Their gift back
Friday December 07th 2018, 12:25 am
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

I got word back about the undyed cashmere/cotton blanket that I knit awhile back, going beyond baby blanket size because I had the yarn and I could and that I told the parents they could use it for their new daughter or as an afghan on the couch–it was whatever they wanted it to be for.

Turns out it has gone through the laundry any number of times (shed a bunch of fluff in the process I have no doubt) and has done fine.

And, though they don’t let her toddle around the house dragging it behind her, their little girl goes to bed cuddling with it every night. It is the lovie that every knitter aspires for their baby blanket to become.



Love your dear ones
Sunday November 18th 2018, 12:00 am
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

My friend Lisa Souza of lisaknit.com ditched dinner tonight after she looked out the window: instead, she and her husband were grabbing important papers and pets and throwing everything in the car at the speed of life.

She lives in a town some of the Camp Fire people had evacuated to.

A car on the road beyond had hit a power pole and gone down the embankment as the sky lit up in fire. Hours later she posted a picture she’d stopped a moment to snap that also showed headlights well below, pointed upwards, like, what just happened??

She reported that somehow the guy inside was okay and that the firefighters had tamped down the ferocious brilliance and were only checking for hotspots now. Those guys are good at what they do and I for one could never ever imagine doing it. Wow.

Our AQI is down to 144, rain is forecast for Wednesday and it looks like everybody will finally get a break.

What I really wanted to write about was all the cool stuff I knitted today, but I just didn’t. As the lungs slowly find clarity I intend to have more oomph. Tomorrow would be good.



A key moment
Thursday November 08th 2018, 11:55 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I ran some errands yesterday and the post office was high on that to-do list but I utterly forgot. Got some great Malabrigo at Cottage Yarns, though!

Which is a bit of a trek. Got back home, put my feet up a moment and had a bite, looked at the clock and suddenly realized what I’d forgotten, sighed at the rush hour traffic I could nearly have dodged but wouldn’t now, and headed back out to do that one last errand.

They say that in the last twelve years we’ve had the equivalent of ten cities the size of ours superimposed over the Bay Area.

But going back out again when I did means I happened to be right there when my neighbor was and she was clearly in a bad way. I stopped the car and asked how she was doing. (Another neighbor had seen her fallen in her yard a week ago and had helped her to her feet.)

“Not well,” she told me.

Turns out what she most needed right then was a ride to the car dealership to replace the key for her car. It was right on my way. She hadn’t been about to ask, but I definitely offered and not having to make that long walk right now was clearly a huge relief to her. Neither one of us thought she would have been able to, although neither one of us quite said that.

I’d never seen her using a walker before.

“I can’t take any painkillers,” she happened to mention.

“I can’t take any NSAIDs, my deafness is from an aspirin allergy,” I nodded. I knew what it was like to have to go without. As I put her walker in my back seat I mentioned that mine was in the trunk (even if I haven’t had to use it for quite awhile now.)

“You’ve been through everything.” She said it like it meant I was someone she could say stuff to who could hear it and not flinch. She wasn’t liking this instant little old lady stuff but she was trying to be at her best. She said it again. She was trying to keep her pain from turning her inward, as pain always wants to do.

I dropped her off, did my post office run, swung back on by and picked her up again and brought her home and made sure she was good as best I could. “Alright, my dear,” she smiled, waving me on.

Then into my own driveway.

And was so very very glad that earlier in the day I’d forgotten to run the one errand I’d had to do most. Or that I’d thought was the most important.



Hey, Dani, look!
Tuesday November 06th 2018, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Friends,Mango tree,Politics

Glued to the election returns, glad there will be some checking and balancing–always a good thing.

Meantime, the heat is working in the mango tree’s enclosure but, um, not so much in ours. Brrr. Hoping I can reach our HVAC guy in the morning.

So I thought I’d chill out by posting a bunch of tropical-tree pictures so Dani could see how what he instigated into being four years ago is doing. (Don’t worry about that dusting of cinnamon, that’s just anti-ant.)

I need to ask: are you supposed to let them ripen on the tree? (Why the traditional store-it-in-camel-dung method? All my camel comes in yarn form only.) I know pears have to be picked unripe or they’ll go mushy first, and every reference to Alphonso mangoes I’ve found (that would probably be two) said to let them ripen in warm temps, picked. How do you know it’s time to?

I love that I finally get to need to ask.



At Alison’s Restaurant
Thursday November 01st 2018, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life,Mango tree

After the baking binge.

They came, they saw, and to my surprise they lifted before I even finished writing an Alice’s Restaurant-style note on the door for any stragglers.

