A quick note after celebrating our friend Lee’s birthday
Saturday June 15th 2019, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Garden

My sister-and brother-in-law are arriving this coming week.

Ripen fast, guys.



Loud restaurant
Wednesday June 12th 2019, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life,Lupus

How I managed to polish off nearly my entire big piece of whipped-cream-and-berry-stuffed birthday cake afterwards. (Happy 80th, Mary!)

It was the day of the annual lupus-group lunch before we close shop for the summer. We’ve gone to the same place three years now by mutual agreement.

And…the menu was the same as those last two times, pretty much. Those six lunch entrees. Everybody loves them but man, doesn’t the chef get bored?

I have this weird low-fiber diet as an ileostomy patient and have learned at the cost of a five-day intubation that I must not eat certain foods.

So.

Yeah their hamburger is the best I’ve ever had but c’mon. So I ordered an appetizer that was safe and asked what the soup of the day was. (Soup being cooked. Cooking breaks down fiber.) Beef? Sounds good, thanks, that, too.

The waiter left and I went, Wait. Did he say…  …Beet?

No, the others reassured me, He said beef.

It didn’t occur to any of us that there was a third possibility. Oops.

I have never had such a good cake with so many calories with so little guilt. Celebrated Mary next to me with gusto. We did it right.



The world accordion to Betty
Sunday June 09th 2019, 8:50 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Betty’s been blind since birth, and when she was a kid her dad bought her an accordion because he figured that was an instrument she could play by feel and carry around with her.

As far as I know that was the one she still had when she got moved from independent living to the nursing home side of the facility several years ago–and for whatever reason, she decided to have her instrument sent off to her son down south (California speak for LA/SD.)

There is no knowing at which point it vanished in transit. But that was that.

Maybe she wasn’t so old after all, because in this new stage where she was mostly lying in bed, she missed the days of playing for the other tenants.

And so a request went out to the ward chat, a little out there but you never know: did anyone have one that was simply taking up space?

John, who heads the band John Henry’s Farm, offered her his and brought it to her. It was huge. There was barely room for her chin, and it was quite heavy. So wanted, and so close.

Someone then offered a small one. Betty, with muscle memory attuned to that which had been her own for so long, kept running out of keyboard.

At last someone who actually uses hers offered to let Betty try it out for a little while but she couldn’t afford to make a gift of it.

It was the Goldilocks. It was perfect.

And so another query went out: did anyone want to help chip in to buy Betty a new used one?

That we did.

John went back to her room there to practice with her, she in delight on her new accordion, he on his guitar and banjo: and tonight, in celebration of Betty’s 94th and a half birthday, they played a duet at church for all who wanted to come hear. A thank you to those who’d helped give Betty back her music. Anyone, just, come.

It was by far the longest I personally have seen her sitting up in a long time, and I wondered how she’d do and how she’d hold up. She did great. She loved being thanked for the music, loved being able to thank us for being able to play it, she just was energized like I have not seen since the days when she was mobile and still had her seeing-eye dog.

Man, it felt good to be alive.



Going in for a cleaning
Monday June 03rd 2019, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

She’s my mom’s age but has had more health challenges; she gave up driving some time ago. She needed a ride to the dentist. Yay for chat lists, which let you ask everybody so nobody gets put on the spot.

I sat on the Scandinavian-style couch in the waiting room with my small, portable Rios cowl project, listening fondly to the happy chatter, then the quiet, then the familiar sound of the drill.

The receptionist coming off her lunch break saw me, exclaimed over my work, and came over and asked if it were Malabrigo?

Yes! I asked if she was a knitter.

Oh, I’m a BIG knitter!

Instant kinship. We had a great time. (I tried not to take too much of hers.)

When Gail got done I got her and her walker in the car and then asked her, Anywhere else you’d like to go?

She looked like she was holding her breath, hardly daring to hope. She was trying to say it without giving away the intensity of emotion I saw in her face: Why, yes!

