Happy Thanksgiving!
Thursday November 25th 2021, 9:15 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends

I hope everybody had/is having a wonderful Thanksgiving!

We were to go to a friend’s, whose kids we know from when they were growing up, and I had just pulled the promised cranberry pie bars out of the oven a few minutes before when I heard Richard calling me.

He wanted a barf bowl for the migraine that had suddenly walloped him upside the head and he needed to go lie down with an ice pack in as dark a room as he could get.

I sent Karen a note with my thanks and apologies. I offered to drop the cookies by.

He got up a few hours later and seemed to be doing better.

I sent Karen a note. I said we were hoping that that would last, but just please know that we were tentative and I’m so sorry. (While glad she had a big enough crew coming that two people would not make a difference on the food one way or another.)

But it looked for awhile there like we were good after all. I got the little things done like covering the mango tree for the night (we hit 36F last night) to be ready and then noted that it was about time to go.

And that was his moment of truth. He wanted to go, he really did–but his head just couldn’t manage it. He was only barely upright.

I sent Karen a note, and then I drove to her house and dropped off three strong paper plates’ worth of cookies, hoping they would be enough with all her kids and grandkids snarfing them down.

But the house was dark. There was a string of white Christmas lights on in front of the door, which had me hopeful for a moment and knocking again only louder this time, and the side yard seemed set up so as to be pretty ready–but there was not a soul around. Huh. So I left the cookies on the doorstep a little off to the side so they would have a chance to see them before they stepped in the corn-syruped stickiness and headed home, glad that it wasn’t quite dark yet.

I have somehow reached the official Old Lady status of not liking to drive at night. Richard’s cataracts have been operated on. But he wasn’t there.

Got home, searched through the piles of emails back and forth from this past week, and there it was: it was going to be at her son’s house on X street. She’d never told me the actual address because, as she told me later, Who looks at the numbers? You just go to the one you always go to. (While noting that yeah, that wouldn’t work for me would it.)

And that is how one friend who is deaf and texts or emails missed signals with one who apparently doesn’t own a cellphone and how do you reach someone when their only phone is their landline and they’re not home? She got not one of those messages today. I thought they were going to her phone. Nope. Her desktop.

She finally called me, wondering where we were. I apologized and explained and told her I hoped she wouldn’t find herself in the middle of a raccoon/skunk fight over those cranberry bars when she gets home. She hoped I at least would still come, and I explained about the night driving, and since she’s older than me she totally got that.

Coming home from dropping off those cookies at dusk, a woman I’d never seen before, dressed in dark clothes, had stepped out in the middle of the street in front of my silent Prius a few minutes before. I saw her in time–but what if someday I might not, and so no, I don’t take that chance.

Turns out that the person I’d stopped and waited for to either cross or notice me and that I’d waved hi to when she finally did was my new next-door neighbor’s mom, out for a walk after dinner.

Anyway. So that is how we had our first-ever (Costco) stuffed chicken breast Thanksgiving dinner.

Tradition-heretic that I am, I’d always wanted to ditch the turkey.

She finally got hers
Tuesday November 23rd 2021, 9:18 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

It was starting to feel a bit silly to both of us–we were trying, but we kept missing each other, so I finally emailed Kat this picture of why I wanted to catch up with her. She had made me that glorious slab from our old tree, and as I put it, I wanted to redwood you back.

She was gobsmacked.

And so we set a time for the morrow.

I was walking towards her house and turns out she was walking towards mine, which so much captured the earlier email dance-and-misses and we both laughed at finding each other right there halfway.

I pulled it out of the tote so she could see it in the sunlight for real.

She did a small gasp. She loved it. I got to tell her why I did it how I did it. A little about Malabrigo–how their start-up mill burned down and they rebuilt using solar power and what good folks they are in person.

She loved the colors, she loved the memorial to that tree, she loves working with her hands herself, and said, We do the different ends of the spectrum–me with the wood and you with this softness.

She was very very happy with that softness.

She has two big dogs.

My late cousin John had had two big dogs.

