The other annual light-in-darkness poem

by dichroic in poetry

With affectionate thanks to the Fae group on Ravelry.

This year, the night is roiling,
Black layered over deeper dark
Until my path ahead became impossible to see.
My candle guttered,
Too small to light the way.

Then I turned around,
And stopped wide-eyed
– shocked to see –
Hundreds of tiny flickering candles
Outlining the path behind me,
Each carefully held by someone
Walking along the same way.

With an eye on the lights behind me
I moved forward – we

the annual light poem

by dichroic in daily updates, poetry

Not so light this year, since Oolong wormed her way through this one.

Sleep, little one, in the year’s dark turning,
Safe now from illness and pain,
Gleam of your eyes in our candles burning,
Raises the memory again.

Oolong, Oola-Boola, Oobaloo,
Slow to trust, then old before your time
Soft fur, trilled purr, set-in-your-ways worldview,
Clumsiest, most beautiful feline.

You’re not forgot, though we will still take joy
In every light we kindle in this dark –
Traditions, comforts, laughter all alloyed
With cat-eye gleams ensconced in every spark.

apparently it’s been so long since I updated that WordPress hates me now

by dichroic in daily updates

This is approximately my 6th attempt to write this. Saving now, to make sure I don’t waste more time.

Yay, it worked!

Onto what I actually meant to say. It kills me that I don’t have a written record of living through this historic time, but I just haven’t managed to summon up my blogging mojo. I’m not bored enough, is the problem. Work is both busy and challenging and if I have any creativity leftover there’s knitting and puzzles and the mini-dollhouse kit I’m desultorily working on.

I’m also disappointed to find that apparently I never wrote my annual Chanukah poem last year! I promise to improve on that, at least. (This entry was originally intended to be links to all my past Chanukah poems, then I got caught up in WP issues.)

We spent last weekend helping the in-laws move into an independent-living place. It was a bit frustrating, both because they are distressingly foggy on the concept of social distancing despite good intent (e.g wearing a mask but shaking the movers’ hands! *cringe*) and because they couldn’t seem to focus on getting things actually packed. We’d gone there for a couple of previous weekends in the past months, but the amount done between our visits was less than we hoped. Some of it is age and various physical issues, some of it, I think, was just that they love their house. It was their own decision to leave, they know it’s the right move for them and they’re looking forward to many aspects of it, but that still doesn’t make it easy to leave a home you love, that you’ve spent decades getting just right. Frustrating for everyone (I’m sure they felt we kept hurrying them along) but they seemed to have settled in happily now.

In other news, after my sourdough starter (made from just flour and water, not a starter I got from anyone) spent almost two weeks just sitting around, with a few bubbles but not really increasing in size, it spent the time we wre away in the fridge and seems to have liked that treatment. So now it’s alive! I made my first loaf Saturday. Not much of a sourdough tang, but it rose! I think it just needs to age into more flavor.

So now I have joined the ranks of the quarantine-sourdough bakers. But honestly, as long as we can keep healthy, I think the pandemic has been easier on us than most. We have so little social life that the biggest difference has mostly been working from home. Since I have no need at all to be at work, in late October I came down to the lake and I plan to stay here til at least the end of the year (I might just go back for a week in January, refill prescriptions and such, and head back down here). Ted has to check in to his office and the fab occasionally, so he’s been alternating biweekly, but I think he will be able to stay here for most of the rest of the year now. It’s just so much nicer to work down here! Even though I don’t get to go on the water now, due to both colder weather and the beginning of this year’s Concept 2 Holiday Challenge, so it’s all erging, all the time. I think this is my 17th or 18th one!

I have started reading my emergency book

by dichroic in daily updates

No, it’s not an emergency. Years ago I was in a small airport in Japan when my Kindle committed suicide – it jumped out of my hands, flipped over a couple times in midair, and landed face down on a hard floor, shattering the screen. That was well after I’d come to trust the Kindle as my only reading on travel, and I had no books with me (would have thought I’d have had an iPad, but I don’ know if I had any books loaded on it). This small airport had no reading material in English to be purchased. Luckily it was only a short flight to Seoul, where I was able to buy books – 1632, by Eric Flint, and something else I now forget, possibly a Discworld book I’d read before. I read the Discworld book, a comfort read, and never did get to 1632 on that flight.

