Build-a-nest kit
Friday March 17th 2017, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

It looks bigger if you gather it round like the curve of the needles. I’m on the second of three eight-ounce balls. As long as it beats the baby here it’s all good.

I was about six ounces into it a few days ago when I realized that the pattern I’d picked and what I was actually knitting don’t look like they have any connection, because I… And then I kept… How did I not see that I… Eh. So it’s unique.

Meantime, a full month behind the Bewick’s wrens doing this, the chickadees (ours are the chestnut-backed variety) dove into the dog fur today again and again and again all day long, at one time managing to lift what looked like an entire pile–briefly, and I wish the camera had caught that millisecond. No way, and it put most of it back for now. It was comically wobbly heading off.

In Alaska, where the forecast is zero degrees tonight and warm wool a good idea, our daughter reported that her cat cuddled up next to her–but was then flummoxed that her stomach was kicking it.



Giving us the birds
Wednesday March 15th 2017, 10:56 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Knitting a Gift,Life

My baby Parfianka Pomegranate, the two-year-old Indian Free peach, and the yearling Baby Crawford that’s too young to let fruit but whose flowers will serve the other nicely.

And the first 8 oz skein of Washington Circle Worsted, done. (I might be able to squeeze one last row out of that.)

Two days of having the net down except for a few brief blips made for lots of knitting time. Also icing of hands.

As I was walking around the yard this evening, trying to capture these trees being young and small (or not so small in the case of the IF), I was surprised to see chunks of dead wood on the ground over there near the kids’ old climbing tree.

I don’t know if I have a photo for real or just in my head, but, when our kids were young the two older ones threw a long hose again and again up and over one of its upper branches (before it grew too big) and improvised their own swing out of it. Never mind that we had an old swingset at the time; this was way more fun. Because they’d made it. In a tree. Be like a bird. It was a playground unto itself in their childhoods.

As they got older and more in need of their individual spaces we added a bedroom too close to that tree and it gradually grew over it. Richard and I quite a few times heard the thud in the night of a raccoon dropping off a branch and landing overhead and ambling around, with paw prints in the morning across the bathroom skylight like a two-stage verification process.

And then there was that notable year when the nocturnal black beetles that favored that type of tree dropped down through the heating vent and landed on my head at night. This was before we found out there were breaks in the heating system up there that gave them that pathway from the tree. OUT!!!

And so we cut that side of the tree off, and I would have told them to take it all–but Richard remembered the climbing tree days and he couldn’t quite bear to erase the thing.

Alright, so at least we got it away from our bedroom.

There is a big knot hole where one of the larger branches was taken out.

Between it and the house is where I found those chunks of dead wood.

When we bought this house, the sellers had cut down two white-fly-stricken Modesto ash trees (the third lived seven more years) leaving stumps about eight feet high. Why, we did not know–till we found we had woodpeckers nesting in the cavity just below the v-shaped top of one of them.

Richard was the first to notice it. And that the parent birds never flew directly to it; they zigzagged here and there, mostly over in the tall still-living tree next to it, before dashing into the hole at the last–where, from a respectful distance, the tall guy could put our children on his shoulders one by one to see the parents feeding their babies.

When we added on that bedroom, those stumps, very regretfully, had to go.

And now, around the corner on the other side of that room… There’s a hole gouged out that’s angled sharply down. I’m again not quite tall enough to see into it.

But there are thicknesses of leaves of the still-living tree directly above for the parent birds to catch bugs in and zigzag to their hearts’ content through.

He’s right. The tree stays. Or at least the bottom seven or eight feet of it, after nesting season is over.



That was cold…
Saturday March 11th 2017, 10:21 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

Dear? The milk is… (swish swish swish) crunchy??

(Adjusting the fridge control from arctic to iceberg lettuce.) Well, that’s one way to get a taste of winter in California.

Meantime, here’s the cowl, dry now, as requested.

It’s been two whole weeks since I bought Karida’s bright, deeply saturated blue superwash merino at Stitches–the Washington Circle colorway–and it got to me at last and I started the receiving blanket I’d bought it for. We’ll call it the carry-around project by way of excuse, or at least while it’s still small, but I had to at least get it begun. It would not let me be till I did.

It is somehow a surprise (and not) that there are only two months left before we’re due to meet the little guy. And in Alaska, even in May, he’ll need a blanket that’s just his size.

