You mean I can knit anything now?
Friday August 31st 2018, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

And in this section of the yarn museum we have the live installation by the visiting 5’11” granddaughter of an art dealer, illuminating the perception of the fleet-ing moment.

Of which there were not, however, a boatload.

Duration: thirty seconds.

Title: Long Drink of Water.



Changing lanes
Thursday August 30th 2018, 7:53 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

A full-size Bugatti┬ámade out of Legos. No glue. Holds two. It actually runs. Frankly, in the last picture, where they’re shown side-by-side, the Lego one is a lot cooler looking; they need to paint the real one to look like that if they want to have a really hot car.

Of course this means instant inspiration and aspiration on the part of the Lego enthusiasts among the grandkids that they won’t outgrow any more than the folks who built this did. Talk about a dream job.



Sprint
Wednesday August 29th 2018, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Life

Trying to do my usual treadmill time for a few days after last Thursday’s fall made it increasingly clear that there was some damage that had to be looked at.

I got two tentative steps in last night and went, Nope. (Hopping off.) Too soon.

I set the thing to 1.7 mph tonight and took the tiniest, quickest little baby steps, desperate for more than the doctor’s “take it easy” and to get at least some kind of exercise while that bone’s healing. I was even fine till about five minutes in. I kept going for another two because I’m kind of stupid like that.

It was worth it.

Don’t tell on me. (Oh wait I just did.)

p.s. The fig needed one more day, so I let it have it. Tomorrow!



Every day is okay that starts with a fresh fig right off the tree
Tuesday August 28th 2018, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

It is a wonderful thing to walk outside first thing in the morning, find a fig drooping from the weight of the sugar and juiciness it attained to bird-free and to bring it inside to share. There was one yesterday, too, and there will be another tomorrow.

Also yesterday: my new doctor said he didn’t think anything was broken because I didn’t react strongly enough to his prodding around for the sore spot. I told him that one thing he needed to know about me was that my ability to feel pain is diminished (which…can be nice…) and that’s why having this hurt like it does when I move the wrong way was a surprise.

Thus the x-ray.

The report came today: “Slightly displaced fracture of the right anterior ninth rib…”

He gave me a prescription for a few nights’ worth of Lidocaine patches, not enough to get me through till I see him again next week but I figured I’d gone three nights with this already on my own, so no big deal. He assured me they did not cross-react with the categories of painkillers I’m allergic to.

I’d never used them before. I put the first one on right before bed.

Blink. “How fast are these supposed to kick in?” I asked Richard. “Because, wow.”

I woke up amazed at how much of a difference a good night’s sleep makes.

I’m looking forward to that next fig in the morning.



A rib-ayyyy! stake
Monday August 27th 2018, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Life

I tried to drive Richard to work, made it one block, bailed and turned around and he later left work early to take me in. Passengering, it turned out, ie getting to sit still, was much easier.

“If it’s broken we treat it with painkillers. If it’s not broken we treat it with painkillers. Do you want the x-ray anyway?”

I flashed back to the pediatrician telling us it was going to take a year for our child’s damaged muscles to heal, and it did, and the idea of that vs. a broken rib healing in six weeks or so? Yes, definitely I’d like to know which one I was in for while it hurts to cough or breathe deep.

My doctor retired a few weeks ago and I got assigned to the new guy and life gave me a chance to–or rather, demanded that I–scope him out to see what I thought.

Young, Asian, tall, hipster with a man bun and an easygoing manner and a quick sense of humor. Okay, I think he’ll do just fine. I’m not an uncomplicated patient medically, but he struck me as someone who, if he didn’t know would happily go and find out. He went over the list of painkillers I can’t take and assured me that my history of liver lesions from the Crohn’s should not stop me from taking Tylenol.

“You gotta quit falling.” A good-natured, half-pleading, fully-understanding statement.

“Working on that,” I grinned.

(Still waiting for the reading on that x-ray.)



If only I could clone mine
Sunday August 26th 2018, 9:30 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Yesterday I mentioned to Richard that I’d been thinking I ought to call my childhood friend Karen. I just really needed to. It had been awhile. Right then happened to be when I was on my way out to pick up the drycleaning and groceries but I wanted to remember to do it. I almost just stopped right there, and wondered why on earth I wasn’t, but it turned out later worked out better anyway.

Because a few hours later, as we were getting ready to go out with friends, he said to me, Were you going to call…

Oh! Right, thank you!

She happened to be celebrating our mutual friend Kathleen’s birthday with her when that phone rang. We three have been close since high school and I make a point of seeing them any time I’m back East. They live about 45 minutes apart.

Kathleen needed someone celebrating her right now.

They just didn’t quite know how to pick up the phone and cheerfully convey the news that hey, guess what, Bob cheated and we split and how was your day?

