Aftermaths, Part 2

For those who are joining the program already in progress, I am in the process of putting the world back together from the plumbing disaster I had Friday night.

The carpet guy, who was supposed to show up at 9 o’clock Tuesday morning, didn’t make it until after 10 o’clock, but he got new padding put down in the place where he had cut the wet padding out, and got the carpet put back down on the tack strips (another reason I didn’t want my cat Jaks in the bedroom — that’s all I’d need for him to step on one of the rusty nails on the tack strip!).  Then he steam cleaned the area where the water was, plus the high traffic areas in each bedroom.  I couldn’t walk on the carpet until that evening so I couldn’t start putting my bedroom back together until after 9 o’clock that night, but I was going to be able to sleep in my bed again!  I guess I just have to face the fact I’m getting a little long in the tooth to be sleeping on an air mattress on the floor any more.

The cleaning lady came and looked at the bathrooms, and said she’d charge me $15 total to do both of them.  She has kids in school and does house/apartment cleaning to make extra money.  I’m going to give her $20 just because.

31Ztv63PeYLTuesday afternoon, the Suddenlink guy came and switched out my modems and got me up and running again.  Thank goodness the cable was long enough to reach out into the hall.  There for a while it was all sitting in the floor until the carpet finished drying from being steam cleaned, but I had TV again!  Of course, now that I have a new modem, I have a new WiFi password, so I had to get my Kindle and my internet radio in the bedroom reconnected to the WiFi signal and get the new password in.  I’ll have to wait on the Squeezebox internet radio until I get the new cord.  The dern network passwords are always about 15 characters long and it’s such a pain to get them in.

When I tried to get on Amazon on my Kindle to look for a new cord for the Squeezebox, I discovered that Amazon has a new Kindle browser, “Silk” and it uses Bing as a search engine.  I hate using Bing but there doesn’t seem to be a way of getting rid of it, so I’m reduced to bookmarking Google and just doing a Columbus* around it.

2015_08_25-02I gave the carpet until 10 o’clock to dry out before I started putting my bedroom back together.  That entailed moving the one nightstand back around to the right side of the bed and putting the stuff back on it.  I can’t get under the bed to unplug my bedside lamps (see above), and during the process of getting the cord of the right lamp over the headboard so I could get it back onto the night stand, it rolled off the bed.  The base hit the edge of my night stand and broke.  Unfortunately, they are sold in pairs and you can’t get just one.  I turned that part 2015_08_25-01toward the wall and it doesn’t show that much, but needless to say, I was not very happy.  In the process of breaking, the lamp base took some nasty gouges out of the edge of my bedside table, which I was not very thrilled about either.  I decided to bite the bullet and get another pair of lamps which have much smaller bases, as these lamps I have are really too big with everything else I have on my bedside table (air purifier, internet radio, phone, clock. . . ).  Once I get the new lamps, I’ll trash the broken lamp and figure out something to do with the odd one.  It’s a really pretty lamp.  I’ll think of something.

2015_08_26-02I put the mattress cover back on the bed, but the thought of putting my 4-days’ worth of hot sweaty body into nice clean sheets didn’t sit well with me.  I just threw the blankets I was using on the air mattress onto the bed and used the same cover, but Tuesday night, I slept in my bed again.

I could have slept in the bed Sunday night, but with the carpet flipped back and dirty concrete exposed, not to mention rusty tack strips, I didn’t want Jaks in the bedroom.  He is used to sleeping on the bed beside me.  That’s his place.  He was already all upset and clingy because he didn’t understand what was going on, and I was not about to shut him out of the bedroom so I could sleep on the bed in comfort.  Anybody who has a pet they love will understand.  I would rather sleep three nights on an air mattress that he could share than to shut him out of the bedroom through no fault of his own.  Doesn’t work that way.

My computer table in the entry way to the second bedroom

It’s Wednesday night now.  I slept in till after 1’o’clock this afternoon.  I still don’t have the office back together.  I’ve got the modem on the dresser in the second bedroom and I’m sitting on a stool in the doorway.  I’ll do it tomorrow after the lady comes to clean the bathrooms.  It won’t take that long.

I’ve got to get up at 8 o’clock tomorrow morning so I can swing by the ATM to get some cash money to pay the lady who’s coming to clean the bathrooms.  I’ll finally be able to shower again!  I’ve been asked out to dinner Thursday night by a couple mom knows from the church, and whom I’ve gotten to know better because she’s also in knitting group. (She’s the one who turned me on to the group and got me involved in it.)  It’ll be so nice to be able to shower and wash my hair.  By Friday, everything should be back to normal and this whole nightmare will all be behind me — and not a minute too soon either!


*Go east by sailing west, i.e., go the long way around.

Aftermaths, Part 1

If you’ve just joined the broadcast, I have had the biggest plumbing disaster.

dirty gunk splattered all over everything

Saturday morning at about 10 o’clock, the carpet guy comes, takes my bed off the folding table and puts a little plastic disk under it, and then puts more plastic disks underneath the one bookcase that’s closest to the mess.  He sets another big fan up in the second bedroom, and off he goes.

