Second Sunday in May
Sunday May 14th 2017, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Talked to my folks, saw my friend Edie and some of her bouncy little grandkids, talked to my kids, Facetimed with my grands in San Diego, texted a picture of me holding a mug with Mathias’s pictures on it to show it had come in time.

And a good Mother’s Day it was. Hope yours was, too.



Get fuzzy
Saturday May 13th 2017, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,Life

The answer to DebbieR’s question starts with, I had no idea that that cute little cabin that’s pictured in everything I ever saw having to do with the Oomingmak cooperative was actually smack dab in downtown Anchorage! We happened to drive past it after hours and I exclaimed and grabbed the phone and snapped its picture through the windshield (see yesterday’s post) from the passenger side.

Sam asked the next morning if I wanted to visit the place?

Heck yeah!

And so she and I went while Richard stayed home with the baby. It was just a quick little jaunt.

There was the back room in view, completely familiar to me from Donna Druchunas’s book and every article I’ve ever read about the place. There were hand knits on display and hat kits for sale and if I’d been really rich that baby-size handspun qiviut blanket that was just under $700 would have been Mathias’s. If only. Inexplicably I saw none of the traditional smoke rings they’re so famous for–cowls, as someone in the Lower 48 would call them, infinity scarves, in the finest, softest, warmest handspun lace.

I made great friends with my first surgeon eight years ago when she was trying to describe this beautiful little hand knit she’d bought from an Eskimo group while visiting Alaska and I’d asked, Was it qiviut? A smoke ring? She was astonished: “How did you know?!”

I’m a knitter! And I spin.

And I live in California. I knew, looking at their wares, that I in no way need the extreme warmth of the undercoat of the gentle musk ox. But my daughter, now! I told her I had long wanted to support the women who do that work, but online from afar and in the wrong climate I’d just never made that order.

But here we were. (And the prices were about what it would cost me to knit them myself, I said afterwards as we were going back to the car.)

She picked out a thick, wide intarsia headband knitted in two natural shades–two designs, actually, taking a minute to decide: “This one looks like poinsettias to me,” and almost got it but the other won out in the end. (The one I’d picked out as my favorite, and if I should have kept my mouth shut it’s too late now.)

I’m rather sorry I didn’t get its picture. Even better yet, on her.

They said if it ever needed repair to just bring the sales slip with it and they would do it.

I told her it was an early Happy Mother’s Day from me. I didn’t quite say out loud, you swaddle your baby in warmth and I’ll swaddle mine.

But I did want at least some little memento for me and they had these tiny bags of combed raw qiviut: $4 each and I got two.

Sam told me afterwards that one of her co-workers had a hat from Oomingmak but he cannot wear it indoors. It’s too hot.

I figure, in Alaska, that’s a good problem to have.



Giving it the side-eye
Friday April 28th 2017, 9:40 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift

The Rios sweater is a riff on a baby pattern I bought from Imagiknit at Stitches.

I do not love piecing sweater bits together. And Purlescence no longer exists for me to hang out with other knitters while I do it. So I dragged it to the audiologist‘s.

The fairly new woman at the desk confessed when I checked in, “I know you’re totally a knitter but I can’t remember your name.” She became knit-worthy on the spot.

She and the audiologist were thrilled when I showed them who I wanted to be able to hear and it clearly made a scut-work task (ooh, scraping ear wax out of tiny spaces: thrills chills and excitement) a lot more fun to do. I’m trying to live up to their example.

Finally got to the top of the first side, wool in hand, and only then did it hit me: you’re supposed to sew the sleeve on first you doofus.

Yes I really did do that.

Well, it would keep him from scratching his face, right? They do make belegged straitjackets for newborns (whatever the official warm-and-fuzzy word for them is.)

Yeah, no. It took me awhile to un-run that end back out. Random suppressed giggles and an awareness that if I could feel that yarn pulling (my ears were on their own just then) then normal people could hear it going zip, zip as the pieces fell slowly back apart, and so much for showing off.

They were very kind and pretended not to notice, but I wasn’t the only one trying not to laugh.

I want a baby sweater pattern that’s done all in one piece. The yellow wool one Aunt Mary Lynn gave us when John was born that I passed down to Parker when he was born: how did she do that… Coming down to points that crossed over in the front… I could certainly figure it out but it’s so much easier when someone else already has. Take my money, save my time.



