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.

Better Later Than Never

I know I’ve been putting off getting my COVID vaccination for a while, but I’m finally getting my first dose. And so will my dad.

Yes, he’s in the demographic that would be vaccine hesitant (older, white, politically conservative)…but he’s also employed at a job that pays him well for what he does and it’s a job that he actually likes. His employer hasn’t begun requiring employees to get vaccinated yet, but they’ve been asking employees whether they have and are strongly encouraging employees to get vaccinated. He doesn’t want to risk getting fired later, so he has begrudgingly decided to get vaccinated. I offered to get vaccinated along with him, mostly for my own peace of mind, but also so he wouldn’t have to do it alone. Luckily, it’s still being offered for free regardless of insurance status, so even my uninsured self can get it.

So what we ended up doing was that we both set up appointments online to get it done at a local pharmacy. They would have taken walk-ins anyway, but things just flow much easier when you set up an appointment. Because we set our appointments up separately, we’re getting them done on different days. We’re getting ours on the same day of the week, but one week apart. He’s getting his first dose this week, while I’m getting mine next week.

I’ve been wanting to get vaccinated for a while now, but I didn’t quite know how to bring it up with my dad. So, in a way, his employer encouraging employees to get vaccinated was kind of a good thing. And hopefully us getting vaxxed will ease some of my sister-in-law’s concerns about us possibly bringing in COVID with three kids ages 5 and under (including a newborn). I don’t know if my brother and sister-in-law are getting or have gotten vaccinated (even though they both already had and recovered from COVID earlier this year; SIL may have to wait a little while anyway because she’s in the period where she’d be nursing, although her first two babies, I think, were formula fed). Given that none of their kids are currently old enough to get the COVID vaccine, it would be smart of them to get it and get that extra barrier of protection.

It’s still a Petri dish 🧫 down here, and the Delta variant has been rampaging its way through the South. My dad and I have been lucky to avoid contracting it thus far, mostly due to us being isolated for the most part (we don’t really go anywhere on weekends, when my dad is off from work), my dad’s job being at night and working with a small crew (and thus being away from large groups of people), and me masking up when I do go out to get groceries every couple of weeks. Even after being fully vaccinated, I still plan to mask up in those situations so I can do my part to avoid becoming a carrier of the virus. I can’t trust other people around me to be responsible human beings, but I can do everything I can to be responsible for myself.

The Delta variant has certainly put a damper on some activities, but I still keep wondering what we might be able to do once we’re fully vaxxed (which should be early October). TBH, I wouldn’t mind just the two of us going for a drive around the more rural areas (which is something he and my mom loved to do), maybe getting a bite to eat at a mom-and-pop restaurant or something. I haven’t left my home county in over a year, maybe a year and a half. It’s been ages since I’ve been to a restaurant…at least since before my mom’s condition worsened and left her increasingly homebound until her final decline early last year. I’d even be okay with eating outside and swatting flies if I have to.

I know there are some of you out there who may be hesitant to get vaccinated, and that’s okay. I’m not going to be judgmental to you about that. Trying to shame a person over their choices is just a bad idea all around.

I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can about the vaccines and how they work in recent months, and ultimately I think the benefits far outweigh the risks. I have had a dislike of needles for many years and still can’t bear the sight of seeing a needle going into skin, but for me the fear of contracting COVID while unvaccinated is even worse. The vast majority of new cases and hospitalizations consist of unvaccinated people. A small fraction of cases (“breakthrough infections”) have been in vaccinated people, and an even smaller fraction have been hospitalized or died. While no vaccine is 100% effective, it’s clearly like the infectious disease equivalent of a condom: some protection, when used or taken properly, is better than no protection at all.

I could explain how the mRNA vaccines (the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines here in the U.S., the former of which has just gotten full approval from the FDA rather than just for emergency use) actually work, but this Twitter thread actually did a pretty effective job of it. Here is the first tweet in the thread.

(There is also a TED-Ed video on YouTube that explains the whole process in less than 5 minutes, which can be seen here.)

