Speaking straight to me, though he didn’t know it
Sunday July 31st 2011, 11:16 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

There was a speaker in church today who, from the heart, spoke of how Jesus had given up everything. Everything.  Had suffered everything. For us, so that if we would repent of that which separates us from God and come to Him and embrace Him, we too could be filled with the love He so freely offers to all. He knows each one of us personally.

Then he read the story of the rich young man who had come to Jesus seeking spiritual advice.

That was it. That was exactly what I needed to hear, boom, straight to my heart. My lingering inner question about a certain project I’d worked on…

All selfishness evaporated on the spot and I felt such a joy as I looked forward, at last, to giving that beautiful bit of knitting away. I knew exactly whom it would make quite happy.

And to think that before that point I had thought, not quite out loud to myself where I could hear it, that I somehow could do better with it myself than that?!

Old pattern, new color
Saturday July 30th 2011, 11:23 pm
Filed under: Knit,LYS,Politics

Purlescence closed for a week to move to their new digs–a few doorways to the left from the old, a bigger space. They put in new wood floors. They puzzled over how to get the tall yarn cubes out of the old shop, those having been assembled inside for the original Carolea’s Knitsch decades ago.

Today was the grand reopening celebration, but they just didn’t need my nagging bit of sore throat.

So I decided to celebrate in spirit: I found some Kid Seta I’d bought from them and thought about starting something with it. But I have some knuckle inflammation going on, it was a bit hard for my hands to hold that fine a strand.

I pulled out a skein of very thin cashmere that had stumped me when it had arrived from an online purchase.  The color. Brilliant red on the orange side? Not so much here. That fine a laceweight would take a lot of time to use up a color that didn’t do it for me.

The Kid Seta was a muted red with the silk shimmering lighter, rather pinkish against the fuzzies.

Put those two balls side by side (the nighttime photo doesn’t capture it), and my first thought was, Nah, they fight…

But wait. Colors affect how the one next to them is perceived, they’re like humans that way, maybe they just need to be closer together. I cast on. I knitted. It lagged and got interrupted at first as I wasn’t sure, and then the further along it got the more I liked it till it was hard to put down and suddenly I was 26″ into the thing.

And it is gorgeous! Who knew?

Quick, tell Congress: the differences blending together are what make it come out so pretty.

(Pattern: Rabbit Tracks with an extra stitch each side as there should be.)

Temple-rarily there
Friday July 29th 2011, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Someone on my high school’s page wrote about it last week. A few days ago, Deseret News did. I have no idea how the subject appeared in both places one after the other all these years later, but it was one of the funny parts of my growing up.

The Washington, DC Mormon Temple was built on a hill above a place where the DC Beltway takes a sharp curve: so that as you’re driving down the freeway at night, the hillside covered in woods remains dark, emphasizing this white, illuminated building with towering gold spires that seems to float in the air above you. The outer loop of the road bends away to the left just as it looks like you’re about to tunnel right under.

The place promptly got dubbed “Oz” among the locals.

So what came next was a total delight to everybody I know, at church, at school, you name it.

“Surrender Dorothy!” (Done in a carefully proper manner, with newspapers stuck in the chain link fence on the overpass, nothing harmed.)

That promptly got taken down by the authorities, of course, but then came another, although one that required too high a level of risk.

“Surrender Dorothy!”

(Hey, Karen, am I right in remembering a version on the sound wall too?)

And on a personal note, the landscape architect for the Temple needed a temporary home while the place was being built; my parents volunteered, and so a sweet old guy came to live with us for awhile. And (though it’s true I remember him from a young teenager’s perspective) I do mean old: come to find out he had known my father’s grandfather, and he was able to tell Dad about the grandpa he never knew.

Building a yellow brick road for us linking us to our ancestor as those daffodils went in.

Holly time!
Thursday July 28th 2011, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends

Yesterday I was not feeling well, dragging, just not up to a run to the store and neither were the others.