 



A new generation
Tuesday March 07th 2017, 11:26 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Wildlife

Storms and squirrels and who thought it was a good idea to run that thing over their tree? Chomp. The Comcast guy came tonight, after I had no internet all day, and pronounced the cable full of water.

Remember that day when part of our road was flooded so we ran off to the phone store in the other direction to update to the new cheaper plan because nobody in their right mind would be out in that, so we wouldn’t have to wait? (The storm where they evacuated 1400 people in San Jose by boat, as it turned out. Yow.)

Richard tonight said that because of that his phone was now a hotspot so, here, and he set it up: I can blog tonight while waiting for the new cable to be installed in the morning after the guy gets permission to go into the neighbors’ yard again; 8:30 pm was a little late to knock on their door and then climb up that pole.

The skunks are breeding out there somewhere in the dark and would surely love the interruption… Nah, I’m with him. Come back tomorrow.

If it were July Adele would be sending him off with homegrown tomatoes. It’s a shame it doesn’t rain in July.

Meantime, a Cooper’s hawk landed on the fence this afternoon and then hopped on down and stared into the bushes, cocking her head this way and that: I KNOW you’re in there! Come out and let me grab a bite!

The juncos, finches, wrens, towhees, and white-crowned sparrows kept from panicking and outwaited her and she took off.

This was the best look I’ve gotten at the newcomer yet. The juvenile markings were fading but not quite gone.



Fancy meeting you here
Monday March 06th 2017, 11:13 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,Life

It’s always the prep that is so fun. (Me, I never ever ever have to do it again. There have to be some perks.)

They called us yesterday and asked could we come in at 12:30 instead?

Two hours earlier and get it over with faster? Sure!

We got there 12:15ish and after checking to make sure I would stay to drive him home, they were quizzical as to why we there there at that hour. You’re not supposed to be here till 2:30, nobody told us it was changed…

But they never gave us a definitive yes or no after saying they would go check and the result was that we simply stayed and waited it out.

He got in later than the original time, as it turned out, and in the end I was the last person by quite some time in the formerly crowded waiting room still waiting for a patient. Even the receptionist had left. After three and a half hours of knitting cables my hands had to bail and I pulled out some reading.

But meantime, the doctor who was to do the scope did quite the double take when she saw me first: she was my new *GI doctor (our longtime one had retired.) “How are you?!” She introduced herself to Richard, and then as a knitter herself just had to ask quickly about that project in my hands. She was so excited for Nash.

Richard recovered quickly from the anesthesia–he always does–and they had me wait by the exit. And as I sat there, a familiar face went by while it took me almost a heartbeat too many to think of her name. But it came to me and I called it out just as she stepped out of sight behind the door she’d opened, hoping I got it right and thinking that if I didn’t she would just think I’m talking to someone else coming up behind or something.

She stepped right backwards with, Yes?

And then she recognized me. She was another one of the doctors who had taken care of me in the hospital when I was so ill.

How long has it been?!

Me, holding my arms out: You were pregnant.

Her: ’09, then! Wow, you look great! You were in the hospital!

Me: Was the baby a boy or a girl?!

Her: A girl, and she’s eight now, and has a little sister. And I love your scarf! I wear it every year at the (Renaissance? if I heard right) Faire. And I had it on just the other day, and thank you! I love it!

And here I was thinking there was no way she could remember someone who wasn’t even her patient except during rounds. I’m so glad the timing of the day led to my being right there just as she was leaving and had a moment to reconnect.

 

*Note to Warren: At Stitches, when I fondled your project and asked if it was Woolstock and you exclaimed, “You’re good!” Woolstock is what I knitted up when I went to see my new GI after my old one retired, and the first thing she did was ooh and aah over the feel of it, and then over how it was the perfect color for her. I have no idea what I used for the other doctor (wait–I think baby alpaca) but I know she likes hers, too!



It’s, um, big.
Sunday March 05th 2017, 12:00 am
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

What those letters needed was to be squooshed together a bit.

What cable work does is to decrease the width by about a third. I was afraid cabling directly below would ripple the nameplate area, but the only thing to do was to find out.

The nameplating took 27 stitches, which neither four nor eight divide into,  so I threw a p1 k1 p1 at the center. Hey! I like that! Chipper by the dozen and away we go.

Honeycomb across the back, because that is the predominant pattern in the sweater my mom made my dad as we slowly drove around the entire country the summer I was ten (Maryland/Texas/Mexico/California/Canada and every national park between, and home again); I coveted it enough to learn to knit that trip. I put honeycomb into my own husband’s sweater years later as a particular I-love-you.

