Gale force
Tuesday September 05th 2017, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Life

CVS already has flu shots in stock. Given my being sent to the ER the first week in September a few years back with a severe case of the flu and all the cascading autoimmune effects from that, and the kid coughing behind me in church on Sunday suggesting that the flu is out there early again, I jumped at the chance and Richard took me there after work. He wanted to wait a little later in the season so his dose would last through the spring; my take on it was, weighing the certainty of being immunized now vs the uncertainty of maybe having the dose wane later–I’ll take certainty, thanks.

My arm is slightly sore. That is so much better a thing to have to live through. And I will be one less person passing the germs along that would make the next ten people sick, and the next hundred from them, and the next…

Meantime, everybody in the path of Irma, my prayers go with you. Stay safe. I wish I could fix that danger so easily.



Begin: the rest is easy
Monday September 04th 2017, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Spinning

Mom! Something’s wrong! That thing is noisy!

He concurred: It is, dear.

Oh. Sorry, guys.

So I oiled the wheel and they and it still squawked. I told them I would take care of the rest as soon as I finished this bobbin so I could oil the shaft it was on. And that did it.

This morning I was looking at some cones of near-white 30/70 cashmere/merino (link correct now) and palest beige merino that had been bought to help me finish off some very old stash of brown cashmere laceweight single ply that was far too thin and fragile to knit as is. Last night I had set four cones together and considered how they actually looked together. Today they didn’t want to be admired, they wanted to be plied, now!

Plans vs inspiration: having wanted to want to work on this for some time, now that I actually wanted to do it, do it!

I weighed one of the cones of the near-white cones after the first hank was all done to see how much of it I’d used up in the plying. I loved how much more interesting it made the light browns look. (And I can always overdye the result.)

Wow. Looks like I could make probably twenty-five hundred more yards of aran weight. Let’s see how long the enthusiasm holds out, but I won’t stop till I’ve got an afghan’s worth.

Meantime, thank you for the suggestions on the yarn for the girls’ hats. I spent a lot of time thumbing through ideas at Webs, since mobility is still a dicey prospect, and they have just about everything (snagging the domain name of yarn.com early on in the internet surely didn’t hurt.) I finally bought something that, if it isn’t enough colors, I think I can make do from stash.

And while I’m making headway on lots and lots of pale brown, soft, quiet, practical, (and, shhhhh–boring, don’t tell), those colorful hat projects in the middle are going to help me plow through.

Her friend’s wedding done, an airport run, and now it is just us two again.



Stash busted
Sunday September 03rd 2017, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

The foster mom told no secrets: but when I said most fosters don’t even have a suitcase, just a trash bag to take their things in, she nodded emphatically yes, glad that someone knew. When I said that hat clearly must mean a great deal to Alex, she gave me an even more emphatic yes. I explained its having been so poorly sewn on the inside and why it risked popping out the last of it as Alex grew and showed her what I’d done to try to save it.

And I said I wanted to knit Alex something out of colors and fibers of her own choosing so that she would have something that had been made just for her.

Leaving church, I happened to turn around at the very moment Alex was getting her hat back and the little leap for joy and dance she did as she put it back on her head. She had it back! It was fixed!

I liked that. I liked that a lot. For her sake. This wasn’t a kid who moaned over its never looking quite like new again, she celebrated that this had been done for her. Like I say, she’s a great kid.

That family went home and the girls drew pictures of their dream hats they hoped for, with the mom promising to pay me for them, (not wanting to ask me simply to just go do more than I’d offered) with me answering that thanks, but that would take all the fun out of it–I want to do this for them and they’re happy about it and that’s all I need.

Of *course* I should have instantly realized her bio daughter needed one, too, as a bonding thing with her new sister as well as for her not to feel left out with the changes in the family. Yow. I’m not usually that slow, my apologies, that was a blindingly obvious need and I’d utterly missed it. Well, okay, so we got that taken care of.

I really liked those drawings (and hoped the colors came through true in her email) and the details offered. They’d really thought about it. Alex wants thick yarn and a fold-up beanie in stripes of vivid blue and black.

Two skeins of yarn and an excuse to go to a yarn store, I can handle that.

Her sister wants medium yarn and eleven narrow stripes: medium blue at the bottom, then purple, light blue, orange, medium green, dark pink, light pink, light green, light blue, peach, and a smidgen of light purple at the top. All the cheerfuls.

