Thursday, November 30, 2023

A Rather Anticlimactic Reveal

Random fall photo, why not?

For months, I have held a secret close to my (recently remodeled) chest, but I whiled away that time by devising with my writerly brain the best way to eventually tell you all about it. Bury the lead? Make fun of my age? Wonder at the passing of time? Or all of the above? 

Yeah, maybe that last one.

But then everything went sideways, and this blog was the last thing on my mind, as I was busy cooking food and taking it to the hospital for a couple of traumatized new parents. Plus? I had no energy to write, since it was taking all that energy to suppress any thought of how the heck could I comfort a grown child of mine through the unthinkable, if things continued going sideways.

But they didn't, the world (or my world, anyway) righted itself, thanks be to God: Theo and his wife (no blog name, STILL?) managed - after a harrowing 19 days - to bring home a (finally) bouncing baby girl, who has the sweetest voice and prettiest eyes and seems to harbor no ill will toward them for all the poking and prodding and other indignities she was subjected to during the first few weeks of her life.

I'm a grandmother, y'all. How the heck did that happen? 

No baby pics allowed here, so instead the blanket and hats I knit for her

Oddly enough, grandmother life feels largely like pre-grandmother life, so far, since the baby is too little to read Sandra Boynton books to or play at the park with; the most fun, instead, has been watching my own child turn into a dad who now walks around saying things like "I'm sure glad we have good insurance" and who spends all his spare time cooing at his baby and taking pictures to post on the family chat.

At some point the siblings are probably going to tell him to stop with the photos already, but not just yet - last month was too scary, so Theo gets a pass for now. FOR NOW.

A neighbor brought Larry and I a gift to celebrate our new status:

Subtle, right?

Whenever I see those mugs, I think, "What are those doing here in my house?" and then I remember. This whole thing is going to take some getting used to, folks...

And...Thanksgiving happened! Do I have photos of the entire family (minus Rachel, who went on a super-excellent girls weekend instead) gathered for the holiday? I DO NOT. Instead, mostly all I have are pictures of Brussels sprouts and pies and I think cranberry bread, because you know the first thing my grown grandchildren will say to their parents will be "Gosh, I hope we have pictures of baked goods to go in this family album I'm putting together for posterity." 

And yes, my precious (and mostly theoretical) descendants, you will - a camera roll full, it seems:

Good ol' Uncle Cranberry Bread, showed up for every Thanksgiving

Insides were disappointingly mushy, total fail, no one wants applesauce pie

This is actually an action shot, as I was cooking them at the time

And that was our Thanksgiving, with most of the kids arriving last minute (which made it more exciting but left the cooking primarily to me) and staying briefly, since they have their own lives and their own pets to get back to and all that. I took Thanksgiving Day off and let everyone else finish the cooking, so the arrangement really wasn't that bad, actually. But I've already planned takeout and cookies for Christmas, that's it, no muss no fuss. I'M DONE.

Thursday, October 05, 2023

Ain't No Sunshine When I'm Gone

 Nothing more terrifying than a blank page, people, which may be why I missed a September update. Or maybe it's because nothing happened here except more of the same, so why bother? Or maybe I just misplaced my sense of humor, for no particular reason. I mean, I misplace my phone and my glasses constantly, so it would make sense I could lose other things, too.

Also managed to lose one of the handknit mitts from this set 😢

Whatever, here's what's been going on, in no particular order:

Larry and I made our annual trek up to Acadia National Park in September. We dragooned Anna and Brian (self-sufficient adults who live in a different city, so obviously they were just humoring us) into going with us, promising beautiful views and magnificent sunsets and all that.

Or...maybe not

Please understand, Larry and I have been taking various members of the family up to Acadia for YEARS now, camping, staying in rental cottages, whatever, and it has ALWAYS been pretty much picture perfect weather, no matter when we go: August, September, October, maybe a rainy day here or there, but nothing to interfere with hiking and kayaking and biking.

Not that either of us was getting on a bike this year, but still...

This year, though, was true to form for 2023, I guess, as in not quite what we expected. Yup, it was cloudy and rainy almost the whole time we were up there. The rain was intermittent but frequent enough that anywhere we would want to climb to get to a view stayed wet and slippery (it's mostly granite there). 

