Recovered
Wednesday January 22nd 2020, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit

Cousin John told me about twenty years ago that he was allergic to wool. After his mother’s funeral in May ’18 I gave him a piano hat made of super-soft old-stash Epiphany yarn: royal baby alpaca, cashmere, and silk and no sheep. I’d remembered.

His parents had met playing in the Symphony and he was a gifted musician himself and that keyboard around his head was the perfect design for him. He was in great pain at the loss of his mom, whom he’d been caretaker to, but took much comfort in the offer of that hat and it meant a lot to me to be able to help in any way.

I told John’s sister that if one of the siblings wanted it that was fine with me but if not, I’d love to have it back if at all possible. She hadn’t seen it. I was given the executor’s phone number.
The man sounded absolutely overwhelmed. The loss, the pain, and now the burden. He was horrified to realize that he thought he remembered it but that he was thinking it had probably gone out in the trash with so much else. He apologized. “There was just so. much. stuff.”

I told him he didn’t have to look for it. But if he did find it not to worry at all about what condition it might be in—I would wash it. He didn’t have to. That was on me. And if I didn’t see it again, that’s okay, just know he had my thanks for all he was doing for our John whom he loved, too.

Monday while I was still in town after the funeral his sister Amy stopped by my mom’s house a few hours before I had to leave for the airport. She didn’t know who had found it nor where but she had the hat, she wanted to make sure I got it, and I think she wanted to see how happy it made me to get it back. So much more personal than popping it in the mail later. (She got a Malabrigo Mecha one, picking a pinks-and-purples colorway and leaving the two blue ones for the mechanic I didn’t know I was going to see the next day.)

It takes a fair bit to make animal fibers pick up smells and there wasn’t much of a one (blame the silk?) but there was some and it’s clean and drying now.

All the things that I knit, all the knits that I give away–that one I won’t again. That’s my Blueberry now.

Thank you, Stan out there. And Amy, and I don’t even know who all else to say that to.



Blueberry
Monday January 20th 2020, 11:43 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

It was lovely and heartbreaking and heartwarming and full of music and love and belonging. My sister found a video that’s a close rendition to the last piece offered up at the funeral by the Salt Lake Men’s Chorus, whom John used to play piano for.

One cousin told of her toddler granddaughter’s love for Uncle John, who came by often and taught her to love blueberries when nobody else could get her to touch them. She liked his so much that he brought them every time after that to share some with her.

She was given the little toy stuffed dog he’d cherished as a memory of his mother and promptly named it Blueberry.

She went to sleep still holding it, woke up in the morning still holding it, and with nobody having told her any such thing pronounced:

“Blueberry, Uncle John gave you to me..  It’s okay, I will take care of you. Uncle John is far away, Uncle John is up in the stars.”



Heading out
Saturday January 18th 2020, 11:35 am
Filed under: Family

My cousin John’s obituary.

Just me going this time, some one on one time with my mom as well as the funeral. Back Monday.



Checking out volumes from the yarn library
Thursday January 16th 2020, 11:40 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

Projects. I do them one at a time and keep at it till they’re done.

Except when I’m about to be traveling, in which case forget it. Mecha yarn for airplane knitting, don’t forget the second circular for the tops of the hats, try to match the colors to whom I’ll be seeing and try to leave room for, y’know, the actual clothes in there.

And then a ziplock of no particular glory caught my eye.

In no way was that Rios planned much less thought of: black? Who wants to knit black stitches on a very dark rainy day? But suddenly I was going through my needles looking for short-corded 5s for it.

It had to be that patten. Fair isle, with one color twisted around the other for every single stitch and then the balls needing to be untangled 84 times per row in the midsection of the hat. It challenged my “I can do anything for ten rows.” It always does. I always do it. But not very often.

I’m done with that part now and I really like it.

I started out with it wondering which of my late cousin John’s friends it would be for and how would I even know if it was but shouldn’t I be making this for his three siblings but there’s just the one of it…when halfway through that section there was this definitive lightning-strike moment.

I knew, and how had I ever not known, and of course, and man I’m so glad this is almost done now so that for sure it’ll be ready in time. I’m so glad I had those colors not only in my stash but put together like that, waiting for me to catch up.

Which is all I’m going to say about it quite yet.



SnowDad
Sunday January 12th 2020, 9:23 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

This Calvin and Hobbes strip. One commenter said that Calvin would never forget those moments with his dad.

Amen to that.

My little sister and I were about seven and nine years old. There had been one of the bigger snowstorms we’d ever seen and we were set on making the biggest snowman ever and certainly the biggest one in the neighborhood. I’m pretty sure our older brother was part of it at the beginning.

This was in a neighborhood of five and seven bedroom homes in a predominantly Catholic state and we were all big-family baby boomers: we knew we had our competition close by.

We skunked’em.

