Saturday, February 26, 2011

Changes and lack thereof

Add a few years, and some things change. Friends move away. Stores close. New ones open. Music becomes incomprehensible, and also bad.

I look around me these days at my kith and kin and see…a lot more gray hair. Laugh lines and crow’s feet. We limp, we grouse, we have a we can’t fathom how the world isn’t going to careen into the abyss of absolutely DOOM in the very near future because ohmygah, the KIDS these days!

“Where we goin’, and why we in this handbasket?!”

Today, I am attempting to clean up my bedroom.

I know. I am the most exciting person alive.

But this is one of those too-seldom done things; our bedroom is not just the place where we crash at night, but is also my home office, and my craft room, and until very recently, my music room.

This means that all roads lead to it. And many, many things travel these roads. And then they pile up on every surface, get shifted from here to there, until eventually I try to grab a magazine and get buried by twenty thousand books and a few balls of Merino and who the heck left a crane in here, anyway…and I say, “Right, that’s it, I need to get some control over this!”

Which brings me to today.

When I yanked out a very dusty box from the back of a cupboard, and found a bunch of pictures. Pictures of me looking like a walrus that swallowed a beach ball (Boo Bug…man, I was huge while pregnant with her, and afterward for quite a while…), pictures of us in costumes for Renaissance fair, pictures of me with my harp, pictures of us in bizarre costumes at the Sea Dogs Halloween party, pictures of my brother when he was still a twerp…

And an envelope of our engagement picture proofs.

Engagement Photo

(You have no idea how hard it was for Ray [our Awesome Photographer] to get us to quit LAUGHING and look all SERIOUS and THINKY and like we were CONTEMPLATING THE FUTURE and some junk like that…Tim kept whispering things and I’d dissolve and Ray would kind of sigh, and smile, aaaaaaaaand wait for us to GROW UP A LITTLE @^*&@ING BIT…! (still hasn’t happened, but, well, whatcha gonna do…?)

Lots of things change. We’re both a bit…ahem…fluffier…than we were back then. We have our first round of Welcome To Aging crap; gray hairs, diverticulitis, interesting hormonal changes (I hates them), plantar fasciitis, waking up stiff and sore to face what seems like a truckload of therapist-recommended exercises for this or that Sore Bit, and a bewildering array of pills (wait…did I just take your hypertension thingee?...uh…am I gonna die…and if I am, is there time for coffee first…?), and oh yeah, speaking of, in desperate medical need of coffee.

Other things haven’t changed at all.

We still make each other laugh, really hard, really often. We don’t fight, or even argue much; whenever we get in danger of it, I walk away…and he lets me.

We still have tremendous respect for each other, for our individual and combined needs, for our strengths and weakness, too.

I still think he’s about the greatest thing ever.

Technically, he ain’t perfect or anything close to it; not going to be on the cover of Perfection Made Flesh magazine any time soon.

But he’s perfect for me.

And I still love him like crazy-mad. And still think I will for the rest of all time.

My Man

Even if he does have hair that is always about three seconds from going all goofy and stick-y-up-y.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Newly Rediscovered: Pre-Sliced Bread is COOL!

OK, first of all: Is everybody sitting down? You’re not, like, standing on a bus reading this on your Android-whozit-thingee?

I’ll give you a second to get settled in a safe position.


I bought bread last week. At Target. I KNOW! The apocalypse (which I just spelled in a CRAZY weird way, what the HECK was THAT?!) (seriously, like, I went with apocolapse…and I have no idea why because yeah, I know it isn’t spelled that way…), it may be here…

That’s the first time in…wow. You know? I really don’t know how long it has been since I last bought bread in a store like that. I’ve bought Boudin sourdough (because of course I have), and I’ve bought the occasional box or bag of bagels or croissants, but when it comes to “sandwich and toast” bread…I think I might not be exaggerating when I say it has been years.

My homemade bread spoils me; it costs me a hair over a dollar to make two one-pound loaves, you know? And since I’m a compulsive spreadsheet addict, I know this. Furthermore, a loaf of bread will vanish in less than one meal around here; so, I’m not looking at one loaf of bread, I’m looking at two or even three.

And we’ll still be out of it in what seems like mere moments.

BUT. I was tired and still not feeling too great and had too much to do, so I bought this bread at Target. Plain old bread-bread. Normal bread, like everybody has.

Fast forward to later that day, when Danger Mouse comes tripping in and says, “Can I make a sandwich?”

We said, sure, knock yourself out, kid.

She climbs up to get the bread, dumps it out of the bag, regards the jumbled up slices with great surprise and then chirps out, “Oh, WOW! It’s already sliced! That’s cooooooooool!!”

This just in: Sliced bread? Is coooooooooool.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The latest in chic bedding

Oh, you guys thought I was exaggerating about the stash enhancement? A little coloring of facts, perhaps, or poetic license?


