Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Guess Where I Am?

WHAT I am is -- not inclined to complain.  I'm generally philosophical;  no point complaining as a rule, it doesn't change or improve anything.  (The stuck-in-traffic theory:  you can stew and swear or knit and one's going anywhere either way.)

OK, so where am I?'m in the DOLDRUMS!  According to some branch of Wikipedia:

Colloquially, to be in the doldrums, said especially of a person, is to be listless, despondent, inactive, stagnant, in a slump.

(Note that I put in in BLUE, get it?)

Here's the problem.  NOTE:  in spite of what I said, I fear I am about to launch into a full-bore COMPLAINT.  I mean it to be a unique, unusual, rare, not-to-be-repeated experience.

I arrived in the Doldrums around the first of the month (this one, December).   No energy, no spunk, no get-up-and-go.  (Can't resist:  "my")  Anyway, after several days of this -- well, a couple of weeks, I went to see la docteure.  Now, having wonky thyroid (can't recall if it's too little or too much) I do take medication and I thought that must be it.  Or anemia - I've had anemia in the past and napped a lot. 

So the Kind and Friendly Vampire was solicited and I contributed copious amounts of blood.  (Actually?  I have perfectly dreamy veins in my elbows - if there was a competition judged by lab techs I'd win the Golden Vein for sure!)

Good News:  all tests came back "within normal limits".
Bad News:  all tests came back "within normal limits."

I'm continuing to be a pretty good representation of peanut butter.  Warm caramel.  Warm Jell-o.  So it was  back to La Docteure.  Step Two:  yesterday I had a Gastrointestinal Imaging Experience.

Arrived at the Clinic at 1:30, per intructions (Mr Dearling came along - bless him, he didn't think I should have to spend TWO HOURS of boredom alone!)  "Two HOURS?" you say in amazement.  Why yes - because over the course of time between arrival and the x-ray (yes, I know, they're not x-rays anymore...I'm old, I use quaint language.  Withal.) I had to sip ("not gulp" said the droll lab tech who gave it to me) four 8 oz paper cups of -- stuff.  'It's ice-cold", she said, "it's not bad."  She assured me it wasn't minty (some things are NOT improved by being minty) and admitted that she'd had to taste it when they were in school -- seems to me that she said something about "punishment".

It wasn't all that bad, actually.  It WAS, as she assured me, "watered-down barium".  It had a vaguely citric flavor.  I had to sip it ("the better to coat the linings") over the two hours.  Now, the truth is, I actually didn't finish all four cups.  I got three down -- but I rarely drink that much of ANYTHING.  Except maybe an icy-cold frothy glass of milk with something chonkles.

So the time came.  Let me tell you, it was a lovely test for someone with no NRG:  I laid on a table at a comfortable angle with a pillow and a comfortable pillow under my knees.  I could easily have dozed off - the test itself consisted of the table sliding back and forth through a great scientific-looking hoop.  When inside the hoop, a pleasant female (robotic) voice said "Breathe in - hold it - breathe" a couple of times.

However - although I'll be interested to hear the report, I am NOT sure what my stomach might have to do with doldrums or ennui or weariness or wossname.

Next step:  middle of next month (!) a cardiac ulstrasound(!)  I'm further not sure why my heart would make me tired - but we'll see.

Here's the deal though:  what I HAVE been doing is spending days (WHOLE days) and often nights on the couch.  Flat.  Plotzed.  Resting.  Napping.  Lazing.  Sleeping.  Spending maybe an hour vertical, online, after which I need a nap.

What I have NOT been doing is:  working, knitting, reading, writing....and I've had to miss SEVERAL events upon which I had my heart set:  I missed my Writers' Group meeting (never did that before and was bummed majorly);  a Solstice celebration, a house party, several programs for the Museum....including a storytelling gig today.

I managed a very nice Christmas Eve morning Icelandic breakfast  and enjoyed (enormously) the company of my beloved Youngest Son (with his cherished bride, three stunning daughters and clever darling son) and my Lovely (and very helpful) Daughter.  Mr. Dearling does our Christmas Day cooking and we hosted my beloved Elder Son (with his cherished bride and two adorable sons) and the still-Lovely and more-helpful Daughter!   We also spent Christmas evening with specially dear friends,, pere et fils, as they say, in extraordinary conversation and company...although we left at 10:00, rather earlier than in previous years -- and I pretty much slept for the next elebenty-thirteen hours but it was worth it.

