Who? Beads me
Monday May 21st 2018, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Knitting a Gift,Life,Lupus

Well, that was a surprise.

I got a lovely note today and had no idea who this person was; I had to scroll down through the email chain, trying to figure it out.

Two years ago a friend had given me a big bag of craft supplies she wasn’t interested in anymore, nor was I, but I told her I could post it on Freecycle.org so that she could know it would go to someone who would be glad to have it. There were quite a few beads in there and someone could have the fun she’d hoped for when she’d bought it.

And so I did that.

I’d long since forgotten all about it.

The note was from the woman who had gotten that bag. She was no longer a medical student here but now in residency at the same school where my brother-in-law did his. Cool. But I remember the descriptions of what it was like to be in training as a young physician and the severe lack of personal time it entailed and I’m not surprised it took that long for her to really search that bag.

But yes, she had held onto those craft supplies while moving halfway across the country to her new place.

And only then did she discover that, by her description it sounds like I gifted her with a cowl along with a note that meant a great deal to her, whatever I said. She is studying the specialty of one of my favorite doctors, and if I didn’t then I did today, telling her what a difference he’d made to me and wishing her well in her life. She was very touched (and here I was, reiterating that message, I’m sure.)

I don’t remember doing that. But I know I would be doing exactly the same thing all over again if given the chance–with a plain-vanilla-wearable-by-anyone cowl at the ready, or any one that just felt right. Because one of my doctors–and because of Rachel Remen’s stories on the subject–taught me what a difference it can make to a physician to know that there really are patients out there who appreciate what you go through as you aspire to do right by humanity, the whole reason you went through all that you went through to get to the point where you could offer of yourself and your life like that.

That they’re not forgotten when the medical crisis is past.

I wonder if maybe, just maybe, two years ago wasn’t when she needed to hear that message: maybe today was. I have watched life dance to the choreography of G_d enough times…

Knitting is love made tangible. Even if I wasn’t ever her patient, I know well the life of a patient. And I know it’s not always easy to be a doctor.

I’d better get to it on the next cowl to have it ready to send out into the world.



There they are
Sunday May 20th 2018, 9:35 pm
Filed under: Family

Reading a silly book together.

(Note to self: sending the pictures works better when you turn airplane mode off on the phone.)



Early start
Saturday May 19th 2018, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Lupus

We read silly books, we played, we cheered.

Or rather he did, at least during the games. Since I can’t be out in the sun our daughter took me to her favorite dessert place downtown, and after we got back, the big screen got set up to show me some of the boys’ best moves so I could see them in action, too and their daddy could brag on them.

A little later, I pointed out the pretty orange flowers in the tree to Maddy and how the petals were falling on their swingset.

She did a double take at my audacity and corrected me: “Those. Aren’t. Flowers.”

I laughed. For that I had to step outside a moment with her, sun or no sun. “Yes they are!” I held her up high so she could see a cluster from quite close.

Nothing doing. Trees don’t have them. “They’re not flowers. And–they’re BLUE!” and she ran off giggling.

The logic of a three-year-old.

She might figure out now how the jacaranda trees are all purple right now. (In San Diego. Ours haven’t quite yet.)

When the last flight home for the day was coming right up, I explained to her mid-romp that we were going home to our house now.

She looked up at me, stunned, her face begging, WHAT?! NO!!

We got caught up in saying goodbye to Hudson and Parker and hugs and then we were off in their aunt’s car for the airport.

I only later realized I’d forgotten this time to promise them that we would come back. The boys are old enough to take that for granted but their little sister needed that reassurance.

But we will. I promise.



The more the merrier
Friday May 18th 2018, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I swatched the seaweed with the ocean. Just didn’t love the color combination and knew what I wanted but Cottage had been out of it. Called Green Planet: they had lots, I made the trek, and now I have something I like very much. And a better octopus color, too.

But I also needed a carry-around project this morning. I simply grabbed the yarn closest to me and started, and so another peach cashmere cowl is several inches in. Gotta use up those leftovers, right?

That blanket was what I’d needed to seriously rekindle all things knitting.



Begin: the rest is easy
Thursday May 17th 2018, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,LYS,Wildlife

My first success at trying to photograph it.

The new Cooper’s hawk hasn’t yet been harassed by the ravens–and so, for apparently the third time this week, he took his dove dinner to the middle of the yard, out in the open. (Pardon the broomstick.)

Just like Coopernicus did when he was young.

Meantime, I went off to Cottage Yarns to try to find me some seaweed colors, and I did find some dark green but I’m not quite convinced it won’t turn into cowls instead. It’s hard to match the brightness of that Cian colorway.

