The jet lagged
We went around the tornado area in very rough skies, even at 3900 feet Monday, and eventually got here. About three hours sleep last night.
Sam’s diploma is in hand and she is beautiful.
My childhood friend Karen, Sam’s roommate and we had a grand day visiting.
I have no idea what time zone my body thinks I’m in–off to bed.
And to go to see real green again
I saw a Bewick’s wren at dusk on the fence, peering into the neighbor’s garden.
This was huge to me. I had had a delightful courting pair, as I do every year–and then they vanished. Seeing a Bewick’s had been a near-daily occurrence for years and they had become my favorites, and then nothing. For two months. I could only assume the neighbor’s cat had gotten them, as so often happens to their kind, but there one was tonight!
And. There is a squirrel who’s been taught to water ski, here, just for fun.
And. When Sam graduated the last three university degrees, illness got in the way: I once had to call Southwest and explain the Crohn’s and the bleeding, and the good woman on their end took my nontransferable ticket and reassigned it to Richard’s name so he could go in my stead.
This is Sam’s third graduate-degree commencement (this was for her previous one, go, Sam!) and I think it’s safe to say this one’s her last. And so tomorrow I arrive, via Southwest of course, in Baltimore: Johns Hopkins here I come! (Don’t forget to water my potted cherry tree while I’m gone, gotta feed those future birds, right?, ‘kay thanks ‘bye.)
Is this thing working again?
I’d been wondering why the site was being so slow for me and where all the comments had gone and then this morning it refused to let me delete spam. I did manage to get that one note in at the bottom of yesterday’s post and then we had no access.
Richard, a computer scientist, put in seven hours today dealing with tech support and fixing the wonkitude. There may still be a little weirdness, and if you come across any please let me know. He missed Maker Faire so that I could have my blog and website back, which hurts (me more than him; he’s watching it live now online and saying don’t worry, it’s fine. It helps that Michelle went and brought home the most exquisite chocolate.) I tell you, he’s the best, and so is she.
Along the way he found out that another site had my Marnie’s Scarf pattern picture up with a link to my page, which is cool, but it had been renamed, which wasn’t cool at all and he logged a protest.
I’d been wondering for awhile why on earth I was getting occasional requests for help with a Goddess Dream scarf when I had designed nothing of the sort. Nobody ever gave me the link (because surely I knew it, I guess) and I wondered why they didn’t ask the person who’d made it. I mean, I like to be nice but it’s a little hard to walk someone through the details of a pattern you don’t know and you’ve never seen.
It’s been nine years since I put my own free patterns on my site and I always have to go back and remind myself what I did where; it has at times taken hours to walk a new laceknitter through the work in their hands that they can see but that I can’t. I may have years and years of practice at my work, but generally they’re asking because they don’t. I was there once, when there were no online sources to turn to and not even any books in print that I could teach myself laceknitting from; I’m very glad to help.
It’s all about passing along the love of the craft. But I have to have enough information myself to start from.
I did have a wonderful time yesterday answering a woman who said, “I’m 93 and I’ve been knitting all my life but what in the world is an ssk?”
I so hope to be knitting new things at 93! And how cool that she was online to ask me!
But those times people asked about the Goddess Dream scarf I was wondering why on earth…when I had no knowledge of and nothing to do with it.
The responsible party is here. I very much appreciate that they linked to my pattern rather than just taking it, but I think they just had no idea what problems they were causing me and other knitters by changing the name to something they thought more catchy or impressive. I adore my friend Marnie, in whose honor I posted that freely as she had freely spent her time and efforts helping me recover after a major hospitalization for Crohn’s disease, and I’d like her name to stay attached to my pattern. Her great acts of service and love, only one of which is posted with her namesake scarf, represent a level of unselfishness and good-person-hood that I aspire to.
I guess I’ve got a ways to go yet. I certainly should have asked the people who asked me why they’d come to me so perhaps I could have found out sooner what was up. My apologies to all those who didn’t get the help they were looking for at the time.
Friday May 17th 2013, 9:53 pm
Filed under: Friends
Our neighborhood was built for young families.
Their children grew up, many moved away and we moved in, our youngest coming along a year later.
Our children grew up and now we have new young neighbors. And the ones who had been surrogate grandparents to our little ones back in the day threw a party tonight to welcome the new couples in and to reconnect the older ones, a gesture much appreciated all around.
