Doesn’t have to be pink
A quiet day, a bit of knitting, a sick husband, here, honey, drink some juice, drinking some myself while trying not to catch his bug…
And with all that is going on in politics I happened to stumble across this: a cooling treatment that helps chemo patients keep their hair through it all, and the study was done right here at UCSF.
Well, huh. If you can’t afford the cooling scalp, maybe a plain icepack or two? You know, we could definitely design a hat with a giant pocket to hold them in place, and you always want a layer of fabric between you and the colder side of the pack anyway to keep the skin from freezing.
Those sewn-square pussy hats would be about the right shape to add to.
It’s a toss-up
I sure don’t think the hawk dropped them, and the squirrels only tear an occasional one apart when they’re thirsty enough–when they do, though, you know from a distance that they did.
I was putting the frost covers on the mango for the evening when I happened to glance across the yard: say what?! My lemons aren’t that color and they sure don’t fall over there (or at all, until they’ve been hanging on the tree until the next crop comes in and there are none of those right now.)
I went and looked. I’d been outside earlier and they hadn’t been there then. I picked up one, more over there, finally six, a few of them cracked open from the impact. They’d been tossed a good toss.
Most people plant dwarf versions in their backyards; my Meyer lemon is probably older than I am but it’s not much taller.
But someone across the corner and down a bit at the fence line had planted a now-immense citrus that goes up nearly to the top of the power pole, and right now it is loaded, and since it was planted close against the fence, at least a third if not half the crop is accessible only to the other side. Free fruit!
And on that other side is my neighbor with early dementia whom I planted my Indian Free peach for. Our fig tree will spill over into their yard, too, when it gets bigger, if they want it to.
They’ve been anticipating those peaches and I have no doubt that Adele wanted to share back. She’s always loved knocking on my door in the summer and offering us some of her tomatoes.
I sent her husband a note telling him how loved it had made me feel that she’d made sure we could enjoy some of those oranges, too, if that was her–but I also mentioned still being in recovery from a serious head injury; maybe she could roll them gently over the top of the fence next time? (Hey, I could walk over there and visit with her and give him a reprieve for a moment, too.)
Just let me offer a gentle mutiny on the bounty, I thought. In the current delivery method, it’s the thought that klonks.
I think I need to go back to wearing that helmet in the back yard again, just to be sure.
Knitting diplomacy fail
I think maybe that was a mistake.
Yesterday we had our lupus support group meeting, and rather than have someone present info on some medical topic of the day it was requested that we come prepared to talk about our hobbies, our creative outlets, what we do that we enjoy.
I had no idea MR quilts, but wow does she ever. She brought some small ones to show us and I wished out loud that my mother, who also quilts, could have been there to see them.
The conversation continued around the room till me, the last in line. I said that if I took this out of its ziploc it was probably never going back in, and seeing the badly bulging bag coming out of my tote on that rainy day there was a chuckle around the room.
And so they dutifully admired the afghan project.
And then the leader of the group asked me the same question she’d asked the quilter: “How long did it take you to do that?”
“Well, usually an afghan takes me about an hour an inch but this one is taking two.”
Her eyes kind of bugged. “TWO HOURS an INCH?!” I could see any possible hope of interesting her in learning to knit instantly vanishing. Hard.
I knew that explaining untangling the balls of yarn and dropping and picking up every fourth stitch every sixth row down four rows certainly wasn’t going to help the cause, talking about five or six hour (or more) cowl or hat projects wouldn’t rescue it–I had already lost them all.
But hey, nice afghan.
(And now you have some context for yesterday’s tongue-in-cheek post.)
Two years ago, there was this space, tucked between the fence and the end of the house, where I really didn’t think there would be enough sun for a fruit tree. But visually for us and in terms of not shading the other trees it would be a good spot.
We hadn’t planned on buying one for back there anyway but, hey, there it was. (I had, though, wished for one enough to ask my friend Ruth, who grows multiple types, what the best tasting is for our microclimate.) We were at the nursery way over in Santa Cruz an hour away because they were the only ones that had my English Morello sour cherry, which was going in at the opposite end of the yard, we got a Gold Nugget mandarin orange to go in near it because hey, we were there, bags of soil, yes, and then Richard heroically said to me, Is there anything else you want before we go?
It was the tail end of bare root season and everything was half off.
Seriously? Could I…?
And then his answer, as I marveled over the $10 price tag, of, Yeah, I like figs!
And so I gave my impromptu new Black Jack tree an edge: I propped it up two feet sunwards by way of planting it in a giant Costco planter. That way if all else failed I could move it. I told myself the roots would be contained to help keep the tree small, but the variety I’d bought was a small one anyway.
Fifty figs its second year says it definitely gets enough sun back there. And it can reach upwards all on its own now.
Man, it felt good to see that (ugly–I confess it now) brown plastic finally kicked out of the picture and that trunk surrounded by good, rich dirt. It had earned the right to be permanently planted. No, I didn’t dare risk something that awkward, heavy, and with all the potential to smack my head on–I got some help and then stayed out of their way.
More and more and more and then more
Matched Saturday’s record: four repeats. Put on enough Joni Mitchell albums and I can plow through anything.
But I found myself daydreaming of a baby blanket done like an *Amish quilt: plain. Flat. Stockinette. The color wheel rendered in rectangles peacefully pieced together afterward. No untangling balls of yarn every time you turn it over to start a new row, no worsted-weight pulled up in circles against the size 5s (they really are. And all that time I was wondering why those 6s were coming up so tight on both yarn and hands–it’s because they’re not.)
