A song sung in F major
Sunday November 15th 2009, 3:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

I knew I should have taken a photo, but I just never got around to it. Okay, squint a little and picture this but with  the colors more intense.

I had a lace scarf–more a stole–that I’d knit out of some of Lisa Souza’s Mardi Gras colorway, as bright and lively and cheerful as the name.  All finished, but tucked away, waiting for its moment. I thought I had plans for it–but it just wouldn’t go.  As usual, my yarn was the boss of me.  I finished it probably a year ago.

Today for the first time, I put it on and wore it to church.

F. was one of the speakers.  F.  was quite new to this whole speaking in front of a large crowd thing, and when he stood up and looked at his audience, he was nervous and a bit overwhelmed at first and soon turned to the bishop, who is bilingual, asking for help.  Though F. speaks English, it doesn’t come as fluently nor as easily as he’d like.

Sure, glad to help, and the bishop stood up next to him–and then grinned, no no, come back up to the mic, you first.

F. spoke from the heart, and we watched the nervousness simply melt away as he did so.  There were a few times where the bishop started to translate and F. went, wait, say (strings of Spanish followed). They laughed and continued.  There was one time F. spoke, the bishop started, F. went wait, this too, and they kind of tripped all over each other verbally, laughing some more.

And in the process, the whole language difficulty thing became simply a means for the Spirit of love to enter in and bless the whole congregation listening and watching them.  An arm went around a shoulder. And again, in delight.  Love speaks in all languages and it speaks without mistranslation.  It simply Is. And it was there.

At the end of the services, I saw F.’s wife and there was no longer any question: I knew.  I went up to her and told her, my friend Lisa dyed this yarn for me, I knitted this, but I just spent the whole time thinking it needs to go where it most belongs…

…As I took it off me and wrapped it around her.  Just her colors, I saw, pleased, just perfect on her–as she gasped in surprise and delight.

I’m half deaf, I don’t speak Spanish, I’ve never really had a conversation with her, or at least not one that I was very successful at participating in, just many a smile and quiet nod shared between us since I met them–but when words are not enough, Love enters in just the same.

Translating perfectly.

And it flickers, too
Saturday November 14th 2009, 3:02 pm
Filed under: Family

He surprised me this morning with his new toy.   You know you’re married to a geek when…

The problem (there was a problem, dear? Okay, I suppose…) is solved. There will be no fire hazard when we put out the glass Noel tea-light holders this upcoming season (but no, I’m not digging out the Christmas boxes from the garage yet for their photo op) –just blow the light out.

Now blow on it again (see those three handy little holes at the top, dear?) for it to come back on.

Who *thinks* of these things! Delightful creativity and it doesn’t even involve yarn or musical instruments!

Bulbs to…
Friday November 13th 2009, 11:14 am
Filed under: Amaryllis

I’ve been a little discouraged at how tired it makes me to do things I think should be simple, and last night I was too wiped to post.

Mostly because I’d finally hauled the water out, gallon by gallon, to break dormancy at last on my waiting amaryllises yesterday.

A little time, a little perspective, a little browsing through old photos (this being one of the most fun) of my favorite flowers.

Now time for a little yarn.

Rooster rocks on
Wednesday November 11th 2009, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Knit,Politics

The Rooster is rocking on. Slowly but surely, despite a day of a thousand distractions and things needing doing. And by the way, Mr. Stewart? Nice catch.  (Re that link: 1. Fox is unembarrassable. 2. Our President honoring our veterans. 3. The Muppets singing “Ode to Joy” in meep meeps, and a school in Massachusetts that has banned the nefarious word “meep.” Sometimes you can’t make this stuff up.)

Bryan Jeppson
Tuesday November 10th 2009, 9:11 pm
Filed under: Family,Non-Knitting

Yesterday, after part of our kids’ old bunk bed got picked up as a nice wooden bedframe for someone else, the last piece to go out the door, I was reminiscing to my daughter about the bunk beds we had in our family when I was a kid.

There were two, identical, one in the boys’ room and one in the younger girls’ room (meaning mine.)  There was the bedframe, and then there were wooden slats (not that those guitar necks reminded me of them or anything), connected by a fabric connector piece to either side, like sets of thick Venetian blinds running the length under the mattresses.

Our older brother, when he got mad, would run down the stairs to their room, lie on his lower bunk, and kick upwards at those slats.

Which is why one night Bryan rolled over in his sleep and innocently fell down on his big brother who was out cold below him.  Justice was served.

…That’s the thing about sisters, they tell tales on you all your life, you can never get away from it. Heh.

SO.  (Ahem.)

Bryan was at a show last week, selling his handmade guitars, and I just wanted to show him off a bit. Said the justifiably very proud older sister. He does *nice* work.