I’d explained in the emails that I’d once made my cousin a handspun hand knitted afghan and his dogs had shredded it beyond repair, thus the zipped tote bag (yay for 60% off free shipping!) that was coming with this to store it in.

She wanted to know how long it takes to make such a thing. And then she asked me a question that was clearly only a part of what she’d been wondering: Do you knit, like, all the time?

Just about every day–as I quietly remembered that day when she’d showed up at my door and almost apologized because of the time lapse I knew nothing of between when she’d envisioned surprising me and when she actually did. Well, hey, wood has to cure for a year, doesn’t it? Seeing where she seemed to be going with this, I added, Except not always. Sometimes it just kind of leaves me for awhile.

Kat: And you have to find your inspiration, you have to have someone to do it for, right?

Me: YES!

She told me she’d often thought about selling her woodwork. And yet, and yet–she just got so much more out of doing it to give it and to share it.

I’d had no. idea. None. I’d had such a great friend around the corner all this time and would still not have known it had she not gifted me first.

I came away so intensely grateful that I’d listened to the muse that had insisted, You need to knit her a redwood and honey you really need to go big.

Sunday November 21st 2021, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

A friend’s mention of a concert she sang in years ago sparks this memory.

When my kids were growing up, the middle school had a fantastic music teacher: Tim loved the kids and he loved the music and everybody wanted to be in his class. Rumor was, though, that the program pretty much dead-ended when you graduated.

Fortunately for us, my oldest started high school the year they hired Theron. Theron was a master teacher himself, and suddenly the band and orchestra room was the place to be–our kids were in great hands.

I think it was his third year there that Theron, tall and thin, was found to have a 15 lb. stomach tumor.

This was in the bad old days before the ACA: you had to keep going to work to keep your insurance to cover your treatments when you got sick no matter how sick you got.

I knitted him a handspun afghan in a Tree of Life design from wool my folks had bought me for Christmas that year after I’d found a one-time source for a merino lambswool that was finer than cashmere and fur-like in its softness. Memory wants to put it at 14 microns. It just felt like it was meant to be for him.

The other teachers in the district donated their sick leave to save their colleague’s not just insurance but his very life.

But someone still had to teach that jazz class. Someone still had to lead the high school marching band. Tim drove over from the other school to fill in. He knew the kids already knew him and that it would be a comfort to them as well as him in being a familiar face while doing what he could for his friend.

Theron recovered and for awhile it looked like they were right when they said they got it all.

He was there for Back To School night–but I knew. As I said to him later, I don’t think anyone noticed who’s only always been healthy. But to my eyes, he wasn’t just leaning on the music stand because it had been a long day, his face and his body gave him away.

He was on sick leave again almost immediately. He was 35.

At his funeral there were pictures of his life that were a surprise to me but not to some of the kids, even though Theron had never spoken about being gay. His family sat on the right at the front of the chapel, shooting angry glances to the left half in the direction of his partner and friends.

I found that unspeakably sad for all of them. I did not get a chance to introduce myself to them–it felt to me like they didn’t want to talk to anybody they didn’t know.

But I did afterward to the grieving man who did not deserve that extra hurt.

He realized that I was the one who had made that afghan.

In his grief he comforted me by making a point of telling me that Theron had requested that afghan be kept right there on the bed with him at all times his last week on this earth.

He had wanted me to know.

Tim stepped into the high school job altogether and working with the vocal teacher had the choir and orchestra learn Mozart’s Requiem for their joint December concert.

The final piece was If Thou Be Near.

The kids poured their love, their grief, and all that they had into those perfect notes and I found myself in tears. It was one of the most powerful musical experiences of my life.

I caught Tim afterwards and thanked him for teaching our kids, thanked him for choosing that music.

And, I said, he was. ‘If thou be near’–Theron was there. So proud of those kids, so grateful to you, so appreciating the music, so loving–he was there.

Tim’s eyes were full as he nodded, Yes. And then said it out loud: Yes.

Bar none
Thursday November 18th 2021, 8:19 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

Yesterday, it seemed like one of the crew by the end of the day was tired and grumpy, and I expressed concern; was everyone okay.

