Stitches West day two
Saturday February 28th 2009, 8:35 pm
Filed under: Knit
Other than the newly-cast-on project to the right there that I’m knitting for a nurse, it’s been awhile since I knitted much in the way of reds; vivid reds and oranges make my balance funky, one of the weirder side effects of smacking my head hard twice against the headrest during my car accident.Â (Rob, if you read that, thank you again.)Â But I found myself drawn to the pinkish reds at Stitches, which are more my color anyway.
Sam and I went back today; I signed a few books, saw lots of friends, had a good time, and bought a very little yarn.Â Sam was patient.Â I missed a few friends I would dearly liked to have seen; next year, or hey, you guys, you can always drop by here on your ways back north.
I think I set a personal record for the least yarn bought at a Stitches event; the hospital bills tend to focus the mind. Two Silkie merino/silk skeins from Blue Moon that I bought yesterday, two in baby alpaca in “Foxglove” from Lisa Souza that I bought today.Â I couldn’t leave without those. I called Tina Newton this morning and told her I loved her “Love” colorway.
Someone with another hank of it in her hands had stopped me in the line and asked if I’d knit with the Silkie before; yes, on Lene‘s shawl.Â She asked if it stripes; I realized a half a heartbeat later that she was talking about socks, and I told her I knit shawls. Oh. We both laughed at ourselves over that, at tripping on our assumptions for a moment there: doesn’t everybody knit shawls? Doesn’t everybody knit socks?
Two and a half hours.Â Stitches West.Â Disneyland for knitters, totally filling the large Santa Clara Convention Center near here.Â I’m exhausted.Â (I know, we all knew that was going to happen.) But I’m so glad we went!
First, before we left, though, another box arrived on the doorstep: they were so tightly closed up that Sam’s first reaction when we opened the box, was, what are these?Â I told her, just give them a few hours. Â They’ll open up very fast.Â They’re daffodils.
They have already begun to and to perfume our family room.Â Two dozen flowers in a hefty vase from Kelli, a friend of mine at Purlescence, the friend who already gave me her old camera.Â Goodness! That LYS (that’s Local Yarn Store in knitter’s lingo, Don) attracts very giving people.
I debated what to wear this morning, and decided blue with Chris J’s socks to match would be just the thing. I hadn’t seen her in ages, and one could only hope.Â Which is how, it turned out, I got to show off to Chris J how happy my feet were and to watch her face light up, which she’d totally earned.
Sam and I of course kept running into lots of people I knew, and very occasionally one or two she did, like Karen Brayton-McFall of the old Rug and Yarn Hut.Â People stopping us and they and I throwing our arms around each other.Â Over and over and over.Â I was mentally thinking in the direction of some of the hospital personnel of two and a half weeks ago or more, you see why I couldn’t miss this?!Â You see why I had to go?!Â Some of the friends there I only get to see once a year, at Stitches.Â I might admit that well, there were a few times I was really glad this person or that was wearing a name tag.
You might forget a person’s name. But you never forget how they make you feel. I felt well loved, and they I’m sure did too.
Rosemary Hill of designsbyromi.com came up to me and tucked her heart shawl pin into my shawl and gave me a hug.Â I wondered out loud why she wasn’t wearing Muir (which I happen to particularly like); she was wearing jewelry she’d knitted,Â wire earrings (free patterns at the links) and a necklace, which makes sense, given the recent release of her book on the subject.
Gracie Larsen of the Lacy Knitters Guild asked me to come sign books and we agreed on 2:00 pm Saturday.
Sam used that as a carrot to get me to let go and give in to being tired and go home, on the grounds that I’d miss out totally on tomorrow if I overdid it today.Â “You’re more tired than you think you are.”Â Wise woman there.Â She was right; I knew as soon as I stopped moving I would be ready to crash.Â And so we came home.
And a good time was had by all.
Making up for yesterday
Thursday February 26th 2009, 4:27 pm
Filed under: Friends
My doctor and her nurse are both people who could teach that other nurse and would do so gently; they’re not in today, so I’ll call them again tomorrow.Â You all of course are right, I do need to speak up.
