With love from Chateaux du chapeau
Sunday February 05th 2023, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift

I couldn’t just sneak a new one for it because it had been worn too much for me to get away with that.

At eleven, he was bicycling over to my house during Christmas break to cover and uncover the baby mango tree night and morning while we were out of town. He protested that I was paying him too much (I wasn’t) and got one of the first mangoes ever to come off that tree.

Two years ago? I think? I knit him a hat, to his great delight, in the oft-repeated Malabrigo Mecha in Teal Feather, as soft a wool as you could ask for and washable.

Two weeks ago at church his mother asked me if I could repair it.

I’m guessing he didn’t want me to think he didn’t take good care of it. But it’s okay. Things happen.

Last week I showed them a bag I’d found of all the little balls of leftover Mecha in that color: I had saved them for future hat stripes but really just in case of an emergency like this. I asked them to help me find the best match because my cataracts mess with my perception of blues.

They decided the mom could do this and took the bag home, while I was left thinking, but I wasn’t trying to put that on you!

This morning the young man himself came over, pointed to the darkest mini ball in the center of the bag, and said decisively, We think that one.

The hat was back in the bag.

I was delighted–I’d really wanted to do that for them and had been a little sorry at the misunderstanding. I knew it would be a much easier task for me than her.

Got home from church, and thought, Do not get distracted. You know they’re waiting. You know he had to wait this extra week during a cold snap to get his clearly loved hat back–do it now.

So I sat down with it.

Oh. This wasn’t just the cast-on end working loose, now that I looked closely, that yarn was torn. (Their cat maybe?) This was going to be more than I thought. Okay, that and that are the torn ends and there, in between, it no longer has its cast-on-row stitch. Hmm.

The dad is the grandson of Ukrainian refugees. I told them later, The irony is that what I did is called the Russian join: I took the new yarn (leaving a dangly end) and ran it through the interior of the broken yarn to catch it and hold it in place.

(I didn’t bother them with the detail that the full term is the Russian spit-splice–they didn’t need that visual in his clothing.)

I reworked a few more stitches on the wrong side to try to really tack down those random fibers, and then I ran the two ends up the edges of the purls in the ribbing. I could do it pulled tight so that it looked good–tried it, went nope–or looser so it felt good. Definitely looser. As you can see, but won’t when he wears it with the brim down.

The kicker is that where the yarn had broken was in one of the lightest spots because the dye hadn’t fully penetrated the yarn. But I think, yes I do think, it came out quite okay.

I emailed the parents to ask when I should bring the hat by and my doorbell rang so fast before I even got around to looking up their phone numbers. Mom, dad, son: they all wanted to be there to see it come back to life.

I said to Eli as they leaving, Thank you: that hat is clearly well loved and worn and I never know if people actually use them. You made me so happy. Thank you!

It made his day and he walked down my walkway after his parents with the biggest smile on his face.

That, I tell you, is a young college-bound man who is knit-worthy. His parents raised him well.



Hey, guys, don’t act so chipper about it
Saturday February 04th 2023, 11:09 pm
Filed under: Life

After a break of several weeks to let the previous storms sink into the groundwater to protect the roots of everything, the rain is back. They said we’d get less than a half inch across three days; we had more than that yesterday, more than that again today, and tomorrow’s looking pretty good, too.

There was a gorgeous towering old oak of probably several hundred years at the church’s stake center before those nine atmospheric rivers earlier.

I can only hope the wood was put to good use, at least, when it came down.



In plane sight
Friday February 03rd 2023, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Family,History

Got a Hey look at this offer! from Southwest Airline. Which reminded me.

At the niece’s second wedding reception, my husband the computer scientist was talking to his cousin the pilot.

Who had been stuck in the Christmas meltdown. But who had managed to get through such that he flew the plane that got Richard’s sister (and himself) to the actual wedding, and he was pretty happy about that: he got a planeload of people to where they were fairly desperate at that point to go.

He said, The thing people don’t get is that Southwest allows its crews to live wherever they want. They have a great deal of autonomy because in each city they’re assigned out of, there’s central management to report to who take requests and adjust personal schedules and smooth things and make people happy. There are unwritten rules that everybody understands and abides by, and you have this authority centralized to where you live and by people you get to know like a big happy family.

And that’s usually good, he said–but when it was bad it totally melted down, and we on the inside could see this coming and tried to warn them.

Hubby the software guy said, But if you do it that way then you can’t update because you can’t write software that manages operations better without having the rules being written down. Which means adhered to. Which means giving up power: everything across the system would become centralized to the system.