And me with my darker colors and little-boy stuff. And that bit of leftover Great Pumpkin. I could easily blow a couple of hundred on the one hat.

You know (even though the mom said they didn’t have to be) that they have to be knit in a machine-washable merino–so the kids will be warm (staying in California long-term is by no means a sure thing for them) and so the hats will survive any inadvertent trip through the wash. Having kids help with the laundry should always have only good results, especially with something like that.

So. Does anybody know of a soft self-striping superwash worsted-weight merino yarn in a colorway like that? Or two, that I could switch back and forth between? It would be so cool to be able to totally match what her mind saw.

Alex’s, too.



The mending
Saturday September 02nd 2017, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I’m not sure I heard the name right and I’m not even sure of the gender so we’ll call our singular-them Alex.

The first time I saw them I wondered why a child that old was wearing a hat like that: a particular cartoon character on the head of, at a guess, a 12-year-old. It was bright and cheerful, though, definitely.

Alex arrived at my friends’ house shortly after I’d gifted their foster mom with a cowl.

I clearly know how to do knitterly things: and so there was a request, and then a knock at my door–that hat. It was damaged, see, here. (They asked again, to be sure.) Could I…?

I looked Alex in the eye and promised to do my best but had to admit up front I could not make it as good as new. They were fine with that and I came away feeling like the three, the foster mom and her daughter and Alex all felt it was in the best hands now and I was relieved that Alex seemed fine with leaving it somewhere else for awhile. No hurry, the foster mom repeated: if I could bring it to church on Sunday that would be great.

This was a few hours before the fall and brain slosh that left me unwilling to risk driving until further notice, so I was glad there was no pressure on that one. The left side of the computer monitor has gone back to being the same size as the right side now, but still. No way.

I looked it over after they left. Tiny yellow stitches on the outside, black ones on the inside and a bear to see the details. I put it down.

Tonight it dawned on me that hello? Procrastination is not going to win us anything here, that kid really needs that back! I sat down with it at last, a little stricken at my negligence that had almost cost them another week’s wait.

Ooooh, mannnn… The thing was made as a quick throwaway: no selvedges, no interlocking holding the knitting together, no pride in doing it right, just raw machine-knit ends sewn with a fast line straight across with the thing turned inside out and then turned right side back out to hide the seam, so that if anything happened to that, say, if it ever got a little stretched putting the hat on a head a little big for it now, every stitch and every row in the inner and outer knitted fabrics could unravel and the whole thing fall apart into a mass of squiggly ends. Which is what had started to happen. What a mess. But at least it hadn’t gotten too far yet.

There. Did it. What a relief.

Oh wait.

There, and there, and all the way around the chin flap and oh, nooo, over there, too, I thought I was done…

And as I carefully hand stitched it back together through loop and loop, side to side and back again, squinting and hoping and doing my best and mentally composing this post, I wondered who had given this to Alex and why it meant so much to them still.

I wondered if a loving grandmother had proudly put that bit of fun on their head and sent them off to school with it–and when.

I wondered who had belittled them for wearing it.

I know that many foster children own not so much as a suitcase but their belongings are whatever they can stash in a trash bag to carry with them from place to, maybe, hopeful place. This hat had made the cut for them and they were in a good home now.

I wondered who this child was going to be when they grow up–but I knew in my bones that I would do anything for them to feel the love and support that was rightfully theirs from the day they were born. Alex is a great kid.

I’m not taking a picture of that cartoon character nor describing it further because it’s not mine to share.

But I know this: Alex will get another hat. It will be handknit. Alex will choose the color and the fiber. It will not be a replacement, nor an inducement… It will simply say, for whenever they need to hear that message, that I care about them and my love goes with them wherever they go. Too. For as long as that hat can hold it together, and when it can no longer I will make another for as long as I am here on this earth to do so.



Holding onto his hat
Friday September 01st 2017, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

Finished that cowl (yesterday’s picture had the color right, although, it is wet in this one), restarted the Camelspin, and on a 107F day was acutely grateful for air conditioning.  Solar powered, too, so it costs not a dime to run.

We got a photo from Sam: Alaskan temps were in the high 40s and Mathias needed his Grammy hat on.

He was determined to hold that squishy Malabrigo Rios softness right there in his hands where it belonged.

Clearly there need to be more of these.

 



Wasn’t it nice of him to invite a critter buffet
Thursday August 31st 2017, 9:47 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift,Life,Wildlife

1. Found an obvious mistake made right at the beginning and that could not be fixed, frogged the whole thing, and started over with a different yarn. Same old same old pattern because it’s mistake-proof and right then I just needed that.

