Heard that one coming
Sunday January 10th 2016, 11:54 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus

I went to the audiologist this past week, concerned that perhaps my hearing was getting worse?

Looking the thing over, it only took him a moment: no, actually, the problem is this is broken.

With my pair of hearing aids, there’s a speaker in the aid itself, which is normal, and one in the earmold too, which was a novelty when these came on the market three years ago. (Maybe it still is, I don’t know.)

The tiny filter piece had gone missing, I knew that, and for all I knew it was still in my ear. He looked: nope. But under where it was supposed to be there was supposed to be a spring keeping that first speaker at a particular distance but that speaker was quite dislodged. The only thing for it was to replace the whole thing.

No earwax in the way, good: and so he injected my ear with pink blob and had me wiggle my jaw around while it dried to help shape it so as to be comfortable when I’m talking or eating. The model got sent to the manufacturer and the whole process would take about a week.

I had him make two, as long as he was at it, both of them going further into the ear than my current ones. We know from three years ago that doing this delivers a lot more sound. But also that they hurt to wear if I’m not really really careful, because of the whole connective-tissue-disease thing that wants no pressure anywhere especially from hard objects like these. No fiddling with the things. This time, at least, I know all that going in: if I irritate anything it means several days of not wearing them at all while it settles down and maybe even having to give up again and go back to shorter ones, so let’s just not. I want to hear everything possible.

This could actually be the start of things being much better–I think I need to tamp down the hyperactive hope a little bit because after all, once I get used to them they’ll simply feel like normal. But a much better normal, hopefully.

So you heard it here first: when it comes to hearing aids, I totally broke the mold.

She was all about the joy
Wednesday December 23rd 2015, 11:46 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Lupus

No matter how ready you think you are, when house guests are coming you keep seeing one more thing that needs to be done. Oh yeah and that too. And that. And endlessly that.

In the middle of the madness we decided to do what we had decided not to, yesterday–going near Costco? Were we crazy?

Yeah a little bit.

Then when we were just getting back to the car to load it up I suddenly knew exactly why we had needed to come, and not last night but now: she was just arriving and had parked a car or two further down from ours on the same side, same aisle. The choreography of G_d, right there.

It was my kids’ old high school French teacher. (Flipping through old posts…) I guess I didn’t write about it…

About a year and a half ago? After three years of abnormal blood tests, I got sent to the hematologist and that means in the cancer department. Saw him twice, didn’t have to have a bone marrow biopsy after all to rule cancer out (phew!) and I got off lucky.

But as I was coming out from what would be my last appointment with him, there she was in the waiting room. We both did double takes–my hair was gray and a little longer now, and she was the last person I would have expected or wanted to see in that particular space–and then she had me sit down (gladly!) next to her and we caught up until they called her name. And when they did, I said to the nurse, “She was my kids’ favorite teacher!” Which is true. They adored her. Two of my kids scored seventh and eighth in French proficiency in all of northern California and she is the reason why. She totally rocks.

She had already gotten her results when I saw her.

Her tests hadn’t come out as well as mine. I was so glad I got a chance to bring some joy to her day in that place at that time by bearing witness to who she is.

She has quietly been in my prayers every single day since.

She saw me first today, waved hi as I blinked in surprise and ohmygoodness! and we threw our arms around each other. She was still here!!! She looked great!!! And shopping! At Costco! The day before Christmas Eve! Brave woman. It takes a certain level of health, too. Having some experience at being a patient myself those were not the things that actually came out of my mouth, just, How ARE you?!

Our kids and hers are all coming home for Christmas and she was so happy for us that we got to have that joy too!

The parking lot was crazy with a line of cars waiting for me to get in mine and get the heck out of their way and we kept it far too short. Bone marrow transplant in January, she said…

And it wasn’t till after we left that I realized that with my hearing and the freeway running close by I wasn’t totally sure whether she meant last January or the coming one. But I can tell you this: she’s clearly ready for anything now.

