Cry me a river
Thursday May 15th 2008, 12:35 pm
Filed under: Life
If you remember this post: on Tuesday, I was knitting an early portion of a new lace pattern, ie a part where I had to pay attention to the instructions I’d written out because it wasn’t visually established enough to just wing it yet. My kids had just planted that plum tree (did anybody catch the earth shoes caption on its bucket?) and the whole wide world just felt so…joyful. And I found I suddenly couldn’t see the page clearly for how my eyes had watered up. Silly eyes.
It took about the space of a heartbeat, and then it hit me: wait. My EYES watered?!
And then yesterday they did it again. My eyes haven’t been able to water for at least five months due to inflammation, which is how I tore my cornea so badly a few months ago.
One more piece of remission slowly catching up to me. One more splash of joy.
Wednesday May 14th 2008, 1:50 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis
My Picotee amaryllis is still blooming! It’s too bright out there for a good photo, but I wanted to grab it before it faded.
The Zappos came: the more formal, more wedding-y looking shoes sliced deeply. I walked halfway across the carpet and couldn’t take them off fast enough. People actually wear these?! Zapp’em back.
The other pair, though. Wow. These were created expressly for my feet. And if you look at the style: picture the increases in a top-down circular shawl translated into a shoe. It’s as if I’d been in collaboration with the leatherworking designer in Italy. Success. Why, yes, actually, I did immediately order a second pair in pearl. I buy one pair of shoes, on average, every other year. Break the bank.
(Added later): I’ve been thinking for the last several hours how ditzy a post this is. Shoes? After writing about E? But… Other than Birkenstocks, there have been so very few times in my life when I’ve found any that fit well, feel good, look good, and that I really like. Although, I’ve got to say, overall, I’m glad of that. My weird feet have totally saved me from ever being a shoe fanatic, since there’s no chance. Leaves the money for important things, like yarn–which I can use to center myself around others rather than myself. Thank goodness for 9″ long EEs.
Lemon knit now, it’s done
“We need to bake a cake! An angel food, maybe.”
He looked at me quizzically.
“We need to bake a cake!”
“Okay, Mom, I am *not* quite following what you’re saying here.”
I explained that slugs and snails can’t climb over broken eggshell jags, and since that was way better than poisons, we needed to put some around the new base of our tree he’d just planted for me.
He allowed as how he could handle that type of tree treatment. Bake a cake. Right on.
Later, thinking I ought to use the tree I’ve got going already, I looked at the Meyer, picked some lemons, and pulled a lemon sponge cake out of the oven a few minutes ago instead; that’s the way the eggshells crumble sometimes. (I took the picture first while it was still semi-light out.)
Back to the shawl on the needles for his wedding.
A dollar for your thoughts
Tuesday May 13th 2008, 11:29 am
Filed under: Family
I wanted to show E here how her roses are opening up today; she grew these herself.
My son Richard arrived home last night with a gift for me from Ann, his about-to-be mother-in-law. Ann lives near the beach, and at one point told me she was looking forward to showing it to me. I had to explain, to make sure she knew, that it would have to be getting towards sunset for me to be able to safely go: lupus and UV and all that.
Richard handed me one-day-delayed Mother’s Day chocolates from him and his fiancee, and a box from Ann. I opened it up, and…
Wow. It was SO perfect.
She had gone down to the beach and collected some sand dollars. She had carefully wrapped each little one, fragile as they are, so it could make it through the flight unbroken and without damaging the next one over.
She had brought the beach to me.
Saved from being a total doofus
Monday May 12th 2008, 12:25 pm
Filed under: Friends
First, the plums. This is two stories, really, but a lot happened yesterday.
Our house came with an ornamental plum tree that a previous gardener had experimented with and had grafted in a branch of a producing plum tree; it was the oddest looking thing. Burgundy leaves, a graceful shape, and then this one awkward green thing shooting happily off to the side like a two-year-old brought to a formal adults-only party. After a few years, though, that branch got what looked like the mumps and died. Some kind of borer, apparently.
I missed it, so a neighbor gave us some of his plums, and I returned the favor with a jar of plum jam. He thought that was great! So he went back in his yard, picked more, and I made more and gave him a jar from each batch. I had to weigh those plums first, I was dying to know: 45 pounds. His wife was appalled when she found out and apologized to me, while I just laughed it off, saying, hey, I would never have had them to play with otherwise, don’t sweat it!
