A Costco-sized bag of Hersheys
Thursday October 31st 2019, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Knit

So this is fun.

Or not.

I could just rip out all seven pine trees to get down to an easier do-over. Tried four times to make it come out looking right. Any variation on the concept will do at this point.

And then I ditched it for the evening, because trick or treaters were coming and you don’t want to have to break the concentration, right? Riiight. It does actually look a little better than this at this point but it’s amazing how much time can disappear into so few stitches. And no, just working them straight up as a solid piece and disappearing the dandelion forever won’t work–look how much extra yarn there is by the time you get to the top. All those yarn overs.

What it needed was a double-pointed needle at every stitch. Got it.

I didn’t want to lose 3000 stitches in a grand frog-for-all but at this point I probably might as well have.

Meantime, the neighborhood posted a map of who’s giving out candy, and in the large square block, that would be us and all of two other homes, the three of us being the points on a large triangle.

Not a single kid came. We were just too far out of their way. But I did get to wear my dad’s jewels-colored jester hat!

Moose Mountain
Wednesday October 30th 2019, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I added a 16 stitch repeat to the width? I did? I have to adjust the pattern to match? Good thing I caught that in time. Barely. Here, let’s drop this and this and this stitch down two rows and flip the purls to knits and those knits to purls. Got it.

And on the very row of, I realized that oh wait, when I knitted that first moose I added two stitches’ width between front and back hooves because whoever designed the chart I’m working from clearly had a picture of a moose facing them, whereas I want a side view. Those two stitches (checking the original baby blanket vs the chart) change everything. Also, a muzzle that doesn’t make it look like a deer. Don’t forget that when you get up there.

After putting the second Alaskan afghan project (ie, a washable version) down for two weeks starting with Dad’s funeral, today was the day when I had to make myself sit down and work out exactly what the new layout of pine and moose was going to be across the bottom of the picture because I knew that once I got that done and out of my way the thing would start flying off the needles on its own momentum.

I came so close to merrily hashing it and having to rip out–days’ worth, surely. I caught myself just in time.

And now it’s gone from, why have I only barely started this thing when I’m running out of time if I want to deliver it in person, to, it’s coming along great now. It’s finally hard to put it down. I’ve been waiting for that and needing that and today, this thing’s finally got legs.

Color Guard
Tuesday October 29th 2019, 8:41 pm
Filed under: Knit
(Photo by Carolyn Richards)

Two men approaching. Turning in tandem just so. Lifting then folding the flag that had been draped over the coffin. Smoothing it down in a crisp motion. Again. Again.

The one striding in controlled, perfect steps to Mom, bowing low with the now-three-sided flag in his hands, thanking her for Dad’s service to our country and then placing the token in hers.

I was sitting next to her watching his eyes looking straight into hers and it was deeply moving.

I know it’s memorized and rehearsed. And yet–how often now do those two young soldiers get to pay their respects to the new widow of a WWII vet? To honor her as well. Our Greatest Generation.

May our country do the same for their families, hopefully seventy or so years away, when it is their turn.

Monday October 28th 2019, 9:21 pm
Filed under: Food

I had never heard of salmonberries, so towards the end of our trip to Alaska last month I bought a tiny jar of jam to try.

It tasted mostly like it tried, but there wasn’t any really memorable flavor beyond the pectin and honey holding it together and I’m still not sure what the salmonberries themselves were supposed to be like, so it was left sitting in the fridge.

Then came the Trader Joe’s veggie masala burgers.

Two leftover deli slices each of roast beef that needed to be eaten.

Two juicy but late tomatoes, chopped. Some nights have been cold enough to turn off the gene that makes tomatoes sweet, and after tasting a piece I knew I needed to balance that tartness and the patties’ heat somehow. Just a little bit of sweetness and…something. I went through the fridge and the cupboards, trying to figure out just the thing.

That salmonberry jam. It wouldn’t take much.

Okay, this was going to be weird but let’s try it. I scooped out a goodly tablespoon of the not very jelled fruit and stirred it into those tomatoes and covered the beef on top of the masala veggie rounds with it. Then I grated some sharp cheddar on top, a goodly amount, put the whole thing in the oven at 350 for ten and hoped.

I debated toasting some sourdough to scoop them onto afterwards but in the end did not.

The tomatoes and jam oozed into the burgers below and the whole thing gave way at the fork into more of a casserole effect, with a much better texture than those burgers had ever been before. This is what they’d needed all along.