Maybe he’d just needed someone to notice and have it matter to them, because today they clearly were. I heard laughing between them again and again, enjoying this fine day and each other’s company as they worked.

There’s a skylight in the hallway that they decided to do first, before any more rain might happen to it.

It was a mess. The guy who put it in (we found out later) had only nailed things in on three sides. After a tree fell on our house, a roofing crew sent out to repair that damage happened to notice that right behind them was this spot where it was funny when you step–and one of them started playing see-saw with our skylight while the others laughed, not seeing me standing below shouting upwards, STOP IT!!! at them. I was so mad.

That contractor refused to pay the $600 it cost to repair that, blaming the guy who’d done it wrong in the first place. The guy who tried to fix it repainted below with whatever shade he thought would match. It didn’t.

So of course that’s the skylight that leaked after that. The boards it was resting on rotted out.

We knew it was bad, but…

It took the men quite awhile to get all that out of there today, complicated by being sealed to the foam roof and the fact that there was a fluorescent tube light on top of the beam that ran down the center below the skylight that had to be rewired and reinstalled.

And so for several hours today there was no skylight down the hall, just a face or two nodding hello against the open sky if you came past.

Karo, check. Butter, check. Cranberries? Toss the first bag, the second thankfully was fine.

I started baking cranberry pie bars.

As the oven started smelling wonderful as the cookie crust stage baked, I suddenly noticed the change.

Someone was a little hungry and probably a little tired and all this wonderfulness that certainly wasn’t going to be for him–all he was going to get to do was wish and be tormented. He started sounding grumpy again.

He didn’t know me very well, did he?

He caught himself and cheered up a bit while I was silently telling that pan to hurry up.

You’re supposed to let them cool all the way and even chill if possible before cutting them. I had the kitchen slider open to the 61F out there and after half an hour put the pan on a metal cookie sheet to help with the hurry; their day was winding down and I didn’t want to miss them after all that. Finally at about the hour mark I pronounced it good enough, sliced, mushed the topping a little–eh–and set half a dozen very crisp-bottomed cookies on each of two sturdy paper plates till there was no room for more, covered them with a little plastic wrap so the men could take them home, and went outside to make sure both their vehicles were still there.

The first guy’s face lit up.

He walked halfway down the outside of the house and called up towards the roof and the second guy, the one who’d sounded grumpy at smelling those wonderful smells, suddenly hoisted himself over the edge and down the ladder with his face all but shouting YESSSS!!!!! after seeing the outstretched plate in the other guy’s hands. He was almost giddy.

“These are so good. SO good!”

They are, and that’s why I so seldom make them. I need to have someone around to protect us from them.

I don’t think any of theirs made it past our driveway.


(On a side note: pouring liquid into an oven-hot glass pan is how you shatter such pans. I realized a moment late that I’d chosen the wrong type, so I pushed the crust high up the sides so that no egg mixture would directly touch the glass when I poured it onto the hot crust. It was still probably a near thing. Just mentioning.)

Faster! Food!
Tuesday November 16th 2021, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

If this kid puts this on her college admission, then I imagine anywhere she wants to go, she’s in: at 17, she got her essay published as an op-ed in the Washington Post. She’s polished, she’s to the point, and she’s very funny about what it’s like to be a front-line server at a restaurant.

Some of the comments completely make her point: one guy said he had to pay a percentage of sales to the owners to pay the other staff, so that when someone stiffed him of any tip on a $2500 catering job he had to pay $75 out of pocket to his fellow workers from pay he did not get for eight hours’ work. Wow. Straight-out wage theft. No wonder people are quitting in droves. Yes of course such people should be included under the same minimum wage laws as everyone else.

When I was nineteen, I got a summer job at a Farrell’s Ice Cream shop. This was considered among my peers as way cooler than, say, a MickeyDee’s. Farrell’s was a popular spot.

A few weeks later, a high schooler got hired. He was treated far better than anyone else on staff, though I’m not sure he knew it. The manager went out of his way to be nice to him and then in one memorable moment turned right around and snapped his fingers and barked at me for leaning against the wall in weariness in the kitchen for just the blink of an eye. “None of that!”