I have no TV, I don’t know whether I still have a computer, the water dripped all over my WiFi modem, so I have no WiFi or internet access.  Thankfully, the phone modem is set up in the living room and I still have phone service on my land line.  I tried to do a little cleaning in the half bath, but my sinuses proceeded to slam shut and I started wheezing.  Fortunately, I still have some dust masks, so I can still go into the bathroom long enough to use the toilet.

dirty gunk all down the front of the bathroom cabinets

So now, all I can do is read or knit. That’s when I discover that Jaks, in his frustration, has bitten in two the cord on the internet radio! (Not that I could listen to it anyway — I have no WiFi or internet access!) He’s bewildered by all the bruhaha, confused by all the stuff that has been moved into the living room, angry and frustrated that I won’t let him into the second bedroom where he can look out the window, which he loves, and he can’t go into my bedroom either.  Fortunately, the internet radio is like modems and routers — it has a cord with a transformer on one end that plugs into the wall, and a socket on the other end that plugs into the radio, so all I have to do is replace the cord/power supply — which is a relief, as the radio cost over $100. I got the radio so I could listen to my internet radio music stations in any room of the house. (it uses WiFi to connect to the internet.)  I had it on my reader table next to the little tensor desk light so I could listen to music while I knit or read. (I can access internet radio over my Kindle, but I have to listen through earbuds, which can make knitting complicated.)

Now I’m frustrated because  I can’t get on the internet to look for one to see (a) if I can even get one, and (b) if I can, how much it costs ($10 on  I’m stiff and sore from my night on the couch, I have no music to listen to, and all I can do is read or knit and/or stew in my juices.  2015_08_22-20Both bathrooms are a mess, and I have to put a mask on to go to the toilet because my sinuses are on the warpath, and all I’ve got that I can use to mollify them is diphenhydramine (generic Benardryl), a decongestant (pseudoephedrine) and masks.  I haven’t needed my inhalers since I moved from the duplex in May of 2014, and the prescription has expired.

By now my bathmats are dry, and I’ve got them folded over the legs of my dining room chairs (which I had turned upside down on my dining room table to give Jaks some room when I have to shut him up in the dining area.

I remembered that I still had the air mattress left over from the plumbing disaster I had in the duplex in 2004 when I ended up sleeping in the floor of my office because my bedroom carpet was ruined and had to be taken up. I could not use any of my sinks, bathroom or kitchen, or my dishwasher, and I was camped out in my office for a month washing dishes in the bathtub. and sleeping in a sleeping bag on an air mattress on my office floor while trying to hold down a full time job.  It took over a month for the insurance to settle up so new carpet could be put down and the plumbing could be fixed.

I got the air mattress out, pumped it up (it has an electric pump), got the leopard print lap robe to put over it, and a light flannel blanket to put over me and used the sofa pillows for pillows.  It was a marginal improvement over the couch, but my options were limited.

Sunday night, I reckoned my computer stuff was dried out enough to risk trying to see if it would still work. I was debating getting up and doing that when, at about 8:30, my BFF called and asked me if I could come pick her up at the emergency room and take her back to where her car was parked. It seems, she was at work at her new job and a little kid running in the store cut in front of her and in attempting to avoid running into him, she lost her balance and fell down.  She hit her hip, her shoulder and her jaw and was dazed for a moment, but was able to get up.  (The mother of the kid never even acknowledged that her kid had knocked my BFF down, never mind came over to see if she was OK!)  Because my BFF had hit her head, her supervisor insisted that 911 be called and that she be taken by ambulance to the emergency room.  She had a CT scan of her head and neck, which was OK (no bleeding on the brain), and an x-ray of her hip, which was also OK.  They gave her some Ultram (tramadol) for the pain and discharged her.  I went and picked her up and took her back to where her car was parked.

After I got home, I cleaned everything off my computer table including the table.  Then I tested the UPS (“uninterrupted power supply” — a heavy duty surge protected plug strip with a battery).  I plugged it in using my “shop” extension cord (all the plugs are for grounded/earthed 3-prong plugs), then plugged in my desk lamp and turned it on.  So far, so good.  I popped the cover on my computer tower and vacuumed out the cat hair (surprisingly little!).  On visual inspection, it looked OK, with no gunk or anything in it.   Then I hooked up the tower and keyboard and my older monitor, plugged them in and booted up the computer.  WHEW!  Was I ever relieved when it booted up OK and seemed to be running well.  Then I hooked everything else up including my second monitor and sat there and played Spider solitaire for a while. That made me feel better.  Turned everything off.  That was one big load off my mind.

Monday, bright and early, I get on the phone to the VA to see if I could get my inhaler prescription renewed and get it filled.  It only took five phone calls.  There is a VA pharmacy at the clinic here in town, but when you call the main switchboard, it rings in Amarillo, 200+ miles north of here. The Amarillo operator connected me to the pharmacy here.  The call got dropped, and I had to call again and finally got connected to our pharmacy and they told me the prescription was expired and a doctor would have to renew it.  So I called the clinic and left a message.  I will say they called me back promptly, and I had to go through the whole song and dance about why I needed it to be renewed.  Then I had to call to use the phone automated prescription refill to get my diphenhydramine prescription refilled — I only have 5 left. Then I had to call the pharmacy again to see if they had gotten the prescription approved, which they had. I swear.  Doing anything through the VA is like pushing a rope.  Finally, they called about 11 o’clock to say it was ready, so stinky me, who had been hot and sweaty for three days now went over and got my inhaler, and was so happy to get it and finally be able to breathe.  So in the course of three days, I’d gone from one medication (diphenhydramine) for my asthma, I’m back on three again.