Computers have no human empathy component. Things would have to be Done A Certain Way to make the automated system work–which means a lot of those managers would become completely unnecessary and lose their jobs. And the crews and the pilots would lose a whole lot of autonomy (not to mention their friends they’ve worked with forever.) You just go where/when you’re assigned.

I thought, There’s got to be some degree of middle ground.

So it’ll be interesting to see what the FAA does as it plays grown-up to the various sides here.



National Ukulele Day
Thursday February 02nd 2023, 9:48 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Someone far away from her was flipping idly through TV channels. And happened to catch that the local news was, in honor of National Ukulele Day, re-airing a video from ten years ago–and she immediately grabbed her phone to tell an old friend.

I told the story a few years ago of a friend I hadn’t seen since high school who posted on FB that she was at SFO and her luggage had gone missing and what was she going to do for the presentation she had to give the next day?

And that is how she found out I lived halfway between where that was going to be and the airport. I offered her my closet. Take anything. Don’t worry about getting it back to me. She thanked me, did a fast trip to Macy’s instead–but allotted two unexpected hours out of her travel plans to spend catching up with me in person. We had such a good time. We had made such good choices of friends when we were teenagers forty years earlier.

She had finally found the love of her life while living in Maine. Frank was a one man show: a lawyer in a small town, the public defender, the reporter for the one-man newspaper: all community service all the time.

When he wasn’t being a roadie for the university’s ukulele band. I wish I could have met him.

Then the pancreatic cancer. The local station covering that group’s coming to play for him while he was in hospice. Her gratitude. All caught on a video she thought she’d never see again.

She lives in Virginia now to be close to her elderly mom.

And then this old friend in Maine went, wait–that’s–!!!

My widowed friend called the station, and they were as thrilled to hear from her as she was to hear their response: they sent her a copy so that she could see it, too. So that she could have it.

From when Frank was still alive to hear his love coming back to him in the faces and music of his friends as his wife held his hand and, briefly, lifted his arm to carry the beat like he would have done had he still been able.

Their story starts at 2:12.



Also, pie
Wednesday February 01st 2023, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Food,Knit

(Sunflower rolling pin here. I much prefer their big size.)

There was some blue cashmere that has been in my stash with the start of some forgotten thing for several years now and today somehow finally felt was its day: I went to see what there was of it.

Not much. The cast on, enough stitches to connect the ends–and a merciless tangle of yarn and dropped stitches.

Nuts to that. I started over.

By the end of the new cast on I knew why the thing had never gotten anywhere: the raspy needle and that grabby yarn were the worst enemies. I didn’t want to knit even the first row till I’d found a different pair.

I found a very slick circular. Size 6.

Wait.

That was the one I’d finally finished yesterday’s project on, where the needle was too slippery for the very slippery yarn and so it had taken me forever to make myself get it done.

All I’d needed to do the whole time was swap the two out.

Switch, swatch, I was making a botch

 

(Note to self: next time you fill ten pounds of flour into the container, don’t drop it. And if you do drop it, don’t aim it upwards at your cashmere sweater. And if you do, just hope the neighbors’ security camera didn’t record the pouffy cloud you shook off outside the front door. Also if anyone knows the best way to carefully clean the rest of the flour out without making glue please reassure me that I do, in fact, know how to hand wash sweaters.)



Freeze watch again tonight
Tuesday January 31st 2023, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

Man, it’s been cold. And so this finally got finished.

Camelspin yarn, 54 leftover grams from stash and done. Gorgeous to eyes and hands (when they’re not dropping slippery stitches.) It’s ~15″.

And how did I celebrate? By checking that Colourmart still had that 66/34 dk cashmere/cotton and ordering a discounted kilogram towards future baby blankets.

Because the long longed-for baby of friends of my daughter that I used up most of my cash/cotton for was announced today. It’s a girl. Name to be announced.

They finally got to have their daughter!



Wait, wait, bring that back here a moment
Monday January 30th 2023, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

The Claude Monet effect?

My desktop was open to my blog and I saw it from across the room while doing something else–and did a double take as it hit me.

Dr. Rachel Remen, in one of her books, gives examples of people idly doing things with an intention known only to their subconscious, and talks about how important it is to try to notice what inner truth it’s trying to tell you.

There on the screen was the picture of the pumpkin almond flour muffins and the chocolate hazelnut mini-cupcakes I’d baked to take to my nephew’s in-laws for Saturday night’s dinner. They had loved that the muffins were made with honey from Ukrainian sunflowers, not to mention how good everything was.

Before I even knew how their numbers would fit into that tupperware for carrying, I had started arranging them like this and was so pleased when it came out in a way that just felt so right.

How did I not see that as a sunflower till now?



