Checking how it works
Friday May 31st 2013, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Friends,Wildlife

Some friends stopped by tonight.

Paul wanted to see my fruit trees: how did this clamshell thing work? I walked out there with him and showed him and he looked closely: “So you did get them snapped shut. How did you…” I acknowledged that it took some working around the branches in some cases. There were leaves tucked inside quite a few along with the fruit.

Turns out he has a Fuji apple tree, too, and a pear–what kind of pear? A Comice? Oh, I so want one of those, I told him–and an apricot. They get apricots, but the Fujis and the pears not at all. It’s always the squirrels, and so he’d wanted to see my clamshells in action.

Of which I had a couple extra because my friend Kathy saved them for me and dropped them off at Purlescence last night. (I was a no-show at knit night; oops. She gave me a heads-up and I dropped by this afternoon and retrieved them. Thank you, Kathy! And the Purl Girls too.)

Paul said something about how I would need to poke airholes in them, and I showed him how the produce ones came with them–Kathy’s didn’t, whatever they had had in them previously, but I’d found it no big deal whatsoever to poke some in there. They’re all good.

Paul and his wife had been collecting clamshells after I’d mentioned the idea and they were hoping it really would work; well, for me, so far, totally. We’re crossing our fingers together now.

(Oh and. I saw a slightly lighter colored scrawny-teenager-looking Bewick’s wren today, clearly a fledgling as it bounced around. It so made my day.)

Clamming up
Thursday May 30th 2013, 9:41 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

One person besides the driver has to stay awake at all times, I reminded John before he left. He was very much with me on that one. And so he got home at 3:2o this morning safe and sound.

Meantime, a friend offered three large produce clamshells. I got at least five apples snapped inside them, thinking as I arranged them around leaves and twigs and fruit that I definitely owe her a pie in four months. Squirrels: thwarted.

Back to the endless baby sweater. If I’d knitted it in cables it would have been done long ago, but I went for a simple 3×1 rib: on one side, it goes in single-stitch vertical lines against a purl background, and on the other, it pulls widthwise to show you what it really is, but relaxed, the purl stitch vanishes down into the fabric and it looks more like stockinette. I so rarely knit something that simple that I’d forgotten that 3×1 does that.

Part of me is charmed while part of me is mostly by the fact that it’s within 40 rows of being done. That and–just wait till I get to see the baby it’s to go on, that will cure any doubts about it on the spot. It’s not about the knitting at all, it’s about Hudson.

Okay, that just totally perked up my needles. Back to it!

Right on cue
Wednesday May 29th 2013, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

The repair job on the car window was finished this morning.

One last hug and a wave goodbye and our youngest was off.

The house was suddenly way, way too quiet.

I ripped back the top of the baby sweater I’d done wrong. On size 4 needles.

A Bewick’s wren showed up for a quick bite. I had so missed those…

And then this evening a whoosh grabbed my eye as a squirrel and a Cooper’s hawk (the hawk! The male! Hey you, long time no see here!) rushed in, feinting right, then left, and then the hawk grabbed the lawnmower handle, wheeled right again and away. At first impression it had seemed like the squirrel was chasing the hawk! But I think rather Coopernicus simply flew faster than the thing could run and he’d overtaken and gone past it. I don’t think that’s what he was hunting this time; he stayed at birdfeeder height.

He had a tail feather askew. Out of sight now, I looked back to see if the squirrel was watching him go, in taunting mode like the one awhile back that had won the Darwin award, but no, he’d disappeared into hiding. Good.

My mind’s been on the road all day: climbing over the Sierras, careful on those pointing-down freeway curves with the thousand-foot drops, across the endlessness of the Nevada desert, past dusty Wendover and the shriveled former ocean, and at last the lights of Salt Lake City in the distance as you come around yet another mountain, willing John and his friends a safe journey on their long drive back.

Friends, returning
Tuesday May 28th 2013, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Friends

Went to our friend Nina’s daughter Gwynnie’s showing of the movie tonight that she produced, Return To Nowhere, at the Cinema 12 in downtown San Jose tonight. Lots of old friends in attendance, and when the lights came on, the cast turned out to be attending the premiere too. (Now that I knew their faces.)

Amazing experience. California’s high speed rail project as a plot device. Phyllis’s office as a prop! Sarah as secretary–I’ve known her since she was a toddler, cool.

We carpooled with Phyllis. And a good time was had by all.



What is it about them…?
Monday May 27th 2013, 11:00 pm
Filed under: My Garden,Wildlife

Pictures, and of Hudson, too, but still working on getting my WordPress update to show them.

Saturday evening there was one.

Sunday evening there were five.

