pameladean: photo of black cat with white splotches on her belly, lying on her back on a wood floor (cats)
I got an email yesterday informing me that "someone" had upgraded my (unpaid) Dreamwidth account with twelve months of paid account. Whoever you are, thank you so much! I take this as partly a nudge to post more often. I write posts in my head with great frequency; or, perhaps more accurately, I narrate to myself what is happening or has happened, and it might as well be written down, but mostly it isn't.

I find that a lot of small observations or thoughts end up on Twitter, whereas reports on revising Going North end up on Patreon. Neither of these is bad in itself, especially the Patreon part; but I value the leftover LiveJournal/new Dreamwidth community and would prefer to be more active in it. I haven't yet looked at all the fancy nifty things I can do with a paid account. I am terrible at reading documentation. But I'll do that soon.

In the meantime, we await a major winter storm. I ended up suggesting or agreeing to the cancellation of both my social events today because I am so tired of winter and it is so stressful being in a car on Minneapolis streets right now. No driver I'd be driven by is the problem. It's everybody else. Winter has worn out my resilience. Ours really started in October, which was cold and cloudy, like November, which then proceeded to be just like itself in serene indifference to the fact that October had stolen its thunder. And I do mean that literally. Naturally, the forecast snow amounts have gone down and the entire affair, which was supposed to start around eleven this morning, is standing in the doorway rubbing one foot against the opposite calf and nervously fingering its hair. It's raining. I'm still glad to be at home and not worrying when the snow will begin or when and how the rain will freeze.

The winter has been very beautiful, once it stopped being abnormally warm and belatedly got down to its business. The snow is lovely. Until it got warmish a few days ago, long stretches of white lay along the tree trunks and branches everywhere you looked.. While one to three inches every three days is annoying to a person who likes to shovel and then be done with it, it provides a fresh clean blanket just as the snow becomes grimy. The weather has also hit the sweet spot for ice dams. Every house in every neighborhood I've been through has had, until the past few days, a fantastical collection of ever-lengthening icicles. I spend most of my time at home on the second floor, and the icicles grew and grew, until some of them were below the windowsills and starting to freeze their ends onto the tiny roof of the built-in in the downstairs dining room. They made rainbows in the sunlight and glowed blue with the moon. The light in the south-facing rooms became muted and cloudy. More and more we felt imprisoned in a magical ice castle of unknown provenance and intention.

Last week I called the roofers who patched our leak last year. I was finding a lot of contradictory information about how best to deal with ice dams, the actual phenomenon of which the icicles were just the most apparent symptom. Some companies use roof rakes and ice picks; some use steamers. Everybody says that everybody else's methods can damage your roof. This is probably true all around. i decided I'd just go with the people who had fixed the roof last time, and David concurred. They had originally said they couldn't get to us until next week sometime, but I got a call early yesterday morning that they were sending a crew out to get stuff off the room before the storm came in and made everything worse.

Their method is to remove snow from the roof (they used shovels) and take out strategic portions of the ice dams so the water has somewhere to go. They also knocked down the icicles, or most of them. The ones over the back door had become frightening. I encountered our northerly neighbor when I went out to meet my mother for lunch on Wednesday, and he said that he didn't even walk around his house any more. He was standing on the sidewalk hopefully looking to see if any of his icicles had fallen down yet.

When our roofers knocked down the icicles outside my office windows, one of them plunged right through the lid of a plastic tote that's kept on the front porch to shelter outgoing packages, breaking the corner of the lid that it hit into a number of pieces. So my neighbor had a point.

It's weirdly light inside now even though the day is cloudy and misty and rainy.

I knew the roofers had arrived not because they made much noise, but because both upstairs cats rose up out of sound sleep and galloped into the kitchen to see what was happening.

I'll just mention before I stop for the moment that the revisions on my novel are actually going well and being fun. I'm sure there will be some more slogging before I'm done, but this part is a great relief after the stubborn slow cranky time I've had for so long.

Wishing you all a fine weekend, whatever that means to each of you,

pameladean: (Default)
It is eight degrees below zero F in my corner of MInneapolis. The wind is getting up to mischief; watery sunshine is sparkling off the new-fallen snow. I have a cold and would benefit from a steamy shower, but the idea of getting wet on a day like this is confounding. I'm sitting in my office, a somewhat drafty sunroom, wearing a T-shirt, a sweatshirt, a pair of cotton knit pants, slippers, an ancient and enveloping purple fleece robe, and the little lap afghan with rosebuds on it that Lydy made me some time ago. Saffron, having stomped and thoroughly sucked on one shoulder of the robe, is curled up very tightly on the cat cushion on my desk. I tried  covering her with an old hand towel. She sat up, wriggled from under it, sniffed it thoroughly all over, had a definitive bath, and lay down firmly atop the towel. I'm not sure if it has been accepted or rejected.

The viral rather than the climatic cold is providing most of my discomfort at the moment; the only weather-related piece is that the radiator is slightly too warm for me to press my slippered feet against it. When I get dressed and put my shoes on, it will be perfect.

This is far from the most miserable cold of my experience, but it's removed my ability to focus. I've shovelled snow in the course of it and ordered groceries. I'm hoping to cook tonight. I think we will probably have to have soup of some kind, perhaps very miscellaneous.

The viral cold presented itself quite late on Friday night and caused me to cancel attending my tea group's feast, having a date with Eric, and attending my own family birthday party. I minded all that, but I don't mind being sick during this epic cold snap, especially since I did get some shovelling done. I should add, to be accurate, that I was assisted in the shovelling by a woman bringing her two sons along our block on their way to Butter, our lovely local bakery. The boys were, maybe, eight and ten, or nine and eleven, somewhere in there. They were very shy and wouldn't speak to me directly, but she got me to hand over the snow shovel and directed them in clearing the walk and tidying up the edges. She said they were bored and had lots of extra energy and it wasn't too soon for them to learn to be helpful. I thanked them all fervently; the rest I got from not clearing the public walk enabled me to widen the single lane I'd made in the walk through the front yard.

At this point the wind is blowing the snow around and the tidiness is somewhat marred, but everybody made a good effort just the same.

Tomorrow and tomorrow night are the really terrifying parts of the climatic cold; after that, we revert to more ordinary winter weather followed capriciously by a brief thaw. A February thaw is not unusual, but it doesn't usually ring itself in with such an air.

Saffron just tightened her sleep circle considerably, but I know that if I try to cover her with the edge of the towel, she'll just have to shake it off and start over. Cats are stubborn.

I'm going to try to clear my brain by showering and then either work on the less-complicated parts of the taxes or on my book, but it's possible that I'll just reread some old favorite or take a nap. I hope everybody who needs to be is safe from the whims of the climate and the vagaries of the weather.

pameladean: (Default)

My last entry has produced three requests for the recipe for tuna risotto I mentioned. I'm assuming that people want the modified version. If you wanted the original, let me know.

Risotto purists should proceed with caution. Risotto is really about the rice, wine, and stock, with some bits of flavor scattered around to decorate it. The recipe below is the result of cramming vegetables and protein into the original recipe until I can eat a reasonable amount without sending my blood sugar into the stratosphere.


  • 3 5-ounce cans, water-packed light (not albacore) tuna (I've used albacore when that was what I had.)
  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I used Better Than Bouillon No Chicken.)
  • 2 to 4 garlic cloves (to taste), minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 ½ cup minced onion
  • 1 (14-ounce) can tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups Arborio rice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ½ cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc (I only had Moscata, and I used it. Maybe don't be me.)
  • Generous pinch of saffron
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced or quartered, depending on size -- nice fat pieces are pleasant
  • 1 12-oz bag of steam-in-the-bag frozen green beans (Or use some fresh ones if you like, in which case I think I'd put them in with the onions.)

  1. Bring the broth to a simmer in a saucepan and leave it on low heat, or put it in the microwave and heat it just short of boiling if you prefer.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large nonstick frying pan or wide saucepan and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes, and add the garlic. Saute for about a minute, until the garlic is fragrant. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, til they start to brown. Add the bell peppers and saute briefly. Add the tomatoes with their juice. Cook, stirring, until the tomatoes have cooked down a little, 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add the tuna and stir it all around.
  4. Put the bag of frozen green beans in the microwave and follow the directions minus one minute. Let it sit. Don't worry, I won't let you forget about the green beans.
  5. Add the rice to the pan and cook, stirring, until the grains of rice are separate and well coated with the tomato mixture, 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Stir in the wine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. You want a slow simmer here.
  7. When the wine has just about evaporated, crumble up the saffron and put it in, with a half-cup or so of the hot broth, enough to just cover the rice. The stock should bubble slowly. Cook, stirring often and vigorously, until it is just about absorbed. Add another dollop of broth, adding more when the rice is almost dry, for 20 to 25 minutes. Taste a bit of the rice. It should taste chewy but not hard in the middle. If it is still hard in the middle, you need to keep adding broth and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Taste and adjust salt.
  8. When the rice is cooked al dente, stir in the tuna mixture. Open up the bag of green beans -- CAREFULLY -- and stir them in too. Add another dollop or two of broth. If you like black pepper, grind some generously over the rice mixture, or put in a quarter to a half-teaspoon of regular ground black pepper. Add the minced parsley.  Stir for a couple of minutes, taste and adjust seasonings. The mixture should be creamy. Add a little more broth if it isn't, or shrug and don't worry.
The first time that I made this, the rice completely failed the test in steps 7 and 8, but the dish was still delicious. The second time I got it right.