I should have chopped the beef, too. But that little bit of tart and just enough sweet from the salmonberries completely pulled the whole thing together and left me wishing for more.

And here the whole time I’d been throwing these random ingredients at each other I’d thought of how my dad praised my mother’s cooking every meal. He would tell us, “You never get a dull meal with your mother.

Sometimes, though,” he would add, given Mom’s flair for experimentation, “it’ll be *interesting!*” And then he would guffaw that deep joyful celebratory laugh of his that made the whole world whole.

How much yarn could I stuff in the car
Sunday October 27th 2019, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Life

(And don’t forget the ostomy supplies.) We’ve never had to do an evacuation here–we could only guess where to begin. The people from Paradise say grab your dirty clothes first, because they’re the ones you’ll need the most, but for us it doesn’t look like it’ll be something we’ll need to worry about.

Rainy season is supposed to have started.

This morning there was a bit of brown to the sky and that was it.

Come the afternoon, though, the wind was blowing so hard that even I heard the trees creak and looking out the window was not sure that taller one was going to hold, but it did. Yay.

Sonoma, not so much. People have been evacuated clear to the ocean, which is not close. I’ve never heard of such a thing before. The coastal mountain range is supposed to be perennially damp from the fog and the redwood needles that capture it.

I stepped outside and the fire smell was now as if our own town was the one burning. You didn’t want to be out in that for long. We were at AQI 194, although that’s thankfully down to the 60s as I type. Just like two years ago, there were Van Gogh Starry Night impressions on the visible wind–you’re just not supposed to be able to see air move.

I get to joke that I seem to have briefly smoked pot for the first time in my life, but as the famous quote goes, I only inhaled. And then that was snatched southward and the next blew in from the homes and the wineries and the everything up north and one could only wonder at what the mixtures held and whose dreams were in that smoke.

So far, as far as I know, no one has died in this, and I am highly grateful for that.

Someone reported doing a U-turn in the middle of a bridge, presumably the newly built Carquinez over the bay–the landing at its northern edge was roaring.

With nearly a million people out of power and who knows how many out of their homes, we are within an oasis of safety and comfort here and know how fortunate we are.

But my friend I.M. finally got his hat that had been knit just for him, his friend got one too, and I know that right now there are two very happy people out there and that helps. A lot.

It spoke to me
Saturday October 26th 2019, 9:46 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life

I was heading into Trader Joe’s this evening as a man and his young son of five or maybe six were leaving.

The dad’s t-shirt had a Star of David and the words “Love, not hate.”

Two steps more and he would have been too far away in his momentum, but I had to: I stopped and told him I liked his shirt.

He turned–both to look back at his son to make sure he was following okay in that narrow space as you pass the outdoor cart cage and at me. I continued, Friends of mine attend the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

He looked me in the eyes. “I’m from Pittsburgh.”

I nodded, grieving with him in the moment.

And then noticed the abject fear in his son’s face, looking up at this stranger who had accosted and stopped them. He had no idea what I was trying to convey and he was terribly afraid that something bad was about to happen to them.

It was devastating. That poor child.

They continued on as I wondered. I certainly wasn’t going to ask his name, not today.

Afton and her husband are dear to me beyond words. Afton of the “Why is there a chocolate shop on my counter” (!???!) text after a melanger and nibs and instruction book showed up on her doorstep via all her KnitTalk friends she’d done so much for. Afton of the annual Aftober campaign to finish some project, new or especially old but any project, while she cheered us on. Afton who drove from New Jersey to Baltimore ten years ago so we could finally meet in person at Stitches East, and then made sure to include Richard and me in their vacation stop in San Francisco a few years ago, where we had a wonderful dinner together.

Afton who flew to Wisconsin to comfort a member of that knitting group she’d never met in person who was dying of cancer.

Afton who emailed to the group last night that they were observing the anniversary of the loss of people they loved and that she was going quiet for awhile. She would be back, but she needed some time first.

I want to somehow make it all better, to take away the pain, to be there with them, all of them, and I can’t.

So I thanked a stranger for his shirt, having no way to know just how connected he was to the people around her. That that was home.

And I wanted to hug his little boy all better forever.

Friday October 25th 2019, 10:21 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life

It was not how I intended it to go but it was the way it needed to go.

