Bags
Tuesday December 26th 2017, 11:51 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,History,Life

And we are home. So much to tell. This isn’t one of Richard’s shots of Elon Musk’s Space X launch, it’s the one I took several minutes later. We were 300 miles south of where it took off and it still took up a huge chunk of the sky (this was the small part).

We said goodbye to our son John at the airport as we went our separate ways tonight. Same airline, different gates, our baggage checked in by different agents.

Arriving home, my smaller bag (thankfully mostly empty) was AWOL. He called just a few minutes ago to say that while he was waiting and waiting and waiting for his big bag (just like we had just done), lo and behold, mine, with our tag and name and airport on it, had shown up instead and he’d recognized it. Had his shown up first of course he would have been long gone.

He needs his a lot more than I needed mine. We’re holding out hope–hey, it worked for the two of us; meantime, that’s one $50 Southwest voucher for us when we retrieve ours at the airport when it gets in instead of making them deliver it.

The most surprising moment of the trip happened at church: I saw an old friend who with his family (a few years younger than ours) had moved out of our ward probably twenty years ago.

I knew that his wife had been very ill of late. I knew she had been in a coma for some time with her survival by no means certain–but I had heard nothing since and I didn’t quite know how to ask.

I asked how she was–and he, beaming, motioned, She’s right here!

Oh. My. Goodness!!!

Hale and hearty and enjoying a family reunion, just like we were. I tell you. That was one great moment.

Of many.



On their birthday
Wednesday December 20th 2017, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Knitting a Gift

Happy Birthday to my mom and to Parker! He has been waiting all his life to be seven.

Sat down at 9:00 this morning with the barely-begun and pulled the yarn triumphantly through that last loop at 1:30 on the nose. Put a tag to it (and iced my hands) and got it wrapped and out the door. And another one’s done and another one’s mailed and another one bites the dust. Hopefully that’s not already too much of a spoiler. But–I did it! Saturday delivery, they claim.

Drove from there to Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco. (Nope–their site’s still hacked, don’t look at it like I just did but if you know a good web support person she’s looking and I’d be happy to pass a name on to her.) I got the yarn for two of the three people still waiting–the two I needed to buy for. (Dark but no purple? Oh well that lets out that that and that in my stash. Purple gravitates towards me.) Oh and no brights. (Not that or that or that either, then.) The more I’d thought about it, the more I felt it needed to be superwash, if for no other reason than to be fair to some future grandchild or child helping their aged parents out with the laundry and being horror-stricken at how the favorite hat had come out. Been there comforted the kid when it happened to the Scandinavian sweater I’d knit in high school. So let’s not do that to them.

THAT, then, at the store. Yes. Dark not purple, heathery not a boring solid but going subtle on the hand-dyed look even if he did marry into a definitely artistic family. Good old Mecha by golly. It seemed exactly right to me, and if it’s not, (talking to my sister here) let me quietly know and I’ll try again.

Meantime, yesterday morning I went out and again picked the tomatoes that were far enough along to ripen inside. There was a possibility of snow last night. (So of course it rained instead and the 30-something temps took a night off.) The ripest were at the bottom of the bowl, with a few surprise orange ones added to the top after I thought I’d gotten them all.

Five and a half pounds this time. And yet, still more to come, if they can.

So my day went from fiercely focused to meandering blogging. How was yours?



Three down
Wednesday December 20th 2017, 12:37 am
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift

Three in the mail, done and done in time for every one of them to arrive in time via Priority mail, even the one going to Anchorage. My brother-in-law’s, though, I didn’t find the yarn I wanted, even at the shop I stopped in at on my way home from San Jose. Still working on working on it.

But hey. I got asked last week by various people who knew nothing of each other’s requests to do five knitting projects that I wasn’t expecting, hopefully before Christmas they wished out loud, and two of those are already on their way there and a third has been cast on. I’m pretty happy about that.



To Nash with love
Monday December 18th 2017, 11:36 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

Malabrigo Mecha, 68 stitches, US 7 needles, Parisian Night colorway. Needs the ends run in. Soft and warm.

