Loud restaurant
Wednesday June 12th 2019, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life,Lupus

How I managed to polish off nearly my entire big piece of whipped-cream-and-berry-stuffed birthday cake afterwards. (Happy 80th, Mary!)

It was the day of the annual lupus-group lunch before we close shop for the summer. We’ve gone to the same place three years now by mutual agreement.

And…the menu was the same as those last two times, pretty much. Those six lunch entrees. Everybody loves them but man, doesn’t the chef get bored?

I have this weird low-fiber diet as an ileostomy patient and have learned at the cost of a five-day intubation that I must not eat certain foods.

So.

Yeah their hamburger is the best I’ve ever had but c’mon. So I ordered an appetizer that was safe and asked what the soup of the day was. (Soup being cooked. Cooking breaks down fiber.) Beef? Sounds good, thanks, that, too.

The waiter left and I went, Wait. Did he say…  …Beet?

No, the others reassured me, He said beef.

It didn’t occur to any of us that there was a third possibility. Oops.

I have never had such a good cake with so many calories with so little guilt. Celebrated Mary next to me with gusto. We did it right.



93 tomorrow sounds downright balmy
Monday June 10th 2019, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus

102, 104, 106–It all depended on which thermometer or weather report you were paying attention to. But it was hot.

And as I sat quietly knitting I thought, the Enron scandal with the corrupt contracts and the rolling blackouts–those are long over with. (Part of me thought, But don’t they still do rolling blackouts down south?) Yay for air conditioning.  Lupus patients don’t do well in high heat, but then, who does, right.

I got up to nuke myself a quick late lunch and grab a glass of milk and, coming back in the room–the computer screen in that amount of time had gone black.

Nothing could bring it back up.

Something finally clued me in that even though I’d just used the microwave, wait, oh good, it’s not the computer–nothing else is on, either.

The worker next door stopped hammering and whatever and a few minutes later knocked to ask: Was my power out, too?

Oh yes. I offered him our battery drill if his was running out of juice; he laughed, thanked me, and a few minutes later called it a day and drove off.

I unplugged the bought-on-Saturday microwave since it didn’t have a surge protector and thought, well? Let’s see how many more rows I can get done on this afghan before having over two pounds of wool heaped up in my lap makes me cry uncle, and then I’ll just have to find somewhere to go. (The answer was four.)

My phone showed the blackout area: it looked like the whole town at varying levels of intensity, and the next one over, and up this way well into the hills. Wow, it’s a big one.

I went to the Target in the next city going the other way. Where they were keeping it just cooled enough. I wanted to go to Trader Joe’s and stand in the refrigerator aisle, but then I’d buy something cold and have no way to put it away.

I wasn’t the only one who got to the checkout and went, nah, there’s gotta be something else to look at. I do NOT want to go out there yet.

I finally got up the courage to say to the two moms with kids who did that too that I had that map, that I’d just refreshed the page and it’s still happening and here’s where it goes to; was it affecting them, too?

It was indeed, and they were glad to at least know.

So I had the laundry detergent and I won’t have to buy padded shipping bags for awhile but Target can only be interesting for so long. No I did not need a $16 gadget for making individual ice cream waffle bowls one by one while the grandkids wait and wish the next one were theirs.

They only had the display model anyway. Sorry, kids. But I bet all the retailers made great sales today–the ones that were able to stay open.

I checked out. I checked that page. It was what it was.

But since I didn’t want it to be, I checked it again when I pulled into my driveway. This time the lines drawn around the areas were the same but the colors of them faded out and…

…were gone.

I walked through my front door to the sound of the beautiful, beautiful air conditioner completely throwing itself into its life’s work.



Shoo, out, at the okay Corelle
Saturday May 04th 2019, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Lupus

Buy Corelle, the physical therapist told me at the time: it’s lighter on your hands and helps with the arthritis. Which was severe at the onset of my lupus 29 years ago, to the point that I was having to eat with plastic utensils.

