documenting silly body stuff

by dichroic in daily updates

Weird thing happened to me last night – documenting it in case it happens again, so I’ll know when it started.

Around 2AM, I woke up feeling like I’d just swallowed a bit of acid – throat burning, acidic taste in the back of my mouth. Ensue coughing, retching and lots of saliva and mucus produced as my body tried to get it of it – not really vomiting, just bringing up clear liquid as you sometimes do when nauseated by a postnasal drip rather than by actual stomach upset.

As best I can guess from consultation with Dr. Google, I had some acid reflux (= esophageal sphincter didn’t seal right, let some stomach acid up the esophagus) and then aspirated it down my windpipe, since I was lying down asleep.

When I woke up the next morning at 6, my throat was burning and throat muscles were sore, and it felt like when you’ve been in a pool or exercising all day and you cough whenever you try to take a deep breath (exercise-induced asthma). Four hours later, the throat is still burning and swallowing is a little uncomfortable but my lungs are feeling better.

Not a lot of fun – I hope it was a one-time fluke. I’ve never had GERD, though my Mom does, but the reading I did last night sitting by the toilet makes me think I might have laryngopharingeal reflux, however you spell that; I clear my throat a lot and often feel like something is caught in my throat.

Also while I’m documenting, my back was sore again all last week while at the lake house, though it’s better now. It’s possible the bed there is the problem, though I think it’s more likely getting out in actual boats, both scull and kayak. Or maybe both things. (Ted used to have back issues there and says it turned out to be his pillows, rather than the mattress.)

rough week

by dichroic in daily updates

Labor Day week was supposed to be wonderful. We planned to pack up the cats and spend the week at the lake – Ted took the week off, since he has more vacation time, and I’d get the long weekend and then work from home.

Well, we did that but it didn’t go quite as planned. I should mention that one or both seemed to be off their feed all the preceding week (hard to tell which when they share a dish) but otherwise behaved normally except for one morning when Macchiato fell asleep behind my computer monitor and didn’t rouse when I petted her. Anyway, they both seemed fine when we caged them and took them out to the truck. We put them in the back of the truck this time – there’s a camper top, so it’s sae. We lashed down the carriers so they wouldn’t tumble, opened the doors so the cats could walk around, and laid out some blankets for their comfort. It wasn’t hot, but we opened a side window for ventilation.

When we were nearly to the house, we called in a takeout pizza order. When we stopped to pick it up, we went to check on the cats and found them yelling their heads off. Oolong looked fine but Macciato was on her side, panting and legs all well. She did get up then, and jump forward as if to get out of the truck so we knew she wasn’t hurt. We figured we were only about 10-15 minutes from home, so if something about the truck bothered her we’d be home soon. We grabbed the pizza, got back out three minutes later, rechecked the cats …. and found Macchiato lying on her side, very still. So we peeled out of theparing lot and headed straight to the vet who was fortunately located right across the street, only to be told she was gone.

A week later, back home, we had the annual check up for Oolong with our home vet canceling Macchiato’s appointment was a bit painful). We told her the full story and she noted in the records that Macchiato had a heart murmur, so best guess is that it was due to heart issues that escalated quickly. She was only 7. She used to like to sleep nestled in my arms – a bit painful, as that put her claws up by my armpits, but so endearing I didn’t have the heart to stop her.

As for the rest of the week, a few days later Ted got a cold, then I got it, and the weather was often a bit rough for rowing. And lots did get done on the house, but not the long-awaited and wished-for 6-burner range.

It wasn’t all awful and I’d have enjoyed the week a lot if not for Macchiato’s shadow haging over us. On the plus side we now have working pendant lights, wall oven, microwave, frige and wine fridge. And a week at the lake is still way better than a week in the office, even if I do have to work, and I did get out rowing 3 times and kayaking twice. It just … could be better.

Next week we need to head down to Ted’s parents’ town. His dad is having surgery and his mom’s memory loss means they probably need someone else around. (Am I the only one whose own experiences with aging family make them very uneasy with not only Trump, but with people as old as Biden, Warren and Sanders running in 2020? Even the ones who are now in their 90s or over 100 and still mentally sharp were, by their late 70s, definitely not the forces they once had been.)

Anyway, surgery is on Monday so we’ll head to the lake house Friday and the rest of the way down there Sunday. Hopefully the rest of the lights, the stove, and garbage disposals will all be functional when we get there, and the cabinet doors in place. I don’t think the garage will be done yet, but the kitchen remodel is much more exciting for me!

playing Hestia

by dichroic in daily updates

This weekend we stayed home for once – with the renovations in full swing, we’ve been going to the lake house most weekends.

