Different each day
Tuesday May 09th 2017, 8:53 pm
Filed under: Family

And a few more pictures…



Alaska
Monday May 08th 2017, 4:18 pm
Filed under: Family,Life


Our daughter called and said the baby was going to be coming home from the hospital Saturday; we booked our flights and arrived Monday and then came home this morning a week later and fell into bed well after 2:00 am. Delayed flight delayed luggage and my body has no idea what time zone I’m in and I wouldn’t trade a second of it for anything.

Arriving, parking lots had mounds of dirt with white peeking out–oh, right, those are snowbanks still melting down, aren’t they. The trees were in dead-of-winter mode. The first one popped out in small bright sparkles of green the day before we left and by the morning there were tiny tiny leaves everywhere against the gray, as if the director had hummed the pitch and the a cappella choir was leaping right into the song.

Mathias was a placid, happy baby–as long as someone was holding him. Always. Day or night. The neonatologist said that sometimes the early ones need that extra cuddling.

We quickly got into the routine and privilege of having him in our arms while his parents got some uninterrupted sleep for the first shift of the night, with or without a bottle of pumped milk to extend that as his mother chose. Then we went off to our hotel to let them become a new family together without the in-laws there every moment. (And to lessen any fear of my falling over the big puppy, a St Bernard with a bit of Mastiff, and risking hitting my head. She did lean against the backs of my knees and cave me in just once but we did fine.)

Friday the baby let himself be put down in a crib for the first time, and that was a huge milestone.

We are in awe of our daughter. We are in awe of our son-in-law. You could not ask for better parents. And we are head over heels in love with Mathias.

I have to add, on a side note, that we got the great Alaska experience: one night (such as they are in May) we had just pulled onto the road when Richard slowed the car almost instantly right back down to a gentle stop before I saw why.

There was an immense moose before us. It took the next few steps that brought it right up to the hood of our car, where we could see it more clearly in the dusk. We weren’t going anywhere.

We knew rationally to be afraid but neither of us could find it in us to be so. Wow. What a magnificent animal. I’d always thought moose were frankly pretty darn ugly, but looking straight up at this seven foot tall creation of nature as it took a few steps around us and now stood outside the driver’s side–the entire driver’s side of the car–we were silent, taking in the moment as it took in us. Hail fellow. Well met.

Richard, pulling carefully away now, hoped out loud, Did you get its picture? as it stood there in the road, turning its enormous head to look at the kids’ house and then the other way while I hoped the dog wasn’t barking its head off.

Uh that would be a no. (On both.)

He said he wasn’t going back for it (!), and that made sense.

The other thing? The former governor of Alaska was in the grocery store at the other end of the produce department over by the deli while we were picking a few things up for the kids. No it couldn’t possibly be. Yes she absolutely was. I was slightly agog and trying not to look like it while my husband could not have cared less–we’re DC natives, we grew up with politicians, enough of them people who needed to let you know that they were important and he simply was not impressed. I love that man.

This is what matters.

Mathias went from squinting away from the brightness of light to opening his eyes to it and to us more and more. He went from a low of 6 lbs 13 oz to racing to make up for lost birthweight and beyond.

We got a text between airports Sunday: the dog had picked up a favorite toy and gone searching through the house for me. She wanted our playing together to never end.

Soon enough a little boy will be taking over from there.



Now c’mon
Sunday April 30th 2017, 8:33 pm
Filed under: Knit

Was that really so hard?



Only a dream in Rios
Saturday April 29th 2017, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

(With apologies to James Taylor, or ohmygoodness here, with Milton Nascimento.)

Sewed the shoulders, half the first sleeve…

With the back of the sweater inside out. *Yesterday, repeat from *.

In my defense, I was distracted by incoming baby photos.



Giving it the side-eye
Friday April 28th 2017, 9:40 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift

The Rios sweater is a riff on a baby pattern I bought from Imagiknit at Stitches.

I do not love piecing sweater bits together. And Purlescence no longer exists for me to hang out with other knitters while I do it. So I dragged it to the audiologist‘s.

The fairly new woman at the desk confessed when I checked in, “I know you’re totally a knitter but I can’t remember your name.” She became knit-worthy on the spot.

She and the audiologist were thrilled when I showed them who I wanted to be able to hear and it clearly made a scut-work task (ooh, scraping ear wax out of tiny spaces: thrills chills and excitement) a lot more fun to do. I’m trying to live up to their example.

Finally got to the top of the first side, wool in hand, and only then did it hit me: you’re supposed to sew the sleeve on first you doofus.

Yes I really did do that.

Well, it would keep him from scratching his face, right? They do make belegged straitjackets for newborns (whatever the official warm-and-fuzzy word for them is.)

