Pound plus per
Wednesday August 08th 2018, 10:19 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

Andy’s was open for business, said a sidewalk sign put right there just for that, but the flag man said no as the two-story truck and the smaller soccer-cleated truck behind it chugged and beeped. (The grandsons would have known their names.)

Now I understood why Catherine had raved over the kindness of the woman who’d offered to meet her with her peaches two weeks ago: that woman hadn’t just been willing to walk out to the road carrying everything but down to the next block across the length of the orchard.

Go back out to the main road and then right on Peach, the flag man told me, nodding yes over the noise when I repeated it back to him to be sure.

Can I get in that way?

Yes you can.

Peet, actually, it turned out. Coffee not fruit.

There was another orchard turning into housing. Beautifully landscaped like the others around there but it still broke my heart.

Down near the end, Peet too had a Road Closed sign across my lane. I considered briefly, thought, well he told me to and there’s nobody there to tell me not to so I can. I’m going.

The road curved towards Andy’s.

I waited for the men driving those trucks in front of his orchard to at least notice me so they wouldn’t back up over my car, then scooted down his driveway.

Where his guy retrieved a case of Angeluses from the back for me and raised an eyebrow at my request for a second. (I know they try to make sure they have some for every customer who makes the trek out there so that nobody comes away disappointed.)

I explained that I was buying for two; I’d been commissioned by a friend who was a regular, too. (Ever since I’d told her about the place, and now she’s joined the Rare Fruit Growers Association that Andy is so much a part of and talked to him herself. I didn’t say all that.)

Alright, then. And he let me have another for her.

I was just about to hit publish right there when my doorbell rang. At 9:30 at night? I flipped the outside lights on.

Andy! (Or rather, Other Andy.) Catherine’s husband, and not only did he pay for the peaches I’d dropped off (you should have seen the look in their teenage son’s eyes at the sight of them this afternoon) but he was bringing us some honey from his hives in thanks for making that trip after they’d run out.

He let me send him home with two more of the biggest peaches I had in thanks. But only two.

Some friends just never let you keep up. And that is a wonderful thing.

 



Snail mail
Thursday August 02nd 2018, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

(Two new repeats on the baby blanket, three hours+ work.)

I’ve mentioned this story before: when our oldest arrived at her then-new job in Anchorage a few years back, she got introduced to her co-workers, who did the usual where-are-you-from chit-chat.

Karol: Oh! Where in California… Wait. Where on…  !!!

They’d grown up two doors apart. She’d just left for college when we’d moved in.

We were very fond of her parents over the years; we nicknamed their enormous orange Persian, who loved to hang out with our kids, Blob, and the name stuck, to Mrs. F’s amusement (and at the vet’s when she couldn’t remember his real name, a bit of chagrin. She laughed when she told me they’d asked and she’d hesitated but then in a can-you-believe-it tone with a laughing wince, had blurted, Blob…)

When Blob was old and ill, we combed his fur, I spun it and made a pin out of it with seed pearls on toothpicks for knitting needles for the little knitted rectangle to hang down from; Karol’s mom loved it and kept it on her fridge as long as they lived here.

We adored them.

They sold their house about four years ago to be near their grandkids. (Eastward rather than northward.)

But thanks to the smallness of the world, that Alaska connection is how we got word.

The mailman arrived at my driveway about the same time I did today coming home from errands, and–okay, I’m invoking Thumper’s Admonition here. We’ll just say I wanted him to have a reason to bother with taking good care of that two-stamp envelope he was picking up.

That’s going to the couple who used to live two doors down, I told him, motioning to the house his truck was parked in front of. They’re in assisted living now and he’s in hospice care.

The guy’s English is good but he seemed unclear, so I clarified: He’s dying. That card is to thank them for being such good neighbors to my kids while they were growing up.

Oh! I think I remember them! They were old, right?

I was pretty sure he’d just started on this route when they were moving away, so I was glad he knew who this was for.

He looked at the address, wanting to know where they were now. Ohio?

That card is on its way.

 

Postscript:

And the thought occurs to me, having written this: maybe that moment helped that mailman find a sense of purpose to his job today. That card meant something to him.

The choreography of his timing and mine that made all that happen was a small thing that wasn’t.