Tonight I found eleven on the ground, chewed in a top-off-then-hollowed-out pattern so as to get the most of the innards with the least of the skin, the biggest one maybe an inch and a half across and not due to be ripe till September and October. This is May! Just the apples, and only the Fuji variety and not the due-in-June plums–and the dirt under the Fuji tree now looked like a chinese checkerboard with a preemie apple for a marble inserted into one of the new holes.

Game on!

I need me more clamshells, fast.

Flight connections
Sunday May 26th 2013, 8:15 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

It didn’t even hit me till this morning: the other part of the story. That the two were connected.

Yesterday after Karen dropped us off at the airport we found what gate we were supposed to go to, A23, and then while Richard found us some seats in the holiday crowd I went off to the restroom and to buy us some orange juice while we waited.

It was awhile later that I pulled out my phone, which I’d already turned off in anticipation of my bags being overhead, turned it back on, and checked the time, wondering at my sense that it seemed to be taking a long time.

Wait. 5:22. Were we delayed? Wasn’t it supposed to leave at 5:30? The place was full of people but there was nobody actually lined up in our immediate area.

Richard hurried over to the counter to doublecheck and then came running back: yes it’s on time and we were at the wrong gate! They’re almost all boarded–run! “Good catch,” he said gratefully to me as we went down the gangway just in time.

We usually preboard: it’s very difficult neurologically for me to walk through tight, visually very busy spaces, they toss what’s left of my balance and make me stagger and hang on for dear life and with the bag thing going on too I don’t want to be very far from the restroom and I don’t want to break a hip getting to it. (Okay, and my 6’8″ husband likes not bruising his knees if he can get a seat at the front of the plane.)

We were well back in the plane because of our near-miss. I found seats on opposite sides of the aisle, but he said, no, let’s go a little further back to over there where there are still two side-by-side, and so we did that, settling down next to a young woman by the window.

And that is the only reason I ended up next to that nurse in training. We would never otherwise have even seen each other.  Along with the rest of the conversation, it was a comfort to her to know that our going to see Richard’s mother just before she passed had been a great joy and comfort then and since–that she was doing the right thing by going now.

I guess it was more important than I could guess that that whole thing happened, because I cannot fathom, other than the intervention of God, how it did. How neither my husband nor I took in the obvious fact that we had the A25 sign above our heads rather than A23. It just didn’t enter in. Neither of us got antsy over it when we found out, either, we just fixed the problem and were quite grateful we hadn’t missed our flight, in other words, we were emotionally prepared for all that followed without simple human stress tripping us up.

I wish I knew who she is so I could marvel together with her over how our meeting up came to be.

And on a more mixed note, John did a one-day drive for a two-day stay at home that was supposed to end in another one-day drive straight back to Salt Lake City on Monday. Only, the people he came in with went off to San Francisco on Saturday (while he was planting my cherry tree for me, among other helps around the house) …and they came back to find their car window smashed.

Along with several others parked along that block. New car. Nothing was stolen, nobody was hurt, just, they have to wait for an insurance adjuster to see it so a shop can get the okay to fix it and tomorrow’s a holiday and and and.

Looks like we get a few extra days enjoying our son’s company that none of us were expecting.

I’m very sorry they’re having to go through that terrible experience. And I am very much going to enjoy the extra time we suddenly get to have with him.

I like my blessings wrapped in nicer packages certainly than that one, but they come as they come.

From Baltimore with love
Saturday May 25th 2013, 5:01 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Family,Friends,Life

We had a wonderful time at the lunch Thursday–but I would have given so much to have been able to stand outside in the bright summer sun afterwards and chat some more with Scott and his mom where the noise of the restaurant would have been a door behind us and he and I both could have heard better. There are moments where I highly regret my lupus. But it is what it is. And it was so joyful to see them. He sent us home with a collection of his photography, and he does such beautiful work. Alaska was well represented, and I hope someday to see some of it too–and I reminded him of the postcard he sent me from there when I was in the hospital the first time, of a sign warning no going beyond this point: bear danger.

A very large bear was leaning casually on the sign, all his world before his eyes.

We took Sam and her roommate Maria and Karen out to lunch yesterday as a final hurrah before the airport and then got home late last night, and on the first leg of the flight I sat next to someone who was clearly studying nursing.

Or maybe she was brushing up, but it’s always best to guess on the one side rather than the other, so when the plane landed and I could hear, I asked her if she were a nurse?

Oh, no, not yet, she said with a pleased smile, but she would be graduating in December.

