Saturday, June 08, 2013

Liars, Tolls and Raccoon - Oh My

The last two weeks have been action and adventure packed. Almost a Chevy Chase comedy. It started on the 23rd – with the Movers being MIA. Yup, took the money and ran. Luckily I am inherently suspicious and implemented plan 2 early. When it became apparent the movers would no-show I ran to U-Haul & rented a truck. Fabulous friends picked up the closest available tow dolly (in some town near Harrisburg that I had never been to) and brought it to me.

On the Lebanon end – fabulous friends gathered to help me schlep, carry, and load. We banged it out in short order in repulsive heat and humidity – sans AC.

Early the next morning I started the tedious drive home. Hampered by a vehicle that could not back up, had a speed limit of 55 mph, and got a smashing 12 mpg. Add to that the fact that it classifies as a 2 axle vehicle and the tolls came to almost $200.00 – not EZPass applicable. Oh joy. My adorable little car followed behind me, giving glimpses of her little mirrors & making me mourn the lack of Radio/CD/Bluetooth/cruise control in the truck.

Hot, tired, crabby I arrived at the LoveGrotto on Saturday afternoon to solo unload until nightfall when poor TAO could come help. We banged out the unload, dropped off the truck, got some fast food & decided to go home. Honestly, I don’t remember the trip or the evening at all.

We lolled around part of Sunday, until the To-do list worked our nerves too much; then we headed back south to start trying to put the Grotto in order. And the trouble began.

TAO had gone through the singlewide on the lot, but it wasn’t connected to any utilities. Once they set it up in the mobile home park we discovered that there were a LOT of mechanical issues. Hot water? Nope. Heat? Nope. AC? Nope. Electric? Sort of. Entry? No Stairs & the doors don’t work. AND

Turns out the park is in The Boonies (despite being 5 miles from work, and directly off a major highway interchange.) So no cell signal, no cable (who cares), and the only internet being Dial Up with a usage cap & a $100 a month bill. (picture me clutching my laptop, saying But All My Friends Live in this Box).

Amazon to the rescue – ordered faucets, ordered a cell phone booster, got the internet people out there. Also – got a great mattress from Amazon. TAO wants me to bring it home & swap it for the old one. “Sorry, won’t fit in my car.”

So rather than a week to unpack and settle in, with some serious drunken patio knitting; I spent the last 10 days having stairs built, getting heat (the furnace guys initially lied – stating that “it worked just fine, needs a cap that is all”. Turns out the CO levels fluctuated between 196 & 475 – normal is 15 to 20. Luckily the thermostat didn’t work, or Coleman says the CO levels would have killed the dogs and possibly me.), getting hot water, getting electric, getting faucets, AND

Fixing the raccoon damage.

What? What?!? Yeah. The seller had the home on the lot for more than a year. When the home first arrived the hot water heater failed, dumping water into the subfloor and rotting the bottomboarding. A mama raccoon found the egress into the home, and discovered that with some ingenuity she could move into the space under the bathtub in the middle bathroom. So she made a nest and proceeded to have litters. Then one day, TAO comes, buys the house, and they move it 6 miles away. Mama raccoon was apparently out foraging. But TAO kept hearing rustling and chirping. So he gets up under the house, and lo! The move had caused the FIVE raccoon babies to leave the nest, and to burrow through the insulation into the kitchen at the front of the house; where they became trapped for a couple of days and created quite the mess. TAO cut them out and they were returned back to the woods surrounding the sales lot. But that left us with a huge indoor nest to access & clean, a dumpster load of urine soaked insulation, and a fortune in bottomboarding to replace. So I got to spend a quality weekend with TAO, feeding the insulation hopper to blow in new insulation and then lying prone head to feet doing Pilates exercises under the house applying new bottomboarding. I made TAO share a Mojito at dinner.

Less troublesome, but for some reason almost MORE annoying is the fact that a drunken aardvark painted the place. They pulled off all the wall trim and the window treatment hardware. And didn’t replace any of it. They didn’t cut in the edges, and only seemed to use painters tape on areas that could pull the finish off the wood trim. It’s not something that HAS to be fixed, but is irritating as all get out. I’ve got window coverings up in all but one of the rooms, and used an awesome SteamMaster cleaner to get rid of the mold that was rampant in the window frames.

