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.

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!

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.

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.

The Parenthood Dilemma

I think I’m reaching the point in life where just about every person of childbearing age is seriously having to consider (if they haven’t already had a child) whether or not they should or want to have children. I think I’m at that point and it’s my turn to make that consideration.

I’m 34 and I’m childless. I have two nieces, but it’s obviously not the same. I’ve never had a partner of any kind and at this point in my life, the idea of romantic relationships (pandemic notwithstanding) is still very foreign territory to me. I look back on my twenties, and I realize I was probably too messed up then (dealing with the depression and the anxiety and the low self-esteem) to handle a relationship, let alone having a child, even though now I know those were probably my best years biologically to do so. My thirties so far have been filled with so many obligations to others (especially caring for my mom when she was alive) and then the pandemic putting a speed bump on much of humanity that I’ve had no real opportunity to make a life or decisions for myself. My social life is nonexistent with the exception of online interactions over social media, so I have had no opportunities to meet anyone in a romantic sense. And honestly, I’ve gotten so used to being single that I wonder if I’d function well in a romantic relationship at all.

Then I think back on my interactions with kids over the years. There are times when I feel convinced that children hate me. I remember visiting an old friend of my mother’s many years ago, and her very young grandson was there that day. He couldn’t have been any more than three at the time, and I was maybe 12 or 13. I was tasked with keeping an eye on him while the adults were talking and hanging out, and the kid wanted absolutely nothing to do with me. He kept running from me, even though I was just trying to keep him calm. By the end of it all, I was starting to feel like he had driven me insane.

And then I think of when my neighbor tasked me with watching his ten-year-old daughter one summer while he was at work…that girl absolutely drove me crazy. For one thing, we had completely polar opposite personalities: she was a major extrovert while I am a major introvert; she was always full of energy, and while I’m already quite a low energy person, on top of this my mom was in the early stages of her illness at the time. This girl would be rambunctious and run me ragged with her games and constant talking, and just for funsies she’d sometimes go into dramatic hysterics (like locking herself in a bathroom and refusing to come out or pretending she had been possessed by a “spirit”) just to get a rise out of me, which would stress me out to the point of me being in tears. There were times afterwards where I’d actively question myself on whether my inability to have kids in my charge get along with me meant I was gonna make a terrible mother.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my niblings to the moon and back and I will always be there for them if they need me, but more often than not, children and I don’t necessarily mesh. I don’t get the same reaction from seeing babies that most women seem to do (go into absolute cute mode and baby talk). My mom got that reaction all the time when she’d see a baby. I feel upset inside when I overhear a small child comment on the size of my rear end in a grocery store (which has happened to me). I’m so used to being alone that the prospect of having a partner, let alone a child, scares me.

Sometimes I question if I even have that so-called “maternal instinct”. I’ve been called highly sensitive and can be a bit of an empath, but caring for my mother (which in many ways was like taking care of a child) came with its own set of challenges. I sometimes found it hard to show compassion and patience with her, when my mind was feeling tired and exhausted. Could I possibly handle two decades of that with a child? Am I gonna be one of those parents who doesn’t have enough mindfulness to make sure their child doesn’t fall into a dangerous situation and I end up harming them, or worse? Would I end up as strict as my parents were with me and have my child sometimes resent me for over sheltering them?

(Side note: my parents had a rule that I couldn’t date until I was 16, and even though there were a couple of interested boys before that age, I begrudgingly stood by it. I sometimes wonder if that was partially responsible for my romantic failings in life.)

And what if I have the same genes that caused my mother to develop Alzheimer’s? Would I want to put that burden on my own child to care for me when I’m not in a position to take care of myself? It took two of us (me and my dad) to care for her, and I wonder what would have happened if I had managed to build my own life, family, and career before the illness really took hold of her? Would my dad have still been able to care for her at home? Or would he have had to look into outside assistance? What if my piece of the puzzle that is our family had fit in a different section, one where I was making a puzzle of my own?

