Flu
Friday February 21st 2020, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Life

Yesterday I was just a bit feverish and coughing. Today when I tried to stay up for longer than ten minutes I found myself barfing nonstop. So let me type fast.

No Stitches West for me this year.

The Royal Bee booth #1339 has a pair of Holz and Stein #8s I was supposed to pick up and Mel and Kris made another pie plate for me but needles are easy to ship. The pottery, not so much. But trust me, they don’t want me there.



Zoom zoom
Tuesday February 18th 2020, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

My ’07 Prius’s fob’s buttons hadn’t worked for years, but at least it unlocked the car when you walked up to it.

Until it didn’t.

At least you could get the physical key out of the fob with great difficulty and a broken nail or two to open the driver’s side door, put it back in the fob, and then stick the fob in the slot to start the car when the fob’s battery was dead.

Until a piece of the back went missing after time in that slot and it wouldn’t go in anymore.

At least you could replace the battery.

Except now you couldn’t–we’d done it so many times the screws were stripped and they wouldn’t come out.

The cheapest new fobs cost a crazy amount of money, so we took a chance on simply replacing the plastic cover of the one I had. Didn’t know that was an option but it was.

Ordered this fob cover.

The most useful video on how to change it over was here.

A white pillow in the lap to help find any dropped tiny tiny screws should that happen. Highly recommended.

He replaced the battery. The new fob cover now has all the innards the old one had. We did not glue it like the video says, just the screws and the slides and the snapping together mixed with a bit of hope and the old physical key inside the new cover and then he sent me outside to go see.

The open button worked. The lights came on. Would you look at that!

The close button worked. The lights went off.

Cool! I was not expecting that. I was just hoping to get back to how it had been.

It was cold and I hurried back inside.

Richard: Well? Did it turn on?

Me: I didn’t try that. (Thinking, actually, I wasn’t done…)

Him: manages not to roll his eyes while I grab a jacket because hey, it’s 45F out there. Let me go make one last run past skunk territory.

So I got to go play again with the buttons and I got to try turning the car on and then hitting the lock button and testing it again and everything was peachy fine and after days of borrowing his key my new version worked! For $13 after tax.

Now, says he. Now that we know that that’s all we need, go order a new cover for mine, too, would ya? It’s starting to fall apart.



The 60s rock
Thursday February 13th 2020, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Life

This is your last notice, the form-letter email said. You are overdue for a pap smear.

Oh fun.

So I got that over with on Tuesday.

What I had zero expectation of was the doctor saying that that was my final one: I had aged out. I didn’t need to do this again.

Wait. All this time and nobody ever told me I had that to look forward to?? Seriously?

It really *was* my last notice!


Edited to add: I got a note from an old friend, who says that an old friend of hers recently died of cervical cancer at 80 and that even older women in monogamous relationships should still be tested. I’m very sorry for the loss of her friend, and I regret having possibly in any way contributed to anybody else going through that in the future. I apologize.



Hurry up, tree!
Wednesday February 05th 2020, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life,Mango tree

My Big Boy tomato plant from last year finally froze to death. The Sungold under the eaves is still blooming. House warmth for the win.

Monday night and thereafter, I had to turn on the heater under the Sunbubble at dusk for the first time all winter; the Christmas lights just weren’t enough. For so long it was simply about keeping the mango comfortably above freezing, but now we need to protect the more vulnerable flower buds that are bursting out all over.

This is just the top of the tree because I can’t step far enough back in the greenhouse for a better shot.

The tree’s gotten big and the crop will be a lot more than last year’s three fruits.

My friend Jean grew up in Hawaii and misses the Hayden mangoes of her youth. She tried three times to grow her own but always lost them to the cold and she has cheered my tree on with great enthusiasm ever since she found out about it.

Last year’s three went to Dani who instigated the whole thing and whom I’d long promised the first fruit to, Eli who helped take care of the tree numerous times while we were out of town before we bought the greenhouse, and the last one for, well, us.