Needs a run in to the post office.



Old friends
Thursday December 14th 2017, 11:34 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life

I baked Phyl and Lee a chocolate torte yesterday and didn’t manage to finish glazing it with the ganache until just after they’d shown up at our doorstep last night–with a surprise gift from Prolific Oven with “Happy Birthday Alison” on it. What comes around…

We stopped by and visited Betty today, and if she didn’t remember who I was this time she sure didn’t let on. Fifteen or twenty minutes was enough, she was starting to fade, but she wished me a happy birthday and I wished her one, too, a few days before her 93d. Richard asked her her favorite Christmas carol and then sang it, with me coming in and out (mostly out) depending on whether I could remember the next lines or not–it wasn’t one I knew well. His was a voice of angelic intention.

Came home, started a half-load of laundry, all we dare do till that machine is repaired or replaced–and there was a gurgle in the bathtub. Did you hear that? He knew. It took me a moment longer.

It wasn’t just one bathroom, either. Don’t turn on that dishwasher.

We have to decide which plumber to call in the morning, fully aware that we were once given a $7000 estimate on ripping up the front yard for the complete sewer line do-over that has been coming for some time.

Yeah… But our daughter sent us video of the baby’s first crawling, we got to FaceTime with him yesterday and this time he knew exactly who those people on the screen talking to him were, we got to likewise see the grandkids in San Diego across the electrons and Parker, who is somehow already turning seven next week, proudly played Hark How The Bells for us (with two hands!) on the piano.

And life is pretty darn sweet.



Good and busy
Thursday December 14th 2017, 12:36 am
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life

Good times, good friends, a good day, good night.



Wholly cow
Monday December 11th 2017, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

It’s all Costco’s fault that we didn’t wait.

Richard actually went there on a Saturday in December, grocery list in hand. Brave man.

Boy did he come home with a grin. They’d goofed and forgotten to change the “fresh fryer legs” on the ticker thingy to the type of thick slab of beef that they slapped the next label on as they weighed it–nearly four pounds, yes, but under five dollars?

He asked at checkout to be sure because, um, hey guys, and the clerk called the manager over because that was the protocol but she already knew what the answer was: this was their mistake and his good luck.

Then she admitted that one had come through like that yesterday–and it was prime rib.

The mind, it boggles.

So. Back on Black Friday, we were at Sam’s house, of course, and she happened to have an Instant Pot, which has been the big fad of a kitchen gadget of the last year or two; I asked her what she thought of hers.

She LOVED her 6 quart. Uses it all the time.

Amazon was selling the 8 qt cheap for the day…

I looked at hers and we debated, bigger than that? No. Too big, too much counter space, there’s just the two of us at our house; it was a shame the one her size was at full price–but even that might be a bit much for us. I had no experience with them and I just didn’t know.

So she and Michelle drove me to Target so I could check out the 3 quart mini version in person (which they happened to have on sale, even if I didn’t want to schlep it through airports.) That I can definitely do, sure, I told them, looks good. It would be great for throwing dinner into while I drive off to get Richard from work in the evenings. I could time things and then have them kept warm if we ran late.

I fished through my purse on the very off chance that…

I did! I had them!

I’m in a lupus study at UCSF that once every year has me on the phone answering questions for about 75 minutes, and in response they’ve sent me small gift cards to Target the last two years. I’d never used them.

The upshot is that we ordered that Mini Instant Pot from them and it cost a grand total of $11 including shipping and taxes.

Sooo… Then the question was, when do we open it? What label do we put to this thing? Birthday? Christmas? And there it sat.

Till Richard came home with that roast today that would in no way fit into our suddenly-tiny toy. Well, alright then, and he whacked it in half and we can try two different recipes with it.

We read through the instructions. We prewashed the tub. We ran a steam cycle to test it like they say, and then we started that first pot roast.

Did I remember the part about putting the carrots and potatoes in at the last ten minutes? I did not. In with the seared meat they went.

Ten minutes later, the kitchen was already started to smell like the Sunday afternoons of my childhood.

