Saturday, June 02, 2012


Dear Blog:

I haven't been ignoring you.  I've been busy.  But I've thought about you every day.

I have been knitting a Wingspan scarf/shawl -- whatever you want to call it -- in a bright, feisty colorway.  It's for a gift, so I can't show you a picture yet.  I'm almost done -- I may finish today -- and if I do, I'm casting on a Damask in a charcoal grey merino/silk sock yarn.  That will keep me busy for a few weeks.

I am at the cottage as I type, and feeling a little discombobulated.  We had a roofing salesman in to give us a quote on a new roof.  (He's putting a roof on out neighbors' house today -- hammer hammer bang ban yell yell.)  His quote was twice his nearest competitor, but of course he told me all the reasons why every other job would be crap that will need to be re-done in 7 years.  I don't HAVE twice the money as his competitor.  So now I feel bad about myself AND I feel like I'm doomed to failure.  And I love this house so much, I want to keep her safe and dry.

The garden is planted -- got the last stuff in last weekend -- and all I have yet to do is to put down a layer of dog hair and top it off with straw for mulch.  I'm going to wait to do that until the sun is a little further down though. 

Melanoma Awareness Month has finally ended.  My friends will be relieved -- no more pushy reminders to stay out of the sun and to check sunscreen for the expiration date.  (Or to only buy sunscreen marked "broad spectrum" -- this is important.)  I go for my next checkup in 2 weeks, and I am determined to be cancer-free.

'Til next time, stay safe, dry, and cool. 

Tuesday, May 08, 2012


Today I officiated at the wedding of two close friends, Dave and Sam.  (I was ordained on the internet years ago.  It finally came in handy.)  They live across the street from Shell Cottage, have been together for 12 years, and we are very, very fond of them and their three beautiful girls.  Dave is nearing the end of his fight with esophageal cancer.  They were married in his hospital room with their three daughters, a couple of witnesses, a few -- but not all -- family members. 

I feel very honored to have been part of their wedding. I am so sad.  They deserve another 40 years together.  Please pray for Dave and Sam.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mea Culpa

OK.  It has been a while.  A long while.  Really, really long while.  I either didn't have anything to say or no words to say it with.  It is going to sound melodramatic, but I've felt fragile. 

2011 was a rough year.  2010 had ended on a sad note, but things seemed to go well for a while.  Norbert got into the best high school in the city.  (Kvell!)  He graduated from eighth grade in May and went on a trip to Israel with his 8th grade class.  We planted a beautiful vegetable garden at the cottage, as well as three beautiful apple trees.  We went to my family reunion in June, which was a great deal of fun, and we spent 3 out of 4 weekends at the cottage in Michigan.  In July our friend and neighbor in Michigan, Dave, started getting sick and in August he was diagnosed with Stage 4 esophageal cancer.  In September I had major hand surgery which kept me off work for a month and in physical therapy for another three months, which brings us to December, which is when I was diagnosed with Stage One melanoma.  I'm doing fine.  I'm as lucky as anyone can be. I've had a few resections and subsequent biopsies and I figure if we catch it every time at Stage One, I can take it.

The day of my first cancer surgery I got on the scale and forgot to tell the nurse not to say my weight out loud -- I had other things on my mind -- and when she said the number, it was so obscene, I gasped.  January 1, 2012, I went on a diet and have lost 23 pounds to date.  I am eating less and working out 3 or 4 times a week.  I figure, if I have to fight cancer, I better be in fighting trim.  So I plan to loose another 27 pounds between now and December.

What is happening in December?  In December, Norbert and I are taking a two week trip to France -- 11 days in Paris and 3 days in Normandy.  I've been talking about wanting to take Noah to Paris since he was about a week old, and I decided that someday was a terrible time to schedule a trip.  His summer is really scheduled, so Winter Break was the only time we could do it.  Myfanwe, who has no interest in going to France, has decided to stay home with Mitzi and make it a father/son trip.