This whole pandemic has affected humanity in ways we haven’t seen since maybe the 1918 Flu pandemic or even the Black Death (bubonic plague) in the 1300s. I’m pretty sure each of us has known somebody who has either contracted the disease or even died from it, if we haven’t contracted it ourselves. I could go on and on about how the irresponsible behavior of people has made this even worse than it could have been, but it would be futile. The fact of the matter is that 38 million people in this country (a little over 10% of our population) have caught the virus, and 631,000 have died from it. My brother and sister-in-law were two of the 38 million, and my sister-in-law’s grandmother was one of the 631,000. My brother and sister-in-law both fall into the category of white and conservative, the same demographic that have typically been vaccine-hesitant. But my sister-in-law would probably also give anything to have just a little more time with her grandmother.

To try and convince everyone around me to get the vaccine would be an effort mostly in vain, but I can take action for myself. And I’m glad my dad’s taking action for himself, too, even if the motivations are different from emotional appeal.

Better later than never, I guess.

One Heck of a Saturday

So, when I last posted, I had just let you all know that I had a nephew about to arrive.

Well, the little guy kicked off this past weekend by making his glorious arrival at 12:28 Saturday morning. He came in weighing just a little over 8 pounds and was otherwise a healthy baby. Not surprisingly, he is named after my brother (as for as long as I can remember, my brother was set on naming his son after himself if he ever had one). I’m not going to post his name here, so I will keep referring to him as “Nipote” on here. I’ve seen a few pictures of him that my sister-in-law shared, and he totally looks like my brother’s Mini-Me. 😂 Then again, all three of my brother’s kids looked like his Mini-Me when they were born. Oldest niece, R., now looks more like a blend of both of her parents, while Bambina definitely looks more like my brother.

I have not met Nipote yet (he only came home from the hospital yesterday), but I imagine my dad and I will eventually. It’s probably best for now that we give them a little time to settle into a routine with the little guy. The blanket I am working on is not finished, but the majority of it is done. I had planned to make it 13 base triangles by 13 side triangles in garterlac, and I have 10 of the 13 side triangle tiers done. However, the white tiers have had to be done in purl garter, which comes out at a slightly larger gauge because I purl looser than I knit. This eats up the white yarn more quickly, and I may have to get one more skein of white yarn to finish it (although that will be a couple of weeks from now if I need to). Luckily, the dimensions are large enough that it could double as a crawling mat when he’s a little older.

Coincidentally, I also felt ready to finally get a proper haircut, almost a year and a half after I had buzzed off my hair. My reasons for wanting to cut it now were pretty much practical, as it’s the middle of summer right now and it’s hot and humid here in Florida. My thick and wavy hair and the sweat that’s caused by the Florida heat don’t mix. It hadn’t gotten to the point where it was getting heavy, but it was getting long and it was just time to nip it in the bud.

Here’s what it looked like just a few days before.

Me sheepishly trying to hide my double chin…

You can see it was about shoulder length, maybe just barely long enough to get into a ponytail.

So, just a few hours after finding out about my nephew’s birth (which my dad informed me of just after I got up that morning), after we got some cash to pay for it, I went into the hair salon housed in the local Walmart (since I was going to do the grocery shopping afterward). The girl who did my hair was a Latina girl, probably in her twenties, with very curly hair. She was super-nice and helped me figure out how exactly we were going to execute the hairstyle I had in mind. She washed my hair and then we went over to her station so she could get to work on cutting it.

I definitely had something quite short in mind. I usually like having a little hair to play with as well, so a Peter Pan-type pixie style was out of the question for me. I ended up asking for a layered pixie style, which ended up working out really well for my hair. The hairstylists who’ve worked on my hair in the past have always fawned over how much they love working with my hair type: thick and wavy. This girl was no different. Buzz cut aside, this is the shortest I’ve ever had my hair done professionally.

Much of how my hair was shaped was done with a razor comb, although the front areas of my hair were cut in a way that it falls around my cheekbones (more flattering for my face, especially since I have a double chin) and I can part it off-center (also a little more flattering; I lost the ability to part it off-center as my hair had grown out). Before I went to go pay for the haircut, she put in some volumizer and conditioner to bring out the waviness in my hair, which I was okay with for that day, although I typically don’t put a lot of products in my hair (usually shampoo and conditioner, and maybe the occasional bit of mousse). Here is the result from Saturday.

