What came around
Saturday June 30th 2012, 11:08 pm
Filed under: Family

Penicillin was a few years away yet. My grandmother, a young mom, pleaded with her older sister to live. Her sister, deathly ill with childbed fever and knowing by then that it was not to be, yearning to comfort her, asked her, Frances? Where are your children?

My grandmother said they were being watched by (whoever it was) while she came to see her in the hospital.

Her sister assured her that her own children, too, would be taken good care of.

And so my grandmother took in the little boys at her sister’s death, her brother-in-law feeling too overwhelmed to cope on his own and needing the help.They stayed for a few years, and my mom considered them almost more her brothers.

Years ago, talking to someone at church after we moved to California, in a chance remark I found the woman was the daughter of one of those boys–we were second cousins. Who knew.

Today we celebrated at the wedding of her daughter, laughing at our daughters being third cousins and why did it matter anyway and the improbability of having made the connection, glad we did just because it’s fun to claim each other.

We are all, in the end, each others’ brothers and sisters.

Hip hip, hooray!
Friday June 29th 2012, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

Made good progress on the Malabrigo I hadn’t expected to work on today, because I…

Took a good hard tumble this afternoon. Did a straight-forward splat on the carpet, bent my glasses, the item in my hands going flying ahead of me–

–and thought of my mom’s reaction.

My mother’s mother broke her hip when my mom was in college, and Mom, small-boned and thin, was always afraid of that happening to her. And so it was that one day, about 16 years ago, she was carrying one of my sister’s twin then-babies and found herself suddenly falling down the stairs she’d been heading down, her full focus on protecting that child from harm.

I can just picture him wanting to ask, Doozitagin? He was fine.

And Mom brushed herself off just jubilant: the baby was fine, and she hadn’t broken her hip! If it didn’t happen then it probably wasn’t ever going to–she was fine! Yay!

And at 81 now, she’s still fine.

I yelled for my Richard. He came.

My 6’8″ husband is incredibly tall when you’re looking up at him from the floor. He helped me up, I brushed myself off, whined a bit–sorry, Mom–and my balance seemed a little worse for the jolt. But hey.

Michelle told me, Mom, you need to sit down, put your feet up and KNIT!

Well, when you put it that way…

And all was well
Thursday June 28th 2012, 11:58 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Thank you Supreme Court. Now my daughters can reliably get health insurance and can pay into the system for it.

Speaking of which. I’ve had an easily-flaring laryngitis that has seemed autoimmune-related for four months now.

I got to see Dr. M today for the first time in three years and secretly wished, as he came in, that my hair still had that youthful dark sandy color–just a few gray hairs on him after all these years.

Got a tube down my nose and throat briefly and I thanked him: he gave me a topical anesthetic first. The ER doctor I encountered at Stanford, who simply shoved it down, could definitely learn from him; he’s a good one. After that one experience I did not know it could be done gently, but in Dr. M’s hands it was a breeze. Just making sure nothing serious was going on.

And with that cleared and out of the way, he stopped and looked at me a moment and said, wonderingly: “You never change.”

Wait, wait–I’m the one with the gray hair! It wasn’t till about two hours later that it hit me–remember that inadvertent eyelid lift that cost me my grandma eyes when I had the skin cancer cut off my scalp? Too funny.

We swapped small grandchild news. His daughter has twins on the way? Then I’ve got some soft hats to be knitting soon, and prayers to add for their safe delivery. Twins! Very cool. To life!

Wednesday June 27th 2012, 11:34 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Michelle was sorting in the kitchen and advocating for Goodwilling a bunch of old Tupperware: lime-gray green, Peptobismal pink, long shoved in the back of the cabinets.”This looks like from the ’80’s, Mom!”

Fancy that. “Trust me, those were the best colors they had at the time,” and the measure of an organized kitchen back then was how much and how well placed and how color-coordinated your Tupperware was on your shelves. There is nobody who will say I came close to succeeding at that.