Okay, so, 9″ long, 7.5+” across with most of the first skein done, both densely knit (to help hold stuff in) and able to stretch (oh goody, all the more goodies) because of the ribbed dividers. I’m thinking another 9″ down, proportionately, at least, but I’m totally making it up as I go along.

And it occurred to me as I was knitting. Y’know… We could do a hat and the stocking both at once. You want that name right side up, right? Doesn’t have to be at the bottom of his head, right?

Alright then: given that it’s got plenty of give right now to wear as a hat, finish the entire stocking, turn the bottom half inside out going upwards, tuck the foot into the space between the now-outside NASH part and the inside liner part that is the lower half of the leg of the thing, and tadaah! A really strange but warm hat. Bounce around in that awhile and you’ll be foot: loose and fancy, freed.



Back back back
Friday March 03rd 2017, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

And back some more. While it looked like random sprinklings of color I forgot the H. Rip again. It took me the afternoon to get a half dozen rows done while I figured out what I was doing/designing/too many choices. Aran sweater style, okay, so I increased in every third stitch to have the width match the ribbing all the way down (that was probably too many but no kid is going to complain that his Christmas stocking is too big.) This pattern sequence to fit that many stitches on the needle. Got it.

After five tries I was finally on my way. The woman who can’t follow charts tried to follow a chart, the eight designated rows mysteriously became ten, and the end result is that I am definitely going to embroider on an extra white stitch at the upper bottom left of that S so it doesn’t look like it’s tripping over itself like I do.
So yes, I wrote his name upside down and backwards after all.

If I don’t like how the duplicate-stitching comes out I’ll rip it back through two-thirds of the name; the mid-lines across the A and the H don’t line up because I forgot, from that angle, that the A needed one. That is not of itself enough cause to rip.

We’ll see how fresh eyes perceive it in the morning.

Oh, and? Since it was done in the round there had to be a new strand of white at the beginning every row. I halfway solved this by leaving the end so long that there was no question but that it would be enough for the next time across, and so I had half as many ends to weave in afterwards as if I’d started with a whole new strand every single time.

Edited: done. Oh that’s much better. One stitch.



Tip-toe
Thursday March 02nd 2017, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

Yesterday’s project. Classic Elite Chateau, 70/30 baby alpaca/bamboo, one impulse skein from Green Planet. It came out a little generous for a hat so I made it a cowl instead.

We just got word that we were exposed to viral meningitis Sunday. The person who came down with it is a whole lot sicker than either of us–she ended up in the hospital. But she’s home now and I wish her a speedy recovery and am extremely grateful she went in in time.

(Pardon me while I selfishly go YOW a moment, hoping we dodged that one.)

So. I got started on a Christmas stocking for a cousin’s teenage son who wished he had one like his brothers; theirs had been knit by their Nana before she died whereas he hadn’t been born yet.

I was being pretty pleased with myself at how that ribbing at the top looked and I started counting stitches per letter to start knitting in his name.

And suddenly realized I would have to knit them upside down and backwards. Yes, I could figure it out. Not tonight. My brain is done for the day.

It actually would fit as a hat and I’d been thinking all along that it would be fun to surprise his mom as well as him with a set like that. I have plenty of yarn.

I think I need to find me a good toe-up sock pattern but I’ve only ever done them top-down. Any suggestions of what I should know first?



Shark it to me shark it to me shark it to me shark it to me
Tuesday February 28th 2017, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Life

Photo: our Santa Rosa plum doing a popcorn impersonation.

Meantime, me: (suppressed grin, sheepish look on face) I think I blew it.

Him: (intrigued–okay, what’s up) You blew it?

Me: Um. Yes. (And then I spilled.) The insurance broker? They send out an email every month that’s a drawing for tickets to a game. A few times a year I hit reply, which is all you have to do to enter, and I, um, won. Got a nice note from Chris with it, since we’ve been his clients for lo these thirty years now. The Sharks game.

Him: Two tickets?

Me: (Well of course.) Yes. (Thinking, Sharks. That’s hockey, right? It is. Right? Yeah, I’ve seen the logo, it is.)

Comes with better parking and premium seats and I guess we have to go now, huh? It’s okay, I promise to only bring a small knitting project.



