September 26, 2013

The Future...

My oncologist is kind but blunt. Stunningly blunt. For example, my cancer medication—which I will take for seven years—has caused a lot of aggro with my thumbs (all joints from head to toe, actually) to the point where I have trouble opening or undoing anything, even after cortisone injections in each one. His response: “You have to understand. I’m an oncologist. What I care about is protecting you from cancer. If I were in your shoes and I had to choose between the medication and my thumbs, I would have my thumbs cut off rather than stop taking the medication.” This is almost verbatim.

And this: “’Remission’ means you were in remission at the time the mammogram and MRI were taken and were found to be clear. That is all it means. You could already have cancer again by now.” Also almost verbatim.

See? Blunt.

While his words left me feeling a little shell-shocked, and while what he said is true, it is also true that at this moment, I'm still alive and so, on a purely practical level, now what? I had had to quit my job because the treatment went so badly so, as I neared the end of treatment, I wondered, how was this old gal going to go about finding a new job?

The one thought that came galloping into my head, fully formed and inarguable, was—I didn’t want to go back into IT. I love computers and software. I find them fun, interesting, challenging and, after 25+ years in the biz, still a little magical. But my last two jobs had been unfulfilling and frustrating. Plus, to move ahead in my IT specialty, I would have to be the kind of techie who keeps servers, software and various network connections in the home. I am the kind of techie who keeps cats, books, crossword puzzles, and yarn in the home. I do not have servers.

My next thought was, then I’ll retire. I had a tête-à-tête with my financial advisor, we brought a budget kicking and screaming into the light, and I retired. Which is merely a fancy word for “unemployed” because I’m not getting any governmental or retiree benefits. I’m just…not working.

All of which lasted about a nanosecond because then—whoosh!—I decided to become a paralegal. I realized my passions—reading, research and writing—all come into play in the paralegal field. Plus, ironically, my IT experience would give me a head-start on the technical aspects of legal research and analysis. So, next Tuesday I start the nine-month paralegal-certification program at the University of Washington. Here, my books for the first three months. Two things give me pause. (1) This tiny pile cost $350. (The red book—$103. Used.) (2) The second spiral-bound book? It’s entire reason for existence is to explain the first-spiral bound book. That's just not right.

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Posted by Ryan at 12:16 AM | Comments (14)

September 24, 2013

See Warning…

Warning: If you're afraid of clowns, do not look at the finished striped socks. They scream bulbous red noses, grease paint and tiny cars.

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Despite their extreme mis-matchedness—they’re not even in the same color families--I’m warming to them. It’s a trip to look down and see this:

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I have yet to surrender the bigger greenhouse to the cats but the small greenhouse/kitty-condo continues to metamorphose. I added a towel to a higher shelf and His Highness approves.

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Better yet, they don’t have to squash together the way they do on top of the microwave. This…

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Not that…

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Or that…

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As of my last posting, the larger greenhouse was still in its packaging but this past weekend I had a miniscule barn-raising with the help of friend Devorah:

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Do I know what to do with a greenhouse? Haven’t the foggiest. When She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named (otherwise referred to as Poo-Poo Head) and I set one up many years ago, it was an unmitigated disaster. And the more I read about them, the stupider they seem. They demand large amounts of equipment, electricity and finicky TLC for a modicum of fresh veggies! You have to keep things not too humid, not too dry; not too cold, not too hot; not too sunny, not too shady; not too airy, not too stagnant. And, apparently, God help you if bugs establish a foothold.

I’m well aware this is a particularly cheap-o one with no bells and whistles and I’m sure I’ll lose interest rapidly but yesterday I stood inside it, snug, dry and warm, while rain pitter-pattered all around. Greenhouse, my sweet patootie. It’s really just a grown-up playhouse.

(P.S. There is now a plant or two inside, a tomato that seems determined to keep producing on through the fall, some lettuce and a tray of hollyhock seeds.

