The little old lady on the plane
Monday April 01st 2019, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

So much to say, but let me start tonight with the knitting. I’m too tired to stay up and edit this so it’s straight stream of consciousness but I feel like I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I don’t write this down.

I took four balls of Malabrigo with me: one Rios worsted weight, three heavier in Mecha, and picked the slightly orange red with black specks one for the trip there.

Our flight was very delayed, so much so that I cast off just before the plane took off on the runway. So that was done.

I got another hat knitted while sitting quietly with my dad.

The third one got a goodly way along the same way, but then it was time to go.

We got on our plane after sunset tonight, and the flight attendant put a notice on the seat next to us that nobody else was to sit there. What was that about?

Soon an elderly, tiny woman from I’d guess Central America was escorted to that open window seat next to me on the first row, where she didn’t have to walk far.

I had that third Mecha hat in my hands and she sat and quietly watched my hands like a hawk for a long time, but at last adjusted the small pillow she’d brought on and tried to rest.

She missed the attendant offering pretzels, then something to drink; I saved my pretzels for her and tried to get their attention when she woke up.

She went back to watching my hands. The show had changed now: I was into the decreases at the top of the hat. I finished it and turned it so she could see the seven-point star it made at the top.

“It’s beautiful!”

(I may be deaf on a plane but I sure got that one.)

It was bright royal blue–and I had knitted it sitting by my daddy. But that red!

The seatbelt sign was off and I got up and reached into my purse in the overhead and it was right there at the top waiting to be grabbed, a little to my surprise. I sat back down and showed it to her under the light to get the best view of the colors and her whole body exclaimed with the word, “Oooooooh!!!!”

And just like that it was hers.

She was stunned. “For ME?!” She reached for my hands, looking into my eyes and my smile: yes I meant it.

She could have danced. Her eyes certainly did. She reached up to feel it, and when I said it was wool she said, “Wool?” just to make sure she’d gotten it right. She motioned to it and her blouse to show how very very well they matched. She was so happy!

The flight attendant interrupted her with some water; I grabbed the last ball I’d packed, Rios in Ravelry Red, and cast on a lace cowl.

The hats had been stockinette. This was something new. She watched my hands avidly again, right up until the city lights below started getting closer.

I talked to her daughter later as we waited for our luggage, her teenage son with them. They’d been uncertain about having Grandma sitting alone away from them but that’s what there was at that point in boarding.

Turns out her mother told her afterwards that for awhile there she’d had a hard time breathing.

That would have been when she leaned against her pillow and closed her eyes and hoped hard to be okay.

And then I gave her that hat.

That little old lady being wheeled away in a chair owning her second hat now was definitely happily okay now. I don’t even know her name but we are best friends for life.

Friday March 29th 2019, 9:44 pm
Filed under: Family

Sat on the ground two hours while they fixed the plane. Curious: they left the door open for most of that because once it shuts, they said, the countdown begins: two hours and they have to let you get off.

Which means I cast on a hat in the airport, 70 stitches of Mecha on size 7s, and finished it before takeoff. Which was a first.

Landed to new snow here in SLC and a bit of rain working away at it.

It’s good to see the folks.

Love you, Dad
Thursday March 28th 2019, 10:21 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Two years in on his pulmonary fibrosis.

I’m going to go see my dad tomorrow, so it may be quiet here for a few days.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, with one edit: clearly, it’s 92 that is the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

Merry Christmas!
Wednesday March 20th 2019, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family

An amaryllis my dad gave me for Christmas, celebrating the first day of spring. Thank you, Dad, it’s gorgeous!

But is it woolly edible?
Monday March 18th 2019, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Knit

When my sister Anne was an art major, there was a semester where she had to choose one article and render it in many mediums. I remember the watercolor the best of all her lobsters.

With thanks to Margo Lynn for the heads-up, now someone has crocheted one: along with a knitted squid, shrimp, smelt, mussels, oysters, scallops, a beaded crab and a side of French fries wearing French berets and sporting the perfect little mustaches. Red i-cord for the tabasco sauce dribbling out. Atlas Obscura had fun with this one.

Friday March 15th 2019, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

So here’s what happened: I walked out of the room to get ready for bed two nights ago, expecting him to follow in a moment or two; instead, he called out for me to come back about five minutes later, and as I turned from the hallway into the family room it hit me, too. The sharp smell of burning plastic. It happened that fast.

