Thou hast made Thy children mighty
Wednesday April 26th 2017, 8:24 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Let me explain what I meant by this yesterday.

Our daughter Sam was hospitalized Saturday with the doctors deciding to wait till the morrow to induce her–let the baby be 37 weeks and officially past prematurity, but then he was going to have to come out. The risk of losing him had become too great.

Sunday morning, then, they started the inducing and she was in mild labor all day. She was where she needed to be: they could monitor him and do something fast if things went south.

We went to bed that night after offering the message that they were not to worry about waking us up: whatever the hour, we wanted to know.

She was in labor all Sunday night.

She was in labor all day Monday.

She was in labor all Monday night. We slept badly but not as badly as our daughter and son-in-law did.

She was in labor all day Tuesday. That baby wanted every extra hour he could get. Just as we were about to hit the lights last night the message came in: her water had broken. We looked at each other and pronounced, “Show time.” Wishing it were and figuring probably not any time soon, still, at the rate things had been going.

She was in labor all Tuesday night. I’ve borne four children and done twenty hours’ worth for a miscarriage and I cannot begin to fathom how she could do it.

I woke up this morning seven-ish, checked for messages, saw none, and thought, my poor kid. My strong, heartbreakingly brave kid who was willing to risk so much to bring her son into this world to share a life with the best man she could possibly have chosen. I cannot begin to say how in awe I am of her.

Her husband stayed by her side.

I had just stepped out of the shower when Richard startled me (didn’t know he was awake yet) with a “Hello, Grandma!”

Mathias Ronald, 7 lbs 11 oz with his daddy’s nose and the most perfect face. Shattering our hearts into a million brilliant momentums of joy.

Welcome to the world, little one. We cannot wait to see you, too.

(Photos by Sam.)



No training wheels
Tuesday April 25th 2017, 11:09 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Somehow it was a day where that hot chocolate just tasted really good. That blue mill-ends-of-the-mill-ends cashmere (don’t know if there’s any of that $20 postpaid/180 grams of dk weight left, but that’s the link) that I hanked up and scoured the mill oils off of became in that washing the softest yarn one could ever have in hand–someone besides me would soon swoon over it in a more finished form, and just the thought of that made my day. The neighbor was teaching his preschooler to ride a two-wheeler and she was doing really well at it, with her two-year-old brother following right behind on a two-wheel bicycle with no pedals, just little feet on the ground pushing it along at a good clip, wanting to do everything she could do and doing what he could in the meantime. He waved hi at me and I waved back. I told his big sister she was doing great.

And I had a song in my head, a hymn from church, For the Strength of the Hills We Thank Thee. Thou hast made thy children mighty…



One giant leap
Saturday April 22nd 2017, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

The little boy with thick reddish-blond hair was coming down the big wooden steps outside to the deck that overlooks the forest of redwoods at Richard’s aunt’s. He was trying to master the art of doing each step in a single step of his own–but they were bigger than he was and he was practically doing the splits while trying not to tumble forward.

He would have, actually, but for his daddy right there holding his hand. A few side twirls around his daddy’s feet in the process were part of how it’s done.

He finally made that one last long big leap to the wooden planks that had been waiting below and I clapped and cheered, “You did it!”

At that the little boy with Down’s went right back up that step so he could do that again.

And again.

And again.

I caught on: I added, “Do it again!” after the “You did it!” as I clapped.

He did it again, with his dad loving that someone thought his little boy was cute.

On about the eighth round of this, he almost fell at the bottom and caught himself in a bit of a faceplant on the seat of the chair next to me, and so now we had a new game: he would go upwards, he would take a grand step down, I would cheer, “Yay! You did it!” and he would run to that chair and turn his head to the side just like when it wasn’t quite so on purpose.

A few more of those.

Finally, his daddy said, Okay, time to move on, little buddy–but little buddy didn’t want to move on at all, thanks. He had a new game. He had a new friend. This was going great.

