Winding up, winding down
Monday November 29th 2021, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

This hat is now done, a dark blue one after it nearly so, there’s a multiple-browns skein waiting that needs to stop being in a hank so I can get to it next and the crew again got to watch me working away as they did, too.

The damaged board is gone, so are the telescoping metal temporary-support poles, and my awning is back in one piece looking brand new because some of it is.

But the one who’d chosen a hat in a color so as to put someone else above himself was not there today so no surprise round two happened. It may yet; I hope so, but if not I’ll be grateful for the incentive to get those done wherever they may end up.

The wood of the new siding is not down flush against the patio like the old was, and the guy went over with me all the other ways they had protected that part of the house from future rain (as I tried not to think how the original contractor should have done every bit of that.)

After four weeks, the trailer was full, the cover was pulled across the top for roadworthiness, it was hitched up to the pickup, and off it went towards the dump at long last.

The house looks so, so much better.

Still waiting on the new windows. Still waiting for the skylights to arrive. Still waiting for the exterior painting. Still, someday, the kitchen do-over and the 27-year-old vinyl floors and the driveway….

Still waiting for the new roof to happen.

Still waiting for the rain.

But it’s a start. We got a great start.



Fall colors
Sunday November 28th 2021, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Garden

The California Coffeeberries are in full bloom.

The tall Anya apricot totally gets this changing seasons idea. (And if it’s this big growing in a pot from a seed in January, how big would it be with two years in the ground?)

One of its siblings, less clear on the concept, just started pushing out another new set of leaves. Well okay maybe.

Given the dozens of cartons of them in our driveway every Christmas when I was a kid that Dad had had trucked straight from Florida to our house for a fundraiser for charity, I thought I’d post a picture for my momĀ of my seven-year-old Page orange tree. A serious windstorm blew through and stripped most of the leaves away but it is determined to get some offspring out into the world. By the looks of it I don’t think it’ll get another chance after this. Can the fruit sugar up without the leaves? I’m doubtful, but curious. They’re supposed to be quite small but not that tiny.

Meantime, as I type this, I realize the hat I was working on today is the colors of the Page’s yellows, greens, and a bit of the dirt below. Of the skeins I bought yesterday, that one was immediately compelling and I had to write this to find out why.



I may have picked that up along the way
Saturday November 27th 2021, 9:17 pm
Filed under: Knit,LYS

(The colors are better than my phone claims.)

I finished another hat for the work crew; I’ll run the ends in when they’re here so they can feel like they got to see part of that one happening, too. Man, it feels good. And I did get to Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco and stocked up on guy colors and started in on the next.

The skein that’s still in the hank is the one that arrived as expected from Imagiknit, along with the usual business card.

But the other side of it is no longer blank.

Imagiknit got bought out this past summer by one of its former employees, and one can only wonder in astonishment at what some customer must have said to elicit this.

And then I laughed, hard, thinking who this got sent to, because, yeah.

 



Oh any day’ll do
Friday November 26th 2021, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Food,History,Knit

Imagiknit let me know my Pocion Mecha yarn is on its way. I bought a single skein to leave the possibility open of getting to a LYS tomorrow and picking out more hat yarn in person but I wanted to know that that colorway would be here before the workers return, and tomorrow it should be.

On a random note of practicality: I read somewhere that the best way to freeze unused sourdough starter is to spread it out on parchment paper and then as soon as it’s frozen, crumble it into a small freezer container, giving it an easily-accessible form for later. So I just did that, wondering if it would pour out all over the place but it didn’t and finagling the parchment into the freezer space contained the starter, so, cool.

And randomness for its own sake: the Washington Post offers its subscribers a scanned-in shot of what the front page was the day (please fill in this form thank you) one was born.

Okay, I figured that was just trolling for data, but still, I was curious.

Below the fold, there was a story of a judge who’d had twenty young azalea bushes stolen from his yard while he was having a weekend at the beach, carefully spaded out of there.

