Made my day
Sunday February 18th 2018, 11:48 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I put down the afghan and came over to the computer to try to figure out what to write about tonight and an email had just come in: Jerry and Vivian, with her saying she’d stolen one of his hats for the picture that they were posing for.

With the most radiant smiles.

I tell you.

I described to them what Stitches West was, that it was this coming weekend, and to let me know what colors or fibers they’d like next and I’d be right on it. And I wished they could see how big the smile was on my face too right now.



Six titles so far and none sufficient
Saturday February 17th 2018, 12:09 am
Filed under: Life

Someone dear to me had a co-worker she knew was abusive and a liar and she was not at all sorry to hear that he’d quit.

Except maybe that’s not exactly what had happened.

Everybody was suddenly ordered to go take the rest of the day off, go somewhere nice, out, enjoy.

In the middle of our deadline?

Them: (Clear. The. Building.)



The things that matter
Wednesday February 14th 2018, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

When you crawl fast pushing an upside-down paper plate across a wooden floor, it makes a deeply satisfying amount of raspy noise.



Love by chocolate
Tuesday February 13th 2018, 11:35 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life

My friend Karen dropped by today to pick up the amaryllis I’d promised her (thank you, Dad!) and we ended up chatting awhile.

One of the things she told me was something that in 30 years I’d never known about her: that her family had had an older neighbor who’d never married and had no family around and they with their seven sons had just kind of adopted him as their local grandpa and he loved it. They had had him over for dinner at least once a month for forever and made him theirs.

When he could no longer care for himself and needed to go to a memory care unit, they helped him with that move. He’s 96 now.

She was talking to someone who worked at the nursing home and that is how she found out that the residents got fruit for dessert: but no chocolate. Never chocolate. There was just no reason for it in the caretakers’ eyes, I suppose, nor for the expense.

“Not even, like, brownies?”

Nope.

Well that was definitely something she could do something about–she knew how much he loved the stuff and went to his room and asked him if he’d like some chocolate.

Now, he might have some dementia but he remembered chocolate. Definitely yes. Yes please!

So now she has something she know she can do to cheer him up, to connect to him wherever he may be in there, every time she comes.

And I thought I would pass the good word along. If you don’t know how to visit or what to say to someone in a nursing home–bring them chocolate.

And if it’s ever me in there, dark would be great, thanks.



Brown, blue, what else do you knit for a guy?
Sunday February 11th 2018, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

As of just now there is a second soft, washable wool beanie (Bobby Blue to go with the previous Stonechat brown mix) to mail to my friend with the massive skull scar curving widely from the top of his head and halfway down  in front of his ear. The good news is that it was a slow tumor, and there are treatments in trials for curing it. They couldn’t get it all, but they believe they bought him plenty of time before they have to face it again and there is great cause for hope. Thank you for all your prayers and good thoughts Jerry’s way.

The best news is that he feels completely himself again with it gone, and that was no sure thing going in.

(Note to self: Malabrigo Rios, size US6 needles for the body of the hat, 80 stitches was the right number in stockinette. I considered doing cables but thought, nah, he doesn’t need the extra warmth where he lives. He just needs not to look quite so Star Wars bar scene-ish while his incision line gradually recedes.)



Skyscape
Friday February 09th 2018, 11:45 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I almost missed it. There was the most stunning sunset going on, deep pink and blue streaks as far as the eye could see from right to left and up to down. I walked out the front door to see if it reached clear to the east as well.

Which it did. But more importantly, an older neighbor was out front as well and I went over to say hi; I don’t get to as often as I’d like.

Turns out it was a day when things were going a little rough for her medically, and though she’s not one to complain, today she just needed a listening ear. But first she told me, It IS a beautiful sunset! And that set the tone.

Her triplet grandchildren are in college already?! How on earth did THAT happen?

She laughed: I know, right? Then she told me the suddenness of the empty nest was an adjustment for her daughter-in-law. “She’s a *good* mother.” A few minutes later she said it again, wanting me to know just how much she thought the world of the woman her son had married.

I’d caught her between her car and her front door, which when she went through a few minutes later, she no longer felt so alone.

And all because Someone had nudged me: Hey. You. Look at this sky I made–no, no, go, Look.