Here’s what I’ve got so far: I cast on the entire width of the afghan, figuring I would put most of the stitches on hold and work one strip upwards at a time. Right now though I’m not so sure I won’t just simply do it all of a piece.

It took till today to figure out what bugged me about the original pattern: it’s four squares wide. The eye is unsettled at low even numbers–it wants odd ones. It’s got to be five. My swatch said I needed five anyway.

I’ve got ten stitches for each side, eleven rows, and I’m calling that bottom border done.

I want a reclining octopus taking up enough of one side to help divide the interior into the visual thirds that it should be. The seaweed needs to extend well into a second row’s worth to help with its third.

I got me some finagling to do.



Carrot top
Wednesday May 16th 2018, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Knit

Two things.

I finished this generous-sized cowl on size US 8s in Piuma cashmere #22077 from Colourmart (it’s damp in my picture) with 70 grams left of the original 150, plenty to make a smaller one.

And I found and bought this pattern. Angelfish, octopus, sea horse, clownfish, surf rolling in (I’ll vary it rather than repeat it exactly)–this was exactly what I’d been looking for for the afghan, though I’ll probably skip the goofy grins on the critters’ faces. Do I need dirt at the ocean floor? Only if I can find cute enough dirt.

(Maddy’s cape is still definitely in the mental queue but it has no deadline.)

I did a thorough stash-diving amongst my Malabrigo Rios for bits and pieces of bright enough color to match my ten skeins in Cian. Huh. Is that all the Glazed Carrot I have left? Maybe I can manage a clownfish out of that? (The Piuma is not an option. It has to be superwash.)

Maybe with that red as an accent.

Just often enough, hoarding the last of each ball pays off big time.

I need to start another cowl, for a carry-around project if nothing else, but I really want to dive right into that blanket.



With multiple strands for extra warmth
Tuesday May 15th 2018, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

It took a random mention on a four-year-old Ravelry thread and then some searching, trying to track down where that picture had come from when there was no information with it, just a hey, isn’t this idea cool.

I saved the photo. It had a long .jpg number. I googled that.

Which of course took me right back to Ravelry.

This pattern. In those blues and white, like a fine Delft china plate. Wow. This is why I have a granddaughter–right? (In San Diego, sure, but hey, she has a cousin in Alaska. Right?)

Right. Right after I do that afghan, and all the cowls that are left to do, and and and.

Maybe I’ll knit the patterns into the baby’s blanket instead?

Like the littlest fingers wouldn’t yank and catch on those strands. He’ll be a newborn, not a responsible older brother. Okay, back to the cape idea then, three and a half is old enough to listen to you telling her why not to and then not to.

Right?

Yeah, yeah, I know. But some part of my knitting brain is suddenly fiercely wanting to do some fair isle work. I think it was those blues that grabbed me first.

Speaking of cool things found, there was also a mention of the floral bouquets, here. (Scroll down a bit.) Wiltproof.



Saved by the deadline from the deadline
Monday May 14th 2018, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I guess I made it look easy? I hadn’t knitted all of them in one week.

Remember when I offered the three elderly widows who were sitting together their choice of cowls a few weeks ago? They were all very appreciative.

So appreciative, one of them came back to me yesterday and made a point of telling me how much she loves hers. How she’d worn it day and night for two weeks, how her son had told her to cover her neck and head if she were cold and this did such a fine job keeping her warm and she’d never had a way to keep just her neck warm like that before. And it was SO soft!

Why, thank you!

What came next took me so by surprise that she had to say it twice, not because I didn’t hear it but because I just… (Surely that’s not what she’d said.) It was.

Her family was going to have a big happy reunion this summer (I knew one of her kids had adopted a whole lot of kids) and could I make twenty-nine matching cowls by then? She would pay me.

Clearly she wanted each one of them to have all the love that she’d felt in the one that I’d made her. One of her daughters so loves the one I surprised her with while she was visiting her mom last year; her son has a scarf I knit him years ago for wearing to Canada, if he still has it, and I know my friend and her late husband raised their kids to appreciate handmade things. They could all have a visual symbol of being a family that loves each other no matter where or what circumstances the individual grandkids had come in from. I got where my friend was coming from.

But.

Twenty. Nine.

MATCHING. No variety in the knitting.

Cowls. This summer. The summer that starts in five weeks?

It was suddenly a very good thing that I have a whole lot of experience with knitting requests by people who have no idea, because in that moment I needed every bit of that been-there-done-that-blase’-ness  to keep me from laughing out loud or gasping in astonishment or cringing and just all-around embarrassing her. Having her repeat the request helped put a bit of distance between the urgency of the ask while lessening the urgency of the no.

Well, says I, I’ve been wanting to make one for every woman in the ward. I started just over a year ago. I’ve done fifty so far.