I’m torn about whether I think motherhood is a good choice for me. There is part of me that would love to have that experience of raising a child, knowing that I had a part in hopefully making them a loving, compassionate human being. But I think about my niblings, especially my nieces, and I know that I can make a positive impact on their lives without having to be their parent…or even a parent.

I had kind of told myself that if I didn’t have a child by age 35, that I likely would not want to have a child at all. That age is now one year away, and I don’t see my life changing significantly enough for motherhood to happen. I feel like I’m entering a period of mourning.

The risks that go with being pregnant get higher past the age of 35; the risk of chromosomal abnormalities and all the conditions that come with those occurring goes up, the risks of the pregnant person developing complications like preeclampsia goes up. Pregnancy is already a dangerous thing to go through, and not every person of childbearing age wants to put their body through that process. (I say “person” rather than “woman” because some trans men and non-binary people do choose to keep the reproductive organs they were born with in order to bear a child naturally. It’s important to include their experiences as well.) I want to know that if my time as a functioning member of society are numbered because of any potential genes for Alzheimer’s, that I want to spend that time feeling happy and content with how my life is going.

My mom was 34 when she gave birth to me, and 37 when she had my brother. She was a wonderful mother and it worked for her…but I’m now the same age that my mother was when she had me…and I don’t know if I’m meant to be a mother. It breaks my heart having to write that. I’m crying as I write that. This is a dilemma that so many people have to go through, especially as they approach middle age. Society places so much value on people who choose to become parents: most religious groups see them as more worthy of their god or gods’ love, governments usually give parents some sort of tax break, and society in general seems to appreciate people who become parents more than those who don’t.

I’m probably going to have to make some tough choices for myself over the next few years. I’m not completely ruling out the possibility of having a child in the next few years, it’s just that I’m realizing that the possibility is becoming less and less likely for me. I feel kind of sad coming to that realization. I feel like it’s another life goal that I set for myself that I know I’ll be failing at. And that’s what hurts me more than anything else. That by not necessarily wanting to have children, I feel like I’m failing myself and failing at life.

I’m feeling angry at the cards that life dealt me and knowing that the draw probably won’t get much better. I feel like I deserved better, but all the good hands have already been played and that I’m on the verge of going to the rail. (For those of you unfamiliar with poker terms, “going to the rail” means losing all your money in a poker game, being eliminated, and becoming a spectator watching from the sidelines.) I deserve to be happy, but for whatever reason it hasn’t happened. Trying to stay positive in this gets really hard sometime. I’ll be okay physically, but this is something I’m still trying to wrap my head around.

Am I a bad person for treating this realization like a mourning period? Have you ever been in this position of trying to figure out whether or not you want children? How did you end up handling it? Did you end up feeling fulfilled with your decision about having children, whether you did end up having children or not? I hope I’m not feeling alone.

…You’ve Got to Be Kind

It’s currently the holiday season of the clusterbleep of the year that has been 2020. As I write this, Christmas is 12 days away and people are currently celebrating the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.

Let’s face it, this year has been one sad, stressful, heartbreaking thing after another. We’ve had to adapt to living with a pandemic and an extremely contagious airborne virus threatening our lives. Many of us know someone or had a loved one who contracted the virus or even died from it.

I myself spent the first half of this year trying everything in my power to help my dying mother, but even our best efforts couldn’t stop Alzheimer’s landing its final blow on her six months ago.

We had a presidential election that seemingly divided my country into even stronger divisions of “Us” and “Them” than ever before.

We had to learn how to live a new normal of cloth masks covering our faces, sanitizers covering our hands, and keeping our distance, even from ones we love. The first vaccines against COVID-19 are only just now being administered and it will still be many months before we find out whether the vaccine is effective at creating the herd immunity we need to stomp out this disease and resume some semblance of normalcy.

The Gulf Coast got smacked by what seemed like hurricane after hurricane (while Florida somehow miraculously escaped the brunt of hurricane season). Wildfires devastated Australia.

We lost notable names in all different fields: Chuck Yeager, Olivia de Havilland, Alex Trebek, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Bob Gibson, Helen Reddy, Neil Peart, John Lewis, Regis Philbin, Charlie Daniels, Kelly Preston, Ennio Morricone, Little Richard, John Prine, Kenny Rogers, Terry Jones, Chadwick Bozeman, and Don Larsen, just to name a few.

