Carolyn don’t look
Tuesday September 12th 2023, 8:54 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

I was looking at skyscapes, and one with cirrocumulus clouds had blue lines of plain sky dividing them into clean crisp rows for reasons known only to nature.

Skip having to weave in white across the backs of every single stitch? And again, ten rows later, and again? Done.

I browsed my Nicky Epstein book, imagining dozens of tiny oak leaves individually made on size 00 needles and sewn on the did-she-mean-to-knit-a-redwood-over-there.

Um, no (on both counts, but it is, isn’t it.)

I’m not liking the gray i-cord chains for the tire swing–they vanish into the background. I’m thinking I’ll redo those in classic black.

The mass of dark greenery across the left side and behind the house in the real estate photo came out like the shape of the nearby lake, and I like that. A lot.

Still gotta add petals to that little flower that I made out of the snowplow-guiding 6′ orange pole. There are several poles and there should be several flowers but at the time, it was taking me four to five hours per inch and I just too much needed that wide open green space to gallop across like a little kid let out for recess.

Getting there, getting there.

Oh wait–don’t let me forget to add a doorknob. Gotta have a doorknob.

At quarter to five
Monday September 11th 2023, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

One of my friends, a rabbi, posts every Monday the simple question: How’s your heart?

She asks it every week and it always takes me by surprise even though I know it shouldn’t and it makes me stop and think. All the things. Some so good, some not so much; it took a few minutes to sift through.

Then I answered.

“I have been watching a small desert lizard on my patio stretching his face way upwards towards the sun. The wind is blowing the leaves shading there at this time of day, and he takes note of it and from time to time scoots over to where the sun is present again. And again. And–there he goes–again, staying with the light even when it moves.”

Leaving me wanting to ask my friends, too: How are your hearts today?

Sunday September 10th 2023, 8:41 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I had someone I felt I owed a thank you to, who’d been admiring my gerdans at church.

I knew what it’s like to move here with kids while trying to afford the crazy housing costs, even if she would find it laughable if I told her what those numbers once were for us. We didn’t have a dime for extras.

So this week I went through those necklaces several times, trying to envision her reaction to color/style/length and what she had seemed to like the most.

I couldn’t find her. I stopped her teenage daughter: Is your mom here?

No, she’s not, she half-apologized.

I got her to follow me away from the crowd a bit and, reaching into my purse, told her, Your mom is so supportive. Would you be willing to pick one out for her?

I got a polite that’s nice that’s nice that’s nice–and then I pulled out the last one.

She gasped!

We had a winner!

Oh, she couldn’t wait. This was so perfect.

And here’s the thing: suddenly it was all about the daughter being in so much delighted anticipation of making her mom happy. In retrospect it was the most perfect day to have brought it to church.

And I was willing to give up that round white classic beaded Ruth Bader Ginsberg collar because a week ago, when a gerdan I’d ordered from Kherson arrived, the artist had decided to surprise me with the gift of a second necklace entirely: round, rather than long.

Quite like that RBG one. I didn’t need two, and so the one that was simply a bought thing (from Ukraine, so important just the same) went into the bag for my friend/her daughter to choose from.

My friend in Kherson could never have known what she was going to help happen when she decided to do that, surely with much happy anticipation of how delighted it would make me. And it did.

Love, multiplied.

Saturday September 09th 2023, 8:49 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Migraine, could you go without me, sure hon, feel better, and with that I was off on a quick grocery run alone.

At the 5:00 time/place that I’ve been avoiding ever since I ran into that guy.

The one who, years ago, I tried to exchange info with after he hit my car that ended with him pounding his fists on the window of my hurriedly-locked door screaming, “What are you, some kind of damn private eye?!” because I’d taken a picture of his license plate.

The one where a cop later told me the guy had done time for assault.

The one who showed up at that store all these years later whose face instantly contorted with rage on seeing me–but there were lots of witnesses around this time, and he was older now, and he managed to calm himself down as I got out of there as fast as I could. Did he think all these years that I’d somehow caused him that conviction? I have nothing to do with the man. Whoever he is.

I haven’t been willing to admit just how much I haven’t wanted to go back at that particular time and day ever since then. I’ve gone–but during working hours. Just because.

But there I was.

And as I was checking out, I saw, not him, but my dear friends Marguerite and Russ and they waved a cheerful hi and turned and wheeled their cart over to join my line and come say hi.

They totally rescued me. They had no way to know it. I had not known till that moment of extreme emotional contrast just how much I’d needed to be. They just happened to choose that day and that time to come to that store and the love in their faces the instant they saw me was like suddenly I could breathe again.

It occurred to me afterward that I hadn’t even thought to pray for help coping with the fear and the what-ifs because I was trying so hard to believe I didn’t feel that fear.

