Oh right
Friday August 25th 2017, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift

One of those days of being constantly busy but wondering if I was actually getting anything done. I was, but. It’s just the antsiness before a house guest arrives.

Michelle will get to deliver that baby blanket to her friends in person. (I finished knitting it three weeks ago.)

Maybe I should run that one last yarn end in now…



Mathias saves the day
Tuesday August 15th 2017, 10:58 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life,Lupus,To dye for

The color of the sky, she said. That was her favorite.

I looked over the blues in my stash yesterday, and then again today, willing it to be there. I have some really nice yarns that were close but they just weren’t quite…they were my types of blues, not hers.

I could wind white yarn and haul around dye baths and wait for things to dry and hope I guessed right on amounts or I could go for a little more instant gratification. Besides, I hadn’t seen Kathryn in months and I missed her.

Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco was a hike, but: “Today you can do it–do it today,” I tell myself all the time and I wanted to get started and I wanted to see what Malabrigo had to offer these days (turns out she has a new shipment coming in soon, too) and if anyone in the area had the inventory it would be her. There. Talked myself into it. So off I went.

I wanted superwash for a young mom; she helped me find the most perfect colors of Malabrigo Mechita and I had myself envisioning an entire cowl finished by bedtime.

Yeah as if. But I got to meet her daughter! Too cool that hers is also named Sam–and that it was her birthday.

Came home to a robo-call to pick up my prescription before they returned it to stock. Fudge. That had definitely not been in the plan. Wound a ball of Mechita and headed back out into the early rush hour.

Hit the top of my head, hard, on the car at the pharmacy. Klutz. Had a quiet little freakout to myself over head injuries but seemed to be okay.

Still, it took me a couple of hours to pull myself and my sore head together and actually finally sit down and start knitting, and oh did it ever help. That sweet anticipation as beautifully dyed wool wrapped around wood, again and again and again as I pictured my friend’s face…

My phone buzzed.

Our Sam and her family are in Texas, visiting Mathias’s Great Grandpa. (Where our Alaskan born, on being taken outside into 100 degree heat, was initially stunned: what IS this?! Make it stop!)

After all the news of these past few days–weeks–months–it all comes back to that poster in my obstetrician’s office years ago: “A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.”

Baby giggles, or even just pictures of baby giggles. They make the world whole again.

 



Inside out
Thursday August 10th 2017, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

Add one more fold to the brim with the hat turned inside out and it looks like this.

I realized just in time that I can’t mail it to Alaska quite yet–they’re in Texas visiting Great Grampa. Where the baby decidedly does not need a hat in August.



Rolling with it
Tuesday August 08th 2017, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift

Somebody learned how to roll over today and he was very very proud of himself.

Re the green hat: it matches the cute outfits sent by Aunt-by-love Phyllis but it did not get the spiked dragon tail I was going to knit winding around it and dangling off the end.

It occurred to me just in time what a great cat toy that would make Mathias’s head into.



Baby hat
Monday August 07th 2017, 10:29 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

The beta went home tonight to the family that loves it best–and I will miss watching those beautiful blue-black fins and tail swishing through the water towards my hand as I drop a speck of fish food into its tank. It had a little rock cave to hide out in with a few aquatic plants attached but when I called softly to it it would come out of there and greet me.

Who knew such a tiny thing could be so charming?

Maybe they’ll go on vacation again sometime.

And then I finished knitting this. Maybe. I had been planning to add more to it–but I really like it as is, even with that edge not blocked yet.

Shepherd’s Worsted yarn from Lorna’s Laces. The colorway was a doodle, a one-off that was in a gift bag at a post-TNNA party held at Green Planet. The pattern was a doodle, too, five repeats of a short simple lace followed by ~6″ of stockinette and then decreasing and out.



Up the canyon
Sunday July 23rd 2017, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life,Lupus

The hats: they knew I loved to knit but they never at all expected me to knit for them.

And I never really expected them to instantly treasure them that hard, but they did, which made me want to jump right in and do that again for someone else. Some people just recharge the knitting batteries by who they are, y’know?

The figs: rolled in melted butter, roasted, then drizzled with a little honey–mostly because they were from the store and picked before they were as ripe as they should have been, and once you pick them off the tree they’re done. Not much to these on their own.

And yet.

The scent didn’t quite pull me in all the way but then that first bite did: instantly I was back at the summer when I was eight and a half and my little sister turned seven. Our grandparents took us on our first plane rides (one dressed up for it in those days) to stay with them for two weeks in Utah.

