The old neighborhood
Friday July 06th 2018, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Dinner and dishes were over.

I grabbed the kitchen trash on impulse (yeah Richard likes to do it but it was getting a bit heavy–see the “did you know you broke your back?” post: there was a reason it’s been giving him grief) and I headed out with it.

The young family just down the street were out with their little boys on their trikes and waved hi. The little boys pedaled over to me in great enthusiasm and once they got all the way to me realized I looked taller from here and words failed them. They looked shyly up.

They were adorable. The younger one ditched his wheels after a moment and he still wobbles a bit when he walks, but still, where did the babyhoods go?

The mom complimented me on my bright pleated maxi skirt and I laughed: I don’t usually play dress-up to take out the trash, I told her, but I dropped a gallon of milk and drenched everything and just thought, hey, that one matches my shirt, sure, why not?

I looked at the older boy’s helmet. Hey! It matches my shirt too! as I held my turquoise arm out to his turquoise head. He was very proud of his helmet.

I told his mom of the time one of my kids flipped her bike at 13, broke her helmet, and rolled with enough force still to break her shoulder and how the grandmotherly neighbor down the street we hadn’t yet met ran to her and got her phone number out of her as she lay in the street and called me. I jumped into the car, came around the corner, and–oh! Right there!

That neighbor became a great friend to my daughter ever after.

Part of me was wondering as we chatted, how on earth did I get old enough to be the grandmotherly one now?

Meantime, that milk had beaded up on my shoes and it looked like it could be rinsed away and I’m hoping that that was enough to save my felted-wool Birkenstocks with the leather buckle. I love those and they don’t make them anymore.

Good thing we still, how I don’t know, have a good cobbler in this overpriced town should it come to that–not that I need him for this, just, it’s good to know that if I had to he’s there.

Because after cleaning the fridge over two days, I had had to clean the inside of the fridge, the outside of the fridge, the shoes, the floor, and mopped the floor again for good measure and thrown my blue skirt in the wash, when I… dropped the spinach paneer across the floor.

And cleaned that up.

There was still enough food for dinner.

But that is why I grabbed that trash and hauled it out of there: I was going to clean something and by golly this time it was going to STAY clean. Because I’m the mom. And I said so.

The bag graciously did not break.

Additional updates applied
Thursday July 05th 2018, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Knit

WordPress had a botched upgrade which hit many sites including this one.  I did some surgery yesterday to get the site back, and another update just a minute ago that appears to have succeeded.  Hopefully things are now working better than they were.


Trying to get through
Thursday July 05th 2018, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Non-Knitting

Apparently the blog still has some broken parts to it after the latest update. If this looks normal to anyone–assuming you can even see it–I’d love to know. Thanks.

Happy Fourth of July!
Wednesday July 04th 2018, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift,Mango tree

Another Piuma peach cashmere cowl, and I just cast on yet another. Except what I really want to knit right now, for no particularly good reason in the heat of the summer, is a thick warm hat. Maybe for variety’s sake? We’ll see.

The mango tree is loving the warmth, meantime (and me the air conditioning.) There are five smaller sprays of buds coming along quietly further back that will soon be as big as this one.

My hero!
Wednesday July 04th 2018, 12:23 am
Filed under: Family

My site is back up! Yay for the resident computer scientist!

Flower power
Monday July 02nd 2018, 9:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Knit

The physics of knitting. Cool stuff.

Meantime, the little miniature hydrangea that my friend Edie gave me several years ago is holding its own against the encroaching coffeeberry bush, blooming in both sun and shade. I love that what had been a small tender potted plant from a florist actually held on and thrived out there even after a stump grinder took out the olive roots right by it.

It is small but it is determined to live up to what it was meant to be.

The right ones on the right day and who knew
Sunday July 01st 2018, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Cowls, again. Two from the same cone of Piuma cashmere in a natural soft cream.

The first one.

Me to Hank’s wife: Are you allergic to cashmere?

Her, looking at me with an impish grin in anticipation of seeing what I might be talking about: Maybe we’ll have to find out!

The second one.

Me, to a longtime familiar if infrequent visitor to her husband’s home town: I wanted to ask you your favorite color, but you’re here, so… And I pulled the other cowl out.

Which is how I found out she’s a knitter.

We suddenly had some catching up to do, in great delight, while he waited patiently.

Andy’s Orchard
Saturday June 30th 2018, 9:10 am
Filed under: Family,Food

Yesterday, the chocolate, today, the peaches!

Oh most definitely
Thursday June 28th 2018, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

A quick trip home for both work and the holiday.

She had two requests: Timothy Adams for chocolate and Andy’s for peaches.

Yes. Yes I think we can definitely do those.

Maybe I do want to knit some more of that after all
Wednesday June 27th 2018, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

I’d been meaning to get the other half of this finished for some time. It was two strands of splitty stuff and not my favorite to work with, although I always love how it comes out when it’s done.

Yarn: one lighter shade one darker, vintage stash 95/5 silk/lycra, which I bought quite a few colors of when Colourmart had it. Hudson got a thoroughly impractical but gorgeous blanket out of it in neon royal blue when he was born. (And a cuddly Rios one later, which he wadded up and kneaded into his mommy’s side as she held him and then plunged his head into it. Wool for the win.)

In my experience the silk/lycra shrinks a lot in hot water. You do need some heat when washing the mill oils out.

Photo 1: Straight off the needles.

Photo 2: Hours after being scoured and spun out in the washer, still damp. It definitely shrank (note the buttons), but the pattern looks a whole lot better and both upper and lower edges are lying nicely flat.