We unplugged everything around and including the computers, since it seemed to come from that part of the room, and stayed up way late sniffing and looking and touching and trying to track down the source, with fans blowing to clear it out. Which two things kind of defeated each other but. We would step out of the room or outside to refresh our noses and try again. I wished out loud for a trained dog, and we kind of laughed over what our lovable but not overly bright St. Bernard/Mastiff granddog would do. I wondered if we were supposed to call the fire department–but there was no fire for them to come to, yet, anyway, and nothing had a power source anymore.

Last night we plugged in the surge protector and the computers again and gave them a try. Seemed okay. We did not leave them on for the night but at least I got my blog post done in that short time.

With slightly more confidence in those, my computer came back on in the morning, and the idea was that we would plug one new thing at a time back in to try to figure out what was going bad.

I think we’ve found it. The smell was faint but the heat from the thing was not. I’ll feel better when we’ve tested everything but I think that ACDC adaptor was it. If anyone has any words of wisdom on the subject please fill me in.

That whole thing was just really, really close. The smoke alarms (Wikipedia link) did not go off. What if he’d left the room when I did.

Thursday March 07th 2019, 11:23 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

I was just talking to Ruth and I thought I’d pass on to the rest of you, too, what a repairman recently told my daughter: if you have a self-cleaning feature on your oven, don’t ever turn it on. The motherboards are not protected well enough from all that heat and that’s the fastest way to kill your appliance.

Given that about fifteen years ago I was quoted $800 just for the motherboard for each oven of my double oven, labor on top of that, I’d say that self-cleaning is a wonderful feature that sells ovens.

And then sells more ovens.

Brace yourself
Tuesday March 05th 2019, 12:24 am
Filed under: Family,Life

Last night I was marveling to Richard, I have no vocabulary for this. I’ve never experienced this before. It’s so weird.

Come bedtime, though, I pictured myself writing it down and then the words came: it felt like a water ballon inside that squished up or down as I moved my knee.

It did not want any weight on it. It did not want to let me get any sleep.

Today seemed better but to be careful I still went in: not hurting terribly much when I don’t use it doesn’t mean it will not hurt later when I do–that, and more to the point, my pain levels are completely unreliable as problem detectors. Sometimes those nerves work and sometimes they don’t. Which can be nice. Mostly.

Richard came in with me at my invitation and explained to the doctor, “I’m her ears.”

I made the guy laugh, looking at the sizes of the two of us, when I illustrated that particular idiosyncrasy by describing the time he took off his undershirt, hit the overhead light, it shattered, he fell into the wooden hamper trying to avoid the breaking falling glass and I ran across it to go save him.

Like that works?

Then I sat down and howled with laughter: we are such klutzes!  Because the idea of me pulling him out..! and because I knew that within five minutes I wouldn’t be able to feel what I’d just done to my feet. And I didn’t.

The doctor reassured me that the knee wasn’t broken. “It will probably help a lot if you stabilize it”–he told me what kind of brace to go buy.

It is on. And it really does help.

“Anything else?” This guy was thorough.

The elbow.

The knitting? He glanced at it peeking out of my purse.

The earlier injury, then the weight of the granite-bottomed melanger and the batch I decided to do by myself. “That’s why I hold the bowl,” Richard admonished, but not that one time, and that one time is when I learned how much I need his help.

So the elbow has a brace too now and the reasons why it will help that I didn’t know before.

But here’s the thing: that look of being taken completely by surprise and then the sudden eagerness in the up-till-then quiet face that said I AM SO GETTING ONE OF THOSE!!! when I explained just exactly what a melanger is after the word sailed right past him the first time.

Nailed it
Friday March 01st 2019, 11:09 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

The tires are a month old. The idiot light came on. The shop told me to bring it on by. I figured all the thing needed was some air against the cold temps we’ve been having, but I brought my knitting because you just never know.

I was running out of that skein and eyeing the second awhile later while they were doing their best squeezing me into their schedule. Eh. With wool as my witness, as Stephanie Pearl-McPhee likes to say, waiting was no problem.

You have to do just the exact right sequence of maneuvers to pull it off and it’s only happened to me once since we bought our Prius thirteen years ago. I’m guessing I started it when I locked the doors while driving over there? As women often do.

The tire was repaired (there was a nail right by the sidewall, they said, and if the idiot light comes on again they’ll replace the thing after all) and it was time to send me on my way.

