Milestone
Tuesday April 24th 2018, 11:20 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Someone’s birthday bash was a ton of fun.

One friend happened to mention to me that her youngest had lost his finger puppet. Which kind of threw me: he’s six, and it’s been long enough since I gave him one that I didn’t even know he was old enough then to remember it, much less to treasure it all this time. Wow. Very cool.

Wanting to replace it to take some of the sting out of the loss, I asked her, What character was it?

She didn’t know.

So with that I dug into my purse and, nudging the ziplocked knitting aside, started pulling a big bunch of them out. I had actually just restocked in there and they take so little room, and as puppet after puppet after puppet emerged she laughed in surprise. They made a colorful heap on the table.

She went home with her favorite two, and Richard’s friend from work whose wife couldn’t make it at the last minute was so charmed with the first one he picked out that we all told him he had to chose one for his wife, too; he went for a second handknit rubber ducky to match the first and tucked them away safely in his pocket, clearly looking forward to the moment.

The waiter at the restaurant watching all this then got surprised with a colorful parrot as we stood up to leave. The fact that he loved it made the night just that much better.

I couldn’t possibly knit fast enough to make something for every person who came to celebrate, but the good women of Peru could.



How it came out
Sunday April 22nd 2018, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

The story of the cowl.

I bought the yarn with a particular person in mind, knowing her favorite color, but as soon as I got going with it I knew the shade was off and it just wasn’t going to be it. And yet that yarn had practically thrown itself at me in the store just the same. What was I thinking?

Nothing for it but to keep on knitting till it’s done–there’s always a place for one of these, and if I hurry I can get it off the needles faster and get on to what I’d hoped for.

Done and blocked, it quietly made a case for itself: it was pretty. I’d almost missed that.

So this morning as I ran the ends in I found myself saying a little prayer: please, could You make it obvious whom to give this to? Like, really obvious so I don’t second-guess myself and wonder? Not that I’m in any way owed that, but I’d love to have the gratification of knowing it was worth it given that I kind of struggled not to be annoyed at it for making me wait for what I’d wanted to do.

Sitting in Sunday School, I spotted two new people across the room, one of whom had a face that was familiar to me from other contexts but I don’t know her; she was wearing a dress that matched that cowl. There was this little spark of happiness that exclaimed, Yes!

But she was deep in conversation with the other woman and in no way was I going to give offense by excluding her, so my attention moved on.

Sunday School ended, the Relief Society women’s meeting was about to begin–and that acquaintance stood, walked across the room, and sat down by me to talk to the next woman over for a minute.

Wow. That sure worked.

When their conversation was over, I asked her, “Are you allergic to wool?”

That was NOT a question she was expecting. “No–?”

“Is this a good color?”

She loved it. She was thrilled. Yes, and it matched her dress!

We asked each other our names. When I said mine, she did a double take and went, “Are you Michelle’s mom?!”

“Yes!”

She proceeded to tell me about things she’d done with my daughter, reminiscing fondly over her baking skills, telling me how much she and her friends had missed her and how they hoped she would move back.

Who doesn’t need to hear something like that about themselves? (I passed the good word on to her.) What mother doesn’t love hearing how much her child is loved?

Who knew how much that simple bit of knitting would come back to bless–us, too?

I really like Michelle’s friend. And she’s a knitter. What a way to start off knowing somebody!



Stilettos
Wednesday April 18th 2018, 12:14 am
Filed under: Garden,Life

This is the time of year when the weeds go to seed here. They come up in January before the grass (which still tries) and choke it out, then dry up when the rains stop.

Except, the rains haven’t stopped, so they are really going to town. Pretty little purple flowers were starting to carpet half the back yard. Charming–if you don’t know.

A friend responded to a tree company’s offer of “free mulch!” and found himself with an entire truckload dumped on his driveway. After several weeks of hard labor trying to get it to his back yard and spread around with his little kids sort-of-helping, he finally cried uncle and begged the teenagers at church to rescue him. They came, and some of their parents, and got it done.

There’s no way I was going to do that to them or me.

In a moment of desperate inspiration, then, the light bulb went off. I have all those frost covers.

I spread them out across almost the entire infested area. I came close. I held the edges down with anything I could find. I should have done this way sooner but I thought of it when I thought of it.

Well, that’ll look pretty to all those airplanes flying up there.

I kept them in place for a week. Sorry, bees, but hey, the cherry and lemon trees are blooming.

My lawn mowing guy was coming today so I gathered the covers up last night, curious to see the result.

