Here We Go Again

The graphics card on this computer has been acting up.  Now and again, for no discernable reason, the monitors go blank, then a few seconds later it recovers and the picture returns.  And sometime when I boot up, the icons on my desktop are cattywompus or a couple of them are missing.  The manufacturer no longer supports the graphics card and doesn’t provide drivers for it any more, and I can’t replace the graphics card without replacing the power supply, and I can’t replace the power supply without replacing the motherboard, and if you’re going to have to replace the motherboard to fix a problem, you might as well buy a whole new computer and start over.  I’m thinking that’s what my Christmas money is going to be going for this year.  We have a rather tech savvy family friend who replaced my mom’s computer recently, and he thinks he can put something together for me at a very reasonable cost.  A 1 TB hard drive, a faster graphics card with a faster video processor, and a good sound card.  He says he can fix it so I can plug both monitors directly into their video cards on the computer rather than having to kludge one in through a USB port, which will be nice.  He says he can also install my current hard drive as an auxilliary drive to get even more storage.  A  1.5K GB storage capacity would be nice.

I’d like to be able to download CDs to my computer so I can put together playlists for my MP# player.  Rhapsody’s last software upgrade made it really difficult to download stuff to my MP3 players — they’ve geared it more to smart phones and tablets, rather than desktops and it’s a PITA to fool with my MP3 players.  It would be easier to just download CDs and use Windows Media Player to make playlists.    I have almost no music on this computer, and the photos and graphics I already have on my hard drive have pushed me to 3/4ths capacity (I’ve only got 101 GB of storage left).  It would be nice to have all that room.

My mom had her club auction, and she put six of the ruffle scarves I made her in the auction.  Everybody brings multiples of a particular item, people bid on one of the items, and whatever the winning bid is, all the others ones like it go for that same price. Their proceeds go into a scholarship fund.  The scarves mom brought made $102 for the scholarship fund, so yay!

IMG_0002_1I’ve been writing knitting patterns again.  For weeks,  I’ve been trying to work out a triangular neck scarf  that won’t pooch or curl at the point, and I think I’ve finally got it.  It’s a pretty easy pattern and I’ve put it up on my knitting blog. I’m calling it the Hulda Scarflet, named after Hulda Holina Helmecke (1887-1902), one of my grandmother’s sisters, who died of typhoid fever at the age of 15.  Tragic circumstances.  My grandmother named the second of her four daughters Verna Hulda in memory of this sister, and it is Verna’s daughter that we stay with when we go to Pearland. This is one of Lion Brand Yarn’s “Vanna’s Choice” line of yarns that’s named for Vanna White, a popular TV personality who is also a knitting and crochet enthusiast.  This particular colorway is called “Denim Mist”

The scarf is designed so you take the points at each end of the “hypotenuse” edge, cross them around behind your neck (but don’t tie them), pull them forward over your chest and tuck them under the part of the scarf that’s under the chin.  This bunches that edge of the scarf up under your chin like an ascot, but one that’s not tucked in.  I guess I need to draw up a diagram to show how it’s worn.  The pattern is “advanced beginner” difficulty as it has slip-slip-knit stitch (ssk) and knit two stitches together (k2tog), along with yarn overs/yarn rounds (yo/yr), but it’s fairly straightforward. You could use a fine or fingering weight yarn and make it really lacy, or use a worsted or aran weight and wear it as an outdoor scarf.  If you bought enough of, say, a worsted weight or aran weight of yarn, you could keep going and make a shawl out of it, too.  Writing patterns is teaching me a lot about the mechanics of garment shaping.  For example, the six yarn overs (+6 stitches) are balanced out by two slip-slip-knit and 2 knit 2 together stitches (-4 stitches)for a net increase of two stitches every other row.  When you’re working a triangular garment like this scarf, the more stitches you increase per row, the more “obtuse” the triangle.

In other news, car insurance rates in Texas went up this year, mine included.  Mine went up $30 a month. Of course, my rates for Beetil are three times what they were for the 1987 Crayola, mostly because by that point, I had decreased the coverage to no more than the law required. But on the 2015 Beetil, I have new car replacement coverage, which jacks the rate up, and other coverage which is prudent to have on a new car, but makes no sense to have on one that’s 27 years old.  Sigh.

Another front is coming through next week and night-time lows will dip below freezing again.  Not looking forward to it. We might get some rain out of it, which will be a mess when it freezes.  Demolition derby time!

I need to pick up some glue so I can make some “book mice” — little book markers in the shape of a mouse with the ears and body cut out of leather, little beads for eyes, and a long braided tail out of fingering weight yarn with a wooden bead on the end.   The body of the mouse is only about 1-1/2 inches in length with the 9- to 10-inch-long tail being the actual “marking” part.  They’re cute as all get out, and easy and quick to make.

I finished two scarves from this pattern, and they turned out rather nice, if I say so myself.  Asymmetrical scarves are all the rage now, so I wrote a pattern for one.  2015_12_08-03 2015_12_08-01

Relating to Po

A carryover from the Crayola, the old 1987 Toyota Corolla that got traded in for the Silver Beetil, the new 2015 Toyota Corolla — a year old next month, actually — is the little Teletubby plushie keychain fob I’ve had, seemingly forever, dangling from the rear-view mirror of the Crayola, and now from the Silver Beetil, that helps me spot the Beetil in a parking lot (you’d be astonished at how many late-model silver sedans there are in this town).

