Stocking stuffer
Wednesday January 02nd 2019, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Family

Having learned the hard way with quite a few lesser versions myself, I warned Maddy, who had just turned four, that if you pull the tape out all the way it will break and it won’t go back in anymore.

She doesn’t know how far all the way would be so she was being pretty cautious (so far so good). But watching that thing ziiiiiiiiipping back into itself–she did a little leap and a laugh each time.

I’d actually given it to her mom but it quickly proved how useful a distraction it could be to a kid needing attention or distraction: we could measure things together.

And so we did. Going around her instep matched the width of her wrist. Who knew? Around just her heel: same number. Height, head, hand… She’d owned the number four for less than a week but now she had all these other numbers that were just hers, too!

If only I’d known when my own kids were little how small and yet how engrossing a game I could have had in my purse all that time.

(Lantern Moon crocheted beaded tape measure from Vietnam, bought at Uncommon Threads in Los Altos, CA.)

Three months
Tuesday January 01st 2019, 11:26 pm
Filed under: Family

This little guy.

Pulling rank
Monday December 31st 2018, 9:16 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

“Grandma, how old are you?” It sounds like such an innocent question in the moment.

“Well, I just turned 60 a few weeks ago.” (And am trying hard to get used to that. I know in 20 years it’ll sound young but it sure doesn’t right now.)

He invites me to play checkers with him. I find I’m not sure we have the same concept of said game. You jump the other guy’s piece by going over it, you don’t smash it and everything in its path out of your way, I explain, but he is eager to show me that this is how we were going to do it.

“Bumper car checkers?”

“Well, my 69-year-old grandma plays it that way. My other grandma,” he explains.

(I know who Ann is just fine and yeah buddy I don’t think so.) I give him a look that is both skeptical and trying not to burst out laughing at his imagining that he can pull my leg like that, thinking, okay, I had to set your little brother straight on some of the finer points–like how both sides play from the same color squares, not shooting past each other on opposite ones; he picked up on strategy quickly, too, even surprising me with a double jump. King me? I get to be king? Cool! But at eight you are old enough to know better, unless this new Christmas toy is one you haven’t actually played yet, ever, and you don’t want to admit that you don’t know how to do what your brother now knows how to.

He persists. I laugh and tell him I’d been playing checkers a long long time and I’d never heard of playing it that way.

But he’d so clearly been looking forward to his Hulk! Smash! version.

We were going to have jammed fingers, pieces flying into faces or unwitting siblings nearby… Nope. I tell him with a smile, “I don’t play bumper car checkers,” while cheerfully offering to start the game (Alright! You want to go first or you want me to?) without belaboring the right way/my way.

With a baby to coo at and finger food to chomp on, he wanders off to something better.

San Diego
Monday December 31st 2018, 1:15 am
Filed under: Family

Return flight late. Still probably a little baby spit in my hair. Had a great time playing with the grands. G’night.

The hat that elbowed its way past me
Wednesday December 26th 2018, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

Saturday night I was taking something out of the cupboard and hit my elbow hard on the big wooden cutting board leaning against the side of the fridge there.

At least it wasn’t the one dedicated to chopping chocolate. That would have just been too cruel.

After a bit of Google, I was in no hurry to get it seen. It’s too late tonight. If it’s broken it’ll be worse tomorrow and that’ll tell us. No, no, it’s Sunday–let people have their day of rest. Who wants to bother anybody on Christmas Eve? C’monnn, on Christmas? It’ll get better.

Or not.

Which is why I finally went in today.

A splint *will* happen, said the search results. Period. The new doctor? Not so much. He was willing to have it x-rayed but if it was just a hairline then all they would do is tell me to be careful. Otherwise, he was talking surgery (suddenly a splint didn’t sound so bad.) But he didn’t think so.

There was that rib he didn’t think was broken a few months ago that turned out to actually be displaced. I’m the one who doesn’t always feel pain as much as I should, remember?


He may have called us afterwards while we we were still out, running errands; we came home to the answering machine having been bumped into the no messages position, so we’ll just have to wait till tomorrow, again. But at least we’ll know.