No training wheels
Tuesday April 25th 2017, 11:09 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Somehow it was a day where that hot chocolate just tasted really good. That blue mill-ends-of-the-mill-ends cashmere (don’t know if there’s any of that $20 postpaid/180 grams of dk weight left, but that’s the link) that I hanked up and scoured the mill oils off of became in that washing the softest yarn one could ever have in hand–someone besides me would soon swoon over it in a more finished form, and just the thought of that made my day. The neighbor was teaching his preschooler to ride a two-wheeler and she was doing really well at it, with her two-year-old brother following right behind on a two-wheel bicycle with no pedals, just little feet on the ground pushing it along at a good clip, wanting to do everything she could do and doing what he could in the meantime. He waved hi at me and I waved back. I told his big sister she was doing great.

And I had a song in my head, a hymn from church, For the Strength of the Hills We Thank Thee. Thou hast made thy children mighty…



One giant leap
Saturday April 22nd 2017, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

The little boy with thick reddish-blond hair was coming down the big wooden steps outside to the deck that overlooks the forest of redwoods at Richard’s aunt’s. He was trying to master the art of doing each step in a single step of his own–but they were bigger than he was and he was practically doing the splits while trying not to tumble forward.

He would have, actually, but for his daddy right there holding his hand. A few side twirls around his daddy’s feet in the process were part of how it’s done.

He finally made that one last long big leap to the wooden planks that had been waiting below and I clapped and cheered, “You did it!”

At that the little boy with Down’s went right back up that step so he could do that again.

And again.

And again.

I caught on: I added, “Do it again!” after the “You did it!” as I clapped.

He did it again, with his dad loving that someone thought his little boy was cute.

On about the eighth round of this, he almost fell at the bottom and caught himself in a bit of a faceplant on the seat of the chair next to me, and so now we had a new game: he would go upwards, he would take a grand step down, I would cheer, “Yay! You did it!” and he would run to that chair and turn his head to the side just like when it wasn’t quite so on purpose.

A few more of those.

Finally, his daddy said, Okay, time to move on, little buddy–but little buddy didn’t want to move on at all, thanks. He had a new game. He had a new friend. This was going great.

I let them be–and then he did let his little guy go up that step one last time. I clapped this time like all the others, but instead I said, “Bye bye!” And he knew what you were supposed to do with a wave bye-bye: you go bye-bye.

And off he toddled hand-in-hand with his daddy to go say hi to the bride and groom.



Where have all the flowers gone? Long time passing…
Wednesday April 19th 2017, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family,Food,Friends,Life

My daughter-in-law had a moment of great inspiration that blessed a lot of us. That will be a story to tell, probably next week.

Meantime, today I had an appointment with the ENT who, years ago, diagnosed my hearing loss as being caused by an allergy to aspirin and thereby stopped its progression. I owe him much. He’s also the one whose love of his garden sparked my own fruit tree and veggie planting and I adore him.

He was running a moment late. And because he was running late, I ended up pulling back into my driveway exactly at the moment a neighbor from across the fence was standing right there, having stopped to talk to the guy next door after having walked all the way around the block in hopes of seeing me and finding me not there. But then I was.

If you remember the saga of the big ragged broken sad ugly Snoopy weathervane skewered on the fence that bugged me so much for so long and an elderly neighbor’s anger at my asking her to take it down or to let me help her do so, this was her.

I wanted peace between us after that. Praying was something I could do while trying to figure out how to create some positive interactions, and we have had some since then.

I stumbled across an article on war brides from her native land that left me feeling for the first time like I could understand why she came across the way she did–it was a survival tactic that had helped those women survive.

Whether it actually applied to her or not I don’t know for sure, but I do know that for me it helped a lot.

Last week I left a stalk of bright red amaryllis flowers in a vase by her door after no one answered. (At her age, I just hoped she was still there but nothing had changed in her front yard, so…)

Here she was, responding in kind. She had a surprise for me. I looked in and laughed, “You didn’t need to return the vase!” There were dark-chocolate-covered butter cookies in there, too. Wow. Yum. “Thank you!”

But here is the thing: she was radiant. She glowed with love, and we gave each other a big hug and I didn’t even know she does hugs. My next door neighbor shared in by saying I’d given them an amaryllis, too, and his being there made it all the sweeter. Had he not stepped outside to put his trash bin away just in time to see and delay her by visiting a moment she probably would have missed us both.

She said, “But when the flowers got old they dripped red. It looked like blood!” She turned and said it a moment later to him, too, in case he hadn’t heard it the first time. I grinned at the scandalousness of its dastardly deed. Yeah, they do that. And thought, actually, it would probably make a great dye for my wool, but who would ever sacrifice the number of flowers it would take to find out?

