Let’s see Rush keep his promise
Tuesday March 16th 2010, 11:35 pm
Filed under: Politics

Having visited my House representative’s website on occasion, being a good little constituent keeping tabs on things (did I mention I was born in Washington DC?  It’s in my blood) I got an email a day or two ago:  it was a series of questions. The first was, what did I think was the most pressing issue before Congress, offering me several answers to choose from that surprised me on the one item it did not offer.

Or a blank to fill in.  Okay, given the timing of that query and what is immediately on Congress’s plate, that was real easy.

The rest were questions about my views on the healthcare bill; surprise, surprise. Beat’em to it at question one.

Though Republicans may shout and continue to believe that Americans want the healthcare industry left alone because all is well, lalalaa fingers in their ears they’re not LISTENingggg…  It’s simply and absolutely not true.

The current system is killing people of all ages who are treatable and who could have been saved.  The very fact that a low-level clerk who was not available after hours, on weekends, or during a snowstorm was making life-and-death decisions IN AN EMERGENCY, with no recourse, about my monoclonal antibody medication a year ago only because my insurer didn’t want to pay for it is unfathomable; just who gave that clerk a medical license? And you know my case is only one of thousands at just that one company, simply because that’s how they’re set up.

This absolutely must change.  We may argue over how it is to be done; we may argue over what should fund what; but the current system is absolutely untenable, and after a year of everybody trying to hash out their differences and their beliefs and their constituencies in Washington, after a long and terrible pregnancy, we have birthed a bill. It may be on life support, but we have a bill and it is still breathing.

Like all good politics, it’s full of compromises such that nobody is completely happy with it–it doesn’t go far enough, it goes too far. He looks like your side of the family, he doesn’t look enough like my side of the family.

Yes, well; that’s what democracy produces. Mashups.

Now vote on the %#* thing and PASS it like we voted so many of you into office to do.

(I totally love that Caremark got members of Congress slapping multiple investigations on them for the sake of Federal employees; where were our congressmen when such practices were messing over the rest of us?  Where are they now?)

Taking over the world, one torte at a time
Monday March 15th 2010, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Knit,Wildlife

A trip to Whole Foods for the Earth Balance pseudo-butter for Michelle’s baking, and a quick glance over the fresh breads.  She was reading ingredient labels and I went Oh! as I picked up a loaf in its paper bag and it was still warm from the oven–but: “sourdough starter” is not allergen specific enough. Some have milk in them.

So I went over to the baker standing nearby and asked.

And boy did we hit the jackpot. We found ourselves talking to a delightful man around her age who not only knew the products, he was clearly someone who loved what he did and did it well. Cakewrecks would only be able to use his offerings for their Sunday Sweets best-of-the-best pages.  And:  he was someone who was likewise allergic to milk. He showed us his favorite breads and told us which desserts in the display case were safe for her; they were all of the ‘how do you eat this when this is so gorgeous’ variety.

He went and proudly got us samples of his vegan brownies.  In return, I gave him this site addy and told him about how successful we had been at substituting coconut cream for the manufacturing cream in my tortes.

He said something about coconut milk, and I corrected, no, coconut cream. There was a moment of confusion on his part, and I said something…to which Michelle, later, as we got in the car, went, “Mom. I bought the coconut cream at Milk Pail, not here; they don’t carry it here. You kind of put him on the spot.”

I did? You did?

I bet his store will carry it now! (You know, maybe I could parlay this into an excuse for making another pair of tortes, and I wouldn’t even have to make a half-gallon of manufacturing cream’s worth.  Right?)

Oh, and, the ganache on the torte? The man knits. Crochets, mostly, but, the whole yarn thing. He’s into it.

Yeah, I kinda am too.

A quick p.s.  Round thirty-leven in Squirrel Wars: the tin foil wrinkled when I went to refill the feeder and  Michelle says don’t try to make a living at making funky hats.  But I definitely won this round.  Briefly contemplated buying a kiddie wading pool for the squirrels to high-dive into, complete with a safe way for them to climb back out. Squirrelympics!

Let there be light foods
Sunday March 14th 2010, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends

How to free a fridge of that last half a chocolate torte: slice it into tiny pieces, splay them out artfully on two paper plates like the finest hors d’ouvres (that’s Horse Doovres to those in the know–family joke), and take them to a Linger Longer potluck held after church.

