Just because she could
Friday January 27th 2017, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Friends

If she were selling them I would link for her but as far as I know she doesn’t. Her son does construction and remodeling work, and someone had a chandelier they didn’t want anymore.

Those pieces of crystal were too pretty to simply–throw away? I mean, how does one do that? And so in her hands they became jewelry and she was sharing them with her co-workers.

Kind of a golden Golden Gate Bridge look to the sparkling inside.

So I guess this is a pendant pendant?

Al would have loved this
Wednesday January 25th 2017, 11:29 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Garden,Life

(Photo added in the morning after a little more work.)

Where a gravel pathway was laid down, oh, 50 years ago or so, the rocks run deep.

And then there was that tree trunk. When we cut down a bunch of scraggly trees and started relandscaping a few years ago I had the tree service leave this one tall stump at over six feet–I wanted the Ladder-Backed woodpeckers to be able to have old dead wood to find bugs in.

I never saw a woodpecker touch it but the squirrels sure liked their express lane offramp from the fence. Various birds liked to play king of the mountain on it to scope out the view of their feeder.

About a month ago I kind of toggled the thing a little, thinking it should be well rotted by now and better to take it down than to have it fall.

It held solid.

I’ve wanted a pomegranate tree ever since our friend Jean shared from her two-year-old one last year. She had planted it at 88 and gotten to share the fruit. I had never before tasted one picked when it was so ripe that the thing had started to burst open; I know it partly depends on variety (she didn’t remember what hers was) but I’d had no idea they could be like this. If we were going to start our own, this is bare-root season.

Yesterday I worked down through all that gravel–it went to nearly a foot–and started turning over bare soil below at last.

And asked Richard when he got home what he thought about that placement.

Well, if I liked it. He personally would have preferred it further back…

Your house too. It needs to make you happy, too. I reminded him that I’ve wished I’d planted the Tropic Snow peach a few feet further right and it was too late now and I didn’t want to make that mistake again. I wanted to do it right this time.

Today I went off to Yamagami’s. The Parfianka is a taste-test favorite and has seeds that are both quite small and quite soft–meaning, okay for me post-op, and it helped that one of their staff had previously told me it was his favorite.

When they saw me with my walker, one of them dropped what she was doing and took me right to where that particular variety pomegranate was, and then, seeing that it would be hard for me to do, she not only pointed out good specimens but reached to the back and pulled several out from there as well as the front and put them down on the ground in a row for me to choose from where I could see them all individually. She helped me get a really nice one, and had I been on my own I wouldn’t have been able to risk reaching for it for fear of losing my balance into the lot of them. I was and am grateful.

That stump was in the way of digging where Richard wanted this to go–and you can’t risk having it fall on the new tree, either. I thought, after all the rain we’ve been having, maybe it made a difference? And again I tried giving it a tug.

It came away, not in a fast collapse but rather slow and measured and easy to aim. Well THAT worked!

With that out of the way I started pulling away rocks again. And it was fascinating: just a few feet away, yesterday’s had been jagged. Most of these were smoothed, rounded, far easier to deal with. Still, it was a lot of work and enough for one day. And I’m glad now I did two holes because both will have good soil for the tree to grow into.

Pleased at the depth and width, I declared it done and went off to get Richard.

Tomorrow the prime planting soil from Yamagami’s goes in. Tomorrow I plant my new fruit tree in Al’s memory. I can’t wait to tell Jean.

Tuesday January 24th 2017, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Sunday, when I told Eric’s story about his marathon, I typed that little thought at the end.

Then I started to delete it. I didn’t want to take away from what he’d said and I was afraid it might.

But if… And I didn’t.

Then again… But I left it.

I second-guessed myself all the way up to bedtime and wondered who I’d written it for.

Well, me, as it turned out: because even though the hailstorm was over by the time I got to the audiologist’s, it was raining off and on (on, just then) and I did not want to bother with struggling to get the walker out of the back of our small car–it’s not that it’s heavy, it’s that it barely squeezes in and out of the trunk without some wrangling to get the angles right coming and going and I didn’t want to bother in this weather.