You could tell exactly where they’d been: there were short weeds and there were tall weeds, in squares. They’d suddenly put all their energy into trying to outgrow this barrier to their sun and energy. The covers didn’t black it out–they were designed not to–but laid out flat rather than tucked around, there was a double layer everywhere.

I saw just a few clusters of stiletto-sharps.

I was very pleased with myself. It made it worth putting up with a frankly ugly view out there during the experiment.

And then tonight I went to go put a frost cover on the mango.

Oh.

What stabby seeds there were had been velcroed onto the covers. Well, that works, too, I guess.

(On the phone over an hour now with Turbo Tax, trying to figure why our returns appear not to have been transmitted by them last week. Fun times. Glad I asked why there had been no confirmation.)



The soap opera
Monday April 16th 2018, 10:40 pm
Filed under: History,Life,Politics,Wildlife

Winter cold, rain, hail, the now-daily appearance of a Cooper’s hawk impatient with young to feed (clearly), and an earthquake–3.9, just enough to be entertaining if you even feel it (I didn’t.)

And the disclosure in court over Trump’s lawyer’s lawyer’s objections that Trump’s lawyer of late had but three clients: Trump, Trump’s fellow rich friend who likewise had a woman he allegedly wanted paid off and silenced, and (drumroll) Sean Hannity of Fox News. Meaning any time Hannity has gone off on Mueller’s investigation it could well because of what Mueller might find in the files now seized from Cohen on Hannity.

I bet he’s finding the ground a bit shaky over there.



The widows might
Sunday April 15th 2018, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I laughed. I told Jean, You wore that quiet green last week, and so (I held up the sage-green cowl) but it doesn’t go with that sweater at all!

Then to her delight I offered her not just the green but (reaching into the bag again) the purple and the purpley-brown to choose from.

For me?!

She complimented them all. But that purple! Oh, she loved that purple, all the more once she touched it. (That was the Chateau cowl, the braided baby alpaca.)

Then she explained the sweater: her husband had bought it for her years ago; she had felt him close to her all week, and so she’d wanted to bring it to church today.

(And him along with it, I thought. He was a good one. I could just picture him looking on in delight.)

It was in neon shades of brightness, varying colors in diamonds and angles, a cheerful piece of clothing straight out of a modern art museum (said the daughter of the modern art dealer, debating between Piet Mondrian and some of his contemporaries.)

Mona Jo, sitting next to her, when offered a To Be Continued if she preferred something else, happily chose the brown-almost-purple knit from Woolfolk, also extraordinarily soft.

A little later, Gail, a knitter in her younger days, was wearing a skirt in a sage green plaid. That sage green cowl went exactly with her strawberry blonde hair, too. Wool and mink? Mink?! She laughed and held it to her as if to say, Ta Daah! I got mink! It went right on and it stayed on. It wasn’t very big because I didn’t have very much of that mink left, but she told me how warm that bit around her neck would keep her on our cold mornings.

And so these three widows, lifelong friends who had raised their children here (some of whom are now grandparents themselves) all came away on the same day with a handknit cowl in a color they liked. I thought I was just planning for Jean and letting the rest play out as it might and it all came out absolutely perfect.



Gracie Larsen
Friday April 13th 2018, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

So. Many. Spammers. And you never say the word “yes” to them. “Can you hear me now?” they’ll try to prompt, because then they have your voice with that word and can splice it to whatever they want to claim you agreed to.

So the person on the other end got my quite formal voice when she rang. “May I help you?”

After a few sentences, she got it, and went, “Ah–you don’t recognize my voice.”

And in that instant I’m quite sure I finally did. The friend (of about my age) of Gracie Larsen’s. Her friend who was invited along with me to dinner chez Nancy when my husband was out of town. The woman who flew into town annually to help out at the Guild booth at Stitches and to see Gracie all these years. She was a member of the Lacy Knitters Guild that Gracie founded along with the Lace Museum in Sunnyvale.

For years, Gracie and I were in a knitting group that met at Nancy’s house; after Nancy moved away, I at least still got to see her and that friend manning their Stitches booth that volunteered to teach lace knitting to anyone who wanted to learn.

One year there Gracie asked me, sounding just like my grandmother: “Now, Alison: how old are you?”

I knew not to say ‘The answer to life, the universe, and everything’ for fear she wouldn’t get the Douglas Adams reference and simply said, 42.

“You’re just a BABY!” she exclaimed, guffawing in delight. She was 80.

And then there was the time when she asked me how my book was coming along.

“It’s not.”

“Well that’s no good! Why not?”

I told her I’d used some of the lace patterns in Barbara Walker’s stitch treasuries, was not going to plagiarize, and had no idea how to reach Ms. Walker nor even if she was still alive to ask. My mom had had the original editions of those treasuries when I was a teenager.

