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Thursday, October 26, 2017

In Which I Worry That I'm A Deadhead--And Not The Fun Tie-Dye, Jerry Garcia Kind--But List Myself Out Of It (With A Bonus Amish Story Included!)

It's been so very long since I wrote anything that I'm just going to open up my head and see what falls out. I'm worried, actually, that there's Nothing In There, just my bleached skull and a powdery residue from what used to be my brain. Oh, October--you and I both have had a hard time Getting With It. We ran hot, then cold; we were sunny, then gloomy, and just when we thought we had it all together, everything would change again. Who said "The only constant is change"? Someone far wiser than I.

Let's see if we can't catch up a bit with some Lists.

Happy Stuff I Did

1. Went on a jaunt to Niagara-on-the-Lake
2. Got a really good haircut
3. Bought some new fall/winter clothes

Rick and I went back for our usual Fall getaway to NotL, restocked our wine cellar, and this time met up with friends from Detroit who we hadn't seen for a couple of years. We went to our favourite winery (where I always propose to the winemaker) and had an extensive tasting of wines not even on the list. The winemaker/owner's daughter pulled bottles out of the library cellar and we tasted those, and she was kind enough to send a couple home with us. Our weekend ended with us well supplied for the winter and, if necessary, spring.

Productive Stuff I Did

1. Finished the Endless Knitting Project
2. Made a final batch of pesto
3. Got my grandmother's cushion repaired

I had been working on a bigass shawl for months. It wasn't intricate or difficult, but I just wasn't feeling the Knitting Urge, and when I was, the muscle aches and bone aches made it difficult once my Vitamin D levels crashed again. Finally, I got so sick of looking at it--The Object Of My Ongoing Failure--that I swore I'd power through it if it killed me. I did and it didn't.

The repair of my grandmother's cushion is another Amish story, if you can handle yet another one. My grandmother was an accomplished seamstress and made coats, purses, all her clothes, my grandfather's ties; you name it, she made it. She also made leather patchwork cushions, and she made each of her eleventy thousand grand- and great-grandkids one. I got mine when I went away to college. At some point, a thread or two pulled loose, and it started to break apart at the seams a few years ago. Since it is a precious heirloom with significant sentimental value, I was at a loss as to what to do and how to get it fixed. And it is thick, onerous leather, making it a difficult repair for the casual seamstress. Luckily, a scion of the Amish family near the lakehouse recently opened up a canvas-making and upholstery shop. I took the cushion there to see if he could help. Rick and I walked in and a young, bearded man in the traditional blue shirt with no buttons came out to meet us. Nearby on a bench was his straw hat. I couldn't see a single machine in the shop, but it was a bit gloomy, and of course, there were no electric lights. I showed the cushion to him, explaining its story briefly as he turned it over carefully in his hands. "It's very old," I said. "I know it's worn in places, but it's only coming apart at the patchwork seams. It's special to me, so I hope you can fix it." He turned it over again, looked at it, squinted, smiled and said, "It's old-fashioned, that's for sure." And at that very moment, surrounded by huge neon lights, the word IRONY appeared on a gossamer banner held by the staff of The New Yorker magazine. 

Finally,

Stuff In General

1. I want to post more often; it's hard to get an idea I want to write about.
2. I am very active in The Resistance; I make phone calls and write emails to Congresspeople every single day. You can too!  Email me if you want any info.
3. I'm watching The Good Doctor on ABC and slowly loving it.
4. Hooray for boots and leggings weather.
5. The post header illustration is a sculpture by Taiji Taomote. Learn more about it and this talented artist here.

**

I guess there was something in there after all among the bones and dust and detritus.  Like my grandmother's pillow, for much of October I felt old, worn, and like I was coming apart at the seams.  How has October been for you?  Any Stuff of your own to add?  And, as always, we can chat up my Stuff, too, in Comments.




Tuesday, October 03, 2017

In Which I Dust Off Some Cerebral Bric-A-Brac And Wax Philosophically Amish

Kind of a mixed bag today as I pull together several bits of Cerebral Bric-a-Brac. Have you a moment? A snack or beverage? Let's on, then.