You may not need all the broth; it depends on how much liquid the vegetables produce. The original recipe calls for seven cups of broth but wants you to drain the tomatoes, which seemed wasteful to me, so I reduced the broth and still had a bit too much.

I hope this works for you, and that you enjoy it even if it is not cooperative.

pameladean: (Default)
One of my small bad habits is to use Post-It notes to record what I fondly and optimistically call my menu plan for the week. (It's a bad habit because Post-It notes are comparatively expensive. I do write on both sides of them, which makes for a lot of awkwardness, although eventually the sticky side becomes covered with cat hair and will only stick to a few things instead of all of them.)

My menu plans are a great deal like my book synopses. They are necessary to give some semblance of order to the writing of chapters or the getting of groceries, but after the book or the meals are done, they are mostly a source of hilarity, or occasionally of despair. Book synopses are also necessary to sell a book to a publisher or interest an agent in doing so. The menu plans are to sell to me the idea that I am in control of what's going on in the kitchen.

Here is one from a while ago that I mostly adhered to:

Baked tofu, Etc. Etc. is sweet potatoes, baked frozen rolls, and some kind of roasted vegetable, often broccoli.

Tuna Risotto. This is amazingly delicious. I had to dramatically increase the amount and type of vegetables in it, and omit the peas, to make it vaguely compatible with a diabetic regimen, but it happily absorbed all changes. I think I added roasted baby carrots on the side, but if you put enough vegetables IN, you don't have to have any BESIDES. I may have balked at putting carrots in a risotto without a recipe to reassure me, or, now that I think about it, probably the pan wasn't big enough for any more vegetables. I also used a Completely Wrong White Wine, but it was still really good.

Fish Masala Cauliflower. This means fish masala, and some kind of curried vegetable accompaniment involving cauliflower. I always leave myself the option to just roast the cauliflower, but it's better to make a curry of some kind out of it. If I roast a vegetable we just eat all of it on the spot, unless it is really seriously enormous; whereas aloo gobi or cauliflower with green beans and potatoes, which is what I think I made this time, will produce some leftovers.

Here's one that went a little sideways:

Chickpeas, eggplant, green beans. I think this was a casserole, but Raphael doesn't like eggplant and I developed a lack of desire to prep the green beans. I put off using the ingredients. The green beans survived to be used later in a vegetable curry, but the eggplant, originally bought to be grilled and served cold, with roasted bell peppers and onions, to my tea group,and already on that count a bit aged, did not. Fortunately it was only a small one.

Enchiladas, cabbage. I did make this. The enchiladas use Trader Joe's soy chorizo and a different brand of green chile enchilada sauce and are very good. I roasted the cabbage with some garlic cloves.

Pasta with smoked salmon, broccoli. This was intended to use up a package of smoked salmon I hadn't needed for the tea. Said package ordered imposingly, "DO NOT CONSUME AFTER DECEMBER 6TH." But I had plenty of time til then and I didn't end up making the dish that week because Raphael had made a different pasta dish with salmon on Sunday and that seemed like enough salmon for a while, especially since we'd had a kind of marathon to use up the fish masala from the previous week.

If I recall correctly, I made vegan jambalaya that week instead of the salmon pasta. Doubling the onion, bell pepper, and celery produces a dish I can eat without spiking my blood sugar if I have a generous vegetable side, which was probably the broccoli. The third dish of the week might have been vegetable soup with grilled sheep's-cheese sandwiches, since I was finishing up the white sandwich bread that I got for the tea. We also had tea leftovers, including all the cheese I'd gotten and forgotten to take with me. At the last minute Lydy got sick, and after consulting my guests about how much they wanted to risk getting sick too, Janet very kindly offered her kitchen and dining room for the feast, and [personal profile] carbonel equally kindly gave me and all the food a ride to Janet's. Well, all the food except the cheeses, which I forgot. So we had both extra-fancy bread and extra-fancy cheese to use up. The sheep's milk cheese went into the sandwiches, the goat gouda went to the MinnStf meeting, and the goat cheese -- not chevre, but a hard gratable cheese -- encrusted with rosemary went into a caramelized onion and goat cheese tart that I took to a party. I need to make it for my tea people next year.

I also made a mashup of two recipes: chickpea biryani and tofu biryani. This took forever and required quadrupling the vegetables. It was very good, though I didn't increase the seasoning enough, and also mashing together two recipes made the spice mixture a bit odd. I smoothed it out in passing but I didn't really use enough of anything but green chile, and didn't use all of the right things.  I think I'll complete the mashing by looking up a standard vegetable biryani next time and seeing what seasonings would work better. I also had to use faux sour cream thinned with lemon juice because I didn't have any plain non-dairy yogurt. It worked fine; but I feel that yogurt would add more flavor and also more nutrition, provided I use soy -- coconut is all very well but it has no protein.

The list for the week just completed was this:

Pasta with smoked salmon
Macaroni and goat cheese

I really did need to use up the smoked salmon, so I did. The recipe called for a pound of pasta and three ounces of salmon. I used twelve ounces of pasta and 4.5 of salmon, but there wasn't much flavor, sadly, so I put in a 7.5 ounce can of regular salmon and extra garlic and lemon juice. I also put in a lot of onion and an entire small cabbage, thinly sliced, and a bunch of grated pecorino romano. It was very tasty, though not as elevated as I'd been led to believe.

I put off the macaroni and goat cheese because, while I usually make it with soy milk, Eric had pointed out affordable goat milk at Trader Joe's and I'd gotten a carton. But I've never had goat milk before and decided to put it off til a time when a bad digestive reaction would not mess up my weekend.  (I later discovered that I was out of elbow macaroni, anyway, so it was just as well.) Instead I made the jambalaya and roasted broccoli, which we mostly do not ever get tired of.

I hadn't decided whether I'd make tuna risotto, which uses mostly ingredients from the cupboard or freezer and can thus be assembled very readily, or a tofu risotto I'd been eyeing. In the event, I made Hoisin Explosion Tofu (based on a chicken recipe) with extra vegetables, broccoli and snow peas, besides the bell peppers. I did this mostly because I'd discovered a partial bag of cashew halves and pieces that was going to expire in a month or two.  About half of them had gone into the biryani, but the other half needed a home, and this was it. And then on the last day of the week I made a chickpea, mushroom, and kale soup with toasted goat cheddar sandwiches. We had used up the fancy sandwich bread by then, but had some goat cheddar that [personal profile] lydy had picked up at the co-op for us. In hiking season the goat cheddar makes great cold sandwiches, but we are not winter hikers.

To end with, here is a list of things for some week or other that I did not make any of:

Enchiladas, veg
Chickpea stew with greens, cornbread
Mushroom spinach soup with cannelloni beans
3-Cup Tofu

I'm going to make the 3-Cup Tofu at some point, but I feel we've had quite a lot of mushrooms and greens and chickpeas and will probably not do either of those dishes for quite a while. I forget why I didn't make the enchiladas. Oh, right: Trader Joe's didn't have any soy chorizo. And I couldn't decide whether to use an actual recipe for the tofu or adapt a chicken recipe.

I regret the lost eggplant, but on the whole we don't waste a lot of food.

This is really much too close to my writing process, if you allow the lost eggplant to stand in for deleted subplots or perhaps unnecessary research. Maybe both!

I hope you are all eating what you like and writing what you need to. Or, if you prefer, the other way around.


pameladean: Photo of torbie cat from the side, looking winsome (Cassie)
Yesterday I made the Thanksgiving desserts. It was an extremely bad day for pie crust. It might still taste okay; I hope so. One mincemeat pie (mincemeat courtesy of Borden's, as per Dyer-Bennet tradtion); one vegan pumpkin pie; one pan of apple crisp for the mincemeat-averse and the pumpkin-allergic. I also still have some vegan hazelnut brownies and some gingerbread left over from hosting my tea group, if the pie crust is really awful.

There are approximately twelve thousand vegan pumpkin pie recipes on the internet, somewhat fewer if you eliminate the ones that don't use tofu. I got mine from the internet but it has gone down in the dust of history. My record of it is a printout of an email that I sent to David's mother in 2005.

When I was sifting all the recipes I'd need out of my battered folder, I could not find the tofu pumpkin pie one. I was resigned to poking around online and finding the right one, without the various weird additions that might be very tasty but are Not How We Do This.Then I had a vague recollection that there were two or three printed-out recipes in our copy of Marilyn Diamond's Fit for Life cookbook. This is an eighties cookbook that contains a number of very strange notions about food and how it should be eaten; however, they are probably no more off-base than most common notions about the same subjects amongst omnivores at that time. And Marilyn Diamond was a veganizing genius. She invented some really good recipes that I use regularly. I riffled through the book. The recipe printous had not been put in there because they were the same kind of thing as her recipes; they were there to mark pages containing recipes that had counter-intuitive names so that I could never find them in the index.

But sure enough, there was my tofu pumpkin pie email to Mary all those years ago.