I’d ignored the recipe that had come with the jars specifying that one had to laboriously remove the skin from each plum. Bag that. For me, everything but stem and stone: the tartness of the skin adds so much depth to the flavor, like sour cherries, only better. You take the bitter with the sweet.
I’ve wanted my own plum tree for years. It would involve digging and putting in a drip system to a far corner of the yard that didn’t have water. We never got around to it.
Part two, written last night:
All the times I’ve said a prayer that I wouldn’t forget. I’d planned this for a year; well, actually, ever since I first got my manuscript accepted.
And yet somehow, on the actual day, I forgot. Given the circumstances, that’s breathtakingly awful, but I did. But I got saved, and so by extension did E, by an offhand comment by my son, who’d called in the evening after the phone had been busy all day yesterday.
Isn’t that the way it so often is? We ask God for help, and He nudges some other person to do some random thing that was just exactly what we needed, while they have no clue and often never will if you don’t speak up and tell them. Although, in this case, it was immediately apparent to both of us.
“Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!” And then my son happened to mention that he’d found out that his future mother-in-law had gone to high school with my friend E.
E!!! Oh my stars, and it’s nearly 8 pm!!!
From the other end of the line, there was the sudden, “‘Bye, Mom, you need to go.” He knew. And go I immediately did, without stopping to comb my hair, just run!
E’s son, who had gone to elementary and middle school with my oldest, while he was away at college, his folks had gotten the phone call no parents should ever have to get. The rest of that story is theirs to tell, not mine. My oldest and I attended his memorial service.
After a great deal of thought as to what would be appropriate, I knitted her a lace stole in navy blue: a color that acknowledged the darkness and the hurt, a color that spoke of the dawn that I promised with each stitch would still be able to come, however long away, and yes, it would be a long way away, I understood that. I wanted to be there, an arm reached around her in warmth and presence whenever I was not. Her son had been artistic and giving, and I wrote a note to go with it saying that I was sure he wanted to comfort her, too: I wanted to be his hands for him in creating this.
That soft lace was nothing, it was everything: it was what I knew how to do to say I cared.
I wasn’t sure when the most appropriate time would be to give it to her, and somehow I dragged my feet. But one day, after praying to get it right for her sake, the answer came in the sudden strong feeling: NOW. Go *NOW.* So much so that I made my kids wait on the lunch they were preparing for me till I got back, and I simply rushed out the door and made that delivery right then.
It was Mother’s Day.
The following spring, I was at Kepler’s for a booksigning by Rachel Remen. I bought an extra copy of her “My Grandfather’s Blessings.” One of Dr. Remen’s patients had gone through similar circumstances and I knew it would help E to feel she wasn’t alone; someone else out there somewhere knew what it was like, more than I, with all my best intentions, ever could. I explained briefly to Dr. Remen, who inscribed it just for E, hoping, along with me, to offer her comfort.
I brought it to her on Mother’s Day.
And every year since then, I have gone to her house on that day with something by which to say, I remember. I’m thinking of you. I want to see you and I want to be with you for a moment on this day. The first time I ever got an amaryllis to bloom in May, its timing was just right, and I took it to E. On Mother’s Day.
Some pains are forever, but over time, the years add up, and E has the delightful distraction now of two small grandsons and the fact that her daughters live nearby, so she gets to see them all often. One of them pulled up with her family as E and I were talking. The joy has been quietly growing, and it’s been good to see and to be just a small part of it by making sure I visit on that day. Without fail. For this year, my plan had been to bring her a copy of my book.
E had a vase full of flowers ready and a waiting dish of food she’d made me to gift me back with, and thank goodness I got there in time before the day was up. There was still daylight outside. Thank you, God, for speaking to my child when I wasn’t paying attention.
My attention might slip. But His hadn’t.
And now, what my children gave me for Mother’s Day: my own plum tree. My older son is flying in tonight and will be installing the drip system. It is a gift not only of fruit but of the attitude of looking to a future it once seemed I wouldn’t have, a chance to make plum jam from my very own tree again.
I absolutely can’t wait to bring some to E with the first crop that’s big enough for a batch.
