Tuesday, May 24, 2022

takes me back

 The day I left for Illinois I was feeling A LOT better, but felt like I still needed to eat carefully. And my default "eat carefully" food is low or no fat yogurt. But I didn't have any in the house (I tried to work down the food I had and not buy more). So after mowing and showering (and dropping the graduation card in a blue mailbox), I ran to Green Spray, because they're close.

Green Spray is TINY and it's fine, if you're willing to roll with a smaller stock and brands other than what you might prefer. I used them a lot during the pandemic because they were close, and they were more careful about controlling numbers of people in the store. I've since switched more to Pruett's because they carry more things I prefer, but I still sometimes use Green Spray because they are only about four blocks away.

Well, this was the only brand of yogurt they carry:

And wow, that takes me back. I haven't bought Yoplait in years. I remember it was one of the first widely-available brands. Yes, I am old enough to remember the 1970s, where yogurt was seen as slightly exotic, health-foody, and "European" in the Midwest, and Yoplait - which we thought of as a French brand, and I guess it originally was - was one of the common brands. And the packaging looked very similar to how it does now. 

I can't remember when I first tried yogurt or if I liked it when I did. (I think I probably would have). I started eating it a lot in grad school because it was cheap enough and was convenient to pack in a lunch. I know one of my labmates dismissed it as "expensive milk" but it is easily-portable milk, that survives part of a day at room temperature* and which contains some added benefits

(*It's hypothesized that yogurt is one of the first ever "processed" foods - like, several thousand years ago - because it both is a "controlled spoilage" (growing organisms that won't make you sick, so they hopefully crowd out the ones that could) and ALSO it digests away some of the lactose - important when the default human adult condition is to not be able to tolerate lactose well)

I eat yogurt a lot now. Like I said: it's convenient. Yes, the plain kind IS better for you but I tend to be careful otherwise, so the occasional sweetened one probably isn't so bad.

I know people who make yogurt at home. I've never tried; it seems a level of biochemistry more than I'd want to undertake most of the time.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Happy birthday, mom

 My mom turned 86 today. She hasn’t opened her gift from me yet (that’s for after dinner) but she got a lot of cards and her long-time best friend from Ohio called her. 

I also got her flowers: some apricot colored

 roses. My dad always got her flowers (and when he no longer drove, if I was up there, he sent me out with money to get some. 

I also made her a cake:

I had wanted to use red for the decoration but she didn’t have any red food coloring left, I guess the blue is okay. The cake is maraschino cherry, an old family favorite. (Dinner is going to be shrimp). 

Friday, May 20, 2022

another childhood memory

 I grew up in a fairly wealthy "bedroom" community. My parents probably had less money than some people (though maybe not *much* less; my father was a low-level university administrator). They weren't into conspicuous consumption so it seemed like we had less money than a lot of the kids I knew from school - like, my clothes were more likely to be a store brand than a name brand, and toys were mainly things for Christmas or birthday gifts unless my brother or I saved up our small allowances. 

But there was one other way we were different. And it was a good way. I remember some of my school-friends, they weren't permitted to bring their toys out of their rooms because of the "mess," and forget ever doing crafts, or painting, or really anything messy. These were often the people who had "cleaning ladies" (we did not; the expectation was you cleaned up after yourself and also we all had chores)

Our house wasn't as fancy or as "magazine shot" perfect as many other people's in that town - there were books around, and usually toys in the family room (the Lego bricks lived there, because my brother and I shared them. I think also our parents liked that we were sort of close by them instead of just off in our rooms). We were allowed to bring toys out of our rooms and play with them - well, pretty much anywhere, as long as we cleaned them up after (okay, maybe not at the dinner table at dinnertime, but most other places. I remember setting up my little farm with all the animals on the living room floor, no one cared as long as I put it away when I was done). 

We were also allowed to do craft projects - build stuff out of cardboard boxes, or paint, or similar, and we could do it on the kitchen table (or even the dining room table) as long as the table was clear for the next meal. In fact, more than once, we would eat at one table because there were our paintings drying on another one.

(Oh, this extended to my parents, too: my mom cut out clothes she was going to sew on the dining room table, and some year my dad did the taxes there. But we also had the kitchen table, which was where we usually ate). 

And we had a lot of houseplants (I knew some people who turned up their noses at that, "houseplants are messy") and my brother and I were allowed to keep insects in jars (for a few days) or raise caterpillars (we did that many years with Monarch caterpillars, which used to be pretty common, and then we released the butterflies when they emerged). A couple years we even had a tank of tadpoles or of turtles. Part of this was my mother is a biologist, and I think she wanted us to learn things like the metamorphosis of butterflies and frogs by observation. One year she even grew peanuts - ill-suited for Ohio's climate - just so we could see how the fruits developed (underground, peanuts are one of the few, if not the only, plant that does that). 

Our house was *maybe* more bohemian/less refined than some of the people we know, but I think it was fundamentally happier in a lot of ways.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Some good news

 1. I finished the birthday socks for my mom

Her birthday is Monday, so I got them done in good time.

2. I had my first well-woman checkup in three years. Back before I came up here, back before I traced my abdominal issues to the carrot based food coloring, I was afraid something was wrong with my reproductive system but on the basis of today’s exam (and the fact that the pain was totally gone), nothing’s wrong with me.