Oh cool! I thanked her: “A nurse saved my life.” I told her I had been in the hospital with Crohn’s disease, I had had temporary diabetes on the IV steroids, and during a shift change a nurse I didn’t know had poked her head in the door in my room and gone, I don’t like the looks of you. She had checked my blood sugar: 32!  And falling.

Oh wow! said the young woman at that number.

I have heard from enough sources that it is hard in many workplaces to be a beginning nurse, and everyone has to start somewhere–so I wanted her to come into it knowing that the patients appreciate what she will do. I thanked her for going into nursing.

She was coming to see her dad…she hesitated…and her grandma for the last time. Her husband had told her to go, just go, and I could just picture a very young couple with no means really yet agonizing over the price of the plane ticket; she had flown from Columbus to San Diego via Baltimore, a long day but the cheapest flight. I chuckled; we were coming from Baltimore to San Jose via San Diego, same reason. A long day.

I told her we had flown in December to see my mother-in-law for the last time, that we’d had a wonderful visit and had been so glad we’d gone.

We had enough layover to grab a fruit smoothie from a vendor whose shop was right against the gate and get back on the next plane. I know, I know. But it is Richard and Kim’s anniversary this weekend so we will see them and Parker and Hudson next week, and our son John made the long drive home for this weekend because at the last minute some friends needed a fellow driver and back.

He is here now. We are home, too. Life is good.



Wishing for more time everywhere
Thursday May 23rd 2013, 6:29 am
Filed under: Knit

Went to a short lunchtime concert at Sam’s church, five vocal solos with piano to celebrate Wagner’s 200th birthday. It was a block from her home and we walked over there.

In the evening we drove back to Karen’s and our mutual good friend Kathleen came. We talked into the night till we finally had to say, you’ve got to be in your classroom at eight with an hour’s drive home now–we have got to let you go.

Today while Sam’s doing her infusion thing we’re having lunch with another old friend, and then back to Baltimore to spend more time with her. She told me not to feel guilty about my friend time, that she sees her friends when she comes home, hey. It’s part of what you do.

Well yes, but, she’s who we came for.

Karen showed us the momma robin in her nest just outside Karen’s back door. We were careful not to disturb her.

The jet lagged
Tuesday May 21st 2013, 9:34 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends

We went around the tornado area in very rough skies, even at 3900 feet Monday, and eventually got here. About three hours sleep last night.

Sam’s diploma is in hand and she is beautiful.

My childhood friend Karen, Sam’s roommate and we had a grand day visiting.

I have no idea what time zone my body thinks I’m in–off to bed.

And to go to see real green again
Sunday May 19th 2013, 8:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

I saw a Bewick’s wren at dusk on the fence, peering into the neighbor’s garden.

This was huge to me. I had had a delightful courting pair, as I do every year–and then they vanished. Seeing a Bewick’s had been a near-daily occurrence for years and they had become my favorites, and then nothing. For two months. I could only assume the neighbor’s cat had gotten them, as so often happens to their kind, but there one was tonight!

And. There is a squirrel who’s been taught to water ski, here, just for fun.

And. When Sam graduated the last three university degrees, illness got in the way: I once had to call Southwest and explain the Crohn’s and the bleeding, and the good woman on their end took my nontransferable ticket and reassigned it to Richard’s name so he could go in my stead.

This is Sam’s third graduate-degree commencement (this was for her previous one, go, Sam!) and I think it’s safe to say this one’s her last. And so tomorrow I arrive, via Southwest of course, in Baltimore: Johns Hopkins here I come! (Don’t forget to water my potted cherry tree while I’m gone, gotta feed those future birds, right?, ‘kay thanks ‘bye.)

Tap. Tap.
Saturday May 18th 2013, 7:56 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit

Is this thing working again?

I’d been wondering why the site was being so slow for me and where all the comments had gone and then this morning it refused to let me delete spam. I did manage to get that one note in at the bottom of yesterday’s post and then we had no access.

Richard, a computer scientist, put in seven hours today dealing with tech support and fixing the wonkitude. There may still be a little weirdness, and if you come across any please let me know. He missed Maker Faire so that I could have my blog and website back, which hurts (me more than him; he’s watching it live now online and saying don’t worry, it’s fine. It helps that Michelle went and brought home the most exquisite chocolate.) I tell you, he’s the best, and so is she.

Along the way he found out that another site had my Marnie’s Scarf pattern picture up with a link to my page, which is cool, but it had been renamed, which wasn’t cool at all and he logged a protest.

I’d been wondering for awhile why on earth I was getting occasional requests for help with a Goddess Dream scarf when I had designed nothing of the sort. Nobody ever gave me the link (because surely I knew it, I guess) and I wondered why they didn’t ask the person who’d made it. I mean, I like to be nice but it’s a little hard to walk someone through the details of a pattern you don’t know and you’ve never seen.

