Sunday, December 31, 2017

Too cold

It's 3:30 pm and about 15F -- too cold to go outside for pictures.  But I finished my Kara cowl, and have worn it a few times.  It's an excellent layering piece, adding a deep red splash and a warm neckline to any outfit.  I have also been knitting for Sis and Miss A:  Swiffer mop head covers for Sis in two patterns, and the Hans My Hedgehog patterns for Miss A.  There are two of the hedgehog patterns, one making a tiny pocket "hog" about 2.5" in fingering yarn, and the other in worsted which made up to about 7" long.  The larger one used some of the yarn Sis gave to me over Thanksgiving, and looks a lot like Miss A's actual live hedgehog!  So maybe the pet hedgie can have a buddy....

Sis keeps hermit crabs in a sandy habitat next to the fireplace, with a heat lamp for continuous warmth.  They are some pretty weird little critters.  I watched an episode of Blue Planet the other day, that had me cracking up -- a conch had caught a smaller snail, and was emptying that snail's shell with a rowdy audience of hermit crabs all vying to get into the emptied shell!  At one point there were four hermits fighting each other to get that shell, then one actually climbed up the conch and into the shell before the conch turned it loose!  A risky move, as the conch could have eaten the hermit crab too, but it paid off since that little guy hustled away with the shell.

Well, I had to fill out another set of forms for the disability, so much fun.  It's a good thing I scanned and saved the earlier documents, as I had to attach some of them to this new form.  I suppose this will be a nearly endless process, so I'm scanning just about everything.

One of my Christmas presents was a two-week rental of a power chair, pretty nifty.  This one breaks down into four bits, with the heaviest bit just 36 lbs. and well within Disco's lifting capability.  I should get her to take it apart & put it back together several times; she's been letting Plaidman take charge of that but she says she wants "us girls" to be able to go places without him.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Back from the boonies

The entire Plaid Patrol rode to south Texas for the week of Thanksgiving.  It's a long darn drive, but then we spent the whole week with family.  We were only able to do that because we'd hired a pet sitter to come in twice a day, to keep the elderly cat at home & happy.  And he seems to have warmed up to the sitter, even playing with her and letting her pet him, and he was quite happy to see us back.  I would have posted from Texas, but never got near enough to an unused (& functional) computer.
I delivered the Diamond Halter top to niece A, did not get to see her in it but made her promise to send me a picture.  I'm still working on the red tweed capelet, just have about 6" of ribbed turtleneck to go on that one.  I got about an inch of ribbing done while there, but most days we had other fun stuff to do and the knitting just stayed in the bag.  Speaking of bags, Sis did not disappoint in the "birthday present" bag: It's a Dooney & Burke tote with Pittsburgh Pirates themed print on white leather, just gorgeous and a great bag for the knitting.  I will have to send her something wonderful and knitted asap.  Sis brought Pup over from his assisted living facility Tuesday, then Disco, Plaidman, the nieces & I went to the facility the next day and had lunch with him.  Later that afternoon Plaidman went back to Sis', while us ladies went to Savers.  Guess who we found there -- the Shopping Queen herself, aka Sis!  We all spent some time together there, then the nieces departed for home.  I spent way too much money there, even with the 30% discount card Sis gave me.  Most of it was for stuff Disco wanted, I wish I could find the receipt to show her!  We finally got all our purchases out to Sis' Giganto Craft (an ancient Escalade), then it took all three of us (Disco, Sis & me) to get me into the front seat.  I am not anything like nimble anymore.  In fact, since I stayed in the upstairs guest room, I had to climb 16 stairs every evening to get to bed, and come down those stairs (dressed & ready for the day) every morning.  I thought my knees would give out.  Then there was the guest bed, wonderful to sleep in but so tall that I needed both a stepstool and my walker to get into it.  Slept like a stone, until it was time to visit the loo.  And that was for six nights.  I've been home a few days, and I've recovered some.  Thursday we had Pup back over to the house for our noon Thanksgiving supper.  Afterwards, the annual T-Day lawn tournament was held out on the front lawn, with 3 father & daughter teams and one niece + boyfriend team.  Pup teamed with Sis, Steverino teamed with the Peerless niece, Plaidman teamed with Disco, and Miss A teamed with Seth.  Pup has macular degeneration, so his shots were guided by other players standing near the "hole" and waving.  It was agreed that Peerless & her Dad won the tourney.  I wasn't the only spectator, we had some neighbors come by to check out the game.  Then we all went back inside and played LCR; Peerless took a $27.00 pot!  Just her day.  Pup got delivered back to his home, and we all pretty much called it a night.  Friday Peerless treated a bunch of us to a movie, Justice League,
which we all found marvelous.   Saturday we began the long drive back home, and got here about 8 p.m. on Sunday.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Weekend continues...