How to get the kids to eat their veggies: line up the tables end-to-end before the kids are set free, with the tops beautifully arranged but in only veggies and dip so that when the kids get out of their Primary classes hungry, that’s all they see there is to eat.  After a suitable interval of snackage, bring out the rolls, the ham and the cheese, and, note to self that corned beef is a good idea on many occasions anyway; a thank you to those whose traditions dictate it be eaten in March. Good thinking.

I looked over and there was suddenly a scrum of small bodies going on at a particular point in the setup.  I knew instantly what was up, especially when adults were gathering in, too: someone had decided enough healthy food had been consumed by that point that it was safe to bring out the heretofore-hidden desserts from the kitchen. (And I had been in that kitchen earlier, looking for mine; I mean it when I say dessert had been hidden. Those moms did a good job!)

By the time I got over to the table, curious, there was an only barely large enough crumb left for forensic certainty that that had indeed been one of my plates.

I had one last tiny piece sneaked away in my fridge at home. It was very, very good.

We wore green
Sunday March 14th 2010, 12:29 am
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

And a good time was had by all. I rather didn’t expect the nurse I mentioned Tuesday to show up, given exposure issues with chemo, and as far as I know she didn’t, but C. was delighted to offer to take care of the shawl for me later; we’re all in this life thing together.

I did recognize one nurse there:  another of C.’s co-workers, who’d come straight to the party still wearing her scrubs.  I went up to re-introduce myself, although I couldn’t tell you which floor or ward or when I remembered her from, but given what last year was like, that’s not surprising.

She didn’t remember me at all.  I was upright and dressed for the occasion rather than decked out in a hospital gown and Eau du IV.  I was rather hoping for something like this, where that doctor was just ecstatic at seeing his patient doing the happily-ever-after, but hey.  Just the fact that someone recognized her and was healthy now and was glad to see her will, I’m hoping, give her a lift on a day sometime when she might need it.

Their work can be so hard.  But it is so important. They need to be told that their efforts matter, and nobody can like a patient can.

Ready-to-knit needlewear
Friday March 12th 2010, 10:32 pm
Filed under: Knit

I’m trying not to be impatient over the progress on this one. It should be half done by now. And yes, vivid oranges and reds make my sense of balance, hmm, let’s say fanciful, but I was going through bright-color deprivation and this was just the thing.

Okay, wait, what if I did it like this?! (Scribble, scribble, edit, frog.)  Or like this? (Repeat.) Okay, now I think I’ve finally got it.

C.o.u.n.t. .t.h.e. .s.t.i.t.c.h.e.s.

Purl one row.

C.o.u.n.t. .t.h.e.m. .a.g.a.i.n. .o.n. .t.h.e. .n.e.x.t. .r.o.w. (And give a sigh of relief that nothing interrupted me.  If the phone rings, don’t anthuri’um.)

Repeat as needed.  Because, both written and knitted, this one in this yarn has to be absolutely exactly right.

Family memory foods
Thursday March 11th 2010, 2:54 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Recipes

Warning: calories ahead.

When my husband and I were young newlyweds, his mother’s mother sat me down one long, boring day with her recipe file, and with her great enthusiasm and my attempting to look enthused, she had me copy down (by hand, kids, this was in the Olden Days) all her decades-long favorites.  She wanted to pass down the wisdom of her kitchen.  I chaffed in silence; I wasn’t about to tell her how much all of this represented to me what I so much didn’t want to be.  I had no intention of being a stay-at-home mom. Roasted Potatoes was just not what I aspired to.

Yeah well.  Live and learn.  One of the hardest things I ever did was decide to stay home with my children after all.  For the first few months of motherhood, I was able to work where I could take my baby with me; she wasn’t mobile yet, she slept a lot, nobody minded.  But then two things happened: she started exploring the world on her hands and knees–and we moved 2000 miles and that job was over.  I found, though it would have surprised me just a couple of years earlier, that I utterly could not bear to leave her, even if it meant living on my husband’s grad-student fellowship.  He very much supported my decision either way, but confessed later he was relieved I’d chosen to make motherhood a do-it-yourself project. He didn’t think anyone else could do as good a job as me.

