Gone postal
Friday March 16th 2012, 9:37 pm
Filed under: Life

Got hours of knitting done, and at one point movement caught my eye and made me look up as the female Cooper’s hawk swooped in a sharp U-turn right on the other side of the window, tail wide, just missing an escaping junco. Wow.

And then I went to run an errand and found myself in a different drama altogether.

I was at the post office mailing a package to one of my kids when there was a loud bang behind me.

“He DID!” the clerk handling my box exclaimed as a well-dressed Asian man kept going as if nothing had happened. “He BROKE it!” as another clerk ran to see. The first said to me in indignation, “People just don’t care anymore.”

But either nobody thought to run after him, or… it could well be that they realized they knew full well where to find his name if they didn’t know it already, and they’d probably been given training on how to react in an emergency: don’t risk your life for something stupid.

The man leaving the building had found the automatic door opener too slow for whatever was bugging him.  So he’d stepped over from the out door and slammed the in one outward so hard that he broke the large metal piece securing it in the top of the doorway.

The tall door now swung freely in both directions.

Nobody got the license plate of that late-model BMW (or was it a Mercedes. I hadn’t had any reason to pay attention earlier.)

And wow, I hope his significant others are okay, whoever they may be out there. He possibly isn’t, but one can only say he got what he wanted.

The yarn knew
Thursday March 15th 2012, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

And guess who was there tonight.

That same couple–and their baby, whom I hadn’t seen since she was an infant, 11 months old now and almost walking; she and I played for quite awhile. Peek a boo! *giggle giggle giggle*

And Penny and her husband, too.

She had been diagnosed with lymphoma shortly after I knitted her that shawl, and it was a comfort through all those months of treatment and solitude as her chemo-battered immune system could tolerate no risks for months and months.

That yarn had known exactly whose it was from the get-go.

I showed her the project I was working on–and admitted that although it had absolutely demanded to be made, and I’d thought I’d known who it was for, the further along I got into it the less sure I was that that was where it was meant to be.

And so I have already decided what I really will make for the person I’d been aiming towards, while this? I don’t know. I just know I have to knit it. Monday, when I rescued its UFOness from oblivion, I actually only had the first four rows on the needles; now it’s halfway done.

She reached to touch the Findley yarn and exclaimed, Ooooh! As she did so, I suddenly knew: this was exactly the pattern I had knit for her.

Everything came together in good will from both of us in that moment towards whomever it holds in its future.

Monday, it was going to be a different pattern in the body but my counting was off, and so…

I told Penny in mock indignation, My knitting bosses me around! She guffawed–she knew. Hers does too.

I’m curious to see what will come next with this. I do know that yarn time is in its own variable universe.

It’s contagious
Wednesday March 14th 2012, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Family

(Parker and Kim in the photo.)

The doorbell rang and I put my knitting aside.

My sister called from Atlanta last night: her husband was in California on business, and a meeting had been moved to–Wait! she told him. That’s where my sister lives!

Business trips usually leave no time for anything but work, but he had a break during this one. And so between that meeting and Ned’s 5:30 flight, he came on by and we caught up on each other and our kids, the first time we’d seen each other on my home turf in 13 years.  He’d seen three of my kids at college a couple years ago while visiting his and told me how great they were (and both winced and laughed at himself for doing a double take when that pretty tall blonde who’d joined his boys out at dinner called him Uncle Ned. Wait–*Michelle*?!

And as we caught up, he was happily facing my birdfeeders and occasionally laughing over squirrel antics as he told another tale or two. We had a great time.

He loves birdwatching, my sister told me afterwards. They’d had a birdfeeder, but it got put away when Ned had enclosed their porch.

I have no doubt it’s going right back up when he gets home. He was enjoying my flock just way too much not to.

I was going to send him home with some Meyer lemons but forgot. He’ll just have to come back.

Song and bird
Tuesday March 13th 2012, 11:46 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift,Politics

If I’d counted right when I started my project, I wouldn’t have learned how to make the first lace pattern flow so beautifully into the unexpected new one nor would I be planning what comes after these two.

I should stumble more often. I am really really really pleased with how this is coming out–it was hard to put down.

