Wednesday, June 27, 2007

From Bad to Better

A man barely alive. We can(not) rebuild him. We (don't) have the technology. We can(not) make him better than he was.
- adapted by Me.

All right, troops: the diagnosis is in.


The biopsy showed "significant rejection", which I suppose means that it had gone quite far. It also means that the treatment they chose to administer was correct. The steroids will continue for about six months or so, gradually tapering off.

Doc says it was not "vascular rejection" which apparently is the worst one. So, yay for the second worst! Woo hoo!

It will take a long time for them to determine whether the kidney will heal or scar. Healing is good, scarring is less good. I guess there will be an ultrasound at some future point to check this.

From now on, his creatinine baseline will be higher than it was before, since some irreparable damage has been done.

Finally, Doc says "we have no idea what caused it and we have no idea whether it will happen again."

And now, a few things to look at. This might be my concession to Random Wednesday... (Watch out - there are two scary pictures in this sequence.)

Gyrid front.
My butt. (Scary picture number one.) I bought some new capris but I'm worried they might be too girly for me. See? Flowers.
This one is for all those people who might be thinking I am exaggerating about the boldness of the deer around here. This one is less than two meters from my kids, and he is not even running. He was just browsing for some apples I had thrown in the compost. Bold as BRASS.
A West-Coast (read: huge) spider. (Scary picture number two.) I turned her over while recycling some more concrete debris into my garden. There you see her egg sac beside her. After taking this picture I ran inside to get my measuring tape and managed to lay it beside her without disturbing her. She was sitting squarely with her back legs at the 5", and her front legs at the 7". I lifted the camera to take the picture and BAM! she skittered off as fast as her legs could carry her (pretty darn fast when it's a 2" long spider).
My little friend. I tried to get a picture of him perched on the concrete edge of my new island bed (his favourite spot for worm-recon), but he had other ideas. I had to settle for a grass shot.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

AS IF I needed a reminder.

Oh, for cripes' sake. The Google ad on my blog just read "K.idney T.ransplant S.urgery. Don't wait for donors. Consult the expert for your surgery today." (Minus the strategically placed periods, of course - no need to give them even more reason to put totally depressing ads on this site.)

Maybe I should watch those ads for a clue as to when a subject change is in order. Once they start reading "Depressed from reading this blog? Why not explore doctor-assisted suicide?" then I'll know it's time to lighten up.

Hey, Google!! Please take your content-specific ads from this list:

Harry Potter

Thank you.

Some Traditions are Just Crap.

My love of all things stitchy began when I was 20 years old, and my sister went to Austria to be an au pair for a year. I pined - oh, how I pined without her. It was the autumn of 1994, and I was wandering in a craft store with my mother when I saw it. A pattern for a cross-stitched Christmas stocking. I was Paul on the Road to Damascus. Smitten, blinded, utterly compelled to obedience. I grabbed the leaflet, marched over to the DMC rack and, slavishly following the list given, pulled out 30 colours. I plunked them down on the counter, paid for them, then said to the shop assistant, "How d'you do this, anyway?"

I still don't know how I managed to complete this whole Christmas stocking in time for mid-November, when it was sewn, stuffed, and air-mailed to Austria in time for Christmas Eve. I marvel at the sheer bloodymindedness, the pig-headed stubbornness that enabled me to see the pattern, decide to make it, and throw myself at the process with a tenacity only seen in certain terrier breeds, or particularly implacable mules.

Typically, I decided that, No, it was not enough to make one of these for Gwen. I also had to make one for Clumsy, Mum, Dad, Mr Man, The Goddaughter, and all The Nieces. It was a case of "everybody I love is going to have one of these, come hell or high water, or imminent commitment to an asylum for the artistically exhausted." Luckily for me, my mother and sister were just as deeply devoted to the cause as I was, and helped me out a lot by stitching quite a few of the required stockings themselves.*

We were doing great. Stockings were had by almost all. I had a baby, then another. I chose the patterns for them, planning to soldier on to the end, which was now tantalizingly in sight. However, two years ago some terrible things happened.