It lists his home address, notes his tony neighborhood and the prices of the houses, and says the thieves even got the ones behind his ten foot fence.

Who on earth is allowed to have a ten foot fence?

His neighbors were hit that same weekend, and they, too, were at the beach. Their roses too were left untouched.

A truck was pulled over near that street with a hundred azaleas in back, and the authorities were requiring the driver to offer proof of having purchased them.

Okay, today, that would mean the newspaper doxxed a prominent judge–on the front page, no less.

The kicker is that the date on that newspaper? I was a crawling baby aspiring to walk. So per them, I was, in fact, born yesterday. And more than.

Edited to add: since I wrote that they have corrected the link.



Happy Thanksgiving!
Thursday November 25th 2021, 9:15 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends

I hope everybody had/is having a wonderful Thanksgiving!

We were to go to a friend’s, whose kids we know from when they were growing up, and I had just pulled the promised cranberry pie bars out of the oven a few minutes before when I heard Richard calling me.

He wanted a barf bowl for the migraine that had suddenly walloped him upside the head and he needed to go lie down with an ice pack in as dark a room as he could get.

I sent Karen a note with my thanks and apologies. I offered to drop the cookies by.

He got up a few hours later and seemed to be doing better.

I sent Karen a note. I said we were hoping that that would last, but just please know that we were tentative and I’m so sorry. (While glad she had a big enough crew coming that two people would not make a difference on the food one way or another.)

But it looked for awhile there like we were good after all. I got the little things done like covering the mango tree for the night (we hit 36F last night) to be ready and then noted that it was about time to go.

And that was his moment of truth. He wanted to go, he really did–but his head just couldn’t manage it. He was only barely upright.

I sent Karen a note, and then I drove to her house and dropped off three strong paper plates’ worth of cookies, hoping they would be enough with all her kids and grandkids snarfing them down.

But the house was dark. There was a string of white Christmas lights on in front of the door, which had me hopeful for a moment and knocking again only louder this time, and the side yard seemed set up so as to be pretty ready–but there was not a soul around. Huh. So I left the cookies on the doorstep a little off to the side so they would have a chance to see them before they stepped in the corn-syruped stickiness and headed home, glad that it wasn’t quite dark yet.

I have somehow reached the official Old Lady status of not liking to drive at night. Richard’s cataracts have been operated on. But he wasn’t there.

Got home, searched through the piles of emails back and forth from this past week, and there it was: it was going to be at her son’s house on X street. She’d never told me the actual address because, as she told me later, Who looks at the numbers? You just go to the one you always go to. (While noting that yeah, that wouldn’t work for me would it.)

And that is how one friend who is deaf and texts or emails missed signals with one who apparently doesn’t own a cellphone and how do you reach someone when their only phone is their landline and they’re not home? She got not one of those messages today. I thought they were going to her phone. Nope. Her desktop.

She finally called me, wondering where we were. I apologized and explained and told her I hoped she wouldn’t find herself in the middle of a raccoon/skunk fight over those cranberry bars when she gets home. She hoped I at least would still come, and I explained about the night driving, and since she’s older than me she totally got that.

Coming home from dropping off those cookies at dusk, a woman I’d never seen before, dressed in dark clothes, had stepped out in the middle of the street in front of my silent Prius a few minutes before. I saw her in time–but what if someday I might not, and so no, I don’t take that chance.

Turns out that the person I’d stopped and waited for to either cross or notice me and that I’d waved hi to when she finally did was my new next-door neighbor’s mom, out for a walk after dinner.

Anyway. So that is how we had our first-ever (Costco) stuffed chicken breast Thanksgiving dinner.

Tradition-heretic that I am, I’d always wanted to ditch the turkey.



Worker beanies
Wednesday November 24th 2021, 9:51 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Today, with Thanksgiving tomorrow, seemed a good time. Especially with one of them looking up at all the changes and saying with great satisfaction that our house was almost done.

