Murphy’s Law, or: Good Freakin’ Grief, Why Isn’t Anything Working?

Before I get into my Hurricane Ian story, I’d like to go ahead and say this right off the bat: I’m okay and my family and I are all in one piece. This delay in posting has been more due to just wanting a few days to decompress from my experiences of the last week or so. But now I think I feel ready to write about it. I warn you…this is going to be a long post, so bear with me!

So, I think I’m going to format this by talking about each day, from when the storm started approaching on Wednesday evening to when our power finally came back on Sunday evening.

Wednesday, 28 September

As Hurricane Ian made his approach towards the southwest coast of Florida, we were in the midst of trying to make sure that we were prepared as much as possible before sunset. As our house faces west rather than north (the direction from where hurricane winds typically make their approach), we didn’t board up our windows (since the winds coming in from the north and east would typically hit the north and south ends of our house, which do not have windows), but we did have to make sure that any objects that could potentially be blown around (including our trash can) were placed next to the south end of the house. (Basically, since a hurricane rotates counterclockwise, the winds in a hurricane rotate from east to west and from north to south around the eye. Placing those objects at the south end of the house makes that end of the house a wind buffer.) I spent most of that evening watching local news coverage, which preempted all of the shows I’d normally watch anyway.

At this point, even though I’ve experienced hurricanes before, I am almost always a bundle of nerves. For me, knowing what to expect during a storm helps relieve some of that nervousness. One of the local news stations (specifically Orlando’s CBS affiliate, WKMG) has a segment called “Talk to Tom” during hurricane coverage where viewers can call into the station and ask the chief meteorologist, Tom Sorrells, their hurricane questions and how it might affect their area (or their loved ones; one caller actually called in from South Dakota, and he was concerned about his brother who lived in Lakeland, which is the southern part of Central Florida, in Polk County which is more rural compared to some other parts of the region). So I ended up watching this for a couple of hours until I went to bed that night. At that point we still had power, until…

Thursday, 29 September

5:00 am: I wake up in the middle of the night and I realize that our power has been knocked out. I get my phone (whose camera flash doubles as a flashlight) and make my way to the living room so I can grab my dad’s phone and bring it to him in case he needs a flashlight.

A few hours later, day breaks and it’s still raining and windy, with some pretty nasty gusts. Fast forward to early that afternoon, the rain has largely moved out, but it’s still windy. My dad decides to try and get his generator going. He realizes the battery on it needs to be jumped. So we find the jumper cables and he has to pull his Jeep out to turn it around and use its battery to help jumpstart the battery on the generator. He connects the jumper cables and successfully jumps the generator’s battery. But when he goes to start it…first the engine backfires. He figures the spark plugs may need to be pulled and cleaned. He does that, and reinstalls the spark plugs. Tries to start it again. The engine is no longer backfiring, but he also can’t get it to run for more than a few seconds. He decides to try and clean the engine’s air filter. Cleans it, and reinstalls it, and tries starting the generator again. Same result. He thinks about asking to borrow our neighbor’s generator (our neighbor is on a different power grid from us and didn’t lose power this time), but decides against it. Around this time, we notice that as the storm has started moving away from Florida’s Atlantic coast (for reference, we actually live inland, but we live closer to the Atlantic coast of Florida than to the Gulf coast), a chill has also settled into the air, one that I’ve only felt after one other hurricane: Hurricane Wilma.

The path Hurricane Ian ended up taking, from its formation to its dissolution right around the Carolinas/Virginia.

As my dad continues to try and figure out why his generator won’t start, he enlists me to hold his Jeep’s hood up to keep the wind gusts from blowing it down. There were a couple of instances where I had to hold on with both hands to keep it from moving around too much. My brother, who lives on the other end of town, has at this point been out with his kids in a nearby town (I can’t remember the exact reason why), but my dad invites him to come over for a little bit so that he can at least see his grandbabies. My brother obliges, and they end up spending an hour or so with us. My nieces are quite active this whole time, and my brother is holding on to my nephew (to keep him from running around and tearing everything up). But it was really nice to see them. Our neighbor brings over some grilled ribs (it’s just him, his girlfriend, and his youngest daughter living there, so he sometimes will deliberately cook extra food and bring it over to us, even though we never ask him to), and even though they’re a little tough and we have almost no daylight left, we eat the freshly-cooked ribs.

Earlier in the afternoon, family friends of ours that we’d only recently got back into contact with (for reference, my dad’s first phone call with them took place the same day I’d completely lost my voice due to COVID-induced laryngitis, so this was early July) invited my dad and I over, initially to spend the night although my dad just wanted to sleep in his own bed, so it turned into just an evening visit for a few hours. They still had power because they live in a newer subdivision in a nearby town that has underground power lines (therefore not as likely to lose power due to falling trees in a storm like this). It was a nice distraction from the power outage, although I will admit that I did feel some anxiety every time they all started talking politics (my dad knows which way I lean, but we don’t really talk about it all that much; most of our family friends and extended family don’t know, though). Their wifi had went out, so the only real distraction there was their cat, a floofy black cat who had a name as spicy as his attitude. The TL;DR version of this: he loves feet and nips at people. His name was, fittingly, Pepper. It was the first time I’d really gotten to pet a cat since my mom’s cat passed away about 8 years ago. (Roxy tends to chase off any cats that come onto the property, although she didn’t mind my mom’s cat all that much. I guess she saw her as “her” cat. To be honest, my mom’s cat disliked the dog more than the dog disliked the cat.) We stayed for about 4 hours, just talking. We went back home around midnight, and went to sleep not long afterwards.

(On the way up to their house, we managed to see what the culprit behind our power going out was: a fallen oak tree a couple of streets away from us that had taken out at least a couple of power lines and a cable.)

Friday, 30 September

The next morning, my dad resumed trying to get his generator started, to no avail. At this point he ended up admitting defeat, and would end up asking his neighbor to lend him his generator later that day. I think I slept in until almost noon.