I let them be–and then he did let his little guy go up that step one last time. I clapped this time like all the others, but instead I said, “Bye bye!” And he knew what you were supposed to do with a wave bye-bye: you go bye-bye.

And off he toddled hand-in-hand with his daddy to go say hi to the bride and groom.



I left you some
Thursday April 20th 2017, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Life

Four onesies, one t-shirt, one jacket, all long-sleeved, one pair of denim overalls, two pairs of pants, one hat, everything in pure cotton, ordered in newborn size on up to six months. Total cost: are you ready for this? $17.32, with free shipping. Thank you Target.

When the baby’s going to be born in Alaska, the winter clearance items that are really cheap in April are perfect for Anchorage now. (I did, however, skip the Halloween and Santa-themed ones.)

Sometimes it pays to let companies email you their ads. And if anyone’s looking for baby clothes right now, I thought I’d mention.

(p.s. Sometimes Target stores offer a $5 gift card for buying multiples of staples on sale. I remembered to enter the one I had.)



Where have all the flowers gone? Long time passing…
Wednesday April 19th 2017, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family,Food,Friends,Life

My daughter-in-law had a moment of great inspiration that blessed a lot of us. That will be a story to tell, probably next week.

Meantime, today I had an appointment with the ENT who, years ago, diagnosed my hearing loss as being caused by an allergy to aspirin and thereby stopped its progression. I owe him much. He’s also the one whose love of his garden sparked my own fruit tree and veggie planting and I adore him.

He was running a moment late. And because he was running late, I ended up pulling back into my driveway exactly at the moment a neighbor from across the fence was standing right there, having stopped to talk to the guy next door after having walked all the way around the block in hopes of seeing me and finding me not there. But then I was.

If you remember the saga of the big ragged broken sad ugly Snoopy weathervane skewered on the fence that bugged me so much for so long and an elderly neighbor’s anger at my asking her to take it down or to let me help her do so, this was her.

I wanted peace between us after that. Praying was something I could do while trying to figure out how to create some positive interactions, and we have had some since then.

I stumbled across an article on war brides from her native land that left me feeling for the first time like I could understand why she came across the way she did–it was a survival tactic that had helped those women survive.

Whether it actually applied to her or not I don’t know for sure, but I do know that for me it helped a lot.

Last week I left a stalk of bright red amaryllis flowers in a vase by her door after no one answered. (At her age, I just hoped she was still there but nothing had changed in her front yard, so…)

Here she was, responding in kind. She had a surprise for me. I looked in and laughed, “You didn’t need to return the vase!” There were dark-chocolate-covered butter cookies in there, too. Wow. Yum. “Thank you!”

But here is the thing: she was radiant. She glowed with love, and we gave each other a big hug and I didn’t even know she does hugs. My next door neighbor shared in by saying I’d given them an amaryllis, too, and his being there made it all the sweeter. Had he not stepped outside to put his trash bin away just in time to see and delay her by visiting a moment she probably would have missed us both.

She said, “But when the flowers got old they dripped red. It looked like blood!” She turned and said it a moment later to him, too, in case he hadn’t heard it the first time. I grinned at the scandalousness of its dastardly deed. Yeah, they do that. And thought, actually, it would probably make a great dye for my wool, but who would ever sacrifice the number of flowers it would take to find out?

Only later did the thought occur to me that, oh, I hope that didn’t cause her any flashbacks. But judging by her face and her voice, I think, I think, we did just fine there. Replace the old memories with the new. Better. Happier. And hey–amaryllises!



If the shoe should fit
Monday April 17th 2017, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Twenty-ish years ago I dragged my husband to the mall and got him to try on some badly-needed shoes. He settled for whatever to get himself out of there as fast as he could–this was just so not his thing.

Mine, neither, honey, I hear you.

Again, the man needs a new pair of shoes.

And so I went looking this evening. All over.

