‘Sno bank
Thursday September 15th 2011, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

So I was talking to someone at Purlescence tonight who used to work for a major bank, and she told me that every time they did an upgrade, a few accounts somewhere got totally messed over.

That made me feel better because at least it made sense. Not that it happens at all, but that it had clearly happened to us.

Ours did a major upgrade just yesterday, as it turns out; I found that out when I tried to log in today, tried again, tried again, got a Contact Us message only, and finally gave up and called the number.

I got told the unbelievably-bad-PR line that I had to have my husband vouch for me, either on the phone or in person, that I had his permission to use our joint account.

Wait, *what!?*

I said we had had that account for 15 years, not to mention it was a community property state. Besides, all I wanted to do–but that I really really wanted to do for now–was to transfer my son his college tuition money.

The woman on the line took care of that for me but told me I needed to come in in person with proof of my social security number: the one I was giving her was not accepted.

They’d clearly assigned me a random string of numbers to replace mine and that’s all their computer would take. I still don’t even know what it was, since I couldn’t see it. They did the same thing to the login ID.

I went in, glad we had a local branch. Not what I’d planned to do with my day, but glad that I’m mobile, at least, so that I could do it. I told the woman who ushered me over the first thing I’d been told on the phone, and she exclaimed an indignant, “WHAT?!”

Got that one on my side!

She could not fix it. She tried again. She called over to her manager for help. She said I would get a confirmation email of my new password, and she called our son to get his okay, but apologized that it would have to be followed up with a signed form he would have to turn right around in the mail for me to be able to put money in his account.

Twist his arm.

Hours later.

There is still no confirmation email.

The email they said they sent Richard yesterday informing us of the changes never materialized.

Neither of us can get in.

They have all our money and we have zero access. I imagine that could cause some excitement at the state regulator level if it’s not fixed fast.

And the kicker?  I was going to get to the post office afterwards to mail in two hats and a few good warm sweaters for Vermont flood relief. I was at that bank so long the post office would have been closed before I could get there. I was afraid I would be spending a lot of time watching someone staring at their computer screen (and I did) at that bank, so, looking at my shawl project and going, no way, I grabbed yarn and needles and headed out the door. I needed something small, portable, and mindless.

I cast on while she stared at her screen. I continued at Purlescence, in between holding and playing with babies and knitters.

…And there will now be a third hat going out to Vermont, again knit from Judy Sumner’s giant merino/silk hank. And I am finally admitting to myself that I felt all along like there had to be at least three with the same yarn in all of them or I would feel quite disappointed later. Another person needed one like that, someone somewhere out there, known to God.

And that’s far more important than any silly computer nonsense. But it took the computer nonsense to get me to put aside what I thought I wanted to do and sit down and start it. It had felt compelling but I had ignored the feeling–it is such a relief to watch it coming to be after all!

Come to dinner
Wednesday September 14th 2011, 9:34 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

An “if only I’d had the Flip camera…” moment.

There’s a difference in how all the birds hanging around the feeder flit away in the triviality of nothing at all,  just because someone else did, and then amble right back a moment later, vs when it’s for real.  When they move that fast in a straight line, they’re all about the intense escape attempt.

That kind of movement caught my eye and I turned to see: the squirrel in the tree leaped away just in time and the Cooper’s, which had to have been right there all along unseen by it or me, apparently decided to go after something on my single-story roof above my head.

It swept out of that tree, not even paying attention to the bushytail that was trying so hard to get away, and swooped down low for stealth, then pulled up right before the awning to snatch whatever it was going after, all of it in an instant.

But what that means is that I glanced up just in time to see a brilliantly lit up, beautiful big hawk as it burst into the sunshine from the trees–and then it was heading right straight towards my face!  Till the last second. I got to see at warp speed my Cooper’s from a flying angle totally new to me and to see its determination eye directly to eye as a squirrel would for the last time.

