One hopefully-last appliance post
Friday July 16th 2010, 9:45 pm
Filed under: Non-Knitting,Wildlife

I now have a safe, non-working dishwasher, but at least it won’t set my house on fire. And no, Maytag did not pass along the other information to the fellow who came out–who was hesitant to work on the thing once I told him, and wanted to know, was I sure?

He was already here, so, hey. My other choice would have been to get a discount to buy a third one in a row of these, and that was so unacceptable to me and not likely an option anymore anyway the moment he stepped in the door. I do not want to add to the landfills.

I want the thing to work. Is that so hard to ask?

Turns out the last recall for a fire hazard– our previous Maytag–happened in 2007.  So that machine sitting there dead was three years old.

I really really needed me some Sea Silk time. Even if I only have half a skein of Glacier left.

Meantime, if you have a front-loading GE washing machine, those could be downright entertaining: flames shooting out the front? Every little boy’s dream!  Break out the coathangers and bring on the marshmallows!

(Ed. to add) I think the moral to the story is, when millions of people are suddenly trying to buy the same brand at once because of a recall and an offered discount and it’s on backorder while they try to make them all at once, give the local guy the fix-it job rather than risk the lag in quality controls.)

Red tagged for now
Thursday July 15th 2010, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Non-Knitting

Dear Maytag:

I want you to look at this picture. No, look closer: look at that factory-installed black rubber strip. You know how it goes up and around the latch area? Supposedly?

The thing has been intermittently difficult to start ever since we got it. Do you suppose you might think of a reason why?

The last time you had a recall, you offered me a discount on a new Maytag dishwasher or a repair call, my choice. I had something wrong with mine besides what was being recalled, so I winced at having to replace one that should still have been going strong but I went ahead and did so because it seemed the cheaper option. And because you make by far the best-cleaning dishwasher out of the five brands I have owned and I wanted that. And it was quiet.  You do that part exceedingly well.

But I’m back in that boat again. A recall for house fires? Okay. The repairman is coming tomorrow to replace that heating element for you. But in the meantime, I want my dead dishwasher to start working again–and I think it should be your problem it doesn’t think it’s latching shut anymore and won’t start.  Thank you for answering my email; no, I’m sorry, unplugging it so that the electronics might be able to reset did nothing.

You can see right there where the rubber meets the rued.

Race to the finch-ing line
Wednesday July 14th 2010, 10:59 pm
Filed under: Friends,Wildlife

There was a meeting at church last night, and it being a perfect summer evening, the nearest door was propped open for the cooling ocean air to breeze in.

“Oh! It’s a little bird!” Fluttering suddenly above our heads.

“It’s a finch, here, let me, that’s what canes are for.”  A house finch. Female, and by the looks of it a juvenile–a young one out exploring a bit and now lost from its flock and it didn’t know its way back to where it belonged.

That’s what houses of worship are for, right? Finding God’s place in our world. A little bit of God had been brought to us.

I stood up and walked to the other side of the room. I knew I didn’t need to be threatening from its point of view, I didn’t need to get any too close; just hold my piece of wood up a bit (it would make a great perch if it didn’t come with a human attached) and the movement near it would get it to change its direction.

It did. But the room had a raised ceiling at the interior, not too high, with a lower edge all around and wall sconces along that ledge up there; it needed to come down and go around before it could go out.

It grabbed onto the popcorn-ceiling-type stuff above a sconce.  There was an “Oooh!” around the room marveling at its ability to hold onto the seemingly impossible.

C’mon little one, I thought, you’ve lost your flock, you don’t want flocked walls, you want blue sky and the berries on that bush over there to eat. That’s how the males get such red heads in your family.

We danced a little dance: Alice over there stood and raised her arms and it flew back towards me, I raised my cane (my folks can tell you that’s nothing new) and it zigzagged back and away–out the door of the room just so, straight across the hall and outside to the great blue sky waiting for it. So perfectly and so fast that it took me a moment to take it in that no, it hadn’t gone down the hall and lost to who knows where, it was home.  Free.