Kathleen needed me to know, and I think she needed to be with the close friend when the far-away one mourned what was by now old hat to both of them but no less intense a source of pain. The virtual hug and the real one came together in those moments.

I had no way to know. I’m so glad Richard remembered to remind me to call.



Here let me show you what I did wrong
Saturday August 25th 2018, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

There’s a knit two rows purl two rows knit two rows sequence between the squares. When I picked the blanket up again after not working on it for a week while we had company, I somehow only did the first two rows of that sequence of six. I did not see it till I was more than that much further along.

So my choices are:

1. Ignore it. Carry on. Got a ball and a half left to go. (It’s very stretchy sideways, while the picture is with it kind of scrunched in at the sides, so you can definitely add more length, not to mention their kids are tall. But then their daddy is over 6’9″.)

2. Cut it just above the spot, carefully undo enough rows to have plenty of yarn to be able to cast off right there (and where you would want that to be in the pattern), rip out the eighteen hours’ worth of wasted work and have a do-over at the top.

3. Cut it and do all that but flip it over and kitchener (ie graft) the now-live stitches from the top of the bottom to the bottom of the top (only 210 stitches, who’s counting) after I finish those balls and ignore that the stitches will be suddenly upside down to the rest of the blanket. Like nobody will ever know.

4. Which brings us back to, well then hey, ignore it without all that extra work.

But if I just leave it It. Will. Bug. Me.

I think reknitting every one of those inches will be dependent on the baby hopefully refusing to be too much of a preemie, but it’s what I should do.

Like any kind of ribbing, it’s a slow-going pattern.

The thought occurred to me today that y’know, if I could find a match on the dyelot (wishful thinking) then I could actually come out of this with two afghans, after all, one’s a third of the way there already…

Although I think I’d make a plain wide border all around the shorter piece I’m going to cut off. One can only do so much.

Now, who has a full bag of Rios in Cian in stock in a lighter shade than some and with no green in it that I can buy?



Pony Express-ion
Friday August 24th 2018, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

The horse galloped for eighteen more hours’ worth of work (five hours ago) before I saw it.



Sinking feeling
Thursday August 23rd 2018, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

There’s some construction going on next to my husband’s commute with a lot of digging and we found ourselves going over a set of steel plates set on the road across from all that. Well, okay, there’s a utility-undergrounding project going on on that road but why the half-mile gap?

The plates were a bit wet last week.

Our water table is high enough that you can’t build basements, and I figured it was just displaced water from the construction work. Although, this was at a high enough elevation that it surprised me that it would happen there.

Then there was standing water.

Then there was an actual, splashing puddle this week, and he was Not Happy about driving over those plates and wondered why the city hadn’t gotten on this pronto.

The things you learn after being married 38 years….

Turns out that when he was a teen, growing up in a house that was about halfway down a steep hill, there was a water leak next to the road at the bottom there. A crew came out to try to patch it but they couldn’t find the source and while they looked, the amount steadily increased. Not good. They had the road blocked off to traffic, but finally had to ask the neighbors to move their cars off the street altogether so they could test further up.

So Richard U-turned the family cars and got them out of the way–this after having run various errands and having parked in front of the house a few times.

The guy jammed some kind of pole through the roadway to test what was underneath.

There was no longer anything underneath. Where my in-laws’ cars had just been, there was nothing but a huge cavernous sinkhole below the roadbed starting at the upper edge of their property, going the width of the street, about twelve feet deep, and thirty or forty feet long and he got to see just exactly how close he’d just come.

He definitely did not want to be driving over those steel plates.

Yesterday and today there were men standing in the hole he’d been sure was being created there. The men’s heads in that pit were at street level and it took up two and a half lanes of traffic (no bike lane for you!) with several flag men to keep people from driving into the abyss or each other as westbound diverted into eastbound.

A little water is like a little kindness: it can quietly move that stubborn mountain out of the way all by its little self.



Fighting fire with…!
Wednesday August 22nd 2018, 10:05 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

One way to make net neutrality personal:

In early July, Verizon downgraded the governmental-user data plan subscribed to by my county’s fire department and started throttling their data. They told them they had to upgrade to the 39.99 plan. The county fire chief did so.

Then the biggest fire in California history got going. The thousands of firefighters from all over were coordinating teams, keeping tabs on where all those edges of the fire were going and on each other, when Verizon–again throttled the data. The same person who’d told our fire chief he had to upgrade to 39.99 was telling him about two weeks later that oh no, now it’s 99.99 for what you want.

The fire chief who was in the middle of battling to save lives and homes while trying not to lose any of his firefighters and suddenly found himself flying blind.