I would be embarrassed, except that ohmygah-ohmygah-ohmygah…it’s yarn!!!

And I’m thinking maybe I’ll just leave it right here on the bed. Because what we’ve got here is mostly super-fine Merino, with some cashmere blend and a little alpaca and a lot of Lisa’s beautiful sock yarns…two kinds this year…one the good old Sock!, and the other a new-to-me-anyway BFL (Bluefaced Leicester). It’s a slightly finer gauge than the Sock!, and has the feel of a yarn that is going to be a great combination of soft but hard-wearing.

What’s kind of funny is, as I was unloading all of it and going, and I’m gonna make THAT out of THIS and THIS outta that and OH YEAH, that’s gonna be etc. etc. etc.…I suddenly realized that…this year's haul…and may I remind the Gentle Readers that I went out the door Friday morning saying, “No sock yarn! No laceweight! For carp’s sake, get some good old fashioned worsted, some DK, some sportweight, some nice thick stuff!!!”…

99% of all this is fingering.

ALSO, I still suffer from that short term memory loss problem. After finally finishing the VIP sweater, I was swooning on the couch, fanning myself and gasping, “Never again! Never will I subject myself to knitting a whole adult-sized sweater in fingering weight yarn! I choose life! LIFE, I TELL YOU! I CHOSE IT!”

Fast forward about three seconds, and I am enthusiastically pulling bag after bag of fingering weight yarn out of the box going, “Ooooooooh, yes! And this is going to be a cunning little Fair Isle sweater in two tones of gray – super-fine gauge of course as this is fingering weight yarn! And these? TWO adult sweaters, one that is mostly rust with some brown and the other that is mostly brown with some rust! In super-fine gauge because oh look, more fingering weight! And eeeeeeeee! Four kids sweaters that are sort of match-y but also different because there are five different coordinating fingering weight yarns, see?!”

Plus about fourteen pairs of socks. Some assembly required.

…and seriously? I’m…really not sure…where I’m going to, you know…put all this. I’ve kind of overstuffed my available storage areas and Space Bags can only do so much…


…maybe I could convince the husband that this is the latest trend in bedding? The ultra rustic (by which I mean ‘still in raw material form’) “look”?

(Dear $DEITY please let me get about 62,000 times faster as a knitter, amen.)

(p.s. thank you for sending me a husband who thinks my yarn addiction is ‘cute’ and loves hand knit socks and reacts to large boxes of yarn by yelling, “DIBS!!!” and putting in orders for sweaters and stuff instead of, you know, having me committed to a sanatorium or something, amen)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A teaser and a VIP

Whew! OK. I think I am mostly recovered from my Stitches experience. I may have…overdone things…just a tad. Eeeeeeyeah. Ahem. Just a wee little tiny bit of perhaps a slight excess of…exuberance…may have been experienced by Your Faithful Correspondent.

Which may have resulted in a tiny bit of…stash enhancement.

And a hint of reference material collection.

Two phrases which should be pronounced, “Holy crap, woman, did you leave any books or yarn for the other attendees?!”

…well, uh…they…should have been faster off the mark.

But I can’t really show you much at the moment. SEE, I got to the end of the day, and I was dragging my cart behind me, and had all these bags piled up on top of it (stop laughing) and then I got my coat and the bag I had checked earlier back from the Girl Scouts (OK, seriously, stop laughing) and then I was all trying to get All That out of the marketplace to the lobby and it was like, I need five other people and possibly a MULE right now, and then I was attempting some kind of crazy-advanced packing technique and also attempting to bend physics to my will in such a way that hauling all of this three long blocks, in an impressively cold and soaking downpour, and then stacking it alllllll up on the ACE train for the long ride home would…work.

I do not want to discuss just how much volume of stuff there really is, here. ALTHOUGH I MUST POINT OUT, yarn is…you know…fluffy. Sooooo, it’s not like I had this kind of volume of marbles, or lead bricks, or…like that.

It was yarn.

Yarn is fluffy.

It always looks like a lot more volume than it really has, is what I’m getting at. Just because it may have seemed like I had the entire national output of Australia in my bag doesn’t mean I actually did.

Far from it.

(Peru, maybe, but not Australia. Let’s not be silly, people!)

Ahem, anyway. So then as I sat there, with time ticking away and my need to figure this out becoming more pressing by the moment – the last ACE train was due in about half an hour, and it wasn’t going to sit there waiting for me if I hadn’t gotten my backside over there to the station on time – I said to myself, said I, “Self! There is no way this is going to work. Your back is on its way out, your hip is already crinkling and grinding, you can’t take any more Stuff because you’re going to have to drive yourself home from the station in Tracy in the rain no less, this is way! too much volume to be dragging on there in the first place – you’re going to be taking up, like, eight seats at this rate! – and furthermore what do you have against UPS, anyway?!”

