From Baltimore with love
We had a wonderful time at the lunch Thursday–but I would have given so much to have been able to stand outside in the bright summer sun afterwards and chat some more with Scott and his mom where the noise of the restaurant would have been a door behind us and he and I both could have heard better. There are moments where I highly regret my lupus. But it is what it is. And it was so joyful to see them. He sent us home with a collection of his photography, and he does such beautiful work. Alaska was well represented, and I hope someday to see some of it too–and I reminded him of the postcard he sent me from there when I was in the hospital the first time, of a sign warning no going beyond this point: bear danger.
A very large bear was leaning casually on the sign, all his world before his eyes.
We took Sam and her roommate Maria and Karen out to lunch yesterday as a final hurrah before the airport and then got home late last night, and on the first leg of the flight I sat next to someone who was clearly studying nursing.
Or maybe she was brushing up, but it’s always best to guess on the one side rather than the other, so when the plane landed and I could hear, I asked her if she were a nurse?
Oh, no, not yet, she said with a pleased smile, but she would be graduating in December.
Oh cool! I thanked her: “A nurse saved my life.” I told her I had been in the hospital with Crohn’s disease, I had had temporary diabetes on the IV steroids, and during a shift change a nurse I didn’t know had poked her head in the door in my room and gone, I don’t like the looks of you. She had checked my blood sugar: 32! And falling.
Oh wow! said the young woman at that number.
I have heard from enough sources that it is hard in many workplaces to be a beginning nurse, and everyone has to start somewhere–so I wanted her to come into it knowing that the patients appreciate what she will do. I thanked her for going into nursing.
She was coming to see her dad…she hesitated…and her grandma for the last time. Her husband had told her to go, just go, and I could just picture a very young couple with no means really yet agonizing over the price of the plane ticket; she had flown from Columbus to San Diego via Baltimore, a long day but the cheapest flight. I chuckled; we were coming from Baltimore to San Jose via San Diego, same reason. A long day.
With enough layover to grab a fruit smoothie from a vendor whose shop was right against the gate and get back on the next plane. I know, I know. But it is Richard and Kim’s anniversary this weekend so we will see them and Parker and Hudson next week, and our son John made the long drive home for this weekend because at the last minute some friends needed a fellow driver and back.
He is here now. We are home, too. Life is good.
The jet lagged
We went around the tornado area in very rough skies, even at 3900 feet Monday, and eventually got here. About three hours sleep last night.
Sam’s diploma is in hand and she is beautiful.
My childhood friend Karen, Sam’s roommate and we had a grand day visiting.
I have no idea what time zone my body thinks I’m in–off to bed.
Is this thing working again?
I’d been wondering why the site was being so slow for me and where all the comments had gone and then this morning it refused to let me delete spam. I did manage to get that one note in at the bottom of yesterday’s post and then we had no access.
Richard, a computer scientist, put in seven hours today dealing with tech support and fixing the wonkitude. There may still be a little weirdness, and if you come across any please let me know. He missed Maker Faire so that I could have my blog and website back, which hurts (me more than him; he’s watching it live now online and saying don’t worry, it’s fine. It helps that Michelle went and brought home the most exquisite chocolate.) I tell you, he’s the best, and so is she.
Along the way he found out that another site had my Marnie’s Scarf pattern picture up with a link to my page, which is cool, but it had been renamed, which wasn’t cool at all and he logged a protest.
I’d been wondering for awhile why on earth I was getting occasional requests for help with a Goddess Dream scarf when I had designed nothing of the sort. Nobody ever gave me the link (because surely I knew it, I guess) and I wondered why they didn’t ask the person who’d made it. I mean, I like to be nice but it’s a little hard to walk someone through the details of a pattern you don’t know and you’ve never seen.
It’s been nine years since I put my own free patterns on my site and I always have to go back and remind myself what I did where; it has at times taken hours to walk a new laceknitter through the work in their hands that they can see but that I can’t. I may have years and years of practice at my work, but generally they’re asking because they don’t. I was there once, when there were no online sources to turn to and not even any books in print that I could teach myself laceknitting from; I’m very glad to help.