This world has seen so much sadness and negativity this year — especially this year — and I think we’ve forgotten how to be kind to each other. We’ve spent the year calling people names like “demon-rats”, “soy boys”, and “magats”, spent our quarantine time turning Internet comments sections into even more despicable dens of denigration, and have just all around been terrible people to those outside of our “bubbles”. We need to learn how to be kind to each other again, especially now.

It doesn’t cost a thing to show kindness to someone. But here are some ways we could spread a little joy in the world:

  • Wish someone a nice day.
  • Tell someone they’re beautiful. Doesn’t matter what the person’s gender is. Compliment them on their hair, their eyes, or their overall demeanor. You never know whose day one kind comment like that could make.
  • Give someone a bouquet of flowers (okay, this one may cost a little money, but it’s okay). I have yet to see someone without a smile on their face after they’ve received flowers. My dad used to send his mother (my late grandmother) flowers for Mother’s Day every year as a way to show his love and appreciation for her. I dream of the day someone sends or presents me flowers.
  • Help someone in need.

I know there are many other ways we could spread kindness during these trying times.

This is intended to be a somewhat short post, but before I post this, I want to end this with a quote from an author who’s becoming a favorite of mine, Kurt Vonnegut.

The following quote comes from Vonnegut’s 1965 novel, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, where the title protagonist (Elliot Rosewater) is preparing to deliver a speech for the baptism of his neighbor’s twin babies. There is slightly mild language, but I promise you he’s saying it for emphasis.

Kurt Vonnegut

Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.

Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

Damn it…we’ve got to be kind! I know it’s hard to do right now in times like these, but we’ll be worse for it if we don’t.

Death Stuff and Life Stuff

It’s been sad times in the knitting and crochet community lately. We’ve lost two major designers to cancer in the past month, and a little more closely to me a couple of acquaintances I had made on Ravelry also died from cancer. I’d like to talk a bit about some of them.

You may remember that I mentioned Cat Bordhi in my post “Searching for Knitting Mojo” back in August. Sadly, she died on September 19th, a month or so after she had revealed the news of her terminal cancer to the world. Her loss was such an impact on the community that The New York Times published an obituary about her. I’m not sure if there’s a paywall involved, but I will link to it, which you can check out here. I am still working on the Rio Calina cowl whose pattern she posted about a month before her death, but I’ve only managed about a foot or so of it (it’s knit flat).

Another designer, Annie Modesitt, lost her own battle with cancer on October 1st. While I was not as familiar with her work as others may have been, her passing has been recognized on Ravelry. Looking at her pattern collection on Ravelry, she was a master with both the needles and the crochet hook and designed patterns that were eye-catching and things of beauty. Her blog can be found here.

The other two people I’m going to talk about weren’t people I had ever met in person, but were part of a Ravelry group that was one of the first ones I’d joined when I signed up for Ravelry three and a half years ago after slowly coming out of a self-imposed sabbatical from computers and technology. This group is called “Atheist and Agnostic Crafters” (or “A&AC” for short). As I’ve mentioned in the past, I live near the very southern edge of the “Bible Belt”. While people here in Central Florida aren’t as steeped into religious fundamentalism as they are in the rest of the South, telling people you outright don’t believe in God will probably still get you either some side-eye or a “bless your heart”. It’s not necessarily something that’s comfortable discussing with family. So it felt good to have a place to go to online where I could meet likeminded people and not feel shame for it. Some users I’ve been a little closer with than others. Last month, two of our group died just a few days apart. One of them was one of the few men in our group, who was married to another Raveler (who was also in our group, but left…not due to a change in religious beliefs, but due to some posting drama that I’d rather not get into; but she’s always welcome back in my book if she ever wants to), and the other was a young-ish lady in her 40s. Her Ravatar (slang for “Ravelry avatar”) was a pair of cats snuggling, and I always kept misreading her username because I kept mistaking a lowercase L for an uppercase I. I wasn’t incredibly interactive with either of them, although I did enjoy discussing video games with the man I’ve mentioned. We were both Assassin’s Creed fans and it was always great to discuss the games with him. We as a group were greatly saddened to hear of their deaths, and if you’re wondering how an atheist approaches the subject of death, here it is: since we don’t believe in an afterlife, we see death as closure, the end of our one life. We grieve for the loss of a person, surely, but we also recognize that if the person was suffering in their final days, that they are now at peace and their suffering is over. We don’t think of them as being in a “better place”, but we remember the impact they had on our lives. Even if they touched the hearts of just a few people, they will never be forgotten for as long as those people who loved and remembered them live. I approached my mom’s death in the same way. For most of the rest of my family, the thought of her “being with Jesus” comforted them. For me, knowing she was no longer suffering comforted me. I raise a glass to those we’ve lost.