When one is no longer employed, it can be difficult to determine when the weekend commences or stops.  Appointments can be a "heads up", since most of them occur during the week.  I did get some good news by phone last Thursday: my long term disability has been approved!!  Plaidman went to the mailbox on Friday, and I think he must have missed a day or two because it was stuffed.  He brought in a ton of stuff, most of which went directly to the recycle bin.  But he wasn't sure he'd gotten it all, because a) it was dark when he was there, and b) he didn't use the stepstool we keep in the car for the purpose (the mailbox is up over his head).  So he went back mid-morning on Saturday, and found my first disability check.  And of course that was the only thing in there, since Saturday was Veterans' Day and there was no mail delivery.  I'll take a moment here:
     Thank you for your service, Thomas Paul Devine & may you rest in peace, most excellent father-in-law and infantryman.
You are missed more than I can say.

     Thank you for your service, Cameron Eiseman Cherry; may you continue to be our family's guide & light for many years, Cadet of the Army Air Corps.

Plaidman's younger brother served in Viet Nam, repairing tanks.  His son has seen service as well.  Last I heard, the two of them are not on speaking terms.  I salute them both, and pray they'll reconcile their differences soon -- Viet Nam vets aren't getting any younger.
Okay, that moment stops now before I get weepy.

I have started on the final segment of the Mi Kara "capelet", which is very pretty in it's cabled red tweediness.  However, I really thought the thing would be longer, more of a short poncho than an elongated & elaborately cabled cowl.  So ... the length is disappointing.  I'll finish the ribbed turtleneck, try it on, and see if it's something I might actually use.  I do have a lot of tops with rather open necklines; I guess I could extend the "season" for those tops with the red capelet.
We've hired a sitter for our aged kitty, so when we go out of town we can just contact her & she'll come in to feed him, change the litter box, and give him some loves and attentions while we're out.  I hope this works out well.  Surely it will be better than putting our little old man in a cage at the vet's!  I still can't get over how stressed out the poor little beastie was after being boarded for a week.