I froze in utter awe at the force of Nature that it is. I felt quite the empathy for those squirrels. I hope it was a great meal.


p.s. (Photo from August.) There is nothing in the world like a Skype chat with Parker and his parents now that he’s old enough to remember us and to break into gigglefits when we smile and to wave back at us. Love it. Love him. Our daughter-in-law and son are doing a great job.

Just hand over the glasses and no one gets hurt
Tuesday September 13th 2011, 9:58 pm
Filed under: Lupus,Politics

Did the cardiology stress test and echocardiogram this morning; I messed up their test by being too used to a treadmill. (Not complaining!) Two weeks of on and off chest pains–granted, it was during air alert days–and today they couldn’t induce a single one, not a single cardiac cough nor shortness of breath.

Well then. Might as well combine trips like a responsible driver during Spare the Air and finally go order my new glasses across the street.

The possibly-as-much-as-40-ish fellow taking care of me asked about insurance blahblahblah, the usual, and then took me completely by surprise by asking if I were a member of AARP.

Okay, I must be getting old, that took me straight back to a mental connection to it, fair or not, now, that I have never been able to shake: to the scene in the news of well-dressed well-to-do old people rioting–there is no other word for it–with Dan Rostenkowski, then chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, cowering in his car in Chicago as they pounded on it. They were angry at his quite reasonable bill proposing to modify Social Security benefits for those who have utterly no need of the money. (Let’s see…checking Wikipedia… A version of that bill passed in ’83? Sounds about right.) They found it the highest insult that their monthly checks might become tainted in their own minds as, you know, welfare, their pride more important than any appeals to generational fairness. Tax their benefits?!

Right. And Warren Buffett needs those SS checks too. We’re still arguing over that, aren’t we.

Threatening to throw Rostenkowski out of office wasn’t good enough–they started rocking his car to the point he thought they were going to flip it over.

(Side note, added later: from that Wikipedia page, I’m guessing my memory was wrong and that it was actually the seniors being asked to help pay for their new Medicare prescription coverage that caused that scene. Anyway.)

Knowing it would take far more words and time to relay or explain any of that than the situation at all called for, I stifled, swallowed, nearly lost it, and then finally said in just the very mildest voice you could imagine, “That would be a loud No.”

He’d been watching my face, waiting for an answer, and at that the guy lost it, laughing, and then I did too, adding, “And besides! I’m only 52!”

He tried throwing in a “You can sign up at 49 these days” and I motioned, Cut! Cut! Noooooo!

He was rolling.

And dang.

There it was. Chest pain. Just enough. (And how’s that for irony.)

I tell you, the thing is as wily and obnoxious as a squirrel with an open jar of peanut butter in sight on the counter and the kitchen door left open. Thank you very much, with the help of my doctors I am keeping that lid on tight and the door firmly closed.

I spent the afternoon puzzling at great length over a pattern idea that had been bouncing around in there for a year, reacting to the day by trying to finally get that unfinished idea to become one with the yarn.

Got it. Good. Time to buckle down and get to work.

p.s. I have to come back and add: watching your heart valve on a screen is really, really cool. You’re seeing the physicality of your very life in front of you, and it’s clapping its hands for joy.

At ease
Monday September 12th 2011, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Knit

Two hats finished for Vermont flood relief. An attempt at diving into a third: playing with colors, four strands of fingering and lace weight on 3.75mm needles, creating a Monet effect and a very dense fabric like I wanted–till the hands screamed Stop!

Oh. Well. Be that way.

Frustrated, I went looking for something easier to do.

Which is how, four or five months after the fact, an abandoned shawl that had needed a ton of tinking and that I dared not frog, not in that yarn and pattern, finally got rid of its botched edging. And yes, the woman who taught in her lace book how to do lifelines did not run a lifeline and yes, without one I was hosed and I knew it.

