At Alison’s Restaurant
Thursday November 01st 2018, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life,Mango tree

After the baking binge.

They came, they saw, and to my surprise they lifted before I even finished writing an Alice’s Restaurant-style note on the door for any stragglers.

Walk right in, come around to the back, just a half a mile from the railroad track…

It was getting dark but they did it.

And then I sent Peter, James, Krys+Sterling, Eric, and Nathaniel off with a chocolate torte each plus one for Bo who really meant to come but was still busy helping a very elderly and quite handicapped woman move out of her home to go to an assisted living facility near her son down south.

Bo had definitely earned his torte.



Crisp and sweet
Wednesday October 31st 2018, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Garden,Knit,Life

Just for this afternoon, I needed a project I didn’t have to pay attention to for the doctor’s office and I was fresh out. (Routine appointment, no worries.) Grabbed some violet merino/cashmere/silk Diamante I’d had Colourmart six-ply for me and cast on an hour beforehand and got enough done that you could tell what the pattern was going to be (and so it would be long enough that the curling bottom wouldn’t bug me–blocking will fix that later.)

I found myself sitting next to a fellow grandmother and knitter, a woman from India who loved watching my hands work as we delighted in each other. She was a treasure.

The doctor was the ENT whose love for taking care of his fruit trees had triggered my planting mine, and look where it got me now. Enthusiasm is contagious that way.

So I brought him a gift in a small Penzey’s box: one perfectly ripe, slightly funky-shaped rather small apple that had grown to fit the produce clamshell that had been squirrel-proofing it. I told him it was my final Fuji of the season.

He laughed in wonder, saying he’d picked his last Fuji in August!

Microclimates R Us, I guess.

It smelled perfect. I hope it was. There had been two, and we can tell you that the other had made it clear how good they were now.



Handknit warmth for the survivors and bereaved
Monday October 29th 2018, 11:00 pm
Filed under: History,Knit,Life

A yarn store not far from the Tree of Life synagogue that was attacked is collecting squares to be made into afghans, with a deadline of December 1st and a request that you not weave the ends in (I imagine they want to use them for sewing the squares together in yarns that match.) Note that there are three synagogues that meet in the same building and all were affected.

Yarns By Design got permission from Nickie Epstein to share her Tree of Life pattern and posted it here.

I’m hoping I can find enough people in my area for us to finish at least one afghan in full.

I’ll let the shop tell the details of what they want. I’d love to hear any other ideas on designs.

Pattern: any and all designs and skill-levels are welcome
eg. Stars of David, trees, hearts, doves, plain, etc

Size: 9” horizontally by 8.5” vertically with a 5 row seed stitch edging
Yarn: Dk or sport weight (3 on the standard scale), super wash wool or other washable fibers only. Please make sure your yarn won’t felt!
Gauge: 6 stitches/in stockinette
Needle size: 5-7, or whatever you need to get gauge
Style: knit or crochet

All samples can be dropped off at the YBD boutique by December 1st, or mailed to us at:

Yarns By Design
622 Allegheny River Blvd
Oakmont PA 15139



For Pittsburgh
Sunday October 28th 2018, 9:43 pm
Filed under: History,Life

I wanted to say something yesterday but it was just too close. People I love knew people who were in the synagogue (link to their stories) where so many lives were taken and so many were hurt.

Here in our local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we have two wards that share the same building, switching off morning vs afternoon meeting times. We’re in the afternoon time slot this year.

Seats in the classrooms are set up by the morning crew for both wards to use and then put away by the afternoon one so that vacuuming can happen.

But there are not normally plastic chairs on the stand in the chapel. And they most especially are not left there for the second ward to deal with if there are–I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. It was startling to have a random set of them facing the audience that no one was using and that there seemed to be no reason nor plan for, at least as far as we were concerned.

And yet.

I have no idea if someone realized that this is what they were doing, and no mention was made of it.

But there they were, off to the side of the rise from where the choir sings and the speakers speak, some stacked, some single: somebody’s subconscious had apparently insisted they remain there.

Eleven empty chairs set before the congregation.

There could have been more below the table for the wounded, including the police who had tried to protect, but those eleven were the ones seen.

Eleven empty seats in that house of worship facing us, silently asking us throughout the meeting what we will do now, what we must do, so that someday there might be no more chairs emptied by hate.

Love and kindness, one simple human interaction at a time. We must.



