Monthly Archives: October 2006

St. Louis….Not so Dangerous

Hi everyone!

Porkchop is doing much better…she’s up and about and recently galavanted across the river with her younger brother and other family members.

So I can write about other things.

I haven’t cooked or knitted much, but I have heard about the recent study that named St. Louis the most dangerous city in all of the United States.

Fwah! is what I say to that!

The folks who did the study didn’t take into account metropolitan areas. St. Louis proper (where Porkchop and I reside) is an urban core of roughly 330,000 people. Mainly poor people and fancy city loft dwellers, but I think the poor people outnumber the loft dwellers. You’ve got North St. Louis, an area left to rot. The scary Vandeventer corridor…not yet gentrified. And the Compton Heights and Tower Grove Heights (our neighborhood) areas. These are remarkable for pockets of splendor (fancy old mansions, many still resplendent and many recently restored) next to pockets of remarkable shabbiness. There are many other areas like this in the city…I could go on.

But my point is….the urban core of St. Louis had been neglected for DECADES as folks flocked out to the county. What do you expect happens when people are made to fester in run down homes, made to attend shoddy schools (whose superintendent actually makes the church rounds the week before school starts to assure parents that the school will be open and staffed with teachers!), and don’t have businesses or industry nearby where jobs can be had without riding the bus for a couple of hours?

I’ll tell you what happens….poverty, desperation, crime.

If these crime study people had taken into account St. Louis’s fancy-schmancy suburbs of Ladue, Town & Country, Chesterfield, and so forth, we would have fallen down below the 100 mark. That’s what city officials keep saying, anyway.

What makes me steamed, however, is that city officials keep downplaying the crime that does happen in St. Louis. And the crime I’m talking about is the abuse and negligence incurred by City residents. Let’s talk about the need for better schools, work programs, and so forth. Instead of wringing our hands about the unfair methodology and pooh-poohing the report, why don’t we address the real injustices?

Yeah, St. Louis has crime. Now what are we going to do about it?

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YAY!

My creative juices aren’t quite flowing right now, so that’s the title of my post.

YAY! for Porkchop making it home today! YAY! for Porkchop drinking half of a strawberry smoothie and eating a few prunes. YAY! for Porkchop sleeping in a chair across from me.

Yesterday
Thursday was pretty rough, folks. Porkchop was feeling super-groggy and super-frustrated. The transplant surgeon was trying to kick her out, but y’all, she was still feeling rough, having a hard time getting around, and throwing up. Blech.

I definitely understood her frustration. I hate not having full control over my body, not being able to get comfortable in any position, and not being able to easily do things like scoot myself up in bed.

She took a Vicodin around 7:00 last night and totally conked out. She even turned off the World Series game! Yikes!

Today
Porkchop’s mom and I arrived at the hospital at 8:00. Porkchop was already awake and had been walking around the floor.

She seemed tons better. No traces of grogginess or nausea. And, she was ready to come home.

The only sucky thing is the gas pains. She was pumped up with air during the surgery, and the air hasn’t left her body yet! And, it moves around, settling into her shoulder and collarbone area, for example. Gas pains are the major discomfort, not the incision sites.

I read on the Kidney Foundation website that a heating pad really helps. But, if any of y’all have any other advice, please let us know!

My main mission now is to make sure that Porkchop drinks plenty of liquids and eats things high in fiber. This will not be easy, as she’s not the biggest water-drinker, and her appetite is still non-existent.

Thanks
Thanks again for everyone’s encouragement, visits, phone calls, and presents! Porkchop is so fortunate to have so much support!

The Worst is Over

Hi y’all!

Kidney Day is officially OVER!!! Yay!

To read my update for Porkchop’s kidney blog, go here. There is so much more to say than I could write tonight, but maybe one day we can fully express today’s experiences.

Super-Friend Awards
These go to BD and Soozi.

To BD for coming over from Columbia and sticking out the whole day with me. For listening to me ramble and watching me knit a washcloth. For buying my lunch when I thought I left my wallet in my coat in a waiting room but actually had it in my back pocket. For making Porkchop some super-nifty kidney-illustrated scrubs. And for just being so wonderful overall.