About an hour after I got up, my dad decided he wanted to go for a drive. Usually when he does this on one of his days off, I’m still asleep and he leaves while I sleep in, so I don’t usually join him on these drives. But I really needed to get out of the house, and he let me come along. Our first stop was to the local Dunkin to order some iced coffee (specifically their iced caramel macchiato) and some “Wake-up Wraps” (which are a fried egg, a couple slices of bacon, and some cheese inside a folded mini tortilla). Then we went to where my dad typically gets his car washed. After that we went over to I-4 eastbound and drove towards Daytona Beach. The eastern end of I-4 joins up with I-95 and you take that a few miles northbound to get to Daytona Beach proper (and yes, the city itself is named Daytona Beach). Just a little ways into town is a place called Buc-ee’s, which is sort of a convenience store/truck stop-style establishment on steroids, except they only allow passenger cars. It’s basically a tourist attraction in and of itself, and one of just two locations in Florida (the other is in St. Augustine, which is maybe an hour or two north of Daytona Beach). We actually only spent around 15 minutes or so in the store, and there were so many people there it felt a little overwhelming for me anyway. (My dad has been to this particular location before, which is open 24 hours a day, but he’s usually there at maybe 4 or 5 in the morning.) We mostly ended up getting food (a couple of barbecued sandwiches for each of us, one with pulled pork, the other with barbecued brisket; a chef’s salad for each of us, some pecan pralines, a box of fudge, and some yogurt-coated almonds) as well as some batteries to power a portable radio we had at the house.

We headed towards home on U.S. Highway 92. While we hadn’t seen as much in the way of flooding or downed trees along I-4, Highway 92 was a different story. The stretch of road leading to the on-ramp to I-4 was completely flooded, to the point where traffic had to be redirected and a portion of the eastbound stretch of road was turned into a two-lane road. I actually took some video of the flooding (my dad’s car has two USB ports to connect charging cables to, which is mostly how my dad and I recharged our phones during the power outage at home), but my current WordPress plan doesn’t allow me to directly upload video, so you’ll have to make do with a couple of screenshots I took.

This was right about where traffic was detoured to make 92 eastbound a two-lane road. There’s supposed to be a road where all that water is.
This was a little ways further down 92, but this is the on-ramp to Interstate 4 (locally known as “I-4”).

Along this road and where it joins Highway 17 to become 17-92, there were a bunch of traffic lights that weren’t working. Once we got to our hometown, only one traffic light was not working, but most of the other ones through town seemed to be functioning. We got home, and then once our neighbor got home from work, he and my dad brought his generator over (just across the street from us), and set it up in our backyard. Out came the extension cords and power strips, and we managed to get our refrigerator, living room lights, and our TV connected to the generator (through the extension cords and power strips). There weren’t any issues with this generator…at first.

Refrigerator-wise, our frozen food stayed frozen (because we hardly opened either the fridge or freezer), and we only lost some dairy and leftovers when it came to the fridge. And that’s even with all the generator issues.

Saturday, 1 October

This was a recurring theme on Saturday and Sunday: The neighbor’s generator didn’t want to behave itself.

Saturday morning, my dad went to Dunkin and got us coffee and breakfast food (those Wake-up Wraps I mentioned, as well as their sourdough breakfast sandwich, which is bacon, eggs, and cheese in toasted sour bread). For lunch I had the salad I had gotten from Buc-ee’s the day before. (I had eaten my pulled pork sandwich the previous evening and would eat my brisket sandwich later on Saturday. Both were quite good, even though I had to eat the brisket sandwich cold.)

Let’s see…managing a period in a dark bathroom with no air conditioning is no fun at all. And I was cramping, too. I ended up having to take a nap while waiting for the ibuprofen I’d taken to kick in.

While all of this was going on, our neighbor’s generator also kept shutting off randomly. My dad couldn’t quite figure out the issue, and kept having to adjust the choke to even keep it running. (And this was even with it filled up with gas.)

After one such shutoff in the early evening, my dad decided to go for another drive. This time we went on I-4 westbound toward Orlando (where he also works). We managed to leave right as it was getting around sunset, and it was absolutely gorgeous.

(I should mention that all of this marked the first time I’d gone more than one town over from mine since before the pandemic began in early 2020. Remember that this was around the time that my mom had entered the final stages of her fight with Alzheimer’s disease and she was already bedridden by the time the pandemic was declared in early March. I wasn’t going much of anywhere, even without a pandemic in play.)

We ended up taking the path that my dad normally takes to work in the evenings (he works as a ride and show technician at one of the theme parks in the Orlando area). On the circuit back up I-4 eastbound to head toward home, we ended up taking the I-4 Expressway (which is normally a toll road running between the main lanes of I-4 open only to SunPass holders, but due to the hurricane all tolls were temporarily suspended statewide, so anyone could drive on the expressway at no charge). It was, maybe, 10:00 pm when we got home. We tried running the generator again, but it wasn’t cooperating with us, so we ended up turning on the portable radio I’d gotten a battery for the previous day, and we just chilled in the living room for a couple of hours with the radio playing. My dad played around with his phone, but I kept powering mine down to preserve the battery until I could charge it again. We both went to bed around midnight, although I did stay up about another half hour reading via the reading light my brother and sister-in-law had given me for Christmas last year.

The view from I-4 westbound approaching downtown Orlando.

Sunday, 2 October

When we headed out for our drive to Orlando the previous evening, we noticed that where the tree had fallen and taken out the power lines in our grid, workers had set up barricades and were directing traffic away from the work site. This meant that the fallen tree had been cleared out and they were getting ready to repair the power lines. However, this repair work wouldn’t actually start until Sunday morning.

We got some coffee and wraps from Dunkin that morning, and throughout much of the afternoon we were still dealing with generator issues, but my dad managed to get it restarted by adjusting the choke on the restart. He decided to try and get some more gas for his gas cans and I stayed home this time. Generator ended up shutting off again while he was gone, which was maybe for an hour.

When he got back, he came back with a little bit of good news: there were power company-branded pickup trucks at the repair site. Usually, when that happens, that means that the actual repair work is close to done and the supervisors are there to make sure everything they’ve needed to do is done and that everything is connected safely before they finally get that power grid back online.

Our power finally came back on around 5:45 pm on Sunday, in the middle of our fourth day without power. Not the longest power outage we’d experienced (that was after Hurricane Charley in 2004, during which we were without power for two weeks), but no walk in the park either. I could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

My dad actually ended up going to work that night, despite having been up since 9:00 or so that morning. We both ended up getting nice, hot showers that evening, and my hair was sorely in need of a good wash.

The Aftermath

Now, while all of the above is my own story, not everyone was so lucky in other parts of the state.

The Ft. Myers area was hit especially hard and got the brunt of Hurricane Ian’s category 4 winds. My mom’s best friend from her high school years usually spends the winters in the area with her longtime partner (who was her high school boyfriend many years ago; they broke up, she married another man and had five children with him, and then after she and her husband divorced she reconnected with the old boyfriend and they’ve been together ever since). Luckily, they were not down here when the storm hit, they were in New Hampshire (where they live the rest of the year) and weren’t due to come down until later this month. Sadly, their Ft. Myers home was one of many in the area destroyed by the hurricane. Their future in Florida is uncertain, but at least they are okay.