This is the year the first one is supposed to be for Jean. Jean, who once brought a paper bag of ripe pomegranates to church from her two year old tree that were such a revelation that I’d planted my own, a Parfianka, having never known before what a ripe pom actually tastes like. (The stores can’t sell them when they start to split.) Jean, who loves seeing pictures of how my Alphonso is growing, it’s really doing it, it’s surviving here! It’s blooming!

Today’s her 94th birthday.

The last few months she’s been pretty much bed-bound.

I don’t know that it’s fair to ask her to hang around till this big plant of mine finishes doing its thing in six or seven months but I’m still going to remind her I promised.



People are funny
Tuesday February 04th 2020, 10:42 am
Filed under: Life

There was a young mom at Trader Joe’s yesterday with her little boy in the cart. He looked about four. It was close to dinnertime but he was cheerful and bubbly and absolutely adorable. We crossed paths several times and smiled at each other.

When I went to get in line, they were just back of the line but not getting in, as if they were waiting for something. She was working at keeping him entertained.

Well, hey, so I opened my purse and went looking.

I caught the mom’s eye to get her approval, and said, penguin finger puppet outstretched, that we’d been to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and I’d showed one of the penguins my penguin and it had followed it around, like it was trying to figure out how it had gotten so small.

The little boy was delighted at the story, so with another nod to his mom first to be sure I handed him his own and said, Happy Birthday!

The mom was startled: Wait. Really?! How cool is that!

I tried not to be too in-their-face from there and got back to my line and paid attention to the clerk starting to reach for my groceries, but it just totally made their day.

And then the little guy got really excited. Grandma!!

Grandma, an African-American woman about my age, was coming out from the back and off her shift and dead on her feet. (While I thought, ah, that’s why the mom looks familiar–she looks like her mom, who works here.) It had clearly been a long day. She had had it. She was just done. Get her out of here.

But here were these two excitedly telling her about penguins and this penguin and they all turned to me as the grandma’s face completely changed. They waved.

They headed out, and now I (finally) noticed a woman with a daughter of about the same age standing back to back with me in their line, so I offered her one for her daughter, too.

She looked at me like I had three heads and said no, a bit offended.

Well that’s fine.

I told the clerk, I just got fifty of these in the mail.

He laughed warmly, understanding better now how all that came to be.

The second mom was getting into her late-model BMW next to my ’07 Prius as I came out, saw me, and was out of there.

But I knew a grandma was smiling out there who’d needed that.



Your yarn rings a bell
Sunday February 02nd 2020, 9:53 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

There’s a certain blue-eyed redhead here whose cataracts came early on, as they often do for such. The first one was operated on a few years ago and as I drove him home he kept exclaiming over and over again at the clarity and the colors and the crispness of everything. He’s the rock-solid-steady type who doesn’t do little-boy jumping-up-and-down excitement but boy, for him, he really did that morning. I was both amused and thinking, wow. Cool. Good for him.

Tomorrow morning we get to do that with the other eye, only, this time he knows how good it’s going to be and he’s quite looking forward to it.

I’m going to get me some knitting done while I wait.

Last time, one of the doctors I’d met while in the hospital in ’09 walked by and recognized me as much by my needles and yarn as my face.

I’ll keep an eye out for her.



The mechanic
Tuesday January 21st 2020, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

That light gray-blue Mecha wool hat a few weeks ago that I didn’t quite get to finish while the garage worked on my tire?

Guess which idiot light came back on in the car?

Sure, you can bring it over right now, he said on the phone.

When I told him the tire light had blinked for several blocks on the way there before going solid, his own light bulb went off and he was glad I’d mentioned it so he knew what to check.

It was a different tire this time but it was also the sensor that tells the car about it. The car’s an ’07; he said the other three would probably start failing, too, but at least hopefully not all at once.

He’s such a gentle, kind man.