Well I guess they wanted to plant local species?
Wednesday February 07th 2018, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

The unseen unnamed people who bought the house down the street have been re-landscaping it, and one of the things they did was to plant some plants in a tight row in front of what I assume is a bedroom window, about ten of them and all about two feet apart. So that the spaces between will fill in nice and densely.

With redwood trees. I did quite the double take. Redwood trees?! Under the eaves of the house, no less. Okay, they’re pretty and maybe you guys are new to California but didn’t you at least google the name on all those tags?!



Redwood hat
Saturday February 03rd 2018, 11:38 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

(Photo from Richard’s phone, since mine’s still on strike. It embiggens.)

I started to cast on with something else, but a ball from stash that I had not seriously considered got louder and more insistent with each stitch till I ripped the other off the needles and started again with this one. Why yes, my yarn is the boss of me.

Each row of Malabrigo Rios in the beautifully-named Stonechat was like a slow drive through an old redwood forest,  glimpses of light peaking through the quiet shades of brown.

And then there are the near-black stitches popping up here and there.

Redwoods can be hit by lightning and catch fire, as any tree might–but unless it gets to the canopy, the tree itself, I was told by a park ranger when I was a teen, gradually puts that fire out, even if it smolders for months. The flames simply don’t take them down.

The Stonechat was right. It was definitely the right yarn.

Note to self: size 6US needles in the body and 84 stitches. Kept to beanie length because it’s to cover the surgery scar on Jerry’s head rather than purely for warmth, given where he lives.



The pinwheel toy
Friday February 02nd 2018, 11:32 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

She loves orange, she told me last June. And blues. I didn’t have much orange in my stash–but I had this old ball in Lisa Souza’s Joseph’s Coat colorway.

I found the pictures. They were taken at night and by the bright light of day and the cowl was mostly somewhere in between, and maybe some of you remember it. I sure do. It came out so unexpected.

It started off with all the colors kind of melting together into an almost-purple, but then when I added a few stitches to widen it it changed the whole thing abruptly: individual colors stood out on their own and became like the brightest sunrise against the darkest clouds. I expected them to go back to how they’d been after I added a few more but they simply formed a new pattern altogether yet that continued off the second one.

No matter its quirkiness or even faults, of the three, this was the one she wanted to take away as a memento of the years they lived here.

I heard the news.

She’s a young mom.

Whose husband is now fighting a brain tumor.

That which they had gauged their plans by was suddenly thrown to the winds and what they are going through now is radically different from anything they’d wanted or expected. And yet there he is in his hospital picture, smiling, same as always.

In a hospital cap.

He needs a soft handknit one, stat. Even in San Diego.

If you feel inclined to say a pray or to Think Good Thoughts in Jerry’s direction and his family’s, it would be lovely. The G_d that I believe in honors either as love: and love is what we are sent here to learn and do.

May that great Love sustain them through all that lies ahead.



Timing
Wednesday January 31st 2018, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

My father-in-law opted for cremation, which meant that when one of his kids wanted everybody to put off the funeral for a month to when her kids could more easily come, sure, that worked.

She had no idea.

We had no idea.

But that is why we were in town when David was. That is why we were in town just in time to see our nephew Taylor and his family on their way out. Ordinarily, we would have been there and gone well before any of them showed up.

And I wouldn’t have wanted to miss seeing them for anything.



Baby Nicholas
Wednesday January 31st 2018, 12:02 am
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

My sister’s son and his wife had a baby at Thanksgiving, and they were flying to, you guessed it, Salt Lake City from Atlanta that same week to show off the baby to her dad. We so wanted to see them and to meet their little boy but the overlap time on our trips was tight.

We got up early (our time) Friday morning and hoped that the rush-hour traffic would allow them to make it.

They showed up late and apologetic because the baby had soaked through his clothes just as they were leaving…

We chuckled. Hey. Babies’ superpower is wrecking your walking-out-the-doors.

And so we got to meet her dad, who was driving them to the airport, and to spend about fifteen minutes together. I surprised them with a soft wool hat. (Color in link.) Washable, because hey, I remember what it’s like. (My daughter said her nine-month-old, while his diaper was being changed last week, managed to spray himself in the face rather than them and was quite outraged at the indignity.  Clearly, washable hats are all the more the way to go.)

It is amazing how much living can cram its way into fifteen finite minutes. It was a privilege to see the two of them so happy in their new parenthood as their wide-eyed little one took in the new faces and scenery around him before being whisked off to the crowds and the skies and at last, home.