All you need is love. Purple Piuma helps with that.
Thursday October 25th 2018, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

There was a phone call, there was news, it’s temporary (you know, one of those learning experiences), but for the moment it’s painful for the sake of the person going through it.

Man it felt good to sit down for an hour afterwards and make more of something soft and pretty to put out into the world. To do what I can to speed up the healing.

I really needed that.



More than a blurb on the ballot
Wednesday October 24th 2018, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Politics

A friend threw a potluck tonight to go over the ballot issues via a lively 15-way discussion.

And…voices stayed understated, everyone was a grownup, but it definitely felt lively there for a few minutes after one person quietly texted her friend the candidate, who showed up and was promptly peppered with questions. (The hostess was, um, a tad surprised, but invited her in and took it in stride very graciously.)

Turns out another woman there was dead set against her (I was a bit stunned at finding out why)–and after hearing the three of them each speak their piece, that candidate very much has my vote. She’s the equivalent of Christine Blasey Ford’s mom’s friend, who in our local case spoke up for the raped 14-year-old for 18 months, hounding school board members and the superintendent, telling that other woman’s kid on the school newspaper that using the defendant’s lawyer as your source for saying it was consensual and not interviewing anyone who said otherwise is so not cool and you must publish a retraction. This is a criminal case and you are contributing to the continuing victimization of the victim.

There was a second assault.

She kept on pushing until she got justice and the school instituted some changes. And now she’s running to be on that board.

The principal who kept trying to brush her off, who put consequences on the victim alone and none on the perpetrator, no support whatsoever for the girl, ended up fired.

Yeah. You bet I’m voting for this woman. She’s got nerves of steel and she will do the right thing no matter who or what power stands in her way.

I’d been debating doing early voting but had wanted to hold off till that dinner was over, and I can’t tell you how glad I am that I did.



Searsiously
Saturday October 20th 2018, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Garden,Life,Mango tree

How hard is it to find a thing that works.

Plenty, turns out.

I spent several hours today researching and looking and trying to find a good heater for a small greenhouse. All I could find was cheap Chinese knock-offs that looked like the old tried and true but had dismal, awful reviews. Whatever happened to the ones built to last? To even work?

It finally hit me: Sears used to make good tools for the working man. You didn’t want to freeze in that garage with the door open to the world while you worked on that car.

And so I tried them, knowing full well their vulture capitalist CEO is trying to kill the company as fast as he can for what he can skim off the top and he’s certainly not putting any money into improving product lines.

Lo and behold. One color left: bright red. I can handle that. Stellar reviews. Hey. Happy reviews. One said, I tried all those others but this one actually works and actually keeps working.

So it will be my wistful wave good-bye to what once was, both Sears and decent appliance manufacturing standards, and it is on its way. Wish me luck.

All by way of saying, I’m going to have to let Eli gently down and tell him that (hopefully) I’m not going to be needing him to cover and uncover the mango tree when I’m out of town anymore: my husband told me he thought I should order that Sunbubble greenhouse and a good heater and not to have to worry about being here at the right time every single morning and night, flu or not.

Get the big one, he said. You know it’ll grow into it.

I finally let myself feel just how freeing that will be. The tree can just…quietly, on its own…do its own thing.

Christmas is coming early.

My husband’s the best.



New neighbor
Thursday October 18th 2018, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I happened to come home from the grocery store exactly as she was coming out.

I have always waved to the neighbors and been the one to step across the wide street to say hi for a moment, letting them know they’re welcome anytime. Thus the memories of two moms and their small children following me to go see the dove’s nest on top of our ladder leaned against the back of the house, holding the little ones high so they could get a view of the baby dove peeking back at them from under its momma’s wing.

Today it was someone new stepping out of the house across the street who waved to me as I waved hi to her–and she’s the one who promptly crossed the street, holding her hand out to introduce herself.

I instantly liked her. No, she told me, the widower hadn’t sold the place–he was renting it to them, but with some work to be done first so they’ll be moving in the first of December and she was quite excited about it. The kids could walk to their school. She loved the neighborhood. She was clearly glad to meet a friendly face right off.

We chatted a moment. It there still a pool in the back yard? I wondered out loud.

Yes, there is!

I told her that the then-ten-year-old living there (the not-yet-a-widower’s son) had been in it when the Loma Prieta quake had hit and it had whooshed him right out of the water.

Omigosh! Her eyes got big and she laughed. Surf’s up!