1) I got finished everyone's stockings except two: my own daughters'. I seem to feel I've got all the time in the world to do theirs. This is bad.

2) My poor longsuffering mother has developed a repetitive strain injury called "seamstress' thumb" (sorry 'bout that, Mum) and my sister has developed something called "crushing boredom and lack of motivation", coupled with "two young children, a full-time job, and a persistently social church group".

3) I learned to knit.

Now that I know about knitting, it just about kills me to sit there staring at a colour-by-numbers chart, painstakingly threading needles and making 18 little Xs per inch, when I could be flying along at 22 sts and 30 rows to 4", needles clicking, chatting to my friends or watching movies. Do you know, cross stitching anything takes like a bazillion times longer than the same amount of knitting?

Anyhow, here is what I have done so far on Charlotte's stocking. In four years.

I just KNOW I can finish this by Christmas. Right? I can, right? Right. Thanks. That's just the encouragement I needed.

* I don't have pictures of these stockings, sadly: this was in the years before I even had a regular camera, never mind a digital one.

Friday, June 22, 2007

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Today Em gets her stitches out. I took the bandage off this morning; a moment I've been dreading. It's not as bad as I feared it might be, but neither is it my beautiful unblemished child of five days ago. But I'm hopeful: I'm thinking regular application of lavender essential oil in some Vitamin E will work wonders.

Please note the lack of any bruising or bumping -- and for that we thank homeopathic Arnica, administered within half an hour of the accident and again at bedtime.

As to Mr Half-Soled Boots, a biopsy was performed on Tuesday morning, but we haven't received the results. Officially, we don't even have a diagnosis yet, although the heavy-dose steroid treatment is in full swing (wow, there goes Mr HSBoots, leaping tall buildings in a single bound!!). Thank you for your prayers and good wishes. And I must say it was a novelty to receive 17 actual comments. I felt faint for a minute when I saw that.


Now that I'm home and everyone is recovering, I am starting to feel a bit more Myself. I have a lot to do this summer, once summer actually begins (and yes, I know it was the solstice last night - doesn't change the fact that I have the heat on today, people). I have put a few things into the island bed:

and am quite happy to see these for the first time in two years. The deer got them last year but I carefully fenced them this time. Take that, you ravenous bastards.

I'm in high hopes that with a few days of sun I will see my echinacea purpurea magnus open...I can't wait for that.

Also, I should have a few shasta daisies soon. There's a story behind this. I put these in a year ago, but didn't get any flowers on them because they were first-years. I was very excited to see them this spring, and watched with glee as they got higher and higher. One day a month or so back, I came home from somewhere and did my routine check of the garden. I was devastated to see all my shasta daisies cropped off close to the ground. I stood there in shock, and of course started cursing the deer in every tongue I know (so, English). Mr HSB came to the door, saw me, and said, " those weren't weeds, then." Apparently that's what I get for nagging my husband to please, please weed-whack the edges of the driveway. Luckily, a few of them hadn't really stuck their necks out yet, and those ones have grown and put out a few tentative flowers.

Lastly, I was pleasantly surprised to see the first flowers I've had on my rambling rose. When we moved into this house I thought it was one of those little volunteers that don't put out blooms, so for two years I tried (and failed) to rip it out from amongst the root base of the ornamental cherry in which it grows. Last year I didn't quite get all of the branches cut, and Lo and Behold, roses. I looked it up, and it turns out that particular plant is a biennial, which means it blooms on last year's canes. Trial and error, people: this is why learning to be a gardener is a lifetime study.

Tomorrow (yes, really: tomorrow edit: make that today), I'll show you what I've been working on, needle-and-thread wise.

Monday, June 18, 2007

"Trouble Comes in Threes"

First, on Wednesday last, Mr HSBoots got a call from the renal clinic after his routine bloodwork, to tell him he appeared to be in "acute transplant rejection". We worried for two days while more tests were done, then they phoned again to tell him to please be in Victoria in a few hours to be admitted there for biopsy and treatment.

I took him there on Friday, returning the same day to be with the kids.