Reed arrived to check the carpets and, since they were dry, he took all the fans. After I called the office twice, I was told that the carpet guy would be by at 9 o’clock Tuesday morning to fix the carpet back and steam clean it.  I was also informed that it was up to me to clean up the mess in the bathroom.  When I remarked that I would have to call around and see if I could get a cleaning service to come do it, and the apartment manager gave me a name to call.  I called her and she said she would come by Tuesday morning to take a look and give me an estimate.  I said I hoped it would be under $300, and she laughed and said, “I clean whole apartments for $150.”  She couldn’t come until Thursday, as I don’t get paid until Wednesday and can’t get at my money until after 5 p.m. the bank says — go figure. I scheduled the Suddenlink guy to come by Tuesday afternoon to get my internet back up.


Anniversaries and Disasters

Friday, 21 August, would have been my dad’s 93rd birthday.  Mom and I marked the occasion by visiting the cemetery, and then, because we always go out to eat on birthdays, we went to Outback Steakhouse. When I got home, it was sneaking up on 9 p.m., but it was going to be a while before I hit the hay, and I wanted to do a blog post about the sad anniversary, and the even sadder one coming next month (the 1-year anniversary of my dad’s passing).

I only had one bucket so pots were called into play
I only had one bucket so pots were called into play

I got as far as the hallway outside the full bath, when I heard dripping noises.  I turned on the bathroom light and there was water all over the floor, and the ceiling was dripping over the bath tub, out of the vent, and out of the heater assembly, as well as several other spots over the ceiling.  The bath mats were soaked, and had contained as much of the water as they could, but it was beginning to pool beside them.  The closet where I keep the old towels for mopping up overflowing toilets and such was opposite the bathroom.  I grabbed them and threw one across the door to keep the water from running out into the hall.  I ran to the bedroom, grabbed the phone and had to endure the stupid phone tree (Our offices are now closed.  If you are interested in finding out more about our community, press 1.  If you . . . .) punched option three and recorded my frantic message.

I ran out of pots and resorted to plastic bowls
I ran out of pots and resorted to plastic bowls

Then I stripped out of the good clothes I’d worn to the restaurant, including hose, no less (It’s the first time I’ve worn hose since the funeral. . . .), and my nice new shoes, and threw on one of my sleep shirts that are “dress” long, that I wear for grubby, and dashed for the mop and mop bucket which were set against the wall by the half bath in my bedroom,  — and my bare feet squelched on the carpet!  I flipped the light on in the en suite half bath, and there was water on the mats, and the ceiling was dripping — there was so much water it had soaked out into the bedroom carpet all in the doorway and up under my night stand!   I dived for the phone again, endured the phone tree yet again, and left another frantic message.

That thing with all the cords plugged into it is the UPS. My computer tower is at left — with the air grill on top, of course.

Then a truly horrific thought occurred to me.  The second bedroom, which I use as an “office” shared a wall with the full bath and my computer desk and chair is right next to that wall!  I ran and turned on the light and — Oh, no!  There was water dripping from that ceiling as well — straight onto my computer and my UPS (uninterrupted power supply — a “heavy duty” plug strip that has a surge protector and a battery backup).  — and as I went over to pull the cat barrier aside so I could move the computer out from under the drip, my feet squelched on soaked carpet — the carpet was soaked all in front of my bookcases — which are particle board and “pretend wood” veneer.  I know from bitter experience that wet particle board swells to twice its volume, and then disintegrates.

You can see where the plywood has become water stained and is beginning to mold.

However, my first priority was to get the UPS unplugged and the table moved out from under the drip.  Fortunately my computer table is on casters and once I got the UPS unplugged I could move it out from under the drip, but I knew that the carpet under the piece of plywood was soaked as well, and plywood warps.  And molds

I’m frantically mopping up the half inch of water that’s collected in the doorway of the half bath when the doorbell plongs and here are the maintenance guys — Larry, the office manager, and a new one named Reed, a young man whose arms are “illustrated” with “tribal” style tattoos.  While they are assessing the situation, I grab Jaks, my cat, and cram him into his carrier, because I know people are going to be coming in and out and I need to know he is confined and can’t get outside.

Reed comes in to move my night stand off the wet carpet back around to the other side of my bed and puts that one leg of my bed up on my folding table to get the wood off the wet carpet while Larry heads upstairs.  Of course, the people upstairs are not home, so water continues to leak while Larry has to go all the way over to the office to get the pass key so he can get into their apartment.

Part of the ceiling sheet rock has disintegrated and there are water bubbles in the paint on the wall
Part of the ceiling sheet rock in the half bath has disintegrated and there are water bubbles in the paint on the wall

Naturally, I’m remembering that when I had visited the manager’s office earlier in the week, I had mentioned that I could hear water run for several seconds, then turn off for about 30 seconds, then come on again for a couple of seconds, and that this was happening constantly, which suggested to me that one of their toilet tanks was leaking through the flapper valve.  They said there was nothing they could do until the people upstairs complained about it. (This had been going on for weeks, mind you, and their water bill must be outrageous this month.)

There are speckles of dirty water all over everything

Well, guess what? The flapper valve on one of their toilets had stuck in the open position, and the toilet had overflowed all over onto the floor, and that was the source of the water that had soaked through to drip from the ceilings of two bathrooms and my second bedroom, dripped all over everything, and soaked the carpets in both my bedrooms.   Ironically, only their one bathroom was flooded, and it didn’t even reach their carpets.  And the crowning irony was that their damage was nowhere near as serious as mine.

Larry and Reed help me move the recliner I use for a computer chair, and the table with my computer stuff on it out of the bedroom and into the living room.  I move the rug with Jaks’ food and water bowls on it into the dining area, sequester that area off with screens, and let him loose in there because he’s crying so about being in the carrier.