Today though he looked like the world was heavy on his shoulders, and all I could think of was how much he reminded me of my cousin John.

I hadn’t unpacked my purse from the trip yet. That hat he’d seen me working on the last time was in there. I also had a brighter blue one (London Sky) I’d knitted on the plane, with a third (Piedras) on the needles I’d started at the airport on the way home.

Again, I almost finished it before he called me over.

After he’d rung the work up I presented my own and offered him his choice. He was blown away. He picked the London Sky, and as he went to put it on his head I told him, “Happy Birthday!”

He looked at me in surprise: “Did you know it was my birthday?!”

Me, surprised but delighted: “No!”

“It was the 17th,” he said, “but, yeah, it was my birthday.” It was cold. He told me his ears were warm already and that he’d needed that. He told me his girlfriend was going to love it, so I asked his girlfriend’s favorite color and unlike quite a few men I’ve met he knew it without hesitation.

Pink? Suddenly I have an excuse to buy a skein of yarn. Twist my arm.

Anything I can do, when I know I can do at least that one small thing. John would want me to. Can you just picture the man’s happy anticipation towards making her happy once he gets it?

The way my tires are going, I’ll get everybody in the shop by the end of next month.



I dream of gene-ey
Tuesday January 14th 2020, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

So this got started: that’s an instant-gratification swatch from the weekend with the water smushed out of it and the towel there on the footrest straight from the sink. Good enough for measuring where you don’t have to worry about the fit.

But having just finished a project that for weeks took my thoughts when it wasn’t taking my actual time, today I just didn’t touch the new one at all. I had work to do.

My yarn storage is now more organized and the room is straightened up and vacuumed, and I made good headway on that other room, too.

It’s good to know there’s at least one organizing gene in there. It may be recessive but when it’s expressing itself you run with what you’ve got.



SnowDad
Sunday January 12th 2020, 9:23 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

This Calvin and Hobbes strip. One commenter said that Calvin would never forget those moments with his dad.

Amen to that.

My little sister and I were about seven and nine years old. There had been one of the bigger snowstorms we’d ever seen and we were set on making the biggest snowman ever and certainly the biggest one in the neighborhood. I’m pretty sure our older brother was part of it at the beginning.

This was in a neighborhood of five and seven bedroom homes in a predominantly Catholic state and we were all big-family baby boomers: we knew we had our competition close by.

We skunked’em.

Anne and I collected that snow and we rolled and rolled those balls (and I remember a small pang of regret that we were wrecking how pretty the blanket of snow had been in the yard) and after several hours’ work we did, we had the parts to the biggest snowman ever outside our parents’ bedroom window–possibly because that was slightly downhill as the front yard went. Thank you gravity.

But that ball for the middle section: it was ambitious but as we stopped and considered and even tried just a bit there was no way we were going to be able to heft that thing onto the giant bottom ball.

I’m pretty sure I ran inside to ask for help because at that age Daddy could still do anything, but it may be that he looked out the window instead. Either way, he was soon out there with us all bundled up and helping us roll the snowballs for just a bit longer. He declared it good and that it was all big enough.

Combination of, But Dad! and (ohthankyoufinallywecanstopnow).

And then he had a plan.

He disappeared for just a moment towards the shed on the other side of the house and came back with a large wooden plank, and together–it took all of us–we all rolled that middle ball right on up there. We did it!!!

It would have taken a way longer plank than anything around to get the head on that thing, so Dad lifted the smallest one. It was heavy but doable.

Scarf, carrot, eyes, the works. Classic.

Later we saw that some of the kids up the street in both directions had indeed made snowmen, and ours was indeed the biggest.

But then, we had Dad.

And hot cocoa on the stove from Mom when we came inside and stomped our feet and took off our boots on the slate entryway.



Cousin John
Monday January 06th 2020, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

John sent me this selfie, looking up, and it took me awhile to figure out what seemed so odd about it: it’s that I always saw my 6’7″ cousin from well below. The perspective was so different.