That house has been quiet a few months now, with a worker’s truck in the driveway by day and emptiness by night.

I can’t wait till they move in.



Katherine now
Wednesday October 17th 2018, 9:42 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

One week ago, a name popped up in the comments on a Facebook post and I did a double take. We instantly friended each other, and I got to read about a few of her experiences with Catholic Relief Services in Africa. (Do you still go by Katie? I haven’t gone by Katie for 35 years! …I’m behind…)

Then yesterday she posted a picture inside San Francisco airport–because the airline had lost her bag and she was going to have to go fast to buy some clothes before the meeting tomorrow in…

And I went hey, that means you’ll be driving practically right past my house!

Which is how Katherine, my friend since junior high and whom I had not seen since high school graduation, carved two hours out of her very busy trip and spent them today with me and we caught up on forty-one years of life.

“You kind of disappeared,” she told me. I did. I married at 21 and then school and grad school and being broke and kids and distance and we simply didn’t get home for a long time and have never been there for long when we are. I have not seen my favorite mountain laurel in bloom but for three fading tiny blossoms on a single cluster since I was 18.

She married late and no children came, but he was the great love of her life. To describe his generosity, she described his knitting: she was one of six children and there were all these nieces and nephews on her side. One Christmas he knitted them all mittens.

Double knitting mittens. Twenty-four pairs!

Twenty. Four. Pairs. Of double knitting??

I was completely boggled.

He was completely adored.

Ten happy years. Then his cancer. Even in hospice, right to the end, she said, he was knitting for others.

And he loved my friend Katherine and that alone would have been good enough for me. I so wish I could have met him.

I told her, My memories of you from junior high is that you were always nice to everyone. Without fail. At a time in life when kids are so easily snarky and mean you were unfailingly kind.

She was someone I wanted to be a lot more like. Still do.

I sent her back out into the world with a copy of my book and some knitting (thank you for the gorgeous yarn, Lisa!) of my own.

Alaska Air reimbursed her on her clothing purchase.

It was their baggage handling that sparked us those two marvelous hours.



The bees’ knees
Sunday October 14th 2018, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Felt great to feel good today–just a bit tired first thing but that wore off, so we went to church with face masks on both of us just to keep our friends on the safe side.

I was afraid H’s mom had already flown home, but no, there she was. Turns out that although she mostly quilts and crochets, she knits, too, and she was gobsmacked that I had made her this softness and that her daughter and I had plotted together on the color. She instantly put it on and proudly wore it the rest of church, even though it was thick Mecha and it was 76 out.

I looked and looked for the woman who’d exclaimed over my half-done yellow cashmere I’d started for her last month and finally resigned myself to taking it home yet again and hoping for the next time.

We were maybe three steps from the entryway by the door to leave when the hall door opened and she was backing up against it almost into me with her arms full. Turns out she taught one of the primary classes.

THERE you are! I’ve been looking for you! I pulled her cowl out of my purse, stuffed into a small ziploc.

She almost cried. She told me her elderly mother had been diagnosed with colon cancer this past week to go with her other health problems and it had been very hard. “Your timing is perfect!”

She said it again, marveling, and gave me the hug that was really most of all for Someone looking out for her up there in those moments who knew more and deserved it more than I ever could. Her favorite color was supposed to have been sold out before I ever even saw it listed. One cone suddenly became available at the moment I signed in to Colourmart that day. It’s hers now.

So now I understand why I couldn’t find her earlier.

Oh! I almost forgot–there was a middle-aged woman I didn’t recognize with small children whom I did, and before church started she was trying to calm the toddler down. He was okay while they were in motion but not once she sat him and his baby brother down. Routine was Mommy and Daddy here once a week and this was someone else and not how you do it and he was Not Having It. I mah MAHMAH!

Turns out, yes, they were out of town and yes, she was the grandma holding down the fort, glad to connect with another grandma as I brought him the most colorful finger puppet in my purse, a parrot with bright red-white-blue stripes in its wings and yellow in its tail and beak. And another puppet for his 20-month-old best buddy who’d climbed under the bench and suddenly popped up onto it to stand there next to his sobbing-suddenly-not-sobbing friend. Hey! One for him, too! (In no way was I about to instigate jealousy between the two.)

I was back in the aisle just as 92-year-old Jean was coming up from behind with her walker.

“If I’m really good can I have one too?”

