Starring Audry Nicklin
Thursday January 16th 2014, 11:41 pm
Filed under: Knit,LYS

(I forgot to ask if I could take her picture. I didn’t get one at all. I was having too much fun talking with her and her mom.)

When we kids were young and our family traveled all around the country one summer with a camping van, I remember how fascinated we were by the vastness of the western sky, how bright the stars. How many! (And how strange it was to see multiple lightning strikes going on way over thataway in the middle of the desert in New Mexico. Lightning. With no rain. The sky playing solitaire.)

My younger brother eventually enlisted Dad’s help and built himself a telescope, a pretty big one, too, and I remember him showing me part of the sky through it and what that was and that was–and me being a teensy bit jealous that my little brother knew more and cared more about it than I did. Loving what you’re learning is a powerful thing. That’s one of the pulls of knitting, too–you can never learn it all, it keeps you going.

I was remembering all that fondly tonight as I looked at the shawls, just gobsmacked, wondering how she kept so many minute details so perfect, verified too by a delighted astronomy enthusiast who happened to be there tonight.

Audry Nicklin and her mom were at Purlescence with copies of Audry’s book and her knitting spread out across a table. The secret garden socks are worth the price alone. (But I had to let it pass for now–still catching up after those house repairs.)

What is on Ravelry but not in the book, though, were the two bright blue Madeline Tosh-yarn shawls. (And one in gray, knitted a second time.) Celestarium and Southern Skies: the night sky as seen from the northern and the southern hemispheres, with yarnovers and bright silver beads marking the stars making up the constellations. There’s Orion. Tauris. Polaris at the center here, working outward to… Wow. Just, wow!

Audry will be at Stitches Friday Feb 21st at Purlescence’s booth. Go, go see those shawls if you get a chance. And Audry, too; she’s a peach.

Pork barrel spending
Wednesday January 15th 2014, 11:50 pm
Filed under: Food

A Bacon avocado. The actual name of the variety, a BLT gone askew.

So I had to go look online after buying one, and of course Jim Bacon was the grower who developed it, it comes by the name honestly (pretty much).

But wait, it gets interesting: there’s a plain old Bacon avocado and a Jim Bacon avocado. The guy was on a roll here.

Couldn’t he have called them something like, maybe, Jim’s Best and Jim’s Almost As Good Hey I Tried or something? Looking at a bin of these is now going to be like trying to figure out whether you’re about to buy a merino yarn or a merino merino yarn.

But somehow the one avocado I bought, whichever of the two types it is, badly wants to live up to the power of its suggestiveness and at least be sprinkled with some bacon bits tomorrow. Milk Pail really should have a little mini-fridge set up next to the vegetable bins with a pound of sliced ready-to-fry to go with. Pork belly futures, there you go.

Tuesday January 14th 2014, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Life,Politics

According to the Washington Post, the drug companies average a 19.9% return on revenue, and the problem isn’t the strength of the insurers (who make 2.2%), it’s that they’re weak: they can’t band together to negotiate lower prices. So.

Another year, another first time in January at the pharmacy. Same guy. He’s the manager now.

He looked at me with a wry smile after entering my insurance info and the amount rang up. “You want to know what it’s going to be this time?”

“Like last year when we met the year’s deductible in one day here?”

He handed me the slip and let me see for myself. Not quite three thousand. Fun times. Having no choice, I handed him my credit card.


Lone star state
Tuesday January 14th 2014, 12:13 am
Filed under: Family,Life,Lupus

I now know what a zip gun is, and yes the kid who brought two weapons to school is in custody. I’ll let my teenage niece tell it, and I quote:

“2 incredibly ironic things about today:
1. after living in the middle east for four years, my high school in the US is where they find a “potential explosive device”
2. the most traumatic part of today was not the bomb threat at my high school but watching downton abbey”

Kid’s got spunk, that’s for sure.

And we all lived happily after.

(Blood test results so far: normal. Normal. Normal. Normal. Whoops, not that one, that one, nor that one, and we still have the Stanford test to go, but I think the things they were most worried about they aren’t now. I think.)