Meantime, having started this hat something like an hour before all this began, a few minutes before we left for the appointment I finally finished it–just in case I wouldn’t be able to afterwards. Remembering the six weeks of not being allowed to knit after I broke my hand (um, I made it to four) and after the frustration of this taking me too many days because it did not feel great to work on, I was going to get it finished before they could tell me I couldn’t. And I did. (Minus weaving in the ends.) So there.

At the returning of the light
Tuesday December 25th 2018, 11:31 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life

Dinner chez Nina, then home and FaceTime with kids and grandkids. Books and chocolate, lots of chocolate, and some very good yarn. Who knew the Japanese knitting stitches book was in English now?

Merry Christmas and every holiday celebrated and may the peace of goodwill be with us all.

Christmas Eve Eve
Sunday December 23rd 2018, 11:35 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends

The email went out this morning and it noted that that lack of prior notice was deliberate: they didn’t want people to feel stress about it. Just joy in each other’s company. Food was going to be provided. If you wanted to add something, sure, but no need, and please to know that they were not seeking sweets.

Which might explain the variety and number of bottles of shelf-stable juice.

We brought several pounds of grapes snipped into small bunches.

Thus church was one single 70-minute meeting that was mostly Christmas music: the choir, the children, the congregation–and then we adjourned to where long low tables were set up for the little ones, adult-height tables for the grownups, and chairs around the perimeter for those who just wanted to sit a moment while doing their mingling. That way, the brownian motion of small children was kept a little away from the frail elderly.

Fruit and more fruit. Rolls. Sliced ham. Vegetarian options. Condiments. Fruit juice, milk, everybody welcome. Go talk to someone you haven’t had a chance to before.

A homeless man I’d never seen before showed up and was welcomed to join in. It could well be that the regular attenders in that situation had let him know about it. Cool.

Richard got so caught up in talking to somebody that he downed the mango juice in his hands that actually happened to be mine, and was suddenly quite sheepish. Oops. (I’d run out of hands with the cane.)

That’s okay, there was plenty more.

Saturday December 22nd 2018, 11:29 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life

It is a recipe I will wish for forever and can never have.

Our daughter flew home from Europe via a stopover in Istanbul today. Or her yesterday but our today–“Is it Sunday here yet?”

No, still Saturday.

She was tired.

An older woman got on her flight at that airport who spoke maybe five words of English. She needed help. It took about five minutes of pantomiming between them and trying before it became clear: she needed to borrow a cable to recharge her phone.

Oh! Sure!

Turns out she needed help figuring out how to actually use it, too. No problem. Turns out her phone needed a new battery to take that charge better and faster, but at least they got it halfway there. You need it to work when you’re landing in a strange country trying to reach your family over at park and call.

And in profuse thanks the woman tried to shower her with good food.

She didn’t want to be rude but there was no way they could find enough words in common for her to be able to make sure that she wasn’t allergic to every bit of it–and so she accepted the tiny wrapped bites of good chocolate and the clearly freshly homemade biscotti inside that white napkin and brought it home to us for it to be properly appreciated.

Definitely butter in that, yes.

A nibble, one for him one for me, was the plan: the rest would go towards breakfast in the morning. But no, once we’d tried that perfect taste and texture we devoured it all. And I’m not usually someone who cares for biscotti–why break a tooth over something so dry and tasteless?

But THIS. Wow!

I’ve been trying to deconstruct it ever since. Probably superfine almond flour for most of the flour; the nuts were chopped fairly small and roasted to perfect crispness and flavor as if they’d just cooled from the oven. You had to have a hand under the result to catch what crumbled when you bit because you didn’t want to miss out on any of this. It might even have been made this morning–whatever day however many hours ago this morning started out as over there.

But then, you would expect a woman presumably from Turkey would know how to make this right. And boy did she. And I can’t even thank her.

I hope she gets her phone taken care of while she’s here.

Oh Christmas Tree
Friday December 21st 2018, 11:38 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

All those hats knit snug and warm in bulky Mecha, and a missing size-large yarn needle: it was stopping me. Well, that and the residual flu.

So I went to the local yarn store yesterday at long last (those hats have been waiting) and then Target and the drug store and found that that was pretty much all I was going to get done for one day.

Which meant that today, any pressure to get things to their recipients before Christmas was off: I was sending these because I was sending these and if it came the next day then all the more happy anticipation, right?