As the afternoon wore on, to give my hands a break I was reading and then grumping over some news: Arizona’s House approved a bill that went below and beyond to actually allowing employers to demote or fire any employee who uses birth control even if it was paid for out of their own pocket. This sentence was removed from the old law: “A religious employer shall not discriminate against an employee who independently chooses to obtain insurance coverage or prescriptions for contraceptives from another source.”

Their Senate looks ready to pass it.

Wow.  Anyone who’s ever had a bad boss (I certainly have), raise your hand… I wonder how fast the Supreme Court would take that one on.

And so I turned on the stereo, looking for relief from all that.

Alison Kraus began singing a cappella.

A young dove flew in and settled in on the patio. Watching me. Learning a new song. Tilting her head up to pay particular attention when I sang too. She relaxed into her spot on the concrete and stayed there as long as the album played, the very model of being still within the world.

Acknowledging the gift, I turned back to that beautiful, radiant yarn and knit in increasingly happy anticipation of its arrival home.

Fiddly with Findley
Monday March 12th 2012, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift

You can’t divide 16 into 58 and 26 doesn’t play well with it either.

I did goofball math three months ago when I started this shawl, in trying to transcribe my scattered notes at the time.  I only caught it after working all day on it, all the while admiring the way the light catches and dances off the silk in the yarn.  It was seriously pretty and seriously soft.

It still is. No way was I going to rip it out.

It took some grumbling and a “what’s wrong?” from my sweetie and finally realizing there simply was no way and giving up. Redesign time!

And now the rest of it is going to be beautiful, too. Totally different from what I’d envisioned, but hey.

I promise not to say to the recipient, Oh, but it was really supposed to look like…

Cake batter up!
Sunday March 11th 2012, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Time to finally sit down and knit while I wait for the almond cake to come out of the oven (with a glance at the clock) and waitwaitwait how on earth did it get that late?

Oh. Right. And my blog time stamp is finally correct again.

Parker, meantime, is ready to help make cookies; they’re a little easier to walk around with.

Tortally called it
Saturday March 10th 2012, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

I wondered last night what was going to pop up next as I glazed the latest tortes.

And so, knowing none of that…

She sent me a note. She and her husband were throwing a party for their old friends to meet their daughter’s fiance, and I had just rsvp’d that we were looking forward to it.

My chocolate torte was such an institution in the ward, she pleaded, and her daughter and beloved both love chocolate; could she possibly persuade me to… She would cover the ingredients…

I wish I could have seen her face when she saw the reply: I already made it last night. It’s yours. Her how did you…!?? came across the electrons loud and clear.

When her husband dropped by for it, I apologized that I had glazed it on a paper plate rather than a more formal one; I hadn’t known. He just looked amazed.

And then, with so much success with that silk shawl yesterday, another abandoned one jumped into my hands tonight. White is beautiful, but it is boring to work with and this was laceweight (albeit on the heavy side) to boot, and so this one had been put aside for Christmas knitting deadlines and then forgotten.

I went to count stitches and to see where I’d left off. My hands exclaimed, Oh! THIS is why I bought this at Cottage Yarns!

I got several rows into it before it dawned on my slow brain that it was white and there was about to be a bride. Ding ding ding.

Let’s see if I can pull this one off.

So what took me so long?
Friday March 09th 2012, 11:33 pm
Filed under: Knit

With a half gallon of ultra-heavy cream to use up, chocolate tortes numbers five and six were baked, cooled, and glazed tonight.

I think the last of it will simply become chocolate sauce. Chop, dunk, heat, stir. Done. (You have to submerge every part of every piece of chocolate in the liquid before adding heat or it can seize into a hard lump that will never melt. Chocolate has the most interesting molecular properties.)

And I finished the silk shawl project that had dragged out for so long; it is nearly dry now. If I had had any idea–I know, I know, but if I really had, this would have been finished two years ago.

I love it when a project feels like it’s just the most beautiful thing you’ve ever knitted while you’re knitting it.

Afterwards will have to do for this time. Wow, though, it really is. And I love that two days after I picked up this long-abandoned project, I have a beautiful lace silk shawl ready to show off for it.

What’s your most promising UFO?

And someone else had already brought dinner
Thursday March 08th 2012, 11:56 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Knit,Life

The shawl is almost finished, but I’ve decided to make the edging longer: not because I have to, but at long last because I want to. It’s going to be gorgeous.

