Dixie Peach: February 2006

Cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Brimful of Asha

Why can't life be like a Bollywood movie? How great would it be to be going through your day and then suddenly break into a vibrant song and dance number? Better yet, be doing something really ordinary and even vaguely disgusting, like scrubbing toilets or cleaning the oven, and then bam! you're on a grassy hill or on a beach or snowy mountain peak with just you and your partner and 200 singers and dancers.

On the podium

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And what else did I get from my participation and completion in and of the Knitting Olympics? I learned to be careful of badly written patterns. I learned to pace myself and get things done on time. And I learned that just because a project is intended to for one particular purpose, it's okay if it ends up with another purpose.

I love that blanket now. Terrible for a baby but it's perfect for an afternoon nap.

Monday, February 27, 2006

A whole and two halves

Since I've spent the last couple weeks numbing your brains with knitting talk you deserve to see some product.

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Here's the complete shite completed baby blanket that I made as my Knitting Olympics project. To me it just doesn't hit me as a comforting baby blanket but I have to say it makes a great little throw for when I'm snoozing on the sofa so I'm keeping it instead of giving it to my buddy, Zea.

But since Zea's little girl deserves a sweet little baby blanket that actually looks like a sweet little baby blanket, I started a new one for her. Here it is at the offical halfway point.

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And it's turning out to be much better than the Knitting Olympics baby blanket. Better yarn and it's more baby blanket-ish. It's taking me longer to knit up but it's worth it because it's more fun for me to knit that the other one. I'm having a great time with it.

When working on a knitting project that takes me more than four or five days to complete I generally start another project to keep me a little distracted. Something simple that's brainless to knit and easy to complete quickly and that way I don't get bored with the big project and start making silly errors.

Here's the ribbon yarn scarf about 1/3 complete:

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It's very easy to knit up - just garter stich and some yarn overs thrown in and then the yarn overs get slipped off the needle. I started it late last night and I knitted up the first skein by late this afternoon. I'm not 100% crazy about the yarn itself since it changes textures throughout and there's one section that's much thinner than the rest but still it's interesting and I like the overall effect well enough.

Here's a closer look at the texture. You can see at the very bottom of the scarf the little bit where the yarn is thinner than the rest of the skein.

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And here's a shot of some of the variety of colors in the skein:

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I think I'd like to try it again with ribbon yarn that stays the same texture throughout the skein.

I may be in the midst of too-much-winter funk but I'm getting lots of projects well underway.

No yarn related stuff tomorrow. It'll be safe for you Jeez, is she talking about knitting again?? non-knitting folks to return.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Seasonal funk

It has arrived. My annual bout of late-winter homesickness. It's not that there's anything about home in the late winter that makes me homesick - instead I believe it's normal late-winter ennui that tends to make me think more about home and therefore lends itself to a wave of homesickness.

Over the years my homesickness has evolved from being the standard "I miss my family!" stuff to something a little less easy to pin down. I don't just miss my family and friends and my hometown but I miss being where virtually everything was familiar to me. Not just the landscape but the culture and the customs. It's as if everyone I know is over there having a conversation and I'm over here and I miss out. I want to be able to keep up too!

Not terribly long after I moved to Germany, "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" came on TV in the US. I used to think that I could kick ass if I could be a contestant but I was here and missing out. Now I think that if I went on that show (They don't even still show it, do they? I don't know because I'm not there to know!), I'd be terrible at it because any question dealing with American culture from the last eight years would be lost on me because I wasn't there to learn it. And enhancing this is the idea that if I went on the same show in Germany (where it is still shown), I would get tripped up on the first five questions because so many of them deal with sayings or children's songs or other little tidbits of German culture that I don't know because I didn't grow up here.

When I go back to the US for a visit I have a sort of culture shock. Things are familiar but somehow changed. I no longer recongize automobiles on sight (and they all seem impossibly enormous). When I go to the grocery store there are products that I don't know and the ones I do know have different labels. The TV is filled with shows I've never heard of and I don't recognize the face of the person reading the news. I forget what all-you-can-eat buffets are about and if someone hands me a Big Gulp to drink from it feels like drinking from a bucket.

I once read a novel where one of the characters is from Germany and lives in the US. She laments to a confidant that she feels out of place in America and has been gone so long from Germany that she feels out of place there as well. The confidant suggests that instead of feeling as if she has no real home anywhere to feel as if she has two homelands and she's at home no matter in which country she is. I thought a long time about that and most of the time it is how I feel. For the most part I feel fairly comfortable with where I'm at but it's when I'm longing for my other home I feel out of sorts.

Well...I imagine it's nothing that a peanut butter, banana and mayonnaise sandwich couldn't remedy.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Friday Shuffle - Cheesy Pop Edition

How I love thee, cheesy pop songs!
  1. Bend Me, Shape Me - American Breed
  2. Thunder Island - Jay Ferguson (thanks for the reminder, Sari)
  3. No Milk Today - Herman's Hermits
  4. Look Through Any Window - The Hollies
  5. Undercover Angel - Alan O'Day
  6. Ariel - Dean Friedman
  7. The Night Chicago Died - Paper Lace
  8. Hooked on a Feeling - Blue Swede
  9. Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) - Edison Lighthouse
  10. Midnight Confessions - The Grass Roots
A shuffle that provides extra protien and calcium for strong bones and teeth.

Seen today during driving:

~ While stopped at a notoriously long lasting traffic light located by a streetcar stop I saw three guys talking, one with a rolled up newspaper. The first guy smacked the second one on top of his head with the rolled up newspaper. The second one biffed the first on on the back of his head. The third guy smacked the second guy on top of his head. The first guy hit the third one with the newspaper and then hit the second one again. It turned into a Three Stooges-esque smackdown and I thought there would be eye gouging and nose pulling any moment.

What was killing me is that each of the three guys had to be at least fifty years old and they were about to wet themselves laughing.