My dad loved dried fruit, particularly apricots, and he said the apricot slabs from Andy’s Orchard were the best he’d ever had. That was high praise.

I asked around the family before his funeral to see if anybody wanted me to bring some when we flew into town and got a resounding YES!, surprising me at hearing how many people Dad had told that those were his favorites.

So last Monday I drove down to Andy’s and bought two three pound tubs.

The clerk quietly stopped me: did I know…?

The Premiums look so pretty. And Andy only grows what tastes good.

But the slabs are the ones that were so perfectly ripe at picking that they went smush, so they won’t win any beauty pageants, but the flavor!

I thanked her, because I’d known that but had forgotten it, put one of the tubs back and got a second slabs one.

My thought was, it’s cheaper to get the large containers than lots of individual small ones and I’d rather spend the money on the apricots; people can ziplock for themselves however much they want to take home. Or whatever. But six pounds should do it, if for no other reason than that there’s only so much luggage space and I had to pack sweaters and wool skirts.

And so, after our flight two days later, the first tub was opened at Mom’s.

Saturday, the second tub was opened at Mom’s. And that’s after only one person took me up on the sandwich baggie thing.

We slowed down. Mom, six siblings, spouses, and a few of the grandkids, we were trying not to eat them all. But they were good.

One of my brothers said something wistful and I asked him, given our family’s round-robin tradition, “Is this my year to give to you for Christmas?”

He considered a fast half second, his face totally lit up, and he exclaimed, “Yes!”

Saturday, Mom looked at where that second tub had gotten down to and was a mixture of pleased we’d enjoyed them so much and, “Hey, leave *me* some!”

So guess where I went today. Beat the Christmas rush and all that, because I have no idea at what point Andy sells out for the year. Let us help him speed up that date.

I bought some fresh fruit and veggies, too, and as we loaded up the back of the car together in the 90 degree heat (normal is 71) I asked the clerk, If I run an errand for an hour or so would these all be okay in here?

Sure, no problem.

I drove off telling myself that, well, but realistically it’ll be longer than an hour, and then the half hour home after that.

I’d never tried to find Fillory from that direction before. Near the freeway but not either of those two freeways. I had my yarn and needles in my purse all ready for my Friday afternoon knitting group and wanted to go. Let’s see, this one connects to that freeway with the exit to the… Yeah, no problem.

Now, on my way to Andy’s I’d realized that I ought to check my phone when I got there to be sure.

I realized on my way to Fillory that I should have checked my phone back at Andy’s to be sure.

I realized that where I found myself awhile later looked familiar not because I was going the right way but because it was where I got lost a couple years ago trying to find the place when… Some maps programs are better than a particular one. And you cannot just pull off to the side of the freeway to read what you cannot hear: GPSs are lost on me.

The forty minutes I’d spent in extra traffic getting around an accident on my way south and the half hour I’d blown looking for my turn along my way north added up to its being rush hour now.

I found my way back to the freeway–that I could do–and went straight home. Sorry guys. Next week.

Which is how I ended up pulling in my driveway just before Sandy’s son pulled away with his wife for their long twelve-hour drive home. I hope they stop somewhere in between for the night. They’ve been working hard on making that house more elder-friendly.

I waylaid them with just-picked figs from Andy’s, to their great delight, and they caught me up on his mom. It’s a lot easier to talk about in person than across texts when it’s a hard subject but both of you love the person you’re talking about. You can see the emotions in each others’ faces. You can be a better comfort to each other. We were able to be there for each other. I’d needed to be there.

I’d thought they were leaving town tomorrow. I’d come so close to missing them.

I almost, almost, offered to run back in the house and grab them a tub of those apricot slabs in Dad’s memory. If I find out they like such things, maybe when they come back in a few weeks.

When they can share a tub with his mom before they leave again.

Raspberry sherbet baby hat
Thursday October 24th 2019, 10:15 pm
Filed under: Knit

I’m still having a hard time squeezing my whole Dad into something so confined as a blog post or two, so a bit of knitting instead.

The yarn was a gift and not one I’d used before, but it said baby and it was a superwash wool and it didn’t require a trip to the yarn store to get, so, hey. I grabbed it for my carry on bag last week and some needles and finished a baby hat out of it just before the flight home landed.

Threes or even twos would have been better. But I didn’t pack them so 4 US needles it was. It came out more for cold indoors than blustery weather out, but that’s fine, there’s lots of indoors, too.