If you know anything about the Teletubbies, there are four of them, each a different color:  Green, purple, yellow and red.  They each have a name, Tinky-Winky, Dipsy, Lala, and Po, respectively.  I have the red one, Po.  (Mine has now faded to pink.  The Texas sun is brutal that way.) There’s an explanation that I do when somebody asks about it, or when I want to point it out:  “It’s a Teletubby, it’s Po. I relate to Po. I’m po’, too.”  It’s a pun/carom off the Southern/Afro-American pronunciation of “poor”  as “poh” (the origin of the “po'” in “po’boy sandwich“). (Black American Vernacular pronunciation typically elides final consonants.)  I did the schtick for the East Indian-American salesman at Gene Messer, where we got the new Toyota, and it sailed right by him, but the Black man who happened to be walking by at the time and who overheard it, cracked up, because he totally got it.

Anyway, Po changed cars when I did, because I’m still po’.  Even more so, now that my car insurance premium has tripled.  And, let’s face it.  Nobody likes to be poor. I certainly don’t.  And I am poor.  My monthly/annual income from Social Security falls between 100% and 120% on the Federal poverty guidelines, (i.e., between “at poverty level” and “just really poor,” according to the Federal Gummint)

Anyway, what started me off on this whole tack was looking at how many books I’ve reread this year owing to not having anything new to read.  There for a while, I could budget $20 a month for books.  If you buy used books through Amazon that could be as many as 5 books a month (I’m averaging 13 at the moment), which  is about right.  I got a Kindle because of my space problem — I only have room for five bookcases now(!), so I can only keep the books I know I will want to reread multiple times — but ebooks/Kindle books are almost as expensive as the dead tree editions —  anywhere from $11-$25 a book depending on how old the book is, and the genre.  Yep.  The proverbial rock on the one hand and the proverbial hard place on the other.  Sigh.  And the libraries here have nothing I consider interesting/fit to read.

I know.  I should count my blessings.  I have a roof over my head that (mostly) doesn’t leak, a nice sized apartment (600+ square feet) that is weather tight and in good repair, that I can afford to heat and cool. I can afford to eat regularly. I have shoes to wear and decent, climate-appropriate clothes.   I have a nice car (bought with my dad’s life insurance money) and I can afford a tank of gas a month.  I have TV and internet, and a rinky little cellphone. I’m able to scrape by without having to work, thanks to my mom, so I can be available to travel whenever she wants to.  I have my health.  Life could be a whole lot worse.  Still, I feel entitled to see the glass as half empty if I want to, and I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t wish that what the glass was half-full of was good German beer and not water . . . grumble . . . grumble . . .

RedditlogoI also have a left arm full of flu shot, which I got Thursday at the VA.  My arm was somewhat sore yesterday, and today apparently, my shoulder and upper arm have the flu and that particular region is not happy with me at all.  As I was driving home from the VA, I also noticed that in the big vacant lot behind the VA clinic, there is a prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) burrow.  I did a double take, and sure enough.  Three of them at the entrance to a burrow.    Really odd to see any inside the city limits — or to see one at all, as almost all the land use around the city is for farming and farmers (and ranchers) consider them pests.

While I was out, I got my car tags renewed as they were due for renewal this month — They’ve changed the procedure.  It used to be that once a year, you had to get your car inspected for road-worthiness at a State Inspection Station, and they gave you a sticker; and once a year, you had to get your vehicle registration, for which they also gave you a sticker.  You had to have both stickers and they both had to be valid, or any law enforcement officer who notices they aren’t will give you a traffic citation; however, having one was not a prerequisite for getting the other.  Now, you have to have a valid state inspection first, which they give you a receipt for and the inspector registers it in the Department of Motor Vehicles computer.  Then you go to a county clerk’s office, they look you up in the DMV computer database, and see that you have a valid state inspection and give you your new license plate and/or registration sticker (that’ll be $66, thank you very much). So now, you just have the registration sticker on your windshield /windscreen instead of a registration sticker and an inspection sticker.  Apart from having one less sticker to fool with, it also assures that nobody gets a registration sticker unless the car has passed inspection within the past year.  Anyway, that’s done and paid for, for another year.

Recently I’ve noticed that we’re sliding around to that part of the year where I’m going to have to start wearing more clothes inside.  It became apparent to me just now that my usual summer attire of a cotton tee-shirt dress and bare foots isn’t enough clothes.  I need to get busy and finish my new pair of sock feet because having bare feet on cold floors is now becoming undesireable.  The high for Monday is supposed to be 68 F/20 C, and the highest high in the five-day forecast is 80 F/26.6 C. It’s going to fool around and get winter on us, if we’re not careful . . .

I have the extension cord, but I need to move my dining room table so I can move my china cabinet and plug it into the wall outlet behind the china cabinet, so I can use my sewing machine.  I really need to get those lap robes done.  I’ve had the microfleece blankets to make them from for over a year.  However, there has been a tendency for roundtuits to be thin on the ground . . .


Septover, Octember, and a Nearing Vember

Thirty days have September,
April, June and peanut butter
All the rest have 31,
Except my granny
Who has a little red wagon. . .

The Autumnal Equinox has come and gone, when day and night balanced in the scales of the year.  The nights lengthen steadily and the world is cooling.  We’ve been in the mid-80’s F/26+ C for about two weeks now, and this weekend we are predicted to dip down into the high 70’s F/23+ C.

We’re going away this October, mom and I, back to Pearland, Tx, to stay with cousin EYJ and her husband.  Mother will visit her only remaining sibling, a brother, aged 96.  He is still doing well physically, but mentally he has begun to deteriorate.  As the saying goes, the lights are on but nobody’s home.  We will be taken to Galveston to meet Miss Raelyn Rose, for whom I knitted greatly earlier in the year.   On the way back, we will stop in Round Top, a town knee deep in family history and famous ancestors, and sojourn a night in a house of historic significance on several counts.  The black cat will stay in the pet hotel at Petsmart for the duration.