And over all these years now, one of the things I’ve learned is how much memories attach themselves, over time, to–you guessed it–various foods.  Write down those recipes, give’em to your college kids so they can re-create home.

And yet.  GrandmaM would totally get where I’d been coming from back in the day.  She was the first woman in her small (and I do mean small) town to have a college degree.  She was a teacher who married a dairy farmer who was also the town’s high school principal, and the moment she was married she was of course out of a job; the idea of a married teacher back then was unthinkable, and a teacher married to the principal! Well now!

My older daughter, who is finishing up her PhD, asked for these, and I thought, as long as I’m typing them up, might as well put them up here.

From our family to yours.

There was a recipe making the rounds years ago with a story disclaimed by Snopes, supposedly stolen from Mrs Fields by a disgruntled ex-employee; whatever, someone did a good job of reverse engineering.  These make five pounds of dough–and I once had a batch at the top of the freezer, reached down later for something in the bottom of the freezer, and… Clonk.

Not-Mrs. Field’s Cookies (Clonk Cookies, perhaps?)

Cream: 2 c butter, 2c sugar, 2c brown sugar.

Add 4 eggs, 2tsp vanilla.

Mix: 5c oats that have been measured and then ground into flour, 4c flour, 1 tsp salt, 2tsp each baking powder and baking soda.  (I have been known to skip the baking soda.)

Mix all together and then fold in 24 oz chocolate chips and 3 c chopped nuts.

350 degrees, 8-10 minutes for medium-sized cookies. Note that the ground oats in the dough, being a little coarser than actual oat flour, help make it easy to pry off a little frozen cookie dough with a fork and bake just one or two at a time so that you can limit your caloric exposure at any one time if you want.


Recipe the second: this one originated from, of all things, a 1992 Mazola no-stick-spray ad. (Why, yes, I write notes with dates in my cookbooks; do you?)

Cranberry Bars

Cookie crust: set oven at 350. Grease 15×10 pan. Cut 1 c of cold butter–do not substitute, and needs to be cold–into 2 1/2 c flour.  Add 1/2 c sugar and 1/2 tsp salt, by hand, not by machine. It’s more work that way, but the difference in crunch in the crust is huge. Press firmly in pan, bake 20-23 minutes or till golden. Top with filling quickly and bake again.

Filling:  Beat 4 eggs, 1c corn syrup, 1 c sugar, and 3 tbl melted butter (do not substitute!) Stir in 2 c coarsely chopped fresh cranberries and 1 c coarsely chopped pecans.  Pour quickly over hot crust, spreading it out.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until set. Cool completely. Refrigerate it for it to cut cleanly, if you can wait that long.

Pecan Pie variation: for filling, use 4 eggs, 1 1/2 c corn syrup, 1 1/2 c sugar, 3 tbl butter, 1 1/2 tsp vanilla, and 2 1/2 c pecans.  I find it curious that it uses so much more sweetener when it doesn’t have the tartness of the cranberries in this version, but if you want a pecan pie as a cookie finger food, this is definitely the way to get it.


I brought the cranberry bars to a get-together once and watched my friend Jim take his first bite, close his eyes in appreciation, and pronounce how if you want dessert done right you ask Alison to bring it.

I’ll share the recipe with GrandmaM when I get up there.  She will laugh.

It’s a wrap
Wednesday March 10th 2010, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Knitting a Gift

Looking down, Monday.

Looking across, today.

Looking up, after that; what a difference a rinsing and blocking make. (It’s just a bit greener than this in real life.)

I like it. Hey Mikey. Weekend, here we come!

Meantime, in family news, Michelle arrived home this afternoon after a week gallivanting in England. I, unfortunately, did not fit in her suitcase on the way out, but that’s okay, I had this project to get done.  She came home going, Mom! Green and Black’s chocolate! They had it, like, everywhere, like Hershey’s here! (As in, how would it be?!)

A gift in return
Tuesday March 09th 2010, 11:25 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

There was a women’s social and a dinner at church tonight. Chocolate torte #3 has been dispensed with.  But before I left, Richard was reminiscing with a chuckle over the time when someone at another potluck there had asked, in a bit of indignation, “Who assigned the Hydes SALAD!? I was looking forward to that torte!”

When the typecast fits, bake it.