But suddenly the two who were there most of the day and have done most of the work were heading from the back yard towards their cars, so on the other side of the house I stepped out the front door and after the one I could see from there.

He’s the one who shows up the earliest and often leaves last, determined to get more done.

Turns out they weren’t leaving yet, they were just putting a few things away, but what did I know. So let’s give them more to put away.

Romero’s face lit up, surprised, as I repeated my offer, holding out a ziplock crammed with colors. Whichever hat you would like.

He immediately went for the foggy blue-gray while telling me why. “I watched you make it!” (As I thought, Ah, I must have been working on that one while you were removing the nearby part of the awning. That sounds right.)

At that Armando stepped into view over by his car and I went oh there you are! and offered him his choice. He chose a fairly bright purple, and I never would have guessed that. Romero had followed me over towards his friend and put his blue-gray one on, showing off with the biggest smile.

The third guy, who has spent less time here, arrived a bit later and chose the Jupiter red. Armando, waving from the roof at that point, teased me that he’d like to pick one out too and I laughed.

It wasn’t till after they’d all left that the obvious hit me that his immediate reaction to my offer had probably been to pick one for his wife or his daughter he’s told me a little about, and that what he was really saying was, actually, he’d like to have one, too.

I can be slow at the wrong moments.

I’ll ask on Monday when they come back–if, but only if, I have an extra by then for all of them, so maybe that’s why I’d needed to be lagging on the uptake back there.

Said the woman who just dove into a new afghan project because I seem to be on a roll with those and even with the slow-going ribbing edging it’s already past 4″.



She finally got hers
Tuesday November 23rd 2021, 9:18 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

It was starting to feel a bit silly to both of us–we were trying, but we kept missing each other, so I finally emailed Kat this picture of why I wanted to catch up with her. She had made me that glorious slab from our old tree, and as I put it, I wanted to redwood you back.

She was gobsmacked.

And so we set a time for the morrow.

I was walking towards her house and turns out she was walking towards mine, which so much captured the earlier email dance-and-misses and we both laughed at finding each other right there halfway.

I pulled it out of the tote so she could see it in the sunlight for real.

She did a small gasp. She loved it. I got to tell her why I did it how I did it. A little about Malabrigo–how their start-up mill burned down and they rebuilt using solar power and what good folks they are in person.

She loved the colors, she loved the memorial to that tree, she loves working with her hands herself, and said, We do the different ends of the spectrum–me with the wood and you with this softness.

She was very very happy with that softness.

She has two big dogs.

My late cousin John had had two big dogs.

I’d explained in the emails that I’d once made my cousin a handspun hand knitted afghan and his dogs had shredded it beyond repair, thus the zipped tote bag (yay for 60% off free shipping!) that was coming with this to store it in.

She wanted to know how long it takes to make such a thing. And then she asked me a question that was clearly only a part of what she’d been wondering: Do you knit, like, all the time?

Just about every day–as I quietly remembered that day when she’d showed up at my door and almost apologized because of the time lapse I knew nothing of between when she’d envisioned surprising me and when she actually did. Well, hey, wood has to cure for a year, doesn’t it? Seeing where she seemed to be going with this, I added, Except not always. Sometimes it just kind of leaves me for awhile.

Kat: And you have to find your inspiration, you have to have someone to do it for, right?

Me: YES!

She told me she’d often thought about selling her woodwork. And yet, and yet–she just got so much more out of doing it to give it and to share it.

I’d had no. idea. None. I’d had such a great friend around the corner all this time and would still not have known it had she not gifted me first.

I came away so intensely grateful that I’d listened to the muse that had insisted, You need to knit her a redwood and honey you really need to go big.



Three Atlases
Monday November 22nd 2021, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Life

Today they were working in the foot of the L at the back patio–meaning the other side of the glass from my left as I knitted or answered email, so we could watch each other at work but tried not to too much nor too blatantly.