Given how heavy and wide this blanket is and that I had more yarn and could continue, the question settled itself: this one’s for the parents.
Which meant adding 22 more repeats. The tall ones have to be able to cover their feet and pull it up to their chins. A good rule of thumb for afghans is to knit it to match their height.
And yes, Holly, I know I talked about wearing clothing to match the project to make it easier to get to it, and I do that a lot, but after a week of dutiful greens and blues my inner purple screamed to be allowed to come out to play.
*p.s. And then I found this. And it describes it as possibly the most time-consuming. Well then. We have a match.
Only took me 30 years to find this out about her
A friend stopped by and chatted for awhile, and as we talked, she was facing the bird feeder.
“You’ve got a nuthatch!”
“On the feeder?”
I turned around to see, and sure enough, there it was. The thing was almost empty so the finches had given up squabbling over the seed and all but one had gone somewhere else and with their aggressiveness out of the picture, the nuthatch had flown in. The one house finch seemed to question its presence a second but the nuthatch shrugged it off. Hanging upside down, it reached in and fetched itself a safflower seed and flew off in success.
Karen picked up my Sibley’s and went straight to the page–Nope, not a Pygmy, that’s a… Turns out Karen’s not only an avid birder and has a feeder, too, she’s led birdwalking tours. Knock me over with a pillow’s worth of feathers. She regaled me with squirrel stories, like the mutual friend who once asked Al Jensen what to do about the squirrels in his fruit trees. Not knowing that it was illegal to relocate them, the guy then proceeded to trap one–one squirrel, ever, that was it–and drove over to the entrance to the Stanford Dish to let it go, thinking it could have a whole oak tree all to itself on that undeveloped hillside. (Never mind the mountain lions occasionally spotted below.)
He opened the cage and that squirrel made a mad dash away from the oak, straight down the hill, across the busy road, and scrambled at long last into a comfortable suburban backyard like where he’d come from. Okay, that didn’t work.
Walking out the door a few minutes later, I wished out loud that she’d gotten to see the Cooper’s hawk to get the full experience around here. Dang if right on cue, looking at the big pine across the street, guess what flew upwards and then started kiting right there above the neighbor’s house? We laughed at the utter randomness of the timing. Well, there you go! Wow!
Wishing for it to come on over for a close up was a little much. It tipped its wings at an angle and disappeared into the wind.
He was a stranger and we took him in
The second meeting of Stake Conference was this morning.
One of the last speakers was a man who was born in Korea. His father came from very difficult circumstances and, trying to make a better life for his own family, took a job in Tehran for several years to be able to send money home, having to leave his wife to raise their new baby and toddler alone but at least he could provide for them.
At last she was able to bring the children to go see their dad.
Right as, it being the mid-’70s, Iranian assets were frozen. The family could not get to their savings, they could not get home, they had no job to go to if they even could, and from what I understand they could not so much as go buy food–they were completely stranded.
A Mormon family in Utah took them in and their teenager gave up a bedroom so they could have a place to sleep. The man telling the story was four and a half at the time. He went on to say that he and his sister got a good education, everybody was safe, everybody’s circumstances are comfortable now (and he lamented that his own children had no way to understand just how good they truly have it) and they owed it all to the great generosity of those individuals who took them in and to this wonderful country which had let them come; he was so grateful. It was clear he had spent his life seeking to live up to the chances that had been offered him and to give back.
I was a stranger and ye took me in… He was overcome a moment.
After he sat down, the Stake President stood to give a few final remarks. He stated, first, “That was not political.” The crowd chuckled a little, and he explained: they had planned this meeting six months prior. And yet here we are.
Patrick Kearon’s talk last April to the church and the world at large summed up his experiences with, This moment does not define the refugees. But our response will define us.
…This post typed as a longtime friend’s husband, naturalized as a US citizen most of his lifetime ago on a dual citizenship, is stranded in Iran not knowing when or even if he can come back to his own home to see his US-born children and grandchildren again.
We are better than this.
One single skein. And then another.
On my way out the door to Al’s memorial service I stopped a moment, looked at the finished cowls in ziplocs, and one leaped out at me and into my purse as if the others didn’t even exist: that one. It had been sitting there waiting to be discovered ever since I’d made it. I even ran the yarn ends in recently in anticipation but had put it back away–it wasn’t its time at the time but now maybe it was.
Talking to one of his grandchildren afterwards whom I’d met when she was a little girl, she was wearing a blouse…and the blues were a match. Well there you go. From me and her grampa, with love, since she used to see me sitting knitting waiting for my girls to come out from their music lessons with him.
(I was wearing a cowl in a similar shade playing backup plan just in case but when she exclaimed over hers and how good it looked with what she had on, I couldn’t improve on that.)
Tonight we went off to a semi-annual Saturday evening church meeting, and the local Mormon mission president and his wife were among the speakers. Now, my brother and he were great friends growing up together and her grandmother was my sister’s favorite teacher at church and I’ve wanted to knit for her for several years now before they finish their assignment and go home. Which is coming up. I just never know when they’re going to show up because they float between a lot of different wards.
I was still wearing that other blue.
So I asked her afterwards if she liked the color. Why, yes she did. Could I, then…? She was quite surprised and quite delighted, and started to say something to the effect that but then you won’t have–and I laughed. “I’m always knitting.” Matter of fact, right there in my purse was yet another cowl. And it was, fancy that, a near shade of blue to hers. So there you go.
It felt good. It felt really really good. That’s why I make random cowls, because they like to run out and go play just like that.
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
(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
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
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!
Sunday January 22nd 2017, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Friends
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
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.
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…