So I went over to the UPS store, looked the nice man in the eye and said, “I wanna ship some stuff home to myself.”

“OK, no problem!” he said brightly. “So, uh, how much of…all this…will be going?”

“As much as we can fit into a box,” I said grimly. And he then grabbed a small (well, maybe medium) moving box and started cramming yarn into it. The man was good, people – he understood that yarn squishes and was not shy about packing it right on in there.

The box was bulging.

And I was a pretty interesting shade of crimson because apparently, I left my self-control at home Friday. CURSE YOU, NEWTON’S YARN COUNTRY (Cashmere merino blends, superwash of all kinds, angora, cotton, etc. at 50% off!!)! And also Yarn For Sale and your blasted (but oh-so-delicious) downsizing sale! PLUS ALSO I’m not too thrilled with Solvang Village Spinning or the Sanguine Gryphon - go and check out their patterns. They have a lot of funky-cool stuff for knitters that might be looking for something that isn’t “just another sock” or “yet another stockinette sweater.” (Their Fall 2010 patterns? “Our Steampunk line.” Cooooooooool!)

And of course, Lisa Souza.

Now, because I boxed almost everything up and sent it to myself…I can’t actually show y’all what kind of crazy we’re talking about here. There was only one thing that actually made it home with me, and it was this:


This is Montreaux, which is a laceweight 70% superwash extra-fine Merino / 30% silk blend, in the Amazonia colorway, from Lisa’s booth. As always seems to happen, the photos don’t really do this justice. There is a depth and shimmer to it that I don’t think is coming across.


Highs and lows, splashes of deep green with plays of bright kelly and hints of turquoise. I love this colorway. Love. IT. I also got the same in the sock yarn. Even though I said to myself Friday morning as the train was chugging toward Yarn Heaven, said very firmly indeed, that there were two things I absolutely did not need even ONE CRUMMY BALL of this year, and that was lace or sock yarn. I have enough to last six lifetimes already, I said. Do not need more, I said. You behave yourself (ha ha), and stay awaaaaaaay from the lace, and the sock yarns. I REALLY MEAN IT.

I did pretty good on that, too…until I walked into Lisa’s booth. Sigh.

AND GUESS WHAT ELSE? She’s got a book coming out soon: 10 Secrets of the LaidBack Knitters: A Guide to Holistic Knitting, Yarn, and Life .


The rest of my Crazy Made Tangible should be arriving on Monday. Which will be a lot like having Christmas and my birthday and Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day and pretty much any other occasion on which someone might drop presents in your lap all at once.

ALSO, I got my camera figured out, so, hey look, a cardigan!


I thought I was never going to finish this. All that twisted seed stitch and knit-thru-back-loop cabling, and then the smocking stitch you can see here next to the buttons, with the ‘slip those stitches back and forth, like, four hundred times and wrap the yarn around them’ thing:


…but, I think it made for a very lovely sweater at the end of all things. I made it in the Knit Picks Comfy Fingering , 75% pima cotton – 25% acrylic, machine washable. It’s a very soft and, well, comfy yarn. Easy on the hands and with very good stitch definition – the twisted stitches really stand out nicely in it.

Which is good, because I’d be pissed if all that extra fiddling didn’t, you know, show up.

This weekend, it has been pouring rain. Pouring. So instead of gardening, I’m trying to finish up some of the projects that have been languishing around in the bottom of my knitting bag for about six months longer than Forever…like Captain Adventure’s Lillehammer, which he has by now almost outgrown, and I had to do this weird-funky thing to make the neck big enough for his head.

I only hope I can get it smoothed out enough that it isn’t too lumpy for him on the inside…he can be really fussy about things that poke / itch, and what I did was kind of…fold down part of the shoulder and whip-stitch it to the inside, making the collar wider and deeper than originally planned…but there’s a little extra ‘bump’ right beneath the shoulder bone that I’m afraid might offend him…I may have to put in some extra stitching to keep it from running and then cut it off or something, which would also mean I’d need to add a couple extra rows above the turning row that I can stretch it over that as well as the collar pick-up lump.

…and even so, we’ll be lucky if he gets to wear it once or twice before a) the weather gets way too warm for double-wool and b) he outgrows it entirely.

Serves me right for not finishing it quickly…children grow so fast you can practically hear their little bones creaking, when you’re making clothes for them you must not set it down to do “later” and then walk away from it for a year…(or two…)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Time out for a class

Continental knitting should be a natural fit for me. I'm left-handed, for Pete's sake! But, every time I've triedto figure it out, I've said, "Aw, heck with it!" - my left hand just gets all tangled up and the knitting is all wonky and GAH! HOW DO YOU PURL?!?!

Dudes. Instructor stands there and does ONE knit stitch - slowly, deliberately, and on what looked like #17 needles - and I was all like, "....ooooooooooh! I SEE!"