Trader Joe’s?

Her nose wrinkled a little. She really could use a trip to Safeway.

The little one one at midtown, where you don’t have to walk a mile to find everything, or the giant one on El Camino?

She grinned. The giant one. She hoped that one of their scooter-carts would be available.

Alright then!

They had two just inside the door to choose from, one in good condition and one with the seat torn. She chose the torn, and I silently wondered if her experiences with her weight influenced that choice and I hurt a little for her for it. I remembered the days when I would be driving my kids to school and she, her kids long grown, would be out there race walking for miles every day. And yet fate refused to let her be thin.

But never mind, we had a grand time, me with a cane and a cart following her around, her, electric-wheelchairing it. It’s a huge store, trying to compete with Costco. We walked it side to side and end to end. I reached things for her so she didn’t have to get up. I put a few things in my own cart as long as I was there. She wanted the Irish butter. I helpfully found Danish, and some other European country-style made in America, but nothing that said…

She spotted it and reached that Irish Gold before I could. It was at sitting-person height.

I was happy that among all the staples and common-sense items, she chose some stuff that was simply fun food. Every pantry should have something that’s a just because you feel like it.

Back at her house, I got her walker set up, put three of her bags on it at her request and carried the fourth and she let me in to put it up on the counter.

She explained about her table. And over there, that empty box.

A friend of hers had had many many pictures from years when their kids were little together, and there were faces there whom she no longer knew or knew how to get in touch with, if they were still with us. She had gone through them all, and these were the ones with Gail’s family and the rest were a chance for Gail to identify any of those others.

The Simon and Garfunkel Bookends song…

There had been so many. Gail was almost done going through them. She showed me a single stack, about six inches high: those were hers.

All the rest–and she said it with a quiet laugh, and in that moment I felt her appreciation for a good and long life and all that had blessed her and hers along the way.

All those other pictures. There really was nothing to do but put them in the trash.

She understood my oh goodness, she felt it, too, but sometimes you do what you can. And then you move on.

And as I write this I suddenly wonder if I’ve ever taken a picture of her myself. I want to. I need to. And soon.



They knew the place
Friday May 31st 2019, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,LYS

The real simple solution: I put a lid on the trashcan this evening. Stifle it, eat-eth. (With apologies to Carroll O’Connor.)

The yarn store in the beach town: I went to Fillory this afternoon to show my friends who go there on Fridays that “this is all your fault” as I showed them the afghan project with a grin.

It is safe to say they approved.

One of the staff there didn’t know how to cable six across seven stitches or how the fourth one stays the middle one going straight up as the others pass over, so now those two have helped someone else learn something new as well.

While I was there, I mentioned last Friday’s incident about the tangling yarn on the skein winder, and when I got to “she went to cut it” the three women nearest me gasped audibly.

I told them thank you. It wasn’t just me, then.

But I had done nothing about it after getting no answer from my Facebook private message asking if I could send a note to the owner, and I still wondered what the right thing to do was. Just leave it be? I mean, I could imagine a new mom running on no sleep doing something stupid in a moment without thinking straight.

Or it could be what it looked like–that a depressed clerk didn’t care and she wasn’t going to put up with any more of this. But I don’t know, and I don’t want to blame nor judge. I don’t want to be mean any more than I want her to be.

We discussed how best to bring it up.

What it came down to, as it had at the first, was, if I were the owner I’d want to know. And as they pointed out, People don’t want to go back after something like that.

Exactly.

Okay, so, I guess that means I will try after all.

But they loved how the afghan they’d helped mentor into existence was coming out, and that and their own projects were more fun to talk about.

Then I came home just in time to watch, from inside, a Cooper’s hawk do a figure eight around the awning poles fifteen feet away in pursuit of dinner and then a loop back around the first pole. Whoosh! And away!