“My friend Barbara!” Here-and she gave me the contact information for her, for Meg Swanson (who had re-issued those treasuries), and a third person in the knitting publishing industry.

Which meant… I had to call or email them, as she provided.

Meg Swansen, the late Elizabeth Zimmerman’s daughter, was gracious beyond measure and sent me over to the good folks at Martingale with an editor’s name and number she thought I should talk to.

Ms Walker commended me on my work and asked only that I give her credit. I did. We swapped hurricane stories; turns out my son was living near her that year.

Richard came home from work that day and I was still starstruck nearly speechless. The idea of just picking up the phone and calling–that was like, oh, sure, the White House will put you straight through to President (W.) Bush, no problem!

So my dormant manuscript finally ended up where it needed to go. Turns out there was a staff meeting so many times a year and no more, so there would be a wait. But after that meeting, my phone rang. The person told me who she was.

(And? And?!?) It felt like an unbearably long silence while she tried to think of the right way to say it, or at least it felt very long to me so finally I asked, in great trepidation, sure they were searching for a nice way to turn me down, “Do you like my book?”

That freed her words: “We LOVE your book!!!”

Gracie, you have no idea how much I owe you…

But I tried to tell her. I sought her out at Stitches every year and I thanked her for making my book come to be. Gracie would brag on me for writing it and I would brag on her for getting it to happen.

I’ll think of her name probably some time in the middle of the night, but, that voice was of the woman who’d come to dinner with me at Nancy’s. As Gracie’s age gradually got the better of her, she was the one looking after her all day at Stitches, making sure she got what she needed, making sure she was okay getting to where she needed. This past February, she stopped me at some random point in the aisles and said Gracie was looking for me.

I was looking for her! Where was she? Where was the booth this year? (While thinking, Oh good. Oh good. She’s still with us.)

And so I got my Gracie time, with her holding my hands and looking me in the eyes with a lifetime of love for everyone around her, and in those moments, me.

Her friend wanted to make sure I heard.

I did the math from 42 half in my head half out loud while she did the same and she confirmed, Yes. She was 97.

If you happen to own this book, that’s our Gracie it’s dedicated to.

Her life was well lived, and I–we will all–miss her.



Happy April
Wednesday April 11th 2018, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Life

Taxes: done!



We didn’t have any reservations
Thursday April 05th 2018, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

So. Monday when our seriously-jet-lagged daughter woke up we offered to take her out to dinner for her birthday a day early (since her old friend wanted to do so the day of.) We asked her where she’d like to go.

The first place she mentioned was Rangoon Ruby. Which is a great place, and dairy-allergy-friendly. Sounds good!

Somehow to my complete surprise we ended up somewhere else altogether that I would not have thought of for her at all, on the other side of town. But it worked out fine. Even if the waiter tried to surprise her with birthday cake and suddenly realized as he was putting it down that she couldn’t touch it and he handed it to us instead with profuse apologies and embarrassment. Oops. But he called himself on it, and that was the important part.

We’d already had dessert so I’d thought it was safe to joke about the outdoor heater making a great birthday candle, but no, they were trying to do that one extra thing because hey, birthdays. I told the guy he’d just given us a funny story–it was all good.

I was reading the local news today and was, for the second time this week, suddenly speechless. At the time we were sitting down eating that dinner in that other restaurant that night, someone showed up for his shift at Rangoon Ruby.

After, on his commute in, he’d shot at a complete stranger in the car next to him at a light, unprovoked. (Missed him, damaged his car.) Who then gave chase, trying to get his license plate for the cops. The guy then shot a 65-year-old woman carrying her groceries (she needs surgery but she lived.) The first victim stopped and ran to her aid. Next he hit a teen on a bicycle (it was wrecked but the kid’s okay) and nearly took out someone else next to him and the guy, no surprise at this point, took off.

He ditched the car downtown, causing a lockdown at a restaurant there, and then casually walked into the one where he worked.

And said, Man, there were a bunch of crazy people chasing me out there.



YouTube today
Tuesday April 03rd 2018, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life,Politics

She was going out to dinner near the airport with her best friend, who was then going to drop her off for her flight.

She glanced at her phone as we started out. Great, there’s been a shooting.

In San Bruno.

We were headed to San Bruno.

On some level, it just didn’t sink in; it just made no sense.

She read on. The shooter was already known to be dead; we didn’t think we were going to be too close to the scene anyway.

But after I got home I found out a friend had marked himself as Safe on Facebook (Oh is that where your new job is) and another had said that she was pinging her co-workers, hoping to hear that they were okay. She later deleted the post: no sense in letting the crazies know where she worked.