To Soozi for going to dinner and visiting at the hospital even though it was her dad’s birthday. For looking out for our monkey and demanding cepacol. For making a super-great care package. And for always being there and being terrific.

Finally
I finally left myself cry when I got home. I had been waiting to cry since 8:30 this morning. Feels good.

Disgust-o-Rama

So….I was just sitting here in my office, having a cup of 7/8 decaf – 1/8 caf coffee and eating an oatcake.

Out of the corner of my eye, I think I spy an oatcake crumb moving on the napkin. I look again…all crumbs appear stationary.

I think I spy movement again. No way, I think, I must seriously be losing it.

I look more closely.

It is moving!!!

The crumb is, in fact, some sort of little grub worm.

I spit out the rest of the oatcake out and dispose of the remaining one.

Don’t Get Me Wrong
I’m not one to get grossed out by the thought of eating creepy-crawlies (unless you’re talking about eating live cockroaches – ’cause that’s nasty). When I was 12, my sister and I set traps to catch snails and other crawly things, inspired by recipes for crawly things in some cooking magazine that she had. [In case you’re wondering, we didn’t catch anything…to the delight of our mom, I’m sure.]

But, you see, I did not set out to eat worms today! That was not on the agenda!

Ah well, at least it provided a brief distraction from thinking about Kidney Day.

My Weekend in Pictures

I don’t have a picture for everything I did this weekend, but I have a few to share.

Friday Evening
Went yarn shopping with Soozi. Bought Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran to make the “Fetching” hand mitts recently featured in Knitty. I’ve written about these a couple of times before. So pretty.

After yarn shopping we ate at the Tandoori Hut. What a great name! It’s an Indian restaurant in what used to be a Pizza Hut.

Upon arriving home, I realized that I don’t have the correct dpns to make the hand mitts. I knew this, but I always convince myself that I have size 6 dpns. I don’t (well, I didn’t), much to my chagrin. So, Friday night, I worked on finishing my sister’s bag. It’s nearly ready to be felted. Here’s the status:

Stripes!

Saturday
Saturday morning was busy with my usual routine: exercise, clean, do laundry, shower, eat lunch. I have fallen into such a rut.

After the usual activities, I went to the Harvest Festival across the street in Tower Grove park. Oh, there were so many yummy looking goodies! I settled on a package of mocha meringues…an excellent choice. I hope they have the festival again next year – I’ll be prepared to eat lunch there instead of just snacking!

After the festival, I got my oil changed (oh, the excitement). Then, I went back to Knitorious to pick up a set of size 6 dpns. As the owner walked by me, she said, “You know, I think there’s a limit of the number of times you can come here in a week.” Once I thought about it, I realized that was my third time that week.

Oh well.

After working on my history paper, I got down to serious hand mitt knitting. I’ve nearly finished the first one; here it is:

Cables!

Today
I slept later than I meant to, but I think I needed the sleep. After lazily getting myself prepared for the day, I went to the office for a few hours because I have to make up the time I’m taking off for the kidney surgery.

A couple of weeks ago, one reader requested photos of Keetah. Before leaving for work, I snapped these of Keetah basking in the sun. Here’s the first one:

Yes, I am always this beautiful.

And here I’ve captured what Keetah does immediately after being in the pose featured in the previous picture:

Life is So Difficult

If you make one comment about Keetah being a big cat, you are no longer my friend.

Right Now
I’m roasting some butternut squash and garlic for a pasta sauce. I’m going to serve it over cheese ravioli and sprinkled with toasted walnuts.

I’m really looking forward to dinner. I *heart* roasted squash.

Have a good week!

Broken Flowers Like Broken Promises

Wednesday night was knitting night. It was also edamame and corn chowder night (yum!) and the 6th game of the NLCS.

The chowder came off without a hitch and was enjoyed by all – the one good thing of the evening. A strong wind brewed up powerful gusts that knocked our precious pretty mums off the front steps and into the yard. Kind of like how, at Shea Stadium, the Mets knocked the Cardinals off their series lead.