I woke up this morning rather in need of being cheered up, and it turned out the UPS man had already arrived bright and early: delivering chocolate. Lake Champlain chocolate, and I already knew how good it was because I’d been to their factory store near my daughter’s home in Vermont in November.Â Wow. Thank you, Amy!Â And such timing.Â Much appreciated.
Sam and I went off on an errand and came home to a shawl from Nancy, hanging on my doorknob, for me to gift to one of the people who’d kept me here.
I have just the person in mind. And I have nothing of my own ready to offer her. This is perfect, as are the colors.
Yesterday, while we were at the clinic, I saw a familiar face, someone who was also on their way to an appointment: it was one of the gastroenterologists who’d treated me in the hospital.Â We both did a double-take and then our faces lit up in delight just before I stepped onto an elevator.Â When my appointment was over, there she was again at the pharmacy with her husband.
And she was clearly in great pain.Â Having a hard time standing.Â He was supporting her and helping her and most of the time she sat while he dealt with the pharmacist.Â My heart went out to her; I reached into my purse, found the most perfect finger puppet–a bright, handknit, multicolored toucan bird–and Sam took it over to her for me.
Her face lit up, and she asked from across the room (there was a kid coughing near her, so I didn’t want to get closer) whether I’d made it? I told her I get them from a women’s cooperative in Peru.
Cool!Â She loved it, and it was fun to see her face brighten.
Her husband waved goodbye when they left, while I was wishing there were more I could do.
And now, thanks to Nancy, there is.Â Healing wishes from a person she knows and one she doesn’t, very representative of what I have received, now to be passed along to her.Â Perfect.
And then! The mail came. With a box I was not expecting.Â From Lene.Â That red box at the base of the flowers has on top of it a bar of handmade soap with a musical score imprinted in it.Â Sam laughed as I squinted hard at it and tapped it out on the piano; whoever chose the music chose well, and I’m struggling to remember the name of the tune or where I heard it or played it before.
Wow.Â Thank you, everyone!Â I’m pretty blown away.Â And I can’t wait to pass that feeling along to that doctor!
Don’t read if you’re squeamish
Wednesday February 25th 2009, 9:23 pm
Filed under: Life
Here’s the picture of Jasmin’s first gift of six. More pics later.Â I’m throwing in one of the latest amaryllis to open up because it was a day that needed the distraction of pretty flowers.
One of the side effects of wearing hearing aids is it seems like the ears are always trying to flush these foreign objects out, so the wax tends to really build up. Which, when you’re deaf enough already, is a problem.Â I’ve had the left ear plugged up for awhile, and I was astonished and delighted at the astuteness of one doctor (I think he was a resident), while I was at Stanford, who told a fellow surgeon to speak closer to my right side, that I could hear better there. I had told nobody, and here he’d figured it out! Good for him–that level of attentiveness on his part will serve him well as he goes forward.
My family practitioner has been off every time I’ve called for an appointment, but with Stitches so close, and given how noisy the packed convention center always is, I didn’t want to put it off any longer.Â Today I simply went with whoever was available, thinking, it’s just earwax, I mean, c’mon.
The nurse I got had clearly only ever been given the most basic instructions. She didn’t prep the ear with softener and wait and then rinse, she simply took her squeegee bottle and proceeded to try to carve Mount Rushmore out of the inside of my face.Â Not realizing that when the patient is in that much pain, you’re not doing it right.Â I made her stop after I suddenly had what must have been blood going clear down my eustachian tube.
Well! Look! The wax is all gone now, sure, we can stop!
The doctor came in after the nurse left, was horrified when she looked, and gave me Cipro drops and told me emphatically to come back if that didn’t do the job. At home, I crashed and slept for hours.
I can’t wear that hearing aid till things heal up somewhat.Â Friday, though, I will, regardless.
I’ve been debating endlessly with myself whether I should mention the episode to my own doctor, not wanting to scold someone who didn’t know her job better but definitely wanting her to know better how to do it for the sake of the next patient.Â Who, I assure you, will not be me.
I went for my liver scan early this morning and got sent home.Â At three and a half weeks, my surgery was too recent for the metal stapling inside not to be at risk from the MRI machine. They told me it needed more time for scar tissue to grow to hold it in place. There’s a chance of needing a second surgery to get rid of more tissue in a few months; let’s not up the odds of it.
