Slab happy
Monday June 05th 2023, 9:14 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

I’m saying Dad was in on it. It’s exactly the kind of thing he would have done.

His pulmonary fibrosis took him just before the pandemic began.

Last week I was looking at my two boxes left of Andy’s slab apricots (not knowing I would later spot a few more carefully put away in the wrong spot) and thought, I really ought to send one of those to Mom. She loves them and I’m sure she’s out by now and I’ll be going down there soon and can always get more.

Those are the ones that are picked dead ripe so they go smush and don’t look pretty when they dry them. They’re not just sweeter, their texture is amazingly juicy for dried fruit, even mine that are nearing a year old now–they look great. They taste great.

It was Friday before I got around to finding the right size shipping box, thinking, one for you, one for me, and actually delivered hers to the post office.

Which means it arrived today. I confess I was not connecting the dates when I sent it off.

It’s my late father’s 97th birthday. Mom got some of their favorite dried fruit on the very day and a call from me wishing her happy Dad’s birthday.

Thank you, Dad!

And now we get to get to know their daughter
Sunday June 04th 2023, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

It’s the first Sunday of the month, so there was no assigned speaker at church today: just, whoever felt so moved could get up and say what they felt.

A woman I didn’t recognize was the second to the podium.

She started out with, We lived here 31 years ago…

And I found I had just gasped under my breath but out loud, TObie?!

It was!

She said how befriended they had been by the ward back then, and now they’d come full circle: their daughter was coming for a program at Stanford and it was a chance for them to visit and tell old friends how much they loved them and how much their faith and love have grown over the years since we’d all last seen each other.

Her husband spoke, too, and came off the stand and gave Richard a big hug.

I knew they would be swarmed after the meeting and I wanted their kids to enjoy this, so I took a turn of my own.

Thirty-one years ago, I told them, I was a newly diagnosed lupus patient and got sent to the indoor therapy pool that was across the street from here; it’s closed now, but, one day someone dropped a roll of film there. There was no way to know whose it was except to get it developed.

It looked like a set of wedding photos. Except–the groom looked like Michelle-the-lifeguard’s new husband, only the bride wasn’t Michelle, and they were suddenly quite afraid Michelle would come in and see these while they were quietly querying every client who came in.

Do you know who these people are? when it was my turn to be asked.

Sure! That’s Steve and Tobie, thanks, how much do I owe you?

I watched their jaws drop in tandem just like mine had when I realized who was here–and then we all laughed. Steve, I said, you’ve got a double out there!

The pool folks had let themselves see all the ways the guy didn’t entirely look like Michelle’s husband after they knew it wasn’t him. Phew!

So many stories I could tell about our friends, and every single one of them would make you happy like they do me. Such good folks, so long missed. How often do we get to catch up after half a lifetime? (Or I should say in a nod to my mom, a third of a one?)

Zipping around
Thursday June 01st 2023, 9:00 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Holly was going to be about half the distance here anyway, so could she?

Yes please? (YES YES YES ohprettyplease YES!) We hadn’t seen each other since before Covid and a lot of life had happened to them since then.

And so she picked me up and we went out for lunch.

Came back, stitched and knitted and talked. So much to catch up on. How’s the remodeling going. How are the kids. How’s that adorable little grandchild? Pictures!! Yonder daughter of mine finished her East Coast-zoned workday and joined us for a bit. We laughed. We had a great time.

But there was rush hour–so much rush hour to try to dodge and we kept it short.

I forgot the oranges we were going to pick but did send her off with an apricot seedling for her family to remember the day by. May it live and bloom and thrive along with all of them. I didn’t get its picture, much less hers, but I’m putting this one in to show her what hers looked like on April 30. It’s a lot bigger now and just starting to put out side branches.

And then she was off, north and east and back towards her own life.

While I suddenly realized I’d had my skirt on backwards all day.

How toddler of me.

So next time the laughing will pick right back up from that point.