I have my favorite Mel and Kris stoneware collected over twenty+ years and mostly use that, but my kids remember the Corelle plates and bowls as part of their growing up. I have broken many of them and don’t replace them because there’s no longer the need.

I have not broken a single stoneware plate.

Basically, I use the Corelle as covers over things in the microwave and as an easily-cleaned coaster while stirring my morning cocoa and that’s pretty much it.

Hands. They must be protected. You never know, they decided. So when my husband and his siblings needed somewhere for their folks’ Corelle to go, it ended up here.

We tackled that box today. I marveled that every piece was perfect, not the slightest chip anywhere–unlike mine, which have seen better days even though I’m very careful not to let the edges touch anything else in the dishwasher.

I had a moment of, how on earth could that be, and then realized that my late mother-in-law could not have abided setting a plate with a chip at her table and she definitely could have afforded to replace any.

There were so many pieces that if I added them to mine that middle shelf would probably break.

And so the old chipped faded ivy pattern which I prefer got booted out today in favor of plain no-frills white. Which is thinner, too. Curious.

There is one, count’em one single plate with an old-fashioned blue scallop/snowflake that probably dates to the ’60’s; I figure I’ll give away a chocolate torte on it and hope it doesn’t come back.

Then I pulled out my pretty, substantial, memories-of-friends hand thrown stoneware and set the table for dinner.



Each day a blessing
Sunday April 14th 2019, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family,Life,Lupus

My niece Emily has been in the ICU: she caught the flu, got worse, started barfing and her (tween? Tell me he’s not a teenager yet?) son called my sister and said, Grammy, Mom needs you.

My sister went over and called an ambulance.

Emily’s kidneys had shut down and things were very very bad.

This afternoon she was moved out of the ICU, where she’s been the past week.

Today she ate solid food for the first time. Some.

She feels–well, she’s definitely had more fun than this.

Everything. Everything. Is looking far better than it did. We can start to breathe again.

Today Mom and Dad told us Dad’s in hospice care now. Dad’s favorite caretaker can still come and that made the decision easy.

This is another of the amaryllises from Dad last fall where the TSA thought the bulb was a bomb.

This is not how I usually photograph them and I wondered why I was doing it this way as I snapped another from the same angle rather than changing it. Why… And then I got out of the sun and put it back on the porch and that was that.

I did not see till I went to post the picture: it was taken looking straight down so that the stem that supports the blossoms is out of direct sight–but you can infer where it held the sunlight within itself by how it left only its shadow to our eyes. But it is real, it is there, it is strong against the winds outside, and there where it cannot directly be seen, it holds the glorious colorwork steady.



Oooh, seconds?
Wednesday February 13th 2019, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Lupus

Went to my lupus group and offered a bar of my chocolate around the room, fresh from my melanger, I told them. Everybody but the person who can’t eat the stuff broke off a square politely.

We had our meeting, and at a comment at the end someone caught on: Wait. Did you MAKE this??! And suddenly that ziplock was in high demand as it went back around the room.

Photo taken afterwards, coming off the hospital grounds during a break between two waves of the storm.

I’m afraid that tree is just too tall to play jump rope with that rainbow.



Shedding
Wednesday January 23rd 2019, 11:52 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life,Lupus

I didn’t think I could do that.

Somebody had to do that, and he of the formerly broken back has a hard time bending. I told myself that having raised four kids, I knew how to be the mom when I had to be and to go just get it done. Time was running short.

Well, good thing it’s January and not June, UV-wise, and at 4:00 I started in on clearing out the shed that the redwood tree had been trying to grow through. Turns out the neighbor’s trees had punctured the roof at the back and there was a great accumulation of needles and twigs and downright compost growing behind our yard stuff that we hadn’t used in ages.

Good thing that broken elbow’s had a month’s healing at this point. The push broom was beyond me but I could scoop stuff up and bin it. Go figure.