I ran the ends in and mailed it northward today.

(P.S. If you should happen to have a Procrastiknitting mug like this with a ball of pink yarn with two straight needles through it pictured on the other side, much though I like mine, test it. The handle got hot first in the microwave which suggests there’s lead in it, so I use it by the computer to hold pens. Particularly don’t put anything acidic in it to drink.)

The background noise
Wednesday October 23rd 2019, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Life

“Marriott, Mom. Always stay at a Marriott,” my older son told me after the fact.

The last two times we traveled to Salt Lake City to visit my folks we stayed in…interesting places. The AirBnB that was halfway remodeled, half horror: the tall glass door between the bathroom (glass. why.) and the kitchen with green paint slathered in broad horizontal strokes for privacy’s sake was unique. The owner told us not to sit on the couches because one monster four foot painting had fallen a few days prior (it had one edge resting on the couch on the left) and she was afraid the one on the right might go, too.

Two, the Quality Inn, chosen simply because if Southwest had linked to it it had to have been vetted, right?

The elevator didn’t work. When we asked about it, the guy went into the control room and got the doors to open for us but it smelled sharply of smoke and complained screechingly that it didn’t want to do this anymore.

The place had a thick vinyl fake-wood flooring that I recognized as having a thirty year to lifetime warranty, depending on your vendor–but in the elevator the edge of it was just destroyed. That took effort. At least it was under warranty–and yet there it was.

Yeah, not going there again. But there was no way we were going to inflict one more burden on Mom just then, it was definitely going to be a hotel.

Checking online: sold out, pick another day or place…

Michelle (who had been at that AirBnB too) urged me, Stay somewhere nice this time. Your father just died. You need to stay somewhere that makes good memories this time.

We had enough frequent flier miles to cover the last-minute airfare, rather to my surprise, so maybe we could splurge a little.

Which is how I booked at the Radisson downtown. Real close to Mom, so we wouldn’t have to spend precious time in the car when we didn’t have to. We wanted to be with family, not traffic.

Turns out they were having an ALS conference there, ie Lou Gehrig’s disease.

We checked in. We found to our annoyance, or mine, anyway, that all parking was below the hotel and was listed at $15/hour. It wasn’t till after the trip that I found to my relief that it’s $15/day for hotel guests; the hourly rate is for people going to the convention center across the street. Phew.

There are four elevators. Two go down to the parking. They did not work. They would not be working for two to three more weeks and by how it looked, even that was a contractor’s wishful thinking.

I could just see the ALS folks going, Oh yay. Thanks for telling us, guys.

But! If you called the office they would send a cart or van to come around the building and under there to pick you up and bring you to the covered main doorway. Which, when it’s raining and your ears have expensive electronics in them or the sun’s out and you’re allergic to it, you do.

Unless the van is picking people up from the airport and the cart is ferrying someone else somewhere else.

Someone from the office took our car keys and brought our car to us instead. Which was far more than I expected and my thanks to them for going below and beyond.

The toilet tended to stay running unless you jiggled the handle.

Thursday, housekeeping after we were gone for the day did not jiggle that handle.

We came back to a completely flooded bathroom, but at least it was contained to that space. We were dog-tired and just wanted to crash so I used a bunch of the towels and then we decided not to wait however unknowably long it might take for someone to come–we just wanted to go to bed.

What is it with hotels and smoke alarms flashing brightly all night? I actually got up to see if there was a fire anywhere. There wasn’t. Sure they want guests to be able to see it when they need it but why cry wolf all night every night? And why place it at the foot of the bed? In other hotels it was on the wall and you could cover it, but this one was on the ceiling. At home if the alarm flashes like that (remember, I take my ears off at night) you need to get out and call 911.

As of the time we left they had not yet fixed that toilet.

So I was talking to one of my cousins after the funeral and told her what Michelle had said: Make good memories. Stay someplace nice. And then I guffawed at the irony of it all and in appreciation of how Dad would have loved telling the story for years to come.

So, well, then I guess we (sort of) did.

Tuesday October 22nd 2019, 10:15 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Wildlife

I wonder: how did the word “stoop” come to mean both the diving behavior of the fastest bird on the planet–and the posture of human great old age?

There is great strength displayed within both, though.