Yeah, no. It took me awhile to un-run that end back out. Random suppressed giggles and an awareness that if I could feel that yarn pulling (my ears were on their own just then) then normal people could hear it going zip, zip as the pieces fell slowly back apart, and so much for showing off.

They were very kind and pretended not to notice, but I wasn’t the only one trying not to laugh.

I want a baby sweater pattern that’s done all in one piece. The yellow wool one Aunt Mary Lynn gave us when John was born that I passed down to Parker when he was born: how did she do that… Coming down to points that crossed over in the front… I could certainly figure it out but it’s so much easier when someone else already has. Take my money, save my time.



Day two
Thursday April 27th 2017, 9:16 pm
Filed under: Family

And another picture. Already looking older.



Thou hast made Thy children mighty
Wednesday April 26th 2017, 8:24 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Let me explain what I meant by this yesterday.

Our daughter Sam was hospitalized Saturday with the doctors deciding to wait till the morrow to induce her–let the baby be 37 weeks and officially past prematurity, but then he was going to have to come out. The risk of losing him had become too great.

Sunday morning, then, they started the inducing and she was in mild labor all day. She was where she needed to be: they could monitor him and do something fast if things went south.

We went to bed that night after offering the message that they were not to worry about waking us up: whatever the hour, we wanted to know.

She was in labor all Sunday night.

She was in labor all day Monday.

She was in labor all Monday night. We slept badly but not as badly as our daughter and son-in-law did.

She was in labor all day Tuesday. That baby wanted every extra hour he could get. Just as we were about to hit the lights last night the message came in: her water had broken. We looked at each other and pronounced, “Show time.” Wishing it were and figuring probably not any time soon, still, at the rate things had been going.

She was in labor all Tuesday night. I’ve borne four children and done twenty hours’ worth for a miscarriage and I cannot begin to fathom how she could do it.

I woke up this morning seven-ish, checked for messages, saw none, and thought, my poor kid. My strong, heartbreakingly brave kid who was willing to risk so much to bring her son into this world to share a life with the best man she could possibly have chosen. I cannot begin to say how in awe I am of her.

Her husband stayed by her side.

I had just stepped out of the shower when Richard startled me (didn’t know he was awake yet) with a “Hello, Grandma!”

Mathias Ronald, 7 lbs 11 oz with his daddy’s nose and the most perfect face. Shattering our hearts into a million brilliant momentums of joy.

Welcome to the world, little one. We cannot wait to see you, too.

(Photos by Sam.)



No training wheels
Tuesday April 25th 2017, 11:09 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Somehow it was a day where that hot chocolate just tasted really good. That blue mill-ends-of-the-mill-ends cashmere (don’t know if there’s any of that $20 postpaid/180 grams of dk weight left, but that’s the link) that I hanked up and scoured the mill oils off of became in that washing the softest yarn one could ever have in hand–someone besides me would soon swoon over it in a more finished form, and just the thought of that made my day. The neighbor was teaching his preschooler to ride a two-wheeler and she was doing really well at it, with her two-year-old brother following right behind on a two-wheel bicycle with no pedals, just little feet on the ground pushing it along at a good clip, wanting to do everything she could do and doing what he could in the meantime. He waved hi at me and I waved back. I told his big sister she was doing great.

And I had a song in my head, a hymn from church, For the Strength of the Hills We Thank Thee. Thou hast made thy children mighty…



Superwash fine merino is a parent’s friend
Monday April 24th 2017, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

Malabrigo Rios. Just plain stockinette, so the sides are curling in until I can get them sewn to the other side.

Newborn sizes do knit up fast. My hands needed lots of breaks today and yet I still got the back done and the front begun. Five inches past the cuffs when it’s time for the sleeves? I can do that.

I was by no means sure I had enough yarn for cable work. Plain is warmth enough this time around.



Almost…
Sunday April 23rd 2017, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Family

Waiting, waiting….



One giant leap
Saturday April 22nd 2017, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

The little boy with thick reddish-blond hair was coming down the big wooden steps outside to the deck that overlooks the forest of redwoods at Richard’s aunt’s. He was trying to master the art of doing each step in a single step of his own–but they were bigger than he was and he was practically doing the splits while trying not to tumble forward.

He would have, actually, but for his daddy right there holding his hand. A few side twirls around his daddy’s feet in the process were part of how it’s done.

He finally made that one last long big leap to the wooden planks that had been waiting below and I clapped and cheered, “You did it!”

At that the little boy with Down’s went right back up that step so he could do that again.

And again.

And again.

I caught on: I added, “Do it again!” after the “You did it!” as I clapped.

