She sent me a picture and Richard sent me some from his phone and they’re too big to go here and I’ll try to shrink them tomorrow for you.
But let me just say that Ellen is absolutely as wonderful in person as I always knew she would be.
She’d had a huge drive from her trip to Fresno to make it here. The funny part is that at three and a half hours into it my doorbell rang and I opened it with You’re here!
And it was my next-door neighbor. And so Richard and I got to talk to her a little while and I was halfway walking her back over to her house when Ellen pulled up in front of it. And Ellen? That’s the neighbor who just missed being in the big tsunami in Phuket and who then spent a month driving a relief truck to stricken areas long after her vacation was supposed to be over. Because she could.
We had such a good time! She and Richard and I went out for chocolates and sandwiches at Timothy Adams, then dropped him off at home and headed for Purlescence.
I had no idea one of the regulars listens to Ellen and her twin sister Jan’s podcasts–she did quite a doubletake and went, Are you–are you–!
It was a treat to watch Ellen belong on the spot among my friends just like I’d felt with her as she’d stepped out of her car the first time. Heather got to tell her she’d knit a hat for the Warm Hats Not Hot Heads campaign. Everybody introduced themselves.
It was late by Ellen’s time but she let me bring her back inside after the shop to dip some of the strawberries she’d bought us driving across the Central Valley into some sour cream and sugar as we three chatted some more. It was a struggle not to be selfish with her time. I am so glad she came.
And she brought nectarines and a melon and plums and tomatoes and good news about a good farmer who’s making a difference re water usage there.
Richard took pictures of the two of us….
She’ll be comin’ ’round the valley when she comes
Drying: a warm hat in half bamboo half pearl flecks. (My airport project a few weeks ago, finally blocked.)
Yet more zucchini to ditch somewhere on someone. Maybe I’ll take some to knit night tomorrow.
With Ellen. Twinset Ellen of Minnesota, who propelled the whole Warm Hats Not Hot Heads campaign, where she got about a hundred knitters together online, with India T of New Hampshire as our third organizer/cheerleader. The idea was to create a hand knit hat for every member of Congress to send them tangible testimony from their constituents that we wanted them to stop fighting and to sit down and do their jobs working together, and one House member actually referenced our campaign in a speech on the floor! He wanted us to succeed and that did us a ton of good. We felt heard.
We didn’t quite make it before the weather got too warm to consider wearing hats and people kind of gave out. But we got one for every Senator and at least half of the House and mostly coming from the members’ own districts.
It’s all her fault. I threw out a stray what if/if only and she went YES if, let’s *do* it!
A huge thank you to every one of you out there who knitted those.
She’ll be here. I get to finally meet her in person, and we’re going to Purlescence together. To say I. Can’t WAIT! does not begin to tell it.
Rheum in the in
I had ignored the reminder message for quite some time:Â the rheumatologist likes to keep semi-annual tabs on me whether I like it or not.
Don, do you remember from the pool… I will forever remember what a woman there I had always thought of only in terms of being a very sweet, kind old lady once related to me. She had long been severely disabled by juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. She had gone in to see her rheumatologist after a long absence and he’d demanded of her, “Where have you been?!”
She retorted sharply, “What have youÂ learned?” If he couldn’t do anything new, there was too much life to live to bother with being reminded again and again of what she couldn’t do, so, hey.
As a newly-diagnosed lupus patient at the time with Crohn’s soon to come, doctors aside, she taught me a valuable way to look at this chronic stuff. Just go live!
I should add that in the 24 years since then, the medical field has learned a lot about her JRA, actually.
So I went in today. And asked the doctor how he was doing.
He told me he was now coaching his daughter’s basketball team.
He was pleased with how pleased I was with that, so he asked after my grandson and then asked if I were doing any writing; somehow that became an opening for me to tell him about the Warm Hats Not Hot Heads project (which I totally mangled the name of, trying to spit it out, giving him an on-the-spot example of lupus brain fog) and how we knitters had knit a hat for each member of the Senate and a goodly percentage of the House; I gave him my line about “to tell them to put a lid on it,” not the most, um, diplomatic way to describe it, and he laughed and added, “And get to work?”
