It’s just a little thing, but it will grow
Tuesday December 03rd 2019, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift

The afghan is finally in the fun to knit stage, but I wasn’t about to tote those two cones I’m working from to the baby shower tonight–one time of having everything tangle in the bag was enough.

Suddenly gauge swatches have a whole new meaning. That trip all the way through the laundry offered a realistic view of what the finished blanket will feel like and to a lesser extent how it will look.

The mom-to-be held up the swatch with a laugh and I held out my arms: “It’s this wide–and it’s going to be” as I swooped my hand down over my feet. “I figure every baby needs a blanket that keeps the mom’s toes warm on a cold night.”

There were a lot of young moms in that room and there was this resounding “YES!”

 



What those pretty little Apple Corps boxes are great for
Monday December 02nd 2019, 12:03 am
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden,Life

I like that my mango tree is in its greenhouse and doesn’t need me to hire the now-teenager to cover and uncover it from the nightly cold when we travel. Which he can’t do when school’s in session anyway, so, there’s that, too.

But he is quite fond of that unlikely tree, having gone to some effort to help me keep it alive and thriving on numerous occasions.

I saw him sitting before church today and his dad was just then walking a few steps away. I told him, “I made two chocolate tortes for Thanksgiving and was asked to bring one; would you like the other one?”

His sat up straight super fast as he exclaimed, “YES!!!”

His dad stopped right there, laughing, “That would be a yes.”

Alright then. (They’ve had it before. They knew whereof they enthused.)

After we got home I got a note from his mom, checking to see what time would be good to come by to get it, and by the way, what was the name of that variety? She mentioned that they had a little gift for me, too.

They didn’t need to do that!

And so Eli and his mom came over–and to get a peek at how the tree looks a year later.

It’s grown like crazy under the extra warmth of the Sunbubble, perhaps also in part because it didn’t fruit this year; it budded but at a time when we went out of town during a cold front so I’d left it zipped up for five days, whereas usually it gets air movement during the warmth of daylight.

It had gotten black spots and the fruiting growth had died back. It fully recovered after a few months, but there would be no crop this year.

Which means I haven’t had to keep it quite as warm this fall because the most cold-tender parts aren’t there, except for one branch that has started to bud but then didn’t die but didn’t progress, either; it’s simply waiting for warmer days. I’ve apparently kept it just warm enough. So far so good.

I’m not doing the heater thing, I’m just doing the Christmas lights–they’re so much cheaper to run, and two strings gives me a good ten degrees or more in that enclosed space.

We went outside and he walked in the greenhouse to give it a good look. It really is coming along, and our next harvest should be not three fruits but many. Those new shoots are just waiting for the signal.

Eli had gotten one of those first mangoes. He’d earned it.

The gift.

I opened it and laughed in delight for joy and for knowing how great an offering this was. It was his. It was his possibilities. He knew how much I would appreciate it.

Some mango varieties, and I think this is one, produce seeds that are clones of themselves and always grow true.

If I can get this to sprout, and I really hope I can, I’m going to quietly ask his mom if they have room for a large pot and wouldn’t mind the hassle of taking care of it. I already know how much Eli would love one of his own. But let’s see if it does grow first.

But I so love how they made this into a museum display. So much love and meaning in that small package.



And because their pecan pies are good ones
Monday November 25th 2019, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I looked at the weather forecast–we’re finally supposed to get some rain, and a ton of it all at once–and decided to make a run for a gallon of milk and such while it was dry.

John’s a guy about my age who’s been working at the nearby Trader Joe’s probably since about the time it opened twenty years ago and has been a favorite for forever. He’s got a son as old as my younger son and we’ve occasionally compared notes and cheered each other on in this parenting gig.

And he likes to check up on how my health’s doing, having seen me when things were quite bad, but for awhile now I’ve been able to cheer him with my gratitude for how good it feels to have it how it is now.

