Flaring in Florida

I don’t go to the beach.  My feet haven’t set foot on that sandy strip between the town and the ocean.  I am too sensitive to the sun, and I’m already in a flare.  Five minutes on the beach would be stupid, fifteen a disaster.  Yet, I insist on coming here year after year, close enough to look out the window and see the ocean, or ride down the street and smell the salt water.  There is a sense here of the whole world being on vacation, a leisurely pace and casual dress, big welcoming smiles when you enter a nice restaurant in your shorts and sandals. 


Yesterday we set out for Ft. Walton Beach to find the yarn store, Unwind.  I had been there several years ago when it had another owner and another name.  The store was worth the 45 minute drive.  It is beautiful, cozy but well-organized, and carries lovely brands:  Noro, Blue Sky, Tilli Thomas, Be Sweet, Malabrigo, Auracania…and more and more.  I was allowed to browse unfettered.  Only when I approached the cash register for the final time (I had made a pile there) and said “I am ready” did someone rise from her chair at the knitting table and come over.  I purchased Tilli Thomas’ Pure and Simple spun silk in Drewbilation (a blue and green that reminded me of the ocean), and Blue Sky  Organic Cotton and Dyed Cotton (also organically grown).  The Blue Sky cottons that I purchased are a heavy worsted weight, with more heft than most organic cottons I’ve used.  Can’t wait to make something fab for a baby.  I see scarves/shawls from the silk.  It is so luxuriously soft-I’ve never had silk that felt this good.


On the way to the yarn store, we needed to find food.  We slid into a strip mall and Dayna chose 98 Barbecue, a small restaurant with rustic decor and wonderful barbecue.  We promised ourselves that we will eat there again before we leave.  The pulled pork, a rare treat for my veggie-eating self, was lean and tender.  Dayna and I shared a plate and still couldn’t finish it.  One of our sides was creamed corn nuggets, a new one for us, and exactly what it sounds like:  creamed corn in bite-size battered nuggets.  Delicious.  My girl with the great sense of direction was able to recall that we had visited the same strip mall years ago, enjoying food from a Mexican bakery that is still there. 


Speaking of baking, I made a banana bread while ago.  We brought fruit with us, knowing it would spoil if left at home.  The last three bananas went into a quick sweet bread.  I found the perfect glass baking pans in the cabinet, and filled the smaller one with batter.  It’s cooled and ready to sample.  Mmmmm.  Nice banana flavor, not too sweet.  I am the Martha Stewart of the coast.  Neglected to say that I made raisin muffins Sunday morning.  The owners conveniently left a muffin pan, something you don’t always find in a cottage rental.  Somebody here believes in cooking.


Yesterday the flare hit the fan.  I could barely move when I awoke:  the stiffness that has plagued my hands was in my hips and legs.  I had to start the emergency plan that my doc made with me:  a brief prednisone taper of 30-25-20-15-back to 10 mg over 5 days.  Waking was easier this morning.  I hate increasing the steroids, but we’re buying time until the next big B cell-killing treatment.  Damn B lymphocytes. 


He-eyy, a shout-out to all my buddies who are vacationing!  Any good yarn where you are?  I’ve still gotta go the opposite direction, to Apalachicola on the other side of Panama City, where there’s a yarn store in the back of a bookstore (or, as I would advertise it, a bookstore in the front of a yarn store).  It helps immensely to get into a store and feel those yarns that I’ve been viewing on line, to see if my drooling is worth it.  About those bookstores, we had to hit one of those yesterday, too.  Dayna had finished her book stash and was ready to find something new.  She came out with a stack, and even had Chris picking out reading material.  We can nag the younger generation all we want, they teach each other much more effectively.


Holy cow!  It’s past noon and I’ve not bathed or come out of my bathrobe.  Ain’t vacation great?






Post 194 and Counting

I’m reading a book that is frightening.  Child 44, Tom Rob Smith’s first novel, is set in cold war Soviet Union, and focuses on a law enforcement officer.  The required, institutionalized lack of trust and innocence in this system is the diametric opposite of our American judicial presumption.  The justifications for this point of view are oddly logical, and it isn’t difficult to understand how the enforcers are brain-washed into believing and carrying out their objectives.  I’m only half-finished.  I’ve been mesmerized all afternoon. 


I’m reading here, in this townhouse at the beach.  It’s a great setting for catching up reading and knitting without distraction.  I have yarn stores to visit in Panama City and Ft. Walton, green lace and green baby dresses to knit, and chemocaps to design.  I packed five books, just in case; I hate to run out of reading.  I was reassured to know my daughter packed a stack of books too; we may need to trade. 