I would love someone to tell me stories on our house, and we got to tell a few on the others’.
I asked our hostess about their magnificent old plum tree outside the window, whose crop they have shared so generously with us so many times, and this good woman whose children are just younger than we are said it was there when they got here. Whether it was supposed to have been a standard or a semi-dwarf, she didn’t know and I knew it didn’t matter; it simply was a gracefully grown, beautiful, leafy tree, and no matter how many plums the squirrels took, she said, there always seemed to be plenty.
My baby fruit trees aspire to the day. IÂ smiled, wondering who might be enjoying them 50 years from now: peaches, plums, will the old lemons still be there, cherries, apples, blueberries, too, now, and I still hope to put in a Comice pear. I aspire to pass along a bounteous place that will give our future owners much. (While I’m still at the stage of hoping for anything for us on everything other than the lemons.)
One of the newcomers asked the name of the type of tree we have out front: Bradford pear–but no pears? No, they are tiny wooden things barely the size of your smallest fingernail, but the flowers are beautiful, and as we stepped outside at the end, I looked next door at it and marveled at the memory vs the present. “It was a twig when we moved here. With two supports. And look at it now.”
And in between it went through this but this past March looked like this.
I can’t wait to see what they plant at this house and that house and to get to play surrogate grandparents to their future children, to see how everything grows up to be all over again.
(Side note: this site will be down for awhile today while the resident admin does some work on it. Back soon.)
Cherry, cherry baby
(Sorry for the earworm.)
Out of milk and orange juice, and there was something else we wanted to look for.
Which they didn’t have. But Richard humored me while I went to go see if the latest batch of ooh look, they’re all ultra-dwarf this time! trees at Costco included, by wild chance, a Stella cherry again.
Found one. Didn’t look great. And then two more that did. I actually got a choice.
I doublechecked with my sweetie….
I asked one of the employees for help getting it into the cart past all the lilies on the forward part of the pallet. He moved those out of the way, made sure which tree I was pointing to, I read the tag again just to be certain that this trunk and that tag went together, and then as he brought it over and set it down he started peppering me with questions, very interested: how much were those? $18.99? When do they produce?
I checked the tag: mid-June here, and I told him they grow to only six to eight feet tall and produce about nine pounds of cherries a year. (Found out after I got home that we should get our first ones next year; it doesn’t take them long.)
You should have seen his eyes! “My mother could grow one of those!” Something that small, that productive but not overwhelmingly so, that enticing–what a cool idea!
And so my delayed Mother’s Day present sounds like it means someone else’s mom may very well get one too. Or maybe the Kieffer pear or one of the peaches or apples or that nectarine over there. But the fact that Costco was out when Richard went to get me mine earlier meant that this conversation happened and now there’s all this other good that can come from that. Picturing that fine young man planting a fruit tree for his mother just totally makes my day.
They take so little effort. They last so long. They flower, they fruit, they give so much.
p.s. Michelle saw what she was very sure was a golden eagle as she was coming out of work yesterday, and today, not far from her office, a local golden eagle intruded on Clara-the-peregrine’s territory near her fledglings and Clara firmly escorted the much-larger bird out of there–one of the very few that can prey on peregrines, but not this time. Eric’s pictures of the encounter, here.
Dropped off the drycleaning this afternoon.
I’ve been going to this one place for years, and the middle-aged woman who runs it always whips out that slip and writes down Hyde, A before I even say anything.
We bonded forever over the moment where, early 0n after I’d made it–
–okay, back up. Twenty-three years ago, when I was newly back into knitting as an antidote to all that my new lupus diagnosis threatened, after I got the use of my hands back after the first six months of the disease, I knitted my husband an aran. A big, cream, woolly, cabled aran. An aran with sleeves that he could fold the cuffs back on, a luxury in his eyes that had forever been denied him because of his height. This is what happens when you have to duck through doorways.
Most people are fingertip-t0-fingertip the same measurement as their height.
Back then, I didn’t trust myself to handwash a wool sweater without wrecking it, especially not after all that work (now I wouldn’t bat an eye) and I took that aran with the 78″ wingspan to that new-to-me-then drycleaner. I told her not to block it, having been warned (I think by my mom) that they would press all that glorious cablework flat forever otherwise.
