Today
Sunday June 25th 2017, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

Blink. They’re what?! (I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, some other friends moved out of their rental house after the landlord doubled the rent, which had already been high, and it’s gone up that much again since.)

Vivian, I heard…?

“I don’t want to move again!” But yes, it looked like they were, and in the next week at that.

“But I haven’t knit for you yet!” As if that could keep them here. I don’t want them to leave.

It was like I’d thrown her a lifeline of something positive to hold onto in the stress of uprooting with kids and she answered with emotion, “I would LOVE to have something hand knit from you!”

“Alright, what colors. What are your favorite colors…”

“All of them!” and then, “Orange.”

Orange? Somehow that surprised me. Smiling ruefully, wryly, thinking about Green Planet Yarn’s being up for sale and my ever-diminishing chances to experience a yarn before I buy (and there was certainly no time to order any!) “There is not a plethora of orange in my stash.”

She laughed, and that felt good.

“What would match most of your clothes?” In case I could still make her happy with what I had at hand. “Blue, I have lots of blues.”

“Blue is good.”

And so I went home and searched through my stash, and almost immediately, because somehow just a couple of days ago I had inexplicably found it and put it Right There and then forgotten all about it, there was this baby alpaca “Joseph’s Coat” colorway from Lisa Souza‘s dyepots. All of them. Mostly orange. Blue is good. Well there you go.

And so this is what I spent most of the rest of the day on–that and our taking Michelle to the airport. What is fascinating to me is how it went from punctually-random intermixings of colors to growing stripes, definite stripes, when I changed the number of stitches on the needles. Curious. It will look like they all melted into each other at the top.

I have the plain light slightly-grayish-blue cashmere of two cowls ago as a backup, since that one didn’t go out yet and given that I am suddenly on such a tight time frame.

I finished typing the above, looked again, and finally figured it out: it looks like the pinwheel-on-a-stick toy of my youth that you blew on to make the colors twirl around to see if you could get it going fast enough to make them all run together. The center always did the most.



For Megan
Thursday June 22nd 2017, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I wished, I wished, I wished I had a particular shade of blue in my stash.

I’d seen her wearing it so I knew she liked it and I knew it looked great on her. The hank I’d overdyed a few days ago wasn’t bright enough nor solidly blue enough. If I drove down to Green Planet (anyone want a yarn store? Beth would love to sell it to you so she can attend to her family) maybe they would have something–but having such a firm idea of the exact shade I wanted, that was no sure thing and it would have to be in a yarn I liked enough. No skimping.

After a week or so of this I realized at last that I did, and found it: one of my last few skeins of the discontinued Cascade Epiphany in a deep royal, a cashmere/silk/royal-grade baby alpaca, long and carefully hoarded. It was just the thing.

We threw her a potluck birthday party at lunch today and I had to confess that I had not finished it but I let her see just enough of that blue.

That was all she needed. She was wearing an exact match to it (in something I hadn’t seen her in before) and exclaimed, That’s my favorite color!

The race is on, then, to finish it in time to be blocked come Sunday.

(p.s. Thank you, everybody. Today was much better than the last few, to my great relief. And it was all the better for my daughter Michelle having arrived in town for a wedding.)



June 12 vs 21
Wednesday June 21st 2017, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Life,Mango tree

Y’know, sloshing the brain around in four falls in four days is just not a great idea. I’m putting me on timeout.

Meantime, the mango tree is sprouting in the 88-106F heat wave this past week. The leaves that were red on the 12th have turned green and the new shoots from then have new half-grown red leaves now. (Second picture taken at a brighter time of day.)

The thicker the trunk grows, the hardier it becomes against future cold.



Roadrunner
Monday June 19th 2017, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Life

Beep beep.

Huh. It was early. My hearing aid batteries always signal they’re on their way out on Tuesdays. Okay, whatever. I went to where I keep the battery pack cards–but when I picked the last one up out of the little Mel and Kris jar I keep them in, it was empty.