After I had made the filling and the pie was in the oven, I started to put the recipe into my folder. But I didn't. I put it back into the book, marking a recipe for vegetarian shepherd's pie that is called Family Casserole, while the recipe called Shepherd's Pie is a probably delicious but diabetically unfriendly dish consisting of stuffing covered with a layer of mashed potatoes. (Whatever notions Marilyn Diamond may have had, she was not afraid of carbohydrates; though if you use her menu suggestions, you will get some carbs but mostly a whole lot of vegetables).

So the recipe lives in the cookbook. That is How We Do That here.

I hope you are all having the best day that you can under whatever circumstances obtain.


Edited to remove annoying typos.
pameladean: (Default)
Hello! I'm sorry it's been so long since I posted. Apparently it's easier for me to post if I have something to report on regularly. However, nobody with four feet has eaten any sour cream and onion dip or anything else toxic, and fortunately I have not broken any more bones. I did get the flu, but the clinic advised me to take Tamiflu (MY GOD THAT STUFF IS EXPENSIVE WHAT IS UP WITH THAT), which actually behaved as advertised. I think I've still got the flu aftermath with a general dragging-around, can't -get-moving, can't-get-motivated fog, but it's lifting.

Since I posted last we've had one last plumbing emergency, in which a well-researched and well-intentioned attempt to unclog the cranky ill-designed low-water-use toilet from 1997 resulted in the recommended instrument's getting stuck in the toilet. When the plumber who put in the new bathtub faucet requested financing for us, he did an estimate for installing a new toilet as well, so we had extra financing sitting around. When I hadn't wanted to get the toilet replaced at the same time as the faucet, he'd remarked that it was fine to buy a toilet ourselves, on sale, and then have them install it, so I'd set up some email alerts for good deals on recommended toilets. But at this point we were just done with the toilet situation, and so the plumber came out the next day, removed the offending toilet, and installed one that seems to actually work. The sound of it flushing still sometimes makes the cats jump, if they happen to be around, and it's sometimes necessary for them to put their paws on the seat and inspect the situation. They never see anything, however, because the flush is so fast.

Compared to some places' winters ours has not been overly dramatic, but it has featured quite a lot of snow and a lot of thawing and refreezing, resulting in massive amounts of dangerous ice and slippery piles of snow that have to be climbed or worked around. I have not gone out much, and when I have it's been with loud cries of "This sucks" and people who will let me clutch their hands. David, Eric, and Lydy have all been very patient in this regard. I did walk over to Dreampark for the MinnStf meeting on Saturday, under the impression that the sidewalks were largely clear. The ones on our street were, but the intersections were small jagged landscapes of frictionless surface, and the north-facing side of 40th Street was a crazy quilt of cleared walk, smooth horrible ice, and lumpy horrible ice. You could tell that people had tried. There was sand in the ice, and patterns of small holes told where householders had sprinkled ice melter, which had just bored through leaving a pocked but still treacherous surface. The clear patches looked more like the result of luck with the angle of the sun than any more effort on anybody's part.

I had a doctor's appointment last week. My blood pressure is too high. My doctor suggested a number of possible medications or increases in the medications I'm taking now, but I refused more beta blocker because it is messing with my adrenaline reactions, and I'd already taken and really not much cared for the other things she'd suggested, or else I was allergic to them. She got me to agree to take a daily aspirin and said that summer was coming, and it would be easier to exercise, so I should just work on that. When I went in to get the ankle X-rayed, my blood pressure was much improved from where it was in November and also much better than it was last week, so the enforced lack of exercise caused by the broken ankle is probably partly to blame. For the rest, I emphatically blame the Republicans.

Minicon is rapidly approaching. I'll be doing a reading and two panels, one on the legacy of Theodore Sturgeon and the other one on retellings, which I am particularly looking forward to.

I hope you are all surviving.

pameladean: (Default)
The eventual result of our main drain's backing up and Roto-Rooter coming out and boring through a lot of tree roots to restore function, and then sending out a person with a camera to see just what all was going on with the tree roots and the sewer line in general, was that Roto-Rooter quoted us $17,000 to dig up the yard and replace the ancient clay tiles that constituted the outer part of the sewer line and then to put a liner out into the part of the sewer that lay under the street, so as to avoid also digging up the street; or a mere $12,000 should we decide not to re-line the outer part of the sewer line on the grounds that there would not necessarily be tree roots under the street. I attempted to convey that we could not possibly come up with this kind of money, and got a lecture about how we had a lovely house and when that was the case, sometimes you just have to spend money on it. I was vividly reminded of the bit in one of Dorothy Sayers's books in which she invokes John Maynard Keynes's telling the Allies that the money was not there, and says in her own person that people are much more inclined to believe that the money is there and only wants yelling for.

I got hold of a different plumbing outfit, whose website said that they specialized in "non-trenching repairs"; and they sent another person with a camera, who told me that (a) the entire clay part of the line could perfectly well be relined from inside the house, (b) this would cost about $9000, (c) they offered standard financing or the option to have the entire cost put on our property taxes to be paid off over 20 years at about 4.5% interest, and (d) we'd need to move everything out of the shop because the access they wanted to use was in the far front portion of the shop and they needed all the room they could get to bring in everything they'd need to do the work.

Roto-Rooter and the other plumber, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing Service, agreed that whatever was done, 'twere well it were done quickly, because things could get worse quite suddenly.

We went with Benjamin Franklin. (I am sorry to say that they do not have a kite as their logo.)  David spent several evenings after he got home from work investigating what all was in the shop and clearing space for it elsewhere in the basement, and making lists. My brother Matt came over on the first Saturday after we got the estimate, and they moved everything except the table with the radial arm saw out of the shop. The estimator had said that if we'd clear a path and make room for that in the laundry room, the crew would move that for us.

As soon as I could get around after the flood, I'd mopped the accessible parts of the floor with a bleach solution and then gotten David to rinse it for me, since I was still in the walking cast at that point. But the day after David and Matt cleared out the shop, I made a closer examination of what had gotten wet, and bagged up quite a lot of ruined laundry and general trash and moved it out of the laundry room. Then I cleaned and sanitized a bunch of laundry baskets and, incidentally, the top of the dryer, where somebody had put a pile of non-sanitized baskets. Then I bleached a lot more of the floor and rinsed it and washed it again with Murphy' Oil Soap. Since there was some sitting about while I was waiting for the floor to dry, I took a look at the saw and its attached table. Then I looked at the doorway between the shop and the laundry room. Then I got a tape measure. Nope. The table would not fit through the door. Fortunately, there was a sort of niche between the workbench and the wall of the shop. David and Matt had put a bunch of miscellaneous objects there, but none of them were very heavy. I put all that stuff in the space I'd made for the saw, and decided that the plumbers would just have to make the best of it.

The estimator had called on Friday to say that he would come by with the city paperwork in about an hour and a half, but he didn't show up. I wasn't really very surprised, because it was Super Bowl weekend and downtown must have been a monstrous mess. He'd ended the call with, "See you between seven and eight a.m. on Monday." I didn't know if they would come without the paperwork's being signed, and in any case 7 a.m. is so far from my usual rising time that going to bed early wasn't going to help any. I just went to bed at two and lay awake for an hour, of course. I woke up at seven and was just drifting off to sleep around eight, in the fond belief that the plumbers weren't coming before the paperwork, when David tapped on my door and said apologetically that the plumbers were here and he had discussed routes to the basement with them and unlocked relevant doors and sequestered the cats on the first floor and warned the plumbers not to let them out. But he had to go to work now. I thanked him less graciously than he deserved and got up groggily, now aware of some bustle underfoot. I put on some clothes, brushed my teeth, made a cup of tea, and went blearily downstairs.

The head plumber greeted me with, "Woke up to find a bunch of people in your house, huh?" I admitted that this was so. He made some kindly reassuring remark about how they'd have us fixed up soon. When I later asked him how long it would all take, he told me they'd be out around one or one-thirty, and this was dead accurate. I'd been worried about not being able to flush toilets for so long. The upstairs toilet in particular is very cranky. I'd pictured myself mincing neurotically over the very icy sidewalks to Butter to order a cup of soy chai, use their restroom, and then repeat the cycle endlessly as chai after chai worked its way through my system. But it turned out that for the first part, where they were going to thoroughly "jet out" the sewer line, we could use the drains as usual, though running the washer and dishwasher unnecessarily were discouraged.

I checked on the cats. Lady Jane was in the media room and Naomi was wandering around complaining, but the little black kittens were nowhere to be seen. They came right out when Lydy got home. We put them in the media room with a litterbox, and Lydy sat in there to have her dinner. The cats were displeased and made it clear vocally. Naomi escaped as soon as she could, but she isn't one of the escape artists: we took her out on a leash when she was young, and she considered the outside, turned, and went up to the door to be let back in. When the plumbers left, Naomi immediately demanded food in her usual way. But Ninja and Lady were both quite subdued, and poor Nuit had protested so vehemently for so long that she had lost her voice, and was only able to squeak at me. She got her voice back next day, but it was a very pathetic situation indeed while it lasted.

I'd have liked to go to sleep on the sofa, but with six or seven people parading through the living room with implements of destruction, buckets, and so on, it felt rude. I looked at Twitter on my phone and tried to read Anthony Price's For the Good of the State. Price's dialogue is complicated and his narrative twisty, and I found myself reading the same thing over and over.

