Happy April
Wednesday April 11th 2018, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Life

Taxes: done!



We didn’t have any reservations
Thursday April 05th 2018, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

So. Monday when our seriously-jet-lagged daughter woke up we offered to take her out to dinner for her birthday a day early (since her old friend wanted to do so the day of.) We asked her where she’d like to go.

The first place she mentioned was Rangoon Ruby. Which is a great place, and dairy-allergy-friendly. Sounds good!

Somehow to my complete surprise we ended up somewhere else altogether that I would not have thought of for her at all, on the other side of town. But it worked out fine. Even if the waiter tried to surprise her with birthday cake and suddenly realized as he was putting it down that she couldn’t touch it and he handed it to us instead with profuse apologies and embarrassment. Oops. But he called himself on it, and that was the important part.

We’d already had dessert so I’d thought it was safe to joke about the outdoor heater making a great birthday candle, but no, they were trying to do that one extra thing because hey, birthdays. I told the guy he’d just given us a funny story–it was all good.

I was reading the local news today and was, for the second time this week, suddenly speechless. At the time we were sitting down eating that dinner in that other restaurant that night, someone showed up for his shift at Rangoon Ruby.

After, on his commute in, he’d shot at a complete stranger in the car next to him at a light, unprovoked. (Missed him, damaged his car.) Who then gave chase, trying to get his license plate for the cops. The guy then shot a 65-year-old woman carrying her groceries (she needs surgery but she lived.) The first victim stopped and ran to her aid. Next he hit a teen on a bicycle (it was wrecked but the kid’s okay) and nearly took out someone else next to him and the guy, no surprise at this point, took off.

He ditched the car downtown, causing a lockdown at a restaurant there, and then casually walked into the one where he worked.

And said, Man, there were a bunch of crazy people chasing me out there.



YouTube today
Tuesday April 03rd 2018, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life,Politics

She was going out to dinner near the airport with her best friend, who was then going to drop her off for her flight.

She glanced at her phone as we started out. Great, there’s been a shooting.

In San Bruno.

We were headed to San Bruno.

On some level, it just didn’t sink in; it just made no sense.

She read on. The shooter was already known to be dead; we didn’t think we were going to be too close to the scene anyway.

But after I got home I found out a friend had marked himself as Safe on Facebook (Oh is that where your new job is) and another had said that she was pinging her co-workers, hoping to hear that they were okay. She later deleted the post: no sense in letting the crazies know where she worked.

These are the times we’ve been allowing ourselves to live in and creating for our children to inherit.

Meantime, another friend had a small fender-bender near there and a witness waited with her for the police to come–and for friendly chat to pass the time he asked her, Did you hear about YouTube? When she said no, he (with expletives) said that they deserved it because they were threatening our Second Amendment rights.

Wait. YouTube said they would no longer allow videos that made them a party to gun sales. They didn’t say you couldn’t sell, they didn’t say you couldn’t speak, they didn’t outlaw your guns, they’re not the government nor are they a public utility nor are they censoring speech, they simply said that on the platform that they own and pay people to manage, on the machines and electricity bills that they pay for, these were some of the rules for participating.

Anybody can still make their own video and host it on their own server.

This man actually thought it was okay to wish a death sentence on innocent people out loud to a total stranger–and he assumed she would agree with him!–for YouTube’s unwillingness to be a party to what they felt was promoting gun violence. This afternoon that issue was forced into their very workplace and I imagine their decision gained both clarity and a deep-seated sense of righteousness.

If people like him think that they’re a majority, then clearly that would suggest he could strike it rich with his own startup: video hosting for people who think like him. Literally nothing right now is stopping him. Venture capitalists in Silicon Valley constantly chase the next big money-maker, go make your pitch to them.

You see? That First Amendment: and it came first for a reason.

But it does not include the right to force someone else to pay to issue your speech for you.



A son of goodly parents
Saturday March 31st 2018, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift,Life,Wildlife

Not a single squirrel so much as ran down that fence line, as far as I saw today. Several times they came down the side fence, stopped, sniffed in the direction of the cherry tree–nuh UH, and turned the other way and disappeared into the yard behind instead. Two new cherry flowers today and they were left alone. Unsweetened grape Kool-aid solution for the win!

The blueberries might need some of that soon.

And over at the needles, beaded silk. It’s Conference weekend, and two two-hour online sessions of watching the leaders of the Mormon Church helped get a lot of knitting done, with an occasional glance over at squirrel antics.