So there I was.  Brian’s grandma took me aside and told me–I wasn’t sure if she said it was all of them or just the one–but at least one grandchild, then, went to bed last night with their hat firmly kept on their head and in the morning, there it stayed.

She couldn’t begin to know how much that meant to me and that she’d told me.  Moments like that keep me knitting.

Meantime, I finished the shawl for the nurse fighting cancer this afternoon, rinsed it and laid it out to dry in the round.  It’s always so magical, that moment when a glob of random yarn loops transforms into its glorious self and you step back and actually, finally, after all those hours, get to see.  It was such a sense of accomplishment, and its purpose so close to who I am and why I do what I do that, even though I tried, I could not get myself to settle on any new ball of yarn to start something else.  Not yet.

It felt so strange to walk out the door with no knitting project.  I mentioned that to Nicholas’s mom at the dinner.

She looked at me and smiled. “It’s okay to rest between projects.” I think she’s right–but note that I had to think about it awhile first.

Okay, that’s long enough.  I’m home.  Cast on!

T’hats who those skeins were for
Monday March 08th 2010, 11:54 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

I didn’t realize till afterwards that what I’d been waiting for was to see them receive them in person.  I hoped each one would choose and like their own particular hat–but you never know. What is a given, though, is that kids are transparent in their emotional reactions to things and I would know if someone still needed soothing afterwards with something they liked better. I think I needed to know that.  And so I’d hesitated.

Only the baby was having none of it, even when we tried playing peek-a-boo from under the wool, but he was tired and it was something unfamiliar.  Tomorrow he’ll be grinning and cooing and playing happily.

So the story is this: word was that Brian‘s family was here visiting grandparents for a day or two. I knew that grandparent time is precious; I knew that when there is great pain, a family gathered round in the strength of home may feel intruded upon by outsiders who simply can never quite entirely know.  I hesitated for several hours–but at last, I called and asked if I might borrow a moment of their day.

They readily welcomed me on over.

I told them how, several years ago, one good deed begat another good deed till, to my delight, a surprise box full of Blue Moon Fiber Arts yarns from Tina at BMF arrived on my doorstep–and then, I told them, every time I went to go knit the Silkie, trying to honor her gift by making good use of it, that one yarn just kept telling me, No. Not yet. For nearly three years it would not let me knit it. Last year at Stitches I bought two more skeins in the “Love” colorway, and it too resisted my needles.

Until recently.  Now I knew why.

So except for the first hat, before I figured out what I was doing, all the hats had a strand of Silkie; they were all individual, given that I knit in two strands, but all my hats were in the same family.   (Even the non-Silkie had the other strand overlapping.)  I pointed out the one hat that was completely different and described my longtime online friend Karin driving six hours round trip to finally get to meet me in person when we were in Vermont a year and a half ago; she’d wanted to knit a hat, too, for them, to convey her support. I told them how the folks at Purlescence had wanted to offer up their own goodwill towards them and wouldn’t let me pay full price on the matching yarns.

They loved them.  Each child picked one while making sure the others got one they liked, too; I was impressed.

The dad lined everybody up, seated me in the center, hats on all, and I looked around and went, “What, no bunny ears?!” The kids cracked up. (While the baby tried to pull his off.)

Their second-youngest son was whittling away on a stick during most of this, as happy as a knitter with cashmere in hand, and he grinned at me with his turquoise hat on his head.

When I left, he was outside in the garden, whittling away some more, totally immersed in his creation, hat on head, totally happy.  Yes.  Oh, thank you, thank you! I wanted to tell him.

When he gets older and his fine motor skills mature, maybe we’ll get some really cool knitting needles from his woodworking. You never know where a moment will take someone.

May the fourth be with you!
Sunday March 07th 2010, 8:39 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Recipes

(Ed. to add picture of newly-glazed torte. The shine dulls once they’ve been refrigerated.)

Happy birthday, John!!! Our youngest is now identical-twin terrible-twos, the big 22.

Around here, when it’s a family member’s birthday and they are not in town, we bake a cake in their honor anyway.

And it’s also a tradition that when I bake a chocolate torte, I always bake two.

Okay, so, one went to Sam yesterday, the second one,  someone else has dibs on, meaning a little bit of baking, a lot of chocolate smells, but then no torte for me–but there is more cream, so, hey, we can fix that.