Sunday we went to a wine blending event. We were given young Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Franc wines, and challenged to try different proportions to create a tasty blend. We’ve been to a few of these. One winery does it as a Valentine’s Day event (“create a blend to reflect your love”, oy, but it’s fun), another did it more as an educational thing with lectures from their winemaker. This one did it as a friendly contest; I’m proud to say I won for our table and came in second overall.

Then on Sunday I was a domestic goddess; shopping at both the farmer’s market and the supermarket, plus the toy store to buy a small birthday gift for my nephew. His family will be visiting us over his birthday; we’re taking him to a ropes course / ziplining place, but that will be a couple days after his birthday and I wanted him to have something to open (he’s 8, and lives on the opposite coast so I don’t get to see him often). Then I made soft pretzels and mozzarella cheese from scratch, plus a chicken tortilla bake for dinner. Also I did some finances and we dropped off my husband’s truck for some regular maintenance.

Unfortunately I seem to have done something to my back. On Saturday before going to the winery, I did 10km on the rowing machine; while stretching afterward, something in my lower back went *sproing!* It doesn’t really hurt, but definitely feels a bit stiff and out of whack. I didn’t dare row Sunday (well, just a very light 1km to see how it felt), so I biked to the farmer’s market just to get in some exercise. It did make buying flowers and getting them home a bit more challenging!

I miss the other house, though! Apparently they’re getting the cabinets installed, so we’ll have those to see next weekend. Unfortunately there has been some drama; when they shipped the stone for our new countertops, the slab broke! We went and picked new ones, but they are getting a new delivery in tomorrow that we want to go see, just in case there’s something we fall in love with. I like the soapstone we picked, but I think Ted would prefer something with more visible veining.

the aging of Alanna

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Tamora Pierce’s first book, Alanna, was published in 1983 – the year before I started college at Pierce’s own alma mater. This explains why I never read her books at the proper age, why they’re not part of my formative canon as they are for so many younger fantasy readers, and why I’m just getting around to them now.

I wonder whether they will fill that role for budding fantasy readers today, because this, Pierce’s first series, hasn’t aged that well. I read her Circle series a few years back and don’t remember the same issues, so probably these are mostly first-book (or at least first-series) writer issues. First, I recognize this as the source of some of those tropes Diana Wynne Jones’ Tough Guide to Fantasyland land and similar writings are making fun of – the violet eyes, for instance. Alanna is a bit of a Mary Sue, too, in the way everyone loves her – in some cases, instantly. Sir Myles affection for Alanna feels a little creepy to me and I was honestly relieved when the Mother Goddess herself told Alanna “He only wants to be your father”.

There’s the gender thing. Even though the whole premise of the book is about Alanna being a girl set on becoming a knight, the gender stereotypes are reinforced heavily and often. “Alanna realized that boys didn’t understand girls any better than girls understood boys” – well, it’s understandable if her fellow squires and pages, having lived in an almost exclusively male world for years, don’t understand girls and view them as a thing apart, but I would hope Alanna is comfortable with boys by that point! The rigid gender roles seem a little odd in a country that has had warrior maidens in the past but gender perceptions have varied enough through Earth’s history, and have varied rapidly enough, that I think that bit is realistic.

And then there’s the way a couple of male characters, sympathetic ones, forcibly kiss Alanna after she’s told them no, and this is presented as just peachy fine – in fact, she learns to like it. And she’s told, again by the Goddess, that wanting to avoid entangling relationships due to her career goals means she’s afraid of love and she needs to get over it.

The important determination for if the book is dated, of couse, isn’t whether those things bug me but if they’d bug a 12-year-old. I think some of them might, though not as much as they bother me. In reverse order: the forcible kissing would not have bothered me at all when I was 12 back in 1979 – I know, because sex enforced through the the dragon or fire lizard links in the Pern books didn’t phase me. I think awareness has risen enough that it might be a problem for a kid now. Same for the suspicions of Sir Myles, and probably for the gender-difference reinforcement – then again, the last time someone told me men and women are inherently different was about half an hour ago, literally.

As for the other items… common tropes are not a problem to anyone who is coming to them freshly, and I think the way everyone loves Alanna would have felt like wish-fulfillment to be as a reader. (Wish fulfillment is what you call a Mary Sue when you aren’t being critical! After all, there’s a reason there are so many of them. Overall, I think I’d have loved the series, even if I had a couple nits to pick.

to drive or to Pride?

by dichroic in daily updates

For some reason my computer doesn’t want to access this site right now. Phone typing is slow. Oh well.

