For old times’ sake
Friday May 11th 2018, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

She was born in 1926 and today we gave her a great send-off. Eighty great-grandkids. Wow. Her family filled most of the big center section of the church.

The littler ones were having to sit quietly for a long time as the funeral went on. Fortunately I had just restocked my purse.

One young man of about twelve helped pass along some handknit finger puppets (some still had a tiny Peru sticker on them, I’d just gotten them) to his small cousins, pleased at how those quieted them down and that he’d gotten to help out.

Agnes, an old friend who’d driven into town for this was sitting next to me and nudged me, motioning that he wanted one, too. I’d almost missed it. He was one of the great-grandkids who’s local so I know him.

I raised my eyebrows silently with a smile, glad they weren’t all gone yet: You want one?

A small hopeful nod.

I reached across the church aisle and gave him what its knitter probably thought of as a reindeer, but having seen that moose in Alaska, I’m (silently, at the time) calling it a moose. The antlers totally made it.

He examined every stitch and everything about it as the talks went on with intense enough curiosity that I thought, grab that kid some needles and merino, friends, I think he’s ready to learn how to knit.

p.s. Mom, Dad, and Carolyn: Debbie MH and her husband Ron’s cousin Lisa T.C. from back home asked after you. Debbie’s folks are doing well.



This could be addictive
Saturday May 05th 2018, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

Yarn stuff ahead.

A little knitting at last, and man did it feel good to get back to it. The super-soft Piuma tubular-spun cashmere from Colourmart in 21105, their lightest beige, started on the plane ride home and finally finished. It’s not yet dry so the picture is darker than it will be in real life.

The cone was a bit of a splurge but I got two cowls out of the 150 grams with 48 to go. They were not huge cowls and would be best on someone of average or small build. Basically, I just had no idea how much the lace would grow on blocking, and winged it. (It didn’t grow.) I used US 7 needles but even with my loose knitting could easily have gone larger. I did hank and pre-scour to try to pre-shrink the yarn and let it bloom, and wow did it bloom: from worsted and solid-looking to wide and soft and quite airy.

Colourmart lets you put these in your basket for 14 days–half the usual time, due to the demand–where no one can touch them while you wait for a small sample to see if you really like that one, or while you make up your mind or try to finish whatever project you have on the needles first. So if you want to sneak a peek at what colors they actually still have around that aren’t showing on that first link, that you could hopefully snatch up as soon as someone else’s cart expires, go here for the Piuma. (I have no idea how to do that on their other yarns other than to ask them, I only know that one because they posted the link on Ravelry.)

They’re a mill-ends place and it’s been eight years since they got that many colors of that yarn. I saw their email saying they had new stock three hours after they’d sent it and the teal (and some of the other colors) were already long gone for good. People had been hoping for more for a long time. I bought the beige to finally try out the famous yarn and to see how cost-effective vs other yarns it could be (or not), and after seeing how things were coming out I too wanted more. More came.

After someone else’s cart expired. If yours does you have to wait a week before being allowed to cart it again. It’s only fair.

For whatever it’s worth, with this yarn there’s only a single ply sort of braided around on itself: it doesn’t have multiple twisted plies in the traditional sense. In the tradeoff between the friction that twisting creates, which takes away softness but adds strength, and wanting to preserve what that cashmere can feel like, they went for preservation of the softness. Cowls and scarves and hats are perfect for it. Cablework, maybe not so much–too much stretching and pulling, I would think, and I wouldn’t dare use it for a baby blanket, much though I wish.

A cowl will do quite nicely. My daughter Sam got the first one. I hope to find out tomorrow who gets the second. There will be more after that.



He’ll help you with that
Tuesday May 01st 2018, 10:32 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

It needed to be snugged up a bit on that velcro but I snapped the picture first: he was holding still and I figured, get’em while you can.

A toolkit for a little boy’s first birthday definitely made his daddy’s day and his. If you’re ever looking for well-designed, engaging, well-made washable fabric toys and books for little ones (the sea creatures is my favorite of the latter), I highly recommend that company’s.

My son-in-law said that the secured board across the fireplace instantly cured the kid of wanting to climb inside and splash in the ashes. Lost all interest. That’s okay, he can make messes in lots of other ways.

Like maybe take a cotton hammer to one of these cupcakes that our daughter made: not terribly sweet and oh so good. And I’m not usually much of a cupcake fan. Raspberries and lemon curd and mascarpone? Yes please. I begged the recipe and made a trip out tonight for the ingredients.