FOROY abated
Monday May 29th 2023, 9:04 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

All that stifled desire to finish the white afghan spurred my winding cone after cone on the niddy-noddy this morning (in between delivering the apricot seedling) in order to get it ready for scouring–the pre-shrinking, the blooming, the softening. I did this much by the afternoon, with a few more over the weekend and a few this evening, about six thousand yards.

I opened a zipped tote bag to pull out one I’d wound up Saturday to add to the picture but it never made it in because as I reached in I saw it and stopped.

Was it really.

How. could. it. be.

It was!

Then how did I not see it Saturday?

That Kone I’d been making the white afghan from, where the 900g had come in two cones? One of which was 160 grams more than the other?

Apparently when it arrived I’d put the smallest cone aside to make a cowl from and then forgotten about it: there had actually been three. The last 150 grams, right there, explaining the weight discrepancy on the other two. Mysteries solved.

FOROY: Fear Of Running Out of Yarn.

I checked the color, I checked the spinning, I really scrutinized every bit of it to make sure I had it right, but yes–it’s a match. If the stuff on the way is a match too well super duper, but I can manage with this.

Meantime the hardest part of the next project to get myself to do, the scut work of the job, is already and even enthusiastically mostly done because my frustration made winding endless yards of still-mill-treated yarn into a useful and comforting outlet.

Do you ever have one of those moments where it feels like G_d’s putting your faults to good use?

A pairadox
Thursday May 25th 2023, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

Ninth, done. Part of me has been picturing one of those old-time flip-photo books with these where you can almost see the stitches moving.

Took a break to help him clean up a corner of his and a very small package labeled

After Thoughts Magnetic Earrings

came to hand. It had slipped behind the furniture long ago.

He looked at it and gave a wry grin. Remember these?

I hadn’t even looked at it, really, so, no.

He named the guy’s name.


It involved a trip with the kids, where the older two were about 11 and 13 and conspired with their dad to pull as dire a practical joke as one has ever seen from any of us. You put these on in pairs: they’re magnetic so you need both sides to hold them on. Voila! Nose piercings! Multiple ear piercings, all with sparkly little fake jewels at the centers of little stars marching way up your earlobes. But the sparkly nose piercings on both son and daughter just totally sealed the deal.

And so temporary–all you have to do is pull on the outside one and the pair falls off into your hands at the end of Halloween…or punking a particular someone who might or might not have been to the right of Attila the Hun but what are friends for.

The two of them knocked on the door, grinning, the rest of us a few steps behind to let them have their spotlight moment.

The husband, knowing we’d driven some hours to get there, opened the door

took one look

and slowly closed the door in their faces, shaking his head, saying, I’m sorry, I’m…sorry, I just can’t let you in like that, as the door shut to. He was dead serious.

This was more of an effect than any of us had expected and the kids protested loudly through the door that they were fake, they were fake, here, watch us, they’re just magnets!

He opened the door and let us in with some reluctance still (I guess we were going to subvert his children?) but he required they take them off on the porch first and expected an apology and well, frankly, so did they though they didn’t say so and well that was interesting.

We found out later he was cheating on his wife. Who had cancer. She divorced him and lived the happiest I’d ever seen her for the years she had left.

Do I remember those magnets. A rhetorical question if there ever was one.

It is just so weird sometimes what some people think is immoral.

Keeping an eye on that
Monday May 22nd 2023, 9:40 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life,Lupus

Sixth, as you follow it diagonally: done.

I’ve had problems with my corneas tearing from my eyes being too dry. My eye doctor told me to use not just drops, but a particular one because it didn’t have preservatives that would accumulate over time and the single-vial version would negate the risk of contaminating the bottle.

So I use GenTeal.

There’s been a growing recall of contaminated eye drops that have caused eyeball loss and sepsis and deaths and that multiple antibiotics are not able to cure.

GenTeal’s single-use vials say made in France. Okay so far. Their ointment, however, is made by one of the two companies under recall. FDA link here. Symptoms list here. If you use any made in China or India, including those sold by Costco, it’s probably from those two companies that this has been traced back to. One source I read said the India plant has been a repeat offender on contamination, but I don’t have the data to back that up.

Regulations, folks. They’re life savers.