The jetting-out of the sewer line was, unsurprisingly, fairly smelly. The lining took a long time but was mostly characterized by periodic whooshing sounds and a chain of instructions coming from the truck and along the side of the house and down to the basement. Everybody working on the project had a cellphone, but the way they did it was probably faster.

In time they finished, coiled up their hoses, took away their buckets, rolled up the tarps they'd made a path of through the front of the house, and departed. In one final surreal moment, the head plumber told me that he had the city paperwork, and that it needed to be notarized. I could either sign it and then go find a notary and get that done and send it to the office, OR he could have me sign it and then take a cellphone photo of me holding up the signed form and my state ID, and they would show that to the notary at their office and I wouldn't have to do anything else. I had vague sleep-deprived thoughts of somehow enabling identity theft by this process, but going out on the icy streets with a recovering ankle was not at all appealing, and we'd trusted them to re-line our sewer pipe; so I agreed to the photo. It felt like getting a mug shot.

Then I thanked them and they departed and I let the cats out. Lydy had gone to bed, though I don't know how well she'd slept. The whooshing wasn't that loud, so perhaps it was all right. I went upstairs and failed to get anything done for the rest of the day. Even cleaning out my email inboxes seemed a bridge too far. I did read Anthony Price, but ended up having to reread it all when I'd had more sleep. (And of all the bizarre fairies to have revisited this time, what in the world does he have against dogs? I hadn't even thought there would be an anti-dog fairy.)

I slipped into the basement to look at the work. Instead of a pit full of sand, with an ancient wooden trap over it, there was a neat patch of new cement with a cleanout in it. They had indeed moved the saw table into the niche emptied for it, but they hadn't put it back. David wasn't worried about that, though, so I'm not either.

Last fall we had to get the leaky roof patched, so I now feel that at least the top and the bottom of the house are secure. When I told this to people, they generally said cheerfully, "And now the middle can start breaking!"

Last Tuesday, the upstairs bathtub faucet, which has been leaking -- well, to be honest, spraying -- water from around the hot tap for some months, decided that it would no longer turn all the way off. This has now been addressed; and I hope nothing else will go sideways for a little while.

I hope this minor saga has at least been a distraction from the horrors of our government.

pameladean: (Default)
PAMELA: *despite having had the same desk setup since approximately 2004, knocks full glass of water onto the floor, where it drenches her jeans and sweater and the carpet, and spatters the power strip into which are plugged All the Things.

POWER STRIP: *flickers its light in the usual way and goes on powering All the Things*

PAMELA: *curses uninventively, turns off power strip, unplugs it from the wall, unplugs All the Things from it, dries plugs, cords, the front of the filing cabinet that holds up her desk on that side, blots the carpet, removes phone from wet side of jeans and puts it in a different pocket*

PAMELA TO RAPHAEL: Do you have a spare power strip?

RAPHAEL: No... what happened?

PAMELA: I upset a water glass into mine. Never mind, I'll go ask David.

PAMELA: *goes to door to stairway, opens it*

NINJA: *darts into the upstairs at the speed of light, hides under the armchair*

PAMELA: NINJA! This is not the time! I can't supervise you right now!

NINJA: Roooorrrorrawwwrrrrooo.

PAMELA: *gets new water and a book, turns on lamp in cat sitting room, sits down, starts waving a packing strap alluringly*

CASSIE: *pounces on packing strap*

NINJA: *rushes out from under armchair, pounces on packing strap, and slithers under  the sofa*

NINJA: Roooraaaaaarrrhow

NINJA: *sneaks out from under sofa, rubs face on container of cat food*

RAPHAEL: Does Ninja have a spare power strip?

PAMELA: Ninja IS a spare power strip.

RAPHAEL: Plug all the things into him!

PAMELA: I don't think I have the right adapter.

Eventually I shut the doors to all the bedrooms and the bathroom, and then when Ninja wandered into the kitchen, I shut the door between the front and back parts of the house, and I was able to pick him up once he had seen that there was nowhere to hide. I put him on the landing with plenty of pettings, got a bag of dirty laundry to fend him off with, and went downstairs. David wasn't in his room.

While I was putting the laundry into the washer, Naomi came in and began making strident and insistent demands. I went upstairs and fixed her some food, and then tracked David down in the media room. He showed me his FaceBook gallery of photos of our friend Rob, who just died. They are lovely photos, but I hate the occasion. He didn't have a power strip but he had a power squid, so I went down to his room as instructed and got that. Naomi had finished her food but demanded seconds. This  is not usual -- she has chronic kidney failure and is fussy about eating. Seconds involved thawing some of the chicken broth Lydy makes for her, which made her impatient. She ate about half of this helping, so I put the rest in the fridge.

Then I escaped upstairs and plugged the printer and my laptop back in. I had dried all the cords thoroughly and they got aired while Ninja was in residence; but I think I'll just let the rest of them air a bit more. The other Things include the charger for my toothbrush, the weather radio, and some kind of box that enables me to listen to stuff on our music server.

I think this event exemplifies why I never seem to get anything done.


P.S. Saffron is attempting to steal the last of the Ninja Easter Vermin, a plastic pale lavender crab that lives on my desk but went over the edge with the falling water glass. Ninja Easter Vermin have nothing to do with our Ninja, but are in a vague way Geri Sullivan's fault.
pameladean: (Default)
I'm really going to miss Ursula Le Guin. In the past ten years or so I had come to cherish wholeheartedly her trenchant, take-no-prisoners comments on the state of everything, her calls to hope and action, and her sharp, nourishing sense of humor.

I read the Earthsea books as a teenager, and fell into them wholeheartedly and read them over and over and over, and still revisit both the original three and the additional ones. But for the bulk of Le Guin's career, her other work was something I admired deeply for its craft and feeling, but couldn't enter into for whatever reason. I always felt that it had much to tell me, but I was, I don't know, in the wrong class somehow and lacked the pre-requisite knowledge I needed to appreciate it. The exception was The Language of the Night. That, too, I read over and over and over, and was overjoyed when, many years later, Dancing at the Edge of the World joined it. Best of all, though, was Steering the Craft. When Le Guin talked about writing and reading, I understood her as deeply as if she were writing my favorite kind of fiction. She reminded me of the basics, gave me wild ideas about advanced areas of writing, buoyed me up when I lost hope, scolded me when I was whiny, described frankly her own struggles with the terrifying, entrancing, boring slog that is writing.

I figure someday I'll be able to viscerally appreciate more of her fiction. When I have more knowledge and have let go of more preconceptions. But her thoughts about writing will have been more than enough, if that never happens.


pameladean: (Default)
The Onion Watch is over. Both Cassie and Saffron are fine.

I am very tired of this boot, and yet two weeks is really a very short time to be wearing one of these. It's better since I got the shoe balancer. But that can't be worn outside at this time of year. I ventured out yesterday sans shoe balancer, but with a lot of help from Eric. Fortunately, my winter boots have slightly thicker soles than my regular walking shoes, so the imbalance was less. But my hips, back, and knees set up a huge complaint all the same.

We saw "The Last Jedi" so we could stop avoiding spoilers all over; went grocery shopping; had a late dinner at Pizza Luce, splitting an order of roasted Brussels sprouts and a small spinach salad and then going our own way for the entrees; and went back to his house and conversed and cuddled the cat.

We enjoyed the movie a lot, though the sound balance was such that we missed some dialogue, including, almost certainly, some punch lines. It is thoroughly and unabashedly a "Star Wars" movie; not one of the prequels, but harking back in ways great and small to the first trilogy only with a lot more different kinds of people in it. Of course we had a lot of quibbles. I am gobsmacked, however, at the reactions of a certain group who hated the movie. What they are objecting to is so mild, so nearly anodyne, and yet they can't stand it.  If anybody is moved to discuss any aspect of the movie in the comments, please clearly mark any spoilers. And I'm very short on patience with certain lines of argument.

Being outside was fine while the temperature was above freezing, but when things started to ice up I became a paranoid mass of apprehension.

On Wednesday morning, I will get up, and I will not have to put on the boot. The clinic says that if I have no residual swelling or pain, I'm good to go; otherwise they will refer me to physical therapy.  I am hoping very hard for the former outcome. The swelling is almost gone now, but there is still some twinginess right around the ankle bone.

I'm still reading Anthony Price, and wanted to note down one place where history caught him up, through no fault of his own. In an earlier book, Our Man in Camelot, a bunch of younger agents in Price's imaginary intelligence department, Research and Development, are arguing with David Audley about, well, everything; but Frances Fitzgibbon, my single favorite character in the entire series, refers to "the rot at the top" of the Nixon Administration. Audley shuts her down by saying that it was the rot at the top that brought the boys home from Viet Nam.

This line never did sit well with me, but this time, I thought, "Wait, wait, wait, didn't Nixon act to delay the negotiations that would end the war so that his anti-war presidential campaign would not have the wind taken out of its sails, and so that he could get the credit?"  Yes. Yes he did. The tapes were released in 2013. Lyndon Johnson knew what Nixon was doing, but he figured that Hubert Humphrey would win the election, so he didn't do anything. STOP WITH THAT NONSENSE YOU SELF-SATISFIED BLUNDERING POLITICIANS; IT NEVER WORKS OUT THE WAY YOU THINK.

