Things, Stuff, and Monmouth Hats,

My blog friend Shoreacres sent me a link to a poll being taken to see what people called those kind of hats I make and where they live. That got me sidetracked onto Monmouth caps — you know how that happens.  In pursuit of more information on these historical hats, I turned up this website which details one knitter’s version of how you make them.

The Monmouth caps (at left) were interesting to me for two reasons:  (1) They use only the knit stitch, since the caps were popular between the 14th and 16th centuries and the purl stitch did not come to Europe until the middle 16th century.  However, even in the earliest versions, a row of purl stitches is found on the caps at the point where the hem is “creased” i.e., the bottom edge of the cap, and it is thought that this was accomplished by turning the work around and knitting around the inside in the opposite direction (using the Columbus method*) to produce a row of purl stitches. (2) The brim is turned and hemmed in just the same way as I hem the “brim” of my toboggan caps.  Knitting every stitch produces what is called stockinette stitch, which has a fierce tendency to curl/roll, and I suspect that hemming the brim was developed as a way to prevent this.

You will notice that the cap above has a little loop hanging from the brim.  That’s because there is a “button” at the point of the cap.  The loop is put over the button so that the cap could be hung from a belt.  The Monmouth caps were knitted overlarge in woolen yarn that is then “felted” or “fulled” by washing it in very hot water with soap. This causes it to shrink down and makes it waterproof.  Of course, for chemo hats, you have to use hypoallergenic yarn, which means acrylic, which won’t “felt.” This is just as swell, actually, because knitting with woolen yarn makes my hands itch.

I was thinking about doing a modified version of this cap (without the “fruit loop”) for a chemo cap for men.  I was also thinking about doing one for women where the brim was made on a larger needle and on the row after the hemming row, switching to a smaller size needle for the crown  — and maybe do about an inch of ribbing while I was at it.  This would cause the brim to stand out like the one at left.   I wouldn’t make the crown as tall, though.

I think I’ve perfected the pattern for the toboggan hat with inside ribbing, which I’ll post soon. Watch that space.

The fat(cat)boy got taken to the vet and got his shots.  Needless to say, he was not amused.  (I swear that cat is a fur factory.  I brushed him and brushed him the night before, and he still shed vast clouds of hair all over me, the vet tech, the vet, and the examining room.)  He is in my bad books at the moment.  Guess why.   The solar eclipse is on August 21st, which would have been my dad’s 95th birthday.  It will be about 76% total here.  Close enough for government work.


*Columbus method – going east by sailing west, i.e., doing something in an  arcane and/or complicated, and/or counter-intuitive manner, especially when there is a less complicated, less difficult, more straightforward way to do it.

So Far, Still OK

Monday, mom and I went out to the cemetery where my dad is buried.  The cemetery people had put out little flags by the headstones of all the veterans, and all those who had vases attached to their headstones had fresh artificial flowers.

In this cemetery, all the headstones have to be flat and flush with the ground. If you buy a plot there, you have to agree to that condition.  You can opt for a brass vase that mounts onto the headstone and is removable, but you are not allowed to have any kind of a marker that sticks up.  This is so they don’t present any obstacles to the big riding mowers they use to keep the grass cut.  The cemetery is owned by the funeral home which has facilities including a chapel and viewing rooms on site.

My mom brought her whisk broom, a pitcher of water (which fell over and spilled in the car) and paper towels, because last time dad’s marker “had stuff on it.”  I suspect that the mowers they use suck up and bag all the clippings.   Mom was also perturbed that the grass “still” hadn’t covered the grave, but his grave is shaded by cedars on one side, and a large tree on the other.  Bermuda grass doesn’t grow that well in the shade, mom.

Later we went to IHOP and had our usual.  I still have to eat carefully and be sure I only chew on the right side in order to protect the membrane over the bone graft where I had the tooth out. Anyhow, it was quite tasty.  Owing to the amount of acetaminophen (325 mg) and ibuprofen (600 mg) I was taking four times a day up until Monday night, it was important to have food on my stomach when I took my next dose.  I’ve been pretty much pain free (touch wood) though, which is a great blessing.  Probably because the teeth on either side of the one that was extracted are also root canals of long standing.  All my jaw teeth are.  I’ve got more root canals than I have live teeth.

I had a dentist appointment this morning to check on my tooth extraction site and the bone graft.  When I got in the car to go, my eyes fell on the odometer, which read “8888.”  At first I thought there was something wrong with the display, but nope.  Actual mileage.  What are the odds?  Anyway, it reads 8913 now, after going to my dental appointment and back, and to knitting group and back.

