Climb every mountain
Friday August 16th 2019, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,LYS

Went to Fillory to hang out and knit among friends for awhile and it suddenly hit me that wait–this thing is actually somehow almost done!

It’s taller than wide already. It’s certainly stretchy, but in its relaxed state it’s about 41″ wide, whereas I usually consider 45″ square to be the minimum for a receiving blanket.

I didn’t know when I started it small that I would be able to find more of not only that discontinued yarn but that dye lot–and I had no idea those little 50 gram balls would go as far as they have. But then, this is a much smaller blanket than the monster 1700g Rios one was. It’s for the baby to drag around behind her once she’s walking and to take everywhere she goes, and you don’t want big nor bulky for that.

It is 70/30 baby alpaca/mulberry silk. Super soft, not super practical, and yet it leaped onto my needles that first day and demanded to be for that granddaughter.

One friend held it today and swooned at the softness and totally made it feel like I’d gotten it just right–she had no way to know how much she was helping.

I debated out loud about adding an edging; the consensus was, it’s fine as is, especially for a drag-around lovie.

I’m still torn. Maybe add just at the sides rather than all the way around? Because small as it already is, it’s going to go through the hand wash cycle in their laundry.

Where the baby alpaca will want to shrink the fabric. Whereas the soft single-ply spinning means the 30% mulberry silk will make the yarn want to stretch out, most likely lengthwise. Plus there’s the lace parts, which will flatten out wider and who knows how that’ll come out.

The middle part is knitted mostly solid to give a sense of the immense height of the snowy Alaskan mountains above–but also for there to be no yarnover holes right where it’s most wrapped around that baby in that climate.

Really the only answer is to give it a quick rinse and blocking when the main part is done and see what size it is then and call it from there.

But I’m finally at the point where that is something I get to worry about now and it actually surprised me.

Somehow I am only at the start of the tenth ball and there were twenty-one. If disaster strikes and she needs a new lovie like the old lovie (good luck with that–this was seat-of-the-pants designing all the way) I’ll be able to make one. If I don’t add that edging.

Remind me if that does happen, that on that chart I (mostly) used for the moose, I added a stitch’s width to its muzzle because it looked too deer-like.

I’m pretty happy with this.



And it’s the week the Kit Donnells are in. Woot!
Saturday August 10th 2019, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Knit

Hey, Mom, wanna go to Andy’s Orchard with my friend and me?

YES!

I sat in the back as they caught up in the front seat (her dear friend just moved here a week ago) and just about finished the back of the baby sweater a mile from home.

Kit Donnells are some of the best peaches out there–and one of Andy’s creations.

On a total non sequitur, I was mentioning to Holly a few minutes ago about a message Richard got in the early days of DARPAnet, the precursor to the internet.

So I had to go find it: the fractured fairy tale Ladle Rat Rotten Hut. Enjoy.



A shot in the arm
Thursday August 08th 2019, 10:13 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Went to pick up a prescription and there was a banner above the pharmacy window: Vaccinations.

So I asked, not quite daring to actually hope: did this mean they finally had Shingrix in stock?

They did! As of today they had the latest flu shot, too!

This early?!

Yup!

Note that we have a baby in the family scheduled to be delivered weeks short of full term.

I did ask if I would need a booster later if I got the flu one now and was assured by the pharmacist that no, it would be effective for the whole year.

So I filled out the paperwork, waited while they did the insurance company thing, and knitted, glad for the small project in the purse given that I had expected none of this.

Just before the pharmacist gave me a shot in each shoulder she happened to mention that that was their last dose of Shingrix.

I had been trying to get one for over a year. I’ve heard so many friends tell horror stories of what their shingles was like: intense, unrelenting pain for six months, one whose husband went blind in one eye, another who was hit with it twice.

After all that time spent fervently hoping I not get it while waiting for the vaccine to finally be available, and then the extra of being able to go through airport crowds and not have to worry about bringing the grandchildren the flu, to which I am highly susceptible–I tell you, I walked out of there so very very happy that after I got home I even told every single spammer on the phone, warmly, to have a nice day, even though the ringing has been relentless of late. The ones that were actual human beings I decided needed a little humanity shown them, because how often do they get that.