We had EJ and her recently acquired hubby come stay with us for a few days.  We'd gone over to American Freight and bought a queen sized mattress set, which fits Disco's bedframe.  Disco had the mini-Keurig set up, with a selection of K-cups and some disposable coffee cups.  So the newlyweds had their own little apartment downstairs.  We took them out to Bicentennial Mall, which they found pretty interesting for the wall of history all around it.  We also cruised through the Farmers Market, where I got a large head of purple cauliflower.  One night we treated them to our favorite local Chinese buffet, they loved it.  The next night we ate at home, with homemade black bean dip, roasted cauliflower & Yukon gold taters, and smoked pork chops.  EJ liked the dip so much she was trying it on everything.  Danny is a little less adventurous with food, he'd never eaten roasted cauliflower before but discovered he liked it a lot.  One of the perks of having only a few folks to feed is trying new things without having to make enough to feed an army.  I was kind of surprised when all the roasted veggies disappeared -- that had been one huge head of cauliflower.  And roasting hard veggies like taters & cauliflower is so easy: Pre-heat the oven to 350°F, prep by washing & remove any "poorly" bits, chop the rest into slightly larger than bite size pieces,  smash a few cloves of garlic & dice, dump all in a large mixing bowl, add some seasoning (I used a garden herb mix, little salt & pepper), drizzle lightly with EVOO, stir to cover all with seasoning & oil.  Spread in one layer on a large rimmed baking sheet, pop into the oven.  It will take about 40 minutes for your veggies to become fork-tender, but pull them out at 20 minutes to stir & turn, then back to the oven for another 20 minutes.  Couldn't be simpler, and they come out fragrant & tasty.  The purple cauliflower did turn quite dark, but retained a lot of the purple and looked nice with the golden taters.  As to the bean dip, it was delicious but somewhat thinner than I liked; this was the first time I'd made it so I will try to remember to drain more of the liquid off the beans before mixing.  Again, a simple recipe, just cooked black beans, cumin, cilantro...and something I can't recall right now.  No cooking required, just use either the blender or (we are so cool this way) a small handheld blender stick in a plastic bowl.  Disco was in charge of the blending, having learned her lesson about not using the stick blender in glass or ceramic (she cracked the ceramic pot on the last crock pot, while it had hot food in it!!).  She also cooked the smoked pork chops, although not quite as "crispy" as usual because guests.
And can you believe neither EJ nor Danny had ever eaten smoked chops before.  Well, folks, you just have to look at other offerings in the meat dept of the grocery store.  Explore a little.  Heck, I've even eaten calamari, something I swore I'd never touch, but it was beautifully cooked: paper-thin and seasoned, like a seafood chip!  We don't want to think too much about what it is, and one may have to already have one's mouth "set" for this dish, rather like with frog's legs.  Tasty, if one doesn't think too much of where they come from.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Howdy, stranger!

It;s been over two months since I last posted.  Which is ridiculous, since I now have scads of "free" time -- I've been on short term disablility, and now I've applied for long term disability, and I only do what I need to do around the house.  Of course I'm kinda limited as to what I can do, but I did manage to clean the entry room's & kitchen floors with the Swiffer, and wipe down both the upstairs toilets with Lysol cleaning wipes.  I also did a bunch of shredding of old documents.  We are all working pretty hard at cleaning up the shared areas of the house, including getting the contents of 3 big boxes distributed to better storage, the trash or recycle bins, or into the shredder as needed.  We've been expecting company for about a month now, and they will finally arrive sometime tomorrow.  I am just thrilled because we are finally in a place big enough to hold company.  We bought a queen mattress set for Disco's apt downstairs, and a new sheet set (already washed, will go on the bed after Disco gets out of it tomorrow), new tablecloth and placemats.  I've more or less planned two crockpot dinners, which should hopefully yield enough leftover for lunches.  Disco says she'll sleep on the cot in the living room; I think our cat will be very confused. 
I have been knitting a bit almost every day, working on the Kara capelet (a free Drops pattern).  I'll try to take a picture tomorrow.  I'm having an ultrasound investigation of my kidneys tomorrow, so I can't really promise anything that's not vital. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017


The last time I visited Dr. R, he let me slide without the great big "horse" shots I usually get.  I got a prescription for a pill instead.  He wanted me to continue with the other pill he gave me last month, a fairly new product called Ibrance.  Last month he gave me a sample bottle.  We had our discussion about pain control (so far so good on OTC NSAIDs) but he didn't say anything about the MRI (Should I assume no news is good news? ).  I got my other shot, and was told the dispensary would fill the new pill prescription.  So when the dispensary gal caught up to me in the hallway, I asked her what about the Ibrance?  She said she couldn't fill that one, but would ask Dr. R about it, and call me later.  Ok, that was last Wednesday.  When I hadn't heard anything by 3 p.m. Thursday, I called the doctor's office and asked about it.  They would have to ask him & get back to me.  I did get a call back that day, letting me know this has to be filled by a specialty pharmacy (up on Church St.) and it might take them a week to get it!  The pharmacy called me early Friday to say they had the order, and would call again when the product was available.  Now, I have no idea (yet) whether my insurance will pay anything on this product.  So I went online & found a co-pay card from the manufacturer -- I hope it helps!  Wow, talk about the vibe movin' around:  I went into Blue Access to see if my med will be covered, then on to pricing the med--this has to be mail-order in order to be covered.  BUT! there should be no co-pay, which is terrific because a month's supply is over $10K (!!!) and I'd just have to say no thanks if it was up to me to pay that.  So I called the local specialty pharm (the one that called last Friday) to see if it was ready to ship or if they needed any info, and they told me the script was transferred to a specialty pharmacy in Memphis.  They were able to give me a couple of phone numbers, and I was about to call Memphis, when I got a call from them!  I should receive it tomorrow, and I have a third phone number specifically for that dept.  So, that's worked out.
Why is our healthcare so screwed up in this, the greatest nation on earth?  You can easily see how a patient could be driven into bankruptcy, trying to pay for just one drug each month.  The biggest part of the problem is GREED on the part of the providers, whether they're the pharmaceutical manufacturers or the doctors (gotta have homes in the best part of town, fancy cars, trophy spouses..), or the insurance companies.  And the Republican party agrees that those folks "ought" to have it all, provided they share with their representatives!  Let's face it, if you're worth a billion, you could afford to pay a big chunk in taxes without suffering a huge hit to your lifestyle, if you weren't GREEDY.  Who needs eight fancy autos?  Couldn't you "get by" with just four?  For your family of four, do you really need a house with ten bedrooms & bathrooms?   Just sayin"!!
Ok, end of rant.  You may return to your regularly scheduled activities.