So.  One possibility remains:  DEPRESSION!  Now, I'm just not sad - I haven't been, I don't know why it would come on suddenly.  Mr. Dearling says depression can be a chemical imbalance and not "a case of the sads";  I think he's right.)  What I am is suffering from is a profound case of BLARG.  (Thanks, James, for the best word EVAR!)  Yep, I have the blarg.  

Now - here's one thing:  it's about to be a New Year, rife with New Beginnings, &c &c.   I AM going out New Year's Eve in my hoops and furbelows, (as Mrs. First Mayor's Wife) with Mr. Dearling (as Madison's First Mayor) to ride around the Square in a festive trolley, pointing out sights of interest in OUR (1857) Madison.     I reckon I'll nap a while afterward -- maybe a week or so .  But I don't like keeping missing out on stuff, it's infuriating.  It's making me sad.  It's...yeah, depressing.

So that's where I am, and I am looking forward to a) finding out WTF?? and b) so what do we do about it now?  and c) enuff is enuff.

Two other side points:  I'm chilly most of the time (but that's not really new;  it's my thin Mediterranean North-Dakotan blood);  and I have no appetite.  That last?  That's the weirdest of all.  And of course eating next to nothing doesn't promote high energy either.  I don't remember EVAR having no appetite....except right after my father died -- and after Willie's funeral.  (THAT was a missed opportunity....but Lovely Daughter said it would be rude to ask for a doggy bag at a funeral.)   Truthfully?  Somewhat worrisome.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Soooo....Chanukah continues --

The order in which I set out to list my gifts -- my treasures -- was changed.  My intention to list something each of the days of Chanukah was also changed.  I will, therefore, connect the two:

Date Two (also Three, Four, Five....) my treasured gift is:  Good Health.  Now, I don't necessarily mean robust and hearty chest-pounding, mountain-climbing, horseback-riding health. fact, I mean simply no aches, no pains, no nonsense.  Why did this move to the top of my list?  It was gone.  I was - well, it didn't even have the dignity of "sick".  

This didn't have the drama or dignity of the darkened room, Mr Dearling whispering quietly, keeping the kitties quiet, taking messages, having the doctor in once a day.....

It didn't have the excitement of ambulances with flashing lights and all those scenes from "House" -- people coming in and out, puzzling about whatever mystical malady has turned me green and purple....

In other words:  I had {drumroll} The Crud.  for five days.  I had zero energy.  Strength enough to hobble to the bif and then back to the sofa and my coverlet.  and Evangeline.  In the last few days I've eaten two soft-boiled eggs, a bowl of soup...perhaps two cups of tea.  And I'm not hungry.  (Re-read's true!)

I'm a little better today, which is a good thing.  In a couple of hours I'm presenting one of my Senior Outreach Programs (at the Senior Center....I am not the senior.  Although ... nevermind.)  Please to reserve comments to later.  It's the program on the Metis - the rich blending of Native and French (and French-Canadian) cultures and lives during the Fur Trade.  I'm counting on my muse, the Goddess Adrenaline, to get me through (she always does).  And when I've finished - back home to rest.  But!!  Tonight I feel confident that my Chanukah present will be a return to plain old feelin' ok!

Now then - as a few days have gone by, here are some other things I consider gifts of value, which I relish: 

My Legacy from my Dad:  this may be one of my favorite possessions ever.  It has two parts:  first, a love of reading.  A huge delight in the printed word, an appetite for a wide variety of stories, an appreciation for "literature".     I have uncounted hours of contentment lost in the depths of one story or another;  I've relished plays (and majored in Drama). 

The other half of this legacy - was that I believe I have inherited some of his skill with words both in speaking and in writing.  Daddy had what we called his "Speaking Voice" -  and he was a public speaker in great demand.  And I'm only now consciously working on utliziing the skills he left me for's all part and parcel, the gift of reading, writing, speaking.  With such a gift, I have never known boredom, I have passed time pleasantly.  I've awakened at night with inspiration for stories - and in fact - a little secret:  Mr Dearling and I first shared a mutual love of reading aloud and being read to, and it's led to my contentment.

Now - if I don't look over my notes, my gift of taking pleasure in public speaking won't be enough!!!

More later -- as Chanukah draws to a close.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Happy (earlier than usual) Chanukah!

Happy Chanukah!  Or Hannukah, or Hanukkah.  For my part:  "Chanukah".   Traditionally (at least here in America), celebrants receive one gift each night of the festival;  in our family, they increased in some way each night. until the  eighth night, when they got a "real" present.  The earlier ones might qualify as "stocking stuffers" and I might be wrong (you'd have to ask them) but I think they enjoyed it that way.

