The knitter’s other Almanac
Saturday December 31st 2011, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Overdid it yesterday; 63/43 bp this morning made it hard to move. Richard rescued me with a glass of water. Slow all day.

I got a package in the mail in the afternoon, a long out of print book I’d bought via Amazon. The seller charged me something like a buck plus the standard 3.99 shipping.

Only, they’d written “first class” on the envelope that with that heavy book in it clearly weighed way more than they could ship that way; at the post office, rather than sending it via media mail and slow, then, they’d opted for Priority and tracking–for $13.20! I’d paid all of $5.

They didn’t have to work so hard to make me happy but they did. I loved that the return address was within shouting distance of Richard’s late grandparents’ house they’d built in the 1930’s in Washington, DC. Back home.

And also in that package was the woman’s business card, decorated in shades of green.

I’ve been needing something to push me back into feeling productive again, just one specific project to grab me to get me going.  It took some stash diving to find just those shades. You know someone wouldn’t put a colorway on their card to represent themselves to the world by unless they liked it.

I had a fingering weight strand of pure  merino sock yarn from Fleece Artist and a matching strand of the same from Creatively Dyed, and together they would make the perfect quick but pretty hat.

I confess it took a brief moment of letting go of what I thought I was going to use that Fleece Artist for–and yet. It totally makes it. I’ve had it nearly a year, and every time I’ve tried to sit down to start what it was supposed to be, it refused to continue. It’s New Year’s Eve, and starting with a fresh idea to put some good directly into the world starting right now–it feels like that’s what it was waiting for.

Of course I don’t have to do it. And neither did she. That’s why it’s so fun.

(Oh, and the book? My much-laughed-over copy of The Mother’s Almanac got destroyed by a leaking roof during our remodel when my youngest was in first grade. I wanted to have a copy around; it’s a great book for anyone who loves children, and I now have both that again and, as of today, Almanac II.)

The yarn is wound, the brim is done. Things are speeding up.

Monkey see monkey do-dad
Friday December 30th 2011, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Richard said, reasonably enough, that I shouldn’t buy a phone I haven’t tried to actually hear on.

And so John and I went to the local Verizon store. The manager set up an Iphone 4S at full volume and I called home.

Standing in a noisy room full of people, I heard every word. It helped that I was talking to my husband and knew his voice well, but still–had it been my current phone, I would not have been able to make out a thing, even in speakerphone mode. Wow. Sold.

The manager came back over and chatted us up a bit. Can you turn Siri up louder too? No, he was sorry, you could not. John mentioned that we were going to buy online and the guy said that unless something said internet exclusive, he could match anything there. Double data on the droids? Sure.

Hey. We went home and grabbed Richard.

The process took hours, it was crazy, but it’s done. (Well, almost, the Iphones were on backorder and will be mailed.)

Annnnnd… There being rung up too and waiting for the system to do its belabored thing was a dad with a toddler being very well behaved but very bored at the very long process.

Lo and behold: a hand sanitizer dispenser to my left–thank you Verizon!–before I reached into my purse and found, you guessed it, a little banana-chomping monkey handknit finger puppet to entertain the little boy with and his older sister who suddenly appeared next to her daddy when there was something interesting to investigate. Sharing commenced and they were actually happy about it.

The dad went from tired to glowing. It was worth going in just to see that.

Sell-you-our network
Thursday December 29th 2011, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Family

So, I decided, let’s make something useful out of my downtime. (I’m up to a lot more than yesterday.)  Screentime? Sure.

Our family cellphone contract is finally up and four of the five phones are in bad shape and need to go; it would make sense to make choices while all those who need replacements are actually here.

Shopping for a cellphone is like shopping for a car:  it’s annoying and it just. takes. so.  long.

John and Richard went on a non-buying expedition to see some of the androids in person while trying to make up their minds. Michelle and I know what we want. Then, how much data. One company’s unlimited looked good till I read the fine print that says how much could be added to your bill. Let’s not.

Hours and much discussion and more hours and screens later, I think we’ve got it. But just to make sure there are no second thoughts, we’ll wait to hit “buy” till the morning.

Lightweight 8-megapixel camera always at the ready, here I come. Maybe I’ll even catch a hawk.

Step by step
Wednesday December 28th 2011, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Family

Better than yesterday, and thank you, everybody. I’m just trying really hard not to infect my kids, especially John, who is supposed to travel from here to see a relative on chemo.