It’s all about passing along the love of the craft. But I have to have enough information myself to start from.
I did have a wonderful time yesterday answering a woman who said, “I’m 93 and I’ve been knitting all my life but what in the world is an ssk?”
I so hope to be knitting new things at 93! And how cool that she was online to ask me!
But those times people asked about the Goddess Dream scarf I was wondering why on earth…when I had no knowledge of and nothing to do with it.
The responsible party is here. I very much appreciate that they linked to my pattern rather than just taking it, but I think they just had no idea what problems they were causing me and other knitters by changing the name to something they thought more catchy or impressive. I adore my friend Marnie, in whose honor I posted that freely as she had freely spent her time and efforts helping me recover after a major hospitalization for Crohn’s disease, and I’d like her name to stay attached to my pattern. Her great acts of service and love, only one of which is posted with her namesake scarf, represent a level of unselfishness and good-person-hood that I aspire to.
I guess I’ve got a ways to go yet. I certainly should have asked the people who asked me why they’d come to me so perhaps I could have found out sooner what was up. My apologies to all those who didn’t get the help they were looking for at the time.
Friday May 17th 2013, 9:53 pm
Filed under: Friends
Our neighborhood was built for young families.
Their children grew up, many moved away and we moved in, our youngest coming along a year later.
Our children grew up and now we have new young neighbors. And the ones who had been surrogate grandparents to our little ones back in the day threw a party tonight to welcome the new couples in and to reconnect the older ones, a gesture much appreciated all around.
I would love someone to tell me stories on our house, and we got to tell a few on the others’.
I asked our hostess about their magnificent old plum tree outside the window, whose crop they have shared so generously with us so many times, and this good woman whose children are just younger than we are said it was there when they got here. Whether it was supposed to have been a standard or a semi-dwarf, she didn’t know and I knew it didn’t matter; it simply was a gracefully grown, beautiful, leafy tree, and no matter how many plums the squirrels took, she said, there always seemed to be plenty.
My baby fruit trees aspire to the day. IÂ smiled, wondering who might be enjoying them 50 years from now: peaches, plums, will the old lemons still be there, cherries, apples, blueberries, too, now, and I still hope to put in a Comice pear. I aspire to pass along a bounteous place that will give our future owners much. (While I’m still at the stage of hoping for anything for us on everything other than the lemons.)
One of the newcomers asked the name of the type of tree we have out front: Bradford pear–but no pears? No, they are tiny wooden things barely the size of your smallest fingernail, but the flowers are beautiful, and as we stepped outside at the end, I looked next door at it and marveled at the memory vs the present. “It was a twig when we moved here. With two supports. And look at it now.”
And in between it went through this but this past March looked like this.
I can’t wait to see what they plant at this house and that house and to get to play surrogate grandparents to their future children, to see how everything grows up to be all over again.
(Side note: this site will be down for awhile today while the resident admin does some work on it. Back soon.)
Dropped off the drycleaning this afternoon.
I’ve been going to this one place for years, and the middle-aged woman who runs it always whips out that slip and writes down Hyde, A before I even say anything.
We bonded forever over the moment where, early 0n after I’d made it–
–okay, back up. Twenty-three years ago, when I was newly back into knitting as an antidote to all that my new lupus diagnosis threatened, after I got the use of my hands back after the first six months of the disease, I knitted my husband an aran. A big, cream, woolly, cabled aran. An aran with sleeves that he could fold the cuffs back on, a luxury in his eyes that had forever been denied him because of his height. This is what happens when you have to duck through doorways.
Most people are fingertip-t0-fingertip the same measurement as their height.
Back then, I didn’t trust myself to handwash a wool sweater without wrecking it, especially not after all that work (now I wouldn’t bat an eye) and I took that aran with the 78″ wingspan to that new-to-me-then drycleaner. I told her not to block it, having been warned (I think by my mom) that they would press all that glorious cablework flat forever otherwise.
Several years later, he’d worn it enough that it seemed time to get it cleaned again.