Hadn’t seen him in awhile. I’d wondered if I just kept coming in at the wrong times?

But there he was and I was glad to see him; I deliberately got in his line even though it was a bit longer.

Once it was my turn, the first words out of his mouth were, “How’s the new grandbaby?”

His smile was as big as mine as I exclaimed, “So cute!”

He was moving a little slower as he worked. I only noticed (not out loud) because I knew him, but then he told me he’d been on medical leave these past four months. He looked in my eyes. While his cardiologist had worked out his meds regimen.

A quiet unspoken ohmygoodness mixed with understanding passed between us.

I didn’t know I’d needed to say that oh, and, the baby was a girl.

He had told me because he knew I was someone he could say it to. And because he knew I’d want to know.

I asked after him while trying not to probe: the Monday before Thanksgiving is not uncrowded at a grocery store, and he didn’t have to tell anyone he didn’t want to. I was feeling quite protective of him. I did say that I’d had a cardiologist since I was 32 and I’m still here, so… (So he had to stick around, too. Because I said so. To myself.)

But he’d let me know the basics and I’m grateful for that. John of Trader Joe’s just went onto my prayer list.

The next time I get a slow clerk I’ll remind myself that maybe they’re working out how to live with a new heart condition, too. It can happen at any age. Well, hey, I should be patient even when every single one of us around is in perfect health.

You never know who needs it nor why.



Pisa
Sunday November 24th 2019, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

We had to pick someone up for church who lives a good way off and we were uncertain how long it would take, and so with the cushion of time we’d given it we found ourselves arriving early.

Which made my assignment all the easier, the one where I provide the mother’s nursing lounge with several forms of chocolate–but just don’t tip off the little kids or it will be raided forevermore.

So. No crowds yet. The choir was still rehearsing in the chapel.

In the big multi-use room just off it there are always sturdy stacking plastic chairs with metal legs against the walls, ready to be set up for any size of meeting and heavy enough to stand up to any kind of abuse.

There was a mom in that choir on one side of the big doors, and out of her view there on the other in that big room, alone, was a girl of about seven.

As I went by on my way to that lounge she had pulled a bunch of those chairs away from the wall and was busily making two stacks of them right next to each other, one high, one low, alternating her construction with sitting on the smaller stack to see how high up she could see from now. While looking over at the higher pile and the even better Queen of the World perch it offered. It would be hers. But she had not quite dared its wobble yet. Not till she was sure it was done.

When I came back going the other way, she was holding a chair over her head, struggling to get just one more on that bigger tower.

She was a little leery of my noticing what she was doing.

She hopped up again onto the smaller stack, and it was plenty high for her. Clambering over to the other–she was so close.

Maybe. But I’d have to leave first, clearly.

By that point I’d stopped. I silently appraised her hard work with a smile (but I had not offered to help with that last wavering chair and she had had to set it down.)

I gave it another heartbeat or two. Then I beckoned her to come over and see them from over here where I was standing.

That big tower went upwards at first and then leaned a little, then leaned a little more, then a lot more, and just one more stress on the system and the whole thing would come crashing down should she try to get up there. And there would be quite a few of them coming down on her head.

I didn’t say all that. I just let her see it from this new sideways vantage point, a little further away, a better perspective. Any child who’s ever played with blocks as a toddler could instantly see it.

Oh.

Only then did I say, Yeah, those are ready to tumble, aren’t they.

She nodded at me, eyes big. She saw the problem.

But what really blew her away was that I hadn’t ordered her not to, I hadn’t told her it was dangerous, I hadn’t told her to put the chairs away where they belonged because they were in the way of where people walk and church was about to start, I had trusted her to take a good look and to see the problem for herself.

And that she was safe–because of the assessment she herself had made of the situation and the choice she’d made because of it.

I was very proud of her and went and told her mom that I was.