David
Tuesday January 30th 2018, 12:07 am
Filed under: Family,Food,Knitting a Gift,Life

We are home today. So let me first tell you one story that was not from the funeral.

My cousin David was flying in to Salt Lake City and was going to be playing piano at our aunt’s house. Now, when I say piano, you have probably never heard someone who can play like he can. I’m quite serious. And that house was built by our grandfather and concert-pianist grandmother so as to bring out the best in the music.

He invited all the cousins to come who could and offered to accompany them for anything they might want to sing or play. David being the one who, as a teen, would spend two hours on public transit to watch a show on Broadway, two more hours to come home, and sit down at the piano and play every piece he’d heard note-perfect. And now he’s a professional composer and musician in New York.

It just so happened that our trips to Salt Lake were happening on the same weekend.

I showed up late, with apologies; the funeral and family reunioning afterwards had gone into overtime and I had needed to be there, too. (Richard, grieving his father, decided on one-on-one time with my dad, who was not up to going to that, too, while I went to the concert. My mom was already there.) There were lots of people and lots of chairs set out but I saw none that were empty and simply plunked myself on the floor by the door. No biggy. It’s about the music and the people, not about the seating.

Aunt Joyce stopped David (who could not see me from behind a wall) between pieces and motioned over to me: there was an empty chair over here for me, and here, let’s set up more over near the kitchen for any other latecomers. Which were indeed put to use.

Now, there were several rows to the right where she was and then there was this one single chair forward of everybody else and kind of in the musicians’ faces. And that’s where they put me. Close to the piano, close (and almost in the way of) the vocalists. At least two of whom sing professionally on Broadway and, wow. Sitting there was like I had my old hearing back.

David declared it the last piece, and after that, stood and invited everybody to join him now for cake.

It was his birthday, a milestone birthday at that–I’d had no idea. Well then that makes this all the better.

I caught his eye from up there in my front row of one and kind of raised a finger halfway in a gesture of “wait” and then hesitated a moment, because this was his party, his celebration, his gift to us, and I didn’t want to distract from that in any way. And yet it just seemed a good time.

“I have an original composition.”

I had mentioned no such thing to him while he was planning this. He was surely jet-lagged–it was quite late his time–and he had no idea what to expect from his musical cousin who had lost most of her hearing. He looked afraid that this was somehow going to turn awkward, or, or what, but I was pulling this on him after he’d already said the playing was over and he didn’t know what I was up to and he wasn’t quite sure how to react.

And then I reached down to my unzipped purse and quickly handed it to him kind of folded and scrunched inside my hand and watched his face as he realized what he suddenly was holding.

The surprise. What it was. The crowd roared as it saw. I wanted to say it was from all of us here in thanks for what he’d just given us but I didn’t want to interrupt him in that wordless moment.

He held the black and white soft wool piano hat out for all to see. And then he put it on his head and folded up the brim. “It’s PERFECT! I LOVE it!”

I had wanted to make him one for a long time, and the chance to give it to him in person got it to finally happen.

A little later, as people were chatting and enjoying that cake, Aunt Joyce, who teaches flute, plays professionally herself, and who’d done a duet with him a few minutes earlier, asked me how long it took me to make that. She was quite taken with it.

I don’t yet know how to make a flute hat, but clearly pianos were acceptable–and so I pulled a second one out of my purse, with brown at the brim and the top that made it go perfectly with the outfit she had on.

“No!” in disbelief.

I grinned.

What I didn’t tell them was, I had made that three-color one first. It was in a yarn new to me that took some tweaking of how I usually knit that pattern. I wanted it not too thick looking but quite warm. I liked it–but it came out just a tad slouchy and it seemed not quite the thing. It was good but I strongly felt it needed a do-over. Take out a row here, here, and these few too. I felt very pleased after the second one: I’d gotten it right for him this time.

So then but who was the other one for? There are a lot of musical people in the family to choose from. I would have to find out.

And then when she, the hostess of the evening, picked up his, not hoping nor asking for one in any way but simply appreciating the artistry that went into it, the question answered itself.



Do your ears blink?
Thursday January 25th 2018, 4:24 pm
Filed under: Life

With “Do your ears hang low do they wobble to and fro can you tie them up in a knot can you tie them in a bow” singing in my head, I offer this little bit of scientific oddity for the day.