Painting 24I’ve been in kind of a lull lately.  I’ve grown obsessed with the art of Anne Bachelier, she of the flaming oranges, whose art is shown in castles and cathedrals, and other old dwellings repurposed into galleries (which is where I first discovered her), and in New York and San Francisco, and other far flung cities, whose blog I have been following for some time.  Ms. Bachelier is four months my senior, French, and her blog, written in French (oddly enough) is as impenetrable in its way to my two years of high school French as her paintings are mysterious and  imponderable.  I have made a host of her paintings into puzzles on Jigsaw Planet’s website, where one may convert any image into a jigsaw puzzle.

I loved working those 500- piece and 1000- piece jigsaw puzzles one could get when I was a child.  My dad and I would work them on a card table.  He got onto them when he was a traveling salesman as something to do in the motel room at night in the days before there was a television in every room.  We had a collection of them tucked away.  I associate them with school holidays at Christmas and Thanksgiving and with boiled sweets and ribbon candy from Christmas stockings.  You can’t buy jigsaw puzzles like that any more.  Photographs of foreign places or works of art.  Two houses ago, when you could still buy those kinds of jigsaw puzzles, I worked puzzles on the big dining room table I had then.  I bought the table from a colleague at work.  It had been her parents’, stored in a storage building in the back yard, whose roof leaked on the top (particle board and veneer) and ruined it.  But my dad and I took the top off, stripped the legs and skirting, put a new top on, and refinished it.  I acquired chairs, and that was my dining room table for years until I bought the table and chairs and china cabinet I have now.

That was in the days of portable cassette players, when I recorded my own cassettes, and listened to the tape du jour on my portable player on endless loop while I worked puzzles and let my mind wander where it would.  But puzzles got harder and harder to find, and I got cats (one of whom would eat cardboard, which is a form of paper, after all . . .).  I framed about six of the puzzles after I worked them.  I still have a couple of them.  One of the puzzles was of King Tut’s gold coffin — I sold that one when I moved.  I still have one of a painting of a vase of flowers which hangs in my bedroom.  Another one I still have is of an embroidery sampler, whose motto reads “So much of what we learn of love we learn at home.”   It hung in the kitchen of the duplex, and now hangs on the wall between the dining area and the living room.

So for a couple of weeks now, I’ve been working jigsaw puzzles of Anne Bachelier’s paintings I’ve created on Jigsaw Planet, and listening to various Rhapsody playlists.  Lately it’s been the music of Erik Wøllo, a Norwegian composer.  As I type this, the song happens to be a dialog between acoustic guitar and oboe (cor Anglais?). Typically, I’ll be listening to internet radio, hear something that strikes my fancy, see who it’s by and look them up on Rhapsody and make a playlist of what’s available and listen to it.  Rhapsody lists an artist’s work from most recent to oldest, and I deliberately construct the playlist chronologically from oldest to newest.  That way I get to listen to the artist’s work evolve through time.

I’ve started knitting projects but haven’t finished any yet.  I have a baby afghan to finish before we leave on our trip in October, which is tomorrow (October, not the trip.)  I have to go out tomorrow to get my flu shot.  I’ve ordered a new mouse.  I go through them fairly quickly.  I have a style I like.  It should come tomorrow.

In the latest episode in the unfolding saga of my BFF’s life, her car was acting up.  It’s a 22-year-old Honda.  She hasn’t had it that long — she bought it used.  The engine kept trying to die.  Turns out only two of its four spark plugs were working (!) and the spark plug wires needed replacing as well.  That’ll be $300, thank you very much.  At least it was something fixable, and relatively cheap to fix, as fixing cars go.

My car, the Silver Beetil (as it is now known) has 3500+ miles on it now and is about to get 1200 or so more this coming month.  I shall have had it a year come 22 November.  I have to get it inspected and renew the registration come October.  That’ll be almost $100, thank you very much.   I can’t renew the registration until I get it inspected.  I may do it all tomorrow while I’m out getting shot for the flu.  (I’ll have to break the news to the oil change guys where I get my car inspected that the old Crayola that they got such a kick out of has gone to that Great Parking Lot in the Sky. . . .) At some point before our upcoming trip, I also need to take the glass cleaner and clean the inside of the car windows.  I still have a coupon for a free car wash.  I’ll get it washed and vacuum it before then, too.  Busy, busy. . .

Caught Napping!

I fully intended to go to my knitting group yesterday.  Washed my hair at around 12:30, and was sitting at the computer catching up on my blog reading, winding two skeins of yarn into balls the while.  I had had a very nice lunch, and at some point I closed my eyes and nodded off.  Woke up at 6:25 — the knitting group starts at 6:30, and it’s halfway across town, I was in my “jammies” (I have two pairs of cotton pajamas which are very soft and warm which, since I sleep in my birthday jammies, I wear for around the house).  Oops! So much for my good intentions.

The yarn I was winding was “Vanna’s Choice” (Yep.  That Vanna) — a Lion Brand Yarn.  I got it because of one of the ladies, SJ, who I got to know because she and  LK, who I already knew because she is one of my mom’s friends from church, take turns driving each other to the knitting group.  When we had our knitting group Christmas party, the gift SJ picked had a knitted hat in rose pink yarn that she was delighted with.  According to the rules of the gifting, when it was your turn to choose, you could either choose an unopened gift, or “steal” a gift someone else had gotten.  As luck would have it, somebody “stole” her gift and she had to go choose another.

I felt sad for her because she had really liked the little rose pink hat, so when I was in Michael’s to get some sparkly yarn to make some scarflets, I saw the Vanna’s Choice yarn in the Rose Mist colorway and nabbed a couple of skeins of it, too.  I was getting yarn for scarflets because they’re small, quick, and easy, and the whole shebang would fit in a 1-gallon Ziplock bag that I could carry in my purse and knit on them when I went with mom to Pearland last week.   Most of the time we were there, we were sitting and talking, and you know what they say about idle hands . . .