But I carried it with me as backup on my travels for a while thereafter, though I never did need it again. I do really prefer reading on Kindle, and of paper books, mass market paperbacks are my least favorite form – you have to hold them open with both hands, print is small, pages are dingy. So I haven’t read it, and five months into the quarantine seemed as good a time as any to start. I’m bemused to find there are now over 30 in the series, but this first one, at least, seems good.

I have clearly failed miserably to document my life during the pandemic, almost as miserably as my country has failed to contain said pandemic. (Wish I felt confident that we will have a change in leadership in November, but after what happened in 2016 I can’t be that sure.) Anyway, we are still healthy and still working from home. We go food shopping every couple of weeks, though we do make occasional stops in farmers’ markets or other stores when needed, and Ted has to go into the fab once every couple of weeks – an Intel fab is probably one of the safest places to be, what with the bunny suits, masks, and forced air ventilation. Meanwhile, Intel has said that any employee who doesn’t actually have to be in the office to work, can work from home til at least June 2021. We’re alternating, spending about 2 weeks in Hillsboro and 2 at the lake, which is being one of the joys of this time. Such a much better place to be quarantined than in a city condo!

In other personal news, two weeks ago the gynecologist took out my birth control implant, so now I’m without any birth control for the first time in my adult life, We have no idea if I’ve hit menopause because I haven’t had a period since 2012 when I had my first implant put in, but she said that at 53, there’s less than a 1% chance I could get pregnant and even less that I’d stay that way – similar odds to being on the Pill. (And yet, I keep thinking of Little Sister in the book Laddie, who was born when her mother was in her fifties!) I’ve also switched dentists – I liked the one i was with but they have been canceling appointments a lot due to (non-corona-related) health issues on the dentist’s part, and now the hygienist I like is taking some unknown amount of time off. So I switched to the one that’s in a mobile office right next to work, and had a cleaning and exam there. It was very weird to be so close to another person I’m not married to, for the first time since March! And face shields are not well designed for the angle a dental hygienist works at – she was wearing a mask under it, though. Unfortunately I get to go through that again Monday, because I need three fillings! (Two are old ones being replaced.)

Pandemic quarantine, Day 65

by dichroic in daily updates

I thought it would be a good idea to chronicle this period, so I’d know what happened when. Clearly I have not done so well with that. Here are some numbers, though:

  • Days since I last wore a bra: 65
  • Days since I last wore pants or skirt without an elastic waist: 65 (also, I’ve been counting (opaque) tights as pants!)
  • Shopping trips: it’s complicated. I stocked up before the stay-home order, but since I started working from home, there have been 3 times where I ordered online and picked up groceries – but on two of those I had to dart inside (masked) for an item or two they didn’t sell online, so I give up on online grocery ordering One trip to New Seasons (local upscale chain like Whole Foods), one trip to Collective Market (products like a farmer’s market), one trip to the butcher. Three stops to small local grocery near the lake house for a needed item or two that let me postpone major shopping. Still not a lot for over two months.
  • Days on which I’ve worn jewelry, other than a watch: 3 or 4.
  • Businesses I’ve visited other than for groceries: the post office. That’s it.
  • Last time I ate in a restaurant: March 10 (I have gone in one a couple of times to pick up pizza. I wore a mask.)
  • Times we’ve ordered food delivered: about 5
  • Knitting projects: 5 done, 3 in work
  • When I plan to go back into the office: not for a long long time. My company is encouraging managers to support working from home, if it makes sense for our jobs, til the end of 2020
  • Masks owned: two, but I’ve ordered 3 more

Social Isolation, Day 28

by dichroic in daily updates

I think we are going to break down and go to the lake house tomorrow. We’re timing it with Ted’s work, going when we can stay for over a week instead of a quick weekend trip. Somehow that seems less irresponsible.