3. The bubble tea place I like up here is still successful and apparently opened another outlet. This is a Thai iced tea, I understand the vivid color is from turmeric 

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Some past memories

 For some reason I was thinking about the old Hudson Library and Historical Society. When I was growing up, it was practically downtown, in a white Colonial-style (in keeping with the town's wannabee New Englandness) building. I can still picture the building in my mind and I admit I'm slightly sad that the library is now elsewhere (though the original library was probably too small for the town). 

The old library was the one I knew - the new one was built in the early 2000s and I've not been back to Hudson since 1989. I think I might find the new library a bit discombobulating to go to.

The old library had at least one renovation during my lifetime; I have very vague memories of it as a child before the renovation, and then later, the newer, fancier arrangement. I think my memories of the children's and young adult section are from after the renovation, though maybe the locations of things didn't change that much? For example, I can close my eyes and picture where the Bill Peet picture books and the little, dark-green, library-bound versions of the Beatrix Potter books were, and I would still have been fairly small when I was checking those out. The "children's chapter books" (which I never knew by that name; I just knew them as longer books with longer stories than picture books had) were in a separate section, and the non-fiction (history, crafts, that sort of thing) were near the picture books. I remember MANY times checking out Steven Caney's "Kids' America" from the library - it was a book of many different activities and the sort of nuggets of information I loved as a kid. 

I seem to remember that one was checked out a LOT - it was a popular book - and you couldn't always find it. Same with the "Anno" books (Mitsumasa Anno, as it turns out ): picture books with tremendous detail, the idea was to find things in the pictures (Kind of like Where's Waldo, but without Waldo, and before Waldo ever made the scene). Those were out a lot, too, and I think at one time there was a waiting list for them?

The library was a safe place and a good place. We used to go there a lot - once a week during the school year, sometimes twice a week in the summers. Our mom usually took us; our dad was usually at work when the library was open or when my brother and I wanted to go. 

One other nice thing about the library was it was air conditioned and our house was not - so those few really unpleasant hot days we'd get in July or August, we could spend at least part of them at the library, which was cool, and was free to hang out in. 

The children's librarian in those days - she was Miss Grissom when I first knew her, later on Mrs. Origlio (I think her first name was Marjorie). She was nice, she was sort of the ideal children's librarian. When I was very young, there were story hours in the basement of the library, I went to a few of them, and she was the one who read the books. Later on, she ran the summer reading program (which I've written about before) and once I aged out of it, she encouraged me to volunteer for it to help out, and I did.

I found out a few years back she had passed away and I sent a small donation to the library in her memory. She was one of the people (along with my parents) who encouraged my love of reading as a child. 

Another thing I remember were their *excellent* used-book sales. Hudson was a wealthy and fairly well-educated town (and we had Western Reserve Academy, with its teachers and students) and so a lot of interesting books got donated. I still have a big omnibus (I think it was an Everyman's Library edition) of Jane Austen's work that came from there. It was fun to go there - I think they had it on Saturdays, or maybe one Saturday a month? You never knew what you might find. We also donated books to it, so that kind of completed the circle. 

I don't think I've been so involved with a library since - when I lived in Ann Arbor, the library was far enough of a walk I didn't go there often, and in Normal, while I checked out books from the library, it wasn't a part of my life the way it was when I was a kid. Now, I own so many of my own books I admit I don't really use the local public library other than to go to things like the quilt shows there.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Found this again

 Before break, while going through some files on my hard drive, I found this poem I wrote. I did post it on the blog before, and I was startled - after reading it in my files - to find I wrote it several months before several big losses in my life. I guess I mostly wrote it in memory of Steve, who had died about a year before I posted it.

But I think it's one of the better poems I've written recently (even if the scansion isn't perfect), so here it is again:

The Persistence of Attachment

(“To me this cup is already broken. Because I know its fate, I can enjoy it fully here and now. And when it’s gone, it’s gone.” Ajahn Chah)


The cup is already broken

The dress is already torn

The person you love is already dead

So there’s really no sense to mourn.


Wrong the attachment to worldly things,

Both Jesus and the Buddha taught.

But still every loss for me still stings,

And lost joys stay in my thoughts


Living in the moment is the key

But that, I have never mastered

From my attachments, it’s hard to get free

And each new loss feels a disaster


I learn to glue the pieces of the cup

(From that, the art of Kintsugi was born)

The dress, I alter or sew it up

But the person, I simply must mourn.


Over time, the loss becomes less,

But there are things that revive it

And while I fix the cup or the dress

The loved one’s loss, I must simply survive it


Wednesday, May 11, 2022

And thank goodness

woke up this morning with essentially no abdominal discomfort. Ate a bowl of oatmeal (with golden syrup instead of chocolate chips - I cut the chocolate chips out as soon as the-what-I-thought-was-gallbladder-problem started). Was fine. Finished packing (except for toiletries; I had to shower and wash my hair and will re-dress in a moment). Still was fine. Went out and mowed the lawn, ran the weed whacker over the edges. Still fine.