A pot full of wet carpet padding.

While we are waiting for the carpet cleaner guy to come, the apartment manager tells me not to worry about paying rent for September, and then asks if I have renters insurance (No, I don’t.  Since my car insurance tripled after I got the new car, and my my budget was already stretched to the bursting point, I can’t afford it.)  While I’m totting up how much two new book cases are going to set me back, and worrying what condition my computer was in, here comes the carpet cleaner guy to vacuum up as much of the water as possible, pull up the carpet and cut out the wet pad in both bedrooms — and then he leaves!  Both of my bathrooms are a mess, covered with dirt the water has pulled through the sheet rock.  The apartment maintenance people put a fan in one bedroom to blow under the carpet, and a fan in the other bedroom to blow under the carpet, and then leave.  I mention the fact that my bookcases are made of particle board and are sitting on wet carpet, but Larry assures me that the weight of the bookcases will keep the water from soaking up into them (I’m biting my tongue at this point, because evidently he has never heard of capillary action. . . ) And then they leave!

2015_08_22-19I had left home at 4:45 Friday and everything was fine, so sometime after that is when it happened, and it would have been going on for at least a couple of hours to put that much water everywhere — and dirty water at that, since it soaked through the space between their floor and my ceiling and brought 43 years of dirt and crud through with it, and now I have an area of dirty, bare concrete foundation exposed in both bedrooms.

Now that everybody has gone off and left me with this disaster in my lap, I take the white screen and put it across my bedroom doorway, and block off the full  bath doorway and second bedroom doorway with the cat barrier from my “office” so Jaks can’t get into the mess.  I pull up one of my washable throw rugs to put down in the half bathroom floor so I don’t have to walk in the damp dirty floor to get to the cleaner of the two toilets.   I wash a load of bath mats and the old towels that are soaked in yucky water, and set them to drying on my drying rack.  I strip my bed (unscathed!) and wash all my towels, the bed sheets, the mattress cover, and the bedspread and dry and fold them.  I’m exhausted, angry and upset.  In order to try to calm down, I read until I can hardly keep my eyes open, and proceed to sleep on the couch.  Bad idea.  I got maybe four hours sleep total.



20150815_184335-1Little Miss Raelyn Rose arrived at 12.18 a.m. on Sunday morning via cesarean section for failure to progress.  She weighed 7 pounds and some-odd ounces. Mother and baby are both fine, however, and everybody is relieved and delighted.  (I guess the hospital ran out of pink hats.) That’s her in her grandma’s arms at left.

The package full of baby clothes which I sent by Priority Mail (that’ll be $17.90, thank you very much!) on August 10th because they said it would be there by Wednesday or Thursday at the latest(1-3 business days), and because you get a tracking number, finally arrived on Monday, August 17th.  The package was addressed to my cousin EYJ in Pearland (she’s the mother of the daddy) which is south of Houston.  The first place the package went was not southeast, nor even south, but north, 200+ miles in the wrong direction, to Amarillo, which is where it was when I went to the website on Sunday and entered the tracking number, meaning it had been sitting there for almost a week.  When I checked again on Monday morning bright and early, it had finally made it to Pearland at 6:30 a.m.  My aunt got it about noon.  It took seven days for a Priority Mail package to go from one city in Texas to another city in Texas!  The package never even left the state.

For the same money, I could have sent it UPS, and it would have been there in two days, but my cousin would have had to be there to sign for it, and with the baby due literally any day, I was afraid she might not be there when it came.  Seeing as how this is Texas, maybe I should have sent it Pony Express. . .

Mother and baby went home Sunday night.  My cousin EYJ and her husband drove home Sunday night as well, and she was at home to welcome the package Monday.  They will go back to Galveston to visit on Wednesday, and take the package — still unopened! — with them.

2015_08_16-02In other knitting news, I’ve been moving right along on my cousin-in-law’s scarf.  When I’m knitting something long and floppy like a scarf, I roll it up and either pin it using a short double pointed knitting needle or, in this case, I used a large stitch holder.  It makes it much easier to handle.

I need to email my cousin-in-law and ask her if she does hats, as I found a pattern for a hat with owls that uses the same weight yarn, and I would have enough yarn left over to do it.   When I see how the hat pattern does the owls, I may work up a scarf pattern with owls on to match it.

IMG_0001I may have mentioned that the black kitty likes to lie on the chest by the window in my “office” (the smaller, second bedroom in my apartment), where he has a commanding view of the “yard” around which three of the apartment buildings are situated.  This is, I remind you, a black cat and this is not only summer, but August in Texas where our average highs have been above 95F/35C for weeks now.  I have come into the office several times to find him lying like so (see left) with his head on the window sill of this west facing window, in full afternoon sun.  Maybe he is solar powered.  Maybe all cats are solar powered, which would explain their penchant for lying in sun spots.  He seems to find this position comfortable, which is more than I can say for myself.



Displaced by Trains

I got my BFF to come to knitting group with me last night, but we could not meet in our regular room because it was full of model trains and model trains enthusiasts!   Instead, we met in the children’s section of the library where there were tables and rather uncomfortable chairs.  I had brought my BFF to knitting group hoping that one of the members, who works for Dillard’s, would be there so I could introduce my BFF to her as my BFF is looking for a job again.  The place where she was working has eliminated her position as a cost cutting measure and at the end of the week, she will be out of a job.  My BFF can’t live on what she gets from Social Security either, so she has to find another part time job ASAP, if not sooner.