I’m moved in enough to go to work every day, have a library card, and am lazy enough that I may never unpack anything else, or settle in more. It’s no longer like camping and I’m tired; but warm, safe, dry. TAO is incredibly busy but he says he’ll come down in a few weeks and get the ladder, huge wet/dry vac & tools out of the living room/bathroom, and install the back door. I have the kitchen set up enough to eat, just have to get back into the habit of planning cooking & shopping. First I have to find a decent grocer because the local one? Ick.

The dogs are a little unhappy. Scooter spent the first week racing to the car every time you let him out because he wanted to go home where it’s quiet and warm. At least he’s stopped doing that. But he doesn’t like to be outside as much as “curbing” requires. And Bond doesn’t like being “curbed” and misses endless hours in the fenced backyard with his pool.

So I have fulfilled my camping and adventure quota for 2013. Time to knit. (Which box is the yarn in?)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sounds like a swear word but isn't

Or perhaps it is.

I refer to the MTHFR gene mutation. And while I am a nerd I am NOT that much of a nerd that I had ever given it a moments thought. Until I tested positive for a double selection of it. I won't bore you with the pages of wordy goop associated with it, but I do think this MindMap is an interesting thumbnail of it. (although I wish I could replace the word porn with YARN)

Looking back at what little I remember of my blood family I can see where these genetics certainly played out. And at the same time I can see in my own life the times when it triggered issues for me. Fortunately my SoCal/Pacific Northwest hippy background also played into it.

I often find people wanting to have the genetics/environment discussion. (usually wanting to blame genetics for their own poor choices) And when I encounter someone who is stressing because of family history I usually ask "do you have the same lifestyle they do?" TAO and his brother look like peas in a pod. But they had radically different backgrounds and they have universally different health profiles. My own hippy tendencies have apparently acted as quite the buffer. In researching what is known about this mutation it appears that the best thing you can do is Not Piss It Off by stressing your system; it's not equipped to deal with so many things regular Americans encounter daily. And I can see where the times I "ran off the rails" have been where it's bitten me on the arse.

So my choices appear to be:
Quietly start building new habits and buffer up the past healthy ones --or-- Sackcloth & ashes while whining "woe is me & my fate."

Going with first one, people who do the second annoy me.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

It can't all be sunshine and avocados.

I am knitting another Color Affection. As I mentioned last year I really enjoyed knitting my Color Affection. I loathe wearing it though. So when a friend started knitting one for her mother and bogged down because she hated the knitting of it; I volunteered to knit it. She had three tones from the Brilliant Jodi at Shamelesstwist, so I am happily knitting away with a delicious yarn and ignoring my own WIPs. And no, I haven't knit those baby booties; perhaps a nice set of receiving blankets from Amazon instead?

It's amusing how a mindset can change. I found myself reading a beef chorizo label this morning & putting it back. Not for the reason I would have 3 months ago - Frankly some of the bits n bobs used in chorizo are disgusting to consider; but because the last ingredient was soy. And I'd rather avoid soy than beef lips and stomachs. Weird, eh?

I had my first egg in 3 weeks this morning and it was glorious. I had to give up eggs to see if they were causing my inflammatory joint pain. But the pain persisted so I get to add quick, easy, delicious eggs back to my repetoire. If you like scrambled eggs, hunt up the YouTube video of Gordon Ramsay (language safe) making scrambled eggs. You will LOVE them. When I first discovered the technique I may have come home and made scrambled eggs for dinner three times the first week. They will coat your pan with some well nigh impossible to get off film though. I solved that by buying the Bialetti Aeternum Easy Saute Pan, 10 1/4-inch, Blue. for home. It is "the Egg Pan" and the color makes it easy to set aside for strict egg usage only. I was really impressed with it so when I came back to PA I wanted an 8" one, but couldn't find one so I bought the Wearever Ceramic - not as nice & the same price or more. It's adequate if you really want just 8" but the other pan is much nicer.

On a chemical note I recently had a fortune in lab work done. And one function came back at 2813 with normal being 5.0-12.0. So I'm either 7 months pregnant or my hypothalmus is wonky. We'll see what that translates into for daily living. On a happy note that goes back to the Paleo/Primal thing - I also got all my cholesterol crap checked. Insert anti statin rant here; especially for women where it has never been shown to decrease heart disease risk but it has been shown to increase cancer & neuroimmune disease risk. Breast cancer with a side of dementia anyone? ::gets off soapbox:: Not because I care about my cholesterol but because, well it's traditional. Compared to my numbers from two years ago my Trig have dropped 37 points, my HDL went up 20 points, my LDL stayed the same. More importantly my trig/hdl ratio (predictive indicator for coronary heart disease) is .62. (You want 2.0 or less. If it's above 4.0 you need make some changes.) All of that despite big dietary changes that include "large" quantities of healthy fat & MCT and dropping several "healthy-must-eat" foods.

