I might know somebody who knows somebody who…
Saturday May 16th 2015, 9:04 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life,Lupus

The day here started off quite chilly and I wore a sweater.

Richard was off at Maker Faire (I want to see that 3D printer in chocolate too someday) with Michelle. SPF 100 sunblock is good, but it’s not that good so I didn’t join them.

While they were gone I was coming into Costco doing the usual slightly awkward thing with the cane and the cart and trying to manage past others coming and going from the same tight in-and-out area, when one woman who wanted to be done and out of there fast kind of shoved her way forward through everybody in her path, abruptly turning her cart in front of me in such a way that I was forced to do a little dance to avoid hitting her, skittering to a stop with the cane askew–you know, being graceful and all that.

I was thinking, eh, we all have times when we’re in too much of a hurry and we just don’t see in time.

She looked me in the eyes and made a rude face at me.

That, I did not expect. (And not out of an adult.)

In that same moment I noticed the pretty handknit around her neck, a large wrap in a pattern that was all the rage a few years ago. I asked, with a straight-out-of-Stitches smile, “Did you knit your Clapotis?”

Busted and she knew it.

The briefest hesitation, then, “Yes, I did,” she answered with a half smile in a mixture of pride and agony as she beat it the heck out of there.

Not that that was a surprise
Friday May 15th 2015, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden,Wildlife

Our Stella had a single cherry growing in a spot where a clamshell wouldn’t easily snap over it, so I doused it in grape Koolaid and hoped. It certainly wasn’t going to rain–they say you have to reapply the stuff after rain.

It rained. Not that I’m complaining. At all.

Given that the first branches of cherries had been stripped while still tiny and green and I would have thought far from tasty, it amazed me to get to watch this one fruit gradually turn big and yellow in anticipation of turning red and openly taunting the wildlife. (The rest are in clamshells, and the critters have still managed to reach in at a few of those so I reinforced them with Koolaid, too.)

And then of course yesterday’s .63″ happened. I still had that same mug of fake-grape in the kitchen and when the skies let up a moment I took it outside to reapply to the otherwise-unprotected cherry.

Of course it was long gone.

Add a little water
Thursday May 14th 2015, 9:48 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Knitting a Gift,Life

He’s been working from home this week, fighting the edge of a bug (so am I) and keeping it away from his co-workers.

But this afternoon he suddenly realized he had a prescription we hadn’t picked up yet; was I up to going and getting it?

I was in better shape than he was, so, sure.

We’d just had a bit of end-of-season rain-blessed-rain earlier in the day, .16″, but looking at the sky and the weather report, that all seemed over with and the forecast said there would be no more. I reminded myself to be grateful we’d gotten that much, such as it was.

I drove home through a total cloudburst. In May? In California? Not that I’m complaining! The gizmo on our roof recorded .54″ by the time I got home and it’s at .58″ now. The yard is muddy. Water! (Edited Friday to add, and it rained some more overnight even though Wunderground said it would not. The total became .63″.)

Oh, and. I was going to tell you about that other cowl I stuffed back in the bag a week ago. It was done in soft Malabrigo Finito, knitted up in a twisted infinity scarf.

Sunday I went to see my friend Edie, as I do every Mother’s Day.

She surprised me with red and white miniature carnations and perfect, deep red farmer’s market strawberries.

Her son’s picture was on the mantle as always, forever the handsome, gregarious, blond 18-year-old who had been my daughter’s classmate. Her son-in-law greeted me with a warm smile, as did her other one when he arrived soon after. Her grandchildren were playing in the kitchen and the back yard, and I was suddenly glad that I’d grabbed a bunch of hand knit Peruvian finger puppets for my purse; I fished out five, one for each little one. A zebra and an alpaca and a…

She was wearing red. The cowl was red, and she exclaimed that it had been her son’s favorite color as she put it on in delight. “I’ve heard of these, but I’ve never owned one–and now I do!”

Adrian, Edie, and me. Why I come. And now I know why it had had to be that one. I can just picture Adrian looking over my shoulder as I picked out the yarn and then among the finished projects, knowing what would help his mom feel him close by.