Do you know how much an ailing towering redwood can do?

Well let me tell you a story, and maybe I have before, but, my friend Kevin once told me of growing up in Humboldt County and climbing redwoods for fun as a kid. At twelve and a little too adventurous he found himself higher up than he had any business being and while assessing his situation–he lost his grip and he fell.

While I sat there bug-eyed at the telling, fully aware that he had done this and he was here to tell me he had.

“So this is how I die,” was his instant thought, a surprisingly calm thought, and he spread his arms wide as he went down down down.

And suddenly bounced hard and found himself upright, staggering a few steps forward from the momentum.

There had been a barbed-wire fence laid out there about a hundred years earlier, it turned out. He hadn’t seen it. He hadn’t known it was there. It had had so many years of redwood needles and redwood dust raining peacefully down on it that it had been totally obscured and he had landed with his back immediately lined up to that wiring and it had gone sproing. The barbs had bitten him but basically he was fine.

I was agog. “How did Darwin MISS you?!!!” Probably not the most polite blurt I’ve ever blurted, but he laughed, agreeing with me.

So. No idea how many years our shed was open to the above, but clearly, redwoods shed like Samoyeds in spring. And this one had had a lot of brown, falling needles for some time.

I did it.

Tomorrow morning the guy comes to give a quote on taking out the enormous stump. Whether he’s going to try to do anything where the roots raised our concrete floor a foot in that shed, whether he’ll tell me we have to jackhammer it all out of his way first, whether he’ll walk away from that part, I don’t know, but either way I had to be ready for him to see it.



Do not open before Christmas
Friday December 07th 2018, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family,Lupus

My dad sent us home from our visit last month with my suitcase stuffed with six really big amaryllis bulbs. (Pro tip: the TSA machine reads those as bombs.)

What they needed was fresh soil and big heavy pots to keep the future multiple sun-tracking stalks from knocking them over sideways. Hopefully. Which is fine, except that I just wasn’t looking forward to that trip down the freeway, much though I like supporting Yamagami’s. It’s a great nursery with a lot of pre-Silicon Valley history to it.

And part of that foot-dragging was UV-sensitive hours vs our rush hour that starts just after 2:00; December is safer lupus-wise for walking around outdoors than November.

Meantime, in the nice warm house two of them started to sprout a few days ago so I cut holes in their bags and turned them over to un-tilt their sense of direction.

Found a third one starting to sprout this morning. The middle one. It did all that in under 24 hours. Okay, that’s it, time to get going, yay for December, and Yamagami’s once again impressed me with what good people they hire.

Opening the fourth bag, I’d had no idea that bulb in the foreground had even come out of dormancy.

You can tell.

Oops.

Dark red, wine, white, pink/red/white, with the bags tucked under each for now so I can remember which is which.

Thank you, Dad! Can’t wait! Now that they’re finally planted the little kid in me is like, so BLOOM now! C’mon guys, hurry up!

 



Stalk it to me stalk it to me stalk it to me stalk it to me
Monday September 10th 2018, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus,Mango tree

There was no prior notice. I was not yet fit for company at that hour but at least I was dressed for the unexpected door knock. Richard was just getting up.

The guy showed me his badge, which matched his clothes: he worked for the city. (I was thinking, oh, I guess it is after eight now.) Could he…gesturing to the back yard and saying a whole bunch of stuff that, whatever it was, I just had no idea. He’d caught me with my hair still wet. When your electronics run nearly nine grand and you don’t want to short them out, that detail matters.

I can’t hear you yet. I’ll get my ears and be right back. (So much for worrying about that.)

A minute later as I came back to the door, there was no sign of the guy. I looked around the side yard, I looked down the street. What had all that been about?

Just then he came around from way around the other side where he’d been assessing the camphor tree that I’d almost paid Chris’s crew to trim back last week, but hadn’t because it wasn’t over the house and we were already at a grand on what had to be done.