Several years later, he’d worn it enough that it seemed time to get it cleaned again.
“Oh, *I* remember THIS sweater! she exclaimed, holding it out to her own arms’ length, which was a whole lot less than his–or mine, for that matter. She admired it, exclaimed over it, and oh! You MADE it?!
I never forgot that moment and I bet she didn’t either.
There was somebody new working with her today, and my friend whose name I somehow never found out seemed scattered and pulled in too many directions. Helping the kid back there with something he was asking her about, rushing back to me, finding out that no, those weren’t my shirts, oh, right, those were…she’d forgotten..she swept them into a bag and out of the way, apologizing, while I smiled, no, no, no problem.
She took a breath. All her attention was now on me. My husband’s suit? Monday, alright?
Is it possible to have it rushed by Saturday?
She was momentarily distracted and glancing away just then while trying hard not to be–but she had to–!
It was okay. Meantime, the new helper did not fall but inched ever so slowly, steadily closer, coming up on the left, holding tight to a laundry cart that suddenly seemed to need rubber stops on one side of the bottom just in case.
Saturday is fine; thank you very much!
She had to ask me my name, and that was a complete tipoff as to how overwhelmed she was feeling.
The woman I am guessing was her mother got ever so much closer to the counter on her slow way forward, her body so bowed that she could barely lift her head enough to make eye contact.
But you make eye contact with the customer and you greet them and she was determined.
And so this very tiny woman of about 90 whom I had never seen before at last looked me eye to eye and found me smiling. She raised one hand from the cart in cautious slow motion and carefully, gently, waved hi to me, and then her face blossomed into a smile at our shared sense of success.
She completely made my day. I will never forget it.
Darrin Bell wrote recently of taking care of his 94-year-old grandfather in his final weeks and what it was like to be with someone he loved so close to the other side, and in his comic strip he quoted his grandfather as saying, everything you do in life, you’ve got to be at your best.
I felt privileged to share a moment with a woman of about his grandfather’s age who was showing me how to do exactly that.
And I think, when I take the drycleaner slip back on Friday for the pickup, I will take a copy of this post in thanks. (Ed. to add–wait, I don’t want her to feel she’s lost face on the name thing; I’ll just tell them thank you.)
Bowie are you going to love this one
“Stace spation?” he asked, turning and looking at me with perfect comedic timing.
Wait. You’re right, that didn’t come out right.
He lifted an eyebrow. Impishly, “You know that’s got to be the most expensive music video ever recorded.”
“Depends on what you count as an expense.” We were both laughing by now.
The first line out of the captain’s mouth took me by surprise the first time I played it earlier today and I cracked up and had to show it to him. Don’t miss it.
(Meantime, today’s falcon photos from Eric. Comet did finally make it out of there after about six hours.)
Edited to add Wednesday morning: Captain Hadfield is front-page news on the Washington Post this morning, with more details, including some of his space experiments. He’s clearly a born teacher.
Actually, that part wasn’t new
Monday May 13th 2013, 11:28 pm
Filed under: Family
From the daughter of a ham radio operator, after listening to me read a line of pattern row out loud to myself while transcribing from my notes. I was reknitting that last new pattern to fix a few quirks: yo, ssk, k1, yo, sl2-k1-p2sso…
Michelle listened to me a moment–not interrupting, like when I’m counting stitches, no problem–and then told me her earliest reaction to having seen some of my written work for the first time was, and she said it with a grin, “Mom is learning to write in knitters’ Morse code.”
Actually, this one is a no-remorse coda: the first shawl is fine, just, this time it’s coming out even better.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Sunday May 12th 2013, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Family
My late sister-in-law and I had our baby girls ten days apart 31 years ago and the girls have always been good friends.
Jessie and her husband came by for dinner tonight and while they were here, Sam called from across the country.
We chatted a moment and then I asked her if she wanted to talk to Jessie?
There was this sudden doubletake at the other end–Sam had forgotten her cousin had moved to California. And then an enthusiastic, YEAH! that made my day. People I love loving each other. It’s wonderful.
Parker bounced happily in all his little-boy-energy glory at getting to Skype with us; Hudson looked at the people-movement-and-speech on the screen with great big wide eyes. *Such* a beautiful baby. Our grandsons have *such* good parents. I love that I got to show them the flowers they’d sent.