When I came home, Richard astonished me by being up, getting dressed, and announcing he was off to work now.Â Wow.Â He *does* feel better–yay!Â He just arrived home again, needing those pain pills now, but at least he was able to get some in-person time in and he can telecommute from here.Â Having seen him the last three days, I am gobsmacked at how well he’s doing.Â Wow, and my thank you for the prayers said and the Thinking Good Thoughts in our direction.Â (I very much believe God counts those too.)
Last night, while we were eating dinner, the doorbell rang: it was Kaye from Purlescence. I hadn’t gone to Knit Night last Thursday because people there had colds, (they emailed me to warn me) and Jasmin had brought more of her handknit socks for me while I wasn’t there. So Kaye was bringing them to me.Â Wow. I definitely do not live on her way home; how many LYSOs…Â And how many people give away handknit socks like that!Â Thank you, both of you!
I laid out the bounty and Sam admired.Â I told her it wasn’t fair for me to have all these Jasmin socks and her none, particularly since she lives where warm wool socks are such an essential in the snow anyway. In the end, of the four pairs and the Jasmin socks I already owned, I was able to talk Sam into claiming three, though she could have taken more, and she very proudly showed off her happy feet this morning.
My feet were already beJasmined too.
When it rains
Sunday February 22nd 2009, 1:23 pm
Filed under: Family
I didn’t blog this yesterday because I wanted to know the outcome first, or at least more of it.
Yesterday morning I looked at my husband and told him, Call the doctor.
He shrugged me off.
What is it with men and calling doctors?
An hour later: Call.The.Doctor.Â Or maybe I will if you don’t?Â He let me hand him the phone at that. An hour later, he handed it back, not having called, and I thought, well, I can’t make him.
Finally, about 2 pm, he suddenly appeared in the hallway in his bathrobe and croaked, “Urgent Care!” I lightly touched his back as I answered him, and he winced hard.Â “Is it your kidneys?” I asked him.Â Sam hurriedly hustled him out the door, both of them telling me to stay home and not be exposed to all the things that would be coming through the doors at the clinic. They were right, but I didn’t like it.
So all I could do was wait for the phone to ring; Sam called before they did the CT scan.
They got home hours later.Â It was a kidney stone, lodged up where they couldn’t do the ultrasound treatment on it, at least not yet; tomorrow he sees the specialist.Â The IV they gave him with morphine made it so he came home feeling a whole lot better than when he left, and he’s to stay on morphine till he gets to the doctor.
My mom mentioned to me that she and Richard (with Richard later confirming it was true for him, too) had spent all that time watching over me in the hospital and had not had their usual amount to drink while they did so; only during lunch and dinner at the hospital cafeteria.Â Here people were telling me I was going to have to drink a lot more often once they sent me home to keep from getting kidney stones, because of being an ileostomy patient, but Mom and Richard didn’t think to make sure they got enough themselves.Â Goodness.Â Poor guy.
I can’t tell you how glad we are that Sam’s here! Can you imagine me trying to drive him to the clinic with that right leg of mine?Â No way.Â I definitely have incentive now to work on strengthening those muscles. You never know, and she’s not staying here forever.
Hopefully they won’t have to do surgery on him and this too shall pass.
Have some hot chocolate
What I didn’t mention yesterday was, Sam offered to take me to Coupa Cafe to celebrate my being able to eat chocolate right after my Dr. R. appointment on Wednesday, and I just wasn’t up to it; I went home and crashed.Â So when she went out with an old high school girlfriend in the evening, she came home with a cup of it for me anyway because she wanted me not to miss out.
Good stuff!Â And then I really wanted to go there.Â Friday, going off to see the surgeon, I was able to swing my right leg into the car without having to pick it up and toss it over for the first time in forever.Â I can’t tell you how good that felt.Â Then my surgeon was exclaiming at how well I looked as I thanked her for making that possible.
That did it. I was taking Sam to Coupa Cafe on the way home to gift her back and to celebrate.
She found a parking space in the next block and across the busiest street in downtown.Â Now, just a few days earlier I could never have done this, but I made it across that street in the time of the walk signal.Â (Defensively, with a smile, eyeballing the impatient driver halfway in the crosswalk who’d nearly run the light and who looked ready to gun it when it changed, ready or not.)Â When I told my legs to move they actually did, even if the steps weren’t as big as I told them to do.