But fixing it was a chance to feel like I was still making progress and going forward on something, anything, while involving mostly the hand that wasn’t bothering me, so, that I could do. And now, a tedious hour+ later, it is finished. What a relief.

It was one of those projects where nobody was going to see the goof but me, but that was enough. I knew.

I still need a small, mindless, portable–but comfortable!–project to take to wait for a doctor appointment tomorrow, and that doctor runs notoriously late.  Pardon me, I’ve got to run go cast on.

The world revolved around Coopernicus for a moment
Sunday September 11th 2011, 9:16 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

I posted this on Facebook a few hours ago:

“Ten years ago, we all came together. Today, I have been knitting a second warm hat for the people in Vermont who lost–belongings, for the most part, but still, the comforts of home, gone. I will never be a firefighter, but I can at least try to be a flood fighter.”

This time it’s more of Judy Sumner’s yarn, knitted with a strand of navy merino/cashmere 50/50. I want it warm and I want it soft. It’s something I can do about it and in honor of Judy’s good name.


Coopernicus. I do think that would make a great name for him. I saw my male Cooper’s hawk this evening! After lamenting to my daughter on the phone minutes before that it had been awhile. He was standing on the barbecue grill, watching the birdfeeders, watching me, twitching his tail side-to-side and shuffling foot to foot, perhaps unsettled by my having moved. A moulting flank feather was prominently askew–here, let me brush that cowlick for you.

There is a point on the back of the awning pole where the squirrels have recently learned to try to tear a seam in my taped-up parchment paper, just enough to get a toehold they can leap to the feeder from. Word got out fast; the flashmobs returned. I finally put a chair back under the Brome yesterday and that brought an abrupt stop to that behavior again.  Curious, that.

And so, considering the supersoaker briefly, I decided to ignore the black one gleaning on the ground; it’s Sunday, let him alone. It’ s just one and he’s behaving. Should he hop up on the chair and up to the feeder, he’d be coming from immediately below it: no swinging, no seed, no waiting crowd hoping for the pinata to spew, cage closed. Have a good meal, little guy.

His sudden scurrying later caught my eye and that’s what got me to turn to see. (And if I’d opened that glass door and used that soaker it never would have shown up.)

I held obediently still now for the hawk. He eyeballed me, then the feeders again, doing the head bob that helps a bird judge distance just before takeoff. I thought there was still an oblivious finch on my daughter-in-law’s feeder and chanced a glance behind me.

At long last he swooped–doing a sharp turn, to my surprise, not around a feeder but around the exact point on that pole to see if that squirrel was hiding on the tear-the-paper spot.

Nope. But it was a clear sign that he’d been studying their behaviors closely.

Blink and he was gone. Such a beautiful, beautiful bird, lit up in the lowering sun, blue- and near-white faced and chestnut brown, then bluegray wings wide to the wind, flying free.

First hat for Vermont finished
Saturday September 10th 2011, 11:13 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

Knitting two strands of soft merino/silk dk on 3.75 mm needles in tight cablework was like knitting at sock density and took me longer to finish than I thought it would. But it will be warm.

Ellen of Half Pint Farms in Vermont named this colorway Evening Shadows. We were in the Green Mountain State three years ago, just before the leaves turned, and I fell in love with how the fog and shadows from the mountains painted the world in purpley blues across the pined forests–add in the Judy Sumner connection to this particular hank and nothing else would do for knitting for Vermont relief.

As I finished it up today, I was distracted a moment by a California towhee outside my window, a Claude Monet study in browns: when you get a chance to see them up close in direct sunlight, there’s actually a surprising amount of other shades mixed in there, even a bit of brick red. They are designed to fade into the landscape, and yet they are a fair bit more complex than one expects at first glance.

They are not skittish birds. They never fly into the window, even when a hawk threatens, they just head straight for home. They never try to crowd onto the feeders, whose perches are too tight for them anyway: they know what they want and they know where they want to go to find it. (I should be so lucky when I’m stashdiving, said the woman with scars on her arm from going through a window as a kid.)