It's not exactly "as natural as throwing" for me yet, but I can envision a future where it is...and I'm knitting a LOT faster. Woot!

(sent from my Treo)

Live(ish) from Stitches: FANCY breakfast

(Overpriced but tasty) Eggs Benedict, and (also overpriced, but DANG is it good!) coffee. Breakfast of yarn-shoppin', market-session-class-takin' champions, yo!

I love Eggs Benedict. Usually (well..."usually" on the, like, once a year occasions when I'm eating breakfast a) at all, b) in a restaurant that c) is "fancy" enough to have it in the first place), I swap spinach for the Canadian bacon.

But this time, I got the salty, fatty, porky goodness.

Look out, Market...I'm gonna be a fully-caffinated, fat-sugar-and-carb driven ANIMAL in a few minutes....!!!

(sent from my Treo)

On the way to Stitches!

Cast on the What A Character hoodie from KnitPicks this week - Captain Adventure is VERY excited. And also impatient...last night, he came to check the progress. Alas, I had found the sleeve WAY too big (oddly, we breed small children...I mean, I'm on the "little" side, structurally, but with a 6'3" father, I'm a little surprised the Pixie genes have prevailed, ya know?), so pulled it out and started over one size down.

He was Not Amused. holding the pathetic beginnings of the sleeve, he looked at me sternly and said, "Mommy. You need-it to be doing a GOODER job for mine alien-sweth-THER." (he has chosen the grinning one-eyed monster, naturally).

I'm on my way to Stitches via ACE train this year...because I can take my "good" pain medication this way. Last year got a little...miserable that way. Feh. Stupid back! Stupid hip! FEH!

But it has given me a gift today...because it's been bugging me so much lately, I am here now. The rain has given everything that bright, clean look...the creeks are full and burbling along.

The ride through the hills is lovely beyond all reason. My coffee is good and hot. I am knitting on my way to what may be my ONLY yarn-buying trip forthe year.

I have a paycheck. I've made enough progress this year that today, I have disposable income.


It is good.

(sent from my Treo)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

PTO, Codeine and Button Bands

I just logged off for the day a little bit ago. Which on the one hand is, you know, like, wow, really, at 1:30? redefining ‘bankers hours’ much, there?

…but on the other hand, seeing as how I’m ON VACATION TODAY, well, you know…yeah.

See, I forgot to turn on my out of office notification yesterday. So I logged on “real quick” this morning at about 8:30 to do that. And there was this email with a spreadsheet and ‘can you look into this’ and I went, huh…that IS kinda weird…welllllllll, just a real-quick look… and then FOUR HOURS LATER I went, “OK! This is the VERY LAST one-last-thing, and I really mean it!!!!”

I find this to be both an occupational hazard, and continual reassurance that I picked a pretty good career for myself. It keeps being interesting and absorbing and I-don’t-mind-working for me; it’s like doing puzzles. Why does this lead to that? How come X because Y? Where did they get that?

…and then the ‘a-HA!’ and feeling of smug self-congratulations when you figure it out.

Dang, I’m clever…!

Of course, people who manage to completely forget that they have upcoming PTO probably shouldn’t be going around patting themselves on the back for cleverness.

Yeah, I did. I managed to forget all about it for about a week. I blame being sick, and also the codeine cough syrup. Which, especially in the early days when I was also still kind of woozy from fever and lack of sustenance, hit me so hard in the brain that…that…that…well.

You know the VIP cardigan I’ve been working for approximately the last fifty years, give or take an epoch? Well, it’s finished, and I’d love to show you a picture of it, but my laptop won’t recognize the camera card…except to reformat it. “Oh, hey, I don’t know what this is…so, I’ll go ahead and reformat it for you! Oh, I’m sorry, did you want whatever was on that? Yeeeeah, sorry about that…hey! Ouch! Quit banging me against the wall like that, I’m a delicate piece of precision engineering!!!!!”

But I digress.

So I thought finishing the sweater would be a great use of my sick time. Something that could help me feel productive while in actuality I was sitting on my backside.

Which it was.

Except…well. The button bands.

There were…minor technical difficulties there.

The directions said to cast on X stitches, knit them separately (but not cast them off), and then graft the live stitches to the fronts with a crochet slip-stitch. OK. No problem, right?


First, the button bands were too long…but I didn’t realize this and cheerfully grafted them neatly to the fronts…and up the collar…aaaaaaaand pretty much all the way up to the point where the top button would have been right beneath the earlobe of the wearer.

For bonus points, I didn’t realize this until I was about to graft on the collar and was all, …???...

For even more bonus points…I’d done the one side with the slip-stitch thing, so that side was all, “Zzzzzzzzzzip!!” and bingo, it was removed.

…the other side hadn’t gone so well. The graft just wouldn’t work right. It was lumpy and dumpy and ugly. Sooooooooo…I…did a very neat and also very thorough traditional grafting on it. It was beautiful, and perfect, and absolutely flat and “invisible” and all like that.