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Posted by Ryan at 04:11 PM | Comments (4)

September 20, 2013

Give Me the Envelope, Please!

The results of the poll, which I suspect won’t change much if I give it more time, although I’m tickled that 88 people swung by the blog to vote. Y’all rock.

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…And a pie chart of the results because I just swing that way:

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The winning vote was to make the stripes of the second sock different colors, so I’m plowing along on that. In fact, all I have left is the toe. But I should warn you, given that I had limited colors to choose from, the results ain’t pretty. (Side note: The entire point of this pair of socks is to use up leftover balls of yarn in order to reduce my stash. That being said, I ran out of black . Insert keening sounds of frustration here.)

So that takes care of three parts of the poll: Make the socks the same, make the socks different and "clicky," which leaves, “What’re Benny and Joon up to?” And since I’m nothing if not a full-service pollster, the latest.

I feel horrendously guilty that Benny and Joon are indoor cats but I made that decision for their health and also because Benny, with his beyond spectacular jumping abilities, would decimate the entire bird population of the yard in a New York minute. (I have this theory that if a bird tried to fly away from Benny, he wouldn't leap up and pull it down; he'd jump above it and squash it to the ground.) I’ve looked into cat runs but they can be stunningly expensive—especially since I’m now officially a retired old fart. But then…light bulb!

You’ve probably seen these advertised. It’s a plastic-covered, four-shelf mini-greenhouse that I scored for $19 (they usually run $50-$60, so I was quite pleased with myself). I was actually using it for lettuce and bok choy seedlings until a few days ago when I moved the plants to the vegetable bed. And then it hit me: The greenhouse was fully contained. It had shelves. It was the same width as the kitchen door, thus leaving no gaps. And it was already in front of the kitchen door. If I just turned it around and opened the door… Granted, it hasn’t been perfect. The messy screen that I flung up top? That’s because Joon immediately jumped on the refrigerator and tried to jump OVER the greenhouse. She’s a clever minx, that one.

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They weren’t too sure about this arrangement at first, and have vacillated between scuttling guiltily back into the house every time I so much as blinked, and boldly trying to use it as an escape route to the big outdoors but today they seem to be understanding the rules and settlin’ in.

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A few days ago I bought another, similar, plastic-covered greenhouse but one big enough to walk into. ($119 for $45! Another score!) Any bets on how long it takes me to swap out the small greenhouse for the big one?

Posted by Ryan at 04:46 PM | Comments (5)

September 09, 2013

Cascading Down

I have a freebie tracker utility on this blog (you can see it; it’s in the left column at the bottom) that shows the location of people who visit the blog. Lest you worry about its big-brotherishness, it’s vague. For example, it frequently tells me someone from “the United States” has swung by. On a really good day, it tells me the state. Despite this, I do check it on occasion and recently saw indicators telling me of one reader from Vlaardingen, Zuid Holland, and another from Limoges, Limousin. I cannot tell you how much this tickles me. But now I’m eaten up with curiousity. Who are you? If you swing by again, can you leave a “hallo” and a “bon jour?”

Despite the recent danger of my getting sucked into the swirling vortex of Second Sock Syndrome, I buckled down and finished all three pairs and, with a clear conscience, moved onto my next knitting adventure. I have a healthy collection of Cascade 220 leftovers that have been burning a hole in my stash for years. I’ve tried to use it but have frogged every attempt because I had too much of one color, too little of another, and lost patience quickly. The solution? A kitchen scale. I was able to determine exactly how much of each color I had and, more importantly, how many grams it takes to knit 1” (4 grams on size 3 or 4, if you’re curious). Armed with this inarguably scientific info, I knit Sock One of what I named the “Cascading Down” socks:

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Now, Dear Readers, it's time for a vote. (Side note: I just remembered that the last time I put a vote on the blog, you helped me name my car!)

What should I do with Sock Two?
  
pollcode.com free polls 
Posted by Ryan at 03:46 PM | Comments (4)