I talked to my mom, John called, Michelle made the dinner, and a fine day was had by all. I know how lucky I am.
Save some for me
Happy Mother’s Day!
This morning Richard and I came home from an errand and there was a Cooper’s hawk at the top of the tree behind our front gate, duly noting our arrival. My territory, your territory, no-wings; welcome!
Didn’t quite catch the best moment, but, an Oregon dark-eyed junco male (the one with the black head) feeding his mate. He takes good care of her and it charms me to no end.
And below, the black squirrel that had a bad case of mange two years ago and went bald in patches and her fur grew back in white, making it look like she’s wearing a tank top and head band. She’s easy to spot. She does look like a very agile small skunk from a distance.
Don and Cliff saved six plastic produce clamshells for me, to my great delight, and now I have that many more plums and apples protected from those little thieves that in the past have stripped my Fuji apples clean in a day, two months pre-ripe. The little stinkers.
I know you’re supposed to thin the fruit out to one per branch but there aren’t a whole lot this year to begin with. I left the first cluster I found at two–safe now–and then went eh and snapped a clamshell around the whole threesome I found next.That tomato package was big so I was going to make the most of the space.
They may come out big they may come out small but we will at long last have our first homegrown apples (and plums!) Twenty-one years after I planted that Fuji. Thank you Don and Cliff!
Cone if-erous with needles
Friday May 10th 2013, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Knit
This is when a designer recommends buying an extra cone or skein for a project: not everybody has a scale to measure down to those last few nailbiting grams (and this is all I had from Colourmart’s silk mill ends. Made it!)
With apologies to those who’ve read this description before: buying yarn on the cone means having to wash the mill oils out, an extra manufacturing step that yarn-store yarns have already gone through. The oils, more like hair mousse, gray the color out somewhat and are to keep individual fibers from blowing all over the machinery; they come out with a hot scouring. Softness and brightness bloom!
And merino can shrink like crazy. Which I’ve done quite deliberately with some of their fine wools, hanking and scouring and shocking with cold water and scouring some more and only then knitting at the very new half-felted gauge–but silk, you just knit it as it comes on the cone, skip the hassle, the yarn is the size it’s going to be.
Lace. Shawl. (Between the baby projects.) How did you guess?
Cooperii and Falco peregrinus
Thursday May 09th 2013, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Wildlife
Thank you for the kind words yesterday, everybody!
The peregrine that fell and got put back came down from the roof a bit today–not to the nest, whatever his intentions may have been, but off to the side and in front of the mayor’s office. Somehow every year we have one come eye to eye with the man. Pretty cool perch of office, actually.
I parked myself in front of the monitor and was watching the falcon cam while working on a shawl, cheering three birds with one, lone. One of the other two worked up his courage and finally made it to the upper ledge. He was so excited! A whole new view–LOOK at all this stuff down there he’d never known existed! Whole new types of trees, and and and! He ran up and down the length of it, his feet at the outer edge, he jumped over to the nestbox and chased his mom off–the annual make-the-parents-fly-away pre-fledge game. Chased her twice more as the afternoon went on.
After awhile he finally stood still and faced forward and lifted those wings. He had practiced. Mom and Dad were down there encouraging, flying, circling back around.Â He was going to do this.
He pumped hard–
–and found himself swept backwards the width of the ledge. THAT wasn’t supposed to happen! Yow. He abruptly stopped, humbled, and folded those wings in tight. The traitors.
But he wasn’t ready to come down from that mountaintop he’d finally conquered.
Dinner was brought in to the runway. He watched his more timid (probably a day younger) little brother devour while he watched from above. Hunger wasn’t enough to make him give it up.
Still didn’t come down. Still didn’t. Still–oh forget it, and he tried again with this flying thing only this time in the small runway area he knew so well and managed to land where his brother, now full, had just dropped the prey. King of the Ledge quietly finished off the leftovers.
My attention was going back and forth between the somewhat-slippery work in my hands and the screen. But suddenly something here caught my eye and I looked to the left.
I’ve never seen her before! I’d been sure I’d heard Coopernicus calling to his new mate, she had to exist, but…wow! Female raptors are a third larger than the males and this one was huge, with a notably lighter chest than my male Cooper’s.
