Blankie brigade
Friday August 16th 2013, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Can’t blog now, too busy knitting in happy anticipation…

Concentrating the good
Thursday August 15th 2013, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Knit,Life

I was at Purlescence tonight, knit night, and admired what the person next to me was working on. It was a very soft variegated purple, I think she said a handdyed merino/kid mohair blend, a nice chevron pattern, densely knit and warm, very pretty.

I’d followed her pictures on Facebook on her trip to Europe she’d just gotten back from.

She’d had a great time, she told me.

“Did you buy any yarn over there?”

“No,” she answered, hesitating– “but I lost some. One skein. One irreplaceable skein.”  She paused, then said it again: “Irreplaceable,” shaking her head slightly, still grieving the loss in spite of herself.

It was for the project she was working on. She’d bought the yarn ten years ago, long since closed out now. She had started a scarf but now it was going to have to be a cowl and oh well. “Cowls are nice,” we both agreed. She had tried Ravelry, she had tried asking every likely yarn store she could find anywhere but it was long gone.

I told her my story, which wasn’t anywhere near hers, of trying to match a dye lot, leaving messages–and not thinking to mention that I was on Pacific time. One helpful shop owner, working through emails before she opened the doors for the day, called me rather than emailing back, the more personal touch. Very nice of her, actually.

And so my husband woke up to the sound of the phone in the dark of the winter night, California time, handed it to me, and growled, “It’s your boiler-room New York City yarn pushers. They want you to know: they don’t have your dye lot!”


During those last couple of sentences, the friend’s phone started buzzing and she apologized a bit and picked it up (oh it did? sorry I didn’t hear it) when I finished.

It was a message from someone on Ravelry who’d made a project out of that yarn. Ten years ago. She had three skeins left. “They’re yours.”

Overwhelmed to the point of tears, the shop cheering, hugs and huzzahs all around. Wow, what were the odds! And what timing! We all got to celebrate with her! For both of them! I tell you, that place was full of really happy people all the sudden.

What that generous knitter whoever they are could never know was that our friend had toured a World War II concentration camp in Germany, and I can only imagine the emotions and the losses it represented. I have seen and felt Gettysburg, a place beyond words, and that–


Her yarn. Somewhere on that trip. It was gone.

Someone stepped forward tonight for a complete stranger simply because she knew what it was like not to be able to finish the project as she’d dreamed it and she could well imagine what it would mean to her to now be able to. Because she empathized with her fellow human being. What a gift, what a deeply meaningful gift, and may it come back to this good person again and again in her life.

“Knitters are the BEST!” our friend exclaimed.

Bar keeper
Wednesday August 14th 2013, 11:16 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,History

One of Michelle’s friends gave her a book on chocolate today, and flipping through it at home, all three of us stopped at one page of pictures with the identical reaction: the old Scharffen Berger plant in Berkeley! It wasn’t labeled but we knew it instantly. We took the tour there years ago, back when the founders, not Hershey, owned what was then a start-up. They were determined, with input from the wonderful Alice Medrich, to make the best chocolate in America. (And then later when one of the men was dying they sold out and the little factory got shut down and now Tcho in San Francisco is setting out to take the spot of best chocolate-maker in the country–superb chocolate, highly recommended.)

The tour guide showed us the room where a woman was deftly and quickly wrapping individual chocolate bars. By hand.

And there she was in that photo and we could tell you that the photo was shot from the doorway we saw her through and that that was the actual woman we’d seen. I wondered if I was remembering right but Richard and Michelle both confirmed, and besides, there had only ever been the one person doing that job, from what we remember from the tour.

They had actually just bought an automatic bar wrapping machine at the time but then found it didn’t fit through the door in the old 1907 building, although we found out later they managed it not long after.

And what a building: the ceiling was in brick. Curves of bricks. Note that brick crumbles in earthquakes and that this place had been finished the year after San Francisco’s big burning 1906 quake. How a big double S set up stayed up there… It has been one of life’s mysteries for me ever since.

Hershey’s promised not to compromise the quality, but there are definitely those of us who feel they did.

We have thought for some time that if I could just get to the Tcho factory tour without having to walk through a lot of sunlight to get to it, we’d be right on it–and I just got my push to go find out.