Now we just have to find one of those doses for my husband. I don’t know if all the CVSs received stock or just the local one. Sorry I hogged it, dear.



Mass-delivery cherries
Tuesday August 06th 2019, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Our cherry season is over, so these weren’t local but when I saw them at Costco I fell for them.

Funny how you can tell yourself in the grocery store that it doesn’t really take that much time to make a fresh cherry pie when you really want one.

It does.

I overfilled the 10″ pan, wanting to use all three pounds and be done with them because (after tasting one) this was the best they could ever aspire to be. I pinched those edges shut, but the pie wasn’t having it. Five minutes before the buzzer went off (I’d set it at maximum time because of the size of the thing) the kitchen was suddenly smoking up big time, and I mean billowing.

I yanked the oven door open, fully expecting flames (nope, just a gray cloud and an escaped cherry and juices sizzling on the floor of it), turned on the fan, and opened windows skylight doors and got a nice quick chat with my neighbors out of the deal.

Richard came home from his errand a few minutes later and walked in going, Did you know something burned? You can smell it down the street.

Naaah. Never would have guessed!

It doesn’t taste smoked. It’s not an Andy’s cherries pie, but it is still definitely cherry pie. Yum.



Unexpected comfort
Sunday July 28th 2019, 10:29 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden

I called my folks and standing there phone in hand was looking out the window when there it was.

I hadn’t seen so much as a bud much less a stalk when I’d watered the amaryllises a few days ago nor did I ever spot it through the window. It was hiding behind quite a few leaves.

I brought it out to where we could all get a better look at it.

On a side note: going to Andy’s Orchard yesterday, my daughter and I were in a long heavy traffic jam and went oh right, it’s the Garlic Festival in Gilroy this weekend. Cool. I can say that yes, I have tasted garlic ice cream, thank you Gilroy! Those people were going to have a good time, but we were quite happy to cut out of that part of the freeway early.

The news tonight is absolutely beyond comprehension.



Totally buffaloed
Saturday July 20th 2019, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit

Buffalo Wool Co is moving to a new mill and dyer and cleaning out old stock. They held a mystery offer: for $20 you would get…yarn. What color or blend or how big a skein would be random and unrefundable, but given the warmth and rarity (not to mention natural machine-washability) of bison fiber that $20 was going to be well spent no matter what you got.

My husband has some of their socks and admitted that he didn’t want to wear any other kind anymore, only theirs, preferably their bison/silk ones.

I splurged and he has six new pair of the bison/silks, despite my knowing that “Mom got me socks for Father’s Day” was a line that could live in infamy–except that he really did want them. And he really did appreciate them.

So here I am, I’m seeing that mystery yarn thing, I passed on the chance so that other people could have what few skeins those might be at this point because hey, I have more than my share of good things.

And then, closer to moving time, my friends Ron and Theresa from Stitches and whom I adore ran that offer again.

This time my greed got the better of me before the day was over.

The package came.

It seemed…dense.

You guys!!!!!

It’s the bison silk. Nearly two thirds of a pound in laceweight.

I feel like I just won the yarn lottery.



And Shaun jammies too
Friday July 19th 2019, 9:16 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

A lot of companies won’t ship to Alaska. But they’ll ship to me. If I ship it in my own box it’ll cost a small fortune, but if I go to the post office and use one of their all-you-can-fit-in Priority boxes it’s the same cost as to anywhere else.

We have a two year old devotee of all things Shaun the Sheep, the show spun off from the Wallace and Gromit movies.

Guess what he got today.



27 months
Saturday July 13th 2019, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

FaceTime.

Again!

We sang ABCDEFG again.

A delighted, Again! (I noted that he no longer sternly pouts No No No at the inclusion of TUV.)

He was loving this. Again!

Umpteen more rounds.

Then Wheels On The Bus. Shaun the plush Sheep went round and round, up and down, and moved on back.

Again! He giggled at how fast Shaun wiggled his ears at the up and then plunged out of sight from the camera so fast on the down.

Again!