These are the times we’ve been allowing ourselves to live in and creating for our children to inherit.

Meantime, another friend had a small fender-bender near there and a witness waited with her for the police to come–and for friendly chat to pass the time he asked her, Did you hear about YouTube? When she said no, he (with expletives) said that they deserved it because they were threatening our Second Amendment rights.

Wait. YouTube said they would no longer allow videos that made them a party to gun sales. They didn’t say you couldn’t sell, they didn’t say you couldn’t speak, they didn’t outlaw your guns, they’re not the government nor are they a public utility nor are they censoring speech, they simply said that on the platform that they own and pay people to manage, on the machines and electricity bills that they pay for, these were some of the rules for participating.

Anybody can still make their own video and host it on their own server.

This man actually thought it was okay to wish a death sentence on innocent people out loud to a total stranger–and he assumed she would agree with him!–for YouTube’s unwillingness to be a party to what they felt was promoting gun violence. This afternoon that issue was forced into their very workplace and I imagine their decision gained both clarity and a deep-seated sense of righteousness.

If people like him think that they’re a majority, then clearly that would suggest he could strike it rich with his own startup: video hosting for people who think like him. Literally nothing right now is stopping him. Venture capitalists in Silicon Valley constantly chase the next big money-maker, go make your pitch to them.

You see? That First Amendment: and it came first for a reason.

But it does not include the right to force someone else to pay to issue your speech for you.



A son of goodly parents
Saturday March 31st 2018, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift,Life,Wildlife

Not a single squirrel so much as ran down that fence line, as far as I saw today. Several times they came down the side fence, stopped, sniffed in the direction of the cherry tree–nuh UH, and turned the other way and disappeared into the yard behind instead. Two new cherry flowers today and they were left alone. Unsweetened grape Kool-aid solution for the win!

The blueberries might need some of that soon.

And over at the needles, beaded silk. It’s Conference weekend, and two two-hour online sessions of watching the leaders of the Mormon Church helped get a lot of knitting done, with an occasional glance over at squirrel antics.

The stunner/not-surprised-in-hindsight was the announcement that someone who grew up in our ward, whose family we know well, was called to be one of the twelve apostles. I cannot think of a better man in every way that they could have asked to represent and offer Christ’s love and compassion to the world. I’m so glad his 91-year-old mom got to live to see the day.

There are two more sessions tomorrow, starting at 9 am and 1 pm Pacific time.  Wishing a joyful Easter to all who celebrate it and every good thing to all.



It was a dark and swarmy, nigh
Tuesday March 27th 2018, 10:21 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

Great picture, I know, but the sun was behind those trees and I didn’t want to go too far out there.

My first thought was a confused, termites swarm after the first rain of the season and this sure ain’t it.

My second was, is that the hive? There was this frantically kinetic cloud of yes it was bees, zipping in ovals over our yard and the neighbors’.

I had a sudden thought a few minutes in and checked the inside reader re the mango tree: 88F. It was warm outside but not that warm–I needed to turn those Christmas lights off, and the auto version that takes care of that has been nonfunctional for a month or two. Which hasn’t been an issue; it’s been cold enough for them to just stay on, pretty much, but not today.

A wild hive (or someone’s escaped domestic one) has been living just immediately on the other side of the fence from that tree. It simply moved into the compost pile there one day and stayed, taking care of the neighbors’ garden and mine.

I walked out there slowly, hopefully non-threateningly, and pulled that plug.

A few ran circles around my face but other than that they left me alone.

After awhile some of them seemed to need to rest (while
a few zipped off towards my peach flowers) and little by little, as I watched from safely inside again, wishing I could dare go out there with a camera again, wishing I were taller so it would be of any use, quite a few landed on the top of the fence. So many that it started to glow gold in the afternoon sun. One would occasionally pop up and zip around some more like a toddler on its second wind.

I had errands to run and when I came back there was no sign of them, and whether they were swarming to follow their queen to someplace new or settling back down now after a major upset I have no idea.

But I have now seen bees swarm, and it was quite the sight.



Creamed
Saturday March 24th 2018, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

After the afghan, I did a cowl in Malabrigo’s Solis blue/green colorway Thursday and Friday and wondered what to start and for whom. So I said a little prayer: You know who most needs the next thing the soonest.

And out of all my new Stitches stash and all my older stash, you know what answered that? What demanded to be next?

That same cream cashmere/cotton, (mine was a heavier weight) of which there was just enough (that was already scoured) left from that afghan to make a hat.

Again?!