I searched my purse. The last card in there was empty, too. Oh right. That happened on our last trip–I was going to remember to restock it when we got home.

I searched my last-ditch backup. No luck. I did find one full card there of the wrong size, for the old hearing aids I haven’t worn for three years.

But I never run out of batteries! It’s too important not to!

Which is how I ran out of batteries, because I don’t expect to, because I’m usually so careful, and that ear was going down fast.

Beep beep. Okay, good, it’s still going.  You never know how many pairs of beeps you’ll get; sometimes two, once, five, in varying numbers of minutes apart. Usually after the third set it plays a loud nine-note downward scale and off, operatic in its death throes.

I hopped in the car and headed for Costco, knowing that the pharmacy was closing in under ten minutes. I hit the light wrong. I hit the parking spot right (that never happens). Seven on the nose as far as I could tell. I was halfway across the store when they flipped off the lights in the pharmacy, and as I rushed, one pharmacist saw me coming and pretended he didn’t and ducked out of sight. His day was over and if he stopped, the customers never would–he was outta there.

I asked the other (reluctant) pharmacist, in those last few steps, if I could have hearing aid batteries?

Over there, he motioned. He had not yet pulled down the metal cover, he had not yet pulled them off the end of the counter to where they would be fully inside once he did, but then he wasn’t about to get them nor ring them up for me, either. I moved an abandoned cart out of the way and squinted in the low light.

Size 312. If I’d been ten seconds later I would have been out of luck. (And I know the premium price the drug store charges for those.)

My audiologist simply gives them to me as part of the price of my $8888 aids for as long as I should wear them. (People like me pay for all the R&D that benefits everybody else.) I just have to remember to pick them up.

The third beep beep happened in the parking lot as I checked around me: nobody was waiting for my spot. Good. I wrestled that thick blister pack open and changed the right-side battery and drove off relieved and happy into the early stages of sunset.



Angie
Sunday June 18th 2017, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

An old friend was in town for the first time in twenty years–I confess I didn’t recognize her. But she definitely recognized me at church and made a beeline for me.

She laughed when I told her she’d just solved a mystery for me: I have this knitting friend who, all the time I’ve known her I’ve tried to figure out just who it is she reminds me of.

We’ve all got doppelgängers out there somewhere, right? And now she knows who knows who hers is.



The Royal treatment
Friday June 16th 2017, 11:06 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

Quick, before the cherries were gone for the season. We’d both been craving more cherry pie and there’s only one place to get good enough ones to make it out of. So I headed down to Andy’s Orchard.

I left at 1:30 but it was already a long stop-and-go drive on the way down; whether it was the Bay Area emptying out for the weekend or (reading the police blotter in the news later) the stolen car an hour before, I don’t know.

Now, my hubby has never been an apricot fan so I only buy myself a few at the grocery store every year or so and I’m always disappointed when I do. And yet, knowing that Andy only grows what tastes good and he only picks and sells it ripe, I bought two pounds of the old heirloom Blenheims. Why wait a whole ‘nother year to give them a try? And then I added two pounds of Royals to compare to (pictured). They were huge!

Plus Bing and Rainier cherries and some Gold Dust peaches because hey–that had been the point.

I got home at long last and savored one of those perfect Rainiers. And then, out of curiosity, I picked up one of the Royal apricots: got to get going on those, right? I zapped its halves in the microwave in part because I wanted to see what kind of sauce I could make out of it. I pulled the peel away.

What was left tasted like–a peach. Nearly. But all its own. I’d had no idea apricots could taste like this. I’d had no idea what I’d been missing. None. Glorious. Wow.

Resisting the impulse to run go plant another tree…



Natalie
Monday June 12th 2017, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Mathias modeling his second hat–he’s outgrown the first already.

A young mom I am very fond of is moving away and I very much regret that she is.  Even if I’m happy for her that getting out of our expensive area means that she and her husband will be able to buy their first house for their boys to grow up in.