“Yes!” My turn to laugh.
So we didn’t come up with any magical cures today. But I came away feeling heard about the medical stuff that I honestly didn’t particularly want to talk about because we had heard each other out on a few of the important things near and dear to our hearts. Which made the rest easier to discuss. (Stupid chest pains. He looked up the cardiologist’s notes and reassured me. The cardiac cough is in remission, always a good thing.)
Okay, then.Â I’ll see him again in six months.
I had wanted to do this ever since the first time I heard him play: the gifted pianist I’ve seen a few times playing in the atrium at one of the Stanford clinics, creating a place of peace for all who come into that medical building whatever may bring them there.
Wait–you MADE this?!
I designed it, I answered him, as he looked back down at the piano hat in his hands in wonder. I told him the Malabrigo merino was superwash, but I’d put it in a pillowcase before putting it in the washing machine, and his expression was, Oh no, I’m not doing that to it, as he explained he would just handwash it with a bit of soap. With a look of, That’s okay, isn’t it?
Absolutely. Cool. He totally gets it. He was so thrilled. He was so not expecting that. I wasn’t really expecting it to be so appreciated, but he did and he gave me back more than I gave him. Whoever he is, he’s such a good soul.
The man over at the reception desk had his own big smile going on; he’s the one who, after I showed him last week what I was working on and why, told me what day the pianist would be back so I could do that. Clearly he had kept the secret. Clearly he was taking joy in his friend’s joy.
I had knitted it a tad loose, having once knit a piano hat too tight; fair isle work is something I just don’t do all that often and I was trying to keep the floats from turning it into a tourniquet. I wanted it to be able to stretch to fit someone who was bigger than I am.
I didn’t say anything about all that, but there he was, flipping it over to see what the inside looked like and going Oh! at the floats. I don’t know if it was a so-that’s-how-she-did-it, or if he’d seen knitting being done before. He put it on without turning up the ribbing so that it bagged just a bit, and admitted he used to have dreadlocks. I tell you, he was totally rocking that look and will however he may wear it.
I forgot to tell him, if the tag bugs you, it’s just me showing off, feel free to clip it–but don’t clip the yarn holding it on, that’s the cast-off end right at where I started to work it into the fabric. So I’m mentioning it here.
And then I listened a bit till someone else stopped to talk to him, and it was time to beat the start of rush hour. Went off to the post office and sent off a baby alpaca hat to someone facing a life-changing diagnosis and also the now-finished one to Representative Cleaver, with a note of thanks for his shout-out during the Democratic National Convention: he had noticed our group’s efforts to promote peacemaking in Congress, even though he hadn’t gotten one of those hats; I had noticed his recognition of what we were trying to do.
Some days are simply what yarn was created for.
My yarn is the boss of me. Again.
The third hat this week is done and it’s ready to go to Congressman Cleaver. My photos and blog aren’t playing together–I want to show some of this stuff off!
I was walking in the room where some of my stash is, wondering what to make for yesterday’s physician who cleared a path in her schedule when I needed her, and some Colourmart silk in a shimmery ice rose practically threw itself into my hands. It wasn’t what I was expecting; I questioned it; I have a lot of different yarns and colors, and it’s actually easier to knit wool than silk, from a purely selfish point of view. And silk might not be the most practical thing for a mom of young kids. And do I know if that’s really her color?
It listened to me stating all my objections like a patient mom in the kitchen with a teenager with their arms folded. And then I caved. Size 4mm needles and I’m off.
The lace hat I was already working on yesterday when Representative Cleaver was speaking is finished. The cabled hat that I dropped two stitches at the needle switch awhile ago is now finally ripped way back and restarted: he’s getting a cabled hat and it’s back to halfway done so far.
Had quite a few laughs at the typos in the closed captions during tonight’s convention. John Kerry, it claimed, said: “We do batter where we must, peace where we can.”