An old friend of mine, who I’ve known since middle school, recently got married in August. Her husband, who is a volunteer firefighter and went down to South Florida to aid in the first response effort, proposed to her on the beach in Ft. Myers back in May. (She posted the video taken of the proposal, and it was during a beautiful sunset right around her birthday.) The beachside was so vibrant and full of life just a few months ago. That same beachside is now unrecognizable. It will likely take years to rebuild. It’s sad to see how hardly that city was hit.

Another old friend of mine, who I’ve known even longer, evacuated with her two kids from South Florida to her parents’ house in Central Florida while her husband and dog stayed behind. Thankfully their hometown is a bit north of Ft. Myers (kind of halfway in between Tampa and Ft. Myers) and their house didn’t experience the same kind of damage, but both her house and her parents’ house in Central Florida did end up dealing with some flooding in their neighborhoods.

Several other friends of mine dealt with this storm, too, and all of them got through it safely.

This all serves as a bittersweet reminder of just how powerful nature can be.

Thankfully, all the people close to me and important to me are okay. And I am doing okay. I hope you never have to go through a hurricane, but if you do, stay safe during and try to stay positive after. That’s one thing a lot of us have gotten good at over the years here in Florida.

Here I Go Again.

As much as I’d like that to be about the Whitesnake song or Strong Bad cartwheeling a mile in one of The Cheat’s animations, this is not about either of those.

Nope. If you haven’t already heard, Florida has another hurricane heading its way in a few days: Hurricane Ian. It developed about a week ago in the Caribbean Sea south of Cuba and as I’m writing this, it’s passing over the western end of Cuba and is quickly expected to strengthen to at least a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale currently used by meteorologists and hurricane experts (with maximum sustained winds of anywhere between 111-129 miles per hour, or 178–208 kilometers per hour for my readers in metric countries) before it’s expected to make landfall around Thursday morning. (Today is Tuesday.) Current forecast tracks have the storm making landfall somewhere Tampa and possibly Venice (which is a bit further south than Tampa but north of Ft. Myers), and slowing down its forward motion considerably upon landfall as it works its way north through Peninsular Florida over the next couple of days. The upside to this is that once it makes landfall, it will weaken significantly (since a hurricane’s power source is warm water, which doesn’t really occur so much on dry land). But still, two days of strong winds (at least compared to a normal day) will carry the potential of more damage, depending on location and how severe the winds are.

I still remember when Irma came through here five years ago. I keep hoping that we won’t be dealing with the same things we had to deal with when Irma buzz sawed her way up through Florida. But at least we’re prepared. With each hurricane we’ve experienced in the last two decades, we’ve learned more and more how to get through these storms and made adjustments over the years.

There are some key differences here from Irma:

  1. Ian is approaching from more of a southwesterly direction compared to Irma, which pretty much went from due south up through Peninsular Florida. This means that the strongest winds will likely stay west of where I am in Central Florida when Ian makes landfall. Good for the eastern half of Central Florida (where I am), but not so great for the Tampa-St. Petersburg metro area.
  2. Irma at its strongest was a Category 5 and made its first Florida landfall as a Category 4 storm in the Florida Keys. Ian at its strongest is expected to be a weak Category 4 storm and is forecast to make landfall as a Category 3 storm.

The biggest concerns I have are mainly wind damage and the potential for an extended power outage. But, as I’ve said before, we are prepared in the event of an extended power outage. We bought a generator after the three hurricanes that struck our area in August and September 2004 (Charley, Frances, and Jeanne aka “The Triumvirate”) and caused multiple power outages. We didn’t have to use it for an extended period until Hurricane Matthew. After Irma hit in 2017 (which resulted in us losing power for about 5 days, and you may remember reading about that when I posted about it in 2017; I’ll link to the relevant post for you to refresh your memory), my dad decided to install a transfer switch. A transfer switch is a device that is installed by a house’s utility meter and connects to its electrical panel in a way that a house can be safely powered by a backup generator in the event a house loses power from the local power grid for an extended period (such as in the aftermath of weather events like hurricanes). There are different types of transfer switches depending on what kind of generator one has (permanent or portable) and whether they just want to power essential appliances (like a refrigerator or a stove, as here in Florida electric stoves are more common than gas stoves) or the entire house. Ours is a whole-home transfer switch that connects to a portable generator (which is gas-powered). We haven’t had to use it yet. But if we do have to use it, it will be a significant improvement over how we powered our appliances last time: through power strips connected to the generator (which caused me some slight anxiety because that meant having to leave our sliding back door slightly open to accommodate the cords going into the house). The transfer switch takes away the need for the power strips.

(We also recently had a new electrical panel installed last month for unrelated reasons. The TL;DR version is that my dad needed to get a new home insurance policy after the old insurer went under. We were able to get a new policy on the house after a few days, but as a condition of getting the new policy in place my dad needed to have a new electrical panel installed to replace the one that had been there for at least 30 years. Electricians came in and installed the new panel. Needless to say, our electrical stuff is pretty up to date.)

Right now it’s a waiting game. There are still uncertainties about where Hurricane Ian will strike and how badly we will all be affected, but I think if we can get through this without losing power, then I think we’ll be okay. The storm is currently forecast to go northward through Central Florida, but by the time the center of the storm gets to Orlando, it’s forecast to be a tropical storm at that point. Tropical storms are still a little scary, but not to the point where I feel helpless.

I am a bit worried for some of my old friends and family friends that live out in the southwestern part of the state, but I’m hoping they are all taking the necessary precautions and doing everything they can to stay safe. I know of at least one or two friends who’ve already evacuated, and I think more of them will probably evacuate to safer areas as well.

I know many of you who read my blog will be feeling a bit worried about me once the storm hits, so hopefully this post serves as a little bit of relief for you, and I assure you once things are okay again I’ll try to make another post. Until then, I’m trying to manage my stress levels (and this is one of those events that tends to drive up my stress levels) and indulging in the Floridian equivalent of gallows humor: Hurricane Humor. Some people find it morbid or scary, but when one has been through as many hurricanes as my family has, the need for humor becomes kind of necessary and calming. The best one can do in the face of danger is be prepared as possible, and hopefully we’ve done that.