On the way to the ball
Nordstrom’s: zero. Zip. Nadda. Ain’t got’em. Doesn’t even carry Birkis anymore. (What!?) The guy was a prince, but he got desperate and tried fancy flipflops–you know, it being a Californian wedding and all, right? Mellow? Casual? Uh, sir… Didn’t matter. Couldn’t get my feet squeezed through and Cinderella’s wicked stepsister was out of luck. There simply was not. one. pair. Not even that he could put a rush order on, not at any price.
I’m debating putting in an aside here: pointy toes? They’re bringing back pointy toes? My stars, do you know how dainty pointy toes look on a double-EE foot, how far forward you’d have to extend the toe box for visual balance? Dudes. Errol Flynn could swashbuckle his way down the castle steps with those as backup swords. For him, though, they could be well heeled to the hilt. Heh.
So I went home and googled my size. Looked for the flats. Zappo’s had one pair left in this shoe and three left in that. I actually got to choose. Done.
I did it!
Nope, Kathy, didn’t get the shoes. One shoe store per day is my outer limit. No-Blog-Rachel’s heart attack at the thought of me in heels made me laugh (she’s seen me walking through yarn stores)–no chance there, honey, don’t worry. Hey. They would make my cane too short. And I don’t need to try to reenact the glamour of the day I so artfully and delicately fell off my roof years ago; let’s keep the feet down to earth.
Changing the subject, come to find out from them that the women at Handmaiden did actually specifically try to match my mother-of-the-groom dress when they dyed my Camelspin. Having their Sea Silk in my book might not have hurt my chances for them wanting to do that–whether that’s a normal thing for them, I quite hesitate to assume, and I don’t want to put them on the spot re their future customers. So. Write a book, match a dress, you put in a little effort, they put in a little effort. Go for it. I’m glad I photographed the yarn with the dress for the blog; they were delighted to see that it had worked out as well as they’d hoped.
Somehow that meant the pressure was on even more to create just the most perfect design in the most perfect shawl ever for the wedding. It would have been so much easier to just chuck that and go knit whatever–but whatever simply wouldn’t do. I spent the last week–a week!–growling and swatching and ripping and trying again and gradually getting lightbulb flashes here and there as I went along, one eye on the calendar and knowing the date was extremely close. I needed to get started, fer cryin’ out loud!
I came home from Purlescence’s knitting night Thursday night, where someone had gasped when I told her how much time I had left, and I thought, no, I really can do it. Honest. (So cooperate, brain!) Did one more swatch or two…
…And my shawl is now humming along. I did it. I got my amaryllis pattern. I did it.
We have toute in common
(Toute being French for “all.”)
Michelle and I needed to go shoe shopping. Not my kind of thing to do: trying to buy shoes for me in most stores is like trying to buy qiviut in Walmart. They ain’t got’em. EE width in a formal shoe? Uh, no. Â Try Nordstrom’s, lady.Â
So Michelle shopped and didn’t quite find what she wanted right away either; I, since I look at shoe stores as something to escape from, thought that meant we were going to be out of there in no time. Right. I should have pulled my knitting out about fifteen minutes earlier than I did, but hey. A lovely African-American woman about my mom’s age was being dragged around shopping with a woman about my age, and as I knitted away, I grinned at the older one, “When the yarn’s gone, we’re done.” Totally cracked her up.
And then from a number of aisles over, Michelle’s voice, suddenly: “I heard that!” The woman about doubled over, laughing.
I had to shoot a picture of these with my phone when I saw them: did the person who designed them think of Tutenkhamen too, with those bright gold and lapis stripes? Â Put these on, and you, too, can walk like an Egyptian.
Goes well with the pink one
Accessorizing my amaryllises.Â Â I’ve got to show you these before they fade out.
And then, hey look, there wasn’t much overtwist after all; when I straightened out the skein, it pretty much stayed straight.
Commenter Sonya surprised me with one answer to single sock syndrome; I love it.Â Â It came with its own single earring.Â (Stitch marker, earring, hey, a necklace with dangly stitch markers would be so cool. )Â Thank you!
Meantime, the rest of the Crown Mountain bag is beckoning me to come to the dark side…
Taking a spin
Wednesday May 07th 2008, 11:13 am
Filed under: Friends
It took a moment to sink in, and then she suddenly exclaimed, “Mom! You’re spinning! I haven’t seen you spinning in” (pauses to think a moment) “years!”