Twenty-six minutes left. Not that I’m counting or anything. (I hopped up to check just now and Richard instantly wanted to know, too.)

Proofread post. Edit. Get up and check. Twelve minutes.

Oh wait–that should have been ten more minutes on that recipe oops I read it wrong, but we didn’t figure out how to add more time till after we’d already pronounced it good enough and dug in. And it was already tender enough, although next time it will be more so.

Yeah. I think we’re going to like this gadget. Band, meet wagon.



The fallout
Saturday December 09th 2017, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

What I didn’t mention yesterday was that at one point as I helped hold the washing machine tilted back while Mike worked, my foot started to slip out from under me while his hand and the edge of his head were or at least had been underneath that thing. I gasped, “Watch out!” as I grabbed hard at it in horror.

At the time, I caught it, he caught it with his other hand, nothing happened and phew, that was close. So glad he was okay! Next time let’s prop it up with something, okay? That was too close.

It took me awhile to put that together with the consequences.

Now, I have a very mild case of scoliosis, I’ve been rear-ended four times, I know the exercises one does for one’s back and that sometimes it’s just going to hurt  for awhile.

But this was something altogether new. I tried to carefully get up this morning and found myself on the floor unable to move whatsoever.  Pain I could push through, but the muscles on the right utterly refused to support my weight and I was frozen on the floor just as I’d landed, immobile. Uncross the feet? Can’t. Crawl to where I could pull myself up, Mathias-style? Not possible. They were on strike.

Y’know, this could make for a very long day down here. Bathroom. Ileostomy dressing change morning. I don’t ask for much but those were non-negotiable no matter what I thought about it.

Richard heard me, woke up, and came immediately to the rescue.

Eight years ago, I took one single Tylenol and remember it. The big Crohn’s flare that January left lesions on my liver, so on general principles I don’t touch the stuff even though it’s the only painkiller I can take.

He offered me two, from a new bottle he’d recently bought just in case–he’d just had a feeling I might need them sometime after all–and I was very glad to have them. I’d had no idea we had any. He got me an icepack. He talked me into taking the nap that I needed after last night.

The day improved, definitely. But normal looks a long way off.

I figured I was allowed one good whine about it and this is it. Meantime, my husband’s a peach.



Let me get back to you on that
Friday December 08th 2017, 11:28 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Mike-the-repairman came. First thing he did was he tried turning on the washing machine.

Dang if the thing didn’t turn right on. I was gobsmacked. I had tried… and I’d come back later and had tried again, and …!

He asked a few questions and since I was the one who’d been using it and the space in there was tight, Richard, who’s on vacation, went back across the house to what he was doing.

Mike got down and looked at it from underneath while he and I both held it up out of his way a bit. (I had emptied the water out earlier as best I could, cupful by cupful into about ten small-dyepot loads in case he had to pull the thing out. It was a surprisingly lot.)

The motor was not dead but it was on its way out. Do small loads, he said, don’t do them back to back like when it died, let the thing cool down. A new motor would cost a couple hundred–he was going to see if he could find us a used one.

And with that he left us with a machine working for now and refused to let us pay him anything yet.

Quite to my surprise my back went on full-on strike the next time I tried to bend over. I had a doctor’s appointment to get to. Richard offered to drive me, good man that he is, and he dropped me off and then went off to check on Betty. That had not been in today’s plans but it suddenly made sense, and that was worth a day’s muscle twinges for sure and it made it feel okay.

Meaning, as Rachel Remen writes (in one of my all-time favorite books), is the language of the soul.

And it has an alphabet all its own.



Betty
Thursday December 07th 2017, 11:50 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life,Lupus

The repairman will be here in the morning.

Meantime, a friend who’s turning 93 this month had a small stroke this week along with some cardiac funkiness and just returned to her assisted-living facility today from the hospital. She’s been blind from birth, her hearing’s going, and although she remembers Richard–he once worked for a company that developed the software that read her her longtime computer, and for years she would call him as a friend for help about it, which he was glad to do–but she no longer remembers me. So when we found there were no parking spaces for blocks around and that the long walk in the sun was going to be a hazard to my own health, Richard hopped out to go visit her while I drove over to the chocolate shop. It seemed the best thing to do at that point; in her disorientation, I wasn’t sure my presence would be a comfort anyway.