A dark cloud of gloom settled over our apartment, and the air was pregnant with a sense of betrayal. Some were sad about the broken mums, some sad about the promises perceived to be broken by La Russa and his players. Some wanted to kick the wind in its head, some wanted to kick a few baseball players in the head.

Thursday morning, we all shed a tear for the mum blossoms strewn about the yard and felt distraught about the upcoming Game 7. And, when the airline called to tell Porkchop that her Friday morning flight to Houston had been canceled, we shook our fists (well, one individual beat the steering wheel of the other individual’s car and cursed while the latter individual bit her tongue and stayed silent).

Some things work out

The Cardinals were able to win the NLCS. (YAY! Molina is the best!) Porkchop was given a later, yet still early, flight with a different airline, so she had some extra sleep and I didn’t have to get up at 4:30 to drop her off at the metro station.

Some things don’t work out

The mums are still broken. Murrrr!

Next Week
Crazy time is approaching! Kidney Day is this Wednesday!! Aaaaaaaaaa!!!

I am so nervous, and I’m not even the one going under the knife. Luckily, I will get to sit with Porkchop before cutting time. And, our friend B is driving over from Columbia to sit with me the rest of the time.

We have to arrive at the hospital at 6:00 am, and Porkchop’s portion of the surgery starts around 9:00. Her part will require about 3 hours. I think her dad will take longer, but I’m not sure.

Do y’all know that they will leave her dad’s non-functioning kidneys in him?! Isn’t that weird?! I think it’s kind of freaky to have two non-functioning organs just hanging out.

My family has been sending Porkchop some weird packages. My mom sent a robe, which is a very nice thought. Unfortunately, the robe selection must be quite limited in Jonesboro because Porkchop received a pink robe with an appliqued rabbit and an embroidered slogan that reads “Let’s Focus on Me!” The good thing is that the robe is super-soft. Seriously, I’ve never felt a softer robe.

Yesterday, Porkchop received a FedEx package from my sister. It was full of crazy socks! At least 10 pairs! And a sudoku book and a funny card.

Anyway, they are nice thoughts.

So…
After this weekend, I might be posting even less. At least until I feel like Porkchop does not require all of my attention.

Please think good thoughts! Not just about the Cardinals beating Detroit and winning the World Series, but also about Porkchop and her dad!

Oh, for the Love of…

So, I’m sitting here at the Hartford Café drinking a decaf café au lait, surrounded by various implements needed to work on one of my extended-deadline papers. Notebook, laptop, pencil, coffee beverage….but no book. Argh!

Since I can’t just pull quotes and references out of thin air (well, I could, but I think that would be looked down upon), I might as well work on something.

Last night, while Porkchop worked at the park, I entertained myself with grocery shopping. Our refrigerator and cupboards were so sad looking, and I had been waiting for a week to get paid so that I could purchase some quality groceries. There was no Shop n Save or Schnuck’s for me last night, no way. It was Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. I picked up lots of useful things like chile spiced mango slices and raspberry vinaigrette. And fruit! Yay for fruit! Unfortunately, I realized that neither of those two stores carry the very mundane item of creamed corn. So, I have to go to SnS or Schnuck’s anyway! Grrrr! Oh well, Porkchop needs Mountain Dew, so a trip to one of those stores is inevitable.

If you’re curious, our menu for this week is:

  • Edamame and corn chowder
  • Cheese ravioli with butternut squash sauce
  • Cranberry caramelized chicken and cranberry-almond pilaf
  • Maybe pizza margherita

Order to be determined.

Oh, the other exciting event yesterday was the arrival of the tweed elephant from Little Birds. As cute in real life as in the photo.