I think it’s been two years since I gave Robert my angora roving. The (now gone) Robin and Russ Handweavers store once listed 70/30 Chinese angora/acrylic roving for clearance at eight dollars a pound; given that most of their customers were, I’m guessing, fiber snobs like me, that acrylic was a dealkiller and the stuff had just sat there. Eight bucks!
Mind you, premium handplucked French pure angora yarn, with each bunny individually groomed and cared for daily, tends to run at about a dollar a gram (as well it should, for that much work). A gram. Compare that to qiviut–or even vicuna. Handplucked angora, especially, fluffs out like nothing else out there, if carefully taken care of. It also felts if you breathe on it too hard.
I bought one pound from R&R, just to experiment with on my wheel, wondering why on earth someone had mixed bunny with something so lowbrow. This was probably ten years ago. The Chinese fibers were all random lengths; handplucked from molting rabbits this wasn’t. But still. I assumed it would be difficult to dye, because the acrylic would be impervious, and yet somehow, when I spun and dyed it, you couldn’t tell one fiber apart from another, and the stuff was, even if not as soft as French, definitely–I mean, this was still (mostly) bunny fur! Sheared four times a year. Wish I could grow my hair that fast.
So. I called Russ’s store back, asked how much they had left of it, and bought the whole lot, maybe fifteen pounds. I knew that that would give me the freedom to go play with this luscious stuff for anybody any time without worrying about the price of the frivolity–just go enjoy.
And I did. But boy did I sneeze while those bits of fluff flew as I spun.
I made a number of things out of it, but ultimately, my body got the better of me. I spent a long, hard time, several years, where any extra expenditure of energy left me gasping for breath or simply too wiped out for the day, and handspinning just took more out of me than I could manage. A little ironic, I thought, given what I had named my website. One of my children breaks out in hives if she touches angora, it turns out, and that was all the more reason to not spin this particular stuff.
Robert spins as well as weaves. He taught his elementary school classroom about the tradition of the medicine blanket like the one he made me, and asked them whom they would want to weave one for.
One child said his grandpa had cancer. Another child raised their hand and said *they* had had cancer–which no one in the room had known. Wow. And so they got to work, warp and weft, working together and individually, a lesson put into action on acknowledging what life is and what we can do for each other about it.
And so it was only right: I gave Robert that bag of roving. It was down to maybe eight pounds by then. I knew it would go to the best possible use at his house. He told me later his surprise that it tended to make a heavy yarn, and I nodded that yes, it does–quite pleased that he’d started to spin it. Maybe to please me, to be able to tell me he had, but hey. It will wait patiently for its time. It did for me.
Jasmin got me talked into going in on a Crown Mountain Farms order with her on some hand dyed merino roving a few months ago, and when it didn’t look like I was going to get it spun, she spun the first pound for me. Wonderful gesture, gorgeous yarn. And you know? I had another pound still. It pulled at me.
Last week I sat down and got my first bobbin spun up, picking out most of the lighter areas of the roving first. Then after a few days, I did the second, picking out most of the brighter pink areas. The resulting skein is brighter and lighter than Jasmin’s, and the darker sections left in the bag mean I can’t match my one skein. But that’s okay. It got me started spinning again, it showed me I could, and that was mission enough.Â Jasmin, once again, I owe you. The yarn is, as always, a thicker one than the fingering to lace weights I generally knit these days; that may be a contributing reason why I haven’t spun much. I don’t have the feeling in my fingertips required for making a very fine yarn.
But. I am inordinately pleased with myself. It has just the very slightest degree of torque in the wet skein, a sign of my being out of practice, but not enough to impact the final fabric. It’s almost perfect.
I have some seacell/merino mill ends waiting for my drum carder and then my wheel. It’s awfully good to be back.
The one-skein Casbah Julia shawl is sized for the petite; two skeins and, say, the Constance pattern on size 11 needles would be a good choice for a larger person. I showed it off to Nathania and Sandi at Purlescence yesterday, and traded them my getting to hold Nathania’s baby for an hour for letting them put the shawl on display for now.