Bouncy little boys
Sunday January 12th 2014, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Family

Hudson and Parker discover the idea of trampolines.

And a good time was had by all.

(Oh and: I got a message from Steve. He saw that sign I mentioned yesterday in a shop that sells fake ones relating to various eras and got a good laugh over it and put it high on the wall at Milk Pail just for fun.)


Sign of whose times?
Saturday January 11th 2014, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Life

Me: What should I write about today?

Him: (after spending hours updating the blog.) “Knitting.” (Accompanied by vigorous head nodding.)

Me to you all: I knitted today.

And I tried to figure out why on earth I never saw that upper sign before. The owner bought this shop in 1974.

There’s a story in here somewhere and I’m dying to know.

The waiting room
Friday January 10th 2014, 11:31 pm
Filed under: Knit,Lupus,Wildlife

Feathers fluffed against the chill, relaxed.

Yet again debating whether to say anything quite yet. It was December 16th that I was given the first heads-up that something was off–but possibly not much. You’d better go. (Make up your mind.)

I waited this afternoon for the time to hurry up and finally finally get here, trying to knit my way to calm, finding the last hours to be the longest.

I glanced up and to my surprise, there just outside was Coopernicus perched on the big pot my extra-dwarf cherry tree is planted in, facing me.

I finished a 400+ stitch row, a small bright growing bird’s nest in my hands in the cheering color (thank you Lisa Souza) of a bright summer sky, and looked up again.

There he remained, steady and firm, watching over me. It was very moving. He didn’t mind my taking his picture, whereas in years earlier he would have objected to a black object being raised near my head and pointing at him. I moved around the room, trying to get past the effects of the double-paned glass. His face turned to follow my gaze.

I smiled and went back to my project, determined to make visible progress.

Another row. More photos.

Another row. And at that I let him be. I emailed a friend to say how grateful I was that he’d been there easily an hour now in raptor attentiveness–and hitting send, I looked up, and at the suddenly empty space wished I’d seen him go but was glad for what was.

And with that I went off to meet the doctor who did a bone marrow biopsy on my daughter ten or twelve years ago.

He asked after her. He was thrilled at being handed that printout of her dissertation. I was thrilled at seeing the Johns Hopkins plaque on his wall–how perfect was that?

He was a dear. Did this have anything to do with the Graves’ diagnosis last week, I asked him? No. But so this is probably nothing, right?

He looked me steadily and gently with a long-practiced eye at this sort of thing and answered, We do not know that yet.

More tests were done. Another will have to be done at the hospital. And soon we will have answers.

And then, coming out of there, I ran into a favorite teacher all my kids had in high school and seeing each other in that department, there was no need to dance around reality. I was in the testing phase. She, not so much. It was a relief to her to be able to ask after each of my kids, to celebrate with me where they’ve gone on in their lives since she’s seen them, to hear me brag to the nurse who showed to take her back to her appointment that my kids got to have her as their teacher. Just the best.

She got a break from it all in those moments. And I knew the words to come for me might be much gentler than the ones familiar to her by now. But we shall see.

I’ll show’em
Thursday January 09th 2014, 10:59 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

I have an appointment with a new doctor tomorrow. He had my oldest as a patient when she was in her late teens/early twenties.

Which is why (being a mom and all) I now have a printout tucked away in my bag waiting to show off with: her doctoral thesis in molecular immunology, with my thanks for his efforts towards her good health.

Among friends
Wednesday January 08th 2014, 11:54 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Lupus

Went to my lupus group today and it was a small one–just four of us.

In a long conference room at El Camino Hospital that utterly swallows sound, with that few people, it was easy to ask them to repeat and speak up when I needed them to; I wasn’t depriving any new patients of desperately needed information or of their chance to vent by taking up too much of our allotted time, I didn’t have to worry about impatience, it was just old friends coming together again. One woman in particular I have never seen so relaxed, laughing. We reminisced. We caught up on each other and marveled at how some things had turned out okay after all (Joe and the furnace spewing carbon monoxide, I’m looking at you–thank you all over again.)