Tomorrow, mom is picking me up and we are treating ourselves to a pedicure.  This is a really nice place we go to.  Not only do they trim your nails properly and attend to your cuticles, but they remove callus and rough skin from your feet, do an exfoliation of your lower leg, and then massage this wonderful lotion in.  It’s heavenly. They will also paint your toenails with the color of your choice, if you so desire, but we skip the polish. My mom keeps polish on her fingernails, but I haven’t used polish of any kind in forever.

I found this neat map the other day that gives you an idea about latitudes and what’s where.  It’s a map of the US and Canada superimposed over a map of Europe showing what parts of each country are at the same latitude.  You’ll notice that the bottom of the US is at the same latitude as North Africa, and that Britain and most of Europe are at the same latitude as Canada.  In fact most of Britain is farther north than Newfoundland, Quebec and Ontario.  And, but for the grace of the Gulf Stream, the norther two-thirds of Europe would have a much colder climate than it does because it actually is quite far north.

Of Noble Regency Detectives and Dragons

The newest (#12)  Sebastian St. Cyr novel by C. S. Harris comes out on 4 April.  I have it pre-ordered and am currently in the process of rereading up to it.  If you love Jane Austen and Agatha Christie, you’ll love these books.  They can be read piecemeal (each can stand alone) but I’d read them in order, as the characters evolve, grow, and change through the series.  Rich settings, well-rounded characters, engaging, nail-biting plots.  The setting is period accurate and each book has a satisfying emotional payoff, but enough hooks that you want to read the next book in the series to see what happens next.  Harris anchors her plots seamlessly into the historical context of Regency England — the way it really was, warts and all — while providing page-turning action, adventure, a dash of history and a lovely touch of tasteful spice.

Also on 4 April, the newest book in the Foreigner series, Convergence, comes out.  Got that sucker pre-ordered, too.

In other book-related news, author-illustrator Jackie Morris, who writes and illustrates the most  beautiful books, has a new edition out of Tell Me A Dragon.  She is giving away copies, choosing from the descriptions of dragons in the comments on her blog post. So here’s mine.

“My dragon has iridescent white opal scales with gleams of turquoise, violet, and teal as the light strikes it.  Its eyes are luminous turquoise and as deep and vast as the space between the stars.  Its opalescent wing membranes taper on the trailing edges to near transparency like the skin of soap bubbles.  It can change size from small enough to sit in the shell of my ear to brontosaurus huge.  It has a slender, gracile body, a long, sinuous neck and an even longer, snake-like tail that coils expressively when it speaks. Its claws are made of ivory and it has long, raptor-like claws like an eagle for perching. It is nocturnal and loves to bask in the light from the full moon and to fly by starlight.   It has a bitonal voice that is spidersilk soft, resonant and melodious.  When it speaks, it speaks slowly, thoughtfully and in a slightly sibilant manner.  It is particularly fond of singing long, quiet, wordless songs with slowly undulating and involved melodies during which its bitonal voice harmonizes with itself.  Its snout is rather long, and it can gape its jaws very wide. It lives on sadness, grief and pain, which it sieves from the air like a whale shark as it flies through the night with its mouth agape, and exhudes calm peacefulness and comfort in its wake.   Its food supply has become rather overabundant of late, and it is, alas, becoming a bit tubby from overeating.”

Seriously, if you have children in your life, you need to get them her books — The Ice Bear is magical.  The Seal Children is lyrical.  The Snow Leopard is wonderful.  If you have a tween girl in your orbit, she needs to read East of the Sun and West of the MoonThe Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow is for anyone who enjoys a beautiful, peaceful story with elements of fantasy.  But the bestest, most magical, snuggle in and reading a story together book ever is Tell Me A Dragon.  Give this book to people with babies so they can start them early.

Well, Michael’s had another coupon and another yarn sale, and I can say, I am in no danger of running out of yarn any time in the next five years.  Also in the knitting news, the green cotton hat is done and the blue cotton hat is 2/3 done.  I’ll finish it tonight. I got more cotton yarn at Michael’s last night, some variegated colors for summer chemo hats.