Several years ago she’d given me a dwarf hydrangea plant and it had brightened my back yard ever since–but, I confessed to her in embarrassment, when the tree guys took out the olive it had been next to and the tree next to that while it was dormant they had moved some large rocks around and I’d lost my landmark of where it was. It had to have been under those rocks, because I’d never seen it again.

I sent her a photo yesterday. Mentioning it to her had gotten me to go look again–and there it was, coming back up, now, finally, after it had been dry for so long, against all the odds. Right there between my mandarin orange and my sour cherry tree, how could I miss it.

I can just picture Adrian grinning.

Good times
Wednesday May 13th 2015, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Time for a few pictures.

The bride’s little nephew was just old enough to have learned to not  just walk but run and so nothing but running would do, although he often had to lean his head down to watch his feet go to make sure they landed in the right places.

And here he is. After cutting the cake, Mely and Derek turned around to give one eager little boy the next bite.

A few pictures of my family too from our trip.


Intensive caring
Tuesday May 12th 2015, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Wednesday, we flew in for Richard’s sister’s son’s wedding, got our rental car, and drove to my parents’ for a visit and a late lunch.

And as we sat eating, their phone rang.

It was my sister’s son, calling his grandparents in Salt Lake to let them know that his wife had just had an emergency c-section at seven months along and the baby had been airlifted to Children’s Hospital near them. His wife, meantime, having just had surgery, was going nowhere for the moment. He had a toddler to watch, a wife in one hospital in one city and a baby in intensive care in another where things did not look good.

He was trying to figure out if he needed to ask if he could crash their place from time to time while having no idea how long he’d be having to ask for or how much. The baby had had a mass…

Michelle, meantime, hadn’t joined us for that lunch because she was going to meet up with an old college roommate at a restaurant. The roommate had a toddler and was also seven months pregnant.

Michelle arrived and waited, and waited, and waited, no answer either… And finally just ordered and ate, wondering what on earth was up.

Her old roommate was suddenly in the hospital with no time to call and explain.

She lost her baby.

And so we went off to the rehearsal dinner the next night intensely grateful for the lives of our loved ones and our newly loved ones we were meeting and everybody else’s everywhere, keenly aware of how good it was to see ours. Of the fragility of life. Hugging our grandchildren, cradling Madison to sleep, and looking around at the entire wedding party and thinking, Let the love not be fragile. Ever. We need each other for this.

Saturday, our niece was able to be released from the hospital in time for them to make the drive to Salt Lake, where there was nothing more to be done. The medical staff disconnected their son from the machines and he passed peacefully in his grieving, loving parents’ arms, together.

Saturday, we celebrated Gwyn and Sterling’s wedding in San Jose, and for the second time in two days rejoiced with all our hearts over two people who were so clearly and dearly meant for each other.

It wasn’t till the next day that we got the message that the brother of our sister-in-law had passed while we were flying and celebrating.

There was a knock at the door tonight. It was Michelle, and her hands were too full and she needed help with an enormous, gorgeous floral arrangement she was trying to bring in.

It was left over from Gwyn’s wedding and Nina had asked her to share them with us. I inhaled the orchids: they were perfect and so was the timing. I’d needed that. I exclaimed over the colors and Michelle explained, They’re dyed, Mom.

Okay, somehow that felt just too funny. A moment of comic relief.

To life.

Love, and just a little more love
Monday May 11th 2015, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

So much to say.

The bride’s father, struggling somewhat with the English, was delighted to find that we had a mutual second language (third for him) but laughed when I said I was deaf in English and French both. (Not quite kidding there in the happy noise of that crowded room.)

The ceremony on Friday was in Spanish. The love was universal–and it was intense. So. Much. Joy., almost as if we humans are almost too small to comprehend and take it all in. It filled everything. If ever there were two people meant for each other it was Derek and Mely.

My friends RobinM and Kunmi in Maryland gifted me some time ago with the surprise of a very generous gift certificate to Purlescence; I wish they could have seen my face or Nathania’s happy anticipation at the shop as I opened that envelope and gasped, stunned, thrilled, trying to take it in.

I got to see that same look and I wish they could have, too.