May y'all enjoy your weekends with as much passion as I enjoy a box of Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies and a quart of milk.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

But I did knit, eat lo mein and watch Gilmore Girls!

You know it's been an uneventful day if you can't think of a thing to write about. You know it's a rock-bottom uneventful day if you can't even find a silly meme to bore the shit out of dazzle the masses with.

Uhh...did I tell y'all I had my blog redesigned?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

New clothes

As you can see, I have a new blog design. Thanks to the lovely folks at Design-A-Blog, I am sporting a new look.

I had been wanting a new design for ages but didn't know how to do it myself, didn't have the time or patience to learn and I didn't really know where to go to get one done for me. Mr. Fabulous had his blog redesigned by them and after I read their site, saw what they do and saw their price, I knew my wish of having my blog redesigned just for me at an affordable price could be achieved.

I'm very happy with it. It's just what I wanted and the reason it's just what I wanted is because they listened to my suggestions and did all they could to fulfill my wishes.

If you're looking for a change for your blog and are looking for something to fit into your budget, give Design-A-Blog a try. They do all the nasty, gritty, greasy stuff so all you have to do is sit back and look good! And tell 'em I sent you! And steal that little button off my sidebar while you're at it!

Shameless plug over.

Just a few stray things...

I have a suggestion for Deutsche Post. If you no longer want people to pick up packages at your normal post offices and now wish for them to use your automated, fancy touch screen (ooo...I'm all about touch screens), pick-it-up-whenever-you-want package center, could you at least put the package centers in a part of town where actual humans frequent? At the end of an industrial road isn't the best location.

I'm breaking my promise and am mentioning my knitting because dammit, this merino wool I'm using is fab. u. lous. Sweet Jesus, it hardly feels like wool, it's so soft. If it wasn't the fact that I'd be stealing from an actual baby, I'd keep this blanket. Oh wait. I already am keeping one blanket I've knit for this poor baby who has to endure Dakota winters.

There's someone in my building with atrocious body odor. I get in the elevator sometimes and it reeks of that funky, oniony body odor smell. But then on the flip side there are two people in my building who smell great. One is wearing a perfume that practically makes me swoon and another is wearing an after shave that makes me feel all...uhhh...nevermind. Smells good though. It almost cancells out the BO culprit.

I'm off now to gaze lovingly at my new blog design.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

In which your eyes glaze over

Y'all had the crap bored out of you yet from me lately talking about knitting so much? No? Was that a no? I knew it. Y'all are good people. I have trained you well.

Hey. Hey you back there! There in the back! I see you trying to sneak out. Get your hand off that mouse button and finish reading. I've got my eye on you.

Three skeins of lovely ribbon yarn is mine, mine, mine. The scarf pattern I have calls for two but I'm not tempting fate. There was a moment of indecision when I was caught between buying the pale butter yellow or the pinky-peach color but in the end I went with the peach. I am nothing if not predictable in my devotion to peaches.

True to the behavior of most yarn whores I snuck it into the apartment. I figured that on top of me buying yarn yesterday and me subjecting him to watching De-Lovely , B might develop some debilitating eye twitch if I showed him another yarn purchase. Whew! Good thing I have willpower and I didn't buy that silk yarn that was calling my name in a most seductive manner! I'd have ended up with an even bigger bag to sneak home.

Who am I kidding? It wasn't willpower nor the prospect of sneaking in yarn that stopped me. It was the fact that I don't have any projects in mind that could use silk yarn.

Okay. I'm done. You can skedaddle now. I promise I won't talk about knitting or yarn tomorrow.

No! My fingers weren't crossed when I promised. Now scram!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Reversal of fortune

Goofy looking basketweave baby blanket is in the past, although I have to say it makes a wonderful nap blanket for me. I have forged on and purchased some sweet, soft marino wool in a delicate pink, a pair of bamboo 5.5mm needles (a want not a need purchase as I must have three other pairs of 5.5mm circular needles) and I have restarted the baby blanket for Zea's baby. I decided to use the Big, Bad Baby Blanket pattern from Stich 'n Bitch - I'd started it before with this pattern but the yarn I used then didn't look so great. So far I can report this pretty wool is slipping very nicely over these smooth needles and I have a good feeling that this project will end in success. I also found some very pretty ribbon yarn I'd like to use to make a springtime scarf but didn't buy any as I didn't know how much my pattern calls for and it was a little pricey to get it wrong. I'll get some tomorrow though if it stop snowing.

I got a lot done last night on another baby blanket I'm working on. B and I watched "De-Lovely" and sweet Jesus that movie bored the shit out of me so I was knitting up a storm. I love Cole Porter's music. I love that era in history. I love Kevin Kline. I even like Ashley Judd fairly well. How could a movie incorporating all that go so wrong? It got to the point where I was hollering at the TV "Will someone please die already so this story will move its ass along?" And boy was B pissed off that I made him watch it. I'd look at him to see how he was enjoying the movie and I would get back the laser death glare.

My wonky lamp is fixed. I deep down knew it must be a burned out bulb but I was hunting for any excuse to replace this lamp because I never have liked it. I only bought it because I was desperate for a floor lamp and was in a hurry at the time. While out this morning on my yarn hunt I searched for a new floor lamp and found that the only one I liked was 399€. Think I got the laser death glare last night? Try me coming home with a floor lamp that costs ten times more than the lamp we currently have. He wouldn't mind an upgrade but even Mr. Patience and Understanding has his limits and after last night's movie fiasco I wasn't taking any chances. I ended up opting for the 7€ bulb, replaced the burned out one when I got home and we're back in business, although I'm fairly certain my overhead lights last night gave me a sunburn on the part in my hair.

My world is back in balance. I'll let you know if my burned scalp starts to peel.

Hey yeah...let's!

What's most disturbing:

1. If you search "lets see some gory shit", my blog is listed at number five.

2. Someone actually wants to see some gory shit.

3. Someone looking for gory shit came to my blog, ostensibly looking for actual gory shit.

4. I disappointed the gory shit searcher. I hope.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Head banging

It's a little frustrating when you anticipate something being one way and it goes the other way.