Even if it doesn’t have Christmas lights in palm trees
Tuesday July 31st 2018, 9:54 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Non-Knitting

Ugly Christmas Sweater season is coming (but is still far enough away that prices haven’t risen yet) and my 20+ year old one was handed down several years ago to a teen who wanted to wear it in a play and then she found she loved it so I gave it to her. It was as formal a one as I’ve ever seen.

I happened to find this on swap.com, the screaming opposite of my previous one, and for $3 it was mine. It is both tacky (why are the tree and the wreath sunk down in their diamonds unlike all the centered motifs?) and bright and, well, pretty, in a way, and best of all it made me laugh. The beads are bright and big and glittery and a certain baby who will be nearing three months by then will want to try to reach for them all.

It was in near-perfect condition–just let me steam that one side that wants to curl under. There are even Christmas bells and holly on the back.

Swap.com’s mission is to keep good clothes away from the landfill. The commission paid is low enough that nobody’s going to steal from stores to sell there, as has been known to happen on Ebay; this is where you send good stuff out of your closet that you hope will find an appreciative home because it deserves it. Basically, it’s a national garage sale, hence the classic crewneck silk/cashmere sweater I got for $2.30 and the deep green cashmere tunic-length perfect sweater for $7. Which I’m actually more likely to wear holding the baby: they are definitely snuggle-worthy, and hand washing is easy.

Prices sag on things that stay too long. Sales happen. Shipping is always $5.99 or free.

Well, look at that: Ugly Christmas Sweater has its own search on Swap. Someone creatively listed a plain red crew as an “Ugly Christmas Sweater kit.” Go to town!



Overheard at her birthday party
Monday July 30th 2018, 11:41 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

It’s late, I’m tired to the point of silliness, this is what happened, so here goes.

Phyllis was telling about a trip to Australia, where the guide on the tour bus had told the group, Now, we don’t have a bathroom on this bus. We don’t have a water closet. We don’t have a rest room. We don’t have a double-v-c. We don’t have a dressing room, and don’t get dressed in it! He went on to use various other words for it.

But we DO have… pointing at the back of the bus. I didn’t quite catch what she said his word for it was, but hey, whatever works.

This prompted her friend who grew up in Russia to tell us what her mother-in-law had called such places. Only, it wasn’t just her MIL’s Russian accent (not to mention her own) even though that’s pretty much how they would pronounce it anyway, it really was what the MIL thought she was supposed to be saying here in the US: the buttroom.



Katie S
Sunday July 29th 2018, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Huh. I guess I never did take a picture of it–sorry. There was this really pretty cowl I’d been taking to church but that had just kept coming home with me. It just hadn’t found its person yet.

Today I was walking in and–Katie!!!

She and her family were back for a visit. I’d had no idea they were coming. I looked at her oldest, a little shocked at the change (they haven’t been gone that long. Have they?) and rather than the old-person boring line of, you’re getting so tall, told her, I’m shrinking!

She laughed. She doesn’t tower over me like her mom yet but she’s real close.

And I knew. Katie got swept up in friend after old friend who wanted to exclaim over her and the kids were finding their old friends, too, and it was other people’s turn.

After the meeting she had a moment to herself where the conversation was drifting to her husband and someone else and I happened to be walking up.

You guys moved away before I started doing this, right? (I explained about the cowls for all.)

And so out came a sandwich-sized ziplock with the thing folded and squished inside. Light ecru, merino/vicuna 98/2, so soft. I told her I’d brought it and taken it home three weeks running: it had been for her all along. I’d just needed to wait to find that out.

The stitches were a little finer than some, the pattern a little more involved; she had no basis for comparison but I silently did. I’d done right by that yarn.

She opened it and her eyes got huge and she gasped. “I LOVE this!”

And that, thank you Katie, is why I’m suddenly not bored with knitting cowls anymore. She couldn’t have known I’d needed that.

Just let me get this little baby blanket project out of the way….



Blueberry vanilla lava cake (it was supposed to be a cobbler)
Thursday July 26th 2018, 9:29 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Recipes

In their picture, using an iron skillet, the fruit still shows in the center when they took it out of the oven. 