Wait, did I say "view"? There was no view, it was all gray sky and gray water, blending into each other in a very monochromatic way. We slogged through one wet hike near the beginning of the week and tried to ooh and aah over the misty non-vistas, but our hearts weren't really in it. 

Yes, the rocks are pretty, but still...

Don't get me wrong, there was a lot to appreciate, but the mist and the drizzle just did not stop. I mean, you see one stand of pine trees shrouded in fog, you've seen them all, I guess.

Yeah, okay, this is pretty, too, I know

Midweek, in desperation, we took a shuttle bus to the top of Cadillac Mountain, thinking we could see something even if we didn't want to risk a hike on the still-wet rocks. But the only something(s) we saw were shadowy figures wandering around the ridge in the mist, looking for all the world like ghost hikers, haunting the foggy mountaintops and searching in vain for a view. 

Hike of the Damned, amirite?

Reader, we joined them. We marched around in the misty drizzle, pretending we were having fun until it started pouring rain again and we had to share the shuttle back down the mountain with 10 very soggy and sweaty people who had managed to hike up before the downpour. Zero stars, do not recommend.

And then? Friday dawned, heartbreakingly gorgeous, bright sun and cool air and bright blue water everywhere you looked, true Acadia weather:


But we couldn't take advantage of it, because we had to leave a day early to avoid 

....*checks notes*...


Yes, apparently a hurricane was heading straight for the distinctly nontropical little peninsula we were vacationing on, so that was that. Home we went.

And the above is probably why I couldn't write in September, I knew I would just whine about our vacation plans gone awry, which sounds so utterly spoiled, I know. Also, this is why I never want to spend money to fly all the way to Europe (which, judging from Facebook and Instagram, absolutely everyone else in the world has done in the past 6 months): what if the weather is bad, or I can't get over jetlag, or I JUST DON'T LIKE IT? 

Also, I want to go see interesting places, but I also want to sleep in my own bed at the same time. This attitude presents a major obstacle to travel, I know. I'm working on it.

Earlier, in August, we held a birthday party for Rachel (Remember? Stuffed-animal decapitating Rachel?), who was turning 21 and does not seem to have retained any of her youthful terrorist tendencies. She likes dinosaurs, so we celebrated in an appropriate manner:

Filled with air, not candy - I never did like the pinata scene

Look, we tried, okay?

And at some other point in August, I gained an entire closet, because Larry loaded up the van with all of Brian's Legos that we stored for him all through college and drove them up to Philadelphia, where he somewhat unceremoniously deposited the zillions of plastic bricks in Brian's new apartment, which is very modernist in an industrial sort of way (it's in a refurbished munitions factory) and looks for all the world like he's living in a Chipotle.

When I say  "entire closet," I am not exaggerating

I managed to stick the outdoor folding chairs and some bike equipment in my newly acquired storage space before Larry filled the rest with things like kayak and canoe paddles. I didn't really want to share, but I like staying married, and hey, at least they're not lying around my guest room or laundry room.

Also in August, Susie came home from her Americorps adventure (terrific FREE experience, highly recommend) and promptly moved into the basement guest room, so she could at least pretend she wasn't living with us this year while she does community college courses and plans her next steps. This worked out great for me, since she took all the junk Larry had been keeping in the guest room closet and unceremoniously dumped it onto the basement family room floor for him to deal with, something I never could have gotten away with (see above re staying married).

Susie also went back part time to Trader Joe's, so yay, we get to use her 20% discount once more. Happy days are here again, I hum softly to myself as I look upon our bounty of seasonal butternut squash mac-and-cheese and pumpkin biscotti. Combined with my 40% Container Store discount, we are living large, people, LIVING LARGE.

And, yay, I've gotten all the way through this post without whining about the boobapalooza I've been experiencing this summer! I feel almost normal, and I can twist lids off jars and pull out a heavily loaded dishwasher rack and do all the other things I never knew I needed my pectoral muscles for. No date set yet for removing the expanders and putting the implants in, but I've reconciled myself to the fact that, what with 2023 continuing to be 2023, the surgery is probably going to be messing up one major holiday or another.

Listen to me, being all zen about things! Maybe the surgeries this year have given me a fresh outlook on life, a new appreciation of the randomness of it all, a sense of carpe diem, as it were.

Or maybe I'm just prevaricating and am not zen about this at all

Yeah, that's it, that's definitely it.

Wednesday, August 09, 2023

Not-So-Hot Girl Summer

 Hi! It's August! Time flies when all you're doing is sitting around in your nice pajamas and messing with yarn.

A commenter on the last post wanted to know the ONE NEAT TRICK to make your tomato plants not look spindly and pathetic. What I learned from somewhere on the internet this past spring is that when you transplant your seedlings (or, in my case, the plants I bought from the farmers market), you dig a shallow, foot-long trench and then lay the first 10-12 inches of your tomato plant right in it and cover it with dirt. 

That's right, just bury that stem, even if you are covering up some of the bottom leaves. Apparently, the entire length of the buried stem is capable of growing roots, so the plant establishes a much better root system that can take in more nutrients and water.


That's probably the most (the only?) useful thing anyone will have learned from reading my 16 (SIXTEEN) years' worth of blogging. YOU'RE WELCOME.

My recovery is progressing along in fits and starts, and yay I no longer have tubes coming out of my body, because those were really freaking me out. I'm doing my fun little post-mastectomy exercise routines I found on YouTube and walking to the store and running up the stairs so I can pretend I'm getting some aerobic exercise. Olympics, here I come!

I've also been pulling out all my yarn and strewing it everywhere, in an attempt to figure out what to make with it. The yarn situation could explain why I haven't blogged in 3 weeks, since I hate sitting at a messy desk and what do you know?

Yarn-covered desk

MORE yarn on desk

It's interfering with my muse, is what it is.

But I am working on socks (because, as always, WINTER IS COMING) and also my latest fave: the Stephen West Botanic Shawl. Now, Stephen West usually designs super-complicated, enormous patterns that take a lot of effort and brain power, so I have never knit anything of his, even though he is a very popular designer with the knitting community. 

I'm a lazy knitter, is what I'm saying.

But this particular pattern happens to be simple, so I ponied up the money and bought the pattern and now I can carelessly say things like "Oh, I'm just working on my Stephen West shawl" like all the cool knitters do.

I'm a Stephen West knitter now

Let's see, what else have I been doing?

I've canned some peach jam

I've eaten my weight in these things, OMG, SO GOOD

I've also managed to cement my new 60-is-the-new-80 status by acquiring a handy little shopping cart to pull to the stores with me, since it's been too hard to tote a full bag of groceries over my shoulder lately:

Isn't it cunning? I LOVE IT

So really, that's all I've got for you: gardening, knitting, canning, pulling my little cart to the grocery store. It's been my Old Lady Summer, and I must say, I am ROCKING that vibe. But I'm returning to work this week, so I guess this weird little time-travel interlude of the past few months will have to come to an end.

I mean, unless I'm stuck here. Which, truth to tell, certainly wouldn't be the worst of all possible worlds... 

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

60 Is The New 80

Still staying alive and all that, but also staying away from the computer the last 3 weeks because all I would have written would have been a whinefest of boredom and lack of sleep and weird pain and steeling myself to look in the mirror in the morning when I take my shower.

Fun, right?

I also went through a weird phase where I stopped knitting and took up crochet, but I think that's all behind me now. I blame the anesthesia.

I cannot lie, I did this

Also? This. I know, it's alarming

Luckily, a friend thought to give me a very lovely and presentable set of pajamas right before this surgery, so I could lounge around and recuperate without feeling like total trash. People, this was the SMARTEST GIFT EVER, considering I really have to work to get myself showered by noon, and I feel way better than if I were sitting around in a ratty old shirt and some yoga pants. Seriously, GIVE PEOPLE NICE PAJAMAS.

Happily, now I'm at the point where - for a few hours at a time, anyway - I feel almost normal (or will, once the doctor finally okays taking the last two drainage tubes out of my body, ew, yuck), and I have put away the crochet hooks and gone back to knitting socks and baby blankets, as the good Lord intended. I even walked all the way to the store this morning (for more Tylenol, but still...), and I might attempt to cook dinner tonight, so Larry and I don't have to dip into the strategic lasagna reserve we now have in the freezer.

So many lasagnas, and we were grateful for ALL of them

My birthday (60!) came and went, and I'll admit it didn't feel as though I was at my finest, even while wearing my fancy PJs. Still, people dropped off cards and presents, and they also dropped off get well cards and presents, until it got to the point where I felt a tad miffed if there was a day when no one stopped by with a wee little giftie or some alluring baked good. Spoiled, I am, by this point...

Larry found the perfect birthday card, considering the circumstances

My knitter friends brought yarn, of course

And handmade knitting totes

And David came to visit for a week and assist with meals and help move Rachel into her new apartment, since Larry was still on the injured list. He seemed a bit disconcerted by how decrepit we both were but managed not to talk about assisted living homes or senior communities while he was here. No idea what he texted on the sibling chat, though...

Luckily, we got the container garden on our back deck up and running the weekend before Larry threw himself off his bike, so we've got basil and tomatoes and parsley and one very overachieving mint plant. We were a little puzzled as to why the basil plants at the top of our tower garden seemed a tad stunted, until one morning we caught a squirrel sitting happily in the watering trough up top and nibbling away at the leaves. 

Squirrel breakfast buffet, apparently

I planted the tomatoes a new way this year that has made them look like other people's tomato plants and not like the spindly specimens I usually end up with. They are producing like crazy, and I go out on the deck every day in my fancy pajamas and harvest some more. Because I'm an old lady now and can be as eccentric a gardener as I like, I suppose...

These are quite yum

Last Saturday, Larry and I, determined to try to have some fun this summer, staggered out to the movies to see Indiana Jones. Now, I haven't been to the movie theater since March of 2020, and back then I just went to our local one that I could walk to, which was nothing fancy. So Larry and I were taken aback to see that there were...waiters?...who would come take food orders and such at our seats. And there were cards you could stick in the rail of the table in front of you if you wanted something or just wanted to rat out the loud talker in the row behind you (which, come on, maybe just tell him to shut up yourself? What's wrong with people?).

It was a bit disorienting, is what I'm saying. And then the actors we actually knew in the film looked SO OLD. Which sort of corroborated how old we've been feeling lately, so it was not reassuring.

Good movie, though, and then Larry and I had dinner outside at Big Buns, where he always orders a regular size burger and a beer and I get the kids' meal and we split my fries, and who's getting old, NOT US

Free drink with the kids' meal!

That's pretty much the most exciting day we've had lately. And then we went home and napped.

And, yay, the insurance company is paying to repair the car Rachel wrecked (there was a good chance they were just going to declare it totaled), and then Rachel had the temerity to suggest that - since now it's been in an accident - maybe we should lower our formerly agreed-upon price for selling it to her.

Kids say the darnedest things, you know?

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Stayin' Alive

Still here! The boobectomy was last Thursday, and I finally have enough energy to sit down at the computer. Up until now, any energy I had was directed at taking meds, deciding on where to nap, and thanking people for bringing food.

I get weepy with gratitude whenever someone shows up at our door with yet another edible treat. I think anesthesia makes me maudlin. Or maybe it's the meds...


Also, I keep having weird dreams about what my chest might look like now, because there is no flippin' way I am actually peeking under these bandages until I have to. The 4 (FOUR!) drainage tubes are bad enough for a squeamish person like myself to deal with at this point. Luckily Larry -- one-armed Larry -- is in charge of emptying them and writing down how many cc's of liquid are in each one, and if we were still homeschooling, this would totally be science lab for the kids.

Oh, and just to make sure that things were chaotic enough last week, Rachel managed to have a pretty serious fender bender 2 days before the surgery. With our car. Luckily she's all right, but Tuesday was pretty stressful, what with filing insurance claims, finding where the car was towed to, etc. 

Maybe a little more than a fender bender

But hey, Rachel wasn't hurt and (Silver Lining Alert!) I didn't have as much time available to fret about the upcoming surgery. I said this to a friend, who promptly dubbed me "Pollyanna in Hell." She's not wrong.

And I am suddenly out of energy to sit up, so I am going to take myself to one of our napping couches and have yet another wee rest, delicate flower that I am...