That was even better than the spoken “a man and a woman” scrolling across the screen as “a minimum bomb.”Â Let’s all go have that proverbial Army-fundraiser bake sale! (As the cold-war saying goes, it’ll be a great day when the schools get all the funding they need and the Army has to hold a bake sale.) Batter up! Bring on their just desserts! Robert Fulghum once wrote about how great it would be if we could stop wars by dropping from the planes colored paper and crayons, a bit of childhood delight revisited to make friends with the enemy below. I guess he’s saying we could let people have the means to draw down the fighting.
Add in some carrot pecan cake and some chocolate chip cookies, too, and surely you can’t go wrong with that.
(p.s. And maybe you’ve already seen this, but how many handknit lace fences are there out there? With thanks to Betsy Bowman for the heads-up.)
How did we miss him?!
Did you hear that!? Knitters?! I sent messages to Ellen and India.
Emanual Cleaver, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and a House Rep from Missouri, got up before the Democratic National Convention today and proclaimed, “We need warm hearts. Not. Hot. Heads!”
I was stunned. Thrilled.Â He cribbed our line! Cool! They DID notice in Congress!
I immediately wondered, who knit his? Surely he got one (and that if he didn’t we needed to fix that fast.) So many of us knitters made those hats for members of Congress in our campaign last year to get them to cooperate with each other in mutual respect and kindness, to say to them that no matter who we each were in our own politics, we wanted to make a statement that the too-dominant lack of mutual respect did not represent us well and, as I liked to think of it, we wanted them to put a lid on it.
Some thought it a waste of time. Some just didn’t have the time just then. Some did one, maybe two, with each one making a difference: how many people ever see, much less get offered, a handknit hat, and created just for them? Some threw themselves into the cause. The more hats that arrived, the greater the sense in the thank-you notes that came that, at least in some offices, our voices and our stitches were being received warmly.
Gratitude makes the hearts grow fonder.
I found Ellen’s spreadsheet. We got all the members of the Senate but not of the House and somehow Representative Cleaver didn’t seem to get one.Â Wouldn’t it be great to help him reiterate his point that was our own all along? Wouldn’t it be great to send him a box of handknit hats to pass around, or maybe to send to the people that were missed last time around, but at least, we’ve got to have one for him. I think I might have some wool around here somewhere….
Senator Barbara Boxer
A letter that arrived today, and I’m sure she won’t mind my sharing it:
Dear Ms. Hyde:
Thank you for your recent correspondence regarding civility in Congress and for the very thoughtful gift of a royal baby alpaca knit hat as part of your Warm Hats, Not Hot Heads campaign. I apologize for the delay in responding to your letter.
I appreciate learning your thoughts and of your desire to carry out change in the way members of both chambers of Congress communicate. You will be pleased to know that members of both political parties are discussing ways to bring more mutual respect, and less hot rhetoric, to our discourse. We need individuals in public service who love to serve the people, who value fairness, and who have the courage to make an objective decision after listening to all sides of an issue.
Again, thank you for sharing your views with me and for your very thoughtful gift. I commend you for your efforts to promote sensible public discourse through your Warm Hats, Not Hot Heads campaign. Please do not hesitate to contact me again about this or other issues of concern to you.
United States Senator
She apologized for the lateness, but I would say it arrived on a day when that lift did me much good and I am delighted that she took the time. Well done, Senator, thank you!
(Okay, Babelfish translates tant pis as “such an amount of worse” rather than “too bad for you.” Gotta love those transliterations.)
I hadn’t seen my hawks in days and wondered if they didn’t like that I’d changed the looks of a few things out there, like that slip’n’slide for the squirrels with the shiny reflections from the greased foil by the birdfeeder.
Today they made up for it: I saw the female twice, the male once. He flew to a few feet from the window and while gazing in steadily, leaned towards me as if to say hello. I loved it.
But his mate! She came in first, landing on the barbecue grill, and that same squirrel with the severe testosterone poisoning–‘terone ranger!–not a female squirrel defending her young but a male his territory, and I will mention that it was the same one that deliberately motioned threateningly at a hawk last week–at first as she flew in he started to run away, but then when she settled down on the arm of the grill he turned around midrun and audaciously came back to repeat that deliberate menacing act. Going so far as to put a paw on the bottom of the grill poised as if to leap up at her immediately above him.