I also treated myself to a piece of investment grade furniture. A knitting, spinning, reading throne, which has magical properties and puts me to sleep without making my back hurt. An Ekornes Stressless Consul Recliner. If you decide to browse the website; sit down & charge up the defibrillator before looking at the prices.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Stakes and Steaks

As the tagline says "Traveling Knitter."
I eat away from home A Lot. Steaks have always been an "at home" meal for me. I hate to pay restaurant prices for what is usually mediocre & I don't eat in expensive steakhouses by myself. And I don't usually do steaks on the road - no grill.
Digression - I saw Kobe Beef hot dogs the other day; WHY?!?!
Okay, I'm back.
TAO can grill a great steak. I mean wow. He's always had the knack, and it got even better after I developed the Knitter Family Marinade. Now my idea of the happiest meal is TAOs steak & grilled corn. It means we're together, it's been a good day, and the food will be delicious.

But as part of my skills rehab I found myself tempted by a ribeye in the butcher case. I brought it home but didn't do the Family Marinade. A quick sear in a cast iron pan, and center finish in the oven & I had myself a chain restaurant worthy steak. Matched it with some petite brussel sprouts, and had a nice dinner for $8 without all the noise/commotion of eating out.

It was a big step for me. Had it gone awry I probably would have flogged myself with recriminations for days. I mean really? A steak without a grill? Why would I even try? So the cost of failure would have been high - artifically inflated, but still high.

In the end, even though the meal was good, I don't know that I would do it often. Primarily because love is the best spice, and even a bad steak is better when I share it with TAO.

On a humorous note: We once feared that the elusive marinade recipe had been lost. We found it though, and it now is typed in 42 font on it's own sheet of paper and attached to the side of the fridge.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Is this thing on?

I know it’s been a long radio silence. For several reasons:
1) Sometimes life – or knitting – is boring and there isn’t anything to say
2) Sometimes life is exciting – and what I want to say can’t be aired publicly.
3) Sometimes – more and more – I write a post in my head then forget all about it. When I remember it, it seems like too much effort to reconstruct it.

photo credit: Cia de Foto via photopin cc

All that aside, I am finally at a point where life isn’t an endless whirl of treatments and doctor appointments punctuated by work and sleep. I back to doing some volunteer work, back to doing fun things with friends, back to just sitting with a book instead of going straight to bed, and most importantly – back on solid foods.

This means I’ve been doing quite a bit of cooking. Or learning about cooking. And thinking about food. Which brings me to this post. For years this was purely a knitting blog. Then I opened up a little and it became a little about life, a little about knitting. Now I am going to try another transition, it’s going to get more personal. There will be more stuff about what happens when you drive a strong woman to her knees repeatedly, more flailing about trying to get up. Not necessarily deep rich personal stuff; just more about the little blocks that build a contented life in the aftermath of a good “rug pulling.”

Right now my knitting matches my life. Nothing flashy or fast on the needles. Just simple lines, plain patterns, long term projects that don’t change quickly. So probably not a lot of knitting photos in the near future. Even my spinning is an 8 oz long gradient spin that won’t supply a lot of eye candy.

Back to the cooking: There are several articles and human studies regarding ketogenic eating and cancer. When my doc first broached it my initial reaction was basically unprintable. However, after several weeks of questions and research I realized that there were a plethora of recipes in what is currently labeled “Paleo/Primal” eating. That made the concept much easier to implement. So expect some posts about the interesting Paleo community/concept. For now I’ll just say that I feel amazing eating like this. I sleep better, my mood seems better balanced (aside from my hypothalamus being an arse sometimes), less of me hurts, and while I didn’t want to lose weight, I will say that my little fat pockets are smaller. I went home for 10 days and fed TAO this way & he says he feels better on it - less exhausted - and he dropped some fat pounds also. It does take some preplanning to “Just Eat Real Food” so expect some posts about those adventures.

In the meantime, thanks for being out there.

Oh crud! I just remembered I need to make some baby booties!  And that’s like life too <– sometimes things pop up Right Now.