I actually felt up to maybe knitting today, but I just couldn’t get past the idea that I’d be putting germs into a gift and so didn’t.

Jumped by a germ
Tuesday December 27th 2011, 8:52 pm
Filed under: Life

Felt fine yesterday afternoon, by dinner, not so much, by bedtime, definitely sick; slept dark to day to dark.

Hose an’ a…
Monday December 26th 2011, 9:00 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Wildlife

It has been 29 and 30F or so at night this past week and after one pipe-freezing incident we’ve been leaving the slowest little drip in the kitchen till we get up in the morning (with mental apologies to the Hetch Hetchy reservoir.)

A neighbor who is away saw our weather reports and sent out a request for help checking on a hose of theirs, mentioning vaguely about its being there for the raccoons; would we or whichever neighbor sees this first go check it out and turn it off for them just to be sure?

First, though, we got some Skype time with my in-laws and our older children who are visiting them, and of course Parker was clapping his hands back at the four of us here clapping and cheering him on. There is just nothing like seeing a baby happy to see us seeing him, and everybody else, too.

Which probably helped make it so that my husband was laughing when he stepped back in the door from the neighbors’ a few minutes later.

They have a koi pond. (Oh yeah, forgot about that.) There is, it turns out, a motion-sensored water sprayer to keep the raccoons from raiding their fish.

Iced at night or no, “It works,” pronounced Richard: he grinned as I typed back to the neighbors that, not to worry, the deed was done.

A sense of forever
Monday December 26th 2011, 12:39 am
Filed under: Family

At the end of our visit in November, my mother-in-law gave my husband a bag full of audio tapes she wanted reformatted so she could share them with her siblings while there is time for them to enjoy them and perhaps share their own stories back with her: recordings of their father, who died when my husband was 16. Recordings of her telling stories, so long ago that she sounded like her daughter, Richard’s sister who died of lymphoma 11 years ago. Recordings of her brother singing; of her mother, long gone, who once told my husband that he was eating for two now and who rewarded our coming to visit her, the widow of a dairy farmer living way out in the boonies, by sending us home with two bags from her freezer of the kinds of steaks and roasts that  starving students couldn’t have dreamed of buying and she knew it.

Dear, do YOU know how to do justice to a T-bone? She’s your grandmother! It was an unexpected and very nice problem to have. And the start of my husband’s habit of cooking the meat on Sundays.

Family voices that, after finding it would cost $65 per half hour of tape (!) to pay someone else to transcribe, Richard bought the missing piece of equipment to do it himself.

And so Friday and Saturday all these voices past and of those still present but much changed by now spoke across this room, with more to come.

A family photo book was made for my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday; a copy was given to us today too.

A family photo book was made for my dad’s 85th birthday; a copy was given to us today too.

Photo mugs came out of a box with Parker’s happy face grinning all over them.

The generations continue.

Merry Christmas
Saturday December 24th 2011, 11:50 pm
Filed under: Family

The Buche de Noel is done, with coconut cream in the ganache for Michelle.

The boxes are piled under the tree: if you’ve seen one Amazon, you’ve seen’em all–tomorrow we get to find out whose was which and for whom. (Um, oops. Well, it does save on the wrapping paper.)

And I had a huge surprise today, but it was someone else’s story mostly, so I’ll wait and ask her first before I say more. But it was a very very happy surprise.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, solace in the solstice, and may the peace of the season be with us all.

Sleigh bells ring
Saturday December 24th 2011, 12:39 am
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

I went to deliver a Christmas present. Drove over. Rang the doorbell.

Her car was in the driveway but there was no answer–till suddenly I saw the window sliding across at the bedroom next to the front door: she was sick, one of her kids was sick, she was glad to see me but she sure didn’t want to come close.

So she screened my calling on her. What a pane.

Well then. After a few moments’ chatting, I told her I was going to doorbell ditch her present, then. She laughed. (It seemed time to let her go lie back down.)

I stepped back to the right, put down the gift box with the handknit inside, rang the doorbell and took off in my car. Take two-strandeds and don’t mall us in the morning.

Special delivery
Friday December 23rd 2011, 12:05 am
Filed under: Life

It was dark already. The doorbell rang. Three boxes: a Kringle with “A gift for you” printed on the outside, another with a return address of Mrs. Fields cookies, and a plain brown To Be Discovered.

No UPS truck, rather, the Christmastime UPS bicycle brigade, a great few-days’ job for kids on winter break, and the young man already back to his bike called out to me from the dark, Season’s Greetings! Have a happy one!