Also, I got a ChiaoGoo size US 2 (2.75 mm) 60-inch circular needle and yesterday at knitting group, I knitted the teal 9-Bladed Pinwheel shawl (at right) off the bamboo needles and onto the ChiaoGoos. It’s the first time I’ve worked on that shawl since my Dad died.  That was the knitting I always took over when I went to sit with him so mom could go out.  It’s such basic TV knitting — knits and yarn overs — it’s practically brainless.  Easy to pick up and put down and requiring little to no attention.   I had gotten it out to show a couple of weeks ago.  That poor shawl has been a UFO* for about 6 years now.  I started it two houses ago when I lived in the duplex off Quaker, before I moved to the apartments I was living in when I moved here.  As you can see, it has the fat(cat)boy seal of approval.

I also got more skeins of that Paton’s metallic like I used for this hat.  I got a beautiful deep purple and a deep red, two skeins of each.  I already had some, and this will be enough that I can make two hats out of each of the colors.  They’re small skeins and there’s not enough in one skein to make a hat, but three skeins will make two hats.

I also got two more skeins of  the fuchsia Caron’s Simply Soft with the metallic thread like I made this hat from, and another larger skein of a nice teal blue color.  The metallic thread doesn’t show up well in the picture, but it gives it a nice sparkle — not enough to be glitzy, but just enough to give it a little pizzaz.  I’ll be making some more chemo hats from those, too.


*UFO — UnFinished Object.

Rendez Vous

Oh, did I have a dream earlier this morning.  It was a rather long and involved dream that happened at night and there were burglars and some man whose house I lived in, and a bunch more stuff that I don’t remember, but then …

I was in a room that was like the bedroom in the duplex where I had my office, only it wasn’t.  This room was cluttered and piled with things and all disorganized like I was either cleaning it or rearranging it.  This young man (not the one whose house I lived in, but he had been in the earlier part of the dream) and I were doing something that involved computer printers.  He was trying to convince me that we should get married because we liked so many of the same things and I was like, “whatever…” and not really paying any attention to him.  Then this cat walked out onto the floor and it was a black and grey stripped mackerel tabby.  I suddenly recognized it, and I said, “That’s Jett!” (who has been gone since 2009).  He heard his name and came up to me.  I reached down to pet him, and he was as real as real.  I said, “I’ve got to find my camera and get a picture of him.” But it was so good to see poor Jett again.  He was like he was when he was young and healthy and not all skinny and dull-coated from diabetes any more.  I picked him up and held him in my arms and loved on him.  I was holding him and loving on him and looking for my camera but couldn’t find it.  And then Gobi (who has been gone since April of 2015) walked out from under some furniture.  He was right at the age when his beautiful long coat had just finished growing out, and he was all white and splendid with that great brush of a tail. I put Jett down and started petting Gobi.  And then there was Stormie (who has been gone since May of 2015).  I wanted so bad to get my camera to take a photograph of them to prove they had come back, but I just couldn’t find it.  I picked up my baby girl and was loving on her.  I was carrying her around loving her the way she liked best, looking for my camera, but then I looked down and she was a different cat, a little male with longer fur that was black with white under its chin and down its belly, but still small and delicate like Stormie always was, but that was OK.  I was loving him and went into the room in the duplex that I used for a bedroom, and into that bathroom, both of which were dark and the bathroom was knee deep in water because part of the the floor was missing.  Still couldn’t find my camera.  I wanted so desperately to photograph them and prove they had returned. It was so miraculous to hold them again and be able to pet them. I was still holding this one black cat, who periodically kept changing back to Stormie, and now I was in this building that was like the entry foyer of a school, and over in the hallway, there were two all-white half-grown kittens scampering and chasing each other off up the hall.  I thought, “Those are the next ones.”

Then the dream morphed as dreams do, and I was driving over this really narrow road under this gothic tracery design of black and peach-orange that swirled and twisted, which was what I had to navigate by to keep the car on the road, but it kept twisting and turning in a very psychedlic way, and then the alarm went off.

It was such a magical dream.  All my babies came back to me (except, oddly, Sister, who was the first one I lost and who has been gone since 2004).  I’m sobbing as I type this.  And, of course, it’s Father’s day, and he has been gone since September of 2014.

But the fat(cat)boy has discovered that his bowl is empty and he is convinced that he will starve to death any second now, and life goes on.

