for another productive day at work. My desk wasn’t too bad when I got there yesterday.

Beloved’s youngest brother will be here tonight and stay for a couple of days. Really looking forward to that. He’s good people, and the house will rock with laughter, and we’ll all be the better for it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

If no news = good news, then...

News = bad news. In this case, mostly true. We’ll start with the trivial bits first.

Yesterday morning, when I was sitting on the bed in Houston, ready to add in the second color, I reread the instructions. Which is when I discovered that I had had it wrong from the set-up row. Thankfully, Jitterbug frogs well. I took it back to the slipknot and started over. I am happy to report that while it looked pretty amazing, done wrong, it looks incredibly better, done right. I have one row left before adding the second color. I figured that would give me adequate stuck-at-lights knitting for the morning commute.

The other news is more significant. First, I will praise the good people at MD Anderson for their thoroughness as well as their jaw-dropping kindness. [While we were waiting to meet with the oncologist, a nice young man walked around with a basket of healthy snacks: graham crackers and pretzels, etc.; they certainly didn’t do that when Beloved was treating at Parkland.] When we were there two weeks ago, we mentioned Beloved’s headaches as well as his mobility issue from stepping off the curb wrong and pulling a muscle in his gluteus maximus while crawling around harvesting the leeks and beets from the garden. Expensively-educated eyebrows started flapping. So they scheduled CT’s and MRI’s for this visit. That’s what happened when YoungerTwin took him down last week.

We got the results back yesterday. They compared the new CT scans with the ones taken in August. Lungs are basically okay at this time - there are some cancer (sub centimeter nodules) cells; in his liver, one of the tumors has increased from 5.6cm (about 2”) to 6.6cm (about 2.5”). So those scans pretty much tell us what we already knew. The lungs are holding their own, and the liver is revolting, which is something at which liver excels, on principle.

The MRI of his brain raises concerns; the tech and the doctor reviewing this MRI recommend an additional scan (skull base MRI) to check some soft tissue abnormalities that will need to be investigated. My unprofessional guess? More tumors.

The MRI of his spine showed some natural degeneration due to getting older. However there is metastasis into the spine. So the pain he has been having in his lower back above the right buttock may also be due to the metastasized cancer, in addition to the muscle pull.

They can give him injections to strengthen the bone; however, a possible side effect could be necrosis of the jaw tissue. Basically, that which would strengthen his spine and hip (critical in case of a fall) has a distinct possibility of killing his jawbone. So we have a hard decision to make in that area.

His hemoglobin should be 14 or so. It was 10.7 in August and has dropped to 8 as of last week; Beloved’s metaphor: 8 cylinder engine running on 4 cylinders with some bad spark plugs. MD Anderson will be coordinating with our local oncologist to set Beloved up for a blood transfusion, which we hope will get him back up to speed.

As far as the swelling in his right leg swelling, it is evidently a deep vein thrombosis (blood clot) and possibly a partial blockage in the femoral artery but this will be addressed in the near future.

There is some good news: several of the liver enzyme levels which had been rising (not good) have dropped a little (very good), meaning that the liver is doing what it can to fight the cancer.

Another positive note is that he has gained five lbs since two weeks ago. This is very good news. I keep telling him he can have some of mine.

Remember the brouhaha with UT Southwestern a few weeks ago? They did not want to play with our HMO. The drug in their clinical trial has been approved by the FDA, and it is an oral medication, which means it could be administered locally, presumably by our wonderful, local oncologist.

As far as the Phase 1 that we thought we were in? The doctor at MD Anderson has another patient who qualifies, who has seniority on the list. Unless that patient declines to participate, Beloved will not get into the study after all. On the one hand, much of what we learned yesterday (except for taking the second blood sample) could have been taken care of over the phone; on the other hand, news like we got is best delivered in person, so it was worth the time, expense, and physical stress of making the trip.

