Shark it to me shark it to me shark it to me shark it to me
Photo: our Santa Rosa plum doing a popcorn impersonation.
Meantime, me: (suppressed grin, sheepish look on face) I think I blew it.
Him: (intrigued–okay, what’s up) You blew it?
Me: Um. Yes. (And then I spilled.) The insurance broker? They send out an email every month that’s a drawing for tickets to a game. A few times a year I hit reply, which is all you have to do to enter, and I, um, won. Got a nice note from Chris with it, since we’ve been his clients for lo these thirty years now. The Sharks game.
Him: Two tickets?
Me: (Well of course.) Yes. (Thinking, Sharks. That’s hockey, right? It is. Right? Yeah, I’ve seen the logo, it is.)
Comes with better parking and premium seats and I guess we have to go now, huh? It’s okay, I promise to only bring a small knitting project.
Look, Ma, no needles!
I already ran the ends in as I went, and yet I still felt like I couldn’t cut them off till I ran them in some more. Especially with the inquisitive little baby fingers soon to come its way.
Meanwhile, nature just kept quietly doing its thing
Tomorrow, unlike today, I will get a chance to sleep in if I still need to to recover from Stitches. So glad I got to go.
I was too tired to knit but snapping a picture of the August Pride peach at its peak and the mango tree was something I could do. The latter surprised me when I finally took off all the covers today and found it had started to flush over the weekend, and I am hoping to see new buds soon.
I had had to leave one cover on all day Friday and Saturday because it was still too cold when I left for the Convention Center and would be when I got back.
Some of the buds just to the left of here were nevertheless blackened by cold (I guess one layer hadn’t been enough) and I needed those–the tree is much heavier towards the fence and is leaning a bit. It’s still staked, though, which helps; the tie in place these days is a bit of ace bandage, nice and soft and with some give to it.
There will be growing and pruning in the season ahead and it’ll all even out.
And knitting. Lots of knitting. Stitches yarn is always the best yarn because it’s what you wanted most after seeing thousands and thousands of skeins and from the dyers in person.
C’mon, get found!
Saturday February 25th 2017, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Friends
Yesterday I was talking to a young vendor at Stitches about knitting lace and she said it wasn’t something she’d managed to get good at or do much of yet, but she wanted to (said wistfully).
I remembered feeling like that years ago before I learned how, myself. Well, hey, I happened to know a book that gave good how-to lace instructions and patterns–but I didn’t have a copy with me anymore at the end of the day. Leap into the aisle and wave your arms as I go by, I said, flag me down tomorrow and I’ll bring you one.
What I knew and did not explain well was the facial-memory brain problem and that I really meant how I’d said that. Oh, I’ll find her, I told myself.
I should have rehearsed over and over, The guy with the red beard. The guy with the red beard. The guy with the red beard. Because how many of those could there be? But I didn’t.
I spent hours today taking in every aisle across the entire convention floor, going past the 150 or so vendors, trying to find her and her husband again and coming up empty and wondering how on earth this could be. I did find lots of old friends I hadn’t seen the day before (and some I had) and vendors who had become such themselves, and that was all good. But I just couldn’t fathom leaving at the end of the day without finding that couple and it was actually getting to be a possibility.
I thought one woman might be her but she not only didn’t recognize me, I simply did not exist for her. That happens all the time when you’re down there in a scooter, although less so at Stitches than anywhere else.
Sympathetic friends asked me the name of the booth. I had no idea, but I knew it was on the left hand side near the end of a section and that they, um, sold yarn. (Hey, not everybody there did!)
Finally I realized that I simply was not going to succeed at this on my own. At all. Clearly. I couldn’t fathom leaving someone excited to learn something new at last and then abandoning them–so I did the sensible thing I should have started off with and offered up an inner prayer for help.
It wasn’t immediate, but pretty close: an old friend saw me and we exclaimed over each other and chatted awhile before I headed down this one aisle I was already on.
There at the end. Right there where I’d gone past I’m sure twice before. They were both in the booth and it was no longer crowded so I could actually see them both–and their delight in that moment at seeing me again. (Me: It IS you!) And so the Twisted Owl couple at long last got their book and she loved it and he loved that she was so happy.
I can’t wait to see them at next year’s show. And now I have the website and a photo to go by.