The mortifying event yesterday was when the center’s director stopped by my office and said, “Have I told you that you remind me of my daughter?” Okay, even though I always feel weird when someone says something like that, it was an innocent comment. It was followed by, “Yeah, she’s kind of quiet, studious, capable…” Still okay. Then he closed by saying, “And she’s a lesbian. And she has short blond hair.” My smile froze at that moment, as I tried to fathom how to respond. I didn’t want to be rude and say something snarky about how I don’t identify as a lesbian because the director really meant well. But I also couldn’t be like, “oh, how wonderful!” because that would have been weird. Luckily the director scurried out of my office, wishing me a good weekend.

Today
I purchased more nice things like mums and yarn. The mums are so happy looking – I bought 4 8″ mums, 2 super-bright yellow and 2 scarlet-purple. Pretty. Almost as pretty as the yarn, but not quite. I’m starting to make a felted bag which will probably become a holiday gift for my sister. I bought 4 skeins of Cascade 220, 2 faded purplish and 2 mossy green. Maybe photos will be posted later.

Forgotten Things
Last week, I forgot to write about how, upon arriving home after work on Friday, I noticed that our neighbor (who we haven’t formally met) had left his keys in his truck door. Knowing that the truck probably would have been taken for a ride (okay, stolen), I left the keys in an envelope and taped it in their entryway (after no one answered my repeated knockings). The next day, I found a little African violet and a thank you note on our steps. Here’s the awkard part: the note was all like, oh you should come over for dinner some time, blah blah blah, maybe this was meant to happen so that we could get to know each other better, blah blah blah. I’m sure our neighbor and his wife are perfectly nice people, but I don’t want to become that well acquainted with them. Nothing against them. It just feels weird.

Y’all, if I were a car thief, I’d be a lucky car thief. This is not the first time I’ve come across a vehicle with its keys in the door.

Also, I forgot to write about going to Chihuly Nights at the Botanical Gardens, and Porkchop yelled at me for not writing about it. So…. We went. There were lots of big glass things in various colors. J and I had a glass of wine. We stood in a long line. The end.

Well, I’m finished with my drink now. Might as well haul all of my crap back home (I’m on foot) and finally start working.

Have a great weekend!

Down on the Mat

**Warning! This is a boring post!**

Today has been filled with all sorts of MS Office questions.

So far, I have wrestled with:

  • Access: fixing report headers.
  • Word: fixing persnickety section and column breaks. After prettying up the document, I told the doc owner, DO NOT TOUCH THE SECTION BREAKS!
  • Excel: explaining the use of absolute cell references to our financial director. (!)
  • Power Point: wrangling with slide masters and tables and randomly (as in being called down in the hallway with a “hey, you!”) being asked how to format a bar graph axis. (P.S. Creating tables and graphs in Power Point bites.)
  • Outlook: explaining to the AA here how to properly create an email distribution list so that it can be forwarded to others. The AA still doesn’t like to believe that I know what I’m talking when it comes to things like that. Plus, the AA doesn’t quite grasp the basics of Outlook. So, when I explain that…if the distribution list was created by merely gathering existing contacts in her address book, and someone else doesn’t have those contacts in their address book, the list won’t work when forwarded…I just receive a blank stare. Followed by, “Well, I was always told these lists had to be created individually on everyone’s computer.” WHAT?! Exactly. That’s bullshit and inefficient. So, I usually end up doing such work myself. Grrrr.

Sadly, things like this also make me so happy. It’s a feeling of conquering those damned Microsoft applications and showing them who’s boss. Also of showing the AA, see….I seriously know a thing or two.

P.S. You were warned. Boring.

Jumpin’ Dogs, Felted Fun, and One Very Special Elephant

Hello!

I’ve finally settled in for the evening after a very busy weekend, two busy workdays, an evening full of household chores, and a brownie-baking session. Oh, brownies, how I love you! Not one to let brownies cool untested, I just had my favorite treat: a big brownie in a cup of milk. I think I started eating brownies this way when I was 5….the only difference now is that I use soy milk. I’ve posted my brownie recipe at the end of this post. It’s the recipe that I grew up on. Resist the boxed brownie mix! Brownies are super-quick and easy. Also, homemade is best-made (ha ha! I just made that up! Brownies make me witty!).