On a side note, the specialty place where I’ve always bought the manufacturing cream stopped selling it in small quantities, rumor being that they got told that pouring it off into quarts and pints in-store was not kosher.  But who would want an entire half-gallon of the stuff? So they discontinued it entirely.

When you have been making your signature dessert for 20 years and an essential ingredient suddenly disappears from the market, you have to do something.  I sent off an email to the owner of the Milk Pail Market; I had to at least try to talk them into reconsidering.

I gather I’m not the only one who spoke up.  I imagine the fact that I actually gave the man one of my chocolate tortes once didn’t hurt, and nudging his attention to the extinction of that cake, likewise. (I know, breaking my arm patting myself on the back and all that.)

Because:  around Christmas there was a small handwritten sign on one of their refrigerator doors saying that due to popular demand, manufacturing cream was now back.  Woohooo!

And so.  I bought a half gallon (again) a few days ago.  Heavy whipping cream is 32% butterfat, manufacturing cream, depending on the cow and the season, 40-42%.

‘Scuse me, the oven’s beeping…  The third torte might go to the church dinner Tuesday night (renegade that I am–they said they wanted cupcakes) but that fourth one stays right here.  John, we will eat a torte in your honor.  Maybe not all at once.   Happy Birthday!!

For those who missed it the first time, here’s the recipe with a few extra notes thrown in.  If you have to use ordinary heavy cream, avoid the ones with any kind of preservatives, additives, or sugar in them.

If you have any cream left over after all this, melt more chocolate into it and, warm, it’s the best chocolate sauce, refrigerated, a ganache.


Alison Hyde’s chocolate torte–makes two

(NOTE added 12/13/10: I have two wire whisk attachments for my Kitchenaid; if you only have one set of beaters, beat the egg whites first before the other mixture or the whites won’t fluff up.)

Snap out the bottoms of two 8″ springform pans (flat bottomed preferred). Cover bottoms with foil, snap them back in, butter the sides and the foil-covered bottoms.


Melt 1 lb. butter, beat with 3 c. sugar, 1/4 tsp salt and 2 tsp bourbon vanilla
Add in 1/2 c. manufacturing cream, 6 egg yolks, beat till fairly light.

Add in: 1 1/3 c. cocoa that has been mixed with 1 c. flour till any lumps are smoothed out. Dutch process cocoa will give you a different flavor from that of Hershey cocoa; my favorite is Bergenfield’s Colonial Rosewood cocoa. The non-dutched cocoas are healthier and I think taste better; dutching is usually done on lower-quality cacao beans.

Beat separately till stiff: 6 egg whites and 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar. Underbeating is better than overbeating.

Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture. Put in the two pans and bake at 350 for 42-45 minutes. Center will not be solid and cracking should appear. Run a knife carefully around outer edges; cake will fall, and the top will be more even if  it falls in one piece. (On the other hand, since it will become the bottom of the torte, this step is not exactly essential.)

Cool at least an hour. Loosen springform sides and remove. Put a plate on bottom of each cake and flip over. Peel off pan bottoms, then the foil. Glaze when cool.

GLAZE for two cakes:

Chop one Trader Joe’s Pound Plus Belgian bittersweet chocolate bar (500 g) and melt with 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 c. manufacturing cream. The tradeoff in the amount of cream is whether you want to sculpt it to hold deeper J-strokes (use lesser amount) or thinner, with a slightly lighter texture (use greater amount, and is as is shown in the picture.)  Use a double boiler or microwave. Try not to incorporate extra air in as you stir. Also, it is important that every edge of every piece of chocolate be fully dunked down in the cream before heating or that piece of chocolate could possibly seize into a hardened, unmeltable lump with the combination of liquid and heat. You heard it here first: chocolate is very wool-like–it can, in effect, felt from that same combination of factors as wool. Unless you dunk it first.

When glazing a cake, first, I pour it into the center of the two.  I quickly first scoot it towards the edges to make some of it fall down the sides in waves.  Then, I make a backwards J from the center, turn the cake slightly, repeat all the way around.


(Ed. to add 10/26/10: for those who have one nearby, Smart and Final stores currently carry manufacturing cream too.)