I don’t recommend doing what this dude in the GIF below is doing, but I think this sums up the spirit of Floridians in the face of hurricanes. I’ll hopefully see you on the other side of this.

This Is 35, or: Am I Having an Existential Crisis?

As you may have noticed, 2022 has been quite light on the blogging this year. Not because I’ve fallen out of love with blogging or writing in general, but because the desire to blog just hasn’t hit me much this year for various reasons. And one of the consequences of that is that I didn’t write a birthday/blogiversary post this year.

So, a few months later, I’m kinda doing a delayed version of the blogiversary post. And I had plans to write a post looking at my life at 35, which was the milestone age I turned this past March. But at that time, I just had no motivation to do it.

A few months later, not much has changed, and it just really bites at me. I don’t really like the state of my life right now, and I don’t know how to tell that to the people in my life who matter the most. I feel stuck and at times I feel like I’m an embarrassment and a failure as a human being. I feel like I’ve set such high expectations for myself throughout life, and I’ve failed to reach every single one of them. There are days like today, where I feel like I’ve become such a disappointment and a burden to everyone around me. It hurts me deeply to admit that.

Sometimes I think my dad is a saint for putting up with me, because even though I get the feeling he probably thinks I’m a disappointment for being in the situation I’m in right now (35, single, chronically unemployed, and who literally has no way or means to live independently right now), he never says anything about it. And it greatly annoys me that he hasn’t. I don’t know if it’s because he wants me to bring it up first or if he’s just resigned himself to thinking this is how it’s gonna be. But he’s not really the kind of person to resort to the latter of that.

Sometimes I just wish I could get away, even if for just a couple of days, or be someone else. Maybe someone who didn’t feel alone in their own family, or be someone who felt like they actually fit in for once. The loneliness gnaws at me like a parasite. And I feel like I’ve brought so much of this on myself. And once again, I feel like I’ve failed as a human being.

What have I done to deserve feeling like this?

I feel equal parts sad and angry at myself.

Before you go jumping to conclusions, I want to assure you that I’m not thinking about doing any harm to myself. The thought of that frankly scares me. But also, writing about things like what I’ve been feeling lately is one of the ways I try to deal with those feelings. But days like today aren’t good days for me. I have a tendency to have my negative thoughts snowball into worse and worse things and it leads to me seriously questioning my worth as a person. And it keeps happening to me, even now at 35.

Days like today, I feel tired and like there’s this absolute cloud hanging over my head and I just can’t shake it off. And I hate those kind of days. Most days are just…indifferent. But today honestly feels like an existential crisis.

Anyway, I think I’m gonna be okay physically, but right now I’m just not feeling too good about myself. Maybe that will change.

A Brief Post-COVID Update

It’s been two weeks since I posted about my positive COVID test, so I figured I’d do a brief check-in and let you know how I’m doing.

When I last wrote, I was going through pretty active symptoms. Luckily, I didn’t need to go to the hospital or anything, but it still felt like one of the nastiest flus I’d ever experienced (and I rarely get anything more severe than a cold or nasal/sinus infection). It took a few days before the headaches and nasal congestion started going away. My laryngitis had already been starting to let up when I wrote my last post, but I knew it was going to take a few days for my vocal cords to fully heal up. I normally don’t take NyQuil when I get sick, but I did end up using it for about 3 or 4 nights for its fever reducing and cough suppressant properties, and it did help me sleep a little more soundly, although I still had issues waking up at like 6:30 or 7:00 in the morning.

I still deal with a little bit of coughing and dry mouth, but other than that I’m feeling pretty good right now. I will say that I hope I never have to go outside while running a fever in the middle of summer ever again. (Hey, when Roxy’s gotta go outside, she’s gotta go outside whether I want to or not.) It. Felt. Awful.

I never officially took a test to confirm I’m negative now, but given that I’ve been symptom-free almost two weeks with no further developments or complications, I think my body’s officially knocked out that sucker. I was quite fatigued for much of the week that I was actively sick; I pretty much only had energy to try and stay caught up on laundry or dishes and I didn’t try to cook anything more than ramen noodle soup until the day after my post, and even then I ended up using the slow cooker (broccoli beef with brown rice).

The one lasting effect this thing left on me thus far is that I currently have little to no sense of smell. I knew something was up when I couldn’t smell the sesame oil I was using for the broccoli beef. 😢 It’s not surprising, actually, since much of this infection was in my nasal cavity. I may be starting to gain just a little bit of it back, but from the sources I’ve read, it will likely be a month or so before I might get a substantial sense of smell back. My brother lost his senses of smell and taste when he had it in March of 2021, and the dominant strain at that point, I think, was the Delta variant, which was more virulent and deadly (remember that my sister-in-law’s grandmother died from it during this time). Mine was more likely one of the Omicron subvariants, which is a little more resistant to the vaccine I got last summer (I, unfortunately, had not yet gotten boosted) and more contagious than previous variants, but it also hasn’t been as deadly. For my brother, though, his loss of taste and smell was temporary and I think he’s made a full recovery. Thankfully, my sense of taste has remained intact, otherwise I probably would have felt quite depressed.

My dad had developed symptoms before me and ended up testing positive the same day I did. He only ended up missing two days of work due to COVID (they had his isolation period retroactive to when he first started showing symptoms) and was able to return to work last Sunday (although he did mask up last week as a precaution, just in case he was still shedding virus, but not showing symptoms). He’s doing pretty good now as well. And unlike me, his sense of smell has remained intact.

I finally got a chance to get groceries over the weekend and I found some extra Lion Brand Summer Nights yarn on clearance, so I got a couple of balls of it and a crochet hook and I’m working on another Virus Shawl. (No pun intended.) It’s my first time working one in a fingering or lace weight yarn, and the pattern itself is relatively easy for me to memorize.

So, that’s what’s been going on with me since my positive COVID test two weeks ago. How have all of you been doing?

It Finally Got Me.

So, as I’m sitting here writing this, I’m about 6 hours removed from a positive COVID test. I asked my dad to get me one on the way home from work this morning because for the last few days I’d been feeling quite sick, and from something I’d caught from him.

My positive COVID home test from this morning.

Now, it’s not uncommon for my dad to bring home some sort of cold or flu from one of the guys at work. But, in the age of COVID, it’s still important to be on the lookout. Initially, I didn’t think it was COVID because the guy at work that my dad thinks he caught it from had said he’d taken a COVID test and it came back negative (although he was exhibiting mild symptoms). My dad started showing symptoms on Wednesday night/early Thursday morning. And his symptoms presented like his colds usually do: nasal, sinus, and chest congestion, headaches, lots of sneezing, and fatigue.