The first night was always a new Dreidl and a bag of chocolate coins.  We would then play wild games of cutthroat Dreidl, usually using dried beans for counters while enjoying the traditional potato pancakes with sour cream and applesauce.  I tried to make one night's gift about food:  a pint of ice cream with a jar of topping, nuts, maraschino cherries -- and permission to eat it all at once if they wanted to.  As I recall, the seventh night was always a book.  Today every grandchild gets a book for each occasion too.  (And they'll continue to - I don't do e-books or that kinda #$@)*.

So here's my plan:  each day of Chanukah, I'm going to describe a gift I have.  And my intention is to save the best for last.  Now, these are presents I already have, and enjoy, and I'm going to enjoy describing them a LOT.  You know how, when you're a kid and a new friend from school comes over and you get to show 'em all the cool stuff in your room? Yeah, it's like that.  So here goes:

First day of Chanukah:  KNITTING.  I have the gift of knitting.  I learned to knit from my mother, years and years ago.   I don't remember the teaching; I do remember a stunning dress with a matching sweater she knitted  for herself out of ivory-colored yarn shot through with gold.  She bought gold-and pearled braid for the sweater (it was a cardigan) and she bought a gold belt to wear with it, and it - and she - was exquisite! 

I knitted periodically - until a few years ago, when it All Came Back.  For the last few years it's increased from "Gee, this is fun" to "I am TOTALLY addicted, a perpetual knitter, and...wait!  Was that a yarn shop?"  I now have a S.A.B.L.E. stash.  (That's "Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy", otherwise known as "if I never bought another THAT's going to happen...I couldn't knit it all up before I die").

I am what is known as a PROCESS KNITTER.  I knit perpetually unless I'm writing fiction or blogging or ...OK, you got me...on Farmville or Frontierville or some other Facebook timesuck.  BUT!  other than that I knit all the time.  I knit riding in the car (not if I am driving, but when I perfect that, all bets are off);  I knit in meetings, while reading, at movies.  I knit while visiting.  I knit while watching the teevee or listening to the radio. 

Believe it or not - one time I was sitting on the couch watching teevee and knitting plain ol' stockinette, in the round (see "toque", below) and I dozed off...and woke up a few stitches further along, and they were FINE!!  I knit voyageurs' toques (see below, as I said above), shawls, scarves, socks, mittens, fingerless nitts, caps.  I knit cool little felted bowls.  And as a process knitter, when I finish a project and it REALLY IS SOMETHING! I'm delighted.  Because I b'lieve I'd knit even if it didn't become something.  I always have a lovely cotton dishrag on needles set aside for if I have nothing else available.

Now then, TOQUES.  Toques (a French-Canadian name, not used in France) are the knitted caps, usually red, seen in all the depictions of voyageurs and fur traders in the 18th century.  This is how they start, on three DPNs.  There are increases - and then just plain old knitting knitting knitting knitting, to the point where you decrease.  Now - there was a sailing ship that sank in icy Canadian waters in the mid-18th century, and almost everything on it was preserved.  It was carefully raised and the stuff was recorded, photographed, documented and published in a book.  (My good luck!)   Among the things found was a genuine, certified voyageurs' toque, incomplete but enough that I can point to it as provenance for the historic accuracy of the toques I knit.  I make them for a few reasons:  1)  they're easy;  2)  they're fun for me;  3)  they're popular among living history reenactors;  4)  they're easy;  5)  they're fun for me....wait, I'm repeating myself.  Lastly, but no kind of leastly:  oftentimes I get paid for 'em.  And when I DO knit them on request by voyageurs or traders, I send them with a "wool care" sheet; a monograph about the historical use of toques;  a sheet about Ste Anne, patroness and protector of the French-Canadian voyageurs -- and I pin to it a Ste Anne's medallion (with an 18th century-style straight pin).

So on this first day of Chanukah I enjoy my gift of knitting - which has brought with it also a Community, a group of dear friends, on Ravelry and at my LYS;  I am a member of a MOVEMENT of modern knitters;  I am one of a long line of women (imagine us all holding hands) that stretches back to some girl on the shore of the Nile putting together fishing nets - and the Virgin Mary who was painted knitting a little baby shirt on double-point needles.  (She was a Jewish mother, of course she'd knit him a sensible little sweater!)