I will close with Beloved’s words to our children: “Cancer is leading in the scoring at this point - but I never learned how to quit and am too old to learn how now - so the battle is not over. Prospects in the 2nd half look good.” As for me, I am strangely calm and peaceful. (Or maybe just calmly strange.) But I have the unmistakeable sense that everything will work out perfectly and elegantly, so I intend to enjoy each day as it comes. Thank you for your prayers and positive thoughts. Please keep them coming.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Beloved is moulting.

He was right: his hair is definitely getting thinner all over; I find it ironic that he should be losing his hair a month after his last chemo and not during chemo. We go back for consultation tomorrow to find out what his treatment schedule will be on the investigational drug.

He and YoungerTwin (I do need to find better names for the twins, and for their wives) had a good, safe trip. I drove YT home after they got back to our house yesterday afternoon, and we had a good talk.

Beloved has showered and is getting dressed. He just emitted a new noise. It was alarming. I asked if he was OK. He said he was. I said I knew most of his noises, but that was a new one.

“I always test-drive my new noises on Sunday.”

*Snort*.

Today I will get sustained and set apart for my new calling. I may not be able to tell you what it is for a couple of days, because I don’t know if Beloved’s laptop is working, and I don’t know how much zip I will have after a lightning trip to Houston and back, particularly if I do most or all of the driving.

Yesterday, tired as he was, he picked a flat and a bucket of pomegranates, and we got most of them seeded and juiced last night. The rest will have to wait until tomorrow night, because after church we are coming home, taking a quick nap (neither of us slept well last night), and then getting the heck out of Dodge.

The new knitting is coming along nicely. I will probably get into the second color while we are at MD Anderson tomorrow. I wonder if that yarn shop will be open tomorrow? I would like to pick up the third color sooner, rather than later, and it would be an excellent souvenir of the trip.

I did a little buying to go with my shopping on Friday. (Not sure if I blogged that.) Three new/replacement dressy T-shirts, another pair of leggings, and some accessories. A very modest expenditure. And I saved Beloved $37.17 on the clothing alone. [1BDH said I should make sure to point that out to Beloved.]

I need to grab my handouts for what I hope will be my last Primary lesson to teach, ever, but what I suspect will not. I will genuinely miss having these kids in class; I will not miss having to prepare a lesson every week.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Conundrum conquered?

I put a bunch of yarns together at lunchtime, trying to figure out which project and what I was going for in terms of color. I very nearly went with Noro Kureyon Sock for the first section of Color Affection, with the Jitterbug as the second color, and a bamboo blend from Oldfield Creek: Panda. The yarns all begged to play together, but there would have been very little change in value from the one to the next. It would either have been brilliant, or an utter muddle, and while Jitterbug frogs well, Kureyon does not, plus even after it has been washed it will never be as soft as Jitterbug.

I decided to swing by The Shabby Sheep on my way home from work. I nearly had heart failure when I saw that the little yellow house was closed up. No worries: they have moved to the slightly larger house next door. And they had a (new, improved, i.e. larger) skein of Jitterbug in a pale dusty pink that is just half a tick lighter than the lightest pink in the skein I had. So it will become my jumping-off point, as soon as I wind up the ball and frog the sock toe from the other skein, and I will get in a modicum of knitting before calling it a day.

I will hit the other local yarn stores to see if they have the third color I am holding in my mind. A darkish grey would be gorgeous, but safe. I am thinking more along the lines of cranberry to plum, and Jimmy Beans has a color that looks likely, but I want to hold a skein in my hand, with the work in progress, and not try to guesstimate a match over the internet.

And that, my friends, is all you are getting out of me tonight. My eyes are growing heavier by the minute, and my hands are itching to knit.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Irn Bru? P.U.!

One more thing to cross off my bucket list, that I don’t remember putting on there.

Several years ago, before I became Beloved’s beloved, his ward had a missionary from Scotland (because even the most hard-shell traditional Christians just might listen to an elder with a brogue), and when Beloved and his eldest traveled to Scotland, they tried something called Irn Bru, which is something of a national treasure Across the Pond. It’s pronounced iron brew.