There seemed to be some kind of holdup.

Oh wait.

They asked me if I had the keys. Uh, no (?)

Priuses are designed so that you can’t lock the keys in the car. They knew that. I knew that. They tried again.

They got a flashlight to help look into where they might be; no sign. Did I have a spare? I checked for a door-only key; wrong door.

At last there was nothing for it but to offer to call Richard at work and then have their clerk drive me over there to get his; it was only two city miles at most away, which was nice, and it wasn’t rush hour.

For the first time since I swapped out phones a couple weeks ago I’d let the battery on the new one go dead. Well, that was a bug.

Richard, thankfully, answered a strange number at work.

We got his key.

We got the car unlocked, and only then did they find mine, dropped down the tight side of the driver’s seat. Success!

The men were young and they were very very sheepish and apologetic despite the fact that I’d said it was probably my fault for not hitting the unlock button when I got out just to be sure. Actually, I thought I had, but clearly not.

So I grinned and quoted Richard’s words as he gave me a kiss at the office’s outer door while handing me his car key: “Just don’t lose it.” Since at that point mine still were.

They guffawed in a complete release of tension, and a good day was had by all.

I just bet you they’ll hit the unlock button before getting out of the next Prius to be sure. If they don’t see the key in the console, it doesn’t mean the clerk has it.

From Dad with love
Tuesday February 26th 2019, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family

Remember those giant amaryllis bulbs from my dad that the TSA thought were bombs in my carry-on?

We’ve got two flowers open on top with two to go and four open on bottom on this one.

You just can’t get ahead of them
Monday February 25th 2019, 11:44 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,Life,LYS

So I was talking to Ron and Theresa of the Buffalo Wool Co Saturday morning at Stitches and after asking if they liked it dark and getting an emphatic YES! offered them a bite of homemade chocolate; I’d brought a bar from the second-to-last batch that had been made from some particularly good nibs from Chocolate Alchemy.

I picked up some of their buffalo/silk yarn, telling them that that in teal was my happy place: ten years ago when I was so sick, waiting for a hospital room to open up at Stanford, the good people at Purlescence had filled a large basket with cards and get-wells. There were hand knit gloves and a hat, oranges from Jasmin’s tree, all kinds of good stuff.

Including two skeins of their buffalo yarn from the owners of that shop. The most expensive yarn they sold in a color I love.

I had to get better. I couldn’t let everybody down. I had to do their generosity justice.

For two years afterwards I wondered what could possibly be a good enough use of that yarn, while feeling I was letting them down by letting it just sit there.

Till the day one of the owners had her own medical scare and her survival was no sure thing. She pulled through, just like I did, but there was no question: those two skeins turned into a shawl and came right back to her and that was absolutely what they were meant to be.

Ten years later, Purlescence is closed and I bought more from Ron and Theresa directly.

I told one of their customers who was looking at their gloves that I had rummaged through my cavernous purse in the dark in Alaska and come up with one of their gloves (these) and one fingerless glove to scrape a deep layer of ice off the windshield with. One hand was just dying, the other–amazingly fine. It could do this for as long as I needed to, no rush. And I have Raynaud’s.

I came by their booth again later, when the crowds had thinned, and told them that now that my husband has worn their socks nothing else lives up to them; I couldn’t buy me their yarn and not him more socks, so… And while I was at it I handed Ron more of that chocolate for the both of them, saying, “We don’t have the tempering perfect yet but we’re learning with each new project. It’s a little like knitting that way.”

Ron’s appreciative response, “It’s got a good snap to it.”

And then he told me to my great surprise that he used to work as a chocolatier.

No wonder I hadn’t had to explain to him what a melanger was!

I gave him the rest of that chocolate for the both of them. Stitches was almost over for me and there was no point in not sharing it with people I knew would enjoy it. (Margo Lynn’s allergic.)

He refused to ring up the socks and stuffed them in my basket.

!!!… I protested, partly at myself, because I should have known better to wait till after…!

He basically said just try to stop me.


Goodbye with love to my Uncle Wally, who passed away quietly with his local children by his side Saturday at 95.

Welcome to this beautiful brand-new world with love to Annabeth Joan, born to my niece Maddy and her husband Devin this morning.