Friday February 24th 2017, 11:32 pm
Filed under: Knit
I love seeing old friends at Stitches every year. Today’s started off with standing in line to get in, since I got dropped off slightly early, and finding a mother and daughter coming in behind me who–JO?? Is that you?!
My oldest’s close friend from high school and her mom, who recognized me a split second before I did her. The knitting thing. It spreads.
By afternoon, someone there was having a bad day for whatever reason and as she came walking by lost in a world of her own I looked up at her and said, simply, You look like you need a hug. It was an offer.
She was surprised, gratified, and we threw our arms around each other like old friends and then continued on our ways down the aisle in opposite directions, with her definitely lighter on her feet for it. It felt great.
Turquoise was not intentionally a theme today but sometimes it just is anyway. I told Susan at Abstract Fiber why I needed a new skein of Burnside Bridges (on the far left). I wasn’t going to go home without getting me some of that first and foremost.
I had never bought a kit in my life. I guess I just did, though–Imagiknit had two baby sweaters up and I looked at them and said, emphatically, I want to make that one.
This one comes with the pattern free with the yarn, she offered.
I believe in paying designers, I told her. I want the other one, thanks.
Yes! There was a big grin on her face as she rang that one up.
The cowl was Stitches-specific; back to the afghan, which still needed those last twenty-four rows of ribbing and for me to stop basking in the glorious feeling of being done with all the color work and to tell myself, it’s Not. Done.
I got the first thirteen rows in and had to give my hands a break. Well, I thought, if I don’t finish, it would be fun to work on it at Stitches–but then I’d have to carry it around all day.
Meantime, our son flew into town on business just for today and not only did he have time to get together with us for dinner after all, he messaged that he’d gotten done early. And so he took the train down and I took the car up and got him and then we went and picked up my husband and all of us went out for a good meal. There is no better excuse than family in town.
I started checking the hour as we finished our dinners. Maybe we should think about getting going… I felt antsy about the time even though we seemed to have plenty.
We took a short walk around downtown in the cold (it’s 33F now) to work off some of those calories and for them to look for a shop my husband kept expecting to see right in the next block.
What time was your flight home?
We piled into the car and turned on Waze. Turned out the freeway to the airport was at or close to a dead stop nearly the whole way–there’d been an accident.
And so it directed us along the scenic route that I had always suspected had to exist but had never had reason to look for before. That portion that should have been fifteen or twenty minutes in normal life took us an hour and a half to get around–but that was a lot better than for the people still stuck in all that and it made it so he did catch his flight home. It was a close call but he made it.
Someone out there had a much rougher time of it. I hope they’re okay.
To everybody coming to Stitches, may your travel be safe. Oh and just to Camelot it for you we canceled the storm we were supposed to have this weekend. Instead of a definite inch they’re now forecasting a chance of, if there’s anything, .18″ from Saturday through Monday. It will, however, be brisk.
I got it
Today, the sun was shining. And as I drove, I kept marveling at how easy it all was…
I got Richard to work. I got two packages mailed off. I got to the clinic and picked up a prescription. I got home and ate a bite. I found the lost tomato seeds so I can get them started (it had been bugging me for days. They were right there where I’d looked five times because I was sure I’d put them there–I had.) I got to the audiologist’s and got my hearing aids cleaned in anticipation of Stitches and needing to hear as best as possible. I got bird food. I got clear across San Jose from downtown Los Gatos to the place that sells scooter batteries (Stitches…), because mine are dead after two years, and then drove four cities’ more to get to Costco and then home.
I got Richard again.
And then I got in three and a half hours’ knitting time on a cowl that had been half done and I got it blocked. It is done.
Tuesday February 21st 2017, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Friends
My car went swimming.
I’d driven that same route to that same airport four hours earlier to drop off my daughter; now I was on my way back in the dark in a cloudburst to pick up friends. I was way under the speed limit–everybody was, which tells you something–when I realized that there was no visible road anymore in the far right lane, only water, lots of water, and there I was as I hit the brakes. I was quite relieved when that was behind me but didn’t dare grab for my phone in those conditions to try to call 911, but that lane needed to be shut down. (I had no idea how the rest of the lanes were.) Right then I hit the pothole–there were a lot that had opened up these past few weeks but that one was like no other, and I wondered if it had taken out my tire. It was deep enough that I’m going to need to get my car inspected, but I made it to that airport and got my friends who had so often done that for us.