Friday, August 4, 2017

The saga continues

One topic that came up on Sunday, during our turkey dinner on the deck, was a visit to the grave sites of Tom and Betty, the parents of this large brood of siblings.  Our little group had to head home on Tuesday, and had a plan to spend most of the day Monday in Chicago.  We just couldn't work out the logistics to include a long trip to the cemetery.  What we did instead was agree to meet everyone (except Mike & Atha) at the IHOP for pancakes @ $.59 a stack, before hitting the highway home.
But I digress -- this post is about Monday.  When we got up early on Monday, Atha's scooter was still folded up in our trunk.  We all got dressed & ate & took our meds, then got on the road to one of my favorite places, Chicago IL.  There is entirely too much to do in the Loop, and we only ad the one day, so we chose to visit the Art Institute.  Erin had never been before; I'd been once a very long time ago.  It has grown considerably since!  We cruised (me in the scooter!  What fun!) through the ancient art:
Some fabulous jewelry
Amazing small statuettes, two bronze
A terrific covered dish - have you seen it from this angle?
Greek griffins, finest kind.
And some more modern art, Picasso & Remington
Chagall windows!  So beautiful.

Most of the exhibits allowed photography, and we respected those that did not.  There was a special exhibit of Gaugain's work, which required additional tickets.  We got the tickets, and wow was that a terrific exhibit.  Huge, too!  Room after room of all kinds of items, from paintings to sculpture to adornment of ordinary items, like this dresser he decorated for his father-in-law:

Ahem, I guess you can tell I was impressed, I took at least 3 pictures.  Well, Melodee had asked me to get photos of any Salvador Dali work exhibited.  I got a few, and have sent some to her already.

One that I sent to her will not appear here as it is NSFW.  But she got a kick out of it.  We had an early supper at the museum cafeteria (French cuisine!), then cruised around a bit more, and finally decided we'd had enough.  Headed back to the underground parking, folded & loaded the scooter, and went back to our hotel.  Whew!  Slept, woke in the early a.m. and skipped the hotel breakfast, then met up with the folks at IHOP.  They all continued on to the grave sites while we bid farewell to northern Indiana.  We got some of their pictures later.  I did some of the driving coming home.  And could not wait to sleep in my own bed!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