My folks kept a bird feeder at the edge of the woods right outside the living room as I was growing up, and there were always several paperback bird guides by the floor-to-ceiling windows there. If we kids asked what something we saw was, they’d tell us to go look it up and find out.

I remember thinking, But what if it flies away while I have my nose in this book looking at these pictures? I didn’t want to take my eyes off it or I’d lose it. The living version was so much more interesting than a sketch.

Downhill from where the folks–from where Mom lives now there are a couple of signs that I like and last week I finally managed to snag a picture of one of them: “Falcon bird watch area. Prepare to stop.”

Now, a falcon going after a pigeon can tuck its wings in hard and be stooping at well over 200 mph and seeing it, much less stopping a car in time, would be a challenge. But I love that the signs are there because they entice people to look up, to notice, to consider what they have right there near them whereas they might not have known at all but for that literal heads-up.

My father wheeled the car to the side of the highway somewhere in the Sierras on a long trip the summer I was ten, pointing out the bald eagle above us there in the trees. DDT was in rampant use and at the top of the avian food chain, the raptors were all close to extinction.

He told us to look, to never forget it, because it might be the last chance we would ever have to see one alive. I remember sensing his grief and how urgent his request felt to him and so I never forgot that moment.

Rachel Carson wrote “Silent Spring,” good people like Glenn Stewart committed their lives to the work, and now the raptors are back. The songbirds are threatened now, and we need to save them, too. We can. We have. We will.

Dad got a kick out of my volunteer work with the nest cam on the peregrine falcons nine years ago, watching the eyases hatch, grow, explore, and when they were ready, flying on their newly strong wings to places they had not been able to see but had known in their bones must be out there. Over that upper wall and the entirety of the view is suddenly before them for the first time, impelling them to spread their wings wide for what they were born to do as the wind lifts them upwards.

And now Dad has, too.

Filling Grampa’s shoes
Monday October 21st 2019, 9:16 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

So much to say so I’ll just start randomly.

My sisters wanted to dive right in and so we did: we spent a morning going through Dad’s closet, the book shelves, magazines, giving away, recycling, throwing away, putting some things aside.

The twenty-year-old Fodor Guides to various countries? Out, with a wistful smile in the direction of how thoroughly our father had traveled the world. The ones that were only ten years old? Nobody’s going to look at those, you can get current information online. Out.

Sharkskin shoes. Dad had sharkskin shoes? Who knew?

Ten and a half was too small a size to tease my lawyer son with so they went to my niece’s four teen- to young-adult sons to try on. They looked comfortable, and someone would definitely get a kick out of them.

(The year, in Dad’s hand)

We found six–wait I think it was six–pieces of paper stapled together: one long narrow sheet per child with our Christmas wish list, probably cut just exactly so from printer paper on Dad’s old heavy office paper cutter with the scissor arm I remember being about as long as mine. I think it stayed in Maryland when my folks moved after retirement.

If you don’t give us a whole page we can’t write as much, but I think I squeezed the most in and I would have been turning six that month. Note that I’m the only one who added the bribing-pleading Thank you.

My 17-months-younger sister copy-catted the greatest of my ideas–especially that Mickey Mouse Telephone. Writing didn’t come as easily for her yet though so her list was a lot shorter.

The older kids all asked for a watch. We two younger girls asked for a play watch.

It occurs to me that I forgot to turn to that last page to see if my baby brother had scribbled anything. I don’t know if Mom still has it to go check or if it just got swept up along with so much other stuff in the tidying-out, but I’ll bet someone who looked at it (we all did) remembers.

I spent today at my own house massively tidying-out.

P.S. I did, I got the Hands Down game! I remember playing it!

A quick note
Sunday October 20th 2019, 11:22 pm
Filed under: Family

It felt so strange to walk across the folks’ front entryway and not be lifting my feet and carefully looking for that green tubing that ran from the oxygen machine set up there across their home.

For my mom: the plane was late but we made it home.

For naturalizing at home
Tuesday October 15th 2019, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Garden,Life
The surprise from Afton: a gorgeous Calla lily in memory of my father, for which I am very grateful.

I chuckled over my little sister’s demand on Dad re waiting till after her son’s wedding was over with.

It occurs to me that he’d also waited for my family.

We flew to go see him in April, sure then that it would be our last chance. Even with the oxygen generator that was always attached to him, the ten steps it took him to go from his favorite chair to the kitchen table plunged his oxygen levels down below 80%, even to 70%, and he would shudder working so hard to get air into his lungs.