And it took approximately three centuries to unpick. {weeping}

This should have been a warning to me, but no. I pulled them out, went, “Huh!”, squinted at the directions again, and then cast on exactly the same way, knit exactly the same band, tried to smoosh it into the narrower space and then went, …oh…it’s too long… because what a revelation this was.


SO THEN, I said, “OK, you know what? Not feeling the love for figuring out why I have perfect gauge BUT am ending up with a significantly longer button band, I’m just going to be clever [uh-oh] and do it the old-fashioned way, to wit, picking up the button band straight from the front and knitting it!”

Which worked great on the first side.

And then I took a hit of cough syrup, settled back into my chair, picked up and knitted the second button band.

All the way around the right armhole.

And didn’t realize what I’d done until the next morning, when I crawled downstairs in seven kinds of agony, a layering of stuff like “normal” back and hip pain exacerbated by not being able to take the “normal” stuff for it due to the not normal Other Stuff I was taking for the cough/cold PLUS I’d pulled a muscle in my stomach and popped a something-or-other between two ribs with the coughing, so, yeah, owies…and I picked up the sweater…and OHMYGAH, it was like, BIG! NEON! LETTERS! FLASHING! ERROR! ERROR! ERROR!!!!!

It was a see-from-across-the-room mistake, and I just stood there holding the sweater and asking myself, “OK. Laugh, or cry? Or possibly scream like a demented lunatic and hurl it out the nearest window?”

So I folded it, very neatly and carefully, turned my back on it, made coffee, took medicines, sat still for a good twenty minutes with my hands folded in my lap and my head bowed, meditating and breathing and thinking happy thoughts about kittens and lollipops and unicorns and forest scenes and such, until I felt like I’d probably live.

And then I tore it all out – again – and, calmly and as if it had never happened, picked it up properly along the right front, and serenely knit the eight rows with the precisely places buttonholes and cast it off in pattern. And then I attached the collar, and ran in the eleventy-mazillion ends, and finished the buttonholes because Nancie Wiseman would approve (I took a class from her at Stitches West once – it was righteous…she is very nit-pic…no, wait! Knit-picky [hahahahahahaha, I slay me!]), and attached the very cool buttons I got from Brazen Button and I love them because they are steampunk…but not too steampunk.

Like this.

And then I was all yay, me! because it is one damned good-looking sweater.

Which I’d show you.

If my computer weren’t eating the photos off the SIM card instead of uploading them. (But, I’m not bitter.) (OK, maybe just a little.) (Although that fugly picture of me somebody took while I was sick? Not sad about that one getting chewed up, thank-you-very-much.)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Digging out


Ya know…?



Today, as not-exactly-promised by the good doctor, I was feeling a lot more like myself. Enough so that I emerged out of my bedroom, walked into my kitchen, and said, “!!!!!!!!!?”

Because holy crap, people. You would not believe the state of this place. It’s the kind of thing that makes me wonder what really would happen to these maniacs I live with, if I weren’t around to keep things going.

The bathrooms are in an advanced state of funk. The laundry is still piled up on the dining room table. There is a thick layer of dust on everything. There is crap on the kitchen floor that I’m pretty sure was there last weekend as well.

I’m also fairly certain Captain Adventure hasn’t bathed since I got sick.

The garden is in a pathetic state. The seed potatoes are sprouting merrily on the hutch. The craft table was buried beneath half a ton of stuff that nobody wanted to deal with, soooooo, they brought it up here for me to deal with, later.

The words, “Go put that on mommy’s table, honey” are starting to give me a nervous tic.

Most of the time, I really enjoy my lifestyle…but I have to admit, it’s long on hard work and short on convenience. And when I get behind on things, man, it’s a killer.

And I am behind. Way, way behind.

I should already have things in the ground – I don’t even have three inches that are clear of weeds. I should be ordering a couple cases of canning jars, I still haven’t test canned anything with the samples I got. I should have soap curing, I should have made butter today, I didn’t make bread, I didn’t rack up stuff for dinners this week, which undoubtedly is going to end up meaning either that we’re going to be eating spaghetti with butter sauce or out of a greasy bag at least once this week.

I’ve got stuff waiting to be dyed and stuff I need to weave and stuff I need to wash and stuff I need to put away. Stuff that just needs a nip here, a collar there, a few buttons sewn on. Fabric that needs to be cut into strips so it can be sewn into a rug.

…and work-work to be done, to boot…and I’m behind there, too, thanks to three and a half days out sick…which also leaves me light in the paycheck…argh…!

“Insult, I’d like you to meet my good friend injury – injury, insult!”


I know it is a self-inflicted and needless madness; that we have a supermarket less than two miles away and the fact that I won’t have onions ready to harvest in my yard for six long months doesn’t mean there can’t be onions sooner.