It is a perching tree only for the birds; no nest could be hidden in those leaves.

The city wanted to trim it–it was growing into the power lines.

(And afternoon-shading my mango, sweet cherry, and two of my peach trees this year as it’s gotten bigger.)

Coooool. That sure worked out!

The guy was a little surprised at how complete the change was in my being able to follow him. He pointed to his ear and said he wears hearing aids, too, but even looking, I didn’t see them. Some of the ones for people with less loss are really small.

Good for him. More people should.

Several hours later, after getting done with the tree across the street, he and his crew walked past the door and disappeared again around the back. Well hello.

They would be back either Tuesday or Wednesday for it.

I went outside to water my trees this evening when the sun was low enough–and saw those acanthus stalks. The ones around the camphor had been stomped down to the ground, and rightly so. Nobody should have to work through those. As flowers, they feed the hummingbirds and bees, but as dried-up husks they are, as I’ve mentioned occasionally, vicious porcupines that I use to keep critters out of my fruit. My fruit’s pretty much done, though, the figs under netting excepted. I’d been putting off dealing with them because it doesn’t matter how careful you are, you’re going to get splinters hand and foot. And there are a lot of them.

I skipped watering the trees that were around where those guys would be working–you don’t want them slipping in mud and landing on any fallen stalk parts I might have missed under the leaves. Those still upright were four to seven feet high and quite obvious. Thankfully the bottoms of the stalks tend to be smooth for just enough space to leave you a part you can grab.

There were well over a hundred of them, easily.

How the prickers got in past my shoes to stab me in so many places I don’t know, I thought I was being careful.

I looked at my big yard-waste bin stuffed as high as it would go. There were two piles more to either end of the yard for what didn’t fit in yet, but they would be well out of the mens’ way. The bin gets emptied Wednesday and then those others can go in.

I get to handle them twice. Oh goody.

But there is a huge amount of satisfaction in knowing that those workers are going to show up expecting to deal with the worst and they’ll find that someone thought of them and how it would be to take one wrong step and get stabbed through their clothes top to bottom and took care of the problem so that they could have a better day.

They’re certainly going to be improving mine. More sun for my evergreen mango this winter. A better chance for the fruit to actually ripen.

Bring on the chainsaws.



The fouls of the air
Monday August 20th 2018, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden,Lupus,Wildlife

The bright white birdnetting over the little fig tree was rocking it out as if Aretha Franklin herself were the soundtrack. There was no way to see what was underneath from there.

2:00 pm, whose health matters, the lupus patient’s or the critter’s?

Yeah you know what I did. Grabbed the hat. Maybe all that smoke in the air will deflect the UV.

It was a mockingbird, caught between the layers of netting–I’d added backup after the scrub jay had done this. How on earth did it get *in* there?!

I opened one side, but of course it wasn’t going to come near me. I went to open the other side and the first fell back down to the ground. The bird snagged a wing exactly where the jay had; I considered the size of its beak and the fervor of its fear while reaching to pull the stuff away from it but that was enough to motivate it to extricate–and it resnagged over to the right, over by the bird spikes (supposedly) protecting a fig.

It was screeching fowl language at the top of its lungs all the while.

Then suddenly all was still and silent as I peered through the reflective white coating–where did it go? How did it get out? When did it get out? The answer was, it didn’t, and suddenly we were in round two.

After several minutes of this it found that one good spot I’d had waiting for it and escaped.

So what I wonder now is, is it dumb enough to try that again? Go eat a cherry tomato, fer cryin’ out loud.

I weighed down the bottom of the netting with flowerpots.

I found myself unable to just sit and knit after that and checked out the bathroom window at the far end of the house (the only one you can see the tree from at that funky angle) again and again to make sure that was that.

So far, as far as I can tell, so good.