Only later did the thought occur to me that, oh, I hope that didn’t cause her any flashbacks. But judging by her face and her voice, I think, I think, we did just fine there. Replace the old memories with the new. Better. Happier. And hey–amaryllises!



All part of the Sublime
Sunday April 16th 2017, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

And more amaryllises opening up.

So there was the woman at church I don’t know well but I wish I did, whom a worried friend told me was suffering from depression these days.

I kept an eye out for her last week and quietly noted the dress she was wearing: close to the color of that blanket I just finished (of which there is no more yarn.)

It was a cheerful color, and that can only be a good thing.

I knew I had a lighter shade that would go well with it–and not only that, it was the last of my stash in blue of the discontinued Sublime yarn made of pearl chips dissolved into a rayon with a high-quality bamboo. It is as soft and shimmery and warm as a good silk while being hypoallergenic; it is, literally, a string of pearls.

I’d just moved those two skeins to…somewhere…a few days before. I had actually had them in my hands before that conversation with that mutual friend. Where on earth had I put them?

And thus a highly frustrating week, knitting-wise: I wanted to make a cowl for her before Easter Sunday and I could not for the life of me find that yarn. And it’s not like there were so many (normal) places to look, either. I could have just given up and done something else, and almost did, but for the absolute certainty that that was the yarn I needed it to be. It just was. And I didn’t want to start something else for someone else and get sidetracked.

I finally found them Saturday. How on earth had they ended up in a ziplock with a wool sweater? Hello, brain? There was no way I was going to get it done, or even very far along before Easter services, but at least I got it cast on and a few rows so she could feel the fabric it would be making.

I put it in a ziplock in my purse  for the morning, along with a green cowl just to make sure and to let her have a choice–or something else altogether if she wanted, say, pink polkadots. It would be for her to decide.

I invited her to sit by me a moment after the first meeting and showed her, apologizing that the blue wasn’t ready. When I offered her an infinity of hypotheticals as well as those two choices she was exclaiming, Oooh, the blue!

When I mentioned her dress of last week, and how I didn’t know if it was her favorite or somethingshejustgotonsalebecauseIvecertainlydonethatormaybeshereallylikedthatoneor

She laughed and interrupted with, “That is my FAVORITE dress. I spent a long time looking for just that.”

I told her about the actual pearls made into the yarn and how it had demanded that it be the one I knit for her, even when I couldn’t find the silly things (at the same time, I had needed to be sure it was what *she* wanted.) So she would just have to wait till next week to get it.

She loved it. She was blown away. She was very happy about the whole thing and can’t wait to see it finished.

And it wasn’t till later that the obvious hit me: y’know? When you’re depressed, having something you’re looking forward to while you know someone’s looking out for you–that’s not a bad thing. That anticipation is not a bad thing at all. And it’s much more important than my need had been to just go get this done and out of the way so I could move on to something else. The longer I’d searched the more my focus had shifted away from, where is that yarn! To an even greater sense of, Please, G_d? I want this to happen–for her sake…

Glad I lost it. Glad I found it.



The casting on part
Friday April 14th 2017, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life

One and a half to two feet apart, the garden guide said.

I dug seven holes for my tomato seedlings a little closer than that tonight, tucked back there in the side yard. I stood back to assess: having thoroughly gophered the area, I needed half a dozen more if I’m going to plant all those little jiffy cups (some are already in bigger pots) and where on earth are they going to go? Blues, Sungolds, Pink Brandywine…

Marigolds around them, the stinkiest ones you can find, are supposed to deter squirrels but mine are still in seed form. I don’t think that counts.

Sure, you lose some tomato plants or at least I lose some tomato plants every year in the early stages (three out of my four blues are already gone) when the snails like them (I have copper tape for that now) and the squirrels take an experimental chomp and then spit the broken bits out. (Grrr.) Still. Thirteen survivors? I may have overdone this.

I gave the spade another good strong push and accidentally bounced the handle off my face. (Not too hard.) I ran out of daylight. Plant tomorrow. I’m done.

——–

(I posted this and then went to see if Stephanie had posted yet.

She had. She had found the words at last. That is a love letter for the ages to bless us all.)



Stealth knitting
Thursday April 06th 2017, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Someone happened to say something about someone she was worried about and with that sense of freedom that comes with having just finished a big project, even the ends run in, suddenly I knew I had to interrupt the queue: “A cowl wouldn’t take too long. What are her favorite colors?” Clearly this needed to happen.