OXO is taking over here now. Out with the random that kept changing to a new shade every time I tried to add a bit more as my budget allowed. In with the airtight, consistent-over-time, easy-on-the-eyes with a shape that fits side-to-side. Meantime, hopefully someone out there will be shopping the thrift stores for something, y’know, vintage. (I can only hope it doesn’t have BPA–I did find this, and so far, so good.)

And Michelle found–some old wedding presents.

It was the most sweltering for the date on record in Washington DC. We can tell our kids: we were totally hot.

Red roses tonight. Dinner for two at Flea Street Cafe. We kn0w how lucky we are.

Bye bye birdies?
Tuesday June 26th 2012, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Jays, like their cousins the crows, are incredibly observant, smart birds. A very short chain of metal links showed up on the wooden box outside. I have no idea where it came from.  I wonder if they’d tried to use it as a tool?

I like to feed the ground birds: the towhees, the juncos, the doves, the titmice that would rather pick a safflower seed off the concrete than deal with the feisty finches. But during the week of solstice, the jays did what the hawks have done previously: felt compelled to declare the birdfeeder territory theirs alone.

For months, I’ve been throwing suet crumbles under the box. This worked for awhile; the littler birds caught on quickly and even the towhees started squeezing somehow under that 2″ high space, emerging quickly and nervously but victorious.

The scrub jays, whose view of that was blocked from where they perch in the trees, nevertheless figured it out. With heightened hormones last week, one threatened a towhee yet again for having food, then decided hey, a jay could get shoulder-deep under there, too, at least.

The strange thing about it was that that same suet is available in hanging holders, one of them big enough for a jay to eat off of, and occasionally they do. But the fact that I don’t let them or try not to let them snatch the ground birds’ food means that it is clearly imperative to them that that’s what they must have. Delete favorite political joke here. So.

So okay, that’s that. And as of yesterday I stopped putting anything around the box.

And I stopped giving them grief about it. Go. Look. Nothing to see, move along, move along. (Let’s break their habit right now.) I did give in just once yesterday, with a towhee hopping all over looking, and the unseen jays, the pair out there, immediately bullied their way past the others to it. I think I was still coming back in the sliding door, too soon to turn around in time to stop them. Okay, so that’s really that. Done.

They didn’t increase the number of visits to the big hanger. They weren’t hungry. It was all about dominance, and they perched on the box several times or down on the patio beside it and looked in at me like, wait–what’s up with this? One swooped in and scooped up imaginary food off the box into its beak to show me it could. They ducked a peek under it, sure I must have snuck some under there somewhere. Nada.

A western tanager flew to the big hanger today, the first I’ve seen all year, another bird too big to perch on the small cake, but the big one, no problem. Here, guys: let me show you how it’s done.

The jays left it alone.

Designer butter
Monday June 25th 2012, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

The plumber came. He looked at the job, pronounced a fair price and went to work. When he was done, he asked me to come see something. I ducked down under the sink and went Wow!

When we had redone the kitchen 17 years ago, that plumber had glued all the pieces under there together, and this guy had never seen anything quite like it–and a ring was broken.  Tilted up and high, which was good, but really obviously broken.

I told him, yeah, our contractor cut a lot of corners that we found out about later. But glued? Why? Huh.

He had that ring piece in his truck. He offered to fix it for $45, which I thought reasonable in the extreme. Done! And the fluids at the front of the fridge were 37F this morning. We have a working kitchen again!


Michelle was cleaning a cabinet and came across a butter dish that had been a wedding present ages ago in Washington DC, the surviving one; the other we were given had been (are you ready for this) platinum-edged china, I kid you not, broken in the Loma Prieta quake and long gone. The glass one, however, had made it through.

Did you know that butter quarter pound blocks sold on the East Coast are long and narrow and butter quarters sold on the West Coast are short and squat? And do not in any way fit our East Coast butter dish? I explained to her, and she told me that, Oh, you can buy butter shaped like that at Piazza’s. You’ll pay an obscene price for it, but you can get it.

Designer butter. Who knew.

