Not seen on their Wish List
Friday December 06th 2019, 11:22 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

There was some discussion here of Lego/not Lego with a too-young younger sibling–we had a memorable case of Lego Stomach and x-rays when our own were going through those stages–so I took a look around Amazon to see what they had in the way of larger ones but ended up ordering none. Just not our choice to make for their kids.

About an hour later, I noticed my gmail had a new message: Target, offering me 40% off on many of their Lego sets.

They don’t miss a beat, do they?



Wrapping it up
Wednesday December 04th 2019, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Life

Christmas shopping, numbers crunching, did I get everyone, wait–what was that notice? No that’s not supposed to be being shipped here! Nooo!

In the middle of all that, this popped up for me, and if you didn’t see it you really should: every Christmas season seems to produce at least one really memorable, wonderful ad, and this is it.

Although I’m guessing the two year old is probably two and ten or eleven months old. But two is two. And adorable. He’s manning the store here.

(That’s a CNN link with the story behind it. If you want just the video, and of the previous years’ so you can see their baby growing up between them, go here.)



What those pretty little Apple Corps boxes are great for
Monday December 02nd 2019, 12:03 am
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden,Life

I like that my mango tree is in its greenhouse and doesn’t need me to hire the now-teenager to cover and uncover it from the nightly cold when we travel. Which he can’t do when school’s in session anyway, so, there’s that, too.

But he is quite fond of that unlikely tree, having gone to some effort to help me keep it alive and thriving on numerous occasions.

I saw him sitting before church today and his dad was just then walking a few steps away. I told him, “I made two chocolate tortes for Thanksgiving and was asked to bring one; would you like the other one?”

His sat up straight super fast as he exclaimed, “YES!!!”

His dad stopped right there, laughing, “That would be a yes.”

Alright then. (They’ve had it before. They knew whereof they enthused.)

After we got home I got a note from his mom, checking to see what time would be good to come by to get it, and by the way, what was the name of that variety? She mentioned that they had a little gift for me, too.

They didn’t need to do that!

And so Eli and his mom came over–and to get a peek at how the tree looks a year later.

It’s grown like crazy under the extra warmth of the Sunbubble, perhaps also in part because it didn’t fruit this year; it budded but at a time when we went out of town during a cold front so I’d left it zipped up for five days, whereas usually it gets air movement during the warmth of daylight.

It had gotten black spots and the fruiting growth had died back. It fully recovered after a few months, but there would be no crop this year.

Which means I haven’t had to keep it quite as warm this fall because the most cold-tender parts aren’t there, except for one branch that has started to bud but then didn’t die but didn’t progress, either; it’s simply waiting for warmer days. I’ve apparently kept it just warm enough. So far so good.

I’m not doing the heater thing, I’m just doing the Christmas lights–they’re so much cheaper to run, and two strings gives me a good ten degrees or more in that enclosed space.

We went outside and he walked in the greenhouse to give it a good look. It really is coming along, and our next harvest should be not three fruits but many. Those new shoots are just waiting for the signal.

Eli had gotten one of those first mangoes. He’d earned it.

The gift.

I opened it and laughed in delight for joy and for knowing how great an offering this was. It was his. It was his possibilities. He knew how much I would appreciate it.

Some mango varieties, and I think this is one, produce seeds that are clones of themselves and always grow true.

If I can get this to sprout, and I really hope I can, I’m going to quietly ask his mom if they have room for a large pot and wouldn’t mind the hassle of taking care of it. I already know how much Eli would love one of his own. But let’s see if it does grow first.

But I so love how they made this into a museum display. So much love and meaning in that small package.



Designed it mentally all the way home
Thursday November 28th 2019, 11:22 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

Over the river and through the woods and up to the top of the mountains.

Where we saw snow and ice as we turned onto their road and along the switchbacks coming down. Only at the last house, at the bottom of the hill, did it clear up. (Turns out they’d had hail earlier, too.) The redwoods towered over us. We pulled in.

His aunt was hosting.

I like to surprise people, but colors are things people have strong feelings about, so I showed his cousin who grew up in that house the photo I posted here yesterday.

Motherhood had been a long time coming for her and I’ve particularly wanted to celebrate with her and her husband.