And part of that stay was at the cabin they owned up near one of the ski resorts high in the mountains. There was no phone service, unless you took a goodly walk down the road to the country store there, and that made it perfect for Grandpa to have an actual vacation: nobody could reach him unless he wanted them to, or unless they were willing to make the long steep drive up that mountain, and if it was that important it would be something they didn’t want discussed on a public phone in front of everybody, in which case we kids were to clear out of the cabin till called back.

My grandmother tells the story in her autobiography of being woken up in the middle of the night by the phone ringing in the next apartment over at their DC place, and as soon as she was awake enough to be glad her freshmen Senator husband wasn’t important enough for reporters to flock to for a quote and started falling back asleep, by their own. The Cuban Missile Crisis had just broken and reporters wanted these two Senators’ reactions to the news. Well, actually, they were sound asleep and oblivious, thanks. Were.

Grandpa very much believed in being of service to his constituents, but those two weeks every summer he wanted his time to hike and think and just be. To have a break. I think they said that just once, someone on staff had made that drive up, but I’m not sure.

There were a few paths through the woods and there were rules: one does not play in the creek. The drinking water is taken straight from it to all the cabins up there as is and one does not contaminate it. Ooh, but look at the fish! And that tiny chipmunk. It’ll take a peanut from your outstretched fingers if you hold very very still. This over here is stinging nettle–if you touch it you’ll find out how it got its name, and you don’t want to. (I did, twice, but not on purpose, and Gram was right. It hurt like mosquito bites itch.)

I remember how very very cold the water in that creek was (I let it run and splash over my hand but I did not put my feet in it. On purpose, anyway.) It curved right below their patio out their back door. The idea that it could be barely melted snow in the middle of summer was a wonder to me.

I pulled lunch out of the oven this afternoon and wondered, what…something…

Something wild that grew at that cabin that my brain could almost, almost pick out from half a century ago, so close, and if the figs had been ripe I think they would have missed it entirely.

I could hear my grandparents’ voices again, from when I thought they were old but had no idea. They would have been 67 and 68, with 96 and 95 still to come.

When they died, there was no way to pass the place down in the family; there were too many of us to divide it up amongst. But a cousin bought it, and she and her husband are generous in sharing the space.

And so, two summers ago, we cousins were nearly all of us there again taking in the familiar old log cabin essence, with maybe an extra couch now as we squeezed in. I didn’t take the hikes through the woods that the others did for old times’ sake, thanks, lupus, and yet the air was crisp and cool as I remembered it, full of unique growing things that do not live where I do, the wildness in the elevation and air and trees.

Those figs. I wonder. Something surrounding that path by the creek. Someday I hope to go back and maybe I’ll find what they were trying so hard to belong to.



Roughly the same color
Thursday July 20th 2017, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Knitting a Gift

With a little more brown to the hat.

Yeah, yeah, baby blanket baby blanket but this merino just leaped onto the needles in spite of me and demanded to be done right now. Right now. (Don’t look too closely at that cast-on edge, I was in a hurry.)

Clearly it is the boss of me.

Meantime, Richard is finally getting a pie from the cherries I bought at Andy’s last Friday. It seemed the right day for it. It doesn’t look perfect either but I just pulled it out of the oven and trust me when I say that that won’t stop us. (Pro tip: if you open the oven with one hand and try to take the photo of it there with the other, that hot steam as you look through the viewer is not your phone melting after all.)



The old building
Wednesday July 19th 2017, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Lupus

Hang in there folks, got a long one tonight.

Part One. Written Tuesday after I got home.

 

She held the elevator door for him, and he, turning just inside, saw me coming and held it for me. I scooted to catch up not wanting to delay them but they smiled and didn’t mind at all.

A chance to be a help to someone in that place is something you don’t pass up on.

He turned to her, our having all become friends in the moment, and asked when visitor hours were?

Eleven, she’d been told.

Huh. It was eight when I was in here nine years ago, I offered.

And yet here we were, with the sun heading down, so…

The parking structure that had been new when I was here (nine years ago? Or was it the ’03 time?) is already gone now. So is all the handicapped parking near the building. It’s all undergrounded at the far end of the long block, surrounded by construction, and at a brisk pace it’s a nine minute walk to that wing. They say there’s a shuttle but in Silicon Valley terms it’s a vaporbus as far as I’ve actually seen–not that I could wait out there for it anyway. (Wednesday’s note: I have now seen the shuttle. Maybe it’s only 9-5?)

I cannot do that during the day. Not in summer’s sun.

And so I visit during my kind of hours, and he tried hard to make me feel that that’s okay.

 

Part two. Wednesday.

 

They decided to send him home early: apparently in part because they’d goofed the paperwork (and admitted to it, which was quite good of them) and the insurance suddenly said well then the charges were not their problem, buddy. I imagine they will have fun fighting that fight, and I’m sure they won’t be the only ones.