He begged them to lift the throttling. Their real-time information-sharing was almost completely killed.

They. Refused.

Government regulations are the boogeyman to so many Republicans, but consider this: had net neutrality still existed, had Verizon been required to do the right thing, Verizon would not now have the potential liability for every property lost to the Mendocino fire from the moment that throttling began. If the firefighter from Utah who died was found to have died because of those communications being hampered, if the plane that dropped the fire retardant that broke the tree that killed him didn’t know he was underneath because of that throttling…

All to extort $60 out of a major public safety crisis.

It’ll be interesting to hear how many other fire departments had the same thing happening to them just then. I’m sure we’ll soon find out.



Grab motivation wherever you can find it
Tuesday August 21st 2018, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

Huh. It worked this time. Those clay flower pots seem to have done their job.

This was green yesterday. Another ten hours of ripening and I’m looking forward to picking this for breakfast. (While trying not to hope too hard.) Really, I should leave it a day past that but we’ve seen how that works out.

Meantime, twice today a squirrel took a sniff in the direction of the mango tree and then a step or two towards the side of it where the new mangoes are growing; up till now, they’ve taken a comically wide swing around to avoid the smell of the tree. The latex in the sap, I’ve been told.

But this was something different and it looked like maybe it could eat those and it wanted to know.

Cinnamon and foot stomping and at least this tree I can see from the front of the house.

I have another large white netting cover ready. It cinches at the bottom. I’m just not sure yet that works with the Christmas lights.

Meantime, I tripped uphill this evening and landed on my hands and decided that if they were going to feel sprained or sore in the morning I’d better get lots knit now while I could, and did for nearly two hours and the baby blanket said thank you. (I think I’ll be peachy fine but I’ve got the icepacking going just to be sure.)



The fouls of the air
Monday August 20th 2018, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden,Lupus,Wildlife

The bright white birdnetting over the little fig tree was rocking it out as if Aretha Franklin herself were the soundtrack. There was no way to see what was underneath from there.

2:00 pm, whose health matters, the lupus patient’s or the critter’s?

Yeah you know what I did. Grabbed the hat. Maybe all that smoke in the air will deflect the UV.

It was a mockingbird, caught between the layers of netting–I’d added backup after the scrub jay had done this. How on earth did it get *in* there?!

I opened one side, but of course it wasn’t going to come near me. I went to open the other side and the first fell back down to the ground. The bird snagged a wing exactly where the jay had; I considered the size of its beak and the fervor of its fear while reaching to pull the stuff away from it but that was enough to motivate it to extricate–and it resnagged over to the right, over by the bird spikes (supposedly) protecting a fig.

It was screeching fowl language at the top of its lungs all the while.

Then suddenly all was still and silent as I peered through the reflective white coating–where did it go? How did it get out? When did it get out? The answer was, it didn’t, and suddenly we were in round two.

After several minutes of this it found that one good spot I’d had waiting for it and escaped.

So what I wonder now is, is it dumb enough to try that again? Go eat a cherry tomato, fer cryin’ out loud.

I weighed down the bottom of the netting with flowerpots.

I found myself unable to just sit and knit after that and checked out the bathroom window at the far end of the house (the only one you can see the tree from at that funky angle) again and again to make sure that was that.

So far, as far as I can tell, so good.

All I want is a half dozen palm-size fully ripe Black Jack figs picked first thing in the morning for full flavor, filled with a little Brie and roasted. Or straight off the tree: fig tartare.

If you see any at your Costco let me know.



Do the Twist
Sunday August 19th 2018, 9:57 pm
Filed under: History,Life,Spinning

I laughed out loud when I read it: it was like the Smithsonian guide all over again.

I can’t believe I haven’t blogged this before but I’m not finding it, so here goes.

We were in DC visiting family back when the kids were growing up and took them to the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

Where I noted that they had a walking wheel and a jacquard loom but no gossip wheels, no treadle wheels at all for that matter, no knowledge of what distaffs were used for, just a complete lack of information on what a part of our history those all played in colonial America.

The book “No Idle Hands” relates the story of Old Ma Rinker during the Revolutionary War. Her family owned a tavern the British thought was loyal to the Crown, so their officers would gather there to discuss strategy. The word would be passed on to her in a note, she would wind a ball of yarn around it, then take her flax up the hill for the day to lay it out to rett, waiting for George Washington’s soldiers to ride on by below while she sat and knitted. She would toss the ball of yarn down to them (not the one she was knitting from) and helped save the day at Valley Forge. (Where other women delivering supplies nearly got shot at because as they rode in on their horses, their petticoats showed. And petticoats were always dyed red in those days. Redcoats! The British! Shuddup, Fred, it’s me, Irma.)

