Today
Sunday June 25th 2017, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

Blink. They’re what?! (I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, some other friends moved out of their rental house after the landlord doubled the rent, which had already been high, and it’s gone up that much again since.)

Vivian, I heard…?

“I don’t want to move again!” But yes, it looked like they were, and in the next week at that.

“But I haven’t knit for you yet!” As if that could keep them here. I don’t want them to leave.

It was like I’d thrown her a lifeline of something positive to hold onto in the stress of uprooting with kids and she answered with emotion, “I would LOVE to have something hand knit from you!”

“Alright, what colors. What are your favorite colors…”

“All of them!” and then, “Orange.”

Orange? Somehow that surprised me. Smiling ruefully, wryly, thinking about Green Planet Yarn’s being up for sale and my ever-diminishing chances to experience a yarn before I buy (and there was certainly no time to order any!) “There is not a plethora of orange in my stash.”

She laughed, and that felt good.

“What would match most of your clothes?” In case I could still make her happy with what I had at hand. “Blue, I have lots of blues.”

“Blue is good.”

And so I went home and searched through my stash, and almost immediately, because somehow just a couple of days ago I had inexplicably found it and put it Right There and then forgotten all about it, there was this baby alpaca “Joseph’s Coat” colorway from Lisa Souza‘s dyepots. All of them. Mostly orange. Blue is good. Well there you go.

And so this is what I spent most of the rest of the day on–that and our taking Michelle to the airport. What is fascinating to me is how it went from punctually-random intermixings of colors to growing stripes, definite stripes, when I changed the number of stitches on the needles. Curious. It will look like they all melted into each other at the top.

I have the plain light slightly-grayish-blue cashmere of two cowls ago as a backup, since that one didn’t go out yet and given that I am suddenly on such a tight time frame.

I finished typing the above, looked again, and finally figured it out: it looks like the pinwheel-on-a-stick toy of my youth that you blew on to make the colors twirl around to see if you could get it going fast enough to make them all run together. The center always did the most.



It takes the cake
Saturday June 24th 2017, 11:11 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Recipes

I was in the home stretch, one eye on the clock, thinking, I can get this done before bed and even still get a little blogging time in.

Michelle, who’s in town for her friend’s wedding, texted me: could I? Pretty please?

She’d been going to make an almond cake from the fresh almond paste she got at Milk Pail this afternoon: one of the perks of a trip home. But there was no way she was going to get back from that reception in time tonight–it takes an hour to bake.

Well, hey, I can make one of those really fast… (The recipe says baking powder in the list of ingredients, baking soda in the instructions. Do it in baking powder.)

The cast-off was finished at 10:55. The cake came out at 11:00 pm. I did it!



For Megan
Thursday June 22nd 2017, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I wished, I wished, I wished I had a particular shade of blue in my stash.

I’d seen her wearing it so I knew she liked it and I knew it looked great on her. The hank I’d overdyed a few days ago wasn’t bright enough nor solidly blue enough. If I drove down to Green Planet (anyone want a yarn store? Beth would love to sell it to you so she can attend to her family) maybe they would have something–but having such a firm idea of the exact shade I wanted, that was no sure thing and it would have to be in a yarn I liked enough. No skimping.

After a week or so of this I realized at last that I did, and found it: one of my last few skeins of the discontinued Cascade Epiphany in a deep royal, a cashmere/silk/royal-grade baby alpaca, long and carefully hoarded. It was just the thing.

We threw her a potluck birthday party at lunch today and I had to confess that I had not finished it but I let her see just enough of that blue.

That was all she needed. She was wearing an exact match to it (in something I hadn’t seen her in before) and exclaimed, That’s my favorite color!

The race is on, then, to finish it in time to be blocked come Sunday.

(p.s. Thank you, everybody. Today was much better than the last few, to my great relief. And it was all the better for my daughter Michelle having arrived in town for a wedding.)



Impromptu block party
Tuesday June 20th 2017, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Friends,Wildlife

7:30 p.m. I was taking a bin to the curb when the little kids across the street called out and waved an enthusiastic hi to me. I waved hi back.

And then I ducked quickly down the side yard to check to make sure before I said anything: was she there? She was!

So I went back over and asked the parents and their two little kids if they’d like to see a mother mourning dove on her nest?

Yes! Please!

I explained that when my own kids were that size, we’d had a woodpecker nest that my husband could hold the kids up high to see into, and how much we’d loved that.

And so I showed them the nest: there, up on top of the ladder.

Their mom hoisted them up one by one to give them a better look. The dove, as always, stayed quietly put, observing the observers.

They hopped skipped and jumped back down the walkway–and saw their buddy, who lives two doors down. His parents had seen them outside playing and had started out the door to join them when they had all suddenly disappeared into my yard. And so I asked them, too, and we all went back and looked again, two pairs of little ones now and two moms. (The dads were invited but seemed a bit shy to intrude.)

Where is it? Oh! There!

She’s well hidden, isn’t she? I asked. Tippy toes and mommy’s arms.