Full speed ahead
Saturday May 20th 2023, 9:01 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Not sure I can keep up this pace every day, but progress feels great.

And not just mine: a certain someone snagged the apartment she wanted across the country despite much competition for it. A mistake was made, she pointed it out and saved the landlord money even though it would cost her, and she was in.

Knowing where she was going to land was a huge relief. We went to Dandelion Chocolate to celebrate (while doggedly not thinking about we don’t know when we’ll get to do that again.)

We spent forty minutes circling the blocks looking for parking, and finally one opened right up and she tucked right in there–and then realized that the guy ahead was in an illegal spot and had been waiting for that guy to leave so he could back into the legal one. Had he been waiting for that? Yes he had. She pulled right back out and let him have it. He waved a thank you.

About fifteen minutes later we found our spot and went and got our chocolate: hot, bars, and pastries.

And it was very, very good.

It is fair to say it was well received
Wednesday May 17th 2023, 8:42 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

What was her friend’s favorite color?

(She knew what that question hinted at.) I dunno; blue, I guess??

They have been each other’s bestest through years and all kinds of life experiences, and now there’s going to be three thousand miles between them. The friend dropped something off at our house a few weeks ago and her face gave away how painful it was for her that the Silicon Valley downturn was taking her friend three thousand miles away.

I gave up on the blue I’d ordered (some of it still isn’t here yet) and started just going with the off-white afghan that already had the bottom edging done so I could get it to her faster. And yet, and yet… No matter what I told it, it kept telling me that that one was actually for… And I wanted to get it done before moving day and my hands just haven’t been letting me do that much of its heaviness at a stretch…

But. I had a blue afghan. I did, and it was all ready to go. I’d bought the fingering weight yarn years ago and had dyed it three gradient shades from royal to navy and then had eventually knit them together. It was even 2/3 cashmere like the white one, though 1/3 fine wool rather than cotton. I’d offered it to someone a few years ago and they’d chosen another option, I’d offered it to someone else last year and they chose another option, and I kept thinking, it just hasn’t found its person yet. Why is it so hard to find its person–I know they’re out there, someone for whom it has to be blue.

And then I’d forgotten about it.

A certain someone just walked in the door after a farewell dinner.

Where she told her friend, You have to open this before I leave so I can relay to my mom the look on your face when you do.

Happy Mother’s Day to all
Sunday May 14th 2023, 9:03 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

I love the structure and the lush, big, dark green leaves of my Stella sweet cherry tree. That blueish green everywhere was the norm where I grew up.

Thus a cherry tree gerdan for Mother’s Day, one with finer beads and more detail than most. From an artist in Kherson, Ukraine, celebrating life, love, and renewal.

Well that took a turn
Saturday May 13th 2023, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

I finally went back to the 64/36 cashmere/cotton afghan I’d started before our trip. I’d put it aside, debating on a blue for the recipient, but this finally won out and I started into the main pattern two days ago. Notes: size US8, two strands dk, 271 stitches, 15 repeats, and it’s coming out 60″ across which is a bit more than I’d planned for so it’ll have to be quite long to match. Because knits shrink lengthwise much more than widthwise.

I like the look of a seed stitch edging but that part of the fabric has a tendency to look stretched out compared to the rest.

So I compromised with myself: I’m seed stitching but only on the wrong side rows.  Right side rows, knit straight across there. There’s surely a name for that but I’m too lazy to look it up. This may well be my new go-to.

I typed the above and then Richard, having answered the phone, walked into the room to tell me: his Uncle Duane passed away last night.

The rush of memories! When I miscarried my first baby with 20 hours’ labor at 12 weeks (they finally did a D&C) the day before a big family get-together, it was Duane who’d followed me a moment after I’d fled down to the basement and away from all those cheerful greetings: Doesn’t anyone know?! I cried at him.

Yes, they do, he told me: but my sister told us not to mention it, thinking it would be easier on you.

He heard me out, and then he told me of their baby who’d been stillborn at seven months. He cried. It had been twenty years, but the tears still came so easily to the surface.