My beloved friends, George and Maxine, gave their daughter, Little Bird, a baby brother in February.  I was honored to act as Sandek (Godfather) at Lil' Elvis' bris.  George and Maxine and Little Bird had moved last August to Hollywood so that Maxine could be a Physician to the Stars.  I took my first trip to Los Angeles for the bris and, while enchanted, I realized almost instantly that a) I could never be thin enough to live there, and b) LA would be a shitty place to live for someone who now has to stay out of the sun.  Aside from that, it was beautiful and I would love to visit again.  This is Me and Lil' Elvis:

I've done some wonderful knitting.  I knit the Damask Shawl as a gift for Maxine before she left.  I knit my first Orenberg Shawl after my hand surgery.  I knit a beautiful Ceres Shawl for myself for the trip to Paris.  (Homeless people in Paris have more style than I, so I am trying to kick it up a couple of notches.)  And I knit a couple of baby blankets. 

I'm tired.  This is all I can say.  I can't promise I will post a LOT, but I will NOT wait 18 months.  Peace, all.  Peace.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Permanent Fix to a Temporary Problem.

I had a whole mess of double-first cousins (Mother's brother married Father's sister) who grew up basically across the street from us.  My cousin Tim was a riot -- always the life of every party.  He always could be counted on to have a new joke or a funny story.  He was my mother's favorite, probably because he had such good comedic timing.  I admired him greatly.  When I was growing up I wanted to be like him.  He went on to be elected Mayor of my hometown.

This morning, in the midst of apparent financial problems, he committed suicide.

And there just aren't words.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I've Been Sad

It has been hard to post.

My beloved cat, Legolas, fell ill and died suddenly 10 days ago, in my arms.  She was a really great cat, and she loved me above all others.  I keep looking around for her.  I miss her tremendously.  It probably sounds silly to some people, but Lego was my constant, adoring companion for 8 years.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Rest assured, this isn't an Annie revival.

I have been very good.  I let them stick needles in my wrist.  I've kept the flipping brace on 24/7 (except in the bathroom and when washing dishes).  It doesn't HURT as much as before, but the pain has been replaced by a loud clicking, uncomfortable grinding, and I do not think I will put up a fuss when he says we should set the date for surgery.  Your wrist should not remind you of a rake being dragged across a feckin' blackboard.

I see the surgeon tomorrow.  I am nervous.  I am a big baby, I know.  I think an exacerbating factor is that any other time I've been sick or broken, I have used knitting to keep my head in the game and speed healing.  Without knitting to hold my attention I have more time to spend worrying.

I have a beautiful skein of Lorna's Laces Helen's Lace in Periwinkle.  Enough for a shawl.  I figure when this is all over I will have to knit something special with it.  It's good to have a treat.

My Aunt Nan died Saturday morning at around 1:30.  She was 95.  She was out playing cards at my cousin CarolAnn's house -- cards being one of her favorite pastimes -- and she suffered a fatal heart attach.  Anyone's passing is sad, but it is also sort of beautiful that she died doing something she enjoyed tremendously, surrounded by people she loved and who loved her back.  Not bad.

My Aunt Nan had only one arm -- she had lost the other as a small child following an accident.  A vivid childhood memory of mine is sassing her a little and saying to her, "Well, it isn't like you could spank me with only one arm!"  Faster than lightning she grabbed hold of me, swung me around, and, just inches from my face said in the least-joking voice I ever hear her use, "Oh, yeah?  Is that what you think?  Just try me, Buster.  I'll have you over my knee and give your hind end a whoopin' you'll never forget before you even know which end is up."  And I could tell that she meant what she said and I never messed with Aunt Nan.  Lesson learned.

Oh, did I mention that, in addition to cards, she also was an avid bowler?

I won't be going to the funeral -- I have too much riding on this appointment with the  surgeon tomorrow.  I feel bad about not going.  But I also know that if I don't get this done before December 31st, it is going to cost me an additional $2600.00.  And Aunt Nan, ever frugal, would probably sit up in her casket to call me seven kinds of stupid if I canceled the appointment.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

I want this.

Stephanie Pearl McPhee has one.  And all week long she has been rubbing it in my face.  I can hear her now.  "Oh, look at this book full of psycho-complicated lace made with painfully thin yarn!  Just the kind Aidan would love if he had this book!  But he doesn't!  Ha!"

OK.  Maybe she hasn't been saying EXACTLY that.  But it is something really close.  Don't you think?

So.  What else is new? 

I made a batch of chocolate and goat cheese truffles, flavored with just a splash of Irish Whiskey.  That was yum.  Oh, did I mention I made the goat cheese?  I'm not back with the goat until a weekend after next, but I expect to make a double batch of cheese -- this time I think I'll make some crottin and some Sainte Maure -- both are aged, mold-ripened cheeses which become sharper in flavor and more complex with age and culture.