And then the kids, being kids, ran off around the corner because they wanted to explore the hidden treasure of a backyard they’d never been in. The moms started to call them away and I invited them to hey, come on back. Such a delight to have little kids running around in my back yard again.

What kind of tree is this? Oh, you’ve got tomatoes!

Turns out one had been wanting to know how better to fend off the critters from her oranges.

Turns out the other had needed a listening ear on how to feel like you’re still a good mom when you’re badly sleep deprived with a three year old and a fifteen-month-old, and didn’t know she had someone right there whom she could talk to about it, someone who knew–but she does now. “Wow, four in six years?”

“Yeah,” I laughed and said in all honesty, “I don’t know how I did it.”

I owe that momma dove a great big thank you for sticking around and starting a new clutch of eggs.



Angie
Sunday June 18th 2017, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

An old friend was in town for the first time in twenty years–I confess I didn’t recognize her. But she definitely recognized me at church and made a beeline for me.

She laughed when I told her she’d just solved a mystery for me: I have this knitting friend who, all the time I’ve known her I’ve tried to figure out just who it is she reminds me of.

We’ve all got doppelgängers out there somewhere, right? And now she knows who knows who hers is.



And now the daughter
Thursday June 15th 2017, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

There on the fence, preening. I grabbed my aging phone and wished. The chest markings of a juvenile, the larger size of a female–and there she goes! Not the adult I’d been seeing. She’s probably only been flying for about a month, then. Cool!

Meantime, I really wanted to get this out there today and not one day later and I made it to the post office before closing with ten minutes to spare. Someone needed a hug. Someone who’d just dyed her hair purple. It was just the thing.



Natalie
Monday June 12th 2017, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Mathias modeling his second hat–he’s outgrown the first already.

A young mom I am very fond of is moving away and I very much regret that she is.  Even if I’m happy for her that getting out of our expensive area means that she and her husband will be able to buy their first house for their boys to grow up in.

So there was this cowl…

But I just wasn’t sure about the color. I dithered. I thought about it. At last, I stuffed a half a dozen other possibilities from my stash of finisheds into a ziplock and managed to stuff that into my purse, pleading for help first to G_d before I did that and then to her because *I* couldn’t decide: I asked her to pick one. Including maybe this cashmere one I’d just started.

You know, usually I like to be able to say I made this just for you. But I was just completely helpless this time.

She laughed and chose one (which was not the one I’d just finished) and for her, seeing lots of pretty things and being allowed to pick one out, of being offered that choice–this time, that was what was perfect, and had I known that beforehand I wouldn’t have sweated over it quite so much. Laceweight strands of baby alpaca/silk and of cashmere/silk knitted together in a cheerful blue–it was for her all along, now.

It was just a cowl. And it was everything, all at the same time. She confessed that she hadn’t ever been going to say such a thing, but, she’d really wished she had a knitting memento from me to take with her to her new life. A reminder of that talk I’d given in church a few weeks ago, too. And now she had one! She was so thrilled.

In that talk I had told a story of how knitting someone something had made all the difference both to them and to me.

You know what? I need to knit more.



64F max
Saturday June 10th 2017, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

Tomorrow will be a break out the wool sweaters day.

Which also means I can offer a particular someone at church a handknit cowl and it won’t be ridiculous in the heat. And if they come dressed for June rather than the weather report, they’re probably going to really really want that cowl just then.

And so I wove the ends in in happy anticipation.



With a warmth like the musk ox itself
Friday June 09th 2017, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life,Wildlife

The adult Cooper’s hawk stood on the telephone wires just past the fence line. An hour earlier right there at the awning it had flinched in flight at my standing up, both of us realizing a moment late that the other was there. I sat down again as it did an extra little half-loop in surprise before landing but then it took off over the house and away. (Sorry…)

This time I felt a bit watched, looked up, and held still, quietly loving it for being there where I could see it. What a beautiful bird. I blinked repeatedly so it wouldn’t consider me a predator nor threat.

Becoming confident over several minutes in its ownership of that piece of the sky, comfortable with me now, it reached down and preened an itchy feather from its chest, allowing itself to be briefly vulnerable in a way that conveyed that all was right in its world.

Meantime, I’d like to share this postcard. I left the receipt for the headband from Oomingmak with my daughter, so I’m not sure if the person who signed the letter was the artist who’d knitted it or someone at the co-op headquarters in Anchorage, but either way, I’m quite charmed.

She made the knitting personal, and that, not to mention the qiviut, is knitting at its best.



Blink and you’ll miss it
Thursday June 08th 2017, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life,Lupus,Politics,Wildlife

While I watched the Comey hearing…(full YouTube video.) There is nothing like observing their faces along with their words and intonations. (What on earth was Cornyn doing with his hands the whole time he was talking?) I kept half-hoping someone would call John McCain an ambulance–he   s  p  o  k  e    in slow motion, made no sense, (the ex-FBI chief is not addressed as President) and looked like he was having a serious medical event like a transient ischemic attack or a diabetic crash.