The stunner/not-surprised-in-hindsight was the announcement that someone who grew up in our ward, whose family we know well, was called to be one of the twelve apostles. I cannot think of a better man in every way that they could have asked to represent and offer Christ’s love and compassion to the world. I’m so glad his 91-year-old mom got to live to see the day.

There are two more sessions tomorrow, starting at 9 am and 1 pm Pacific time.  Wishing a joyful Easter to all who celebrate it and every good thing to all.



It was a dark and swarmy, nigh
Tuesday March 27th 2018, 10:21 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

Great picture, I know, but the sun was behind those trees and I didn’t want to go too far out there.

My first thought was a confused, termites swarm after the first rain of the season and this sure ain’t it.

My second was, is that the hive? There was this frantically kinetic cloud of yes it was bees, zipping in ovals over our yard and the neighbors’.

I had a sudden thought a few minutes in and checked the inside reader re the mango tree: 88F. It was warm outside but not that warm–I needed to turn those Christmas lights off, and the auto version that takes care of that has been nonfunctional for a month or two. Which hasn’t been an issue; it’s been cold enough for them to just stay on, pretty much, but not today.

A wild hive (or someone’s escaped domestic one) has been living just immediately on the other side of the fence from that tree. It simply moved into the compost pile there one day and stayed, taking care of the neighbors’ garden and mine.

I walked out there slowly, hopefully non-threateningly, and pulled that plug.

A few ran circles around my face but other than that they left me alone.

After awhile some of them seemed to need to rest (while
a few zipped off towards my peach flowers) and little by little, as I watched from safely inside again, wishing I could dare go out there with a camera again, wishing I were taller so it would be of any use, quite a few landed on the top of the fence. So many that it started to glow gold in the afternoon sun. One would occasionally pop up and zip around some more like a toddler on its second wind.

I had errands to run and when I came back there was no sign of them, and whether they were swarming to follow their queen to someplace new or settling back down now after a major upset I have no idea.

But I have now seen bees swarm, and it was quite the sight.



Creamed
Saturday March 24th 2018, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

After the afghan, I did a cowl in Malabrigo’s Solis blue/green colorway Thursday and Friday and wondered what to start and for whom. So I said a little prayer: You know who most needs the next thing the soonest.

And out of all my new Stitches stash and all my older stash, you know what answered that? What demanded to be next?

That same cream cashmere/cotton, (mine was a heavier weight) of which there was just enough (that was already scoured) left from that afghan to make a hat.

Again?!

It’s like I can’t get away from that yarn. (Two afghans in six months and another cone waiting to be a third.) I confess I had to let the thought percolate a bit and left it for the morning, and then left it for the afternoon till I finally decided both that I was being ridiculous and needed to get to it–and till it had come to me what pattern to use. Till I knew, and I did, exactly what pattern it had to be. Maybe not for the recipient’s sake but for mine.

A cream, almost white hat with cotton.

Like the one that was my mother-in-law’s… (Where did I post that story?) Only this time it would not vanish into the wild.

I had gotten my late mother-in-law’s chemo caps sent back to me after her death, and on impulse I had grabbed one to wear out to dinner with friends on a chilly evening. None of us ever saw it again. I retraced my steps, I called the restaurant, but it was gone.

And yet mixed with that great sense of loss–I had made that for MomH!–was this strong feeling that all was not actually lost, that it had gone to someone who needed it. It was cotton. It was non-allergenic. It was pretty. It was warm, because I had knitted it doubled fingering weight on size 3 needles, an aching task (especially with those cables) that I could only put a couple of rows into a day but I did it for her.

And now for someone else, whoever they were. I might not know them but they were known to G_d, and there was a comfort there that I did not expect and it has stayed with me whenever I’ve thought about that hat.

So. Cream, almost white. Half cotton, half cashmere, bigger needles, easier to work with, so soft. Make it just like Mom’s had been. A cable going sideways around the head, stitches picked up lengthwise to knit straight up from there, curving decreases in a pinwheel at the top.

I knew exactly who it was for and I couldn’t wait to give it to her and now it is done and I can.

This time, since the recipient isn’t a tender-headed woman balded by chemo, it has a tag inside saying who made it for her. If somehow it should get lost, it can make its way back.



And the afghan is on its way
Thursday March 22nd 2018, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Life

Post office, laundry, cleaning stuff, organizing stuff, grocery shopping and running into an old friend, picking up the daughter at the airport and taking her straight out to dinner before seeing her off again. It was so good to see her for whatever time her schedule could squeeze in during her trip.

Finally putting my feet up, picking up a cowl project, and putting a half hour into it as the familiar soft green wool wound through my hands.

