Memorial Day weekend
Monday May 29th 2017, 11:05 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

Richard’s sister’s daughter’s wedding was wonderful: the bride and groom were as happy as one could ever hope for and they are clearly a great match.

Turns out a lifelong friend who was more like family to the groom’s father was a second cousin of my dad’s, and there was this instant sense of belonging.

Photos: my father-in-law surrounded by all his great-grands (with two mothers holding them) except Mathias, who is too young to travel. (Maddy, Kim, Parker and Hudson are to his left.)

My Mom and Dad.

Two of my sisters have in the last year moved within an hour of the folks and we had mini reunions going on on my side as time allowed.

Nash got his stocking hand-delivered and I got to see how much it meant to him and to his mom, my cousin. To say he loved it does not begin to tell it. He just kind of glowed the whole time.

Every teenager needs someone who is not their parent who thinks the world of them–someone who doesn’t have to but just does. I remembered the people I owed much to from my own teens as we were winding through the hills towards their house.

And in between, our daily dose of baby pictures came in and got shared around.

We arrived home in the early afternoon and as I was trying to catch up on five days’ worth of email, there was a new one: after we’d left for the airport, Mom had taken a walk and had fallen, broken a tooth, loosened another and split her lip. Ouch!

Two random men in the right place happened to see her and rushed to her aid, and whoever they are they have my deep gratitude. And to Mom’s neighbor who took her in to be seen.

The note from Dad said that the urgent care folks had said Mom was not to smile nor laugh for a few days.

My mother. Not laughing. Not smiling. Good luck with that.



Parker
Saturday May 27th 2017, 4:58 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Wildlife

Parker gently took my hand, not pulling me away from the grownup discussion but more as a request.

Sure!

He took me to the next room over to where there was a couch where we could look out the window and straight down all eleven floors. (Me at age six, I would have freaked. It didn’t seem to occur to him to flinch.)

Gramma, he asked. I want to see the falcons. Show me the falcons.

I had seen a peregrine fly below on Thursday but by the time my dad had stood up to see it was gone. There are signs down the block warning drivers to be ready to brake for them.

Well, I told him, I only saw it that one time here; I don’t know when it will fly by again.

That was okay. Where do they live, what do they eat, how fast can they go. He knew they go really fast.

I wasn’t sure how he would take the news that they eat pigeons and was a bit relieved that it seemed to be an okay part of nature to him He wanted to learn everything he could about them from me and I was so glad I’d let him bring me over to where we could look for them together and where he had my undivided attention, just the two of us.

I don’t know if he’ll remember those moments, but I know I will.



Into white
Wednesday May 24th 2017, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

I was waiting at the doctor’s while he was back in there somewhere being seen. (He’s fine.)

A woman stopped right there on her way past, looking down at the work in my hands: “That’s beautiful!”

And then she had to know: “What is the, the,” (searching for the right word) “the string?”

Me: “The yarn is” (her: Yarn! Yes!) “a combination of bamboo and pearls,” and I described the process a little. I told her it was soft and it was warm, and she clearly wanted to so I urged her to go ahead and feel how soft it was.

Suddenly she was proudly showing me pictures of her daughter and her friend who (if I got it right) taught the kid how to crochet–and the mom loved seeing her daughter creating like that and wanted in on this and wanted to knit.

I told her there’s a learning curve at the beginning (so that she wouldn’t get discouraged at that point) but you get good fast and it’s worth sticking it out.

She very much agreed with that, swooning again over that bright white cowl. Where had I gotten that yarn? Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco. When I told her the yarn was not being made anymore and they had what was left, she had me type the shop’s name and city into her phone so she would have it right and be able to find them for sure. (English wasn’t her first language, but she was very good at it.)

Whether she actually ever learns to or not I don’t know, but I do know she wants to. And she got a whole lot closer to it today–and now she knows someone out there in the world is cheering her on.

(I did not show her grandbaby pictures. I was tempted.)



You know it’s late, I’m rambling
Tuesday May 23rd 2017, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift

One badly posed Christmas stocking because hey, I finally ran all the ends in and at long last it really is done and the hour is too late to fuss with the camera to try to get a better one.