Squishy found some locally at an anglophile store in or around Dallas. He and Mel brought us a couple of bottles last night. I brought one to work this morning, leaving the other for Beloved’s enjoyment. We had the monthly staff meeting this morning, and sometimes those run long, and sometimes they run long after a night in which sleep has run short.

I have no idea how the quantity of caffeine in Irn Bru stacks up against that in my guilty pleasure, Cherry Coke, but I suspect it is geometrically diabolically greater. I also suspect I will have zero difficulty remaining awake on the drive home. [Edited to add: I was correct.] Or after dinner. [Haven’t had it yet but am still quite lively.] Or, possibly, after I pull the covers over my head tonight. [Oh dear!]

Irn Bru is suspiciously orange. It would make orange Jello feel inadequate. It might even be brighter than day-glow poster board! I nursed a cup all afternoon, and there was still about three-fourths of a cup left in my glass when I was ready to head home. I unrepentantly poured it down the drain. I brought the mostly-full bottle home with me and stuffed it into the outside fridge, because our inside fridge is singing Mimi’s death aria from La Bohème and is awaiting a visit from the appliance repairman on Saturday afternoon, which I suspect is a fiendish plot to keep me from buying yarn for the next project.

My Classic Lines Cardigan is done. All stitched up. I have yet to steam it, but I tried it on, that wonderfully scary moment when you find out if your gauge swatch (assuming you made one, which I did) was wildly off or if your yarn is a pathological liar that has been waiting patiently two and a half months to erupt into hysterical laughter.

It fits. Now for the temperature outside to slide consistently downward so I can wear it.

I’ve printed off one possibility for my next project: Color Affection, which is not the rectangle I thought it was, but a long and lovely crescent written for either fingering or laceweight yarn. My other option is something from Knit, Swirl.

I spent an hour or so this morning, poring through my copy of the latter while trying not to drool on the pages. There are several versions of it which use both laceweight and a heavier yarn. I may have finally found the right project for my turquoise/brown/etc. handpainted silk birthday yarn from several years back. I have started and frogged two or three projects. Right now the yarn is sulking in my studio.

If I go with Color Affection, I will take my one skein of Jitterbug in pink/grey/lavender(ish) that refuses to become a pair of socks, and see if I can score two greys to mix with it and make it happy to be out of the skein. I would hate to think that this skein is one of those that is never going to be pretty, all knitted-up. It called my name so sweetly, back in 2009 or 2010.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Six flags over excusez-moi?

Beloved was scooping some of the cooked chicken out of the container from the fridge. He asked in a kind but genuinely puzzled tone, “What’s this green stuff on top of the chicken?”

“The leeks. I didn’t want them to go to waste.”

“I’ve never had leeks in fajitas.”

“Think of it as the French influence. You know, six flags over fajitas.” Some of you may not know that six flags  have flown over the Lone Star State. One of them was the French tricolor, but for some reason we are known for barbecue and not beignets. ♫Oh, beignets can you seeeee?♪ Nope!

Pretty decent day at work. I ran by the grocery store on my way home, to pick up supplies for handmade cards for the five people at work who are regularly, or intermittently, my bosses. The cards are done, and I made them using things most people find delicious, but which I would rather not eat, so I’m not feeling the least bit tempted to taste-test.

At this writing, I am nearly done binding off the first band on the sweater front. Beloved has Dancing with the Stars on, and I’m heading out there in just a minute, to finish the band and stitch it down and pick up stitches for the second band. Or maybe just to go flirt with the man who keeps me in fajitas. Although I’m not sure that canoodling was what the songwriter had in mind when s/he wrote: This is the night we’ve waited for, oh what a treat we have in store, we love each other more and more, with every fam’ly night.

Tomato, tomahto. I’m outta here!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

My friend Alison shared this.



And it’s too good not to re-post.

Stake conference today was just amazingly wonderful. I came home instructed, edified, and even more peaceful than is the norm around here.