His instructions (I was told privately at one point) were to have the new kid do some of every job there, from preparing food to cleaning to closing up to you name it. He didn’t know I knew who the kid was, but I did–his older brother was my age and I’d grown up going to church with him.

His father wanted his youngest to learn the business from the ground up. It left me hoping he did see what it was like for the other workers.

His father was the owner, and not just of Farrell’s.

Marriott headquarters was just a bit down the street from there at the time, and I imagine it made it easy for the dad to happen to stop by, although I hurt my back on the job not long after the kid came on and I quit, since it was my second job anyway and I could move to full-time typing punchcards by that point. The olden days of computers.

That manager could see a whole career both ahead of him and on the line while that kid was there. I have no idea how it turned out for him, nor do I remember his name. But I’ll never forget that solicitousness and then those snapped fingers at me.

Memories like that make me want to be the best customer a restaurant worker has any day I ever come in. (Even if it’s still just pick-up these days.)

Was not expecting a box
Monday November 15th 2021, 9:23 pm
Filed under: Friends

The best story of the day is not mine to tell. Other than this: I love my new shawl!

Glazed ayes!
Saturday November 13th 2021, 10:29 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

One mixing bowl, two soup bowls to try out their gorgeous new blue glaze and because the new-to-me solid handles would be easier for a few people I know to hold onto, and two of their regular soup bowls with regular handles ┬ábecause we’ve had two but there’s a third person here often enough. And friends drop by and I drop things so you never know. Thank you Mel and Kris!

Meantime, Zillow noticed that I’d looked at my folks’ old house and sent me a listing they thought I’d be interested in.

I was, very much, but not for any reason they’d have thought of: I found the name of the builder of my childhood house! “Designed by Ernest Cooke (a disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright), this home was thoughtfully designed to fit within the natural setting, allowing a connection with nature from every room in the house. Walls of glass, vaulted ceilings and large skylights bathe the interior spaces in natural light throughout the seasons.”

And there you go.

Not done yet
Friday November 12th 2021, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Lupus

You need the sheer walls for earthquake safety and the rotted one was replaced. Metal bracing of about 12″ high was put along the bottom edge to keep the water out. Tyvek was put over that to further keep the water out. The bottom of the siding as well as the front-facing part of it were painted to help keep the water out.

Because it turns out that when the previous contractor expanded that tiny bedroom during our remodel and poured concrete for the new patio outside it, he put it flush against the wood so that when it rained the water had nowhere to go. That was our problem. Right there.

Had he pointed out that flaw in the architect’s plans (or was there one? Was it actually supposed to be up against the house?) we would have said well then skip the patio thing, we don’t need it, but he didn’t and here we are.

Chris’s guy knocked on the door: the tape under one of the skylights had come loose and he needed to fix that. (You do not keep leaky ones when you’re about to replace the roof.)

And here I’d been wondering if I needed to bother him with that. Yes please.

He asked me what color skylights I wanted.

Skylights come in colors?

Yes, they can be white to match the foam roof or they can be–here, let me show you, you’ve got brass colored ones. I like those.

Me: I don’t care. Whatever’s cheapest I guess. What matters to me is, I have lupus, and UV light triggers the disease; can it block the UV?

He talked to Chris and that is why we have glass skylights coming. He started to explain to me and I said Oh yes, glass cuts out 96-97% of UV, that’s GREAT! (Suddenly realizing as I type this that I don’t know the color of their frames. I don’t care, but I am curious now.)

The old plastic ones were full of cracks. Glass sounds so much better.

I told him, There’s one other thing… I took him inside the bedroom they’d been working on the other side of, told him to look at the ceiling in the closet and asked him if that was something we needed to worry about.

Hoo boy. He took pictures, texted them to Chris so he’d know, and as I thought okay there goes another five grand he asked me, Is there anything else?

I took him in Sam’s old bedroom. Up there, they did some termite work in the corner but I haven’t seen any damage. But on this side, the neighbor’s tree fell on the house years ago and punctured it. The roofers fixed it but part of it’s behind the floor to ceiling bookcase and I can’t move that to look.