I also took some pictures that evening as the sun was setting, to see if it would bring out the blonde in my hair.

The following day, I brushed my hair out, which got rid of some of the product in it and smoothed out the hair.

I actually washed my hair yesterday morning, and I currently don’t have any product in it.

So far, the new hairstyle feels great. I don’t know how often I’ll have to trim it, though!

How was your weekend?

An Announcement

Before anyone jumps to any conclusions, this announcement does not involve me personally, but it involves my family.

I will be becoming an aunt for the third time. In fact, it will be happening in the next few weeks.

And this time, I’m gaining a nephew! That’s right, my brother and sister-in-law are having a boy. Which means I have to come up with a new code name!

Luckily, I already have a good code name for the little guy, thanks to Assassin’s Creed II. I’m going to refer to this one as “Nipote” (pronounced “nee-PO-tay”), which is Italian for “nephew” and is also what Ezio’s uncle Mario referred to him as in the game rather than by his name. Also, since one of his sisters has an Italian code name (my younger niece, who I usually call “The Bambina” on here), going with one for my nephew makes sense.

So, why did I wait so long to share the news with you? The simple answer is: my sister-in-law (the one carrying this baby) has not posted about her pregnancy this time around. Her pregnancies have caused her to become kind of withdrawn every single time. Also, in between her pregnancy with The Bambina and this one with Nipote, she suffered a miscarriage. My dad and I didn’t find out about the miscarriage until right around the time we found out she was pregnant, which was late last year. She suspected she was pregnant back in October, but they (she and my brother) didn’t confirm the news with my dad and I until around Christmas of last year. My brother also confirmed with my dad and me a few weeks ago that this pregnancy will be their last. I haven’t asked my sister-in-law why she hasn’t posted anything about her current pregnancy, as it’s her choice and she’s not obligated to justify anything to me.

(And if you’ve been paying attention to my past posts, this means that yes, she contracted COVID while she was pregnant. Thankfully she has since recovered, and the baby will likely be born with COVID antibodies in his immune system.)

Nipote is due to be born later this month. I actually have two old friends/classmates who have also been pregnant during this time, and one of them is about 2 weeks ahead of my sister-in-law in her pregnancy (the other one gave birth to a baby boy just a few days ago). Based on that, I suspect my sister-in-law is due sometime in late July, which opens up the possibility that he could be born on my mom’s birthday (July 17th, which would be an appropriate tribute to her, I think) or my dad’s (which is July 21st; my parents’ birthdays were four days apart, but my mom was 7 years older).

Before this post, I had actually only revealed this news to a handful of people outside the family: The Lady Bryan (aka my bestie IRL), our mutual friend/my closest guy friend, the old friend of mine who is due two weeks before my sister-in-law, and a handful of people on Ravelry and Instagram. As with my nieces, I will not be publicly revealing my nephew’s name on here. But I will still be referring to him as “Nipote” on here even after he’s born.

I actually do have a project in the works for the little guy, although I don’t know if it will be done in time for his birth, but it’s an adorable blue and white garterlac blanket (that can also be big enough to become a play mat when he starts crawling) that I am fittingly calling “Nipote”. As of this post, it’s a little over halfway through the length I’m going for (enough to make roughly a large square). I won’t be posting pictures of it right now, but I’ll probably write up a dedicated post for this blanket once it’s finished. I will say, the white tiers have been harder for me to knit in one piece because it’s done in purl garter stitch (to give it a right side and a wrong side), and I tend to purl looser than I knit. So these tiers end up looking slightly bigger and looser gauge than the blue tiers (which are done in knit garter) because I’m too lazy to move all the stitches to a smaller needle for the whole tier. But the difference isn’t so jarring that it bothers me visually, so at least I’m at peace with that.

I hope to be able to let you know soon when my nephew has arrived. Here’s to hoping mother and baby do well when the time comes! I can’t wait to meet him.

How is it June Already?!?!?!

Self-explanatory, really: how is it June already?!?!?!

Well, the most notable thing going on around here recently is that we’ve been replacing and installing appliances left and right.