Our knitting group routinely uses a meeting room in this one branch of our city’s public library.  Since we do not pay for the use of the room, we get pre-empted whenever somebody else (i.e., paying customers) wants to reserve the room — like these model train enthusiasts.

I had brought the baby afghan to work on, and discovered that a certain black kitty — whose name is now Mud! — had chewed on my bamboo knitting needle and crunched one of the points off!  As it happens, the lady I wanted my BFF to meet was there, and her daughter was with her, as they usually come together.  Her daughter happened to have a utility knife (!) which I was able to use to whittle the needle point and repair it somewhat.  I used my nail file to file it relatively smooth and was able to knit with it, but it still snagged on fibers of the thread and it was very unsatisfactory.  The needle the little skeezix crunched the tip on was one of my Takumi bamboo needles, the US9/5.5 mm 36-inch circular one, which is a needle I use a lot. I ordered a new one just a while ago, but it won’t be here until Friday, and I need to really get cracking on that baby afghan, get it finished and get it in the mail. Fortunately, I have a 29-inch long circular needle in that same size that I can transfer the afghan over to.  The afghan is knitted on the diagonal, and I’m in the decreasing part, so the number of stitches on the needle is getting progressively smaller.

The fact that the little schmoo was able to crunch my bamboo needle point because I’m the one who left it out where he could get to it.  I had been in the habit of leaving knitting out, and he had not bothered it before, except when I was working on the bonnet for the Meadowsweet dress not long ago.  He pulled it off the reader’s table and chewed the yarn in two.  I also caught him chewing on a book that was on the reader’s table and shoo-ed him off just in time, so I should have known better.  I can probably file some more on that one needle point and maybe get it completely useable again.  I’m really miffed about it, though.

Good news, though, is that we were able to book a night at the Round Top Inn at the Gate House for our upcoming trip to Pearland in October, the plan being to stop the night in Round Top on the way back.  The thing that is so special about being able to book this particular suite is that three of the buildings that make up the Round Top Inn were once part of the Schiege Cigar Factory.  Schiege provided a house for his factory foreman to live in, which was The Gate House.  My great grandfather, Paul Helmecke, was foreman at the cigar factory until his death in 1894.  The owner of the cigar factory, Charles H. Schiege, Jr., attended the school in Round Top that was run by the Reverend Adam Neuthard, who was my great great grandfather.  Helmecke was married to one of Reverend Neuthard’s daughters, Martha Mary.  So when we go to Round Top, we will be about knee deep in my maternal grandmother’s history. It will be a fascinating experience to be in the house where my grandmother lived as a child.

Today’s earworm is brought to you by Niamh Parsons (the lady singing).  I don’t know the guy’s name.  It’s a famine song, and rather depressing, although the tune is lovely.

I love her voice.  I have the album that song’s from on my Amazon list to get when funds can be allotted.  Here’s another one of her songs I’m enamored with, equally sad, and haunting in several senses of the word.

I’m probably in such a sad mood because I got an email this morning, that the mother of one of the ladies in knitting group had died.  I had known a couple of weeks ago that she was “terminal” and that it was only a matter of time.  Although the end came fairly and mercifully quickly, it’s still sad.  And then, my dad’s birthday is the 21st.  He would have been 93.  And next month is the 1-year anniversary of his death.  Where does the time go?

Oh, lets have one more from Ms. Parson, to make it three and work the charm.

Ready To Go

Yesterday, I finished the Meadowsweet bonnet and got all the ends woven in and buttons sewn on all the stuff, and everything is ready to go except the afghan, which hopefully will go by the end of the week “under separate cover.”  This is good, because  according to the latest word, the baby is due “any day now.”  The package will contain the following:

Meadowsweet dress, hat (pattern modified to make a bonnet) and booties
Little Miss Rae dress, hat and booties
All In One baby cardigans
Baby Cardigan with sleeves (pattern modified) and booties

2015_08_09-05All the above is what is going in the first load, together with this darling little bonnet I got at historic Fort Stanton.  The baby will be living in Galveston, Tx, and this is the kind of hats babies need there — sunhats!  It probably won’t fit her until next summer, but it will be so darling on her. Looks like we may be seeing the baby in October.  The Pearland Heritage Society luncheon that mom wants to go to is on a Saturday.  She wants to go down to Pearland on a Wednesday. We will be staying with mom’s niece (the grandma-to-be), and there is talk that either Thursday or Friday we will go down to Galveston and see the baby and eat seafood.  I hope that means we are going to Gaido’s Restaurant in Galveston.  I can remember going to Gaido’s to eat seafood as a small child, and it was always an important destination every time we went to visit relatives in Houston/Pearland.  If we do go to Gaido’s, it will be a bittersweet occasion.  My dad loved their broiled red snapper.

In other knitting news, my cousin-in-law’s scarf is moving right along.  On mom’s, I only put 24 “horseshoes” — 12 in each direction.  I think on this scarf, I will put 28.  I have reversed the direction of the “horseshoes” — on mom’s the “arms” of the horseshoes pointed toward the ends of the scarf.   On this one, they point to the center.  The pattern is written so that you can do either configuration. 2015_08_09-07There are three schools of thought about how you are supposed to position a horseshoe when you nail one over a door or on a wall for good luck:  One school says the ends of the horseshoe should be pointing up, to “catch the luck” and hold it in the house.  Another school says you should put it with the ends pointing down, so that the luck it attracts will be poured out onto the inhabitants of the house.  The third holds that it doesn’t matter which direction they point, because nailing a horseshoe over a door or on a wall for good luck is just a silly superstition.  I do not subscribe to this last view because it is no fun.