Re the back loop: I ended up picking up stitches and knitting it in stockinette stitch with a second strand woven across the back of every stitch all the way up for strength and reinforcement. It was a good move.

I’m glad I went to the post office first thing today, because the phone rang a little after noon. It was B. She didn’t quite want to ask outright, she didn’t want to put me on the spot, so I volunteered what she wanted to know: her box? I got it to the post office. It was on its way back to the company that had sent her the wrong thing. All taken care of.

She was so relieved–and so was I that I hadn’t put it off till later in the day. It felt good to hear her happy.

And then I went and spent the rest of the day doing all the errands and all the things till I was too wiped to do anything but sit there and knit the back loops on the back loop.

Not a fan of synthetics, and this one was washable wool, but still, maybe I should make a mothproof one next time? Since such things tend to have sugary food in them and then be stored for most of a year sight unseen. What do you think?



At the start and the finish line
Monday May 22nd 2017, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Mathias will be a month old on Friday.

A package came to our house today, by prearrangement with a mutual friend who was going to be out of town, and tonight we took it over to B, whom she’d ordered it for.

B was the first blind female engine mechanic in WWII and is rightfully proud of that.

For the first time, she didn’t recognize my voice although she knew who Richard was. She seemed not to quite remember me. At her age, you’re allowed.

We found out that she’d lived in Alaska for awhile and that that’s why she loved taking cruises there and, as she loved to say, To see the sights! How had we never known that about her?

We talked about moose a little bit. I forgot to ask if she knew about the musk ox. Her time there would have been near when the Musk Ox Farm in Palmer was starting to get established to bring the population back from extinction in Alaska.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard her talking about her late husband before.

We didn’t stay long; twenty-three minutes per the check-in check-out sheet, but she was fading fast. She had a package of her own that needed returning and I promised her I would get it to the post office tomorrow. She was adamant that I let her reimburse me for the postage, and though I didn’t argue I was minded not to.

And yet. It occurs to me that when you’re too frail to walk and you’re in your nineties in a nursing home and nearing the end, being allowed to make a choice to do right by someone else who did you a favor is not something I should take away from her. If she remembers, I will let her.



Overthinking this
Saturday May 20th 2017, 9:44 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift

The Christmas stocking: a few more repeats and then the toes. The cable patterns are all variations of a simple 2×2 on the fourth row.

Um, when I decided how long to make it I didn’t really consider how much the heel would add to that. My cousin’s going to have to work hard to fill that thing. Raise the mantle, maybe?

It never occurred to me until today that the sewn, flat stockings my mother-in-law and I made my kids have the names facing outwards and the foot going sideways. Of course, because what else, but I was halfway through what you see of the foot here (which is resting sideways for the photo) when I realized that either half the name wasn’t going to show when you hang the thing, or if I center the hanging loop directly behind the name, the foot part is going to be sticking straight out into the room. Is that odd? Or just to my eyes used to one thing? Where would you put that loop?

Next is to pick up the stitches at the top and knit and then tack down a second layer of that ribbing above the name for strength, now that I can see that it needs it, along with making that future loop, wherever it will go.



A few photos and then running back to work on that project
Friday May 19th 2017, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

Sam sent me a photo of her qiviut headband from Oomingmak.

Devin holding Mathias May 9 with their six month old puppy looking out for her new buddy, and Mathias yesterday, growing fast.

Meantime I finally figured out how I wanted to finish that Christmas stocking for my cousin’s son–how big of a heel to turn, how to incorporate the cabling pattern into it, etc etc, and I’ve been working on it like crazy. I think I’d better go ice my hands.



Tadpole
Monday May 15th 2017, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Mathias, via his parents, in frogs and a shark.

Stumbled across this today and found it lovely and worth sharing.

 



Second Sunday in May
Sunday May 14th 2017, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Talked to my folks, saw my friend Edie and some of her bouncy little grandkids, talked to my kids, Facetimed with my grands in San Diego, texted a picture of me holding a mug with Mathias’s pictures on it to show it had come in time.