All I want is a half dozen palm-size fully ripe Black Jack figs picked first thing in the morning for full flavor, filled with a little Brie and roasted. Or straight off the tree: fig tartare.

If you see any at your Costco let me know.



Calla called, cowl could
Saturday August 18th 2018, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Lupus

Afton (should I say Other Afton, or Local Afton) told me last week she’s about to move to Denver.

Denver is going to be awfully cold to a Californian. So I made it to Green Planet on Thursday (while I could still buy this yarn), started Friday night, got right back to it first thing in the morning and by this afternoon had two skeins of Chalet in this cowl and called it done. (It was densely knit, too, before water touched it, but I still think it’ll give her some good warmth. The photo is less than half of it.)

Ran to Trader Joe’s this evening, where they had small pots of flowering plants out front; I did a quick visual skim so I could keep going and ignore them–but that darkest-pink-to-purple calla lily jumped up and down and refused to let me not pay attention to it.

Wait. That’s IT!

I’d been looking for it for a long time without quite knowing what I was looking for–and with my sun sensitivity, it’s hard to go browsing at nurseries.

I’ve had a large chestnut-brown ceramic pot near the front door ever since my friend Sheryl gave me several when she moved. Two have long been used. The third was very heavy, and when we found it had a crack in it it seemed like an announcement of, well that’s where that goes, then, and it’s a good thing that’s a good spot because even empty it was too heavy to safely move it again and it was far too nice to just toss it because of that.

I just never came across anything that felt like the right thing to put in it. It seemed kind of dumb to have this big empty gorgeous pot just sitting there, and it was, but if I was going to put the effort into keeping anything alive it needed to be something that constantly drew me to it.

It was pretty dark by the time I dragged the bag of soil from the back yard and got this all tucked away in its rightful new place, where it will bloom and the bulb will spread out to fill the space for years to come.

I’d been waiting for it for a long time.

 

 



Paul Kalanithi. And Jason.
Thursday August 09th 2018, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Friends,Life,Lupus

A book or the baby blanket project…

“When Breath Becomes Air” won. Written by Paul Kalanithi, whom I first stumbled across in a New York Times article. He trained as a neurosurgeon at Stanford alongside our friend Jason, which I knew was going to make the book feel very personal. I watched Jason’s family go through that hard long slog; when Jason’s training was finally over, he took a job in upstate New York and his wife Sheryl, who loved to garden and did what she could while living in a rental here, gifted me with several large flower pots when they left. I have raspberries in one and a squirrel-surprise fig seedling in another to remember them by.

When Kalanithi wrote of going out with his wife to a great barbecue place, I thought, I just bet you that was Armadillo Willy’s. California does not do barbecue like the South does but that’s the one place I know of that tries.

Kalanithi wrote about what it’s like to be diagnosed with stage four lung cancer at 36 when you’re so close to achieving all that you’d hoped and worked towards but then life flips the tables over and everything spills off.

I remember Jason coming into church once, which was always notable because during those residency years he so often couldn’t take the time off to. He looked down, and it could have been just the endless hours of it all–and yet.

So I asked him.

And he, knowing that I knew the inside of Stanford Hospital well, just spilled: he’d had a patient, a lovely woman, cheerful, happy, healthy all her life, (and it was clear he really admired her and loved her) and all the sudden there she was needing brain surgery and bam just like that despite all his training, despite all his years of preparation to be able to help other people in moments like this, there was suddenly no more they could do and to his great surprise she was gone. Gone. How. It had just happened and he hadn’t had time to process it yet. He wasn’t sure right then that he could process it–it just didn’t compute. Sixty years old–so young.

Looking at this love of a human being himself, my reaction surprised him. I was in my early fifties, so an endpoint that seemed so close to him in his thirties was a lot closer to me. But still, I was going, Sixty. She made it to sixty in good health. How would it be! I marveled rather than ached, and told him, That’s really cool, I’m so happy for her. I’m sorry she’s gone but I’m glad she had such a good life!