I remember when being able to run a single errand was a triumph over lupus
Thursday November 12th 2015, 11:28 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Lupus

Dropped Richard off went to the clinic went to pick up my new glasses prescription went to the approved pharmacy across town went to the bank got a receipt for that check and the small Martingale royalty check eight years after publishing was fun too went home hugged daughter dropping by for a moment called the audiologist got told oh oops our bad come back and we’ll fix that for you put the laundry in the dryer grabbed a bite of lunch drove to Los Gatos got the filter put back on the hearing aid that they forgot while cleaning them yesterday went to the bird center as long as I was there anyway got birdseed had them put it in the car left birdseed in the car for the weight and the recent mild back injury tried new glasses on went oh wow how far away is the floor put new glasses back in new case put old glasses on have to drive you know wished again I could settle on what to start for my next carry-around knitting project started more laundry grabbed Time magazine disappointing knitters worldwide picked up Richard from work read while waiting put laundry in dryer made dinner covered mango tree did dishes vegged out at the computer a bit

and oh right I’d better go make that bed now that the sheets are fresh. Extra covers for the mango and us at 38F already out there. Brrr. Done. G’night.

Opportunities knocking
Friday October 02nd 2015, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus

Way too much sun today. Hopefully it will turn out just fine.

The doorbell rang 3:30, 3:45ish.

My first impulse was to point apologetically at the no solicitors sign and he was leaving but something propelled me to open the door and call after the guy.

I’m sorry, could you say that again?

Are you interested in selling your minivan?


Okay, that van had been sitting dead in the driveway for two years now, the battery drained well away, with us wondering, should we try to sell, should we donate, should we let it sit and pretend someone’s home when we’re not but hey look at that thing, it’s not fooling anyone. The cobweb on the side handle is a dead giveaway if the dust isn’t and we weren’t about to use drought water on it.

It’s got a bad transmission and a bad axle, I warned them, and look at those (slightly sagging) tires. It’s a PNO. (Planned Non Operation status with the DMV.) I was in front of the driveway now, talking to what turned out to be a grampa and his son while the son’s wife managed the small children in Grampa’s truck.

The son’s family had just lost their apartment when the landlord had died. And they needed a car with carseat space.

Father and son jumpstarted the thing and with the dashboard alive now, Grampa got a look at the mileage, which if I remember right was 115k–not bad at all for an ’00. And it was an Lxi, a nice model, leather seats, heated in front. (The young wife did not look impressed on that last part, but even in this climate I know from experience that she will like it more than she knows yet.)

Grampa was doing the buying and he asked me for a price. I said $500 off the top of my head. Turns out the bluebook for poor condition was $1200, but you know? They would have a lot of work to do on that thing and we both knew it.

Grampa wanted to test drive it around the block and I warned him that if he pulled it out of the driveway it might not shift to go back in again; he was willing to take that risk. He pretty much had to to at least see for himself.

He came back a few minutes later with, Axle?

I reiterated it had one bad axle.


Richard just happened to be working from home today, a rare thing, and I was really glad he was there. His conference call ended and he joined us a moment and pointed out that there were disability plates on the thing and you cannot transfer a title with those on.

And thus began the mad scramble: Friday afternoon. It’s after 4:00. The closest DMV was two cities away across rush hour traffic. The son pulled out a screwdriver (do men carry these, like, everywhere? Like a woman’s bottomless purse? But then wait, Richard does too in our glove compartments. Okay) and he got the plates off the van for me. After saying for two years that we should, I was at long last going to the DMV to have them switch the handicapped plates to the Prius and then the other one would be free to go.

Of course there was an accident on the freeway. C’mon, quit rubbernecking, people….

I got there before five. I actually got in that door.

Her weekend was just about to start and the facility was nearly empty. The DMV lady smiled and handed me a form to sign and a fistful of screwdrivers to take the plates off the Prius, with a, “They BOUGHT that?!” after I described the minivan. I wondered about my hand strength and she wished but said they weren’t allowed to help me. Well that makes sense, okay.

So I got out there and swapped the plates and the dour security guard let me back in and I made it and it was even still before five.

Where are the other plates?

Ooooooh (facepalm)… I apologized for my poor hearing, went back out there with just one screwdriver of theirs this time–they have to let me back in with that, right?–unscrewed the handicapped plates again and the security guard opened the door again and even cracked a smile this time. I thanked him.

I would have gotten the car washed if I’d known. I would have at least washed the plates of the van if I’d known. A few small crumbles of dirt and old rubber from the frames fell repeatedly from the sets of plates, and of course my Prius fob picked today to die: taking it apart to enter with the tiny physical key embedded in it is a fingernail-breaking, long hard process when you’re watching every second on the clock and I simply carried the screws around in my hand rather than trying to put them down inside a cupholder. Because of course today is the day I wore a skirt with no pockets. For the first time, it’s new. With a silk blouse. I was dressed a tad frumpy yesterday and I’d tried to make up for it today. Grease and driveway oils come out, right?