So there was this cowl…

But I just wasn’t sure about the color. I dithered. I thought about it. At last, I stuffed a half a dozen other possibilities from my stash of finisheds into a ziplock and managed to stuff that into my purse, pleading for help first to G_d before I did that and then to her because *I* couldn’t decide: I asked her to pick one. Including maybe this cashmere one I’d just started.

You know, usually I like to be able to say I made this just for you. But I was just completely helpless this time.

She laughed and chose one (which was not the one I’d just finished) and for her, seeing lots of pretty things and being allowed to pick one out, of being offered that choice–this time, that was what was perfect, and had I known that beforehand I wouldn’t have sweated over it quite so much. Laceweight strands of baby alpaca/silk and of cashmere/silk knitted together in a cheerful blue–it was for her all along, now.

It was just a cowl. And it was everything, all at the same time. She confessed that she hadn’t ever been going to say such a thing, but, she’d really wished she had a knitting memento from me to take with her to her new life. A reminder of that talk I’d given in church a few weeks ago, too. And now she had one! She was so thrilled.

In that talk I had told a story of how knitting someone something had made all the difference both to them and to me.

You know what? I need to knit more.



With a warmth like the musk ox itself
Friday June 09th 2017, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life,Wildlife

The adult Cooper’s hawk stood on the telephone wires just past the fence line. An hour earlier right there at the awning it had flinched in flight at my standing up, both of us realizing a moment late that the other was there. I sat down again as it did an extra little half-loop in surprise before landing but then it took off over the house and away. (Sorry…)

This time I felt a bit watched, looked up, and held still, quietly loving it for being there where I could see it. What a beautiful bird. I blinked repeatedly so it wouldn’t consider me a predator nor threat.

Becoming confident over several minutes in its ownership of that piece of the sky, comfortable with me now, it reached down and preened an itchy feather from its chest, allowing itself to be briefly vulnerable in a way that conveyed that all was right in its world.

Meantime, I’d like to share this postcard. I left the receipt for the headband from Oomingmak with my daughter, so I’m not sure if the person who signed the letter was the artist who’d knitted it or someone at the co-op headquarters in Anchorage, but either way, I’m quite charmed.

She made the knitting personal, and that, not to mention the qiviut, is knitting at its best.



Blink and you’ll miss it
Thursday June 08th 2017, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life,Lupus,Politics,Wildlife

While I watched the Comey hearing…(full YouTube video.) There is nothing like observing their faces along with their words and intonations. (What on earth was Cornyn doing with his hands the whole time he was talking?) I kept half-hoping someone would call John McCain an ambulance–he   s  p  o  k  e    in slow motion, made no sense, (the ex-FBI chief is not addressed as President) and looked like he was having a serious medical event like a transient ischemic attack or a diabetic crash.

So. Five (!) hawk sightings today, including one I got to see coming straight towards me, its neck not so white, its chest solid and buff: an adult.

However many there are in its young family, it rules, and the crows and ravens have disappeared from my end of the block as of late.

What’s completely new is a mockingbird that has suddenly decided that the larger scrub jay has no right to my back yard–and the surprise that the bossy overdressed blue corvid loses every time. After being the bully of the bird feeder forever, threatening the songbirds while stealing far more than it needs to or even can eat, it was quite surprised at getting its comeuppance and having to run for it, not casually but for real, with the smaller mocker twirling around in serious chase above the elephant ears. Not learning a thing, the jay had to dash for cover again and again, the other right at its back. A brilliantly-colored tanager on the other side of the fence took courage for the first time and gave it its own “And STAY out!” over there.

Tempted to name the mocker Comey.

Meantime, two days ago when the sun was safely low–the lupus/UV exposure thing–I knocked on the door of the little kids across the street so they could get a chance to come see the doves in the nest. I was sure if we waited a few more days the fledging would be over and I remember how much my kids loved to be lifted up to see the baby birds back in the day.

But the family was probably out in the back yard and didn’t hear me.

Yesterday we had those two doves side-by-side up there, the one no longer attempting to hide from me under momma’s wing, but again no one was home across the street till the sun had sunk altogether.