Belly button knitting
Sunday January 29th 2023, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

More green than this, but, yet another Malabrigo Mecha Teal Feather hat to have at the ready once I get those ends run in.

I think I have a single skein of Mecha left–there needs to be a yarn store run this week because what else would I use for the fidget-spinner projects where you don’t even have to look at your hands to keep going and going and going while actually producing something someone will love.

Questions to throw out there: does anyone else tighten up their stitches more and more the further into the decreasing it gets? It’s so easy to accidentally leave a gaping stitch as you switch back and forth between the needles after changing from the one circular to the Venn-diagram effect from using two.

Does anybody use the long-tail cast-on end as you go up to mark the beginnings of the rows? Moving it only a few times as it gets ridiculously far back there, in my case. I kind of had a hanging umbilical cord and belly button there before I pulled it out to take the picture.



The first of many of those to come
Saturday January 28th 2023, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Family

Our great-niece Margo turned one today, and her grandparents/my in-laws flew into town to celebrate with her other grandparents, who live about five miles from us. We had a wonderful evening of it.

The baby was willing to play peek a boo and laugh with me but wanted to do it from her mommy’s arms or the grandmother’s whom she knew best, and that’s so very normal for her age.

That hummingbird finger puppet with its attached flower, though: instantly it was hers and she was willing to crawl fast to get to it when need be.



Musical interlude
Friday January 27th 2023, 11:02 pm
Filed under: Food,History

So I did, I had some of those kale gnocchi cubes for lunch, and they were okay enough.

Meantime, I have heard for decades descriptions of Yoko Ono’s screeching. I always thought that was just a put-down of her singing. I had no idea. My stars. (Chuck Berry’s face!)

Which leads to, as YouTube does, John Lennon and Chuck Berry doing Johnny B. Goode and decades after that, Berry reprising it with Julian Lennon and telling him how proud he was of him and that he was going to tell his dad when he sees him. Wow.



Kale no we won’t go
Thursday January 26th 2023, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Good intentions.

He thought of a way to ask nicely, what possessed you? without putting it like that.

Frozen, that helps the texture soften, right? And it would be minced so finely you wouldn’t care. Dark green veggies are good for you! The flavor would be covered by all the parmesan I would heap on that bad boy and maybe some pizza type sauce too if that’s not enough to smother it. Or something.

Kale gnocchi from Trader Joe’s.

Back into the freezer it went.

But I’m going to sneak a few cubes into the microwave and try it out–tomorrow for sure.



Tell you what, I’ll decide
Wednesday January 25th 2023, 9:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Lupus

I took my tachycardia med, I did. I took it. So stop it, I argued half-asleep at myself for hours last night, willing to call 911 if need be but it never quite got to that point, thankfully.

It is fair to say I woke up tired. I called my cardiologist, wanting to know the unknowable: should I come in or could I go about my day as planned? (I.e., would it be okay for me to drive to the airport to meet up with a longtime online friend during her layover? Would I even ever get the chance to again if I didn’t?)

But all I got, after a very long time on hold, was the chance to leave a voice mail message. I was not called back.

Well then. That’s permission, right?

As the morning went on, a pattern familiar to all systemic lupus patients became manifest: feel like h*** when you get up, feel better and better as the day goes on and at the last indulge yourself in half-wondering what all the fuss was even about. Because it feels so good to be able to.

So at quarter to noon I hopped in the car and at long last got to meet ccr in ma, as her online signature has called her for forever.

She texted that she was walking to baggage claim and if I wasn’t feeling up to it that was okay; I texted back that I was sitting at baggage claim, black skirt black vest burgundy (actually more a deep deep rose but who’s quibbling) sweater, knitting.

We bought ourselves lunch without too many people around us and in a mostly pretty quiet spot for an airport–and swapped stories and laughed and laughed like the old friends we both are and are beginning to be all at the same time. We had so much fun. SO much fun.

Have a great time in Hawaii, friend. Wish I were there. Glad I got to go where I did.



The Piuma did it
Tuesday January 24th 2023, 9:39 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

It’s my yarn swap necklace, I grinned at him when it arrived.

Your what?

There’s someone who’d knitted a cashmere sweater for someone else, loved the pattern and wanted to make one for herself now, bought more of the yarn–and didn’t start it because she became sure she didn’t have enough. Since it was a mill end from Colourmart there was no more to be had.

Except I found out about it. I had an exact match and there was no point in having it sit in my stash when someone else actually needed it, and I mailed it off to her. This was about a year ago.

Now, I get it about queues and about knitting for yourself last except those times when you really need to recharge the inner batteries and how complicated the timing of any one project can get. So when I found out I had yet another cone that had somehow been separated from the others, I asked her just in case if she’d had enough to knit her sweater–and when it turned out she hadn’t made it yet, told her I had just found this other cone if it would help her be sure she had enough.