So, I don't know. Going from "gee, I wonder if it's even a good idea for me to travel" yesterday morning to "I feel pretty much normal" today is amazing.  (Heh. I don't know if anyone was praying for me? Maybe Dana - who had volunteered to be my driver/caretaker if I needed surgery, and Sharon, the secretary, who I warned "if things get worse I might be out of commission for a couple weeks." If they did, it worked.) 

In a bit, after I dress and write out a graduation card (and check) for a young man I know from church, I'm going to run out to get a yogurt and piece of fruit for lunch - yes, I still want to eat as carefully as I can for a few days and slowly re-introduce richer food. But it's a relief to feel this much better, to feel like it's safe for me to drive the 2 1/2 hours to meet  the train, safe to spend overnight on a train (though generally: I felt worst first thing in the morning when I got up, and it got better over the course of the day). 

Anyway, I've got my projects and my books and the right kind of clothing (going to be hot up in Illinois, I hear) and my mom's birthday gifts, so I think I have everything. And my train will be on time, barring anything bad happening between Taylor, Texas and where I get on. 

Like I said: I have a couple embargoed posts and I may add a short thing or two from the road.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

And I'm packed.

 Well, except for the things like my mouthguard and medications and the book I'm currently reading (still 'Dear and Glorious Physician' - it is very long but a very good book).

Took a couple in-progress things, the F*R*I*E*N*D*S socks, the purple scarfy thing, and the simple socks I started for my mom (didn't get as far on them as I wanted, but I can work on them in my bedroom in the evenings or early in the morning, or, it wouldn't be the end of the world if I gave her the partly finished socks with a promise to finish them).

I wonder if things are resolving; I made a v. simple chicken soup (the celery-free broth I can get - Pacific Brand - and the teeny tiny Manischewitz egg noodles I like). And I felt a LOT better after eating it, I think if I were in really bad shape I'd feel *worse* after mild, bland food. Maybe this was just inflammation from the massive immune response followed up by too much rich food? I hope. 

I've written a couple time-embargoed posts, and might post a few photos along the way (it's hard to write full posts on my phone). 

Here's hoping I'm back in June, with my digestion all healed up.

preparing for tomorrow

 I take the train to go see my mom tomorrow.

I hope I'm going to be okay - I still have a few digestive symptoms; it feels like irritated/inflamed gallbladder. It's better but not BETTER and I hope it keeps getting better - it's worse when I get up in the morning and slowly improves throughout the day. I've been eating very carefully, limiting fat and sugar (except in fruit) and have been drinking lots of water. 

I suppose if this doesn't clear up I will be looking into getting my gallbladder removed :( I do have someone here (my friend Dana from church) who could look after me after the surgery (hopefully I'd only need the laparoscopic kind). I admit I feel kind of malaise-y right now and while I hate and fear the idea of surgery, if the choice is that or feeling like this forever, I guess I'll take the surgery.

(unless it turns into a massive emergency, for insurance reasons, I couldn't have it done up at my mom's - which would be ideal - because she could look after me until I got better). I'm still hoping it gets better on its own; I've read that bad allergies (food intolerances) can sometimes bring it on, and well....there was the whole purple carrot juice thing. (The other issues have cleared up, at least.)

But I'm slowly packing. Most of the last minute stuff will have to happen in the morning: medications and toiletries and things like that. I've decided against taking a LARGE project (like a sweater) and am instead taking yarn for a couple pairs of socks and I'm going to drag along the Turkish-stitch purple shawl thing I found when I was sorting stuff earlier. 

I dunno. I haven't felt totally well for a while. I don't know if it's pandemic after effects or the fact that I was fundamentally poisoning myself every day with a small amount of something I am fairly allergic to (the purple carrot colorant). (I HOPE it's not gallbladder, but those symptoms came on only very recently). 

I'm hoping a couple weeks up at my mom's will mostly fix it.

Monday, May 09, 2022

Stealing an idea

 Roger did this, so I will, too: (from "Sunday Stealing")


1. Do you like your handwriting?

No, I don't. It's hard to read, even by me. I think I've told the story before of how I was kept out of a gifted and talented program in school because one of the teachers on the deciding panel said my handwriting was too bad and I needed to work on that instead. It's still bad.

2. Do you like roller coasters?

Never really went on any. We were not big theme-park goers when I was a kid. We went to Cedar Point in Sandusky a few times - I think I went on the Mine Ride, which was a very tame roller coaster. And we went to Disneyworld when I was 10 or so, but mostly did the "gentler" rides (my brother was small and my mom had a stomach issue going on). I never really was attracted to rides that "go up and down and side to side and jiggle all their stuff around" (as the line from Bob's Burgers went).

go up and down and side to side and jiggle all their stuff around

Read more at: https://transcripts.foreverdreaming.org/viewtopic.php?f=428&t=20976

Read more at: https://transcripts.foreverdreaming.org/viewtopic.php?f=428&t=20976

Read more at: https://transcripts.foreverdreaming.org/viewtopic.php?f=428&t=20976

3. Do you like scary movies?

No, not really. I don't like the gory ones, at least. Maybe some of the better-done psychological-horror ones but even then: not too close to bedtime.