Arguments against going:

  • Against the spirit of “stay in place”. Useful to go but not absolutely essential. A total of about 5 hours driving (in a reliable vehicle with a huge tank). Very low risk of breaking down on the road and needing rescue – but of course not a non-zero risk.
  • This will necessitate one extra gas fill-up.

Arguments in favor of going:

  • Mental and physical health. Lots more opportunity to be outside without being around other people. Can go on the water (would probably use only my kayak or my rec shell, both very hard to tip, as opposed to my tippier racing shell) or garden or do yardwork.
  • Have emailed elderly neighbor there to ask if she needs us to bring any groceries – she’s healthy but in her 80s, her husband has health issues.
  • Can pick up stuff we’ve left there (everything from my engagement ring (I wear it instead of a wedding band) to my better headphones for work to pantry items (paper towels!) we could snag from there instead of buying.
  • Can grab the masks Ted has there for woodworking – probably N95, though he’s not sure.
  • Can do yardwork, and early spring is when it’s badly needed
  • Checking on the house – we haven’t been there for almost a month.

Arguments not in favor, but not NOT in favor:

  • Not planning to go anywhere but the house or grounds around us – but if we do need to go grocery shopping or even somehow suddenly need a hospital we can go to the city < half an hour away and not put a strain on a rural area.
  • This is not a vacation area, like the Oregon or NYC-adjacent beach towns that got overloaded by city folks fleeing the virus. It’s a town people live in – that in fact we ourselves plan to go live in, in just a few years.

So yeah, hard to decide but I think we’re going.

Social isolation, Day 20

by dichroic in daily updates

I’m fine.

I finished a *very annoying* pair of socks yesterday – the yarn’s too think and I should have used size 0 instead of size 1 needles, and the lace / cable pattern on the leg was complex enough that I always had to be looking at it. Also, I really don’t like knitting two-at-a-time – yes, you don’t have Second Sock Syndrome, but progress feels so much slower. But they’re done, and they’re pretty.

Only thing is, they hae a common problem with gradient yarn: the gradient is too low for an average-sized pair of women’s socks, so I only get half the colors. I have enough yarn for another pair of anklets, but then they’d also only have half the colors.

My another project is more pleasant to work on; I’m making a Na Craga sweater for Ted. Unlike the socks, it’s actually simpler to knit than it looks; each of the cable patterns used has either a 4- or 8-row repeat so they line up nicely, and you can easily see where you are. Also, I’m not putting any pressure on myself to finish it any time soon, which is a good thing because I’ve already ripped it back twice. Yes, I did swatch; problem is this yarn in that pattern is so stetchy it’s hard to get a good feel for the size of the swatch. My last attempt was coming out way too large, and not dense enough, so I’ve redone it with smaller needles.

It’s too complicated to knit during telecons, though, and I also wanted a smaller project, so I’ve started a poncho. It’s giving me flashbacks – not to the poncho days of the 1970s, fortunately, but to my early knitting days. Last time ponchos had a moment, I made one. No pattern for the poncho; I chose a stitch pattern (K3, (yo, k2), repeat to last 3 sts, k3 for every row), made a long rectangle, and sewed one short end to the end of a long side. It’s wonky because I wasn’t a very good knitter at the time. But I just realized today; I was envisoning a sea-glass pale blue, but the yarn I wanted didn’t have precisely what I wanted (one colorway was too green, one was too bright, one darker one was great but I have too many darker blue sweaters) so I went with off-white … the same color as the last ponsho I made. It may be a similar yarn composition, too, but the other one was pre-Ravelry so I have no idea what it’s made of. I think this one will be more wearable.

I’ve been loving my singing lessons, have participated in a few virtual knitting circles, and I’m still working full time, still erging 5 days a week. I’d like to get outside more (is going for a Sunday drive a violation of the directive to do only essential travel?) But otherwise, I’m good, though I do spend too much time watching corona statistics rise and rise.