Sending Vera off with love
Saturday November 23rd 2019, 11:23 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Lorna Miser’s mom Vera was in my knitting group for years, till her Parkinson’s became too severe.

Vera’s funeral was held today, and Lorna (former owner of Lorna’s Laces yarns) asked her mom’s old friends a few weeks ago as her mother was slipping away if they’d like to share any memories.

So I told her my story.

My book had just come out.

Vera decided to ask everybody in the group to surprise me: there is a dinner and fashion show every year at Stitches West where people can put their name in to be called up on the stage and model their best project of the year.

Would they like to knit a shawl from my book and then ask Benjamin Levisay, CEO of XRX, to bend the rules just slightly so as to let the whole group go up on that stage together in them?

They would indeed. They did. They chose different patterns. Benjamin thought it was all very cool of them and it didn’t matter to him one bit that another publisher had put that book out; he’s a sweetheart.

And then when their sense of happy anticipation was at its peak, someone went, Wait–but is Alison actually *coming* to that dinner? We have to make sure she does!

Uh, actually I’d had no intention, why?

And so they decided they had to let me in on it a few days beforehand, and surprised does not begin to describe it!

Benjamin had me stand up before the large banquet room when they were done and take a bow, and then they filed off the stage and came over to me for more pictures as the room kept clapping.

So that was my memory of the kindnesses (and work!) Vera had instigated on my behalf to offer to her daughter, who’d had no idea.

I gave her a hug after the service today, and she told me that I wasn’t the only one who had told her; the others had, too. It had meant a lot to them, too.

So then I told her there was more: to congratulate me on being accepted for publication, they’d surprised me with knitted squares they’d pieced into an afghan, with labels on each telling who’d made it. I could have shown her her mom’s, except that it was just too warm today to bring it.

I didn’t need to. Lorna was absolutely beaming. Her mother’s legacy lives on.

.

 



Following the pie piper
Saturday November 16th 2019, 11:29 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends

(Okay, I supposedly added the photo but it’s not showing up on my view of the post.)

I read recently that stoneware pie pans do by far the best job of making the crusts turn out crisp.

There was an art fair in San Mateo this weekend and my potter friends Mel and Kris were going to be there, and when I asked a few weeks ago if they ever make pie plates, Mel decided to throw some clay on his wheel for me and, literally, give it a whirl.

It’s gorgeous. They¬†and their sons do such nice work. It’s 9″ on the inside bottom, 10″ at the top. I’m already regretting that I only bought one: there were two, with Mel saying he always makes more than what people request because there’s always going to be someone else who wants one.

There is a potluck tomorrow night.

Now I just have to decide what type of pie to make, and I am very open to any suggestions and favorites.



Rallying around
Sunday November 10th 2019, 8:13 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I’d seen the note sent out on their behalf a few days ago asking people to pray for her.

Her mother-in-law is in town now to help with their two little boys, and the one time I saw her really smile this morning was when I asked if she was the grandma. She was!

When I saw him gathering up the kids afterwards I said to the husband, half apologetically, “One more person coming to ask…”

He was happy to explain. His wife had had a doctor appointment, and the obstetrician had said, You’re way too big to be three months along. So they’d ordered tests.

She had a tumor the size of a watermelon on an ovary. (Where? How? She’s tiny!)

That’s when the first note went out because in their shock those young parents needed every bit of support they could get, with someone else appointed to do the talking and fielding any responses so they didn’t have to quite yet.

He sent out his own note this afternoon.

The surgery was successful. The tumor was benign (they will biopsy it again to be absolutely absolutely sure.) The baby is doing fine in there. His wife is recuperating and on bed rest for the moment, but would welcome texts.

That I can do.



He did what I wanted
Monday November 04th 2019, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

He’s bald and he’d recently had the flu and it’s been as low as 29F at night and he was freezing.

Last week I gave him all five hats and he immediately offered his friend next to him his choice of one. As I had hoped.