And I promised to show Karin‘s yarn: here’s her Atlantic color sock weight she gifted me with; it’s deeper and more intense in real life. Pretty stuff.

On to the next project!

And afterwards it finally rained
Friday September 09th 2011, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Life

We’re still in the dry summer season, this place that alternates rain/drought on the six month schedule every year, and the air across the valley was brown and hard to breathe this afternoon. Thick enough to muffle thunder.

We decided to beat the Saturday crowd and get some grocery shopping done this evening.

“Did you hear that?”

Coming home…

You know you live in the city when at first you’re looking for the source of the light beam going upwards: who’s advertising what?

And then it happens again and, as your husband drives, you can see the clouds that weren’t there earlier charcoal-doodled against the dark sky and that flash of light against them is brighter this time.

By the third time, one right after another, the two of you are talking about heat-lightning storms, but there’s not a drop from the sky.

Then you pull in the driveway and start to unload the groceries and it’s strike after strike, right there right above your heads. Breathtaking–but not something to dawdle in. A former in-law’s grandmother died of being hit by lightning.

The young teenage neighbor is standing in the middle of the street with his buddy, the two of them watching the sky, and I get that; it IS cool, it’s part of Nature and therefore inherently interesting and it’s very very very unusual to see around here. But–

–and having raised four teenagers, I walked over towards them and asked them about what they’d seen, maybe the parts we’d missed while we were in the car. “Sorry, I’m being too deaf, say that again?” and I walked closer.

Having a middle-aged woman join your conversation when you’re keenly aware of the need to be cool around your friend: we’re out of here! They answered once to be polite and then left, quickly back inside.

Cue the Kenny Rogers, Mom version: You gotta know when to scold’em, know when to embolden’em, know when they’ll walk away, know how it’s done…

But tell me, where do the children play?
Thursday September 08th 2011, 11:28 pm
Filed under: Politics

I came home from Knit Night to an email that was a huge surprise. Much cause for cautious, tempered joy–we’re not done yet.

But to me it is one more example of why every vote counts.

They’ve been back. City Hall fight, round three.

The San Jose Merc printed my letter to the editor recently asking why on earth, with so much housing having gone up in the last two years here with no thought to the impact on schools and no place to put the children, didn’t our school district buy the almost three acre daycare site that was up for sale? It abutted school property. It was a logical fit. There was no other parcel around with an undeveloped field like that to be had anywhere else; why sell it to a developer and increase that very problem? My children had had room to run around on the playground during recess, but now they were adding multi-story classroom space there. Just where is my grandson’s generation supposed to play?

Now the developer is saying they want to put in ten houses and comply with zoning this time, having said previously they would walk away from it all if they didn’t get their twenty-three. (And they threatened to sue, too, but that was all bluster, no court would have upheld them.)

But. The law says they have to provide low-income housing with any new development. Can’t they just please buy their way out of that one, they want to know? (Rules? What rules? Since when did rules apply to them? They’ve already shown what they’re made of.)

I like to think that by speaking up in a way that was visible to all, I in my very small way helped give the school district the certainty they needed that the public was behind them: because now, at long last, they have announced they do indeed want to buy the place for future school space. In the expense and the race for it, they have asked not to be required to submit an environmental impact report, in that they do not plan to change the field nor the structures for now but simply to have it to bank towards future needs.

A neighbor saw an article in the town’s small paper and made sure everybody else around here did too.

Yo school district dudes. You are so late to the party. But finally, finally you came.

Now, newspaper, take it further and tell us what time that planning commission meeting is going to be held–I want to be there. The Brown Act gives me the right to be there. This is the same planning commission of whom Greg Scharff, one of the City Council members, asked in May, when Council was to vote on the 23-home proposal, “You’ve spent a lot of time on this. Haven’t you?”