For mine, using an 8×3 (interior measurements) round stoneware pan by Mel and Kris, the last of the blueberries disappeared beneath the waves sometime between the 35 and 40 minute mark, and I probably should have gone to 45 to get it solid like their video. Although note that I didn’t have any whole milk and substituted half 1% and half heavy cream.

We got a crispy-edged vanilla lava cake with blueberries and goodness flowing from the center. Which is setting somewhat as it cools–what there is left of it.

I might tone down the amount of sugar slightly next time, but this is definitely something I’d feed to company.



Thank you, Meagan
Wednesday July 25th 2018, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift

Sometimes a friend asks the very question you’d been silently asking yourself and instantly there’s your answer, front and center.

I was describing the baby afghan and all the ocean features slowly going into it and my worry that I could never finish it in time.

She considered. “Do your other grandkids have an afghan like that?”

Mic drop.

No. No they don’t. Pretty, and patterned, but solid colored. The fact that the older boys in that family got sweaters with cars and trucks is irrelevant, isn’t it.

And that is why I called three yarn stores within driving distance yesterday till I found more Malabrigo Rios in the Cian colorway I wanted. The baby’s still going to get that bright oceanic blue I love so much–it’s new this year and the shops say it flies out the door.

Unless he comes way early this one will definitely be done in time.

The sea blanket can come along in its own good time and purpose after that.



(And then I explained what qiviut was)
Tuesday July 24th 2018, 7:02 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

How to make people laugh in church:

We were studying from the Book of Psams in Sunday School, and after a goodly discussion, the teacher handed out paper and pens and asked us what we would write for our own personal psalm. After giving us a few minutes, she asked if anybody wanted to share theirs?

She got one taker. Here goes.

“The Lord is my knitter.

I shall not unravel.

He increases my stitches in cashmere and qiviut and broadens my hem

His purls shall sustain me forever.”

(Because, you know, the front is the flat stockinette side and the purls mean He’s got your back.)



The quiet one in the back who is always helping
Sunday July 22nd 2018, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

(The ends are run in now.)

Collecting and delivering packaged healthy snacks for the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford: that’s her. She used to manage the volunteers who brought soup to their kitchens but when the place got expanded new health rules applied that didn’t let us do that anymore. Dumping split pea soup out of the crockpot onto the passenger side when avoiding bad drivers, that’s all over. (So was the soup.)

So she found out how we could still help the families who stay there while their kids are in the hospital and convey the support of the community in their times of stress and worry. Individually wrapped portions? For people facing huge medical bills, some of them away from their jobs while trying to will their child to live, that at least is something we could do for them.

I reached into my bag and gave her her choice of three ziplocs of knitting, not telling her that I’d made this orange one specifically with her in mind. I also told her she didn’t have to choose any of those if she’d rather I made her something else.

She said this was definitely her favorite and exclaimed how many things of hers it would go with before she even knew that it was cashmere/silk or what it felt like. I’d taken it to church last week but she was away so I’d brought it home: even if she were to choose a different one I had to give her first crack at it.

She confessed she didn’t know what a cowl was. So I took it out and put it on me for a moment and did a little ta daah! It was generously sized and wider as it went down.

“Oh! It’s like a scarf!” She was completely blown away, and it was clear to me that not everybody had caught on that I’d been ever so gradually doing this for everybody.

She was concerned about the cost to me of such a yarn and I described Colourmart’s mill-ends and a sale on top of that and not to worry. For my part, I confessed that the gauge had come out looser than I’d expected, having knit it pre-scouring, expecting it to shrink up and it hadn’t. That concerned her not in the least: it was beautiful.

Hers was way overdue. She’d earned every stitch of it long since. Just ask the families at the Ronald McDonald House.



The friend who always said, “Color is everything”
Monday July 09th 2018, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Knitting a Gift

Michelle flew home yesterday, Constance drove the four hours home this afternoon and the house is very very quiet. Gotta give those belly-laugh muscles some time to recuperate–they got a great workout.

Constance had brought me a quart of honey from her hives. Bee barf, one of my kids used to call it after a biology lesson in middle school. Yum.

The green Malabrigo hat that came home with me from the trip to Salt Lake because it just hadn’t found out who it was for?

That shade of green? It found out who it was for.