I've only knit two rows of my shawl.  It just really hurts my wrist, even with the splint.  I miss knitting.  Oh, and kneading bread. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Woe is Me.

I spent a bit of time with a surgeon today.  

What I thought was lingering tendinitis turns out to be an ulnar variance resulting in a tear of the triangular fibrocartilage.  As comforting as that may sound, fibrocartilage does not have anything to do with fiber.  At least not in the positive sense.  It will, however, keep me from playing with fiber.  For a while.

Today they filled my joint full of a steroid to get rid of the inflammation.  This hurts like a futhermucker, which give me something to look forward to in 2 weeks when I go for another round.  (Have I ever mentioned that I don't like needles and that I am a big baby and that I hate needles?)  In 4 weeks I will go in and if it's clear, they will set me for surgery to repair the tear and to shorten the ulna by 4 mm.  Hopefully I will have it before the end of the year, because the New Year brings with it New Deductible, New Insurance, and a New HSA account which will have Zero dollars in it.  Oh, woe is me.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Planning Ahead

We have spent a wee bit of time  and more than a wee bit of money at a wonderful orchard near Shell Cottage.  Our first visit we picked apples for 15 minutes and were surprised to find that we had accumulated over 40 pounds of apples!  What further surprised us was how fast they disappeared, what with apple sauce, apple cake, and just plain eatin'!

I discovered a new apple on that trip, the Melrose.  As big as my head (and I have a BIG head) and a wonderful balance between sweet and tart, I found them addictive.

We had to go back in very short order.  And those apples went away pretty quickly.

That's when I realized, Hey!  I have a yard!  I can grow apples myself!  So I started researching and studying and trying to make decisions.  Yesterday I went back to the orchard -- the very last day of the season -- and asked a question about planting, and my friend the AppleMan asked me how much I was paying per tree.  I told him and he said that he could tack on my trees to his order and get them for me for one-third the cost!

So come spring we will be planting three trees - Melrose, HoneyCrisp, and Smokehouse apples!  And in 4 or 5 years we will be harvesting 12 bushels of apples a season!  (A bushel weighs approximately 42 pounds!)  We should be able to provide all of our friends and family with apples!  And apple cake.  And apple sauce.  And apple butter.  And mincemeat.  And...and...and!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I'm Loopy!

OK.  I'm not one to gush about Local Yarn ShopsI've had some bad experiences.  Especially with LYS owners.   I've always liked Loopy Yarns because their people were friendly, helpful, and they listen to what I want...and then get it!  (Really!  I said I preferred solid sock yarn, 4 weeks later there were 6 colors of solids.  I like the Cascade Alpaca Lace, but I've bought all I like of the colors they have...yup!  4 weeks later there are 12 new colors!  And they have all my favorite needles!)  But I have a new reason to like them.  And I thought I'd mention it.

I've been working a bunch of hours, and I was getting off work after an 11.5 hour day.  The point protector for the circulars I'm using for the Eiffel Tower shawl keep coming off, and I had noticed that they had come off and I had dropped a few stitches.  (Luckily, only a few and I was able to correct it in no time flat.)

I rang up Loopy to see if it happened to be the night they stay open late.  Vicki, the owner, answered the phone and said that they had closed an hour earlier, but if I hurried, she would wait for me to get there!  And she did!  She stayed late, for me.  And my whopping sixty-six cent sale.  Can you believe that?

You know, I could use a few balls of Alpaca Lace....


I just took a huge spanikopita out of the oven -- we are having our chavurah (group of friends) of people mostly from our old synagogue over for an informal Kabbalat (Welcoming) Shabbat service followed by a potluck.  We will have about 25 people -- lots of singing, laughing, eating, etc.

Anyway, I've made this spanikopita a lot, but this time is a little different.  Why?  Because I made the feta cheese myself.  From goat's milk.  From a goat I know.  And love.  And milked.

I've been making my own chevre and other soft cheeses, but this was the first "hard" cheese I have made.  Flavor-wise it is a great success, but I was disappointed in the texture.  When it went into the brine it was firm, but after 21 days it was really, really soft.  Almost marshmallow fluff.  So I rinsed it off and the most fluffy part rinsed off and what remained was perfect for the spanikopita.  Good and salty and goaty!  I can't wait!