Last night I looked in my kitchen and wondered how… And every one of those avocados so far that I’d cut open was bad, which is highly unusual here. BLTs totally wouldn’t do, and and and. What to plan.

Today (feeling a lot better) I couldn’t wait to tell my husband thank you when he got home.

My friend Holly arrived on my doorstep in the early afternoon and we chatted and knitted and caught up and were so glad for some time together–very rare given that a) she lives in Germany and b) she just did a deployment to Afghanistan.

But she’s safely out of there now, she and her husband were in the area for a few days, and she carved out some time for me–and earlier for Ruth, too. She gifted me with German Zauberball long-repeat sock yarn, German orange milk chocolate, a travel kit, all very good stuff. But best of all, her time. (Thank you, Holly!)

A few days ago, my Richard and I were at Costco and he went looking for and found that they still had an artisanal cheese I’d had some of a few weeks earlier: exquisitely good stuff.

But I didn’t need to splurge on it, I told him. And it would be mostly me eating it, Michelle can’t and he shouldn’t and really, that’s just too much for one person.

Rather over my objections he put some in our cart anyway and firmly insisted that since I liked it so much, I should have it for protein in my lunches. It wasn’t for him; it was for me.

Twist my delighted arm. We did have some crackers it went well with…

Fast forward to  me telling Holly, who is vegetarian, that if she’d like, I had peaches and I had a goat cheese with blueberries and cinnamon to serve up with crackers–adding quickly that yes, that sounds weird but it’s really good. (Side note to Holly: I just looked it up and turns out it’s not quite so locally made after all, it’s from Canada. Not so much on the Napa Valley thing.  Oops.)

She had the same reaction to it we had had. Wow! I offered to take her to Costco and buy her some; she said customs would be the problem, getting it back to Germany, but oh, my.

I have this wonderful husband who likes to make me happy. It was a little thing…but it turned out to be so much bigger a thing and better than he imagined at the time he went looking for that cheese for me. He rescued my day, in sickness and then in health. I wanted to spoil my friend like he’d wanted to spoil me, and it was just the thing.

Oh say pun you see?
Wednesday July 27th 2011, 11:22 pm
Filed under: Politics

Sometimes The Onion gets it exactly right. Now we just need our lawmakers to. Send in the eighth grade civics teachers!

And I finally found an actual source, a good 25 years after I first read the children’s story Ladle Rat Rotten Hut over the DarpaNet. Now you too can heifer kayak in either tune.

Nina’s talk
Tuesday July 26th 2011, 11:36 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Friends

Silicon Valley Women was presenting a talk tonight: it was to be given by my friend Nina of the shawl named after her. No way was I going to miss it.

Phyllis (of that story too) did the driving.

I was sure I was going to be the odd person out in the audience, though, out of a group like that; between my kids and then the limitations of illness, I never did step into the full-time other career I once thought I’d be well into by this point. I tucked a copy of my book (ie, a reach for a visible sign of success) in my knitting bag along with–hold on, I needed a mindless project to work on, what to grab, what to grab, okay, that one. Hand-dyed silk.

We arrived, Phyl and I took our seats, I cast on.

Nina spoke awhile and then went around the room, asking each person to talk a little about themselves, what they were doing, what they were hoping towards, coaching them on how to get there.

I knitted away.

I hoped the others didn’t mind the distraction. I thought again how I once thought I would never stay home with my children–till I had children. I once thought I’d be well into the next role of the working wife by now, certainly, till lupus etc got in the way. As the old joke goes, the way to make God laugh is to tell Him your plans.

In my case, He handed me yarn for the punch line.

I was not expecting to hear my younger self: a few younger women talked about how hard it was to put their old work world aside to stay home with their kids now while their little ones needed them so much. I knew that my choices and experiences of years ago offered validation for their current ones. This is not to argue working/nonworking, rather simply to affirm yet again that we are all in this life thing together.

Now it was my turn. Nina bragged on me. Bragged on my book, told them how it had come to do so well, what I had done right, and how cool it felt that her shawl was in it. She held me up as an example of doing what you love and the good will follow.