"Examples?", you say? I shall supply.

~ Some will remember back to when we moved into this apartment last November and I had to buy a new floor lamp for the livingroom. I'll gladly admit I was never very cranked up about the new lamp but even if I wasn't crazy about the style I did at least expect it to work for longer than a few months.

It's had a stick up it's lampy ass anyway - the reading lamp part has never worked and on a couple occasions it would brighten without cause and then dim again. Or maybe it dimmed and brightened again. Anyway, late this afternoon when I turned it on it began to make a droning sound - the sort of sound you'd get if you crossed a mosquito with a remote controlled model airplane. Being as I'm so clever I turned the lamp off - sort of an attempt at a lamp reboot - and naturally it didn't come back on. I'm guessing the bulb is shot but it could also be that the lamp is a general piece of crap. Sure, I could return it to the store but I have no idea where the receipt is and they'll just exchange it anyway. I have no desire to have another lamp just waiting to crap out on me.

I'm down to having to use the overhead light. The overhead light that consists of four very bright, high intensity bulbs. My livingroom now has all the charm of a jewelry store and I think it's beginning to burn my scalp.

~ Hooray for me! I am finished with my Knitting Olympics project! Look for me to post a photo of it tomorrow. Yesterday I spent most of my afternoon and all of the evening hours knitting until my arms ached and my fingertips were numb. The baby blanket is finished! Yay me! Bring on the gold medal! And you know what else?

It's shite. Complete shite.

It's not just my knitting. The little errors - the knitting equivilent of a two footed landing in figure skating - can be fixed. Sloppy, loose stitches can be tightened. Lumpiness can be done away with when it's blocked. It's something else. It's supposed to be a baby blanket but it's just...just...wrong!

First, this pattern I used is crap. Badly written, typos, errors and numbskull me should have known better than to use a pattern that didn't include the gauge. I was so seduced by the photo of the finished project that I forged ahead anyway.

Second, this blanket is ridiculously wide. Hell, the damn thing covers me, nevermind an infant! And it's heavy. You lay this on a baby and the baby will be fighting for breath.

I could possibly frog it and knit something else but it's knit with two strands held together - just like the pattern told me to do! - and I have never had any success ripping apart knitting with two strands. It always turns into a tangled mess and it causes me to say bad, bad, bad words. I mean words worse than the normal bad, bad, bad words that I say. Therefore I've decided that it's not meant to be a baby blanket at all but it shall be a throw for me. It's just the right size to drape over my shoulders should I get chilly and it's so heavy that it won't easily slip off.

Unfortunately it also means that once again I have failed in producing a baby blanket for my friend Zea's new baby. I can't get the yarn and pattern thing together in the right combination but I'm determined to try again if it means Zea's baby is going to have to use it on her baby.

I think I'm making this too hard. There are a million baby blanket patterns out there and I'm just not matching up the right yarn available to me with a pattern I can stand to knit. It's starting to get ridiculous especially since I could just get yarn I like and make my own pattern.

Reckon I'll go find buy some more yarn tomorrow since I've got to go buy a lamp anyway.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Recognizing the obvious

Just in case you didn't notice when you strolled in, I've changed the name of my blog to be just Dixie Peach. It just seemed simpler for me to call my blog the same name as is in the URL, plus while "It's All Just Smoke and Mirrors" has meaning to me, y'all don't know the meaning so it's pointless.

Plus Dixie Peach is simply shorter. I'm all for paring down the extraneous.

So change your Blogrolls and sidebars and all that dandy stuff.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Friday Shuffle - Easy Listening Edition

Bixente the iPod is spitting out tunes made popular in 1960s suburban livingroom cocktail parties all across America.
  1. Delilah - Tom Jones
  2. The Lonely Bull - Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass
  3. Is That All There Is? - Peggy Lee
  4. The Look of Love - Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66
  5. Moon River - Andy Williams
  6. Honey - Bobby Goldsboro
  7. Little Green Apples - O.C. Smith
  8. Take a Letter Maria - R.B. Greaves
  9. It's Not Unusual - Tom Jones
  10. By the Time I Get to Phoenix - Glen Campbell
Push back the kidney shaped coffee table and dance!

Other tidbit-like things...

~ I've finished five rounds of pattern rows for my Knitting Olympics project and I'll likely only do two more. I've got be sure to have enough yarn to finish the border and I'm cutting things very close.

~ My sister has bought her plane tickets for her and her family to visit me this summer. They arrive on May 27 and go back home two weeks later. Our annual city festival is the weekend inbetween and this year we're living right in the middle of it.

I adore my sister. I've admired her my whole life. She's seven years older than me so when we were growing up it was hard for us to be close. I was the pesky, meddling little sister that wouldn't leave her alone. We've had some hard differences between us but since reaching adulthood we've grown closer and closer.

Last year on my birthday she sent me a card and in it she wrote "I remember so clearly Daddy coming home to tell me and the boys that we had a little sister. I've loved you your whole life.". It meant the world to me for me to read that.

~ Just curious - you folks living in Europe...on which hand to you wear your wedding ring?

Y'all have a great weekend.

Thursday, February 16, 2006's half past four and I'm shifting gears

I feel like I've soaked this place in bum out since mentioning my mother's condition. I go to write something and I'm spinning my wheels because I want to lighten up but nothing light is coming to me. Even my Kinder Egg was sinister.

So to that end, let's have a cleansing. A virtual sage burning. Let's do a meme because what lightens the atmosphere faster than a list of questions designed to elicit meaningless, trivial answers about myself?

Borrowed from Katy. Great cook and a devoted mom with an adorable son. She's good folk.

Who is the last person you high-fived?
My husband. He'll swing his right fist up and I'll smack it with my hand and say "Gimme five!". Yes. We absolutely are dorks.