While thinking, with satisfaction, when the floors are clean? Everything else in the house is halfway already done.



Flintstones
Monday March 19th 2018, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,History,Life

I remember the day years ago when we drove Dad to Carmel to see his old Army buddy for the first time since I’d been about three. We held back at the driveway to let Dad walk on ahead of us.

The man saw our car and quickly came out the door to greet us.

I got to see the moment when the two men laid eyes on each other, a mixture of recognition that was delayed just that one slight millisecond–and the unspoken sudden shock at each other’s aging and thus their own in their joy as they threw their arms around each other. It had been so long.

Dad’s buddy’s career was as a producer of the Hanna Barbara cartoons.

So maybe that’s a small part of why I so like this place: it reminds me of Dad’s friend.

Someone has finally bought the Flintstone house. Someone with the money and the will to preserve it and the hillside it’s built into, someone who walked in the door and fell in love at first sight, someone with a keen sense of whimsy.

Someone who’s added fifteen-foot dinosaurs, cartoon mushroom sculptures and Fred himself, with more to come. Because she can, and why not?

I’ve seen it at a distance driving by and had wondered, and those pictures are a treat.

I love that the original architect got to see his masterpiece being loved all over again.



Love your dear ones
Sunday March 18th 2018, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

The friend I knitted the purple for was wearing an outfit today that would look smashing with the butterscotch cowl, and she definitely thought so, too. Got that one right even when I got that one wrong.

Eli loved his new teal-green hat and the vote of thanks and confidence in his mango-tree-caretaking it conveyed.

Which was as far as I got. I was all ready to tell the expectant mom she could shrink the baby hat for a few minutes in the dryer while the baby was small, let it air dry as the baby got bigger and the superwash treatment would shrink or stretch the fit accordingly. But those came home.

Last Tuesday we got a phone call close to dinner time: my friend Karen (this friend), my visiting teacher in Mormon-speak, had a big dinner ready to set out and she was suddenly in need of people to feed it to and would we like to come? There was no way she by herself could plow through all this.

Hey, love to. A few others showed up at her spur of the moment call and a grand time was had by all and we should do this again, definitely. May I just add, and that was the biggest lasagna pan I have ever seen.

Her daughter-in-law is the one I just knitted the butter cowl and baby hat for.

Karen had a heart attack two days ago and her family was not in church. Any protest of mine that she is way too young for this, well… She is recuperating.

Someone definitely needs me to bring them a good dinner. My pans may be smaller but I’ve got two ovens at the ready and all the love in the world.



Good. Stick around, hon, we need you.
Saturday March 17th 2018, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

We were leaving a potluck dinner that had been quite delightful when I turned to Gail, who’s my mom’s age and was moving carefully, slowly with her walker.

I told her that to quote an old children’s book, Today is done. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one!

She chuckled that sweet laugh of hers and decided, Yes. Yes it is!

(Baby hat: done with a yard to spare. Tomorrow it gets delivered.)



But it’s a good boss
Sunday March 11th 2018, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Rachel is moving to Maine (note that that is farther from here than Barrow at the tippy-top of Alaska. I checked), and only because I don’t have any say in it. But then her dad–okay, so, she’s allowed.

She had some time to stop by today.

I pulled two things out of an overstuffed bag and then shook out the rest, saying they were my back-up plan, but she’d already picked up the baby alpaca cowl. She did a double take at how much softer it was than even what one would expect out of such a fiber. Didn’t even look over the others, this was it.

The hat, too–they’re a set.

The hat?

I told her they were in memory of the qiviut she’d spun up for me back when my fingers couldn’t feel to spin that fine a fiber with any justice. I’d told her not to give it back; she’d given it back.

We were both really glad of that after it went to a high school friend of mine as a small but very warm scarf after he was paralyzed when a car hit his bike. Grateful to be able to do something. Grateful to each other for making it so we could.

I am so going to miss her.

So, off to another friend’s for her and church for me.

A burgundy cashmere cowl (not in the picture) was exactly the favorite of… The pink pearl was worn proudly throughout by…

We had a linger longer after church, a potluck (with the desserts on a table set on blocks to raise it and keep the littlests from devouring only sugar. I was much amused.)

I found the husband of the one I’d knitted the silk for, a couple that’s only been here a few months and whose name (his I mean) I don’t think I actually know yet: is B here?

She’s out of town, he half-apologized.

Oh. Could you do me a favor?

Sure!

Could you give this to her for me?

And in that moment I was given the great privilege of seeing how much that man loved his wife. Wow.