I guffawed. I didn’t even know she’d seen any of that. I dug down in the purse for whichever Peruvian hand knit treasure should come up.

“A honeybee! For your garden!” Jean’s garden is the great passion of her creativity.

I think she really was hoping for one of those bright parrots, though.

Looking at these other two bees just now, I find the stitches were pulled shut at the bottom–oops! Not a finger puppet! That’s a first–clearly she needs a do-over.

I also need to make that other grandma a cowl, quick. Washable looks definitely the way to go.



Home sweet home
Friday October 12th 2018, 9:34 pm
Filed under: Life

So I have this new homeowners insurance policy, new company, same agency I’ve had forever.

I got a note from the agent: the company wanted to know why I had a mailing address that was different from my street address? Was that where I wanted my mail sent?

Wait what?!  Where on earth did they get that? No, we’ve lived in this house 31 years and have no intention of moving, where did that come from?

And then I looked up the address he’d referenced. Bffffft!

It was, get this, not only in the next town over, it was the chapel there of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They were billing the Mormon Church for our house.

I emailed the guy back and told him just where that address was.

He burst out laughing, he told me.

Just like I had.

Did the church have a policy through their agency? The insurer? I wondered. I told him, I actually am a Mormon, but I go to the one in my own city. (I didn’t bore him with the details of, except for the biannual stake conference–that’s there. The family history satellite center, too, for anybody at all who wants to access the huge genealogy database.)

He had NO idea how that got into the system, just, none, and neither did I, but he was happy to straighten that out for me, and now he’s got an office story for the ages.



Bill-ious
Thursday October 11th 2018, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Life

Flu week: when it actually feels good to be able to sit up and pay all the bills. So weird.



On being the old camera film that waited for development
Wednesday October 10th 2018, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Life

Still fevers, still needed to crash mid-day but at least I managed to read half a book this time rather than falling asleep. “Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science.” 

My surgeries were seven years after Gawande’s book came out. Maybe that’s why Stanford asked me to sign a waiver before they let anyone new to the knife anywhere near me. (I signed it, with some qualms.)

I could tell them what was really done well and what could have been done better, if I only knew how to. I at least got to meet the one doing the asking to be part of the surgical team.

Nothing serious at all, just, it’s easier to learn the longterm effects if you actually get that feedback, which there is no way to offer. I don’t think it occurred to them that patients would know anything.



My husband brought home flowers from a Trader Joe’s run
Monday October 08th 2018, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Because fevers are kind of boring. Flowers are more fun.

He’s a good one.



Reel to reals in Maine
Tuesday October 02nd 2018, 9:54 pm
Filed under: Life

LLBean email: You have a $10 gift certificate you haven’t used and it’s about to expire.

Me: Okay, whatever. (Clicking on Sale.)

And that’s how the funniest I-must-be-getting-old?! conversation I’ve had in awhile got started. I have a clutch of a wallet that I bought when my oldest was maybe as old as high school: it is safe to say it has seen better days. As in, I’ve been thinking for about five years now that I really need to ditch it but hey, the leather isn’t torn too much. (Yes it is.)

Bean had, at half price, one that looked very much like mine only a bit thinner; throw in that $10 off and I could have a nice one for $24 and free shipping? That’s actually interesting. Yeah, I could put some money into that.

A last-second thought stopped me.

I opened the chat function on the site: I can’t tell from the photos. Does this hold a checkbook too?

James, whoever he was, managed to not quite say, A what now? But he had no idea how one would know. None. The picture says it holds a cellphone, he said helpfully, while clearly wondering if the latest Apple X would actually fit in there–maybe not. Check. Book. A small book. Right?

I had to explain to him what one is like. You have the pad, and you have the ledger, and the wallet has to be able to open all the way so as to lie flat.

It has three sections, he said helpfully.

But does it have pockets going across for the edges of the checkbook to tuck into to hold the two pieces in place.

Let me get you a product specialist.

I waited…

The product specialist clearly did the same thing I did: she measured her own checkbook. But at least she had one and she knew what they were. It’s 7″, hers was 6″, it should fit.

But does it have the pocket for it to hold it.

She at least knew why one would want that. Some more checking and waiting…

It does have a pocket. She was pretty certain it would indeed work. She wasn’t sure it had two like mine, but hey, one would do the job, so, good enough, I ordered it.

The 8-track-tapes of finance. Who knew such a thing might be endangered.