I sat down and ran all those ends in, now that it was a lot easier to do (thank you Uncommon Threads.) Eight hats. I got the tags sewn in. I got the ones going to my niece and her four boys boxed up, with an extra thrown in to keep in their glove box in case someone really needed just one more choice of color now that they were going to be seeing them in person. Or for them to warm a homeless person at random, give to my brother-in-law/ the kids’ grandpa, whatever they chose.

So, hats, done. The cowl for another niece, found a padded envelope after all, done. (Mumbletymumble) as an extra something going up to Alaska, done. Helped Richard move some stuff needing moving.

And suddenly my body was just done.

Nuh uh, you’re not doing that to me again–you’ve been doing that to me for three weeks and I’ve got me some catching up to do.

Yonder vacationing hubby (also recuperating from the same bug) to the rescue: between us we figured we could do it. He drove us to the post office and carried the boxes.

Pro tip: you can send five pounds to Alaska priority mail in your own box for $63 or you can send that same thing inside the post office’s official Flat Rate box for $18-something. And the stuff fit. Hey.

Shopping at Costco next and we actually somehow snagged a parking spot.

It took us a meal and a break and a rest, and then we had our annual conversation about, thank you for letting me get the lush full pre-lit Scotch pine I wanted and next time let’s just get a flip tree, okay? Unzip, twirl top over bottom, done. He agreed. (Storing them upside down helps preserve the bough structure in those, but we already splurged once; it’ll be awhile.)

The knitting is out of here and in the mail. The tree is skirted and decorated and the boxes are back in the garage. The stockings are hung, the Christmas quilt is out, and tomorrow after we go to the airport there’ll be more than the two of us here for a little while again.

In trying to take this picture a little later, I somehow managed to break the first glass ball ornament of the season. I have no idea why that makes it feel like it really is Christmas now but that totally did it.


88 and eight!
Thursday December 20th 2018, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Happy Birthday, Mom! And Parker!

And to Hazel B. in Pittsburgh and Lisa B. from knitting and Sterling A. and cousin Frances named after my mom after being born on her birthday and Carole K. And hey, Mom, Wendy B-B. who with her sisters grew up on Green Twig had her daughter on your birthday, so Jessey B’s on the 12/20 list, too. Happy Birthday!

How the song came to be
Wednesday December 19th 2018, 10:27 pm
Filed under: Family,History

Via my cousin, who writes music in New York City for Broadway.

The lovely Christmas song “Do you hear what I hear?” was written in the middle of and as an answer to, of all things, the Cold War. “The tail as big as a kite” refers to a nuclear missile as well as the heavenly star in the song’s appeal to the people everywhere for peace.

The Atlantic has the story.

Kishu tree for my milestone
Thursday December 13th 2018, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden

My sweet husband. He’s a very kind man.

They’d been sold out the last several years whenever I looked, and Four Winds is the only grower I know of allowed to ship citrus here: we don’t have the devastating greening disease (Huonglongbing) yet in northern California, and they’ve moved their citrus growing inside with air blowing unwanted insects away at the doors to try to avoid it.

Kishu mandarins are tiny little things that are not sold commercially. You have to know someone who has a tree. The skins just fall right off, there are no seeds, and after seeing them demonstrated there is so little fiber to them that even I should be able to eat them easily. Just pop a small round packet of sweet juice into your mouth and that’s about it.

I first saw them in planters outside a restaurant a few years ago and wondered, what *is* that? How have I never heard of this? And so I went looking. There were none to be found, not from them and not from any retailer within a hundred miles when I settled for the Gold Nugget mandarin that I bought in Santa Cruz, whose birdnetted first squirrel-free fruits are turning orange now. And those will be good. Post-colectomy and all that, I’ll probably have to juice mine.

But normal tasty food eaten a normal way. Richard gets what that means to me.

I looked again a few days ago, just out of sheer curiosity. Four Winds had Kishus! And not only that, when he saw my enthusiasm my patient husband backed me up on it.

It came on my birthday today, four years to the day after the mango did.

This is how you properly celebrate flipping over the tens column. With enthusiasm over the growth and caretaking and offerings to come.

They made it memorable
Wednesday December 12th 2018, 5:07 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

My dad likes to say, How many meals do you eat in your life? Now: how many do you remember?

