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.)



At the start and the finish line
Monday May 22nd 2017, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Mathias will be a month old on Friday.

A package came to our house today, by prearrangement with a mutual friend who was going to be out of town, and tonight we took it over to B, whom she’d ordered it for.

B was the first blind female engine mechanic in WWII and is rightfully proud of that.

For the first time, she didn’t recognize my voice although she knew who Richard was. She seemed not to quite remember me. At her age, you’re allowed.

We found out that she’d lived in Alaska for awhile and that that’s why she loved taking cruises there and, as she loved to say, To see the sights! How had we never known that about her?

We talked about moose a little bit. I forgot to ask if she knew about the musk ox. Her time there would have been near when the Musk Ox Farm in Palmer was starting to get established to bring the population back from extinction in Alaska.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard her talking about her late husband before.

We didn’t stay long; twenty-three minutes per the check-in check-out sheet, but she was fading fast. She had a package of her own that needed returning and I promised her I would get it to the post office tomorrow. She was adamant that I let her reimburse me for the postage, and though I didn’t argue I was minded not to.

And yet. It occurs to me that when you’re too frail to walk and you’re in your nineties in a nursing home and nearing the end, being allowed to make a choice to do right by someone else who did you a favor is not something I should take away from her. If she remembers, I will let her.



A few photos and then running back to work on that project
Friday May 19th 2017, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

Sam sent me a photo of her qiviut headband from Oomingmak.

Devin holding Mathias May 9 with their six month old puppy looking out for her new buddy, and Mathias yesterday, growing fast.

Meantime I finally figured out how I wanted to finish that Christmas stocking for my cousin’s son–how big of a heel to turn, how to incorporate the cabling pattern into it, etc etc, and I’ve been working on it like crazy. I think I’d better go ice my hands.



Raising peace
Wednesday May 17th 2017, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life,Wildlife

After yesterday’s post, it feels good to be able to say, oh wow, look at that.

I’m suddenly realizing we haven’t touched the ladder since the Fuji apple was pruned in the winter.

I’d always been told mourning doves make the worst nests: as lazy as, drop two twigs and call it done, but this one went to a lot of effort to make the best I’ve ever seen one with. Maybe since it wasn’t in a tree or a bush it needed a bit of camouflage, I don’t know, or maybe it was the abundance of enticing material by the lacewood elm (which reaches to just to the right of this picture). After all, we knitters know that the way to get someone to stick with the process of learning how to do what we do is to share the best yarns for their hands to want to work with.

Not that I went close enough to try to get a good look at its details. She watches me when I go past and knows that I’ve noticed her now but she does not move. Nor do I stay in the way.



Tadpole
Monday May 15th 2017, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Mathias, via his parents, in frogs and a shark.

Stumbled across this today and found it lovely and worth sharing.

 



Second Sunday in May
Sunday May 14th 2017, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Talked to my folks, saw my friend Edie and some of her bouncy little grandkids, talked to my kids, Facetimed with my grands in San Diego, texted a picture of me holding a mug with Mathias’s pictures on it to show it had come in time.

And a good Mother’s Day it was. Hope yours was, too.



Get fuzzy
Saturday May 13th 2017, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,Life

The answer to DebbieR’s question starts with, I had no idea that that cute little cabin that’s pictured in everything I ever saw having to do with the Oomingmak cooperative was actually smack dab in downtown Anchorage! We happened to drive past it after hours and I exclaimed and grabbed the phone and snapped its picture through the windshield (see yesterday’s post) from the passenger side.

Sam asked the next morning if I wanted to visit the place?

Heck yeah!

And so she and I went while Richard stayed home with the baby. It was just a quick little jaunt.

There was the back room in view, completely familiar to me from Donna Druchunas’s book and every article I’ve ever read about the place. There were hand knits on display and hat kits for sale and if I’d been really rich that baby-size handspun qiviut blanket that was just under $700 would have been Mathias’s. If only. Inexplicably I saw none of the traditional smoke rings they’re so famous for–cowls, as someone in the Lower 48 would call them, infinity scarves, in the finest, softest, warmest handspun lace.

I made great friends with my first surgeon eight years ago when she was trying to describe this beautiful little hand knit she’d bought from an Eskimo group while visiting Alaska and I’d asked, Was it qiviut? A smoke ring? She was astonished: “How did you know?!”

I’m a knitter! And I spin.

And I live in California. I knew, looking at their wares, that I in no way need the extreme warmth of the undercoat of the gentle musk ox. But my daughter, now! I told her I had long wanted to support the women who do that work, but online from afar and in the wrong climate I’d just never made that order.

But here we were. (And the prices were about what it would cost me to knit them myself, I said afterwards as we were going back to the car.)