Oh, says she, disappointed as it starts to sink in. She had so hoped. A year? Fifty? How long does it take to make them?

Seven to twelve hours, on average. And I need to get an afghan done and soon, and that’s a month. (Side note to myself: if I really work at it.)

She did the math on the time left and figured that that looked like that wasn’t going to work, then, was it. But she would pay me if I did, she hastened to reassure me.

I didn’t tell her my starting price for such a project in that time and that spot in my queue would start at, oh, let’s say a million. Plus materials.



Busy at Mom’s
Sunday May 13th 2018, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Family

Six kids, twenty-five grandkids, and voice mail was as close as I could get for today. Actually I really liked the idea of that–I could just picture all of us trying to call her at once to tell her just how lucky we are that she’s our Mom/Gram/Great Gram. Group hug! Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!



Happy Mother’s Day!
Saturday May 12th 2018, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

The doorbell rang and a middle-aged man I had never laid eyes on in my life was holding out this beautiful bouquet. I almost asked, Do I know you? just to make him laugh. Almost.

He asked me to sign for them and my suppressed laughter finally surfaced: I looked down at the flowers now in my arms and said in great innocence that my hands were full.

I put them down, signed his form, and thanked this man who was clearly enjoying his job today and looking forward to the next and the next and the next.

Happy Mother’s Day to all who are or who have mothers, and may the day be a good one for you. (And thank you, kids!)



For old times’ sake
Friday May 11th 2018, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

She was born in 1926 and today we gave her a great send-off. Eighty great-grandkids. Wow. Her family filled most of the big center section of the church.

The littler ones were having to sit quietly for a long time as the funeral went on. Fortunately I had just restocked my purse.

One young man of about twelve helped pass along some handknit finger puppets (some still had a tiny Peru sticker on them, I’d just gotten them) to his small cousins, pleased at how those quieted them down and that he’d gotten to help out.

Agnes, an old friend who’d driven into town for this was sitting next to me and nudged me, motioning that he wanted one, too. I’d almost missed it. He was one of the great-grandkids who’s local so I know him.

I raised my eyebrows silently with a smile, glad they weren’t all gone yet: You want one?

A small hopeful nod.

I reached across the church aisle and gave him what its knitter probably thought of as a reindeer, but having seen that moose in Alaska, I’m (silently, at the time) calling it a moose. The antlers totally made it.

He examined every stitch and everything about it as the talks went on with intense enough curiosity that I thought, grab that kid some needles and merino, friends, I think he’s ready to learn how to knit.

p.s. Mom, Dad, and Carolyn: Debbie MH and her husband Ron’s cousin Lisa T.C. from back home asked after you. Debbie’s folks are doing well.



He forgot he could wing it
Thursday May 10th 2018, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Raising those new feathers to the sky and flying is the easy part.

It’s the learning to land that takes practice.

This young falcon’s first flight landed him in a spot where his parents apparently couldn’t get food to him, so he went hungry for twenty-four hours. Now that’s a long time for any teenager, and when it got to be too much he made a break for home.

Nope. A little too high. (His brother sees him.) Well then I’ll just…

(I meant to do that, as his brother’s feathers flare wide in surprise.)



Pie in the sky
Wednesday May 09th 2018, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Garden

Sour cherries on my young English Morello tree, abundant in number for the first time.



Peregrinning
Tuesday May 08th 2018, 8:27 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

The San Francisco peregrine falcons are about two weeks older than the eyases in the San Jose nest, and one of them just fledged.

Video of Glenn Stewart after banding the San Jose kids.

Video here of one of the San Francisco kids flapping its wings, doing little leaps, wanting so badly, and then finally OFF! Into the unknown of Look, Ma, no ground! It was quickly joined by a parent, who helped it find its way back to the nest on the 33d floor of the PG&E building.

Gliding down is the easy part. Getting higher is what they have to learn, and so far, so good.



Raspberry cupcakes
Monday May 07th 2018, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

I was short about a teaspoon’s worth of butter and added about that much extra sour cream in tradeoff and they didn’t rise as high as last week’s. Which is fine.

This time, I made homemade lemon curd via my Meyer tree rather than opening a jar of the stuff from Trader Joe’s.

And again, I took four of the finished cupcakes, with a raspberry on top just like in the pictures, over to our friends Phyl and Lee after they affirmed that yes, they would love to taste-test this version, too.

Lee’s brother fell and died of a head injury last month and that was the last thing anyone expected. Coming for dinner that night, yes. But…

I cannot bring him back. But by golly I can make really good raspberry cupcakes to let them know we’re thinking about them, thanks to my daughter Sam’s heads-up on that recipe.

We do what we can.