“Oh, *I* remember THIS sweater! she exclaimed, holding it out to her own arms’ length, which was a whole lot less than his–or mine, for that matter. She admired it, exclaimed over it, and oh! You MADE it?!
I never forgot that moment and I bet she didn’t either.
There was somebody new working with her today, and my friend whose name I somehow never found out seemed scattered and pulled in too many directions. Helping the kid back there with something he was asking her about, rushing back to me, finding out that no, those weren’t my shirts, oh, right, those were…she’d forgotten..she swept them into a bag and out of the way, apologizing, while I smiled, no, no, no problem.
She took a breath. All her attention was now on me. My husband’s suit? Monday, alright?
Is it possible to have it rushed by Saturday?
She was momentarily distracted and glancing away just then while trying hard not to be–but she had to–!
It was okay. Meantime, the new helper did not fall but inched ever so slowly, steadily closer, coming up on the left, holding tight to a laundry cart that suddenly seemed to need rubber stops on one side of the bottom just in case.
Saturday is fine; thank you very much!
She had to ask me my name, and that was a complete tipoff as to how overwhelmed she was feeling.
The woman I am guessing was her mother got ever so much closer to the counter on her slow way forward, her body so bowed that she could barely lift her head enough to make eye contact.
But you make eye contact with the customer and you greet them and she was determined.
And so this very tiny woman of about 90 whom I had never seen before at last looked me eye to eye and found me smiling. She raised one hand from the cart in cautious slow motion and carefully, gently, waved hi to me, and then her face blossomed into a smile at our shared sense of success.
She completely made my day. I will never forget it.
Darrin Bell wrote recently of taking care of his 94-year-old grandfather in his final weeks and what it was like to be with someone he loved so close to the other side, and in his comic strip he quoted his grandfather as saying, everything you do in life, you’ve got to be at your best.
I felt privileged to share a moment with a woman of about his grandfather’s age who was showing me how to do exactly that.
And I think, when I take the drycleaner slip back on Friday for the pickup, I will take a copy of this post in thanks. (Ed. to add–wait, I don’t want her to feel she’s lost face on the name thing; I’ll just tell them thank you.)
Save some for me
Happy Mother’s Day!
This morning Richard and I came home from an errand and there was a Cooper’s hawk at the top of the tree behind our front gate, duly noting our arrival. My territory, your territory, no-wings; welcome!
Didn’t quite catch the best moment, but, an Oregon dark-eyed junco male (the one with the black head) feeding his mate. He takes good care of her and it charms me to no end.
And below, the black squirrel that had a bad case of mange two years ago and went bald in patches and her fur grew back in white, making it look like she’s wearing a tank top and head band. She’s easy to spot. She does look like a very agile small skunk from a distance.
Don and Cliff saved six plastic produce clamshells for me, to my great delight, and now I have that many more plums and apples protected from those little thieves that in the past have stripped my Fuji apples clean in a day, two months pre-ripe. The little stinkers.
I know you’re supposed to thin the fruit out to one per branch but there aren’t a whole lot this year to begin with. I left the first cluster I found at two–safe now–and then went eh and snapped a clamshell around the whole threesome I found next.That tomato package was big so I was going to make the most of the space.
They may come out big they may come out small but we will at long last have our first homegrown apples (and plums!) Twenty-one years after I planted that Fuji. Thank you Don and Cliff!
Good locks with that
The little peregrine eyas is back on the roof as of this afternoon,Â drenched by Glenn so he would preen rather than blindly flee at his release; he has seen his brothers and they have looked up and seen him. Dude! Where ya been!
I took a ride in the Radio Flyer wagon! You’ll never believe it!
(Actually, he rode back up in the elevator in the traditional peregrine-baby-rescue apple box. Don’t know why it’s always an apple box. But it’s always an apple box.)
The area where they shaved my scalp for skin cancer surgery, July two years ago: I’ve been waiting a long time for that hair to grow back in, wearing it pulled back from my face in combs so the gaps wouldn’t show.And then there was that time last August where we had to whack a bit nice and close to free me from the back of the hair dryer when we were defrosting the freezer. (You might want to check to see if there’s a protective screen covering yours. The hair dryer, I mean. I’ve heard from half a dozen people now who’ve had the same thing happen.)