A few weeks ago, I had in my hands the last skein of the Cascade Epiphany I bought with that gift: a blend of cashmere, silk, and royal baby alpaca, the finest grade, one of the softest yarns in my stash.

And it was red. Slightly on the bluish side. Which *I* like but I dunno… Sometimes it’s an effort, though it shouldn’t be, to let go of working with the yarns that I favor and to use ones the recipient would rather.

Not having met the bride yet at that point, I went combing through Facebook photos. I wasn’t seeing it. But still it felt like nothing else would do–one would think I could reconcile those things, stash, dyepot or yarn store if need be, color choices showing up in pictures, but I couldn’t so I threw the problem in G_d’s hands: please help me get over myself and my love of this yarn I’d been saving the last of for just the right thing if what I’m supposed to be knitting her is something else.

Stubbornly, nothing else was coming to me and that red just felt all the more right. Huh. I didn’t know what the climate was like where the bride was from but I did know she’d be living in a cold one for awhile here and that Epiphany would make a good warm cowl against the skin. And so I knitted it up.

We were some of the first to arrive at the rehearsal dinner Thursday, guessing on the rush hour traffic on the careful side, and so I had a moment to hand the bride a small gift and to tell her, This is for (specifically) *you*.

She was wearing a fabulous dress–and that cowl was an exact match. The tape had come undone off the top of the wrapping (never buy flocked gift paper, it sheds little glitter bits all over everything and it doesn’t stay taped) and she peeked in and gasped. “That is my FAVORITE color!”

Several months ago I knit another warm cowl out of Malabrigo Arroyo. The colorway was beautiful but not really mine; I kept thinking it would look fabulous on someone who was Latina, but whatever, the feeling was that I needed to knit this and I needed to have it ready on a moment’s notice. It’s easier to knit something in happy anticipation of a specific recipient but I had no idea who the who was. Just that it needed to become a thing.

This was before my nephew announced his engagement. Even after, the cowl being finished and put away and forgotten, it didn’t dawn on me.

And I made another one out of silk that didn’t get very long, just a sweet little thing is all; my hands were hurting, the lack of give to the yarn helped not at all, I had no idea why I was making it and at the time I just cast it off and called it done. This was right after the Arroyo.

Last Tuesday I was packing my bags for the trip and wrapping the bride’s cowl in happy anticipation.

At the last second, when everything else was in the suitcase and ready to go, on some impulse I went looking and I found those two forgotten cowls. I found a third–and felt no not that one at all, put it back, and I did. More on that later. But the Arroyo and the silk went into my carryon. I still hadn’t figured out why.

I did very quickly after I met Mely’s family: her mother was a cheerful, sweet, funny woman (I didn’t have to speak the language to enjoy how much laughing went on wherever she was) but she was seeing her daughter off in marriage to a good man–but one who lived on a different continent, as would her daughter now. I can only try to fathom how that would be. She needed a sense of connection to the love all of his family feels for all of hers during the lonely, missing times to come.

Mely had probably shown off her cowl to her mom by the time I opened my purse again at the end of the rehearsal dinner, but I don’t know for sure.

Two cowls.

Her mom exclaimed over the knitting, and her close friend, who had been sitting at our table during the dinner getting to know us a little and who now lives near where the bride and groom will be living and who had played translator quite a few times over the course of the evening, told me something I didn’t quite get about I think the mom’s attempts to learn to knit. I could have gotten that wrong. Whatever, they both appreciated what had gone into the making of those two things.

And then her friend got it and translated what I said again to the mom: Choose. Pick your favorite.

Mely’s mom gasped, stunned. It had not occurred to her! And–! Really?!

She considered a moment, stroking the fabric on the soft Arroyo; she held it close to her face and neck and then holding onto it threw her arms around me. She laughed in delight and put it on. (Not so much on the matching on that one but there are other outfits. Definitely colors that look good on her.)

Her friend, meantime, was wearing a dress that quite matched that bit of silk that I was wishing I had made longer–but it was enough. I turned then, and, picking it up, placed it around the friend’s neck.

Now SHE gasped. “It’s my favorite color!” And it did match her dress.