Glass and yarn chicken
Thursday January 25th 2018, 12:03 am
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

The phone rang: could I….

I had to drop something off for my daughter. It was dark and raining. I couldn’t see to adjust the mirrors, so I put the front passenger window down halfway to get a better view of that one.

The window would not go back up.

I tried the others (this may have been stupid) and they were fine. I turned the car off and on again. Reboot? Didn’t work. I debated going back inside and asking for help/advice/commiseration, but there was a tight time frame involved and I just had to go so I did.

I stepped in the door at home a little later and told him the problem as I gathered up plastic wrap and tape: at least the rain had mostly let up while I was out there with that down, let’s at least keep the water out, or more of it, anyway.

Did you…? he offered helpfully.

Three times.

Did you try it from the passenger side?

Twice.

It might be the battery…?

But if the battery were going then it wouldn’t have turned back on so easily and the other electrical things would have had a problem, wouldn’t they?

Say a prayer? Other than that we’ll just have to take it to the dealer next week. But try turning the car on again.

I had and I had (not the dealer part) but I did and I did, and this time I tried all the buttons on the door because hey, why not: the lock button, the auto button (thank goodness the driver’s window still went straight back up) while sending up yet another prayer, because heck, *I* didn’t know what to do. The rain of course was picking up again.

And suddenly that passenger window moseyed on up all casual-like like it had never been a problem. I just kind of sat there and stared at it a moment. I was not expecting that.

I ain’t touchin’ it. Neither is he. I think I’ll go put tape across the buttons to remind us. Up it stays.

——

And then I came inside and played yarn chicken on the last third of a hat, knowing I had a bit left from a previous hat as a back-up, knowing that splicing tightly-knit chunky yarn wouldn’t look great, but trying the thing on again and again as I went and knowing it needed that last plain row after a decrease row before going straight to decreases in all rows no matter how short that strand was getting, knowing the skein had only had 93 yards to begin with and I’d used a few on a previous project…

Somehow I made it. With a yard to spare, which is far more than I thought possible. And the hat is long enough. (I’d have done one more plain row after the k3 k2tog row if I’d known, but this will definitely do.)

I have no earthly explanation really for that either. Oh and did I mention my dad spent the night being checked out in the cardiac unit at the hospital? They sent him home yesterday and he’s peachy fine. One funeral of a father at a time is enough, thanks.

Sometimes, at the end of the day, all you can do is sit down and finish that hat. Something you can mend the splicing effects of if you need to. Something you can rip out and do over in baby size if you have to. Something you can make do what you want one way or another even if you have to change what you want out of it to get it.

And I didn’t even have to do that.



Warmth that’s easy to put on one-handed
Sunday January 21st 2018, 11:37 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I didn’t take this one to church last week. I couldn’t tell you why not, other than the passing thought of maybe I’d keep it for myself. The way the yarn was spun makes it look a little bit nubbly but it is marvelously soft and I love the color.

Yeah, I didn’t believe I would either–because I knew there was enough yarn left to at least make a smaller version. But still, that merino/silk stayed home.

Not today. Today it definitely insisted it was coming with me. I thought I was ready to head out the door to church but it called me back somehow. Okay. I walked halfway across the house and retrieved it just in time.

It was not picked out by the friend who went for the beige cashmere. (Whom I said “Happy Birthday!” to, having no idea it really had been her birthday two weeks ago.) It was passed over by the friend who picked the silver Classic Elite Chalet baby alpaca that I finished yesterday. (Yay for overnight drying.)

And then, at the last meeting, I saw Candice and what she was wearing and was suddenly pretty sure of myself. But first things first: ask, because you never know, and people should always have a choice and not just have to be polite at you. “Is this a good shade of blue?”

She exclaimed as I pulled it out, “That is the PERFECT shade of blue! Ohmygosh, is this for me?!”

Note that she is the mother of three small children. Note that this week, her husband’s been out of town and she’s been coping with the kids missing him as much as she has. (I saw one being weepy and remembered those days.) Note that this week is the week, it turned out, that she broke her wrist, while trying to hold everybody together in his absence.

I’d had no idea.

She didn’t need that cowl last week. She needed that cowl this week. It’s not just about the color.