I wonder where their employees will be in a dozen years. I’m curious to know if they bought the Scharffen Berger wrapper machine that had been right across the Bay Bridge from them. And I hope that woman is working for Tcho’s now in product development, taste-testing after all those years of being surrounded by the aroma of the world’s best cocoa beans. She’s earned it.

Phoning it in
Tuesday August 13th 2013, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Life

It takes two.

Fairly big company, they goofed by half on the refund when I sent something back; I called.

Clearly their rep was bracing herself for the outrage from a customer they’d done wrong to. I wondered what or who she’d had to deal with prior to me.

So I took that as my challenge to cheer her up: no harm done, I knew they would make that adjustment no problem, and why not take it as the blessing of a chance to meet, if only by phone and only for a moment?

She found where the error had come in–Oh, this is it, as she fixed it. It was so gratifying to hear the smile that had come into her voice.

Cool, thanks!

I got off the phone marveling that I had actually enjoyed having had to be on the phone with customer service. How often does that happen?


More jammy jams
Monday August 12th 2013, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Hudson and his new cousin Hayes in their matching jammies.

Somewhat elevated risk, seven and a half percent chance, the form said–my mother’s mother’s mother died of breast cancer when my grandmother was eight, even though that’s the only case in the extended family that I know of.

So. Had the mammogram this morning and got it over with.

Got the results this afternoon–to my surprise. Already? Cool.

And that’s that. Feels great not to have to worry about it.

Don’t put it off. It’s too much fun watching grandkids grow up.


Edited to add: I have been corrected by my sister. Our great aunt had breast cancer and is the only one who had breast cancer but our great grandmother had what was most likely colon cancer–somehow I’ve had it wrong for forever.

Sunday August 11th 2013, 11:23 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

As the late rays came in at a slant that we’re not and don’t quite want to be used to, the perfect juicy peach that had waited on its tree collecting sweetness nearly all summer. A little cream, a sprinkling of brown sugar on top. Just a little.

There’s only one problem with it, he said.

What’s that?

It’s all gone!

Toddlersaurus Rex
Saturday August 10th 2013, 11:45 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

Parker and Hudson in their matching dinosaur jammies.

Meantime, yesterday I finished a silk shawl, counting grams per row every row but I made it.  Close! For two weeks it had needed just a few more hours (and getting past that fear of running out early)  but now I was needing the sense of accomplishment at finishing, and so I sat down and got to it. Done.

Back to the hat and Hayes’s blanket.

I’ve been mugged!
Friday August 09th 2013, 11:46 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,Life

Parker and his beloved blankie. (And I hope by linking, the very kind Antonio at Malabrigo gets to see how treasured his Rios is. He told me at Stitches how rare it is to be granted a glimpse: all that yarn they send out into the world, what becomes of it?) One very happy little boy.

And every year at Stitches, there’s a vendor who does custom fitting and then creates and mails you a pair of shoes made in America, your choice color, style, leather and that are guaranteed to fit your feet at a Birkenstock-range price.

As a 6.5 EE, choice and fit are a rare and wonderful thing, and a few years ago I ordered navy sandals from them. I didn’t buy into the reflexology idea behind the funky knobby bottoms on the things (scroll down just a bit), but they were designed for you to be able to be comfortably on your feet all day.

There’s only one problem.

Ever since a speeder totaled my car, my sense of balance has been purely visual and tactile, and it’s a good thing I like Birkenstocks because they steady me with a lot of feedback as to just where and how far away the floor is and whether I’m tilting overly.

But those, not so much. I wore them  once and decided I risked breaking bones–they’re great shoes, just not for me.

Birkenstock had an outlet shop years ago in Gilroy till the company closed all their American outlets. But in the meantime, while my friends Mel and Kris were doing a show in the area, we found out later she and I bought the exact same clog in the exact same size and same color at about the same time. 37R. Twins. Cool!

Hey–I know someone who has to be on her feet all day at art shows who would fit those not-Birks…

And so, with her permission, I sent the navy pair off to where they would actually be worn.

And today she got me back for it. She found out I’d broken my favorite hot cocoa mug and asked for a picture.