Walked in the door tonight and threw in the first load of laundry
Monday April 30th 2018, 9:58 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

Five wonderful days.

Every one-year-old needs a picture of them in a high chair making a total mess of their cake. Mathias did not want to give up his carrot at first for this triangular stripey food his mommy had baked but with enough coaxing (here, she said, taste this) decided to humor her.

Oh wait. I think I like this. I do. (Ditches the carrot.)

Plus a random airport picture, just because I’d never seen a plane with a bumper sticker before.



What happens when they’re the ones flying
Wednesday April 25th 2018, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Wildlife

I was looking at suitcases at Costco online, looking for a lightweight one, and it hit me–don’t take it for granted: I looked at the dimensions.

Height plus weight plus depth, add up those inches. If the number’s over 60, Alaska and apparently other airlines charge you an extra $75 each way. Which adds up fast to the new suitcase you’ll want after buying some of those.

Our old ones were fabric and they’d gotten to where they made our clean clothes arrive smelling like they were on the return trip.

So I’d opened them and put them out in the sun, since that’s the best disinfectant of all (and if it works, the easiest, right?)

I think it was a scrub jay. Nailed his but good. Yeah, it scrubbed clean, but he’ll never look at it quite the same way again.



Milestone
Tuesday April 24th 2018, 11:20 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Someone’s birthday bash was a ton of fun.

One friend happened to mention to me that her youngest had lost his finger puppet. Which kind of threw me: he’s six, and it’s been long enough since I gave him one that I didn’t even know he was old enough then to remember it, much less to treasure it all this time. Wow. Very cool.

Wanting to replace it to take some of the sting out of the loss, I asked her, What character was it?

She didn’t know.

So with that I dug into my purse and, nudging the ziplocked knitting aside, started pulling a big bunch of them out. I had actually just restocked in there and they take so little room, and as puppet after puppet after puppet emerged she laughed in surprise. They made a colorful heap on the table.

She went home with her favorite two, and Richard’s friend from work whose wife couldn’t make it at the last minute was so charmed with the first one he picked out that we all told him he had to chose one for his wife, too; he went for a second handknit rubber ducky to match the first and tucked them away safely in his pocket, clearly looking forward to the moment.

The waiter at the restaurant watching all this then got surprised with a colorful parrot as we stood up to leave. The fact that he loved it made the night just that much better.

I couldn’t possibly knit fast enough to make something for every person who came to celebrate, but the good women of Peru could.



Who knows where the time goes
Sunday April 08th 2018, 9:46 pm
Filed under: Family

We videochatted with the south-of-us grands happily showing off Hudson’s new and quickly assembled birthday Lego kit. (His big brother helped.)

He is now officially old enough to start kindergarten in the fall. Both boys looked impossibly tall, even though we saw them in December. Wow.



We didn’t have any reservations
Thursday April 05th 2018, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

So. Monday when our seriously-jet-lagged daughter woke up we offered to take her out to dinner for her birthday a day early (since her old friend wanted to do so the day of.) We asked her where she’d like to go.

The first place she mentioned was Rangoon Ruby. Which is a great place, and dairy-allergy-friendly. Sounds good!

Somehow to my complete surprise we ended up somewhere else altogether that I would not have thought of for her at all, on the other side of town. But it worked out fine. Even if the waiter tried to surprise her with birthday cake and suddenly realized as he was putting it down that she couldn’t touch it and he handed it to us instead with profuse apologies and embarrassment. Oops. But he called himself on it, and that was the important part.

We’d already had dessert so I’d thought it was safe to joke about the outdoor heater making a great birthday candle, but no, they were trying to do that one extra thing because hey, birthdays. I told the guy he’d just given us a funny story–it was all good.

I was reading the local news today and was, for the second time this week, suddenly speechless. At the time we were sitting down eating that dinner in that other restaurant that night, someone showed up for his shift at Rangoon Ruby.

After, on his commute in, he’d shot at a complete stranger in the car next to him at a light, unprovoked. (Missed him, damaged his car.) Who then gave chase, trying to get his license plate for the cops. The guy then shot a 65-year-old woman carrying her groceries (she needs surgery but she lived.) The first victim stopped and ran to her aid. Next he hit a teen on a bicycle (it was wrecked but the kid’s okay) and nearly took out someone else next to him and the guy, no surprise at this point, took off.

He ditched the car downtown, causing a lockdown at a restaurant there, and then casually walked into the one where he worked.

And said, Man, there were a bunch of crazy people chasing me out there.