A very small, almost trivial part of the weekend. And yet. In an evening of love, of changes ahead, of returns shortly to where we live with everything different now, we all felt a little more that we were home among each other.

And that good woman has a tangible reminder of trust that her daughter is well loved where she has landed.

Happy Mother’s Day
Sunday May 10th 2015, 11:25 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Topped off the day–church, phone calls, Skyping–with an invitation to dessert chez Michelle: a homemade lemon bundt cake with three cups of berries and cherries, and as we waited for it to come out of the oven she cooked and pureed a sauce made out of that much more of the berry mixture and strained the seeds out.

So, so good.

Here come the brides
Saturday May 09th 2015, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Two weddings 850 miles and 24 hours apart. Got to one dress rehearsal dinner, at least (the one I escalatored my skirt just prior to) but there was no chance on the other.

This afternoon, one bridge over the Bay was closed down for repairs and all traffic rerouted. We’d taken the cheap flight via changing planes in Vegas so as not to have to take the 7 am return and we didn’t have a lot of extra time.

Michelle had opted for the 7 am return–and they canceled the flight on her after she got to the airport.

T h e  T R A F F I C.

Richard’s cellphone rang as we were finally crossing the second bridge: did we want a ride? Phyllis knew we’d be coming in and that we’d be tired.

Yes oh please yes–but–we’re not actually home yet…

We saw some of the wedding party entering the hotel as Phyllis was looking for a parking spot and figured we were good.

I apologized to Nina for my shoes: I hadn’t had time enough to open the suitcase to find the other pair. She laughed for sheer joy of the day.

So much more later, but man, it’s late in the time zone we’re feeling.


Thursday May 07th 2015, 9:17 pm
Filed under: Knit

I now know what happens  when your long sweepy skirt gets caught in the edge of an escalator.

The place had been built about ten years ago so your mileage may vary. I don’t know how long it was in there, just that we had about one step to go when the thing jammed.

And I was stuck.

I pulled.

My mom pulled.

We couldn’t just stay like this–and it was outside in the sun. Lupus demanded I get out of there. I gave it one last try pulling a little more this away–a small tear, a lot of black grease, and I went tumbling backwards,  free at last.

The sympathetic young man coming up behind us that we only noticed just then was going wow at the predicament and cheering us on.

The escalator did not start up again. Clearly it required a reset. Good. It should.

Mom sewed it and the rest will have to wait: Crisco rubbed into it followed  by liquid detergent a few times and it should come out.

The best
Wednesday May 06th 2015, 9:02 pm
Filed under: Knit

The only thing better than anticipating seeing the grandkids is having them and their parents actually arrive.

And I even got the yarn wound for the next project
Tuesday May 05th 2015, 7:33 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

One of those days when I ran All The Errands.

And got to see a Red-tailed hawk soaring overhead. My day was complete.

Oh wait, not quite. Almost forgot the YouTube link: we have three female falcons this year at San Jose City Hall and fledge watch is coming up soon.

In the nick of time
Monday May 04th 2015, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Knitting a Gift

Michelle flies out for a wedding tomorrow.

I finished the project for the bride at 9:30 tonight. We just met up with her–and she sent us home with the blueberry crisp she doesn’t have time to finish off. Twist our arms.

A thorny issue
Sunday May 03rd 2015, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

The second time it happened, I knew exactly what it was.

But that first time a few days ago I could not for the life of me figure out that large bright white blob in the air (definitely not part of the tree in the background) hovering, hovering, now wobbling up and down just above the far end of the fence over on the neighbor’s side. It was almost round but for that one part–I willed it to come closer so I could see what that was.

Yonder squirrel stumblingly, awkwardly obliged.

It was a masterpiece of a huge white rose, just a showstopper that some gardener had clearly been proud of, with the sun dazzling it full on against the backdrop of the small black animal whose small face it utterly dwarfed. He finally stood still a moment halfway down my property line up there and tried to eat that thing. Like a teenage boy with a pizza–no, make that a Chez Panisse banquet, look at that presentation–all to himself.

One upper petal was askew from the otherwise still-perfect formation as he chomped on the center. He had plucked the entire rose from the bush quite nicely. He looked for all the world like he was holding a whipped cream pie against his face.