First off, the refrigerator. It turns out what was causing our fridge problem was a clogged vent. But…we didn’t realize this until after we had ordered a new refrigerator. We first offered the old fridge to my brother to use as a garage fridge, but he turned it down saying that he already had one and didn’t want to upset A., which is understandable. We actually still have the old fridge in our kitchen, waiting to be moved out. We’ve been waiting for my brother to come over and help move it out, but he hasn’t had the time yet. This is why our new microwave hasn’t been installed yet, either. It’s an over-the-range model from Samsung that will certainly require an extra set of hands to install. But for now, we have the old fridge standing in the middle of our kitchen, looking like those giant Monoliths from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The old fridge, which will require a lot of cleaning inside, will be taken down to the curb, and what will likely happen is that a junker or scrapper will collect it (they love to snap things like these up and usually will before any garbage collector can) and will see if they can fix it up to sell later, which is fine by us.

My dad also bought two ceiling fans for the kitchen and dining areas (although both areas are still quite cluttered…I want to try and get both areas as well as the spare room cleared out, although I’m not throwing out my book collection; I want to put those in the spare room for now until I can eventually get myself a bookcase). We were able to get both fans installed without much issue. My dad did have to figure out some of the wiring issues, though, as switches to both fans were being overloaded. Luckily, as a technician by trade, he has some experience working with electrical stuff (his jobs have basically been mechanic, electrician, and technical skills all rolled into one), and was able to rewire one set of switches so that the less loaded one operates the dining room fan, and as for the kitchen fan, that one has some quirky wiring and switch work to begin with, so one of two switches can operate it. We just switched switches to operate that one. The fans, combined with the new roof, have done wonders on taking a load off of the air conditioner, which can get a lot of use during the summer and drive up energy costs. So far (and we’re in the early part of the hot season), we’ve managed to keep the house at a steady, comfortable temperature without having to fiddle with the air conditioner too much. We’ll see if this holds up for the rest of the summer.

I guess finally I should update you on how my reading is going so far this year.

Currently Reading — I started Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier about a couple of months ago but for some reason I haven’t gotten very far into it. It’s not a “not liking the book” issue, it’s more of a “distracted when I have energy and just tired when I don’t” issue. I also decided to try starting the Short Novels of John Steinbeck a little early, but I’m only a few chapters into the first novel, Tortilla Flat. What little I have read, though, has been all right.

Recently Read — The most recent full books I finished reading were Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (the final part of the Hunger Games trilogy) and Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. It took me a while to finish Mockingjay but ended up finishing it on the same day my dad and I watched the entire film series of The Hunger Games, and I think I finished Mockingjay during the Catching Fire film. Norwegian Wood took me just 11 days to finish and was a well-written (as well as well-translated, since I was reading the English translation of this Japanese novel), immersive novel that had stretches of where I just didn’t want to put my iPad down (I was reading the ebook). I have another Murakami in my ebook collection, Kafka on the Shore, that I’m saving for another time.

Recently Acquired — Physically, I’ve acquired four books this year so far:

  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  • Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance
  • Educated by Tara Westover
  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

I also got a gift card for my birthday and I was able to get the following ebooks:

  • The African Trilogy by Chinua Achebe. It consists of Things Fall Apart, Arrow of God, and No Longer at Ease, all set in what is now Nigeria, where Achebe was from, and are novels centering around people from the Igbo ethnic group before and during European colonization. I first heard of Things Fall Apart in an episode of Crash Course Literature, and I’ve been wanting to read it ever since.
  • Big Trouble by Dave Barry. He’s been a favorite author of mine since I was a teenager, and while most of his books are narrative humor nonfiction, this one is one of his first novels. It’s set in our home state, Florida (Barry spent many years writing a humor column for The Miami Herald and is still writing into his seventies) and has an alligator’s open jaws on the cover.
  • Fatal Purity by Ruth Scurr, a biography about the notorious French Revolution politician-turned-tyrant, Maximilien Robespierre.
  • The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman, about the first full month of World War I. This book won Tuchman her first of two Pulitzer Prizes, and she was the first woman to win a Pulitzer for nonfiction.
  • Precolonial Black Africa by Cheikh Anta Diop. I saw this on a list of best history books, and by chance I happened to see the ebook on sale at a discount a few minutes later. I have developed an interest in learning about African history in recent years, and unlike most African history books, which are often written by non-Africans and take a Eurocentric perspective, this one was written by a historian from what is now Senegal, and he writes about the history of Western Africa before the Europeans began colonizing it in the late 1800s.