The elder twin and a friend were just leaving as I got home. They had come to give Beloved a blessing. He was having killer headaches and that dull ache in his midsection which my experience with hepatitis in 1979 tells me is his liver having fits.

He separated maybe a dozen and a half pomegranates and got the seeds rinsed and put into ziploc bags for later processing. I made a simple dinner: four of those giant chicken thighs simmered in a big pot with our entire harvest of leeks (about two cups’ worth chopped; the leeks we got were slim like Audrey Hepburn, not sassy like Mae West) and some herbes de Provence and freshly-ground pepper. When the chicken was done, I pulled it out and used instant mashed potatoes to make an ultra-simple potato soup. (We needed to use up what was left in the box.) Also made garlic bread, and this time I got the timing right with the broiler, so third time really was the charm, just as it is for this marriage.

Insert wink here.

I have completed reinforcing the steek on the sweater, slashed it open, picked up stitches along one front, and am about a third done knitting the first band. The Packers game is still on, out in the living room, but I needed to get up and find a slightly different sitting position, and I am about footballed out for one day.

[Aside: I walked into my studio to put the silk thread away after finishing the steek reinforcements, and I closed the door, and the hooked rug on the floor, combined with all the other textile bits stashed or strewn about the room, benevolently conspired to make the game inaudible. Just as There Are No Cats in America, there is no football in my studio. Although if I could find an SD, MSD, or Yo-SD-sized poster of Aaron Rogers or Clay Matthews, particularly the latter, I bet I could find room for that. Blessing strikes me as a Packers fan, under her Eliza R. Snow demeanor.]

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Mostly done.

The raglan decreases on the sweater are done, as is the neckband, as is the weaving-in of ends. The neckband is about three-fourths stitched in place, and I still need to close up the underarms, but we are about this [ ] far from being ready to reinforce the steek, turn this pullover into a cardigan, and whip up the bindings for the front edges.

This morning we had the baptism of one of my Primary kids. Her father joined the church a few weeks ago. This, as a result of the child who walked up to her mom one day and said that she needed some money because she wanted her mom to sign her up for church. She figured it was like soccer, where you have to pay to play.

Only with your life, honey, only with every scrap of brains and heart and grit that you have, if you want it to be worthwhile. And it is.

We have the preliminary appointments set, and if I understand everything, the last one they gave us is not the first one in the series of treatments. Beloved has to be off chemo for 28 days before they can begin the new protocol, and his last chemo was September 20th. He is tired and weak and achy, and he asked today if maybe his hair is getting thinner, and maybe it is, a little.

I suspect that, without chemo to keep them down to a dull roar, all the little cancer beasties in his liver are letting the good times roll, much like the bugs in the Raid commercial before the shadow of that aerosol can falls over them. I had hepatitis in 1979. What I remember is being unutterably weary (a different sort of weariness than from depression) and having a perpetual dull ache in the midriff. He is having headaches, still, but mostly the achy middle. He came to the baptism with me this morning, but he was using my cane to help drag himself along.

The doctor said last week that if the protocol works, it will significantly improve Beloved’s quality of life as well as the quantity of time remaining. We are hopeful.

It is one thing to suffer, personally. Most of the suffering I have experienced in life, I have brought upon myself through poor choices. Some of it has been inflicted upon me by the poor choices of others. And some of it is just a byproduct of living in a fallen world. It is ever so much harder to watch one’s children suffer, or one’s spouse. I know it’s not as bad as it will get before the end, for either of us, but I think of the counsel and warning given to the Savior’s mother, that a sword would pierce her heart also.

There are days that it feels like that.  And yet, for the moment, my heart is at peace and I have no shortage of hope.

Beloved just walked in and is making getting-ready-for-bed noises, so I will close this down for the night and wish you sweet dreams and peaceful slumber. And us, as well.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Simple Gifts / Choose the Right

One of my favorite hymns is the Shaker standard, Simple Gifts.