He did it again, with his dad loving that someone thought his little boy was cute.

On about the eighth round of this, he almost fell at the bottom and caught himself in a bit of a faceplant on the seat of the chair next to me, and so now we had a new game: he would go upwards, he would take a grand step down, I would cheer, “Yay! You did it!” and he would run to that chair and turn his head to the side just like when it wasn’t quite so on purpose.

A few more of those.

Finally, his daddy said, Okay, time to move on, little buddy–but little buddy didn’t want to move on at all, thanks. He had a new game. He had a new friend. This was going great.

I let them be–and then he did let his little guy go up that step one last time. I clapped this time like all the others, but instead I said, “Bye bye!” And he knew what you were supposed to do with a wave bye-bye: you go bye-bye.

And off he toddled hand-in-hand with his daddy to go say hi to the bride and groom.



One kid home, one incoming
Friday April 21st 2017, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Family

A (local) cousin’s wedding. Stories already and no time to type. Later.



I left you some
Thursday April 20th 2017, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Life

Four onesies, one t-shirt, one jacket, all long-sleeved, one pair of denim overalls, two pairs of pants, one hat, everything in pure cotton, ordered in newborn size on up to six months. Total cost: are you ready for this? $17.32, with free shipping. Thank you Target.

When the baby’s going to be born in Alaska, the winter clearance items that are really cheap in April are perfect for Anchorage now. (I did, however, skip the Halloween and Santa-themed ones.)

Sometimes it pays to let companies email you their ads. And if anyone’s looking for baby clothes right now, I thought I’d mention.

(p.s. Sometimes Target stores offer a $5 gift card for buying multiples of staples on sale. I remembered to enter the one I had.)



Where have all the flowers gone? Long time passing…
Wednesday April 19th 2017, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family,Food,Friends,Life

My daughter-in-law had a moment of great inspiration that blessed a lot of us. That will be a story to tell, probably next week.

Meantime, today I had an appointment with the ENT who, years ago, diagnosed my hearing loss as being caused by an allergy to aspirin and thereby stopped its progression. I owe him much. He’s also the one whose love of his garden sparked my own fruit tree and veggie planting and I adore him.

He was running a moment late. And because he was running late, I ended up pulling back into my driveway exactly at the moment a neighbor from across the fence was standing right there, having stopped to talk to the guy next door after having walked all the way around the block in hopes of seeing me and finding me not there. But then I was.

If you remember the saga of the big ragged broken sad ugly Snoopy weathervane skewered on the fence that bugged me so much for so long and an elderly neighbor’s anger at my asking her to take it down or to let me help her do so, this was her.

I wanted peace between us after that. Praying was something I could do while trying to figure out how to create some positive interactions, and we have had some since then.

I stumbled across an article on war brides from her native land that left me feeling for the first time like I could understand why she came across the way she did–it was a survival tactic that had helped those women survive.

Whether it actually applied to her or not I don’t know for sure, but I do know that for me it helped a lot.

Last week I left a stalk of bright red amaryllis flowers in a vase by her door after no one answered. (At her age, I just hoped she was still there but nothing had changed in her front yard, so…)

Here she was, responding in kind. She had a surprise for me. I looked in and laughed, “You didn’t need to return the vase!” There were dark-chocolate-covered butter cookies in there, too. Wow. Yum. “Thank you!”

But here is the thing: she was radiant. She glowed with love, and we gave each other a big hug and I didn’t even know she does hugs. My next door neighbor shared in by saying I’d given them an amaryllis, too, and his being there made it all the sweeter. Had he not stepped outside to put his trash bin away just in time to see and delay her by visiting a moment she probably would have missed us both.

She said, “But when the flowers got old they dripped red. It looked like blood!” She turned and said it a moment later to him, too, in case he hadn’t heard it the first time. I grinned at the scandalousness of its dastardly deed. Yeah, they do that. And thought, actually, it would probably make a great dye for my wool, but who would ever sacrifice the number of flowers it would take to find out?

Only later did the thought occur to me that, oh, I hope that didn’t cause her any flashbacks. But judging by her face and her voice, I think, I think, we did just fine there. Replace the old memories with the new. Better. Happier. And hey–amaryllises!



Peregrinations
Tuesday April 18th 2017, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Thank you everybody for the help on the shoes!

It’s been a number of seasons since I was on the peregrine falcon cam crew, but I thought I’d mention a video taken today by those who still are. There are three peregrine eyases in the nest outside San Jose City Hall’s 18th floor (and a bum egg that was finally shoved aside, just like last year.)

I have never seen crops that size–those are well-fed chicks! You see those bulges below their necks? That’s nature’s storage area to keep raptors nourished between meals.

Banding is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday.