The Scleroderma Chronicles: And Do You Exercise Regularly?

It has been an eventful week in big and small ways. I had been mostly in bed for most of a week as I struggled my way through two snowstorms with significant air pressure drops. Ugh. I had chest pain, coughing, heart palpitations, and more sleep than I want to admit to. Towards the middle of the week, I went off my immunosuppressant drug and the flare of my disease(s) arrived over the next two days. Ugh. So predictable, but still discouraging. I dragged myself together on Monday, double masked, and made it to the pharmacy where I had an appointment for a Covid-19 booster that afternoon.

Mateo: Do I need a booster too? Here’s my arm…

I have this really wacky sense of humor. The entire experience just kind of cracked me up. You see, I got the appointment at my local grocery store’s pharmacy. Here are some of the highlights:

  • I have had so many shots at this point that they had to use the back of my vaccine card. At this rate I will need an accordion-like pullout for the vaccine information in a few months.
    • Why so many shots? I’m immunosuppressed. I went off my drugs this time to give my immune system a better chance of responding to the vaccine.
  • The staging area for the shot was at the Fritos display across from the pharmacy. Seriously, the pharmacist said, “Go stand with the Fritos and wait your turn.”
  • The shot was easy, peasy. I think that the syringe was spring loaded it was so fast. “Go walk around the store for 10 minutes before you leave,” I was told.
  • So I waved goodbye to the Fritos and walked around the store. Mostly I just looked at the empty aisles for the 10 minutes feeling sorry for myself. No milk. No Snapple. No cat food. No guacamole. NO GUACAMOLE!!!! Oh, yeah. Genius me scheduled the booster shot during a grocery store strike by the competing chain’s employees and this store was basically stripped of essentials by the descending horde of shoppers who didn’t want to cross the picket line. As they shouldn’t. But they could have left me a little guacamole, don’t you think?
I was able to get the cats a Boston fern to replace the palm that was chomped to death by… I wonder who could have done that? Hmmm…

I also got a Starbucks. Not the worst trip out of the house. I ended up with a sore arm and was so exhausted that I slept for 12 hours.

Today, 48 hours after the booster shot, I feel great!! The flare is gone. I haven’t felt this good in weeks. This happened to me the last time I got a Covid booster. I think that it must be the increase in antibodies or something; I’m so immunosuppressed that my gamma globulins are way too low (a medical condition that my doctors are just ignoring because I do have enough white blood cells). Maybe the boost in antibodies following the shot actually makes me feel better somehow. Maybe my white cell count goes up. It’s a mystery. I’ll take the win!

And in that winning mood I went to see my cardiologist for the first time since my trip to the cath lab last fall. I was a little short of breath but was walking okay when I got to the office. I received an EKG test and the nurse checked me in:

Nurse: “And do you exercise regularly?” (in a judgmental tone of voice…)

Me: “Oh, please. Let’s not even pretend that I am able to exercise!”

Nurse: “Oh. I’m so sorry that I asked you that…” We both started laughing, but I meant it! I am so over feeling defensive about being unable to exercise. In fact, trying to exercise with my condition was damaging my heart.

I also think that I had my snark on under my mask.

Then the doctor came in!

My cardiologist is freaking awesome. He asked lots of questions about how I was doing. (Face now mostly not blue. Yay! Some panting and chest pain, but so much better. I went up a couple of flights of stairs with no problem.) We discussed the fact that I don’t fit the usual diagnostic model for pulmonary hypertension but based on physiological changes consistent with PH and my dramatic response to treatment with a PH drug, he made the call and entered the diagnosis. The matter is now settled until new data comes along.

Exercise-induced pulmonary hypertension. As in, you look perfectly normal when you are on the table getting your lung/heart tests, but the minute you exercise all hell breaks loose in the blood vessels of your lungs. Fabulous. There is a really invasive testing protocol that I could be subjected to, but there is enough evidence now to establish the diagnosis without it. The diagnosis is now in my medical record. At last.