Yesterday he confessed that he was down to one, because various friends had liked this one or that one so much so of course they had to have something made with love like that. His eyes pleaded with me to understand, but believe me, I did. I told him, That’s what they’re for!

Not to mention, it’s not like I’m running out of yarn.

I could just picture randomly running into some stranger, recognizing what’s on their head, and going, Oh! You’re I.’s friend! Cool!

(And the potential, ??? Who are you???)



Inviting
Saturday November 02nd 2019, 8:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life,LYS,Politics

I was at Fillory yesterday, sitting at the large table there visiting with friends and knitting away as people came and went around us, when I found myself getting up to check on the yarn they were winding up for me.

Usually I start off by picking out a skein, paying for my afternoon’s entertainment with it, then pulling up a chair to knit the previous week’s ball into a hat while the staff turns the new hank into a ready-to-knit ball and then they come and bring it over to me. There’s a line at the ballwinder? I’m in no hurry.

But that all just felt too passive this time.

There was a customer I don’t remember seeing before: browsing, going to the clerk to ask a question, looking around some more, kind of hanging back from other people the whole time. She’d been in there about ten minutes.

It wasn’t the head scarf that caught my eye, it was that she seemed so unsure of herself. Maybe she was a beginner and we all looked like experts to her.

But maybe not. Her clothes and accent marked her as an immigrant, I’m guessing from Africa, and I know that rather than the welcoming country we used to be our government has of late made it harder for those not born here, no matter how they arrived, to feel at home.

Often of a Friday afternoon every seat of that table is filled, but this time there were several nice chairs open. Good. I invited her to come and sit and knit with us, if she would like to.

You should have seen the transformation in her face! She had not expected to be welcomed. She had not expected to be claimed as belonging.

Practically speaking, she probably didn’t know if it was a formal class or group or what, but clearly, intruding on it would never have occurred to her. That particular good time and camaraderie she was quietly observing over there was for others.

But we were just random people and she had every right to be right there with us. I knew that it would make our group all the better if she did.

She smiled and shook her head no.

But she was just transformed and she stayed happy and that made all the difference to me, too.



It spoke to me
Saturday October 26th 2019, 9:46 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life

I was heading into Trader Joe’s this evening as a man and his young son of five or maybe six were leaving.

The dad’s t-shirt had a Star of David and the words “Love, not hate.”

Two steps more and he would have been too far away in his momentum, but I had to: I stopped and told him I liked his shirt.

He turned–both to look back at his son to make sure he was following okay in that narrow space as you pass the outdoor cart cage and at me. I continued, Friends of mine attend the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

He looked me in the eyes. “I’m from Pittsburgh.”

I nodded, grieving with him in the moment.

And then noticed the abject fear in his son’s face, looking up at this stranger who had accosted and stopped them. He had no idea what I was trying to convey and he was terribly afraid that something bad was about to happen to them.

It was devastating. That poor child.

They continued on as I wondered. I certainly wasn’t going to ask his name, not today.

Afton and her husband are dear to me beyond words. Afton of the “Why is there a chocolate shop on my counter” (!???!) text after a melanger and nibs and instruction book showed up on her doorstep via all her KnitTalk friends she’d done so much for. Afton of the annual Aftober campaign to finish some project, new or especially old but any project, while she cheered us on. Afton who drove from New Jersey to Baltimore ten years ago so we could finally meet in person at Stitches East, and then made sure to include Richard and me in their vacation stop in San Francisco a few years ago, where we had a wonderful dinner together.

Afton who flew to Wisconsin to comfort a member of that knitting group she’d never met in person who was dying of cancer.

Afton who emailed to the group last night that they were observing the anniversary of the loss of people they loved and that she was going quiet for awhile. She would be back, but she needed some time first.

I want to somehow make it all better, to take away the pain, to be there with them, all of them, and I can’t.

So I thanked a stranger for his shirt, having no way to know just how connected he was to the people around her. That that was home.