She swung those wide wings around in a tight S curve around an awning support pole, then the birdfeeder, and swooped up into a tree.Â We regarded each other a moment. She jumped/flew higher to where I couldn’t see her. Not thirty seconds later, there she was again, reversing the S she had just flown in with one last try at flushing something out from the elephant ears as she passed over and away.
I wasn’t the only one impressed by her size and speed: there was not going to be any teasing this one–a squirrel was cowering under the picnic table the whole time, occasionally glancing at me as if to plead Save me!
Hawk, meet my friend. Hawk meat, my friend.
I finally got to meet the new Cooper’sÂ and from maybe a dozen feet away. Wow.
One month already!
Happy first-month celebrations to Hudson!
Costco had Stella ultra-dwarf cherry trees today.Â Grow it in a big pot, never have to prune, go ahead and make use of that one little sunny spot outside the laundry room that’s too close to the house for free-range roots.
About ninety cherries a year forever after for about the price of a skein of yarn. (Oh wait. Pot and potting soil. Three.) I am seriously tempted.
Good locks with that
The little peregrine eyas is back on the roof as of this afternoon,Â drenched by Glenn so he would preen rather than blindly flee at his release; he has seen his brothers and they have looked up and seen him. Dude! Where ya been!
I took a ride in the Radio Flyer wagon! You’ll never believe it!
(Actually, he rode back up in the elevator in the traditional peregrine-baby-rescue apple box. Don’t know why it’s always an apple box. But it’s always an apple box.)
The area where they shaved my scalp for skin cancer surgery, July two years ago: I’ve been waiting a long time for that hair to grow back in, wearing it pulled back from my face in combs so the gaps wouldn’t show.And then there was that time last August where we had to whack a bit nice and close to free me from the back of the hair dryer when we were defrosting the freezer. (You might want to check to see if there’s a protective screen covering yours. The hair dryer, I mean. I’ve heard from half a dozen people now who’ve had the same thing happen.)
It was time. My friend Nina’s daughter Gwyneth is a gifted stylist, the only person I would ever go to for as long as she may live around here, and I made an appointment for last Friday, showed her how things were at this point, and asked her help.
It’s still a little below the shoulders in back–I gotta do my earth mother/artiste thing–but it’s a lot shorter; she did a fabulous job and I am very very happy with how it came out. I keep looking at this one spot (and that one and that one), thinking, how did you DO that? How did you get that to behave exactly perfectly in the pattern it was going to curl into once it was shorter?
All of this is of no real importance to anybody but me, but I wanted to record it so I could go back later and see when that cut was. Also because I know how hard it is to find someone you absolutely trust with your hair, and if anyone around here is looking, everybody I know who’s ever gone to her has had the same reaction: Gwyn is absolutely the best.
Monday May 06th 2013, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Family
Parker has taken to photobombing when the camera points at his little brother. Smile! (Didn’t go through. Will have to use stand-ins here for now.)
Does anyone else remember not just playing marbles, but trying to have the prettiest ones, so you would finally get Mom’s permission and watchful eye and go simmer them on the stove–no boiling, it’s always a risk but still you don’t want a million shattered bits of glass in her pot, just those clear marbles with the thin twist of colors down the center, making them leap into crackly patterns surrounded by transparency, breakdancing into kaleidoscopes within while staying smooth and round on the surfaces. Hopefully. The final objects were never a sure thing till they were safely cooled off and done.
Woke up this morning with the mental image of my eyes close to the stove from my then-height, standing staring intently (and a little bit bored) at those small glass balls, watching the tiny bubbles forming and slooowly separating from the sides of the pan but no big airholes allowed to form (keep that heat down), waiting for the marbles to become more colorful, done just so. They took a very long time at that age and a steady concentration.
Haven’t thought of those in…! But it suddenly seems like it was early training for appreciating the steady click, click, click process that is knitting, keeping the stitches bubbling steadily up. Sometimes with a cooling-off after the finish to realize that no, I didn’t mess it up and yes this IS gorgeous.
I not only coveted my oldest sister’s prettier-than-anybody’s marbles (which is what got me to beg and plead for that one session at the stove), I wanted to be able to sound like her too, like, yesterday, at the piano, and I remember her playing Fur Elise. A lot. That one seemed simple enough to aspire to–well, the first part of it, anyway. I started lessons the last year she took them.
I just didn’t quite get to this point in that first year, though. These guys had way too much fun. Don’t miss the picture frame falling down and the window shimmying.