I’m not usually one to get sick, but on Friday afternoon, I started getting headaches, muscle aches, and sinus and nasal congestion. Then last weekend I started noticing that I was feeling quite hot for the most part unless I was sitting in my spot on the love seat where the air conditioning vent blows, aided by a ceiling fan. We don’t have a medical thermometer, but I assume I was running a fever for the better part of two days.

Sunday morning it started turning into laryngitis. I could feel the pain and rawness in my throat, and my voice was going hoarse. It was completely gone by yesterday morning. Dad brought home a couple bags of cough drops, and after letting three of them dissolve, one after another, the throat pain finally started to go away and my voice has been slowly coming back since then. It’s not 100% there, but it’s healing up nicely. I’ve been saying I sound like an old bingo lady who’s smoked one too many cigarettes.

After my dad had gotten at least a couple of COVID related call ins from his crew yesterday, I asked my dad to get me a home COVID test on his way home from work. He ended up leaving work early because he’s still feeling some fatigue and stomach issues, but he picked up a couple of tests. (I don’t know if he’s planning on taking the other unopened test yet.) I took the test within a few minutes of getting up this morning. It’s supposed to take 15 minutes for the result to show up, but within three minutes of me setting the timer on my phone, both lines lit up like a Christmas tree. So, I’m definitely still in the middle of this thing.

While the aches, laryngitis, and fever have subsided (although I am still feeling quite heat sensitive if I go outside; getting this in the summer sucks), I’m still experiencing fatigue, headaches, wicked nasal congestion at times, and coughing. Still kind of nasty, but so far I’m not in a hospital bed, which is good. (I am vaccinated, which is probably why it’s only been at “nasty flu” levels to begin with, also combined with the fact that the omicron subvariants seem to be more contagious but less potent and deadly.) But I am going to be out of commission for a few more days.

Currently, I’m just trying to get plenty of rest, not exerting myself too much, and trying to get my appetite back. It was practically gone for the first couple of days of full-blown symptoms, but I do keep trying to eat, and I haven’t had the major stomach issues either.

The worst part of it seems to be behind me, but it’ll probably be a few more days before I really feel better.

I hope you all are doing much better than I am right now.

It’s Been Awhile…

(Cue some dudebro humming sounding vaguely like Staind.)

It wasn’t my intention to go on an extended hiatus when I last posted, but…life happens. I don’t really have a ton going on in my personal life right now that warrants updating, but I assure you I’ve been doing quite fine since my last post!

I’ve been busy knitting and reading and poking around on social media. I’ve got a few shawls waiting for weaving in ends and a photo shoot, but I haven’t gotten around to it just yet. I’ve also got an original shawl in the works that I hope to get a pattern posted for at some point.

Anyway, I hope to be posting again soon, and I hope you’re all doing all right!

Hello, 2022, or: A Sign of Life and It’s Cold AF

I didn’t expect to go almost 2 months without a post! I tried opening up my WordPress app a few times in that span, but for some reason, the words just weren’t coming.

Anyways, it’s the day before my best friend, The Lady Bryan’s, birthday and right now it is what we would call in Florida, “Cold AF”. It’s not supposed to get above 50°F today and where I’m at lows are going to dip into the 20s tonight. My readers in the Northeastern U.S. and Atlantic Canada (where, yes, I do have a few Twitter followers) are experiencing a heck of a Nor’easter complete with blizzard. I hope all of you are keeping safe and warm in these very cold conditions. Currently, I’m under a fleece lap blanket trying to keep my feet warm.

Before I get into 2022, let me share how we ended 2021. When I last posted, it was just a few days after Thanksgiving. My dad and I spent quite a bit of time last month getting ready for Christmas, which included trying to figure out what to get for two girls. I did get a gift for Nipote, but as he was only about 5 months old at the time, safe toys for a baby that age are a bit scarce. I ended up getting him a rattle and teether set, with the rattle in the shape of a donut and the teether was a chain of plastic macarons. I later saw a toy piano that would have worked nicely for him, but I haven’t gotten it for him at this time. For the girls, we ended up getting them dolls, dinosaurs, drawing toys, a toy makeup kit and a toy fish for R., a fire truck and Potato Heads (both Mr. and Mrs.) for The Bambina, and both of them got toy airplanes, too. I wrapped every single one of them and took them over on Christmas Eve.

While we were there, my brother and sister-in-law gave my dad a set of towels and washcloths, a blanket, and coffee thermos and matching keychain that both have the same “Scat Pack” logo as his Dodge Charger. I got a fleece blanket (which immediately went right onto my bed), a wall hanging, and a USB reading light. I don’t normally use reading lights, but it will be incredibly useful for when I do visit my brother’s house and the political discussions start to get so awkward that I need my “in case of emergency” book to mentally tune it out, especially after dark. We didn’t get them anything in return (totally our fault, we just got caught up in getting stuff for their kids), but my SIL’s birthday is coming up next month, so there’s an opportunity there.

My dad ended up taking the first week of 2022 off from work as a vacation/reset week. I don’t mind those weeks, but it’s always nice to get back to a normal routine.

What else? I had some spare cash on hand and I got myself a gift card for more ebooks because I hadn’t gotten one in a while. I still haven’t spent all the money from that one, but here’s what I’ve gotten so far:

  • Lovingly Abused by Heather Grace Heath. This is a memoir written by a woman who was raised in the same (for all intents and purposes) fundamentalist cult that the controversial Duggar family also belongs to, IBLP/ATI. I actually heard about this book from a podcast, Leaving Eden, whose co-host was a former member of a similar fundamentalist cult called the IFB. I read this book in about 11 days and Heather’s story is just incredible. She lived in a different state from the Duggars and she does not mention them by name in her book (but does reference them a few times), but she provides a great, first-person account about how the IBLP/ATI and similar groups cause more harm than good, and in her acknowledgments at the end, I found a few more podcasts to check out. (Side note: I kind of have a fascination with cults, from real ones like The People’s Temple and the FLDS to fictional ones like The Chosen from The Tribe.)
  • A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking.
  • 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. My third Murakami in my ebook collection, but I want to read Kafka on the Shore first before I take on this one, which is nearly 1000 pages long and was originally published in 3 volumes in Japan)
  • Me by Elton John. Yes, his own memoir…I’ve heard a lot of great reviews for this one, but as I have memoirs coming up in my physical TBR, I don’t know if I want to be reading two memoirs at once)
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. This one has been on my Bookstagram radar for a while. From what I’ve gathered, this is a historical novel set in Ghana (where the author and her family are originally from) and traces the stories of two half-sisters, born in different villages and sent on two very different paths. One sister ends up being kidnapped and sold into the transatlantic slave trade, while the other marries an English man and lives a life of privilege on Africa’s Gold Coast.