On the way back, Sue (after doing a quick visual on that tire for me and pronouncing it a little low but not flat) chatted and made the drive much more cheerful, while Ken checked his driving app: there was a warning about the right lane being underwater at…
Yup. I wasn’t looking at landmarks in those moments but that sounds like where it was, yup. I drove carefully.
It felt great to see them safely home. It felt great to walk in my own door a moment later. Warm and dry and blessedly safe. Always a good thing.
Phoning it in
Monday February 20th 2017, 11:37 pm
Filed under: Family
It is brutal out there. We’re not near a creek and we’re above the flood plain near the bay so we figure we personally are okay–as long as that big tree doesn’t fall on our bedroom.
Michelle was off with a friend and when she came home she said that our street was well under water two blocks away and that they’d had to go around the neighborhood to drop her off.
A few hours later, with it still raining nonstop, we looked at each other: anybody in their right mind would absolutely stay home. Richard had, working from home rather than risking driving under those leaning waterlogged eucalyptuses en route.
And so… The three of us drove out of here the one way we could still go. There was a Verizon store a mile away, and Verizon had recently offered a new family plan that was not only cheaper than what we had, it offered unlimited text/call/data service for each phone unlike what we currently had. Since nobody on earth would want to be out in this, it would be the one day the store wouldn’t be swamped with people trying to change to that new plan while the offer lasted.
It helped that we couldn’t think of any place between here and there that the water would seriously collect in, and that turned out to be true.
We were third in line but that line went fast, even though the workers there were occasionally pacing up to the windows and looking out on the storm–I just hoped none of them had a long commute in that.
We actually got in and out of a phone store and home again in well under an hour with the thing done. Even when that included discussing options on replacing my iPhone 4s and one other phone on that plan. (We did keep the ones we’ve got for now.)
I guess it literally paid to be a little crazy.
Sunday February 19th 2017, 11:50 pm
Filed under: Family
Three and a half inches of rain due in the next 24 hours and more after that. It’ll be interesting to see if we get any peaches off those early blossoms.
Michelle is home for the weekend and talked me into trying out this almond cake recipe. I used a tablespoon less butter (because it seemed so much), a little more almond paste because why not use it all up, and added a half teaspoon of almond extract after taking a poll and getting two enthusiastic votes yes on the extract.
She was right–that one is definitely company-worthy.
Okay, this is silly.
Wait–back up a bit. When I was home from college over Christmas break when I was 19 or 20, my dad surprised me by telling me he was going to take me shopping for a pair of boots for Christmas; he knew it would be my first pair ever. It was cold and snowy where I was going to school and he wanted my feet nice and warm. Besides, hey, boots!
Took me a moment to get over the shock. My dad. Wants to take a daughter. Shoe shopping. Brave man.
What I ended up with was inexpensive waterproof synthetic ones. One, because I knew the folks had three kids in college that year, and two, because trying to buy my feet anything was hopeless anyway, so once I found something, anything, that I could at all get my feet into I knew that was as good as I was going to get and the fact that these were waterproof seemed practical. Finding something that actually fit my 6.5EE and high arch was completely out of the question.
Back at school, I found my feet hurt pretty fast wearing those and I only wore them to get from my apartment to campus. And only a few times, with regret at not letting my dad push me to try harder. I should have skipped getting those altogether, which I’d known all along but I just couldn’t let him completely down.
Fast forward to when I had kids in elementary school. The PTA in our school district ran, at the time, a wardrobe exchange in order to pass clothes on to those less well off, while covering for their pride by presenting it as a way to offer warm clothes for those going to Tahoe who only needed to rent snow clothing those few days out of the year. Wash them, bring them back, done.
So anybody could rent outfits for their kids for a few bucks and anyone in the school district could buy them for about that who needed to. The funds went to cover the rented trailer they ran the operation from.
So I brought in some warm outgrowns for the cause one fine day.
Someone had donated these shearling-lined horsehair boots that look like a Westie terrier about to be told to get down off that chair. I thought they were hilarious and tried slipping one on, and then the other, and by golly I could actually get my feet in them! What a great Halloween costume! Besides, my oldest was getting to the age where it was my job to embarrass her, right?