I have roses, and I’ve never seen a squirrel do such a thing before–they simply don’t eat them. Trying to figure out if it could be the drought? But then why…? Maybe all that rain in December led to a bumper crop of young that can’t find anything to eat now.

The second time, he went for a flower half the size. Don’t bite off more than that with which you can leap.

Spring springs
Saturday May 02nd 2015, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

The Black Jack fig tree has suddenly, in the last week, turned a noticeably deeper shade of green and the leaves have finally started getting bigger as we’ve gotten closer to summer sun. It had been in kind of a suspended animation for awhile, I imagine waiting for its roots to heal and grow after I had had to cut them with pruning shears to free them from each other. Having bought it when bare root season was over and it was still stuck in that sheath, it had come severely root bound, the ends curled back up somewhere inside that box. (Hey, ten bucks. The right variety. We could work with it.)

It’s looking a lot happier now.

The silk oak next door (hey, Wikipedia, what the heck is a “dry rainforest environment”?) that the hawks have raised their young in year after year but that flowers during nesting season, inviting raven aggression: two of the flowers fell into my yard today and out of curiosity I picked them up and sniffed. I expected perfume. Not so much. But the colors clearly are enough to get the attention of many types of birds, and when the big ones are away the finches play.

The Indian Free peach tree two weeks ago and today: clearly, we won’t have to wait a very long time for it to reach out to Adele. I am so looking forward to that and I love how this grows.

And… We lost our one single tiny green mango today. I think it snagged on the frost cover as I was taking it off this morning. The tree isn’t done flowering yet, so maybe we’ll get a second chance.

Definitely next year we will.

Roots and light
Friday May 01st 2015, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Life,Lupus

“You’ve always liked to garden,” he said today.

“Yes, but I didn’t for years,” I answered, saying that I think it was because having grown up an outdoorsy type and being so sun-confined with my lupus, I think I was afraid that if I broke out of that at all I’d get more and more reckless with it and so I’d kept that side of myself tamped down hard. For years. It was just easier not to have to look too up close at that sense of loss. Years ago, when getting to see my children grow up was a long way off and by no means a sure thing and I was doing everything I could, I suddenly realized one day that I’d just spent six months without even once walking all the way around my own back yard.

Now I feel like I’m reclaiming not just it but me. I deeply need to dig in the dirt and to see life coming forth from it. I picture Parker planting the seeds of all his apples and it just makes my day every time: from my botany-loving Grandfather Jeppson who died before I knew him and yet whom my Dad says I take after to my grandson, a straight line down the ages through every circumstance.

I reminded myself of that conversation with my husband as I went out to put my tomatoes in the ground at 6:00 pm. It was a little early in the evening for May but I had a lot to do. I kept my back to the sun and hey, look! The first actual tomato!

Oops. My critter cover didn’t fit over that tall tomato cage. I need to figure out how to set that wiring around them all, it’s been wrapped too long and wants to sproing inward on itself a little too hard. Might take two sets of hands and Richard was off at a ham radio meeting.

All these tomato plants were planted at the same time in the same seed starter kit. Two were moved into a bigger pot early on and put outside in direct sun; a third awhile after; and the rest, well, they were left in front of what wasn’t a great window for sun exposure to begin with. Look at that difference, and the roots far more so: a gallon of soil held tight vs, for the smallest, no discernible side roots, only the white squiggle it started out of the seed with. Same age.

Problem was that I’d needed more soil and buying more soil meant being out in the sun at the nursery during business and non-rush-hour hours and finally I simply did it.

The little ones will catch up soon enough.

And yes, I blogged several weeks ago about planting new seedlings. They were from the same batch as these and they all died in the first 24 hours. I transitioned the rest more gently from scraggles in the window to being in bigger pots outside to in the ground and I waited till I had most of them too far along for the snails to go after.

And then I went looking for baby apples and snapped clamshell covers over all the sweet Fujis I could find and as many of the more sour, less vulnerable Yellow Transparents as I could. Some of last year’s clamshells had given up the ghost; I clearly need more. A good problem to have this year.