Walk right in, come around to the back, just a half a mile from the railroad track…

It was getting dark but they did it.

And then I sent Peter, James, Krys+Sterling, Eric, and Nathaniel off with a chocolate torte each plus one for Bo who really meant to come but was still busy helping a very elderly and quite handicapped woman move out of her home to go to an assisted living facility near her son down south.

Bo had definitely earned his torte.



Crisp and sweet
Wednesday October 31st 2018, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Garden,Knit,Life

Just for this afternoon, I needed a project I didn’t have to pay attention to for the doctor’s office and I was fresh out. (Routine appointment, no worries.) Grabbed some violet merino/cashmere/silk Diamante I’d had Colourmart six-ply for me and cast on an hour beforehand and got enough done that you could tell what the pattern was going to be (and so it would be long enough that the curling bottom wouldn’t bug me–blocking will fix that later.)

I found myself sitting next to a fellow grandmother and knitter, a woman from India who loved watching my hands work as we delighted in each other. She was a treasure.

The doctor was the ENT whose love for taking care of his fruit trees had triggered my planting mine, and look where it got me now. Enthusiasm is contagious that way.

So I brought him a gift in a small Penzey’s box: one perfectly ripe, slightly funky-shaped rather small apple that had grown to fit the produce clamshell that had been squirrel-proofing it. I told him it was my final Fuji of the season.

He laughed in wonder, saying he’d picked his last Fuji in August!

Microclimates R Us, I guess.

It smelled perfect. I hope it was. There had been two, and we can tell you that the other had made it clear how good they were now.



More than a blurb on the ballot
Wednesday October 24th 2018, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Politics

A friend threw a potluck tonight to go over the ballot issues via a lively 15-way discussion.

And…voices stayed understated, everyone was a grownup, but it definitely felt lively there for a few minutes after one person quietly texted her friend the candidate, who showed up and was promptly peppered with questions. (The hostess was, um, a tad surprised, but invited her in and took it in stride very graciously.)

Turns out another woman there was dead set against her (I was a bit stunned at finding out why)–and after hearing the three of them each speak their piece, that candidate very much has my vote. She’s the equivalent of Christine Blasey Ford’s mom’s friend, who in our local case spoke up for the raped 14-year-old for 18 months, hounding school board members and the superintendent, telling that other woman’s kid on the school newspaper that using the defendant’s lawyer as your source for saying it was consensual and not interviewing anyone who said otherwise is so not cool and you must publish a retraction. This is a criminal case and you are contributing to the continuing victimization of the victim.

There was a second assault.

She kept on pushing until she got justice and the school instituted some changes. And now she’s running to be on that board.

The principal who kept trying to brush her off, who put consequences on the victim alone and none on the perpetrator, no support whatsoever for the girl, ended up fired.

Yeah. You bet I’m voting for this woman. She’s got nerves of steel and she will do the right thing no matter who or what power stands in her way.

I’d been debating doing early voting but had wanted to hold off till that dinner was over, and I can’t tell you how glad I am that I did.



Searsiously
Saturday October 20th 2018, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Garden,Life,Mango tree

How hard is it to find a thing that works.

Plenty, turns out.

I spent several hours today researching and looking and trying to find a good heater for a small greenhouse. All I could find was cheap Chinese knock-offs that looked like the old tried and true but had dismal, awful reviews. Whatever happened to the ones built to last? To even work?

It finally hit me: Sears used to make good tools for the working man. You didn’t want to freeze in that garage with the door open to the world while you worked on that car.

And so I tried them, knowing full well their vulture capitalist CEO is trying to kill the company as fast as he can for what he can skim off the top and he’s certainly not putting any money into improving product lines.

Lo and behold. One color left: bright red. I can handle that. Stellar reviews. Hey. Happy reviews. One said, I tried all those others but this one actually works and actually keeps working.

So it will be my wistful wave good-bye to what once was, both Sears and decent appliance manufacturing standards, and it is on its way. Wish me luck.

All by way of saying, I’m going to have to let Eli gently down and tell him that (hopefully) I’m not going to be needing him to cover and uncover the mango tree when I’m out of town anymore: my husband told me he thought I should order that Sunbubble greenhouse and a good heater and not to have to worry about being here at the right time every single morning and night, flu or not.

Get the big one, he said. You know it’ll grow into it.

I finally let myself feel just how freeing that will be. The tree can just…quietly, on its own…do its own thing.

Christmas is coming early.

My husband’s the best.



New neighbor
Thursday October 18th 2018, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I happened to come home from the grocery store exactly as she was coming out.