That praise in that place coming from someone who has lived the successful Silicon Valley executive life, who did the working-mom thing, who went back for a new degree mid-career like I never stayed well long enough to do–someone whose path has been so different from mine, but who is also my friend–that meant more to me than I expected.

Thank you, Nina.

I said that every mother of small children needs something that Stays Done. Another middle-aged woman in the room thought a moment and then laughed that yes, that’s true!

And at the end everybody wanted to see the book, one woman was going oh cool at learning that lace could be knitted as well as crocheted and another pointed out that the pattern (and to a lesser degree the colors) I’d been working on that whole time…

…matched the shawl on the cover of the book.

I did a doubletake.

I had not noticed at all.

Mooo-ve over
Monday July 25th 2011, 9:41 pm
Filed under: Friends,Wildlife

A certain child of mine was swapping eye-contacts stories with a friend today, and the friend mentioned going camping in the Himalayas and, they said, you have one count’em one chance to get that thing properly in your eye because if you drop it in the snow…

And then they added the kicker: the yak.

Waiiiit, hold on, (says my kid) any time you say the word “yak” you have trumped any story of mine.

The friend said that they and their significant other had been awakened by the horns that had come through their tent at 6 am, tearing this way and that rip–rip–rip, destroying the thing while they wondered what on earth they were supposed to do now. In the end, being in a group, they huddled really tight into the others’ tents till they could get out of those high mountains.

(Whether they found their contacts again or they were stomped on or what, I don’t know, that part somehow got lost in the rest of the story, the visual image of a feral yak attack blurring such details.)

I know, I know, what a thing to go through, but still–you know I will never be able to knit yak yarn again without giggling over a potential sudden Zorro mark in the fabric. You know what color I’d have to choose: Hi, ho, Silver! Away!

Give it the reboot
Sunday July 24th 2011, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Knit

Network no worky. I am typing blindly and then walking away for five minutes to see if this sentence will appear. Later!

Winds-or chair?
Saturday July 23rd 2011, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

The little guy was long and scrawny and new at this. He perched on the chairback, looking almost straight up at the feeder. The angle was a little too… He cleaned his beak, drawing little x’s with it against the wood. Looked up again. Shuffled his feet a bit, bobbed his head up and down, up and down, gauging the distance.  It’s, it’s, right there, I can do it! Cleaned his beak. Five times: dance, crane, look, shuffle, clean. Have you ever seen a finch on tiptoe?

Finally he leaped for it, beating his wings furiously, overshooting just a bit and flappingflappingflapping and coming right back. He got it! The fountain of food! Break out the pizza, hey, guys, let’s celebrate!

(And if he ever takes up knitting, his sweaters will be bob bob bob bob bob aran style.)

p.s. after Marian’s comment, no, I hadn’t seen that comic–too funny!

Kaiser you blew it
Friday July 22nd 2011, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Friends

Warning: this is a rant. It’s not G’s fault in any way, shape, or form. They did her wrong.

It is not easy to be a musician by nature and upbringing and to have lost so much of my hearing. But it’s life and you deal.

Sometimes, though, others, making assumptions that everybody is like everybody else, make it suddenly exquisitely painful all over again. Thank you Kaiser Permanente, where you made my deafness a potential threat to someone’s very life.

Here’s what they did. My friend G had to have follow-up tests done there today and they had her booked for 7:15 am-3 pm. Not an easy time for her, and they told her to have someone drive her there and pick her up.

I am not a morning person, and if I am a person up at that hour I’m getting ready to drive my daughter to the train station–so I offered to do the afternoon pick up. That was fine; someone else offered to take care of the early part so we had her covered.

Turns out, Richard took Michelle this morning and let me sleep in.

The phone rang after he left. I did not hear it. The phone rang again and again. I was in the shower, apparently, when there were hang-up calls. I heard a call, but it was the too-usual telemarketer; no, he’s not home.

I checked my email. Oh good, there was one sent from G early this morning giving details on just where to find her when I came; I’ve never been to Kaiser Santa Clara, that was very good to know.