(So, can I get rid of it, Mom?

Not on your life. Call it a quacamole server.)

Ed. to add–remember how I said I was really really hoping no earthquake tonight with that sink full of Drano’d water to the top? The universe laughed. We had a 3.3 at 1:13 this morning just south of San Jose. Not enough to do damage, not even enough to splash (as far as I could tell); just enough to grin mischievously back at us.

A true Type A
Sunday June 24th 2012, 11:40 pm
Filed under: Life

Courtesy of Margo Lynn. Made me laugh.

My glass of milk came out of the fridge at 43 degrees, and whether it goes up or down in there from here, that’s so much better than it was.

The sink, mmm, not so much. Note to Don: we tried your plumber’s idea of adding the weight of lots of water on top of the Drano, and now I’m really really really hoping for no earthquake for the next day or so. Just sayin’. The plumber gets called in the morning.

And way more importantly: I got asked to head up the local Red Cross Interfaith Blood Drive for our ward (congregation); it’s to be held at St. Raymond’s Catholic Church 8:00-2:00 in Menlo Park on Saturday, July 14th. To sign up to donate, go to http://www.redcrossblood.org/ and for this particular event, enter the sponsor code InterfaithCommunity to sign up for a time slot.

I can’t donate, but I can guess they asked someone they knew would be passionate about it. Longtime readers know that blood donors saved my life and platelet donors saved my daughter’s. Even if you’re AB+, the universal recipient rather than O-, the universal donor, your plasma is universally donorable.

I should know. I freaked when I saw AB on the light yellowish bag being set up on my pre-op IV pole three years ago, but the nurse said no no, really, it’s okay, and explained why.

If you can, give. If you need a face to put to it to help make it personal, I’m glad to lend mine. Thank you.

Cool it
Saturday June 23rd 2012, 10:56 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

The kitchen sink, which has been grumbling, backed up last night. The Drano helped some but it didn’t finish the job.

I took a break and bought a gallon of milk tonight. It was a gamble.

I came home and at last we finished that job. I hope.

Now, for 32 years I have marveled at the things my 6’8″ husband can reach; this time, he was marveling at me as I easily squeezed head and shoulders into the 13″ wide freezer side to screw the shelf runners back on after we had visually confirmed that its coils were finally totally de-iced. (Didn’t we thaw those last Saturday…?!)

A week. The freezer side has been pretty much okay, but.  And it’s 17 years old.

Over the last few days, I vacuumed the bottom, I put a tall metal bowl full of ice on the fridge side, we troubleshooted via the ‘net and talked repairmen and (oh please no) replacements. Richard has a nifty laser pointer thingy that reads out the temp of whatever it shines on, and at 58 degrees–62, yesterday–buying milk by the half gallon seemed a good idea.

One last try. Richard and Ryan pulled the behemoth out from the wall this morning and Richard squeezed somehow down on the floor in the small space behind it and unscrewed the back panel. I gave the insides the best I could with the vacuum, cleaning and resting and coming back again and again to have at it. It took us all morning.

It helped some–we got to 55.

Note that if you’re going to stick a vacuum nozzle in there, *turn the fridge off first.* See that motor? In its speed, I thought that was a solid piece there. Do you know how fast it can throw that light piece of plastic back out at you? Yeah, I asked for a flashlight after that. I have been assured it would moan and groan if I’d done any damage.

Hours later, Michelle saw the ice peeking out at the seams inside the freezer. Oh no…

To actually see the coils we had to unscrew the innards to be able to lift the metal back. And wow–all that *hairsucking haircutting hairdryering we did last week, where we thought surely we’d gotten everything thawed behind there because the metal was so warm? We had done that much hairdryering again tonight when we lifted it open and finally saw.

Iced nearly solid behind there. After half an hour of high heat blasted at it. Who knew.

THIS time we knew when those coils were done. I squeezed in and screwed the rails back together. Richard got the shelves back on them. I filled them back up from the cooler. It is done.