I was picturing all the things one could do if, say, one could be a normal person who could be out in the sun. No lupus. No Crohn’s. You could travel. You could go to the beach and not just right at sundown. You could play with your grandkids on the grass at noon, you could celebrate in any way and at any time you wanted and the fact that she was such a good person while living that life… And then blink and it’s over and you don’t even have to do much of the suffering part in between.

To have that reaction out of someone so close to his patient’s age–that was exactly what Jason had needed. The gratitude. And towards him, too, for having been there for her when she’d so needed him. It turned it around for him completely. He had done his best and he had been there for her and what he could do and be had been enough.

I think both of us will never forget that moment.

Today, at long last, I read his friend Paul’s posthumously published, beautiful, heartbreaking book, a love letter to the daughter he would never get to see grow up, and wished Jason and Sheryl were still here to talk about it with. About their friend.

But life changes and people move on.

This I know: we will see each other again.



Hold on tight
Friday July 20th 2018, 9:45 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus

I had been thinking about what the shoe repair guy had said and found myself agreeing that just making that bag pretty was the way to start; maybe that would prove to be enough for me.

He had been thinking about what I had said and what that beautiful piece deserved to become again and more and he was all ready to work out the design with me and get going on the challenge, and seemed a little disappointed when I agreed with what he’d said yesterday. Clean and dye to start.

Holding it in his hands now, he admired the quality of the leather, feeling it as a knitter would a good yarn and then looking up into my eyes, appreciating what this was. This one was worth the effort.

Later, long dreaded but for the first time ever, I managed to lock myself out of my house because the keys had slipped out of the smaller older purse I’d switched my stuff to; I was taking my knitting out because that cone halfway out the top meant it just did not fit in there. At all.

I did not hear them fall onto the carpet. I usually obsessively check that I have them before stepping out the door but I’d made Richard wait while I got the Instant Pot loaded for dinner and I was distracted and in a hurry and realized too late.

This locked me out of both the house and the car and stranded me in the sunshine. Thankfully at six pm, when the UV was nearly–but not all–gone, or I would have been so brazen as to knock on the neighbors’ doors and begged for help. Sunshine can kill, and that is so weird, but they know me and they understand.

Instead I sat on the bench under the lacewood elm’s deep shade and read the Time magazine I’d grabbed to make up for the lack of knitting. At least I had my cellphone so I could clue him in. He found a ride home.

A zippered pocket where no keys can fall out, rather than only having that broken plastic half-sleeve that holds nothing and a magnet-snap top that things can fall out of….

You see where this is going, right?



Natural threads
Wednesday June 13th 2018, 9:02 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus

My gray hair is a whistle deterrent.

He was too old to do much whistling anyway.

But as I stepped into an alley to stay in the shade on my way to the annual lupus group summer get-together, the scruffy old guy by the motorcycle called out to me, “Nice outfit!” with a smile on his face that, to my surprise, conveyed a love to and for the whole wide world.

“Thank you!” It wasn’t so much the words, it was the clear generosity in his intent that had me responding in kind. He just totally made my day.

He had no way to know my earlier inner monologue of, That shirt looks frumpy. You can do better.

Well I AM frumpy.

Don’t give me that. You don’t have to look frumpy. You’ll enjoy yourself more if you look better there. You just have to get off your duff and iron something nicer.

And so, ten minutes before it was time to go, I finally turned that iron on and got the job done in a bit of a rush.

He totally made it worth it.

My iron just got its old summer job back.



280 grams and 140 grams
Saturday June 09th 2018, 11:29 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Lupus

A friend was throwing a Relief Society (women’s organization) potluck brunch get-together. She has a beautiful big back yard with picnic benches for a crowd, perfect for a summer day.

Her small house did not have enough space inside for her guest list. I said the June sun was the issue and I was sorry I was going to be missing it.