Ted heads off to the Netherlands today so I’m on my own for the weekend. I’m dithering over whether to go to the lake house or stay home and attend Portland Pride on Sunday. Either way I’d be doing something – either the long solo drive or dealing with the heat and crowds at Pride.

Consideration for the house: if I can leave work at noon, I’d need to go home change, pack clothes and food and put out extra food and water, for the cats, (say, half an hour), get gas, and drive down. It would be 2.5 or maybe even over 3 hours with Friday afternoon traffic. It would be exciting to go – they’ve gotten the siding on, exterior painting started, insulation being put in. If all goes well, they will be dry-walling next week. It might be useful if I can take photos of the wiring before they cover it, though it all the insulation is in it might be too late already. I’ve been more comfortable driving on local highways lately and it would be good for me to do a bit more distance driving, even if it still makes me uncomfortable. And I can row, or kayak or both. Also, we forgot to put up the barriers against geese last time we left!

Arguing against the solo road trip, we’ll be there next weekend anyway, and the weekend after (and all July 4 week) so I would just be seeing this all a week later (except the wiring won’t be visible). Also, getting my boat out is not that easy, since it’s sitting in front of the house and I’d have to take it all the way around, without hitting a tree on the way. And I’d be the one stuck washing goose poop off the dock, all on my own. The other big thing is that I haven’t planned meals, though I do have enough food, and most of all, it would mean I’d be pretty much all alone all weekend. If the drive down sucks and is anxiety making, I’d still have to drive back, with no other options.

Consideration for going to Pride: it should be fun. I can offer support for people I want to support. I can even be part of it instead of just a spectator: I can march in the parade with my company’s contingent. The weather is supposed to be perfect – sunny and 81F. I’ve never been to Pride, or much of any activist parade, and I feel like kind of a slacker.

Against it: not going to the house. Dealing with what might be overwhelming crowds and the inevitable lack of enough toilets. It might still be uncomfortably hot if the forecast isn’t right – it hit the high 90s a few days ago. Also, as a cishet ally, is it better to go and show support, or to stay away and leave the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate on its own? (And yes, I totally am making this decision all about me, but in my head and in my blog I think that’s reasonable. If I go to the parade, I will not expect cookies, I promise – or rather, I kind of will, at least in my own head, for stepping out of my own comfort zone re crowds etc, but not because it’s Pride specifically.)

I don’t know, but I have about 2 hours to decide.

Remodeling progress

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We we’re at the lake house this weekend but not last, so it’s been two weeks since we’ve seen the place. We have been talking to the contractors, though. The bad news is, there was a miscommunication with the garage door people, and their wood-fronted door is a normal overhead one after all, not a roll-up. (From what I;ve seen, this was entirely poor communication on the side of the garage door company, not our contractors. So we’re back to having a plain white metal door. It was important to us not to have the rails of an overhead door – it cuts into the boat rack storage area.

But they’re made a ton of progress; the ground floor has walls now, and the second floor is framed in, with the ceiling trusses up. The windows have arrived, and the old roof has been removed, over the whole house (the need to replace the roof and fix some trim was one of the concerns driving the timing of this whole effort).

The thing that amazes me most is, pretty much all of this has been done by two guys. I suspect progress will actually slow down when the get to the painting (indoor and outdoor), cabinetry and countertops, and they have to bring in specialty crews.