In Memoriam

Don Gum on his 92nd Birthday21 August, 1922 – 22 September, 2014

This picture was taken on my dad’s 92nd birthday.  It is, I think, his last picture.  A little over a month later, he was gone.  It’s been a year today since we lost him.  I should say finally lost him; he had been slipping away, ever so gradually, for the better part of a decade.  I have likened it to having to watch someone taking a bad fall in excruciatingly slow motion, while being powerless to stop it.  I had a long time to come to terms with the fact that I was losing him before I actually lost him.  A long time to watch the man I knew and loved fade into the sunset.  Those last couple of years were the hardest part.  When it was finally over and he was at peace, it was not so much a shock as a relief.

2015_09_20-01My mom had asked that in lieu of sending flowers to the funeral, people make a contribution to the music fund of the church my folks attended.  When they joined that church in 1955, they also joined the chancel choir and sang in it together for 51 years, until my dad had to stop because he could no longer see to read the music.  At one day shy of 91 years old, my mom’s on her 60th year and has no plans to stop.

A couple of months ago, my mom got together with their choir director and they picked out and ordered a music stand to replace the old black metal music stand the choir director used.  The new music stand was custom made, is quite substantial, and the Celtic cross* is inset (goes completely through the board), rather than inlaid.  My dad would have appreciated the woodworking skills that went into its construction.  Under the cross is the engraved brass memorial plaque, which is partially obscured by the reflection from the overhead lights. It was dedicated during the morning worship service this past Sunday.  That’s mom and the director in their choir robes.

After the service, my mom and I and long-time family friend CK went out to eat, and a delicious lunch was had by all.  I am grateful to report that when I returned home, no untoward plumbing events had transpired while I was gone.

*Their denomination is Presbyterian, which had its origins in Scotland, so their church’s use of the Celtic cross is legitimate.

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.


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.

Carmen and the Road to Slide

After over a week’s wait, the lady finally called me this past Monday and told me that I could come get the white one’s cremains and finally bring him home.  The lady that runs the Cimarron pet cemetery and provides the crematorium services also grooms dogs.  She did have a store front in town, but apparently she has let it go and she now does everything out at her place on what is now County Road 7700 (it will eventually become 178th Street at some point) — which is way out in the inutterable boonies.  It took me two tries to find the place.  I knew you got to it by going south on Slide Road.  So south I went, keeping an eye peeled for a sign of some kind, but on the first attempt, I not only missed CR 7700, I ended up way the heck out in Slide, which is a don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it little burg south of town whose only claim to fame is that Slide Road is called “Slide Road” because — you guessed it — it’s the road to Slide.  I did find the place on the second try, 2015_05_03-02however, and only had to ask directions once.  The weather was grey and overcast, and I got rained/sprinkled on the whole time.

The cremains are sealed in plastic and are inside a purple cloth drawstring pouch with gold embroidery on that says “We’ll meet again across the Rainbow Bridge” or something like that.  I found him a little “urn” at the Pier 1 store, which is also located on Slide Road but considerably closer to home, at the corner of 60th Street.    The white one’s “urn” is the one in the middle.  Shadow’s “urn” is on the left, the one with the turquoise and silver bracelet on top.  Shadow was the first one I lost.  The “urn” on the right with the angel sitting atop it is Jett’s.  He was the second one I lost.  That little silver looking lump in front of it is a pin with 3 kitties on it that LK, one of the ladies in the knitting group, gave me.  When I got the grey one as a kitten, she had a pink ribbon tied around her neck to indicate that she was female.  When I got her home, I cut it off her neck and tied it around the knob atop Shadow’s “urn.”  I keep them on my dresser in my bedroom on a brass tray that my mom brought me back from Poland when she and my dad went there as part of an eastern European tour they took back in the early 1980’s.

Speaking of my mom, she had gotten us tickets to a concert of Georges Bizet’s opera “Carmen” which we saw last night.  There were three guest performers singing the three main roles, with faculty members and a doctoral student from the TTU School of Music rounding out the cast.  The opera was not staged.  Our symphony orchestra and chorale were seated on stage and the singers performed in front of them, although the main characters did act out parts. The lady who sang the role of Carmen was a native of Puerto Rico and was a rather petite young woman.  She had sung the role with the opera companies of several major cities and she was quite good.  The tenor, “Don José,” was a bit histrionic, but then so is the role.  He also had sung the role in several opera companies.  However, the one who stole the show was the baritone, “Escamillo” (the toreador).  He was a very tall Black man (at least a head taller than the tenor!), who had a beautiful voice.  He is a “native son” of our town, but he has degrees from several prestigious music schools and he has also sung in several opera companies.  The opera was sung in French, but there were screens on either side of the stage where translations of the lyrics were shown.  It was a creditable performance by the orchestra and the singers were good.  I enjoyed it, but it was a little bittersweet for me as “Carmen” was my dad’s favorite opera and hearing  it brought back so many memories.  Of course, the big arias are the Habañera, which Carmen sings, the toreador song, sung by Escamillo, and the flower song that Don José sings.