The paint was sheeted away from the wall slightly up there but he pointed out the lack of water damage and how I would know if there had been some; it looked fine. Phew.

I asked him if there was anything else they needed from me today and that Richard was here, so he told me, no problem.

And with that I was off at last to San Mateo to see Mel and his son Corey. Turns out they were set up facing the door right as you walk in so I didn’t risk any other exposure, I just saw them. Kris didn’t make it this trip so I sent her my best and had a great chat with her loved ones.

I’m chuckling that my house photos came through and my pottery ones haven’t yet, but they’re there. Mel and Kris and sons do beautiful work.

And now I need Chris to replace the cheap original contractor’s shelves in my kitchen cabinets so that that weight doesn’t finally, after all these years, get to them.

Hold on
Thursday November 11th 2021, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Friends,Life

Given that it hasn’t happened since the year I had my colorectomy surgeries, ie twelve years of carefully doing this ten-minute procedure right after one long slog of misery teaching me why I’d better, I thought I would write it here (sorry) so that I can find it to reference the date later.

I ended up at the dermatologist’s as an emergency appointment.

She looked up what the other dermatologist in ’09 had prescribed for such an infection under the dressing, just to be sure, because there are so many ways it could go wrong. At first she started to say apply it three times a day, till I laughed, and then, yeah, because you seriously shred the skin if you take that thing off before it’s ready to, no matter what. It is designed to stay on. As one would hope.

Every third day, I told her. That’s when I can get to it. Except that the infection itself is messing with that part of the adhesive, so, yeah. The partial antidote to that is the 4″ Eakins the Stanford nurses gave me, but you cannot just walk into a drugstore and pick up a box. I ordered, as someone with a permanent prescription for all such, but it’s a holiday and it’ll be Monday if I’m really really lucky. Could be–who knows.

We worked out a compromise. And then we laughed ruefully together at the randomness of it all: heart, eyes, skin, that should be enough for awhile, don’t you think?

She’d almost given me an oral antibiotic and said it might yet need one. If I start running a fever over the weekend she wants me in to Urgent Care for that and to for sure call her Monday and tell her how I’m doing.

I promised I would.

Tomorrow is the start of Mel and Kris‘s last Harvest Festival show ever. Mel’s past 70 and Oregon is a long hard drive with so much physical work at either end. After thirty years of friendship and pottery, I want so badly to see them. No stupid stoma tricks getting in my way. Okay? Is it a deal?

Honeybee Lane
Saturday October 30th 2021, 8:50 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

I got an email from my sister.

I would never have expected a real estate listing, of all things, to make me nearly burst into tears. Ohmygosh that hideous yellow on a house designed to disappear and become one with the woods a la Frank Lloyd Wright (who built his youngest son a house three streets away.) More than half the trees are gone. It’s for sale! It’s pending. It’s all but sold. Oh if only. Look how Dad’s fruit trees have grown!

My grandparents thought my folks were crazy: not only was it farther out in the sticks than anyone should have to commute, not only was River Road, now a main artery, reduced to gravel before it got to their turnoff (and it was outside the Beltway, which hadn’t been built yet) but there was a government missile silo protecting Washington DC built into a rock quarry that George Washington had known–at the end of their new street! With warnings and signs and DO NOT TRESPASS on the gate, and c’mon, what do you think curious kids are going to do? It was the height of the Cold War, and the grandparents worried that it and we were going to be blown up. The Soviets surely knew where those were.

And yet.

There was a ten-mile-long watershed preserve with a trail built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Originally that park came right up to the back of the homes on our street, but another builder sweet-talked the county into swapping land so that his neighborhood could have that as a selling point just like ours had had. They required of him the playground equipment in clearings in the park that I remember playing on as a kid; you had to hike that trail a bit to get to them.

I did not quite make it the day I stepped on some leaves and a hiding snake leaped out of there towards the creek as I leaped away in the opposite direction and didn’t stop till I got home.

It was very much a Calvin and Hobbes’ woods kind of a place and a treasure to explore.