She picked out a thick, wide intarsia headband knitted in two natural shades–two designs, actually, taking a minute to decide: “This one looks like poinsettias to me,” and almost got it but the other won out in the end. (The one I’d picked out as my favorite, and if I should have kept my mouth shut it’s too late now.)

I’m rather sorry I didn’t get its picture. Even better yet, on her.

They said if it ever needed repair to just bring the sales slip with it and they would do it.

I told her it was an early Happy Mother’s Day from me. I didn’t quite say out loud, you swaddle your baby in warmth and I’ll swaddle mine.

But I did want at least some little memento for me and they had these tiny bags of combed raw qiviut: $4 each and I got two.

Sam told me afterwards that one of her co-workers had a hat from Oomingmak but he cannot wear it indoors. It’s too hot.

I figure, in Alaska, that’s a good problem to have.



Cat’s eyes
Friday May 12th 2017, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Family,Life


The two cats.

While we were holding Mathias….

By day, a baby gate blocks the dog and them from each other but at night the puppy goes into her kennel and they are allowed to roam the house.

And so it was one evening that Sam’s cat ventured forth to claim her humans. She had met us when she was a kitten, seemed to recognize us a few years later by coming to me instead of her usual fear of strangers, and now at ten she had summoned us in her hour of need and we had come.

The, the, the, DOG. That big galumphing puppy. In HER house. The tiny new human interloper, although he left her alone and seemed acceptable. But the anticipated luxurious salon appointment that had turned out to be at the vet’s–that shall not be spoken of.

And so there we were, waiting to pet her, most deliciously on the couch where the dog could see her but was not allowed to go.

But first.

There was the dog’s favorite bone, right there in the middle of the floor she was claiming as rightfully her own in the night. She stood immediately behind it. She looked at the dog. She dared to touch a paw almost to it but deigned not to quite sully herself so.

As she stood eye to eye with that St. Bernard.

I can do anything I want with this and you know you can’t do a thing about it.

She stood like that for a full minute at least while I tried not to laugh for fear of waking up the exhausted new parents.

And then, having made her point, she came to us and dared us to think qiviut could be any softer. (Hey! The embiggen feature works on that Oomingmak pic!)



Alaska
Monday May 08th 2017, 4:18 pm
Filed under: Family,Life


Our daughter called and said the baby was going to be coming home from the hospital Saturday; we booked our flights and arrived Monday and then came home this morning a week later and fell into bed well after 2:00 am. Delayed flight delayed luggage and my body has no idea what time zone I’m in and I wouldn’t trade a second of it for anything.

Arriving, parking lots had mounds of dirt with white peeking out–oh, right, those are snowbanks still melting down, aren’t they. The trees were in dead-of-winter mode. The first one popped out in small bright sparkles of green the day before we left and by the morning there were tiny tiny leaves everywhere against the gray, as if the director had hummed the pitch and the a cappella choir was leaping right into the song.

Mathias was a placid, happy baby–as long as someone was holding him. Always. Day or night. The neonatologist said that sometimes the early ones need that extra cuddling.

We quickly got into the routine and privilege of having him in our arms while his parents got some uninterrupted sleep for the first shift of the night, with or without a bottle of pumped milk to extend that as his mother chose. Then we went off to our hotel to let them become a new family together without the in-laws there every moment. (And to lessen any fear of my falling over the big puppy, a St Bernard with a bit of Mastiff, and risking hitting my head. She did lean against the backs of my knees and cave me in just once but we did fine.)

Friday the baby let himself be put down in a crib for the first time, and that was a huge milestone.

We are in awe of our daughter. We are in awe of our son-in-law. You could not ask for better parents. And we are head over heels in love with Mathias.

I have to add, on a side note, that we got the great Alaska experience: one night (such as they are in May) we had just pulled onto the road when Richard slowed the car almost instantly right back down to a gentle stop before I saw why.

There was an immense moose before us. It took the next few steps that brought it right up to the hood of our car, where we could see it more clearly in the dusk. We weren’t going anywhere.

We knew rationally to be afraid but neither of us could find it in us to be so. Wow. What a magnificent animal. I’d always thought moose were frankly pretty darn ugly, but looking straight up at this seven foot tall creation of nature as it took a few steps around us and now stood outside the driver’s side–the entire driver’s side of the car–we were silent, taking in the moment as it took in us. Hail fellow. Well met.

Richard, pulling carefully away now, hoped out loud, Did you get its picture? as it stood there in the road, turning its enormous head to look at the kids’ house and then the other way while I hoped the dog wasn’t barking its head off.

Uh that would be a no. (On both.)

He said he wasn’t going back for it (!), and that made sense.