2015_05_02-01In other news, I have 25 rows to go to finish this little knitted dress, which I hope to do before knitting group on Tuesday, so I can show it off.   It’s a sweet little dress.  The photo at right doesn’t do justice to the yarn colors, which are peach, green, raspberry pink and white (see below). I’d be done with it already but the openwork lace is fiendishly tricky and I keep goofing and having to rip out where I goofed up.  However, I love a challenge, and this little dress certainly is one.  I think the next dress I’m doing is 2015_04_20-01this one, but I can’t start it until I finish this one.

I wonder if the parents of the kid upstairs are divorced and have joint custody; he only seems to be here every other weekend — not that I’m complaining, mind you!  If so, this is his weekend with the parent who lives upstairs, and he’s been thumping from room to room to room to room to room to room to room to room all afternoon long.  It’s a shame scientists can’t find a way to capture and reuse all that energy.  We’d never have to worry about fossil fuels again.  At about 6 p.m. there was a tremendous amount of scooting of chair legs on the floor as they got up from dinner for about 10 minutes.  Grump . . . grump . . . .grump . . .


Amarillo, Shoes and Cars

Tuesday morning, I was on the road to Amarillo by 9 a.m.  Made it as far as 50th Street and the Loop (about five blocks), and realized I had left my computer on.  However, some people leave theirs on 24/7, so I resisted the urge to go back and turn it off.  I went via I-27 — typical of interstate highways, it is a 4-lane divided highway all the way between my town and Amarillo — good roads, speed limit of 75 mph/121 kph, hardly any traffic to speak of, and an utterly boring drive.  The weather was cool and overcast.  I made the turnoff onto State Road 335, AKA Soncy Avenue, but second-guessed myself looking for West Amarillo Blvd, thinking I had gone too far when I hadn’t gone far enough.  Then I turned off onto Highway 40 when I shouldn’t have and had to turn around and back track. Scenic route not withstanding, I made it to the VA hospital and was pulling into a parking place by 11:15.  I made it to the Radiology Department, reported in, told them I had a 3 pm appointment but they said they’d work me in earlier if possible, found a seat in the waiting area, knitted 3-1/2 rows and they called me in.  Spent all of 10 minutes getting the CT scan, and was out on the street by 11:55. (beat the VA bus there, BTW)  Then I  had me a Big Mac at Mickey D’s, filled up my car’s gas tank, then hit the road for home (I’m getting an average of 26 mpg, BTW).  I pulled into the parking space at my apartment by shortly after 2:30 p.m.

Drove 280 some-odd miles (450.6 k) and spent 5-1/2 hours in order to spend 10 minutes actually getting the CT scan, which I could have gotten at one of the local hospitals here, (and Medicare would have paid for all but $104), except there was nobody at the VA clinic who could write me an order for it.  The CT scan should be read and the written report sent by Thursday-ish.

I got back in time to go get a refill prescription for the cephalexin I’m taking trying to clear up this bone infection.  I took it to Walmart to get it filled (the VA does not fill prescriptions written by nonVA healthcare professionals) and get some groceries while I was waiting to get the prescription filled.  I got home, put up my groceries, had time to eat a container of yogurt, and then went off to my knitting group. (We got pre-empted out of our room again and had to meet in the library proper.)  By the time I got home from that, I was pooped.

Back up at 8 o’clock Wednesday morning to go to The Brace Place by 9 o’clock to pick up the custom orthotics for my shoes.  (I was supposed to go Tuesday but I had to reschedule, because I went to Amarillo.)  Then I cooled my heels over a cup of fruit and oatmeal at McDonald’s until my 10:30 appointment to take the new car (Crayolanova? Silver?) in for it’s 4-month service (they rotated the tires and checked to see all was as it should be.  I go back in August to get the oil changed.  This is all free service as a part of the warranty maintenance.   (I took knitting to do while I waited.)