And finally, I did finish two shawls, but I have not yet woven in the ends and gotten them ready for pictures. What I’ve been primarily working on is a pullover sweater in some heather gray yarn, although I’m currently only on the body portion. I still need to work on the sleeves, too, so it’s not ready to wear yet. But it is coming along, and I promise to share some pictures when it’s finally ready!

So, anyway…that’s what I’ve been up to lately. There just hasn’t been a ton going on lately. But I am on the countdown to a milestone birthday now…less than two months to go until I turn…gasp 😱…thirty-five. What?! That also means my five-year blogiversary is coming up! I might have a lot of reflecting to do soon! Until next time, readers!

Thanksgiving 2021: The Blog Post.

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted, not for lack of trying. Life’s been going on and it’s been much of the usual. But we did get to go to a little Thanksgiving gathering last week.

Even when my mom was in the later stages of her illness, we didn’t really do much for Thanksgiving in recent years because Thanksgiving falls on a Thursday, and since my dad’s been at his current employer, Thursday has usually been his first day off after his work week. Since he works night shift, he usually uses that time to rest up and get some sleep. Sometimes our neighbor would bring by some of the food he cooked, just out of the goodness of his heart (even though we didn’t actually need the food, but he’s a nice and generous dude who cooks good food, so we always accept his cooking with a smile).

Besides, I already had a lot of memories of my mom and my grandmother doing Thanksgiving cooking when I was younger.

This year, we did Thanksgiving dinner over at my brother’s house, which is just on the other end of town from where my dad and I live. There were only nine of us there: my brother, my sister-in-law, and their three kids (although the youngest isn’t quite ready for solid food yet), my sister-in-law’s aunt and her husband, and me and my dad.

My brother cooked both the turkey and a ham in his smoker. For those of you unfamiliar with southern barbecue, is a big old iron chamber that’s usually filled with wood chips that are set ablaze and produce heat and smoke at a relatively low and steady temperature. The wood used is usually either hickory or mesquite, and the meat is placed on a rack inside the smoker, which is then left to cook in the smoker for several hours. The turkey took about 7 hours or so to cook in the smoker before it was ready to serve. (He began cooking it around 7 that morning, and my dad and I arrived right around 2 pm.)

Some of the other food also served:

  • Mashed potatoes with chives (I don’t eat it with chives all that often, but it does add some good flavor to it)
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Green bean casserole (I also love serving this stuff with meatloaf on occasion)
  • Yellow squash casserole
  • Stuffing (I think they had the stove top stuff, but I also enjoy making it as a casserole with onions, celery, butter, and broth; I don’t cook it in the bird because that’s a breeding ground for bacteria and food poisoning)
  • Sweet potatoes topped with caramel and walnuts that their neighbor brought over
  • Pumpkin and caramel apple pies (both store bought, but still good)

I also got to hang out with my nieces and get to know my nephew a little better. R is almost 5 1/2 (she’ll officially hit that mark on the 6th), Bambina is 2 1/2 and will be turning 3 in March, and Nipote hit the 4-month mark the day before Thanksgiving. Here’s how they’re doing:

  • R is doing well. She’s in kindergarten now (I don’t know if she’s in regular school or doing home learning, as school was starting just a few weeks after Nipote was born and my SIL was worried about her possibly bringing COVID home with a newborn in the house). She’s pretty well-behaved and will also talk your ear off whenever she gets the chance.
  • Bambina is definitely being a toddler and SIL is calling her the “wild child”. Bambina actually looks a lot like I did at her age, except when I was her age I was a bit blonder and my hair wasn’t quite as curly as hers. (My hair is wavy now, but it didn’t really start getting that texture until I hit puberty. It was pretty straight when I was a kid.) The girls have a Magna-Doodle type toy that they like to draw on, and while Bambina isn’t quite old enough to write yet, she is starting to make scribbles on the drawing surface. She scribbles with both hands, but when my dad drew a horse on there, she decided to turn it into a unicorn and drew the horn (and then proceeded to draw a whole bunch more) with her left hand. If she does end up being left-handed, I think she’d be the first in our family.
  • Nipote, as I mentioned, just hit the 4-month mark. It’s been a little bit rough for him lately, as he’s been dealing with a bunch of skin irritation that looks like it could be infantile eczema. Eczema does run in our family, and in fact I myself have been dealing with it since I was a small child. Luckily, the type of chronic eczema that I have does lessen in frequency and severity as one gets older, although I do still deal with the occasional flare up. At the moment my brother and sister-in-law have been going by trial and error as to what products they can use to lessen the irritation, but I did recommend that they consult a dermatologist if he’s still dealing with it. Talking about it with them brought back memories for my dad about trying to get my eczema under control as a baby, and it did involve having to use some strong ointments and creams. (These days I’m usually able to get my flare ups under control with hydrocortisone cream.) I hope they’re able to get him to a pediatric dermatologist to see what may work for him. Seeing all that redness on his skin made me think of how uncomfortable he must be feeling.

We stayed there for about 6 hours, just talking or watching the girls play. It felt good to get out of the house for a few hours.

Now, for the next order of business: trying to figure out what to get the kiddos for Christmas! Until next time, everybody! And for now, I’ll leave you with a pic of a half-eaten slice of pumpkin pie.

The Bane of My Backlist

I figured it was time for another summary of my reading and book collection as of late.

First up, what I’ve recently been reading (and the reason why this book is the inspiration for this post title).

My edition of “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck.

I started reading this one, often regarded as an American classic, towards the end of August, just after I finished reading The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. I read that one after finishing Rebecca and it only took me 12 days to read it. It was 200 or so pages compared the 400 or so in Rebecca and the 600 pages in this book I’m about to talk about.

Now, The Grapes of Wrath and I have a complicated history. I first obtained this copy when I was assigned to read (or, as it turned out, attempt to read) it for my AP English class (one of two slightly different English courses I ended up taking) in my junior year of high school. And I know it was my junior year because I distinctly remember my teacher (who was also my English teacher in my freshman year) explaining the origin of the book’s title: it came from the opening lines of the Civil War-era patriotic song “Battle Hymn of the Republic”. For those unfamiliar with the opening lines of the song…

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored

He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword

His truth is marching on.