And a good Mother’s Day it was. Hope yours was, too.



Get fuzzy
Saturday May 13th 2017, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,Life

The answer to DebbieR’s question starts with, I had no idea that that cute little cabin that’s pictured in everything I ever saw having to do with the Oomingmak cooperative was actually smack dab in downtown Anchorage! We happened to drive past it after hours and I exclaimed and grabbed the phone and snapped its picture through the windshield (see yesterday’s post) from the passenger side.

Sam asked the next morning if I wanted to visit the place?

Heck yeah!

And so she and I went while Richard stayed home with the baby. It was just a quick little jaunt.

There was the back room in view, completely familiar to me from Donna Druchunas’s book and every article I’ve ever read about the place. There were hand knits on display and hat kits for sale and if I’d been really rich that baby-size handspun qiviut blanket that was just under $700 would have been Mathias’s. If only. Inexplicably I saw none of the traditional smoke rings they’re so famous for–cowls, as someone in the Lower 48 would call them, infinity scarves, in the finest, softest, warmest handspun lace.

I made great friends with my first surgeon eight years ago when she was trying to describe this beautiful little hand knit she’d bought from an Eskimo group while visiting Alaska and I’d asked, Was it qiviut? A smoke ring? She was astonished: “How did you know?!”

I’m a knitter! And I spin.

And I live in California. I knew, looking at their wares, that I in no way need the extreme warmth of the undercoat of the gentle musk ox. But my daughter, now! I told her I had long wanted to support the women who do that work, but online from afar and in the wrong climate I’d just never made that order.

But here we were. (And the prices were about what it would cost me to knit them myself, I said afterwards as we were going back to the car.)

She picked out a thick, wide intarsia headband knitted in two natural shades–two designs, actually, taking a minute to decide: “This one looks like poinsettias to me,” and almost got it but the other won out in the end. (The one I’d picked out as my favorite, and if I should have kept my mouth shut it’s too late now.)

I’m rather sorry I didn’t get its picture. Even better yet, on her.

They said if it ever needed repair to just bring the sales slip with it and they would do it.

I told her it was an early Happy Mother’s Day from me. I didn’t quite say out loud, you swaddle your baby in warmth and I’ll swaddle mine.

But I did want at least some little memento for me and they had these tiny bags of combed raw qiviut: $4 each and I got two.

Sam told me afterwards that one of her co-workers had a hat from Oomingmak but he cannot wear it indoors. It’s too hot.

I figure, in Alaska, that’s a good problem to have.



Cat’s eyes
Friday May 12th 2017, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Family,Life


The two cats.

While we were holding Mathias….

By day, a baby gate blocks the dog and them from each other but at night the puppy goes into her kennel and they are allowed to roam the house.

And so it was one evening that Sam’s cat ventured forth to claim her humans. She had met us when she was a kitten, seemed to recognize us a few years later by coming to me instead of her usual fear of strangers, and now at ten she had summoned us in her hour of need and we had come.

The, the, the, DOG. That big galumphing puppy. In HER house. The tiny new human interloper, although he left her alone and seemed acceptable. But the anticipated luxurious salon appointment that had turned out to be at the vet’s–that shall not be spoken of.

And so there we were, waiting to pet her, most deliciously on the couch where the dog could see her but was not allowed to go.

But first.

There was the dog’s favorite bone, right there in the middle of the floor she was claiming as rightfully her own in the night. She stood immediately behind it. She looked at the dog. She dared to touch a paw almost to it but deigned not to quite sully herself so.

As she stood eye to eye with that St. Bernard.

I can do anything I want with this and you know you can’t do a thing about it.

She stood like that for a full minute at least while I tried not to laugh for fear of waking up the exhausted new parents.

And then, having made her point, she came to us and dared us to think qiviut could be any softer. (Hey! The embiggen feature works on that Oomingmak pic!)



Young and grizzled
Thursday May 11th 2017, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

Missing this little guy.

Last summer I wished I’d gotten a picture of the taxidermied grizzly at Anchorage airport that warns incoming tourists that Alaska is dead serious about the size of its bears. So here it is, with an arctic fox at its feet on the right.