The fellow he was looking at in the Commission’s seats, the same one that had talked to our neighborhood group earlier as if the proposal were all a done deal all along and he was just trying to ease us into it, looked back at him and nodded yes.

“May I ask: WHY?”

I wanted to jump out of my seat and exclaim, Yes! Yes! THIS is why I voted for you, Mr. Scharff! THANK YOU!!

Now we need another round of the Council’s support.

Judy Sumner
Wednesday September 07th 2011, 11:08 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

A few years ago, I wrote a little bit of a book. (Purlescence still has new copies at the cover price, signed for you if you’d like if you wait for me to show up for Knit Night.) And it sold well.

My friend Judy Sumner, whom I had known via the Knitlist and KnitTalk yahoo groups for lo these many years, had had a sock book idea in her head for a long time. She had already been successful in getting a number of her designs published; her name was already out there in the world of designers and via the thousands on those lists; she wondered if she could do it too. Passing along the gift of Gracie Larsen‘s having believed in me and the great good it had done me, I thought a collection of Judy’s sock patterns would be a wonderful thing to have out in the world and I encouraged her to go for it, one voice among many others.

Twist her arm. She sent me regular updates on how things were coming along. I thought that was very cool. She loved her editor. I loved that.

Judy’s website is here, her book, which came out as beautiful as I knew it would, has been selling out the last copies fast of late here.

Then Judy not only surprised me with a pair of handknit socks, just because she’s a knitter like that, but she also gifted me with a hank of yarn.

And not just any hank of yarn. She had no way to know: I had seen Ellen of Half Pint Farm‘s offerings at Stitches West many times, (Judy I believe went to Stitches East), I had oohed and aahed especially over the huge hanks of merino/silk Ellen dyes and hangs in her booth. But I would look at the price, fair though it was for 13.5 oz, and leave them behind. Those were a lot of sportweight.

So now here coming out of that box that I had no reason to expect was a gorgeous hank of that very yarn. In one of the very colorways that I’d liked so much. Judy had no way to know that; she had just wanted to do that and could only hope I might like it. If only she could have seen my exclamations of gobsmacked WOW!!! in person!

(One of my tall daughters loves her socks and they fit her beautifully. And they helped me be subversive: if you want more that feel like that on your feet, you knooooow, I could help you learn howwww…)

But I didn’t know what to do with that hank. I wanted to repay the gift in the best possible way, but I was stumped on where to start. I have taken it out and petted it and admired it and pondered it many times over the last couple of years.

The time is right. It took me, with distractions, over two hours to wind it all up yesterday, but at least and at last I finally knew: when I asked here a few days ago if anyone wanted to knit for the people who had lost homes, jobs, everything they owned in the floods in Vermont? Who could no longer reach for a favorite hat or blanket when the cold sets in?

That yarn was handdyed in Vermont.  I’m using two strands of it right now, knitting it tight and warm and dense in a cabled honeycomb pattern to make pockets to hold the warmth on someone’s head out there. It’s a start.

Judy has moved into her daughter’s house and is under hospice care now with pancreatic cancer. Her mail is being forwarded; her daughter watches over her email as well as her. If you want to thank Judy for answering knitting questions or just plain for being a friend to everybody she ever heard of, now would be the time. Don’t hope for an answer; let your peace bless them and let it be enough.

It’s very much the least of their worries, and yet, I still hope she gets to see this post to know that someone out there facing so much loss is going to be hugely comforted that someone needed to repay, and took the time–because someone else gave the gift–because someone else had the artistry to dye the yarn–and it will all have come full circle and returned to its home state.

Life, our universe, and everything
Tuesday September 06th 2011, 11:08 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

Thirty-one plus twenty-eight do not make sixty, no matter how many rows ago you added them together.

In other words, kids, try this at home. I was diving into a new project while keeping one eye on the door for the nurse to call me back to the exam room; when you’re waiting for an appointment, it all becomes bistro mathematics.