It was time. My friend Nina’s daughter Gwyneth is a gifted stylist, the only person I would ever go to for as long as she may live around here, and I made an appointment for last Friday, showed her how things were at this point, and asked her help.
It’s still a little below the shoulders in back–I gotta do my earth mother/artiste thing–but it’s a lot shorter; she did a fabulous job and I am very very happy with how it came out. I keep looking at this one spot (and that one and that one), thinking, how did you DO that? How did you get that to behave exactly perfectly in the pattern it was going to curl into once it was shorter?
All of this is of no real importance to anybody but me, but I wanted to record it so I could go back later and see when that cut was. Also because I know how hard it is to find someone you absolutely trust with your hair, and if anyone around here is looking, everybody I know who’s ever gone to her has had the same reaction: Gwyn is absolutely the best.
Hamming it up
Saturday May 04th 2013, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Friends
We went to a book release party tonight.
B is a knitter and she and her husband Leigh worked with mine back at the time when she told me all about this big knitter’s convention that I’d never heard of and that I just had to go to, she said, while I was marveling at the idea of there being such a thing–you mean there are a lot more Knitters with a capital K like us? Where have they been hiding? And so we went together that Saturday.
Tess was a little girl hiding under the skirts of the display tables at her mom’s booth while B had one of her twins in a baby frontpack; my big splurge at my first Stitches West was hand-dyed silk from Melinda, Tess’s mom, never to be forgotten.
Everybody oohed and aahed over B’s little one and she had great fun saying his twin was at home with Daddy for the moment. She told me how odd it felt to be with just one of the babies.
The twins are in high school now; they of course were there tonight to celebrate their dad’s book, too, and I mentioned to one (with apologies upfront for talking about remembering him at such an age–I’ve had teenagers, I understand) that the first time his parents had gone off on a date after they’d been born, I’d popped on over to help out. His folks had come home and just stood there in the doorway a moment: one baby was being rocked in the baby seat with my foot, one baby was being held in my arms, I was petting the cat and I was reading a good book. Everybody was happy. They went, wow, you *are* an experienced mom!
Besides work, Leigh has done a lot of ham radio volunteer work with my husband, and their kids and two of ours are hams as well; there were years of memories to share and stories to swap. And a good time was had by all.
Oh, and, I asked Richard what kind of bird makes this song that I’d never heard before but he didn’t know.
But it was short short long long, dot dot dash dash, honey.
U with an umlaut over it in Continental Morse Code, he told me (after looking it up to be sure).
Thursday April 25th 2013, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Friends
I had no idea. I was suddenly overwhelmed at the sight of it as I sat at a red light. I keenly missed him all over again, was keenly aware of the injustice done him for which he forgave so freely, and I wondered how his wife and kids are doing. I should take that as my cue to go make the effort to find out.
They just finished an addition on the street side of the high school my kids went to, and in the shade of a massive, beautiful old oak tree there, today for the first time I saw the bench. Maybe in part because I don’t drive past there much anymore, and maybe it had been moved there April 4th, I don’t know, but I had never seen it before.
That date, I found out later from the school’s website, was officially Albert Hopkins Memorial Day and that bench had been given to the school in his honor, inscribed with the words, “In Memory of Albert Hopkins. Live happy, love freely, seize the day.” On the website: “He gave, he listened, he encouraged.”
I couldn’t help but wonder if those two rogue cops might now have kids at that school where Albert showed each child who came into the Academic Center for help that their success was everything to him. He would have taken them in under his wing if they needed anything, anything.
Almost on to the next
Four more rows of ribbing to finish off that baby afghan as I type. Got the 25 repeats done I was aiming for and found I had maybe maybe enough yarn to do another–and decided to save it for a matching hat (it should stretch that far) and baby booties (which might even fit before he’s three this time. I can only get better at this baby knitting thing.)
Meantime, being thrown so badly back into serious sickness by a common bug had me more worried last week than I wanted to admit, even to me.