THIS time, if it doesn’t work…

Meantime, we put more Drano down the sink and till that works, no dishes can be done.

I really, really want to finish that single row of silk I started today before I go to bed.

*Ed to add, I didn’t blog about that? Make sure your hairdryer has a nearly-solid hairproof screen at the back. I later checked at Target: they had 16 on display. Thirteen were good; three of them had backs that were open enough to suck your hair right in if you held it pointing towards in front of you, and the only way to get that hair out–believe me, we tried–is to cut it. I’m going to have a bit of a frizzy Mohawk for a few months.

There it is again
Friday June 22nd 2012, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Wildlife

We have a laser pointer that tells the temperature of whatever you aim it at. 62F on the orange juice inside the fridge is not a good idea. (I vacuum the coils.)


My friend Gail needed a ride hither and yon today; she’d saved up four errands for one big afternoon on the go. Reading happened. Knitting happened, and a nebulous idea for a pattern began to actually come to be while I waited.

On our way back towards her house, there it was again, on the same telephone line, though further down the road this time. We both saw it and again exclaimed over it: by the size and shape I’d say this one was a female. Beautiful, beautiful big bird standing watch over the cars going by.

And so once again a Cooper’s hawk made our day while driving Gail around. And after I got home, I saw two Nuttall’s woodpeckers dancing together around my olive tree. I’d seen one bathing in the water in the curb last week so I knew one was around somewhere again. I’d been waiting for months. Two!

And life is good.

Now to get back to work on that project. (Yup. More of the dk silk, in not wheat but wheat cream, a pale golden shade.)

Thank you, Stephanie
Thursday June 21st 2012, 5:18 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Knit

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee wrote a much calmer post about All That than I did. Good for her, and I’m grateful she did and for her example. (And thank you DebbieR for the heads-up).

And after some discussion around here, too, here are some more thoughts. The patterns that clearly mimic the Olympic logo? Infringe if they’re for sale, if they’re free, no, unless the things made from them are sold.

The USOC thinks the word ravelympics infringes too. Personally, I think it’s close but that it does not and that nobody’s going to confuse the two. The USOC’s letter was far from well thought out, though, and it just didn’t help their cause when, after having called ravelympics “denigrating,” they then apologized (though they did not retract the cease and desist) and added an offer to let (you know that’s a  non-knitter, right there) us knit for the athletes. Trying to make peace in the storm.

Wait, wait, guys: knitting usually takes mega-hours. You have to let people calm down first before you can just assume they want to give up their life’s time to you.

They handled it badly. So did I by letting it get under my skin so thoroughly. I apologize.

Meantime. Bryan left this morning. He’ll be home in New Jersey in time to see my oldest on her way during a move; he saved the last cookie for breakfast before his trip, grinning when I made sure he’d gotten it.

It was a small batch last night. I pureed about a half cup toasted hazelnuts with an egg and three packets of Splenda. Baked them as cookies that came out of the oven looking cake-like but quickly fell and looked cookie-ish again. Then I spread them with premium Bergenfield unsweetened chocolate, melted with packets of Splenda mixed in to his taste.

I saved them all for him. We like good stuff around here and that one he could eat.

All those good nutty chocolatey smells…

I just took a chocolate hazelnut torte out of the oven.

(Ed. to add: Channon got me thinking of when we went to hear Sally Rogers sing at the Folkway Inn in Peterborough, NH, ~26 years ago. I’ve hoped to live up to this song ever since.)

Ravelympics and a threat
Wednesday June 20th 2012, 11:31 pm
Filed under: Knit

An aside first: Dale of Norway has been making licensed custom-designed sweaters for the Norwegian team for the Winter Olympics, specific to each set of games, since 1956.

Ravelry is a very popular Facebook equivalent for knitters and crocheters. One in three Americans knows how to knit. There are two million Rav users from all over the world.

And on that site there has been the Ravelympics: the idea of stretching one’s skills in such a way as to create something new and wonderful, starting at the opening of the Olympic games and ending when they do. It’s an inner challenge shared worldwide to do your best, to make something you might not have accomplished otherwise.