After the folks sold our childhood home in ’07 to, they found out afterwards, a woman who wanted to convert it into an assisted living place, I happened to be in town while the remodeling was happening and my brother drove down from New Jersey to see me while I was closer than California.

We drove by the old place. The contractor’s truck was in the driveway. We talked ourselves into it, and then went and knocked on the door.

He was delighted to be able to show off his work to folks who appreciated and really knew what he’d been able to accomplish. Watch your step–the iron railing around the stairs was gone and the new one wasn’t in yet.

There were tire tracks everywhere across the woods in back: the next door neighbors had planted ivy when we were kids for erosion control and that non-native had taken over the world, smothering out the jack-in-the-pulpits, killing the box turtles they fed, strangling the trees. I marveled at the scarred but now bare trunks and ground and told the guy I’d tried to do that as much as humanly possible one Christmas home from college and had found out just how hard it is to pull ivy off a tree.

He’d done it. He’d done it. He’d cleared it all. Amazing. Thank you. I hoped the turtles could come back.

The house is once again a residence, albeit with laundry facilities upstairs and down.

The bomb shelter (it was a thing in 1962) had a toilet but no door nor wall just a don’t come around that corner, I guess in case all eight of us had to dash downstairs fast in the event of an attack and all try to squeeze in there. Or something. It was there so we could if we had to but we never did. Except, really really fast, just once on my part at about ten years old to prove to myself that it actually worked and I was scared of having to say anything if it didn’t, but thankfully it did. Phew!

But now it’s an actual bathroom (hey look a sink too!) and the ugly gray cinderblocks are nowhere to be seen. Yay. The family room has been expanded into where the shelter was and a closet has been made out of part of it. It’s quite nice.

I marveled at the square footage in the listing, and Richard said, It’s a big house! It always was!

It didn’t seem all that big when there were six kids running around making noise in it…

But so yes: this is the house I grew up in. It had natural redwood siding then and Eichler-style windows with floor to ceiling glass looking out on the woods and the bird feeder. It was a neighborhood where everybody knew and cared about everybody.

If you go to street view in the listing, go to the right of the house and down the hill to the first driveway across the street: that siding is what ours looked like and that steep driveway is where I saw Little Stevie with his proud mom right behind him as he was taking some of his very first steps.

That was (shameless name dropping) Stephen Colbert. They moved away when he was four.

Next door to them, the gray house with the deck and the long driveway, I was riding my bike one summer evening on a day we’d gone peach picking and a new family had just moved in but nobody had laid eyes on them yet.

The young mom was out there gardening next to the house and her four year old had wandered down towards the street to see who this new person might be. Her eyes were on the huge ripe peach in my hand and all that juice. (Not a great idea to eat one while riding a bike and I knew it but I was doing it.)

I asked her if she would like one. YES. I asked her to wait while I peddled back to my house and got another one for her. I was back to her in a flash but carefully instructed her, Now, you don’t know me yet so I’m still a stranger. Go ask your mommy first if you can have this.

She ran so fast!

Which is how I got to be their favorite babysitter on the spot.

That listing. I finally got to see the remodeling contractor’s finished work. It’s gorgeous.

And then I sent a note to the realtor, who called me and put me on the line with the buyer’s agent.

I told her, Looking at the pictures, there’s a new-to-me fence around the property. I don’t know if you know but that’s not the property line. We owned past the gully it’s looking down on and to a large tree on the other side in the backyard of the people on Cindy Lane who were behind us, and I have memories that my dad one day went rushing out there as they were pounding nails into it, demanding, Stop. That is MY tree, it’s not yours.


The gully wasn’t the property line?


The buyer’s agent listened to that with much interest and thanked me. I added, Now it could be an adverse taking thing, except that my parents didn’t leave until 2008, I believe it was, and Dad would never have let them. (2007, says the listing. Close.)

She thanked me–and I knew the person who’d connected us now had my email address (their site required it) if the buyer has any other questions. And Mom’s still alive to help out, for that matter.

Whoever out there has fallen in love with where we loved growing up, thank you for choosing our home and our neighborhood. You’re really going to love it there. Oh and: when Dad shoveled the driveway after a huge storm even though the roads were still closed and thought he was having a heart attack at 3 a.m. and the ambulance got there in four minutes? They’d put a snowplow blade on so they could get through.