I’m glad he got there so soon after she was discharged: he was able to find out what bothered her. The AL staff had moved her bed while she’d been away, not enough that a seeing person would be bothered but she could no longer find her computer nor her things nor was she capable of walking to go search for them. He got the staff to let the bed be moved back. A few feet–and having time to listen–made all the difference to her.

The doctor came by, and quietly told him that everything he could say that could help her reconnect to her memories would help. Betty had lived in Alaska decades ago, so, Richard told her about our Thanksgiving in Anchorage with our baby grandson and got her reliving the days.

She worried whether her seeing-eye dog, naming one of the ones she’d had over the years, had been fed well enough while she’d been away.

He’s been gone for several years.

I, meantime, got to go see Timothy and Adams, both. It had been awhile and I had missed them and it was a comfort to see them. The 65% hot chocolate? Well, yeah, I’d missed that, too, sure.

Richard texted that he hoped I’d ordered him one, too.

I grinned at my phone. 85% dark, just how you like it, coming right up.

We waved to each other as he spotted the car across the street from the nursing home again and we discussed as we drove off how we could best help her next. From his description, I wasn’t sure how many more nexts there would be, and he wasn’t sure, either.

And yet.

“Betty’s a tough old bird,” I pronounced, and he agreed strongly. He told me then that she had wondered herself if things were coming to an end now.

He’d told her, “You’re here as long as you want to be, Betty. And we’re with you.”



No repairman yet
Thursday December 07th 2017, 12:06 am
Filed under: Family,Knit,LYS

Putting it off meant there were now 18 of them. That’s a lot of wool socks. I washed and rinsed them in the sink but there was no spinning them out–there was nothing for it but to squeeze each one long and hard away from the waiting ones. This after pushing myself to finish knitting that cabled hat whether my hands liked it or not (but I did it! No spoiler pictures for now.)

I asked him, Remember that conversation my mom said she had with her mom where Mom said she wished she had a live-in maid like Gram had had before the War, and Gram answered she’d have given her up in a second for a modern washing machine?

Someone young and strong to work that earlier contraption.

I told him, I want to upgrade to a ringer.

He chuckled. Then he asked about the hat: will it be warm enough?

It’s densely knit with overlapping cabled stitches knit on as small needles as as I could manage and it ate through a ton of yarn.

But Alaska. Will it be warm enough for him?

It would be if I lined it, and there’s room, I could, and that was the original intent, but even though I thought I bought extra I don’t have enough yarn left and the store in Anchorage is a bit too far to go back to. I don’t know if they ship. I do know I’m running out of time.

A contrasting color? he offered helpfully.

So what we had here was my husband working himself up to declaring that I must go to, most likely, Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco. (Whose site seems hacked at the moment so I’m not linking it.) They carry Juniper Moon Farms.

So maybe the other Christmas presents and the still-waiting afghan just got pushed further back and that hat isn’t quite so done after all.

Hopefully, having to hand wash and squeeze out every piece of clothing in the house soon will be.



Snow worthy
Saturday December 02nd 2017, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

The lightbulb flickered briefly as we were driving I forget where and before I could forget again I told him, “Remind me to block that cowl before Sunday that I knitted on the plane.” Not because he would remember but because I’d be more likely to by asking.

It hit me tonight, oh wait–the cowl! It’s Saturday night!

And so, after rinsing it to relax the lace and spinning it out in the washer, it is hanging close to the heating vents to dry; it’s aran weight yarn (nope–that particular color’s sold out) so unless I take the hairdryer to it, having it ready in the morning is a definite maybe. But I gave it a test run for a day in Alaska (I needed to) and it is definitely warm and cozy.

Mathias-approved, too. Can’t beat that.