4. Do you like shopping?

Yes, though less than I once did. Not a fan of clothes shopping and generally not a fan of grocery shopping. I liked shopping more before the pandemic when I could be blissfully unaware of disease transmission in crowds. I still do kind of like going to antique shops or craft stores but really prefer it when it's not crowded

5. Do you like to talk on the phone?

I'd rather talk face-to-face or over an app like FaceTime. I prefer being able to see people's faces; I often comprehend what they're saying better if I can see their expressions. Apparently that is not an unusual thing.

6. Do you sleep with the lights on or off?

Off. In fact, I use an eyeshade in addition, because I live right downtown and some of my neighbors have security lights that trigger when an opossum walks across the lawn.I can't sleep in a room that isn't dark.

7. Do you use headphones or earphones?

Sometimes, especially if I'm somewhere where the sound of what I'm listening to would bother other people.

8. Do you have tattoos?  Do you want any? 

No and no. I have a dislike of needles and pain, and I also am JUST old enough to have my main childhood-relation of tattoos to big burly guys who were in the Navy in WWII. No shade on people that have them, they're just not for me.

9. Do you wear glasses?

Yes, and I have since I was 13. I'm too squeamish for contacts and my eyes are too bad to go without.

10. What is your strangest talent?

Hmmm. I can usually recognize a composer from some weird "gestalt" of their style in their music. Like,. I can hear a few bars and go "oh, that's Mozart" even if it's not one of the familiar pieces. (Sometimes I do mix up Brahms and Dvorak, but I think that's understandable)

11. Have you ever been in the hospital?

Only as an outpatient - I had to have a broken nose set when I was 13 but I got to go home later that day.

12. What color mostly dominates your wardrobe?

Probably the pink/mauve/pinkish purple/tyrian purple spectrum. But I have a lot of different colors.

13. What’s your most expensive piece of clothing?

I'm guessing my wool Gloverall duffel coat - probably cost several hundred dollars new. I am not a formal dresser and I also know how to sew and knit, so I tend not to have an expensive wardrobe. 

14. Have you ever had braces?

Yup, as a young teen. My teeth were messed up. It contributed to my sinus problems, which were considerably relieved after the braces.

15. Have you ever been on TV?

Not that I can remember - if it was, it was in a background shot/b-roll.  

Friday, May 06, 2022

Friday night things

 * Yesterday was the retirement celebration for one of my colleagues. We had a lunch (the first since late 2019) and we had ordered a few gifts for him. He *almost* cried when he saw the card we had all signed.

*Lunch was lasagna and then there was both cake and pie. And then in the evening it was the AAUW dinner out, and we had reservations at a local Mexican place. (Yes, Cinco de Mayo is not a good time to go out for Mexican. Their waiters are *very* professional but they were still really having to run, and it took a long time for all of us to get our food. (I got a combo plate: an enchilada and a burrito. I asked for chicken (enchiladas suizas) but got beef with lots of cheese on it. I didn't complain, though, at that point I was hungry and I was the very last to get my food, so)

* But it was too much rich food on top of an already-irritated GI tract, and so today I've off and on been having pain and indigestion. (Also possible: there was one of the things I'm intolerant to in some of the food). Despite that, I did get the lawn mowed, and a couple more loads taken to the storage unit, and some cleaning done. More cleaning tomorrow - I had thought of maybe going to Denison for fun, but (a) I probably need to stick close to home with my slightly upset GI tract (and need to eat bland, low-fat food for a couple days) and also probably am better off not buying any more stuff/spending any more money.

* I did have a *tiny* celebration today - went by the snow-cone place and got a big snow cone. Yeah, I probably don't need the sugar but it tasted good to me. Got my favorite flavor (color? design? I think a lot of these taste same-ish - kind of like my comment about Blue Flavor Gatorade the other day). It's called Wonder Woman - blue and red (coconut and cherry I think) with a tiny bit of gold (pineapple) and gold-tinted sugar on top. 

* There's a kind-of-horrific (since so many of us lack basements and have to shelter there) but kind of funny/mind-blowing story making the rounds: lightning comes down a fan duct, explodes toilet. The picture is striking. But it is scary if you think about how many people shelter in interior bathrooms in tornado warnings (which usually happen during severe thunderstorms). I assume it was a one in a billion shot as this is the first time I've ever heard of this happening, but still.

It makes me glad that in my weird old house there's no actual vent to the outdoors. I suppose lightning could strike the chimney for the gas furnace on the roof (though more likely it would strike the pecan tree, which is taller than my house)

When I was a very small child (my brother had not been born yet), the house we were in in Ohio was struck by lightning. Well, the chimney was. Part of it came down (not a big part) and the insurance company hired someone to replace the damaged bricks (substandard bricks were used; the chimney was painted white and those replacement bricks ALWAYS spalled off the paint the whole rest of the time we lived there). I just barely remember it - my mother bailing water in the basement (it flooded in heavy rain) and handing the buckets up to my dad out the basement window. I was sitting on the open wood steps (no risers, just treads) and was sitting turned around (when I was little, I was thin enough I could sit with my legs between the treads, where the risers would be). I could see what was going on from there but my parents felt it was safe enough. (My mom says she felt a slight shock when the chimney was hit. I guess we were lucky in that neither of them were injured). 