He totally saved me.

At a niece’s wedding, the first time we’d seen each other in probably thirty years, I asked him, Do you remember that day?

OH yes. OH yes. And I knew it had meant as much to him as it had to me. All these years later, I can see that his ability to comfort me had comforted him by giving meaning to what he and his beloved Joan had had to go through: it is so we can know how to be there for the next person.

Duane was an amputee who took the experience of losing his leg and turned it into helping Haitians who’d lost limbs in their big earthquake get prostheses. He took great care of his wife throughout her Alzheimer’s. He was just a very, very good man.

The three of us started reminiscing: at one nephew’s wedding, I had heard of Aunt Joan’s diagnosis and went up to reintroduce myself to her and she smiled, Oh, I know who YOU are! as she reached for a hug.

At the next wedding two years later, she told me with just as much enthusiasm, I don’t know who you are but I know that I love you!

My sister-in-law said Duane had been afraid of having to be institutionalized if his brain were ever to go like his late wife’s had. He never was. There was a “sudden event,” was the description, and he was gone. It was a blessing to him, hard for all of us who love him, all the mixed emotions. We’re glad for him that it was fast and over with and that he’d gotten to live on his own terms to the end.

A DKO, Michelle said, after we’d told each other how we loved that man so much and he us.

We looked at her.

Y’know, a DKO.


Dude Keeled Over. (Looks at us as we burst out laughing.) What?

(Richard grabs his phone and starts Googling the abbreviation.) “Divine KnockOut.” He kept looking. She offered another possibility off the top of her head.

And with that we gave Uncle Duane up there a story to laugh with his wife over. As they would.

Friday May 12th 2023, 9:39 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

There was an unexpected knock on the door. Michelle opened it, listened a moment, turned, and called, It’s for you, Mom.

Years ago I confessed to Sandy next door that the town paper had run a piece on older dads, interviewing them as they chased after their toddlers and small children. Rodger had talked about the joy.

I noted that no mention was made of his previous life and wife and children nor just what kind of joy he expected them to feel after he left them. I have always kind of wanted to meet him, because I just didn’t get it: why, I wanted to ask the man, did you deliberately lose so much? Your ex is a privilege to have as a neighbor and her kids are the best.

On the other hand, if he hadn’t, she would never have moved into that house and I would never have met her. So there’s that.

I saved the article and saved the article and at long last tossed it, thinking, she doesn’t need the agony of reading that.

Oh! she told me when I finally mentioned it–No, I didn’t see that, actually, I would have loved to have. I’m long past worrying about all that. And then in a conspiratorial tone, hand to one side of her mouth and kind of mocking herself: I’m curious!

In early 2020 after a medical crisis she sold her house and moved into assisted living near her son and oh goodness it turned out to be about two weeks before Covid lockdowns began so she couldn’t even see him except to wave hi through the window.

I texted her kids pictures of the old house as changes began with the new neighbors, paint, landscaping, and asked if I should share them with their mom; the answer was, No, not yet anyway; it would be hard for her.

Her daughter at the door today told me that Sandy had passed and they had wanted me to know. The family was holding a remembrance together on Mother’s Day here.

Turns out Sandy’s ex had also recently died. His memorial service is tomorrow. Also here.

His obit does not mention her. Just his wife of 42 years, children, and grandchildren.

Her obit does not mention him. But I knew she loved him. Just their children and grandchildren.

Who clearly co-ordinated between each other to make everything as easy as possible, since Sandy’s kids live out of state.

While I wonder at how, somehow, when the one was gone, the other went, too, her 84 to his 90.

Carly Simon wrote a song, Like a River, to her late mom: Do you know any more about God? Are you dancing with Benjamin Franklin on the face of the moon? Have you reconciled with Dad?

I think, from what little I heard on the subject, that by the ends of their lives, they had.

And oh how I miss her.

The elevator question
Wednesday May 10th 2023, 9:18 pm
Filed under: Life,Politics

I thought this was brilliant so I wanted to pass it on. Conversation sparked by E. Jean Carroll’s success at holding her attacker accountable in a court of law.