Another is in our hymnal, Choose the Right. What does this have to do with knitting, you ask? Well, sometimes the best solution to a situation turns out to be the simplest. I have begun the neckline shaping on my sweater. It involves short-rows, and in about a row and a half I will have to do a patterned row, where I want the handpainted yarn to lie on top of the finished stitch. However, that row is now a purl row, which means that I will not be looking at the face of the sweater, but its reverse. I wondered, do I knit-back-backward, a technique I learned many years ago? It accomplishes the same thing as purling, but you get to watch the stitches travel from left to right, which is not the norm if one is a right-handed knitter. [And I have not tried it in years.]

On all previous patterned rounds, I simply placed the decorative yarn to the left of the main yarn, ensuring that it would lie on top. It took me longer than I care to admit to realize that I can purl back and get the same effect if I make sure the decorative yarn is on the right. When I turn the work so the right side is facing me, the fancy yarn will be on the left, and the stitches will look just the way I want them to look.

'Til by turning, turning we come round right.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

He’s doing better. Thank you!

His pain and discomfort is much diminished. He’s ambulating better. And we got great news yesterday: he’s been accepted into the clinical trial for the targeted treatment. We are still getting the proper referrals in place, but it’s all opening up in that direction, and we are tired but hopeful.

Another blessing is that his twins both have jobs where they can work from home, so they will be able to do some of the schlepping-of-Beloved to Houston and back, leaving me here at least part of the time to work and earn the money for deductibles and cat food and other inconsequentials like that. Squishy can also take a turn from time to time, but his employer needs more notice than do the twins’ bosses. This is one humongous relief, because I have X days of vacation remaining, and the first round of treatment would pretty much use them up. I am so grateful for the boys’ generosity and willingness to serve, and for the kindness of their managers.

I have one set of raglan decreases (three more decrease rounds) before I start the neck shaping on my sweater. I would give a hearty huzzah! but I woke up at 2:30 or so and have yet to go back to sleep. I tried, but he was up, and then I was still awake, so I got up and paid bills, which will make four business entities very happy indeed.

Last night after family prayer, Beloved went to bed, and I went out to the living room for a wee bit of knitting to finish winding down from the day. All of a sudden, there he was. He had come back out to tell me that he loves me (!) and make sure that I was well and truly kissed. And then he went back to bed.

Which is something that I would like to do, but I don’t see it happening before tonight. (I know that my office manager won’t want to see it happening while I am slaving over a hot keyboard.) Work went well yesterday; I am hoping for more of the same today.

I think I forgot to mention that the lovely blessing which Beloved got, spilled over onto me. There is no way, under ordinary circumstances, that I would have been able to drive half of the mileage to Houston, and 90% of it home, without Heavenly intervention. My right knee is just that bad. Some of you will remember how crippled-up I was after two round-trips to Huntsville five years ago for UIL choir camp for LittleBit. Not. Fun. But now? Only a hint of tenderness. Only the slightest bit of swelling.

So thankful.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Home and safe and hopeful.

We are back from Houston. I drove two good-sized chunks of it yesterday and virtually all of it this afternoon.  Beloved has/had an intermittent, fierce headache dancing all over the inside of his skull. We think part of it is that the frames on his new glasses are too snug. So he will get that fixed while I am at work.

We should hear in a couple of days if he has gotten into the targeted therapy at MD Anderson, but it is looking good. They have to do another CT of his head (because of the headaches) and are doing an MRI of his spine (to make sure that the pain in his derriere is strictly muscle-related, as we believe).

We have had family prayer, and he will be crawling into bed any minute now, and I will be heading out to the living room to finish depressurizing from the drive. I drank most of a 20 oz Cherry Coke on the way down last night, and I polished it off this afternoon, and to say that I am wired would be the mother of all understatements.

The lovely blessing which he got after church yesterday has spilled over onto me. Ordinarily, there is no way on this lovely green Earth that I could have driven 90% of a 250+ mile drive and been able to walk afterward. Not only am I moving around the house at a somewhat livelier than usual clip, I was the one who unloaded the car (not that there was much to unload, this time around; we ate pretty much everything we took, and I am quietly devouring the last of the gingersnaps, so the rest was mostly laundry, which is now in the hamper).