On Saturday I planted like mad. The moon was in 1st phase Cancer, after all.

Today, I packed up the kids and headed back to Victoria. We saw their dad for dinner (he feels fine, by the way - no symptoms) then took him back to the hospital.

While playing in the waiting area, three-year-old Emily tripped mid-run, and went headfirst into a steel chair, laying open her forehead to the bone.

It was maybe the quickest trip to emergency ever.

I've never seen so much blood.

We sat in ER for 90 minutes while they treated a drunken softball player who had stepped on a ball and hurt her ankle.

Em had 6 stitches and a vomiting episode, then I gathered up my poor children, said goodbye to my husband who headed back to the renal unit, and made my way downtown to the hotel.

I broke down a bit at the hotel, crying for a few minutes. I feel unqualified for this job, now. And afraid of what might happen to my children. I may turn into one of those mothers who says "Oh, be careful! Don't run there! Don't climb that!" But I don't want to see her skull anymore, nor that little bubble of fat layer protruding from a 3/4 inch gash.

I got the blood out of Emily's hair, washed her face, chest, hands and arms, and my own face, neck, hands and arms. I got everybody settled into bed, Tylenol at the ready on the nightstand, for when Em wakes up in a few hours screaming with the pain. After a struggle with yet more tears, I fell into an exhausted sleep.

Fifteen minutes later, I was awakened by the sound of something being chewed, right under the head of my bed. When I finally got up the nerve to get right down on the floor and look under the bed, I met our roommate. Just a mouse, not a rat.

But still.

I have just finished moving all our belongings and two heavily sleeping children into another room. This one is across the hall, looking over Blanshard Street rather than the courtyard with the quietly playing fountain.

To add insult to injury, upon arriving at the hotel tonight I got, I'll just say moon dark was two nights ago. If you know what I mean.

I don't know whether the mouse counts as the third of the three, or just as comic relief. I hope it's the former.

For those of you who may know in what hotel I can be found, I'm in 212 now, not 203.

And yes, in case you're wondering, I am worried, nervous, tearful, exhausted, and terrified. I just want to go home.

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Harlot meets the Loony Gardener

It turns out she is quite amusing in person. Understated and slightly monosyllabic, which just makes her funnier. Sadly, though, all I could think when I saw her was, "You poor woman - you look exhausted. Go home and spend some time with your family." The girl is tired right out. I suppose she's contractually obligated to do a book tour, but it is a shame she has to trot herself out so often for crowds of enthusiastic strangers who feel they know her really really well.
Here you go - a picture of the sock picture.

My favourite bit of the evening was this fellow who, after the speech was over, stood in this one spot the entire time she was signing books, knitting his sock very stoically. If he hadn't been knitting, I would have thought he was waiting for someone else, such was his demeanour. However, the man's fingers were just flying. I had to take this picture surreptitiously, under the guise of taking candid photos of the group chatting with Shelley. That's Kate's shoulder you see there.


I've been meaning to do a gardening post for some time. I'm spending more and more time outside these days, weeding and edging and planting and trimming. Before I left for my sister's place, I created a new bed in the backyard - a kidney-shaped island bed, as it happens. Last year we had two concrete pads broken up by the excavator that dug the perimeter drain, and the workers left the concrete in the yard rather than removing it. I decided I wanted to recycle it into a rockery, so I used the pretty white chunks of concrete to edge this new bed I put in. I haven't stocked it yet, because it takes me a while to decide on which tree, shrubs, and various perennials I want in that bed. So far it only contains a few blue fecule grasses and a chrysanthemum.

These are the plants I bought for it the other day. I had intended to come home and put them in straightaway, but then I checked the calendar and realized I couldn't because the moon was in the fourth quarter, in Aries. Baaaaaad time to plant. However, next Sunday it's first quarter in Cancer - beautiful. So I'll plant next weekend, and this week is for weeding and edging.

the herb garden
So that brings me to my next topic - lunar gardening. I'm thinking this might be quite a breakthrough for me. I have long been aware that wise women and other sage gardeners have a whole set of guidelines for planting and harvesting according to the sun and moon. I started looking into it last year and have gotten pretty interested in the whole system.

the peony opened while I was away
The premise is, the moon and planets affect water in plants and the soil just as they affect tides. Generally speaking, when the moon is waxing, water is drawn upwards through the soil and is more easily taken up by roots just planted. When the moon is waning, therefore, is a resting time - a good time to pull weeds, transplant, harvest and prune. Most lunar gardening guides focus on vegetable crops, so it may not be as critical to the landscape/flower gardening I do. But it's fun.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Another Road Trip

I am off today to see the Yarn Harlot's speechifying in Victoria. I have mixed feelings about it - I don't like sycophancy in general, and completely lack even a smidgen of groupie mentality. The more popular someone is, the more reluctant I am to join the hue and cry around them. On the other hand, there's a certain must-do quality about a Harlot book launch: if you are a modern knitter, aware of the cyber-fibre world, you have a duty to show your solidarity by showing up to whichever of her appearances are within geographical reach of you.

I should clarify - there's nothing wrong with her at all. What I dislike is the sucking up - the endless "oh, our beloved Harlot is so amazing!" "Me too!" "Me too!" It fills me with revulsion.

What I'm more excited about is the chance to spend a day with my friends and maybe pick up some good stuff...I do believe I'll suspend the Yarn Moratorium for today. I'm also hoping to find something amazing at Four Seasons Fabrics on View Street - they stock actual Liberty of London cotton lawn! (I feel faint just thinking about it.)

So, I'll see you in a couple of days with a post about the trip. Who knows? maybe she'll be really charismatic and charming, and I'll be glad to have seen her in person. If I can overcome my cynical abhorrence at seeing hundreds of women gasping and sighing over one knitter, maybe I'll have a good time.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

East, West, Home's Best

Well, I've been away. Now I'm back - 3200 kilometres later. Wanna see some sights?

We stopped in Williams Lake for the night and stayed there barely 12 hours, just long enough for Emily to work up the courage to pat Donovan.

When we left Williams Lake, it was finally time to give Holly Hobbie to Charlotte. Here she is a few hours later: "Show me how you feel about your Design My Style dolls!"

The Seven Sisters, as seen through the bug-spattered windshield at 140 kms/hour. But I knew better than to suggest we stop for something as paltry as enjoying the scenery. When Mr HalfSoledBoots is on a road trip, it is the destination that matters - the journey is of supreme insignificance.

The hustle and bustle of downtown New Hazelton.

But though they may not have much, they do have this, which you have to admit is impressive:

Most of the drive is through fairly flat country - quite a few ranches, long loooooong trains, and even some areas of taiga. Mr HSBoots is a man of few words, so I whiled away the hours, as the children watched Tom and Jerry on the two-screen travel DVD player (LIFESAVER), by working on my Sockapalooooza sock. Therefore, the scenery I saw was about 40% this:

and 60% this:

When we set out, I had done the ribbing and one lace repeat. By the time we got to our destination, I just had to knit the toe and graft it.

More on the sock in the next post. In the meanwhile, I conquered a new skill while at my sister's, where they have (gasp!) a trampoline. I love trampolines. And now, after 25 or so years of wishing I could do something better than a seat drop, I can add this to my resume of life:

We finally made our way home night-before-last, and this coastal girl was pretty happy to be back among the familiar.

I think Em agrees with me. After three days of whining and tearfulness, she gave me this look while on our beloved BC Ferry:

So that's your little glimpse of beautiful British Columbia. I hope you liked it. I will leave you with one last image from the Coastal Mountain Range. In the next installment I will introduce my Sockapalooooza socks properly, and maybe bring you up to date on the garden, which flourished in my absence due to a sudden lack of cloud.

Thanks for your words on the transplant post. Since the transplant, and even more since your comments on the anniversary post, I am newly aware of the tenuous grasp each of us has on this fleeting life, and of the utter sameness of each life to the others. Our apparent differences are in fact circumstantial - at their core, humans all fear, long for, and treasure the same things.