If you were drafted into a war, would you serve?
I suppose so because I tend to be law abiding and rule following but if they ever get down to needing middle aged housewives with big rear ends I'm afraid my paltry contribution won't help. We'll already be doomed.

Do you sleep with the TV on?
Only if I happend to be napping. Never, ever at night.

Do you ever drink milk out of the carton?
No. German milk cartons aren't conducive to drinking straight from them without drenching your chin.

Have you ever won a spelling bee?
Know. And eye kan't unnerstan wi.

Have you ever been stung by a bee?
Bees, wasps, fire ants. Inscets like to menace me.

How fast can you type?
Holding a Hot Pocket or without?

Are you afraid of the dark?
Not especially.

What color are your socks?
All the socks I have are either navy blue, tan or white.

Have you ever made out at a drive-in?
Yes. You think less of me now, don't you?

When is the last time you chose a bath over a shower?
Why it would have been this particular fiasco!

Do you knock on wood?
Only because Amii Stewart seems to insist that I do so.

Do you floss daily?
Twice a day if I'm feeling sassy or if I've just eaten chicken.

Do you wanna Fanta?
Trinke Fanta, sei Bamboocha!

Can you hula hoop?
I haven't tested myself lately but I imagine I can.

Are you good at keeping secrets?
I can't say.

Do you know the Muffin Man?
No, but I know a Sweater Muffin.

Do you talk in your sleep?

Who wrote the book on love?
Xaviera Hollander?

Have you ever flown a kite?
I used to have a collection of kites. I was serious when I said I was a dork.

Do you ever wish on fallen lashes?
I had forgotten until now that people do that.

Do you whiten your teeth?
No. All of my front teeth are capped.

Can you smell what the Rock is cooking?
I'd like to just smell him.

Have you ever asked for a pony?
Oh hell no! I couldn't get my mother to cut the crusts off my sandwiches, nevermind ask for a pony!

Can you juggle?
No. But my MIL can and I find that weirdly fascinating.

Missing someone now?
I always miss my family and friends back in the US.

Do the chickens have large talons?
Is this one of those questions you ask me and I reply "Yes and they read the New York Times." and then you pass me some secret documents?

Are you ready to rumble?
Why? Is The Rock here? Can I sniff him?

Have you ever been suspended or expelled from school?

How do you spell relief?
Uh...R-E-L-I-E-F. Bring on that spelling bee!

Have you ever crawled through a window?
Many, many, many times.

Have you ever eaten dog food?
No. Daddy had a job.

Can you handle the truth?
Yes. And don't use that tone of voice with me, Jack.

Do you like green eggs and ham?
I believe you're confusing me with Sam I Am.

Who is your daddy?
Is The Rock available?

I'll take three please. Oh. I already have three. Well then, I'll keep them.

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No tagging. Steal if you need to shift your own gears.

Thursday Kinder Egg Blogging

Let's see what plastic geegaw I got today. As ever, pass your cursor over the photo.

Ohdearlord. It's my former nemesis, Herr Loud.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The ordinary

Again, thanks to everyone for such an outpouring of love and support regarding my mother. It means more than you may know and it's definitely appreciated more than I can express.

Like everyone I'm itching for spring. The daylight now lasts longer than mid-afternoon and ever-so-slightly milder temperatures are encouraging. I find myself wanting to get outside more often so I can shake off this feeling of hibernation.

Today at noon when I went out to get some bread to make lunch with I stood out in front of the shops to feel the warmer air and to listen to the church bells ringing for the noontime prayers. It starts with the Walloner and Johannes churches ringing and then a few moments later the clock tower bells at the city hall begin. Those bells play a tune and you can hear it sailing above the deeper knell of the bells at the churches. I'm a sucker for listening to those bells and will stop if I'm outdoors at noon or at 6pm when they ring the Angelus.

My project for the Knitting Olympics is a little less than half finished - 19 1/2 inches are complete. I'm at that point where I'm starting to get tired of it and am anxious to get it finished so I can move on to something else. I'm getting slightly concerned about the yarn although I imagine it's unnecessary panic. I have twelve skeins of this yarn and have used six (as it's sport weight I'm knitting with two strands held together) and so I think I'll be just skidding under the wire. I'm imagining myself getting to the last bit of knitting and running out and not being able to get more of this yarn. In the past it would have caused me no end of irritation but if it comes to pass then I shall remedy the situation by binding off, using the blanket as a little shoulder warmer for myself and knitting Zea's baby another blanket with lots more yarn purchased ahead of time. I'm doing my best not to get pissed off about stuff I can't remedy.

Valentine's Day was nice. My lovely husband gave me flowers, ordered pizza for our supper and for a Valentine gift I'm having my blog template redesigned.

Time for a cup of tea. Wonder if I have any lemon wafers left?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

About Miss Virginia

Many, many thanks to y'all for your kind good wishes for my mother, Miss Virginia. My sister called me today to let me know what's being done for now.

The neuropathy thing isn't the big deal. I mean it's not good but it's not something new (my mother has been a diabetic for 20 years) and while I'm sure it does hurt and cause her distress, my mother is known for obsessing over things like that and taking them to the extreme. Nothing can hurt just a little when it can instead be hurting a lot. Twitches turn into spasms and spasms turn into uncontrollable writhing. In other words, Miss Virginia goes to eleven.

The big concern is her hallucinations. Mother often knows she's hallucinating - she knows what she's seeing isn't real - but it's still disconcerting for her because it's out of her control. My sister, who is a nurse and works for a large home health care company specializing in geriatric care, is growing concerned that Mother may not be able to live on her own too much longer but we'd like to extend it if we can and do something for her various ailments and symptoms so to that end yesterday my mom was admitted to a psychiatric hospital that works with the elderly. They're going to observe her, see how she responds to medications, see if some of her meds needs to be changed, etc. and perhaps they'll have a strategy for her condition's management. She'll be there for at least two weeks and we're hoping she'll be cooperative and not want to leave too soon.