And I looked around and thought, we’re survivors. And this is why we come: to show the young patients they will get through it. We did. We do. So will they.

But today we could just simply be, and be together.

It was just what I needed.

And then the Ipaid
Tuesday January 07th 2014, 11:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,LYS

The after picture, then the before one again–just amazing.

The guy pushed the button, that home page popped up for him, then he turned it around to where I could see it to show me the work his hands had done today. He clearly had been looking forward to seeing the look on my face and it is safe to say he was not disappointed.

My knitting, meantime, had been stumbling for a few days over a puzzlement in a pattern I’d been creating.

After dropping the Ipad off for repairs, I went to deliver a project a half hour north I’d done in superfine Malabrigo Finito. I’d been waiting for Kathryn‘s vacation to be over; I knew there had been two funerals in her family since Thanksgiving, and making her something as soft as possible from yarn from her shop had felt absolutely compelling. And now after all that happened in our own family in the past month, finally I could get it to her!

She was disbelieving. Thrilled. She’d even put on an outfit this morning that totally matched it, and I went home and dove right into the next project. That’s all it took. After a good start on that I put it down, eyed the problematic piece, finally knew what it needed and got on with it. Kathryn did me a great favor that she had no way to know about.

The new project will be the carry-around mindless one that I knew I was going to be needing tomorrow and had been trying to push myself to begin. And now I have–with more Finito she gifted me right back with. It makes me happy to look at.

I waited for the call.

It took two and a half hours and the going rate of $129.95 plus tax for the parts. My sweetie was ecstatic to see how perfect his Ipad looked again so fast.

And we are good to go.

Screening his falls, letting the machine take it
Monday January 06th 2014, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Family

The bigger they are the harder they fall. He walked in the door upset with himself.

I thought it made a pretty pattern, actually–quite a useless one, but you look for beauty where you can find it, right? Turn it sideways, see that riff on Van Gogh’s Starry Night? (Says the daughter of an art dealer.)

I told him how glad I was that his Ipad 2 had taken the impact, not him.

Then I went and looked up repair places, giving him a break from dealing with it for a moment. $129.95 plus shipping time and two years’ warranty on the new screen? He uses it for work–you do what you gotta do, but those places are out of state. Anyone local who knows anyone local who’s good, let me know. Thanks.

Meantime, Happy Birthday to my sister Carolyn!

To every thing there is a season
Sunday January 05th 2014, 11:33 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Knit,Life

I’ve only ever seen her a few times. Her mother is a member of our church and so today she wheeled her in.

I was surprised to see a touch of gray in the daughter’s hair. It happens, though, doesn’t it.

We threw our arms around each other, the daughter and I. Neither of us asked the other anything like, now what is your name again? I held the mother’s hand a moment; she was lucid, which has not always been so, radiant, even.

It isn’t easy to be responsible for a parent, and from a young age at that, no matter how sweet the personality of both (and they are.)

And I found myself deeply glad I had done that knitting years ago: to do my small part in caring, too, to try to let the daughter know forever that she was not alone.


On a separate note: Bashie just passed away at 98, it was announced today. The woman whose father was a rider for the Pony Express after Abraham Lincoln asked Brigham Young for riders and the last, as far as we know, surviving child of a Civil War soldier.

Old faithful
Saturday January 04th 2014, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

See how innocent it looks. Not a soupcon of suspicion. (Chicken noodle soup on the side for his foggybraining head cold.)

BPA-free package, the Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Soup box said. The flap was solid across, no indented dots, just, Squeeze in at the four corners to open. Odd.

My hands just plain weren’t big enough and clearly weren’t strong enough. I would just have gone and gotten the scissors and been done with it but curiosity got the better of me–was that really the right way to open such a thing? Thwarted, I didn’t see how it made sense.

My friend Lynda was talking about words that the English language needs to have.

He didn’t get up and come into the kitchen, he just helpfully took the package from my hands. He didn’t read the instructions, he just queried me and I helpfully parroted again what the thing said, so, okay: and my 6’8″ husband with his great big hands gave that little box a good short hard squish suddenly with the bottoms of both palms in the very instant that I knew too late to beg him to forget what I said and not, just, not.