So they had this plan, with my son saying the credit for the idea goes to his wife. I had a bit of a lingering cough but they decided that that wouldn’t stop anything.

He was already at the airport when he got the word that, uh…

He got on that plane anyway. We could bring the food home if need be. We were going to celebrate my milestone birthday (early, while his sister was still in town; she’s getting on a plane herself as I type.) He was going to take the four of us out to my favorite restaurant, Flea Street Cafe, with reservations for early enough for him to arrive back home again near midnight.

Meantime, having no idea of any of this, I started off the day really stupid: it was one of the days I’m supposed to change the dressing on my ileostomy, and if I put that off by a day sometimes it fails. Not often, but once was enough. You’re not supposed to eat or drink before you do that change. I felt wretched but was just going to soldier through.

Except I couldn’t. Had I been clear-headed, the fact that my kidneys start to shut down if I don’t drink eight ounces every two waking hours would have entered my brain. Not drinking also means I hadn’t taken the med that keeps my blood pressure up. Totally forgot it. (Flashing back to the nurse who exclaimed, 80/40?! How did you walk IN here?! Same way you did, I told her.)

My husband, knowing what was up, got me to drink something around noon when it was clear how badly I needed it, encouraged me towards the shower a few hours later so I could feel more human, made sure the shower chair from when I was recovering from surgery was in there, and kept encouraging me to try being up for awhile.

No way. Overnight I had clearly added a secondary bacterial infection to the mess and bed was just a really good place to be.

Got that dressing changed. Got a smoothie down. Got halfway dressed, at his insistence that it would help.

And then the big reveal: someone was in the family room waiting to see me.

Oh. My. Gosh.

I so did not want to give anyone else my bugs. But I so didn’t want to disappoint my kids. I’m still torn on that, but we went and we had a great time and surrounded by love and laughter I was actually able to do it. I  quietly apologized to Jesse, Flea St’s owner, when she stopped by our table, but she’d already exclaimed over my son’s having flown in just for this just for me and she held me gently in her eyes a moment and understood. She’s a good soul.

He had tried to rent a nice car to take us in for the occasion; the agency had been so sorry but they were all out of…could they upgrade him to a Jaguar at no charge?

It was a revelation: it was so quiet that even with my ears stuffed up I could hear him talking as he drove and I could even hear the two in the back seat, and that never happens and note that my ears are at their worst. I totally get why a hearing-impaired friend of mine bought a used one a few years ago.

He dropped us off at home afterwards and dashed up the freeway towards the airport. I tried to blog. I put down the computer, just so done for the day, went into the bathroom to get ready for bed and barfed.

To be continued
Tuesday December 11th 2018, 9:46 pm
Filed under: Family

What a surprise! What a great ending to the day!

And now I’m falling asleep trying to type so I guess I’ll just have to leave you hanging like that for tonight, sorry.

Do not open before Christmas
Friday December 07th 2018, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family,Lupus

My dad sent us home from our visit last month with my suitcase stuffed with six really big amaryllis bulbs. (Pro tip: the TSA machine reads those as bombs.)

What they needed was fresh soil and big heavy pots to keep the future multiple sun-tracking stalks from knocking them over sideways. Hopefully. Which is fine, except that I just wasn’t looking forward to that trip down the freeway, much though I like supporting Yamagami’s. It’s a great nursery with a lot of pre-Silicon Valley history to it.

And part of that foot-dragging was UV-sensitive hours vs our rush hour that starts just after 2:00; December is safer lupus-wise for walking around outdoors than November.

Meantime, in the nice warm house two of them started to sprout a few days ago so I cut holes in their bags and turned them over to un-tilt their sense of direction.

Found a third one starting to sprout this morning. The middle one. It did all that in under 24 hours. Okay, that’s it, time to get going, yay for December, and Yamagami’s once again impressed me with what good people they hire.

Opening the fourth bag, I’d had no idea that bulb in the foreground had even come out of dormancy.

You can tell.


Dark red, wine, white, pink/red/white, with the bags tucked under each for now so I can remember which is which.

Thank you, Dad! Can’t wait! Now that they’re finally planted the little kid in me is like, so BLOOM now! C’mon guys, hurry up!