The townhouse was a find.  When you get on line to hunt beach properties that you’d like to visit three days hence, you are lucky to find something suitable.  This is even better-it meets my desires and my budget, it’s in the right location on the Gulf coast, and my contacts with the owner have been lovely.  “Our place” for the week has two nice-sized bedrooms, a large living room/dining room, and a spacious kitchen.  All the essentials are here, including patio and balcony, beachy decorating, and three bathrooms.  Okay, maybe three bathrooms aren’t truly required, but I hate sharing and I hate running from one floor to the other.  Parking is right in front of the door, something I miss when we get high-rise condos.  Publix is 10 minutes down 98.  What more could I ask? 


I’m learning something sleeping here.  The mattress on my king is very firm, and I slept like a dream.  I think I could do better to have a firmer mattress at home.  I’ve debated this before, but I haven’t had a harder mattress to sleep on and try it out, until now. 


Yesterday the drive down was complicated by a ferocious thunderstorm with pounding rain.  It was my turn to drive, and I was glad that it hadn’t caught either of the less experienced drivers who are my travel partners.  They both have considerable highway experience now, and were invaluable as navigators, but I didn’t want to subject them to all that water on less than optimum roads, or to the poor visibility.  At one point I had to pull over and wait out the worst of the storm.   


When we arrive at the beach, we have to make that all-important stocking-up trip to the grocery store.  We sent one member out this morning to get the most critical things, but my daughter and I made the more thorough trip to Publix this evening.  Now we have plenty of canned water (can’t drink the salty stuff that comes out of the faucet), pasta and sauce, sunblock, and a set of bowls to satisfy my cooking needs.  I’ve never stayed in a beach house that fully anticipated my need to bake.  This one has the pans, but not the bowls.  I stirred up some muffins this morning using a pan for my bowl.  There was one more staple to purchase.  I packed most of them, including a bag of coffee.  To my dismay, it turned out to be beans, and I didn’t pack the grinder.  Bless the owners for providing that first pot of coffee via a neat little pack on the counter.  Now I have Starbucks Italian Roast to follow it.  Sipping now.  Oh yeah. 


Yes, I’m still on the path to a flare.  Yes, I’m paying attention and doing what I’m supposed to do for this body.  I am blessed to have the greatest help in the world.  The older my daughter gets, the more she anticipates what I need on expeditions like this.  I don’t even have the worries of leaving my house behind.  Our neighbors are watching it, taking in mail, watering the crops, even going in to hunt for shoes to borrow today.  We have great neighbors, too. 


If you haven’t done so, take a minute to check out some of the comments that have come in this month.  There are some interesting thoughts piling up in that comment bin.  I love reading them.  I don’t know if I could have this conversation daily if no one was listening. 



A Lace-Ripping Vacation Dream

People who don’t knit often say “I could never learn.  I’m not patient enough.”  The standard knitterly reply is “Knitting will teach you patience.”  Lesson time!  Remember that lovely green lace I showed off last week (https://essiewb.wordpress.com/2008/06/02/tomatoes-sneezes-and-knitting-lace-in-public/)?  Today I finished the straight part of the back and started the decreases which take place on either side, leading up to a point.  I was a few rows into the decreases, and had about 8 inches completed.  I noticed that I had two right sides.  Not good.  Actually, half of the “right side” of the knitting was on one side, and the other half was on the other side.  Somewhere in this processs I knitted two lace pattern rows without the intervening purl row.  I could see exactly where I went wrong, but I couldn’t just ravel it back to that row.  Lace is notoriously hard to pick up when you try to do that.  I had seen one lace knitter use temporary yarn to mark rows periodically, but I’d never asked how she did that, more’s the pity.  (I didn’t ask because I couldn’t see myself knitting lace any time soon.  Hah!)


Starting from the beginning is not so bad.  The pattern is familiar, mostly memorized now.  My speed with the classic lace moves has improved.  I’m sure I’ll get back that eight inches in half the time of the first attempt.  And I’ll know this time to make sure which side I’m knitting on.  No.  I am not posting a photo of the inch that’s on the needles right now.


I’ve been seeing a trip in my future.  Today I decided to make it happen.  I made a reservation, and in the not-too-distant future we’ll head for the Gulf Coast.  The house will be taken care of, the dog has a sitter, and I have a specific date to dangle in front of myself.  Sometimes a carrot helps me keep moving forward.  This particular carrot comes with sand and ocean air and new territory for exploring yarn stores.  A bit of peace. 


Yeah, peace.