His father had Parkinson’s with dementia and his mother was becoming frail; he took them into his own home, and when it became clear that that was a full time job now he quit his to take care of them.

He never married, but his father is why my parents met: our dads served Mormon missions together across French-speaking Europe right after the war. Dad later went to Utah to go visit his close friend David, and David’s little sister heard an unfamiliar voice across the house and ran a few steps back to her room to dress in something nicer and then Mom came back out and met Dad.

Uncle David and Aunt Bonnie met playing in the symphony together, so music was an important part of their and their childrens’ lives. John played piano and French horn.

Uncle David died a few years ago; one year ago, I flew into town for Aunt Bonnie’s funeral.

Everybody wanted to thank John for all that he’d done for them and everybody wanted to rally around him in his loss–what do you do when everything is different now.

He wasn’t one to say much. But if you talked to him you knew he loved you. Period. Everybody. I just got off the phone with my older son who said, Yes, I saw him at Grampa’s funeral in October and we talked for several minutes and he was just the nicest guy.

John mentioned to me about twenty years ago that he was allergic to wool, although, other fibers seemed fine.

There was a cousins-only get-together after the service, a reunion for our generation. I asked John when it seemed a good moment for it if we could step into the other room where the noise level wasn’t quite so bad for my hearing.

He, a bit quizzically, followed me over there.

He nearly cried when I pulled out a keyboard for his head. Baby alpaca, silk, cashmere: no wool. I’d remembered. He was intensely grateful at being thought of, at being seen. He exclaimed in the rawness of his loss, “She was my best friend!” We held each other and I wished I could make it better.

I had no idea from where I lived that that fog of grief never lifted for him and that the depression was spiraling him so far downward. I would have done anything, we all would have. I was stunned when my brother called with the news today. It is unfathomable that my beloved cousin John, the one whose kindness and empathy were why I named my son after him in hopes of raising a man as good as he was, is gone from us.

He had lost how to love himself as much as he loved each of us.

I am gutted.



Sometimes you just need to dive in like that
Saturday January 04th 2020, 11:32 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

(Photo from early on where I was trying to capture how the same stitches looked blocked vs not. Even if the one is upside down from the other. Water is magic.)

A friend who’s a grad student at Stanford asked for help and we invited him over for the resident geek to coach him.

It turned into an eight-hour marathon.

Which meant a marathon knitting session for me, interrupted by a quick trip for groceries and I made myself stop every now and then and go do something else with my hands, but essentially I knitted from ten a.m. past six. Icepacks were my friend.

I lined up the lightly blocked afghan with the not at all blocked bottom border, measured the blocked side border and counted repeats and went back and added one more to the edging piece. It’s now blocking. But not cast off yet, with the thought that if I need to add another before the sewing I can.

So now at least I know how long it will take to knit its twin for the upper side.

But that moment with everything lined up, standing back and taking in how it looked: there was this immediate sense of YES! *This* is how it was supposed to look! It made it all worth it.



Mend and replace
Thursday January 02nd 2020, 10:59 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Politics

I was sitting in the little waiting room at the garage while they tested my tire–yup, a second leak close to the whitewall, too close, can’t mend it this time, they’re ordering me a new one but at least it’s partly covered by the warranty.

So.

There was a man studying what I took to be a textbook at the other end of that long table. (It was.)

I had my needles in hand–Mecha yarn for a hat that was six rows in when I arrived–and was quietly knitting away for that classic little old lady look.

About forty minutes in, he gave it a break for a moment to strike up a conversation with me. I had to make him wait till the air compressor on the other side of the wall stopped so I could hear him.

He wanted to ask my take on the election goings-on.

Which led to my asking if he had a favored candidate, (since he was pushing for me to tell him mine and I wasn’t doing so) and he got a grin on his face and pulled the sides of his button-down open Superman style to show the Superman-styled t-shirt underneath in dark blue.

I recognized that logo and grinned right back. Good for him! We need more involvement!