I was the one close person he knew who had been through oxygen levels like that and knew what it was like–but I’d been in a hospital bed, and I’d had it set off alarms with nurses coming to the rescue. He was doing all this on his own, and upright (getting down as soon as he could), and it was just unfathomable to me how he could do it. There were a number of times I simply held him as he wheezed.

I told him he amazed me. Because he most certainly did.

He spent more time in that chair after we left, and eventually Mom started bringing his meals over there.

I didn’t put it together but I should have: Sam was expecting, Sam was very high risk, and he wanted to see her through it with his prayers added into the mix and he wanted to see pictures of her baby alive and here and well and both of them having made it through. He wanted to be part of that.

And so he quietly held on for them, too.

Dad’s obituary.

Going out. Way out.
Monday October 14th 2019, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Dad was the original foodie.

My mom always delighted in his ability to find his way back to a restaurant he’d last/first stumbled across years before.

I can remember twice when I think she was the one who started the do-you-remember, he did indeed with great delight, and then he had to find it. He was a homing pigeon for great food–and always made a point to exclaim over Mom’s cooking too, for that matter. She’d helped take over the kitchen at twelve years old when her mother had broken her hip: she’d learned early and she’d learned well.

But you can’t eat at home when you’re on the road.

One time was when my niece Emily got married in Seattle. My folks, my brother and I were in a car together afterwards and there was this wistfulness back and forth between the folks about that seafood place from that trip from the time when I was I think two.

Dad said it was on the waterfront.

Mom said You’re right it was.

Dad started off that-a-way and after awhile my brother and I were…a little doubtful. That did NOT look like anywhere you’d find a restaurant.

We went over a drawbridge. They still have those?

Dad used the Space Needle as his mental compass, which means it would have to be…wouldn’t it be that building over there?

Ivar’s! Yes! Tadaaah! And it was still there!

I’d never seen a restaurant before with an indoor–hill, for lack of a better description, with a sidewalk/aisle rolling upwards and down to match.

Canoes hanging from the walls. Pacific Northwest Native art. And the best clam chowder I’d ever eaten in my life.

Another time that comes to mind: we were way down South somewhere (that was the trip with the camper where an armadillo raided our marshmallows in Florida) and Dad said there was this barbecue place we had to go to. He found that one, too.

It was put together by lots of hard work: the tables were just picnic tables, nothing expensive at all.

But they had been sounded down so fine that they felt like velvet. Seriously. And they trusted us kids with sauce near that? I was nine that trip, and we were all marveling and running our fingers back and forth on the perfect surfaces. How had they done that?

Sand paper and a whole lot of time and elbow grease, Dad said. And then had to explain that no, not grease grease, elbow–and expanded my vocabulary.

And then that barbecue!

If anybody has any idea where that restaurant is or what its name is I’d love to be able to give them a shout-out for the happy memories all these years later.

The trip when I was sixteen to see the last Apollo lift-off in person. Dad found the place again that had the old-time jukeboxes and Brunswick stew so good that years later I realized I just had to learn how to do that. (Although they and I went with chicken, the traditional squirrel meat being hard to come by these days.)

I’m with Dad: I’d go back there in a heartbeat. Just like he did.

Celebrating his memory.

So now you see how I got this way (I flatter myself)
Sunday October 13th 2019, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

My 37-year-old daughter was in I think middle school when I bought a cotton Christmas sweater at Costco that my mom liked enough that I bought her one, too. Or maybe I just thought she would and then she did, I don’t remember: a white goose wearing a blue scarf inside a Christmas wreath with sparkly red plastic beads, cheerful and vivid to celebrate the season.

The tag said dry clean only, so I did–but those beads came back melted right into the fabric. The owner of the little shop was horrified at ruining it and said it was the manufacturer’s fault for mis-tagging it, it should never have come there, take it back for a replacement; I waved away her worries by saying, a) it was a one-time thing at Costco, I can’t replace it now, and b) it was only $15, c) she did her best and d) it’s not like I’d be wearing it every day all year anyway.

I quickly warned Mom, though.

She hand washed hers.

I hadn’t seen it in years, but then I don’t live there.

She put it on it for their Christmas card picture this past year.

The goofy tray-holding butler bear (the tray serving as its platform heels in the shot)? That’s totally on Dad.