It’s just…well. I don’t want to be buying these things when I know I should be able to walk out into my backyard and yank them out of the ground. Heh. It’s like the reverse of the old saying: How will you keep them in gay Paris, when they’ve touched the generous earth?

How will you get us to love what is fast and convenient, when we’ve had the rich satisfaction of growing it from a seed…with blisters and oaths and wondering what went wrong…

It’s funny, really; sometimes, I really wish I could just drop it, and live like everybody else. Watch more TV. Sweat less. Buy things that are ready to use. Get bread in plastic bags and zucchini grown in Mexico – waxed and precious like museum pieces, finely sprayed with water every so often for maximum freshness and to give it that dewy-fresh look that is so appealing to the eye.

But the minute I stomp out in a defiant, I’m a modern woman, dammit, and I have a PAYCHECK and should not have to stoop to Such Things huff to buy-not-make, well.

I don’t get much past the produce section. I look at a stack of perfect, precious carrots, uniform in size, prettily stacked, looking like they’ve never seen a bug’s foot.

It’s an amazing sight to me now, those perfect carrots and flawless onions. I might have one carrot in thirty that looks like something from the supermarket; the rest are oddly twisted, stunted, coiled back around on themselves thanks to the heavy, fertile clay that resists all attempts to lighten it up. And yet at the same time, I think about how the cost of a single carrot would buy the seed for a hundred of them; three onions would buy me a hundred and fifty starts.

And when I pick up a loaf of bread and look at it, I’m taken aback by the way it feels. So soft and squishy, so impossibly light for its size…and when I flip it over and read the ingredients (which you should never do with packaged foods, trust me on that) and find myself trying to puzzle out what polysodamawhichitmathide might be…eh…well…

…maybe I’ll just head on home and start some rising, and be grateful for the tremendous convenience of pre-ground flour…

I have things I want to do this coming year; things that last year I think I got wrong, or could have done better. I want to plan the garden better, and plant it more wisely, and tend it better. I want to be more organized, and less wasteful.

And now I’m two more weeks behind. After a couple weeks where the weather chose to send us sheets of rain on our weekends – and beautiful, sunny weather all week when I was trapped in the office – and the husband’s social life keeping him safely away from helping, well.

I’m not just behind. I’m impossibly behind, and I’m not sure how I can possibly catch back up again.

But there’s really only one thing to do: Keep going. I might not get to do everything I want to do, but it won’t help to sit around moping about it.

So I just keep at it, one small thing at a time. Clean the bathroom, make some soup for dinner, do what can be done and try not to worry too much about all the rest.

And try to be patient with myself, and with time, which never seems to give me enough of itself in a given day, and with life itself…which manages to be so complicated in its simplicity.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Well isn’t that special…

So I saw my doctor yesterday, and he gave me a whack of stuff for my assorted grievances.

There’s a codeine-based cough syrup for the rib-cracking coughs, and a butt-kicking antibiotic that allegedly does in five days that takes a lot of antibiotics two weeks to accomplish. Namely, it kills everything in your whole body…and then lets nature sort things out, you know, later.

And some promethazine. To encourage my stomach to let food happen instead of tossing it straight back up.

I was skeptical. And irritated, because the cough syrup also contains promethazine; which means that I have to do math and keep track of when I took what, and how much of what I took and cumulatively speaking, how many mLs of this-or-that have gone into my system.

Which is a bit harder to do when one has been pounding back the codeine, jest sayin’.

But I was needed to believe in it. My body had been rejecting food for eight long days. I was hungry, exhausted, strung-out, light-headed and beyond irritable.

I needed food. Actually? Not just food. I needed food, dammit.

So I took one of those little pills and, while giving it a little time to work, tried to balance believing with all my SOUL that these little pills would work with a reasonable amount of caution.

It is my firm belief that what any medication will accomplish relies heavily on what we believe it will. If I do not believe that a sleep aid will help my insomnia, well, it generally doesn’t…if I do believe it, it could be nothing more than a tablet of pressed powdered sugar with a little yellow dye added, and it’ll work wonders for me.

But at the same time, chemistry can’t always be overruled by what my brain thinks should be the case. If I swallow antifreeze while firmly believing that it is no more harmful to my body than Gatorade, well…yeah. Still gonna die.

Chemistry can be mean that way.

So I sat there telling myself, firmly, that this was going to work.

And by golly, it did.

It took every last ounce of self-control I had remaining to me not to plow straight into the refrigerator and not lift my head from it until every last scrap of edible material had been sucked into my newly-quiet stomach.

And then I napped. Hard.

This is where I’d love to say that I got up this morning and was feeling so much better that I dug out all the weeds in the garden and did the laundry and put away the dishes and then worked a regular full day before heading off to run a marathon to raise money for abandoned sea turtles.