When I spoke to my mom on Sunday night she did mention this place to me - that my sister thought she could benefit from it and that they'd see if they could get her admitted - but I always have to hear the story from my sister to be sure it's correct. My mother accepted the idea quite well, I thought, and hopefully she's going to be as comfortable as possible there.

My sister said that when they got to the hospital and they were doing the dance to get Mother admitted a woman suffering from some mental malady walked by shouting "Baby!! Baaaaby! BABYBABYBABY!!". The reaction from my mother was mixed. She shot my sister a look that said "I'm going to be in here with folks like that?" and then she got a look on her face that made my sister sad. A look that said "I'm afraid that's going to be me next.".

I think that's what's so hard on my mom right now. She's at that point where the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease are pronounced enough that they affect her daily life but they're not to the point where she's so far gone she doesn't know what's she's doing nor gives a shit. Right now what's going on with her frightens her and she's afraid of what she'll be like when she's worse - and she's definitely going to get worse. She's afraid of being a pain in the ass and a mess and being the pitiful old woman walking the halls shouting "BABYBABYBABY!!".

I'm sorry for my mother. I'm sorry that she's going to end her life in a way that she wouldn't wish on a her worse enemy and I'm sorry she knows that's how it's going to end. I'm sorry for my sister and brother. They have to be the ones to deal with her on a daily basis. They're the ones who have to endure her symptoms and how they seem to bring out and enhance every crappy trait my mother has. If she was obsessive and demanding when we were growing up, Alzheimer's has made it much, much worse. I'm sorry my other brother lives too far away to help them and I'm sorry I'm even farther away but luckily my siblings are understanding. We have full trust in my sister, the one who does the most work in this whole thing, and we don't try to give her any crap or try to block her from doing what's best for our mom and we're there when she needs to call us and rant.

I'm sorry for me too. I'm sorry that I can't be there for my mom when she's scared and worried. I'm sorry that every time I get home for a visit I see her in a worsening condition. I'm sorry that one day I'll come home and she won't even know who I am. I think that scares me the most. I can't think of something more disorienting than to see your own mother and she doesn't know you from a stranger.

My mom isn't scared of dying. She believes in an afterlife and she believes she'll be reunited with my father. It's the living with Alzheimer's disease that scares her.

I pray that we'll all find our strength and comfort and dignity in this.

Monday, February 13, 2006


Stuff's going on but nothing earth shaking so let's just sift through the stray stuff.

~ I'm in love with my DVD rental place. This one is a short walk away from my apartment and since it's fully automated it never closes. Things in Germany that never close are rare indeed. You get a magnet strip card that gets you inside, you pick your DVD from a machine where it scans your fingerprint so no one else can use your card and then your DVD is dispensed from another machine that also loads your account with money. Shove in a twenty and you're set for a while. I'm in love with these clever little machines - all that touch screening and magnet stripping and fingerprint scanning. I love playing with them so much that we're now watching DVDs at an alarming rate. Nevermind that I already have DVDs I've never watched. Nevermind that I have movies from my digital TV service saved on my harddrive recorder. Nevermind that I have two episodes of Rome recorded and have yet to watch them. I have more stuff to watch than I have time but until the novelty wears off this place, I'm destined to hike up there each day.

~ I'm worried about my mother. She called late last night - 12:30am, actually - to tell me she'd had a terrible night the night before. She suffers from diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and Alzheimer's disease and now she's got terrible pains and spasms in her legs at night. Neuropathy, she said, although I'm not sure if that's the name of a condition or if it describes the condition. It's bad enough that she's enduring this but when she told me she was hallucinating as well - her Alzheimer's causes that - I got a little alarmed. It's bad enough to try to deal with terrible pain but seeing the ceiling move and roll can't be of much comfort.

She's supposed to be seeing someone today. I can't get her or my sister on the phone so I'll have to wait for news.

~ I am so backed up on laundry it's scary. Down to the grayed, tatty panties again.

~ I was reminded tonight as I was making a chicken sandwich for my supper that I must always cut my sandwiches in half. Diagonal is preferred but vertically is acceptable as well. I do this because growing up my mother never cut our sandwiches in half. My schoolmates? They had nice sandwiches cut in half. Some cut in quarters. Those who really had their mother's number had crustless sandwiches. I once asked my mother to cut the crust off my sandwich and was given a lecture about how crust was nothing but bread that got a little browner than the rest and it was a waste of food to cut off crusts and those mothers who did the crust cutting were nothing but indulgent tools of their children! Cut off your child's crusts and the next thing you know you'll have kids that disregard curfews! Sneak out of the window! Steal from the liquor cabinet!

Hell, we didn't even have a liquor cabinet.

~ Lipstick shopping. I haven't had a new lipstick since before Christmas and this must be corrected.

If they sold lipstick at the DVD rental place I'd set up a cot in there.

Knitting Olympics, Day 4

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That's the progress I've made on my baby blanket project so far. It's flipped in half so obviously it'll be twice as wide and so far it's 14 inches long with the border and 2 1/2 pattern rounds finished. The end length is supposed to be 43 inches with 11 pattern rounds, four extra rows of the pattern round and the border on the other end but even with my piss poor math skills I think that's going to be way longer than 43 inches so I reckon I'll have it finished sooner than I had planned. The pattern isn't written very well - lots of typos and other errors - so it doesn't surprise me that I'm getting more length with less knitting. There's no gauge on the pattern so it's hard to know what this designer was thinking.

Again, the lighting doesn't do the color justice. In the photo it looks rather gray but in reality it's a pale, silvery blue.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Friday Shuffle - Olympics Are Starting Editon

The Winter Olympics don't actually have anything to do with this shuffle except for the fact that they're on in the background. And the athletes are shuffling in.
  1. Mein Teil - Rammstein
  2. What I Like About You - The Romantics
  3. Hey Joe - Jimi Hendrix
  4. Beverly Hills - Weezer
  5. Blue Orchid - The White Stripes
  6. Sick and Tired - Anastacia
  7. Cheap Sunglasses - ZZ Top
  8. You Were Right - Badly Drawn Boy
  9. Beyond the Sea - Bobby Darin
  10. Coat of Many Colors - Dolly Parton
Get to shuffling too. It'll help keep you warm.