Michelle M quilts as well as knits, and four years ago when I was doing all that hospital stuff she was making me a get-well quilt. Somehow its shipping time wasn’t quite there yet… Till she asked me about a week ago how to get this to me?
It’s far prettier than my nighttime sideways snapshot shows. The anticipation, the box, lifting the quilt out and going oh wow!, feeling thought about and cared about and marveling that she would go to all this everything for me, it gave me a tremendous sense of reprieve that I don’t quite know how to say. Her timing was perfect.
And she had no way to know it, but my mom quilts and several years ago Mom and I went to a quilt shop and I picked out fabrics for a quilt for her to make me whenever my turn in line should come up (no hurry).
The light fabric Michelle picked? I did too, or one very like if it’s not that exact one.Â Mom’s will be different and the two will go very nicely together. All the more perfect.
A dressing, down
Sunday March 24th 2013, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Friends
Every now and then I learn something new and what to do/avoid/change related to the ileostomy of four years ago.
Saturday I did not realize I’d somehow gotten a little of the adhesive that’s not supposed to come off but did on my finger–and then in my hair. Bubblegummish. How did that…?!
I tried what I knew how to do, and then Richard got some medical adhesive remover that he had. My alcohol pads had done nothing but the little squares of reeky whatever-it-was of his melted the stuff right out of there–and it suddenly hit me and I looked up and asked him as I patted around the top of my forehead, “That didn’t take out my hair, too, did it?”
He looked at me wide-eyed a moment and then thought out loud, “No. It doesn’t take the hair off my arm when I’ve had to use it, it should be fine.”
And then I tried to wash the citrus oils that were in it out. And the stink. Tried again. It helped some but far from enough, but at least I think he was right about the hair. I later ran my head under the kitchen sink on impulse briefly to try one more time to get away from that smell.
I set the time for the alarm last night a little early so I could shampoo it a good one in the morning and be done with it. I would have done it then, but I was knitting every last row of baby blanket I could before bed.
Forgot to set the actual alarm. Richard was staying home with a cold so his was off.
And so it was that I had to run to church at the last moment with weird-stinky, oily, total bedhead. At least the extra sleep would diminish the chances of my catching his cold.
And guess who showed up. Old friends whose baby is a senior in high school now, wow! Look who’s here! They happened to be visiting from Oregon and it was so wonderful to see them. I was completely in the moment as we caught up a bit: how are you, how are the kids, and I told their daughter who didn’t remember me, “Welcome home!” She grinned back shyly, holding her mom’s hand and twisting halfway behind her as she considered the thought. The oldest towered over us. Who knew.
And I came home and looked in the mirror.
Oh my. A lot worse than I thought.
What a blessing it is that our inability to see our own faces when we’re out and about helps us forget and get over ourselves sometimes when we need it.
(And then I took that shower. Only a whiff of orange since.)
The lace hat with the Charlie Brown zigzags
Glenn Stewart just published a book! The biologist whose lifework has been to bring iconic raptor species back from the brink. And I already know the guy can write well. Kindle version so far, and I can only imagine the squinting of the person who said he was reading it on his Iphone, but as soon as we find our Kindle I’ll be reading it too.
And in the meantime.
I kept kicking myself for feeling zero interest in working on the baby afghan this afternoon. I should be putting it first and foremost–and I did want to knit, but not that, and instead found myself picking up the hat I’d been working on at the lupus group meeting yesterday, trying to finish it before knit night.
Didn’t quite make it.
With the one-car situation, I only made the last hour at Purlescence. (They have my book. I sign them. Just mentioning, like I do occasionally.)
And so for forty-five minutes or so I worked those last repeats and decreases. Bound off. Managed to work the ends in far enough with my knitting needles after coming up empty for an eye-of-a- type.Â Checked my keys: nope, I’d taken my little Swiss knife off them last time I went traveling and never did remember to put it back on. Well, then.
And with that I walked across the room to Danette, who’d been far enough away that we hadn’t exchanged a word the whole time–I’m too deaf to even try from that far in a noisy room–and thanked her again for the ride home from Stitches. Baby alpaca/merino/cashmere, says I as I’m grinning and walking away while her eyes are up to the ceiling and her jaw down to the ground and the whole room lights up.