(Ed. to add 1/22/11: I put a thermometer in my oven today, and with the thing set at 350, it was actually reading 325 both at the beginning and end of the 42 minutes.)

Gigi’s Sam
Saturday March 06th 2010, 9:23 pm
Filed under: Friends

The Minions of the Pointy Sticks were laughing and knitting when Gigi pulled out her cellphone for me and called her son.  Just to make sure he was home. (Try to make sure he doesn’t leave!)

And then I excused myself, got back on the freeway, and headed toward their house.

Maybe I’ll embarrass him if I tell on him that he was vacuuming and didn’t hear the doorbell. (I hear he’s already spoken for in the has-parents department, sorry, you can’t have him.)  So I knocked hard.

Sam opened the door to a chocolate torte being offered up.  He’d mentioned last week, out of my earshot, how much he’d wished for “the best chocolate cake I have ever eaten in my life before or since,” after I’d made him one for his pushing my chair at Stitches five years ago, and by his sister’s indignantly-teasing reaction I knew I had to hear that one and made him repeat it.

I tell you, that wish was definitely my command.  That’s an easy one.

Standing in his doorway tonight, he told me how much I’d turned his day around five years ago; I told him how much he’d turned mine around too, oh my goodness most definitely, and I thanked him again for last Saturday.

Any time.

Any time back atcha.

Go Sam!
Saturday March 06th 2010, 12:36 am
Filed under: Family

Okay, if I titled this “Driving the Belt-way” that might be too much of an insider joke from someone who grew up near DC and whose older daughter did an internship at NIH there.

We don’t own a TV. We do, clearly, have a computer.  I spent about three and a half hours today smiling wryly at the difference as every now and then the screen would go blank and I’d have to tap the keyboard or mouse, putting down my knitting a moment to keep the picture going.

It’s been a dozen years since some of my kids started tae kwon do lessons at the local Y, a gift to the community one night a week from a local fellow.  Sam was always the most serious about it.

Which is how, with the wonder of streaming, I came to watch my little girl break every single board on the first try with her foot or her fist, then bowing and being bowed to as they presented her with her own, for real, much-worked-towards black belt.

She did it!  Go Sam!

Season’s green-ings
Thursday March 04th 2010, 11:48 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Family,Friends,Knit

(Time to go wind that second hank of suri.)

Last January, Richard ran into our old friend C. at Stanford Hospital; she works there as a nurse. Her kids and ours grew up together, we’ve known each other for ages, and she greeted him joyfully.

And then she stopped suddenly and asked–Wait–does this mean Alison’s in here?

That shawl project I mentioned yesterday?

I bought the hand-dyed Cherry Tree Hill suri laceweight at the DBNY sale.  When it came, it was wiry in the hands and very thin and I knew it would never get knit by itself.

So I went looking for something to tame it and add weight to it.  I found two blue laceweights in my stash, one dyed by me, one dyed by Lisa Souza, that I knew would look stunning with it.

But I also had some 20/20/60 cashmere/silk/superfine merino in Verdoso from Colourmart that matched the fairly small bit of green in that suri. I’d already hanked, scoured, and balled it up, which you have to do with mill-oiled cones; it was in the color of life growing upwards in the spring anew.  It was so soft now and it was ready to go.

I liked the blue. I preferred the blue. I wanted to do the blue.

But the green said, simply, No. Me.

We argued with each other for a few days.

No, the green flat-out declared, I said me, and that, honey, is that.


And so I got started, and as I got the yoke worked on, I thought, you know, I think I’d still like that blue better–maybe I should just frog this so I could prove to that yarn that I do know better than it does, thankyouverymuch.

Green it was.  I tried to get as much done as possible before Stitches, and then, like I say, my hands had to rest for days after wheeling around there.

It was such a relief to be able to get back to work.  I put a fair amount of time into it yesterday and today, feeling like this needed to be ready–if for no other reason than that then I could dive into the fun new stuff.

And yet.  I’ve learned time and again that when something is that insistent, there’s always a good reason for it.

Maybe I shouldn’t blog the whole thing yet, just wait for the day I go to give it, while probably wearing a different one to offer to trade, because, you see, this insecure part of me always wants to whine, But what if she doesn’t *like* it?

And yet.