At the last, I found…

That large smalt-colored cashmere/cotton cowl I’d worked on Friday and all day Saturday? When I got up this morning it was a beautiful thing, and still a little damp. I hairdryered it. I felt, with a good night’s sleep between finishing it and seeing it finished, that I would be disappointed somehow if it didn’t go to her. Sure, I could knit her other things later: but this knew where it wanted to be.

I asked her if she liked this color, then reached into the bag and pulled it out.

“That is a beautiful color!” she gasped. And on her, it very much was. It was perfect. It had been worth every stitch.

I came home and eyed that butterscotch baby alpaca that had been sitting in my stash for ten years until this morning, when it had leaped onto my needles and cast itself on. I considered taking it off and frogging out that tiny little bit and picking up something more my color.

Which is why the first of the two 110-yard skeins has now transmogrified itself into fern motifs. Butterscotch it is.

When I let the yarn be the boss of me, someone out there always wins. I do, too.



Letting it go is a no smalt thing
Saturday March 10th 2018, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift,Life

A few mild days and nights and suddenly there are baby figs (that’s two there, with a leaf whorl at the top) and more Indian Free peach blossoms. (Just noticing–the copper tape needs fixing. It does work at keeping the snails and slugs from eating the fruit tree flowers at night, but only when it goes all the way around.)

I had a cowl I’d started yesterday that I wanted done. I would describe it as densely spun almost more like a sock weight, 66/34 cashmere/cotton (mine was the smalt blue) that I wound off into two 75+ gram balls a few months ago.

Straight from the cone without scouring first. I’d forgotten that. That was a mistake. I believe in letting me enjoy the yarn as much as the person who gets it, but this time with the dried-hair-mousse effect still there, let’s just say it accentuated the knitting-with-cotton aspect.

The wooden circular needles did not want those stitches to slide across (after all, the whole purpose of that coating is to keep fibers together in the spinning process), and when I tried to change to a smoother pair I found my others that said 4mm were, but the one in my hands was more like a 4.2–they didn’t match up and I was stuck with it. At least I’d cast on doubled to speed things up.

I started at 10:30 this morning. Other than a load of laundry, heating leftovers, icing my hands, and a quick run to the grocery store, I basically knit all day long, breaking the yarn at long last at 8:40 p.m.  Done.

After all that angst and those short circs, I finally got to try it on in its crumpled-tin-foil stage of the lace.

Oh. Blink. That’s why I did this. This is actually gorgeous. Who’d have thought.

Almost crowded out by the thought of I DID IT AND I NEVER HAVE TO DO IT AGAIN!

It is soaking those oils out in the suds and will be luscious and soft. Or at least softer. Tomorrow I will simply totally love it.

Whether I’ll be ready to give it up immediately after all that is another story whose ending I quite honestly don’t know yet. Let me look at it in the morning. That vividness is not quite my shade of blue. Close, though.



For Vera
Wednesday March 07th 2018, 11:08 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Done. It stretches sideways easily and will adapt to anywhere it gets put in there.

The people in my South Bay knitting group were knitting a memory blanket for one of their oldest members, who has Parkinson’s with dementia these days, and did I want to knit her a 12″ square?

I hadn’t made it to one of their evening meetings in over three years and I hadn’t heard the news. Vera had knitted a very nice square for a blanket they had all made for me a dozen years ago, and yes, absolutely.

She likes bright oranges, pinks, reds, cream–I knew poppies were her favorite flower.

I went to Cottage Yarns looking for something in machine washable worsted weight and came home with something I liked but that I couldn’t persuade myself in the end would quite be her favorite. I just hadn’t found what I was looking for. I was stumped.

I found something wonderful at Stitches, but oh of course, it needs to be machine washable. That’s not.

There’s nothing like putting the fear of deadlines into you, though, so when I got asked a couple of days ago if I could get mine to the person piecing the squares, I did a deep stash dive after putting down that silk last night.

And lo and behold: I remembered those two sock yarns–I knitted them together to make a hat for…and it all came back to me. Did I still have enough? I weighed them. I was sure/almost-sure I did.

One strand was Lisa Souza’s bright Earth Birth colorway in merino, the other some other hand-dyer’s merino/tencel.

I remembered Vera once approaching me in great excitement years ago when I showed up, complimenting me on my new blouse: “Is that Tencel?”

“No, silk.”

She was confused. That was not the answer she was anticipating, so she asked me again, with less certainty: “Is that Tencel?” Because she had been knitting some Tencel yarns and loved them and she was clearly excited for me.

I had to explain that no, it was (just) silk.