Today there was no one home on top of that ladder and no dove in sight.

Oh well. Next year.

I looked again shortly after, though, and there the two were, fluttering upwards in no particular alarm at my coming around the corner, rather as a matter of teaching the young What One Does while telling each other about me. (Old enough to fly: check. Good.) One stayed in sight about six feet past the young pear tree and I took its graduation portrait.

And when I blinked, like all good mourning doves it felt compelled to blink back. It’s one of the most charming things about them.



Fork it over
Sunday June 04th 2017, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

Tortes: two delivered and still waiting on the third.

One couple surprised me when I showed up. They’d brought me back these large wooden salad spoon and fork from a trip to Bali. (That is not a small serving bowl.) Beautiful, handcrafted, and absolutely unexpected.

Y’know, it had been bugging me for some time that I hadn’t yet gotten around to knitting anything for her, enough so that I’d already ordered what I think would be just the right yarn. And it’s here now. So let me go fix that.



Amazing grace
Friday June 02nd 2017, 11:36 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus

When did that happen!? How did I not see it?! How did I miss it! I’m…

Well, at a loss is not exactly the right phrase for it.

It was clear to me that I needed a new glasses prescription. I finally went in today. Given my history, the optometrist at the clinic had the backs of my eyes photographed, ready to refer me to the retina specialist like last time. (Or rather, since that guy just retired, whoever his replacement was.)

The retina guy had told me that I didn’t need surgery on that vitreomacular traction yet and that it would likely be awhile.

Just like my early cataracts. Just like my corneas that will someday need replacing. Are you keeping count? That’s six eye surgeries in my future, three for each eye, the first involving a needle through it.

What the VMT did was make any straight lines that are more than a few feet from my face have a funky squiggle in the middle. The letters in a road sign danced–in their proper order but at slash-mark angles leaning towards or away from each other. Did that car in front of me have a dent in the center of its bumper that made the light reflect strangely off it, or was it my eyes? Who could tell? I’d have to get up close to make it hold still. And yet overall my vision was as good as always.

I’m going to chalk it up to seeing Mathias and his parents and Alaska. After we got home from that trip I noticed that the never-ending headache I’d had since my head injury in December had finally, finally gone away.

Okay, back to the eyes. To quote the site:

“Metamorphopsia, when vision is distorted to make a grid of straight lines appear wavy or blank

Some of these symptoms can be mild and develop slowly; however, chronic tractional effects can lead to continued visual loss if left untreated. In some cases, a distortion of a visual picture could be experienced without necessarily having a reduction in sharpness of vision.”

Yup on that last bit.

Now, this part:

“Some cases of VMT may spontaneously resolve.”

Nobody, as far as I heard, had told me that was even remotely a possibility.

As I boggled, the optometrist showed me the back-of-the-eye photos from 21 months ago and today. See this? This one, though. That dip there. That’s normal.

How could….! Well, COOL!!!

Some part of my brain had been trying to get it through my thick skull but I guess it had just been too gradual a process: and now all the way home, I verified it again and again and again. Those squiggles really were gone. Had been gone. I’m crediting getting to see my newborn grandson who arrived safely after such great risk as the reason because, hey, why not? As if all that joy concentrated all of everybody’s prayers for everybody somehow. Whatever, however, I’ll take it.

Anybody who’s had a relapsing/remitting disease understands me when I say this: normal is so normal that even after the extremity we don’t notice the abnormality of the fact that the normal is actually back now. It’s just there, taken for granted like it always was before.

It still boggles me that it’s over. It still boggles me that I didn’t know that it was.

I once was blind, but now I see.



Still enough left to make pie
Wednesday May 31st 2017, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

Michelle had to fly into town for a work meeting today. She came early and spent the night here–and in the morning surprised me with the news that she had just called Mariani’s and they opened at ten: we could get her to her meeting in San Mateo on time if we hurried. We could do it. You want to go?

A mini-road trip to Andy’s with my daughter for old times’ sake? For fresh-picked cherries? Is this a trick question?!