I got out of there at 5:17, the security guard opening that door one last time. They can rush you really well without an appointment when nobody else in their right mind shows up near 5:00 on a Friday afternoon.

They did not give me the van plates back. It was a PNO.

The height of rush hour home: just set the car at coast and brake as needed. Past the bridge construction…

The family came back. The van had no plates. You can legally drive a PNO for one day at point of sale to pick up new plates and registration, and our transfer of title will protect them should they be pulled over for no plates that day, and so they left the car here and will pay for it Monday. Monday I will go to the DMV myself with my sale of title form on the pink slip.

Cleaning out the car, I found one of my kids’ high school class schedules tucked in a compartment in the back. That car’s had so many good memories. And now, with a grandpa watching the mechanics on that thing, a new family will grow up with it for as long as they need to.

Nice people. And it feels like they were who it’s been sitting there waiting for all this time. I expect Monday to go smoothly.

Wednesday August 19th 2015, 9:11 pm
Filed under: Food,Life,Lupus

We were all the way to the Aquarium Saturday before I realized I didn’t have a face mask in my purse. I usually do. I like to just go live a normal life as much as the next person so I didn’t think much of it.

I don’t do crowds very well, do I. Pass the grapes (zinc content in a healthy delivery package) and orange juice.

Great Danes
Saturday July 18th 2015, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Food,Life,Lupus

They let you fill out an order online a day or two ahead and pick it up, and I’ve thought many times that it certainly would make sense to go that route.

But twenty-five years of conditioning by having lupus says that today I can do this/tomorrow could be a complete train wreck. Run Go Do Now!

So yeah, spontaneous trips, yes, pre-orders, none yet. It’s life and I’m glad to have it.

Meringue with almond paste mixed in makes for the perfect crunchy texture while at the same time it doesn’t shatter in your face like a plain meringue, and then it has a fruit and almond or plain almond filling at the center. Chef’s Surprise. I’d been craving one for weeks.

And so yesterday in the early afternoon I called Copenhagen Bakery to see if they had any of those left, knowing that they tend to sell out early in the day and the chances weren’t great.

The voice on the phone wasn’t one I recognized. Which is kind of funny, the idea that I would have some idea of who works there, given that the place is a good twenty-five minutes away when the traffic is good. She said they had two there, still.

Oh good! (Thinking, then I can have my meringues and not overindulge, too.) I gave her my name and asked her to put them aside (because I know that they do that) and told her where I’d be driving from to get them so they wouldn’t think I wasn’t showing up. I would be right on my way, then.

One of the people behind the counter when I got there made a point of picking me out of the small crowd to offer to help. She was clearly the manager and she clearly had been waiting and looking for the person who had called, and yes, that was me.

Her shoulders and face fell as she apologized profusely. The two had just been sold and the other woman hadn’t bothered to check before promising them. She was SO sorry, she’d tried to call me to keep me from making such a trip, she knew I must be so disappointed. She was so sorry.

I pictured her in agony with the other woman, going, you didn’t get her phone number? And maybe getting a response of no, why would I ask for it? And then, Oh…

But she’d tried and I was grateful for that, and by taking personal responsibility for it and by wishing so hard she could make it right, that was enough: she made it right. There was nothing left to worry about. I simply looked around at All The Good Things there and told her it was okay–it freed me up to discover something new! Cool!

It was a treat to see her relax. She thanked me.

She told me that this cookie over here was almond paste… Well, hey, that’s close enough, and I asked for two. I found later she’d slipped me three. One of these, too, I said, and over here, what is this?

I found out just what she meant by hazelnut pastry later when I sliced the little thing open with Richard: a thin cookie layer enclosing hazelnut paste–hazelnut paste?!–chocolate mousse on top of that, dark chocolate enclosing the whole thing and a hazelnut topping it off. Wow.

That right there is a whole new reason to drive to Burlingame for way too many calories way too often and I never would have known if I’d gotten what I’d wanted. Wow that was good.

I’ll be back.

I’ll call ahead in the mornings.