As many rounds as you want, honey, for as long as you want during this brief time in your life in which you do. That’s what grandparents are for.



It’ll wrap around someone just a bit smaller
Friday July 12th 2019, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

Every knitter needs a UFO stash.

No, seriously.

So: about three, four years ago? While visiting with a cousin of mine, she clearly had something on her mind but couldn’t quite say it. She almost–but no.

We were about to leave for the airport. She knew this was her last chance and she could only ask such a thing in person, if even then, where she could see my reaction and back off fast and apologize.

I could see those wheels turning and grinned. Out with it!

There was suddenly an even more tortured look in her face mixed with such fervent wishing.

Knowing who she was and how much I adored her I added, Of course I’ll knit it, before she’d even answered.

Which is exactly what she was hoping for while knowing it was too much to ever ask so she wasn’t going to. But she was about to move to England and she didn’t have anything really against all the cold rain she anticipated there….

A scarf and a hat? Sure! Color? Purple? What kind of purple?

Oh I like all purples!

(Well, that doesn’t exactly nail it down…)

So I found some purple yarn, and it was Malabrigo, which I love, so, I bought it.

And it was Arroyo, which I quickly found I didn’t love when I was going to have to do a whole long wrap around your neck it’s cold here and it might not be warm enough and then I’d have to do a hat, too, and then worry the same things about it. I wasn’t the least bit sure that that hand-dyed aspect was her thing. Solid was a safer bet. So I found a thicker, worsted-weight very soft plain-purple yarn with some cashmere added to the wool that I wouldn’t have known about nor found had it not been for her request and she got a lovely set that she adores.

And a bunch of other people got nice things made out of that yarn before it was discontinued.

I still had the beginnings of that Arroyo.

Many times I thought about ripping it out so I could use the needles for something else but that would have meant my hours spent making something perfectly nice but not yet useful were worth less than a $7 pair of cheap ones. So, lacking some better immediate use for that yarn, it stayed.

Until today.

I picked up a few dresses I’d bought for the baby to get an idea on pattern sizing, which answered my question as to whether I needed to continue the lace part further: no.

I went down two needle sizes and started ribbing, because babies grow and ribbing stretches. I decreased for the armhole edges, then eventually at the neck, on up to the shoulders, and there you go: the front of one baby sweater, about six months size. Easiest fastest start to a project ever.



Let there be purple!
Wednesday July 10th 2019, 7:45 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

Hear ye, hear ye: be it known, that at 5:44 pm Pacific the two alternating strands were cast asunder from yonder baby afghan and the US 7s put aside with the knitting pronounced Finished, on this the day of my sister’s having finished her 58th year on this beautiful planet Earth, blessed be its wool.

The afghan shall hereafter be known by her name in her honor. (Well, for today, anyway, I’ll let the kids do whatever they want with it. Let me just go run in those 32 skein ends first.)

Happy Birthday, Anne!



Blessed were the five year olds
Saturday July 06th 2019, 9:16 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Garden,Life

We lost the earlier pomegranates to, as far as I could tell, the serious windstorm we had in the spring, so it was nice to see some new ones starting out.

And then I found this big one hiding.

Looks like something straight out of New Orleans, doesn’t it?

But the story of the day is that Michelle stopped by and, wanting an ingredient she can no longer buy at the much-missed Milk Pail, asked if I’d like to go to the little boutique grocer in the other direction with her?

Sure! Haven’t been in there in ages!

But then I found myself needing to do just one thing before we left, and then another, and oh that, too, while she waited patiently. It’s not like we were going to be gone a long time, she could have pushed me. But instead, it was a happy, No hurry.

We compared notes afterwards and turns out that as I dithered, both of us began quietly wondering if we would run into someone. There was something of a sense of anticipation.

We were almost done in there when there was this sudden three-way exclamation of surprise and recognition and arm-throwing-hugging and joy, pure joy.

Ginny, retired now, is a master teacher and all four of my kids were extremely fortunate to have her. Me, too, for that matter. For just one example, I learned from my oldest the visual rule of three in a composition. She mentioned it to me as an oh everybody knows that as she pointed out its elements in her drawing.

