You gotta hand it to those mannequins
Monday July 03rd 2017, 8:52 pm
Filed under: Life,Politics

Blowing up mannequins on the Mall in DC as the traffic continues on by without a blink. Someone at the Consumer Products Safety Commission has a job that gets to be fun once a year: showing how not to be stupid with fireworks.

That bird (I’m guessing a pigeon) streaking past that blue canopy a split second early enough must have thought it had broken the sound barrier. Take *that*, raptors!

The full version beyond the gifs, here, from 2016. Watching the 2015 and 2017 versions (same demos), it’s amusing to watch the demo kitchen setup go from curtains on the window and potholders to potholders to, this year, oh forget it. Just the paper window.

Budget cuts.

Happy and safe Fourth-ing, everybody!

Down in there somewhere
Sunday July 02nd 2017, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Wildlife

We are foster fish parents for a month, trusted with someone’s children’s beloved black beta in a square goldfish bowl sitting inside a plastic modern-architecture of a holder. (We have it on a shelving unit, thus the metal wires below.)

After 24 hours it’s still swimming and it’s still coming out to eat. So far so good.

Those wispy fins waving in slow curling motion against the water are so elegant.

(I confess I did feel better about my chances of doing a decent job after its owner said what happened when they tipped a little water out to be able to transport it over here. It was an easy promise to make that I won’t have to fish it out of my disposal.)

Thursday June 29th 2017, 6:48 pm
Filed under: Life

That time they drew the black line on the display glasses to order where the bifocal line should be and you said it was too high so they redrew the line but you wondered about it still but they’re the ones who know their job right and they went ahead and the glasses came in and you took them home and you put them on and the line was just barely below center in your vision when you’re walking and you couldn’t see the kitchen counter and it threw off your balance and you could only see if you tilted your head down a bit and that doesn’t work when your husband is 6’8″ and you’re 5’5″ and you took them back the next day and explained that you were in a car accident years ago and your ability to balance at all depends on visual feedback and you have to be able to see like you did with your old glasses and they said well these are crooked anyway here let me fix those for you and then they put the new glasses back on you and asked you to check them out and you stood and turned to see across the room to get the depth-perception thing going and to see where that line was now and next thing you knew you were falling over backwards and splat on the floor and the store was freaking out and the manager wondered if he needed to file an incident report and you said you were fine and thanks for the icepack and they called someone and spent half an hour filling out an incident report and had you sign it and you realized afterwards you couldn’t tell the difference between city and county and what were their names when you were filling it out and hesitated and wrote the wrong one and why does your writing look so bad but it came back to you pretty fast so that’s okay and you filled in the right one next to the wrong one and you told him you tell your kids you’re going to be a terror when you’re 90 and he cracked a smile for the first time and took a deep breath?

Yeah that time. Today. That was the time they decided they were going to redo those glasses for you and could you just leave the one pair with them so they could make sure they got it right and then bring the other pair back and they’ll duplicate it once they knew those were good?

Tuesday June 27th 2017, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

The picture’s the bright-light version of the colors, which are generally more subdued.

There was a baby shower tonight for someone who was a one-year-old with our then-one-year-old daughter when we moved here, and the best anniversary present my husband gave me was to urge me to go ahead to the party and enjoy.

I got there right at starting time–and there was Vivian and a chance to talk to her in an aside without its being in front of lots of other people and at a time when she was not having to deal with movers nor small children.

The blue I finished a week ago. The brick silk was an abandoned project that I hadn’t been able to make myself frog but at that gauge it just hadn’t been working as a rectangular scarf: the weight of it was going to pull and sag the stitches long over time the way loosely-spun loosely-knit silk can do and it had sat there hogging that pair of needles for a year.

Knowing she liked orange had gotten me to pick it up this morning, consider it sideways–hey! It does fit over the head when I pinch the edges together! (Barely.) I went to town with it, widening the pattern so it would go around the neck in layers just so. I am totally glad I saved that! (I did have to put a seam up the back.) UFOs can be great to have in a pinch, and she really liked it. She loved them all.

She laughed when I quoted her, “All the colors. Mostly orange. Blue is good.”

And then I told her this: I had bought that variegated Joseph’s Coat yarn from my old friend Lisa Souza maybe ten years ago and it had drifted to the far regions of my stash.

But somehow, and it was either Friday or Saturday, I had gone through bags and bags and found it and for no reason whatsoever I had pulled it out and put it front and center in the family room, so that when I got home from church Sunday after that conversation with her there it had been. Right. There. I hadn’t even known yet that she was moving away, much less what colors she liked. I had knitted it the rest of that day and all the next.

I found it intriguing how the yarn had split itself into three sections: the yarn was the same yard after yard but how it came out was not. “Kind of like raising children,” I said, and she laughed again.

She loved them all, but that one. That one spoke to her.

Her outfit looked like she had picked it out to match that cowl and she proudly wore her Lisa Souza the rest of the evening.

And then.

It was a large turnout: older women who’d known Kimber all her growing up (or almost, in my case), young women she’d grown up with, quite the reunion, and that end table in front of her was stacked pretty high. Which is good, given how many clothes babies go through every day.

Her sister had crocheted her a soft baby blanket and everybody oohed and aahed in appreciation.

More baby clothes… Towels, binkies, lots of pink in happy anticipation of her finally getting a girl on the third try…

Almost the last one. Kimber went to pull the envelope off so she could read it and tugged hard enough that some of the wrapping paper came off along with it.

She gasped and looked at me: that had to be from me! Right?!! She knew how big that package was, too. !!! She opened the card, took a deep breath to see the rest of what was inside while filling her mom in next to her (it was really loud in that house)…

and pulled out the baby blanket.

The machine washable and dry-able baby blanket in colors she loved so much. Colors that I had struggled to push myself through. Colors that were perfect for her.

One of the older women pulled me aside afterwards. She used to be a Knitter with a capital K but it’s been awhile.

That yellow, she said. In that pattern. It’s reminding me of–I don’t remember, but it’s reminding me of…(she shook her head) something!

It was absolutely compelling to her, and driving her crazy that she couldn’t remember what it was that had been.

It’ll come to you, I promised her. It’ll come.

I just bet you it’s that she knit somebody something once….

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.

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.

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…

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.