The US Olympic Committee has now sent a cease and desist order to Ravelry. The full text is here. “We believe using the name “Ravelympics” for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games. In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.”

This lawyer is someone who has never spent a hundred hours turning string into gorgeousness. This is someone who has no idea that the spirit and intent of the thing was specifically to cheer the athletes on while watching them while knitting, creating worldwide community in the process.

As one knitter said, will Olympia, Washington get threatened next?

If it were the Ravelry Olympics, or even the Ravelympic Games, there would be a precedent, but this is extreme overreaching. They went combing through Rav, looking for examples: apparently every pattern that combines a set of three knitted rings and a set of two in the fabric, be it purl stitches or colorwork or lace, is also in violation and must be taken down. Calling Barbara Walker.

Post 530 (you have to be a member to see it) gives a great rebuttal to the committee’s lawyer.

Write. Twitter. Call. Protest. The addresses and numbers are in those links. We are being bullied by the clueless.

From New Jersey
Tuesday June 19th 2012, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Family

My brother‘s here, my brother’s here!

Monday June 18th 2012, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,LYS

I finally cast off on my blue silk shawl. I’d made two to give but really wanted to finally have one for me, too: gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous yarn. I had it soaking in hot soapy water to get the mill oils out like you have to do with coned yarns, and between doing that and when I got it blocked, the mail came.

I had sent the good folks at Colourmart a query as to whether they had any of their dk silk left in something close to white. There had been some previously, and Ravelry rumor says that sometimes there are extras not listed on their site. There were a couple of weddings coming up around here and I figured I could at least ask.

No, answered their Richard, but: and out of the blue (which, come to think of it, I almost am) he insisted on sending me two cones of a deep cream of wheat color. To play with. No no, it was on them, have fun!

Wait–what? But I– ! Okay, then, could I send them two copies of my Wrapped in Comfort: Knitted Lace Shawls book? (Whoa, looking at that link. Purlescence has them at cover price.)

Oh, just one, and that would be very nice…

Two can play at twos. One got signed to the good folks at Colourmart, the other simply signed. They can keep it; they can use it as a prize for a Ravelry competition if they don’t need the extra; they can play with it however they want.

Today’s shawl was out of just one cone. Two recipients and everybody who loves them are going to be blessed by their generosity, people they will never meet are going to be happy just because they wanted it to be so. They put some good in the world.

Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous. I can’t wait to make it worth their while.

Happy Father’s Day
Sunday June 17th 2012, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Family

Michelle and Ryan cooked the dinner. Kim and Richard and Parker Skyped with us. Phone calls were made. A great day.

And. In anticipation of Father’s Day, my sweetie took me shopping yesterday and bought ME a gift: a replacement for my jammed, suddenly unworking squirrel super soaker. He’s a sweetie.

One more row to go now
Saturday June 16th 2012, 11:24 pm
Filed under: Knit

It took me three days to work up the courage to frog silk. Beautiful, shimmery, slippery silk–but that edging did not please me. I dampened the stitches around the needles, let it settle and dry, and then–left it there. Tried to drag myself back to taking the risk I knew I had to take. Didn’t want to. Considered tinking thousands upon thousands of stitches–reeeally didn’t want to.

This morning it was a relief to simply feel, okay, I was ready now. I laid it all out on the floor and took the needles out and hoped. Walked on my knees around the circle, carefully undoing stitch after stitch in row after row and then four more rows. Yes I dropped three stitches, yes, two of them ran. Two were yarnovers, no biggy. I caught them and I fixed them.

And at about 350 stitches into it, realized, no. I abandoned it again for most of the day.

This would not do. Tinked back. Knitted it up again with changes to the pattern and finally finally got it right.

It was imperative. You just don’t waste silk nor one’s skills nor pride on doing it halfway.

ps. Happy Father’s Day, Dad and Dad Hyde and Richard and Richard-the-younger!