I told them I only take pictures when their faces aren’t showing. I did want to have a record of the progress, though.

I finished the dark green hat. Considered a moment, the timing seemed a no, and it got tucked away with the others. Considered starting a fifth new one but something in me screamed NO MORE HATS RIGHT NOW so the silk afghan finally got back its place at the front of the line.

I’d thought it was going to make it to 70 repeats but at 65 those cones are going down fast. I debated trying to finish it tonight so I could say I had, but, y’know? Six hours with scattered short breaks was enough needle time for one day.

Meantime, one of the first things they did was to set up telescoping metal poles to play Atlas and support the awning while they took some of it apart. The rotted piece had to go.

The ends of those boards are just ending in random air. For now.

 

 



Theron
Sunday November 21st 2021, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

A friend’s mention of a concert she sang in years ago sparks this memory.

When my kids were growing up, the middle school had a fantastic music teacher: Tim loved the kids and he loved the music and everybody wanted to be in his class. Rumor was, though, that the program pretty much dead-ended when you graduated.

Fortunately for us, my oldest started high school the year they hired Theron. Theron was a master teacher himself, and suddenly the band and orchestra room was the place to be–our kids were in great hands.

I think it was his third year there that Theron, tall and thin, was found to have a 15 lb. stomach tumor.

This was in the bad old days before the ACA: you had to keep going to work to keep your insurance to cover your treatments when you got sick no matter how sick you got.

I knitted him a handspun afghan in a Tree of Life design from wool my folks had bought me for Christmas that year after I’d found a one-time source for a merino lambswool that was finer than cashmere and fur-like in its softness. Memory wants to put it at 14 microns. It just felt like it was meant to be for him.

The other teachers in the district donated their sick leave to save their colleague’s not just insurance but his very life.

But someone still had to teach that jazz class. Someone still had to lead the high school marching band. Tim drove over from the other school to fill in. He knew the kids already knew him and that it would be a comfort to them as well as him in being a familiar face while doing what he could for his friend.

Theron recovered and for awhile it looked like they were right when they said they got it all.

He was there for Back To School night–but I knew. As I said to him later, I don’t think anyone noticed who’s only always been healthy. But to my eyes, he wasn’t just leaning on the music stand because it had been a long day, his face and his body gave him away.

He was on sick leave again almost immediately. He was 35.

At his funeral there were pictures of his life that were a surprise to me but not to some of the kids, even though Theron had never spoken about being gay. His family sat on the right at the front of the chapel, shooting angry glances to the left half in the direction of his partner and friends.

I found that unspeakably sad for all of them. I did not get a chance to introduce myself to them–it felt to me like they didn’t want to talk to anybody they didn’t know.

But I did afterward to the grieving man who did not deserve that extra hurt.

He realized that I was the one who had made that afghan.

In his grief he comforted me by making a point of telling me that Theron had requested that afghan be kept right there on the bed with him at all times his last week on this earth.

He had wanted me to know.

Tim stepped into the high school job altogether and working with the vocal teacher had the choir and orchestra learn Mozart’s Requiem for their joint December concert.

The final piece was If Thou Be Near.

The kids poured their love, their grief, and all that they had into those perfect notes and I found myself in tears. It was one of the most powerful musical experiences of my life.

I caught Tim afterwards and thanked him for teaching our kids, thanked him for choosing that music.

And, I said, he was. ‘If thou be near’–Theron was there. So proud of those kids, so grateful to you, so appreciating the music, so loving–he was there.

Tim’s eyes were full as he nodded, Yes. And then said it out loud: Yes.



Don’t roll your eyes
Saturday November 20th 2021, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Politics

Tracy Ullman as Angela Merkel. Somehow I had missed out on this till now.

Enjoy.



Plain old plain new
Friday November 19th 2021, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

The blue and green ones on the bottom row were already done, the other three I did starting Wednesday. Not shown: a dark green with specks of lighter shades, Vaa colorway, that I cast on pretty much the moment the dark purple Dewberry one’s ends were run in–having previously searched for that skein, decided it must have been used up and gone on its way and oh wait there it is!