Ella
Sunday May 26th 2019, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Finished the fourth 100g ball of yarn on the afghan last night, put it down, picked up the dusty purple cashmere cowl project I’d gotten from near-zero to half during Friday’s driving and thought, I’d really like that finished for tomorrow if it is in any way possible. 120 stitches a row…

And at 11:00, hands and time demanding an end, I finished the castoff and broke the yarn. Done. It was a good length after all. Gave it a quick rinse and spinning out and set it to dry overnight, wondering who it was for.

The person I thought would pick it went straight to the Rios Anniversario cowl instead.

I was walking out the door, church over, wondering how I’d just walked through all those people and not felt that spark of hey you.

Glanced to the right and walking out the door with me was Ella.

I knitted for her once before: she was four.

I had gone to her widowed great-grandpa’s funeral. She adored him. He was part of her everyday life. He’d driven himself to a game at Stanford to cheer on his team, gotten in his car to come home, had felt the heart attack coming on and had had just enough time and presence of mind to steer away from the car in front of him on that fast busy street and plow into the unoccupied parked ones along the side instead. And he was gone.

Ella held up remarkably quietly through the proceedings for someone who was so small.

Until the moment they started wheeling his casket towards and then out the chapel’s funeral door (so named because it opens extra wide precisely for that reason) at the front of the room.

She leaped onto the bench, reaching with her arms and her whole soul towards what she suddenly seemed to have realized was gone from her forever in this life, crying: NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I had this thick, cushy Robin and Russ yarn in my stash…

I overdyed it to her favorite color. It wasn’t as perfectly soft a wool as I would have liked; those were harder to find back then and outside my budget in that particular slice of time–but it was okay, and I knitted her an afghan. Her late great grandma had given me some wool yarn just before she’d passed; this was softer. Ella had had a knitter in her family and I could be her hands for her.

Ella has just finished her first year of college.

I tugged upwards at the dusty purple in my purse, and asked her, suddenly quite sure of the answer, Do you like this color?

I LOVE this color!

It was time she finally got something as soft as she deserved. I didn’t say that. I didn’t want in any way to put down the earlier gift. But man it felt good.

(I just posted this, got up to walk away from the computer, when it finally hit me: the afghan was purple, too. Just little-kid brighter, is all.)



She was a shoe-in
Tuesday May 21st 2019, 10:29 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

In the Mormon church, they try to keep congregations small enough that they stay personal. If they get too unwieldy they get split.

Trying to remember if I mentioned this… The ward we were sharing a building with no longer fit in the chapel while ours had lots of renters, and with Silicon Valley landlords raising rents through the roof a lot of people have been moving out. We shrank.

So after quite a bit of work at finding the best solution, a chunk of the other ward got moved into ours, and we’re talking eighty people. On my self-appointed project of knitting something for every woman, I had after three years finally gotten to where I only had to knit a cowl when someone new moved in. Now… Well it’s going to take me awhile. Again.

Someone came up with an idea of how to give each of the women new and old a chance to tell a little about herself: she threw a potluck dessert party at her house and told everybody to bring a shoe and a story about it to introduce ourselves by.

Which turned out to be a really cool way to let the shy and the extrovert both feel at home, so I’m mentioning it here in case anyone else ever needs an icebreaker idea.

One mom of two small boys tried to let the turn go past her, and almost got away with it but we went back to her.

She confessed she had forgotten to bring a shoe. But distracted and forgetting, she shrugged, that was the life she’s living right now with small children.

The room was full of moms and people who love other people’s kids–the laughter was warm and understanding, and she sat down clearly feeling warmly welcomed.

Which was the point.



At last at last at last. Thank you Carol!!!
Friday May 17th 2019, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,LYS

First, I want to thank those who tried to help me online.

A few days ago I spent an hour carefully knitting–and then ripping back, one loop at a time–a single row, the 279-stitch first pattern row of that baby afghan.

So I thought I’d ask Holly for advice, but we had so much to simply talk about and catch up on in each other’s lives that it just didn’t factor in. It frankly would have felt out of place to interrupt with something so mundane.