I want to grab David Audley through the page of the book and give him this information. More than that, I want to give it to Frances.


Edited to make an errant sentence have some sense in it.

pameladean: (Default)
The cats are still fine. They have done all the cat things: scampering (both of them), tail-chasing (Saffron), getting underfoot (mostly Cassie), demanding to be fed at the wrong times (both of them).

I finally received the Evenup Shoe Balancer that I ordered, which is a kind of sandal that is more or less bungied onto the shoe of one's uninjured foot, when one is wearing a walking cast or boot on the other foot. It's not infinitely adjustable, and it isn't supposed to get wet, and one is sternly enjoined against rapid walking or walking on lumpy surfaces like grass, gravel, or, I presume, snow. But it's still a great relief that the two pieces of my current footgear are now of approximately the same height. I made an incautiously fast turn while carrying a pot of boiling water and pasta to the sink, however, and there was a distinct wobble. NO RAPID WALKING, and no sudden changes of direction. But the various bits of hip, back, and knee that were complaining about my uneven gait have subsided quite a lot.

I'm poking at Going North, trying to decide whether I want to write an introduction to the short-story collection, and trying not to be too impatient. I don't need to cook tomorrow, so I might try doing some laundry. The excitement!

I also continue rereading Anthony Price and playing tag with the bad fairies.


pameladean: (Default)
I didn't get a big enough supply of cast socks (still no actual group of characters in the sock *disappointed face*), but I think they can be hand washed. My foot approves of my having figured out that I was putting the front panel of the boot on upside down. No permanent damage seems to have been done; and actually, it may be my right knee, which was already a bit martyred in its attitude towards doing a different kind of work than usual, that is really grateful. All parts of me are pretty bored with this entire situation and I would really like to shovel some snow, but there isn't much to complain of in the larger scheme of things.

Saffron, after her profound sleeping-off-the-dissipation nap, has been entirely herself. So has Cassie; it's just that I am becoming more fully persuaded that Cass did not actually get any onion dip.

In other news, while I was waiting for the plumber to finish his miracle yesterday, I went through my mail, and found with some relief the first invoice for my Part B Medicare plan. I opened it and was instantly horrified. They wanted $536. Most people pay $134 a month for Part B, though you can get that waived or get help with it if it's a hardship, and apparently some people pay more. But this was MORE OH MY GOD MORE WHAT. Then I noticed the mathematical relationship between the expected and the actual charge, and read the fine print. They want to be paid quarterly. This isn't exactly convenient, but at least the amount is not utterly terrifying.

I've been rereading Anthony Price -- it's a thing that I do when I miss Mike Ford -- and trying to write a post about the experience. There are some bad fairies accompanying me on this adventure. At least, I think there are. Point of view in the Price books is really complex and layered and convoluted, like everything else about them, and tracking down who really thinks what and what Price thinks about it or wants you to think about it is surprisingly difficult. So there are some interior thoughts and some lines of dialogue that I recoil from utterly; but if they come from a character that Price is building up and undercutting at the same time, or if a different character takes issue with the opinion but not as vigorously as I'd like, but that character is probably being undercut too, it's a little difficult to see whether that is a bad fairy or just a weird set of shadows.

pameladean: (Default)
It's been an interesting few days. The weekend involved both my family birthday celebration and a date with Eric, one sort of in the interstices of the other. Both party and date were very pleasant indeed. During one of the date parts, I got email from David saying that water was coming up from the floor drain in the basement. I wrote back saying I'd call Roto-Rooter if it were me dealing with it, but he'd maybe liked Ron the Sewer Rat better when we had drain problems. He got a time window from Roto-Rooter of 5 to 9 pm on Sunday evening. It turned out that the water coming up from the drain was quite extensive and it wasn't safe to shower, run dishwashers, flush toilets more than very occasionally, or even wash one's hands vigorously. These restrictions have a very depressing effect on one's ability to do much of anything

The hours crept by and it was 9:30 and there were no plumbers. David called them and they admitted to running late and offered us a Monday window of 10 am to 2 pm. This would fall to me, since David had to work Monday. I thought of calling another emergency plumber that had once come through for us when Roto-Rooter got overwhelmed. However, I got an automated message from them saying that they were experiencing an unusually high volume of calls. While I was considering whether I would stay on hold, I brought up the MNDOT site and looked at the traffic map. It had been snowing pretty hard all afternoon and evening -- Eric and I had agreed that we would not try to go to the St. Paul Trader Joe's or our usual former Rainbow/now Cub in Uptown, and he brought me home early. On the MNDOT map the highways around the Twin Cities were solid orange and spattered liberally with purple squares enclosing exclamation points, When you hovered the mouse over them they said variously, "Crash," "Vehicle spun out" and "Critical Disruption on Highway 52." Okay, no. We had to resign ourselves to a night without drains.

I will not dwell on the situation further. It only lasted about 24 hours, but when nobody can shower, flush anything without consultation about when anybody else has last done so, run the dishwasher as a prelude to cooking, or do any laundry, things devolve rapidly into chaos. I set my alarm for 9:15, which is extremely early for me. Saffron woke me around 8:15 wanting to be fed, so I shut her out of the room, but about half an hour later I got up and used the bathroom and optimistically flushed the upstairs toilet, which is cranky and horrible but only has a tank capacity of 1.6 gallons, and fed the cats. Then I cleaned up with baby wipes and got dressed and put my shoe on my left foot and the Robot Boot of Doom on the right foot. I discovered about twelve hours later that I'd put the front panel on upside down, which meant I spent the whole day adjusting and readjusting the boot because it felt wrong and nothing would stay in place and my heel kept sliding around.

The phone rang twice once the window for plumbers began. The first call hung up on me, so I put it into a search engine and got a lot of very indignant comments about spam callers and being called 20 times a day by a number that never left a message. Okay, probably not the plumber. The second call also hung up on me, but when searched for turned out to be the Minneapolis Snow Emergency Phone Alert number. When I did hear from Roto-Rooter, they called my cellphone. The plumber arrived and sympathized about the walking boot, and we minced down into the basement to find a pool of water covering the floor drain and trying to take over the foot of the stairs. The plumber walked around muttering. "Shit," he said. He poked around, cleared junk from around the plumbing stack in what we'd like to be a basement bathroom one day, and said he could probably get at the problem through that stack. "Only," he said, "I have to bring a really big machine into the house and I'm not sure how to do it." He mimed its size and height. We discussed bringing it around the side of the house, but the snow there hasn't been shovelled. Raphael and I do most of the shovelling unless there's enough snow to break out the snow blower, when David does it; but Raphael is getting over a virus. Lydy has exercise-induced asthma. David had shovelled the last lot of snow in front but has long work hours. And I have a broken ankle.

The plumber finally decided to bring his machine in through the front door and see how it went. I moved a bunch of lightweight objects out of the path he'd have to take, and this sufficed. He bumped his battered Victorian-looking wheeled object down the basement steps. I retired to the living room to put my foot up. There was a protracted banging session. That stack is really old. I wondered if the access cap was stuck. Eventually there was a ringing thump as of a heavy metal object hitting a concrete floor, and then the machine started up. Then it stopped. The plumber came upstairs. "Ma'am? Where's your electrical panel?" I got up and came to show him. "I blew a fuse," he said. I managed to describe the location of the room with the panel in it, and stood at the the top of the stairs while he went in and dealt with the fuse and then walked around turning lights off and talking to himself. I decided he had things in hand and went to put my foot up again. A series of roars, rumbles, thumps, and sounds as if someone were delivering a series of oversized packages of rocks at the front door went on for some time. I'd been nursing the fear that something really dramatic was wrong that wouldn't yield to the usual remedies, and thinking that I knew plenty of people who would let me take a shower, or let all of us take showers, but that clumping around in the snow with the boot was not at all a good idea. When Eric and I had come into the house on Sunday he'd suggested that I brush the snow off my boot. I ended up taking the whole thing off and to some degree apart. It dried fast, but it's really not for wet conditions at all. Anyway, the longer the noises went on the more reassured I felt.

After about an hour, the plumber, looking somewhat the worse for wear, came back upstairs with his machine. It was, he said, tree roots. Lots of tree roots. But he had gotten through and the drain worked now. He also said he needed to get a new access cap out of the truck because he'd had to break the old one. As he maneuvered the wheeled monster that had fixed the drain into the front hall he said, "Oh, the snow's still there." I apologized for its not being shovelled and he said, "No, I didn't mean that. I meant all the snow. It's not spring yet." I said it did seem to be time for spring at this point. When everything was squared away and I'd parted with a large amount of money and we'd arranged for a person with a drain camera to come and check the line and make sure it was as clear as it should be, I locked up and with enormous satisfaction flushed the downstairs toilet, washed my hands extravagantly, and took my book and pillbox back upstairs. Whatever else I may have messed up, I did take my medication at the right time even though I got up three hours early/

Being able to put water down the drain was giddy-making. When I got over that, I realized I was hungry, so I got out some of the leftovers from the birthday dinner -- baby carrots, celery sticks, and vegan sour cream and onion dip. I would have some, put it away, and then realize that I was still hungry, and fetch it back out of the fridge to have some more. Finally I just left the remaining carrots and the container of dip, with the lid firmly in place, on a high part of my desk that cats have never gotten anything down from. Then I took a shower, which was luxurious, and got dressed again, and put my boot back on -- still with the front panel upside down -- and headed back to my office. Cassie was meatloafed in the middle of the sitting room floor. There was no sign of Saffron, but she often spends the afternoon either bothering Raphael or sleeping peacefully in Raphael's extra chair. However, as I sat down and put my foot up, wriggling my errant heel back into place, I heard very odd noises from the space between my desk and the wall. I thought Saffron might be stuck. I craned sideways and looked. She was not stuck. She was standing in the licked-clean dip container, assiduously licking the dip from the underside of the lid.