Ends and beginnings
Tuesday July 13th 2010, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Thank you, everybody. Your taking the time to offer all those kind words means much.  Karen got down there and reported that Dale looked peaceful, joyful, in a way that took her back to their childhoods. I can just picture their mother smiling and waving hi at them from the kitchen in that brick house in the woods that she designed.

And it makes perfect sense to me. He had loved. He had been loved in return and at long last in his life even married–no small thing to a man nearly blind who knew what it would take for someone to take him on in her life.

I imagine his pension meant that his new wife would be taken care of as any good husband would wish for if he couldn’t be there. His small family of sister, brother, niece and stepmom meant that Sally would have a loving family wrapped around her in her grief, just as they’d rallied around their stepmother, who had married their widowed father shortly before his own passing.  Dale leaves his wife with their love as well as his.

And when her own time comes, he will finally get to introduce her to his parents.

I’m so glad they had each other and the time they did!

Monday July 12th 2010, 11:06 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I keep sitting here staring at the screen, wondering, but what on earth do I say?

My childhood and lifelong friend Karen, proud owner of the original Water Turtles shawl that I knitted for the turtle that swam alongside us at the C&O Canal as we walked the towpath there like old times: her brother Dale was ten years older than her and a thoroughly-confirmed bachelor.

Who stunned the heck out of everyone by announcing about a month ago that he was getting married and then, three weeks ago, going right ahead and doing just that.

*Dale*? Is getting *MARRIED*?

Their wedding pictures looked so happy, and I wondered whether Karen did the classic sibling thing of are we talking about MY brother? when her new sister-in-law said that Dale was so sweet. I mean, teasing is what siblings are for, right?

I wondered how the newlyweds were doing when I got a message from Karen Saturday night: Dale had pneumonia. ICU. Didn’t look good.

Butbutbut he was just fine just last wait I don’t get it!

She was visiting her daughter a thousand miles away but threw herself in her car first thing in the morning for the long, long drive, picking up her oldest brother along the way and stopping at her home for the night before continuing on for the rest of the drive south to see Dale.

Or not.

Her phone rang at 1:35 this morning.

I am unfathomably grateful to a woman who took a chance on a long-distance relationship and showed Dale, for the first time in his life, that not only was he so lovable that someone would actually take a chance and marry him in order to spend the rest of their days together, she DID.  It was such a great gift she gave him.

Karen, Sally, Paul, Amy, Helen–I am so sorry for your loss.

Sheldon seen anything like it
Monday July 12th 2010, 10:47 am
Filed under: Knit

Run, go, read Sheldon today. “But how do you make knitting sound kick-butt?”  Priceless! (Should we tell Mr. Kellett about walking knitters, and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee‘s story about knitting while ice skating and the six-year-old boy who careened off her acrylic into a pack of tween girls trying to look cool?)

No degrees of separateness
Sunday July 11th 2010, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

A woman I didn’t know, about my age, was sitting in the back by herself before the start of the women’s meeting at church today, so I picked myself up and moved over there.  There’s enough aloneness in this world; this moment, I could do something about.

You’re Katie’s mom, aren’t you? I asked her.

Yes! She brightened.  We chatted a little.  This was her third grandchild, eleven days old now, she’d come to help out.

(Someday I will get into the baby knitting thing and I know if I do I will never stop, but we’re not there yet.)  I asked where she was visiting from, and when she said Cincinnati, I asked if she knew Gary M…?

(Right.  What are the chances.)

“Well YEAH!” She looked at me in delight and explained how she and her husband knew him.

I told her, very pleased, “My husband’s cousin” –not adding in all the details like how Gary and his siblings and my husband and I had gotten to know each other better going to college together, etc etc.

And yet again the world shrinks down to people size.

Chez Johnna
Saturday July 10th 2010, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Johnna and her husband just bought a house. In this city of single-stories, they bought one someone had added onto going upwards and that second story is designed for entertaining.