Being so bad on the lupus sun sensitivity, I don’t go outside on a summer afternoon if I can avoid it, even to park and run in, but when someone needs you to go you just go.

There was no 700 number on the side of the building as I drove in via the main entrance; I had to go in the next building over, look for the map, come back outside, and go back in the right one. A little extra outside time. Down a corridor connecting to yet another building, and finally the right room.

No sign of her. I’d left early to give myself extra time and with my knitting in hand, I was ready to wait as long as she might need. I asked, and eventually got sent upstairs–another map, another corridor, another stop and ask.

The new room was in a department that had nothing to do with the tests that she was going in for as far as I knew, nor did I imagine she did either coming in. I worried about her.

They checked: Oh, she recovered in here but she’s not here, she went home.

She what?!

Someone checked in downstairs and they got her.

No, wait, *I* checked in downstairs. I did not get her yet–I’m here to pick her up.

The receptionist checked again and insisted, She’s gone home, someone came and took her in a wheelchair to their car and took her home. The woman didn’t quite add, “Honest!” but implied and implored it.

I had no idea what I was supposed to do. I didn’t want to leave my friend stranded. It had taken a half hour to get there through the traffic that was rapidly increasing out there–there could be no quick turnaround if it turned out I did. I checked my cellphone and was horrified to realize how few numbers I had in there of my friends from church: this was because I use my cellphone as my address book and I don’t use it for an actual phone. Texting, yes. But I email or call locals from home as needed, I don’t text with them, my address book is full of far-away folks for the most part: the voice quality is wretched, I can’t hear on the darn thing.

It was not a fun drive home. I had no way to know till I got to my amplified landline I could actually hear on, no idea if she’d be awake, thinking that likely I’d be disturbing her recovery. But I was responsible for her well-being, I had to know.

Well, she was up after I called her from my kitchen. And here’s the kicker:

It turns out that when she’d arrived at Kaiser, after a far too long wait to get that appointment she so much needed, they told her that they personally had to ascertain that the person whom she said was coming at 3:00 was for real. Or they would turn her away.

Now, I can understand wanting to make sure someone’s going to pick the patient up, and that’s par for the course, advising an about-to-be patient in advance that they are not to drive themselves home. Making sure they know that if all else fails, they’ll have to call a cab.

But calling at an hour when I was not yet awake, and threatening her with the potential loss of maybe even her life by the further delay if I don’t hear, which I could not, and answer my phone unless she can get someone else right now right on the spot (which fortunately she did), is just unconscionable.


“Listen to your answering machine,” G told me.

I’d had no reason to check my answering machine. Everything had been arranged and agreed upon and I’d been home all morning and hadn’t heard but the one call.

So there it was: with the tape proclaiming the early hour, an impenetrable, muffled strange voice that I could make not one word out of. Beep!

And one “Hello?” that was apparently G. Beep!

And several hang-up calls. Beep! Beep!

And, at the last, a call from the other friend: the one who’d dropped her off this morning, who turned around later and went back and got her just ahead of me, letting me know she was taking care of it…

Missed that one too.

(Yeah, I’m worried about my friend, can you tell?)

Headed that-a-way
Thursday July 21st 2011, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

The nurse, same nurse (oh good) as during the surgery brought me back into the exam room and said she was the one who was going to take out the stitches. Or rather stitch.

Only one? I asked, wondering at all the black thread I’d tried to see in the mirror on the top of my head back there.

Only one.

I stopped her a moment first and pulled out a red gift bag.

She’d seen this process before, she knew what that meant. She was delighted, disbelieving–and then, “Can I look…?”

Well, yeah!

She looked and her grin got even bigger: “Oh, I LOVE that color!”

And then we got down to business. There was a fair bit of work snipping, tugging carefully, a number of tiny pieces of strong thread coming out bit by bit, making me a bit of a redhead in the process.

So it’s true.

I’ve been frogged.