IMG_1940Anyway, I’m doing up a little toque for SJ in the Rose Mist, making it up as I go along.  It’s not going to have cables like the one that got “stolen” did, because I couldn’t find a pattern that used the weight of yarn I wanted to use with the size 6 needles I wouldn’t have had to get up to get. . . Just at the moment, my altruism doesn’t extend to dislodging the grey kitty from her comfy ensconcement  in between my knees, removing my toasty lap robe, getting up out of my comfortable recliner and walking 10 feet over to the chest of drawers to get out a different set of needles (I don’t have very many sizes of 16-inch long circular needles anyway, I disremember exactly which sizes of needles I do have in that length, and I know for sure I have one in a size 6 because I’m looking right at it . . . ).  It’s a simple little pattern with an interesting texture; the stitch pattern is only a 4-row repeat and beginner easy.

I’m toying with the idea of starting a blog just for my knitting patterns, which I could link my Ravelry projects to.  I tried adding a page for them to this blog, but I have to put them all on that one page and can’t link to them individually.  I’ll still keep including patterns in my posts in this blog, with whatever else I happen to put in the post with it, but I need a place to individually post just the patterns without all the extraneous bloggy stuff.   I’ll have to come up with a clever name for it . . .

In other news, my transcription foot pedal, the gizmo that hooks to my computer and allows me to play dictation with my foot so I can type/edit it with my hands had been acting up lately, and this past weekend it kept getting worse and worse until Sunday, it just quit working at all.  Don’t know why.  I’ve only had it eight years.  I scoured the internet looking for one that was “plug and play” compatible and that connected to a USB port.  The cheapest one I could find was $95 (compared with $149 to as much as $229).  I found one for that price on Amazon that had Amazon Prime free 2-day shipping.  It just got here — which means, I’ve got to get out my Act of Congress, move my chair out of the way, so I can move my desk out out of the way, so I can take the peg board down that the dead foot pedal is mounted to, take it loose and mount the new one in its place (which entails taking the foot pedal apart, drilling holes in the footplate — I need to come up with a piece of scrap 2×4 lumber to use as a “backstop” — and then running wire through the holes on the foot plate, putting the foot plate back together, threading the wire through the holes in the pegboard, twisting the wires together to hold the footplate to the pegboard), then putting the peg board back in place — by 3 p.m. Friday, because that’s when I have to go to work again.  So sometime later today, I’ve got to go to Sutherland’s and get some appropriate wire because when I moved, I gave what remained of the roll of bailing wire I had used before to the guy who lived next door to the duplex and the only other wire I’ve got is florist’s wire which way too tiny.

When I got in from getting groceries and stuff Monday, my odometer read 1295.  This little outing to get “war” (and take a book I sold on Amazon to the post office) will very likely push me over 1300 miles on a car that’s not even two months old yet.  This is unprecedented.  Remember, I’m the one that had a 27-year-old car that had less than 44,500 actual miles on it . . .)  What’s more, at some point this spring, I’ll be driving with my mom over to visit my cousin who lives near Ruidoso, New Mexico (it’s only about a 4-hour drive, thankfully).  They say that what you are doing on New Year’s Day presages the rest of the year.  I like going places, but I’d just as soon not have to drive there in the ice and snow any more!.   However, mom told me yesterday that she has signed up for a “Seniors Are Special” bus trip to Chicago with one of the women she knows through the church.  I would not be at all surprised if she knows many of the other people who are going on the trip, but I’ll bet you money that by the time the trip is over, she will know everybody on the bus, whether she’s met them before or not. That sort of bear . . .

I’ll have to bundle up when I go outside.  We’re getting arctic air again like we did last week, the wind is blustery, and it’s 23F/-5C at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. (Reminding you that my city is at the same latitude as Casablanca, Morocco . . .)  I have a hard time wearing toque type hats, myself.  Something to do with the shape of my head and having a short neck.  I think I’ll make me a sort of combination tie-on hat and muffler.  It might have cables on, too . . .

One Week Anniversary and Turkey Day

I’ve had the new Toyota a whole week now.  I drove it at night for the first time very early Wednesday morning when I went to the grocery store to get stuff for Thanksgiving Dinner.

2014_11_27-02My BFF has lost both her parents, and her only sibling lives in Houston, Tx.  She’s working five days a week now (she can’t live on what she gets from Social Security either), and only gets the one day off.  Mom had planned for the two of us to eat Thanksgiving dinner at a local restaurant; however, I said I’d cook so I could have my BFF over.  It was just the three of us.  Praters’ cooked most of the food — the dressing, mashed potatoes, green beans, and gravy — I just heated it up.  Oscar Meyer furnished the turkey.  Mom brought a Jello salad.  I uncorked a bottle of white wine.  We pigged out and leftovers were had by all.  (Note:  My BFF has anxiety attacks at the thought of having her picture out on the internet where strangers can see it.  The alternative was to crop her out of the picture . . . )

I think the new Toyota maybe is going to be the Grey Ghost, although technically it’s silver; it does have a very quiet ride.  However, it could just as easily end up being the Newbie or something altogether different that I haven’t even thought of yet.   I’ve just finished reading Across the Great Barrier, the second installment of Patricia Wrede’s Frontier Magic saga, and in it and in Thirteenth Child, the first book of the series, mention is made of mirror bugs, which is a thought I just had.

Now that I think about it, the old Toyota didn’t become the “Crayola” until after I’d had it for thirteen or fourteen years. I find myself wondering what has happened to it, and feeling guilty for “abandoning” it.  It’s absurd, but there you are.