It’s been nine years since I put my own free patterns on my site and I always have to go back and remind myself what I did where; it has at times taken hours to walk a new laceknitter through the work in their hands that they can see but that I can’t. I may have years and years of practice at my work, but generally they’re asking because they don’t. I was there once, when there were no online sources to turn to and not even any books in print that I could teach myself laceknitting from; I’m very glad to help.

It’s all about passing along the love of the craft. But I have to have enough information myself to start from.

I did have a wonderful time yesterday answering a woman who said, “I’m 93 and I’ve been knitting all my life but what in the world is an ssk?”

I so hope to be knitting new things at 93! And how cool that she was online to ask me!

But those times people asked about the Goddess Dream scarf I was wondering why on earth…when I had no knowledge of and nothing to do with it.


The responsible party is here. I very much appreciate that they linked to my pattern rather than just taking it, but I think they just had no idea what problems they were causing me and other knitters by changing the name to something they thought more catchy or impressive. I adore my friend Marnie, in whose honor I posted that freely as she had freely spent her time and efforts helping me recover after a major hospitalization for Crohn’s disease, and I’d like her name to stay attached to my pattern. Her great acts of service and love, only one of which is posted with her namesake scarf, represent a level of unselfishness and good-person-hood that I aspire to.

I guess I’ve got a ways to go yet. I certainly should have asked the people who asked me why they’d come to me so perhaps I could have found out sooner what was up. My apologies to all those who didn’t get the help they were looking for at the time.

Friday May 17th 2013, 9:53 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Our neighborhood was built for young families.

Their children grew up, many moved away and we moved in, our youngest coming along a year later.

Our children grew up and now we have new young neighbors. And the ones who had been surrogate grandparents to our little ones back in the day threw a party tonight to welcome the new couples in and to reconnect the older ones, a gesture much appreciated all around.

I would love someone to tell me stories on our house, and we got to tell a few on the others’.

I asked our hostess about their magnificent old plum tree outside the window, whose crop they have shared so generously with us so many times, and this good woman whose children are just younger than we are said it was there when they got here. Whether it was supposed to have been a standard or a semi-dwarf, she didn’t know and I knew it didn’t matter; it simply was a gracefully grown, beautiful, leafy tree, and no matter how many plums the squirrels took, she said, there always seemed to be plenty.

My baby fruit trees aspire to the day. I  smiled, wondering who might be enjoying them 50 years from now: peaches, plums, will the old lemons still be there, cherries, apples, blueberries, too, now, and I still hope to put in a Comice pear. I aspire to pass along a bounteous place that will give our future owners much. (While I’m still at the stage of hoping for anything for us on everything other than the lemons.)

One of the newcomers asked the name of the type of tree we have out front: Bradford pear–but no pears? No, they are tiny wooden things barely the size of your smallest fingernail, but the flowers are beautiful, and as we stepped outside at the end, I looked next door at it and marveled at the memory vs the present. “It was a twig when we moved here. With two supports. And look at it now.”

And in between it went through this but this past March looked like this.

I can’t wait to see what they plant at this house and that house and to get to play surrogate grandparents to their future children, to see how everything grows up to be all over again.

(Side note: this site will be down for awhile today while the resident admin does some work on it. Back soon.)

Cherry, cherry baby
Thursday May 16th 2013, 9:54 pm
Filed under: Family,My Garden,Wildlife

(Sorry for the earworm.)

Out of milk and orange juice, and there was something else we wanted to look for.

Which they didn’t have. But Richard humored me while I went to go see if the latest batch of ooh look, they’re all ultra-dwarf this time! trees at Costco included, by wild chance, a Stella cherry again.

Found one. Didn’t look great. And then two more that did. I actually got a choice.

I doublechecked with my sweetie….

I asked one of the employees for help getting it into the cart past all the lilies on the forward part of the pallet. He moved those out of the way, made sure which tree I was pointing to, I read the tag again just to be certain that this trunk and that tag went together, and then as he brought it over and set it down he started peppering me with questions, very interested: how much were those? $18.99? When do they produce?

I checked the tag: mid-June here, and I told him they grow to only six to eight feet tall and produce about nine pounds of cherries a year. (Found out after I got home that we should get our first ones next year; it doesn’t take them long.)

You should have seen his eyes! “My mother could grow one of those!” Something that small, that productive but not overwhelmingly so, that enticing–what a cool idea!