Just try to drag his eyeballs over to the screen to look at such a thing. Now, if it had been gadgets? Plus ca change…

We found one awhile back from LLBean that he liked that was cushioned and nice enough for mostly anywhere–but when he wore them out and I ordered a new supposedly identical pair (I flipped through old orders to double-check), you put them side by side on the floor and the sole of the new was a full inch narrower at the widest point than the older. I don’t get it. They don’t want repeat customers?

And so we are back to shopping, with a whole lot more to see/not see in person in the same timeframe. Check those return policies and I wish each manufacturer listed local inventory so we could buy from the little guys.

Okay, typing this got me to go look up Rockport just in case. They say they have extra wide. Hmm. I will ask them in the morning about those has-Beans.

It’s a step forward.

(Thirteen, in case anyone’s wondering. Wide. He’s got small feet for a 6’8″er.)



All part of the Sublime
Sunday April 16th 2017, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

And more amaryllises opening up.

So there was the woman at church I don’t know well but I wish I did, whom a worried friend told me was suffering from depression these days.

I kept an eye out for her last week and quietly noted the dress she was wearing: close to the color of that blanket I just finished (of which there is no more yarn.)

It was a cheerful color, and that can only be a good thing.

I knew I had a lighter shade that would go well with it–and not only that, it was the last of my stash in blue of the discontinued Sublime yarn made of pearl chips dissolved into a rayon with a high-quality bamboo. It is as soft and shimmery and warm as a good silk while being hypoallergenic; it is, literally, a string of pearls.

I’d just moved those two skeins to…somewhere…a few days before. I had actually had them in my hands before that conversation with that mutual friend. Where on earth had I put them?

And thus a highly frustrating week, knitting-wise: I wanted to make a cowl for her before Easter Sunday and I could not for the life of me find that yarn. And it’s not like there were so many (normal) places to look, either. I could have just given up and done something else, and almost did, but for the absolute certainty that that was the yarn I needed it to be. It just was. And I didn’t want to start something else for someone else and get sidetracked.

I finally found them Saturday. How on earth had they ended up in a ziplock with a wool sweater? Hello, brain? There was no way I was going to get it done, or even very far along before Easter services, but at least I got it cast on and a few rows so she could feel the fabric it would be making.

I put it in a ziplock in my purse  for the morning, along with a green cowl just to make sure and to let her have a choice–or something else altogether if she wanted, say, pink polkadots. It would be for her to decide.

I invited her to sit by me a moment after the first meeting and showed her, apologizing that the blue wasn’t ready. When I offered her an infinity of hypotheticals as well as those two choices she was exclaiming, Oooh, the blue!

When I mentioned her dress of last week, and how I didn’t know if it was her favorite or somethingshejustgotonsalebecauseIvecertainlydonethatormaybeshereallylikedthatoneor

She laughed and interrupted with, “That is my FAVORITE dress. I spent a long time looking for just that.”

I told her about the actual pearls made into the yarn and how it had demanded that it be the one I knit for her, even when I couldn’t find the silly things (at the same time, I had needed to be sure it was what *she* wanted.) So she would just have to wait till next week to get it.

She loved it. She was blown away. She was very happy about the whole thing and can’t wait to see it finished.

And it wasn’t till later that the obvious hit me: y’know? When you’re depressed, having something you’re looking forward to while you know someone’s looking out for you–that’s not a bad thing. That anticipation is not a bad thing at all. And it’s much more important than my need had been to just go get this done and out of the way so I could move on to something else. The longer I’d searched the more my focus had shifted away from, where is that yarn! To an even greater sense of, Please, G_d? I want this to happen–for her sake…

Glad I lost it. Glad I found it.



The casting on part
Friday April 14th 2017, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life

One and a half to two feet apart, the garden guide said.

I dug seven holes for my tomato seedlings a little closer than that tonight, tucked back there in the side yard. I stood back to assess: having thoroughly gophered the area, I needed half a dozen more if I’m going to plant all those little jiffy cups (some are already in bigger pots) and where on earth are they going to go? Blues, Sungolds, Pink Brandywine…

Marigolds around them, the stinkiest ones you can find, are supposed to deter squirrels but mine are still in seed form. I don’t think that counts.