The woman was incredulous. You LIKE those?! Nobody checks those out. They’ve just sat there forever. You want them? Take them!
Well, that wasn’t quite fair, so I went home and got those old tall rubbers and exchanged them pair-for-pair. They were happy, I was happy. The fact that I wear European 37 and these were stamped 39 40 on the bottom–US 8-9.5–three full sizes too big, no wonder I could get them on.
But those polyurethane ones from back in the day left a lasting impression: I don’t do boots. Period.
Although I sure wished I did when I was in DC January a year ago and it was five degrees out with a strong wind and we were trying to hike the C&O Canal in the cold (not for very long).
And then there was my younger daughter’s enthusiasm. “Boots! Cute Boots! You need cute boots!”
As if. Come on, they don’t exist now any more than they did then.
But we had that conversation every so often these past few years and I always wondered if that was actually so.
Recently, she needed some cheering up. And I knew how much she would love it if…it couldn’t hurt to look…
I went to a specialty shoe store that advertised wide widths. No dice. I searched Birkenstock’s online store. Their American importer? Nope.
And then I found a German Birkenstock store. They had a few pairs left of a now-discontinued style. I knew that ordering from Germany was going to cost me a whole lot in return charges if this didn’t work, I had no idea how they would handle it if I did, the cost was in no way cheap but I thought how much Michelle would love it. I thought about getting to tell my 90-year-old Dad that, hey, Dad! I did it! I finally got those boots you wanted for me all that time ago!
And so I took a deep breath and typed what I needed to type.
They came yesterday.
I put one foot in. I put the other foot in. Walked a few steps. And then just about shouted to the rooftops, THEY FIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
They’re not high boots, they’re more like high top sneakers, but wearing something above the ankle is a whole new thing here as it is. The doctor who treated my broken bones in November wanted me to be wearing something like this instead of clogs, and there you go.
I keep laughing at the name of the boot: I have a Bartlett pair.
We heard a thunk this afternoon, and opening the door, I found a box: it said New Balance. The mailman hadn’t even driven his truck away before I read the label, laughed, and started walking next door. He saw me and was startled–Did I–?
No problem, I laughed, it just helps me keep in touch with the neighbors.
Jim opened at my knock and I handed him his box. “Those aren’t my shoes, mine came yesterday,” pointing at my feet, and he laughed.
I wonder if he was as excited about his as I was about mine. I mean, you just don’t want to miss out.
Since he still wasn’t feeling too great that day, Wednesday I drove Richard to what I assumed was going to be a half hour, an hour at most at the doctor’s.
I got in three and a half hours of knitting in two different waiting areas. (He’s fine, no worries.)
Near the lab, there was an antsy little boy of about two and a half, three at the most. Trying to be good. Playing with his dad’s phone for entertainment, small and portable, but a real toy is always a good thing so I offered them a finger puppet and told the little boy, “Happy Birthday!” So that his daddy would know it was for keeps, too.
And we waited.
There seemed to be some uncertainty at one point and I said it again to the little boy: “Happy Birthday!” This time he gave me a great big smile back and did a little leap for joy.
And I knitted.
The afghan spilled all over me and my large chair and onto the floor, greens and white and teal, and every now and then I would get to the end of a row and turn it over, showing more of the other side of the work. The front and back are so different. But of course the strands would tangle on each other every time, and sometimes I would reach into my knitting bag and move the balls around right away, sometimes, eh. Wait till they refuse to let the others go past. And then I’d turn again. In between, I would get to where it changes from the plain edging to the patterned center and have to track down which strand was an end being woven in upwards and which was the next working one, a little bouquet of yarn stems to choose from here and then again down here.
They got whom they were waiting for faster than I did: an older man was wheeled out from the lab. The younger man got up and walked over to him and then spoke with the receptionist behind him while the little boy danced around. Grandpa, if he was the grandpa, looked like Carlos Santana and one could almost expect him to whip out a guitar and start playing into the quiet. But the towering ceiling seemed to swallow all sounds.
Mostly, though, I was just focused on the work in my hands and letting them be. I’d been at it for long enough at that point to wish for an icepack break–not too fervently yet, but since I’d forgotten my phone and anything else to read there was simply nothing but knitting to do. Besides, I wanted to get this thing finished this week anyway.
After about a minute I finally realized I had been feeling eyes upon me for awhile and glanced up.
