25 January 2014

It's been how long?!

Gracious.

I suppose I should bring this beastie up to date, eh?

So.

You'll recall that Himself was diagnosed with a large and nasty Lymphoma in April of 2012. He was admitted to the hospital, went through chemo, and was on the mend as far as anyone could tell. We celebrated, I took a mini vacation, and all was right with the world.

Then it came back.

As any oncologist will tell you, Lymphomas get particularly evil when you try to banish them. A rogue cell called in the troops, and the Lymphoma came back stronger than before, right before Christmas.

Oh, yeah. Junior was diagnosed with Autism at the same time. It was a fun holiday.

To make a long story slightly less long, Himself went through more chemo, more hospitalizations, a stem cell transplant (using his own cells), a heart attack (because he's an overachiever like that), and quarantine in addition to all kinds of other medical stuff.

A quote from the man: "Y'know, when I was in the hospital, I was pukin' and miserable and couldn't eat and had diarrhea and hurt all over, but I had a pretty good time."

This from the guy who had to be defibrillated on at least two separate occasions.

Today, I am VERY grateful to be able to say that the Lymphoma appears to have been banished permanently. Himself has hair again, and is getting his appetite back. He's unable to sit or stand for more than half an hour at a time, but he can still tear up the frets like nobody's business.

So that's the past year in a very small nutshell. Next time, I'll tell you about Junior and his awesome progress. What have you been up to?

01 October 2012

The couch catastrophe.


If our house were to be listed on the market, it would probably be described as having "eclectic charm". You know what I'm talking about. One of the door frames is smaller than the others, there is absolutely no counter space, and the floors slope like ski runs.

We love it, though.

Due to the odd wall sizes and our catch-as-catch-can style of shopping, it's hard to find furniture to fit the available spaces. 

"Wow, this would be perfect if it were three inches wider/ two inches shorter/ a little narrower/ less hideous!"

With a limited income, you take what you can get. This is how we found The Couch. It's a dark red pullout sofa from about nine hundred years ago. We picked it up not long after moving into our house, when the rooms were still largely empty and every available surface wasn't stacked with yarn or books.

The estate sale auctioneer was ready to pack up and go home, so he offered to sell the couch for five bucks. Sold! Didn't even have to bang his gavel. With a little help, we got the big red beast loaded up and hauled home. 

Here's where it got interesting.

See, this was the first time we'd bought a large item for the house. Tape measures never entered our minds until the moment Himself wrestled the couch up to the back door and attempted to stuff it through.

It was one inch too big for the door on all sides.

There followed an impressive amount of heaving, grunting, and swearing. The couch leaned complacently against the door frame, secure in the knowledge that it wasn't going anywhere except back to the auctioneer, and possibly the dump. Himself's face was the same deep red as the upholstery. His hair stuck to his head in sweaty clumps. When another mighty heave caused the uncooperative couch to bounce off of the house and smack him in the chest, Himself snapped.

With a shout that may or may not have been "Banzai!" but certainly belonged in an undubbed Godzilla movie, Himself attacked the sofa with the combined forces of willpower and rage. The couch, sensing that the time for stalling was at an end, teleported itself through the door and into the mudroom. Wild-eyed and snorting steam, Himself kicked and cursed the couch all the way into the living room, where it has remained to this day.

The couch has survived visiting relatives, jumping children, and, during one exceptionally frigid winter, a family of furniture-usurping mice. It's been Himself's bed for the past many months as he deals with the sweating, fatigue, and insomnia that accompanies lymphoma. The years of faithful service have taken their toll.

The couch is falling apart.

One arm is loose, the upholstery is splitting, and the padding is worn away. We'll be sorry when we finally have to break down and replace it, though. How will we know that it's time? How do you replace an old friend? How can we let go of so many memories? 

How the hell are we going to get it out of the house?

22 September 2012

Well, hi there!

Hello, and welcome to the blog! Those of you who are semi-regulars (no prune intended) will notice the updated design and cheery colors.

I needed a change.