The other thing? The former governor of Alaska was in the grocery store at the other end of the produce department over by the deli while we were picking a few things up for the kids. No it couldn’t possibly be. Yes she absolutely was. I was slightly agog and trying not to look like it while my husband could not have cared less–we’re DC natives, we grew up with politicians, enough of them people who needed to let you know that they were important and he simply was not impressed. I love that man.

This is what matters.

Mathias went from squinting away from the brightness of light to opening his eyes to it and to us more and more. He went from a low of 6 lbs 13 oz to racing to make up for lost birthweight and beyond.

We got a text between airports Sunday: the dog had picked up a favorite toy and gone searching through the house for me. She wanted our playing together to never end.

Soon enough a little boy will be taking over from there.



Thou hast made Thy children mighty
Wednesday April 26th 2017, 8:24 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Let me explain what I meant by this yesterday.

Our daughter Sam was hospitalized Saturday with the doctors deciding to wait till the morrow to induce her–let the baby be 37 weeks and officially past prematurity, but then he was going to have to come out. The risk of losing him had become too great.

Sunday morning, then, they started the inducing and she was in mild labor all day. She was where she needed to be: they could monitor him and do something fast if things went south.

We went to bed that night after offering the message that they were not to worry about waking us up: whatever the hour, we wanted to know.

She was in labor all Sunday night.

She was in labor all day Monday.

She was in labor all Monday night. We slept badly but not as badly as our daughter and son-in-law did.

She was in labor all day Tuesday. That baby wanted every extra hour he could get. Just as we were about to hit the lights last night the message came in: her water had broken. We looked at each other and pronounced, “Show time.” Wishing it were and figuring probably not any time soon, still, at the rate things had been going.

She was in labor all Tuesday night. I’ve borne four children and done twenty hours’ worth for a miscarriage and I cannot begin to fathom how she could do it.

I woke up this morning seven-ish, checked for messages, saw none, and thought, my poor kid. My strong, heartbreakingly brave kid who was willing to risk so much to bring her son into this world to share a life with the best man she could possibly have chosen. I cannot begin to say how in awe I am of her.

Her husband stayed by her side.

I had just stepped out of the shower when Richard startled me (didn’t know he was awake yet) with a “Hello, Grandma!”

Mathias Ronald, 7 lbs 11 oz with his daddy’s nose and the most perfect face. Shattering our hearts into a million brilliant momentums of joy.

Welcome to the world, little one. We cannot wait to see you, too.

(Photos by Sam.)



No training wheels
Tuesday April 25th 2017, 11:09 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Somehow it was a day where that hot chocolate just tasted really good. That blue mill-ends-of-the-mill-ends cashmere (don’t know if there’s any of that $20 postpaid/180 grams of dk weight left, but that’s the link) that I hanked up and scoured the mill oils off of became in that washing the softest yarn one could ever have in hand–someone besides me would soon swoon over it in a more finished form, and just the thought of that made my day. The neighbor was teaching his preschooler to ride a two-wheeler and she was doing really well at it, with her two-year-old brother following right behind on a two-wheel bicycle with no pedals, just little feet on the ground pushing it along at a good clip, wanting to do everything she could do and doing what he could in the meantime. He waved hi at me and I waved back. I told his big sister she was doing great.

And I had a song in my head, a hymn from church, For the Strength of the Hills We Thank Thee. Thou hast made thy children mighty…



One giant leap
Saturday April 22nd 2017, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

The little boy with thick reddish-blond hair was coming down the big wooden steps outside to the deck that overlooks the forest of redwoods at Richard’s aunt’s. He was trying to master the art of doing each step in a single step of his own–but they were bigger than he was and he was practically doing the splits while trying not to tumble forward.

He would have, actually, but for his daddy right there holding his hand. A few side twirls around his daddy’s feet in the process were part of how it’s done.

He finally made that one last long big leap to the wooden planks that had been waiting below and I clapped and cheered, “You did it!”

At that the little boy with Down’s went right back up that step so he could do that again.

And again.

And again.

I caught on: I added, “Do it again!” after the “You did it!” as I clapped.

He did it again, with his dad loving that someone thought his little boy was cute.

On about the eighth round of this, he almost fell at the bottom and caught himself in a bit of a faceplant on the seat of the chair next to me, and so now we had a new game: he would go upwards, he would take a grand step down, I would cheer, “Yay! You did it!” and he would run to that chair and turn his head to the side just like when it wasn’t quite so on purpose.

A few more of those.

Finally, his daddy said, Okay, time to move on, little buddy–but little buddy didn’t want to move on at all, thanks. He had a new game. He had a new friend. This was going great.