I’m sure she doesn’t remember that. But I do, and here was a bit of that fiber she loved, and I could make it make flowers. One could even claim poppies. She may not see nor recognize them in the swirl of colors, but she will have the warmth and love from all of her old knitting friends to wrap around her, with a photo of each of us holding our squares to help her hold onto those connections as long as possible.

I knitted for three+ hours, rinsed it, spun it out in the machine, put it on a pillow with a clean white pillowcase and hairdryered the heck out of it and delivered it to Green Planet Yarns, where the person doing the piecing works.

Driving away from there, I was so very glad–and relieved–that I’d been part of that. I marveled at how I’d almost thought, and in reality for several weeks did think even if I wasn’t admitting it to myself that I was too busy to get around to actually doing it just then: the stash diving, the knitting, the measuring, the designing, choosing every variable involved and then getting it done.

But what else is life for but to be there exactly when someone needs you. Not just when it’s easy to pitch in. I just made it.



The first one
Sunday March 04th 2018, 11:37 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Maria in the comments was right. I picked out that colorway at Stitches specifically to match a sweater I’d seen a friend wearing (that I thought was wool) but before I even pulled it out of my bag I asked her if she was allergic to wool–and she said she was.

“But I’m not allergic to cashmere.”

I laughed. I did indeed have some, albeit in limited colors. What was her preference? She was at the head of my list.

So that freed that cowl up, she never even saw it, and across the room was someone who had moved into town two weeks ago. It is never easy to  have to start from scratch on making friends in a new place, so hey, maybe we could speed up the process. I went over and introduced myself (church having just ended) and said I’d spent last weekend at a big knitters’ convention having the time of my life, and so–“Are you allergic to wool?”

That was the last question on earth she would have expected from a complete stranger and she laughed, “No?” with a question mark.

“I think this would match your jacket–if you want, and if not tell me your favorite color.” And I pulled the cowl out.

Sharp intake of breath: “I LOVE it!” She put it on and petted it, gobsmacked and very very happy.

She just made a hundred more knits happen for other people. Just watch.



With sparkles
Monday February 26th 2018, 11:45 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I’ll try to get a picture tomorrow.

There was an older woman at Stitches selling 76 gram 200 yard skeins of three plies that she’d clearly plied herself: because one was 85/15 cashmere/silk, one was silk, and the last one embedded in there was a strand of mylar/nylon sparkle.

And that sparkle yarn had hundreds of matching cobalt-blue glass beads strung along it.

She had done that stringing herself.

And she was selling those skeins for $18.

I bought just one, and told her I knew I would regret that. Which I do. I was in Stitches overload and sparkly isn’t usually personally my thing but even then I knew I would wish for more of this stuff. It was very striking. I asked the woman if she sold them online and her response was, no, because she can never keep up.

I went looking today out of sheer curiosity and found lesser amounts of wool beaded in villages in India for three times the price and a beaded cashmere yarn for $74 for, again, less yarn, and realized that my take that the lady at Stitches was seriously undervaluing her time and product was definitely an understatement.

So here I was today, not thinking of that at all but rather of a friend who sings semi-professionally and who loves a good formal dress for a performance. She wore a striking new cobalt-blue one to church yesterday. She is a profoundly kind human being and I told her a week or two ago that I wanted to be like her when I grow up.

She laughed in surprise and told me I had that backwards.

Yesterday, though, she opened up a little to me about how hard this parenting three small children thing was being just then. I sympathized; I told her of when my two-year-old had danced to make the four-month-old giggle, had suddenly stopped, pulled back her foot and kicked him hard in the face just to see what would happen.

Mommy grabbing her shoulders and screaming, NO!!! in her face as the baby screamed hysterically is what happened. Trust me, they’re good friends now.

So here I was today, thinking of her needing a hug and a you’ve-got-this, winding a skein of superwash wool to match that dress: practical, soft, and one less thing for her to stress over. And I sat down to cast it on.

I only got to about four stitches. The wool just refused.

But with little kids and a baby surely that’s what she needs, and it’s the right color….!

I looked up mid-self-argument and saw that beaded yarn.

Sometimes it feels great to be more than just the mom.

Instantly I knew why, in all the time I’ve known Becca, I’ve never yet made her a cowl. It was because her yarn hadn’t existed yet, and I didn’t know that, but now it does and it is perfect. Nobody else will have one like it, and that’s okay: nobody else does what she does.

I sent a note in thanks to the woman who’d strung those beads and she was very pleased.

I’ve got the stitch count. I’ve got the first row. I just have to get past the feeling that I only have just this one chance to knit this gorgeous yarn right–and that after that I may never get to again.