Full speed ahead
Saturday May 20th 2023, 9:01 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Not sure I can keep up this pace every day, but progress feels great.

And not just mine: a certain someone snagged the apartment she wanted across the country despite much competition for it. A mistake was made, she pointed it out and saved the landlord money even though it would cost her, and she was in.

Knowing where she was going to land was a huge relief. We went to Dandelion Chocolate to celebrate (while doggedly not thinking about we don’t know when we’ll get to do that again.)

We spent forty minutes circling the blocks looking for parking, and finally one opened right up and she tucked right in there–and then realized that the guy ahead was in an illegal spot and had been waiting for that guy to leave so he could back into the legal one. Had he been waiting for that? Yes he had. She pulled right back out and let him have it. He waved a thank you.

About fifteen minutes later we found our spot and went and got our chocolate: hot, bars, and pastries.

And it was very, very good.

It is fair to say it was well received
Wednesday May 17th 2023, 8:42 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

What was her friend’s favorite color?

(She knew what that question hinted at.) I dunno; blue, I guess??

They have been each other’s bestest through years and all kinds of life experiences, and now there’s going to be three thousand miles between them. The friend dropped something off at our house a few weeks ago and her face gave away how painful it was for her that the Silicon Valley downturn was taking her friend three thousand miles away.

I gave up on the blue I’d ordered (some of it still isn’t here yet) and started just going with the off-white afghan that already had the bottom edging done so I could get it to her faster. And yet, and yet… No matter what I told it, it kept telling me that that one was actually for… And I wanted to get it done before moving day and my hands just haven’t been letting me do that much of its heaviness at a stretch…

But. I had a blue afghan. I did, and it was all ready to go. I’d bought the fingering weight yarn years ago and had dyed it three gradient shades from royal to navy and then had eventually knit them together. It was even 2/3 cashmere like the white one, though 1/3 fine wool rather than cotton. I’d offered it to someone a few years ago and they’d chosen another option, I’d offered it to someone else last year and they chose another option, and I kept thinking, it just hasn’t found its person yet. Why is it so hard to find its person–I know they’re out there, someone for whom it has to be blue.

And then I’d forgotten about it.

A certain someone just walked in the door after a farewell dinner.

Where she told her friend, You have to open this before I leave so I can relay to my mom the look on your face when you do.

Well that took a turn
Saturday May 13th 2023, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

I finally went back to the 64/36 cashmere/cotton afghan I’d started before our trip. I’d put it aside, debating on a blue for the recipient, but this finally won out and I started into the main pattern two days ago. Notes: size US8, two strands dk, 271 stitches, 15 repeats, and it’s coming out 60″ across which is a bit more than I’d planned for so it’ll have to be quite long to match. Because knits shrink lengthwise much more than widthwise.

I like the look of a seed stitch edging but that part of the fabric has a tendency to look stretched out compared to the rest.

So I compromised with myself: I’m seed stitching but only on the wrong side rows.  Right side rows, knit straight across there. There’s surely a name for that but I’m too lazy to look it up. This may well be my new go-to.

I typed the above and then Richard, having answered the phone, walked into the room to tell me: his Uncle Duane passed away last night.

The rush of memories! When I miscarried my first baby with 20 hours’ labor at 12 weeks (they finally did a D&C) the day before a big family get-together, it was Duane who’d followed me a moment after I’d fled down to the basement and away from all those cheerful greetings: Doesn’t anyone know?! I cried at him.

Yes, they do, he told me: but my sister told us not to mention it, thinking it would be easier on you.

He heard me out, and then he told me of their baby who’d been stillborn at seven months. He cried. It had been twenty years, but the tears still came so easily to the surface.

He totally saved me.

At a niece’s wedding, the first time we’d seen each other in probably thirty years, I asked him, Do you remember that day?

OH yes. OH yes. And I knew it had meant as much to him as it had to me. All these years later, I can see that his ability to comfort me had comforted him by giving meaning to what he and his beloved Joan had had to go through: it is so we can know how to be there for the next person.

Duane was an amputee who took the experience of losing his leg and turned it into helping Haitians who’d lost limbs in their big earthquake get prostheses. He took great care of his wife throughout her Alzheimer’s. He was just a very, very good man.