Plus I knew I had Friday afternoon as my backup plan. That’s when Carol and Krista would be at Green Planet Yarns/now called Fillory under the new owner. Surely, if anybody…

There was an open seat by Carol. I pulled out the yellow third Barbara Walker treasury and asked if I could ask for help. Sure! (I looked behind me: the little table where the old version of the shop had had a consultant whose time you paid for was gone. I’d never needed that but I would have been happy to on this.)

I told my friend, I have counted this every single way one could and it doesn’t work: you can’t knit a three by three cable with seven stitches!

The gleam in her eye–she knew what she was about to do and how it was about to feel for both of us.

But you can, she told me: you go back and forth past a center stitch.

I looked at the book. “How? You can’t have an odd number between.” I didn’t see anything other than a normal 3×3 crossing. Everything was symmetrical, there was no wobbling from an extra stitch nor from one side not being cabled when the other one was. “You do need that extra stitch further up in the pattern, but not at the bottom. Right? So the count should adjust for that, right?”

She wished for a cable needle. I reached into my purse for one. She took up my knitting and pointed at the book and showed and told:

“See that one square that’s outlined darker on the chart?” (It was at the sides, where the repeat began and ended.) “That’s the center stitch. It doesn’t move.

Now. You put four stitches on the cable needle and put it behind. Not three. You knit the next three stitches from the left needle, as one normally does; then you knit the first stitch on the LEFT side of the cable needle, then the other three right to left like normal. That one stitch stays at the center between the two sides that way.”

I had never heard of nor seen such a thing. Not that it was hard. It had simply never occurred to me.

“And it would make it so you have the right number of stitches for the lacework above that cable.”

“Right!”

Then she had me do it, too, while I only just managed not to grab it right out of her hands to instantly try it the nanosecond she was done explaining.

I felt a great kinship with my old friend Monica, the longtime knitter who almost yelled, That’s IT?!! when I showed her how to do a simple cable and how all cable work was a riff on that.

I had wanted to knit page 146 for–well, I’d had that book for twenty years. Only for the baby on the way had I finally wanted to enough. Only for her had I gotten to where I could, with Carol’s help. It was so easy. I had been so stumped.

“My granddaughter-on-the-way thanks you.”

“Your granddaughter-on-the-way is very welcome. It’s funny how we have gaps in our knowledge,” said Carol happily.

And then, with the help of a great teacher, suddenly we don’t. We don’t at all. We are all filled up and brimming over.



She made these
Thursday May 16th 2019, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Friends

I love a good dish towel. I don’t know that I’ve ever mentioned such a thing, but Holly’s been here enough times to notice.

So guess what she surprised me with?

There were roses, daffodils and tulips, carnations, morning glories, purple dianthus. I have flowers hanging over my oven doors right now.



Ten bars and a bit of extra
Wednesday May 15th 2019, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends

Holly’s coming tomorrow.

If I needed an excuse to start a batch of chocolate, that was a good one.



The moving fingers, having writ…
Sunday May 12th 2019, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life

Jean was at church! After a month in the hospital. She was surrounded by family, some local, some that had flown in to help her celebrate Mother’s Day.

I showed her my phone and grinned, “This is your fault!” It was the picture of the pomegranate flower on this part of the tree, and (scrolling) the baby pomegranate. I reminded her of the time she’d shared hers and how revelatorily good they were and told her that’s how I came to plant my own.

As I spoke, her son-in-law sitting between us was typing my words into his laptop in a huge font to make sure she got every word. Her daughter-in-law leaned forward, loving this, looking to see Jean’s reaction.

Jean looked tired but happy. “You’ve got a green thumb.”

I am so grateful I got that chance to show her she’d made a difference. Again.



The picture-frame stitch
Saturday May 11th 2019, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit

(Needle at left turned sideways in search of a 90 degree angle.)