Typing this as Richard reaches for another one…



Memorial Day weekend
Monday May 29th 2017, 11:05 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

Richard’s sister’s daughter’s wedding was wonderful: the bride and groom were as happy as one could ever hope for and they are clearly a great match.

Turns out a lifelong friend who was more like family to the groom’s father was a second cousin of my dad’s, and there was this instant sense of belonging.

Photos: my father-in-law surrounded by all his great-grands (with two mothers holding them) except Mathias, who is too young to travel. (Maddy, Kim, Parker and Hudson are to his left.)

My Mom and Dad.

Two of my sisters have in the last year moved within an hour of the folks and we had mini reunions going on on my side as time allowed.

Nash got his stocking hand-delivered and I got to see how much it meant to him and to his mom, my cousin. To say he loved it does not begin to tell it. He just kind of glowed the whole time.

Every teenager needs someone who is not their parent who thinks the world of them–someone who doesn’t have to but just does. I remembered the people I owed much to from my own teens as we were winding through the hills towards their house.

And in between, our daily dose of baby pictures came in and got shared around.

We arrived home in the early afternoon and as I was trying to catch up on five days’ worth of email, there was a new one: after we’d left for the airport, Mom had taken a walk and had fallen, broken a tooth, loosened another and split her lip. Ouch!

Two random men in the right place happened to see her and rushed to her aid, and whoever they are they have my deep gratitude. And to Mom’s neighbor who took her in to be seen.

The note from Dad said that the urgent care folks had said Mom was not to smile nor laugh for a few days.

My mother. Not laughing. Not smiling. Good luck with that.



Parker
Saturday May 27th 2017, 4:58 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Wildlife

Parker gently took my hand, not pulling me away from the grownup discussion but more as a request.

Sure!

He took me to the next room over to where there was a couch where we could look out the window and straight down all eleven floors. (Me at age six, I would have freaked. It didn’t seem to occur to him to flinch.)

Gramma, he asked. I want to see the falcons. Show me the falcons.

I had seen a peregrine fly below on Thursday but by the time my dad had stood up to see it was gone. There are signs down the block warning drivers to be ready to brake for them.

Well, I told him, I only saw it that one time here; I don’t know when it will fly by again.

That was okay. Where do they live, what do they eat, how fast can they go. He knew they go really fast.

I wasn’t sure how he would take the news that they eat pigeons and was a bit relieved that it seemed to be an okay part of nature to him He wanted to learn everything he could about them from me and I was so glad I’d let him bring me over to where we could look for them together and where he had my undivided attention, just the two of us.

I don’t know if he’ll remember those moments, but I know I will.



Into white
Wednesday May 24th 2017, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

I was waiting at the doctor’s while he was back in there somewhere being seen. (He’s fine.)

A woman stopped right there on her way past, looking down at the work in my hands: “That’s beautiful!”

And then she had to know: “What is the, the,” (searching for the right word) “the string?”

Me: “The yarn is” (her: Yarn! Yes!) “a combination of bamboo and pearls,” and I described the process a little. I told her it was soft and it was warm, and she clearly wanted to so I urged her to go ahead and feel how soft it was.

Suddenly she was proudly showing me pictures of her daughter and her friend who (if I got it right) taught the kid how to crochet–and the mom loved seeing her daughter creating like that and wanted in on this and wanted to knit.

I told her there’s a learning curve at the beginning (so that she wouldn’t get discouraged at that point) but you get good fast and it’s worth sticking it out.

She very much agreed with that, swooning again over that bright white cowl. Where had I gotten that yarn? Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco. When I told her the yarn was not being made anymore and they had what was left, she had me type the shop’s name and city into her phone so she would have it right and be able to find them for sure. (English wasn’t her first language, but she was very good at it.)

Whether she actually ever learns to or not I don’t know, but I do know she wants to. And she got a whole lot closer to it today–and now she knows someone out there in the world is cheering her on.

(I did not show her grandbaby pictures. I was tempted.)