Best Costco story yet
Saturday July 11th 2015, 6:16 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life,Lupus

Batteries, sun-dried tomato sauce, shrimp, blueberries and raspberries. (Phew!)

Oh wait no that was mine.

He always did have a sense of humor.

And so. I was heading down the milk aisle when I did a double take and stopped to say hi. Totally out of context (and did he even know I was about as tall as him when we’re both standing?) he was lost for a split second (it’s been a year, but it’s been 25 years) and then he stopped, too. Richard was coming right up behind me just then after looking for something else, his wife was right behind him, and so we got to introduce each other all around.

But the funny part was right off the bat when he put on this fake-panic voice and exclaimed, “Don’t look in my cart!”

Laughing, I assured him I hadn’t, and actually the only thing I did see over his shoulder was baby spinach which reminded me we needed baby spinach so I sent Richard to get some after that little meet-up.

But as we got to the far end of the aisle with them out of sight going the opposite direction, Richard turned to me, not quite remembering, wondering, it having been twenty years since he’d seen the guy, “C’est qui?” (Who was that?)

“My cardiologist.”

Five from my family
Sunday June 28th 2015, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Lupus

So I checked the weather there to see what to pack: summery, yes, but the cousins reunion is going to be way up in the mountains and it’s always cool up there. The cabin that our grandparents owned forever was to be sold when they passed away–and one of the grandkids bought it and kept it in the family and there you go.

A hundred and nineteen today?! That’s thirty-six hotter than here. Yow. Okay, so the rest of the week is only going to be 100. Yay for SPF 100, because that sun jacket layer just got a whole lot less appealing.

Airfare for a holiday week was as soaring as the temps so it’ll be just me going. It’ll be in the low 80s here, meantime, with AC should anyone faint in the sultry heat–I told my sweetie he would be the one in the resort vacation place. (And that I was very glad that this didn’t get scheduled on our anniversary, and thank you everybody for the kind words both on and off the blog re that milestone.)

Seventeen years ago all but one of the cousins made it to the last big reunion on what would have been our grandfather’s 100th birthday. So much has happened in that time. I can’t wait to start catching up.

Fruit of the vine
Thursday June 18th 2015, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Garden,Lupus,Wildlife

Three of the seven peaches gone overnight, of course all the ripest ones. The remainders are even more barricaded in now.

There were some Costco grapes in the fridge we hadn’t quite finished off in time. Most looked mostly okay but it only took one mistake in that last smoothie to doom the rest. Putting them out in the bin though meant risking the sun time or waiting for evening–so they were still in the fridge.

Coming home from knit night I thought, well wait, we could use those after all. Going out by flashlight long after the diurnals out there had turned in for the night, they’re now a decoy in the center of the yard away from the fruit trees: no clamshells, no hassles, come and get’em. Eat your fill. Leave my peaches alone. (Go where the Great Horned owls can see you.)

You know they won’t still be there when the squirrels start to stir.

Suddenly thinking…hopefully that was not a mistake…we haven’t had midnight fights between the raccoon and the skunk so far this year like so many times last year. But if it works, hey, anything to save my Babcocks. Murphy’s law of course is surely rubbing its paws with glee.

Meantime, Sunday is solstice (not to mention Father’s Day), which means we usually see the hawk a lot and in the best years, his mate. It felt like it had been awhile. The ravens seem pretty much gone after fledging, with one lone caaah caaah overhead last night just to make sure I didn’t get too sure of myself on that one.

You called? This afternoon I looked up just in time to see the Cooper’s do a magnificent wide-wing swoop around the hanging suet cake right on the other side of the window from me, in no great hurry and with no one around to pursue, simply a statement that this territory was his and his alone.

A minute later I saw the scrub jay dart into a tree at the neighbor’s and the hawk diving in after.

A jay did show up awhile later but it had the sense to keep its distance.

Wednesday June 10th 2015, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus,Wildlife

So here’s what happened.

I kept waiting for my asthma med to be dropped off by the mailman. It didn’t come. Monday I finally went looking for why. They had not recorded the doctor signing off on the thing, and whether she (likely the nurse) did or not I don’t know.

I emailed her and Caremark, since they hadn’t followed up on it.

Their system said it could not handle requests from this page, do it through that part of their system.

