The Cereza on top
Monday May 06th 2019, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

So there was this burgundy-red soft Malabrigo Mecha hat, the carry-around project I’d cast on to have at the eye doctor’s last week so I could do simple knit stitches around and around by feel while my eyes were dilated.

Someone I know through Facebook posted a cri de couer last night while having a particularly hard time of it.

I immediately offered to finish knitting that hat expressly for her. I told her I wanted her to have a warm hug from me, that she mattered and was loved. I took a picture of it in its barely-begun glory, and then a second photo where I put it with three others (yay for all the recent hat-knitting time spent on airplanes) for comparison and asked her to pick her favorite.

Or to name any color and it would be hers.

She said it was one of the nicest things anyone had ever done for her. I wanted to weep and throw my arms around her from across the country.

There is no shame in depression–the truth is that it took great courage and strength to voice it so as not to be defeated by it.

I told her that years ago… That the gift that such an experience leaves us with is that it feels imperative to tell the next person that they are not alone. That they matter. That they are loved. I cannot say those words enough, I can only put them into wool.

I finished that hat this morning and went back to the computer at noon at last to sign in, having asked for her snail mail address. Wondering if she would allow me to have it. Holding my breath a little for her.

There it was.

She liked the hat in the upper left the best.

An hour later, she had its tracking number. Happy anticipation, I hoped: a gift in itself. Even if numbed right now, the memory won’t be.

And the burgundy-red hat waits its turn for its own recipient, ready.



Now that they’re over the jet lag
Sunday May 05th 2019, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Some friends put on a presentation tonight about what it was like to be Americans living in St. Petersburg (and I don’t mean Florida) for nearly two years.

They were there as an older Mormon missionary couple: but by the laws of the land, they were not allowed to act as such except inside the walls of the church. They could not do nor could they say anything to identify themselves as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints anywhere else unless someone asked them first.

Which crystalized it to simply quietly living one’s faith by doing good to others. Because that’s what it all comes down to anyway: trying to put more of God’s love into the world.

Which is how they ended up as volunteers helping out at the Hermitage Museum. Volunteering was definitely something they were allowed to do. They learned all they could about the place, for visitors’ sakes as well as their own and tonight, ours.

Sue said that one of the cultural disconnects she discovered was the very concept: historically, there were the royalty and there were the peasants and if you wanted something done it got done by the ones who had no real choice in the matter.

The idea that retired people, in particular, volunteer all over America in order to contribute to the good of society at large–really? They do? Sue said that even though that was a new idea to most, they really liked it.

I came away feeling like I need to get off my duff and go do more for others. A lot more.



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.



Puttering, watering, checking
Friday May 03rd 2019, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Garden

The irises keep blooming. (That’s my dwarf Black Jack fig behind.)

The nurseryman who warned me that Frost peaches can break the limbs? He wasn’t kidding.

I planted this tree two months ago, gave it some serious pruning and limb-spreading to correct its shape and start it off right, and it’s already shot out 12″ worth of new limbs. It helps that it’s a standard, not dwarfed rootstock. I thinned it to two peaches, one on either side of the tree, and they’re already big for how far along they are.

And the tree is healthy. Look at that. No leaf curl and there never will be. So much better.



Everything in its moment
Thursday May 02nd 2019, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

 I so love this picture.

My daughter and her son at the Anchorage Museum, a place that preserves and offers the past, the present, and (with displays under construction and areas where we thought we knew what to expect cut off from our view) the future.

On a less philosophical note, they do still have the best qiviut I know, and this time I bought a skein. I was told they do ship.



So two
Wednesday May 01st 2019, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,LYS

If you knit an Alaskan toddler a hat, he’s going to want to put it on, and if he puts it on he’s going to want it to stay on. Malabrigo Mecha (from Cottage Yarns) is soft and warm and it feels good.

He doesn’t like the folded brim thing so much, though: it makes it harder to get the thing on and off on his own.

He did manage to snatch Grampa’s for trying on, pretending not to be seen by pulling it down over his eyes while running away peeking out trying to make sure where he was going. Chase me! runrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrun

The day he turned two (or was it the day after) he grabbed the remote and pushed buttons till he managed to turn the screen on and pick out Shaun the Sheep cartoons. All by himself.