On to my consolidated report of the past few days…

Friday
I knew that Stephanie of Little Birds was posting stuff to her Etsy shop Friday morning, but I didn’t think that I’d be the recipient of a stuffed item! Porkchop somehow snagged this little feller:

elephant!

So cute! Dying of cuteness! Can’t wait until it arrives!! [Disclaimer: this photo is from the Little Bird’s Etsy shop.]

Porkchop had to work Friday night (stupid Fright Fest!), but J and I browsed through a couple of shops on Grand (including The Future Antiques) and dined at Sameem’s. Afterwards, we stopped by Absolutli Goosed and enjoyed a couple of very frou-frou, very yummy martinis.

Saturday
After picking up a pumpkin crêpe at the Tower Grove farmers market, J and I were off to the Purina Dog Challenge. Purina has an educational/research facility located not too far outside of St. Louis. Now, I’m not fond of international conglomerations like Nestlé (which owns Purina), but darn! The dog challenge was awesome!

We saw the agility competition, the diving competition (like a long jump over water), the head-to-head 60 pole weave race, and the freestyle frisbee competition (frisbee: check. choreographed routine set to music: check. neoprene body suit so that the human is protected during body vaults: check. Crazy!). We also saw….now, a couple of my readers in particular might want to sit down while reading this….we saw Cindy the greyhound break her previous Guinness Book record by doing a 68-inch high jump! That is really high! Also, greyhound! Greyhounds are crazy (in a good way, I mean).

Anyway, I saw lots of dogs on Saturday. All shapes and sizes. Lots of slobbering.

After dinner Saturday night, J and I worked on some projects using my bag o’felted sweaters. I helped J make a scarf and a matching bag. Meanwhile, I finished my green scarf project by stitching it up with blue thread and adding some decorative stitching. I like it. Here’s a pic, but note that this picture doesn’t show off the scarf’s pointiness very well. The scarf is very pointy.

scarf!

Sunday
J, Porkchop, and I had brunch at Square One Brewery. Super-yum! I had the seafood omelet, which was fanTAStic.

In the afternoon, J and I went to the Shaw neighborhood art fair. The setting was really nice – the vendors were set up on a boulevard near the botanical gardens in the historic Shaw neighborhood. However, I found the art fair to be mostly ho-hum. I was really only excited by one booth: this lady, from Madison. I saw a few other vendors whose art I recognized from Madison….made me miss living there.

I also saw a vendor who was selling some scarves and ponchos made out of recycled clothing. The artist obviously used a serger, which made me a bit envious.

The Rest
Work was super-busy yesterday and today. Busy in a good way…I feel like I’ve accomplished things. Last week, I was primarily proofreading and copy-editing a horribly written 3-part, 200-page report. The area between my thumb and index finger became bruised from marking up the copy so much. Blech. So, anyway, last week kind of put me in a foul mood.

The Brownie Recipe
Here it is….my favorite brownie recipe!

3/4 cup butter, melted (only butter! no margarine!)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 eggs
3/4 cup unsifted flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Blend melted butter, sugar, and vanilla. Add eggs and beat well with a spoon. Combine other ingredients together and gradually add to wet mixture until well blended. Spread in greased 8″ square pan. Bake at 350 for around 40 minutes (or until browned and starting to pull away from pan).

It doesn’t get any easier than that, folks. Enjoy with milk, ice cream, coffee, tea, red wine, beer, or alone.

Things in Progress

Besides watching Lost last night, Porkchop and I worked on these things:

Porkchop’s:
Porkchop's Handiwork

Mine:
My Handiwork

I plan on adding some embellishments to my pointy green scarf. Also, I have another one that I can’t show. Because it’s secret.

This is not the last of sweater recycling! I have two more that I will probably turn into bags. And, I’ve been bitten. I want to buy more old sweaters! More!

Lots of people recycle sweaters by unknitting them and using the yarn for other things, but I don’t have the patience for that. Instead, I’d rather throw a bunch of sweaters in the washer and cut them up. And then have Porkchop do the sewing, of course, since I still fear the sewing machine.

Have a great Friday! And weekend!