Get lost, loser. She lifted off.
A little while later, her mate was doing his closeup for me on the wooden box. What a gorgeous bird. Ix-nay on the beef suet with peanuts here, Ma’am, but thanks for trying.
And not a squirrel to be seen. Even though he was the smaller of the two.
Then another hour or so later, the female flew in front of the patio again, abruptly blending into leaves and disappearing into the tree behind the grill. Wow, she’s good at this.
Guess who took offense at her invading his favorite tree?
I watched in disbelief as that little bushytail (he has distinctive markings) deliberately strode down the fenceline toward her like a cat about to pounce. And then he jumped at her! Not quite to her, but with the intent of scaring her off again like a sparrow. She again took off slowly and deliberately–I’ve seen her in a hurry and that wasn’t it–and whether she was responding to an innate instinct on the part of a bird, even a predator, to get away from something coming at her or what, I don’t know.
But wow, that squirrel’s got a Darwin wish. Coopers, looking at Sibley’s western birds guide, do indeed eat small mammals, not just birds.Â He’s so got it coming.
On a side note.Â The Washington Post reports on a professor who ran the recent press releases of the members of Congress through a computer to determine patterns, and what surprised him was this: 27% of everything they say is taunting. Not just chest-thumping aren’t I wonderful self-congratulations to their constituents, but actually taunting their opponents and not even pretending to try to work together to get things done in a way that acknowledges that other people have valid points of view too.
This is not the way to govern a diverse people well.
We voters should be watching them like a hawk.
I am proud to say that my Representative, Anna Eshoo, who thanked me warmly for her hat from the Warm Hats Not Hot Heads project for Congress, handled the latest quite respectfully, I feel, while explaining her point of view.Â It can be done.
Anna Eshoo is wonderful!
I got just the best thank you note today in the mail. Opened the envelope, a big grin on my face, and read a signed-by-hand note:
Dear Ms. Hyde,
Thank you so much for the very lovely hat knitted by you. Your “Warm Hats, Not Hot Heads” campaign is an extraordinarily creative way to encourage civility in Congress, and I’m so pleased that you and your friends have undertaken it. I will continue to do my best to promote courteous and constructive dialogue in Congress, and I thank you again for your warm and wonderful gift.
Member of Congress
I tell you.Â She completely made my day.
Ellen has some good ideas here on continuing the campaign, and again, the spreadsheet is here on who’s covered so far/who isn’t in Congress yet as far as we know.
But don’t let that limit you. Anyone else whom you’d like to take the message to by sending them a handknit hat and a note, the more we do, the greater the impact.
I confess to having made one a week ago that I thought was going to go to Congress, but it refused my efforts to pick out a name. It just wouldn’t go. Then a conversation with another knitter led to my sending it to her to give to someone in her statehouse–the person it clearly had been meant for all along, there was no question.
Sometimes it pays to just go with the flow when a thing demands to be knit: it will tell you when it’s ready and you will know.
Merino wool takes up dye more quickly than silk does, making it easy, in the case of my Filatura di Crosa “Wave” yarn, to have a heathered effect come out of the dyebath: two fibers that have been through the mill and share differences and similarities from the experience.
Soft but closely knit and strong and warm. It seemed perfect for her. A braid of a cable around the brim, the stitches picked up and then more braids working their way up: Fisherman’s Wharf and sailors’ ropes, even the yarn itself named to match the power of the ocean reaching halfway around her district. I liked it.
It was Jackie Speier’s hat, and I didn’t get it finished in time to mail with the Senators’ yesterday but I did do those last few rows today. I emailed her office a heads-up as to who I was and what I was up to, said I was going to put it in the mail, and then looked around her site for where to send it.
Hey. I thought it surely would have been San Francisco. It was closer in–a trek, and getting towards 3:00 rush hour soon, but certainly doable.
I got this male voice stopping me as I tried to introduce myself, going, Wait. Run that by me again? What?
Gradually, I got to hear his voice sounding happier and happier as he heard me explain the Warm Hats Not Hot Heads concept and why it was important to me that Jackie Speier get one of those hats.