The mutual friend was blown away, and came away going, I need to knit. I need to take lessons from you. I need to learn to knit!

I grinned that I’d be happy to teach her.

Meantime she’s got some sleuthing to do. She’s right on it.



Game on
Monday April 03rd 2017, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

What on earth!?

It was a black squirrel, highly visible against the white floral background, twirling hard around and around a branch of the sour cherry and in the process stripping it of the flowers that had opened this morning. How that branch was even strong enough to support it I do not know.

I stomped towards the door yelling words I would only barely let my mother hear me say and went after it. It scrambled for the fence, its mouth stuffed to overflowing with cherry blossoms. Lots and lots of cherry blossoms. It would have been funny if it hadn’t been my future fruit.

The tent, which I’d taken off for yesterday’s picture and then thought, eh, they leave it alone, I don’t need this do I?–is back over that tree now with bird spikes around the base as far as they can go.

Now I know why the flower stems looked chomped off on the Stella cherry when I’d successfully coppered the snails away from its base.  It took those things four years to decide to taste them but then they did.

A few hours later, a black squirrel walked at just enough of a distance around that cage. Looking back at me. Hanging its head. Taking another step. Stopping and looking at me, lowering its head again. Then, unable to resist one more second, it sniffed upwards wistfully towards those flowers and then swung its head back towards me. My eyes narrowed and I was watching its every move and it knew it.

It slunk away. Slowly, regretfully, back up that fence and towards the redwood.

I added hot pepper flakes.

And then after dinner I clipped a red amaryllis stalk, put it in a vase, and took it next door to my wonderful neighbors of thirty years. (To, y’know, counter my crazy squirrel lady thing at least a little bit and who doesn’t need unexpected flowers, right? But no, really, because I had a lot coming up at once and they’re too good to hoard.)

Good times.

(Three more pattern repeats left on that blue blanket… Maybe four. I think.)



That drawing I won, with the tickets and the parking and the food
Tuesday March 28th 2017, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,Life

Richard took a break during a break and she came down beside me at row 11 a moment.

We both did complete double takes: “Oh my goodness!” in unison. She told me she thought she’d go strike up a conversation with the woman several rows below with the white hair who was knitting during the down times, having no idea it was me.

We couldn’t hear much more than that, either one of us, and gave up but we did get a good hug in later on the way out. An old Purlescence friend. Good times.

So I have now see my first game of ice quidditch. The Sharks were ahead, then down, then won in a stunning overtime that–wait–you mean there aren’t four quarters? It really is over? Oh okay.



15-second friends
Sunday March 19th 2017, 11:11 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Saturday night I was at Trader Joe’s reading a label at the end of an aisle when a woman I didn’t see coming up behind me, on her way by, said, warmly, “I LOVE your hair!”

She had no way to know I’d despaired over it that very morning and had seriously considered simply cutting it all off–knowing I would hate it if I did.

Surprised, I turned to see a beautiful African-American woman with her softly graying hair in long dreds and told her, “I love *your* hair!” (And I did.) “Trade you!”

We both laughed as she continued on her way, both of us better off for her outspoken kindness.



Fancy meeting you here
Monday March 06th 2017, 11:13 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,Life

It’s always the prep that is so fun. (Me, I never ever ever have to do it again. There have to be some perks.)

They called us yesterday and asked could we come in at 12:30 instead?

Two hours earlier and get it over with faster? Sure!

We got there 12:15ish and after checking to make sure I would stay to drive him home, they were quizzical as to why we there there at that hour. You’re not supposed to be here till 2:30, nobody told us it was changed…

But they never gave us a definitive yes or no after saying they would go check and the result was that we simply stayed and waited it out.

He got in later than the original time, as it turned out, and in the end I was the last person by quite some time in the formerly crowded waiting room still waiting for a patient. Even the receptionist had left. After three and a half hours of knitting cables my hands had to bail and I pulled out some reading.

But meantime, the doctor who was to do the scope did quite the double take when she saw me first: she was my new *GI doctor (our longtime one had retired.) “How are you?!” She introduced herself to Richard, and then as a knitter herself just had to ask quickly about that project in my hands. She was so excited for Nash.