There’s this cabled lace pattern I’ve always loved but it only came charted and my brain injury doesn’t do charts.

After twenty years of owning the Barbara Walker charted patterns book anyway (because: Barbara Walker), this time I wanted to make page 146 enough to confess my shortcomings to a group of knitters–who instantly came to my rescue.

I swatched it. What was my problem. (!!!) This is easy!!

Before I could get started, though, the baby afghan was going to need a border. Garter stitch would match some of the inward pattern–but garter stretches laterally and the cables were going to shrink the width every so many stitches and I could just see the rippling–the top and bottom would never lie flat. Ribbing might distort the edges the other way by pulling them in too much.

So I went for the tried and true, even if it is my least favorite to knit: 1×1 seed stitch. Twice the motions for the same length of fabric and hard on the wrists, but it makes for a perfect picture frame effect around just about anything. Even if it absolutely devours yardage. I bought the whole bag of ten Rios skeins but I may end up trying to match my Hollyhock dye lot.

Knitted stitches are wider than they are tall, so ten rows is not enough to match the ten side stitches that I’ve set the thing up for: I’m not done. My hands definitely are for the night, but, I’m finally getting started!

I’ve got it. I’ve got that Barbara Walker Lacy Cables pattern and for my granddaughter-on-the-way’s sake I’m finally going to do it.

With a little help from my friends, and I can’t thank you all enough.



Now that they’re over the jet lag
Sunday May 05th 2019, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Some friends put on a presentation tonight about what it was like to be Americans living in St. Petersburg (and I don’t mean Florida) for nearly two years.

They were there as an older Mormon missionary couple: but by the laws of the land, they were not allowed to act as such except inside the walls of the church. They could not do nor could they say anything to identify themselves as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints anywhere else unless someone asked them first.

Which crystalized it to simply quietly living one’s faith by doing good to others. Because that’s what it all comes down to anyway: trying to put more of God’s love into the world.

Which is how they ended up as volunteers helping out at the Hermitage Museum. Volunteering was definitely something they were allowed to do. They learned all they could about the place, for visitors’ sakes as well as their own and tonight, ours.

Sue said that one of the cultural disconnects she discovered was the very concept: historically, there were the royalty and there were the peasants and if you wanted something done it got done by the ones who had no real choice in the matter.

The idea that retired people, in particular, volunteer all over America in order to contribute to the good of society at large–really? They do? Sue said that even though that was a new idea to most, they really liked it.

I came away feeling like I need to get off my duff and go do more for others. A lot more.



Put a sock in it
Tuesday April 30th 2019, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

So there I was this evening, explaining to Richard why I was laughing: I had just been reading that one of my old Purlescence friends was at work today when a five inch lizard ran up her pants.

Yes there was a security camera while she was ripping them off and dancing around like a crazy person, but she’s been assured it was aimed elsewhere and just missed her.

My husband’s response: having forgotten it till just then, he reached into the pocket of his navy pants and pulled out one of the ancient cotton socks I cut the toe and heel out of years ago to use as a liner for the hand splints I wear at night to keep my fingers from curling. More effective against arthritis than any aspirin.

He’d been talking to a guy at work today who’d suddenly asked him, “What’s that coming out of the bottom of your pants?”

“Oh. It’s the wife’s.”

Two in one day. Anybody else?



Blenheims
Saturday April 13th 2019, 5:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life

(Photo posted with permission.)

I love growing fruit trees. How many things that we spend money on remain with us, doing good, for the rest of our lives?

Jennifer and her husband bought a house early last year about a half hour away, and sorry though I was to see them leave here, I asked her if they’d like one as a housewarming present, and if so, what type.

YES!

Turns out she had been wishing very much for an apricot tree, specifically one of the old wonderful Blenheims that are hard to find in stores.

Yamagami’s had Royal Blenheims in stock.

She sent me this picture today.

I cannot begin to tell you how happy it makes me.