So I just grabbed the cane in the back seat and made do.

It being my first time there since the latest head injury, John-the-audiologist had never seen me that wobbly, and I didn’t have the walker to steady my balance by. I told him about it and that I’d come a long way since and that I was fine sitting down.

Which he could tell, because by then I’d been sitting in his office just peachy-fine for awhile. But it was when I stood up to go that he got worried, more so when I admitted I’d taken a tumble into a nice cushioning (except where I’d pruned it) bush that afternoon. He wanted to offer me an arm not just to the door but clear to my car.

Just as the skies threw a new bucket of cold water on that idea.

I started to brush him off with, You don’t have to do that!

Wait, I told myself–what did you just write just last night? Were you listening to yourself? You know you should have gotten that walker. And I realized that all that internal fussing over that blog post had helped me remember how I needed to see this. Let him be his best self, willya?

John had no raincoat on, not even a sweater, but good man that he is, he made sure I was in okay before he dashed back towards his nice warm dry (which he was not now) office. I was glad that at least I’d gotten a decent spot close in for his sake.

More consonants just like that
Monday January 23rd 2017, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Drove through a cloudburst that was quite the hailstorm, than an underpass on the freeway where the day’s rains had collected to too deep for comfort. Traffic actually slowed down to a responsible slow crawl through the whole thing.

My audiologist likes to check the hearing aids every six months to make sure everything’s in good working order.

My question to him, was, Given what these cost and that the three-year warranty just expired, is there an extended warranty I can buy?

His answer surprised me, so I’m putting it out here in hopes that someone who needs the information finds it. He told me, Yes, the company sells one, but the costs are very high–you’re much better off contacting your homeowners insurance and asking for a rider specifically on the aids.

That would never have occurred to me, and given that I for one am not in a hurry to pay a third of a Prius towards my ears again anytime soon, I thought I would put that out there.

Then he handed me a bluetooth pendant, clicked a few clicks on his computer, and presto! One more dB in the uppermost frequencies of speech per my request, done!

A marathon
Sunday January 22nd 2017, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

That new guy who looks like my sister’s identical twins spoke in church today.

When he was a student, he’d decided to do a semester abroad at the BYU Jerusalem Center. It turned out a local marathon was going to coincide with his semester there so he decided to train for it and make that part of his experience, too.

Well, come the day of, he maybe wasn’t quite as prepared as he thought he was, he said, and he thought that by starting off fast and staying fast he could get through the race in less time.

Mile after mile… He passed people stopping at way stations to eat a bite and was glad he didn’t need to do that–it would wreck his time.

Till at last he found himself collapsing on the side there, unable to take one more step, really not feeling great, thinking his friends would finish and come back and pick him up. He was surprised at how wiped he was and he felt like he’d failed.

And so there he was; he said it felt like a very long time but was probably only five minutes or so, when a stranger came to him to see if he was okay. He clearly didn’t look okay to him. The man talked to him, but he was a Palestinian and our college student didn’t speak Arabic and shrugged, Sorry!

He watched the man then cross the street to a vendor and come back with a sandwich.

You need this. Eat this. The moment transcended the language barrier.

Eric finished his talk by reading the parable of the Good Samaritan, with feeling.

And I considered the thought that sometimes we don’t even know we need to be helped. Until we allow someone to do so.

The great nephew
Saturday January 21st 2017, 9:35 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Diana’s memorial service.

The seats were all filled over on the left where the knitters I knew were. There were several empty ones on the back row on the right, and I sat down at the end there, ready to scoot over as needed. There seemed to be a lot of family there and they should always have the best seats.

He was about Parker’s age (Parker is in kindergarten) and he came in with his daddy and they sat down two rows straight ahead of me before the service started.