I DID do it from that part of their system! Their UI (user interface) is terrible! Their site is designed to make it even harder to reach them there than it is to sit through their phone tree. I sent again. I got through to someone, but they were not helpful.

So I called them, sitting through endless we are trying not to serve you diversions and finally, finally got a live human being and told them I am too deaf, I tried to do it online, and I’m afraid you are just going to have to put up with me.

She chuckled. Good for her. It helped. And she was very patient with my please-repeats.

I explained that my doctor had filled the prescription but at this point I had two doses left and their mail order system simply wasn’t going to work. Was it true that the prescription could be sent to and filled at the local CVS pharmacy?

Yes it was.

Would you please do that.


So they had that information in their system in two places to the best of my ability and definitely via the phone conversation.

I woke up yesterday to a cheery, We have your prescription and we will be mailing it out some time in the next five days.

Facepalm. I expected this to be here two weeks ago. Think of the potential consequences of not getting an asthmatic’s meds to her in a timely manner as contracted to do.

I printed out the notice to me from the doctor and took it into the local CVS anyway. I explained my problem to the young clerk. She told me I probably didn’t want to wait there, she didn’t know how long it was going to take.

She got every detail right conveying the problem to the pharmacist, who was a helpful, earnest young voice on the phone last night and highly apologetic. He had gotten nowhere with them, and he was having a hard time with that because he knew I needed that med. They had told him there was one last person he could try–in the morning. It was the best he could do.

I thanked him profusely. He’d put a lot of effort into it and that meant a lot to me.

I woke up to an email from the mail-order folks saying they had shipped it.


Meantime, the 32% chance in the forecast of .02″ of overnight rain started at midnight and lasted till about four this afternoon, rain blessed rain clearing the smog out of the air, seven times the amount of water they’d said probably wouldn’t happen anyway. But boy did it. So, so wonderful.

I went off to the annual summer lupus luncheon and had just the best time. Old friends. Good people. Good times. And came home to a message from CVS: they had my med ready for pickup.

YES!!! THANK you, persistent compassionate pharmacist pushing on the big guys!

Was it the three month supply the prescription had been written for? No, just one. He had told me he would be obligated to fill the prescription as it was written but someone above must have decided otherwise.

I’ll take it. I’m taking them at their word that the three-month is actually in the mail like they said. And I will breathe easier tonight.

Oh and on the wildlife front? A mockingbird was displaying its tail again and again as it if were a peacock: this was his place now. A white-breasted nuthatch, and I have never seen one here before! Or never close enough to get to see at all what it was. There was what I think was my first sighting of a western meadowlark.

The ever-threatening scrub jay is gone and the whole bird world turned out to party.

The talk
Sunday May 31st 2015, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Family,Friends,Life,Lupus

You know how here in the drought we’re supposed to catch the water in a big dyepot while we’re waiting for the shower to warm up?

When you’re in a rush to get ready for church and you’re trying to feel prepared to give a talk, certain people might find it counterproductive to drop their good size 13 black shoe in that pot that got set not quite far enough aside afterwards. Just saying.

A trying-not-to-be-growly, “Dear, would you help me with this hair dryer?”

I laughed, I mean, what can you do, it was just so unexpected. “I was going to dry my hair.” (We got both done, pretty much.)

As we were pulling into the parking lot, Richard happened to say that the best talks he’d ever given were the ones where he’d prepared it and then had just winged it with what it felt like he should say.

Because I was saying I’d written a good talk but it just wasn’t quite…something. It was a perfectly good talk and I didn’t want to admit to myself after all that work and this close to standing up that it felt like I might be disappointed if that’s all I gave.

And in the moment of truth when I was at that podium I did what he’d done and was glad for that conversation. I said I’d prepared what I’d thought I was going to say–and I was chucking it. I set my sheets of paper to the side there.

And then I spoke straight from the heart. I knew a few people there had already heard bits and pieces of this and that but here was the whole of it in one piece.

I mentioned a woman I’d never seen before who was clearly badly struggling with–something that day, and I took a leap and said what turned out to be just the right thing for her.

Someone had seen. And in that moment we were strangers no more and I saw the burden visibly lift from her. I knew no details, just that she had found what she’d needed in that moment. We have to be willing to be present for each other and the smallest interactions matter so much.