The first anniversary of my mom’s death is in eight days. I don’t know how I’ll handle it, to be honest. Mother’s Day a few weeks ago was a bit rough to get through, but I did manage to get through it. The one bright spot of this is that the 10th falls on a Thursday, which is my dad’s first day off from work during a typical work week for him, so he may be feeling a little too tired to notice or get emotional.

But he carries her with him every day. On my dad’s phone, his lock screen has a picture of her smiling and clad in a Dale Earnhardt Jr. jacket during one of the last vacations my parents took together before the Alzheimer’s really started taking a toll on her. I’ll probably reflect on how’s he handled this more a bit closer to the actual day.

My older niece’s birthday is in four days. She’ll be turning 5, old enough to start kindergarten this fall. I keep thinking of how quickly time has gone by since she was born. It’s crazy. I think of this quote from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Have I been able to look around yet? It’d be nice if I finally could.

Stay safe, my friends, and I hope you’re having a good day.

Checking In

It’s been a heck of a month. We had our roof redone, some family members caught the COVID, and now our appliances may possibly be going kaput.

So, in order to revisit this, we have to go back a few months. My dad has been wanting to have the roof redone for several years, but for various reasons wasn’t able to make that happen. Around October of last year, though, he finally decided to start the process. First, he had to have the roof appraised and then secure some funding from our home insurance so that he wouldn’t have to pay so much out-of-pocket. Then, once he had selected a roofing company and secured the funding, there had to be a permit filed with the county before they could even purchase the materials they’d need to use. This took the longest to get done. It took something like three or four months to have all the paperwork come through.

The actual work on the roof took place during the week of my birthday (around the end of March). It took about 2 days for the roofers to complete the job. The first day involved removing the old shingles and installing new plywood. The second day involved the installation of new shingles and the replacing of the fascia (among other things). There was lots of noise and it drove the dog absolutely nuts, but once they finally finished the work, we were able to take a look. My dad originally wanted a metal roof, but the roofing company he used didn’t specialize in installing metal roofs, so he opted for higher-quality architectural shingles that are more durable than standard asphalt shingles. They do cost a bit more than standard shingles, but he felt the added cost was worth it. He also ordered them in the lightest color available, which is supposed to reflect sunlight rather than absorb the heat, which should keep the house cooler from the roof on down and help reduce energy costs during the summer. We’ll see how energy efficient this ends up being.

The one unfortunate part of this is that the color of the shingles clashes with the exterior paint job (which has the house currently a beige color with brown trim). Luckily, the neighbor that we are closest to in terms of neighbor-to-neighbor relationship paints houses for a living and has offered to paint our house once he can get enough paint together. However, there may be a delay in this, because he and his girlfriend got into a motorcycle accident last week that resulted in her being hospitalized with serious injuries that required surgery. (Thankfully, she’ll be able to recover.) He suffered more minor injuries, but was still kind of banged up. This is the second motorcycle wreck they’ve gotten into within the past year. As a result, he’s decided not to get another motorcycle for the time being. And this wreck also happened a couple of months after someone wrecked his SUV in a hit and run crash while he was at a gas station. Our neighbor’s a nice guy; it just seems that he’s one of those people where he doesn’t necessarily go looking for trouble, but trouble finds him.

Now…the COVID. Thankfully, it wasn’t me and my dad who got it. It was my brother and sister-in-law. My sister-in-law believes she caught it from her grandmother, who was hospitalized but wasn’t confirmed to have COVID until 3 days later. She and my brother both ended up developing it, but somehow their daughters avoided catching it. (I later told my brother, “It’s because they’re low to the ground!”, since both are under the age of 5.) My sister-in-law, A., got moderate symptoms (fever, chills, overall body pain and fatigue), but didn’t require hospitalization. My brother got mild symptoms (fever, loss of taste and smell), but took a little while longer to clear the virus and thus be able to return to work. Sadly, my sister-in-law’s grandmother lost her fight against the virus on April 1st. She had been in the hospital at least three weeks before she passed away. Her funeral was held last week. I only remember meeting her a couple of times. I don’t have the closest relationship with my sister-in-law’s side of the family because we simply don’t meet up all that much (even before the pandemic).