And I wanted to hug his little boy all better forever.



Apricots
Friday October 25th 2019, 10:21 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life

It was not how I intended it to go but it was the way it needed to go.

My dad loved dried fruit, particularly apricots, and he said the apricot slabs from Andy’s Orchard were the best he’d ever had. That was high praise.

I asked around the family before his funeral to see if anybody wanted me to bring some when we flew into town and got a resounding YES!, surprising me at hearing how many people Dad had told that those were his favorites.

So last Monday I drove down to Andy’s and bought two three pound tubs.

The clerk quietly stopped me: did I know…?

The Premiums look so pretty. And Andy only grows what tastes good.

But the slabs are the ones that were so perfectly ripe at picking that they went smush, so they won’t win any beauty pageants, but the flavor!

I thanked her, because I’d known that but had forgotten it, put one of the tubs back and got a second slabs one.

My thought was, it’s cheaper to get the large containers than lots of individual small ones and I’d rather spend the money on the apricots; people can ziplock for themselves however much they want to take home. Or whatever. But six pounds should do it, if for no other reason than that there’s only so much luggage space and I had to pack sweaters and wool skirts.

And so, after our flight two days later, the first tub was opened at Mom’s.

Saturday, the second tub was opened at Mom’s. And that’s after only one person took me up on the sandwich baggie thing.

We slowed down. Mom, six siblings, spouses, and a few of the grandkids, we were trying not to eat them all. But they were good.

One of my brothers said something wistful and I asked him, given our family’s round-robin tradition, “Is this my year to give to you for Christmas?”

He considered a fast half second, his face totally lit up, and he exclaimed, “Yes!”

Saturday, Mom looked at where that second tub had gotten down to and was a mixture of pleased we’d enjoyed them so much and, “Hey, leave *me* some!”

So guess where I went today. Beat the Christmas rush and all that, because I have no idea at what point Andy sells out for the year. Let us help him speed up that date.

I bought some fresh fruit and veggies, too, and as we loaded up the back of the car together in the 90 degree heat (normal is 71) I asked the clerk, If I run an errand for an hour or so would these all be okay in here?

Sure, no problem.

I drove off telling myself that, well, but realistically it’ll be longer than an hour, and then the half hour home after that.

I’d never tried to find Fillory from that direction before. Near the freeway but not either of those two freeways. I had my yarn and needles in my purse all ready for my Friday afternoon knitting group and wanted to go. Let’s see, this one connects to that freeway with the exit to the… Yeah, no problem.

Now, on my way to Andy’s I’d realized that I ought to check my phone when I got there to be sure.

I realized on my way to Fillory that I should have checked my phone back at Andy’s to be sure.

I realized that where I found myself awhile later looked familiar not because I was going the right way but because it was where I got lost a couple years ago trying to find the place when… Some maps programs are better than a particular one. And you cannot just pull off to the side of the freeway to read what you cannot hear: GPSs are lost on me.

The forty minutes I’d spent in extra traffic getting around an accident on my way south and the half hour I’d blown looking for my turn along my way north added up to its being rush hour now.

I found my way back to the freeway–that I could do–and went straight home. Sorry guys. Next week.

Which is how I ended up pulling in my driveway just before Sandy’s son pulled away with his wife for their long twelve-hour drive home. I hope they stop somewhere in between for the night. They’ve been working hard on making that house more elder-friendly.

I waylaid them with just-picked figs from Andy’s, to their great delight, and they caught me up on his mom. It’s a lot easier to talk about in person than across texts when it’s a hard subject but both of you love the person you’re talking about. You can see the emotions in each others’ faces. You can be a better comfort to each other. We were able to be there for each other. I’d needed to be there.

I’d thought they were leaving town tomorrow. I’d come so close to missing them.

I almost, almost, offered to run back in the house and grab them a tub of those apricot slabs in Dad’s memory. If I find out they like such things, maybe when they come back in a few weeks.