For the past several months, the lives of the members of Clan Silfert have revolved around The Big C. Cancer. Lymphoma, specifically. While everybody around us has been wonderfully supportive (minus a select few "Oh my gawd you did not just say that!" comments), the stress of chemotherapy and bills and pretty much everything else can weigh on a family like a concrete sweater.

Hence the candy-store background. Neat, huh?

Another neat item to note: the lymphoma is gone. So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good-bye!  Behold the "before" picture:

Spooky, huh? Himself lost fifty pounds and still had a pot belly, all of it tumor. I am ecstatic and a few dozen other happy adjectives about the gone-ness of this cancer, believe me.

So that's where we are now. Himself is healthy again, although he grumbles about his missing hair. Junior is currently eating a pile of fish sticks and singing one of his original compositions about division. And me? Why, I'm still knitting.

What are you up to?



21 August 2012

The Sphere of Irritation.


Are you familiar with the Sphere of Irritation? I don't mean measuring how close people can get into your personal space before you slug them. No, the Sphere of Irritation is a seemingly innocuous plastic ball that currently resides on our dining room table.

The proper name for this annoying device is a Perplexus. It's a clear plastic ball with a maze built inside. You guide a little ball bearing along the track of the maze, twisting and turning the plastic ball through every possible rotational degree until you reach the goal.

In theory.

In reality, what happens is far less glamorous and much more profane. The day I brought this thing home, I shook the ball bearing around to the starting point and sent it rolling down the track. 

It promptly fell off.

I guided the ball back to the start and tried again. I got about six inches further this time. A sigh. Restart. After several attempts, I was tempted to write a review, correcting the customers who tout the Perplexus as a great "quiet time toy". In spite of the lack of batteries, noise, and flashing lights, there is no quiet time with this toy. 

Shouting and swearing, yes. Quiet time, no.

I finally slammed the thing on its pedestal in disgust. "Stupid toy. I hate this thing!"

Seconds ticked by.

"Well, lemme give it one more try."

Roll, roll, roll . . . clunk. Slam!

"Stupid toy. I hate this thing!" (pause) "Well, lemme give it one more try."

At last I was rewarded, and the ball rolled into the goal. "Woo-hoo! Yeah! Go, me! I did it!" I performed a Happy Dance of victory and offered the Sphere of Irritation to Himself. He declined in no uncertain terms, citing the fact that one crazed person in the house was plenty, thank you.

The Sphere of Irritation now sits on the table in full view of unsuspecting visitors. It never fails to draw curious hands, and never fails to play out the same way.

"What's this?" Roll, roll, roll . . . clunk. Slam! "Stupid toy. I hate this thing!"

(pause)

"Well, lemme give it one more try."

19 July 2012

The Magical Mystery Yarn!


Because I apparently don't have enough to do (insert eye roll here), I have taken on the challenge of knitting a Fair Isle sweater.  This is one of those impressive garments with lots of colors and little bitty patterns all over it.  You have to follow charts and do a lot of counting, and at some point, you cut holes in it so that you can make sleeves.  Oh, and it's made of wool.

Perfect choice for those balmy, 105-degree summer days when you really want to drive yourself nuts.

So anyway, I'm making this sweater.  I picked out four colors that harmonize, got the needles and pattern, and set to work.  Let me tell you about these colors.  A straightforward sort of person would call them red, blue, green, and yellow.  Someone with a touch of creativity would call them rust, slate, olive, and gold.

On a whim, I turned over each ball of yarn to read what the designers thought the colors should be called.  The blue one is Blue Fog.  Okay, I can go with that.  The red one is Burnt Sienna.  I think I remember that from the ol' crayon box; works for me.  Oo, the yellow one is called Sunburst Gold.  Fancy stuff, eh?  Now for the green.

What?

Okay, what have these people been smoking?  There is no way that this green can be called anything remotely resembling Butterscotch.  But there it is, in bold letters on the label.  Butterscotch.  I snort and turn to Himself.

"What color wold you call this?"

He squinted and thought before announcing, "It's sort of . . . brownish?"

I stared at the yarn.  Brown?  This stuff was almost Army green in the store.  But sonofagun, it DID look sort of brown.  I blamed it on the dim bulb (the lamp, not Himself) and went back to my knitting.  It was almost like some weird, fibery existential argument.  What if green really is brown? What if C-A-T really spells dog?  Stop lights would mock us.  Schools of interior design would collapse.  Skittles would weep in their bags.

Now that the sun is up, the yarn looks green again.  As I suspected, it was a trick of the light.  I'll continue on my merry way with the sweater, ignoring the Butterscotch label.  There's nothing wrong with my eyes.  Obviously, some designer got into a bad batch of candy and took it out on my yarn.

04 July 2012

In Which I Am Uncoordinated.

When you spend a big chunk of your day in a chair, getting up and moving around isn't just a nice change of pace; it's a back-cracking necessity.  Now that I'm doing a lot more writing, I'm faced with the challenge of finding time to move.  

You know how it is.

Since it's July in Kansas, the outdoor temperature is roughly equivalent to six feet from the sun.  Ain't no way I'm gonna go move around in that.  After discarding several options as too far, too expensive, or too gas-hogging, I settled on a brilliant idea.  I bought a hula hoop.

Wait, it gets better.

Confident in my abilities, thanks to a dim memory from childhood, I stood in the kitchen with a sparkly plastic ring around my waist and prepared to hula away.  Slinging the hoop one way and twisting my waist the other way, I managed a pretty good imitation of a bad case of Saint Vitus' Dance.

The hula hoop clattered to the floor.

After half a dozen or so repeat performances, I began to mutter bitter nothings.  Leaving the hoop on the floor (where I may or may not have kicked it), I fired up the computer to seek advice.  "Why can't I work a hula hoop?" I asked Google.  I hit the "enter" key, and seventy billion hits popped up.  I am apparently not alone in my hula hoop-challenged state.

I turns out that it is physically impossible for a grownup to use a child-sized hula hoop.  Bigger people need bigger hoops, and the first person to make a crack about bigger hips is gonna get a punch in the nose.  I went back to the store and bought a new hoop.  It's cool.  Grownup-sized, weighted, and padded.  I stood in the kitchen and gave it a whirl.

Golly!  I managed almost four revolutions before the new hoop ended up on the floor.  This is progress.  Now I just have to wrestle it away from Junior when I want to use it.

"I want da 'zewo' please, Mama!"

18 June 2012

Emotions


When Junior was born, Himself and I decided to teach him a modified version of American Sign Language.  What the heck, we thought.  It'll give the kid a chance to let us know what he wants.

Our plan worked like a charm.  It worked so well, in fact, that Junior didn't bother much with speech for his first two years.  I remember quite plainly an incident that took place when he was almost a year old.  He had an ear infection and needed medicine.  You know the stuff.  That "delicious" cherry-flavored liquid that tastes (to borrow from Douglas Adams) almost, but not quite, entirely unlike cherries.  Junior hated it, and let me know in no uncertain signs.

"Come on, honey.  Time for your medicine."

No.

"Yes, you need to take it.  There you go; good boy."

More?

"Nope, that's it."

All done?

"Yes, you're all done with medicine for now."

Happy.

Once Junior started to speak English rather than ASL, his vocabulary blew us away.  A screech from his room would be followed by a shout.  "I am fwustwated, Mama!"  A special treat might be met with, "How wonderful!"  The really interesting part for me was the fact that he often constructed his sentences with ASL syntax.

Now that he's a master of the spoken word, Junior is relying less on his earlier echolalia, and more on putting his feelings into his own words.  Especially when it comes to his personal preferences.  As I prepared to put him in the tub the other day, he started grumbling.  Expecting the usual response of "Whatsa matter?" to my identical query, I was stunned to get a fairly heated answer.

"I am angwee.  I don't wanna take a baf!" 

Either he wasn't really that opposed to bathing, or the look on my face was hysterical to him.  We both cracked up.

"Feeling happier now, kiddo?"

Junior grinned and swept his hand up his chest a couple of times.  "I am happy now!"