Look, Ma, no needles!
Monday February 27th 2017, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

I already ran the ends in as I went, and yet I still felt like I couldn’t cut them off till I ran them in some more. Especially with the inquisitive little baby fingers soon to come its way.



Hesperian-ward
Thursday February 23rd 2017, 11:54 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

The cowl was Stitches-specific; back to the afghan, which still needed those last twenty-four rows of ribbing and for me to stop basking in the glorious feeling of being done with all the color work and to tell myself, it’s Not. Done.

I got the first thirteen rows in and had to give my hands a break. Well, I thought, if I don’t finish, it would be fun to work on it at Stitches–but then I’d have to carry it around all day.

Meantime, our son flew into town on business just for today and not only did he have time to get together with us for dinner after all, he messaged that he’d gotten done early. And so he took the train down and I took the car up and got him and then we went and picked up my husband and all of us went out for a good meal. There is no better excuse than family in town.

I started checking the hour as we finished our dinners. Maybe we should think about getting going… I felt antsy about the time even though we seemed to have plenty.

We took a short walk around downtown in the cold (it’s 33F now) to work off some of those calories and for them to look for a shop my husband kept expecting to see right in the next block.

What time was your flight home?

We piled into the car and turned on Waze. Turned out the freeway to the airport was at or close to a dead stop nearly the whole way–there’d been an accident.

And so it directed us along the scenic route that I had always suspected had to exist but had never had reason to look for before. That portion that should have been fifteen or twenty minutes in normal life took us an hour and a half to get around–but that was a lot better than for the people still stuck in all that and it made it so he did catch his flight home. It was a close call but he made it.

Someone out there had a much rougher time of it. I hope they’re okay.

To everybody coming to Stitches, may your travel be safe. Oh and just to Camelot it for you we canceled the storm we were supposed to have this weekend. Instead of a definite inch they’re now forecasting a chance of, if there’s anything, .18″ from Saturday through Monday. It will, however, be brisk.



I got it
Wednesday February 22nd 2017, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

Today, the sun was shining.  And as I drove, I kept marveling at how easy it all was…

I got Richard to work. I got two packages mailed off. I got to the clinic and picked up a prescription. I got home and ate a bite. I found the lost tomato seeds so I can get them started (it had been bugging me for days. They were right there where I’d looked five times because I was sure I’d put them there–I had.) I got to the audiologist’s and got my hearing aids cleaned in anticipation of Stitches and needing to hear as best as possible. I got bird food. I got clear across San Jose from downtown Los Gatos to the place that sells scooter batteries (Stitches…), because mine are dead after two years, and then drove four cities’ more to get to Costco and then home.

I got Richard again.

And then I got in three and a half hours’ knitting time on a cowl that had been half done and I got it blocked. It is done.



Phoning it in
Monday February 20th 2017, 11:37 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

It is brutal out there. We’re not near a creek and we’re above the flood plain near the bay so we figure we personally are okay–as long as that big tree doesn’t fall on our bedroom.

Michelle was off with a friend and when she came home she said that our street was well under water two blocks away and that they’d had to go around the neighborhood to drop her off.

A few hours later, with it still raining nonstop, we looked at each other: anybody in their right mind would absolutely stay home. Richard had, working from home rather than risking driving under those leaning waterlogged eucalyptuses en route.

And so… The three of us drove out of here the one way we could still go. There was a Verizon store a mile away, and Verizon had recently offered a new family plan that was not only cheaper than what we had, it offered unlimited text/call/data service for each phone unlike what we currently had. Since nobody on earth would want to be out in this, it would be the one day the store wouldn’t be swamped with people trying to change to that new plan while the offer lasted.

It helped that we couldn’t think of any place between here and there that the water would seriously collect in, and that turned out to be true.

We were third in line but that line went fast, even though the workers there were occasionally pacing up to the windows and looking out on the storm–I just hoped none of them had a long commute in that.

We actually got in and out of a phone store and home again in well under an hour with the thing done. Even when that included discussing options on replacing my iPhone 4s and one other phone on that plan. (We did keep the ones we’ve got for now.)

I guess it literally paid to be a little crazy.



Soggy serial
Sunday February 19th 2017, 11:50 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Three and a half inches of rain due in the next 24 hours and more after that. It’ll be interesting to see if we get any peaches off those early blossoms.

Michelle is home for the weekend and talked me into trying out this almond cake recipe. I used a tablespoon less butter (because it seemed so much), a little more almond paste because why not use it all up, and added a half teaspoon of almond extract after taking a poll and getting two enthusiastic votes yes on the extract.