From gold country
Sunday July 08th 2018, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends

Michelle’s flown home–and my old friend Constance arrived.

You know the kind of friend who is kind, who is thoughtful, and who keeps you laughing nonstop? Everybody needs a Constance.

One of the first things she said, was, I want to see my grandtree! She’s the one who had grown up with a Babcock peach, who when I was trying to figure out what to plant told me it was the best peach ever. My family had picked Babcocks at a pick-your-own when I was a kid, and between the two of us I was sold on the idea.

It’s my smallest peach tree but it’s a pretty one.

The critters beat her to the last of its fruit by two days, though; we’ll just have to make this an annual trip.



The old neighborhood
Friday July 06th 2018, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Dinner and dishes were over.

I grabbed the kitchen trash on impulse (yeah Richard likes to do it but it was getting a bit heavy–see the “did you know you broke your back?” post: there was a reason it’s been giving him grief) and I headed out with it.

The young family just down the street were out with their little boys on their trikes and waved hi. The little boys pedaled over to me in great enthusiasm and once they got all the way to me realized I looked taller from here and words failed them. They looked shyly up.

They were adorable. The younger one ditched his wheels after a moment and he still wobbles a bit when he walks, but still, where did the babyhoods go?

The mom complimented me on my bright pleated maxi skirt and I laughed: I don’t usually play dress-up to take out the trash, I told her, but I dropped a gallon of milk and drenched everything and just thought, hey, that one matches my shirt, sure, why not?

I looked at the older boy’s helmet. Hey! It matches my shirt too! as I held my turquoise arm out to his turquoise head. He was very proud of his helmet.

I told his mom of the time one of my kids flipped her bike at 13, broke her helmet, and rolled with enough force still to break her shoulder and how the grandmotherly neighbor down the street we hadn’t yet met ran to her and got her phone number out of her as she lay in the street and called me. I jumped into the car, came around the corner, and–oh! Right there!

That neighbor became a great friend to my daughter ever after.

Part of me was wondering as we chatted, how on earth did I get old enough to be the grandmotherly one now?

Meantime, that milk had beaded up on my shoes and it looked like it could be rinsed away and I’m hoping that that was enough to save my felted-wool Birkenstocks with the leather buckle. I love those and they don’t make them anymore.

Good thing we still, how I don’t know, have a good cobbler in this overpriced town should it come to that–not that I need him for this, just, it’s good to know that if I had to he’s there.

Because after cleaning the fridge over two days, I had had to clean the inside of the fridge, the outside of the fridge, the shoes, the floor, and mopped the floor again for good measure and thrown my blue skirt in the wash, when I… dropped the spinach paneer across the floor.

And cleaned that up.

There was still enough food for dinner.

But that is why I grabbed that trash and hauled it out of there: I was going to clean something and by golly this time it was going to STAY clean. Because I’m the mom. And I said so.

The bag graciously did not break.



Flower power
Monday July 02nd 2018, 9:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Knit

The physics of knitting. Cool stuff.

Meantime, the little miniature hydrangea that my friend Edie gave me several years ago is holding its own against the encroaching coffeeberry bush, blooming in both sun and shade. I love that what had been a small tender potted plant from a florist actually held on and thrived out there even after a stump grinder took out the olive roots right by it.

It is small but it is determined to live up to what it was meant to be.



What happens in Vegas
Sunday June 24th 2018, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

Cariaggi Piuma cashmere from the mill blooms immensely with washing, growing into a much thicker, denser-looking knit that is actually very very light. It fills up the visual spaces with color and yet air.

I was knitting it straight from the cone. I actually almost left the project home because of that cone. (Luggage space, knitting space in an airplane seat.) But I really wanted that cowl done. It was in a neutral that I could give just about anybody and just delicious to knit with, mill oils for now and all.

My tiny elderly Asian seat mate (part of what was clearly a large tour group) coming out of Salt Lake spoke almost no English, but she watched my hands intensely and gave me a smile and an enthusiastic thumbs-up. When I returned the smile, she reached gingerly for the yarn, felt it just for a moment and gave me another big smile.