It’s like I can’t get away from that yarn. (Two afghans in six months and another cone waiting to be a third.) I confess I had to let the thought percolate a bit and left it for the morning, and then left it for the afternoon till I finally decided both that I was being ridiculous and needed to get to it–and till it had come to me what pattern to use. Till I knew, and I did, exactly what pattern it had to be. Maybe not for the recipient’s sake but for mine.

A cream, almost white hat with cotton.

Like the one that was my mother-in-law’s… (Where did I post that story?) Only this time it would not vanish into the wild.

I had gotten my late mother-in-law’s chemo caps sent back to me after her death, and on impulse I had grabbed one to wear out to dinner with friends on a chilly evening. None of us ever saw it again. I retraced my steps, I called the restaurant, but it was gone.

And yet mixed with that great sense of loss–I had made that for MomH!–was this strong feeling that all was not actually lost, that it had gone to someone who needed it. It was cotton. It was non-allergenic. It was pretty. It was warm, because I had knitted it doubled fingering weight on size 3 needles, an aching task (especially with those cables) that I could only put a couple of rows into a day but I did it for her.

And now for someone else, whoever they were. I might not know them but they were known to G_d, and there was a comfort there that I did not expect and it has stayed with me whenever I’ve thought about that hat.

So. Cream, almost white. Half cotton, half cashmere, bigger needles, easier to work with, so soft. Make it just like Mom’s had been. A cable going sideways around the head, stitches picked up lengthwise to knit straight up from there, curving decreases in a pinwheel at the top.

I knew exactly who it was for and I couldn’t wait to give it to her and now it is done and I can.

This time, since the recipient isn’t a tender-headed woman balded by chemo, it has a tag inside saying who made it for her. If somehow it should get lost, it can make its way back.



And the afghan is on its way
Thursday March 22nd 2018, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Life

Post office, laundry, cleaning stuff, organizing stuff, grocery shopping and running into an old friend, picking up the daughter at the airport and taking her straight out to dinner before seeing her off again. It was so good to see her for whatever time her schedule could squeeze in during her trip.

Finally putting my feet up, picking up a cowl project, and putting a half hour into it as the familiar soft green wool wound through my hands.

While thinking, with satisfaction, when the floors are clean? Everything else in the house is halfway already done.



Flintstones
Monday March 19th 2018, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,History,Life

I remember the day years ago when we drove Dad to Carmel to see his old Army buddy for the first time since I’d been about three. We held back at the driveway to let Dad walk on ahead of us.

The man saw our car and quickly came out the door to greet us.

I got to see the moment when the two men laid eyes on each other, a mixture of recognition that was delayed just that one slight millisecond–and the unspoken sudden shock at each other’s aging and thus their own in their joy as they threw their arms around each other. It had been so long.

Dad’s buddy’s career was as a producer of the Hanna Barbara cartoons.

So maybe that’s a small part of why I so like this place: it reminds me of Dad’s friend.

Someone has finally bought the Flintstone house. Someone with the money and the will to preserve it and the hillside it’s built into, someone who walked in the door and fell in love at first sight, someone with a keen sense of whimsy.

Someone who’s added fifteen-foot dinosaurs, cartoon mushroom sculptures and Fred himself, with more to come. Because she can, and why not?

I’ve seen it at a distance driving by and had wondered, and those pictures are a treat.

I love that the original architect got to see his masterpiece being loved all over again.



Love your dear ones
Sunday March 18th 2018, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

The friend I knitted the purple for was wearing an outfit today that would look smashing with the butterscotch cowl, and she definitely thought so, too. Got that one right even when I got that one wrong.

Eli loved his new teal-green hat and the vote of thanks and confidence in his mango-tree-caretaking it conveyed.

Which was as far as I got. I was all ready to tell the expectant mom she could shrink the baby hat for a few minutes in the dryer while the baby was small, let it air dry as the baby got bigger and the superwash treatment would shrink or stretch the fit accordingly. But those came home.

Last Tuesday we got a phone call close to dinner time: my friend Karen (this friend), my visiting teacher in Mormon-speak, had a big dinner ready to set out and she was suddenly in need of people to feed it to and would we like to come? There was no way she by herself could plow through all this.

Hey, love to. A few others showed up at her spur of the moment call and a grand time was had by all and we should do this again, definitely. May I just add, and that was the biggest lasagna pan I have ever seen.

Her daughter-in-law is the one I just knitted the butter cowl and baby hat for.

Karen had a heart attack two days ago and her family was not in church. Any protest of mine that she is way too young for this, well… She is recuperating.

Someone definitely needs me to bring them a good dinner. My pans may be smaller but I’ve got two ovens at the ready and all the love in the world.