A few minutes later, needles mid-row and set aside, the doctor’s phone buzzed while we were talking; she instantly hesitated and then quickly apologetically explained to me that her sister was between two fires in Texas, not evacuated yet…

Answer! Please!

She grabbed it and checked.

Nope. Not her, at least not yet.

I cannot sing the praises of that good doctor enough to begin to tell it. Given how wonderfully passionately she has taken care of me for twenty years, that was the least I could do to take care of her and her own back.

Y’all take care of yourselves out there, y’hear?

Rock that block
Monday September 05th 2011, 11:13 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends

Maybe a dozen years ago, a couple of older neighbors were reminiscing over days past when there were a ton of kids in the neighborhood and how much everybody knew everybody back in the day. They missed that.

So let’s do something about it! And so the more gregarious of the two took on the task to walk house to house, getting names, phone numbers, email contacts. They launched our first neighborhood block party. A nearby cul-de-sac was closed off and the owners cleared their cars out of the way, a bounce house and a cotton candy machine were rented for the little ones, barbecue grills were rolled forward from backyards and volunteers manning them presented themselves as a happy captive audience for anyone who wanted to come chat over the chicken vs over there at the rent-a-tables.

And just about every year since then, Labor Day has meant block party day, officially 4-7 but that always stretches till dark, not to be missed.

Richard took my dessert over there, a pluot crisp that I found out later had had the neighbors playing guess-that-fruit. “That was GOOD!”

I waited till a sun-safer 6, then strolled over there too.

My sweetie talked with one fellow about the ham radio/disaster services volunteer work they both do. Meantime, I got cornered by an elderly man whom I am inwardly delighted each year to see he’s still with us: he moved in here when these houses were built in the mid-1950’s.

Only–last year the organizers had both had family conflicts with the date, it had been moved around and finally the party had landed on a day I couldn’t make it. I could have shown up for just the very last few minutes, but I let it go.

And he knew I had not come and he remembered my health was rocky. I have no memory of ever discussing it with him; maybe a chance comment from someone else when we didn’t show?  Whatever–it had meant something to him and he had carried that forward for the whole year.

I was amazed he noticed. Here I was, having to read his name tag yet again despite knowing who he was, and I was quite sorry to have caused him concern.

“It’s good to see you here,” I told him.

He knew exactly what I meant, nodding and looking me steadily in the eye, returning the sentiment.

I had not expected to come away feeling so important. I do believe he did too.

More neighbors. More chatting. Come to find out the sister of one of the burger flippers–call them grilly men, Ahnuld–had also volunteered on a peregrine nest cam. Cool! And he was a bird lover too. Finding out about my feeders, he exclaimed, “So that’s where all my finches and chickadees have gone! I love those chickadees!”

Sorryyyy… Honest, I’ll share…  He got in some good teases about that.

Another neighbor started telling me about her own birdfeeder, but–those squirrels! She admitted with a laugh and a very sheepish look that she kept a supersoaker by the back door to teach them what’s what. She felt much better when I laughed, “You too?!” We swapped a few squirrel-antics stories.

Barbara pulled me over to the bounce house so she could show off her grandsons hopping and bopping to the crocodile rock.

Because one of the neighbors was in an a cappela band, and they performed for us for the fun of it.

And one of the people in that band, not a neighbor, was surprised to see my Richard there, and he to see her: Valerie! Rich! They used to work together when we first moved to California. We had gone to hear her perform at her you’re-great-but-don’t-quit-your-day-job, oh, must be at least 15 years ago now.

Reunion time. He pulled up a chair and sat right at the front and clapped the loudest of all.

Dancing tunes
Sunday September 04th 2011, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life

Saturday night, at about dusk when the UV wouldn’t be an issue, my husband and I wandered around downtown.