Mom got to, for days, watch people thinking they could cut through the neighborhood by coming down that long steep hill, around the blind corner (where I once got hit by a car on my bike because we couldn’t see each other coming), find that it ended in their driveway and there was not so much as turn around space and they had to back up all the way up that steep snowy icy hill to the main road.

And then the teens next door, when they found out, forever after shoveled the folks’ driveway when it snowed, hoping not to get caught at it and refusing payment when they were.

Good times.

Dr. S.
Wednesday October 27th 2021, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life,Lupus

The eye department couldn’t fit me in all on the same day for all the testing they wanted to do in answer to my query Monday, so after going yesterday I came back today to see just the technician for that last test.

There was the standard question yesterday of, do you have any new allergies.

Dr. S. mentioned by way of reassurance that he’d gotten that same fiery red rash from that brand of heart monitor, but it had faded away after a few days.

We were having a mutually surprised moment: you needed one, too? (How could you be old enough..! Answer: we’re sort of not. But him even less so, and I at least have lupus as an excuse.)

He was fine, he assured me, they were just checking.

He was quite delighted with the homegrown pomegranate. “Look how BIG it is! I love pomegranates!”

Coming through the door on my return home this afternoon, the answering machine was just finishing up.

It was Dr. S.

He had gone over that visual field test’s results. (Immediately, clearly, rather than waiting till the end of the day to get around to the paperwork. He’d wanted me to know right away.) It had taken a little more energy for me to see the flashes on one side, he said, consistent with the optic nerve having been narrowed by what appeared about 25 years ago to be optic neuritis. It had changed since last time, but only a little. From all he could see, there was nothing to worry about–but come right in if anything changes or you have concerns.

And then his voice sounded more emotional than perhaps he’d intended. “I’ll see you in a year. Come back in a year. Thanks.”

A promise that he would be here and that surely I must as well.

I felt that.

I appreciated that, and wished he had held off two more minutes to call so that I could have gotten off the freeway and grabbed that phone in time to say, and you, too. All the best.

To life!

Musings on an evening where I pushed the monitor button to record the moment
Saturday October 16th 2021, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

There was an article on Graves disease in the Washington Post today. I found it very timely, because that diagnosis is in my chart but nobody’s ever told me much about it beyond the word itself. One endocrinologist retired after ordering the antibody tests, one went on maternity leave, one filled in temporarily, and I haven’t gotten back there in so long–covid being most of that time–that it kind of dropped through the cracks because I simply didn’t need to go in.

My autoantibodies for both hyper and hypo thyroidism generally duke it out pretty much to a standstill.

But it would explain some of this stuff, including the almost two pounds lost these past two weeks. And here I was thinking juggling yarn balls all day long was proving a surprisingly good if implausible diet.

If it is the Graves, it would be quite treatable.

A text came in as I was typing this: I just promised the friends who stopped by last night that I would call them if we need any help whatsoever. She’s young, but she’s had heart experience, successfully treated and fine now. Some people are just easy to turn to anyway, and then you learn more and more why.

*To clarify: the heart monitor’s recording for two weeks straight. They want me to push the button to footmark my notes on it.

A good way to spend a day
Friday October 15th 2021, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Knitting a Gift

Twenty-one rows and the start of the third set of branches, a trip to Andy’s Orchard where I got some of the last of the fresh figs of the season–SO good–and some dried Blenheim apricot slabs for my mom, and a visit this evening by friends bearing homemade goodies.

I went outside and cut a pomegranate off my tree and told them to come back for more later–they’re good now, but they’ll keep ripening and get even better.

I sent them home with a bunch of those figs, too, because they love them as much as I do and there were so many in that box and it would be criminal to have them not be enjoyed at their newest and best.

Meantime, I’m hoping the (already stratified) cherry seeds sprout that their son decided needed saving for me because the cherries I gave them from Andy’s were so good a few months ago. They haven’t yet. They’re in nature’s time zone. I’ll just have to wait.