It has been a long time coming!!

It has been almost exactly 5 years since the BLZ began her journey to find help and answers. This has been really, really hard, but I made it.

We discussed the pros/cons of more testing. We talked about the risks and benefits of adding a second drug to the one I’m already on. We talked about who will take over management of my PH (he will) and how he will integrate with my rheumatologist. We talked about how important it is to be comfortable with “out of the box” thinking when dealing with a patient who is basically at the far end of the bell curve… in other words, a zebra. Oh, I like this guy!!

I agreed to start the additional medication which will be added to the one that I’m already taking. There will be more side effects as this second drug kicks in and I will be getting several phone calls to check on me as I start it. The plan is to try to slow down my progression before I develop full blown PH.

Next up: more testing to hunt for that dang hole in my heart. It’s like a snipe hunt, but so much less fun. As in, heart surgery anyone?

Hannah: Don’t worry mom: you’re got this!

Hannah and the CoalBear: Mateo does Caturday.

Hi. I’m Mateo (AKA the CoalBear).

I’m almost 10 months old now. What do you think of my ruff?

The Mother of Cats isn’t feeling well today so I am hanging around with her on her bed. I’m helping her write on her computer right now! I’m such a good boy!

I’ve been bringing toys onto the bed so she can watch me play with them.
I chewed on the palm plant downstairs to keep up my energy.
I then helped the Mother of Cats with her knitting. I’m such a great helper!!
I groomed my sister so she would let me sleep on the cat tree with her.
I’m the best CoalBear ever!!

Happy Caturday everyone!!

May you all have an excellent day!

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

I’ve gone off my immunosuppressant drug so that I can get my Covid booster on Monday. Sigh. There was a big pressure change yesterday with a cold front that triggered some symptoms along with the predictable flare of my disease that has me back in bed for the weekend.

I’ve been in lockdown for two years and I desperately want the booster because my next round of medical appointments starts in another week. I also want to start knitting with my new-found groups, too. I want some of my life back!!

Please think of me and the other people in a situation like my own (high risk, immunosuppressed or immunocompromised, and struggling with chronic conditions that complicates their lives on the best of days) when you are out in public.

And wear your mask!

ps: I threw out the palm last night. It wasn’t a match for the CoalBear and I was afraid it would make him sick. Next up: a Boston fern.

The BioGeek Memoirs: Cottontail Rabbit

My neighborhood is just awash with cottontail rabbits. They are just dang cute and hang around houses and gardens where they snack with absolutely no remorse on lawns, gardens and weeds alike. Okay, they can be pests, too. I used to live on a street where you had to stop the car, get out, and chase the bunnies out of the street before you could drive through. It isn’t that these bunnies have a death wish; they sense danger in the movement of the car, freeze, and do their best to look like rocks. That’s the life of a bunny: everyone wants to eat you for lunch. Your best bet is to hope to look like a rock.

Cottontail rabbits at the edge of my driveway.

Where I live there are three distinct species of cottontail rabbits: the mountain cottontail, the desert cottontail, and the eastern cottontail. Since I live on the plains of my state (Colorado) and not in the mountain or desert portions, I’m thinking that the bunnies that I know and love are the eastern cottontail. These little guys (about 2 pounds) hang out in shrubs and under decks living their best little bunny lives while raising youngsters all summer long. Yep. Things can certainly get out of hand quickly as they can have more than one litter a year.

I had a beloved cat who caught an even dozen baby bunnies in one year. We don’t talk about that in my house. We still had to chase bunnies out of the street when we wanted to drive to the grocery store.

Does this look like the face of a bunny murderer?

I became enamored with cottontail rabbits when I was working on my master’s degree as a biology teacher. I had just received a digital camera as a gift and was walking the circuit around a local pond taking pictures for a project that I was working on. I got shots of plants, birds, a muskrat swimming, an extremely cute prairie dog, and this cottontail rabbit.