Now, I’m the daughter of an art dealer, I spent several summers of my childhood museum-hopping across the country with my family, and I had somewhat intuited it but had never had it explicitly spelled out in my life. The moment was a revelation to me.

Ginny taught my five-year-old who taught it to me: the eye is pleased with images it can divide into threes subconsciously. This is why a photo that is split straight in half looks off, somehow. Why two-button polo shirts always feel wrong. You need an odd number. Starting with three.

Which is why I tried to fix the pomegranate photos above because hey, Ginny’s probably going to see those, but the program burped. Never mind.

She wanted to catch up on each of the kids, and me, and I wanted to on her and her twins-plus-twins grandkids. I told Michelle the story of going to the fifth grade teacher’s funeral and afterward, a tall man who was carrying an easel with a flower arrangement to help put it away started approaching us and Ginny gave me a heads-up that we needed to get out of the guy’s way.

I said, Ginny. That’s my son.

The shock and exclamation of delight and at 6’9″ he wasn’t a kindergartner anymore, wow!

Michelle grinned.

Turns out Ginny recently lost one of the great friends of her life, and we grieved with her. I wish now I had asked her a whole bunch of questions about her friend and I certainly should have, but I was trying not to take up all of her time in the middle of a narrow aisle in a store when she surely had other things to do.

I think of all the children, and all their parents, to whom she has made all the difference in the world. The classroom where, when a child needed to calm down, they got sent to the little curtained off enclosure she’d made where they raised butterflies, where a Monarch they had helped sustain from its earliest stages could land on their shoulders and another on their outstretched hands when they just needed a moment alone like that.

I wonder how many adults out there now are looking back on those days and planting milkweed. To befriend life back. She taught us so well.



They took a long time to fill
Friday July 05th 2019, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Knit two afghan rows, make myself put it down and do something else for twenty minutes for my hands’ sake, repeat. That’s been the pattern for lo these many days.

Which is how I quit knitting and saw the note on Facebook from my friend Michelle in San Diego. We met when her fussy toddler was made happy by a finger puppet at Lisa Souza’s booth at Stitches years ago.

I went straight to the USGS site. From 8:16 to 8:50 pm tonight, there were four earthquakes where yesterday’s was in southern California: 5.0, 7.1, 5.5, 4.9. Felt from Mexico to San Francisco to Sacramento. (We didn’t.) Yow. That last one happened in between when she posted and when I signed in a few minutes later.

Remember when they took out the concrete floor to the shed to get at the roots after the neighbors cut down the redwood tree a few months ago? We had two water containers, 35 and 50 gallons, that they had to empty so they could move them out of the way. We’ve been putting off refilling them because we don’t have a new floor to that yet–we were waiting till the neighbors are done with their addition to their house before throwing more contractors’ trucks in this block. We didn’t want to have to empty them again to move them again to have to fill them again. One does not waste water here.

Dude. Four earthquakes in a half hour and the biggest one in twenty years: you know that’s increasing pressure elsewhere in the system.

We did what we should have done from the beginning and, flashlights in hand, washed off the very dirty tops of the lids and refilled those tanks, relieved when we could finally put that second one back on. Done.

The idea of having the storage for a water emergency but with no water in it after such a strong warning was unfathomable. Yes you don’t waste water, but we are so much more than the worth of 85 gallons.

We will rest a little easier tonight knowing that’s done.

Okay, so, back at last to the afghan. I’ve got time for one more row.

(Edit, there was another 5.5 at 9:18. That’s a strong aftershock.)



Independence
Thursday July 04th 2019, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Politics

I was ignoring the booms. He was busy, too.

It took at least a half hour of background sound before he said what I was thinking and together we headed outside. Because it is the Fourth, and because it is what we always do, and so we watched.

You can see the highest of the fireworks over the Bay from behind the neighbors’ trees. No crowds, no cars.

There was a bright red and green one that suddenly seemed for all the world like a line of Christmas lights–being shattered. The promise of the Christ Child, of compassion and love eternal offered freely to all: America’s leader wants no part of that.