And entertain they did tonight, with musician friends of theirs performing in the space up there that, looking out the windows at the trees, made me realize how very much of my life in California is spent at ground level; it’s just one of the idiosyncracies of the place.

Wow. You get a new appreciation for seeing a flock of finches zooming by and poplar leaves waving at eye level. I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed having height in my life.

The first fellow was a Stanford professor whose specialty is computer music.  The second, a pianist, the third, a trumpeter–New Age, jazz, traditional, they were having fun, playing by turns and then the pianist and trumpeter a few duets together.

It turns out the professor had studied under someone whose research my husband’s then- work group had sponsored in Boston. A mutual friend, definitely.  Small world.

But then the best part was at the end:  they all decided to jam.  The professor said, “I’ll start with something, like this…” and riffed. The pianist took it on, the young guy joined in with the brass, and listening, you would never know they hadn’t been practicing that piece for years.  It all just naturally fell into place, till the thought struck me–how would they ever know when it’s over?

And then immediately, but why would anyone ever want it to be?

There’s a ZzzzzzAPP! for that
Saturday July 10th 2010, 4:47 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

My husband and I drove across the Bay today to a funky import place that is emphatically a guy’s answer to my love of yarn stores to buy more tennis-racquet-style bug zappers.  Looked around; didn’t see any. (Managed not to say about all these clearly Highly Desirables, why on earth would anybody ever…? And did you know you can still buy those cap cages to run your beloved baseball cap through the dishwasher for cleaning when your wife’s not looking and exclaiming ewww? You could be, like, all domestic and stuff!  Are you ecstatic yet?)

I was thinking, you bought these how many years ago, dear? But while he kept looking, I did the not-a-guy-thing (Richard later said something about almost compromising his masculinity and trying that himself–we were having a good time teasing each other) and I found someone who looked official and asked.

Oh, sure, we have those! And the guy disappears in the back and comes back out loaded down with like two dozen of the things, his face almost disappeared behind them.

He tells us they’re ten bucks.  Richard, who’d found me by then, goes, Nah, I can get’em with AA batteries for that much.

Oh. $7.99, then.

To which I pipe up that he (pointing at hubby) had gotten’em for two bucks each here last time. I did not mention how many years ago that had been.

“Do these things really work?”

Yeah, they do! I have all this wool around and knit and yeah, those things, they are really useful!

The guy grins. “Two bucks!”

Our old ones had had arc attacks (do not hit the furniture when flailing around with one, and I’m not talking electric arcs) and they’d died one by one.  We bought seven. Bugs shall fear me again.

A little loopy today still
Friday July 09th 2010, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Knit

I wonder how many people mentioned to the artist that the needles point the other way.  Point them upwards, add a little hand-dyed cashmere and silk, and I think we can answer the duck’s question!

Purl up with a good yarn there
Thursday July 08th 2010, 10:51 pm
Filed under: LYS

The hospital project is done and blocking.

The Mooi got worked on at Purlescence tonight, where Nathania instantly knew what that yarn was just to look at it. I told her it had been a great comfort. She looked in my eyes and answered, “We take care of our people.”

And they do there. And everybody is their people.

Stanford Radiology
Wednesday July 07th 2010, 8:50 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life,Wildlife

She appeared to be his caretaker. Wife? And honey, she was pretty but she looked tired.

He was maybe in his 40’s, happy as a clam and very extroverted.  He greeted whoever moved and thereby caught his eye: How ya doin’!  He told the woman with him all about the fish in the wall aquarium they were looking at.  I don’t think I ever saw him sit. He was all about being up and lively and chattering away.

It was striking how she seemed patient but resigned. Not upset, more like a mom at the museum stuck with her small child in tow after the babysitter bailed. Because as the minutes went on, watching her watching him, I think I understood–when he turned and saw me looking his way as I reached into my knitting bag to pull another length of yarn, I got a happy, How ya doin’!  too: in the way of a small child, utterly harmless. I got an impression of lack of memory and of a soul distilled to its essence.  Its goodness.