Sure, you lose some tomato plants or at least I lose some tomato plants every year in the early stages (three out of my four blues are already gone) when the snails like them (I have copper tape for that now) and the squirrels take an experimental chomp and then spit the broken bits out. (Grrr.) Still. Thirteen survivors? I may have overdone this.

I gave the spade another good strong push and accidentally bounced the handle off my face. (Not too hard.) I ran out of daylight. Plant tomorrow. I’m done.

——–

(I posted this and then went to see if Stephanie had posted yet.

She had. She had found the words at last. That is a love letter for the ages to bless us all.)



Trying to scare up a little dinner for them?
Thursday April 13th 2017, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus,Mango tree,Wildlife

That time before sundown, when the squirrels have turned in for the night and the birds have the feeder area to themselves. When the UV level is zero and the outdoors is mine. I really like it.

It’s also when the temps start dropping enough that it’s time to go cover the mango tree for the night.

There are two steps to this: the first, covering the top of the two stakes with bubble wrap rolled and taped together, both to protect the frost covers from tearing on the ends and to lift the covers above the close-to-budding parts of the tree–they are growing straight up now but will droop down later to support their (hoped-for) fruit as it grows. (No President’s Day storms to whip them all off the tree this time, okay?)

I opened the door to start the preliminaries, scattering a dove and a junco. As I walked across the yard, I saw a large gray wide-winged bird well overhead, flying from the direction of the redwood in Neighbor A’s yard across us to the silk oak in Neighbor B’s yard.

Several years ago my kids gave me a Cornell Labs book for Christmas that not only listed American bird species, it had a recording for each, and the one for the Cooper’s hawk was said to be of one defending its territory or nest. (From a researcher wielding a mic, no doubt.)

A prolonged protest as I neared the mango, which stands next to where the hawks like to perch on the fence: it let me have it.

And I *heard* it!!! It was pitched two notes higher than Cornell’s but that sequence and length were unmistakable. (From Wikipedia: the males are higher-pitched than the females. Curious.)

I walked back across the yard and likely out of its sight under the awning, then reappeared again with the first frost cover and walked back towards the little tree–and again it demanded I know that I was intruding and this would not do. And I imagine it wanted its dove back.

It was coming from the redwood tree, quite close. So there were two present, then. Cool.

I got the cover over, then the second, but decided I would check the weather report and put off doing the third layer for now and let them be. (I did end up adding it later–it’s cold out there.)

After all this time I finally got to hear my Cooper’s hawks! And I think I know where they’ve moved their nest to this year, now. Away, at last, from where the corvids congregate when the silk oak is feeding them while the hawk chicks are being raised. Good.



Joel Drucker
Wednesday April 12th 2017, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus

We had a speaker at our lupus group today: Joel Drucker, there to talk about his experiences with his wife having had lupus, the ways in which they coped–together–

–until.

He coped with her death by putting her into writing and continues to heal now by sharing his story with others. (And by the way, if you see this, Joel, that quote from Dr. Rachel Remen my brain blanked out on? “Meaning is the language of the soul.”)

He had close friends who’d known his wife and would have had every incentive to read his book, and yet. They just couldn’t quite…

He knew that we wouldn’t be put off by it, and he was right. One woman said, We have faced death many times and come back, and heads nodded around the room.

(Me, I just have to find out where our long-misplaced Kindle is so I can finally read it.)

My childhood friend Karen years ago gave Richard a copy of Mainstay, by Maggie Strong. Strong, whose husband had MS, wrote that there were many books out there for those who are ill but she’d found nothing for those who love them, for those who are their caregivers on one level and yet are trying to still maintain a co-equal balance in a marriage.

At one point Joel said that after (if I heard right) seven years, it was thinkable at last to consider remarrying. And yet, all those shared memories: no new relationship could have those.

“It would be like stepping into the middle,” I said.

“Exactly!”