The choreography of G_d. It is very humbling. And the joy!

Friday September 08th 2023, 8:44 pm
Filed under: Life

The tennis racket bug zapper: it works better on small insects but it was all I had. By what on earth opening had that hornet even gotten in here? It was huge!

And then it was against the window with that bug zapper pinning it down but it wanted to just keep right on going, so I did, too, arm stretched, finger on the button, not daring to let up to check on the thing.

Finally, after a good minute or so, I decided my best bet was to open the slider with my other hand and try to sweep it out of here.

But it wouldn’t go.

I smacked the zapper gently on something outside. It clung. I thwapped hard. It clung. Finally I dared look a little closer, and it had indeed given up the ghost once it had been zapped long enough. Thwap! I got it to fall out and made a mental offering to the birds out there, but it is clear they prefer their meals sushi style. It’s a raw deal.

Okay, so all that happened, and shortly thereafter I went to go water my trees.

Every time I touched the handle on that slider I got a little shock. What?

The first time, I thought, well that was odd, but by the sixth time (I go out and move the hose from tree to tree and set a timer for three minutes, come inside, repeat for each) it was clearly a thing. Huh.

We had that door repaired a few years ago and I’d never noticed that the inside handle is metal while the outside one is plastic.

I started opening the door from inside by pushing along the window, then coming back in using the handle because that side was fine.

I took a basic college course in electricity and none of this makes any sense to me, so I asked the resident geek and it made no sense to him either. Shocking, I know.

So it’s been a few hours now, I typed all this, and had to go see if it would still do that if I touched it. It did not. Well yay.

But still: why? I mean, if you could store electricity in glass who would need batteries? The zapper never touched that handle. So strange.

A crocheter out there somewhere
Thursday September 07th 2023, 8:55 pm
Filed under: Life

And just like that, back to normal. Now! With extra flu shot protection! Operators are standing by, order yours now!

And so back to the afghan, too.

Meantime, I posted something on and on a whim scrolled through the posts. There was


Yarn and crochet materials of any size.”

You know I have to do a little stash digging first, but you know I have to answer that one. I gave up knitting in college because I couldn’t afford it and it took me nine years to get back to it–I know what it’s like. I will ask questions first, of course, and then we’ll see from there.

Book that appointment
Wednesday September 06th 2023, 9:41 pm
Filed under: Food

My only reaction to the flu vaccine was being tired, and I ended up picking my copy of The Fruit Hunters, found my bookmark, and discovered the delight of Adam Leith Gollner’s writing all over again. So many fruits I’ve never heard of, much less tried.

He describes Andy Mariani as growing the best peaches in America! Okay, so this guy *does* know what he’s talking about. Grin.

Checking: here’s a prettier cover with cheaper used copies.

Mine had been caught in the rain at an airport and the pages are a distractingly curled mess, but I’m glad I finally got back to it. Thank you flu shot.

Highly recommended. Yes, I mean both–of course.

But I did finish the barn this morning
Tuesday September 05th 2023, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

To match the actual barn, I debated on a purl line between the big doors and the loft window and didn’t but probably would in a do-over, but never mind.

The deadline just became Christmas again, so I have plenty of time to work more of that cloud into the skyscape.

I might be taking it easy tomorrow, or it might have no effect on me: I got a flu shot today. Just before spending time in radiology–where so far the results sound good. No ovarian masses.

Yay. I can relax.

On a mission to get chocolate
Monday September 04th 2023, 8:28 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

The map app took us through San Francisco on a novel route to Dandelion Chocolate, and I was marveling at this building that, This! This is how I remember the Mission District of years ago. I thought it had all long been gentrified out of existence–and for most of the area that’s true.

Post-pandemic there are a lot of closed store fronts in the city and that one building shows it, but this one down the block from Dandelion is beautiful and I wish I’d taken in more of the artwork; I was fascinated by the door at the end of the walkway (and stepping back far enough to frame the view to its left would have put me in the street.)

We got there early in the morning. The store had just changed their opening time and I’m not sure their customers knew it yet: we had the parking and the place mostly to ourselves. We could chat with the two employees without holding up a line. We could hear each other in the quiet. They weren’t yet done putting out the newly-baked pastries of the day but they assured us they had them, pick anything.

For the record, I tried the cacao fruit smoothie made from the pulp that surrounds the beans in the cacao pod, having no idea what a ‘lychee-like citrusy’ and whatever other words they used would actually come out tasting like.

The addiction was instant–man, that was good.

From there we ran the errands that needed to be run, our daughter went off to dinner with a friend, the friend dropped her off at the airport, and our weekend together flew past.

I feel like the toddler who exclaims in both delight and as a demand, Again!!!

