Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cheese & Christmas

There's not really a connection, just two things I've been thinking about today.

Lisa asked about the gjetost cheese I mentioned recently. It's a Norwegian cheese that is brown in color - maybe caramel-colored would be more accurate. It's flavor reminds me a bit of evaporated milk. Although I don't like evaporated milk, I do like gjetost cheese occasionally. I used to buy it in NJ, but hadn't seen it in western KY until last week at the Kroger beside Noble Park. I don't know how I came to eat it with cucumbers, but I do like the combination. Lexi didn't care for it, but she does like the camembert that I bought this week. That did not surprise me, since I know she likes brie; the two cheeses are quite similar. I'm trying to help raise this child to like a wide varity of food. So far I think we're doing well in that regard, although I wish she'd eat more vegetables. I also want her to be willing to try new things. I've told her that I don't ever want to hear her say she doesn't like something if she hasn't accually tried it. You can say you don't like the way it looks or smells, but unless you've tasted it, you can't say whether you like it or not.

I even tried limberger cheese a couple of years ago. One of the stories I remember Mother telling was of Grandma smelling something unsavory one day. She checked all the kids' pants, but there had been no 'accidents.' She kept sniffing and finally followed her nose to the pantry, where she discovered that Grandpa had brought home some limberger. It is something I might eat a sliver of every two or three years, but it won't bother me to live without it for the rest of my life.

Now to the Christmas part:

Here's some of the plant material Lexi and I gathered yesterday morning.

And here is what she did with some of it in a corner of the dining room.
We also hung angels on the mantel. Only a knitter would have this kind of covering for her mantel. The top is machine-knit in green, and the edging is hand-crocheted in red. The edge along the back side is just single crochet, but on the ends and the front side, I did several rows of other stitches, ending with picots along the bottom. The picots are good for hanging ornaments from. There are nails along the back of the mantel to grab the covering, but I also weighted it at one end with a heavy rock and at the other with some small but heavy marble candle holders. Lexi hung a bunch more things here after she took the picture, and I added plant material to the top of the mantel this morning. I also moved the Father Christmas away from the tiger print. He is more visible against the white wall. I put an all-white mother and child figurine where Father Christmas is in this picture. It shows up well there.
There were hangers in the boxes with some of the ornaments, but not with all of them. I think I have more hangers somewhere, but not in the boxes I pulled off the shelves. It was easier to give Lexi a package of 18 gauge aluminum wire and needle-nose pliars with wire cutter, than to pull down more boxes of decorations looking for the 'store-bought' hangers. I told her that way she could make the hangers whatever length she wanted them.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Wow! It's 1 o'clock already! And I was up before 6 for no good reason. So far, I have:

1) pulled out some leftover sock yarn. Valarie told us yesterday that Stephanie is gathering sock yarn to make a blanket for a neighbor. It will be nice to have less sock yarn sitting in the basket asking me what I'm going to do with it.

2) knit several rows on a prayer shawl I started a couple of weeks ago. I've made two other shawls since then, but let this one languish for a while. There's still a good bit more to go on it.

3) put a penny into each of the 22 (so far) mini-stocking ornaments I've made for Lexi to give to her classmates and other friends. I pushed them down to the toe and ran a couple of stitches across the top of the penny to hold it in.

4) finished warping the loom and wove six inches. The warp is only three yards long and 60 threads wide. It's what I plan to work on during the Walk through Bethlehem coming up the first two weekends in December.

5) received phone calls from both of my children. Dominic was on a bus on his way to Carmen's house. Carmen told me about what she is cooking. She likes to cook.

I will be picking up Lexi later today and bringing her here to spend the night and the day tomorrow. She spent last night with her father and will have dinner with his family, so I don't know what house I'll get her from. I think we'll do some decorating tomorrow. I plan for us to go outside and gather holly, ivy, nandino berries, pinecones, Japanese maple leaves (they're a beautiful shade of red now) and anything else we can find in the yard that seems appropriate. Then she can arrange them on some large trays and put some Santa and angel ornaments among the greenery. I think she'll do a good job and also will enjoy doing it.