She pointed out the lavender and said she really liked that one.

You like lavender?

I love lavender!

I told her I’d put all those others together in part because I only had that much of each–except for the lavender. Colourmart had had a closeout on it (in a different weight, but, same yarn.)

She didn’t quite want to hope out loud for plain lavender until I made it clear that that was totally what it was there for, and then Yes! Please the lavender!

Note that I had certainly not needed more yarn at the time Colourmart had put it on sale this past summer but that color and only that color had felt compelling–that someone was going to need it. It bossed me into it, and when it showed up here there was this unfathomable sense of joy and a certainty of purpose that mystified me because, I mean, it’s just yarn, really; I wanted to know what that purpose was, and why was I so excited about this? Ever since, it’s made me happy every time I see it.

Now I know why.

The mystery that she didn’t have any way to know anything about (and still doesn’t) has been solved for me.

Her baby’s due at the end of January. I need to get a move on.



And because their pecan pies are good ones
Monday November 25th 2019, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I looked at the weather forecast–we’re finally supposed to get some rain, and a ton of it all at once–and decided to make a run for a gallon of milk and such while it was dry.

John’s a guy about my age who’s been working at the nearby Trader Joe’s probably since about the time it opened twenty years ago and has been a favorite for forever. He’s got a son as old as my younger son and we’ve occasionally compared notes and cheered each other on in this parenting gig.

And he likes to check up on how my health’s doing, having seen me when things were quite bad, but for awhile now I’ve been able to cheer him with my gratitude for how good it feels to have it how it is now.

Hadn’t seen him in awhile. I’d wondered if I just kept coming in at the wrong times?

But there he was and I was glad to see him; I deliberately got in his line even though it was a bit longer.

Once it was my turn, the first words out of his mouth were, “How’s the new grandbaby?”

His smile was as big as mine as I exclaimed, “So cute!”

He was moving a little slower as he worked. I only noticed (not out loud) because I knew him, but then he told me he’d been on medical leave these past four months. He looked in my eyes. While his cardiologist had worked out his meds regimen.

A quiet unspoken ohmygoodness mixed with understanding passed between us.

I didn’t know I’d needed to say that oh, and, the baby was a girl.

He had told me because he knew I was someone he could say it to. And because he knew I’d want to know.

I asked after him while trying not to probe: the Monday before Thanksgiving is not uncrowded at a grocery store, and he didn’t have to tell anyone he didn’t want to. I was feeling quite protective of him. I did say that I’d had a cardiologist since I was 32 and I’m still here, so… (So he had to stick around, too. Because I said so. To myself.)

But he’d let me know the basics and I’m grateful for that. John of Trader Joe’s just went onto my prayer list.

The next time I get a slow clerk I’ll remind myself that maybe they’re working out how to live with a new heart condition, too. It can happen at any age. Well, hey, I should be patient even when every single one of us around is in perfect health.

You never know who needs it nor why.



Pisa
Sunday November 24th 2019, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

We had to pick someone up for church who lives a good way off and we were uncertain how long it would take, and so with the cushion of time we’d given it we found ourselves arriving early.

Which made my assignment all the easier, the one where I provide the mother’s nursing lounge with several forms of chocolate–but just don’t tip off the little kids or it will be raided forevermore.

So. No crowds yet. The choir was still rehearsing in the chapel.

In the big multi-use room just off it there are always sturdy stacking plastic chairs with metal legs against the walls, ready to be set up for any size of meeting and heavy enough to stand up to any kind of abuse.

There was a mom in that choir on one side of the big doors, and out of her view there on the other in that big room, alone, was a girl of about seven.

As I went by on my way to that lounge she had pulled a bunch of those chairs away from the wall and was busily making two stacks of them right next to each other, one high, one low, alternating her construction with sitting on the smaller stack to see how high up she could see from now. While looking over at the higher pile and the even better Queen of the World perch it offered. It would be hers. But she had not quite dared its wobble yet. Not till she was sure it was done.

When I came back going the other way, she was holding a chair over her head, struggling to get just one more on that bigger tower.

She was a little leery of my noticing what she was doing.

She hopped up again onto the smaller stack, and it was plenty high for her. Clambering over to the other–she was so close.

Maybe. But I’d have to leave first, clearly.