I talked of my faults. I said, I was asked to speak on reverence within this Sacrament meeting and yet I’m the disruptive one, I’m the one who gets up and moves away if someone sits down coughing near me. I talked about why. I said, But there is no place for me being grumpy or growly when someone does. None. And I have been, and I apologize for that. We all come here to find peace, not just me.

(It was a no-names public apology to the old woman who’d come in late and coughed on me (again) after having previously given me bronchitis doing so. She’d had no way to truly know what it was like and she had never deserved my grousing–there are better ways to handle things and as you my own blog readers pointed out to me at the time and I thank you for that, she had just as much a right to sit where she wanted to as I did.)

We are here to serve God by loving one another. That only is what we should bring here (or anywhere else). Full stop.

I talked about the first, and then the second big Crohn’s flare, where my immediate reaction to it was, but, but, I don’t need another experience like this to teach me to be a nice person–I think I did a pretty good job of learning a lot the last time around. Do I have to go through this? I don’t want to!

So I prayed.

And the answer to my prayer was this:

All I had was who I was.

Okay. I decided to pray for each person who entered my hospital room after that. I wanted them to feel their work had meaning and they were valued for who they were as well as for what they did. I figured if I could drop that pebble in their ponds the ripples would go outward to countless patients after me, remembering Dr. Rachel Remen’s books in which she said there’s a certain kind of immortality in acts of kindness.

I said to the ward, You can’t pray, really pray for someone without coming to love them.

And thus one Stanford doctor came to confess one day that he’d written in my chart, Patient looks deceptively well. Do not be deceived.

Because you aren’t supposed to be that cheerful when you’re that sick.

I ran into that doctor a few months after I got out of that hospital and I called out his name. He had no idea–and then—-!!! He was ecstatic! “LOOK at you!!! You look GREAT!!!”

Love strengthened life and I was still here.

He had wondered. And now he knew.

And he knew his own caring had made a difference.

Good day, sunshine
Wednesday May 27th 2015, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Lupus

I’d been curious for awhile and I happened to look at 9:30 this morning, so I set the timer on my phone to go off at half past each hour all day to remind me to check and write it down: what was our UV rating now? I wanted to know the arc of the sun in real time in terms of my lupus.

The 11 rating out of a possible 12, the highest of today, was at 1:30 and 2:30. Who knew noon was safer?

Richard got home from work to find me on the phone with my childhood friend Karen. Michelle had stopped by and joined in for awhile, now it was his turn. It was great. She so belongs to us all. I’m not a big phone person and he knew it and he knew it had been a long time since we’d chatted and here we were.

Near 8 pm our time we and she finally, reluctantly let each other go. We ate a three-minute Trader Joe’s meal with fruit on the side–dinnertime and all that, we were famished, the last slice of homemade berry pie divvied up to top it off.

And then he went to pick up the phone.

The battery was almost dead. He looked at me, marveling: “How long were you ON this?”

I’d silenced that alarm three times. Maybe four, but I think three. Wasn’t paying attention to any sense of time (and that phone was a surprise several times), just one of belonging.

(p.s. This is for all the young moms out there. Reporters will be interviewing that toddler for her tantrum at the President’s feet for decades to come. And the baby who looks on as if to say, Dude. What are you DOING.)

Second chances
Sunday May 17th 2015, 10:19 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus

Still pondering that woman from yesterday.

She was–maybe–young enough to be the age of my oldest, and I think that helped my reasonable-Mom reaction snap into gear. Raising four teenagers taught me not to take offense even when it’s intended because it means the kid is hurting badly and needs understanding and not taking it personally. And a firm guideline, definitely.

As I think back to a screaming 16-year-old, a soft answer in utter calm and love but utterly to the point, a slammed door, and, after two hours’ self-imposed cooling down, a complete angel reappearing who never kvetched about any of that again.  One of my memorable moments of motherhood. Who knew that it would help get me ready for yesterday.

I marvel that this woman had happened to knit–and with the weather that had been chilly for May, had happened to choose that day to put on that one–that particular simple but unusual pattern that I could spot from a mile away where you get to the end of your shawl knitting on the diagonal and then drop stitches spaced just so all the way back down to the beginning. Clah-poe-TEE. A French-speaking designer.

I marvel at the timing. My unusual arrival time due to the schedule of the day paired with her departure time from Costco: seconds off and the whole thing never would have happened.