Y’know, there’s this whole inner issue of do something quietly, not for show. But dang was it fun just the way it was.
Danette’s got a little girl who’s just starting to be verbal, and so as we walked out at the 9:00 bell I turned to her where she had the hat happily on her head and those two yarn ends hanging down her shoulder, picked one up a moment and pronounced, You’re dribbling.
Stole my heart
Who knew that blueberry flowers look like bluelessberries?
Ellen is the friend who asked to borrow the autoharp, and late this afternoon, her husband called and asked if he could swing by to pick it up?
Allen showed up with the baby in his arms and daughter and son in tow of about three and five. It had been eight years since they’d moved out of our ward so that we no longer got to see them at church every week. I hadn’t met the little ones.
The five-year-old wanted to show me why that autoharp was going to be appreciated for the week it would be at their house. He sang me three verses of a song; I smiled my biggest grandma smile. How often do I get to be serenaded by small happy people? The baby thought this was great and grinned back.
Then the middle child needed to give it her all, too, and she sang me a wobbly I Am A Child of God.Â Sweetie, you most definitely are. So cute.
The big brother had another go at it, and all the while I was standing in my doorway ready to walk the autoharp to the car because the dad’s arms were full, while the sun–late sun, but sun–was beaming in.
They had no way to know.Â I kept expecting it to be over while not wanting it to be over and the dad needed to be on his way, so coming in awhile wasn’t happening. Had it been noon, I would have said something, but at that hour, I hoped the risk was small–after all, I would be out in another half hour or hour snapping quick photos of my blueberries and plum tree, right?
The little girl held my hand as we went to their car. She asked as she climbed up into her carseat if I would come with them? But no.
We had made friends. I am utterly charmed.
If we want
Sunday March 10th 2013, 11:22 pm
Filed under: Friends
Heard today during a heartfelt talk at church: “We all have the capacity to do more good than we have the capacity to know.”
Wednesday February 27th 2013, 12:08 am
Filed under: Friends
We have friends selling a ’99 black S80 Volvo. It’s a beautiful, beautiful car.
We have an ’00 Minivan Of Doom (per my kids) that, after all the money we have sunk into it, ungratefully blew through most of its transmission and an axle not to mention the crack that is now all the way across the bottom of the windshield and the side door that, the third time the kids crunched it in while they were learning to drive, we gave up on it. T’ain’t pretty. I have babied it, I have kept that transmission going for over four years since it first started grumbling but its time has come.
The mileage was high on the Volvo (183k, yow) but the car “is in good shape, as far as I know,” said the owner, showing us a tall stack of yellow mechanic’s reports from over the years. And his price was less than the estimate on my van.
So I took it to my mechanic, who was dubious over those miles and for $47.50 gave it a good checking out for me.
Always take it to a mechanic.
Turns out the estimate on their car was within a few hundred of their asking price and the minivan suddenly doesn’t look so bad; I finally asked what my windshield would cost–$225?! Is that all? Why didn’t I do that long ago? and I gave our friends their car back. Reluctantly.
So for $47.50, I came away grateful for what I have and my friends have the favor done them of knowing exactly what they’re dealing with and my mechanic had a little extra pocket change for the day. Everybody wins.
And now I will still have a car after all that is big enough to haul all the stuff out of here that’s going to go away after the Great Closet Crash of Saturday’s flooding.
But I admit to a mixture of keen disappointment with that sampling of gratitude.Â It was not new (well, the detailing was) but that wood-burled heated-leather-seat side-impact-airbags sunroofed-but-my-tall-Richard-could-still-fit-in (that was a first) Volvo, it was a beautiful, beautiful car.
“And I’m not talking about the nonmechanical things, like the sunroof that won’t open,” said my mechanic.
“I have lupus–I’m not opening the sunroof,” I countered.
But it would be cool to know I could if I wanted.
“Are you disappointed?” I asked my sweetheart.
“Yeah,” he admitted. He liked that Volvo too.