Baby hat
Wednesday May 10th 2017, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

While in Alaska I started a sweater for Mathias. Baby cables, I explained to my son-in-law, are the simplest and smallest form of cabling.

Cabling?

As in fisherman sweaters?

He drew a blank.

Aran sweaters?

This wasn’t helping.

Alright then so I needed to demonstrate.

I decided about six inches into it though that I didn’t have enough yarn to finish. (Actually, after I got home I found out I did, I had more than I thought–I just hadn’t brought it all.) Well… What Mathias actually needed was a newborn size hat anyway. Let’s see, the front of a sweater is generally equal to the width of a hat, so, there you go, and I decreased at the top, sewed up the seam and called it good.

And if Comcast, which has been flickering all night, will hold still long enough I’ll post this and the photo.



Different each day
Tuesday May 09th 2017, 8:53 pm
Filed under: Family

And a few more pictures…



Alaska
Monday May 08th 2017, 4:18 pm
Filed under: Family,Life


Our daughter called and said the baby was going to be coming home from the hospital Saturday; we booked our flights and arrived Monday and then came home this morning a week later and fell into bed well after 2:00 am. Delayed flight delayed luggage and my body has no idea what time zone I’m in and I wouldn’t trade a second of it for anything.

Arriving, parking lots had mounds of dirt with white peeking out–oh, right, those are snowbanks still melting down, aren’t they. The trees were in dead-of-winter mode. The first one popped out in small bright sparkles of green the day before we left and by the morning there were tiny tiny leaves everywhere against the gray, as if the director had hummed the pitch and the a cappella choir was leaping right into the song.

Mathias was a placid, happy baby–as long as someone was holding him. Always. Day or night. The neonatologist said that sometimes the early ones need that extra cuddling.

We quickly got into the routine and privilege of having him in our arms while his parents got some uninterrupted sleep for the first shift of the night, with or without a bottle of pumped milk to extend that as his mother chose. Then we went off to our hotel to let them become a new family together without the in-laws there every moment. (And to lessen any fear of my falling over the big puppy, a St Bernard with a bit of Mastiff, and risking hitting my head. She did lean against the backs of my knees and cave me in just once but we did fine.)

Friday the baby let himself be put down in a crib for the first time, and that was a huge milestone.

We are in awe of our daughter. We are in awe of our son-in-law. You could not ask for better parents. And we are head over heels in love with Mathias.

I have to add, on a side note, that we got the great Alaska experience: one night (such as they are in May) we had just pulled onto the road when Richard slowed the car almost instantly right back down to a gentle stop before I saw why.

There was an immense moose before us. It took the next few steps that brought it right up to the hood of our car, where we could see it more clearly in the dusk. We weren’t going anywhere.

We knew rationally to be afraid but neither of us could find it in us to be so. Wow. What a magnificent animal. I’d always thought moose were frankly pretty darn ugly, but looking straight up at this seven foot tall creation of nature as it took a few steps around us and now stood outside the driver’s side–the entire driver’s side of the car–we were silent, taking in the moment as it took in us. Hail fellow. Well met.

Richard, pulling carefully away now, hoped out loud, Did you get its picture? as it stood there in the road, turning its enormous head to look at the kids’ house and then the other way while I hoped the dog wasn’t barking its head off.

Uh that would be a no. (On both.)

He said he wasn’t going back for it (!), and that made sense.

The other thing? The former governor of Alaska was in the grocery store at the other end of the produce department over by the deli while we were picking a few things up for the kids. No it couldn’t possibly be. Yes she absolutely was. I was slightly agog and trying not to look like it while my husband could not have cared less–we’re DC natives, we grew up with politicians, enough of them people who needed to let you know that they were important and he simply was not impressed. I love that man.

This is what matters.

Mathias went from squinting away from the brightness of light to opening his eyes to it and to us more and more. He went from a low of 6 lbs 13 oz to racing to make up for lost birthweight and beyond.

We got a text between airports Sunday: the dog had picked up a favorite toy and gone searching through the house for me. She wanted our playing together to never end.

Soon enough a little boy will be taking over from there.