The three of us started reminiscing: at one nephew’s wedding, I had heard of Aunt Joan’s diagnosis and went up to reintroduce myself to her and she smiled, Oh, I know who YOU are! as she reached for a hug.

At the next wedding two years later, she told me with just as much enthusiasm, I don’t know who you are but I know that I love you!

My sister-in-law said Duane had been afraid of having to be institutionalized if his brain were ever to go like his late wife’s had. He never was. There was a “sudden event,” was the description, and he was gone. It was a blessing to him, hard for all of us who love him, all the mixed emotions. We’re glad for him that it was fast and over with and that he’d gotten to live on his own terms to the end.

A DKO, Michelle said, after we’d told each other how we loved that man so much and he us.

We looked at her.

Y’know, a DKO.


Dude Keeled Over. (Looks at us as we burst out laughing.) What?

(Richard grabs his phone and starts Googling the abbreviation.) “Divine KnockOut.” He kept looking. She offered another possibility off the top of her head.

And with that we gave Uncle Duane up there a story to laugh with his wife over. As they would.

Quite the leaf to fruit ratio there
Monday May 08th 2023, 9:41 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden

Eight percent chance of rain; dry conditions will continue, said the forecast, which I checked before going outside to snap a picture of my springtime mandarins because that sure didn’t sound like what it looked like to me.

The idea is to text my mom a photo a day, just for fun.

It was a faint drizzle as I hurried back inside, turning to fat drops almost immediately. Never did add up enough to nudge us past the 41.6″ so far for the year, though.

The normal amount for an entire year is 12.5″ and we’ve got seven months to come.

I expect the return of drought next because I can’t remember ever having two back-to-back rainy years here, much though our aquifers could use it, but we are still adding more energy to the system so we’ll just have to see how it all plays out.

XKCD’s chart on the effects of that from a scientist’s point of view.

New world
Saturday May 06th 2023, 9:15 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

After a long-planned trip abroad, our daughter got home today after 22 hours in travel from where the sun is halfway out of kilter in its path and season.

She’ll be starting her new job soon, with time to find an apartment across the country. So much change.

Calling a spade a spade
Tuesday April 25th 2023, 9:48 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden

We’re told it was warm while we were gone.

The plants definitely took notice. (English Morello sour cherry with the top yet to bloom, sour cherry close-up, Stella sweet cherry.)

One yearling apricot seedling lost a limb in the heat but has new growth on the others; the other seedlings are doing fine.

And now the best picture of all. Even if it cuts off the matching little back of the head curl on Grampa.

Mathias was so excited about his new gloves that came with his gardening set that he wouldn’t take them off even for Legos. In the morning he’d tackled a tall mound of mud with a spade way too big for him and it had frustrated him, not to mention got him tumbled down that contractor-created hill a couple times; in the evening he opened his birthday present and there it was, beautiful and green, ready for digging in and just his size.


Speaking in unicorn
Monday April 24th 2023, 9:46 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

We were celebrating three generations of birthdays together.

One way not to run out of yarn to work on is to bring lace weight.

I bought this at Stitches West 2019 from (this is as close as I can find to their bright and shiny 80/20 merino/silk lace weight in the Isabella colorway) Western Sky Knits in Montana.

I did a not quite the usual hat on the way to Seattle; out of sheer boredom, a few rows into the stockinette I found myself doodling k1, p9, then k3, p7, k5, p5, k7, p3, k9, p1 as I went round the rows. Then half a dozen or so plain stockinette again–and then I reversed the triangles, p1 then 3 then 5 then 7 then 9, and finished it plain from there.

I found myself laughing in surprise mid-flight: I had just knit Charlie Brown’s shirt.

Anyway, right before the trip I’d grabbed that Western Sky stuff that had been waiting so long and wound it up so it would be ready to go.

At one point there was a “whaddya you gonna do” shrug from Lillian’s mommy that her daughter adored unicorns. As three year olds do.

How could I knit anything else after that?

I was a few inches along when Mathias, busy with Legos with Grampa, looked over at my hands and said in wonderment, “That’s PRETTY, Grammy!”

I suddenly realized all he’d ever seen me do was practical hats. Travel knitting. I’ve made so many. They’ve gone to so many. And that white cashmere/silk afghan that I’d splurged on to make him as a baby that was now proudly on their couch–so soft, it’s nice, but it was white.