And yet. I told him that he was a deeply good man and he would do well when he did take that step.

He looked at me, taking in the measure of what I’d just said. “You met me forty-five minutes ago and you’re saying that about me?” (Like, how do you know I’m good?)

Joan had loved him that much. And I had just been learning how much he loved Joan. Case closed.



Turn a route is fare, pay
Tuesday April 11th 2017, 10:32 pm
Filed under: History,Life,Lupus,Politics

If you can stand another United story to go with all the others out there after they beat up a doctor for refusing to be bounced from a flight because he said he needed to see his patients in the hospital in the morning. Two days later he was still in the hospital himself. (United’s own carrier contract I am told says that once you’re boarded in your reserved seat it’s yours.)

“Because it arrived at the time you wanted.”

That was the excuse United gave me for what they’d done.

Remember that bit of a whine over the price of the airfare to San Diego for this past weekend? When I was booking tickets a month ago, I blinked at Southwest’s cheapest “Wanna Get Away” fare that was over twice the usual and googled to see what else might be out there.

United’s fare was better. Huh. Okay, so I typed in the specific airports I wanted to leave from and go to, SJC to SAN, and what time I wanted to get to San Diego by: the kids had wanted Grampa to see Parker’s 9:00 game. (Grandma here crashed on the couch for that, safely out of the sun and needing that nap and everybody understood.)

Top of the page their site took me to, it said San Jose to San Diego in big letters, with a list of flights below. Alright, then. Did I want to buy insurance against having to change or cancel my tickets? $40, but with my health, I had to say yes. (Southwest doesn’t charge you for changes or cancellations; they apply your fare to future flights if you’ve gone with the cheapest, non-refundable option. United stiffs you while reselling your seat unless you’ve shelled out that extra.)

I hit confirm to both and only then did it say I was booked for SNA. Orange County. Two hours away. That’s the same thing, right?

I got on the phone immediately and made them deal with my deafness and demanded that they refund that ticket instantly. This was so deceptive. This was an unbelievably bad user interface and why in this day and age hadn’t they fixed it? Right there at the top of the page in bold, it said I was booking for San Diego. Unbelievable.

They did refund me instantly but said I’d have to undo the insurance through a separate company. They, too, said they’d make good on it. Okay, but this should never have happened.

“Because it arrived at the time you wanted.” Never mind that the time to get set up with a rental car and then drive it south for two hours meant that there was no physical chance of getting off that flight and getting ourselves to San Diego by, y’know, the time we said we wanted to be there. I asked again why it offered me the wrong flight and they said because they didn’t have one directly to there at that time so they redirected me to one that did land at that time.

The mind, it boggles.

We flew Southwest.



Happy Birthday, Hudson!
Sunday April 09th 2017, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

So we were all awake till about 1:30 a.m. Friday after that accident and had to get up before 5 a.m. Saturday for Richard’s and my flight.

I went to set the long-unused alarm clock–unused because no matter how nicely loud it is for me, the bright green numbers light up the whole room. Who thought making it like that was a good idea? (Why haven’t I replaced this?)

It was dead. Great. I set my iPhone to go off next to me, knowing how tired we were, knowing I wouldn’t hear it, knowing Richard would probably sleep through it and really really not wanting to miss both our flight and Hudson’s fourth birthday.

And so I woke up at 4:15 a.m. (the third time I did) for worrying about it and called it a night.

We had so much fun playing with the grandkids. Somehow we found the energy. We sang Happy Birthday at random intervals all day and played with their toys with them and bounced on their rented bounce house (I did, anyway) and read them books and ate pizza with them and made them the center of our universe for every moment we could. We loved seeing how fantastic our son and Kim are at raising great kids. There was a party in the afternoon, their friends and Kim’s family came, and Maddy even let me push her on the swing. She is inexplicably now two.

There was an unusually late return flight available this time and we’d booked it so as to get as much time with the kids as we could. (It seems normally people want to fly TO San Diego on weekends, not away from it in the middle of one.)