By that point I’d stopped. I silently appraised her hard work with a smile (but I had not offered to help with that last wavering chair and she had had to set it down.)

I gave it another heartbeat or two. Then I beckoned her to come over and see them from over here where I was standing.

That big tower went upwards at first and then leaned a little, then leaned a little more, then a lot more, and just one more stress on the system and the whole thing would come crashing down should she try to get up there. And there would be quite a few of them coming down on her head.

I didn’t say all that. I just let her see it from this new sideways vantage point, a little further away, a better perspective. Any child who’s ever played with blocks as a toddler could instantly see it.

Oh.

Only then did I say, Yeah, those are ready to tumble, aren’t they.

She nodded at me, eyes big. She saw the problem.

But what really blew her away was that I hadn’t ordered her not to, I hadn’t told her it was dangerous, I hadn’t told her to put the chairs away where they belonged because they were in the way of where people walk and church was about to start, I had trusted her to take a good look and to see the problem for herself.

And that she was safe–because of the assessment she herself had made of the situation and the choice she’d made because of it.

I was very proud of her and went and told her mom that I was.



Sending Vera off with love
Saturday November 23rd 2019, 11:23 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Lorna Miser’s mom Vera was in my knitting group for years, till her Parkinson’s became too severe.

Vera’s funeral was held today, and Lorna (former owner of Lorna’s Laces yarns) asked her mom’s old friends a few weeks ago as her mother was slipping away if they’d like to share any memories.

So I told her my story.

My book had just come out.

Vera decided to ask everybody in the group to surprise me: there is a dinner and fashion show every year at Stitches West where people can put their name in to be called up on the stage and model their best project of the year.

Would they like to knit a shawl from my book and then ask Benjamin Levisay, CEO of XRX, to bend the rules just slightly so as to let the whole group go up on that stage together in them?

They would indeed. They did. They chose different patterns. Benjamin thought it was all very cool of them and it didn’t matter to him one bit that another publisher had put that book out; he’s a sweetheart.

And then when their sense of happy anticipation was at its peak, someone went, Wait–but is Alison actually *coming* to that dinner? We have to make sure she does!

Uh, actually I’d had no intention, why?

And so they decided they had to let me in on it a few days beforehand, and surprised does not begin to describe it!

Benjamin had me stand up before the large banquet room when they were done and take a bow, and then they filed off the stage and came over to me for more pictures as the room kept clapping.

So that was my memory of the kindnesses (and work!) Vera had instigated on my behalf to offer to her daughter, who’d had no idea.

I gave her a hug after the service today, and she told me that I wasn’t the only one who had told her; the others had, too. It had meant a lot to them, too.

So then I told her there was more: to congratulate me on being accepted for publication, they’d surprised me with knitted squares they’d pieced into an afghan, with labels on each telling who’d made it. I could have shown her her mom’s, except that it was just too warm today to bring it.

I didn’t need to. Lorna was absolutely beaming. Her mother’s legacy lives on.

.

 



Rose
Tuesday November 19th 2019, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Life,Politics

Thank you, everybody, for all the notes. So appreciated.

Rose came out of the vertebrae reconstruction surgery talking nonstop. She’s drinking clear liquids and the Rybka Twins (I had to look them up) whose booksigning the injured had been on their way to stopped by her hospital room wearing cheerful neon pink and big smiles.

Which meant her parents posted a photo of Rose with them with a great big grin of her own, holding up her newly signed copy in front of her face.

I think everything’s going to be okay. Time and patience and a lot of medical skill to come (there will be more surgery) and physical therapy and she’ll get there. Maybe even pick up an Australian accent just for fun before she comes home–she’s a singer, she’s got a great musical ear for it.

Today was such a relief.

That, and, I spent ten hours watching the impeachment hearings and at the end of it went, wait–I just need two more days like this and this afghan is actually somehow finally going to be done!

 



The longest plane ride her daddy ever took
Monday November 18th 2019, 11:09 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

He’s there with them now.

My cousin’s wife was visiting with their youngest daughter (who’s I think 12) and niece in Australia and were in a terrible accident over the weekend. They’ve all survived, so far. But their daughter was going in for her second surgery today after massive brain swelling.