I know the Kunihiros generally don’t mail their pottery; I was expecting to buy more at the show coming up at the end of the month and looking forward to seeing them.

She and her family made four castings of mugs, the letter in the box said, set them in a row, and together they picked out the one that best matched the photo.

The mental image of that just makes me very happy. The family gathered together, the row of mugs, the winner, and most of all the love.

My hot cocoa and I are going to do some serious celebrating with that mug in the morning! And I can’t wait to thank them in person!

Ig-knit-ion: accomplished!
Thursday August 08th 2013, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Knit

Row upon row and here I go! It feels great.

And then to have something small and portable to work on at Purlescence, I grabbed some soft Colinette wool that I’d gotten at their yarn swap meet. Monet colorway: how cool is that for the daughter of a modern-art dealer? My dad, my little sister and I spent the summer I was 16 with one of Monet’s proteges and his family, driving around the country museum-hopping. (Mom was helping my oldest sister with her first baby.)

I figured returning the gift of the yarn as a hat to go in the shop’s Halos of Hope box seemed just the thing.

Write it out and get going
Wednesday August 07th 2013, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Family

We took the leaf out of the dining room table together this evening, the three of us, and it helped: shrinking it back down to normal took away the visual sting that Morgan and his daughters are no longer here at our house swapping stories, laughing over bad puns, enjoying each other’s company and making new memories to treasure. The visit was far too short.

Just one last set of sheets to run through the wash.

While I spent the day trying to remember what it’s like to be totally caught up in a knitting project, which I feel I should be doing now–it’s like I needed a day or two to, on some level, mope first.  It’s way more fun loving the people you love in person, y’know?

Oh. It’s like I almost somehow forgot: the knitting is all about the love, too. Well then!

Barnacle bangles
Tuesday August 06th 2013, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

From their beachcombing yesterday…

It took me a moment to figure out why the barnacles on the crab claw the girls found so charmed me.

Pearls. It looks like a string of little oceany pearls strung around it. (The top ones also look like Hawthorne, the crab in the Sherman’s Lagoon comic strip.)

And then I gave my brother and nieces all one last hug, the car doors closed, and they were off.

Monterey photos
Monday August 05th 2013, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

A few pictures from the Aquarium:

Making waves from plastic ocean debris, creating good out of that which one wishes were not there.

An American Avocet (I think) in the shorebirds area.

My seahorses photos didn’t take in the darkness, which I regret–turns out most of them are on exhibit only temporarily; if you’re local enough, go see them before the month is up. Did I really see that big orange one blink? Sure seemed like it. Fish? Blink?

And it took me a few tries to figure out that to snap a photo of the tuna I had to hold the camera still long enough for them to swim into the frame I wanted at the random moment the picture snapped.



Sunday August 04th 2013, 11:17 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

A good day at church. And then after the UV rating sank to one out of sixteen on near the end of the daylight, we drove out to the marshlands by the Bay and took a good walk in the park together: seagulls flying overhead, an egret posing just so for their cameras repeatedly, and I watched, too, how graciously my brother’s children interacted with each other and with us; I adore them. Great kids. Morgan’s a single dad and he’s doing a great job.

A lot of habitat restoration had happened since the last time I’d been on the trail we went down. No, sorry kids, you can’t see the Golden Gate Bridge from here, but we could keep going to that causeway over there and back around.

We all looked at each other and kinda laughed and went, uh, I think not.  A bit regretfully, though; it would take us far out and well over the water but long beyond sunset.

And then we came home to Michelle’s homemade rhubarb and strawberry pie.

It doesn’t get better than that.

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Saturday August 03rd 2013, 11:22 pm
Filed under: Family

We drove down in two cars, Michelle with the girls, us three parents in the other one. The Aquarium was great–and then on the way home Michelle texted from the chocolate shop she’d taken her cousins to on the way home instead of going straight home like we were doing: catch up with you later!

Good times!

They’re here, they’re here!
Friday August 02nd 2013, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Family

My brother Morgan and three of his daughters (the other one has a summer job she couldn’t leave.)  From Colorado to Salt Lake (hi Mom and Dad) to Yosemite to here.

So good to see them!