Turns out there was a major league baseball game between teams there and here (and that also explains why all the airfares were so stunningly high. Who knew the airlines track the major sports games. Oh wait.)

We got home close to midnight.

We kept our eyeballs open through church (I did, anyway), came home, got just enough food down and at long last crashed like a toddler after a birthday party.

So glad we got to go.



Smash hit
Friday April 07th 2017, 9:14 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

There was a big storm last night and Michelle’s plane got delayed, and delayed, and delayed, until we looked at the hour and though I almost always go with him to see one of the kids coming in, I begged off this time: we were going to have to get up at 5 am Saturday and then play with the grandkids all day and I just couldn’t safely do that level of sleep deprivation and fatigue two days in a row–I’d long been warned about triggering potential seizures from my multiple head injuries.

No problem, and he headed out into it alone. He expected to get home maybe twelve-thirty if he was lucky.

I, meantime, said a prayer for his safety. Routine stuff.

And then since I couldn’t sleep, but at least I was getting some much-needed rest, I said more prayers for his safety, with no worry, no sense of alarm, just, he took good care of me, please take good care of him; I trusted him to God.

He didn’t see the cars ahead spin out and crash in the rain but he did see the one that was sideways across his lane and stopped well behind it. He saw the driver of that sideways car standing by her driver’s side door.

BAM!!!!!!!

Someone coming up behind had at the last seen Richard’s brake lights and though both bumpers were surely destroyed under those plastic covers (the other guy’s has a very fetching nose ring now, ours, a hoop earring), he had at least braked in time to save both of them from being seriously hurt.

They pulled off the road and exchanged information, and while they were doing so they did not see it but they heard it: someone rear-ended the not-sideways car.

Not the woman’s who’d been standing in the lane of traffic (don’t DO that!) on the other side of her car, which had no lights across the side and gave no warning to those coming up.

Richard’s brake lights very likely saved her life–that and the fact that he was paying attention to the road.

And had I been with him when he was hit, given that I stopped breathing when I was hit in the back of the head in December and had to will myself to live, I’m not sure I’d still be here typing this had I been in that car.

He’s a little sore but says he’s basically okay.

Please. Drive safely.



Stealth knitting
Thursday April 06th 2017, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Someone happened to say something about someone she was worried about and with that sense of freedom that comes with having just finished a big project, even the ends run in, suddenly I knew I had to interrupt the queue: “A cowl wouldn’t take too long. What are her favorite colors?” Clearly this needed to happen.

The mutual friend was blown away, and came away going, I need to knit. I need to take lessons from you. I need to learn to knit!

I grinned that I’d be happy to teach her.

Meantime she’s got some sleuthing to do. She’s right on it.



Cheaper than cotton
Wednesday April 05th 2017, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

At upper left, the branch the squirrel twirled around. The tent and the cinnamon are doing their job at keeping it away now.

Meantime, drying, a tunic sweater that was too vivid and too orange for my neurons–but it was a return with $200 knocked off the price. And the fit was so perfect.

I gave it a gentle wash and then put about a heaping teaspoon of black dye in the dyepot, got it up to a good simmer, and gave it my constant attention for a half hour and then another five minutes just to be sure it had gotten enough heat.

The camera notwithstanding, it is darker than shown and there are no blotches, no streaks, just an even dyeing throughout–and best of all, it’s much softer than it was. I’m guessing that the manufacturer cut a corner and didn’t wash the spinning mill oils out of the yarn they were using. That surprises me, given where it came from. It was a cashmere sweater but its hand was not anything to particularly want to write home about, and I’m guessing that’s why someone returned it.

Now, though. Wow. This is what they could have been selling, what they actually were selling, but how will their customers know that? Dry Clean Only does such sweaters no favors, either–it harshens the fibers. A gentle hand wash in lukewarm water is always the way to go. (And doing so can recover a dry-cleaned one.)

Now it feels like what it should have all along. Those goats had reason to be proud and I’m glad I took the chance on it.