The father was a young vet, by all appearances, and he walked with a beautiful wooden walking stick. I glanced down at my own wooden cane by my feet and then quickly to his and his eyes in that way that you do with a smile in solidarity when you see someone else who’s been there, gotten used to that. When that’s the way it is now, having a nice one makes it easier. (I knew how tight that room could get with a crowd, had seen the number of cars in the parking lot, and the fact that it was going to pour shortly–I’d left the walker in the car and made do.)

Since I wasn’t interrupting anything yet, I reached into my purse and thought, hmm, not that…ah, that one. Perfect. We’ll call it a California condor, even if it was knitted in Peru. I offered it to the dad and both he and his little boy turned and said thank you.

As the music and speakers began, the little boy played quietly with it rather than in grand sweeping motions: he had been well and lovingly coached in what was expected of him at his great aunt’s funeral–and he really liked that condor.

At some point they got up for a minute, and before they returned one of their two seats was taken; there was still an empty one there at the back, though, and the dad had his little boy come sit down by me. Where he again was very quiet for a very long time, his daddy beaming behind him at his adorable little boy.

My impression was that it was easier on the dad’s body to be standing than sitting.

But at last Justin, if I heard his name right, looked up at me and with big questioning eyes said something to me that I had no way to know what it was.

I had my hearing aids cranked up. Nope. I told him the condor was for him to have, and that made him happy, but something else was still on his mind. I tried whispering back the ever-helpful, I’m sorry but I can’t hear, while pulling a hearing aid out to show him, but he didn’t yet have enough life experience to understand what that really meant. I did catch the eye, though, of the young girl of about ten on the other side of him and tried to convey the thought of, would you mind helping us out a little bit?

Covering for a deaf grownup’s shortcomings wasn’t her specialty yet, either. She gave me a friendly smile but had no idea what to do.

He whispered something else and I whispered back, I don’t know.

Oh okay and he turned to her.

What he’d wanted, it turned out, was a bathroom. And I was one of the very few people in that room who actually knew where it was. Oops. Diana’s brother who’d set up the venue was a Mormon but my understanding is that he lives nowhere near California and we were at The Annex, a stately old reception hall that had come with the property when the Mormon Church had bought it to build a chapel on the lawn in 1950 or so. My son’s wedding reception had been held there. I knew the place. I also knew you had to climb some semi-hidden stairs to the far right over thataway as if you were going to go up into an attic–it is not intuitive.

That all got taken care of, the speakers got done speaking, the final song was sung and the closing prayer was offered.

And then Justin stood in front of me, wanting to ask one more thing. (And he didn’t have to whisper anymore.) He had seen that I had more finger puppets in my purse: what were they all for?

I have grandchildren, I answered, wishing I could swoop him into a hug as if he were one, too. Such a sweet child.

He asked, in wonderment, Are they all for them?

(And I realized I had just restocked so I probably had several dozen in there. The finger puppets are small and light, the purse is big, things easily disappear into the depths, so, the more the easier in there.) I said, Well, sometimes like when I’m at the grocery store or at the doctor’s office I’ll see a little kid who is unhappy or crying. And I give them one and then they’re happy!

Oh! he said, patting his condor he’d tucked into the little pocket on his white shirt, its head peeking out at the world. He was going to make sure that if he saw any little kids who needed to be happy he’d take care of them.

He did not ask me for more. He was willing to share his.

Pink P-hats
Friday January 20th 2017, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Knit,Life,Lupus,LYS

I love that yarn stores across the country were reporting shortages of pink yarn, and that Malabrigo dyed extra due to the demand, sure that it could not arrive in time but people were asking for it anyway.

I laughed at reading that the chunkier yarns went first. Well, yes, you can knit those faster.

The original pattern, for which the New York Times said Malabrigo Rios was the recommended yarn, was as simple as it gets: knit a length with ribbing at the ends, fold it in half and sew the sides and let the ends of the square stick out for the ears once you fit it over a round head. The beginneriest beginner can do it.