Eh…not so much. I’d kind of hoped that maybe I’d be feeling a lot better sooner, but apparently my doctor’s guess of two to three days before I started seeing much improvement was more accurate.

I still felt really bleh today. Some of the medication has raised (ahem) other issues, the rest of it makes me a marvelous combination of tired, listless, and brainless.

And doesn’t work on my cough. Makes me more cheerful about my cough (codeine + me = giggles), but I did absolutely zero work today of any kind.

Too busy coughing, you see…

I’ve dozed off in my chair. And played a video game. And tried to read, although my eyes are still kind of fuzzy on me. And tried to work on the cardigan, but what I needed to do kind of needed my eyes not to be going all fuzzy on me every time I try to focus them.

As things turned out, I have a sinus infection, a probable GI tract infection, the possible distant rumblings of a urinary tract infection as well, and a possible if not probable case of pertussis, a.k.a., whooping cough.

Astonishing. Shouldn’t be, but nevertheless is, somehow. I mean, I know I’m not young and that by extension this would mean that vaccinations I have not had “boosted” since I was a child are likewise old. And I know that they can lose efficacy over time. And I even knew that we had a fairly ugly round of pertussis going out here.

And that it was crazy-contagious.

What I hadn’t known was that sometimes, even if you are fully and recently vaccinated, you can still manage to contract pertussis. It’s a virulent, fast-spreading, easily-caught bacteria; it lives a long time outside the body, and has a million ways to get there.

And it hitches a ride for quite a while before you have any inkling that you’re sick; I was probably highly contagious for days before the first symptom hit me.

It’s a wonder any of us survive, you know? A testament, really, to the human body’s ability to take care of things on its own.

Most of the time, anyway.

You know, except when it doesn’t, and instead lets every bacteria it meets just come right on in and make itself at home, breed, fill up all the available spaces, dude, my parents are, like, in Malibu, come on in and PAR-TAY…

I was assured that I should start feeling a lot better in two to three days. And instructed to stay away from people for five days, giving the antibiotic time to kill off the bacteria enough that I won’t be spreading this thing any further than it has already gone.


Well…could always be worse. All things considered, I actually got off pretty light here, and should probably just count my blessings and be glad that…oh…


Wait. I forgot something. Yeah. The cough syrup? Yeah. Grape-menthol flavored.

Grape. Frickin’. MENTHOL. What demented lunatic came up with that as a good way to make this stuff palatable? I’ll tell you what kind: A sadist, that’s what kind.

That’s it. I am officially the most abused person in the history of ever.

(Lord-Lord, it is nasty, seriously, abysmally nasty…it is like sucking down used antifreeze, mixed with crushed grape candies or something…UGH…!)

Monday, February 07, 2011

On day seven…

“Hi, you’ve reached the office of Dr. Awesome. If this is a life-threatening emergency, please hang up and dial 911. Otherwise, please leave your name, number and a brief message, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.” {beep!}

“Oh. Uh. Yeah, hi, uh, I think I might need to maybe make an appointment? Yeah, because? I’ve sort of had this thing for a while now? Like, it’s been over seven days, and I think it’s actually getting worse instead of better? But still, I think it’s just the flu so maybe it’s just a waste of time. I dunno. But it isn’t getting better. So, yeah, I think I should probably make an appointment. So, uh, here’s my number, and, uh, yeah. Lemme know if I should come in.”

That’s right. If you look up the word ‘forceful’ in the dictionary, you’ll find me listed there.

Under ‘antonyms.’


I don’t know which is sadder: How long it takes me to call the doctor in the first place, or how conflicted I still am about the “need” to go.

On the one hand, seven days is a long time to be under the thumb of a germ. It’s just not letting up, not at all. Oh, it acts like it’s going to; I feel better in the mornings and think, A-ha! Finally! I’m getting better!!, and then, right about now every afternoon, WHAM. Covered in sweat, chilled one second, baking the next, whole body feeling like it’s being beaten with sticks, stomach cramps, sinuses exploding, etc. etc. etc.

Also, I haven’t managed to hold onto solid food since last Sunday night. This morning when I put on my jeans, I thought the gap between the waist and my body seemed a little more…generous…than usual: Twelve pounds have come off me since last Monday morning, when I felt just fine and had no idea I’d be kneeling in front of a toilet in a BART station by Monday afternoon.

…if only it were the kind of weight loss that would actually stick, you know? Because sadly, as I suspect we’ve all experienced at one time or another, losing weight this way is usually a very temporary sort of thing. Within hours of hitting the feeding trough again, I’m sure those pounds will be right back around my middle again.

Which seems bitterly unfair. I mean, not that “diet and exercise” are a particularly easy way to go, mind you, but still…this has been a miserable, rotten, lousy, no-good, wretched week for me.

Seems really unfair that the only good thing about it isn’t real, you know?