Thank you! You too!

And another project got finished today too and is blocking. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good knit. (Um, all? I’d better, like, *really* hurry up…)

I’m picturing those bicycles rigged up as knitting machines cranking out as you pedal, creating tall socks ballooning behind them to alert drivers like the flags on those baby carriers. I gotta get me one of those. Hey, Santa? I want one. In Rube red and Gold-berg.

Wool you look at that
Wednesday December 21st 2011, 11:38 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

The tree was decorated by the shortest person in the house. There are no balls above where I can reach and everybody’s quite fine with that.

A blue Malabrigo hat went where it was supposed to go, the giftee thrilled at the handknit; a good wool couldn’t ask for better.

Another gift got finished today and is blocked and drying. Just in the time of Nick!

Happy Birthday!
Tuesday December 20th 2011, 8:35 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Lupus

A three-birthday day around here.

My friend Sterling’s wife gave out his cell number when he wasn’t looking and we all threw him a virtual surprise party with text messages. He thanked me and added as he wrote back, who is this?

Oh, Alison! Oh, okay, cool!

My mom went to her airport to pick up my older sister, who with her husband is taking care of their one-year-old grandson Geoffrey, his parents being deployed; so we got to sing Happy Birthday to Mom and talk to my dad and sister, too.

One year ago, and now… We got a quick Skype chat with Parker and Richard and Kim and we all sang him Happy Birthday, but since my husband was off at work, they’ll try later. Cool–all the more celebration for us!

And I got an answer from the doctor who had ordered the Reclast. The site that had said a low creatinine count was a sign of lupus nephritis had it exactly backwards. Low is good. It’s the high that’s a problem. Given that Reclast can affect kidneys of itself, and, yeah, there will be another test tomorrow, but it does seem to be clearing away.

It’s been probably twenty years since I had to know the details of lupus kidney disease, and I’ve never wanted to go back.

Looks like I won’t have to. Yes!

A certain young man is now officially one, his great-grandmother, that plus 80. It’s a holiday kind of a day all around.  Celebrate!

Holding my breath
Monday December 19th 2011, 11:57 pm
Filed under: Lupus

Amazing how looking up a number on a chart (I got messaged by the clinic this evening) can take a person immediately to the depths, to, (during some treadmill time that was suddenly sorely needed) oh wait, that morning blood test for the Reclast was four days after that mid-afternoon on the mountain in the sun.

Flare. Right on cue. Hey! Stay out of the sun, and the lupus will remember how to stay away from me.

I tell you, I don’t do charts.

Suits me to a tease
Sunday December 18th 2011, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life,Wildlife

Took a nap today, puttered around the kitchen, walked into the family room at last to see, perched at most 15 feet away, a Cooper’s hawk–I think the female–looking at me in as much astonishment as I was looking at it: I didn’t expect *you* here! It considered my presence a moment and then in no particular hurry spread those beautiful 31″ wings wide, flared her long striped tail in the now-familiar circle, and she was off.

One of the first things Michelle asked when the kids got home last night was whether a certain package had arrived; it had. I picked it up to show her and said to Richard, “Looks familiar, doesn’t it?”

To which my daughter reminded me of a certain earlier Christmas where I’d told her of a favorite yarn, and a familiar-looking package had arrived: I opened it, I pulled out this lovely yarn, I knitted up half a ball’s worth of it and then suddenly realized, wait–I didn’t order this color, did I? (Checking name on box.) Oh my goodness.

And so I’d stuffed it needles and all back in the box, wrapped the box, and threw it under the tree tagged from Michelle to me. There. I wrapped it for you.

Needle deprivation. That’ll teach me.

Fly the friendly skies
Saturday December 17th 2011, 9:54 pm
Filed under: Family

Looking at the clock, looking at the clock, trying to figure out what yarn to cast on to give my antsy anticipation something useful to do… (Edited to add, since they’re not home yet, Eco Duo won.)

Our older two kids are going to Texas to see their grandparents, with Grandma’s news today confirming the wisdom of seeing her now. We’ve been taking turns. She’ll get to meet Parker.

I’ve still been feverish, so Richard just went to the airport by himself: John and Michelle are coming in to the same airport, both their planes are early–and tell me, how exactly does a plane arrive 55 minutes before it’s scheduled? His had to sit on the tarmac because the airport wasn’t ready for it yet.

I cannot WAIT to throw my arms around my two younger children!