Then I went over to mom’s house.  We visited for a while and then went out to lunch. While we were visiting, she mentioned that the Sunday she flew to Houston to attend her brother’s funeral, she dreamed about my dad for the first time since he passed (September 22, 2014).  She said she dreamed he came walking into their bedroom — walking normally, without his walker —  and said he wanted to go to Houston with her, so she went to the dresser and pulled out three undershirts and three pairs of boxer shorts to pack for him, which is what he would have needed had he been going with her.  Then she woke up, got up and got ready, and I picked her up and took her to the airport.  It was a nice dream, and typical of him.  He would have wanted to go with her.  (I might mention that she actually could have gone to their dresser and taken out clothes for him — all his clothes are still right where they were when he passed.  She is not ready to deal with that yet.)

Mom goes out of town for three days tomorrow to a music association convention in Brownwood, Texas, and she had changed her beauty shop appointment from Friday morning to that afternoon to get her hair done prior to her trip.  She will go with three of her women friends, one of whom will drive them.  I’m so glad she’s able to do things like this.  She is such a social person, and she missed being able to travel and go out frequently when she was caring for my dad that last year and a half.  Next month, a couple have invited her to their house on one of the lakes in the Dallas area.  She and the lady used to work together at the law firm where she was a legal secretary for so many years.   I’m so thankful that my 90-year-old mom is not only still as sharp as a tack, but also healthy, fit and able to get around with no trouble.  She’s just like her oldest sister, JJP,  — she never meets a stranger!

On my way back from my mom’s house, I stopped by the vet’s to get some of the Science Diet KD (special kidney formula) A 4 lb bag of that stuff costs over $20, so the grey one is going to be the only one who gets any. The other two can just eat the Mature Hairball Control Science Diet I put down for all comers.   I gave her a little bowl of it today and she snarfed it up.  It comes in small kibbles and she seems to be able to eat it a lot more easily than the chicken I’ve been giving her. Even when I cube it in small cubes, because it’s moist, it tends to stick to the dish and she seems to have trouble getting it up into her mouth.  I just hope this KD  stuff helps her gain some weight.  She hardly weighs anything.  She’s just skeletal.  If I can’t put some weight back on her soon, I’m afraid I’m going to lose her.  I’ve put a bowl of fresh water up on the dryer for her so she can drink water that the black one hasn’t put his foot in or isn’t lurking to pounce on her the moment she tries to settle down to drink.  My poor little baby girl.

IMG_2047When I got back home, I saw that my yarn bowl had been delivered.  I haven’t had a chance to use it yet, but I’m planning on staying home for a while now.  At least until knitting group next Tuesday.  I’ll try it out tomorrow.  The new car has over 1800 miles on it now.  I’m going to be driving the wheels off it if I’m not careful.

We Wish You A Many Christmas

2014_12_25-02Christmas Day was a quiet, thoughtful day for my mom and me.  It was our first Christmas without my dad, and things were somewhat subdued.  My mom was having Christmas dinner at her house for the two of us, but my first stop was to be the cemetery.  My dad’s headstone, which was provided by the Veterans’ Administration had finally been put in place, and I wanted to go see it.

2014_12_25-01 CopyThe Marine Corps motto, “Semper Fidelis” — Always Faithful — is a fitting thing to have on his marker, not just because he was a Marine, but because that was the way he lived his whole life.  I can’t think of a phrase that better describes him.  He truly was always faithful  — to his parents, to his siblings, to his wife of 67 years, to his children, and to his friends.  He was a man of courage and conviction, who took  his duties and responsibilities seriously as a citizen and as a man, and who was not afraid to stand up and be counted when it came to the things he believed in.

Most of the time, I’m OK with the fact that he’s gone, because it means he no longer has to endure what his life had become, but every now and then, the memories blindside me and I miss him desperately.

I might note here that the kind of lawn grass we have here (Cynodon dactylon) dies in the fall, and comes back from the roots in the spring, so there’s no grass on his grave yet, and won’t be until the end of next summer.

2014_12_25-03On the way from the cemetery to my mom’s house, I finally had my camera with me when I was driving down this street, and took the opportunity to finally get a picture of this boxwood shrub.  The original owners of this corner house had shaped it into a sphere and cut a smiley face into it, and it had become a familiar  and friendly landmark.  Happily, when the house changed hands a year or so ago, the new owners have continued the practice.  The bush is wearing a Santa hat in honor of the Christmas season.

2014_12_25-04Mom decided she couldn’t not put up a Christmas tree and put out some of her decorations.  On the Thursday before Christmas, she had had a little get together of good friends, but for Christmas day, it was just the two of us.  We had a quiet meal of ham, scalloped potatoes, green bean casserole and “sunshine” salad. 2014_12_25-05