Cottontail eating alfalfa.

I loved this shot of the rabbit. It quickly became a focal point of the master’s project for my degree program.

Here’s the deal: you have to have some animal (or plant) to use to anchor your biology program. All the major biology books these days carry with them a plethora of support materials (paper and online) and in the field we all refer to individual programs by the animal/plant featured on the books. When I was in the classroom the programs were referred to as the “owl”, “elephant” or “killer whale” books.  It looks like the current editions of the books I taught from are now “honeybee” and “lotus” books. Cool, huh. Anyway, I created as my master’s project an online platform to anchor my biology class. Students (and parents) could see what we were covering each week, get copies of all the worksheets, pick up their make-up work from me online, and get explanations/links to all of the standards and grading rubrics used in the course. I even had some videos and pdf documents of the lecture notes when possible. I handed out little business cards with the bunny’s photo on it to parents at teachers’ conferences. I won some grants to expand the website and eventually created online-only biology courses for my district.

Everything I did featured that wild bunny. I branded the whole thing Wild Bunny Biology. That wild bunny took me to a national conference where I presented my online website and shared tips/info/strategies on how other teachers could make their own. Eventually I began to sell some of my work products online to other biology teachers. The name of my little biology shop was called, of course, Wild Bunny Biology. Oh, yeah. I also got that master’s degree.

Dang, that cottontail rabbit was good to me!!

Today I am retired and those wild bunny teaching moments are long gone, but the wild bunnies are with me still. They cavort in the shrubs and lawn beside my favorite (outdoor) restaurant. They hang out in the landscaping of the Kaiser clinic where I go to appointments with my doctors. They are all over my neighborhood and this summer a baby bunny grew up, all alone, in my back yard where it provided daily entertainment for Hannah and the CoalBear.

Bunny watching!

And every evening it was bunny o’clock.

I never pull the dandelions because they are good for bees and bunnies! See my bunny munching on the dandelion and ignoring the rose bush?!

My summer bunny is gone now. It met up with another rabbit late in the summer and hit the road for better parts. I’m kind of hoping that it will return or drop off some offspring next summer, but only time will tell.

It’s always bunny o’clock in my yard. 🙂

Goodbye 2021: Year’s End

This is the last update for the year 2021. You know, 2020 was a pretty bad year for both me and the world, but 2021 just plain outdid itself. THIS HAS BEEN A HORRIBLE YEAR!!!! Seriously, I have been reflecting on all the horribleness of the year, and it is multilayered in the just plain awfulness of it. Here is some of the angst, anger, and sadness in a nutshell.

If you aren’t wearing a mask these days, shame on you!! I have been in lockdown for two stinking years (!) and I am over all your anti-public health nonsense.

If you are one of the doctors who told me that there wasn’t anything that you could do for me (and to not come back), or that I had sleep apnea, or that I needed to exercise more, or that my tests showed that I was fine and you would just continue to monitor my symptoms… shame on you!!! I finally received credible diagnoses this fall (from new doctors) that explained my symptoms. You know, the ones that you ignored or dismissed all those times I came to get help… It is good to get diagnosed, but in this case it is also a mixed blessing as my condition cannot be reversed and management is going to be difficult. Shame. On. You!!!

If you are one of the people who believe that the election in the US was stolen and that the answer is to impede the ability of American citizens to vote, or to create a provision that allows the legislatures of some states to just overturn the results of elections, or to resort to violence… shame on you!!!!

Did you notice that the number of exclamation marks kept growing? That’s how much shame is attached to those targets. There, I got that off my chest and let’s hope that things go a little better in the coming year.

True to its rotten black heart 2021 went out in absolutely dreadful and ironic fashion. First the dreadful.

We are in an extreme drought where I live and everything is brown. The grass, the fields, the bushes and even some of the evergreen trees are now brown.