I found the one yarn shop in Houston which was theoretically open on Monday, and when I walked inside, it looked like it was being run by two good looking young guys, and I thought huzzah! but they turned out to be electricians, and the owner had just left.

I have to tell you about our room. If the battery had not been dead on his laptop, Beloved was tempted to post a description on FB. Shall we just say that it was, more or less, the equivalent of a honeymoon suite because our reservation had gotten lost in space, and that was the only nonsmoking room on the ground floor which was still available. So they upsized us. Headboard consisting of a ginormous mirror, which inspired no end of ribaldry on our part with a side order of wishing that we both felt more lively. Jacuzzi with a sign requesting that it not be turned on until all of the jets were properly underwater. Obedient sort that I am, I complied, but I think somebody must have hit something when cleaning it. because once the water hit about half-mast, there were geysers spraying out into the room from the back of the tub. A process which repeated itself with only slightly less enthusiasm as the tub drained after my (solo) soak.

I would say that the vast majority of the patrons of this clean, small, inexpensive inn are middle-aged to geriatric cancer patients/families like Beloved and Ms. Ravelled. I wonder how many of them can truly appreciate a mirrored headboard? I will add that it was not particularly comfortable to lean up against while knitting in bed. But at least we were not sleeping in Lorelai, or under a bridge.

Beloved is horizontal and fading fast. The only sounds in our room are the ticking of our clock and the tapping of my fingers on the keys. Night, all...

Saturday, October 06, 2012

I *had* a clever title, but...

...in the time it took me to log on, said clever title had vanished like piddle in the sand, as EZ would have said. It has been a long, mostly lovely, and amazingly productive day, beginning around 5:00a.m. I got up, knitted for an hour or so, polished off the last of the tortellini alfredo and a handful of gingersnaps, then went back to my knitting. Every so often I would get up and go into my studio and putter. After Beloved was up and about, I started hanging pictures and stuff on the walls in there. In the course of the day I turned my work table 90 degrees; it just fits between two bookcases and against the window. I emptied one of my big Rubbermaid storage tubs. I even got out the vacuum and took a swipe at some newly-freed-up carpet, then hit a bit of the dining room (which is still, alas, mostly carpeted with storage boxes) and the living room and hall before deciding that enough was enough. I brought in the clean laundry. I have done 18 or maybe 24 rounds on the sweater, and there are maybe 350 stitches left. I just finished transferring the stitches onto my HiyaHiya 120cm needle, as the 100cm KnitPicks Harmony is almost too long to work the stitches in the round without messing up my gauge, and too short to use Magic Loop.

And in between, there was General Conference, and before that a stealth run up to the yarn store in Farmersville, or at least that was the plan. I wanted to pick up two more of the Harmony needles, one 60cm long and one 80cm long. As I approached Farmersville, I saw a banner on the welcome sign that said they were having a heritage festival. Today. I wondered if I would find any parking. Turns out, parking was the least of my problems: a very polite policeman directed me onto a side street toward a parking lot. I turned, but I kept on going. I had calculated my window of opportunity very carefully. I had just enough time to walk in the store, grab my needles, pay for them, get back into Lorelai, and scoot for home so I would be on time for the opening exercises of General Conference. I had neither the time nor the energy to park my car, walk however many blocks remained into downtown, and dodge the parade.

So, I got back onto the highway, and pretty soon I realized I was on the wrong highway, headed east toward Greenville instead of south toward Garland. I confirmed this using the GPS on my phone. (I had to upgrade my Google Maps feature first.) So I whipped a U-ey [is there an official way to spell that?] and barreled on back home, composing a letter to the city fathers and the Chamber of Commerce as I went.

Conference was amazing. You may have heard that they have lowered the age requirements for the young full-time missionaries: 18 for the young men, and 20 for the young women. As the camera panned the crowd in the Conference Center, I saw a boy about 15 whose face just lit up like Christmas at the news.