I loved the photo someone posted of a planeful of women on the way to the march in DC, some with their hats on for the camera. I grew up in the DC area. I remember the marches and the hitchhikers along the roads afterwards, the sense of being part of history even as an onlooker. I fervently wish I could be there, heck, I wish I could be at the local one but I just cannot risk the sun time with my lupus.

Not to mention that my friend Diana’s memorial service, saved for after the holidays so that people would be able to come, is tomorrow. Diana herself would have changed the date in a heartbeat had she known about the march but it is what it is and I will be cheering her on her way and her loved ones in their grief. And that is how we create the changes for the better around us: one person at a time in each moment as it comes and to the best of our abilities.

I love that Kate at Dragonfly Fibers, in my husband’s hometown of Kensington, MD, posted a picture of 1,500 donated handknit hats, many of them with a note from the knitter to the wearer. She had volunteered to be a distribution point. These had filled her van and she had that many more to put in.

Every single one has been spoken for now.

I love that the project has sparked an interest in knitting nationwide. I love that some entrepreneur designed one fast and got it out there with more realistic ears, mass produced, even if it was $35 and they’d forgotten in their rush to even say what the fiber content was. (So, probably acrylic.) The more hats made, the greater the chance that everybody could have one.

I just couldn’t quite love the idea of putting the Donald’s worst denigration of women on my own personal head. But after the marches tomorrow, I imagine every one of those handknit hats (and maybe even those manufactured ones) is going to be a treasured family heirloom and a proud story for the great grandkids to come. I imagine the knitters of the donated ones and the wearers finding and befriending each other, having already together promoted the ideals our country stands for.

I just so much love that everybody’s doing what they’re doing.

I got requests, and then more requests, and then I would have had to make three for those guys and then for these other guys too and and and there just seemed to be no way to do it right–my heart was with them but if I stopped knitting the afghan I might never return to it. It was a little overwhelming, knitting-wise. I bailed.

I finally wish I’d at least made one, too.

Don’t have any chunky pink but I can double the strands…

At Green Planet
Thursday January 19th 2017, 10:29 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Family,Friends,Life,LYS

Green Planet Yarn had a meet-and-greet today: TNNA, the Stitches-type get-together for wholesalers and yarn store owners, was going to be here this weekend and thus the owners of several yarn dyeing companies had agreed to come to Beth’s shop with samples of new lines and just to get to meet some of the people who actually use what they create.

My going would mean being at least an hour and a half late picking Richard up from work. He encouraged me not to worry about it and just go. (A co-worker offered him a ride home in the end.)

It wasn’t just that I wanted to see the yarns: I specifically wanted to thank the folks at Blue Sky Fibers. I’m sure I’ve told the story here before, but not recently I don’t think, so here goes.

I was in the early stages of working on my lace shawls book. Meantime, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee was coming to Berkeley for her first-ever book signing in California–Stash, I think was the name of the place–and Jocelyn and Cris and I carpooled together to go. After knowing Stephanie via the Knitlist since our kids had been little, I finally got to meet her for the first time.

Stash did a brisk business in books and yarn that night, and I came across some Blue Sky baby alpaca/silk that was both new and like nothing else out there. Wow. SO soft. Luminous, too, just gorgeous (and it is still one of the nicest yarns I know, all these years later.) I snapped up two skeins but definitely needed more to make a shawl.

Please, they told me: we know we have more of it in the back. We’re swamped. Can we just mail it to you in the morning?


I got a very embarrassed phone call the next day: no, actually, they did not have any more, and there was about zero chance of getting an exact match on the next order. They were so sorry.

And that set off the great yarn hunt. I needed more and it needed to be that dyelot. There weren’t as many yarn stores online then nor that carried that particular yarn, but I called a few and emailed more and did what I could.

I’d seen ads in Interweave magazines for a particular shop back East that seemed to have a good inventory, and they said they would check and they asked for my phone number.

It did not occur to me to mention to them that I was three time zones away.

And thus the infamous story within the family of their starting the day by making sure I knew before I should head out for work that I had to keep looking.