I have always waved to the neighbors and been the one to step across the wide street to say hi for a moment, letting them know they’re welcome anytime. Thus the memories of two moms and their small children following me to go see the dove’s nest on top of our ladder leaned against the back of the house, holding the little ones high so they could get a view of the baby dove peeking back at them from under its momma’s wing.

Today it was someone new stepping out of the house across the street who waved to me as I waved hi to her–and she’s the one who promptly crossed the street, holding her hand out to introduce herself.

I instantly liked her. No, she told me, the widower hadn’t sold the place–he was renting it to them, but with some work to be done first so they’ll be moving in the first of December and she was quite excited about it. The kids could walk to their school. She loved the neighborhood. She was clearly glad to meet a friendly face right off.

We chatted a moment. It there still a pool in the back yard? I wondered out loud.

Yes, there is!

I told her that the then-ten-year-old living there (the not-yet-a-widower’s son) had been in it when the Loma Prieta quake had hit and it had whooshed him right out of the water.

Omigosh! Her eyes got big and she laughed. Surf’s up!

That house has been quiet a few months now, with a worker’s truck in the driveway by day and emptiness by night.

I can’t wait till they move in.



Katherine now
Wednesday October 17th 2018, 9:42 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

One week ago, a name popped up in the comments on a Facebook post and I did a double take. We instantly friended each other, and I got to read about a few of her experiences with Catholic Relief Services in Africa. (Do you still go by Katie? I haven’t gone by Katie for 35 years! …I’m behind…)

Then yesterday she posted a picture inside San Francisco airport–because the airline had lost her bag and she was going to have to go fast to buy some clothes before the meeting tomorrow in…

And I went hey, that means you’ll be driving practically right past my house!

Which is how Katherine, my friend since junior high and whom I had not seen since high school graduation, carved two hours out of her very busy trip and spent them today with me and we caught up on forty-one years of life.

“You kind of disappeared,” she told me. I did. I married at 21 and then school and grad school and being broke and kids and distance and we simply didn’t get home for a long time and have never been there for long when we are. I have not seen my favorite mountain laurel in bloom but for three fading tiny blossoms on a single cluster since I was 18.

She married late and no children came, but he was the great love of her life. To describe his generosity, she described his knitting: she was one of six children and there were all these nieces and nephews on her side. One Christmas he knitted them all mittens.

Double knitting mittens. Twenty-four pairs!

Twenty. Four. Pairs. Of double knitting??

I was completely boggled.

He was completely adored.

Ten happy years. Then his cancer. Even in hospice, right to the end, she said, he was knitting for others.

And he loved my friend Katherine and that alone would have been good enough for me. I so wish I could have met him.

I told her, My memories of you from junior high is that you were always nice to everyone. Without fail. At a time in life when kids are so easily snarky and mean you were unfailingly kind.

She was someone I wanted to be a lot more like. Still do.

I sent her back out into the world with a copy of my book and some knitting (thank you for the gorgeous yarn, Lisa!) of my own.

Alaska Air reimbursed her on her clothing purchase.

It was their baggage handling that sparked us those two marvelous hours.



Did you say chocolate?
Tuesday October 16th 2018, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends

A chocolate tasting party: bring your favorite or your favorite creation out of it or just bring you.

Now that is an idea I could really get into, and it is safe to say I did. It was an excuse to get to know some women better, and what better way to do so?

I might not sleep tonight but it was worth it.



The bees’ knees
Sunday October 14th 2018, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Felt great to feel good today–just a bit tired first thing but that wore off, so we went to church with face masks on both of us just to keep our friends on the safe side.

I was afraid H’s mom had already flown home, but no, there she was. Turns out that although she mostly quilts and crochets, she knits, too, and she was gobsmacked that I had made her this softness and that her daughter and I had plotted together on the color. She instantly put it on and proudly wore it the rest of church, even though it was thick Mecha and it was 76 out.

I looked and looked for the woman who’d exclaimed over my half-done yellow cashmere I’d started for her last month and finally resigned myself to taking it home yet again and hoping for the next time.

We were maybe three steps from the entryway by the door to leave when the hall door opened and she was backing up against it almost into me with her arms full. Turns out she taught one of the primary classes.

THERE you are! I’ve been looking for you! I pulled her cowl out of my purse, stuffed into a small ziploc.

She almost cried. She told me her elderly mother had been diagnosed with colon cancer this past week to go with her other health problems and it had been very hard. “Your timing is perfect!”