Julia Ward Howe, “Battle Hymn of the Republic”

Anyway, my school had a deal with a local independent bookstore where they would share the reading list for the AP English courses each year, and not only would the bookstore order more copies of those books for their inventory, they would also bundle the books together and sell them as a package with a discount. I have maybe a dozen or so books in my collection that were bought in this manner. Not only did we not have to borrow books from the county and were free to mark up our own copies with margin notes and highlight relevant passages, it also provided the bookstore with extra business. This bookstore is actually still open all these years later (although I think the ownership and management has changed since my high school days), I have since returned to that bookstore one more time, which I detailed in this previous post back in 2018. I’d love to go more often, but…yeah, money.

My attempt at reading this book in high school (as with many of the books I was assigned in high school English) did not go well. When you have to balance reading with a bunch of other coursework, especially in the math courses where I tended to struggle more and thus placed a higher focus on getting homework done there, reading often fell by the wayside. And it showed in the quizzes and tests on those books. To be honest, the reason why I passed all those English classes was because of the written portions. Essays I tended to do well in. Needless to say, I started The Grapes of Wrath, but I never finished it. I think the only novel I may have finished during those courses was Native Son by Richard Wright.

It took many years for me to rediscover my love of reading, and once I did, I decided to revisit some of those novels that had fallen by the wayside. One of the first was The Great Gatsby. Over the ensuing years I have also read To Kill a Mockingbird, The Awakening, The Sound and the Fury, and Beloved. I still have some in the collection that are awaiting a full revisit: Crime and Punishment, Native Son (I attempted a re-read a few years ago), Heart of Darkness (although I have not found my copy). But somehow, Grapes kept eluding me. I remember trying to start it at a family friend’s gathering. No luck. I remember at least one other attempt to start it. No luck.

So, you can see why I call this book “The Bane of My Backlist”. The fact that I have never finished it has been annoying me to no end ever since high school. Which is why I was determined to set a goal this year to finally read it and finish it. I even decided to try and dedicate the summer to not only reading this book, but some of John Steinbeck’s shorter novels. At this point, I have only read Tortilla Flat, which I’ve read in fits and starts. But it does have sort of a humorous element to it that keeps it interesting. Grapes, however, has fared much better this time around.

One way I decided to tackle this book was by deciding to narrate portions of it to myself when reading it, usually on nights when my dad was at work and it was just me and the dog in the house. I did this with portions of Rebecca as well. Reading it aloud helps to cement the text in my mind. Sometimes reading silently makes the text pass by with a blur, so reading aloud makes it impossible for me to ignore the text. And I’d adopt different voices for different characters. For example, Tom Joad got sort of a low, flat-ish voice reminiscent of Henry Fonda (who played Tom in the film adaptation of the novel). Jim Casy got sort of a twang. Ma Joad is basically my own voice, but with a more exaggerated accent (which Steinbeck renders out in the text with unique spellings and punctuations). Grandma and Grandpa got sort of raspy voices reminiscent of old people, although Grandma’s voice got a higher pitch to it. And so on, and so forth.

Well…it worked. I finished it last weekend. It had its challenges, though. Steinbeck also employs an unusual narrative device throughout the book. The book alternates between short descriptive chapters (that either set up the environment that the next part of the story takes place in or adds context to what the characters are about to experience) and longer narrative chapters (that sometimes are at least 50 pages in length) that tell the actual story. Those longer chapters I normally could not finish in a single sitting. I sometimes had to read a little, and then put it down…read a little, put it down. This was a book that had to be taken on a little at a time. But much like a marble statue, what started off as a giant, imposing block of text — with a little patience, time, and attention to detail — eventually became a work worthy of the adulation. It wasn’t a 5-star read for me, but because I felt like the challenges I had with it did actually eventually serve a purpose and get me into a rhythm when it came to how the story progressed, I felt it was worth 4 stars.

Currently Reading

I have also been adding to the collection in recent months. The last time I updated you on the physical books I had added, I think it was June and I had briefly shared with you the books I had gotten in January with some of the cash my dad had given me from the sale of my mom’s hospital bed in June of last year (a couple of weeks after her death). I’ve already read one of those books (The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison), as well as one other one, and I took a break from my newer books to read The Grapes of Wrath. I’m now on the second book from that purchase, Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance.

Hillbilly Elegy is Vance’s memoir about him and his family. I’m only a few chapters into it, but his grandparents (“Mamaw” and “Papaw”) married as teenagers in the 1940s and left their impoverished hometown in the dirt-poor Kentucky Appalachians for the chance at a better life in Ohio. J.D., whose mother was a drug addict, would go back and forth between his troubled mother and whatever man she happened to be dating or married to at the time and his Mamaw’s house; he eventually came under Mamaw’s guardianship. I haven’t read enough to see how his story really pans out, but Vance eventually graduated from Yale Law School and made a career as a venture capitalist. He’s encountered some controversy since this book was published in 2016 for comments he’s made in his bid to become the Republican nominee for Ohio’s open Senate seat up for election next year. (The current Senator in that seat, Rob Portman, is retiring.) One of the more notable comments he made blamed the “childless Left” (as he put it) for the culture wars currently going on. He also proposed that parents be given an extra vote for each child they have. As you may have gathered, I do have issues with the positions he holds, but it’s not stopping me from reading his book (which I bought months before he announced his Senate run and before I even really knew much about him; I had bought it on impulse because I had recognized that it had been adapted into a movie for Netflix directed by Ron Howard).

I brought this up a bit on my Instagram when I posted about this book a few days ago, but I’ll elaborate a bit more about it. When it comes to authors who are known for their careers or influence on politics (whether it’s politicians like J.D. Vance or writers who influenced politicians, like Ayn Rand, or people known for their connections to politicians, like Michelle Obama, who I will be getting to shortly), I try not to read to create or advance an agenda, but rather to get an understanding about them and at least give them a chance to tell their story. And as I’ve said in the past, people have different life experiences that shape their beliefs as they get older. No two people have the same experience. Reading with an open mind is the only way I can stay sane when it comes to this highly politicized world anyway. I wish people on both sides of the aisle would think the same way when it comes to hearing out people they don’t necessarily agree with.

In my e-reader, I’ve currently got The Short Novels of John Steinbeck and Congo: The Epic History of a People as active reads, although I’m considering starting either Foundation by Isaac Asimov or Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut very soon. As mentioned earlier, I’ve only just finished Tortilla Flat in the Steinbeck collection and am now up to The Red Pony, though I’ve yet to start that one.