The bridesmaid
Tuesday April 03rd 2018, 10:55 am
Filed under: Family

One very jet-lagged daughter flew in on a 17-hour time zone difference after being up for 36 hours straight and we’ve been having a great time celebrating her birthday and her (when she’s been awake). It’s been a short but great visit.



Happy Easter
Sunday April 01st 2018, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Family

Mathias’s first Easter.

And (a few days ago) with chocolate.



The apartment house
Wednesday March 28th 2018, 10:29 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

We got into the car and shut the doors and just then the mockingbird landed on the edge of the roof right in front of us with a little twig in its beak, its toes curling over the edge, checking for predators that might be watching, eager, ready.

So cool.

But then it saw us seeing it right there and it knew it must not give away where the nest was coming to be, just as Richard was wondering if it could squeeze into the holly bush and I was answering yes of course–and there’s clearly a wren nest in there, too.

This is our 31st spring in this house and the first one where I was sure they really could squeeze in there. Or, with those stabby leaves, that they’d even want to.

The mockingbird eyed me and did a little hop into the air with Olympic ice skater grace that landed it facing the opposite direction as if to lead our gaze far away to the left. See? Not over there. Nope nope nope not even thinking about it.

We pulled out of the driveway, and as the car was being shifted into drive I glanced back as the mockingbird dove into that small side gap on the upper right side of those dense, prickly leaves and completely vanished from the world.

No squirrels or crows would be attacking its babies. They were going to be safe and snug inside here.



Creamed
Saturday March 24th 2018, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

After the afghan, I did a cowl in Malabrigo’s Solis blue/green colorway Thursday and Friday and wondered what to start and for whom. So I said a little prayer: You know who most needs the next thing the soonest.

And out of all my new Stitches stash and all my older stash, you know what answered that? What demanded to be next?

That same cream cashmere/cotton, (mine was a heavier weight) of which there was just enough (that was already scoured) left from that afghan to make a hat.

Again?!

It’s like I can’t get away from that yarn. (Two afghans in six months and another cone waiting to be a third.) I confess I had to let the thought percolate a bit and left it for the morning, and then left it for the afternoon till I finally decided both that I was being ridiculous and needed to get to it–and till it had come to me what pattern to use. Till I knew, and I did, exactly what pattern it had to be. Maybe not for the recipient’s sake but for mine.

A cream, almost white hat with cotton.

Like the one that was my mother-in-law’s… (Where did I post that story?) Only this time it would not vanish into the wild.

I had gotten my late mother-in-law’s chemo caps sent back to me after her death, and on impulse I had grabbed one to wear out to dinner with friends on a chilly evening. None of us ever saw it again. I retraced my steps, I called the restaurant, but it was gone.

And yet mixed with that great sense of loss–I had made that for MomH!–was this strong feeling that all was not actually lost, that it had gone to someone who needed it. It was cotton. It was non-allergenic. It was pretty. It was warm, because I had knitted it doubled fingering weight on size 3 needles, an aching task (especially with those cables) that I could only put a couple of rows into a day but I did it for her.

And now for someone else, whoever they were. I might not know them but they were known to G_d, and there was a comfort there that I did not expect and it has stayed with me whenever I’ve thought about that hat.

So. Cream, almost white. Half cotton, half cashmere, bigger needles, easier to work with, so soft. Make it just like Mom’s had been. A cable going sideways around the head, stitches picked up lengthwise to knit straight up from there, curving decreases in a pinwheel at the top.

I knew exactly who it was for and I couldn’t wait to give it to her and now it is done and I can.

This time, since the recipient isn’t a tender-headed woman balded by chemo, it has a tag inside saying who made it for her. If somehow it should get lost, it can make its way back.



Flintstones
Monday March 19th 2018, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,History,Life

I remember the day years ago when we drove Dad to Carmel to see his old Army buddy for the first time since I’d been about three. We held back at the driveway to let Dad walk on ahead of us.

The man saw our car and quickly came out the door to greet us.

I got to see the moment when the two men laid eyes on each other, a mixture of recognition that was delayed just that one slight millisecond–and the unspoken sudden shock at each other’s aging and thus their own in their joy as they threw their arms around each other. It had been so long.

Dad’s buddy’s career was as a producer of the Hanna Barbara cartoons.

So maybe that’s a small part of why I so like this place: it reminds me of Dad’s friend.

Someone has finally bought the Flintstone house. Someone with the money and the will to preserve it and the hillside it’s built into, someone who walked in the door and fell in love at first sight, someone with a keen sense of whimsy.