London’s water
Monday November 09th 2009, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Knit

Yeah, yeah, (just another shawl).

And it’s a pretty color, and yes, that Casbah is so soft, buuuut, really, it’s getting in the way of that Rooster Rock I want to dive into.

I remember reading a Jack London story I pulled out of the Cabin John Jr High library in 7th grade that really made no sense to me: two characters, one trying to re-create for his friend his memory of the most perfect drink ever.

London was an alcoholic, which I didn’t know then nor would I have known much about anyway, so it made no sense to me that the climax of the story was when they realized that the magic missing ingredient, the thing that had made the original drink what it had been, the thing so unknown but so sought after, was the addition of some–


To which my reaction was such a befuddled “Huh?” that I’ve never forgotten it.


Here we have this lace addict.  Trying to re-create, more or less, the shawl she made for her friend Robin back home in Bethesda.

Here we have the lump I was left with when I was pretty much out of yarn, just 12 g left. And I couldn’t help but think, eh.

And then (after I took it off the uncovered futon, don’t worry) …I added water.

I can’t show you the recipe yet, but I tell you, the moment I stepped back and finally looked at that finished merino and cashmere lacework spread out felt absolutely magical.

What it’s all about
Sunday November 08th 2009, 3:33 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

There being no paid clergy in the Mormon Church, who the speakers are varies every week. We take turns sharing of our faith and our lives lived by that faith.

And today, one of the speakers was my husband, and one was Marguerite. She stood there with her hair grown back in, gorgeous as ever, as composed as ever… And, I would say, even more so now.

She mentioned what a friend of hers had told her while she was so very ill with her breast cancer:  “I don’t know what to say or do to convey how much you mean to me. I’m on unfamiliar territory.”

Simply saying it was enough.  Marguerite will never forget it.  And now, neither will I.

Slow on the uptake
Saturday November 07th 2009, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Family

I find I want to just stare at it.

I knew it, I mean, I really did. But it wasn’t till they were actually in there that it truly hit me.

My blocking space is gone.

Well, no, not really, but yes, it is. The way I did things is over.  No more climbing over the two side-by-side twins in Sam’s old room with my wires and damp lace projects, trying to smooth things out at the line between the two beds.

The next stage in empty nesting is that we finally ditched the twins for queen futons for both older kids’ rooms.  We bought a model with no arms  because queen size is 80″ long and our older son is 81″ long–those feet have to have somewhere to stretch.

They were delivered today.  The cover for Sam’s is on backorder, though, and I don’t dare touch that mattress till it’s safely tucked away inside it.  And hers is the room where I usually block my projects.

I could, of course, pull out this one, put the mattress pad and a sheet over it and block away to my heart’s content.

But so far I haven’t quite been able to. (It’s only been a few hours, I’m sure I’ll break me in on the idea fast enough, give me time, knitting desperation should set in shortly if that cover doesn’t hurry up. I do have just a few more rows to go on the shawl.)

I keep finding myself standing in the doorway of that one finished futon, staring.

I am really, really pleased.  Christmastime and visiting children here we come! Yay!

But not the purple buffalo
Friday November 06th 2009, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Knit,LYS

Last night at Purlescence, I got to the end of a long row on the shawl I was working on and didn’t want to start another before quitting time; a good excuse to browse the shop a bit.

There was some Blue Moon Peru I’d seen before that I’d never really paid much attention to.  I was going to buy laceweight, and at 500 yards/8 oz, this was anything but.  Yeah, I did like that blues skein at the front, but that Rooster Rock–what was it about it?  It kept leaping into my hands–cautiously, because there were little things right there to snag that one skein in its spot if I weren’t careful.

Maybe being protective of the yarn contributed to the feeling. Dunno. Three times I picked it up, unsnagging it gently from the display case; twice I put it back.  That heavier stuff was just not what I had come for.  The blue one, I held it out in the light just once, eh, nah, even though I quite liked its denimness.  There–I put them both behind me and went and found the completely different yarn I thought I wanted, a buffalo blend in purple, around the corner. And that was that.

And yet.

I went back.


I finally held one skein in each hand, the purple this and the Rooster Rock that. And thought, I quite like this (glancing at the left hand.)   And it’s in a color I love.  But *this* makes me feel deliciously, wonderfully happy (glancing at the Rooster Rock.)  I looked at the colors, trying to figure out how that could possibly be so.

It’s not the gauge I wanted to work with.  That bit of graygreen in one area I would never have chosen, although I like the rusts and the earthy purples.  It IS deliciously soft; but ohmygoodness, so was that buffalo, most emphatically.

All I know is, that skein has nothing to do with me. It has everything to do with…I have not a clue who yet.  But it wanted to dance for joy in my hands in sheer anticipation, enough to part me from the price of it, and I thought of Marguerite’s cashmere.  (She is doing well now, thanks.)