On with other events...

~ I begin in just a few more moments my project for the Knitting Olympics. I did a little swatching today but I didn't break a sweat doing it. I feel pretty confident that I can get the project completed in the next sixteen days but I'm pretty sure I'm going to be pushed to my limit. Sort of like the Greek curling team.

~ Hmm. I was pretty sure Alberto Tomba was going to light the Olympic torch but he just carried the flame into the stadium. They have to do that relay, pass-it-on-to-prominent-athletes thing just to keep you in torch lighting suspense until the last second. Turns out it was lit by Stefania Belmondo. That sound you hear is millions of people saying "Who's Stefania Belmondo?" and then furiously Googling the answer. She's a skiier.

Torch is lit. I need to cast on and get to knitting. Y'all groove on your weekends and I'll check in as often as my Jamaican Bobsled Team knitting will allow.

'Cause you asked politely and all

Here's how to do the photo trick from my last entry.

1. Go to this lady's blog.

2. Follow her directions.

3. Look brilliant for being able to duplicate it.

I could explain it for you here but Nona does a wonderful job of explaining it herself. Plus if you knit, her blog is a good one to read.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Thursday Kinder Egg Blogging

I found Kinder Eggs on sale today for 25 cents - about half the normal price. I suspect they're a bit old but I don't eat the chocolate part anyway. With Kinder Eggs I'm all about the toys so they can be ancient for all I care.

Roll your cursor over the photo to see what my jumble of plastic turned into.

Check it out! Mr. Crab! Sari's gonna squeal when she sees that!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

String of pearls

I've got my ear buds jammed in and Bixente the iPod is busy churning out Tuxedo Junction by the Glenn Miller Orchestra over and over. This song is so hot. Hot. H to the OT. Love how it starts up slow, gets all swingy and swaying with sharp bites and builds bar by bar to the climax. Sex in brass.

I still harbor the notion that I should have been born in 1922 instead of 1962. Yeah, there'd be that pesky Great Depression to get through but I secretly wish that I'd been in my 20s during the 1940s even if there was a world war going on for half of it. I was meant for those fashions (even the pared-down-for-the-war stuff), that hair and that music.

I was meant to be in a ballroom listening to the Glenn Miller Orchestra and dancing to Tuxedo Junction.

This means you

Dear big, nasty, flappy seagulls who still don't get that they're hundreds of miles away from the sea,

Go home. And stop shitting on my car. It's a Toyota, not a toilet.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Oh why not?

As much as it pains me to admit this and as much shit as some of y'all, in private, will give me and as embarrassing as it is to say, I still have stuff in boxes. Like eight boxes are still unpacked from my move. Isn't that pathetic? I simply haven't motivated myself enough to unpack this last dribble of crap so I can walk around my back sitting room without dodging a cardboard fortress and I can get B's wheelchair out of the hallway and parked in the afore mentioned back sitting room before the wheels dent the shit out of the lino.

And then a small voice inside me says "Just throw it out. You haven't used it in the last eleven weeks so why not just ditch it? Half of it's probably just junk anyway that you ended up chucking in a box during last minute panic packing.".

I know half of you are saying "Stop being lazy and just unpack it! It'll be easier!" and the other half of you are quietly chanting "Do it! Pitch it! Do it!" just to see if I really will.

Keep your hands inside the car at all times

...because should you get them near me, you may draw back a nub.

I am so grouchy this evening. I haven' t been grouchy the entire day but by the time the sun began to sink into the horizon, so did my good mood.

Things not contributing to a change in my mood:

~ When I opened the door yesterday for B's physiotherpist, a small fly came in with her. We both saw it fly in. It's been below freezing for weeks now and it seems that the only fly in this part of Germany has not only survived the cold but is now in my apartment and hell bent on driving me mad. And I can leave the windows open until the cows come home - that bastard ain't gonna fly out. He's gonna become one of those giant, bloated flies that's still hanging around come springtime.

~ I don't ask for much from B - just that he understand that I am a busy person who is busy doing stuff for him all day long and for him to please make things a little easier on me when the opportunity presents itself. Just little things. Little things like answer a yes and no question with an actual yes or no. "What do you want to do?" or "Which one do you like better?" or "Whatever you want." is not the answer to a frigging yes or no question! If we were going to do whatever I want I wouldn't have asked the yes or no question in the first place.

~ The from my shoulder, up my neck, over my scalp and through the back of my eye pain that coincidentally started about the same time my mood went south.

~ I'd like to close my kitchen window because I'm getting a draft but I'm trying to intice that fly to vacate and the smell of the Schnitzel I fried for supper tonight will not go away!

~ I can't find my other set of 8mm circular needles. I need those needles! I need to swatch for my Knitting Olympics project and my other 8mm needles are currently occupied with a blanket that won't be finished by the time I need to start the Olympics project.

I'm blaming this entire grouchiness thing on the weather, the fact that this winter is endless and that I'm all out of chocolate ice cream.

Oh wait. I have chocolate pudding. Nevermind. Bad mood reversed.

In love - cue twittering birds

Dear chocolate ice cream,

If reincarnation exsists I wish to come back as a bowl and then you and I shall be together as one.

And then we can spoon...

Monday, February 06, 2006

Admiring mommies

I read this over on Jen's blog and it made me think of something people often say to me. I have all sort of folks say "How do you do it? How do you take care of a quadriplegic by yourself? Isn't it awfully hard? Doesn't it just wear you out?" and I have to admit that it isn't easy. It's physically demanding, it keeps me somewhat isolated, I don't get sick days and time to myself away from home is rare and limited.