She talked me into coming anyway, parking close and sitting at her table just on the other side of the window from everybody.

She excused herself from the group and came and kept me company for awhile; one-0n-one is so much easier for me to hear anyway. Cool. So did several other people by turns, and it was much appreciated. I’d brought my knitting and it filled in any gaps. Meantime, her kids, teens to 21, passed by going from here to there in the house.

Plus one young woman I didn’t know. Who saw the work in my hands and on the second time by decided to stop and ask about it.

Turns out she was their niece, visiting before her move overseas Monday for her graduate studies at Oxford.

Turns out she’s a knitter.

Turns out she’d never heard of Colourmart, but now she’s hoping to visit them in person and is quite excited about it.

I told her I’d knit in high school but had had to give it up in college: I simply had had no funds for yarn (she nodded in boy-ain’t-that-the-truth agreement), and it took ten years for me to get back to it. I regret those ten years and would love to make it easier for someone else to keep going; what were her favorite colors?

Was I serious?!

That’s what yarn is for, yes.

And that is how, a year after I bought it, that huge 420-gram cone of dk cashmere I’d hanked and scoured finally got wound up and ready to go. It took…awhile this afternoon. (That big ball nearly qualifies for planethood. The bowl it’s in is platter size.) I’m not giving her all of it and I’m not sure it would fit in her suitcase if I did, so, some for my cowls project, some for her. Whichever one fits in her luggage. I want her to have something that sustains her wanting to knit.

And now it’s finally available to me to actually work with, too.



You dim sum you lose some you win some
Monday May 28th 2018, 9:27 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life,Lupus

We decided to go out to lunch. She picked out the (allergy-friendly) place. I hadn’t had dim sum in years–I was looking forward to this.

The food was very good, the place fairly formal and even in a long skirt I felt a tad underdressed. Quite a few of the patrons were on the older side, but not all.

There was a dad who picked up his adorable little girl of about 18 months a time or two and walked the aisle with her to keep her from becoming too restless.

There was another family in a corner in the other direction with a daughter of about nine and a boy of about two and I confess to wincing inwardly as he waved his chopstick with enthusiasm. His was blue. When he wanted to jump and down on his seat waving that baton his parents watched him carefully and finally put a stop to it.

Dim sum is not a fast meal, which was fine with us; we wanted time to catch up on things.

Back to the first family: the third time it was the mom that got up with her. By that point I had a bright-striped red/green/blue/white parrot at the ready. It had the most perfect face. (Chosen over the ones shown here.)

It was hard to tell which one of them was more delighted but it was clearly a great success.

It was a goodly while later and the other family’s dishes were still coming out but that little boy was quite done eating. I asked the maitre d’ as he was going by: was it okay to ask him to give these to those two kids over there?

The green and yellow lizard and the banana-eating monkey swooped and giggled in his hands, imagination going full tilt, his parents playing with him, his big sister putting down her phone game to watch him with a grin and their meal transformed. They turned towards our table and we said, Happy Birthday!

And then went back to our conversation so as to try not to intrude overly.

But here’s the thing. The staff were in the middle of lunch rush in a busy downtown location running full tilt on a holiday and were clearly stressed. But now there were smiles all around where there hadn’t been before. At all.

The first family headed out, the little one back in her daddy’s arms. They paused just before our table and she waved bye-bye and thank you so enthusiastically with her whole arm waving side to side as far as she could go that it wiggled her all over, the parrot held out at the ends of her fingertips to show us her new toy, the parents grateful for older couples who remember how cute toddlers are.

Been there!

We were done and headed out.

Almost at the door, seeing the sun outside, I realized I’d left my new hat behind and was suddenly acutely aware of the time I’d done that and in just a few steps away from a restaurant it had been grabbed and vanished and was never seen again–just as today’s maitre d’ came rushing towards us with this one to try to catch us in time, glad to be able to give back.