Run run run
Sunday September 03rd 2023, 9:15 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Twenty-five rows since I got the blue yesterday afternoon, a record.

Adding wispy cirrocumulus clouds is slowing that right down–but also a sign of thinking I can get this done before my sudden deadline of next week.

(As I start my second ice-my-hands session.)

Royal Mail said they had it, the Post Office said they didn’t
Saturday September 02nd 2023, 8:53 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

At 3:10, the yarn came after all: the long-awaited 6-ply replacing the mistake of the 10-ply. How many people get to have custom-milled yarn in their afghans?

At 3:45, the 300 grams had been hanked, scoured, rinsed four times, and was spinning the excess water out in the washer. And yes that means I didn’t soak it in the suds long enough but I was in a ripping hurry.

At 3:45 Michelle walked in the door from a lunch with her cousin to tell me that there was no room in the car for a third person and would I be horribly disappointed if I let her dad do the furniture hefting with her?

She was moving it out of storage–it was far, far cheaper to replace it than to move it to Boston no matter how nice it was–and gifting it to a friend who’s a schoolteacher.

At 5:00 I decided I had maxed out at an hour of holding a hair dryer, enough. (What do people do who can’t turn their ears off for stuff like this, I wondered.) I’d made two hanks and the smaller one was done, or at least I told myself it was, and I stopped and wound it up. I also wound another yarn of much yardage that I thought I was going to knit it doubled with. I swatched. I put the much-yardage yarn back away.

At 6:00 they walked in the door and dinner was started and help was needed and then at last I finally sat down for that long-awaited glorious moment.

Then I tinked back what I’d just done because I was going to need blue on the other side of the barn, too lady, what were you thinki–it’s okay, you’re very very tired, so I then wound yet again, unwinding half the ball I’d just made. Halfsies. Two now. Try again.

And now I’m giving my hands a break after six rows. About seven more I think? before starting the upper window. And then, so soon, the barn will be done and maybe by then I will have swatched ideas for the soaring raptor I hope to put on the other side.

Man, it feels good to finally be able to dive back into this. I can’t wait to see it done.

And the now-slightly-shrunk, hair-dryered 6-ply was just exactly right for it.

Kings Mountain
Friday September 01st 2023, 9:45 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Lupus

I hadn’t seen Kris in four long years. Way too long.

I’d forgotten that I’d sworn to myself I would never, ever again go the way the map apps direct you towards the Kings Mountain Art Fair. And that was before last winter.

The tiny coastal mountain road alternates in its switchbacks to which side has the drop off with no barrier, it is not level nor smooth and it was not comforting to see spots where the asphalt had stretched and cracked on its way sloping down towards the redwood trunks below. (And above, because, redwoods.)

Sign (twice): Road Narrows.

Me: How?

Kris later told me, Oh, yeah, we did that road with the truck once and never again.

The truck? On that?!

In two places my lane was altogether gone from the past winter’s storms. Oh, I’d heard about that, I just didn’t know where it was.

It rained and the road was slippery, intermittent with fog-rolling-in time of day which was like driving through cotton candy.

Only for you, Mel and Kris, I thought again and again till I saw that blessed Skyline Drive sign at long last: a much better, straighter, wider road across the spine of the mountain and the one the Fair is on.

And then just like that it was all worth it.

For lupus and sun avoidance’s sake I had arrived just after four–it goes till five–and most of the booths had pulled rainproof tarps around and I don’t know that there was a single other customer walking around by then, so I certainly wasn’t interrupting any sales by catching up with my friends and their son for old times’ sake till I declared it was quitting time and time for them to kick me out. I brought peaches from Andy’s because I could. They loved me and I loved them and their kids are great and we even reveled in (and ducked under their tarp from) the rain.

Such good folks. And they do such gorgeous work. I bought this tall hot cocoa mug with a hummingbird poised just like the one that had once danced through the spray from my hose, facing me, so close. Such a happy memory. (Bought a few other things, too. Needed to make up for those four years.)

I continued down Skyline towards home, appreciating ever so much that it was an option and hoping my readers would forgive the whine if I try to write it down so I actually remember it next year: Go. This. Way. Both ways.

The postscript is that our daughter is flying home for the weekend and after Kings Mountain, I ran to stock the fridge in anticipation. I was wearing my large sunflower gerdan. An older woman with an accent stopped me ever so briefly, looking at it and me. She said softly, “Thank you.” Then moved on quickly so as not to accost a stranger too much but had needed so much to say something before the moment passed.

While I was instantly wanting to know her whole life story, if only I could ask. Because we would be friends. I knew it because she had already befriended me.

But she had said what she had the words for.

There was suddenly one more thing I needed to do with my day: go tell Oleksandra in Ukraine that her art had blessed that woman’s life, too, and to thank her. And so I did.