When they can share a tub with his mom before they leave again.



For naturalizing at home
Tuesday October 15th 2019, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Garden,Life
The surprise from Afton: a gorgeous Calla lily in memory of my father, for which I am very grateful.

I chuckled over my little sister’s demand on Dad re waiting till after her son’s wedding was over with.

It occurs to me that he’d also waited for my family.

We flew to go see him in April, sure then that it would be our last chance. Even with the oxygen generator that was always attached to him, the ten steps it took him to go from his favorite chair to the kitchen table plunged his oxygen levels down below 80%, even to 70%, and he would shudder working so hard to get air into his lungs.

I was the one close person he knew who had been through oxygen levels like that and knew what it was like–but I’d been in a hospital bed, and I’d had it set off alarms with nurses coming to the rescue. He was doing all this on his own, and upright (getting down as soon as he could), and it was just unfathomable to me how he could do it. There were a number of times I simply held him as he wheezed.

I told him he amazed me. Because he most certainly did.

He spent more time in that chair after we left, and eventually Mom started bringing his meals over there.

I didn’t put it together but I should have: Sam was expecting, Sam was very high risk, and he wanted to see her through it with his prayers added into the mix and he wanted to see pictures of her baby alive and here and well and both of them having made it through. He wanted to be part of that.

And so he quietly held on for them, too.

Dad’s obituary.



Her son
Wednesday October 09th 2019, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I had just pulled out of my driveway when I saw him at her door. It had been a long time but that had to be him.

I stopped the car and rolled down the window.

“Are you Jon?” I called over.

“Yes. Are you Alison?”

There was a mutual sense of relief in having a face to match the messages. And in each other’s willingness to be there for his mom.

He brought me up to date: in the hospital still but doing well now, but she can’t come home yet–her house has to become more elderly-friendly first.

The work has begun.



She lived alone
Monday October 07th 2019, 8:10 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Well, that was a day.

The phone rang this morning right after I got home from dropping Richard off at work: the next door neighbor, saying the son of the neighbor on our other side had called him wanting to know if any of us had seen his 84-year-old mom this weekend. He and his sister hadn’t been able to reach her.

We had not. This wasn’t unusual; she can’t walk much anymore and is rarely outside. I’d put her recycling bin away for her.

I went off to an event that I was one of the organizers for so I had to be there–but I dithered awhile first, waiting to hear more because somehow this time something felt… I didn’t know, but like I wanted to be there for my neighbor.

There was nothing to know, though, as far as I could tell, so I finally got on my way, and for various reasons I’m glad I did; it went well.

I came back a few hours later and the wife of the man who’d called was getting out of her car and we compared notes a moment. I stepped inside my house and the phone rang: the husband wanted to let me know.

In the few hours I’d been gone, the police had come, had broken in the door, they’d found our elderly neighbor in dire straights and the paramedics had gotten her into an ambulance and away. He figured that that meant she was alive, and we were certainly glad for that.

She’s probably just as happy there wasn’t one more person watching her being wheeled away, but that’s assuming she was in a condition as to be able to notice.

I had contact info for her daughter and texted her a heads-up, figuring she surely already knew but I couldn’t risk that she didn’t. At the very least I could let her know we knew and we cared and we were all here to help.

She answered a bit later and thanked us for looking out for her mom; yes she did know, and her brother was flying out tomorrow.

I offered to go to the hospital to keep her mom company in the meantime, or after, or any time at all and she decided let’s wait till he gets there and talks to her.

She did let me know her mother was not doing well.

Hang in there, Sandy.

And for everybody else who has or is an elderly parent: make sure the neighbors and the kids and the parents all have each other’s phone numbers.

In this case it surely helped save her life.



Goodbye Alaska
Saturday September 28th 2019, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Around 7:30 a.m., Anchorage, a few miles apart. The trompe l’oeil lake at the foot of the mountains turned into this thick band overhead as you drove closer, with the thin band in echo below.