The talks were uniformly wonderful and inspiring and for the most part not guilt-inducing. And I realized that the amazing sister who is a counselor in the Primary General Presidency is also a daughter of President Monson. She has his face, his mannerisms, his phrasing. And she was wearing a gorgeous red jacket with a big purple corsage and bright red lipstick and decidedly red hair, so vibrant and lovely and the kind of role model I wish I had seen more of, back in the 1980s and 90s. (Do you remember when we thought Chieko Okasaki was a little exotic? And now we have had at least two single sisters in the General RS Presidency.)

I am tired, and Beloved is momentarily awake and watching college football, and tomorrow is going to be another long day, one that ends in Houston after a five or more hour drive. One of his sons and his fishing buddy gave him a blessing after the Priesthood session of Conference tonight. Beloved stayed home: he was in too much pain, and thankfully he is not the kind to suffer in silence, so I get to do little things to make life easier.

I know I am loved, and I know I am wanted, and while I wish he were not fighting for his life, I have not been needed in a very long time, and it is lovely to be needed in ways that I can do something about.

Yawning. Stretching. Over and out.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Laughing, but not up my sleeve.

My favorite counselor in the bishopric, he who complicated my life by extending the calling to teach in Primary when I was perfectly content to be teaching Relief Society, called my cell phone last night on my drive home from work. Could he come by and talk with me about something?

I knew he was about to further complicate my life, and he has, with plenty of help from others. I will let you know what my new calling is, once I have been sustained. Which will be in approximately three weeks, because this weekend is General Conference (first weekends in April and October, every year, just like clockwork, and I am so stoked to hear what our leaders have been inspired to share with us), and next weekend is stake conference (also twice a year, but a moveable feast like unto Easter, as it were).

I am thankful for parents who taught me to be responsible, and were mostly successful. When I was thirteen, fourteen, fifteen (you get the picture), I thought responsibility was the ugliest word in the English language. I just wanted to sit around the house and read all day. Or sew or knit or whatever. But pull my weight in the family? Pretty low on my priority list.

I have just finished reconciling our checkbooks, paying tithing on the paycheck that hit the bank a few hours ago, and paying one of our bills. I have recently taken to transferring the dibs and dabs that are leftover from the previous paycheck into savings, before paying bills out of the new paycheck. (This time it was $11.70.) I had hoped to be able to do a little shopping for the house, and for me, but that will have to wait another couple of weeks. And I will have to make the cards I was planning to buy for Bosses Day (one of the most ridiculous events in the Hallmark calendar; every day is Bosses Day, which is why they call them Bosses), but that will only enhance my reputation as the quirky, creative one in the office. (I am not the only quirky, creative one, but I am definitely the most flagrantly flamboyant one.)

So, this is shaping up to be a good day. I have worked one round on the sweater and the better part of another. Lunch is already in the fridge at work, because my attorney took several of us to lunch yesterday. Tonight is date night with my husband. We have Conference this weekend, and a birthday party for two of the granddaughters on Sunday, after which Beloved and I will head down to Houston for his appointment at MD Anderson on Monday. I have already printed a list of yarn stores in Houston, to hit on our way back home. I may not buy any souvenir yarn, but I would definitely like to see what is out there.

We had five secretaries out, yesterday, for one reason or another. I was a busy, busy girl. But it was a very good, very productive day, and the ones that I backed up will come back to a little less chaos on their desks.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Quick catch-breath

Watched the debates last night. I loathe politics and will be glad when the election is over and we can get on with life. That said, I think Mitt cleaned the President’s clock.

I got some knitting in while listening. Woke up a quarter to four this morning and knitted some more. 410 stitches on my needles.

Fired up the Vitamix and grr’d up the strawberries and bananas with a carton of key lime Greek yogurt and just enough milk to facilitate the grr’ing. Drank what I could; put most of it in a tall sippie cup in the fridge for when Beloved wakes up later this morning.