The friend who has shown up at my door several times when I’ve been sick with a quart of mango juice from Trader Joe’s just because it’s my favorite, knowing it would cheer me up, sent out a note today: did anyone have crutches for her height?

We have some, but they’re my son’s and he’s 19″ taller than she is, so I couldn’t help her on that one. But anyone who’s sprained both ankles needs a little something to cheer her up.

What I really wanted to do was help watch her little kids who were running in and out of the house, but that whole sun thing…

I put the chocolate torte in her fridge so she wouldn’t have to get up.

And it was enough.

p.s. Happy Birthday to my daughter-in-law, Kim! And to my son John yesterday.

Slippery slopes
Thursday March 08th 2012, 12:24 am
Filed under: Knit

I needed accomplishment. I needed to finish something. And so I pulled it out and tried again, almost in spite of myself.

About two years ago, I started knitting a shawl out of hand-dyed raspberry ice (scroll down) laceweight silk, 100g 1100 yards–fine, slippery stuff and on size 4 needles. I’d been eyeing it for ages at Purlescence and at last it was mine.

But. I found it hard to see the stitches. I found it hard to hold onto the stitches. I found it easy to poke a stitch wrong blindly and find myself suddenly looking at two or three of them running down down down, (well not really that far, it just felt like it), wondering how on earth I managed to pull off that little stunt–I’m supposed to be good at this. It humbled me.

The other problem was, I found myself wishing I had used a different lace pattern here, or up here. But I was too into it to rip it–it was not particularly fun knitting and I didn’t want to have to do it twice.

I made another stab at it about a year ago. It’s shimmery and soft and beautiful, and it begged to be finished. I even got new eyeglasses.

It got set aside again.

I had a doctor’s appointment today. I knew that taking something that was that slippery and droppable with 457 stitches for waiting-room knitting was nuts. But I grabbed that ziploc out of its banishment anyway, and to my surprise the nurse exclaimed over it and then started reminiscing warmly over what I’d been working on the last time she’d seen me; it was a blanket, right?

(Darned if I remember, but I smiled in thanks.)

Yes, I did have to repair some stitches from my row being interrupted when she called me in. But she was so excited over it that how could I not be too?

I’m finally into the (just decided on) edging and I can count the rows to go. It’s going to be glorious in real actual life, it’s going to be done!

Suddenly the knitting isn’t boring anymore. Suddenly it’s hard to put down. That one compliment made all the difference–I’m so glad I took it along.

I can’t wait!

Being there
Tuesday March 06th 2012, 9:42 pm
Filed under: Food,Life

I always make chocolate tortes in pairs. Saturday’s first went to Becca. The second didn’t know whose it wanted to be when it grew up.

Last night, “Do you want a piece?” And we could freeze individual slices for nibbling after that.

But somehow neither of us felt like it. We did, but…not… Huh. So, no.

He called me mid-day today. He has a co-worker who was the de facto mother to a young woman she’d been close to all the young woman’s life, and she has shared parental worries with him from time to time, trying to be a good mom. I met the co-worker when she came to our older son’s wedding four years ago; she’s a good soul and that young woman was very fortunate to have her.

Whether it happened today or whether today was the day she was able to say it, I don’t know, but she asked the nearest person to let their office mates know so she wouldn’t have to repeat it again and again: her god daughter had just died in a violent accident on the freeway.

“It’s meaningless, really,” I heard the grief in Richard’s voice, “but…if you could…” He was hoping I’d be willing to bring that torte to the office. He knew I would.

And how!

We acknowledged the issue of the sun at mid-day and a full parking lot. But I knew. If I didn’t do this in person myself I would regret it forever.  And so I put the car as close as I could and then in utter defiance towards all the limitations that that stupid lupus imposes on me without my consent, I walked it in.

Richard came, and arm in arm we walked to the other end of the facility. We were coming down one hallway, and as we saw her office just around the corner from the end of it, she wasn’t there.

Just as we started to wonder what to do, we saw her coming from the other hallway that right-angled there. She saw the two of us, recognized what was in Richard’s hands–I’d sent tortes to the office before–and ran and threw her arms around me.

“I’m so sorry.”

We threw our arms around each other again. “Chocolate helps,” she told us, with a wince and appreciation all mixed together in a silent tornado of emotion.