The carrots were right where I'd left them, untouched.

I took the lid and container away from her and put them with the other dirty dishes. I told Raphael what had happened, mostly thinking there might be digestive issues, but when I saw Raphael's face I thought, Oh, right, onions. Bad for cats. After a bit of discussion, Raphael looked up the effects of onions on cats. There were probably at most three tablespoons of dip left, and it was possible that Cass had gotten some of it, but when we did the numbers as best we could, given that the dip was not composed only of onions, it still sounded less than ideal.

This still left us at a loss, so we decided I should call the emergency vet and see what they thought. The person I talked to said that freeze-dried onions were usually not as bad as fresh, but that they didn't really have the information on hand, and she would give me the number for the ASPCA Veterinary Toxicology line. I called this number and eventually got a very nice woman who asked a bunch of questions about the cats and their ages and whether any OTHER cats might have been involved -- Ninja would have if he could, but he was downstairs -- and then put me on hold while she consulted a veterinarian. We were worried about getting the car out and getting to the emergency vet on the snowy streets, and I was worried about clumping around in lumpy uncertain snow in my boot. You can put a plastic bag on the boot, but that doesn't address any balance issues and in addition removes traction on slippery surfaces.

The conclusion of the veterinary toxicologist, when delivered, was a relief. They didn't expect any difficulties with such young and healthy cats. We should watch for lethargy, weakness, and pale gums over the next five days. The main bad effect of onions on cats is anemia, which can be treated. I also got a long list of protocols to follow in case the vegan sour cream caused digestive problems, and a list of under what circumstances I should call them back, and a case number. The service costs $65.00, but this includes all the callbacks.

Cassie acted just as usual for the rest of the evening. Saffron had a very very deep nap, which led us to think that she had probably gotten most of the dip and needed to sleep it off. She woke up for her supper and they both ate with their usual appetite.

After I fed the cats I sat down to adjust my boot again, and finally realized that I'd been putting the front panel in upside down. I am 99% sure that I only did that yesterday and today. It still immobilized most of my foot quite well, so I trust  it will be all right. There's nothing to be done about it, anyway; but this confirms my suspicion that my executive function is all being used up in navigating with the boot, and that resources generally available to make my brain work right are being diverted to the ankle.

I would say that no more exciting things are allowed to happen, but there isn't much point in that.

pameladean: (Default)
On Monday I called the nurse-advice line associated with my health insurance and described the history of my injured ankle. The nurse said I should be seen by a medical professional who could decide if I needed an X-ray. I hadn't gotten around to the call very early in the day and then they had to call me back, so my clinic was closed by then. I slept poorly and finally got up at 8:30, fed the cats early, and called my clinic. They have same-day appointments and offered me either 10:40 or 2:30. I took the second, naturally,

Pat who is not on DW and I have a writing date on Tuesdays, unless we don't. We'd missed a couple of days during the holiday chaos, but had agreed to meet today. When apprised of the appointment, she asked where my clinic was and then said she could drive me there after we had lunch. She picked me up at 12:30 and we went off to our usual haunt, the Uptown branch of Pizza Luce. This establishment presented an alarming face to the world. The parking lot was full of trucks and vans and a kind of tank truck. We parked on the street and approached a couple of Pizza Luce employees who were having a smoke in the back, and they told us that they were closed because a pipe had burst, but they'd be open again tomorrow. We wished one another joy of the lovely weather, and Pat and I got back into the car and tried to salvage our plans. Pat started heading for Patisserie 46, a wonderful place but sometimes a bit short of food for me. I suggested that Blackbird was closer to the clinic. She dropped me off in front and then had to range around finding parking, but eventually we were seated in the tiny booth in the very back. We'd given up on the idea of a writing date because our time was too short by then, but we had a very nice lunch. They are still serving breakfast at 12:50, so I got a tofu scramble with gigantic pieces of broccoli and a lot of spinach and hash-browns. The server also asked me if I'd like a side of avocado, and of course I would, but it turned out to be an entire avocado half. After a highly physiological conversation about aging, exercise, and bone repair, we repaired to the clinic. I thanked Pat fervently and went in.

The doctor who saw me was very pleasant and somewhat stunningly cute. He poked at my ankle and said that he would call it a bad sprain, with no need for an X-ray, but that if I wanted one for absolute assurance, he'd send me downstairs. At this point I felt I was all in, so I said I'd like the X-ray. He said for the sprain he'd recommend an Ace bandage followed by physical therapy. When I went back upstairs a couple of medical assistants showed me how to put on an Ace bandage, and I put my sock and shoe back over it and left. This was a mistake. They hadn't told me what would happen next, but they also hadn't given me the usual papers you get before leaving.

About five minutes after I got home one of them called to say that I actually had a small fracture on the outside part of my foot, and the doctor thought I needed a walking boot. Could I come back for it? It was 4:04; the clinic closes at 5:00. I rushed about cursing loudly and getting ready to go out and get back on a bus; but Raphael, who was also rushing about finishing up some work, told me that it would be possible to give me a ride. We got there at 4:37. I had a short wait during which a lot of people left, but then the other medical assistant called me in and showed me how to put on and adjust the boot. She said I should wear it during the day for two weeks, but not sleep in it.

It looks like a giant robot foot. It's gray and square and just enormous. I was told I shouldn't wear a sock with it because wrinkles could cause problems. However, the instructions say primly, "Comfort may be increased by wearing a cotton or cast sock. (NOT INCLUDED.)" Gosh, thanks so much, manufacturer of giant robot boots. That's so helpful. I have ordered a cast sock online. I regret to say that it does not appear to contain the cast of Hamlet, or Slings and Arrows, or Noises Off, or Arcadia. False advertising, I say. It will be here Friday.

I complained bitterly about the boot, which felt awful, all the way home. I adjusted it a couple of times and it wasn't quite so dire, but the thought of clumping around in it for two weeks was and is depressing. I told Raphael that while the stated purpose was to immobilize the injury, the obvious real purpose was to be too cumbersome for me to walk around in.

Cassie does not like the boot. She got down on her belly when she saw it and slunk backwards as I walked towards her. Saffron failed to note it at first, until she tried to walk past me, when she started and skittered by in a big hurry. She later sniffed it thoroughly and decided that it wasn't dangerous. Cassie is now sanguine about it if it's just sitting or standing about, but if I move towards her she starts going in figure eights. She really wants to be a pace cat and walk very slowly in front of me, but she has to keep checking on the boot.

I am sincerely grateful to everybody in the comments who told me to see a doctor and get an X-ray. However, I hate this damn boot. I've taken it off twice, lying about with my foot up for half an hour until the horror faded, and then putting it back on. This time the adjustment is much better. But it's still enormous and, in my opinion, likely to trip me if I try to move much. My mother asked me if I remembered the time my middle brother had to wear a plaster cast for eight weeks at the height of summer -- he got his leg caught in the wheel of his tricycle when he was three, and had to learn to walk a second time when the cast finally came off. It stank to heaven, much like Claudius's deeds. I am glad I don't have one of those. And I'm glad it's not summer, or any part of hiking season. But this boot. Ugh.

pameladean: (Default)
On January 1st, I went to a fabulous Hair of the Dog party hosted by a friend who knows all about food. I left behind me when David and I went home a backpack containing his slippers, my shoes, the pillboxes with my medication in them, and various items like an umbrella, some spare underwear, a hairbrush, and emergency candy in case the metformin is too effective.

On Tuesday the temperature warmed out of the single digits below zero F to an amazing 12 degrees above it, so I put on a lot of layers and went over to retrieve my pack. When I left there was a nasty wind. The sidewalks were mostly clear, with patches of ice here and there that had resisted residents' attempts to remove them. It was easy to walk safely. Larry's house is not far from us at all, but it's not readily accessible by one bus. In other weather I'd have taken the nearest bus and walked half a mile at the far end. But it was really not very pleasant. So I had looked up the bus times, and I caught a 23 to Bryant Avenue and then picked up a number 4, which deposited me one and a half short blocks from Larry's. Larry gave me back my backpack, a round of goat cheese I'd forgotten was in there but that he had fortunately found when looking for some identification of the owner, and the leftover goatsmilk butter from the party.

I was there for five minutes at the most, but when I came out it was snowing furiously, mostly sideways. The final result of this meteorological drama was that there was too little snow to even shovel. But there was enough to cover the sidewalks, clear patches and icy ones together, in a uniform layer of white. I was careful walking back to Lyndale to get the 4 bus. Lyndale was almost unrecognizable because of the snow mist, and the sky seemed so close that you could touch if it you didn't mind the wind's blowing snow up your sleeve.