I saw this on Annie Modesitt’s blog, posted during the last months of her life as she was battling cancer. I thought it was a nice perspective on how she saw the eventuality of death.

None of us will beat death, it will get us all in the end. I’ve become much more at peace with that truth over the last few years. I’ve lost so many folks who are close to me, maybe that’s why I have such a strong desire to see a grandchild. Or maybe it’s just that I love babies. At any rate, I feel that as fine as my kids are, there are rough edges to be smoothed, more lessons to be taught.

Annie Modesitt, “Anti Climax”, Mode Knit

Steering away from the topic of death, here is some life stuff.

I ended up getting three more ebooks since my last book update:

  • Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami: A fellow bookstagrammer recommended I read this one first whenever I decide to take a dive into Murakami. (I also want to eventually get a copy of his novel 1Q84.)
  • Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut: Since reading Slaughterhouse-Five last year, I have been on a mission to find and read as much Vonnegut as I possibly can.
  • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison: Not to be confused with The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells, this book is considered a landmark work in African-American literature.

I haven’t voted yet in this year’s election, but I plan to. Early voting starts in about a week here, but I may end up going with my dad to vote on Election Day morning (which is when he usually goes to the polls).

Now, before you get worried about me catching the COVID while waiting to vote, hear me out:

  1. We have masks. I will be masking up, no matter what. In fact, my hometown requires them by city ordinance. I just hope my dad will go along with it, at least for going to the polls.
  2. Our polling place has been changed from a small church lobby to a much more open school gymnasium. Hopefully this will give us a chance to make more space in line, too.

We in all likelihood will vote for different candidates, and that’s okay (he jokes that we’ll “cancel each other out”, which is probably why we also don’t do lawn signs). I’m thinking of asking if we can go to the bookstore after we go to vote. After all the shenanigans and the bombardment of ads and the name-calling and the “my guy is gonna whip your guy’s ass because your guy means the end of America as we know it”…I’m gonna need something to look forward to. I still have some spending money. I’ve been wanting to go back to this bookstore for a while, but I just couldn’t figure out when the opportunity would pop up.

The diet is going okay at the moment; I can’t tell you if I’ve lost any weight because I’ve decided not to weigh myself at this time. I do have some pants and shorts in smaller sizes than what I wear now. If I find myself fitting into them, then I’ll know that I’ve lost weight. Then maybe I’ll reevaluate the whole weighing myself thing.

Most of it is portion control, which has been going okay. We do allow ourselves to have one “cheat meal” a week (although I’m not craving a cheeseburger every week, thank goodness), but for the most part I’ve been trying to stick to the meal plan, and when I do feel like I still need something to eat, we’ve gotten some extra snacks (fruit, some cottage cheese, whole grain crackers) or I eat a salad with homemade vinaigrette dressing (less fatty than the commercial stuff) to try and stave off the feeling of not feeling full. I’ve also usually had a protein shake with my snacks for the day (I eat a snack in between main meals). For dinner tonight (which I’ll also put together for my dad when he gets home from work in the morning), I’m trying to recreate one of the dinners we had, which was chicken breast with brown rice, peas, and tomatoes. My recreation ended up missing tomato sauce, but otherwise I think it might work. With portion control in mind, I think I’m gonna use a smaller plate.