I let them be–and then he did let his little guy go up that step one last time. I clapped this time like all the others, but instead I said, “Bye bye!” And he knew what you were supposed to do with a wave bye-bye: you go bye-bye.

And off he toddled hand-in-hand with his daddy to go say hi to the bride and groom.



I left you some
Thursday April 20th 2017, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Life

Four onesies, one t-shirt, one jacket, all long-sleeved, one pair of denim overalls, two pairs of pants, one hat, everything in pure cotton, ordered in newborn size on up to six months. Total cost: are you ready for this? $17.32, with free shipping. Thank you Target.

When the baby’s going to be born in Alaska, the winter clearance items that are really cheap in April are perfect for Anchorage now. (I did, however, skip the Halloween and Santa-themed ones.)

Sometimes it pays to let companies email you their ads. And if anyone’s looking for baby clothes right now, I thought I’d mention.

(p.s. Sometimes Target stores offer a $5 gift card for buying multiples of staples on sale. I remembered to enter the one I had.)



Where have all the flowers gone? Long time passing…
Wednesday April 19th 2017, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family,Food,Friends,Life

My daughter-in-law had a moment of great inspiration that blessed a lot of us. That will be a story to tell, probably next week.

Meantime, today I had an appointment with the ENT who, years ago, diagnosed my hearing loss as being caused by an allergy to aspirin and thereby stopped its progression. I owe him much. He’s also the one whose love of his garden sparked my own fruit tree and veggie planting and I adore him.

He was running a moment late. And because he was running late, I ended up pulling back into my driveway exactly at the moment a neighbor from across the fence was standing right there, having stopped to talk to the guy next door after having walked all the way around the block in hopes of seeing me and finding me not there. But then I was.

If you remember the saga of the big ragged broken sad ugly Snoopy weathervane skewered on the fence that bugged me so much for so long and an elderly neighbor’s anger at my asking her to take it down or to let me help her do so, this was her.

I wanted peace between us after that. Praying was something I could do while trying to figure out how to create some positive interactions, and we have had some since then.

I stumbled across an article on war brides from her native land that left me feeling for the first time like I could understand why she came across the way she did–it was a survival tactic that had helped those women survive.

Whether it actually applied to her or not I don’t know for sure, but I do know that for me it helped a lot.

Last week I left a stalk of bright red amaryllis flowers in a vase by her door after no one answered. (At her age, I just hoped she was still there but nothing had changed in her front yard, so…)

Here she was, responding in kind. She had a surprise for me. I looked in and laughed, “You didn’t need to return the vase!” There were dark-chocolate-covered butter cookies in there, too. Wow. Yum. “Thank you!”

But here is the thing: she was radiant. She glowed with love, and we gave each other a big hug and I didn’t even know she does hugs. My next door neighbor shared in by saying I’d given them an amaryllis, too, and his being there made it all the sweeter. Had he not stepped outside to put his trash bin away just in time to see and delay her by visiting a moment she probably would have missed us both.

She said, “But when the flowers got old they dripped red. It looked like blood!” She turned and said it a moment later to him, too, in case he hadn’t heard it the first time. I grinned at the scandalousness of its dastardly deed. Yeah, they do that. And thought, actually, it would probably make a great dye for my wool, but who would ever sacrifice the number of flowers it would take to find out?

Only later did the thought occur to me that, oh, I hope that didn’t cause her any flashbacks. But judging by her face and her voice, I think, I think, we did just fine there. Replace the old memories with the new. Better. Happier. And hey–amaryllises!



If the shoe should fit
Monday April 17th 2017, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Twenty-ish years ago I dragged my husband to the mall and got him to try on some badly-needed shoes. He settled for whatever to get himself out of there as fast as he could–this was just so not his thing.

Mine, neither, honey, I hear you.

Again, the man needs a new pair of shoes.

And so I went looking this evening. All over.

Just try to drag his eyeballs over to the screen to look at such a thing. Now, if it had been gadgets? Plus ca change…

We found one awhile back from LLBean that he liked that was cushioned and nice enough for mostly anywhere–but when he wore them out and I ordered a new supposedly identical pair (I flipped through old orders to double-check), you put them side by side on the floor and the sole of the new was a full inch narrower at the widest point than the older. I don’t get it. They don’t want repeat customers?

And so we are back to shopping, with a whole lot more to see/not see in person in the same timeframe. Check those return policies and I wish each manufacturer listed local inventory so we could buy from the little guys.

Okay, typing this got me to go look up Rockport just in case. They say they have extra wide. Hmm. I will ask them in the morning about those has-Beans.

It’s a step forward.

(Thirteen, in case anyone’s wondering. Wide. He’s got small feet for a 6’8″er.)