Notes on attempting to KonMari my clothing

by dichroic in daily updates

1. When I can’t figure out if something “sparks joy”, it can be more helpful to ask myself if I enjoy wearing it – or even, in some cases, if I enjoy owning it (e.g. my 15-million-meter t-shirt from Concept 2.) And then there’s my Intel volunteer shirt, where I don’t like wearing the shirt at all, but I like the things I get to do while wearing it, like singing in a choir performance.
2. My dresser drawers are quite long; shirts folded and stored vertically work much better in shorter rows from front to back thanlonger rows from side to side – easier to fill one whole row and leave another open for all the shirts I’m putting in the wash.
3. Speaking of which, wow it’s hard to get antiperspirant out of clothing (which is why I have so many otherwise clean shirts that need to be washed again). It’s hard to get off skin too; maybe I should just give up and switch to deodorant. They really need to invent a formula that doesn’t dissolve in sweat but dissolves instantly in soapy water.
4. Kondo’s method of thanking things for their service is surprisingly helpful when trying to get rid of, say, the alpaca cape I bought in Ecuador but never wore, or stuff that reminds me of living abroad when I bought it but that I don’t wear anymore due to change in style, size or lifestyle. I’m even giving up the purple skirt I knitted that’s a bit tight – though not the first cadre I ever knitted. I can’t give that away because I’d want to scavenge the buttons. Seems wrong to donate it without those and I’m too lazy to sew on less nice buttons. On the other hand, I don’t want to frog it and save the yarn, because if I liked how that yarn knitted up I would wear the sweater more 8n the first place!
5. This may be sacrilege, but I threw out a sweater made of Wollemeise. It had a hole, so possibly moths. Also, that yarn has beautiful colors, but it feels like string both while knitting and while wearing. I like the lines of the sweater but the neck never draped right and I didn’t like the fabric – I’m not a fan of reverse stockinette.
6. I do love sweaters, though. According to Kondo you are not supposed to have to rotate clothing seasonally, but I still have too many sweaters to keep both winter and summer ones accessible. What can I say, they do spark joy! But now I have one vacuum bag instead of 4.
7. My closet still doesn’t look minimal at all – but I’m giving away 8 bags of stuff! (One is still waiting for stuff I’m laundering.)
8. I will never ever ever do this with my books.


old stuff, new eyes

by dichroic in daily updates

It is boggling my mind to realize I was blogging and uploading poems online nearly 20 years ago now. I’ve just figured out how to log into my old old Moveable Type blog (unfortunately it was long ago hacked and I can’t figure out how to get rid of the ad page that shows up on its main page, but the individual entries show up OK).

It’s also mind-boggling how much the world has changed in those almost-20 years. I linked to a poem from 2002 on a Ravelry post today and promptly had someone point out (kindly and gently) that while she loved aspects of said poem, my line “Like her female chromosomes, so surgery can remove the essence” could be hurtful to those whose female-gender identity has nothing to do with chromosomes. I have changed the line to refer to eye color instead, and to masks instead of surgery.

(And I know I said the world has changed, but I’m pretty sure it hasn’t – I do think there are more trans people than there once were only because it’s easier to recognize who you are when there’s already a vocabulary and concepts there, but clearly some people have alwyas been trans, and it’s more climate and perceptions that have changed rather than facts.)

On the plus side, now I’ve reacquainted myself with how to log in and edit my oldest entries, and reacquainted myself with another favorite from all those years ago.

House update: Things were going very fast, then not much happened last week – the contractors move their crews around to balance different projects’ needs. But the first floor is framed in, and the project manager told Ted they expect to have the second floor done this week.

people, sigh

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Good thing I have a blog. And a husband. I am very happy to listen to other people talk about their houses, or kids or whatever, but it would sure be nice if sometimes I got to talk about my life!

Relatives, coworkers…. honestly I think in my teen years when I didn’t want to tell my mom anything I was doing, I trained her out of listening. So at least she’s got that excuse (though I left my teens over 30 years ago!) but other people I talk to (or try to!) are just as bad. Conversation is supposed to include give and take!

At least there are two of us involved in this house remodel, so we always have each other to discuss fine details with.

un homage au Notre Dame

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Do you know the story about the man who wandered around a cathedral being built, asking each person what they were doing? The stone masons told him about cutting rocks to fit togehter so perfectly that they formed arches and flying buttresses; the scultors told about modeling allegories and saints; glassworkers spoke of telling stories in beautiful images that would teach churchgoers the stories they didn’t know how to read, and the woodworkers spoke of walls and screens, roofs and spires. Lastly he put the same question to an old woman sweeping away the dust and shavings of the day. “What am I doing?” she replied, leaning on her broom. “I’m building a cathedral to the glory of God”

That’s the faith it needs to build a cathedral that takes hundreds of years, but I don’t think it even matters whether you believe in God, only whether you are a good, decent and sane person. (You see, I am completely biasing my argument by ignoring those whose God is in their own cruel image, no better than a demon to punish those of whom they disapprove.) If you believe, then a God formed the universe whose workings and laws resulted in humanity, and it’s fitting to express our gratitude by creating whatever beauty we can muster in Their honor. If you don’t believe, then humans striving for goodness created the image of a God to reflect the best that they could find or imagine within themselves, and a cathedral is the physical expression of that striving.

(Again, I am simply omitting the Puritans and those who want a God only to be someone stronger and meaner than themselves who can punish their enemies. I don’t believe that kind of thinking can build a cathedral.)

There was and is beauty and truth in Notre Dame, even if the truth you find depends on which side you examine it from. It’s pure horror to see the spire fall, even if the bell towers were saved. I trust it will be rebuilt once again.