And now I want to run go knit it up so I will be ready–again–to find out why at the right moment.

Just let me go quick finish up this last bit of Casbah Topaz first….

Not DPT’ized
Thursday November 05th 2009, 6:13 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

The rest of the story.

Memories: of being first-time parents, scared, holding our very, very sick six-month-old, trying desperately to get her fever down.  Nighttime.  On the phone with the doctor, sorry to bother him, grateful that he was as concerned as we were. The cool-but-not-cold bath on his advice, after Tylenol proved useless, that brought her down to 104 from 105.4, but that temp just refused to budge more than that.

She’d been given her DPT shot that day.

There are people who wonder if their kids will react to their shots, and for most, they learn there’s nothing to worry about.  (Please: there will not be a debate here about the alleged autism thing.  I have too much of a scientific background to give it any credence.) We were one of the unlucky few for whom the DPT was actually a problem.  The pediatrician had no doubt it was the Pertussis part of the shot at fault, and insisted she not be given the full trio again.

So, K-12, we knew that if any other child at her school should test positive for whooping cough, our kid was the one who was going to be isolated at home by order of the school district (and common sense). Okay; you do what you have to do.

Which is why when our youngest was born, the Stanford researcher who knocked tentatively on my maternity-ward door in ’88 was surprised at how fast I said yes when she asked if we were interested in enrolling him in a study of a new, acellular DPT shot after she explained that, so far, two million Japanese two-year-olds had been given it without one single reaction ever.  But it had never been given to infants.  Did we want in?

Heck YEAH!!!

That acellular vaccine is now the standard shot.  It has meant that there is less genetic material for any child to hyper-react to like ours did, while still being immunized.

You’re welcome. And thank you for providing herd immunity for our oldest in return.

After all those years of knowing there were all these what-ifs…

Thank goodness for the astute doctor who recognized a rare disease.  And for the fact that it’s safer in adults.

Whooping cough in one’s late 20’s.

Now the trick is for her not to get swine flu on top of it.

We older ones were all brides and grooms that day too
Wednesday November 04th 2009, 9:42 pm
Filed under: Family

I finally admitted it: Dude. I’m sorry, but I *hate* your screensaver, and I turn off your monitor every time it looks like you’re not coming right back. (His being next to mine).

Oh! Why didn’t you say so? What would you like?

Anything else.

Oh, that’s specific.

He fiddled around with things a bit while I was off elsewhere, and when I came back, there were saved photos fading in and out: really good close-ups he’d taken of the birds at the feeder, mixed here and there with–our son’s wedding pictures from last year!

I tell you. If I sit and knit now, it’s like our own little silent movie going on, grabbing my eyes and enticing me to stay over there watching, knitting away. So that’s how those finches angle to a different direction midflight faster than I can see!  And to the folks at Handmaiden? You did a really, really nice job matching the dye on your Camelspin yarn to my dress.  Thank you all over again.

You may now kiss the bride at the reception…  Michelle exclaiming, “I have NEVER seen my mother and father dancing before!”  Not even at our own, hon, not even at our own. But we did that day.  There’s Uncle Marc and his wife, as happy as newlyweds themselves, as we all were that day.  (We had no idea that a month later…) Made me cry.  I am so eternally glad they came. If you have a chance to get together with family, GO. Tell them you love them. Make it worthwhile.  GO.

(My favorite double-stalked amaryllis just popped on the screen! Pardon me, I need to go back over there to my needles where my eyes aren’t so busy.

Oh, look at those two holding hands, silhouetted by the sun, their shining rings moments old. I think my husband totally won in the Anything Else category.)

Chocolate to the rescue
Wednesday November 04th 2009, 12:56 am
Filed under: Family,Knit

No ‘Net.

No Michelle’s Special hot cocoa.

I had to start moving all my yarn and knitting out of one of the kids’ bedrooms.  Okay, let that sink in a moment.  ALL. MY. YARN. and ALL. MY. PROJECTS of the last five years, the ziplocs growing steadily with the emptying nest (and perhaps a book or so might have played a part?)  There is new furniture going in that room being delivered Saturday and everything has to come out–and I can’t just toss it all in the other unused kid’s bedroom, because the same thing’s happening in there. Closets? (Have you SEEN my stash?!)

And Michelle is sick and wasn’t up to helping.

Then we got a message from another of our children and she is–well, let’s just say she’s sick, because she is, but she went for the drama. (No, we don’t know anybody like that.)