A distaff is what you attach to your spinning wheel to hold the retted flax while you turn it into linen yarn.

So here we are at the museum, and a man walks by holding what looked like a small glass aquarium. Inside was white fluff and–chaff?–and some kind of mechanical something and a handle. He told us that it was Eli Whitney’s actual cotton gin; did we want to try it?

I would never in a million years have pictured it as being something that small. Tractor sized, or rather horse-pulling-sized, but look at that!

I asked him, May I?

Sure!

I picked up some of the ginned cotton and began to draw it: hold the wad in the left hand, pull slowly, steadily but firmly with the right hand, twisting as the left lets a little out and a little more and a little more, twist, twist, twist. Voila! A single-spun yarn! Not very long, but hey. (Hope that doesn’t wreck your exhibit, sorry, as I handed it back to him.)

The docent was dumbfounded. “How did you do that?! I’ve been trying to do that for years!”

You can’t just twist, I told him, then it just untwists back to the way it was. You have to draw and twist both. Pressure with the twisting.

You ply going one way, spin another strand going the same way when you’re done, then ply them together twisting the other way to create a balanced yarn that hangs flat so the fabric you make from it doesn’t skew sideways.

(With an unspoken, Hey, buddy, you want more info for your exhibit? Call me.)

So. Someone got an Ig Noble prize for figuring out why dry spaghetti noodles always break the characteristic way they do and someone else was intrigued and wanted to know: is it actually possible, then, to break dry spaghetti into two equal halves?

And the answer turned out to be yes.

But you have to twist it just so as the pressure is applied for it to work.



Calla called, cowl could
Saturday August 18th 2018, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Lupus

Afton (should I say Other Afton, or Local Afton) told me last week she’s about to move to Denver.

Denver is going to be awfully cold to a Californian. So I made it to Green Planet on Thursday (while I could still buy this yarn), started Friday night, got right back to it first thing in the morning and by this afternoon had two skeins of Chalet in this cowl and called it done. (It was densely knit, too, before water touched it, but I still think it’ll give her some good warmth. The photo is less than half of it.)

Ran to Trader Joe’s this evening, where they had small pots of flowering plants out front; I did a quick visual skim so I could keep going and ignore them–but that darkest-pink-to-purple calla lily jumped up and down and refused to let me not pay attention to it.

Wait. That’s IT!

I’d been looking for it for a long time without quite knowing what I was looking for–and with my sun sensitivity, it’s hard to go browsing at nurseries.

I’ve had a large chestnut-brown ceramic pot near the front door ever since my friend Sheryl gave me several when she moved. Two have long been used. The third was very heavy, and when we found it had a crack in it it seemed like an announcement of, well that’s where that goes, then, and it’s a good thing that’s a good spot because even empty it was too heavy to safely move it again and it was far too nice to just toss it because of that.

I just never came across anything that felt like the right thing to put in it. It seemed kind of dumb to have this big empty gorgeous pot just sitting there, and it was, but if I was going to put the effort into keeping anything alive it needed to be something that constantly drew me to it.

It was pretty dark by the time I dragged the bag of soil from the back yard and got this all tucked away in its rightful new place, where it will bloom and the bulb will spread out to fill the space for years to come.

I’d been waiting for it for a long time.

 

 



Kudos to Kooba
Friday August 17th 2018, 11:27 pm
Filed under: Life,Non-Knitting

Back in January, I needed a black purse for my father-in-law’s funeral. I found one at Costco that, well, I wasn’t sure it would hold up well past a year but it was certainly not expensive given that it was leather and it was big enough for traveling. Good enough. I needed one immediately. I was glad to have it.

There was some fraying on the straps ten days later.

One simply came unglued at five months.

All the more incentive to get my Charlotte Ronson knitting bag rehabbed, and I did that, but meantime out of curiosity I looked up Kooba. One of my daughters had a Kooba bag that was a very nice leather, well designed, which was part of why I’d bought the one I did. Hers was similar to this one and it was made to last a long time.

Their website said they warrantied any bag bought at a full price outlet for one year.

So I sent them a question: did Costco count as a full price outlet? (I mean, I’d paid a tenth of the list on that other and I’d expected going in that I was only going to be getting what I’d paid for.)┬áMy guess was the answer was going to be no, and reasonably so.

The person who usually dealt with such customer inquiries was out on a medical emergency. Which I found out when the vice president of the company personally stepped in after a few weeks and asked if anything had been done yet?

Actually, no it hadn’t (but then I hadn’t been expecting anything.) He explained the delay, apologized, followed up with several emails–

–and today this showed up in the mail. (Picture taken after the paper stuffing came out.)

It is the same as the one I bought–except that the leather is better.

They really didn’t have to do that. But I’m very very happy they did.