The dealership emailed me Wednesday afternoon that the car tags were there so I swung by and had them put on.  I am now street legal.  On the way home, I stopped off at the Market Street at 19th Street and Quaker Avenue, the back parking lot of which is where the old apartment house I lived in for 21 years used to be before it was demolished to make way for the Marsha Sharp Freeway.  There was such a crush of people in the store that I forgot where I parked.  As I was coming out with the sacker who was carrying my two bags of groceries, I told him to give me the sacks as I was going to have to hunt for my car.  I told him I had just gotten a new car and I hadn’t had it a week yet.  I had the one I traded in for it trained, but I hadn’t had time to train the new one yet.

My mom has changed her mind about when we are going to Houston.  I still have to figure out what to do about the kitties.  I priced the Petsmart Pets Hotel — $20 per cat per night, works out to $300 for the five nights I’d have to board them.  I’m going to call my friend JT and see if he can come by and look after the kitties.  I will offer to pay him if he can do it.  I’m actually looking forward to the trip, although the thought of driving in Pearland and thereabouts daunts me — and would have daunted me even if I was still driving the Crayola instead of a brand new car I’m not used to yet.  I have a blog friend who lives thereabouts.  I might see if we can meet up . . . .

Hanger Hang-Ups and The Done Deed

I do not like the kind of clothes hangers that are all tubular plastic.  I like the kind with the plastic cross piece and a metal hook that swivels.  Because of recent purchases of “tops,” I’m down to using hangers meant for “matching top and bottom” combinations — the hangar has a bar across the bottom with metal clothes pins to hold a skirt or slacks, and a cross piece for the coat or top.  If you do not have anything clipped to the bottom of the hangar, the tops of the metal clothes pins stick out past the cross piece and make pooches and worn spots in the fabric on the front and back of what you’ve hung on it.

Walmart had a really good deal on a “24-pack” of the kind of hangers I liked.   I also ordered 4 more tops, also at really good prices — I have lots of tees but few long sleeved tops.  I got two “fleece crew” sweatshirts and two long-sleeve tees.  The tops were to be shipped directly to my home, but the hangers were “ship to store” which is free shipping.  When your order arrives at the store, they send you an email, you print out the email, take it to the store and pick up your order.   Tuesday, I got the email saying the hangers had arrived, so after knitting group, I went by my local Walmart to pick them up.  Guess what?  They weren’t delivered to the South Loop store.  They were delivered to the store way the heck out on Milwaukee Avenue and 82nd!

Thursday afternoon, I went to the Gene Messer Toyota dealership to see what they had, how much I could get in trade-in for the Crayola, and what kind of deal I could get on a new(er) Toyota Corolla.  The dealership is on 19th Street about a mile past where I go to knitting group, which itself is 33 streets north of where I live.  So I go traipsing out to the dealership and the salesman and the trade-in guy and the sales manager all have a good laugh over the mileage on the Crayola — 44,489 actual miles on a 27 year old car, which also includes a trip to Carefree, Arizona by way of Santa Fe, New Mexico. (I worked about a mile from my house for the first four years I had it, then I worked from home for the next 22 years).  I got a quote on a used 2013 that had 32,000+ miles on it — which was almost as much as the Crayola had! — a quote on a new 2014 (the only one they had left), and quotes on two new 2015’s, one of which was cheaper than the 2014.

Once I’d done what I came to do, I went zippity-doo-dahing down Milwaukee Avenue from where it intersected with 19th Street all the way to where it crossed 82nd Street, wandered around trying to find the stupid Walmart store out there, and finally found it.  So I hike all the way to the back of the store where the pick up area is located, and they can’t find my order.  Then they hunt around some more and discover that it is, in fact, at the store, but it’s still in the semi trailer that’s parked out behind the store, one of two waiting to be unloaded!!  Remember, this is about 6 p.m. on Thursday, and the email saying it was ready to be picked up was sent on Tuesday!  I was told it would take maybe an hour, maybe more to find it.  I gave them my cell number then called mom to see if she was home.  Not only was she at home, she offered to feed me navy beans and cornbread!

As we ate, we talked.  I showed her the fruits of my quote finding and we picked out a nice new silver 2015 Corolla. (Hi ho, Silver, away?)  Still waiting for Walmart to call me, I went home, wrote the previous blog post, had a good cry, and hit the hay.  Got up bright and early Friday morning and de-stuffed the Crayola — emptied the trunk/boot, and the glove box, and got my umbrella from under the seat, and the cassette tapes in their carrier from the back seat foot well, (they’re going on craigslist — I have nothing to play them on any more), peeled off the decals, took Po down from the mirror, etc.  I had time to clean out the kitties and get them ready to be left for the day before mom got done at the beauty saloon and got her grocery shopping done.  She called about 10 o’clock and we decided she would drive over and leave her car at my house.  The two of us took our last ride in the Crayola.

The new Corolla does not have a keyless entry remote, so I still have remote envy.  It has an automatic transmission, the first time I’ve driven one since 1980 when the Datsun I got from my brother died at the intersection of Avenue Q and 34th Street (probably 100 yards from where my dad died, actually.)  That’s when my dad took me to see Calvin Brunken, his buddy from the Lion’s Club, who had the Toyota dealership, and I got my first Toyota Corolla — another silver one, as it happens.  It did not have air conditioning, but I was young then and didn’t care.  That was the car I traded in on the Crayola the year after I started working as a medical transcriptionist.  Brunken sold the dealership to Messer in 1993.