Last Thursday, December 30th, we had a high wind event in my state of Colorado as a major weather front pushed its way towards us over the Rocky Mountains. In the area around Boulder, Colorado the gusts were extreme (one was clocked at 115 mph) and the sustained winds through the day were around 75 mph. Several fires started and swept through dried fields and brush towards housing developments and towns with horrifying speed. There was nothing that could be done as subdivisions, stores, and hospitals were evacuated; the fire crews set up base in the parking lot of a mall where they could best defend themselves while waiting for a break in the wind. No joy there throughout the afternoon and early evening. There were heartbreaking scenes of burning homes by others covered in Christmas lights. People parked along the major freeway hoping to see if their home was still standing. The historic downtown area of a town I have frequented in the past was lost.

At around 3pm I realized that the worst fire was near my son’s home in northern Westminster. As the evacuation zone continued to grow to within a mile of him we started to make plans to get him and his pets out safely. It was a nightmare as firetruck after firetruck rushed north towards the fire line in the night past his windows. By midnight the winds had died down, the fire stopped its spread to the south, and my son was safe. Daylight the next day showed that the damage was just horrific. Almost 1,000 homes have been lost, thousands are displaced, and the hunt for the missing is ongoing. There is information about all of this here.

Then the storm arrived on New Year’s Eve.

In a cruel twist of irony, after failing to deliver any real snow all fall and early winter, the winter storm arrived New Year’s Eve with snow, icy roads, and bitter cold. Like, we started the day at 3 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday. Serious, serious cold after weeks of warm sunny weather. All those poor people who escaped with only the clothes on their backs in the wind/fire event now have to deal with this. Bad 2021, bad!!

And that, thankfully, was the end of the year.

I also finished my Kevat sweater in the final days of the year.

It is wet and blocking in this photo, but not finished. See the loose ends of yarn?

I did finish the sweater with the ribbing and I-cord to make nice open and clean edges. I decided to block and try on the sweater again before knitting on a little lace edging onto the bottom; if the length is exactly right there won’t be any lace added. I did do a little math, however, and I do have exactly the right number of stitches to do the lace. It’s a sign, right?

Mateo: Happy New Year

Hannah and Mateo (AKA the Coalbear) and I all wish you all a Happy New Year. May things take a turn for the better with the coming weeks and months.

And 2022, you had better behave yourself or I’ll be sending you out on a walk of shame, too. I do have to warn you, however, that I am a little concerned with how you are starting out…

Because this year we are going to learn how to cope with a million new Covid cases a day in the US, and I am going to deal with this whole broken heart thing that I have going on, and we are going to f*cking save democracy. Shape up quick 2022, because this is the tough time, and you had better show some backbone, because I expect you to fight like you really mean it for the things that are really important.

The Saturday Update: Week 51, 2021

Whew. I made it through the holidays okay and now I am on the downslide to the end of the year. The world is still brown out front; there was a tumbleweed on my front doorstep this morning (blown in from who-knows-where overnight), and the squirrels continue to run like crazed maniacs through the trees, over the roof, and through the leaves in the back yard. I never rake the leaves in the back as they are good mulch for the lawn over the winter… who knew that they also served as squirrel entertainment? The snapdragons are still blooming out front! It sure doesn’t seem like winter, but the days are short now and the Canada geese are here in their winter thousands with noisy flocks crossing the sky over my house late each afternoon, winging their way through the growing dusk towards the evening star and the lakes to the southwest.

Knitting

There was a whole lot of community knitting going on this year, and very little Christmas knitting. I did make several of these excessively cute coffee cup cozies that are designed to snazz up your morning Starbucks drink. I gifted them with a Starbucks card and a Snow Man cookie to some family and friends this year. Fast, easy, simple, and I hope they are the perfect thing on an outing this winter. I’m keeping my cozy in the car for my trips through the drive thru!

Pretty darn cute, right?