2. Bird netting, bird spikes, and covering bags didn’t do it this time–they got my one ripe fig last night that I was going to pick in the morning when it would be sweetest. Darn.

3. The story from a few years back is there was a young male mountain lion who followed the creek beds from the mountains to the valley across downtown and into a suburban neighborhood, where a UPS driver saw him near dawn near an elementary school and reported it immediately.

And then it vanished.

A quite-elderly golden retriever saved the day that afternoon about the time school was letting out when he announced his opinion of a cat trespassing in his territory. A little one he might ignore but this one just had no business being there.

A reporter was standing under a tree filing a story update that no, the lion still hadn’t been spotted yet. (Dude. Straight. Up…)

So this morning, again around dawn, a man across town who has fruit trees and a garden that had been being raided by raccoons in the night (and has my greatest sympathies) and who is on the board of the state’s Nature Conservancy heard noise outside and went out to try to do something about it.

There were wildly swinging branches in the redwood just over the fence, and redwoods are not flimsy things–

–and a deep growl.

Holy. Cow.

And then the lion’s cub, echoing Mommy and trying to sound fierce, too.

…Well, I guess we don’t have to worry about raccoons tonight, honey…

They’re still looking for them. Our city’s hero golden retriever has gone on to that great dog park in the sky. We’ve had lions before, but never one with young. Fish and Game is on it and the cops again guarded the children going to and from school.



Houston
Wednesday August 30th 2017, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Life

My older son was a Mormon missionary in southern Florida, Haitian Creole-speaking, the year that area got hit with hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and the Church told the missionaries, the Red Cross needs you more than we do–go volunteer. They did. Alright then, boys, 1500 Salisbury steaks for the grill, have a spatula.

Copied and pasted from my sister-in-law on Facebook, please share with anyone you know affected by Hurricane Harvey so that we can expand the reach of this:

Houston Friends,
Here are hotline numbers to submit work orders for help from Mormon Helping Hands. FREE assistance regardless of religious affiliation.
FRIENDS, please pass this to anyone in Houston area or any that was affected. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints along with numerous others, currently have a hotline available to submit work orders for specific need requests related to the damages and for cleanup efforts. There is no charge for these services. They are mobilizing thousands to come and help muck out homes, cleaning etc. This has been done in many cities throughout the world. Last year 5000 were mobilized to Louisiana. It may take a week or two, but bishops in the area have already submitted an estimation of homes damaged and preparation is underway.
By calling the hotline number, a volunteer will take down the information you need and create a work order and then attempt to send a volunteer crew out to help. This includes removing carpet, cutting down tree limbs, etc.
Obviously there’s still difficulty getting crews into the neighborhoods but this will allow us to start the rebuilding process, and they will come as they are able. The volunteer groups will come from LDS Mormon Helping Hands, Catholic Charities, Etc.
Hotline numbers:
800-451-1954
844-965-1386



Baby giggles
Tuesday August 29th 2017, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

Even better than Cooper’s hawk sightings for cheering up: pictures of Mathias.

I don’t usually cast on one project six times on various needles to get it just exactly right, but when I do it’s the exquisitely soft, shimmery, long-hoarded-Stitches-purchase Handmaiden Camelspin. After a solid hour of silliness I am on row two. (Make that three.) But I know who it’s for, at long last, I can’t wait, and I’m knitting again.



And just like that, the Patronus shows up
Monday August 28th 2017, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Wildlife

Took it easy today and the arm was much better off for it, thank you, everybody. And to Richard for insisting I ice it for 15 minutes when it happened, and pulled out a timer and a book to stay up that much later with me so I would do it.

So no knitting today. As I was reading I happened to look up in time to see a Cooper’s hawk swoop around the patio–but leisurely, not fast, and I noted that if this was a new one, it had learned to chase into the alcove, where its prey would be contained, rather than away from it to an easier escape like last time. Progress. Except that I didn’t see it actually chasing anything.

It wheeled back out and onto the roof of the shed, visible to all, to announce just who owned this.

I tried to memorize every feather so I would know next time if it were the same one. There was an unusual solid white spot on the left side of its chest near the wing with a little bit of a connecting zigzag to two orange stripes suddenly ending there.

I remembered to blink so as not to be a predator staring it down. It had been months since I’d been able to study one like this. My phone/camera was not in reach.