A bit late in the day

It's almost 3 pm, but I haven't seen Disco yet.  I called her (she lives in the basement apt, but I don't like yelling down the stairwell) a little while ago because "her" cat seemed to be lost in the master bathroom.  And that seems as good a point as any at which to tell you about the aftereffects of boarding this 16 year old cat at the vet.  He was there for a week, during which we asked them to be sure and socialize with him daily--he craves love & attention.  When Plaidman & Disco went to get him back, the vet tech couldn't remove him from his cage without dire bodily harm.  Poor beastie was growling (!! never heard before!!) and slashing at the tech.  Disco had to go back to the cage, calling him softly.  As soon as she got to the front of the cage, he started howling and pressed himself against the bars.  Disco opened the cage, and he pressed his little head against her hand.  She was able to get him from the cage to his carrier without much fuss, but of course he howled the whole way home (all of about 3 miles).  The scary thing was the panting -- he would sit and howl, then pant like an exhausted dog, then howl some more.  Just stressed to the max, and the only thing that relieved him at all was being held, either in arms or on a lap.  At one point he got so stressed that he "caged" himself in a cabinet in the hall bathroom vanity.  And then howled to be let out!  I went in, and opened one of the cabinet doors and spoke to him, and he got quieter.  It took him about 10 minutes to figure out he could leave.  The panting was just an occasional thing the next day, and disappeared the next, but he kept on howling whenever he wasn't being loved & attended to.  I thought about getting some Feliway, so we went to the pet store.  We found a calming collar with pheromones and some soothing scent, and since he wears a collar anyway we figured we'd try it.  It took about a day for us to notice a difference in his neediness, and now he's almost back to his laid back self.  But I'm not going to board him again!  We've decided to try a pet sitter next time we travel, so he can stay at home.  Hopefully, we can find someone who'll be willing to put in the time to get to know him.
Yesterday's account of the weekend in Portage ended with Mike & Atha showing up for the wedding feast.  Mike & Terry talked, and Mike offered us the use of Atha's scooter for our day trip into Chicago!  It can be mostly taken apart and folded to fit in the trunk of a car, so the two old guys spent some time disassembling & reassembling it (while Atha was seated at the table having a bite).  After the shelter was cleaned up, we Plaid Patrolers went back to the hotel -- I needed a nap, Disco & Plaidman needed to wash clothes.  Sunday we went back to the newlyweds' home for a big turkey dinner, had all the sibs there except Mike but his daughter Beverly came by to "represent" her DOD.
We gathered out on the deck, everybody taking it easy, lots of talk & laughter.  I have some pictures, maybe the computer will let me have the edited versions but no guarantees:
Kim, a friend of the family (I think she's related to Danny), was one of the amateur photographers at the wedding; she's a bit of a pill but has a good heart.  She came by just to drop off an entire album with CDs of the wedding & feast, must have stayed up all night Saturday to have it done by Sunday!
Karen & Melodee studying this album:
Left to right: Erin aka Disco Dame, Laura, and Cindy.  Erin has the album open to pictures of Mike, Ellen and Terry at the event. 
 Left to right: Terry, Mel & Karen.  Everybody's got cellphones, we're all so well-connected.
Left to right: Laura, Cindy, Beverly!!!, Ellen.  Behind Cindy's head is a little mini-deck enclosure built out of a window, so the indoor cats can get a taste of outdoor life.  The gazebo was bought already built, and transported to the yard.  It's all screened, probably nice on warm nights. 
Left to right: Terry, a nice photo of the bride & groom courtesy Kim, Cindy on the phone, Melodee in her sweater (it got a bit chilly), and lo & behold the man of the hour, the tower of power, Danny!  He's got the album; we all expressed amazed admiration of the effort that went into it. 

Left to right: Erin's foot, Cindy in a beautiful coat she crocheted herself -- love the colors!, and Mel.  Cindy's thing is crochet; I did try to bring her over to the dark side (knitting) but she wouldn't bite. 
Here's my chickadee, Miss Erin looking crafty and just eating up all the talk.  I know she was hoping to hear another of her Uncle Danny's stories.  We're calling him the Turtle Whisperer now. 
The beacons are lit! Gondor calls for aid!
Well, we stayed so long that we actually ate turkey again; the first time was like a late lunch.  We were planning to go into Chicago on Monday, so before it got dark we cruised over to Mike's to pick up the scooter.  Erin helped break down the thing, and it fit neatly in our trunk.  I think I know what I want for Christmas.  Just sayin'!  That thing was so cool, and made it possible for me to see a lot more of the Art Institute than I would have had I been walking.  And we still did not see all of it.  But this is a good stopping point, pretty much the end of the family time part of the visit.  Monday's tale is for another day.  Stay tuned.