All these colors!

It is now officially child approved.

And by an older child: there was a sullen teenager in the airport waiting two hours for today’s flight, as did we, trying not to let on who his parents were. As teens do. I had my phone out and was reading the news (Fox fired Tucker Carlson today?!) so my hands would only have to knit for the length of the flight.

Once we were boarded, though, it was all rainbow knitting all the time.

Yonder teen passed us as he came on.

He saw what was in my hands. He stopped.

He looked at my knitting. He looked at me.

I looked back beaming my best grandmotherly-wisdom-love in his direction.

He went on his way with a noticeably lighter step.

I don’t know his details on why I suddenly felt considered an ally, whether the unexpected project simply gave us a moment to see each other and see good in each other and that was enough. Or if there was more to it for him.

All I know is, I’m so glad my hands were speaking in colors.

A lot of life in a few hours
Tuesday April 11th 2023, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

It was vaguely reminiscent of our five hour round trip to Antioch two years ago to get him his first Covid shot: it was driver’s license renewal time and there was no point in not doing the Real ID thing–why pay the fees and the DMV time and the bother twice.

We gathered the documents, submitted them online, set the alarm and drove to where and when he could get an appointment–across the Bay a few minutes after that office opened.

Their website didn’t let us schedule both so I came along for the carpool lanes and in hopes they might do mine anyway. They didn’t. I’m next week. But at least at a much closer office.

When we got home It was hard to fathom that we’d done so much in the day and it wasn’t even ten a.m. yet. Wasn’t it lunch time by now?

I waited for people.

I carried the KitchenAid to someone’s car.

I carried my late MIL’s toaster oven to another person’s car.

Not only were she and I moms of the same age, we drove the same car and looked like each other surprisingly much. It was great fun. I noted that there were wooden spoons and a spatula tucked inside her daughter’s new toaster oven because every first apartment needs those.

That delighted her no end.

The contractor having brought up the choice, I did research on fiberglass vs polycarbonate roof panels and brought my results to Richard and let’s get this done.

His reaction was, That’s nice–but what I really really want done is the taxes.

The taxes! That’s what I was going to do today…!

Yeah, when they made some announcement awhile back about declaring California a disaster zone for the floods and said that that meant the tax deadline was helpfully being put off for months for us, my reaction was to groan, Noooo. Don’t tell me that! I don’t need any help procrastinating them, I just don’t! I deliberately did not Google to see if that was a counties-specific or a state thing. Pretty sure it was state, don’t want to know.

And I could tell you all about the fun *that* was this evening, but I’m sure you all did yours and that’s enough of it to have to deal with for the year.

They. Are. Done.

And for the first time ever, the IRS let me file electronically after accepting my name. Maiden one, but that’s huge!

And that’s a whole ‘nother blog post about Bush, the Patriot Act, the Social Security office suddenly seeing half the wives in America now that states making the legal changes were no longer good enough, the IRS never getting the memo and claiming discrepancies and that I was never me–unless my returns came by mail. And then somehow I was. Go figure.

Till today.

Next year maybe they’ll even let me use my actual legal last name!

Sunday April 09th 2023, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Family

We were talking to our grandson Hudson and he told us he’d been asked to speak in church today.

So he started out with a joking, What I really wanted for my birthday was to give a talk.

…And then at the end of it, referring to his older brother, he said, And if you really liked this talk you should ask Parker.

Brought down the house.

What on earth were they afraid of
Saturday April 08th 2023, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,History,Life

His migraine. So I ran off to Safeway to try to buy a leg of lamb for Easter, but there wasn’t much to be found but flapping tags and empty shelves. So I did what I could and yes that ham was, um, cute. Definitely for people who don’t like leftovers.

But he wanted it to be what he wanted it to be more than I’d realized, and after a few hours of psyching himself up and a quick toasted cheese sandwich each to keep us from shopping hungry we found ourselves heading for Costco quarter after 5. They close at 6 Saturdays, normally; today, turns out, they made it 7. Because customers.

Going to Costco on a Saturday is never my thing and going right before Easter Sunday was really not my thing and I simply wasn’t going to, but if he was that determined even while feeling like that then of course I would go with him.