Richard groaned awake in the dark, one of many times when being able to take my ears off at night has been nice for me but for him, not so much, and he reached over my head for the old Princess phone placed there on the small chance I might hear it ring if I really really had to.

“It’s your New York City boiler-room yarn pushers,” he growled as he shoved the handset my way at 5 a.m. “They want you to know they don’t have your dye lot.”

At that, I gave up and appealed to Blue Sky directly: did they have it? I was quite sure they didn’t do retail, but could I buy it from them anyway?

They actually had an exact match. I asked for two, they sent me three, and they refused to let me pay them a dime. Even when I protested.

I thanked them but it didn’t seem enough. Today was my chance.

Linda, the owner, was not there, but three of her staff were. As I found them one by one in the crowd, I showed them the shawl that had come of their generosity and gave them each an autographed copy of Wrapped in Comfort. Each one, independent of the others, asked to see what page it was on. They let me tell them what a difference they’d made to me and were delighted to take a fourth copy home for Linda.

Ran into old friends–including Jocelyn and Cris. Caught up a bit, had fun…

And noticed that one guy had been standing off by himself for awhile now and nobody was talking to him. Well that wouldn’t do, these things are supposed to be fun. Turns out he wasn’t a knitter. Turns out he was Michael, a businessman who was the husband of the Mrs. Crosby of Lorna’s Laces fame.

And as we talked, old friend and Green Planet employee Laura came by with a bag and offered me my pick. She worked the room and then came back towards me with another bag.

“It’s not my turn!”

She laughed. “Goodies for all! Take one!”

The first was a skein of Woolfolk from Blue Sky. The second was a bluegreen one-off dyeing of Shepherd’s Worsted from Lorna’s Laces, and I exclaimed to Michael over his wife’s beautiful work.

One brown hat and one bluegreen cowl as the next carry-around projects. (I had my oversized afghan project shoved halfway down into my tote, where it did not want to stay. It was a little ridiculous. But it did prove that I do like blues and greens together.)

And then the event was officially done and it was time to beat it home quick before the next downpour.

I know what you’re thinking
Tuesday January 17th 2017, 12:15 am
Filed under: Family,Friends,Garden

Conversation at dinner tonight with a completely random interjection, not even looking at them:

“That’s not pussywillow, you know.” (Suddenly envisioning pink feline hats with long fine hanging strands of knitted green leaves as a visual pun, but never mind.)

“It’s not?” He was surprised.

“I told you I pruned the peaches.”

Y’know–saying scion-nara to the overgrowth and all that.


(Side note to LynnM: I tried sending to you from my Gmail account and it too elicited the rejection message saying your server doesn’t accept messages forwarded from other addresses. But that wasn’t one, it was straight from Google’s own servers, and thus the resident geek says that the problem is with your email server. Hope this helps some?)

Saturday January 14th 2017, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

A footnote at the beginning: yes I asked her directly probably twenty years ago and she said he was fine but it was clear that being reminded of his illness was not something she wanted brought up, or at least not just then, so I respected that and never did again.

Today we gathered ’round to say goodbye to Lorna. Two weeks ago she was still playing the piano in church at 91. She had a stroke last weekend and held on a few days so her family could arrive to say goodbye, and then she was off to be with her long-missed George.

I was talking to one of her sons after the funeral and mentioned her elementary-school grandson who had lived with her for a year while fighting cystic fibrosis. (Having Stanford Hospital nearby was a good thing.) I had always wondered. Had he lived?

That’s Jeremiah, and he’s my son, the man said, surprised and gratified.

Yes, Jeremiah! He was a grade ahead of my oldest. She was in fourth and he in fifth that year.

The man thought a moment. He’s 35–he corrected himself without having been wrong the first time: He’ll be 36 this year.

Will be is a wonderful thought all unto itself, and in the context of why we were where we were we both knew it. I told him, Please tell him that Sam’s mom asked after him; he may not remember me but I imagine he’ll remember her.