So. Five (!) hawk sightings today, including one I got to see coming straight towards me, its neck not so white, its chest solid and buff: an adult.

However many there are in its young family, it rules, and the crows and ravens have disappeared from my end of the block as of late.

What’s completely new is a mockingbird that has suddenly decided that the larger scrub jay has no right to my back yard–and the surprise that the bossy overdressed blue corvid loses every time. After being the bully of the bird feeder forever, threatening the songbirds while stealing far more than it needs to or even can eat, it was quite surprised at getting its comeuppance and having to run for it, not casually but for real, with the smaller mocker twirling around in serious chase above the elephant ears. Not learning a thing, the jay had to dash for cover again and again, the other right at its back. A brilliantly-colored tanager on the other side of the fence took courage for the first time and gave it its own “And STAY out!” over there.

Tempted to name the mocker Comey.

Meantime, two days ago when the sun was safely low–the lupus/UV exposure thing–I knocked on the door of the little kids across the street so they could get a chance to come see the doves in the nest. I was sure if we waited a few more days the fledging would be over and I remember how much my kids loved to be lifted up to see the baby birds back in the day.

But the family was probably out in the back yard and didn’t hear me.

Yesterday we had those two doves side-by-side up there, the one no longer attempting to hide from me under momma’s wing, but again no one was home across the street till the sun had sunk altogether.

Today there was no one home on top of that ladder and no dove in sight.

Oh well. Next year.

I looked again shortly after, though, and there the two were, fluttering upwards in no particular alarm at my coming around the corner, rather as a matter of teaching the young What One Does while telling each other about me. (Old enough to fly: check. Good.) One stayed in sight about six feet past the young pear tree and I took its graduation portrait.

And when I blinked, like all good mourning doves it felt compelled to blink back. It’s one of the most charming things about them.



Fork it over
Sunday June 04th 2017, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

Tortes: two delivered and still waiting on the third.

One couple surprised me when I showed up. They’d brought me back these large wooden salad spoon and fork from a trip to Bali. (That is not a small serving bowl.) Beautiful, handcrafted, and absolutely unexpected.

Y’know, it had been bugging me for some time that I hadn’t yet gotten around to knitting anything for her, enough so that I’d already ordered what I think would be just the right yarn. And it’s here now. So let me go fix that.



It all ovens out
Saturday June 03rd 2017, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends

(Note to self: do not snitch the random bits of cherry goodness in the middle of the pan when taking the picture unless you smooth over the evidence first.)

So in the last few days I’ve made a cherry pie–and if you don’t have one, get this. Seriously. It’s fast and they come out pretty. Never again hassle with a knife to try to pry those stones out–not to mention the little-kid satisfaction of Hulk! Smash! I don’t love throwing a bunch of dumb kitchen gadgets in every drawer but I can’t praise my cherry pitter enough.

Well maybe sort of I could. To explain: I got the four-cherry version, but six would have been even better, both the number and the fact that a year later I forgot mine only does four, not eight, that the holds-eight base is that way because it’s supposed to flip around to accommodate small vs big cherries. Thus, even though I thought I double-checked every one after I realized my mistake, I missed a pit from the back that Richard found in his first bite of pie. Oops. There are only four pitting rods. I think I will circle the 4 on the box in thick black Sharpie for next year, loudly. (Edit–done.)

And I baked four chocolate tortes and a chocolate hazelnut torte.

I tried something new and it really did work: probably not for a cheesecake, but for a torte, lining the nonstick pan with (buttered) parchment paper that has handles meant I could pull gently on the tabs, then put a (Chinet in this case) plate over the cooled torte, flip it over, peel the tabs away and then the main part and it did the job of a springform pan without the leaks and with a perfectly formed lower (now upper) edge. This parchment paper. These pans. I’ve tried them all and those are definitely the keepers on all counts.

I’d promised a torte to each friend who gave us a ride to or from the airport in the past month. All of them said I didn’t need to. None of them complained when I said I was going to anyway, and I ordered the manufacturing cream to have it ready for pick up the day we got home. (Was that really only Monday?)

Phyllis and her husband said Yes please! when I asked last night if I could drop theirs by.

Jen said she’d be by Sunday for hers.

Karen’s is in the fridge, too.

Kim…got back to me. She has a relative coming into town Sunday who was celiac; was it gluten free?

Hers is now. She assured me her visitor wouldn’t mind if they ate in front of her, but I figure I’m doing this to make people feel good, not to feel left out; after getting the okay, hazelnut (recipe in link) it was.

So suddenly I had an extra. And now I know that if you fold in the sides of the Chinet plate Kim’s first 8″ torte was on, you can slide it into a ziplock gallon size freezer bag for future reference.

Meantime, I’ve still got enough manufacturing cream for two more tortes with all the leftovers after that for summer fruits that we could ask for. Somebody else needs to be made happy here. We’re not done yet.



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.



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.