* Tomorrow is graduation but I didn't sign up to go. I think I'm glad. I hope my stomach is better but I'm also glad that I won't have to sit in a room with that many people. I admit I was nervous at the restaurant last night but our group was a reasonable distance from the other patrons. 

* I don't know. I have a hard time negotiating things now. Like, "is this restaurant meal worth a breakthrough infection and the admittedly-tiny-but-still-real chance of long covid?" I would almost always answer "no." (I do hope restaurants keep the easy take-out process forever; sometimes it's nice just to pick up food and eat it in peace at home. Yes, you still have dishes, but you don't have to cook)

Thursday, May 05, 2022

Stupid carrots again....

 So I am feeling mostly better, though it freaked me out A LOT when the doctor's office called yesterday and said "there was no evidence of bacterial growth from your sample, just keep drinking lots of water, discontinue the AZO because it's making you ill*")

(*GI symptoms, plus, I really need to avoid sodium salicylate, which is in it)

And yeah, again for part of yesterday I had *terrible* anxiety: couldn't concentrate on things, couldn't even really play the piano. My brain kept going "holy crap you're probably dying, you probably have some previously-undetected cancer that's eating away at you and it'll be diagnosed eventually but it'll either be Too Late or you'll be facing years of horrific operations and chemo, and have a shortened life"

I was having heartburn, which can be symptomatic of several very bad things, and also, it's how my friend Del started with the cancer that ultimately took *his* life. So I have some stuff going on in  my brain.

Nevermind that my primary cancer risk factor (skin cancer) would not be involved here. Never mind that I have had no relatives with the main ones I was worrying about, nor have I ever smoked (which is a risk factor for many, many cancers). I have this problem when I'm anxious like that, I get an idée fixe about things and have a VERY hard time shaking it.

I was hurting, and I figured, Heck, at this point, pain relief is probably all I've got. So I took a couple tylenol - about 20 minutes later I felt calmer, and I looked up "is tylenol anxiolytic" and there are a few, weak studies suggesting maybe? So I don't know.

Then I thought: Hm, those new gummi vitamin D I've been taking, they were a different brand, could they possibly have an artificial sugar in them? (Most artificial sugars are bad for me - give me migraines, or give bad digestive upset). So I looked at the bottle.

WOMP WOMP: "Colored with purple carrot juice extract"

Oh you have got to be kidding me.

Carrots are one of my food sensitivities, and in the past, purple carrot juice was the worst one. Though normally it just caused GI upset? Maybe it's what caused the indigestion though (it's much better this morning, I did NOT take my dose of vitamin D today) and I SUPPOSE it could have also irritated, uh, other parts of my body and made me THINK I was having a UTI? I tend to get sort of systemic reactions to these things - had had a few more hives this week but didn't think much of it, other than "yeah my whole body is shutting down on me now" but I also wonder if the horrific anxiety was tied to some kind of weird allergic reaction. (It's also been an uncommonly bad spring for pollen, and I'm already really allergied out, and often these kinds of things are worse - carrots cross react with birch and mugwort pollen and while I don't think we have birch here, we might have mugwort, or a close relative. Though it's probably a BIT early for it to be flowering...)

At any rate: I feel better. Not 100%, but definitely better than yesterday and much better than earlier in the week. I'm still going to do the "well-woman checkup" and I hope I'm not wrong, that I still qualify as a "well woman" and there's nothing else going on there. But at least I don't feel like the infrastructure is crashing and burning like I did earlier this week.

A friend has spoken for the (opened) bottle of gummi vitamins, so at least they won't go to waste. I may just have to start using the boring tablets - there is one brand of vitamin D gummis that don't have the carrot juice but I can't always find them, and that's why I bought these.

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

digging stuff out

 (The only updates on the other issue I have is I'm still waiting to find out what antibiotic- if any - they deem best, and also that Azo is a good product, it does what it says it does. Well, also drinking LOTS of water helps, and I did buy a small quantity of blue-flavored* Gatorade to change up with the water and also in case I was in danger of diluting my electrolytes enough.)

(*it's supposed to be "berry" but it doesn't taste like any berry I know - sort of vaguely sweet and vaguely fruit but not recognizably citrus or pineapple or anything like that)

I have done a bit more sorting, and found two unfinished projects I pulled back out with the idea of maybe finishing them some time

This purple thing is made in Turkish stitch, which I will have to look up again but I think it's just k1, yo every row

This is some random big-box craft store yarn, but it does have sequins (which don't really show up.) It's kind of between a scarf and shawl in width.

And I know I started this years and years ago, back when people were knitting for a program called Red Scarf Project:

Red Scarf Project was a charity; it gave hand knitted scarves to kids at college who had been through the foster-care system, as part of a care package. I don't even know if the program is still operating. The pattern used here is one of Catherine Wingate's Ruggles' reversible scarves. 

Again, I think I'll finish it. If Red Scarf still exists I might send it off there, if not, I may be able to find another place. 

But the thing I'm working most actively on now are these:


I'm trying to finish them for my mom's birthday - I just pulled out a random ball of self-patterning yarn in colors she often wears and started a simple pair of socks. I hope I can get them done - I have more time this week (exams are done for me) and a couple days next week before I leave.

The yarn is a Regia "Arne and Carlos" faux-Scandinavian patter from a few years back.