We are shattered at those concentration camps where children are being held. Where the workers will be fired if they comfort and hold a child, where they are instead following orders to deny them adequate food, water, changes of clothes or diapers, warmth, sleep, everything.

Where the teenage prisoners love and tend to the small children who were before this strangers to them, and yet not one of our own people has found it within themselves to yell, with or without cameras running, Then go ahead and fire me! I dare you to tell me I can’t hug this crying baby! What is WRONG with you?!

But they don’t. For what? A paycheck? Thirty pieces of silver is a hard, hard currency.

And so those seeking asylum and comfort from us take those smaller children into their own arms while they are still children themselves and they shame us by their grace.

All they ask is that we honor our own asylum laws, as have they, and offer them a fair hearing.

And their parents back.



The little stinker
Tuesday July 02nd 2019, 7:34 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Wildlife

There was a problem with the washing machine at her place so of course we said, sure, c’mon over here.

Her schedule was tight enough that she got a late start at it but it had to be done.

And so it was nearly 11:30 last night when she was reaching down to pick up her hamper of now-clean clothes to take home as I was reaching to open the front door for her when I suddenly shrieked, DON’T OPEN THAT DOOR!!!!

Followed immediately after, it must be admitted, with my inwardly admiring how the colors of the fur kind of melted into each other–it looked marvelously soft. Definitely spinnable. I can see why my brother reached down to pet his roommate’s cat one night years ago, just as he heard his apartment door automatically locking behind him right in the moment he realized that the animal at his feet was not, in fact, a cat.

Having come down the walkway and crossed the doorstep in my moment of !!!, the skunk now went through the open gate just to the side and sniffed at the recycling bin. Then in the direction of the few leftover tomato plants that got plunked in the dirt over there a few months ago because I didn’t know where else to put the extras.

Hey dude. You already ate those. And you pooped on our sidewalk afterwards. At least put it in the garden yourself.

Right. So, no go, and what was that blast of sound? Not caring for that. It turned around and bounced with a jaunty little walk back down the way it had come, a wobble to its step that kind of looked like how a two year old runs. It was absolutely adorable.

One could not tell in the night if it had ducked into the azaleas at the end there or gone under the cars or–? There was just no way to know.

Her: A skunk?! The way you yelled I thought it was a black widow spider!

Me: (gobsmacked.) Would you rather it was a skunk?!

Her: Yes!

Me: (Thinking, but, but, you can’t stomp on a skunk…!)

Her: Because, black widows!

Her: Oh man, what if it gets my clean clothes.

We invited her to crash here for the night, but no could do, starting with contacts solution back at her place. We spent a couple of minutes debating who was the brave one (too soon, too soon) and finally (still too soon, but it was late) Richard proclaimed, I’LL be brave! and grabbed a flashlight to match the one in my hands and we opened the door and basically created late-night hell for the neighbors. We’re HERE (shuffle shuffle shuffle loudly) little skunk, go AWAY! (Shuffle shuffle shuffle) We’re HERE, little skunk, go go go!

Me: Should I look under the cars for it?

Them, in unison: NO!!

She got in her car. Only then did I flash the light and nope, it wasn’t under our car, anyway. She managed to pull out without backing over anything.

Two feet and a pane of glass. I haven’t been that close to a skunk since our honeymoon.



They did it!
Monday July 01st 2019, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Garden,Life

A great big pot of applesauce with a very small blond boy standing over it, grin big and hand wide as if about to do an exuberant splashdown into that tasty goop: it’s not my kid so I’m not putting his face here, but it was a great photo and it made my day.

I passed Ellen’s recommendation on to the mom of the Victorio Strainer¬†so she doesn’t have to cut the seeds out next time, and then promptly ordered one myself so we could both use it when the Fujis come on. My mom used to have something like that all my growing up, only big, metal, and heavy, ¬†essential to her for getting tomatoes to the right texture for chili sauce; my tomatoes have started turning color (bird netting was applied today) and I was feeling nostalgic. Mom, what’s your recipe? I know you told me thirty years ago…

Plus, all those apple seeds.

So we will try out that new toy and hopefully it will last for generations like Mom’s. Thank you, Ellen!