I saw Dr Winkler briefly yesterday. He has changed the way I take Revlimid - not the amount per day, but the number of days. I've been taking it every day, but now he wants me to not take it for a week, then take it for three weeks, then off a week, etc. Next month he wants me to do another 24 hour urine collection and will order some blood work in addition to what they do at every visit. At first he said to do the urine collection on the 16th, but I told him I have a colonoscopy scheduled on the 17th, so he said to wait until after that.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Another week gone by

This isn't really a Friday thing, it just works out that way sometimes.

Lexi spent Saturday afternoon and night with me and then we went to church Sunday morning. It was "Bible Sunday" when Grace Church gives Bibles to the second and third graders. Lexi's grandparents' church has already given her a Bible, so now she has two. The one she leaves at Macedonia Church of Christ and gets a star for having it with her whenever she goes there. The one from Grace is for her to keep at home and read (maybe). It is the Good News translation, which is not my favorite, but it does have some good maps and other 'helps' in the back.

Then we went by Nana's house and gave her the shawl. Lexi had decided that we should wrap it as a gift. I had the perfect box for it, and she found some nice wrapping paper in one of the closets and did the wrapping herself.

I didn't see Dr Winkler this week - only his nurse practitioner, Anna. I like her. She's a bit older than the other nurse practitioners - not quite my contemporary, but not a whole lot younger than I am. Anyway, since I didn't see Dr W, we didn't discuss maintenance as I had thought we were going to. Maybe next week.

Yesterday, I met Lexi's school bus and we went to the library. I know she always wants a snack as soon as she gets home, so I took her four choices - 1) ginger snaps, 2) gjetost cheese and cucumber slices (I like that combination), 3) Fritos with Swiss cheese and havarti with horseradish, and 4) popcorn. The popcorn was not on my list when I was planning it in the morning, but when I was putting it together I couldn't think of what the fourth item was, so popcorn was an easy substitute. We had to stop at the drug store to get the rest of the pills they were short on my refill when I was there on Tuesday, so I bought beverages for us there - Yohoo for me and 'pink milk' for her. Then we sat in the parking lot at the library and consumed most of the snacks. That wound us being most of my supper. When we got into the library, we each headed to the books for our age group - intermediate and adult. She has her own library card, so she checked out three books and then used a computer for a while. I only checked out two books and then sat down and knitted until the computer she was on 'timed out.' It was a nice way to spend an hour and a half.

Today we were supposed to have our monthly service at St Martin's Church in Mayfield, but only Evelyn, Mary and I showed up - no clergy. We waited about twenty minutes past the regular starting time, then went to the Happy House (Happy is the surname of the original owner of the house) Restaurant for lunch. We had a very nice time visiting over lunch. Since my blood was very thin when they checked it Wednesday, I ordered the spinach/Swiss sandwich. I figure the spinach's vitamin K will help thicken up my blood.

This morning, I took the paper trash out to the burn barrel and started it burning. Then I put on some gardening gloves, picked up the pruners and went back to the barrel to burn some of the branches I had pruned from trees a couple of months ago. Some of the branches are too large for pruners - I'll need to use the pruning saw on them. One of the large ones fell against my leg and I thought, "That will cause a bruise. Will I remember where it came from when I see it tonight when I take my jeans off?" Then I moved a bit and realized that I felt something wet on my leg. I looked down and there was a dark spot on my jeans - blood! I made sure there was no danger of anything falling out of the barrel and then returned to the house to put a bandaid on my my injury. It wound up taking five bandaids since I only have the regular width ones. I guess it is a combination of getting older and of the medications I take that has caused my skin to be so thin.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday again already?

Maybe I've been busier than I thought.