I also paused the community kitting for a couple of weeks to work on my new Kevat sweater (Caitlin Hunter) which is going to be a great addition to my winter wardrobe because… winter is awfully warm this year.

It is going to fit!!

I am pretty sure that I mentioned before that I am absolutely reckless with my swatches before I cast on sweaters. Like… what swatch? It isn’t like I haven’t knit this particular yarn on these size needles before, right? Still, there is that moment of anxiety when I take the stitches off the needles and try on the WIP to check for fit and length. Yay! Huge sigh of relief! I’m going to add a few more inches to the body and then I will make decisions about the bottom ribbing. I am so very happy with the knitted texture of the body since I used another stitch instead of the lace pattern in the sweater design. This is a win!!

Garden

Since it is the end of the year I’ve been kind of thinking over how things have been going. You know, kind of like that “How it started; How it’s going.” meme that seems to be popping up everywhere. Let me present to you now my jade plants.

That’s three years of growth on those jade plants and I do hope that someday they will bloom for me. Look at how well cared for they are!! Everything a jade needs plus the attention of cats.

Cats

It’s been a big year for the two cats. Little 3 months old Mateo (AKA the CoalBear) arrived in June to a desperately in-need-of-a-playmate Hannah.

Watching these two over the last 7 months has been a riot. At times I think it was a little much for Hannah (Mateo would not leave her tail alone!) but now, at the end of the year, they have finally settled down and are sleeping together: best buds and playmates.

That’s it. Have a great week everyone!

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

Hannah and the Coalbear: Merry Christmas to all and to all a good mouse.

Hi. I’m Hannah.

Mom has gone off for the weekend and left me and the CoalBear home alone with the Christmas tree.

We actually are having a good time. The squirrels outside played for hours and hours on the back deck and in the leaves in the yard where my kitten and I could watch them. Best fun ever!! Now it is evening and the squirrels have all gone to bed for the night, but CoalBear and I are just getting started.

CoalBear is planning an assault on the Chistmas tree…
The reindeer out front is outshining himself…
and I’ve put on my party hat for the big night!

We are hoping to find some nice mice under the Christmas tree to play with, and if not a mouse, then certainly a bug or two. We hope that you all have Christmas’ that are as excellent as ours.

And remember to be loving and kind to all you meet this holiday season.

A good friend is the best present anyone can have.

Merry Mousemas, everyone!!

>^..^<

Hannah

The Saturday Update: Weeks 49 and 50, 2021

December. I can hardly believe that we are at the tail end of the year already. The weather has been engaging in sneaky trickery for the last two weeks; crisp blue days with wind, wind, wind and almost no moisture. This week was so crazy that the weather warnings for the state were for hurricane force winds, fire, snow, avalanches, and good lord, who is in charge here? We have had serious weather fronts passing through leaving damage in their wake and very little moisture on my side of the mountains.

We finally got some measurable snow which brought an end to the long streak without snow in our part of the country.

The snow that arrived a week ago was only a flash in the pan: by noon it was gone and there hasn’t been anything since. Looks like we are in for a brownish holiday season. I am grateful, however, that we have been spared the horrible tornados, heartbreaking damage and loss of life brought by these systems in other parts of the nation.

Inside the house, however, it is starting to look like Christmas!!

Last year I put up very few decorations at Christmas time because… kitten. This year I have decided to surrender to foolishness and put up most of the decorations in a careful, kitten-proofed manner. I only put plastic ornaments on the tree. The tree, usually on a little table to give it height, is on the floor. Banners and wreaths that go on the walls are far from kitten claws. The usual poinsettia and paperwhite narcissus are nowhere in sight. Wrapped presents? Don’t make me laugh… kittens love paper.

They are having a great time with the stuff that is out!