Anne and I collected that snow and we rolled and rolled those balls (and I remember a small pang of regret that we were wrecking how pretty the blanket of snow had been in the yard) and after several hours’ work we did, we had the parts to the biggest snowman ever outside our parents’ bedroom window–possibly because that was slightly downhill as the front yard went. Thank you gravity.

But that ball for the middle section: it was ambitious but as we stopped and considered and even tried just a bit there was no way we were going to be able to heft that thing onto the giant bottom ball.

I’m pretty sure I ran inside to ask for help because at that age Daddy could still do anything, but it may be that he looked out the window instead. Either way, he was soon out there with us all bundled up and helping us roll the snowballs for just a bit longer. He declared it good and that it was all big enough.

Combination of, But Dad! and (ohthankyoufinallywecanstopnow).

And then he had a plan.

He disappeared for just a moment towards the shed on the other side of the house and came back with a large wooden plank, and together–it took all of us–we all rolled that middle ball right on up there. We did it!!!

It would have taken a way longer plank than anything around to get the head on that thing, so Dad lifted the smallest one. It was heavy but doable.

Scarf, carrot, eyes, the works. Classic.

Later we saw that some of the kids up the street in both directions had indeed made snowmen, and ours was indeed the biggest.

But then, we had Dad.

And hot cocoa on the stove from Mom when we came inside and stomped our feet and took off our boots on the slate entryway.



Over in the guest room
Saturday January 11th 2020, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Politics

After the scouring to get the mill oils out. I get to tell the new parents that it’s already been washed in water too hot to touch.

The answer to the lace pattern pulling the edge pieces upwards after the cast-on: run in the ends only through there, and then again from the other direction. Weigh them down, add the bulk, it’ll straighten them out and make them stay straight–and they did.

And while I was doing that I worked on the back of the join areas to tug down anything sticking out and it worked. Nice and straight now all around.

I didn’t get a good picture of any of that but I did manage to capture the damp afghan in direct afternoon sunlight.

On a political note, should you be interested, my cousin Jim, formerly a Republican and definitely far to the right of me, had a few things to say. 

 



Cashwool afghan
Friday January 10th 2020, 9:34 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift

Turns out, all it needed was for a Great Big Corporation to put me on hold long enough on speakerphone.

It’s not exactly how I’d do it next time but it’s pretty darn snuggly and good. Note to self: I needed to add a pair of plain rows before going into the lace pattern for the separate edging pieces. That’s obvious now and I should have seen it.

Now to go scour the mill oils out in hot water. I will not, however, run it through the dryer and totally fuzz it out–that’s for the parents-to-be to mess with (or not as they choose), I want to present it at its best.

Note to self: two strands dk Cashwool from Colourmart, size 5.5mm US 9 needles, 183 stitches, 51.5″ wide by 62.5″ long after rinsing but before scouring in hot soapy water, and it took 1125 grams (not quite two and a half pounds) to make. My swatch promises it will not shrink appreciably even in the dryer.

(Note: If you click the Show Items: All button in the upper left on the Colourmart page, you can see the sold-out Lavander (their spelling) color that I used to check against the Violet that’s in stock. Mine’s lighter.)



Basketball?
Tuesday January 07th 2020, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Family

The cousins have been swapping stories, and will do so in person tomorrow night, informally, and I would be there in a heartbeat. But the $600+ for a next-day flight for one person just defeated me.

One memory was from two brothers who are very tall like John, who always wanted to get a t-shirt like he had.

It said: No I don’t. Do you play miniature golf?



Cousin John
Monday January 06th 2020, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

John sent me this selfie, looking up, and it took me awhile to figure out what seemed so odd about it: it’s that I always saw my 6’7″ cousin from well below. The perspective was so different.

His father had Parkinson’s with dementia and his mother was becoming frail; he took them into his own home, and when it became clear that that was a full time job now he quit his to take care of them.

He never married, but his father is why my parents met: our dads served Mormon missions together across French-speaking Europe right after the war. Dad later went to Utah to go visit his close friend David, and David’s little sister heard an unfamiliar voice across the house and ran a few steps back to her room to dress in something nicer and then Mom came back out and met Dad.

Uncle David and Aunt Bonnie met playing in the symphony together, so music was an important part of their and their childrens’ lives. John played piano and French horn.

Uncle David died a few years ago; one year ago, I flew into town for Aunt Bonnie’s funeral.

Everybody wanted to thank John for all that he’d done for them and everybody wanted to rally around him in his loss–what do you do when everything is different now.

He wasn’t one to say much. But if you talked to him you knew he loved you. Period. Everybody. I just got off the phone with my older son who said, Yes, I saw him at Grampa’s funeral in October and we talked for several minutes and he was just the nicest guy.

John mentioned to me about twenty years ago that he was allergic to wool, although, other fibers seemed fine.

There was a cousins-only get-together after the service, a reunion for our generation. I asked John when it seemed a good moment for it if we could step into the other room where the noise level wasn’t quite so bad for my hearing.

He, a bit quizzically, followed me over there.