So someone who wants darker shades but likes green will be able to find something after all. It’s about 3/4 done.

Sometimes, you just have to knit a hat.

Meantime, the third member of Chris’s crew stopped by and I brought out the last of the cranberry bars, one for each of them. H. exclaimed, Is this your recipe? Can I have your recipe? This would be great for Thanksgiving!

I told him I’d written it down from a magazine in the pediatrician’s waiting room thirty years ago.

From an ad for Pam spray of all things. Who knew that that’s where I would discover my favorite cookie of all time.

Edit: and having written that, I just looked up Pam, found they have recipes but not that one, hit Contact Us and offered them their own recipe back because it’s made so many people so happy so many times.



Bar none
Thursday November 18th 2021, 8:19 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

Yesterday, it seemed like one of the crew by the end of the day was tired and grumpy, and I expressed concern; was everyone okay.

Maybe he’d just needed someone to notice and have it matter to them, because today they clearly were. I heard laughing between them again and again, enjoying this fine day and each other’s company as they worked.

There’s a skylight in the hallway that they decided to do first, before any more rain might happen to it.

It was a mess. The guy who put it in (we found out later) had only nailed things in on three sides. After a tree fell on our house, a roofing crew sent out to repair that damage happened to notice that right behind them was this spot where it was funny when you step–and one of them started playing see-saw with our skylight while the others laughed, not seeing me standing below shouting upwards, STOP IT!!! at them. I was so mad.

That contractor refused to pay the $600 it cost to repair that, blaming the guy who’d done it wrong in the first place. The guy who tried to fix it repainted below with whatever shade he thought would match. It didn’t.

So of course that’s the skylight that leaked after that. The boards it was resting on rotted out.

We knew it was bad, but…

It took the men quite awhile to get all that out of there today, complicated by being sealed to the foam roof and the fact that there was a fluorescent tube light on top of the beam that ran down the center below the skylight that had to be rewired and reinstalled.

And so for several hours today there was no skylight down the hall, just a face or two nodding hello against the open sky if you came past.

Karo, check. Butter, check. Cranberries? Toss the first bag, the second thankfully was fine.

I started baking cranberry pie bars.

As the oven started smelling wonderful as the cookie crust stage baked, I suddenly noticed the change.

Someone was a little hungry and probably a little tired and all this wonderfulness that certainly wasn’t going to be for him–all he was going to get to do was wish and be tormented. He started sounding grumpy again.

He didn’t know me very well, did he?

He caught himself and cheered up a bit while I was silently telling that pan to hurry up.

You’re supposed to let them cool all the way and even chill if possible before cutting them. I had the kitchen slider open to the 61F out there and after half an hour put the pan on a metal cookie sheet to help with the hurry; their day was winding down and I didn’t want to miss them after all that. Finally at about the hour mark I pronounced it good enough, sliced, mushed the topping a little–eh–and set half a dozen very crisp-bottomed cookies on each of two sturdy paper plates till there was no room for more, covered them with a little plastic wrap so the men could take them home, and went outside to make sure both their vehicles were still there.

The first guy’s face lit up.

He walked halfway down the outside of the house and called up towards the roof and the second guy, the one who’d sounded grumpy at smelling those wonderful smells, suddenly hoisted himself over the edge and down the ladder with his face all but shouting YESSSS!!!!! after seeing the outstretched plate in the other guy’s hands. He was almost giddy.

“These are so good. SO good!”

They are, and that’s why I so seldom make them. I need to have someone around to protect us from them.

I don’t think any of theirs made it past our driveway.

 

(On a side note: pouring liquid into an oven-hot glass pan is how you shatter such pans. I realized a moment late that I’d chosen the wrong type, so I pushed the crust high up the sides so that no egg mixture would directly touch the glass when I poured it onto the hot crust. It was still probably a near thing. Just mentioning.)