She said it again, marveling, and gave me the hug that was really most of all for Someone looking out for her up there in those moments who knew more and deserved it more than I ever could. Her favorite color was supposed to have been sold out before I ever even saw it listed. One cone suddenly became available at the moment I signed in to Colourmart that day. It’s hers now.

So now I understand why I couldn’t find her earlier.

Oh! I almost forgot–there was a middle-aged woman I didn’t recognize with small children whom I did, and before church started she was trying to calm the toddler down. He was okay while they were in motion but not once she sat him and his baby brother down. Routine was Mommy and Daddy here once a week and this was someone else and not how you do it and he was Not Having It. I mah MAHMAH!

Turns out, yes, they were out of town and yes, she was the grandma holding down the fort, glad to connect with another grandma as I brought him the most colorful finger puppet in my purse, a parrot with bright red-white-blue stripes in its wings and yellow in its tail and beak. And another puppet for his 20-month-old best buddy who’d climbed under the bench and suddenly popped up onto it to stand there next to his sobbing-suddenly-not-sobbing friend. Hey! One for him, too! (In no way was I about to instigate jealousy between the two.)

I was back in the aisle just as 92-year-old Jean was coming up from behind with her walker.

“If I’m really good can I have one too?”

I guffawed. I didn’t even know she’d seen any of that. I dug down in the purse for whichever Peruvian hand knit treasure should come up.

“A honeybee! For your garden!” Jean’s garden is the great passion of her creativity.

I think she really was hoping for one of those bright parrots, though.

Looking at these other two bees just now, I find the stitches were pulled shut at the bottom–oops! Not a finger puppet! That’s a first–clearly she needs a do-over.

I also need to make that other grandma a cowl, quick. Washable looks definitely the way to go.



He’ll never be this tiny again
Friday October 05th 2018, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit

Spencer, so very very new.

Meantime, a conversation two days ago: no, you can’t pay me to knit a cowl for your mom like yours but tell me her favorite color.

Her: Purple and pink and happily wears wool.

Me, now that I’ve finished the survivor’s one:



Greens and blues, Sara said
Friday September 28th 2018, 8:40 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life,Politics

The last few days prompted a conversation wherein an old high school friend opened up yesterday and told me about her being a survivor.

I asked her her favorite color.

(Solis colorway. I had knit up all I had of that. I was actually out. I had to do something about that.)

Today I kept feeling like, go to Green Planet.

Cottage Yarns in the opposite direction has a better inventory on all things Malabrigo.

Go to Green Planet.

I finally said a little prayer, and felt like, yes already fer cryin’ out loud, honey, Green Planet.

Well alright then.

I brought the pair of needles I would be using, went there, found just the thing, waited while they wound it and dove right in, both the knitting and the conversation at the table.

Some old Purlescence friends happened to be there, and one of them asked me how I was doing. I told her the last few days had been pretty intense.

And with that everybody felt permission to talk about it and the conversation got going. Of the five of us sitting at that table, four had followed every hearing and every update.

The fifth, a younger woman, had not; she wanted to know but she’d shied away from finding out and was not even sure what the story was, and it hit me: we’re talking to a survivor and it’s still all too close to home for her. But we did not pry and we did not ask.

The woman across from me started talking about Jeff Flake and the woman in the elevator confronting him, demanding, Look in my eyes! We come to the courts for justice! We who are hurt, who have suffered injustice, we look to the courts and you want to put a rapist on the court! There are many of us and you ought to be ashamed! We come to the courts for healing, for justice!

I chimed in that Flake had gone back to that hearing room and had still voted yes–if. If the FBI were given a week to investigate, then yes, move the nomination to the floor. If.

Something changed in the room.

The witnesses will be interviewed after all.

The fifth woman gathered up her things now and said she had to go, but she had one request: could she give me a hug?

Yes! (Oh honey yes. Yes of course.)

She thanked me and then headed out the door into the waiting daylight.



Congressional hearing
Thursday September 27th 2018, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Knitting a Gift,Life

I promised myself I would use the time to knit. With the time zone difference and our morning schedule, I missed some of Dr. Ford’s testimony but what I saw was riveting and heartbreaking and as real as it gets.

Kavanaugh‘s Yale roommate said he was mean when he was drunk. Today we got to see the guy sober–and I wouldn’t want to be around him when he’s anything worse. Self-righteous, highly partisan, self-pitying, loud, angry, bombastic, rude, steamrollering, and over the top: this is the kind of man that women stay as far away from as they can.

Judy’s cowl is almost done.

I can’t change what the Senate might do tomorrow, but I can make a difference to one woman with it.