We walked up the block, got ourselves a table, and had a grand old time.Â A little mango mousse cake may have been involved too.Â (I just now finished it off.)
My knitting still feels slow and awkward, but I’m up to being able to do 40 minutes’ worth at a stretch now.Â And I am slowly, gradually turning back into being human.Â Stitches West next Friday afternoon, and hopefully Saturday too, here I come!
p.s. Just for fun: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/1151ap_obama_basketball_parents.html The Obamas went to go watch their daughter play basketball at the elementary school my husband went to.Â I like that!
That’s been my phrase for it.Â It was the yahoo KnitTalk group that started using my name as a verb, but drive-by knitting was always my phrase for it.
I like the responses in the comments to Dad’s suggestions, and thank you. The easiest thing to do would be to set up a Ravelry place for people to share stories, there already being a place for pictures of projects and yarns there, although that excludes the non-Ravelry subscribers.Â The stories are what inspire, they’re what help get people going, and I’d go for any way to make that happen, Ravelry or however.
Meantime, I got driven past, myself: a turtle showed up in the mail today, a water turtle to match my shawl pattern, one could say, because Diana felted it.Â I love the cheerful colors.Â Thank you!
I saw my surgeon this morning, and she was highly pleased at my progress and at the condition of my stoma and incision.Â But just seeing me looking my normal self, cheerful and no longer a lump in a bed–it made her day. This is why she does what she does. To make people healthy again.
I thanked her for saving my life, and she was a bit abashed for a moment–but she had, and she knew it and I knew it.Â She had admired my book in the hospital, so next I gave her a copy with that thank you for my saving my life there in the inscription.Â Put it in writing.Â Keep it for always. Know that the work you do and the way you go about it, visiting your patients every day before and after, is important, dear woman.Â I asked her to thank her husband for loaning her to me for all that time she spent on me, which was considerable.
I did feel I had to explain to her as I stumbled trying to get up on the exam table that in real life, I use a cane for my balance.Â (I don’t think she’d noticed it against the wall)Â because of that car accident way back when.
Anyway. Jennie and I celebrated afterwards by going to Coupa Cafe downtown.Â (I wish their site included the gorgeous long photo on the wall of the farm.)Â This is a well-loved local hole-in-the-wall bringing Venezualan coffee and cacao beans directly from farm to here.Â Theirs is seriously good stuff (I’m told the coffee is too) and the fact that we actually got a table almost right away was highly unusual.Â If you ever want to celebrate being able to eat chocolate, this is definitely the place to do it.
And celebrate we did.Â To life!
My dad’s blog post
I talked to my Dad on the phone today. Remember when he said he had an idea for knitters?Â He’d written it up and he wanted to know if I would let it be a blog post here.Â I said sure, Dad–and then he made me absolutely promise not to touch it, not to edit a single word.
Ooookayyyy…Â You know you’re in trouble when…Â I promised.
Oh, and Dad? The last time I saw Grandmother Jeppson before she passed, I was admiring the afghans she’d made and wishing I had the patience someday to knit a project that big.
I think she’d be pleased.
Now, being the daughter, I think I’m nowhere quite near as famous as Dad thinks I am, nor that I deserve to be.Â I also squirm when people describe my name as a verb the way he’s referring to.Â There are many knitters more generous than I.Â I don’t give things away to be on record; I do it for the selfish reason that it makes me feel wonderful, not to mention the person I’ve knit for.Â I also tend to knit scarves or the like when I don’t know the person well: it’s a small enough project that if they’re not thrilled to the bone, it’s okay, it didn’t take me six months to do.Â But the goodwill in the knitting is just the same, large project or small, and I certainly do a fair number of large projects to give as well.
All that said, I’ll sit down, be quiet, and let Dad have his say:
Five or six years ago while watching Alison knit something she intended to give away I suggested that she make a log of what she had knitted and to whom she had given it.Â I thought it would make an interesting record. She moaned, saying she could not remember many of them. We finally concluded she probably had given away 200 of her wares. I would not be surprised if the total now came closer to 500. She may wish to correct these figures.