We talked turkey for a while with the salesman, and he took us all over the dealership.  We met his boss, we met the service manager, we met the guy in the secure document area who takes your money and makes you sign humpty gazillion forms.  (They’ll let me know they have the car license plates and I’ll go get them.  The title will be mailed to me.)  I still have the paperwork from when I bought the Crayola — the bill of sale, etc. and I brought it with me just for grins.  They could tell from the VIN number that the Crayola was made in Japan, and  I had the bill of lading, which is in Japanese, to prove it!  The new Corolla was made in the US.

I drove it around the lot, with the salesman in the front seat, and my mom in the back seat.  Then I drove it out on the street.  It was a strange feeling.  The salesman made the remark that he couldn’t wait to drive the Crayola.  After we dropped him off, mom got in the front seat, and we drove around the lot some more.  After he had driven the Crayola, the salesman told me he thought the clutch was about to go out, so I may have dodged a bullet there.  As we were driving around the lot, my mom remarked about how comfortable the car was, how it was bigger on the inside than hers, and how I was going to drive her to Houston in it to see her brother HJ, who is not in good health.  She’s talking the third week in December.  Leaving on a Monday and coming back on a Thursday.  That trip willl put more miles on the odometer in four days than I put on the Crayola in a year.  I drove mom back to my place by way of Walmart (I finally got my hangers!).

So now I have a new car.  The first new car I’ve had in 27 years. I should be chuffed.  Bouncing around excited.  I kind of am, but I’m feeling such a jumble of other emotions.   I think part of it is that I had the Crayola for so long.  I’ve moved twice since I got it.  It was a part of all those things that happened to me during a period of time that is five years shy of half my life, and now I don’t have it any more.  It’s come hard on the heels of losing my dad.  Goodbyes are hard.  But Po is hanging from the mirror,  the Celtic decal is on the back window, my umbrella is under the passenger seat, and it looks like I’m going to get a lot of practice driving an automatic here pretty quick.

Oh, did I mention, it has a killer sound system? . . .

Very Mixed Emotions

It’s just after midnight now and I’m shortly bound for bed.  I will be up at 9 o’clock to clean out the trunk/boot and the glove compartment, and the back seat foot well of the Crayola.  There will be things to put in the trash and things to bring inside and a nice zip case full of cassette tapes to offer for free on craigslist.  I am keeping the steering wheel cover.  I’m keeping Po and the back window decal.  I’ve already put the title and the extra keys in my purse.  I will try not to cry, but it will be hard.  I feel sad, apprehensive, and I don’t think I’ll be able to keep from feeling like a traitor when I drive it for the last time tomorrow.

IMG_1449The Crayola
May 20, 1987 – November 21, 2014
“Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

The Prediction Was Correct

IMG_1883This was my weather widget at 2:30 this afternoon.  It was entirely accurate.  The north wind had blowed and we have got snowed.  Our predicted low tonight was 19F/-7.22C at right now it’s 18F/-7.77.  It stopped snowing a while ago, but with the undercoating of sleet and the fact that there has been no melting at all, we’ve got enough on the streets now that it’s going to be demolition derby day tomorrow for the driving to work crowd.  On days like today, I am very thankful I work from home.

2014_11_16-01Mom called from church at noon and said her windshield was iced and it was sprinkling sleet.  We decided to go out to eat anyway.   I had coupons for The Cotton Patch and we decided to go there.  Poor decision, as it happens, because we had about a 10-minute wait to be seated.  (The crowd that doesn’t go to church was there early to beat the after-church crowd. . .).  By then it was sprinkling snow flakes rather than sleet, and it was cold enough to start sticking.  While we were snarfing up a delicious salad, steak and baked potatoes, it began to snow in earnest.  We had already decided it was just too darn cold to go to the cemetery, 2014_11_16-04but up until that point, my mom was going to come in and scope out my apartment.  (She has only been here once for a cursory glance round shortly after I moved here this past May.  That was back when dad was still alive and she didn’t dare stay more than a minute or two.)  That plan was scotched as well.

This afternoon while I was working, I heard the kids playing in the snow.  Maybe they’ll luck out and get a snow day tomorrow . . . and raise a ruckus while I’m trying to sleep in tomorrow. . .

The drivers here are terrible, even under ideal road conditions.  They skid all over the place when it rains, so you can bet there will be traffic accidents galore because of this little dusting of snow (we got a lot less than an inch).  It’ll probably all melt off tomorrow, but for now, I wouldn’t be on the city streets during tomorrow morning’s rush hour for anything less than four figure$.

I am reminded again that we do not have covered parking here.   The Crayola has ice on all its windows.  (Those dark boxy things in the lower right corner are the air conditioning units for my apartment and the one upstairs.)

2014_11_16-05Mother has said several times that she was worried about me driving such an old car (it’s a 1987 — you do the math. . .).  She has made noises to that effect for a while now, such as thinking about getting herself a new car and giving me her little red Mazda that’s only 8 or 9 years old (see above with my footprints leading up from where it was parked while I got out).  I’ve had such obvious good luck with Toyotas, I really would like another Toyota Corolla, but I wouldn’t look a gift car in the mouth, so to speak.  She told me today at lunch that she had finally accomplished the stock transfer from their name to hers (nothing is ever simple) and that hopefully, she will get the money from the life insurance policy Dad had through his work by the end of this month, as she is really hoping to get what money is coming to her, and everything they held jointly put in her name during this tax year while Dad’s three tax exemptions still apply.  Then, a sentence or two later, she casually asked me what new Toyotas cost . . . watch this space!