He nearly cried when I pulled out a keyboard for his head. Baby alpaca, silk, cashmere: no wool. I’d remembered. He was intensely grateful at being thought of, at being seen. He exclaimed in the rawness of his loss, “She was my best friend!” We held each other and I wished I could make it better.

I had no idea from where I lived that that fog of grief never lifted for him and that the depression was spiraling him so far downward. I would have done anything, we all would have. I was stunned when my brother called with the news today. It is unfathomable that my beloved cousin John, the one whose kindness and empathy were why I named my son after him in hopes of raising a man as good as he was, is gone from us.

He had lost how to love himself as much as he loved each of us.

I am gutted.



Lillian
Sunday January 05th 2020, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Family

She’s four and a half months, but gestationally only three and a half. So their showing us surprised me. How is she rolling over that early?

But she is. She’s going to move mountains, that little one.



That one year in Indiana
Monday December 30th 2019, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Someone else got me remembering back when…

I was a new mom, doing the grocery shopping with my first baby sitting in the cart; she was just a bit over a year old.

A woman I’d never seen before and never would again came up to us exclaiming over how cute she was and reached out and felt up her blonde curls and asked me if I’d permed it?

I was too staggered to think of the perfect comeback till much, much later:

So did that mean she thought my baby was a bottle blonde?



Why even people who can’t draw should sketch
Sunday December 29th 2019, 11:25 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift

Ten tall clumps of green that, a hundred years later, would become a fairy ring of redwoods towering above. She grew up in the redwoods, she knows every stage well. A single tree to each side towering alongside the height of the inner section of blooming bougainvillea, then a matching row of those clumps again.

It all sounded good in my head.

I botched I don’t even remember what on the first clumps and so since I was going to have to rip it out anyway, I took it off the needles and spread it out to see if the width matched my gauge swatch while I was at it.

Wow. No.

Well, then, okay, eight clumps.

But then the flowers were going to be too close together. At that point I’d frogged three times and the baby’s due date was looming and it was getting late that night and I didn’t want to think about it, I just wanted the clumps to stay done this time and to ditch the frustration and get the thing finally past that point. So I did. With seven repeats across.

Which is why as soon as I’m done with the fifteenth repeat (might make it sixteen) I am going back to that beginning and snipping a few rows below the line of purl stitches and working the strand carefully out across to drop the bad part off while leaving enough yarn to go back and cast off from.

And then–this is the hope right now, anyway–after a minor blocking to make sure I can get the sideways to match the lengthwise, I’m going to knit two pieces that look like the sides and sew them on to frame the thing all in the same pattern. Fallen redwoods provide a great deal of life in the forest.

Or I could keep it simple and rib the live stitches upwards at the top and downwards from the bottom or just skip all that altogether and leave it plain. Eh. We’ll see how patient I feel at that point and whether the baby comes early.

But that mismatched bottom–it has to go. It kinda hurts to look at, it’s so bad.



There Be Dragons
Saturday December 28th 2019, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Family

With a built-in game of peek-a-boo and a sister to play it with.



For we need a littles’ Christmas right this very minute
Saturday December 21st 2019, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

They’ve had their (allergy-friendly fake) tree up since just before Thanksgiving because Mathias was declaring every pine they passed “Christmas tree!” when they moved to their new state. Whether he remembered that phrase and concept from a favorite book or somehow from last year I don’t know, but in Washington, that’s what the pines all are. He said so.

I’m not quite sure what he’ll make of it when theirs comes back down till next year.

We were on FaceTime and their box had just come. With assurances that everything was wrapped (other than the figs stuffed with peaches stuffed with honey from Andy’s I’d wangled in there at the post office on my way back from his farm), Sam opened it up.

Ooh! Bright! Shiny! Colors!

Mathias took each red or gold one out in delight and had to be reminded not to tear them open yet–so he didn’t. But he put them under the tree, he put them in another box, he toddled off with this or that towards his room, he crinkled and wrinkled and made fun sounds and giggled.

And then he decided it was clean up time. So he put them each back in the box.

Then he took them out and played with them some more and stuffed some in a different box again.

Then he put them away back in our box, only now they were overflowing and there was at least one extra whose wrapping paper sure hadn’t come from our house. But you put away your toys, so he was doing that every time he decided it was time to.

The baby needed attention at last and so we signed off.

A little later a picture popped up on our phones: chocolate, butter, sugar. Mathias was helping his mom make cookie batter and that’s as far as she got before she had to confiscate his shirt before what had missed his face got worse.

I so love two year olds!



Holiday baking
Friday December 20th 2019, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Recipes

Here’s Sunset’s recipe and pretty pictures.

And here’s what my daughter came over and made with me this evening: using TCHO’s 81% for all of the melted chocolate and with peanut butter in the filling. We used Earth Balance because of her dairy allergy, and (quietly) if they came out this good one could only imagine what butter would be like in them.

Like bite size pieces of chocolate torte, is how she described the cookies. Portion-wise, you could almost not feel guilty.