Whatever the number, Alison has become so internationally known for knitting things which she could give to special, and usually unsuspecting, people that her name has become a verb describing the act. â€œTo Alison someone.â€ The harrowing attack of Crohnâ€™s from which she is recovering has demonstrated how much she is admired and loved.
Knitting something and giving it to an unsuspecting person is an act of kindness that can have wonderful, extensive, and long-lasting repercussions. The practice deserves encouragement. I would like to suggest to followers of spindyeknit, and to others as the word is spread, a means of fostering this goodness.
I suggest the creatingâ€“either as merely an informal grouping, or later as a legal entityâ€“of The Alison Hyde Knitters Gifts Foundation. It could work along three different lines or levels.
1. It would simply be a database. Knitters would be encouraged to Alison someoneâ€“and whenever possible send to the database a photo of the object, the story behind the gift, the name of knitter/giver, and something about the recipient (just described, not necessarily named). As this information accumulates in a fashion that anyone can access, the practice will spread. This will likely generate additional comradery among knitters.
2. Knitters (or others) who have surplus yarn can list it on the database as something they will give to any recipient who will promise to knit the yarn into something she/he will give away. Recipients might be expected to pay incoming postage and sign some sort of pledge form.
3.Â In its ultimate possible development, yarn producers or importers who have a surplus product might donate it to the Foundation for distribution as in No. 2 above. At this level the Foundation probably would need to be legally established as a charitable entity so that major donors would be motivated by some tax benefit. Perhaps there is a knitter or a spouse who could handle this. Also, if the Foundation develops to this stage it probably will need to do a little fund raising to cover expenses.
I am not a knitter, although I have been the nationâ€™s foremost expert on modern, handwoven French tapestries for many years. But my mother was a knitter, and maybe that gene passed to Alison. During World War II, the entire country was mobilized..Â Every community had volunteer projects to help the war effort in some fashion. We lived in Carson City, Nevada, which, though the state capital, had only about 3,000 people. My parents had three sons, no daughters. My oldest brother, Robert, was the supply officer on the Petroff Bay, a pocket aircraft carrier which fought in every major pacific battle of the last two years of the war, including the brutal Battle of Leyte Gulf. My next brother, Richard, although he is in the history books as Morris, was in the Air Corps and used to write our parents not to worry about him because a few weeks after he got overseas the war would be over. No one believed that. Turned out Richard was the weapons officer
on the Enola Gay who armed the atom bomb and was the last person to touch it. I quit high school to volunteer in the Army Specialized Training Program and was training to become a combat engineer.
One of the volunteer projects in Carson City was a band of knitters under the Red Cross. Iâ€™ll let my mother tell of it, as she wrote afterwards in her life story.
â€œ….the war years brought so much worry and heart aches to parents of sons. I was really resentful when (Lawrenceâ€™s) call cameâ€“he was 17. We already had sent our other two sons and he seemed too young to leave home. When we put him on the bus for Pasadena and it pulled away it was almost more than I could bear.
â€œJust before and during the war I was in turn knitting chairman and County Production Chairman of the Red Cross. We produced an unbelievable amount of hospital garments, sweaters, kits, etc., during this period. I spent an average of five hours a day, six days a week for over two years in this particular serviceâ€“feeling that if I worked hard enough maybe the war would end sooner and my sons would come home.â€
So I am very sympathetic to knitters and aware of the substantial good they can do.
â€”Lawrence Jeppson, Alisonâ€™s Dad.
Gotta love the guy
So I went in for a post-hospital visit to my Dr. R.Â Many things to go over. An MRI to order just to make sure that that liver is recovered and fine now that the inflamed colon is no longer bothering it.
Before we ended I told him I had to ask him one perhaps silly question.
The hospital had told me that I was not allowed to eat chocolate; could I finally have my morning mug of hot cocoa now?
He got indignant and sputtered, “Where do they come UP with these…! YES have your mug, go have some chocolate!” Go enjoy!
My kind of doctoring.Â You know what I did first thing to celebrate when I got home from the appointment.Â And it surprised me: I’d forgotten what it tasted like, I honestly did.
I’ll have fun getting re-acquainted.