I dropped him off at the house and trekked over to CVS. It was rush hour. Ten CVS stores couldn’t fill that prescription. But with me standing there going, now what do I do, they checked for me, putting the phone aside for a half hour while the hold music blared: yes, one Walgreens way over yonder could.

Which of course our insurance won’t take, but you do what you have to do. I trekked on over there across the endless stop-and-go.

They had five doses left. Given the possibility, however hopefully remote, of paying ourselves in full for two and a half days at Stanford Hospital, I asked only for two of them, because CVS had promised to order and be ready in the morning with the rest.

Which they did not do. When I called after getting home from Walgreens to double-check, after a half hour on hold with them they said, oh, right, oh well too late, it’ll be Friday.

And so, immediately way back over yonder to get another day’s worth from Walgreen’s while they still had it in stock, again paying full price out of pocket–with, again, an extra 20% surcharge for buying so few. Four and a half hours on the road to get an eighth of a prescription, with a mango smoothie from the drugstore for dinner.

Richard was apologetic. I told him, All those times I was sick and you took care of me? Finally I get to do a little of being the hero. Not a problem. (I wanted to hug the clerk at Walgreens–she is the one who saved the day for me so I could cope.)

There is no worry and he’s fine, he’s just recuperating, is all.

It was one last evening of no-lupus-friendly gardening time. It is skunk o’clock out there and my tomato plants are just going to have to last till tomorrow on their own.

I’ve spent enough time typing. I think I’ll go offer him a glass of juice.



Twelve weeks
Tuesday July 18th 2017, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Family

He’s been trying so hard to find his thumb.

He found one! Daddy’s will do.



All in a good day
Tuesday July 11th 2017, 11:02 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Done did got my hair did, after putting off the trim for too long. When it pins you in place when you try to look over your shoulder to change lanes and you have to lean forward first to let yourself free, it’s time. At least for me.

Gwyn does amazing work… Besides, it’s fun to see what I look like with straight hair with a little flip at the end, or at least while it lasts. I like it. So different, without having to cut off all my hair to enjoy the effects of the novelty.

Tomorrow morning the fog will roll in, the humidity will rise, and my hair will curl.

Well, so then we got a message from our older son that he was in town for the day on business and could we meet up for dinner? Cool!

I wondered if maybe still… And so we headed over to the restaurant where Sue worked and who had so adored our kids when they were little. The woman in the intro in my book. She’s a good one.

Sue herself welcomed us on back–she was still there!

Our 6’9″ Richard-the-younger arrived not long after.

I loved her laugh as she said, “Oh, he’s not little anymore!”

Meantime, Sam pinged a baby picture or two our way as if on cue, not knowing we were right there with her favorite waitress from her childhood, showing Mathias getting better and better at this smiling thing.

Sue thanked me again for the scarf I knit her, and I had been going to thank her again for the amaryllis she dropped off at Purlescence for me once, so let me do so here.

It still blooms every year. It’s perfect. Thank you!

After we got home, I texted Gwyn what Sue had said at the beginning, taking me in a moment: “You look fabulous!”

Only with help, honey, only with a lot of very talented help, and Gwyn deserved to hear every word of that.

And then I cast on a baby blanket for a friend. As one does.



It takes the cake
Saturday June 24th 2017, 11:11 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Recipes

I was in the home stretch, one eye on the clock, thinking, I can get this done before bed and even still get a little blogging time in.

Michelle, who’s in town for her friend’s wedding, texted me: could I? Pretty please?

She’d been going to make an almond cake from the fresh almond paste she got at Milk Pail this afternoon: one of the perks of a trip home. But there was no way she was going to get back from that reception in time tonight–it takes an hour to bake.

Well, hey, I can make one of those really fast… (The recipe says baking powder in the list of ingredients, baking soda in the instructions. Do it in baking powder.)

The cast-off was finished at 10:55. The cake came out at 11:00 pm. I did it!



Memo: While You Were Out
Friday June 23rd 2017, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden,Recipes,Wildlife

Cooper’s hawk. Adult. Right there, intently watching my patio and back door as I came around the corner of the yard from trimming back the kids’ old climbing tree that had been shading my tomatoes a bit.

I stepped quickly back behind the house–but I think my startling it cost it its dinner. Sorry about that.

I came inside a few minutes later with  these Yellow Transparents. It is a sign of how different things are this year, drought-wise, that I still have plenty on my tree, proof that the squirrels don’t touch the tart stuff unless they’re starving: this year they have better options.  (Whatever they are out there, starting with my California Coffeeberries).

A little apple juice, four small quartered apples, cover, zap five minutes, cool, scrape off the skins and voila! Apple sauce for two.

And a Mathias picture just because.