They're good because they're simple. I felt REALLY lousy yesterday evening, didn't feel good today (managed to give my exams anyway). I finally started feeling better midafternoon today, I suppose the Azo needed time to work. Also I probably hadn't been drinking enough water today - and that may have been what got me into this trouble in the first place. (I also wonder if these things can heighten anxiety in people prone to it; I know I had several spans of an hour or two during this where my anxiety was TERRIBLE and I kept ruminating on "what if something is very wrong with you and you need surgery or worse?" (I don't think that - I mean, I guess it's not impossible - but given how much better I feel this evening I suspect this was just a run of the mill infection)

Monday, May 02, 2022

once again? still?

 So I'm feeling less than totally-wonderful again. Started again with lower abdominal pain, kind of wrote it off for a few days. Got worse over the weekend, plus I was alone (except for church) most of the weekend, and that makes my mind go bad places.

Some of the pain was a bit off to the sides (either side) of the midline. I commented about it somewhere online and someone reminded me of a mutual acquaintance of ours who had died of ovarian cancer after delaying getting it checked out. So, despite having no family history, and not having the "bloating" they describe as a symptom, I googled symptoms.


I had....a few of them? And a few risk factors (never having been pregnant, apparently, is a risk factor, as is being over 50). Yes I know it's pretty uncommon (1 in 75 women get it, one site helpfully told me, but of course my brain goes "That's more than a 1% chance, that's almost a 2% chance!")

After church Sunday (being up and moving around, having something to distract me) I felt markedly better for a while but then late in the evening the anxiety came back.(Yes I am trying to get a gynecologist's appointment - one of the things that worried me that was because of COVID and wanting to avoid everything except the essentials, and also the group I had gone to for years being in my mom's town, I hadn't seen once since 2019, and that added to my worry - of course something could have been cooking away undetected in all that time and now that it HURTS it's really bad and oh no am I going to die? How do I dispose of all my crap before I die so my mom isn't saddled with doing it? Do I put off doing reno on my house because if I'm going to die, what's the point?)

Yeah. Uh. They say in "older" women confusion and agitation can be a symptom of a UTI, maybe it manifests as increased anxiety for me? Because this morning, I woke up feeling chilled, feeling tired, and achy. Broke down and took a couple tylenol - the pain over to the "sides" of midline resolved (I was wondering if it was actually a tissue or if it was arthritis). Also heat over my lower abdomen helped a LOT. And I realized that many of the more acute symptoms I'm having are indicative of a UTI. So I'm trying to think "horses" rather than "zebras" because UTIs are pretty common in "older" women and in heavy women and it's possible that I've tipped over onto the prediabetic side of things (yes I am watching my diet more closely now) and that makes you more prone to them

(Also, the "side" pain gets worse upon sitting for a time, and improves upon standing/moving around - which suggests to me something more musculoskeletal).

I have a message in to my doctor's office but there were no "open" appointments on the patient portal before June; I don't know if they're booked up or if she's on vacation. If it's the first I MIGHT be able to get a cancellation/squeeze-me-in appointment. I'd rather go there; the minute clinics don't do bacterial assessment of your sample so they can't tell for SURE, they just look for blood cells which could also be kidney or bladder stones or other things. Also my doctor might be better at tailoring a specific antibiotic to me.

(I'm wondering if the first time, if five days of keflex wasn't enough/wasn't the right one. Difficulty level: I am allergic to a couple of the ones doctors like to use most for this).

I do hope I can get in - not just to get it treated but being told "yeah, it's an infection" instead of....other things....would ease my mind a lot. But given how awfully, unfoundedly anxious I felt this morning - well, maybe that's the "agitation" they talk about. And the pain right now is worst where you'd expect it to be for this.

But man, getting old is a drag. Better than the alternative, for sure, but....still, a drag.


ETA: got an appointment with the PA (my regular doctor is out this week). He listened to my symptoms, tutted over my fear about the ovarian cancer (apparently very unlikely given my symptoms but a gyn appointment is still in order), and had me leave a "sample" which will be cultured and depending on what they find, that will determine antibiotics

I was told for the time being to take the "plain" Azo.....which is easier said than done, there are about five different Azos. I think I got the right one. At any rate it says "antibacterial and pain relief" so...okay. Not sure I love the warning not to use if on a sodium restricted diet (I am not REALLY but I limit sodium for my blood pressure, guess I'll just have to be extra careful with diet while I take it)

My weight was unchanged from January which was good news given what I worried about - I haven't altered my diet or exercise (haven't tried to lose weight) so either a big loss or a big gain would have been worrisome. 

I feel better than I did this morning, not sure how much of that was "feeling worse upon waking" or "dealt with my worries"

Friday, April 29, 2022

Mostly just reading

It's been a tiring and hard couple of weeks, had a little stomach virus, had to deal emotionally with the person having delusions and their going missing (and still no real word on what happened), worries about the state of the world, and dealing with students wanting to hand things in really late so I have all kinds of hang-over grading.

I've mostly been spending my free time (what I have of it - have been boxing up more stuff recently) reading on "Dear and Glorious Physician." It's *really* good. Even beyond the idea that it's a (fictionalized, probably pretty heavily) story of St. Luke, the author (Taylor Caldwell, who I had never even heard of before - I guess she was mostly active in the 1950s) does a really good job of evoking landscapes and setting the stage. That's one of my favorite things in a book - when it can take you somewhere else and you stop thinking about your own concerns and problems for a while, and this novel can do that. 