Turns out that he’d been volunteering as a fundraiser for Yang’s campaign.

We talked about some of Yang’s ideas that we both really like. He didn’t like it quite so much when I said that even if Yang were to lose, so often the best of a candidate’s ideas win out even when the candidate him/herself doesn’t and they do us all good by putting them out there.

I didn’t fully believe in his man, his face said. He was disappointed.

I said I hope the best candidate wins whoever it may be and I don’t even know yet for sure who that might be but I do know that every single one of them is better than…

We moved on from that and it was clear he totally loved being able to talk politics to someone who loved to talk politics, too. And from DC!

Every candidate he admired was a Democrat. And yet it just killed him that, he said, You can’t be a conservative on campus. If you say anything and people find out you’re a conservative they just totally go after you.

I agreed that we all have to be respectful of each other. Absolutely. My grandfather and uncle were Republican Senators, I said, and I quoted what Uncle Bob once told me about how the Republicans believe you should work hard, you should take care of your own, and the Democrats believe the government should help you do so. And they’re both right. The work of Congress is to come together and hammer out the differences between.

I had to add, But I cannot be respectful of some of what’s been done in conservatism’s name: separating children from their parents, caging them for seeking asylum–one of my friends got her law degree at Stanford and now works as an immigration lawyer at the border, trying to get the Feds to honor Federal law re asylum statutes. And they won’t. They don’t. She sees the effects day in day out and it’s very hard.

He agreed with me that none of that should be happening and that we need to do something.

His candidate had ideas and indeed, plans to DO things. To look at the problems and come up with solutions.

The mechanic came over to say the guy’s car was done, and the young man got up, more than a little reluctant to leave. But I knew he had a lot of other things on his mind, too.

He is defending his thesis tomorrow at Stanford.

“What’s your area?”

“Math,” he answered. I was proud of him. He’d worked his tail off to get to this point.

I sent that tall child of Asian immigrants off with, “Good luck on your thesis! I’m rooting for you!”

And that clearly made his day most of all.



2020
Wednesday January 01st 2020, 9:18 am
Filed under: Life

Wishing everyone a happy new year. All the best to you and yours.



That one year in Indiana
Monday December 30th 2019, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Someone else got me remembering back when…

I was a new mom, doing the grocery shopping with my first baby sitting in the cart; she was just a bit over a year old.

A woman I’d never seen before and never would again came up to us exclaiming over how cute she was and reached out and felt up her blonde curls and asked me if I’d permed it?

I was too staggered to think of the perfect comeback till much, much later:

So did that mean she thought my baby was a bottle blonde?



He opened his car door
Thursday December 26th 2019, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

The doorbell rang.

It was the son of the elderly woman next door, the one who fell two months ago and after her kids couldn’t reach her from out of state and called us neighbors and then 911 was found by the firemen breaking in her door for the rescue.

Previously, she had been adamant to me that she did not want to go into assisted living.

She doesn’t know how many days she was down but it could have been as many as four. Even before that she could barely walk and clearly she just could not continue to live alone.

She has not returned.

He was coming by to let me know he was taking her home. There was a place a mile from his house, she had seen it before and actually liked the place and she has decided for herself that that’s where she’d like to be now. He wanted me to know her story had a happy ending after all, and that he would be right there to look out for her.

And he will. And his wife is a love of a woman who will be right there with him on it. They are all deeply good people.

I thanked him for letting me know, and told him, “I miss her.” A lot.

I knew she would want to know that, to really know that, not just assume that I would. Of course I would. I have, for all these weeks. But I knew he would tell her and that it would feel good for both of them to say it and to hear it on their long trip to where everything will be different now, again.

I sent him off with a box of Andy’s peach and honey-stuffed figs, glad for the surprised delight in his face at the mention of Andy’s Orchard. Taking the best of California with them on their long way north–he knew they were in for a treat.

And I just wanted to say, Thank you, Andy. That helped.