Sunday I went to the opening reception at the Ice House for the annual juried exhibition. I have not entered anything for several years. It's always interesting to see what the juror selects. There was a really good turnout for the reception, which was good to see. Those of us who are part of the Art Guild often feel that most people in town don't know we're there.

On Monday I actually did something other than knit. I moved some of the dirt I got the men to leave for me when they cut down the bank on my neighbor's property. I wimped out after three half-barrowfuls though. That filled the hole at the north end of the house, but I will probably need to add more after it rains. There are other places I need to put dirt as well. I'll get it done sometime. I also wove the second of the looper rugs. Just one more to go and I can cut off that warp and put on the narrow one I want to work on during the Walk through Bethlehem the first two weekends in December.

Tuesday was the regular weekly fiber group at the Ice House. Alyssa had joined us the last two or three weeks, but she started a new job Monday and no longer has that time free. I guess we only have five more weeks before we take a six-week break - the Ice House is always closed from just before Christmas until the beginning of February.

Nothing significant of Wednesday - just rearranging a few things in the dining room.

Yesterday, Thursday, was the Vintage Grace meeting at church - for us senior citizens. We met at 11 am and filled boxes for the Seaman's Church Institute's Christmas on the River project. I took with me three scarf and hat sets plus six hats that I have knit since my last donation to SCI. I also took several shawls to give to the rector for her and other parish visitors to give to people who need an extra 'hug'. After filling the boxes, we had lunch. We won't be meeting again until January because of the holidays.

Today I'm doing laundry and knitting. I'm working on the border at the bottom of the Pie-Are-Square shawl I've decided to have Lexi give to her Nana (her dad's mother), who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. I plan to have Lexi tell her it's to wrap around her shoulders when she has her chemo treatments. Last I heard she had not yet decided on how extensive she wants surgery to be. Then after that will come radiation and chemo I guess. When I started this shawl, it was not for anyone in particular = just the 'keep in the car to work on when I forget to take another project along' project. I was about half way through when Alyssa told me of Beverly's diagnosis. I decided that the shawl is for her and have made a special effort to complete it. The yarn is some that I got almost 22 years ago at an auction for a nickel a ball, so I only have 25 or 30 cents tied up in it, but many, many hours of knitting. The border alone will probably take eight hours.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

My Medical Week

It started Monday morning with a bone survey - 28 x-rays of every bone in my body - and an MRI. The IV the tech put in my left hand caused a lot of puffiness and discoloration that has not quite gone away yet.

On Tuesday the only medical thing was getting a prescription refilled before I went to the Ice House to knit.

Wednesday I went to the Ophthalmologist in Mayfield at 10 am. No vision exam this time, just an examination of my eyeballs. The pressure is good - no glaucoma. The cataracts continue to grow slowly, so it will be a few more years before Dr Williams will need to remove them. There is thinning of the cornea, but that is not unusual with the shape of my eyes - I've been near-sighted since I was a kid. He wants me to come back in a year.

Since my eyes were dilated, I didn't want to drive for a while. There is a nice sitting area by the elevator in the Medical Office Building, so I sat there for a couple of hours and knitted. I had started a scarf after I signed in to Dr Williams office, so I continued working on it. 32 stitches, tiny checks pattern, alternating squares of two stitches by two rows. It lies flat and is reversible, both of which make it perfect for scarves. By the time I got home Wednesday afternoon, I had worked fifteen inches. I enjoyed sitting there knitting and watching the people come and go. But I didn't hear any of them speaking of Michaelangelo. One young woman did talk to me for a few minutes about my knitting. I invited her to join us at the Ice House on Tuesday mornings.