~*~Alphabet Medicine. Despite following Doctors' Orders strictly and religiously, my followup labs last week were...disappointing and scary. My Vitamin D had dropped back to previous concerning levels, joined this time by Vitamin B12, a lab ordered not just by my Superhero Neurologist Dr. B, but also by my new PCP, Dr. Rebecca. I had suspected the Vitamin D issue since the old symptoms had been making a dreadful comeback, but was hoping I was merely tired or stressed out. But as they marched on, worsening and flattening me by noon each day, I started getting truly afraid. The lab confirmation was pretty much a formality. So I'm back to megadosing, then will double my D from 2K to 4K daily. Apparently some people need more Vitamin D to keep their levels up. And the B12 supplementation will help my memory issues. "You need to stop being so hard on yourself, too," Dr. Rebecca said. "And you have got to mitigate your stress." Sigh. This is now the third doctor to tell me these things as if they were Easy.  I keep thinking of Sartre.

~*~Hirsute Irony. One of my more upsetting symptoms is that my hair is falling out. Longtime Dear Readers here know how much this pains me; I am probably the single most vain individual in the world (not named Kar--shian). Most days, the only human who sees me is Rick, and he wouldn't care if I stayed in my jammies, uncombed hair, and no makeup all damn day. I do not, however, EVER do this unless I am gravely ill. Longtime Dear Readers also know my struggles with Cat Hair Overmuch, as in my two ungrateful rescue cats produce enough cat hair to create, independently, several other small cats a day. Why is there not a way for me to marry these Two Problems into One Solution? Would I, though, actually wear a Cat Hair Wig of orange marmalade and grey tortoiseshell? (It would really be the epitome of Recycling, though.)

~*~Language Cringes. Rick was reading some forum postings on the Nextdoor app, where he keeps in touch with news about the lake community. He asked me to look at a few. This proved to be a mistake, as I immediately began to focus not on the content of the messages, but on the dire grammar, mechanics, and usage of so, so many of them. Honestly, they were painful to try to read (especially since a significant number of their authors had not heard of Punctuation). One woman was lamenting that she was concerned about a local farmer being singled out as "an escape goat until it was proven that it was his farm that was the problem." Another poster was irritated about something in the bylaws being sneaked past him, and who knows what would "be the next thing coming down the pipe." After those two butchered idioms, I gave up. That was no way to mitigate my stress.

~*~Simple Pleasures. I've written here many times before about our community-wide garage sales down at the lake. September's weather was perfect, for a change, and my brother, niece, and I enjoyed visiting with each other--and our customers/neighbors--while all sorts of people picked over and bought some of our stuff. We had very few Amish customers this time; the men were lured away by a big steam engine exhibition at a nearby fairground, but their wives were out to buy some household goods. And yes, we did give out a few Victoria's Secret bags to some Amish matrons for their purchases, which were always met with much appreciation and German commentary between them, sotto voce. But far and away, my favourite customer had to be this one because of the figure she made, clutching her very, very iconoclastic purchase. Careful not to reveal her face, I quietly and unobtrusively took her photo from a distance. It is charming, I think you'll agree.

Image property of Nance Donnelly/deptofnance.blogspot.com

That crayon bank was a steal at 50 cents; the set of cereal bowls (Corelle, maybe?) went for maybe two bucks.  She was happy, in her calm, barely smiling, Amish sort of way.  I hope she gave it to her little boy or girl, and that the child was excited and clapped his or her hands in joy.  They would have had to be as surprised about that enormous purple crayon as I was when I took her money for it.  Honestly, it made my day.  It made my brother's day as well, and I know we'll talk about it every time we have garage sales from now on.

As I find myself stuck in The Slow Lane once again for a little while, struggling for that elusive Wellness, I'm striving for those Simple Pleasures and Small Gains--the Low-Cost Joys in a sort of Garage Sale Life.  (With cat hair, of course; always, with cat hair.)

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