What a day
Wednesday June 14th 2017, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Politics

My thanks to the Muslims in Grenfell Tower who, observant of Ramadan, got up early to eat before the day’s fast and so were awake to alert their neighbors in that tower last night–which had no building-wide fire alarm and no sprinkler system–and saved many lives.

One building inspector in the US marveled that that place would have been out of code here as of 1920. (I confess I haven’t yet searched to see if his date holds up.)

Praying for a full recovery for Steve Scalise and the others shot at the Congressional Republicans’ baseball warmup this morning, and I am in awe of those who ran to stop the gunman who was far better armed than they. They are heroes, too.

I love that Steny Hoyer from my home state of Maryland told the cameras that Scalise was his good friend and he was praying for him. Full stop. There was no mention of how very different their politics are. That had no place.

In California, as of a few years ago, there is a law and a process whereby one can petition a court to have someone not be able to have a gun: someone convicted of domestic violence, someone who has proven a danger to others or themselves; there has to be a good reason. That petition if successful kicks in the equivalent of a restraining order against the person’s having a gun in their possession for a limited period of time. I believe it passed after the Santa Barbara mass shooter, who was mentally ill and whose parents begged everybody they could think of to intervene, to help them keep their kid from doing what he planned on doing but were told no because he hadn’t actually committed any crimes yet–he just wanted to. They were frantically driving up from LA to try to stop him but they were too late.

The new law has held up in court. It can be done. If you want this to be true in your state, too, you know what to do.

On a more cheerful note: I took a deep breath and took in my happy place a moment. Apple tree to the left, peach to the right, lemon out of sight to the far right, plum tree straight ahead. and all the others around.

And baby pictures. The Little Hunk. They change so fast.

 



Took him by surprise
Monday June 05th 2017, 10:58 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

I came around the corner. Perfect raspberries, a few thin slices of banana, low-fat vanilla ice cream (so we don’t feel guilty), thick caramel sauce (so we do) and as I handed him his perfect Mel-and-Kris bowl made all the more so his eyes got big. He had not heard me in the kitchen.

And a bowl for me.

No camera was able to race there in time.



It all ovens out
Saturday June 03rd 2017, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends

(Note to self: do not snitch the random bits of cherry goodness in the middle of the pan when taking the picture unless you smooth over the evidence first.)

So in the last few days I’ve made a cherry pie–and if you don’t have one, get this. Seriously. It’s fast and they come out pretty. Never again hassle with a knife to try to pry those stones out–not to mention the little-kid satisfaction of Hulk! Smash! I don’t love throwing a bunch of dumb kitchen gadgets in every drawer but I can’t praise my cherry pitter enough.

Well maybe sort of I could. To explain: I got the four-cherry version, but six would have been even better, both the number and the fact that a year later I forgot mine only does four, not eight, that the holds-eight base is that way because it’s supposed to flip around to accommodate small vs big cherries. Thus, even though I thought I double-checked every one after I realized my mistake, I missed a pit from the back that Richard found in his first bite of pie. Oops. There are only four pitting rods. I think I will circle the 4 on the box in thick black Sharpie for next year, loudly. (Edit–done.)

And I baked four chocolate tortes and a chocolate hazelnut torte.

I tried something new and it really did work: probably not for a cheesecake, but for a torte, lining the nonstick pan with (buttered) parchment paper that has handles meant I could pull gently on the tabs, then put a (Chinet in this case) plate over the cooled torte, flip it over, peel the tabs away and then the main part and it did the job of a springform pan without the leaks and with a perfectly formed lower (now upper) edge. This parchment paper. These pans. I’ve tried them all and those are definitely the keepers on all counts.

I’d promised a torte to each friend who gave us a ride to or from the airport in the past month. All of them said I didn’t need to. None of them complained when I said I was going to anyway, and I ordered the manufacturing cream to have it ready for pick up the day we got home. (Was that really only Monday?)

Phyllis and her husband said Yes please! when I asked last night if I could drop theirs by.

Jen said she’d be by Sunday for hers.

Karen’s is in the fridge, too.

Kim…got back to me. She has a relative coming into town Sunday who was celiac; was it gluten free?

Hers is now. She assured me her visitor wouldn’t mind if they ate in front of her, but I figure I’m doing this to make people feel good, not to feel left out; after getting the okay, hazelnut (recipe in link) it was.

So suddenly I had an extra. And now I know that if you fold in the sides of the Chinet plate Kim’s first 8″ torte was on, you can slide it into a ziplock gallon size freezer bag for future reference.

Meantime, I’ve still got enough manufacturing cream for two more tortes with all the leftovers after that for summer fruits that we could ask for. Somebody else needs to be made happy here. We’re not done yet.