English fails for when you’re suddenly helpless, crying, laughing, quite unable to stand upright, utterly dissolved–but at the same time also very sorry that you’re totally losing it in front of someone who’s paying for the source of that mirth and incurred it for your own sake and you know it though he would never say it and ohmygoodness.

Mentos and coke. Snowblowers hitting a row of jack o’lanterns. Think redhead with highlights, spaghetti sauce around toddlers, the shirt, the pants, the hair, the chair, the desk, the floor: nailed’em all.

Bless him, he thought it was funny, too, though honestly perhaps not quite so much. (Where do you want me to put these, dear? Washing machine, right? Yes please, I answered, trying to be meek and thanking him for helping me. There have been random snorts of laughter all evening since. Geysers! I’m sorry, honest I am. Butbutbutbut. !!)

I think that Amazon gift certificate from my brother might need to go to a new keyboard, maybe for insurance’s sake while we can still get the ergonomic ones cheap, but so far his still seems to be working after all.

After he got cleaned up he was even willing to eat some of that soup.  What fell back into the box was still left.

Door to door in the dark
Friday January 03rd 2014, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Life

I opened the door at about 8 pm in the dark.

“I’m not selling anything, I’m not here about anything political or religious.”

I’m a Mormon. The guy had no idea why I laughed.

“And your neighbor Dave over there and Sarah over in the cul-de-sac said that you wouldn’t have any dogs barking or biting to worry about or anything and that you were cool, so, I’m here to tell you about some fundraising I’m doing for” (names a cause that sounds good) “and I’m here from Chicago and helping by getting credits for” (selling these magazines but claiming it was all for donations’ sake.)

I smiled and said I was very familiar with (his spiel, basically) that we hear it several times a year. But I wasn’t interested in buying any magazines.

But I hadn’t closed the door yet, and I did let him show me a page listing some of those magazines, so he continued in great pretended earnestness, and when I apologized for the No Solicitors sign he told me he had a problem with reading, he was so sorry (and yet you want me to write down all my financial information and name and address that you say you wouldn’t be able to read.)


What he didn’t know is that he completely gave himself away in the second sentence, not that I needed him to. He was counting on neighbors not knowing neighbors–but we do, we have a much-celebrated annual block party that has expanded over the years as people in the next block and the next have asked to be included; we all wear name tags. There is no Sarah and there is no Dave, those were as fake as the rest of the guy’s come-on.

Nor did that voice sound like it was from Chicago.

Maybe I was as fake as he was by not saying any of that but I can definitely live with that.

My husband, hearing from the next room, complimented me afterwards on how nice I was as I finally got him to go away (was he checking to see who was home and who was still away on vacation?) But then, it was cold out there and what I really wanted to do was just go find the guy a much warmer sweater than that thin one he had on.

But not so much so as I’d knit him one, y’know?

Ups and downs
Thursday January 02nd 2014, 11:56 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Object constancy: something squirrels don’t have before adulthood.

The older squirrels knew I leave them alone if they leave the awning pole next to the birdfeeder alone, and besides, there’s nothing there worth investigating.  Safflower seeds–they won’t even bury those.

The little guy thought that if he couldn’t see me, I couldn’t see him, and so he hid on the far side of the pole so that I no longer existed. With four little gray feet clutching tight around the two corners. I could have painted his toenails.

It is amazing how far those things can jump when you say boo from two feet away. There was an explosion of gray fur and tail straight up and then (oh oops, I’m sorry) straight down as I took a step back, then sprinting away from me (oh good, he’s not hurt.)

That was yesterday, and though the little gray squirrel with the distinctive off-center brown smudge spot on his nose came back today, he behaved like all the others now. Sniffing around through whatever seeds got kicked out by the chickadees, not bothering the feeder, wishing I would finally, finally put something tastier out there.

I do actually have a peanut butter jar that needs cleaning out if I wanted to encourage them. Hmm.