He seemed a little more hesitant though when I chirped brightly, Great! Then if you don’t mind I’ll hop in my car in a few minutes and bring it over.
Thick clouds at home became a cloudburst the further north I drove. A slightly soggy-looking (red-tailed?) hawk perched on a signpole over the freeway made me laugh in surprise: always a touch of raptor, isn’t there, waiting to be seen for the noticing. Speaking of which, Clara‘s third new peregrine egg made its appearance on camera today.
Traffic was not too bad yet. The rain caught its breath a moment as I parked the car; a friendly touch, that.
I was screened downstairs and signed in.Â I went up. I explained to the buzzer at the door, as before, who/what/why. A woman’s voice seemed to hesitate at first; I imagined her asking and the guy there going, oh yes, her, okay, so she did come, it’s okay.
But that’s just my guess. It’s kind of hard to lipread a doorbell for missing details.
I entered and immediately knew who it was that had been on the phone: the man on his feet now whose smile was all one could ever hope for. The glass between the staff and the waiting room was surely protective, but the woman near him quickly opened the door to the waiting area and came to me, smiling as well.
I’m not quite in Ms. Speier’s district, I quickly acknowledged to her, pulling the hat out, but I feel she represents me. She’s not one who needs the message of one of these hats like some of her colleagues do; rather, it’s that I personally needed to knit her one to thank her so much for what she does and who she is.
She asked if I were following the pipeline hearings. Ohmygoodness yes. Thank you Jackie Speier! Our very lives in this neighborhood may well depend on her firmness in holding PG&E’s feet to the fire they created.
I got to see, in my few minutes there, how much those two staff members clearly love their boss.
Which says to me all over again what a fine leader she is.
The hats. We’re at 245. Not a big jump from yesterday, but still, steady upwards progress.Â Thank you, hat knitters! May every one of you come away feeling as blessed by your recipients’ responses as I did with mine today.
The first wave of hats has begun to ship
It occurs to me (woefully slow, I know) that maybe I should ask those so inclined to offer up a quiet prayer, or to Think Good Thoughts, that the many hats that have now begun to be sent out to Congress might receive a warm reception at their end points.Â We’ve done and are doing our part in the cause of civility and respectful speech in the public sphere; from our hearts to our hands to God’s along the way, to, hopefully, the staffers’ and recipients’ willing ones as they open those packages.
Let them know it’s coming. Give them the happy anticipation. State our cause and our hopes upfront.
Meantime, the answer to the earlier blog question is, Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland gets the Malabrigo hat to match Parker’s, with my thanks for his work restoring the Chesapeake Bay, his hat done in the colors of the Bay.
Part of me will always belong to my home state. Whose beaches, mind you, know which end of the day the sun is supposed to come by for a visit. And with ponies! Don’t forget the ponies!
As I write the hat count is at 243.
A hat for Jackie
By the sweet challah pattern on thy brow shalt thou greet thy braid all the days of thy life.
I was looking at the spreadsheet this evening for Warm Hats Not Hot Heads and was dismayed to find that nobody had signed up for Jackie Speier.
Jackie Speier is a hero to me. Until her speech, I had no idea Congress was trying to criminalize a procedure that not only is used on abortions but also when a woman is miscarrying a long-wanted and hoped-for child, as happened in her case, in order to protect her health so that no infection or massive scarring sets in that would keep her from being able to conceive in the future.
Wait. You mean the–wait–I had a miscarriage at nearly four months! And they want doctors not to know how to take care of women who *want* to have their children?! Wherever one may stand on abortion, those complications are what mine told me were a possibility if things were left to fester unattended. My loved, wanted baby had already passed away out of this life, just not out of me.
Speier was shot and left for dead while trying to help rescue her boss’s constituents during the Jim Jones/Guyana massacre. And when she spoke up back when she was in the state legislature about just what these men here were talking about banning, medically, back then too, and what she had endured with the loss of a baby she and her husband had tried so hard to have, one responded with, “Jim Jones should have finished the job.”
That, in the commission of a crime, would have qualified as an enhancement under the hate speech laws.