Richard recovered quickly from the anesthesia–he always does–and they had me wait by the exit. And as I sat there, a familiar face went by while it took me almost a heartbeat too many to think of her name. But it came to me and I called it out just as she stepped out of sight behind the door she’d opened, hoping I got it right and thinking that if I didn’t she would just think I’m talking to someone else coming up behind or something.

She stepped right backwards with, Yes?

And then she recognized me. She was another one of the doctors who had taken care of me in the hospital when I was so ill.

How long has it been?!

Me, holding my arms out: You were pregnant.

Her: ’09, then! Wow, you look great! You were in the hospital!

Me: Was the baby a boy or a girl?!

Her: A girl, and she’s eight now, and has a little sister. And I love your scarf! I wear it every year at the (Renaissance? if I heard right) Faire. And I had it on just the other day, and thank you! I love it!

And here I was thinking there was no way she could remember someone who wasn’t even her patient except during rounds. I’m so glad the timing of the day led to my being right there just as she was leaving and had a moment to reconnect.

 

*Note to Warren: At Stitches, when I fondled your project and asked if it was Woolstock and you exclaimed, “You’re good!” Woolstock is what I knitted up when I went to see my new GI after my old one retired, and the first thing she did was ooh and aah over the feel of it, and then over how it was the perfect color for her. I have no idea what I used for the other doctor (wait–I think baby alpaca) but I know she likes hers, too!



So hurry up already by taking it easy
Wednesday March 01st 2017, 11:16 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Knit,Lupus

Randomness:

Woke up in the night aching and wondering how on earth the bed got so painfully hard–oh. It’s a fever, and oh fun, the brainstem doesn’t want me to breathe on my own (not an entire shutdown, but too close), so, an autonomic nervous system flare to go with. Same old same old, diagnosed fifteen years ago with a blood pressure reading of 63/21 during a tilt table test. Y’know, that’s the lupus symptom I like the least.

But then I did okay today and am hoping that that’s the worst of it.

Meantime, a closeup of the flowers on one side of the second peach tree, with the third, fourth, and fifth peaches soon to burst out in tandem while the honeybees next door were zooming all day around their hive near the fence like electrons around a nucleus, radiant in the sunlight.

Maybe I can get the latest purple cowl off the needles tonight–there are only a few rows’ worth of yarn left in that skein.

We have tickets for our friend Russ’s concert Saturday  that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time and I really need to be fine by then.



C’mon, get found!
Saturday February 25th 2017, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

Yesterday I was talking to a young vendor at Stitches about knitting lace and she said it wasn’t something she’d managed to get good at or do much of yet, but she wanted to (said wistfully).

I remembered feeling like that years ago before I learned how, myself. Well, hey, I happened to know a book that gave good how-to lace instructions and patterns–but I didn’t have a copy with me anymore at the end of the day. Leap into the aisle and wave your arms as I go by, I said, flag me down tomorrow and I’ll bring you one.

What I knew and did not explain well was the facial-memory brain problem and that I really meant how I’d said that. Oh, I’ll find her, I told myself.

Right.

I should have rehearsed over and over, The guy with the red beard. The guy with the red beard. The guy with the red beard. Because how many of those could there be? But I didn’t.

I spent hours today taking in every aisle across the entire convention floor, going past the 150 or so vendors, trying to find her and her husband again and coming up empty and wondering how on earth this could be. I did find lots of old friends I hadn’t seen the day before (and some I had) and vendors who had become such themselves, and that was all good. But I just couldn’t fathom leaving at the end of the day without finding that couple and it was actually getting to be a possibility.

I thought one woman might be her but she not only didn’t recognize me, I simply did not exist for her. That happens all the time when you’re down there in a scooter, although less so at Stitches than anywhere else.

Sympathetic friends asked me the name of the booth. I had no idea, but I knew it was on the left hand side near the end of a section and that they, um, sold yarn. (Hey, not everybody there did!)

Finally I realized that I simply was not going to succeed at this on my own. At all. Clearly. I couldn’t fathom leaving someone excited to learn something new at last and then abandoning them–so I did the sensible thing I should have started off with and offered up an inner prayer for help.

It wasn’t immediate, but pretty close: an old friend saw me and we exclaimed over each other and chatted awhile before I headed down this one aisle I was already on.

There at the end. Right there where I’d gone past I’m sure twice before. They were both in the booth and it was no longer crowded so I could actually see them both–and their delight in that moment at seeing me again. (Me: It IS you!) And so the Twisted Owl couple at long last got their book and she loved it and he loved that she was so happy.

I can’t wait to see them at next year’s show. And now I have the website and a photo to go by.