He was very touched. It meant a lot to him.

I did not say that I remembered Jeremiah going through such a terrible emotional struggle with his disease that year and how he’d needed all the support he could get, as did they all. Now, whatever all else life might throw at him, he can always remember that someone remembered him from so long ago and that that someone still cared. Nor am I alone in that.

I’m so glad I went. We never know all the ways in which we might be exactly what someone else needs right then.

Or the dad, for that matter.

Well, you do need it warm in Alaska, right?
Saturday January 14th 2017, 12:04 am
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

Thank you all for the kind words about Al. Much appreciated.

Meantime, here is the Montagnais snowshoe side of the afghan. (It really is, isn’t it?)

As of now, it will use three 100 gram skeins of Malabrigo Rios in white, five in Solis, and five in Teal Feather and to really get it to the length I want I need to scrounge up another skein of Solis from somewhere–or even two.

This means it will weigh more than the baby till he’s, I dunno, twelve or so.

As for dyelots, I’m already alternating sections 1, 3, and 5, which match each other, with sections 2 and 4 from a second dyelot, and right now I’m nearly done with 3. Which matches 2 much more than 1, even though 1 and 3 are supposed to be the same and 2 isn’t. So I figure at this point just throw in anything.

If I can find it. I want to see it in person before I buy. If nothing else, Stitches West is next month.

Al Jensen
Thursday January 12th 2017, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

I am suddenly realizing I have no pictures, only memories.

My oldest was a new 6th grader and had enrolled in band. She needed a clarinet, and a place that rents them to kids like her was starting off the school year by selling some of their old stock over the weekend. Buying used, if at all possible, sounded a lot more cost-effective than renting endlessly and less worrisome than having a kid be responsible for something expensive someone else owned.

We knew Al had been in a band in the Army so he seemed a logical person to ask; Richard called him that Saturday morning and asked, How do you tell a good one?

Al, surprised: Why, you play it!

Richard: (oh well).

Al: Where’s the store?

Richard: Oh, it’s way down in San Jose…

Al: I’ll see you there in thirty minutes.

He must have walked right out the door.

Richard and Sam and Al all met up in that music store, Al picked out the best of the lot, and then asked what we were doing for lessons.

Richard, a little on the spot: The school…

Al: That won’t do. And he turned to Sam and made her a deal: if she would bake him bread every week he would teach her a lesson. But she would have to practice. He told us he wanted her to be personally invested in those lessons and if she had to work for them then she would value them.

And that is how Sam learned to bake bread in sixth grade. Some batches, well, Al told us years later, he took his little granddaughters to the duck pond and let them toss crumbs to the mallards, a tradition in town since the 1930s when what was envisioned as a small pool for kids, un-chlorinated because it was right next to the Bay, quickly turned into one for the birds and that was that.

Grandkid time. It’s all good.

Al had no way to know at the time that Richard’s then-employer had been laying off workers by the thousands during what was the first dot-com bust and his group was quite sure that, even though they were actually bringing in revenue, they didn’t have much time left. We were cutting all expenses to the bone. (With reason, as it turned out.)

And here was Al, saying he wanted to be paid in bread and that Sam had to make it and that was all the payment he was willing to accept.

The band teacher was so impressed at her progress that he asked her a few years later if she would take up the oboe for the high school orchestra come the next year? They needed one and he knew he could trust her to do the work to learn the instrument well.

She did, and Michelle started sixth grade and started taking clarinet lessons from Al. And saxophone. By this time we certainly had no problem affording lessons but he refused: he said Michelle had to learn how to bake bread too. For her own sense of accomplishment, and besides, he liked having homemade bread!

What we didn’t know was that Al had been putting in for retirement right about the time Richard called him that first Saturday morning and had been thinking that what he’d like to do next was to share his passion for music with kids. But he’d never taught lessons before. Sam fell into the picture at just the right time as his test case to see if he liked doing this as much as he thought he would. And he did. He ended up teaching a lot of kids. And a lot more than music–he was a deeply kind, compassionate man who taught my children what they wanted to be like when they grew up.