She did manage to get pregnant again; she was expecting when her husband was killed by a driver who had no brakes and thought he could make it to work anyway. She’s been raising her children as a widow. She has persevered.
Speier represents the folks in San Bruno and has been holding PG&E’s feet to the fire more than anyone else. When they say that no, they didn’t know there were any welding flaws in the pipeline that blew up–there were 150 just in that section–and then say with a straight face that there couldn’t possibly be any more anywhere, she tells them, I don’t believe you. Do the work you must do to make these lines safe. Lives are at stake.
That same pipeline runs about 500 feet or less from my house, between two gas stations. Go Jackie go.
If ever there was someone I wanted to stand with, hat in hand, pressing Congress for accountability for their words and respectfulness towards one another’s life experiences in all things, she wins.
I have a lovely, soft yarn that was bought at a store I think in her district. I’m knitting it for her as fast as I can.
Unlocking the door
(With proud new-grandparent pictures and captions thrown in, of course.)
My last semester of high school way back when, I took an after-school class in downtown DC, way down there from where I lived in Maryland: it was held in a rehabbed rowhouse near the Duke Ellington Bridge.Â Down Connecticut Avenue, for those who know the city. It was a lipreading class for those with new hearing losses and that’s where the agency that ran it happened to be.
It let out at ten to four, because at four, all the one-way streets turned one-way the other way. Connecticut had a chicken lane, a fast lane down the center that changed direction then, too, bouncing up and down over hills that hid daredevil oncomings from each other in heavy traffic. Not for me thankyouverymuch. The Founding Fathers forgot to put in freeways.
It also means the one time I got out late I had no idea how on earth to find my way out of the side street maze to get home. The neighborhood looked nice enough on the surface, but I learned that day why you had to stand in front of the steel-barred doorway every time and verify that you were you before they would buzz you in.
We now have 222 hats’ worth of knitters who have picked up their yarn to say no to the anger driving too much of our public discourse down the chicken lane. To urge yes to civility and respect to those in the public sphere.Â Hear us.
I called ahead first today to tell them who I was, what I was doing, and why I was coming. And was that okay?
The guy sounded surprised, and then charmed.
Then I drove to the office of my House Representative, Anna Eshoo, to offer up my letter about Warm Hats Not Hot Heads along with the red royal baby alpaca hat I’d made her.
I recognized his voice as he answered the door and unlocked it from the inside and let me in.Â But oh, it so brought back those memories–and in such a different time and place.Â It tugged fiercely at me that they would need to do that. But they do.
He invited me further in and I could see someone else at work as I stood there, unsealed manila envelope in hand. Both of them had the biggest smiles on already.
Then I showed the two men the pink and periwinkle hats tucked away in my purse as backups and wondered out loud what colors Ms. Eshoo likes, what colors they might have seen her wearing so that I could give her whichever one she would like best. I’d made the red one for her, but it was more important that she be happy with it.
Ask guys about colors and what do they do? They run for the woman in the office.
Who stepped from around the corner and she was beaming too. She looked at the red and went, Oh, that’s beautiful! And so soft… And pronounced that if that was the one that I’d made specifically for Ms. Eshoo then of course that was the one she should have, and she pronounced it perfect. We talked a little about the hats for Congress idea and they thought it was really cool that knitters would do that.
I tell you. I went home just floating at how happy those three people I’d never laid eyes on before were in their anticipation of seeing their boss made happy. That feeling could carry me forward for a long time.
Just imagine taking that experience and multiplying it by 221 more congresspeople and their staffs. Let’s get the rest of them too! Go knitters go!
Stitch by stitch that there be no more rows in Congress
Ellen was on TV! They wanted to do an interview about Warm Hats Not Hot Heads! We are at 213, with 99 available for the Senate and hoping that that publicity gives us a good jump forward.
I could have topped it out at an even hundred, but the intarsia on oneÂ came out a tad snug and I’m going to redo it. While the queue marches on: chemo caps for family members, purple for Abby, baby stuff, the qiviut, Stitches stash… You know how it goes. One project at a time, but all projects get done when you work on them.
Our favorite new one took 8 1/4 months.