And so my delayed Mother’s Day present sounds like it means someone else’s mom may very well get one too. Or maybe the Kieffer pear or one of the peaches or apples or that nectarine over there. But the fact that Costco was out when Richard went to get me mine earlier meant that this conversation happened and now there’s all this other good that can come from that. Picturing that fine young man planting a fruit tree for his mother just totally makes my day.

They take so little effort. They last so long. They flower, they fruit, they give so much.

p.s. Michelle saw what she was very sure was a golden eagle as she was coming out of work yesterday, and today, not far from her office, a local golden eagle intruded on Clara-the-peregrine’s territory near her fledglings and Clara firmly escorted the much-larger bird out of there–one of the very few that can prey on peregrines, but not this time. Eric’s pictures of the encounter, here.

Cart walker
Wednesday May 15th 2013, 10:59 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

Dropped off the drycleaning this afternoon.

I’ve been going to this one place for years, and the middle-aged woman who runs it always whips out that slip and writes down Hyde, A before I even say anything.

We bonded forever over the moment where, early 0n after I’d made it–

–okay, back up. Twenty-three years ago, when I was newly back into knitting as an antidote to all that my new lupus diagnosis threatened, after I got the use of my hands back after the first six months of the disease, I knitted my husband an aran. A big, cream, woolly, cabled aran. An aran with sleeves that he could fold the cuffs back on, a luxury in his eyes that had forever been denied him because of his height. This is what happens when you have to duck through doorways.

Most people are fingertip-t0-fingertip the same measurement as their height.

Back then, I didn’t trust myself to handwash a wool sweater without wrecking it, especially not after all that work (now I wouldn’t bat an eye) and I took that aran with the 78″ wingspan to that new-to-me-then drycleaner. I told her not to block it, having been warned (I think by my mom) that they would press all that glorious cablework flat forever otherwise.

Several years later, he’d worn it enough that it seemed time to get it cleaned again.

“Oh, *I* remember THIS sweater! she exclaimed, holding it out to her own arms’ length, which was a whole lot less than his–or mine, for that matter. She admired it, exclaimed over it, and oh! You MADE it?!

I never forgot that moment and I bet she didn’t either.

There was somebody new working with her today, and my friend whose name I somehow never found out seemed scattered and pulled in too many directions. Helping the kid back there with something he was asking her about, rushing back to me, finding out that no, those weren’t my shirts, oh, right, those were…she’d forgotten..she swept them into a bag and out of the way, apologizing, while I smiled, no, no, no problem.

She took a breath. All her attention was now on me. My husband’s suit? Monday, alright?

Is it possible to have it rushed by Saturday?

She was momentarily distracted and glancing away just then while trying hard not to be–but she had to–!

It was okay. Meantime, the new helper did not fall but inched ever so slowly, steadily closer, coming up on the left, holding tight to a laundry cart that suddenly seemed to need rubber stops on one side of the bottom just in case.

Saturday is fine; thank you very much!

She had to ask me my name, and that was a complete tipoff as to how overwhelmed she was feeling.

The woman I am guessing was her mother got ever so much closer to the counter on her slow way forward, her body so bowed that she could barely lift her head enough to make eye contact.

But you make eye contact with the customer and you greet them and she was determined.

And so this very tiny woman of about 90 whom I had never seen before at last looked me eye to eye and found me smiling. She raised one hand from the cart in cautious slow motion and carefully, gently, waved hi to me, and then her face blossomed into a smile at our shared sense of success.

She completely made my day. I will never forget it.

Darrin Bell wrote recently of taking care of his 94-year-old grandfather in his final weeks and what it was like to be with someone he loved so close to the other side, and in his comic strip he quoted his grandfather as saying, everything you do in life, you’ve got to be at your best.

I felt privileged to share a moment with a woman of about his grandfather’s age who was showing me how to do exactly that.

And I think, when I take the drycleaner slip back on Friday for the pickup, I will take a copy of this post in thanks. (Ed. to add–wait, I don’t want her to feel she’s lost face on the name thing; I’ll just tell them thank you.)

Bowie are you going to love this one
Tuesday May 14th 2013, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

“Stace spation?” he asked, turning and looking at me with perfect comedic timing.

Wait. You’re right, that didn’t come out right.

He lifted an eyebrow. Impishly, “You know that’s got to be the most expensive music video ever recorded.”

“Depends on what you count as an expense.” We were both laughing by now.

The first line out of the captain’s mouth took me by surprise the first time I played it earlier today and I cracked up and had to show it to him. Don’t miss it.

(Meantime, today’s falcon photos from Eric. Comet did finally make it out of there after about six hours.)

Edited to add Wednesday morning: Captain Hadfield is front-page news on the Washington Post this morning, with more details, including some of his space experiments. He’s clearly a born teacher.