Someone who’s added fifteen-foot dinosaurs, cartoon mushroom sculptures and Fred himself, with more to come. Because she can, and why not?

I’ve seen it at a distance driving by and had wondered, and those pictures are a treat.

I love that the original architect got to see his masterpiece being loved all over again.



The newbie
Monday March 12th 2018, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

So the recipes both said 4 c water or broth to one 2-2.5 lb corned beef in your standard 6 qt Instant Pot.

The meat was a 3.5+ lb, thanks, Costco. The machine was an IP Mini, 3 qt. I did get the whole slab in there–but there was no way on earth that much broth was following after.

Pours in the second cup of broth, slowly, carefully, right to the tippy top of that Max line on the inside. Oh, you’re not supposed to actually fill up to that? (Then why is it there?) Too late. I consider. I could just throw it in the oven and let it take its standard three hours. Nah, don’t have the time, I need it in two.

(Hits presets. Machine says 1:00. Adds 30 for it to cook 90 minutes. Wait, did I do that right?)

Comes back 40 minutes later and I guess I cooked it for one minute and it’s been warming for 39. Joy. Or was it actually cooking and I only saw the Warming button because it’s on anyway when the cooking’s going, but there’s no steam venting out. Resets the whole thing to start over from scratch. Confirmed by pot being unable to get back to countdown right away even though I didn’t open it. 90? Make it 110. Still no idea if I’m way overcooking it but undercooked could be far worse. Adds twenty minutes yet again to be on the safe side: that was a big roast.

Since there was no room for the veggies, they simmer in the rest of the broth on the stove. They come out palid, no surprise, because all the spices are in the Instant Pot. Checks spice cabinet. Nope. Not combining that with that.

Comes back when the time is finally about up anyway wondering if something is burning? Uses oven mitt to do an Instant Release to stop it because that sure beats wrecking all that food after all this wait and oh right I forget just how much of a mess that makes and I quickly throw the mitt half over it and the boiling geyser that ensues anyway makes every knife in the block on the counter next to it a greasy dripping mess, and how do you get beef fat out of the holes down inside that wood? And why did I leave it there?

Waits for the pin to drop. Pin drops. Lid willing to come off now.

Slices and scoops and serves dinner to a very very very patient husband at 7:45 who did not even look for snacks while all this was going on.

The surprise? It’s about perfect. And the cabbage and potatoes didn’t soak up fat and salt like they do in the traditional version, they’re much better. Pour grease off broth and broth over veggies for flavoring on top of meat as desired. Done.



Anne B
Friday March 09th 2018, 11:43 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Knit

Now that was a fun evening!

Back in ’09 when I was ill enough that my survival was no sure thing, Anne decided to make me a get-well afghan and asked if anyone wanted to contribute squares to it. She got so many squares offered up that she pieced them together into two of them.

I love them, I love every person for being part of that, and her for the whole thing. She’d never even met me.

Turns out Anne had a business trip that was bringing her to California, and she asked on FB if anyone knew anything she should see while she was in–my town. I answered, Yes! ME!

I had wanted to meet her for so long. So long.

We made tentative plans, business trips being what they are, and then this afternoon some time opened up for later on if I didn’t mind potential work interruptions as we visited. No problem. I have knitting. I would pick up Richard, drop him off at home, and we could have the evening to ourselves.

Except that he got stuck at work till close to the time we were supposed to meet and she said hey, bring him along too, then.

Two afghans. There was nothing I could knit that could match that. I looked through some of her pictures to get a sense of what colors she might like and chose a circular scarf and a thick warm Malabrigo Mecha hat, thinking, what Canadian knitter doesn’t already have a closetful of hats? And yet it felt important, so I put it in my purse with the other and when dinner was over I showed her the ziploc and asked her her choice of colors without saying what the two things were. Color is everything.

She was quite delighted that what she picked out was a hat: she had had one ready to go for the trip and had accidentally left it home. She was going to need one and now she had one!

The place we’d stopped at mostly caters to the lunch crowd, and Richard asked them to kick us out any time they wanted to close down. When he asked again after we’d finished eating, they apologetically went, yeah…

So we adjourned to Timothy Adams. Hot chocolate and truffles to top off the evening with more time to chat, Adams himself welcoming us at the door.

I can’t tell you how good it feels that we finally got to meet and that I finally got to thank her in person. Here’s hoping life brings her back this way again soon. Anne is just the best.