Officially Cold Weather

Tuesday I went over to my mom’s to help her with electronic banking.  I followed the online instructions and evidently, I wasn’t holding my mouth right, and the website didn’t like what I entered, or the way I entered it or something.  Called the bank.  They said wait 24 hours and try again.  Mom tried again.  No soap.  So I get to go over again later today and call the bank and see what the deal is.  Tuesday is knitting group night, and by the time I got done playing on the computer, it was sneaking up on 5 o’clock, and mom suggested going out to eat, which we did at our favorite neighborhood cafeteria.  Later as we were watching the gear-up for election returns (it was election day), Mom asked me if I’d voted.  I hadn’t.  I decided to stop off to vote on the way to knititing group as one of the voting places in my precinct is right off the street I go up to get to knitting group.  The polls close at 7:00 p.m. here, and it was a quarter of 6:00 when I drove into the parking lot and noticed there were a lot of cars in it.  I walked in the building and saw why.  The line to get into the place where you vote went off up the hall!  There must have been 50 people standing in line.  They only had three people checking to see if you were registered to vote and if you had the proper ID.  Knitting group starts at 6:30, but by the time I got into the polling place, got checked, double checked, got done voting and finally made it to knitting group, it was almost a quarter of 7:00.

After I got home from knitting group and was watching TV, I was feeling cold.  When I went into the other room to get a shawl, I checked the thermostat and it said 69F/20.5C so I switched from AC to heat.  Don’t know if it has come on, but I’m sitting at the computer with a lap robe on, and a kitty between my knees — she’s been there all evening. I’ve also got a shawl on.  When I checked the thermostat a while ago, it said 68F/20C.

Monday night, I listed to sell on Amazon about 20 books I don’t intend to read a second time. Yesterday evening, I got seller notices in my email that I’ve already sold two of them, so I have to pack them up and take them to the post office today.   While I’m out and about, I’ve got to take my BFF’s Kindle cord back to her.  She left it here when she was over last Thursday (her days off are Thursdays and Sundays) so I could sort out her computer.   Also, I bought her a four-book series for her birthday, which is this month, but only three of them had come by last Thursday.  She took books 1, 2, and 4 with her, and book 3 came Tuesday so I’ll take her that as well.  I also need to get gas in the Crayola and pick up a few groceries, which I will do on my way home from my BFF’s.   Busy, busy, busy. . .

The Last Big Hurdle

Wednesday evening, I got a response on an application I had submitted to a medical transcription service and I replied indicating my interest.  The recruiter had wanted to set up an interview, and I told her I would be home all day on both Thursday and Friday and that whenever suited her schedule would be fine with me.  I had just sent the email when my mom called, wanting me to go by IH on Thursday at noon to try to feed my dad his lunch.  Needless to say, when I was trying to boot up my computer Thursday morning to check when the recruiter wanted to call, it wanted to download humpty gazillion windows updates, which took all of ten minutes, and then took another ten minutes to “clean up” afterword.  When It finally got booted up and had downloaded email, the recruiter’s email said that her Thursday schedule was all full, but that Friday would work, and wanted to know if she could call around 11 a.m.  I replied that that would be fine with me.

When I got to IH Thursday at noon, my dad was in the common room in one of their recliners, where they could keep an eye on him.  He was lying there without his blankie and he was scooted down pretty far in his chair.  They had not put his teeth in.  He was talking but it was unrelated to anything going on around him.  He did know who I was, though.  I had brought the flower arrangement and a “double” picture frame with two photos, one of mom and dad on their wedding day, and one of them on their 60th wedding anniversary and put them in his room on top of the chifforobe.  I switched out the plug strip for one with an 8 foot cord, which worked much better.  The cord was long enough that the plug strip could rest on the bottom shelf of his table.

I got them to pull him up in the chair as he had scooted down so far that his knees were at the end of the foot rest. I got his blankie and covered him up, then tried to get him to eat some pudding.  He wouldn’t eat any more than one spoonful.  He did, however, drink all the iced tea in his sippy cup and then was drinking a cup of his coffee mix with half a packet of Breakfast Essentials in it.  I sat with him a while and then mom came.  We got the attendants to transfer him back to his own lift chair back in his room, where he was much more comfortable as the lift chair had a “gel” cushion in it.  He had finished the cup of hot coffee mix by the time I left.

Mom had talked with the home health service on Wednesday about getting dad on hospice, and when she came Thursday afternoon, she was waiting for someone from the hospice service to come by to see my dad either that afternoon or Friday afternoon.  He was approved for hospice Thursday afternoon, and by Friday, they had sent out a hospital bed with an air flotation mattress and gotten him settled in it.  A hospice nurse would call on him.

Friday, he was not gotten up into his chair at all, but left in his bed.  Mom got him to eat a little.  Saturday was the same.  The hospice attendant was to come by on Sunday as friends of my mom were throwing her a 90th birthday party at 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. (Her actual birthday is Tuesday) She went to church Sunday morning; then as the time for the party neared, the heavens opened up and we had a good ol’ fashioned gullywasher.

Typically in this part of the country, when we get rain, we get a lot of it in a short amount of time.  Our city streets are “sculpted” in such a way as to funnel the water into the storm drains; the storm drain system disgorges into a series of playa lakes that the city has set up in parks about town.  The “downhill” streets (or the mild inclines that pass for hills in this part of the country) have troughs at the intersections to lead the water past the cross streets and into the storm drains/playa lakes, and keep the water from pooling at the intersections. (These troughs have the added benefit of slowing down traffic in the residential neighborhoods.) During the actual storm and for about an hour after it, the runoff in the gutters and the troughs across the intersections can get quite deep and one must approach them with caution so as not to stall out one’s car.  Needless to say, pickups with high ground clearance are always tearing through the runoff and sending great rooster tails of spray onto the cars in other lanes as they pass — not just rude, but dangerous as it momentarily obscures a driver’s vision.  (Since my car engine’s distributor is up on top of a wheel well, I was not as worried about stalling in deep water as I was about getting doused by the rude pickups.)