She came back
Wednesday July 20th 2011, 11:24 pm
Filed under: Knit,Wildlife

I guess a birdfeeder has become a safe place to perch. Guess who came for a visit just before the light was gone tonight? (Click to clarify.) She let me come outside and get a good long look at her. This time, though, I got to watch her fly away, as if to tell me, See? I really can do it now, it’s okay.

Meantime, my new Lisa Souza yarn has been hard to put down today, like any good soft fiber worth the hours should be. And the color! Although I did set it aside long enough to go stock up at Los Gatos Birdwatcher, my favorite seedy place.

Tomorrow I get my stitches out and hopefully get to stop putting goop in my hair. Working away on my project, wondering if I wanted to haul that complicated a pattern with that long a row to the waiting room with me or not, I was remembering the moment I’d given the doctor her silk scarf and had wished I had something for her nurse watching her getting it. I still wished I had something–when suddenly it hit me–you goof, who do you think Saturday night’s sudden impulse of a soft Meriboo hat was for? It was just sitting there waiting to be figured out.

Oh wait, did I mention that? I grabbed a random ball of Frog Tree yarn that night and didn’t go to bed till I’d finished a quick hat with a sideways-cabled brim and twirly-decreased top, quite pretty. Then I put it aside and simply forgot all about it.

Well now. My fingers don’t have to fly quite so fast.

Just wait till I come back there.

By morning light
Tuesday July 19th 2011, 11:48 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

I woke up this morning and checked: my little finch was still up there. Her feathers were fluffed way out against the foggy chill, her soft gray down showing, but she was alive and she was there.

For about the first hour all the other birds, all species, kept well clear of her feeder. The other was getting low, though, and the morning was getting on, so I leaned my head out the door as if to ask her if she would mind my opening the storage can of seed on the ground near her. I wasn’t going to touch her feeder but neither did I want to scare her into anything.

Her eyes met mine and from there I felt comfortable going on ahead. She watched me at work, still barely moving, no sign of eating, and I wondered how long she could last. I marveled at her determination to survive.

I filled the seed above all the portholes on the one over there;  the flying circus noticed. Soon I had quite the flock settling in: fledgling finches mostly hopping around gleaning, more of them up on the feeders, jockeying for position. My injured one turned her head this way and that to watch them, and finally one flew over by her. And then another and another, coming and going, one bumping right into her. She ignored him but startled at the next one, spreading a wing wide and pulling it back in quickly. Hey! I did not know she could do that!

I was just wondering where all the squirrels were when a black one showed up and took over ground control. At his sudden incoming, all the little ones took off in a fright immediately followed by half the ones that had been clinging above them.

I had just turned for a moment to watch that sudden flurry happen, turned back, and–she was gone!

I checked the patio. I checked the amaryllis table. I looked about and around and over and under, and again, but no, she really had, she had flown too, much though I wanted to have seen it happen.

Was it one of her babies that had flown off in a fright? Was it simply the call of her flock? I don’t know. But this I do know: a small wild thing trusted me night and day till she was able to care for herself again.

Later, I found myself looking at the anonymous random others of her species that came and went, and wondered, Are you my finch? Too much white in the bar on the wings. Are you the one?

And realized that she who had so claimed me had made all of them mine now.

Kathy C and as Kathy would do
Monday July 18th 2011, 11:13 pm
Filed under: Friends,Wildlife

Speaking of visitors… I got a heads-up last night from my friend Kathy: were we still on for tomorrow?

Oh honey you bet!

And so at noon she swooped me up and took me out to lunch. I treated her to Kara’s Kupcakes afterwards, hardly a fair trade except that we promised to do it again and take turns. Then we headed for my house, where we sat and visited and swapped stories and just plain spent the time that a good friendship deserves. She is such a treasure.

As she sat she was facing my birdfeeders and I was tickled that they caught her eye like they do mine. “You could never be bored with this out here.”


She exclaimed over the variety of birds, and then over the pretty stained-glass feeder my daughter-in-law had given me; I told her the squirrels have managed to get on it just once, maybe twice, but immediately learned there was nothing for them to scramble up to that they could hold onto and actually eat. And since it’s not where they can leap downwards to it, they can’t chew up the wooden base and so it’s safe from them.  It is left alone.