Social isolation Day 13

by dichroic in daily updates

I did something smart late last year; I went for a checkup with my regular doctor. I hadn’t been going to her for a while; my company has a health clinic that is in the same building I sit in, it’s easy to get an appointment there, and I like the NP there (they have an MD too, just haven’t seen him as much) better than my regular doc. But I wanted to stay on the regular doctor’s rolls; her office is closer to home, it’s part of the Providence system (which made it easier to get a colonoscopy within that system last December). They drop you as a patient if you haven’t been in two years. So I saw her for a checkup I really didn’t need (or want to pay for) but that means I am now a Providence patient in good standing. They have COVID19 testing up and running now, with more capacity than the state, but you do have to be a patient and have a referral from your doctor. Hopefully this is not something I’ll need, if I stay isolated, but it’s nice to know I can.

ETA They just closed the clinic at my site! There is one still open at another campus that’s actually closer to me, but this still seems an odd response to people getting sick. I should still be able to do video/phone visits with medical staff from the other site, too, should I need them. I think.

Yesterday I picked up groceries – I put the order in last Friday, but Monday at 4 was the earliest option to pick them up. It ended up being a big order, just because of trying to minimize the number of future shopping trips needed, but because with so many days between shopping and picking up, I kept thinking of items to add. I did get more than we really need right away (if I have a half a bag of bread flour, do I need a new bag now?), but hopefully it doesn’t count as hoarding, since I only got one or two of each thing, or else the amount I’d normally buy. Unfortunately, there was an entire page of items they not only didn’t have, but weren’t able to make substitutions for, everything from flour to tomato paste to plain bagels to shrimp. They had most other items or were able to make reasonable substitutions, though a couple of them were funny – I’d ordered in 3 small boules of sourdough bread to freeze, 8 ounces each, and they gave me 24 oz boules instead! So I have All the Sourdough bread. I ended up with 2 lbs of green beans, and I’m not sure if that was my fault or their sub. In additions to green beans as a side dish, I guess we have Thai beef with green beans in our near future. And I had to turn one substitution down: they tried to replace the Coke Zero Ted drinks with diet Dr. Pepper Ick!

social isolation, Day 12

by dichroic in daily updates

Woohoo! I just had a social experience! My Monday noontime knitting group at work decided to meet over Skype. Only a fwe people showed up, but that was fun.

Later this afternoon I have to go pick up my grocery order – very curious to find out if there’s anything I won’t get. I didn’t order tp or alcohol, but did include a loaf of bread.

This big excitement, however, was at 3AM this morning, when a smoke alarm started chirping. The one new 9V battery we had didn’t seem to fix the problem. And then at 3:30 another one went off! It turns out that with these, when the battery needs to be replaced it actually chirps and then says “LOW BATTERY! LOW BATTERY!” When it only chirps you are supposed to replace the whole thing. Less easy than usual, right now! I have ordered 6 new ones from Amazon, that are currently supposed to get here on Thursday. Fingers crossed. Because apparently the usual drama of waking us at 3AM wasn’t enough for these alarms, no, they had to go off at 3AM in a pandemic for extra excitement!

Social isolation, day 11

by dichroic in daily updates

Clearly I need to resume regular(ish) blogging again to have a record of these days. I guess we’re always living through history, but that feeling is a lot more palpable than usual.

I have ventured out a few times. Friday, Ted had to go into the fab, so I took advantage of not having my car blocked in by his truck (the lack of parking is definitely my least favorite part of where we live!!) to go on an errand. I’d put in a grocery order for pickup but was unable to schedule a pickup time until Monday(!) so I decided to go and grab a few items I needed – quick in, quick out, touch as little as possible. It wasn’t at all crowded, but unfortunately not everyone there was being careful at keeping a 6’ separation, you could definitely tell who was and who wasn’t, so I was glad to spend as little time as possible there. I didn’t spend time walking the aisle to see what they had or didn’t have, but as I had guessed, the produce section was well stocked.