Stephanie tells of Stephen and WonderMike taking her to Millenium for dinner after the Maker Faire, and writes, “Go there now. After a month of hotel and airport food Stephen and Mike can both verify that I almost wept into my dinner out of sheer relief and joy.”
Amen amen and amen. (Having once lived off hotel food for a month, too.) I’m not a vegetarian, but if I could eat there every day, I very happily would be. We took our vegetarian daughter and vegan son-in-law there for dinner a year ago for his birthday, and oh goodness, I have never tasted such gloriously good food. Our daughter explained to us what “biodynamic” in the description was all about, the back-to-the-land intensity of mindful farming. We don’t drink, so I can’t say a thing about that part of their offerings, but I can tell you their biodynamic grape juice was to die for.
But I committed a faux pas there. Okay, let me back up. My son-in-law had created me a pair of knitting needles that were really nifty and a bit large, and I had given them a test drive in the passenger seat on the way up the freeway to Millenium, casting on just after we got in the car. Forty-five minutes north and time spent look for parking. I had Knitpicks Suri Dream going in a lace stitch, so that half of what I was knitting was air spaces. Very soft, very fluffy, very fast, very natural-fibers, very gratifying. I cast off as we searched for where to put the car, got the ending yarn worked in across the cast off stitches, and stuffed it in my purse quickly.
That dinner was like nothing I have ever tasted. I have been fervently wishing for quite some time that I could remember the name of that place, and when I clicked on Stephanie’s link just now and saw the picture, it was an instant rush of, that’s IT!!! YAY!!! THANK YOU!!!
The waitress we had was young, loved what she did, loved the food, loved her customers on the spot, and was just the best. Hey. I had a scarf. So when we were done eating, I called her over and said I had one more thing to ask her.
Yes? Was the food okay?
The very best! But here: (unzipping the purse): was this a color she liked?
Run grab a spatula out of the kitchen, she’s lost her jaw there, folks.
She was gobsmacked. “For ME!?… You knitted this? You knitted this ON THE WAY HERE?!?” It was so soft. It was a bright color, a red on the orange side, and it suited her perfectly. She loved it.
A moment later, as we waited for our check, I asked her back over. It had hit me: I was in a vegan restaurant, and I had just given an alpaca fur scarf to their employee. What if… Sheared from the happily living animal, but some vegans don’t go even for that. I asked her, “Did I just commit a faux pas? Will your boss have a fit if you wear that?”
She told me she had to tuck it away for now, but it was okay. She glanced nervously in the direction of the kitchen and added in a whisper that I didn’t hear but my family filled me in on after we were safely outside, “I’m wearing leather boots. Don’t tell my boss.”
Two-days the day’s
I just spent five minutes outside at 10:30 am, talking to the guy working on my roof, and my left eye sight was starting to get wonky. It’s a very good thing we didn’t try that walk to the Faire, however badly I wanted to.
This faster-version Julia shawl took about eight hours to do, and it’s a good pattern for when I only had a single skein of Casbah merino/cashmere/nylon 80/10/10, because it repeats every right-side row: so you can stop at whatever row you need to and still have it look right. Since it’s a superwash-treated yarn, I’m thinking of it as the Eight Hour Mom Surprise (I’m suddenly picturing Elizabeth Zimmerman fans pelting me with small leftover balls of yarn.) Celebrate the mom as well as the baby, with something that won’t get outgrown. I do feel every new human that enters the world ought to have something created just for them, but I also know how much it can lift a mom’s spirits to have something pretty but that doesn’t require babying–she’s got enough on her hands. Although I would put it in a pillowcase before throwing it in the wash, definitely, and no dryer.
Meantime, yonder elder son is flying home shortly, but the letter just beat him to it. I was shaking my head, going, how can they summon a kid at university in the middle of their studies, when they’re a thousand miles away? How can they require the kid fork over for the plane ticket? He told me the real reason he was flying home now was, he was coming home to play with his mom for the little time we could have together and to “drive you to your little yarn stores and take you to see your little knitting friends.” Kid. 6’9″ you may be, but, I used to be bigger than you…
The letter came. He had me open it and read it over the phone as he waited. Dear… You are hereby excused from jury duty.
I guess they agreed that sequestering him during his honeymoon was going to be a bad idea.