And he found one!

A few goodies in the cart, a few practical items, and then I headed for the lines while he went looking for one last thing.

It felt odd. Most of the lines were now self-checkout, but a number of people were like me and wouldn’t use those. And yet…

Well if they’re not going to get in this one I certainly am, look how fast that woman is scanning things and her bagger is tag-teaming with her to speed it up. They’ve got this down! Wow, I’m going to look for them next time.

And yet.

Even though it kept becoming the shorter line, people were coming up, and in an echo of what I’d seen on approaching that I hadn’t quite put my finger on, were starting to turn in behind me and then abruptly pulling away into the other lines that were quite a bit longer, and at one point there were five people waiting there and there that I could see while my stuff was going onto the conveyer as they rang up the guy in front of me, and still nobody was getting behind me. And now another person coming up started to, took a look, and moved into one of the longer lines, too.

The clerk was an older heavier black woman. The young bagger was mixed race and part black.

And the people who turned away out of her line after they saw her, every single one of them was Asian.

This is not to stereotype. This is to report what I saw. Note that the guy in front of me was Asian. But it took me straight back to the college American history class where the professor said that one of the things about immigration to the US over the centuries is that unless they were black, every newcomer had someone they could punch down at and wrongly think they were better than. (Edited in the morning to add by way of explanation, 64% of the local Asian population are immigrants, and by their accents at least some of these were.)

Finally, a Hispanic man turned in behind me, quite happy to somehow snag the short line on such a day.

She was checking me out now. I had to do something. I made a point of looking her in the eyes and saying, “You are amazing. You are so fast. Thank you!”

I saw in that moment that she’d been keeping it all in check but at those kind words and the noticing implied behind them, she suddenly nearly burst into tears and she thanked me, the  bagger thanked me, too. We could have given each other a hug on the spot if the counter hadn’t been in the way.

I left wishing them a happy Easter and meant it as fervently as I ever have (even while thinking, I should have said and Passover and Ramadan, too, since they all come together this year and you never know.) They both wished me one as well, and clearly meant it, too. I felt befriended.

I know I’m choir-preaching here, but, man, just go love one another. What else matters? I wanted to tell those people who made their bigotry visible how much they were missing out on because that is one gracious, lovely woman there who was trying her best to give them a better day in the one way given her to do so, and the young man, too.

I am so glad we went to that store when we went to that store near the end of her day. Richard had no way to know that’s the real reason he so strongly felt we had to go there.

And that going at the last minute was the only time to go.

The long-planned visit and the unplanned one
Thursday April 06th 2023, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Family

The Amazon driver had been called in at the last minute to help with the unexpected crush of deliveries. Which we found out when Michelle was at the door thanking her with feeling: her friends had so hoped that she would get it in time to put it in her luggage because shipping to their country was so prohibitive.

It had made it in under two hours before she was to leave for the airport.

And somehow those two very rushed women found the time to share that brief exchange that made the one glad she’d filled that extra shift and both of them glad to see the other so glad–and even more, knowing that the recipients at flight’s end were going to be absolutely thrilled.

Well of course!
Tuesday April 04th 2023, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Dislike the drive (freeways in San Francisco are a mess, the Cypress Structure that collapsed in the ’89 quake was never rebuilt) dislike the driving around and around for blocks to find a parking space but for Dandelion Chocolate and celebrating a birthday? Count us in.

And so she and I did. We decided to make it a to go in order to get away from someone who was coughing, but not before getting some finger puppets to some parents whose little kids were antsy waiting for their cocoa. Brought goodies home for her dad.

As we were sitting at the table at home munching away and sipping the last of the hot chocolate I gave a nod towards the calorie count of the day.

Her: When you’re 60 you should just enjoy life!

I guffawed–as she instantly realized her math was off. Oh wait…

“When I’m 64!” (thank you Paul McCartney.)

At that point we both lost it and laughed ourselves breathless. She topped it off with, You should just enjoy life! Not every day! (gesturing towards the Dandelion bag), but, enjoy life!

But see, that’s why I brought a few of their bars home. So we could break off a small bite. Every day! And when we run out we’ll just have to go back. Right?