And so we quietly observed each other for a few minutes, one of us intensely grateful for that and wondering if the other could somehow feel it…

As if in response it tucked a foot up away into its feathers: completely relaxed. Wasn’t it a fine day today! And then, briefly, it preened. I could only marvel at its sense of balance.

About five minutes in, a young squirrel–pre-puberty, they do not have object permanence–forgot that it was supposed to be being scared and popped out from under the picnic table. It nosed around under the bird feeder and then hopped across the yard right below that hawk. (Hello? Look up?) It made a small leap for the fence and headed across the top of it. Exit–stage left.

Seriously?

It jumped to the top of the shed.

Seriously?!

It considered. It’s fun to make mourning doves do what you tell them to but this one seemed a bit bigger. Eh–it’s just a bird. It’s fun to scare them away. And so it hopped closer.

I kind of held my breath. Seriously?

And one last leap closer. But at that point its bravado thinned and it stood there trying to decide what it should really think about this and the fact that there was now no easy escape. It glanced over the side. The wispy baby pomegranate tree could in no way hold it and to leap past it would make it a good ten foot fall.

The hawk of course was by this point studying the squirrel in return. You don’t want to be facing the teeth and the claws: you want to be coming at it from behind. (I once watched a Cooper’s do a U-turn right above one on the ground so as to be lined up just so.)

The squirrel flinched and turned away and at that the hawk came right at it in a low swoop. All it had to do was reach and grab and lunch was served.

Except that it wasn’t actually hunting nor hungry, and one does not kill prey except for the eating.

The squirrel had the instinct to hunch down hard as the Cooper’s shadow passed so close over it.

I do believe it learned some manners.



Grounded
Monday August 28th 2017, 12:42 pm
Filed under: Life

We were up late driving due to our daughter’s travel plans and came home tired.

I’m not good at tired.

The doctor says that, funky shape aside, I probably didn’t break my arm when I fell but to come back and get x-rays if it feels worse. The brain sloshing was the more serious problem. He recommended a ski helmet as being more of a protection than a bike one. (Now, if we could somehow get more padding *inside* that brain, given that my head didn’t actually hit anything…)

All I wanted to know, and I didn’t ask him because it wasn’t something he could answer, was, how soon can I get back into knitting as much as I want when I want so that I can at least still feel useful. I’ll just have to work that out for myself.

Hopefully this will all pass quickly just like the last time.

I’m about to go pick up some good-sized needles and worsted-weight yarn, the easy stuff to work with, and see if I can. At least for a little while. Maybe even an entire cast-on.



Cat’s paw
Saturday August 26th 2017, 9:37 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

The picture is upside down re the direction of the knitting of the one. Just mentioning.

About ten years ago, we were visiting our oldest and her cat was not allowed in a particular room. Which is where we were staying.

And one time I happened to forget, and walked the length of the hallway admiring as always the gorgeously shined and waxed wooden floor there…

…When that cat, seeing her chance, flew past me in a streak of fur, determined to at last claim that room as her own. Just try to stop her!

I instantly knew my mistake and dashed after her but she was faster than me. I got there just in time to see her realizing she was going to smack into the bed that was on the other side of that door, and it was not raised on your typical frame but at her level, not to mention it was an airbed and in no way claw-resistant–and her paws skittered wildly for purchase against that polished floor but the best she could do was to spin out.

She seemed to be okay. Phew. I wasn’t sure there for a moment.

She looked up then and saw me. Avoiding further eye contact, she carefully, deliberately, slowly, raised a paw to her face. She licked it just so. A solemn cat’s honor that yes: she had meant to do that. She’d meant every motion of that. She dared me to say it wasn’t so. She dared me to even say that had just happened. Not only that: she owned this room now.

When I guffawed (partly in relief) she stomped out with a slight twitch to the end of her tail.

Meantime, the cowls… Both cashmere (from their yarn set n page.) I started the red one first. It was on a circular that was small both in length and tip size, and started the purple on larger needles when the first hurt my hands. I then put the purple one down for a day, too, and gave my hands a break. Finished and blocked the purple yesterday,  picked up the red today and as I finished it off, the last shall be first and the first shall be last and all that, wondered why I’d been so boring as to do two in the same pattern at the same time.

Blocking the red, I got out the now-dry purple and put them side by side to see if they were as close in length as I thought they were. Five repeats of the smaller stitches, three and a half of the larger.