Scooting right along
Tuesday February 19th 2019, 11:40 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life

I got the chair down to Bischoff’s Medical and they got right to it. I was good to go for Stitches and the guy was as happy about that as I was. Good folks. I recommended to my friend Pamela that she rent a scooter from them so as not to miss out–she broke both bones in her lower leg a few days ago and one of her first reactions was, But Stitches!

Meantime, I learned something new about the melanger: even though you don’t want to run it more than a minute without something in it, always do turn it on right before you start pouring the cocoa nibs in, not the other way around: otherwise the bits mound up, caught beneath the arms and jam the thing. And that is a motor I want working for many years to come. I sent a note to Afton so that that wouldn’t happen to her too with her new machine and turns out it already had. Both of us had to stop, pour the loose stuff out and hack away at those mounds to free the thing–but when we did it worked peachy fine.

It has a lid but it’s off while you’re pouring the nibs in, so you do it slowly because, um, popcorn effects are entertaining. (Which is why I tried putting them in first this time and turning it on. Bad idea.) She reported that her kitten went after a flying bit of chocolate but after tasting it gave her this look of, What have you *done* to me!

(Second sign posted for my retired high school English-teaching mom. A rare spotting of double letter inversions in the wild.)


Love play work
Sunday February 17th 2019, 12:32 am
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

Finished the hat during the drive to Salinas for a family get-together.

We went home by way of Mutari for hot chocolate in Santa Cruz, making it back just in time for our niece, who had carpooled with us, to make it to her next thing. (Which meant taking 17 home. In the rainy season between storms of the day. I know one friend who will read that and cringe at the thought, but the redwood that fell across the highway had been cut up and pushed out of the way by then.)

Then daughter and husband fixed the plumbing under the bathroom sink and I can’t tell you how good it feels to have that working again.

Then out to get ice cream to celebrate.

Lots and lots of family this morning, some I hadn’t seen in half a dozen years, and it felt like so much life was all packed into one short day.

The place was really busy
Tuesday February 12th 2019, 11:26 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life

The sky was dark and low but the rain was holding off till evening. The shoppers were not.

I told the young clerk Pegi’s line about this being a French Toast run before the storm: milk eggs bread. He and the bagger cracked up, with the clerk especially looking like I had just totally made his day.

Clearly someone has parents who taught him how to make it. I remember thinking in college that everybody did: you just whip the eggs with a little milk, dip in the bread, pre-toasted or as is, a pat of butter in the skillet and one side and then the other and there you go. Easiest dish ever. (A side effect of our having lived in New Hampshire is that only real maple syrup will do for us. It’s the rule.)

And I remember the friend who watched my every movement like a hawk, trying to memorize proportions, which don’t matter much, not wanting to admit at the beginning that at 21 she’d never learned how to do this. How many eggs?

Her dad had died young and her mother was someone who bought blue cheese dressing but threw it away a day or two later because it had gone moldy. All those little blue bits in it.

And as long as I’m on that subject, my sister-in-law had a college roommate who was trying hard to learn from her how to cook. When my sister-in-law asked her to wash the lettuce she, having no idea, compliantly did: she squirted dish soap on it.

The talk
Sunday February 10th 2019, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Family,Life

It printed out to six pages? Well that was way too long anyway.

I tossed my notes halfway through and riffed on what the high school senior had said before me in her talk about hope. I looked across at the young man who grew up in foster care and is now a certified nursing assistant, a huge accomplishment given how his life got started, and without singling him out I wanted to let him know I knew how important his job was no matter where he might be on the totem pole at work. I found myself talking about Noel.

Noel Cortez was a CNA at Stanford assigned to the room I was in when I was near death from my first big bout of Crohn’s. He had lost a niece, a small child, to cancer and kept her picture with his badge to remind him, he told me, of why he does what he does. The care she’d gotten had inspired him to get the training for that job, and when I met him he was applying to nursing schools as the next step.

Noel was both a deeply loving human being reaching out to others in their own pain and one of the funniest people you could ever hope to meet, and since I was probably his sickest patient he spent every spare moment he could with Richard and me, keeping both of us laughing at a time we thought we never could again.

Laughing while the body was trying to ebb away somehow offered strength that I didn’t know was still in there somewhere.

I talked, too, about the doctor who had needed me to live, and who cared just as much and whom I couldn’t let down so I did.

I said, Their kindnesses offered hope when I most needed it. Hope offers life. We can never know just how much it means to someone else when we reach out to them but it is never, ever a small thing when we do.

And with that my time was up and I sat down.