That mantle shelf up high gets lots of good use. 



Put a sock in it
Tuesday April 30th 2019, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

So there I was this evening, explaining to Richard why I was laughing: I had just been reading that one of my old Purlescence friends was at work today when a five inch lizard ran up her pants.

Yes there was a security camera while she was ripping them off and dancing around like a crazy person, but she’s been assured it was aimed elsewhere and just missed her.

My husband’s response: having forgotten it till just then, he reached into the pocket of his navy pants and pulled out one of the ancient cotton socks I cut the toe and heel out of years ago to use as a liner for the hand splints I wear at night to keep my fingers from curling. More effective against arthritis than any aspirin.

He’d been talking to a guy at work today who’d suddenly asked him, “What’s that coming out of the bottom of your pants?”

“Oh. It’s the wife’s.”

Two in one day. Anybody else?



Teaching Grammy the rules
Monday April 29th 2019, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Family

I did not know that picking up the red plastic measuring cup off the floor and handing it to Mathias meant that I had just given him permission to help with the dishes. Which were already done. But glee being the uncontainable thing that it is, his little wooden chair was pushed to the sink, warm suds were made, nice and high and reachable, and he used his little red scooper to corral the bubbles and lift them over to where they could swirl away in freedom.

Because that is How It Is Done.



Slide!
Sunday April 28th 2019, 11:46 pm
Filed under: Family

Just walked in the door from Anchorage, I’ll catch up on everything tomorrow, but I had to share this one.



82-22F
Wednesday April 24th 2019, 8:59 am
Filed under: Family

Going to go see the Buffalo Wool vending machine. (Stuffing a last-minute extra skein of yarn in. You never know.)



Almost halfway through his childhood already
Tuesday April 23rd 2019, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

It was still there. I told Parker about it and he went running to look, his little brother right behind him. The two of them are a pair.

He had been three. It was just to the left of the bathroom door. I did not mention that it was from when he could proudly go potty all by himself now: a small, perfect handprint, like a time capsule, lower than the door handle that would have been an upward reach.

(Many times I’d thought of washing it off. Never quite did.)

But back to Friday for a moment: while the rest of their family was finishing up their birthday visit with the great grandma on the other side, our son ducked out for a few minutes that evening to let us see the baby without any competition for attention from the other kids. After all, Spencer would never be not quite seven months again.

They’d fed him right beforehand. He should have been fine. But his routine, his surroundings, the faces around him, everything had been strange all day long and he was tired and he was Not Having It Any More. From the screaming baby at the door till he fell asleep in my arms about 45 minutes later.

I did manage to distract him into half smiles a few times and almost a laugh. His grandpa got some hold-the-baby time, too.

He stopped crying for a little while–and then remembered that oh right he still wasn’t home and he still wasn’t in bed, and let loose again.

We had bought a fun Halloween pacifier on impulse in Santa Cruz last fall and had forgotten to bring it to them in time for that: it was still here. Cool. So that problem, at least, we could solve, even if it took a minute or two to hunt down.

I have a childhood memory of my grandfather rocking me in a wooden rocking chair on a planked wooden floor with Eichler style floor-to-ceiling windows behind him. I was very little.

I live in an Eichler. Carpeted, hey, but the plate windows behind me and wooden rocker, that I could do.

Gradually, with some gentle nudges from me on that pacifier when it started to slip, he gave way to the sleep trying to claim him. Barely, restlessly. But he was quiet at last.

Saturday was our day, and as they came in the door there was my tall son with the baby in his arms again.

Spencer took one look at me and immediately broke into the biggest grin.

I was utterly, completely smitten. I was already, but man…

This time he had a complete giggle fest with me. It was great.

Sunday morning early, they all flew home.

Sunday afternoon with the light coming through the windows just exactly so, shining bright on that wall next to the front door, it stood out and we could see it. He’s quite the basketball player in his age group (I’ve seen him play–he’s good!) and he probably had to do a nice little leap for that one.

A time capsule of an eight-year-old star athlete, missing only the autograph.

“You can wash that one,” said my husband.