I think I’m almost finished with my “Don’t Huffle the Puff” shawl, but I’m going to save that for another post. While it was kind of sad reasons why I started this post, I’m glad to have gotten a chance to give you all a bit of an update. I think I’m gonna go and put together my dinner right now, and then after I eat it’s back to work on the shawl while I watch Roman Empire on Netflix.

Jambalaya, Set My Stomach on Fire…

Last week was…interesting.

So, last Tuesday I decided to make some homemade jambalaya, which ended up being pretty delicious. I used this recipe from Tastes Better From Scratch, if you’re interested. It wasn’t the making of it that caused problems…it was the eating of it.

You see, I ended up eating way too much of it in too short of a time period. I won’t tell you the exact amount I ate because I’m kind of embarrassed, but…let’s just say I had a lot of spicy stuff going through my stomach over a span of about six hours. Big mistake.

Cue me waking up around 6:30 the next morning with a terrible stomachache and a backache. I take some Tums for the stomachache and a hot shower to try and relieve the back pain. Doesn’t really work. My dad gets home from work around 8 am and I let him know what’s going on. He tries to get me to eat a little bread and it ends up making the stomach pain worse. In fact, the only things I was able to ingest last Wednesday without worsening stomach pain and a triggering of my gag reflex were applesauce and water. I try everything from more Tums and alternating between Advil and aspirin to relieve the pain, and…nothing. At this point, I am now feeling pain in my stomach, back, and approximately where my gallbladder is and I am worried about whether or not I’m gonna have to see a doctor, which gets me more worried because I have no health insurance. (My dad does, through his employer, but I’m too old to be on his policy.) At this point I am feeling miserable and anxious (and through all this my dad is sleeping).

I spent most of Wednesday lying in my bed, because lying down is the only position at this point where I can feel any sort of comfort. I had taken two more showers to try and relieve the pain…with not much improvement. At least I could sleep through the pain. I end up waking my dad up about 20 minutes earlier than usual (which has been 6:30 for the last few weeks because my dad’s employer moved everyone’s shifts up an hour earlier), mostly because I didn’t want to be by myself any longer. I make his coffee and lay back down for a little while longer.

By this point I had fashioned myself a “puke bucket”, a wastebasket lined with a garbage bag, because I’m now convinced I am feeling severely nauseous and I realize the only way that I’m gonna be feeling relief from this is by having stuff come up. My dad gets ready for work and leaves right around 7:30 pm. Not 10 minutes after he leaves, I can feel my gag reflex starting to kick in. I grab the bucket, hold it right in front of me, and within seconds the contents of my stomach are in the bucket. The pain is still there at this point, but I decide to call my dad (who was in his Jeep and can take hands-free phone calls) to quickly let him know what was going on, and he reminded me to keep drinking water and stay hydrated. I keep the call brief and told him I’d text him later in the night to let him know how I was doing. I ended up lying down in his bed (because his room has the window unit and I honestly felt like I needed the cool air). I wake up for a bit around 11:30 and I realize my stomach and back pain are finally starting to go away. I drink some more water and lie back down. I wake up again around 3:30 the next morning and the pain is pretty much gone by this point. I text my dad and then I go back to bed.

I decided to take it easy on my stomach for the next couple of days, because my stomach was still feeling a little sensitive. But I did tackle that jambalaya again a few days later…with restraint. I heated up one bowl of the stuff (and told myself I was going to stick to just one bowl) and ate it with gusto. Thankfully, I did not make myself sick again. I was victorious.

In case you’re wondering, I didn’t get sick because the jambalaya was improperly cooked; I got sick because it was a perfect storm of spicy, greasy, and my overeating it. My dad ate some and was perfectly fine.

And I must mention that the title makes more sense if you sing it. My dad loves classic country music, and one of his favorite singers from that genre is the late, great Hank Williams. One of his best known songs is a song called “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)”. So, if you sing the title of this post to the tune of the chorus of this song, it makes sense.

It’s almost a week later, and I am feeling much better now. I hope to write again soon.