But the question is, did they get matching ones
Friday March 31st 2023, 9:05 pm
Filed under: Family

Amazon boxes for all three of us today.

Michelle opened one after dinner while we were sitting chatting.

I’ve mentioned how when the pandemic hit, her sister had a baby and a two year old and a suddenly frantically busy job and Michelle decided, I can work from home anywhere, and volunteered to be backup child care. She drove north and spent most of the first two years there.

The trouble with Amazon boxes is that unless you address them to, say, HappyBirthdayAuntie or some such there’s no way to know it’s from someone else if your orders overlap.

She opened it (not knowing it wasn’t time to yet), fully expecting…

Her face. Dumbfounded. She showed it to me. My turn. (Thinking, You didn’t–did you??) I went, Is that…!?

It was. She is now the proud owner of pj’s of colorful unicorns dancing sprightly across a bright pink background. (This would be a novel application of color for her before we even talk about the graphics.)

Me: “Lillian picked it out.” I was so sure. And so proud.

Michelle grinned back: “Just as likely Mathias.”

Because at three and five, bright happy unicorns are everything one could ever hope for.

(Update: an old friend of hers in New Zealand confessed it was her.)

This one or that one
Wednesday March 29th 2023, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Caramel pecan-topped brownies, dairy free, for the one who didn’t think she wanted anything highly caloric while I was baking tortes for the dinner last night so having butter in them was fine. But the whiffs of baking chocolate…and so today was round two. It was only fair.

Meantime, I have a problem. I’ve fallen for a cooktop from a company that makes commercial kitchens and the lifetime-warranted cookware to go with, multiple patents, etc etc etc and apparently they only recently branched out into the residential kitchen market. It all sounds so good.

But there are no reviews to be found. Only their own descriptions of how excellent and award-winning their customer service is. Given how completely Thermidor messed us over and left us with a half-useless expensive cooktop that should have been repaired under the warranty but was refused, this matters a lot–assuming Hestan lives up to their words.

Which they would have to if no one outside the restaurant business has heard of them and they’re trying to break into a new market. Customer satisfaction is a great, and greatly undertested marketing maneuver. Make a good product, stand behind it, get good publicity. It doesn’t have to be hard.

I’m hoping that’s a point they want to make and not just wishful thinking on my part.

I’m open and eager for all opinions on the subject. Tell me what you think.

So glad we went there first (no they didn’t have it)
Saturday March 25th 2023, 2:51 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Lupus

There was some unusual ingredient to be hunted down and we decided to make a mother-daughter quest of it. We found ourselves at a large grocery that had underground parking–always a nice thing for the sun impaired.

She headed up the stairs that wound around the glass elevator and I followed.

Changing altitude and direction at the same time are not my damaged brain’s strong point, not to mention with a wall moving up and down on the left, and as two people came out of the garage behind us I scrunched up to the side and told them not to wait for me.

The man did a slight nod and hurried on past.

The older African-American woman looked at me with my cane and chuckled like an old friend and, holding onto the railing on the other side to make sure she didn’t fall either, accepted the invitation, too. She moved back to the right in front of me in case someone around the corner started coming down.

I found myself figuring out how to catch her as we continued up the steep steps–not that I thought I’d have to nor that I would be much good at it.

So. We did our bit of shopping and headed for checkout. I do not do self-checkouts. I do not enable the doing away with what was once a decent middle-class job and I certainly have no problem with paying a few cents more on my groceries to take better care of their workers.

And there was our stair climber with her impeccable manicure and lovely braids.

Something, I have no way to know what, had happened.

I caught her wiping away quickly at an eye and the expression on her face and knew I had to do something as I was putting my wallet away and my purse was sitting there in front of me unzipped. To somehow be the friend I would be if we knew each other, while wishing we did. (Not that one… Oh that’s perfect.)

Have a fish! I said to her as I put a bright cheerful pink finger puppet that some knitter in Peru had made with white stripes knitted into its slightly wavy fins and tail into her hand. Tiny stitches on that one, lots of detail. Quite pretty.

Instantly her expression changed to one of disbelief and delight and she marveled at the handwork in the little thing.

Happy Birthday! I told her as we grabbed our bag of that’s-not-what-we-came-for-but-it’s-fun-stuff and headed back towards that staircase and the next store. Which had the ingredient.