Meandered into the crowded Apple store. Inwardly chuckled at the (possibly Indian?) fellow who suddenly found himself at belly button level with my sweetie and jerked his head way up to see just how far to the ceiling this guy goes! Didn’t hear a friend trying to shout hi across to us as we were leaving, and he couldn’t run fast through all those people; he had to wait till today to tell us.

Applauded the apps and the Apple and walked away, for now, our wallets intact. I told our friend that and he laughed and said his, not so much.

Bought gelato from the cheerful (I have no idea what he was saying, but he was having a great time of it) older guy with “Croatia” embroidered on his polo shirt, with a fairly garish painted mural (was that supposed to be Venice?) on the wall behind him, a street musician at the front of his little shop asking for song suggestions from his foot-tapping audience.

Went into the still-breathing Borders bookstore. Everything must go. Including the Borders gift card my husband had long forgotten he had in that wallet he didn’t take out at Apple, well, will you look at that! Hey! Seeing the size and the weight of the bag he came out of there with, we decided it was a good thing we’d gone in there last.

But it wasn’t.  I nearly walked on by but Richard turned at the sound, beckoning/inviting me too, and it was like a baby boomer’s Narnia moment: we found ourselves coming down a beautiful new-ish walkway opening suddenly out to a courtyard where a band was totally rocking the most joyful rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing.”

And I came home thinking…

And then today. I’ve met her, but whether I’ve ever heard her name I’m not sure; I sure don’t see her often. I think she’s older than my parents. But I saw her today, and she motioned to me and pulled me aside and reached out her aged hand to hold mine: she just wanted to tell me she love love loved my hair! She said it again. She just loved it. She wanted me to know that.  I was very surprised. (I did not by any means have great hair before that moment, but I’m easily persuaded.)

And I came home knowing…

All those years of wishing to be able to get back to my old pre-lupus life and the way things were? Really? I’m there.

For the folks in Vermont and upstate New York
Saturday September 03rd 2011, 10:27 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

From India, who along with Ellen helped get the Warm Hats Not Hot Heads campaign going in January, wherein our fellow knitters helped us get 262 handknit hats sent to members of Congress to ask them to work respectfully and peaceably with one another:


On August 28, Hurricane Irene visited Vermont. Although my town was spared the worst, many towns throughout the state suffered devastating flooding. My husband’s brother, sister, and mother narrowly escaped the rising waters of the Mad River, which inundated their home and their village, soaking everything in its path, taking out roads and bridges, and leaving behind inches of muck and piles of debris.

My family was lucky. Many of their things, including their clothing, are salvageable. But many others are not so fortunate. Though it is still quite warm here, we all know that soon the weather will turn much colder, and people will reach for that favorite sweater or scarf, only to remember that it’s gone.

I’m collecting donations of handknit hats, scarves, mittens, sweaters, socks, blankets, baby items, and knitted toys, items for anyone from babies through adults, to distribute to flood survivors in Vermont and upstate New York. If you would like to ply your needles for people in need, please contact me, India Tresselt, at warmhearts2@gmail.deletethesefourwordscom. Thank you!”

(I’m writing the email address that way to defeat those who would flood it with unwanted messages by the gross.)

And anything else we can do, India, please let us know. Thank you for looking out for those around you in ways the rest of us wish we could directly–although, needles in hand, whether we get to see their faces or only wish we could, still, yes. We can!

Writing this from California, the thought of real cold with one’s belongings gone, homes gone, work, gone: we lived in New Hampshire for four years. Our last winter there, I remember shoveling the seven and a half feet of snow that fell in seventeen days and the wind chill factor of minus 25 going on during a cold snap. A hat or a scarf there is not just for fun and fashion but an utter necessity.

Pun gents
Friday September 02nd 2011, 11:05 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends

Okay, Constance started this over at FB.

“Dick and I are playing this game, since we like puns, where you think of an occupation, and then add a word with a negative prefix that pertains. So, the Duke was disgraced. The seismologist defaulted. Etc.” Then she added, “The tanner who was dis-suaded. The hair stylist who was dis-tressed. The judge who was ex-honor-ated.