And I was thinking how very petty it was to be thinking, I’m not even getting my mug of Michelle’s Super Special Better Than Anything (except Coupa Cafe’s) Hot Cocoa nor even my emails nor online friends to escape to for a moment. I did knit. I knit a lot. While thinking, since it was going to be one of those days anyway, that you know, I really should put this down and work on that room more, tired or no tired, but if I’m going to be knitting anyway, I really should be working on such-and-such for so-and-so rather than insisting on finishing this.  I had to keep reminding myself to just *look* at the yarn in my hands: steadily, calmly, steadily, growing, becoming what it needs to be.

To let that be enough for this moment as I put my feet up.  Everything will be okay. And I knew that. (It’s not *that* dramatic.)

Well, obviously now, my ‘Net’s back up.  My sweet Michelle decided I needed the cheering-up of some of her world’s best soy- (but you can’t tell) -based intense hot cocoa, and nobody can make it like her, so she made me some after all. (I’d long since made my own, but hers is better.)  She’s such a sweetie.

Chocolate to the rescue.  Via the post office, too, when it opens tomorrow: closest thing to a hug and chicken soup I can send my vegetarian.

Fingerpuppet sources
Monday November 02nd 2009, 11:26 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

Lots of shorter private answers, time to write a public one.  The fingerpuppets: I originally discovered their existence at a booth at Stitches West, years ago, when I bought a little penguin and put it on the joystick of my electric chair that I use for long days out. I found it was at eye level to and made me instant friends with every little kid being dragged around by their moms, and I ended up going back and buying more.

I later googled, found my own bulk supplier, and ordered directly from Peru–but that website has since disappeared. (I’m sure there are others now.)

So these days I take the easy way out and order them via Ebay.  Here‘s one seller, 20 for $20, free shipping, or he’s also got 50 for $34. Or here, 50 wool ones for $38.99 including shipping.  Some sellers will let you specify what type you want–farm animals, llamas, fish, people–some won’t. If you don’t want Decembery-specific ones right now, do say so.

Although, remember my dad’s axiom and be careful how you state your preferences: people remember the negative item only out of the negative request. He once ordered me a birthday cake in “anything but chocolate” while making reservations for a surprise party, and all the restaurant remembered was that lovely word “chocolate.” I got THE most glorious, the most intensely chocolatey cake my 13-year-old self could possibly have hoped for. I was in heaven.

Dad, whose allergy to the stuff was why we didn’t have it around the house, was not amused. At the time.

Back to the puppets.  The last time I bought them, it was a seller in Peru for whom I was his fifth Ebay sale. Unfortunately, his second and third sales went to someone who didn’t understand that the guy was in a third world country and mail might occasionally go at llama pace down there; they negatively rated him over a three-week delivery time, and he disappeared shortly after. Which is a shame; $24 for 100 plus $12 shipping?  Well worth the wait; I keep hoping he’ll pop back up again somehow (or I could certainly try googling again).

At any of those prices, one of those finger puppets is a heck of a lot cheaper than, say, paying the $4 bridge toll over the San Francisco Bay for the guy driving behind you.

Which is great fun and highly recommended too.  Cheap thrills.  I love’em.

Chuck or treat
Sunday November 01st 2009, 8:14 pm
Filed under: Non-Knitting,Wildlife

Nobody told the British Mormon missionary, carving his first pumpkin, that you’re supposed to cut the top off going at an angle so it won’t fall in on itself when you’re done–so his jack o’lantern ended up with a hat on its bald head, a pumpkin with a costume.  (And he did an impressive job making an expressive face, but I don’t have a picture–you’ll just have to take it on faith.)

The hubby bought candy. So did I. Oops. Total number of small children: about 10. Medium-sized children: 1.  “Take some more” can only be repeated so many times and be gotten away with when the child’s mom or dad is standing right there knowing full well what you’re up to: better your fight with yourselves than ours with our kids, was the unspoken smiling conversation.

Where are the towering greedy teenagers in goofy outfits when you need them?

I put Michelle’s jack o’lantern on the back patio afterwards to see, today, if the wild things might take interest. The wild things’ reaction was they weren’t going anywhere near that scarecrow head–we had  a squirrel-free zone and even ground-bird-free zone all the way till this afternoon, till finally one towhee braved that patio. Did I get to see gray squirrels doing the bobbing-apple dive for the seeds or the peanut butter I put inside that pumpkin?  Did I get to videotape baby black squirrels climbing through eyeballs?  No I did not.  Two finally showed up and only one so much as deigned to sniff in poor Jack’s direction. Rejection is brutal.

It didn’t hit me till later that for all but that one older kid, we could have skipped the candy thing entirely and helped Peruvian women feed their children actual and decent food: the handknitted fingerpuppets!   The little ones would have been thrilled! Their fingers could have been costumed year-round!

I AM slow sometimes! Oh well. Now you know what I’m doing next year, and the cash outlay will actually be less.

Except for a small bag of Reese’s. For that one eight-year-old. And maybe (not that I’m admitting it) me.