But when I think of what moms do, most of the time I think I have it easy. Sure, moms lift 40 pound kids all day long and I lift a 150 pound man but c'mon! I'm not lifting him when he's in the midst of pitching a fit or as he's kicking me or is slippery wet. Yes, I have to feed him but he doesn't spit food back at me and doesn't adore one food one day and detest it the next and neglects to inform me of the change. Yes, I have to assist with bathroom needs but I get fair warning. I won't be in the middle of something and have it just surprise me. Sure, I have to shave him but I don't have to do things like cut chewing gum out of his hair. I have to brush his teeth but he willingly opens his mouth for me and doesn't attempt to bite or refuse to have them brushed at all. Dressing is easy as we both tend to agree with what he'll wear and there are no battles over whether he can wear red rubber boots or a Batman costume when we go outside. My husband requires me to bathe him but there are no fights over bathtime and he doesn't squirm when I wash his ears. My husband doesn't need naps and if I want to take one I don't need to make sure he's asleep first. There is no guessing as to what he wants and even if he doesn't speak with an accent, I don't have to rely on my ability to decipher crying to determine what he needs. Moms with a baby or toddler are often sleep deprived. I'm only sleep deprived if I sit up too late watching movies.

It would be easy to appear as though I'm a martyr or a superhero but it would be false. While I'm very busy, moms are busier. They have to be. I simply can't be busier than a mom with a little one who needs help with so much and who needs to be kept safe and entertained and loved. Add to that multiple kids and you'll see why I think motherhood is the hardest thing in the world to do.

I'll gladly keep my tough job. I've got the routine down pat and no one draws on the walls.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Take heed

If in the course of 3 1/2 hours you attempt to write three different blog entries and end up ditching all of them, that's probably a good sign from God or the universe or the fates or simple common sense that you didn't have a damn thing to say worth reading anyway.

Never let it be said that I don't eventually catch on to the obvious.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Friday Shuffle - I-Need-to-Reload-Bixente Edition

...but am too lazy to take care of it. It's the story of my day - need to, want to, too lazy to.
  1. Memories are Made of This - Dean Martin
  2. Knoxville Girl - Lemonheads
  3. Eight Days a Week - The Beatles
  4. Love Like a Bomb - Oasis
  5. Cliffs of Dover - Eric Johnson
  6. Devoted to You - Everly Brothers
  7. Somebody to Love - Queen
  8. Dancing Queen - ABBA
  9. Look Through Any Window - The Hollies
  10. Bad Day - REM
~ All in all a day of doing what really, really, really had to be accomplished and giving a half-hearted stab and a promise to do better tomorrow at the things that weren't strictly front burner.

~ Laundry needs to be pulled off the back burner else I'll be down to wearing tatty, greyed panties and socks I've owned since Reagan was president.

~ I'm currently on a dishrag knitting kick. Doesn't it seem ridiculous to spend 3 1/2 hours knitting something I'm going to use to wipe greasy crud off of dishes, especially since I can buy a pack of dishrags for about a buck? Still, I can't stop it and coupled with the fact that it's ridding my stash of cotton yarn that I don't especially like anyway it doesn't seem like a complete waste of time. And by golly they do make some damn good dishrags.

~ Lottie the Sock Monkey is in desperate need of a new outfit. Perhaps I can learn to fashion knitted dishrags into a stunning ensemble.

~ Swatching for the Knitting Olympics begins tomorrow if I can put down my dishrag knitting long enough. I figure if I don't screw it up and have to rip it back, I should finish the baby blanket within the time allotted if I knit about sixteen rows a day although I have to say this pattern isn't written terribly well as far as I can tell. I have a feeling that after swatching I'll end up making changes to the pattern anyway.

~ Why isn't fluid caramel a cure for something? Anything that good should be a cure for something.

Y'all dig the mostest on your weekends.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

You asked, I answer

Here's the answers for the questions you asked about B and me.

Mollie: Friend, eh? Would this friend like to come babysit while I go to England and groove around?

Robin: Learning how to take care of B was on-the-job training. I watched his mom with all the things she did and I eventually took over all of his care. I did, however, find that there were easier, better ways to do things for him so I modified what I did to fit me and his needs. It wasn't scary per se but he has an old open scar from a pressure sore that went wild about 20 years ago and I was a bit intimidated about it's care. It can become easily infected if we're not careful about its care. It's all just a routine now.

Taking care of B is physically demanding. He's very tall - 6'4" tall - (or maybe I should say long since he's in a prone position most of the time) and while he weighs less than most men, especially men of that height, he's still a good 150 or 160 pounds and it's all dead weight. He's not able to be active in me lifting him to an upright position isn't so easy. While I don't worry about it, I do have to be careful not to let him slip from my grasp and drop him.

Rich: Dude, you have the questions! As you can read from my previous post, B was already a quadriplegic when I met him. When he was 24 he was drafted into the East German army and one day when he was at the swim hall he slipped by the side of the pool, fell into 1 meter of water and landed on his head. His spinal cord jumped out of place, became damaged and then popped back into place - his neck was never broken. His injury site is C5 and he is a quadriplegic which means all of his limbs are affected by the injury but it doesn't mean that he has absolutely no use of his limbs. His left arm is fairly useless and it's pretty well frozen in a flexed position. In his right arm he has use of his biceps but no use of his triceps so he's unable to raise his arms on his own but he can extend or flex his arm somewhat. His fingers are pretty well useless and on both hands the fingers curl into his hands. In general his health is very good, he's not had more than a pinhead sized pressure sore since I've taken over his care (Yay!).

What he does that upsets me the most is when I spend the entire day busy taking care of him and taking care of our home and the minute I sit down he says "Sorry, I need to pee.". He can't help it but I could scream when that happens. He doesn't use a catheter (much less chance of bladder and kidney infections which can be deadly to a quad) and instead he pees in a urine bottle with my assistance (I hold the bottle and push manually on his bladder and he pees).