My Acquisitions

The third book from that “mini-haul” back in January was Educated by Tara Westover, which is about a woman who was raised by a survivalist Mormon family who were so wary of public schools and the federal government that her family did not practice formal education. She eventually was able to study independently and get into college, and earned her doctorate in intellectual history in 2014. I’ve heard a lot about this book and can’t wait to read her story.

More recently, I’ve taken to just getting one or two books at a time when I’m at the local Walmart Supercenter for groceries, so I haven’t gotten all of these at once, and several of them were from the bargain books bin, which has been selling what I guess are remaindered books (unsold books from a particular printing) at a steep discount. This store has been selling them for $5.97 a copy, which, considering the original list prices of most of those books, is a major steal. Anyway, here are some of my more recent acquisitions.

  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (I think this one was described as a Southern mystery novel)
  • The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (A psychological thriller published in 2019; heard quite a bit about this through Bookstagram)
  • The Pioneers by David McCullough (A history book looking into Americans settling the Northwest Territory — which contained parts of what are now the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin — in the decades following the American Revolutionary War. I normally don’t study as much American history, but the book was from the bargain bin, so I thought it was worth a shot.)
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama (The former First Lady’s memoir about her life, her marriage to husband Barack Obama, and finding her voice during his time in the White House; she did have some assistance from a ghostwriter, as many celebrities end up doing when writing a memoir, so I’m not going to fault her for that. I do eventually plan to get a copy of her husband’s latest memoir, A Promised Land, when it comes out in paperback.)
  • Wham!: George Michael & Me by Andrew Ridgely (A memoir about Ridgely’s friendship and career with his classmate-turned-Wham! bandmate George Michael, who would go on to become a pop music icon as a solo artist. One of the bargain bin books.)
  • Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton (A thriller novel set in New York City that reportedly borrows elements from The Talented Mr.Ripley. Another bargain bin book.)
  • Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki (A noir novel described as being about a “babysitter gone bad” in the Hollywood Hills. Yet another bargain bin book.)
  • My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell (A psychological fiction novel about a woman who was groomed into having an affair with her 42-year-old English teacher when she was 15, and has internal conflict over whether to come forward when the teacher is alleged to have slept with another student nearly 2 decades later. The most recent book from the bargain bin.)

That’s been quite a bit to catch up on, hasn’t it? I hope you all have been reading interesting books as well!

Finished Object: Nipote

It took me six months from cast on to last end woven in, and missed its recipient’s birth by a month and a half, but the baby blanket I have knitted for my nephew, lovingly called “Nipote” (both the blanket and the nephew), is finally finished.

I would have loved to give this a nice photo shoot outside, but the last couple of days were rainy and cloudy. Today it’s been sunnier, but the ground is still damp.

Anyways, let me introduce you to my latest finished object, Nipote.

Yes, that’s a router box it’s sitting on.

Here are some of the specifics:

  • Pattern: I didn’t use a pre-designed pattern for this one, but I used this tutorial as a template, and the base consisted of 13 triangles of 8 stitches each. All of the tiers and side and end triangles also have a base number of 8 stitches. The tutorial is free and also has a YouTube video embedded if you’re more of a visual learner or just need a visual refresher on certain steps.
  • Yarn: Caron Simply Soft, in Soft Blue and White; I ended up using maybe a skein and a half in the blue and 2 full skeins and part of a third in the white. (You’ll learn why I used more white in a minute.)
  • Needles: U.S. #7 (4.5 mm) circular needles, 29 inches. (This project is worked flat, but the cable supports the weight of the knitting better than straight needles do. Believe me, I learned that the hard way.)

I cast on for this blanket back in March, when my sister-in-law would have been around 5 months pregnant. The technique I used is called “garterlac”, which is entrelac worked in garter stitch. The primary difference between the two techniques is that while entrelac uses stockinette stitch to give the short row blocks a woven texture, the garterlac uses two different types of garter stitch to achieve sort of a harlequin style appearance. Depending on which side I was picking up stitches from, the blue tiers were done in knit garter (stitches were picked up and knit, and the short rows were worked with knit stitches and ssk — slip, slip, knit — decreases); the white tiers were done in purl garter (stitches picked up and purled, with the short rows being worked with purl stitches and p2tog — purl 2 together — decreases).

Now you may notice that the stitching in the white blocks looks a little looser than in the blue. This is due to my knitting style. I tend to purl looser than I knit, and unfortunately switching to a smaller needle to work the purl rows would have proven too cumbersome, as I would have had to slip all the stitches from the previous tier from one circular needle to another one before I could begin working the next tier. When taking a look at the white tiers compared to the blue ones, I realized the visual difference wasn’t all that jarring. So I just decided to work with the same needle all the way through. The only major issue was that I needed a little more yarn to work the white tiers since the looser gauge used up more yarn. I ended up getting two skeins in the blue and three skeins in the white.

As of this post, I have not yet met Nipote. He’s almost two months old (he’ll reach that mark in a little over a week). My sister-in-law has been especially cautious about COVID possibly getting into their home, and hasn’t really let anyone visit. Also, with any newborn there’s usually some chaos going on as everybody starts to settle into a new routine. At least this is the last baby they plan on having, so the chaos is going on one last time. I’m hoping once my dad and I are fully vaccinated (which should be by the second week of October), they’ll finally let us come over and meet him. Anyway, at least this blanket is finally finished and ready to give to the recipient and his parents when we finally do get to meet him!

Before I go, I’ve got a couple of quick updates of what is currently on my needles.

I’ve been working on the Study Hall shawl by Sarah Schira, which is available for free on Knitty. The original pattern calls for some fancier yarn on size 6 and 7 needles, but I’m using Red Heart Ombré (in True Blue, which is a gradient yarn) and Red Heart Super Saver (in Black) and size 9 and 10 needles. I’ve gotten most of the second section done, but I’m excited to get to the slip stitch section. Should be nice and cozy when it’s done.

I’ve also resumed work on my Neapolitan blanket after it was in hibernation for the better part of a year. I’m currently working on a round of brown rectangles, which will then be followed by a round of white rectangles, and then I’m thinking of adding the final large corner squares and finishing with a narrow brown border.

What have you all been up to? I’d love to hear about your latest projects (be it yarny, or written, or even just some sort of renovation project). In the meantime, I’m off to get ready to cook a slow cooker stroganoff. I’ve made it before, it’s delicious.