And there was the man in that wheelchair, all of them still there, waiting. No word had been said. He wanted my eyes, and once he had them he held them a moment.
He took in that afghan. And in no more hurry than one would take to knit such a thing he gave me a slow-motion, deeply affirming bow of the head and then, reverently, a thumbs-up, holding my eyes again. It came so closely from his heart that to emphasize that point he slow-swooshed that thumb forward and up a second time, like a conductor extending the symphony’s note and holding it out there in space. He wanted me to know that. He could not leave till I did.
Whoever he was, however he’s lived his life, this was someone who knew the creative life and understood the time and perseverance it takes to become good at what one does. He wanted me to know he knew I was there.
I’d never met him, we never spoke a word, and yet the next day it was still such a powerful experience that while I was finishing those last patterned rows I nearly cried. I couldn’t write about it immediately because I was still trying to process how to say it.
That man radiates love. I want to be like him when I grow up.
Finished the last multicolored, multi-yarn row tonight at long last. Plain edging to go. My thanks to the elderly volunteer at the clinic who watched me work as I waited for a prescription to be filled this afternoon and told me, appreciatively, That’s a big project!
He made my day. It’s funny how much unexpected little moments like that can help.
Meantime, some peach flowers: the August Pride tree and its wide-petaled blossoms just starting to open and the Tropic Snow with its deeper pink, slightly frilly ones.
And looking at my phone, I forgot to post this! I had some of my friend Kathy‘s dog’s fur out on the patio for nest-making material and snapped this Bewick’s wren right after it gathered a beakful.
In the shape of a heart. It was on Valentine’s day. I couldn’t believe it when I looked at my phone.
Yes you can
A friend of mine went up to Lacis in Berkeley for the first time. Lacis is both a shop and a museum of all things lace; it was founded by Kaethe (I was told, as best as my hearing could tell, to pronounce it Katy) Kliot. Who as a refugee from post-WWII Germany funded her ticket to America by resurrecting old doily patterns to make cotton tablecloths for American soldiers to send home.
And then she spent a lifetime finding and publishing and selling every lace book title you could possibly hope to find. When she couldn’t find fine enough knitting needles for certain types of work, she manufactured her own.
Ruth marveled that she’d missed out on discovering such a marvelous place earlier and wanted to know if any of us had ever been. This is what I told her:
Years ago I bought, from Kaethe Kliot herself after she helped me find it, a book on Shetland lace whose price was marked in British pounds so I had no idea what it was going to cost me. (It was not inexpensive, as it turned out, but I had been able to find it nowhere else.) But what it gave me was the memory of talking to Kaethe herself before she passed. One of the things I was there to look for, I told her, was a musical treble clef and base clef done in a lace pattern; was there such a thing?
She glanced upwards and searched mentally through her vast library for several long seconds, then was quite certain as she looked at me again and said, “No–but it wouldn’t be hard, here’s how you do it…” and she was quite excited to be part of an unexpected collaboration here. Excited for me, clearly knowing how much I would love the discovering in the process.
At the time, though, I was barely started at being self-taught on doing lace and there was no way. But what she did was make it so I had hope, or at least wanted that hope, that someday, maybe, I could live up to what she believed I could do.
I actually still haven’t ever knit such a thing, but now it’s only because I haven’t bothered to. By now I know I can.
But I loved her for her faith in me and I loved, too, that there was an entire warehouse of knitting books and a woman who knew every pattern in every one of them. Who wanted everybody to be able to do anything they wished they could do.
Edited to add: I just found the Lacis tribute to Kaethe, here, with pictures of her work and of her. I have visual memory damage specifically for faces and yet I recognized hers instantly. With great fondness.
Doesn’t have to be pink
A quiet day, a bit of knitting, a sick husband, here, honey, drink some juice, drinking some myself while trying not to catch his bug…
And with all that is going on in politics I happened to stumble across this: a cooling treatment that helps chemo patients keep their hair through it all, and the study was done right here at UCSF.
Well, huh. If you can’t afford the cooling scalp, maybe a plain icepack or two? You know, we could definitely design a hat with a giant pocket to hold them in place, and you always want a layer of fabric between you and the colder side of the pack anyway to keep the skin from freezing.
Those sewn-square pussy hats would be about the right shape to add to.