What make me love him most is knowing that to him I am the most beautiful woman in the world, that he loves me without end and that he truly appreciates everything I do for him.

As for the other questions - No, he's not a Werder Bremen fan. He's a die hard Bayern-München fan and has been for the past thirty or so years. Yes, he can communicate with me - his only injury was to his spinal cord and he didn't sustain any sort of brain injury. He could technically communicate with y'all as well but he's not the sort to blog but if you wanted to ask him something in an email, he'd answer it.

And I have to say that while I miss my family and friends terribly, I have never regretted moving to Germany and I have never regretted marrying B. He is absolutely the love of my life.

pkb: Are you kidding? B's a fabulous kisser! But you already suspected that, didn't you?

Ashley: B said for you to come visit us. He'll look crosseyed at your lipring but he'll gladly admire your bird tattoos.

Mr. Fabulous: Answered!

Lisa: I guess these entries could become a sort of FAQ about myself and B. I've been asked for years why I don't write a book about our lives but honestly I never thought it would be all that interesting. Maybe that's just because my life seems ordinary to me but maybe it's extraordinary to others.

cncz: Sometimes I think my husband is less German than other Germans but maybe I've just trained him to be that way. He's not a sarcastic person but he can be cynical and that sort of bugs me.

And thank God for German health insurance. I can say that we get so much less crap about getting the stuff to care for him than we'd get in the US. In the States the quality and accessability of the things needed to care for a quad can vary depending on the person's insurance and their own wealth. Jumping through hoops for insurance companies in order to get needed equipment is far too common and I know of quads that had to go through hell just to get something as basic as a decent shower chair. While we have to pay for some things on our own, most is covered by our insurance. He has two wheelchairs - one is a push chair that's at least 12 years old and is dead uncomfortable for him to sit in...he seldom uses it but we have it for instances when his electric wheelchair won't do...and he's got a big electric wheelchair. B's a tall man so his chair is bigger than most to accomodate his endless legs. That chair is about 10 years old and it won't be replaced unless it breaks and can't be repaired. His bed is a fairly standard electric hospital type bed but it's wooded so it's not as hospital-y looking. It gets replaced every 4-5 years but we buy a different mattress than what the insurance company provides because what they pay for is crap. Other equipment we use would include pillows to help prevent pressure sores, bandages and disinfection drops for the previously mentioned pressure sore scar that has to be dressed daily and he takes a medication to prevent limb spasms. It's actually a mild tranquilizer but on him is words as an anti-spasm medication. The only other medication he takes is magnesium which also helps muscle cramps and spasms.

jvs: He thinks my love of peaches is fine. He's allergic to raw peaches so he figures he's leaving more in the world for me to enjoy. Ice cream? His favorite is vanilla. Mine is chocolate. We're so very ebony and ivory. And he'd pick Julie Andrews because I doubt he knows who Julie Christie is...that is until I said "The chick in Dr. Zhivago.".

Marsha: Since B has limited muscle control in his neck, he can't sit up but for a certain amount of time. If he's sitting still he can last longer because he can rest his head on a headrest (or the back of his bed if he's sitting upright in bed) but if he's rolling down the street his head wobbles a bit and it strains his neck. Some quads, like B, get a sort of fatigue from sitting upright for a long time. He'll begin to shake and he'll begin to sweat - it's all just a part of the messed up physiology that occurs from a spinal cord injury. Else he's not in any sort of pain and doesn't take any pain medications. He does have some feeling below his injury site but it's not always the same sort of feeling we may experience. He can tell if I'm pushing on his leg but he couldn't feel it if I stuck a needle in it. He can tell if his stomach is upset - he can feel bloated or overly full. If he's not laying right in bed or sitting right (okay, I'll say it...if I've somehow got his testicles squished), he'll sweat and his legs will spasm. He's got some feeling in his hands and some on his fingertips but it varies. The rule is, if he's sweating and shaking, check everything to make sure he's not sitting or laying wrong.

I can lift B myself to an upright postion to put a t-shirt on him or to straighted his sheets or whatever but it's impossible for me to lift his body completely except for maybe an inch off the mattress. There are mechanical lifts available and we use to have one but it doesn't work well in conjunction with his wheelchair and so we got rid of it. To get him in his wheelchair I have to rely on one strong man to lift him and sit him in his wheelchair or I can do it with the assistance of another person - usually his mother because that's usually the only person available. I lift him under his arms, she lifts him under his legs and we get him off the bed and into his chair. It's not easy and I firmly believe we only succeed because the angels around us help lift. Putting him back into bed is done the same way but I can do it by myself in an emergency using a slightly different method that only works to get him in bed.

Okay...anything else? If you have more questions, leave me a comment!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

"It's the end of the world!"

Perhaps it's because the river has become frozen or because it's stormy up north along the coast or because they figure Magdeburg's a great little vacation spot but for some reason my neighborhood has become overrun by seagulls. Big, flappy, nasty, poop filled seagulls. I expect them around the river. They piss me off for stealing the food I'm trying to give to the ducks but I expect it. I don't, however, expect them five blocks up from the river in the center of the city hanging around my apartment building like a pack of drunks that won't leave a party.

I live four floors up from the street and as I stand at the stove (it's right next to the window) I become startled over and over by big ass seagulls swooping quite close to the window as though they're looking for a handout. I'm trying to boil some pasta and suddenly I'm turned into Tippi Hedren in a phone booth and I have the urge to search below for a very fat English man.

And in keeping with that fat English man, if gulls are around can big ass crows be far behind? Not around here, my friends. The seagulls and the crows don't seem to be fond of one another so I'm treated to seeing them sail around each other, a la Jets vs. Sharks, each bird gang trying to take control of the scrap of Brötchen that didn't seem to make it into a trashcan and all I want to do is go to the bakery without one or the other crapping on my shoulders or lunging for my scalp.

It's probably a good idea if I don't attend any children's birthday parties or pick up any kids from school for a few days...

Watch what I say

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Like good memories.