Saturday October 09th 2021, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

(I took a picture… Will add when it complies.)

I measured how many inches I’d gotten out of the skein I was just finishing up, counted what I had, considered same dye lots vs changing in the middle even when it’s undyed, took a deep breath, remembered Dad’s sweater where my mom ran out near the end when I was a kid, and ordered–

–a whole bag of natural Mecha for the coming background sky to be absolutely sure. Ten skeins, with a small prayer upward of, help me be able to finish this after all this, could you/would You? I’d be much obliged. You know I want to get this to Kat and I apologize for all the time I spent not working on this for Kat and letting the intensity of the project get the better of me but I’m definitely working on it now. For Kat.

Not to mention, but it would be so cool to finish this whole huge project for Aftober: my friend Afton’s tradition of taking something that’s been bugging you because it’s not finished and sitting down and finishing it before the end of this month.

Twenty-two days to knit fifty more inches of intarsia afghan because I like them long. The gauge is larger and the design less involved than the fish afghan that took me six months.

I’m nuts, but I’m going to try.

I reserve the right to knit a small squirrel separately afterwards in finer yarns and tack it on and still say I was done in time if I get to cast off on the blanket.

After all that worry that I’d somehow do it all wrong I really, really like how it’s starting to turn out.

Happy Birthday, Anne!
Tuesday October 05th 2021, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

Early last year, I picked out a mug online from Mel and Kris Kunihiro and rather than having them bother with shipping it to me from Oregon I told them I’d pick it up at Stitches West, since we were going to see each other there shortly anyway.

That was the Stitches that I ended up missing because I had, as my doctor told me later, a clear-cut case of covid. (No tests at the time for blue states, as Californians well remember.) I could have turned that big knitters’ convention into a super spreader event all by myself had it been held a few days earlier, before I knew I was coming down so sick.

So. Anne admired and even owned some of Mel and Kris’s pottery and she volunteered to pick it up from them there and drop it off at my house. It meant a great deal to me that she was going so far out of her way to make life a lot easier for everybody.

And that’s what started it all. We’ve known each other for years as passing friends at the yarn store, but she set the stage for a far deeper connection than that.

All these many months where, like most of us, I saw only a very few people in real life at great intervals, it seemed like whenever I most needed it to save my sanity one of them, standing outside, masked and at a distance, was Anne, totally putting up with my deafness that the masks make worse. Popping by to say hi after fair warning to make sure I’d be there. (Like we were going anywhere. Like anyone was.)

Two? Three? years ago? Before we had any idea what was about to hit us all, she gave me a box of yarns that she wasn’t ever going to knit, no matter how pretty they were–and told me not to knit her a cowl or hat.

Totally on to me. Busted.

And yet…things change.

I’m both excited for her and more than a bit devastated for me that she and her husband are moving to Portland in, unfathomably, two weeks. I’ve been covering that up to myself by looking at houses, sending her links, going, Isn’t this one so cool! Or, Can you even/what were they thinking/can you believe nine bedrooms/2 baths seven fridges taking up what was left of what used to be a living room, extension cords everywhere, with a trapdoor in the closet to a gun safe/wine stash in the otherwise nonexistent basement. A frat house maybe?

When she commented on this cowl picture I posted a month ago I suddenly knew why I’d bought that color combination that was a bit too yellow for me. At the last Stitches I’d gone to, from the Yarn Truck parked inside at the edge of the convention center floor.

If only she’d let me.

So I asked.

And she admitted that she had been hoping that, before she leaves, I would knit her something.

She stopped by today. I pulled out a bag of finished projects: purple wool, blue baby alpaca, ecru cashmere, the finished wool cowl she’d admired, and one in a similar colorway but with more blues and almost no yellows.

She went straight for this one. Still her favorite. “I like the yellows,” holding it up under her chin for me so I could see for myself that she was right, that was the one. She asked me the yarn and I didn’t remember, so it’s a good thing I wrote it down while I still had the label at hand. Yarnloveyarn.com’s Magic Forest.

It had been for her from its beginning and had been waiting for the two of us to figure it out.