Right now, Lucanus (the name he goes by at least in the first part of the book) is just finishing up his physician's training. He's become very embittered by various losses (including Rubria, the daughter of his patron, and apparently the love of his young life) and is angry at God (and yet: he still believes God exists, and basically God is the monotheistic God of the Jews - what the Greeks of his time called "the unknown God" which is how Lucanus learned about God as a child). And now (about 200 pages in) he sees how a man with leprosy is nearly killed by Roman soldiers for violating his exile just to look at his family one last time through the window of their house and hears of a good and honest man's sorrow over the kidnapping of his son, and Luke has become embittered against people, too (though there is also a miraculous healing involved, which I would think would have reconciled Lucanus somewhat to God). 

Apparently he's roughly contemporaneous with Jesus (If I remember correctly, the Gospel of Luke was written about 50 years after the Crucifixion). In the story, Luke meets with a man who was apparently one of the Magi while he was still a young man. 

Even accounting for the heavy fictionalization (though some say Caldwell did use "apocryphal" sources, which could have a bit of historical accuracy even if they're not accepted into the general canon), it's still a very interesting story, well told, very readable.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

working on sleeves

 These days, my most active knitting has actually been invigiliating exams (I gave 3 in the past week). I finished the body (up to where the sleeves go on) of "A Cardigan for John) so I've been working on the sleeves. I have the first sleeve more than half done:

They have a garter-stitch panel that runs up the outside of the sleeve, up to the shoulders. It mirrors the side panels of garter stitch. 

This is a raglan sweater - my favorite design because you make them all in one piece and then knit the sleeves on to the body - minimal sewing, which is harder on a knitted garment.

Also, one silly thing I ordered for myself. Aurora now makes a few stuffed animals (as you will see, they are small) that have lenticular panels in their eyes, so they will switch expression depending on the angle you are holding them that. Lenticular things are interesting; I also remember there were storybooks when I was a child that had "3-D pictures" on the cover that had a sort of lenticular effect (Rose Art Studio published them but the only pictures I can find online are on Pinterest, bleah).

I've also seen designs that gave a rudimentary animation effect, like the Muybridge running horse. 

Anyway, she has two expressions depending on the angle you hold her at. Otherwise, she's a very simple stuffed animal and not all that "anatomical" for an animal based on a horse (more teddy-bear shaped than anything)

And if I can get this to upload right, a little video

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

teaching is done...

 I realized this morning this was my last day of actual teaching for this semester - Wednesday and Friday, the one class does their presentations of their research and Thursday I give the last hourly exam in my two classes. So I'm fundamentally done.

I also graded the lab books and the final papers for the classes that did them, so that's done. 

I dunno. I guess I feel relieved this semester is over. I had one pretty good class and one that....just didn't go well. I feel like I didn't teach as well as I could have. But also, I think some of the students were either just burnt out, or maybe some of them taking advantage of the fact that we've been pressured to show "mercy," which for me often takes the form of generous extensions on things (so I am ALWAYS grading and it feels I am never done, and I dislike that). 

But at least tomorrow, Thursday, and Friday, I can leave a bit earlier in the afternoon. I mowed the lawn today, and am contemplating if we get a bit more good weather, I might do more yardwork and maybe get some bedding plants to make things look nice. (Though in a couple weeks, I am going to visit my mom - I have hanging baskets I may have to give to someone to "babysit" for me, depending on what the weather forecast looks like). 

Some years I feel happy that the semester is over - things went well, I feel like the students learned well and did good work. The past few semesters have felt a little empty because of the pandemic stuff. Things are (for now at least) beginning to normalize - I can't remember if this is the first time since fall 2019 I did the presentations or not (I didn't schedule them fall 2020 because we were going all online after Thanksgiving....(Though now I checked: I did do them in fall 2021, so I guess this isn't the FIRST time back). 

Friday is the deadline to sign up for graduation. It's not required, and I don't know. If it were outdoors I'd 100% go - we did 2021's on the football field, well spaced, and it was fine. But they've gone back to inside the basketball arena, and while it's a big space with a high ceiling, there will be literally thousands of people from *all over* there. And I don't know that I feel like being the only, or practically only, masked person present (which I probably would be). I'd also be more sanguine about it if I didn't have plans to travel less than a week after, to go see my 85-year-old mother. Yes, we're both vaccinated - but the new variant that's starting to spread (not really *here* yet, but still) is even more infectious and seems to be able to sneak past vaccines to cause symptomatic infections.

If the pandemic weren't a thing, I'd absolutely go - it's a good way to end the semester - but the fact that the UK and the northeastern US is seeing another wave start gives me pause. I guess I'll wait and see if there's a frantic message from my chair saying "no one signed up!" and then I'll cave and do it. And probably wear a mask, even if I get disapproving looks from some for it. (This sort of thing is VERY hard for someone who gives a hard damn what other people think of her, even if the opinions of people who think wearing a mask yourself now is foolish shouldn't matter to me)

But that is one thing that's been hard through....all this. Loss of the ways I have of marking the seasons: graduations, and holidays, and some of the things I used to go and do. I'm slowly getting some of that back (being able to go visit my mom, for example), but other things are slow to return. Maybe someday? Or maybe never, given that it seems to just be wave after wave, and you never know what infection you get may give you permanent damage, it seems...