She was tired and napped and suddenly woke up distressed to realize that we others in the row were being served juice and she wasn’t getting any; I knew how long she’d been waiting in that airport before our delayed flight and that she probably really needed that water. I should have offered her mine but didn’t know how to reassure her it was only apple juice.

I helped her with the flight attendant and she got taken care of. We were definitely friends now.

She got a particularly cute finger puppet just before she left and between hand signs and head shakes and nods she got that I hadn’t actually made that one; I’d just wanted to thank her for being her. She was delighted.

So. The cowl. Since I knew what it would be like when it was finished and washed, I was using needles that made the knitting look sloppy-loose. Quite.

An agent had told me I wouldn’t miss my connecting flight despite the delay because it was actually the same plane and they might even let me stay on in between. But, she warned, they might not.

Flight #1 landed, they made announcements, most of the passengers filed out–and at that point the flight attendant had time for me to ask the question when I could hear the answer: same plane? Just to make sure. May I stay here?

The answers were yes and yes, corrected by another to “but the memo said” and they went and checked together, followed by, alright: I could stay put.

So there were some by-now familiar faces that were the first to get back on the plane and I chuckled and nodded hello in acknowledgement as they came back on.

An older woman among them surprised me with, “I’ve been wanting to talk to you.” My best guess was that she had learned English with a British accent. She got in the #3 row behind me and leaned over.

Had anyone ever shown me how Germans knit?

Do you mean Continental style? I asked, and affirmed that I had.

She asked for my needles. She winced at the size of that yarnover that was right there but was trying not to mess up my work. She demonstrated, You do this. And then when you want to go the other way (she searched for the right terms in English) you do this. You don’t have to (and here she motioned in great sweeping arcs with her right arm) go like *this*.

She wanted so badly to help.

I chuckled and told her I knew my way was slower. I explained that my mom knits like she does and taught me how when I was ten. That when I was a teenager I’d wanted a sweater in one of her knitting magazines but was too much of a teen to admit I didn’t remember how, so I’d gone in my room and taught myself how to knit–my own way, it turned out.

Her face was saying, But this is not how it is done!

I said, It’s easier on my arthritis this way.

Ah. That made sense. Yes she could see that. Okay.

And we, too, parted friends at the end of the flight.



I have to speak up. I must. We must.
Wednesday June 20th 2018, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Politics

Today was a Holly day, and it was so good to get to see her again. We live so close and so far: it can take several hours, depending on the traffic.

She had just enough time for a visit while her husband was at a meeting in town.

We found ourselves as mothers drawn again and again to the subject of the cruelty going on at our borders to children–babies, even–and their families, the damage the trauma is doing to their developing brains.

Our laws spell out how one can apply for asylum when one is in fear for one’s life. The approved crossing points for doing so have been closed, people have been directed to cross elsewhere and when they have complied with that order have been arrested as criminals.

Our President lies when he says others did this before him; they did not. They held families together, and even his own administration did too until this May. He lies when he says only Congress can change the law because there is no law saying they must do this, and in fact the administration is violating our laws as well as all human decency and compassion. They actually forbid the workers from hugging and comforting a crying child.

But the sad-funny part about it was Trump’s trying to blame Obama for it. What he’s saying then is that even out of office Obama has more power than Trump does right now and that Trump is too weak to do anything about it.

Actually, there’s a great deal of truth to that but not of a type Trump could ever fathom.

Yes he did sign an executive order this afternoon: but watch what he does, not what he says. The unmentioned fine print was that after 20 days families can still be torn apart. They will process children and adults at different rates. Deport the parents. Keep the kids. Already we have one woman who was released from custody–and they say they cannot tell her where her seven-year-old son is.  Who DOES this to people?!

We are better than this, we must be better than this, we must demand better than this. Every Republican Senator has the option to caucus with the Democrats on the issue, and all we need is one, just one, one with a conscience, and we could get a law passed right now forbidding these human rights violations and dare Trump to veto it. The man is a bully and bullies cave when you stand up to them.

And if you don’t–they only bully harder.

Tomorrow I may show off some knitting or some such. But for now I will leave you with this:

From the Kenyan-born Somali poet Warsan Shire:

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well
your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
pitied

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

the
go home blacks
refugees
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
savage
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
drown
save
be hunger
beg
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
saying-
leave,
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here