We are thinking of driving down to Houston after the birthday party for my two oldest granddaughters, rather than getting up at dark-thirty Monday morning.

I am still undecided whether to ask for a leave of absence from the temple. Maybe I will have a better feel for that after my shift tonight. In the meantime, my bags are packed, and I’m ready to go (just not leaving on a jet plane, and do know when I’ll be back again, but if I don’t stir my stumps I will need said jet plane to get to work on time).

Life is good. Beloved is awake, vertical, ventilating, and while he’s moving around more slowly than either of us would like, we are both hopeful about his getting into the targeted treatment at MD Anderson.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

I have the hiccups.

I have hiccups like Gladys Knight can sing. I have hiccups like Einstein was smart. If having hiccups were an Olympic event, I would capture the gold, the silver, and the bronze, simultaneously, and then sprain something while trying to keep an appendage on each representative section of the stand.

Any of my gentle readers who are male, might find this a good time to go take out the garbage, or floss the cat’s teeth.

Once I had the hiccups while standing on the corner in downtown Boise, waiting for the light to change. This was decades before gravity had its way with my body. Guys have excellent peripheral vision. Know how I know this? Helen of Troy may have had the face that launched a thousand ships, but I had the hiccups that nearly launched a thousand fender-benders. And untold cases of neck strain.

OK, guys, you can come back now.

Beloved is way tired, and moving a lot like Grandpa McCoy if you’re old enough to remember that show. I’m not mocking, because he’s not the only one chez Ravelled to have that quintessential hitch in the gitalong. Stabilize, then mobilize, is the phrase I brought back from his family reunion. It’s a good motto to live by. Especially if you’re no longer 25.

He had a good day today and is feeling much better than yesterday, which means he is feeling light years better than he did most of Saturday.

Dinner tonight was tortellini Alfredo and garlic bread. This makes twice this week that I have been in the kitchen as something other than comic relief or chief bottle washer. We probably ought to call the Guinness people.

It is late. Dinner has nearly settled to the point where it is safe for me to go to bed. (I got a manicure after work, so we didn’t eat until after 8:00, and I have no wish to go three rounds with the Reflux Fairy tonight.) I am shutting down the popsicle stand, turning out the light, and heading to the living room for one last round on my sweater.

Night, y’all. [We are down to 442 stitches on the sweater yoke, but who’s counting?]

Monday, October 01, 2012

Blessings (not in disguise)

While Saturday was rough, chez Ravelled, and I thought it might end with a trip to the emergency room, Beloved is feeling somewhat better. When we sat together and held hands for family prayer last night, his hand was warm. It had been distinctly cool for the past several days. He did pull a muscle in his rump while out picking vegetables this afternoon. I told him I would *not* be kissing it better. He snorted.

Dinner was a combined effort tonight. All I really wanted was a humongous bowl of mashed potatoes, liberally laced with horseradish. He wanted potatoes, but not spicy. And he wanted meat. I told him I am pretty inept when it comes to cooking meat. I have eaten more meat in the last eight months than I probably had in the previous decade. But he walked me through cooking two of the fat, sassy pork chops I scored at the discount meat bin on Saturday, and I ate half of my chop and saved the other half for tomorrow’s lunch, with almost enough leftover potatoes to call it a good meal. I was a complete and utter glutton with those potatoes tonight. Seconds. Not quite enough room at the inn for thirds, hence leftover taters in my lunch tomorrow, but not a whole whale of a lot.

Work went well. I got a lot of little piddly but thoroughly necessary things done today, and a good start on opening one of our new cases, and all of my To-Do’s to-done. Hoping for more of the same tomorrow.

It was cool enough this morning that I got to wear my new red corduroy jacket. And lunch was quiet enough that I got some serious knitting done, with more of that once I got home. My brain and my fingers want to go back out to the living room and crank out another round or two. My eyes and my metabolism want to grab the jammies and hit the sack.

Toothbrush, here I come!