I did a load of sheets and clothes in the washing machine earlier and in the course of remaking the bed, I pondered one of life’s unanswered questions:  Whyzzit when you are making a bed using a contoured (fitted) sheet, the first corner you put onto the mattress is always the wrong one?

Plumbing Fixed?

I’ve been doing the night shift thing lately because the high temperatures here have been, to coin a phrase, hotter than a $2 pistol firing uphill.  So, after being up all Monday night because Tuesday’s high temperature was predicted to be over 100F/37.7C, Tuesday morning, my toilet ran over.  Again.  Because it was after 8:30 a.m., I called the office manager, and she promised to send Mike (who is the maintenance guy who deals with plumbing issues) over to deal with it.  I’m tired and I want to go to bed and get at least a couple hours of sleep before I go to knitting group Tuesday night, but I’m having to wait for Mike, who is going to need to plug the extension cord to the sewer snake in somewhere — like in my apartment.

For those who are just joining us, the situation is that the four apartments in my “stairwell” — mine, the ground floor one across from me, and the two on the storey above us — are all on the same branch sewer line, and since I’m the last one on the branch, when that branch line stops up, my toilets run over.  Every time it happens, the apartment maintenance guy has to come run the drain snake down the branch line and unclog it.   It happened three times last month, and the third time it happened, I wrote a politely irate letter to the apartment management about it.  Over and above the fact that it’s a pain in the wazoo to have your toilets run over and have to clean up the mess, it’s unsanitary and a health hazard.  Well, this time, I got a fairly prompt response and by 9:30 Tuesday morning, the problem was in the process of getting solved. When Mike came knocking on my door to get me to plug in the drain snake,  he told me that Wednesday morning they were having a plumbing company come out and run a camera down into the line to see if they could figure out what was causing the drain to keep stopping up, so they could deal with the “root” of the problem.

I did finally manage to get a whole five hours’ sleep before I had to get up and get ready for knitting group.  I left early so I could stop by Hancock Fabrics to see if I could find some lavender purple buttons that would match the lavender baby sweater, and did find some.  I also found some yarn to make my cousin in law (the Mrs of the cousin we went to visit over Fourth of July weekend) a scarf.  I had been showing her my blogs and showed her the Horseshoe Cable scarf I knitted for my mom and she really liked it, so I’ve decided to knit her one, as a token of appreciation for their hospitality (. . . and there’s nothing a knitter likes better than a great excuse to knit something!).

The results of the camera down the sewer line was that there was a big glob of tree roots — not surprising.  There’s a line of pine trees parallel to the sidewalk and the nearest one is the one that they have FINALLY cut the lower branches off so it doesn’t 2014_08_05-05hit people in the face when they try to walk down the sidewalk — the one I’ve complained about for over a year now.  Mike the maintenance guy had a sewer snake with a blade on it and he was going to try running it and seeing if he could cut the roots away.  Apparently that didn’t work because Thursday morning, just as I was about to go to bed, the camera guy plonged on the doorbell to ask me to plug the camera equipment in for him, and then after he wanted his cord back, and just when I was ready to go to bed, they cranked up this loud diesel motor and ran the “jet” down the hole.  This went on for a good hour.  Finally after noon, they declared the sewer good and properly snaked and I staggered off to bed.  Slept until almost 11 p.m.  (All this sewer fixing activity went on right outside the black kitty’s favorite window, and kept him entertained for days.)

Mom’s Horseshoe Cable Scarf
The version I’m making for my cousin-in-law

The yarn I found that I liked for my cousin-in-law’s scarf is a Premier Yarn brand.  It’s one of their “Deborah Norville” Serenity Chunky collection and the color is called “Dark Forest.” (Evidently, it’s been discontinued, since I don’t see it listed!)  The forests around where my cousin and his wife live are a mixture of cottonwood, spruce, pine and juniper trees.  This yarn has shades of bark brown, and a range of greens from olive through leaf, through spruce, through greenish turquoise, and it’s all flecked and mottled.  (see below right)  It’s a “5” (bulky) weight yarn.  When I originally wrote the pattern and knitted up the scarf for my mom, I used a Hometown USA yarn which is a “6” (super bulky) weight yarn made by Lion Brand, in a color called “El Paso Autumn” (see above left) and I knitted it on a size US13/9.0 mm needle.  (Both yarns are spun from 100% acrylic fiber, which means they are machine washable and dryable with no shrinkage, and they’re hypoallergenic.)  Since this Premier yarn is not as thick as the Lion Brand (a “5” versus a “6”), I tried knitting it on a size US10/6.0 mm needle, which is a smaller diameter needle, but that made the scarf too narrow, and the “weave” too dense, so I went back to a US13/9.0 mm needle and I like the result much better.   It’s a looser “weave” and will be warmer, I think.

2015_01_25-05I still need to finish the baby afghan, the Meadowsweet bonnet, weave in ends on everything and sew buttons on.  I think tomorrow night I might weave in ends and sew buttons on everything I’ve got finished, and get it ready to pack up.  Then I can concentrate on the afghan.  The bonnet won’t take but anIMG_2005 evening to finish. The afghan is going to take several days.

Once I get the baby stuff in the mail, I can work on other things, like the scarf for my cousin in law, and this twisted cable scarf and hat for my friend in MI.

Right now, though, I need to go to bed because I have an appointment at the podiatry clinic at 10 a.m. and I need to shower and wash my hair before I go.