February amaryllises (so far)
I need to work on those leg muscles a little more. I got down to snap these photos and couldn’t get back up off the floor by myself, which surprised me.Â I keep thinking I’m more recovered than that.Â I finally scooted over to a chair and table in the kitchen and pulled myself up–while reminding myself I couldn’t have done that at all before.Â One week ago was the day I came home, and I had to have help even getting up out of a chair most of the time, much less climbing up into one.Â Where my rear landed on the bed was where it was going to be for the night, with me having to lift my legs over and up with my arms.Â I don’t have to do that now.Â Every day there’s a little more progress made, and the “hey I can DO that now!” realizations that keep coming are very cheering.
I needed to take these photos. The soft appleblossom is a gift from Rena, my knitswap pal; the deep red, a gift from my father.Â Thank you, Dad! Thank you, Rena!
My daughter Sam has been doing the most wonderful job of helping out.Â She is right there for me, anticipating when I need to be drinking a little more to keep hydrated, something I need to watch, helping me decipher what the ostomy supplier on the phone is saying, straightening out my kitchen shelves and working hard.Â And how many moms get one-on-one time like this with their married child?
My daughter-in-law’s mom Ann stopped by today with some elegant soaps, a bouquet of white tulips, and a hug to make my day.Â Her dad had surgery today so she was in town, and I wish him a speedy recovery.
As always, she was thinking of others.Â And I am the lucky recipient of that.Â Wow.
Sheila Ernst has been ill herself and yet thought outside herself as well and surprised me with a beautiful pair of her handmade glass circulars, in colors I love (“Blue Moon”), blue running to gold and green and in the size, 9, she knew I use more than any other in my shawl knitting.Â Some handblown glass stitch markers were in the package too.
And then there’s all the support from all of you.Â I feel well loved.Â How could I not heal quickly?
Sunday February 15th 2009, 4:59 pm
Filed under: Friends
This is the beautiful shawl Mary surprised me with Thursday night.Â I did finally find a camera, and of course it was right in plain sight. It had just enough battery power to shoot the one thing I most needed photographed, and then, to keep me humble, that was all it was going to do for the day.
My house is chilly and I find myself folding this in half and putting it over my shoulders constantly while at my favorite knitting and reading perch here.
Meantime, I finally picked up the needles last night and gave it a try. I cast on 27 for that green scarf–the scarf idea won out–and had to rest after two rows.Â Then again after a few more. But I found myself picking up steam, going from wow size 9 needles feel big in my hands, to having it begin to feel natural and normal again. It felt so good to actually start to create what I’d been envisioning so long and to anticipate being well enough to walk clear across the hospital to where its recipient works.
Sam and my husband came home from shopping and found me sitting there with a growing piece of knitting in my hands.Â It was fun to see their faces light up in delight.Â They were thrilled.Â Me too.Â Me too.
While snug and warm in my shawl and under my Medicine Blanket (skip down to the third paragraph, and Robert, I hope to see you at Stitches) and another afghan made by my South Bay Knitters friends that they surprised me with as a congratulations when my book got published.
And life is good.Â Cold around here–I badly need to gain some weight back and stop losing it–but my friends are taking good care of keeping me warmed.
The other thing is…
When I was at Purlescence Thursday night, I showed them some of the yarns and the hat and Jasmin’s cashmere mitts that they’d all gifted me with in a big basket left on my doorstep right before I went into the hospital.Â Jasmin’s homegrown oranges were at the bottom.
I told them that with those yarns, they’d given me hope and a sense of looking to the future while things were at their worst: because with each new nurse that came into my hospital room, I would think, ooh, (formerly) No-Blog-Rachel’s Dream Baby would look so good on her!Â The Moobui would look so good on that one! Ooh, Mari’s Lisa Souza yarn would be perfect for me to knit for her!
I had over 40 nurses, and most of them I would knit for in a heartbeat and I dearly wanted to.Â More than I could ever do what I wish I could do for them.
But that sense of anticipation, that desire to knit for them to tell them thank you, having yarn that was shared with me to make me feel better with and wanting to use it to pass the goodwill along–it did make me feel better. It helped get me through it all.
And I told each nurse thank you every chance I got. That much, at least, I could reliably do.
(Yeah, the cameras are still hiding out under the medical supplies or some such. Organizing is for a little later in the process.)