Frankly, I marvel at what she did, of course, but whyever she did it clearly had nothing at all to do with me. She was reacting to something that I represented to her, whatever it may have been in her history, and her choice of outfit made it so I could offer her an out: anybody who didn’t quite see what had happened could have thought we were just two knitters striking up a quick conversation with an implied compliment.

But the experience offered her a choice: if she’s any kind of a good person, then the starkness between her behavior and mine was a heads-up that she needed to confront whatever the source of her angst was that was causing her to lash out at complete strangers and to do better.

We’ve all had moments. We’re all human. Sometimes we simply need to see ourselves more clearly to find our way back up when we’re down, hopefully with the support of those around us.

She’ll never know it, but I’m rooting for her.

I might know somebody who knows somebody who…
Saturday May 16th 2015, 9:04 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life,Lupus

The day here started off quite chilly and I wore a sweater.

Richard was off at Maker Faire (I want to see that 3D printer in chocolate too someday) with Michelle. SPF 100 sunblock is good, but it’s not that good so I didn’t join them.

While they were gone I was coming into Costco doing the usual slightly awkward thing with the cane and the cart and trying to manage past others coming and going from the same tight in-and-out area, when one woman who wanted to be done and out of there fast kind of shoved her way forward through everybody in her path, abruptly turning her cart in front of me in such a way that I was forced to do a little dance to avoid hitting her, skittering to a stop with the cane askew–you know, being graceful and all that.

I was thinking, eh, we all have times when we’re in too much of a hurry and we just don’t see in time.

She looked me in the eyes and made a rude face at me.

That, I did not expect. (And not out of an adult.)

In that same moment I noticed the pretty handknit around her neck, a large wrap in a pattern that was all the rage a few years ago. I asked, with a straight-out-of-Stitches smile, “Did you knit your Clapotis?”

Busted and she knew it.

The briefest hesitation, then, “Yes, I did,” she answered with a half smile in a mixture of pride and agony as she beat it the heck out of there.

Roots and light
Friday May 01st 2015, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Life,Lupus

“You’ve always liked to garden,” he said today.

“Yes, but I didn’t for years,” I answered, saying that I think it was because having grown up an outdoorsy type and being so sun-confined with my lupus, I think I was afraid that if I broke out of that at all I’d get more and more reckless with it and so I’d kept that side of myself tamped down hard. For years. It was just easier not to have to look too up close at that sense of loss. Years ago, when getting to see my children grow up was a long way off and by no means a sure thing and I was doing everything I could, I suddenly realized one day that I’d just spent six months without even once walking all the way around my own back yard.

Now I feel like I’m reclaiming not just it but me. I deeply need to dig in the dirt and to see life coming forth from it. I picture Parker planting the seeds of all his apples and it just makes my day every time: from my botany-loving Grandfather Jeppson who died before I knew him and yet whom my Dad says I take after to my grandson, a straight line down the ages through every circumstance.

I reminded myself of that conversation with my husband as I went out to put my tomatoes in the ground at 6:00 pm. It was a little early in the evening for May but I had a lot to do. I kept my back to the sun and hey, look! The first actual tomato!

Oops. My critter cover didn’t fit over that tall tomato cage. I need to figure out how to set that wiring around them all, it’s been wrapped too long and wants to sproing inward on itself a little too hard. Might take two sets of hands and Richard was off at a ham radio meeting.

All these tomato plants were planted at the same time in the same seed starter kit. Two were moved into a bigger pot early on and put outside in direct sun; a third awhile after; and the rest, well, they were left in front of what wasn’t a great window for sun exposure to begin with. Look at that difference, and the roots far more so: a gallon of soil held tight vs, for the smallest, no discernible side roots, only the white squiggle it started out of the seed with. Same age.

Problem was that I’d needed more soil and buying more soil meant being out in the sun at the nursery during business and non-rush-hour hours and finally I simply did it.

The little ones will catch up soon enough.

And yes, I blogged several weeks ago about planting new seedlings. They were from the same batch as these and they all died in the first 24 hours. I transitioned the rest more gently from scraggles in the window to being in bigger pots outside to in the ground and I waited till I had most of them too far along for the snails to go after.

And then I went looking for baby apples and snapped clamshell covers over all the sweet Fujis I could find and as many of the more sour, less vulnerable Yellow Transparents as I could. Some of last year’s clamshells had given up the ghost; I clearly need more. A good problem to have this year.