A cake by itself was meaningless. A torte that created the chance to be there for someone in a grief I can hardly imagine–it was what we could do.

But just in case someone who didn’t know found it in the office fridge and snitched some before she could get it home, I just pulled another pair out of the oven. I want to be sure to be ready again. You never know.

The changing of the guard
Tuesday March 06th 2012, 12:16 am
Filed under: Wildlife

It’s peregrine falcon season.

City Hall in San Jose has the perfect set-up: a nestbox 18 stories off the ground with fresh-every-year gravel in it to smoosh around to support the eggs, a not-too-big enclosed space for the kids to run around in and explore, ledges to keep them from falling and later to entice them to hop up to to see the whole wide world below but with space and safety for hopping back down again when they’re not quite ready to fledge yet.

And all the pigeons you could ask for below.

Add in our temperate climate to sweeten the deal, and it shows how the peregrine population has come back from their near-extinction that there is now a tussle every year for that perfect piece of real estate. Which Clara claimed when the building was brand new in 2005.

And she’s still there.

A few days ago, another pair showed up and clearly wanted that spot. Clara and EC went into high alert and drove them off. There were three eggs with a fourth expected, and EC was bringing Clara food and keeping a wary watch along with her.

Until he wasn’t. Saturday morning was the last report of his bringing her prey. The intruding pair had not stayed gone.

No sign of him.

And then a fight was seen, talons locked and raptors tumbling in a  potentially-deadly spiral towards the Fourth Street garage today while the watchers standing there held their breath.

It was reported that of the new pair, the female was a yearling: peregrines have such an intense need to find their life’s mate and home that the new male had been willing to wait a year. I believe Clara’s first mate did the same.

EC was gone. The new male, having been accepted now by the fertile Clara as the strongest and fittest at the loss of her mate, fought off in that spiral the female who was a threat to her. Defeated, the young one rose and took a dive at Clara but did not strike.

Clara and the new male have made the territorial display of mating. City Hall is his. He is bringing her prey now. He has looked in the nestbox at the eggs, and she allowed it: they too are his responsibility now, and he will help raise them well.

Oh oops
Sunday March 04th 2012, 11:34 pm
Filed under: Friends

I bet you every Mormon reading my post from last night got it before I did. I woke up abruptly this morning with the sudden, crystal-clear realization: it’s Fast Sunday!

Meaning I took all that scrumptious warm intense chocolatousness over to Becca and her husband and they resisted temptation and waited till after dinner tonight to touch it. They laughed a good one when I told them I’d realized what I’d done when I hadn’t waited till this evening to bring it over.

Somehow they forgave me.

Someone’s going to have chocolate for breakfast
Sunday March 04th 2012, 12:47 am
Filed under: Food,Friends,Politics

I was paying too much attention to the vicious speech and its aftermath, the twisting non-apology that came only after advertisers started to bail, to the much-ignored fact that one of Ms. Fluke’s points was that birth control pills are used in treating ovarian cysts and ovarian cancer, which is what her friend had needed them for.

I was one of many who wrote to the folks funding his show, but finally, enough–I needed an antidote to all that.

Her timing was perfect: my friend Jade called and came by in the afternoon. We’d run into each other at Stitches for the first time in probably three years and were interrupted, and it was such a joy to just sit down and spend some time together, this time with a cheerful, “Hi, Jade!” from Richard. And I do like to show him off. He’s a good one.

And then as soon as the sun was down enough, he and I went to Milk Pail to get manufacturing cream–and it was in stock this time! Yes! We got the last one. Totally lucked out.

And so (bwaahaahaa) at around ten, after checking with her beforehand to make sure she would be up and it would be okay, we delivered a late-night snack, a still-warm chocolate torte to Becca’s door.

It felt so good to see her so delighted. It did me much good. Chocolate torte: comes in self-serving sizes.

Friday March 02nd 2012, 11:31 pm
Filed under: Family

I once took a class on Robert Frost from an older professor who had herself taken a class from Robert Frost. Thus I particularly love this comic.

And then this day’s too.  Note that if I link them here, I can find and enjoy them all over again later–otherwise I would never remember where they were.

Does that make me a Frost-ed flake?

Meantime, our Sam got the news that I knew she was going to get: Harvard wants her in their Master’s of Public Health program.  (And yes, you have to have a PhD first for that.)

Go Sam!!!