Monday, April 25, 2022

Some Monday thoughts

 * I'm getting close to finishing the blocks for the current quilt top. I will be glad when this one is done, but also, I'm going to have to remember not to do a "fractured' four or nine patch again; the subcutting is just too frustrating. You have to be *very* careful because if you miscut, you've really ruined the block, and since these were made from a charm pack....well, there's not any more fabric left over like there is for a quilt made from yardage

I did find a pattern for the fat quarters I bought from Quilt Asylum; it's called something like Origami Garden - it's one of those "modern quilt" patterns with a lot of open space (I will probably have to contemplate the plain white fabric I have here at home, or run to the storage unit to retrieve a piece). But it shows off the fabric and that's what I want for these; some of these are large-scale prints and others I'd rather have a bigger piece visible because of the busy-ness of the prints.

* The heavy duty grading begins this week. I got most of the lab books done this afternoon (a few are going to be late; one person has a medical excuse, the others, if they have them tomorrow? I will just accept them because I'd rather not have some of these people have to retake.

I also graded the big papers in another class (well, read through and put comments on them; I will re-read and grade them tomorrow). And yeah; I did teach worse, these were not up to the caliber of some previous years and I think I probably didn't give enough guidance. One person didn't use sufficient sample size, for example, though I thought I had discussed that. 

I don't know. I'm just kind of tired and discouraged and feel like I've gotten worse at stuff, and I don't like that. 

* Also looking at the world and feeling tired and discouraged. I'm reminded of a quotation from "The Great Gatsby," which I think I've read three times in my life - and I would argue it's one of the more-depressing generally-recognized-as-great novels. There's really no one in there I root for; most of the characters seem pretty unappealing.

But I think of a quotation from the narrator, Nick Carraway: "“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

You see that a lot. Or at least, I've seen that a lot, even going back to when I was growing up in a fairly wealthy "bedroom" community of Cleveland and Akron (as Akron was just beginning its polymers boom). Lots of people from families with money or power who could kind of do as they pleased and leave the "little people " to take the fall or clean up the mess. And I saw it in school - a kid once said "I could buy and sell your family" to me and they probably could have, but geez, what a way to be. And I do think that carelessness, that sense that "there's enough money to make it not matter what I do n the first place" is just bad. It's like the old heresy that a few Christians bought into, that because they were forgiven of past sins, that meant they could go and commit more and just ask forgiveness for THOSE, and it doesn't work that way, none of this works that way. But people do that.

And I see it now, with some petty government officials around here - throw their power around, use it to benefit them, and then not care that their constituents are getting hurt. And they make things worse for everyone in the process.

And it is discouraging. When I was in my 20s I actually thought I'd change the world for the better. In my 30s and 40s I thought that at least I'd make a few people's lives better through teaching. Now, I'm not so sure and am wondering if I just have to settle for "well at least I'm not making things worse"

Though I will say about Great Gatsby - in general, the "Bright Young Things" type novels of that era (Evelyn Waugh is the same) are kind of tiresome to me; I would rather use whatever money or power I had to be useful to society and while I know that one's value as a person is independent of what one "produces" (though this is a trap I fall into - feeling like my worth is tied to the last thing I managed to do, which is probably why I've been so miserable since the pandemic; successes have been few and far between). But I think going around and smashing things up and then throwing money at it to fix it....that seems like not the ideal way to operate.  

But also the idea of "carelessness." I think that has to be learned - or maybe, care is learned and hard to unlearn. I was taught to care and I know in some cases it hamstrings me; it's harder to make a decision because I worry about the ethical implications. Or I can't do what I want because I feel like I have to consider other people.

But I DO know people who, while not wealthy like Tom and Daisy, are able to be careless, to sort of skate away from the harm they caused and seem not to feel bad about it. (Perhaps a bit more like another despicable character from a book - Mr. Skimpole in "Bleak House," where he talked about being bad with time and with money and so endlessly and tiresomely (to my mind) imposes on all those around him, all the while protesting he is "merely a simple child" and so DESERVES special treatment. And I admit that always makes me angry, the person who believes they deserve more special treatment than everyone else, and that people have to take extra care with them. I don't know why it pushes my buttons but it does.)

* I've cycled back into having more vivid dreams (in the sense of just, lots of things happening,lots of random things from my day) and I don't approve of it. I want my brain to be less chaotic. I don't know if this is allergies or if it's because it's gotten warmer again and I don't sleep as deeply. But some mornings I don't feel rested. I'm not sure what to do - maybe I need to unplug more and like, just stare at a wall in the evenings? So my brain doesn't load up with stuff that needs to be sorted out and most of it junked and the rest filed? 

Maybe temperate-zone spring is just bad for the brain? Thinking about the person who went missing (but was fortunately found safe) last week, and some of the other things that go on. Maybe that's why April is the cruelest month? Maybe we all just need to learn to take a break in April, or hibernate, or something....