I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday and the nurse there exclaimed, Oooh, that’s *pretty*!

That helped more than she could know, and then, today, all the more.

The mail came this afternoon while I was knitting away.  A letter. It was from C.  She was throwing a party, bringing old friends together as she tries to do about once a year–and this time also hoping to raise money for breast cancer research.

For the sake of a young co-worker of hers. A single mom with breast cancer.

Who is a nurse at Stanford.

In a department I was in last January.

I had two nurses by that first name.  They saw me near death’s door. I am well now. For all their hard work and their caring, I am where I am now. I owe them all so much.

“Wear green!” said the invitation.

Oh, honey, and bring it, too.  I shall bring it, too. And I will tell that young mom that that green cashmere blend knew what it was doing.

And she will see me healthy.  I will take the colors of growth and new life with the first bluebell flowers of spring sprinkled here and there, and wrap them around her shoulders from all my heart.

No longer tied up in nots
Thursday March 04th 2010, 12:06 am
Filed under: Friends,Knit

Hey, KarenL, remember helping me tie this quilt in high school with the frame set up in your living room? Simon and Garfunkel playing in the background: Wednesday Morning 3 A.M., and I forget what the other album was.

Michelle’s comment about peacock tails got me reaching for peacock colors afterwards. I knew I was about to go off to Stitches, about to go buy gloriously gorgeous new yarns, but I just couldn’t have a day without a project!

Yeah, well.  I way overdid it with my hands on that chair Friday. (Thank you, Sam, so much for taking it over on Saturday!)  I simply had to wait, with all that lovely yarn staring at me, not that I wanted to confess that to the blog. Not Going To Happen Right Now. No Knitting Allowed. Heal.

Today was dark and stormy, the kind of day for curling up with a good yarn; I was doing better and gave it a go.

I’m actually glad now that I have something in my way that will take me a good dozen hours to finish up:  time to be creative in while keeping my mind open to what the first of the new wants to be when it grows up.  I knit so much and with so many yarns: they come, they go, it’s on to the next.  But, unlike some skeins, I don’t want to just play with these from Lisa, Dianne, and Melinda–I want them each to be in the perfect design from the get-go. They’re just too pretty not to be.

Knitting time. Thinking time. It’s all good.

(Oh, and yes, I found our certificate from when we tied the knot. Phew!)

Tuesday March 02nd 2010, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Family,Politics

So the hubby comes home tonight and opens his mail.

And now we know the details.

To all those who think employer-based healthcare plans are the pure and only true path to medicine? Given my medical history, insurance is a subject close to home here.  Are you sitting down?

My husband and I are celebrating our 30th anniversary this summer.  Thirty years ago, with both of us having grandfathers on the political scene in DC for decades, they knew everybody, they had us invite everybody to the reception, we sent out 500 invitations and 500 people actually showed up! We were standing in that receiving line for three and a half solid hours with no breaks in the flow of humanity, most of whom my new husband and I didn’t know, all these people taking the time out of their lives to come shake our hands and wish us well.

We solemnly promised our own children we would never do that to them.

I guess one could say now that we had a lot of witnesses, having no idea we might someday need them. (One thank-you note, on the other hand, was returned two months after the wedding as “recipient deceased.” That was fast. We might be in trouble here.)

My husband’s employer, a Fortune 500 company, now says we must produce our marriage certificate, and fast, or they are cutting off my medical insurance on the assumption of fraud.  They are doing this to everybody.  We claim John is our son? We’d better produce the birth certificate and prove it, and his school transcript, too.  We have to order the license or the birth certificate from the states they happened in? Oh, those states are furloughing workers and are weeks or even, in California’s case, months behind on all paperwork?  So sad too bad, you’re out.

It took California over ten weeks to process my auto registration payment, and that’s when they were in effect getting paid money by me to do so, and not just some nominal fee.  Okay, yes, we have the kid’s birth certificate, but not his transcript.  And what of all the people who don’t have a copy on hand for their kids?  Or of their marriage certificate?

I so much want to ask the CEO, whose own insurance, I am sure, is in no way imperiled: exactly what kind of corporate culture do they think they’re trying for here? Are they familiar with the term meta-message? Could you shake each employee’s hand, look them in the eye, and convince them you were wishing them and their families…well?