And then, and only then, did it finally hit me.

Cat’s paws. Call the purple one the cat’s paws. I totally meant to do that. Right?

(I’m just not quite sure what I do with it now, is all.)



Oh right
Friday August 25th 2017, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift

One of those days of being constantly busy but wondering if I was actually getting anything done. I was, but. It’s just the antsiness before a house guest arrives.

Michelle will get to deliver that baby blanket to her friends in person. (I finished knitting it three weeks ago.)

Maybe I should run that one last yarn end in now…



Boxing match
Thursday August 24th 2017, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life,Lupus

It was a dumb, weird thing of no worth and no consequence.

Until it wasn’t.

I just couldn’t seem to get rid of it. That box was labeled Heavy, and it was; you could really twist an ankle trying to stomp it down for the recycling truck, and having once fallen off my roof sweeping away the leaves so the rain would stop leaking in, I am a little particular about that part of me. Shove the sides in? Don’t make it laugh. It would trampoline you right back. I put it by the side door to go out with the recycling bins anyway, knowing they only take the pre-broken-downs, hoping it would somehow cave in to my will if not my feet nor his, but it just never made it out there and it stayed stubbornly clean, dry, intact–and inside. And the next week, too, and the one after that. I would look at it, determined this time, and it would go nope, nope, you’re not doing that.

I gave in and put it where it wouldn’t bug me. Still inside. Still looking brand new. That thing was designed to last.

There was an email on the ward chat list last night, a young couple that were suddenly having to leave; they were flying to Arizona this weekend to find a new apartment and did anyone happen to have any moving boxes? Help?

We’ve seen this before: someone finds themselves between jobs with a renewal on their year-to-year coming right up, or a sudden job offer somewhere else, and if they can’t talk their landlord into a month-to-month during the transition they’re out of here. Rents are far too high in this town to risk it.

I only had the one, but it was bigger than the usual moving box; not worth their coming to get it but worth my dropping it off, I told them before heading over. I figured they had enough to have to do right now. I fervently wished I had the energy to offer to help them pack.

Let’s see, that was 380 #2, not 320 #8. Right? Right. I was sure of it.

But there were no numbers on the doors, and there were a lot of doors opening up over the courtyard cum driveway. If I walked over to the… But it was a time of day when the sun was still an issue and I could spend a lot of minutes wandering around those open-air walkways looking. No can risk.

Just then the UPS guy, who’d parked out on the street because there’s no way his truck could turn around in there, walked by. Well, everybody orders everything online so if anybody would know–so I asked him.

“Sure,” he smiled, “it’s that one right there,” pointing to the door nearest us just steps away. I looked again for a number, wondering how he knew, while he chuckled; yeah, it is like that, isn’t it.

380, it has to be…

The door opened and there the guy was. Phew!

I reached back into the car and pulled out the box that was filling up the back seat.

“Oh that is *perfect*!” he exclaimed, lifting it from my hands, very very pleased.

And I thought, you could put every book you own in there and it would be as solid as a bookcase in the transit. But then how would you pick it up to load it in there, but never mind.

And I am left marveling at how that all worked out for him and his wife in spite of all that I’d thought I’d wanted to do for lo these weeks.

I need to find out her favorite color. Got to take some of California with you wherever you go from here, right?

The kicker? I have no idea what was originally packed in that box. Something was sent to my daughter’s friend in San Jose and somehow its empty box got brought back here, where it could be ready for the day when a young couple really needed the help in their moment of change and chaos and stress.

 



What William Mahone did
Wednesday August 23rd 2017, 10:58 pm
Filed under: History

Courtesy of my cousin, here’s a link to a story I’d never heard of. A man whose name and face will not be found among all those Confederate statues all over the South, even though he had been a Major General fighting for the Confederacy and Lee had considered him one of the best.

Because after the Civil War was over, William Mahone set up a political party in Virginia that abolished a poll tax, empowered freed slaves, got them educations, gave them political power and treated them as equals for four years, as long as he could–until political and physical violence stole it from them again.

There is, according to the article, a single monument to him, raised, as so many others were, by the Daughters of the Confederacy: with descriptions of a battle he’d won.

Not a word was to be spoken about the far larger one he later fought and, for a time and for the sake of every one of us then and now, won.



And another one
Tuesday August 22nd 2017, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

The merino/silk from last Friday’s dyepot, drying again. Lace pattern: Little Arrows.