The southbound 4 stops on Bryant a quarter of a block past 38th Street, while the westbound 23 stops right at the southeast corner of 38th and Bryant. I was making my way cautiously back to the intersection, since there was too much rush-hour traffic for jaywalking and it's a four-way stop there, when I saw the 23 coming along Bryant. It wasn't my 23, which wasn't due for 15 minutes; it must have been the previous one running a few minutes late. I lost my head and began to hurry. Just at the intersection I hit a patch of ice under the snow. My feet went out from under me and I landed on my butt. This in itself was fine. I was wearing a lot of layers. But while my left foot had just shot straight from under me, the right one slid and then hit a patch of dry pavement under the snow and my ankle bent sharply as I went down. It hurt a lot. I couldn't really poke it through my boot, but I moved it around, which was possible, and decided that while insulted and possibly sprained, it wasn't broken.

A woman driving west on 38th stopped her car at the stop sign and called to me, "Are you okay? Do you need a hand up?"

"I'm not sure," I replied inanely, still wriggling my foot around and thinking it over.

She pulled her car around the corner to the curb, got out, and helped me up. She was a little bit of a thing, but when it didn't work for me to get up just holding onto her hands, she bent over and got me to use her shoulders for leverage, and straightened up. My ankle was very displeased, but I was able to hobble to her car, and she gave me a ride home. I thanked her until she got uncomfortable, and then we had a conversation about winter, and exchanged first names. She saw me up the front steps and into the house, carrying my backpack, and wanted to help me upstairs, but I told her I'd just text my housemate, and we hugged one another -- I'm not sure this was very Minnesotan, but it seemed a spontaneous idea that we both had -- and then she went on her way. I wished later I'd gotten her last name because I felt like sending her flowers or something wildly extravagant but appreciative.  But she didn't offer it, and asking seemed intrusive.

I took off my boots very carefully and put my coat away. Raphael came downstairs just then to put some things out for the mail carrier, and so ended up taking my pack upstairs for me. The stairs don't really have enough room for two to walk abreast, but fortunately I was able to get up them without much problem. I was starting to feel hopeful that I hadn't damaged myself much. I was once walking down a sidewalk in late spring with one of my college roommates when she suddenly fell down and sprained her ankle, and she was in much more pain and much more disabled, at once, than I was now. (When she was up and about again she took a ruler along to the offending patch of sidewalk and measured the vertical distance between one section and the next. A sixteenth of an inch was all it had taken.)

I looked up what the Mayo Clinic has to say about treating minor sprains, grabbed a small bag of frozen green beans from the freezer, and a dishtowel to wrap it in, and iced my ankle. Raphael brought me a thinner towel when I didn't feel the cold was getting through. I took the extra-plump pillow that I sometimes use to prop myself up when reading in bed and used it to elevate my foot.

When I eventually looked at the injury while getting ready for bed, there was a big swelling over the ankle bone and a kind of ghost bruise on the top of my foot, and the entire foot was somewhat swollen. It actually didn't hurt much if I didn't bump or flex it.

I dutifully iced it every three hours til bedtime, and at least began my night with that foot elevated, though I don't sleep well on my back and didn't wake up in the proper position. The cats were somewhat suspicious of the extra pillow for the first couple of nights, but last night Cassie decided to sleep on it. I haven't had to take any painkillers, though there was certainly an uncomfortable moment when Saffron trod right on the anklebone while investigating the strange pillow. And standing straight up from a low seat so that the ankle flexes is really not on. The real problem is that I keep overdoing things. I only iced it twice on Wednesday and did a marathon scooping of cat boxes, so I spent Thursday penitently icing every three hours and not walking around or going downstairs except once to feed Naomi.

It seems better day by day, but the ghost bruise is getting stronger, unsurprisingly, and there's still some swelling. However, I can get my shoe on and stump around carefully, so I feel I got off fairly easily.

Even with such a minor injury, though, I keep falling asleep every time I elevate and ice it, and my brain isn't working as well as I'd like. That's getting better, too, though. By the time I think I don't need to elevate my foot any more, the cats will be used to the extra pillow and I probably won't be able to remove it.

Hoping nobody else has been laid low by winter,
pameladean: (Default)
Hello; I'm sorry I've been so scarce around here. Some of my journaling energy -- never the most sparkly anyway -- has gone into making myself accountable to my supporters on Patreon; some has gone into Twitter. But neither of those is really here. Hence, for the moment, two anecdotes:

Lydy is out of town for a couple of weeks and I'm looking after her cats. (David ends up helping a lot, but it's my responsibility overall.) I had given Naomi, our senior cat, some chicken broth and wet food with her Tapazole (thyroid medication) in it. She tends to eat in stages, leaving the food for various amounts of time. When we can, we corral the other three cats in the upstairs and shut Naomi into the staircase. She insists on having her food on a shelf beneath the first-floor window of the back staircase, and there is no point in trying to dissuade her, since she is bossy, notional, and not in the best of health.  In any case, left to themselves, Ninja will gently pat her tail until she leaves, and then finish her food for her; whereas Nuit is allergic to a lot of things and will eat the food when Naomi takes a break, and then redistribute it all over the downstairs at the worse possible time. I had Lady Jane, who in any case doesn't care for wet food, and Ninja on the right side of the door, but Nu had come upstairs, sussed out the situation, and run down to hide in the basement so that I couldn't prevent her from eating the food and then throwing it all up spectacularly.

I was therefore hanging around in the kitchen keeping an eye on Naomi and on Ninja, and petting Lady Jane. I remembered Lydy's telling me that Lady Jane really loved playing with a stick toy, so I found one hanging on the wall. It was just a stick with a string on it, the toy on the end having presumably been demolished or dragged off to somebody's lair. But Lady perked right up, so I moved the string for her, and she galloped up and down the hallway and around and around the kitchen several times in hot pursuit. Then Nu came into the kitchen to see what was going on, so I put down the toy and hastened to shut the door between Nu and Naomi's food. Lady went on galloping without benefit of the toy.

There was a gentle crash and a series of muffled thumps. I went into the hallway to find Lady Jane staring in horror at the overturned telephone table. The actual telephone was lying in the litterbox that it shares the hallway with. I fished out the phone. A few days earlier the upstairs toilet had overflowed, and I'd brought the germicidal wipes I got to sanitize my glucometer downstairs to clean up the resultant drips that came through the ceiling. Then, naturally, I forgot to bring the wipes back upstairs, so they were right there in the bathroom. I wiped down the phone and let it dry, upended the table, disentangled the cord from the table pedestal, and when the phone was dry reassembled it. I'm not sure it should live in the hall any more. I went to reassure Lady, but she had gone under the sofa in the media room, so I fear she blames me for everything.

Raphael periodically asks me, "Did you realize that Saffron's food is entirely made of oats?" This means that Saffron is either racing up and down the house or following Raphael around Raphael's office, standing on the back of the chair and putting her paws on Raphael's chest, and other shenanigans, including knocking over my laundry so she can sneak into my closet and sleep on the skirts of my dresses or standing on the back of an armchair and gazing longingly at the ceiling. Not long ago, she was obsessed with coming down the front staircase with me and investigating the front hall and the downstairs living and dining rooms, otherwise known as the cat-free zone. I was getting ready to go have tea with [personal profile] elisem and successfully eluded Saffron when I went down to put on my boots. However, Raphael came down a few minutes later to put some packages out to be collected, and she sailed down then and vanished into the sunroom, which is currently filled with furniture I need to find a good home for, and therefore inaccessible to people unless they crawl on their bellies. Raphael waited her out and scooped her up and brought her back upstairs, and I was only a little late for tea. A few days later, however, Saffron pretended to heed me when I told her to please back off so I could go downstairs, sped down ahead of me, and bounded into the living room. I followed her resignedly, at least not needing to catch a bus this time, and found her in the armchair where Lydy had put a new bag of dry food in preparation for leaving town. Saffron was industriously puncturing the bag with her teeth. I picked her up with no trouble and carried her upstairs. She is always cooperative when you carry her away, not squirming or making a fuss, but only twisting her neck to look wonderingly into your face. You are weird to do this thing whenever she's having fun, but she likes you, so whatever.


pameladean: (Default)
[personal profile] rachelmanija is launching a campaign to support and get enacted the House and Senate bills each called the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017. The Senate version at least was introduced on January 15th of this year, but there doesn't seem to have been much motion on it.

Here's the link to Rachel's journal entry detailing how to create that motion. Please go there to see what the bills do and how you can push Congress to act on them.

Given the current state of, well, everything, this may have a much greater chance of succeeding than a lot of other campaigns to get Congress to wake up.

pameladean: (Default)
Oooof. I did not do any heavy lifting. I did move a bunch of light stuff out of the cat-sitting room upstairs, move a large armchair out of the way, move canisters of cat food and a hummingbird feeder in a box and a couple of wastebaskest out of the way as well. Raphael had already moved the box fan and the tick bags (bags containing clothing we hiked in, to be sealed up until it can be washed separately in case any ticks are hiding in the clothing) into the library, and had broken down and taken out a lot of cardboard. On the upstairs landing I moved the bucket, two mops, a box that was sticking out sideways from an otherwise flat row of boxes, a strange cleaning implement I forgot the use of (carpet rake? weird squeegee?), and an anomalous empty box that once contained a mini-blind and still contained the extra slat they provide so you can conceal the apparently-ugly blind mechanism at the top.