Shutter at the thought
Wednesday November 29th 2017, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

A group of one would guess Native Alaskans was taking pictures after Thanksgiving was over and they were about to leave the hotel, taking turns as to who was out of the picture working the shutter at the moment we happened to walk through the double sets of doors (those are everywhere in Anchorage, stamp the snow off your feet and shut out the cold before you enter) and into the lobby.

I stopped and asked, Would you like a picture with everybody in it?

They did not respond at all nor glance my way. I couldn’t be talking to them. I was a complete stranger.

I repeated the offer. I meant it.

There was a two-heartbeat pause, then a, Wait–what did you say?

Would you like us to take a picture of all of you together?

A one-beat hesitancy and then the decision was made, YES! Yes, please! An iPhone was handed over and they all squeezed in together. They had decided to trust us with that expensive piece of equipment after all, and after we handed it back another one got passed to me so that that person could have pictures on their phone, too. The second phone did the small whoosh sound with each click of that shot being sent somewhere (and I’d love to know how they pre-set it like that because my ancient 4S can’t do that. As far as I know.)

Happy to help. And we handed it back. Actually, I had Richard take them all and in hindsight… Everybody looks better in photos where the photographer is looking across or slightly up rather than way down, but ah well, the deed is done now. Now they get to remember that really tall guy and his pointing of view.

In those moments they had become downright bubbly in their unexpected inclusive new last memory of the moment and we were all friends as we continued on our way with a smile and a wave.

With me remembering a hike in the redwood forest of Muir Woods with our family and my sister and her boys years ago, when complete strangers stopped us where a dead mossy limb hung suspended over the trail and asked if we could take pictures of them. They handed us all their cameras both expensive and not and climbed onto or next to that limb in a happy lineup. Ride’em cowboy! They had so much fun posing in those shots that they turned it into a memorable celebration for us all, and I never even asked them their names.

It felt great to be able to pass that happiness on.



Anchorage
Tuesday November 28th 2017, 7:37 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

We went to the chocolate shop. Twice, actually, for Sam and me, the second time on our way home from the yarn store, where I looked for the softest wool and asked her which color her husband would pick out if he were there.

I took home skeins of something new to me but that I am definitely looking for again: Fourteen (referring to the micron count in the merino), by Juniper Moon Farm.

I did the ribbing that started a hat and then surprised him by saying I had a design question: beanie or cables?

Say what? Double take. I was knitting this for him? We confirmed that cables meant like on his wife’s sweater; “Cables would be nice!”

Alright then!

We played, we giggled, we wore ourselves out.

And we marveled at how gorgeous the landscape is. I remember the unending snow of New Hampshire as being dirty and gray at the roads’ edges as you go by, but everywhere in Anchorage was just enough, not too much yet, of the purest white everywhere, with the towering mountains the most perfect of all. I understood now how one could love this place in winter.

And why a few of the homes here and there are painted in cheerful tropical colors.

They took us to see the edge of the bay and our son-in-law pointed out the textures in what in summer were mud flats; now, though, the tide relentlessly brings in waves of crashing ice under the ice.

There was a stiff wind at the edge there, defining what cold could begin to really mean. We stayed just long enough for Michelle to snap pictures. We were well bundled but my hands were too cold to.



Silliness
Tuesday November 14th 2017, 11:02 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

I found a project that should have been done several months ago. I just have to pick up stitches along the edge, and…

…leaning way over thataway and checking…

Buttons on the right, right?

He looks at me funny.

I need to add a button band. Buttons on the right?

And hearts on the left!

Me, envisioning that and doing a head tilt: Say what?

He pats his chest with a grin: Heart’s on the left!

OHHHH. Oh Okay. I was picturing you in an oxford shirt with little red hearts all over on just one side and not even on Valentine’s and it just wasn’t… And I definitely wasn’t going to add them to the sweater. It’s the apostrophe I missed. For once in my life I needed to add an apostrophe, not delete it like all those other superfluous ones running around out there indicating possession when the person meant plural, or substituting for the i in is. Heart is on the left. I. See?

Got it.