So, the gambler was deluxe doesn’t quite do it. The appliance salesman was deranged; that’s better. The English professor was denounced and (oh who cares about rules when there are puns to be had) de-vowel-you’d–my family would approve.

It seems to be easier to come up with the punchline and take it back-word from there.  Anyone else want to try? So far I’ve come up with:

The chef was served with a deflammation suit.

The campers were given detention.

The math homework (blame the dog) was dissolved and the professor was outnumbered.

(This one is NOT political, it’s all wordplay.) The det o’ nation was way overblown.

The writer was in-dis-pens-able.

They tried to talk about their ancestors, but it just de-gen-irate’d from there. Which leads to,

Oedipus said it’s true, you can’t go home again; it’s dilapidated now.

And on a totally different note, they’re not my pictures and I respect copyright so I’ll just link to them, but my cousin Kathryn’s daughter waited till the moment of a family photoshoot to give her mom the big news. Happy day!

May their goodness return to them many times over
Thursday September 01st 2011, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

If one were to drop a painting in the washing machine, now that I can finally use mine again (yay!), I have a strong Impressionist would create a laundered Monet trail.


I got a gift in the mail today from Karin, owner of The Periwinkle Sheep, the friend who, three years ago, drove all the way from Albany NY to Burlington, VT when I was there visiting my daughter, so that we could finally get to meet in person. So. She dyed some deep turquoise fingering-weight merino and decided to mail a skein for me to play with, gorgeous, just because; she told me something was coming but I knew no more than that.

I’ll add a picture in the daylight. Sitting where I could hear the doorbell ring, wondering who the strangers were going to be who would come, it was a great comfort and a scrumptious yarn. I am listening to it to see what it wants to be.

We got up early this morning and drove to Oakland Airport across rush hour and hugged Michelle and let her go.

My dentist’s office called yesterday and asked if I could bump my 1:30 appointment up a half hour? The plumber then called me back and asked if he could come at 3:00 Thursday?

Wow. That perfect timing came in handy!

Lee Kratzer came, he tried, his snake was too short. He refused to charge me for the 45 minutes he was here. Instead, he handed me the phone number of the man who had trained him years ago and told me, He’s good, he’s honest, and he’s very reasonable, and he’s got a lot of guys working for him so one should be available.

Joshua, the new guy, got here within an hour.

First he listened to my brief summary. Then, he turned on the water in two places. Observed. Went out to the street. Heard it, saw it–it’s coming out. The first guy had dislodged the stuff enough, even if he hadn’t known it.

Well, but I didn’t want to have to call him right back in a week or a month… True! We discussed the tree, what I’d seen on the six-month-ago-plumber’s camera of that root and what that guy had said about it.

He went after it.  He had a long enough snake, but he could not get that root to give way past a certain width–just like all the previous attempts. We discussed options for a long-term cure of a longtime problem so that it doesn’t become a sudden severe emergency someday.

And then he handed me my bill.

I was stunned. “Are you sure?” I had never seen a plumber who broke it down to a quarter hour and didn’t round it up to a full extra one.  I had never seen one whose rate was that reasonable. He did the job quickly, he did it well, and he did it with a minimal amount of disruption or stress. He was a nice guy, on top of that. That made it the second time in one day that I let a plumber know he wasn’t charging me enough.  Wow.

And his grandmother and I think he said it was his mom are avid knitters and his wife an avid writer. I sent him home with encouragement for his wife and a copy of my book to share with the knitters he loves. He had earned it. He loved it! He flipped through the pages, looking at the patterns, saying all the right things, making my day right back at me.

And then I went hunting for my last ball-and-a-bit of soft, handdyed Malabrigo Rios merino and cast on a hat for Lee, the plumber who had helped me out but wouldn’t let me pay him at all.