My dad and I were able to avoid contracting it from them because we live on the other side of town from them, and when they did come down with the virus, it had been a couple of months since the last time we’d seen them. For once, not visiting on a regular basis was actually a good thing! 😅 Dad and I are doing good health-wise. We have not been vaccinated yet, and I don’t know if my dad wants to. Personally, I’d like to try and look for work in the next few months, and I may look into getting vaccinated then once I start the process. Thankfully, the vaccines in Florida are being offered at no cost (out-of-pocket), so money and lack of insurance wouldn’t be an issue for me.

Now, as for the more recent stuff…it seems like everything in our kitchen is going on the fritz. First, it was the lighting on just about everything, from the ceiling fans to the fluorescent light over the sink. The fans will likely need to be replaced entirely, while when it comes to the fluorescent light over the sink, only the actual “bulb”/tube/whatever needs to be replaced. Since those went out, I’ve been opening the kitchen blinds during the day and using an auto shop light at night (which uses fluorescent lights; I’ve been hanging it off of the cabinet handles, which are metal).

Then last week, I started hearing a loud hum coming from the microwave whenever I’d try to run it. Some googling and figuring out the appliance’s age (it turns out this microwave is 20 years old, manufactured in 2001) led me to deduce that the magnetron (which generates the microwaves and heat in a microwave oven) may be going out. So, as a result, we’ve stopped using the microwave, and my dad is looking for a new one. Our current one is a Whirlpool Gold over-the-range microwave (which fits in the area right over the stove and connects to the exhaust fan) and has been good to us for most of these 20 years that we’ve had it. Just given the age, and not knowing whether there are compatible replacement parts out there, we’re probably better off just replacing it.

The only real inconvenience I’ve been dealing with (in regards to the microwave) is that we recently got off the meal delivery service plan and instead I’ve been getting Lean Cuisine dinners at the grocery store…and they can’t be heated up in a regular oven. I ended up cooking the proteins we’d already had in the freezer (chicken, salmon, a ribeye that had been in there for many months, but still thawed out and cooked up perfectly) this week while my dad took the frozen dinners to work with him. (They’re not too bad, actually. Each meal is under 400 calories, and I’ve also packed low calorie snacks with them for him to nibble on through the night.) I still got some Lean Cuisine dinners at the store yesterday, but I mostly got stuff I could cook on the stove. (I can use the oven to reheat food if needed. 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes if I’m warming up room temperature food, 45 minutes to an hour if it’s straight out of the refrigerator. I just put said food in a small baking pan and cover with aluminum foil.)

Speaking of the freezer…there’s now a possibility the refrigerator could be on its way out as well. It’s a Samsung we got lightly used (with a little help from my brother, who was working at a Lowe’s at the time, which is where we got it from), and we’ve had that one maybe 10 years. Well, the fridge isn’t getting as cold as it should. And in the freezer, things keep thawing out and refreezing. The freezer unit is on the bottom on this model, so I don’t know if that’s contributing to the issues or not, but all of this is getting a bit irritating. I don’t know if it’s the near-summer heat causing it or if the fridge itself is on the way out.

Why is it that appliances like to crap out on us in groups? It’s never just one thing that needs replacing, but, like, two or three! Does Murphy’s Law (anything that can go wrong…will) apply here? If the world was a person, would it be laughing at us right now?

Anyway, that’s what’s been up in my corner of the planet lately. I may talk a bit about what I’m reading or knitting at some point. (I do have a project on the needles, I just can’t talk about it right now. Once I do talk about it, which will eventually happen, you’ll realize why I had to hold off on it for a while. I’ll just say it doesn’t involve me directly.) I apologize for the silence on my end; I just haven’t had the motivation to write here lately. Life’s been happening, but when it becomes the same old cycle over and over again after a while, it’s just not as interesting to write about. And really, that’s what I try to make this blog about: my life. I hope to be able to write again soon. Until next time, I wish you all good health and safety in these trying times, and much happiness.