As it is now sundown, I am going to light TWO candles on my menorah.  DISCLAIMER:  I have a shiny silver menorah with lovely flame-shaped blue-and-white bulbs. Yep, it's electric.  For the cats, you know.  (My sons asks what's the Hebrew way to say "Blessed art Thou, oh Lord our God, King of the Universe, who commands us to plug in the Chanukah lights".  I have no idea....but I figure He made cats so He knows all about it and sympathizes.   Tomorrow?   Second day of Chanukah.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A LOVELY Time....

....was had by all!  My grumpy is gone (long gone);  as is usually the case, all was well and ended well.  Our Thanksgiving table had four, not twelve - but...(all together now) more for the rest of us!  And oh, my dear ones, there WAS.  Everything was as delicious as always - I am a fan of the Typical Repast:  roast turkey, dressing, wild rice with sausage, corn pudding, cranberry sauce, gravy.

NOTE:  Regarding cranberry sauce.  Every year we have BOTH kinds (and you know what they are, I'm sure),   There's the sort of whole-berry type;  there's the jelled type.  Since a wee girlie, my Lovely Daughter has expressed a determined preference for the jelled kind - you have to be able to see the round lines around it from the can.  Might I add, this suits me, as I like both kinds, and as long as we HAVE both kinds, there is (all together again)   more for the rest of us!   There's something about the blending of flavors of Thanksgiving that's just so satisfying!

As usual, Mr Dearling did the bulk of the cooking.  The man has a Gift with turkey.   Furthermore, we had the genuine pleasure of sharing our table with Molly Bee , who is a special knitty friend of mine and Lovely Daughter's. She's of an age with Lovely Daughter - I consider her my "other daughter by another mother".  She endeared herself to us more (if possible) by bringing along a Nantucket Cranberry Pie.  Let me say this about that:  OH YUMMM-OH!  (Lest we come up short after the meal, she also brought along her lovely apple dumplings, and Lovely Daughter came bearing her annual delicious pecan pie.)  Only the fact that I am a Jewish Bubbeh, and therefore aware that one should have a meal BEFORE dessert prevented my throwing tradition to the wind and just downright having dessert first. I did not do this before, and as it's never too late to be all over verklempt:  My many blessings are foremost in my mind every day, not just at Thanksgiving, but the fact that I have arrived at this point in my life, this age, and find myself comfortable, secure, safe, healthy, and surrounded by cherished friends and beloved family is something worth mentioning at Thanksgiving time.

Mr Dearling exercised his annual prerogative by asking us each to name something for which we are thankful - OTHER THAN the usual family, friends, health &c &c.  Because those things are always at the top of the list, that was something of a challenge - but it occurred to me that I'm just awfully tickled to be able to share my love of history at the museum, and moreso, that I'm able to put on fun costumes and go speechify at senior centers around town.  Having the fun and privilege and joy of that just tickles me pink.

I'm awfully pleased that I live in these days of innerwebs and can google and twitter and all that (can you imagine the effect of saying "I'm not sure what kind of person he is, I'll just go google him up"  in 1950?  I can!)  And of course, I'm most earnestly grateful that my station in life and my own little nest are such that I can share my existence with my two kitties (WARNING:  verklempt alert).  It's no accident that the first word on the title of this blog is "CATS".  I feel as though a pet (in general) and cats (specifically) are the Soul of  a home, and my kitties?  Well - my cats are really my darling treasures...especially my Evangeline, my stout black kitty.

If we found ourselves in the Middle Ages, Evangeline and I would surely be hunted down as witches, because she IS my Familiar, my companion, -- in fact, although in "His Dark Materials" the characters' daemons are the opposite sex, Evangeline IS my "daemon".   I've always loved my kitties, but she and I share a bond I haven't enjoyed with other pets.

DISCLAIMER:  our wee brown tabby, Lilliane, is a sweet darling too (albeit she is a genuine certifiable paschkudnik) but she is very pointedly "her Da's cat".  She snuggles with me sometimes, and sits near me sometimes, but she clearly, unequivocally, most assuredly owns Mr Dearling.  She can bend him to her will (example:  leaving the clean clothes in the laundry basket for hours because she's sleeping on them) with just a strong gaze from her big green eyes.  So don't be thinking she's all ignored and stuff.  She's not.

You know, being unhappy over social mishaps (such as I was dealing with on Thanksgiving Day) really is, after the first flush, a conscious decision.  I'm over it - that was SO last week!  And anyone with the embarrassment of riches such as I am blessed with is in no position to hold on to grumpy.

So now the Holiday Season is officially on - let the merriment begin!