Board house
Wednesday November 17th 2021, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

I am not good at stopping a project to dive into a distractive one: I like to slog through till it’s good and done first.

That said.

I realized that this is the third week of what was originally going to be a two-week house repair and those guys have been working hard. While I knit stitch after stitch they’re doing hammer lift after hammer lift. There was so much to do, and as they ripped out damaged wood they found more.

I wasn’t sure if I should knit them each a hat–but I knew I wanted at least to be able to should the moment present itself.

The feeling grew until I found myself actually putting the afghan down yesterday, promising it it would only be a few days, and diving into a gray-blue skein of Polar Morn. Finished it noon today and started on the next. Jupiter. A skein with flecks of dark pink so it didn’t make it into the redwood trunk.

So now that’s 2/3 done and the pink stitches are pretty much drowned out by the browns around it and maybe it will do and maybe it won’t, but I like it.

Chris stopped by to check on things and looked at what they’d found. I signed another change order a few hours later.

We knew that with double-paned windows, you can’t replace them without repainting the whole house afterwards. What I did not know is you can’t just buy a new window. Someone who knows what they’re doing has to come out and assess how green a tint my supposedly clear glass has so that it will match the other windows, because that’s just how it is and mine are old.

Me: I’m an art dealer’s daughter and I did not know that?! Glass has green?!

I wonder if my sister’s twins remember cracking that one while rough housing. It’s been sitting there behind the curtain that way for way too long.

That roof plank has to go. And that one over there.

Seventeen grand again and it turns out I had more time after all to decide whether his workers were knit-worthy.

And the afghan says, Told you so.



Faster! Food!
Tuesday November 16th 2021, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

If this kid puts this on her college admission, then I imagine anywhere she wants to go, she’s in: at 17, she got her essay published as an op-ed in the Washington Post. She’s polished, she’s to the point, and she’s very funny about what it’s like to be a front-line server at a restaurant.

Some of the comments completely make her point: one guy said he had to pay a percentage of sales to the owners to pay the other staff, so that when someone stiffed him of any tip on a $2500 catering job he had to pay $75 out of pocket to his fellow workers from pay he did not get for eight hours’ work. Wow. Straight-out wage theft. No wonder people are quitting in droves. Yes of course such people should be included under the same minimum wage laws as everyone else.

When I was nineteen, I got a summer job at a Farrell’s Ice Cream shop. This was considered among my peers as way cooler than, say, a MickeyDee’s. Farrell’s was a popular spot.

A few weeks later, a high schooler got hired. He was treated far better than anyone else on staff, though I’m not sure he knew it. The manager went out of his way to be nice to him and then in one memorable moment turned right around and snapped his fingers and barked at me for leaning against the wall in weariness in the kitchen for just the blink of an eye. “None of that!”

His instructions (I was told privately at one point) were to have the new kid do some of every job there, from preparing food to cleaning to closing up to you name it. He didn’t know I knew who the kid was, but I did–his older brother was my age and I’d grown up going to church with him.

His father wanted his youngest to learn the business from the ground up. It left me hoping he did see what it was like for the other workers.

His father was the owner, and not just of Farrell’s.

Marriott headquarters was just a bit down the street from there at the time, and I imagine it made it easy for the dad to happen to stop by, although I hurt my back on the job not long after the kid came on and I quit, since it was my second job anyway and I could move to full-time typing punchcards by that point. The olden days of computers.

That manager could see a whole career both ahead of him and on the line while that kid was there. I have no idea how it turned out for him, nor do I remember his name. But I’ll never forget that solicitousness and then those snapped fingers at me.

Memories like that make me want to be the best customer a restaurant worker has any day I ever come in. (Even if it’s still just pick-up these days.)



Was not expecting a box
Monday November 15th 2021, 9:23 pm
Filed under: Friends

The best story of the day is not mine to tell. Other than this: I love my new shawl!