She was right–that one is definitely company-worthy.



Boots me
Sunday February 19th 2017, 12:00 am
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life,Non-Knitting

Okay, this is silly.

Wait–back up a bit. When I was home from college over Christmas break when I was 19 or 20, my dad surprised me by telling me he was going to take me shopping for a pair of boots for Christmas; he knew it would be my first pair ever. It was cold and snowy where I was going to school and he wanted my feet nice and warm. Besides, hey, boots!

Took me a moment to get over the shock. My dad. Wants to take a daughter. Shoe shopping. Brave man.

What I ended up with was inexpensive waterproof synthetic ones. One, because I knew the folks had three kids in college that year, and two, because trying to buy my feet anything was hopeless anyway, so once I found something, anything, that I could at all get my feet into I knew that was as good as I was going to get and the fact that these were waterproof seemed practical. Finding something that actually fit my 6.5EE and high arch was completely out of the question.

Back at school, I found my feet hurt pretty fast wearing those and I only wore them to get from my apartment to campus. And only a few times, with regret at not letting my dad push me to try harder. I should have skipped getting those altogether, which I’d known all along but I just couldn’t let him completely down.

Fast forward to when I had kids in elementary school. The PTA in our school district ran, at the time, a wardrobe exchange in order to pass clothes on to those less well off, while covering for their pride by presenting it as a way to offer warm clothes for those going to Tahoe who only needed to rent snow clothing those few days out of the year. Wash them, bring them back, done.

So anybody could rent outfits for their kids for a few bucks and anyone in the school district could buy them for about that who needed to. The funds went to cover the rented trailer they ran the operation from.

So I brought in some warm outgrowns for the cause one fine day.

Someone had donated these shearling-lined horsehair boots that look like a Westie terrier about to be told to get down off that chair. I thought they were hilarious and tried slipping one on, and then the other, and by golly I could actually get my feet in them! What a great Halloween costume! Besides, my oldest was getting to the age where it was my job to embarrass her, right?

The woman was incredulous. You LIKE those?! Nobody checks those out. They’ve just sat there forever. You want them? Take them!

Well, that wasn’t quite fair, so I went home and got those old tall rubbers and exchanged them pair-for-pair. They were happy, I was happy. The fact that I wear European 37 and these were stamped 39 40 on the bottom–US 8-9.5–three full sizes too big, no wonder I could get them on.

But those polyurethane ones from back in the day left a lasting impression: I don’t do boots. Period.

Although I sure wished I did when I was in DC January a year ago and it was five degrees out with a strong wind and we were trying to hike the C&O Canal in the cold (not for very long).

And then there was my younger daughter’s enthusiasm. “Boots! Cute Boots! You need cute boots!”

As if. Come on, they don’t exist now any more than they did then.

But we had that conversation every so often these past few years and I always wondered if that was actually so.

Recently, she needed some cheering up. And I knew how much she would love it if…it couldn’t hurt to look…

I went to a specialty shoe store that advertised wide widths. No dice. I searched Birkenstock’s online store. Their American importer? Nope.

And then I found a German Birkenstock store. They had a few pairs left of a now-discontinued style. I knew that ordering from Germany was going to cost me a whole lot in return charges if this didn’t work, I had no idea how they would handle it if I did, the cost was in no way cheap but I thought how much Michelle would love it. I thought about getting to tell my 90-year-old Dad that, hey, Dad! I did it! I finally got those boots you wanted for me all that time ago!

And so I took a deep breath and typed what I needed to type.

They came yesterday.

I put one foot in. I put the other foot in. Walked a few steps. And then just about shouted to the rooftops, THEY FIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

They’re not high boots, they’re more like high top sneakers, but wearing something above the ankle is a whole new thing here as it is. The doctor who treated my broken bones in November wanted me to be wearing something like this instead of clogs, and there you go.

I keep laughing at the name of the boot: I have a Bartlett pair.

We heard a thunk this afternoon, and opening the door, I found a box: it said New Balance. The mailman hadn’t even driven his truck away before I read the label, laughed, and started walking next door. He saw me and was startled–Did I–?

No problem, I laughed, it just helps me keep in touch with the neighbors.

Jim opened at my knock and I handed him his box. “Those aren’t my shoes, mine came yesterday,” pointing at my feet, and he laughed.

I wonder if he was as excited about his as I was about mine. I mean, you just don’t want to miss out.