I thought, if you’re going to have a brain injury, a cheerful one seems to me a very good one to have. But I did not ask.

They called his name and he went back for his scan alone while she got a few minutes to herself.

One of the nurses who popped out the door to call off names, the second time I saw her, took a moment to come over and comment on my knitting before disappearing again. Later, she came out again and talked a little more. She mentioned a local yarn store. When I said I’d heard Louise had had a stroke and had sold the shop, she brightened–so I did know the place!– and told me how sweet the new owner was. I confessed to not having been in in awhile; I tend to go to my favorite, Purlescence.

Which was a new one to her. I didn’t think (I was on Benedryl!) to give the context, in case she might be a longtime knitter like me, that it was in the former Carolea’s Knitsche. So I’m writing it here in case she sees this; I gave her my blog addy.

She said something tentatively that–I was sure I heard “Stitches” and it was! Oh yes, I know about Stitches, I signed books there! (Been going since Tess, the namesake of Tess Designer Yarns, was a preschooler, and she’s in her early 20’s now.)

You know what the result of all this is: I couldn’t put down my knitting. I had cast on and done maybe three rows before leaving home, and there I was growing it as fast as possible for showing off.  No reading my Newsweek for a hands break, no way.  Knit knit knit! On this cool idea I’d had a month earlier, when I’d bought the Camelspin at–of course–Purlescence.

I was trying to figure out the details of a new pattern for it while on Benedryl. Dumb, but that’s what motivated me so I did it.  I made it look terribly complicated, counting stitches, running my hands through my hair, tinking back stitch by stitch over and over, wondering why something so easy wasn’t intuitive–DUH! It’s the drug, stupid–making slow progress  anyway.

It’s not finished but it’s a goodly way along and I am very pleased. And very pleased to be nearly done. Post-Pred crash tomorrow and then that is that and it’s a race to see which is completed first.

One other thing: a couple came in and as the woman’s name was called, I looked up as she passed me and I smiled and wished her good luck.  She relaxed at that and smiled too for the first time.  A few minutes later, as she and her sweetheart were leaving, she turned before the doorway and called across the small waiting room to me, “Good luck to you too!”

Totally made my day. And you know? It was that cheerful man before, whom she’d arrived too late to see, who’d set the tone so that I felt comfortable speaking up like that.

Richard left work early to take me home. (To be fair to him, he’d offered to stay with me but hey, he works just up the street anyway.) There was a box waiting at our door.  Who…? The Sibley Guide to Birds and The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior, hardback, even, with love from Dad.

My folks had no idea I had been seriously coveting those very books. Those exact ones. I couldn’t justify them, I hadn’t bought them, and now here they are anyway.  Wow.

I tell you. I have the best parents ever. And they have perfect timing.  Speaking of which, and? My friend Debbie, who lives near where my Dad grew up, emailed me pictures yesterday of what she’d seen while birding over the weekend.

Dad? Pelicans in Nevada? You never told me that!

One stitch two stitch red stitch? blue stitch
Tuesday July 06th 2010, 11:09 pm
Filed under: Knit,Wildlife

My hands slipped and I accidentally pulled my tip out of at least a dozen stitches, and on those small needles it took me a moment to piece it back together. That Mooi tends towards the slippery side and the loops were not large.

I thought about knitting it on Benedryl. And my clumsiness. And tomorrow’s long drugged wait at the hospital.

So after a discussion with my daughter about my reluctance to have two competing projects at once, I started a second anyway, hoping it might perhaps even be finished by the time I leave Stanford tomorrow.

You know what that means: hunting down another ball of something, somewhere, to start with just in case I run out of my 3oo meters. (Right.)  You know how it goes–pack yarn first.  Needles? Oh, hey, they’ll have lots of those there.

Meantime, the Nuttall’s is letting me get a little closer.

Quoth the raven, Ever Mooi
Monday July 05th 2010, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Friends,Knit,LYS

Background shawl with thanks to Mary, who so earned it.