The primary election season is coming up faster than we’d rather. So–and this is coming from a young and female point of view in a discussion that began for her with some friends in college–consider the candidates.

You’re on an elevator. It has no security cameras inside nor out. Someone else comes on. Do you instantly get off that elevator and wait for another one, or do you feel fine because there’s no need to have there be anyone else seeing much less recording what this guy’s going to do while you’re alone in a space together where nobody can intervene for you? Where nobody knows?

Now, if you’d want off that elevator car because you can’t trust that person with your personal space and body, why would you think he would have more empathy for the public at large than what you knew he didn’t have for the actual human being right in front of him? What kinds of choices would he make after being elected? After gaining the power he’d sought?

And then we talked about some of the political candidates we wouldn’t vote for but wouldn’t cry if they did get elected because we know they’re decent human beings with good intent.


How to politely say don’t go when you know they’re going
Sunday May 07th 2023, 9:16 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Friends are moving away, and I missed them last time but today I got a cowl into her hands before they leave: cashmere, because nothing else would do (yay for mill-end outlets so I can).

She just happened to have put on a dress this morning that matched it.

I need to be more ready to do that more often in more circumstances, because, man, it felt good to know she’d be taking part of here to there when they arrive at their new life.

I will so miss them.

New world
Saturday May 06th 2023, 9:15 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

After a long-planned trip abroad, our daughter got home today after 22 hours in travel from where the sun is halfway out of kilter in its path and season.

She’ll be starting her new job soon, with time to find an apartment across the country. So much change.

Tuesday May 02nd 2023, 7:43 pm
Filed under: Food,Life

Dear Whole Foods,

This is how much I wanted fresh sour cherry pie: we drove an hour over twisty, nail-biting mountain roads to Santa Cruz to a nursery that had a single English Morello tree left and set aside for me and then we did that drive in reverse. I cleared out gravel that went a foot deep, left behind by the former owner’s gardening plans. I planted it. I watered it. I rescued it from a huge Japanese beetle invasion by scouring the Internet and then a friend scraped off his barbecue grill for me and I scattered the ash on the beetles at night and watched them fall off dying and turning into fertilizer to put back the leaves they’d stripped off that tree.

And it survived. But fruit was a long way off; it took two years before it actually started growing.

It’s doing great now, thanks for asking, and even in the drought we got ten pounds of those little cherries the last two years, enough to invite friends to help with the picking for their own pies.

And I learned: you really really want to pit every one of those tiny things by hand before you throw them in the freezer for Christmas baking. Trust me, you do. So I spent hours pushing down with all my weight on that pitter to get them to skewer the way they were supposed to skewer: no pit left behind.

There were none. Go me.

Now, I don’t go to your store all that much but I do appreciate how easy it is for my dairy-allergic child to find what she needs there, and so it happened that I had a twinset of your pie shells in the freezer for her. “Palm fruit” rather than palm oil? Give your marketing crew my regards.

Now, one would think that after driving over dangerous Highway 17 to get that tree, planting the tree, taking care of the tree, picking the tree, pitting the cherries, and freezing them in two-pound pre-pied amounts that I would also go to the bother of making my own d*** pie crust, but, today, I did not. My tree is in bloom, there’s more fruit coming soon to make way in the freezer for and heck, I just wanted to taste that goodness again. Badly.

I know that you’re trying to Save The Earth (TM). I know that you don’t want those earthmoving monster trucks to dig any more metal out of this beautiful planet than they have to, or heck, maybe you use recycled Cadillacs, I dunno, but I think that maybe–just maybe–you might want to think about having those aluminum foil pie tins be a little bit thicker.

Because: this is the tricky part, lean in close, I want you to hear me on this one: when you put the filling into that crust, or indeed when you take the culmination of your glorious work out of the oven, the tin underneath isn’t supposed to, indeed for the satisfaction of your customers absolutely cannot, accordion itself in the center and flop over like a dying fish.

Chinette paper plates are far stronger than your attempts at playing heavy metal.

Picture taken before I dropped my phone in the goo charging side down.