I got back at him, a little bit; I knitted for his wife and I sent my piano tuner to him a few times till he protested enough that I let go. But those two quickly became friends and I’m glad for that. Two very good people blessing each other’s lives.

Al grew up with a lot of fruit trees in the back yard because in the Depression his father wanted to always be able to feed his children. Plant the trees, do a little work, and let G_d help you help your own.

And so Al had a lot of fruit trees in his own back yard, which was not big but he packed a surprising amount in.

He told me something once about his peach trees and I was surprised: a neighbor down the street had told me right after we moved in here that peach leaf curl disease is endemic here and the fog and morning cool create the perfect conditions for the disease and it kills them just like it killed his, that you cannot grow peaches here.

Al roared with laughter: Of COURSE you can grow peaches here!

And that is how it all got started over at my house. The peaches, then the cherry, then the pear, then the sour cherry and the fig and the mandarin oranges and another apple besides the ones the house came with… Oh and yeah, the mango. Because if you can grow peaches, of course!

Al wasn’t in church on Sunday. He hadn’t been driving in quite some time but he always got a ride. But not this time; he wasn’t up to going.

Word came in this morning.

Al had quietly and peacefully passed away yesterday evening. It was not expected. It was not really unexpected.

He will be sorely, deeply missed. We are so much better off in so many ways for having had him in our lives. G_dspeed, dear friend.

With strings attached
Monday January 09th 2017, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

A surprise gift from Holly Saturday had me trying to find out what this was called and a little about it. She had bought it from a Romanian craftsman and that’s all we had to go on; she didn’t know either.

My sister-in-law, whose family fled WWII-era Latvia, told me, “It is like the Latvian kokle. You strum it, holding down the strings that aren’t played.”

There are 16 pairs of strings–wouldn’t you run out of fingers? I imagine if I said that to my Aunt Joyce, who teaches harp, she would get a good laugh out of it.

With thanks to Deb for the name, pictures of kankles looked closer to what we had.

After those first two I started clicking on more things under the letter k on their Global Instruments List to see videos of them being played. There are so many variants there, and more to be discovered as I knit.

Listening to that music, Holly, are you sure you want us to keep this? Now that you know what it can do. Beautiful.


Edited to add, HollyI think I found it!

Saturday January 07th 2017, 11:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

The forecast was for yet another major storm today–there were flash flood warnings for the entire Bay area, and the week to come will bring more. I remember our Hundred Year flood nineteen years ago, where I had to drive across the Bay and the water came right up to the end of the bridge (not to mention my windshield wipers died in the middle of the deluge on the freeway.) That night a friend of mine here would wake up to find her bed floating near the ceiling.

Plans were plans and we weren’t going to let go of happy anticipation that easy. We headed north to see Holly and George.

There was a little rain at the start and a little at the end but it was actually dry most of the drive there.

I am so very very glad we got to spend the time. (And I got to see Bill’s Hat before Bill did, whoever he is. He’s really going to like it.)

Gradually, looking out their picture window, those clouds were getting lower and darker–it was time to go.

There was a little rain at the start and a little at the end but it was actually dry most of the drive home.

I put a single cover over the mango tree just in case it got colder than expected–the rain itself is always cold here but it brings warmth with it–and marveled that I still felt no drops.

And then, with everybody safely inside for the evening, the sky really, really, really let us have it.

The last day of vacation
Monday January 02nd 2017, 12:10 am
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends

Nephew Ryan and his wife were in town and stopped by.

Friends stopped by (hi, Krys!)

Michelle is back for a day’s rest from her trek north and, a little too late to serve it up to the others, we had a rematch on the buche de noel experiment. Alice Medrich’s chocolate version of the cake part for the win, definitely–which is not a surprise. Anything by Alice Medrich is better than anyone else’s when it comes to chocolate.