When I left there, I drove to Paducah for a 3 pm appointment with a gastroenterologist. It took me longer than usual, because my eyes weren't back to normal yet, so I didn't go over 50 mph. When the woman at the Cancer Group asked me last week if I had a preference for gastroenterologists, I said I didn't. She told me that the only one I had heard of (we go to church together and his granddaughter is a friend of Lexi's) has retired. One of my first friends in Mayfield is a nurse practitioner and has been working for him for several years, so I wondered where she was working now. Since Lynn and I no longer go to church together (when St Martin's in Mayfield was closed, she transferred to St John's in Murray and I transferred to Grace in Paducah), we don't see each other often. I was delighted when I was called back to the examining room, to find Lynn waiting for me. In addition to the medical history stuff, we spent a few minutes talking about our families. I will be scheduled for a colonoscopy sometime soon. They have to get permission from Dr Winkler to take me off Coumadin for five days before the procedure.

Thursday was my oncology appointment. Dr Winkler was out this week, so I saw Dr Conkright instead. He had the results of the x-rays and MRI from Monday. Nothing alarming or unexpected. He said that when I go back in two weeks, Dr Winkler will probably talk to me about maintenance doses of either VelCade or Revlimid. I'm not sure which one I prefer. I'm trying to figure out which side effects I'd rather put up with.

And finally on Friday I went to the orthopaedic surgeon for a follow-up on my hip replacement. He had his technician x-ray my entire pelvis, so he could see if there was arthritis in my other hip. There isn't. He wants me to come back in about a year and a half. When I checked out, I told the girl that I wouldn't make an appointment now, but would just try to remember that I need to go back around my 70th birthday. Can I be that close to 70?


Alyssa called me from the Fall Festival at Lexi's school Thursday night. As soon as they walked in, Lexi's best friend ran up to them and the two little girls went off together, so Alyssa sat and talked to various people from the school. One of them told her that they'd be glad to have some hand knit mittens, hats and scarves to give to kids who need them. So I'm working on a few, and Alyssa is too. She called today and asked for a couple more sizes of needles, some sport-weight yarn and the I-cord maker. She had mentioned earlier that she didn't find any mitten patterns, so I also took her several books of all mittens. I need to get a list of the books she has of mine.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Kinder, Gentler Bedtime Prayer

I'm reading a book written about 95 years ago - Michael O'Halloran by Gene Stratten-Porter. I first heard of Mrs Porter about 52 years ago. During the summers I was 16,17, and 18, and after school and on Saturdays of the school-years between them, I worked in a private home. The household comprised Patti, who was 1 1/2 when I started, her parents and her maternal grandparents. Her grandmother had a stroke many years before, and spent her days in an upholstered rocking chair. While Patti napped, I would read aloud to Mrs Rollins. I read two of Mrs Porter's books to her. On those warm summer days (this was in the late 50's, before air conditioning was common) I would be reading along and then I'd hear Mrs Rollins calling my name - I had fallen asleep reading. Fortunately, Mrs Rollins was good-natured about it.

But I digress - back to the prayer.

Following his ears, Mickey finds a small girl wrapped in rags, lying on a heap of other rags. Her parents are dead, or at least gone, and she has just watched her grandmother, who cared for but abused her, die. She was small for her age, and could not walk because of a bad back. 'They' had taken her grandmother's body away and said they'd be back to get her. Mickey knew that meant take her to an orphans' home. At first he tried to tell her that the orphans' homes were nice places; he'd seen some of them from the outside. But he also knew that such homes were something his mother had NOT wanted him to go to. That is why she had very carefully taught him what he needed to know to fend for himself after she died. He had been doing just that for the two years since she died, although I think he's not more than eleven. He sold newspapers and sometimes did deliveries, and continued to live in the third-floor rooms he had shared with his mother. He got someone to help him move Peaches to his place, cleaned her up, fed her, and started teaching her to read as his mother had taught him. After a few days, he decided she needed to say her paryers at bedtime. He started to teach her the prayer so many of us learned as kids:

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I shoud die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

She repeated the first two lines after him, but balked at the third one. Mickey came up with a couple of alternatives, but they really expressed the same sentiment in different words, and she wouldn't say them either. Finally he thought of this:

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
Guard me through the starry night,
Wake me safe with sunshine bright!

I like it!