Kathy went off to pick up her son, I soon after went to pick up my daughter and life returned to normal. I did want to show her the Lisa Souza Alpaca Silk I was sure would arrive today, and it did–at 5:15. Mailman was late. She’d just missed it.  I told her I was holding off on starting another project till it got here because I didn’t want anything else in the way when it came.

Evening settled in, dinner was over; I was about to head outside to water the amaryllises when I heard the smack. A finch. I looked up to see not the expected hawk ready to retrieve its fair meal but the neighbor’s cat who has no need of such things. It saw me and scrammed over the fence and away.

Poor little bird. I opened the slider and checked on it. It pulled its wing back to its body and in such very slow motion over the next half hour, seemed to recover somewhat: she pulled her head back into a normal position. Her eyes were watching. She shifted position a bit.

It was getting dark, so I started watering the plants at last, free now from the dangers of the sun but wanting to be able to see what I was doing. The little finch followed my movements just ever so slightly.

At last I bent over her. I thought about it, and then as gently as my huge human hands could manage, I stroked the back of her head gently. Her eyes closed. I stopped. Her eyes opened. I stroked. She seemed to enjoy it.

I didn’t want to leave her exposed to the raccoons and possums of the night. What to do. She wouldn’t leave.

I thought about a book I’d read that one of my birder friends had recommended (thank you Sally), that described birds lost in a fire in Santa Barbara because they simply slept through the noise of the flames and the smoke till they were overcome by it. It said that birds sleep very soundly.

It was night by now. And in the best way to heal, my little finch had fallen asleep. I stroked her gently again and she roused a little and looked at me and settled back into herself.

There was only one thing to do. All my childhood warnings from my parents came back to me, the don’t-touches, the warnings about downed creatures in the deep woods we explored all summer long and I ignored them and gently scooped her up, cupped between my hands. Her feet reached for a proper footing, her wings moved tentatively, wonderingly, but, it felt to me, with somehow a sense of trust.

I put her up on that stained-glass feeder. She did not fall. She gained her perch.  She has food; whatever may come, she is safe.

Sunday July 17th 2011, 11:40 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Wildlife

I remember, when we lived in New Hampshire, a woman I adored at church (yes, Herb, your mom) who’d lived in southern California most of her life and who had a hard time understanding what seemed to her a frosty culture where one must give much notice before dropping in on someone; “Lighten up, people!” I also remember that she was the only person there I knew who could pick out the one avocado in the store that would actually ripen before rotting after the snowplows opened the roads back up so you could get to the grocer’s.

Years later…

I dropped Don an overdue note: I’d knitted him a hat (no not the pink one I finished last night) as a thank you and needed to get it over to him sometime.

The response: would now be a good time?

It would!

And so we had an impromptu visit at what turned out to be just a perfect time for him when he had much to be happy about; thank you, Don!

Our chat was interrupted by a spammer calling my phone. So when, just after pulling away from his house, it rang again, I pulled over in front of his neighbor’s thinking at the spammer that hey, what part of Do Not Call do you not get?

But it was Richard: his aunt and uncle, who live halfway to Santa Cruz, were on their way over.

That gave me the incentive to explore using the freeways rather than surface streets for the route back. I managed to beat them home, where Michelle was doing a quick sweep and spruce and we were both glad for the kitchen do-over yesterday.

They wouldn’t stay for dinner but did succumb to good chocolate and a very fine Sunday afternoon was enjoyed by all.

I came away wondering, whatever the house may look like, why don’t we do this more often? We’re always happy when we do. Why do we let silly things snow us in? I hereby resolve to visit more and enjoy more.

Speaking of which, before I emailed Don? My Cooper’s hawk, which I had last seen every single day that I was waiting for my biopsy results, arrived and visited me, again right outside the window here.

And only just now as I type this am I realizing that that was such a shot of joy that I had to go email Don.