His wife posted that she had been pouring her soul out in prayer while overwhelmed with the memories, the 40 minute wait for the ambulance, her own broken bones as she was trying to help her daughter not bleed to death, her niece calling out for her mom, who was not there.

And the flies! So many flies, and holding that gauze she just could not keep them away from her daughter’s face to at least offer her that comfort.

And in the moment she thought that in her prayer she suddenly knew: it was the flies. Rose had needed to stay conscious, and the annoyance of those pesky bugs, that insect insult on top of all the fear and pain–

–had been what had kept her awake.

And she woke up again after the first surgery, which was on her brain.

Update: and she is responsive now after her second. Go Rose!



Sweater weather
Thursday November 14th 2019, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

We’re two months into the supposed rainy season, still watering the trees, hoping that we get lots of rain later to make up for what we’re having to draw out.

But at least today it was finally chilly and cloudy and it looked like a storm coming in. There’s none in the forecast, but having the sky finally not look like bright cloudless July helped restore faith that I just need to wait awhile. That and having to put on two layers of sweaters–which felt great. Thrift-store cashmere, I’ve missed you.

Pro tip: people who send theirs to the dry cleaners wreck the softness and then wonder what they paid all that money for and often enough end up ditching them. One good tepid-temperature soak in a no-dye no-scents liquid laundry detergent and gentle hand washing, a spinning out in the washer with the water turned off to avoid felting, laying the item out to dry, and there you go: the softness is back.

I give the sweater a good shake before putting it over the wide shower rod; if there was any shrinking, which happens lengthwise the most when it does, that’s enough to put it right.



Must be going around
Wednesday November 13th 2019, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus

I emailed the leader of the lupus group and said I wasn’t really sick but I was fighting the edge of a cold so I wasn’t going to be there this afternoon.

Turns out I wasn’t the only one. About an hour later she replied-all that she’d never done this before, but she was canceling the meeting, and hopefully next month we’d all be better.

All the more afghan knitting time for now.



Tuesday
Tuesday November 12th 2019, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

Got coughed on on Saturday.

Woke up today feeling possibly a little feverish and took it easy, grateful for my flu shot.

I found a perfect, luscious little strawberry hiding away under a November leaf and proclaimed it my antidote. Yum.



Veterans Day
Monday November 11th 2019, 10:13 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Life

All day long I’ve been remembering that Veterans’ Day when I was on my way to Cottage Knits, my route taking me past Golden Gate National Cemetery.

As I waited at the light at the corner that edges two sides of it, there was an elderly man near the end of the row. He was stooped, his head was bowed, his white hair blowing in the wind and chill, his face the picture of grief. I wanted to leap over the fence and hold him up. To somehow ease his unspeakable pain.

This page says more than I ever could.

Love you, Dad. Miss you, Dad. Thank you for offering your life for our ideals and for our whole world’s sake.



Rallying around
Sunday November 10th 2019, 8:13 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I’d seen the note sent out on their behalf a few days ago asking people to pray for her.

Her mother-in-law is in town now to help with their two little boys, and the one time I saw her really smile this morning was when I asked if she was the grandma. She was!

When I saw him gathering up the kids afterwards I said to the husband, half apologetically, “One more person coming to ask…”

He was happy to explain. His wife had had a doctor appointment, and the obstetrician had said, You’re way too big to be three months along. So they’d ordered tests.

She had a tumor the size of a watermelon on an ovary. (Where? How? She’s tiny!)

That’s when the first note went out because in their shock those young parents needed every bit of support they could get, with someone else appointed to do the talking and fielding any responses so they didn’t have to quite yet.

He sent out his own note this afternoon.

The surgery was successful. The tumor was benign (they will biopsy it again to be absolutely absolutely sure.) The baby is doing fine in there. His wife is recuperating and on bed rest for the moment, but would welcome texts.

That I can do.



Screen play
Saturday November 09th 2019, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Life

So there I was, having been given my own small screen to watch while the bigger one went on so that I could read the closed captions. Hey, and it had someone signing, too! I studied sign in high school with a semester in college but that was a long time ago.

Wait. This isn’t…

So now I’m wondering if American Sign Language and the Samoan (maybe Tongan?) version as presented in the US are the same?