The morning before, the clouds and the peaks had looked like blades of pinking shears, zig zagging in surprisingly precise tandem but never quite touching, playing a game of catch-me-if-you-can rather than just having the tops disappear up there.

How did they do that? I’d really love to know. I’d never seen clouds before in the pattern of Charlie Brown’s shirt.

After seven trips, we were getting good at finding our way around.

I’m grateful the kids took us to feed the reindeer, to tour the Palmer research station where the project to bring the musk ox back from extinction in Alaska began with a small imported herd, to the four hour boat ride up Prince William Sound and back: whales, seals, sea lions, mountain goats, the intrepid crow harassing an eagle (always carefully from behind.) The log cabin of the Oomingmak Cooperative selling hand spun and hand knit qiviut–unexpectedly plunked between the high-rises downtown because, hey, tourists.

The ear warmer I bought my daughter there had the name of the artist and a tiny circle within a picture of that big state to show where the knitter lived: far from where we stood, with the remote village’s name given. The card offered forevermore that she would mend it should anything happen to it. I read the pride in her work in those words and wished we could sit down together someday with our yarn and needles and swap stories.

The conversation where I tried to persuade the guy at the reindeer farm that if his animals’ undercoat was soft, and he said it very much was, that he had a product on his hands that hand spinners would love to pay him for.

He did not believe me. He said he’d been told the staple length was too short to spin and he was very insistent about that. I wondered if he just couldn’t fathom that all that potential funding of his farm had been allowed to blow away in the wind–his description by word and hand motion of what happened to it every spring.

I said you blend it with merino to hold it in place and that I hereby volunteered to spin him samples when the animals blew their coats.

Which of course for all my wistfulness never happened, and yet–a few weeks ago I stumbled across an Etsy listing in Palmer, Alaska that said that as far as they knew they were the only people in the world spinning reindeer undercoat. Blended with 80% cashmere because it had to be to hold together.

I haven’t asked yet but it has to be them, it just has to be. I was about giddy when I found it. You DID it!! Let me save up a bit after this month’s trip so I can buy some but I very much need to buy some to cheer them on. You GO guy!

The intense height of those mountains. The unspeakable cold of the Bay with a late November wind blowing right through the down coats and the way the water’s edge looked like rock candy as just enough water made it in under the frozen surface in the relentless tide, pushing it up, breaking it, flashing it like diamonds in the always-late sun as more came in and more froze and we did, too.

The moose that walked right up to the hood of our car and stared in at us, like, What ARE you? It was huge.

Sarah-freaking-Palin in the grocery store. Recognizing with a start on a different day that that was her house and instantly knowing where the Time Magazine photographer had stood to take his cover photo as our car went over a bridge and wondering what it must be like that people can do that. Fame is so weird. But that picture is surely long forgotten by anybody else now.

I knew they use bright and happy house paint colors south of the border but till I traveled north I did not know that Alaskans often do, too. You grab what color you can against the endless months of white.

The laugh-out-loud delight at the airport at discovering a vending machine from–my friends Ron and Teresa of The Buffalo Wool Co! A wall of glass looking out towards the snow on those peaks to the right and to the left, an innocent query to the effect of, Did you pack enough warm things? Buffalo socks, hats, scarves, ours will really keep you warm.

I can attest that they really do.

Ron told me later at Stitches that I’d seen it just a few days after they’d set it up that week. We’d been in Anchorage at the same time. We’d almost crossed paths.

And then.

As Sam put it a few weeks ago, “Friday morning I went in for a normal day of work and by the end of the day I had a new job and a new baby.”

Copper River salmon fishing will no longer be a 25-minute trip away for them. Their tea-party governor is cutting university funding by 41%, etc, etc, so that he can lower the taxes on the oil companies, and they have two kids now who will need to go to the de-funded schools.

They’re moving.