Every time I think I never have to take the squirrel-on-crack-effect prednisone steroid again in my life, they think up some new excuse. Short term but massive, they want now.

I argued with the nurse. *I’d had a doctor give me a bedside lecture last year that despite my reaction to topical iodine, iodine is an inert mineral that, he said, it is impossible to be allergic to. A medical myth.  The stuff they mix it with? Sure. Iodine? No.

And so (just like last year just the same) they want me to take Pred and Benedryl for a CT scan so I won’t react to this iodine I can’t be allergic to.

I got nowhere. The nurse who called me to tell me had no idea. This is just how we do it, sorry.

Yes, and walking around with 80/40 bp and the like is how I do it, do you know how I react to Benedryl? Is it in my records?  Do you really want to depress that?

You know?  I think I’ve been more stressed about this than I thought I was.

Just before my first Stanford stay last year, when I was too sick to sit up, much less knit, the community at Purlescence filled a large basket for me of newly-picked oranges from Jasmin‘s trees and yarn and handknits to cheer me on and to give me something to keep me looking forward.

One of those things was two skeins of Mooi from Nathania, Sandi, and Kaye–a blend with buffalo and cashmere that was probably one of if not the most expensive yarn in their shop. I was alive enough to realize and hang onto the idea of what a treasure they were offering me: in my intense pain and weakness, being able to anticipate specific moments of joy in an as-yet uncertain future.

How do you live up to that intensity when you’re puttering around happily back in normal life? It has been bothering me that I haven’t done that great gift justice. It kept waving other skeins ahead of it, going, no, no, you go on, wool, you’re fine, no problem.

It’s time.  I guess I can’t say I refuse to let this ongoing post-ops stuff buffalo me now.  This is lovely stuff, with a brightness to it that I didn’t see in the ball and didn’t expect as it weaves around my needles, and it didn’t even hit me till I started playing with it that those women had picked the color in their stock that matched my favorite teal-blue skirt they’d seen me in a million times.  Man am I slow on the uptake.

And now I can begin to really tell them thank you for that Mooi. At last.  It’s gorgeous stuff and it is a great comfort. Again. A CT scan? I was worried about a stinking *CT* scan, fer cryin’ out loud?! What was I *thinking*!

(Edited to add five weeks later: I talked to my radiologist brother-in-law, and he said that while one might not technically be allergic to iodine, it is very common for iodine to bind with various cells that one then makes antibodies against–causing a potentially dangerous and yes, allergic reaction.)

Go Fourth
Sunday July 04th 2010, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Wildlife

Fireworks again tonight, same place. Curious.  Only, this time I went outside and watched most of the show–after noticing the falcon behavior on the cam: both juveniles had already taken up their posts for the night, and it used to be, when they were new at this flying thing, that they roosted together on the louver. Of late, they haven’t always been there and when they’ve both been on the louver, they now stay at opposite ends of it.

They’re not ready to go totally off on their own quite yet.  A little independence at a time.

But when those big Fourth of July booms started, Maya scuttled halfway down it towards the reassurance of her brother’s presence. After the booms stopped, she went back to standing  sentry duty at the far end from him, facing him, watching over him as their mother had watched over her young by night.

Meantime.  I knew my friend Marguerite’s mother grew up ethnic Chinese in Hawaii, and Marguerite’s father, whose family emigrated from China when he was two, taught their daughter that the only description that mattered was “American.”

Her mom got talking a little about that today.

She was a young woman coming out of church one day, wondering at what all that sound going on out there was about.  So did everyone else. It became immediately obvious as they stepped out the church door: Pearl Harbor was under attack! They watched and cheered on the American side of the fight.  Bearing witness. Remembering forever.

Today, as I listened and realized Hawaii hadn’t even been given statehood yet at that point, she bore fervent thanks for the privilege of being an American.

To which, with equally fervent thanks to my ancestors (here and here are two, others came later) who braved their trips across a different ocean, seeking freedom, I say, amen.