It would very much, thanks.

(I flashed back to childhood memories of Mom making Dad a complicated Aran sweater over quite a few months and coming up short right at the end: that is the reason I always overbuy before starting a project. Always.)

It was around Christmas and I tried to tell her it was on me but she was having none of that and insisted on paying for it.

Okay. So I turned right around and spent it in Ukraine to help them pay for backup power after the bombings because they needed that help and they needed it now.

I got an artist’s project made for me (with progress pictures! Cool!), that woman gets to feel that her country’s anguish matters to the world, the other knitter gets to be the artist making the project she’d wanted to do, everybody wins.



The road that goes on and on
Monday January 23rd 2023, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Life,Politics

Pescadero is a bit south of there. Want to watch a road go, Nope, I’m out of here, guys, ‘bye, in 59 seconds? I believe that’s highway 84 in the backdrop, looking just like it did the last time I drove it.

Foggy, cool, quiet, farmland… Like the much-missed Phipps Bean Ranch there, where they grew every unusual type of bean you ever or never heard of, including what looked like a lima bean to fit in your palm rather than between your fingers.

That family lost their farm to the long drought and they were renters; our rains that took Stage Road in the video link came years too late. The little farm-animal petting zoo my kids liked is gone. Last I saw, their land had simply returned to nature.

Up Highway 1, the next town is San Gregorio, then Half Moon Bay, and friends of ours decided to brave the commute and build their dream house there with views of the ocean. Beautiful spot. Not crowded. Buy your fish straight off the boat from the captain, come for the famous pumpkin weigh-off in October. The flower farms. The nurseries.

The little yarn store in the little downtown that had Holz and Stein rosewood knitting needles when nobody else did anymore. The manufacturer’s discontinuance was for good reason, I found out later: some varieties of rosewood were on the CITES list and sellers had to be able to show provenance of the wood. Now all varieties are simply banned.

The road home again. The commute goes through open space and redwoods as it goes over the hills, and those woods alternately run dark and deep mid-day to blinding you with sudden patches of sun above the road and it has a high rate of crossover accidents. Our friends bought a Volvo as life insurance along with that house.

My heart went straight to them at this afternoon’s news–and of course to everyone there no matter who they are. They’ll all know someone who knew someone who had a gun suddenly aimed at them today, it’s a small town.

The updates suggest it was all fellow farmworkers.

Which just means that those with the least means to deal with the fallout are the ones who will most have to.

Why we aren’t doing better by all of us, I can’t for the life of me understand.



Renewed
Sunday January 22nd 2023, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,History,Life

The day began with the news of the unspeakable horror of the mass shooting at a Chinese Lunar New Year celebration in southern California.

I kept thinking of my friend Jean’s 90th birthday party a half dozen years ago where her grandkids brought out a long elaborate paper dragon, bright red and yellow and held high to celebrate properly as they waved it up and down racing around the room in sheer joy. Their grandmother had survived Pearl Harbor as a teen. And so they themselves had come to be. She is with us yet.

That is what Chinese Lunar New Year should be about: a shared celebration of all that is good in life.

This afternoon, the doorbell rang.

It was our newest neighbors across the street, the mom and her two young kids–with her daughter holding out a tray covered in little things that were inviting but unfamiliar to me.

I was having a hard time hearing and I did not want to get this wrong.

It was Chinese New Year, they explained, and it seemed they wanted me to pick one of these. We are going around to the neighbors, the mom said; this is what we do on this day.

I said that I was unfamiliar with the tradition and wanted to make sure I got this right (while thinking, Richard, come!)

He had heard the bell and the voices and he did just that, he came up behind me and I got to introduce him.

Her little boy made a point of moving a step to the side to be right opposite my 6’8″ husband and looked up and up and up at maybe the tallest man he’d ever seen up close and thought it was so cool and they both enjoyed that moment together very much.

Pick one, they explained. And they thanked us for the pomegranates I’d brought them from my tree a few months ago.

I briefly touched a package holding what seemed like a baker’s rendition of a golden sand dollar and asked the daughter holding the tray, Which one would you pick?

The mom picked that one up and the two others like it arrayed like a set and held them out: I saw your daughter! Does she live here?

A few cities away but yes, in this area.

(Of course, my mother always taught me anyway that it’s good manners to take the one you touched so it felt just right that she wanted us to have those for each of us.)

Because this is what they do on Chinese New Year. They visit their neighbors. They share sweets. They made sure we had plenty.

They offered love and connection as a way of being in the world.

There were two wonderfully crunchy cookies in that first little packet and we can both attest that they were delicious.