From the next landing down I removed the cat tree. It's not very heavy, and in fact has had to be tied to the handle of the window with an old bathrobe cord, because Lady Jane, youngest and most boisterous of the cats, used to gallop up the lower part of the stairs and land on it with such vehemence that it would tip over and fall down the stairs. From the landing a step down from that I removed a container of litter-box cleaning supplies and a strange object called a Litter Genie that sequesters scooped litter til you have time to take it out. I left the litter-box alone. The last time I moved that, when we had to get a new dishwasher for the upstairs, I hurt my back.

I put the cat tree in the downstairs hallway, since no furniture was leaving or entering that area. Lady Jane was horrified when she saw me hauling her cat tree around, but later on Lydy told me she had ensconced herself on it.

David had removed the recycling can and a box of computer bits from the first-floor landing. I shoved a can intended for storing cat food, now replaced by plastic containers you can pour out of easily but still needed for the elderly cat to use as a step-stool, to the shelf under the window, to be under the shelving and moved a jug of litter to the shelf.

From the front hall I moved the ice chopper, the snow shovel, one empty, one partially-full, and one full container of ice melter, a jug of windshield washing solution, and a complimentary plunger provided by plumbers who once worked in the neighborhood, to the front staircase, where, again, no furniture would be coming or going. From behind the door into the living room I took a box of mail out for recycling and moved the actual recycling container, which is generally overflowing and too heavy for me to carry far, to the area in front of the coat closet. Lydy's shoes joined it. I also turned the paper shredder sideways so the door could be shoved back against the wall; later I moved the paper shredder about a quarter of an inch forward so that it could prevent the hats hung behind the door from pushing the door forward again.

David and I then moved the two smaller hutches and their associated shelves from the dining room to the sunroom, which I had previously cleared. David's plan for moving the heavier central hutch didn't seem good for my knees, so we left that and the table for the arrival of my brother and our friend Greg, who were kindly coming to assist us.

David's sister arrived with the U-Haul van around 3:30 and Greg came over not long after. My brother had said he'd be there at three, since there was furniture to be moved out before anything came in, but he hadn't arrived.

David described to Greg what needed to be done. Greg immediately helped David move the heavier hutch into the sunroom. Then he and I took the leaves out of the table, and he and David moved that into the sunroom as well. I'd cleared space in the sunroom earlier when we thought the furniture was arriving on Thursday.

Greg then had us move the gray sofa into the mostly empty dining room, turned it on its back, and started taking off the legs. We had done a lot of measuring and fussing to see if the sofa would actually fit through the swinging doors between dining room and kitchen both up- and downstairs, but it had not occurred to me, at least, to take anything apart.

Little did I know. Once the gray sofa was dealt with, we went upstairs, and Greg and Barbara flung the cushions from it at once. Then Greg started taking it apart. It was destined for the alley, being thirty years old and only moderately well built to begin with, and having been shredded by cats repeatedly. I still felt a little bad to see it ripped limb from limb. We got it because at the time there were seven Scribblies who needed comfortable seating and somewhere to spread out a manuscript, and I was also regularly hosting a play-reading group that could have as many as ten people in attendance. Also my white cat Sukey Tawdry preferred it to the gray sofa. But apart and out it went, the long back part still giving David, Greg, and Barbara some trouble as a mild revenge.

We'd intended to take the downstairs loveseat out as well, but it's in better condition and we'd hoped maybe somebody would take it away and use it; it just needs a new slipcover. It had started to rain, though, so we didn't want to take it out to get soggy. Minneapolis has such a large bedbug problem, though, that I am not sure people still take upholstered furniture out of alleys. In any case, we left the loveseat alone for the moment.

Even without its legs, the gray sofa gave some trouble going up the stairs. It has a fancy shape with curvy arms and back and they tried to catch on things. At last it was laid on its back in the cat-sitting room (intended as the upstairs dining room but never used as such by us) with its legs nearby. I looked at the legs and had a premonition. The people who had taken the legs off and then carried the thing around were not going to want to fiddle around with replacing the legs.

After that everybody took a well-earned break and I tried to call my brother. I got an automated message that said his cell phone number was unreachable. In addition to giving me a Kimmy Schmidt earworm, this worried me a little. I called my mother's landline. No answer and no message for voicemail, just a loud beep. We tried David's phone. Same message. I went upstairs and sent my mother an email, which is the usual way that we all communicate.

When I came down again, the blue sofa from David's parents' living room, the wooden chairs from the dining room, the very nice teak end tables, and the sofa cushions had been brought in; the upholstered chair with the bentwood arms had been put on the sidewalk at the foot of the porch steps; and everybody was taking another break before tackling the buffet and dining room table. My brother called. He had mistaken the date and had been planning to come on Sunday to help move things. He could not just jump in the car and come right out because he was in the process of replacing the air conditioner belt, which had been squeaking. "It's not rocket science," he said, "but it's tedious and fiddly." He also explained that his cellphone was dead, but he was using a very old one that still had minutes on it, so he gave me that number.

I consulted the furniture movers, who gamely said they could manage, so I texted my brother not to hurry with the car and not to worry about it. I checked my email, and my mom had answered to say that her own phone was also dead but a new one was arriving soon. Nobody had bothered to tell me either of these things because we don't use the phone as a rule.

Lydy got home about then. She volunteered to help out with the buffet, but in fact David, Greg, and Barbara got it out of the truck and onto the lawn, and then after some consultation, up the porch steps, through the front hall and living room, and into the dining room, where it looks really lovely with our 1916 woodwork. It's teak like the end tables and I'm a little awed by it. Greg and Barbara had an extended discussion about whether lemon oil or tung oil would be better for maintaining it.

The dining room table is much less fancy, but David wanted it because it has a formica top and can have hot stuff set on it without damage. Its legs had been removed for transport and the top more or less folds in half, so Greg fetched it in while everybody else was discussing it. Lydy and I brought the chair in from the cold, Lydy and Barbara brought various shelves and drawers from the buffet in, and that was that.

We had a nice chat with Greg before he had to leave. Also, David handed me the device full of Allen wrenches of several sizes that I'd need to put the legs back on the gray sofa.

I started doing this and discovered that Saffron had established herself under the seat padding of the sofa. I lured both cats out of the cat-sitting room with treats and then shut the door. I propped the sofa against the wall so I didn't have to hold it up while putting the legs back on. The front and back legs on each side were part of a single assembly that slid onto two bolts front and back. It was a little tricky to get the assembly placed, but I tightened the bolts, and then tightened them all again, then upended the sofa. Raphael and I sat on it and it seemed quite firm, but when we got up we saw that the leg assembly on the right side had slid forward; I had not sufficiently tightened some of the bolts over there and the whole thing had slid apart. I excused myself to eat something, saying I would deal with the legs after that, but by the time I'd bolted my leftover pizza, Raphael had propped the sofa up with a Mayo Clinic home health guide and put the legs back on, tightening the bolts several times over to be sure. The bolts on the other side were in fact about as tight as they could be, but obviously the right-hand legs had been my practice legs and I should have checked them again.

We sat on the sofa again and made sure all the legs remained where they should be.

Cassie has been quite suspicious of the new sofa. Saffron, having climbed as far inside it as its structure admitted when I first started putting the legs on, has ignored it.

It was much later that night that I went down and retrieved the cat tree. Lady Jane attached herself to it when I put it down in the kitchen to orient it for going through the door to the stairway, but fortunately leapt off again when I actually began to move the tree.

Later yet I restored the winter supplies and the plunger to their place in the front hall. I think the paper shredder is still holding the inner door open, and last I checked the legs were not yet on the table. But we did put the cushions on the couch and sit on it while talking to Greg.

The couch, the chair, an armchair we got when Mary went into assisted living, and a Carleton chair we got at the same time, were all together in David's parents' living room for years, and now they are together again, along with our rather shabby gray leather armchairs and our nice, though not antique, mission-style coffee table. It will be nice to have real end tables; we were using a white wicker shelf table, a weird blue-painted stack of drawers that was once part of a larger assembly, and a kind of small three-legged stool for this function. Even with the extra loveseat and the tables still stacked up, the living room looks much fancier. I wasn't quite sure the furniture would like our old, old house -- John and Mary's house was built, I think, in the 1940's -- but the house seemed to welcome all the pieces.

pameladean: (Default)
David posted details to Natter yesterday, and I doubt anybody who's likely to be able to help will see this but not that. However, last I heard the stuff was probably arriving from Northfield in the vague neighborhood of 3 p.m. If you want to help move some sofas and a buffet, plus a few light pieces, email David so he can keep you apprised of the actual timing of the truck. Pizza or something afterwards. d d hyphen b at d d hyphen b dot net.

This is not a great project for people who are allergic to cats, though it's true that some of the furniture will come right out of the truck and into the cat-free zone, so if you are just a little allergic it could be okay.

pameladean: (Default)
In our previous episode, I asked if anybody was available to help move furniture on Thursday, September 28th. However, the arrangements on the other end to get the furniture here have gone awry, so we'll be putting everything off for a few days

We are hoping to get the furniture up here on the weekend when more people might be at leisure.  Here's the link to the original request, and I'll update when I learn anything.



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