Till the next
Sunday May 04th 2008, 11:27 am
Filed under: Family
Thank you, everybody, for your kind words and thoughts. I could picture my doctors breathing a sigh of relief that I didn’t get out into that crowd after all. And yes, I could really relate to Lene’s comment: there are occasional days where I just want to demand, can’t I just chuck this lupus/Crohn’s thing? Just for one day?! I used to walk miles every day at a brisk clip for the sheer enjoyment of taking in the world on a fine day out there. I might have risked that walk from the parking anyway, if it hadn’t been for the worry and pain it would have caused my Richard. But I just couldn’t do that to him.
But hey. All the more reason to look forward to Stephanie’s next book. She sent me encouragement when I was going nuts during the final proofs stage of my own book; she’s such a good soul.
I woke up this morning and looked up at my sweetie, already out of bed, and announced, “I’m going to pout.”
“Because you didn’t get to see Stephanie?”
He hunched down so we were eye to eye: “Here, I’ll pout with you.” And he put on this little-boy face–you know, eyes narrowed down to here, lower lip stuck out to there, that made me burst out laughing. I’ve got me a good one.
I try to take good care of him, too.
(Added later: if you’re curious to see some of what was going on at the Maker Faire, these photos were taken by the family of commenter RobinM.Â I want to see that helicopter fly–with me in it.)
Pseudo Psock Picture
(Jasmin gifted me with yet another pair of socks as a total surprise Thursday. I didn’t get to hold Stephanie’s sock today, so Jasmin’s pair is filling in as a Pseudo Psock Picture. Note the artistic photographic rendering of an actually perfectly lovely pair of Blue Moon Socks That Rock socks. It amuses me.)
When your plans are castoff (why, yes, that is the Casbah Nathania waved at me Thursday night that I cast on late Friday afternoon in the faster-version Julia shawl pattern and am half done casting off Saturday evening–it should block out to about 20″ and tie in front quite nicely)
and are left adrift
what can you do but knit
to give someone else (not to mention me) a lift.
(I was SO going to finish that shawl during Stephanie’s talk and hand it to some random person at the Maker’s Faire and give them an impromptu lesson on shawl blocking in the spirit of the Faire. Whatever random passerby was wearing the right shade of teal, especially if they said something complimentary about knitting. If only the guard had been willing to move the gate to let me be dropped off near the entrance–although, with a thousand people or so stuck trying to go what was, for us, 1.1 miles in over two hours, I see his point at not letting just one person in. But no. I’ll just have to find some other victim.
I’m sure it’ll be tough.)
It was beyond me
Saturday May 03rd 2008, 12:56 pm
Filed under: Friends
Come ON dear, we have to GO, I tried to hurry him.
But in the end, we ended up leaving not that much later than I had been planning on anyway, and in the end, it would have made not one iota of difference either way.
Googlemaps notes a distance of 223 feet to merge onto Cancar Drive.Â That was the fast part of the trip: 20 minutes.Â I think half the population of the Bay Area was trying to go where we were trying to go.Â I was marvelling at all the cars, thinking, I haven’t seen traffic like this since the Loma Prieta earthquake at 5:04 pm, where everybody was trying to go home at once and none of the streetlights worked.Â Wow.
We creeped up to the faire’s parking lot and got waved on past.Â At four minutes to noon, I figured Stephanie was probably done–I dialed Jasmin from the passenger seat.
It rang, she picked it up, and I heard about five words. Stephanie over a mike.Â Then clapping, as Jasmin tried to make herself heard over it.Â She had an extra copy.Â She’d also talked to Stephanie beforehand, and Stephanie had told her how much she was looking forward to seeing me.Â Thank you, Jasmin, thank you, Stephanie, that helps very much!Â It really does.Â I needed that.
Judging by where people were walking from, I was going to have to walk a mile in the noontime sun to get back to where Stephanie was going to be signing after the now-finished talk, assuming we were able to get parked and walk back there before she was completely gone.Â Gotta watch that wonder publicist of hers.
Richard told me, “I’m not going to tell you what to do.Â I CAN’T tell you what to do.”Â (Heh.Â He’s onto me.)
And with that we bailed.Â The northbound freeway traffic facing us was well snarled up to that exit.Â We walked in the door at home, I glanced at the computer, and just at that moment it pinged.Â Email from Lene.Â Hoping I was having a good time there.
And that’s when I finally cried.