Reboot the Suit

21882795043004028ba2d3384be70f83_originalThe Smithsonian Institution has turned to crowd-sourcing and has launched a Kickstarter campaign, “Reboot the Suit,” to obtain funds to preserve, digitize and display the space suit that Neil Armstrong wore when he walked on the moon, right down to the moon dust that still clings to it.  There are 16 days to go on the kickstarter campaign.  I saw that spacesuit walk on the moon in 1969, live and real-time, as it happened.  The Smithsonian had hoped to raise $500,000 to achieve that goal.  I gave what I could afford, which I am embarrassed to say wasn’t much, but I am delighted to say that the original goal has been reached and passed.

Shepard’s suit

They now have a “stretch goal” of raising $700,000, with the extra $200,000 to go to preserving, digitizing and displaying Alan Shepherd’s space suite, that he wore during the initial Mercury launch when he became the first American in space.  All of this campaign is aimed toward the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, and a new exhibit which will detail what it took to get us to the moon and how we got there.

I am particularly interested by the idea of “digitizing” these suits:

“3D scanning the Armstrong spacesuit gives us the chance to put the suit directly into your hands. With a 3D scan of the suit, you can take a self-guided tour and explore the functions of each of the suit’s 21 layers (check out 3D models of other iconic Smithsonian collection objects). You can make a 3D print of Armstrong’s glove and slip it over your hand. Teachers will have a dynamic new tool for talking about the technology required for living and working in space. 3D scanning also ensures that our conservators and curators have an accurate picture of the suit in its current condition, helping to monitor and preserve the suit and protect it from further deterioration.”

Anyway, I’m signal boosting this to spread the word.  There’s 16 days left on the campaign.  Pledge.  $11 isn’t all that much.  Every little bit helps.  This is our history, history I was privileged to witness happen. It’s part of our legacy to the future.

Knits and Purls and Old Blind Dogs

The Old Blind Dogs in question is a Scottish folk group and today’s earworm is courtesy of their tender mercies.  It’s called “Kilbogie.”  It helps to understand the lyrics if you have the words written out.

I could do wi’ a Hielan’ laddie, myself.  One of the tall blond ones with cute knees like the ones that got on the train when I was traveling in Scotland, going up from Craigievar to Sutherland, where family legend has it that part of my father’s family was made homeless by the highland clearances and ended up in America.  Strapping, good looking lads, they were.  Alas, their wives and children were traveling with them . . .  Of course, I have not one bit of proof that my dad’s family has roots that go back to Sutherland. But then again, I have no proof at all that they don’t. . . .

2015_07_18-02In the knitting news, I started the bonnet that goes with the Meadowsweet dress, and then I worked a little on the Trinity Shawl I’m making for my BFF.  Word is that the baby is due in three weeks.  Maybe she’ll come on my dad’s birthday. That’s almost exactly three weeks from yesterday.  I still have a bunch to do on the afghan which I need to get cracking on, and I need to get some purple buttons for the purple sweater set.  The pink ones I have look tacky and the white ones are too stark.   I’ll get them Tuesday when I go to knitting group.

I had a bowl of Wolf Brand Chilli with onions, black olive slices and elbow macaroni topped with Sargento Mexican 4 Cheeses a while ago, with some Pepperidge Farms oatmeal bread toast.  Now I’m ready for some ‘azert.  Dannon Oikos has some piña colada flavored yogurt.  I got a couple containers of it.  A container of that might make a nice ‘azert.

I Dood It

Well, Wednesday night, the sewer line stopped up again — the third time this month, I might add.  By the time I had taken a much shorter shower than I had planned, I was standing ankle deep in water because my bath tub was not draining.  I knew better than to try to flush any of my toilets.  Of course, by that time it was 10:30 at night.  I had an optometry appointment at 9 o’clock Thursday morning, so rather than haul the maintenance guy out of bed to come run the snake down the sewer line I decided to write a note to the effect that the sewer line was stopped up — again! — and needed to have the snake run down it, and put it in the office drop box.  Got the note all written, put on some clothes and started to hike over to the office.  Of course, the yard light by the sidewalk was out — still — and there are two trees right where the sidewalk T’s that have branches low enough that anybody over the age of 8 will get a face full of them if they don’t duck under them — which I did because I couldn’t see them in the dark. (They’re pine trees and if I hadn’t been wearing glasses, I could easily have been hit in the eyes by a branch full of nice, long, sharp pine needles.)  Then when I got over to the office, the key code to open the door to get to the drop box didn’t work. Needless to say, my fruitless errand didn’t improve my mood.

By the time I got back home I was in such a huff I forgot to set my alarm for 8 o’clock so I would have time to get up, get dressed, and make the 15 minute drive over to the VA to see the optometry PA.  By some miracle, I woke up spontaneously at 8:25, realized what time it was, jumped into my clothes, brushed my teeth, took my meds, and was out the door in record time, sprinted over to the office (which was open by then), and shoved my note through the slot.  I actually made it to the VA, found a parking space, and checked in with 5 minutes to spare!  When the check-in lady took my blood pressure, it was 154/88, which is way high, but not surprising considering I had had a large jolt of adrenalin hit my system when I rolled over and looked at the clock and realized my alarm hadn’t gone off and  realized how much time I had to get to my appointment in time.