I made it to the party without stalling out, and dashed inside.  The hostess had provided a beautiful two-tier cake with red roses made of icing decorating it, as well as a lovely bouquet with, among other flowers, lovely red roses.  The party was a great deal of fun, and my mom was in her element schmoozing with her friends.  My brother brought his violin, and played “Happy Birthday” while we all sang.  It was a lovely party, and a good opportunity for my mom to be “rallied round” by her friends, who provided her with some much needed moral support.  She had remarked more than once that the past week of having my dad in care had been more difficult for her than actually caring for my dad, a remark I totally understand.  It is very hard to let go.

After the party, I helped my mom load up the top tier of the cake, her lovely flowers, and the mound of birthday cards people had brought and I followed her over to IH to see my dad.  We cut a small piece of cake for my dad and left the rest of it for his caregivers to share.  My mom stood at his bedside and fed him the piece of cake and got him to drink most of a sippy cup of Ensure.  He knew her, but he wasn’t quite sure who I was.  As he always did, he told my mom how much he loved her.  He also mentioned his friend. “She doesn’t have a name so I gave her one, ‘Tallulah,'”  and talked briefly about her — we have no idea whether he was confabulating a real experience with a caregiver, or whether it was a delusion born of his dementia.  We stayed at IH for about an hour, then I followed mom home and helped her carry her cards and gifts inside.

My mom had a doctor’s appointment Monday morning, and I had one that afternoon, both routine well checks.  At about 10:45, my mom called on her cell asking me to come to IH, as there had been “an emergency.”  I hurriedly made sure the cats had ample food and water, got dressed to go out, and drove over as quickly as I could.  When I arrived at IH, a woman was about to ring the doorbell, and I let her in, since I knew the door code.  When I got to my dad’s room, there was a nurse I didn’t recognize standing at my dad’s bedside, and mother greeted me with, “He’s gone.”  A family friend had visited him earlier at about 9 o’clock and found him sleeping.  She didn’t try to rouse him.  About an hour later, one of his caregivers had checked on him and had found that he wasn’t breathing. She had called the hospice nurse and my mom.  By the time I got there, the hospice nurse had already determined that my dad had passed, pronounced him and was preparing to sign the necessary papers.  They also called the ministerial counselor,  who turned out to be the woman I had let in the front door.

My mom had been at her appointment waiting to be seen by her doctor when they called her.  As she went out to her car to go to IH, she got out her little list of phone numbers (like my brother’s home and cellphone numbers), only to have the wind snatch it away from her.  None of the numbers had been put in her cellphone (she doesn’t know how to do it, and never asked me to although I would gladly have done so).  Fortunately, I had some of the same numbers in my cellphone and was able to call my brother, EL, one of my dad’s nieces, and CK, who had given her the birthday party. My brother’s shop is closed on Mondays, and fortunately he was at home.  He quickly joined us.

The hospice ministerial counselor contacted the funeral home for us, and two very personable men from the funeral home eventually came out.  We left at that point as my mom didn’t want to see him being taken out.  I followed her to her house, and we began the task of notifying the family and making the arrangements.  I made my mom drink a bottle of Ensure, and later I insisted that she eat something, so she microwaved a chicken pot pie to eat.

It just so happened that one of my mother’s nephews, JP, who is her oldest sister’s son, had called last week and had wanted to come over from New Mexico to take her out to lunch for her birthday.  The day they had agreed upon was this Thursday.  Unfortunately, that is the day when my dad’s funeral will be held.  We tried calling him, but according to the message my mom got, the phone lines were being worked on and the call couldn’t go through.  In the meantime, the associate pastor of our church came by, as well as a dear family friend (who was born on the day my parents got married).

After the big rain Sunday, I had noticed something dragging underneath my car, and thought it might be a tree branch or a piece of trash, but while it was parked in the driveway Monday, my mother’s neighbor J, who is always so good to her, rang the doorbell and asked to speak to me.  Her husband had seen something stuck under my car and pulled it out.  It was, unfortunately, attached to my car.   I had planned to get my oil changed — I really needed to get it done before cold weather set in — so I put the piece of plastic in my car.  By then it was nearly 4 p.m.  I went on to get my oil changed — only to be informed there would be a 45 minute wait, so I went home and saw to the kitties, fixed myself a sandwich, called my friend JT, who had helped me take the table to IH for my dad, and told him the sad news.  The recruiter of the medical transcription service had sent me a job offer, which I went ahead and accepted.  (I’ll be working Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings from 3 p.m. to midnight — starting this weekend! — and hope to work more hours later.)

When I went back to the ExpressCare, I was ushered right into the bay and got my oil changed and my car serviced.  The piece of plastic proved to be from the back of my bumper and was a very noncritical bit.  The Crayola is 27 years old.  So long as no important bits fall off, I’m happy.

Once I got home, I took refuge in housework, changing my bed and washing two loads of clothes.  Now I’m going to take my bath and try to get some sleep.  I’m meeting mom at her house at 8 o’clock in the morning.  We will go to IHOP for breakfast and then meet my brother at the funeral home to finalize arrangements.  My mom will have to take clothes for my dad to be laid out in, as well as provide information for the obituary (She already has one prepared for him and one for herself, with the pictures she wants of each of them, and has had them on file for a number of years.  My mom is very organized — and tries to be as prepared as she can be for any eventuality.)  The viewing will be Wednesday evening and the burial and memorial service will be Thursday morning.

Both mom and I managed to keep it together today.  I’m afraid if I lose it, mom will lose it (and vice-versa, no doubt).  I’m bracing myself for Wednesday and Thursday.  I don’t do well at funerals — even if it’s for somebody I barely know.  Thankfully, my weather widget shows no rain in the forecast for either day.  I have no idea what I’m going to wear.