Knitting

There has been some holiday knitting going on, so it has to remain secret until after gifts are opened on the big day. I have been making a few more hats for the patients at Kaiser infusion centers in my area, but who wants to look at those guys again? Let me please show off all of the progress that has been going on with my Kevat sweater (designed by Caitlin Hunter) over the last two weeks.

Ta-daa! Isn’t it looking good?!

They are hard to see, but there are bands of lace between and below the Fair Isle colorwork on the yoke of the sweater. That’s what’s going on between the ridges of garter stitch on the yoke… it is kind of cool and I like it. Once the stitches for the arms were separated the entire body of the sweater was designed to be knit in lace. I decided that I wanted a little sturdier and warmer sweater and knit a purl dot pattern that I like from previously knit Caitlin Hunter design (Misurina) and I’m pretty happy with the slight texture it brings to the body of the sweater and how it helps break up the color in the variegated yarn. Win, total win!!

Okay, now for the ugly parts of this sweater story. I made a mistake following the charts for the lace and colorwork parts of the yoke and ended up with almost 50 TOO MANY STITCHES on the needle. This is what happens when you are too stubborn to move the stitches onto a longer needle when things get kind of cramped (it was only a few rounds before the sleeves were separated from the body of the sweater) and you are struggling with a small chart (which I could have easily enlarged…) and it is late at night. I had to put the sweater into time out for the entire weekend and then moved stitches to a longer needle to facilitate tinking back almost 6 rounds of work. I also had to recover some dropped stitches… did I mention that I had already separated the sleeves from the body when the ugly reality of my stitch count hit me…

Doesn’t it all look great now?!

This sweater is supposed to be cropped. I need to put the stitches onto a holder soon so I can try it on for fit and to decide how much longer to knit the body. Did I mention that I never do a swatch? Reckless is my middle name… Anyway, that moment when I try on the sweater is a huge milestone for me. 🙂

Should I add a bit of lace to the bottom of the sweater after the ribbing? I’m thinking of doing the ribbing, binding off in I-cord, and then picking up the stitches to knit the lace bottom to mirror the lace in the yoke.

Garden

It is a boring time in the garden. I hate to even talk about it. The snapdragons and some of the other bedding plants are still hanging on in the front gardens where they are peeking out in the gaps between the dried leaves that I heaped on them to bed them down for winter. This is kind of crazy. I don’t know if I should water them or encourage them to go to sleep by heaping on more leaves and mulch.

Inside the house the indoor garden is also a little boring. My jade plants are… huge, green and boring. They are still caged in with chicken wire to protect them from the kittens (and vice versa) and so far the kittens are leaving them alone. The orchids are also green and kind of boring. The plants are all sporting new roots and three of my 5 plants from last year are putting out shoots to bloom. That’s pretty good, but still a little boring as I am weeks and months away from blooms.

In the kitchen my hanging bougainvillea is blooming again and covered in new growth.

I wasn’t sure if the bougainvillea would survive over the winter in the house but it is doing much better than I expected. Yay!

Books

Yep. I’m reading another science fiction book that matches my knitting. Space opera is just what a frustrated knitter needs while recovering from a knitting disaster.

That’s it. Have a great week everyone!

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

May you all have a wonderful holiday season.

The Saturday Update: Weeks 47 and 48, 2021

Hello December. How nice of you to bring us clear blue skies, warm sunny days, and absolutely no freaking moisture of any kind. The leaves are all gone now, the grass has turned a sad dormant brown for the winter, but all of the snapdragons are still blooming away in the unseasonable warmth and I’m still giving them water to keep them going. There is some talk of maybe getting some snow on the 10th… The squirrels rocket along my back fence every afternoon and dash over the roof to get to the olive tree in my neighbor’s front yard; Hannah rockets through the house as she tracks their movements and watches them through the windows. The great horned owl caught one of the wild bunnies last week and now there is only one sad little bunny to be seen in the evenings. I hope so much that it wasn’t my little backyard bunny of the summer that was caught, but I’ll never know for sure.