But, on the other hand, long duration alone does not change the fact that it is probably just the flu. (In point of fact, it rather confirms that it is just the flu…as opposed to a really bad cold or something.)

Which means that going to the doctor about it is likely going to mean handing over $200 to hear the words, “Go home, go to bed, rest and drink plenty of fluids.”

BUT…at the same time…well. Much as I don’t think I am suffering from anything more dire than possibly a new sinus infection that is just starting up (…yeah…owies…), the fact remains that this has just been going on a while too long.

And wouldn’t I feel like a proper jackass if I were walking around with pneumonia or, or, or I dunno…Legionnaires disease…or…something?

Yeah. I would.

Even though I’m totally not.

I don’t think, anyway.

(On a related note: Do not ever attempt to look up your symptoms on the Internet in an attempt to determine for yourself whether your lungs are “crackly” enough to warrant a trip to the doctor. Holy crap. It’s either just a garden-variety flu bug, or…flesh-eating bacterial meningitis with raging coccidioidomycosis double-pneumonia radioactive cancerous nose job with a side of jelly-dipped bacon!!!)

(…wait, what?!…)

Thursday, February 03, 2011

On the eve of the big deploy

I have read, and damn near committed to memory, just over 600 pages of business requirements documentation.

60 pages of it seven times, due to “one last” change being made to it by the business team.

I have received 1,400-and-a-handful emails about it.

And written about 300 replies.

Plus over 6,300 lines of testing code.

I believe I have written more code to test this thing than was needed to, you know, make with the magic.

I have sat through a lifetime and a half of meetings.

A lifetime of which had nothing whatsoever to do with anything to do with my part of the project.

And naturally, not been invited to the scant handful that I really ought to have been around for.

In the name of getting it right, I have made so great a nuisance of myself to the business analysts, partners and development team that it is a wonder they are still speaking to me.

Fortunately, I can make scones. This, I find, goes a long, long way toward making people forgive you for sidling up to them going, “Yeah, uh, about this field? Should be a varchar. You’ve got an int. Oh. And you’re missing a source. Oh, also…?” fifteen times a day for two months.

Found three more bugs today.

Was not amused.

Thought about not reporting them.

Because, you know…really? The night before freeze? Really?!

Got a little (well, more than a little) irritated that nobody else had, because come ON, people…have you, or have you not, likewise been testing what we’re sending you…?

Realized that most probably, my irritability had more to do with a climbing fever than actual irritation.

…by golly, 102.7 and rising, yeah, that’ll make ya pissy all right…

Dosed up.

Dug back in.

Tomorrow? There’s a go-no-go meeting.

I do not appear to be invited to it.

So I don’t know when it is being held.

Chances that I’m going to get an !!!!EMERGENCY!!!! phone call at some weird, random time tomorrow morning or night to dial in, Now!!!!!, to explain something?

Extremely. High.

Chances that this is situation normal?

100%, kids.

Either way, we’ve gotten through it. Whether we go or not, we got through this psycho period.

I think we did good.

And I further think…that I am going to bed.

This haul has been long, and it isn’t over yet.

I’m looking forward to the end of tomorrow, and a return to (what passes for) sanity around here…

…where I have the flu, and Captain Adventure has a sinus infection, and the girls have been cycling in and out of school like it had a revolving door all week…

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

When the plague strikes

Well. This has been a splendid week so far. Monday started off just fine, just another day, off we go, working, la la la…

By 4:00, I was so thoroughly wretched that I was beginning to wonder if I was even going to make it home; only the fact that really, I didn’t have a whole lot of other options got me through that homeward journey.

And Monday night was even more wretched. My “usual” night time back pain was intensified by what I can only presume is the flu; I spent the whole night with my back cramping up, throbbing, and otherwise feeling like there was a thirty pound monster chewing on it.

Here we are at the end of Wednesday, and while in some ways I’m definitely much better…I’m still going to be working from home tomorrow, because I’m still feverish and coughing and ugh.

…and I’m not alone…

Today, I had three of the four kids home sick with me. Two of them are either not-really sick or not-very sick, but Captain Adventure has been laid out with this thing.

A couple hours ago, he wandered into my office and stood there staring at me for a long moment.

“What’s up, buddy?” I asked, looking up from my oh-so-important view testing.

“Iiiiiiiiiiii…welllllllllllll…I wannit to be unsick now,” he announced.

And then waited.

For me to…do something.

Oh, man…!

About every half hour since then, he has sought me out to announce that he is still not unsick.

And there’s really nothing I can do about it, other than to gather him up onto my lap and rock him, saying all those inane things you say to small children who find themselves bewildered by these sorts of things. …I know, it’s not fair, it’s no fun being sick…that’s my good boy, poor baby, sweet heart…

Nothing else to be done, really; when medicine doesn’t work, the only thing left is touching, cradling, crooning and loving.

…and wishing that one could buy “unsick” in convenient tablet form at your local pharmacy…