But don’t climb the peaches. They’re useless that way.
Monday April 22nd 2019, 11:02 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden

It’s easier for the two of us to fly than the two of them and their four kids, so it had been awhile since they’d all been here. There’ve been changes in the yard just this year; the two older boys ran out back to explore.

I named each fruit tree going around one by one.

It was when I said the magic words ‘apple tree’ that Parker’s face lit up. “Apple!”

I’d wondered if he remembered. He’d been not quite four. Me snipping the tape off the clamshell squirrel cage then lifting him up, him picking the last apples off that tree I planted when his daddy had been about his age, him watching me intently in the kitchen as I sliced them up and then him proudly offering everybody their portion. (His baby brother ditched the skin on his by wiping the bits into the spaces between the keys on the piano when no one was looking.)

After that visit, my daughter-in-law told me that Parker wanted to eat apples all the time and he wanted them cut across the equator so all the seeds showed and he wanted to go on walks to plant those seeds so they could grow into great big apple trees where they lived so that everybody around them could get to pick and eat apples like that, too.

He wasn’t more than politely impressed with my peaches or cherries (yet) but that big old Fuji, that one was near and dear to his heart.

And the kids could climb it, too, though I didn’t think of it at the time and they didn’t think to ask. It wasn’t till later that I tried to picture any good climbing trees near them and couldn’t come up with any, and I can imagine it didn’t occur to them that one even does such things.

It’s not terribly scary high and it is pretty sturdy.

Well then. Next time.



For Emily in her recovery from sepsis
Sunday April 21st 2019, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden

The second cherry, the tart English Morello, is really putting on a show this year.

Some of you may remember: this is the one that the spring after I planted it was nearly killed by–something, and I never saw anything going at it and couldn’t figure out what, but its new leaves got chomped on and then entirely disappeared practically overnight; when it tried to put out a second set, those went down to the nubs, too.

My bare root had become a bare everything again.

I finally decided whatever it was had to be nocturnal and I went out at night with a flashlight.

The entire tree was utterly engulfed in swarms and even multiple layers of iridescent black and green Japanese beetles trying to push past each other to devour some faint morsel. I had no idea what to do–knocking them off and trying to stomp on them all was so gross and useless because there were constantly so many more, and pesticides meant killing the wildlife. The soapy water that I use to suffocate indoor ants and wipe away their scent trails (insects breathe through their skeletons) I didn’t want in the soil.

So I Googled.

Which meant that good friends scraped off their barbecue grill for me and gave me a plastic bucket of the ashes. I waited for the tiniest first sign of green and went out that night and doused the beetles with the stuff.

They fell away from my tree instantly, gratifyingly, dying unanimously while fertilizing the roots those non-natives had stolen so much from. I repeated that scene till they didn’t seem to come anymore.

But the sapling had already given it its all. It stayed bare. I thought that was the end of it.

It took longer to come back on the third go-round and there were fewer and smaller leaves but it just wasn’t its time to go yet. Recovery wasn’t immediate, not that year and not entirely the next, but this year it’s already growing faster than it ever has.

And look at it now.

(Old wire racks recycled as gopher barriers: where they can’t come up for air, they don’t want to go.)



Playdough meets Dr. Seuss
Saturday April 20th 2019, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Family

Our San Diego family has a great grandmother on the other side and a grandfather with birthdays a day apart this week in this town.

Which is how they ended up here.

The kit came with a mat with helpful ideas (Playdough must have learned over the years that parents want that stuff confined and away from the rugs) but this was all her own creation.

Maddy, age four, made Grampa his very own birthday cake. She worked that candle for the center three times until she felt she’d gotten it just exactly right. 



From first leaf to the future
Friday April 19th 2019, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Life

Someone in the New York Times, I think it was, was quoting from Oliver Sacks’ last and posthumously published book, and now I really need to go read it.

Sacks was talking about the restorative power of gardens. Of being in nature. That it offered powerful medicine to the brain.

He said that of his neurology patients, even those whose minds were far gone with Alzheimer’s: if you got down to the soil with them and handed them a seedling, not one, ever, had tried to plant it upside down.

They knew how these things must go, and the worst ravages of the brain could not take that away from them.