On another note, we are getting ready for Christmas!

Hannah was tremendous help as I tried to get the wooden reindeer assembled and set out front for display, and of course Mateo was the perfect kitten as I took his official Christmas picture. Do those reindeer look a little strange to you? They are much, much cuter when they have their evergreen cutting antlers on their heads, but I decided to not include the cats in that part of the assembly. Now the deer are outside sporting cute cutting from my Douglas Fir tree as their antlers.

Knitting

I’m still knitting chemo hats and PICC line covers like crazy for the Denver metro Kaiser infusion centers and they are slowly piling up in a couple of boxes in the craft room. Weekends, I have decided, are for my knitting, so I spent today knitting away on Kevat, a little cropped short sleeve sweater that has lots of character and detail.

This sweater is knitted from the top down and this is the beginning of the yoke. So far there is colorwork, a little lace, texture and bobbles. No boredom here!!

I’m about halfway through the charted yoke and then it will be time to split the sleeves off and do tons of lace through the rest of the body. The blue yarn is from Uschitita and I know that it blooms really nicely when washed and should handle the lace in the body well.

Books

I made a lot of progress on the sweater today because I am also listening to a great book while I work. Okay, I think that it is a great book, but that is because it is the final book in the space opera series The Expanse and I have been waiting and waiting for this book for months. I love this series, and it and the television production based on the books are great examples of quality story telling in any venue: that they are space opera makes it even better!!

The perfect Saturday afternoon.

I have been faithfully following this story ever since the first book, Leviathan Wakes, was published years ago. I was captured not only by the fast-paced story, but also by the well-developed characters and economic/political themes. The story has evolved through the 9 books of the series as wars were fought, mysteries solved, villains apprehended, and characters aged. There have always been some important threads left hanging (um… there are these gates that are connected to ancient aliens and their unsuccessful attempts to prevent their own extinction…), and it seems that all of these threads are being picked up and resolved in this book. I’ve been told that the final resolution of the story is great, but I won’t know for sure until I get there myself.

I have one hundred pages left: Sunday knitting!

That’s it. Have a great week everyone!

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

Remember to play nice with your toys…
and your friends!!

The Saturday Update: Weeks 45 and 46, 2021

It is finally getting cold, but there still haven’t been any official snowfall in our area. As of today we have set the record for the longest recorded gap in snowfall in modern recorded weather history for the state of Colorado. I have moved all the potted plants outside again and all indications are they will still be healthy and blooming on Thanksgiving. Okay, there was a little issue with the potted geraniums that I brought into the house a couple of weeks ago… I found a caterpillar on a geranium cutting in the indoor garden!

That dang caterpillar appeared on a shoot I was rooting… it had already finished off the African violets in the garden.

The cutting had rooted successfully, but with that caterpillar it was immediately tossed outside with the remains of the violets and all of the other geraniums that had come indoors for the winter. Poor geraniums. In a few days they should succumb to an overnight freeze. Life is cruel, little guys.

Yarn

I am still knitting like crazy for Frayed Knots, the community knitting group comprised mostly of Kaiser employees in my area. Last week one of the infusion centers that we knit for requested that we supply them with some PICC line covers, so I did a little search on Ravelry, found a pattern, and started knitting some of the covers along with the hats.

This week I produced 6 hats and 3 of the PICC line covers.

I have settled on a few hat patterns that are easy and should be comfortable for chemo patients. They are Barley Light, Barley, and the Sockhead patterns. The pattern for the PICC line cover, designed for one in the upper arm, is here. I am so happy to be putting the leftover and unused yarn in my stash to a good use.

Garden

Well, the garden sure took a hit this week. The African violets are toast and you already know about the geraniums. I am happy to report that the orchids, however, evidently weren’t all that tasty for the caterpillar as they seem to be unharmed.

These gorgeous bloomers are the plants that I bought this fall. Inside the garden, under the grow lights, the plants that bloomed last year are flourishing with lots of new growth, an explosion of air roots, and new stems for blooms are emerging!

The green shoot pointing upwards is a new stem for blooms. Yay!! The silvery new growths on the leaves below are a couple of new air roots. Yay! Happy plant.

A couple of other orchids are also putting out stems; one plant has three new stems on it. What is that liquid on the orchid, you ask? I sprayed Neem oil on all the plants left in the garden after the caterpillar was escorted out the door…

Books

I’m back to reading science fiction. The main character in the book I’m reading right now is a sentient space ship called Trouble Dog and of course the captain of this ship is a woman facing down the monsters in the dark of space. I just finished the first book in the series called Embers of War and I’m hooked. Luckily I get the audiobook for no additional cost so I can listen to the books at times while I’m knitting away on the hats and PICC line covers. I have to laugh a little as I knit and listen to Trouble Dog’s tale as I manage my yarn around my own little Trouble Cat…

Who, me?

That’s it. Have a great week everyone!

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

The Saturday Update: Weeks 42 and 43, 2021

Halloween. It is cold and raining outside and all of the leaves are now off my trees. The plants in my gardens are bedded down under mulch to stay safe in the overnight freezes that are on the way and the bunnies of summer are no where to be seen. The children of the neighborhood have also gone somewhere else this evening as there isn’t a “trick-or-treater” in sight; the cats and I laid in some candy but no one has come.

Mateo: We got Halloween toys!!

Knitting

I’m seriously struggling this week as I adapt to a new medication, but that is a whole other post. I did manage to get my new Snark-O-Meter shawl finished and blocked in spite of tremendous cat help. Hannah loves the blocking mats and it was a battle to convince her to let me use them for, you know, blocking purposes. The kitten, faster then seems catly possible, was the master of flashing claws and nipping chompers as I tried to pin the shawl into place; he did leave the field of battle once I began spraying water on the shawl. Yay for the sprayed water blocking method! He is a brave boy, however, and was immediately back once I started to layer towels on top of the wet shawl to protect it from cats. Not to be outdone, Hannah decided that she should burrow into the towels. Luckily I had more blocking combs.

Do you understand how all this could be exhausting?

Anyway, the shawl survived blocking and looks fabulous!!

I just love how this shawl came out! All of this yarn was from the stash, and two of the colors (the gold and the orchid) had been languishing for years as I never found the right project for them. The gold especially was a problem as it is 100% silk yarn and I felt that it needed the right vehicle to show it off. The lace of this shawl with the rich colors and varied textures is absolutely perfect! You can’t see it in these pictures but the gold yarn glows in the lace and background sections.

I absolutely have to mention that Sharon from Security, the designer of this shawl (with some help from Casapinka) was banned from Facebook this week for threatening Finn, the newest (and somewhat shady) employee in the Casapinka world. Too much snark, it seems. There are some negotiations underway because both of these individuals are… cats. Hopefully Sharon will be back next week. If that isn’t the most 2021 thing that has happened this year, I’d like to hear of any others that beat it. 🙂

Books

I finally scored a copy of The Madness of Crowds from the local library. I’m early in the book and struggling a little with it as it is about the danger of ideas, misinformation, catchy messaging, and mob action. Umm… kind of the situation right now in the US. I’ll give it a little more time and then if it doesn’t perk up I’ll be going back to another science fiction novel with a strong female character who can cope with absolutely anything that the universe cares to send her way.

I’ll close with a shot of the kitten’s tail.

This is the crate that holds my blocking towels. There’s only room for one cat in the crate. The cats ruthlessly grab it when empty shutting the other one out. Kind of silly kitties, right?!

The tail is almost as big as the kitten! Do you see how much fur is on it? Maintaining that tail is almost like feeding another cat. No wonder the kitten is always hungry.

That’s it. Have a great week everyone!

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

Happy Halloween!!