On slit lamp exam, the cataract in my left eye was somewhat worse, and there’s not a thing I can do about it.  The primary cause of cataracts is living long enough to get them.  My right eye was unchanged and I’ve not had any new floaters.  I’ve got to replace my left lens again as my vision in that eye was down to 20/40. My right eye was still 20/25, the best correction I can get, which is not too shabby when you consider that my uncorrected vision is 20/400. (What chart?)  Of course, the best outcome would have been that my glasses were good for another year, but having to replace one lens was better than having to replace both of them.  The weird* thing is that I have a hard time reading with both eyes, regardless of whether I’m wearing glasses or not.  Without my glasses, I can read perfectly well with my right eye  — my uncorrected vision is sharp and clear to about arm’s length, but past that, forget it. In fact, I prefer to read without my glasses — and with my left eye closed.

The optometry PA said that Medicare won’t pay for cataract surgery until a person’s vision is at least 50% impaired, which is reasonable.  Hopefully, I’ve still got a few more years before I’ll have to have cataract surgery, and when I do, it’ll probably be in my left eye first.

Once I had gotten my optometry appointment out of the way, the next item on the agenda was to get my car washed.  The car wash that I planned to go to was across the street from the third item on my agenda.  I pulled up to the place where you pay to get your car washed, and the attendant said their sensors were malfunctioning and they were closed until they could get them fixed. Here’s a free car wash with a free paint protecting spray thing that would have cost extra.  OK.  So, off to item number three on the agenda.

I had been noticing that lately I was putting off washing my hair because it was such a time-consuming process. It takes almost 30 minutes to wash it (and me) in the shower (and the steam from the shower had set off the smoke alarm in the hallway a couple of times), and because I won’t use a blow dryer because blow drying it tears it up so badly, it takes hours for it to air-dry.  Because I was starting to begrudge the time and effort, I had decided that it was time for me to get a haircut.  Across the street from the car wash was the Supercuts where I had gotten my hair cut last time, which was in 2009 right before my shoulder surgery.  Turns out they won’t send your braid to Locks of Love any more.  You have to mail it yourself.

2015_07_30-01After the stylist whacked off my braid, I had her cut my hair to 3 inches long all over my head.  The hair on top kind of went “sproing!” as it dried and was super curly, likely due to the fact that there no longer was all that weight of hair to pull out the natural curl.  So here I come out of the Supercuts place feeling like a shorn sheep. That done, I headed to the bank to take care of the fourth item on the agenda.

There were two more locations for the chain of car washes I had gone to so I went to the one that was close to the next item on the agenda.  Guess what? They were closed for maintenance.  Here. Have a free car wash.  I still have a dirty car, but now I have two free car wash coupons.  So I went to Walmart, got gas, and then got groceries — and 18 red roses for my mom, just because.

Since this was a serious grocery buy, rather than make four or five trips to bring everything in,  I deployed my little red wagon, loaded it up, and hauled everything inside all at once.  I put everything away, caught my breath and then went to take my rent check to the office, along with a piece of my mind.  They’ve supposedly got a new snake which is longer than the one they had been using, and which hopefully has blades on the end that can cut through roots and such that will worm their way in through the joints in the pipes.

My mom had emailed me about us going out to eat for dinner, so I packed up the roses and headed off in her direction.  I decided to go to her house by a route which took me by the first car wash I had tried that morning.  It was obvious by the customers that they were open, so I redeemed one of my free car wash coupons and the third time was charmed.  I participate in the towel deal:  You buy a towel to use in wiping down the car interior, and then each time you return, you trade the used towel for a clean one, for free.  They also have stalls with free vacuums to vacuum out your car seats and floor boards.  With a nice clean car again, I headed off to my mom’s house.

When I got there, I rang the doorbell and waited.  Waited a couple minutes more.  Rang the doorbell again, and was about to go look to see if my mom’s car was in the garage when the door opened.  She had been at the computer and, apparently, the chimes unit of the doorbell that is in the “computer room” had not sounded.  She had thought she faintly heard something “doorbellish” (i.e., the chimes unit that is in the den, less than 30 feet away) and had come to the door to see if there was somebody there. I got almost all the way to the kitchen before she realized I had gotten my hair cut.  My mom is of the “hair like a helmet” generation (no longer than 4 inches, back-combed as high as possible, and glued down with a ton of hairspray) and she hates my hair long, so she was delighted.

So then we had to play the doorbell game again.  After three or four tries, she decided to swap out the unit in the computer room and the unit in the den, and apparently that worked better.

While she finished what she had been doing on the computer, I put the packet of “flower food” that comes with the roses into her vase, filled it with water. recut the rose stems at an angle (like you’re supposed to) and put them in the vase.  We sat and talked a while about our proposed trip to Round Top and to Pearland for her Historical Society do in October and watched Jeopardy! on TV, which is one of my mom’s “shows.”  Since my mom’s car was in the garage, and mine was in the driveway, I drove, but when we got to the cafeteria where she wanted to eat, they were “temporarily closed for maintenance,” so we ended up at IHOP — which is fine with me.  I like eating at IHOP.

After we had eaten and I had pulled into the driveway to drop mom off, I noticed that my odometer read “2997.”  As I pulled into the parking lot of my apartment building, the odometer read “3000.”

Next month has a big trap in the middle of it.  The 21st would have been my dad’s 93rd birthday.  September has an even bigger trap in it.  The 22nd will mark one year since my dad died.  The 23rd will be my mom’s 91st birthday. November 22nd, I’ll have had my car a year.  Time passages.

*English is an exceptional language.  In English, even the exceptions to the exceptions have exceptions (– except when they don’t). . . “Weird” doesn’t follow the “I before “E” spelling rule** — which is why I can never remember how to spell it.