I promise not to spend the next month waiting to run the ends in. That’s the easy part.

Drawing a turkey
Tuesday June 26th 2018, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

Dad had a folder he wanted to show me while I was there. I’d never seen it before.

Carefully preserved, pristine inside the plastic, were sheets of lined paper with carefully near-perfect handwriting. Just ever so slightly faded from age.

Words had to come right to where they lined up at the right, which meant that there were hyphens announcing ‘to be continued’ plunked into the strangest places within those words. But the penmanship!

It was a five (or was it six?) page report on Thanksgiving by a third grader one hundred years ago that her parents had clearly been proud of and had kept.

The budding author was my grandmother.

And on the cover of that report was a drawing of a turkey.

I did a serious double take–I thought at first Dad had saved an old drawing of mine and why was he showing me that in the context of this and it totally threw me a moment. But no, it was his mother’s.

My grandmother the avid knitter, who ran the county chapter that knitted for the troops during The War in hopes that somehow that would bring her three sons home safely and sooner. (They all made it back, though one was deafened by the sounds of the warfare the ship he’d captained in the Pacific had gone through.)

I loved to draw as a kid and I can still pick out something I drew any time I see it all these years later. The inside covers of the books that belonged to me all had to be so adorned, with enthusiasm that sometimes spilled onto other pages, too.

To be charitable, you could at least figure out what the thing was supposed to be, and judged against some of my peers I really wasn’t too bad a doodler. But there was no great talent there.

My little sister on the other hand is a gifted artist–truly, go see for yourself. Yeah. Me? Only with yarn. I have forever been in awe of what Anne can do.

But I am absolutely gobsmacked that as a kid I drew exactly like another third grader whom I knew as the sweet elderly grandmother I only got to see a few times in my life before she was gone. The proportions, the angles, picking up the pencil here and moving it there, that careful control that thickened the line while trying to make a perfect half circle at the top of the head. Even the wattle was my turkey wattle.

Twins. In childhood and, with a nod yarnward, adulthood. Sixty-one years apart.

More travel stuff
Monday June 25th 2018, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Life

There used to be a yarn store in San Carlos that had a sign: Unattended small children will be given a puppy and an espresso.

I thought of that as I asked a dad waiting in the airport if I could give his little boy a puppy? He looked at the finger puppet I was holding out and laughed, and there you go.

At the end of the delays (someone had checked in their luggage and then was a no-show even though the plane had given them all that extra time) and the flights, coming down an elevator just before leaving the airport there was a young family: Mom, Dad, a boy of maybe four at the most and a stroller that surely had a baby tucked under there somewhere.

The little boy had a travel pillow that somehow stayed put around his neck. It was very late and clearly his parents had hoped he would sleep some.

An orange and black tiger with whiskers is what came to hand this time as I dug down in my purse. (May I? Yes, YES!)

Suddenly every one of them went from exhausted to animated and happy.

If only I could tell those knitters in Peru how happy they make so many people.

What happens in Vegas
Sunday June 24th 2018, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

Cariaggi Piuma cashmere from the mill blooms immensely with washing, growing into a much thicker, denser-looking knit that is actually very very light. It fills up the visual spaces with color and yet air.

I was knitting it straight from the cone. I actually almost left the project home because of that cone. (Luggage space, knitting space in an airplane seat.) But I really wanted that cowl done. It was in a neutral that I could give just about anybody and just delicious to knit with, mill oils for now and all.

My tiny elderly Asian seat mate (part of what was clearly a large tour group) coming out of Salt Lake spoke almost no English, but she watched my hands intensely and gave me a smile and an enthusiastic thumbs-up. When I returned the smile, she reached gingerly for the yarn, felt it just for a moment and gave me another big smile.

She was tired and napped and suddenly woke up distressed to realize that we others in the row were being served juice and she wasn’t getting any; I knew how long she’d been waiting in that airport before our delayed flight and that she probably really needed that water. I should have offered her mine but didn’t know how to reassure her it was only apple juice.

I helped her with the flight attendant and she got taken care of. We were definitely friends now.

She got a particularly cute finger puppet just before she left and between hand signs and head shakes and nods she got that I hadn’t actually made that one; I’d just wanted to thank her for being her. She was delighted.

So. The cowl. Since I knew what it would be like when it was finished and washed, I was using needles that made the knitting look sloppy-loose. Quite.

An agent had told me I wouldn’t miss my connecting flight despite the delay because it was actually the same plane and they might even let me stay on in between. But, she warned, they might not.

Flight #1 landed, they made announcements, most of the passengers filed out–and at that point the flight attendant had time for me to ask the question when I could hear the answer: same plane? Just to make sure. May I stay here?

The answers were yes and yes, corrected by another to “but the memo said” and they went and checked together, followed by, alright: I could stay put.

So there were some by-now familiar faces that were the first to get back on the plane and I chuckled and nodded hello in acknowledgement as they came back on.

An older woman among them surprised me with, “I’ve been wanting to talk to you.” My best guess was that she had learned English with a British accent. She got in the #3 row behind me and leaned over.

Had anyone ever shown me how Germans knit?

Do you mean Continental style? I asked, and affirmed that I had.

She asked for my needles. She winced at the size of that yarnover that was right there but was trying not to mess up my work. She demonstrated, You do this. And then when you want to go the other way (she searched for the right terms in English) you do this. You don’t have to (and here she motioned in great sweeping arcs with her right arm) go like *this*.

She wanted so badly to help.

I chuckled and told her I knew my way was slower. I explained that my mom knits like she does and taught me how when I was ten. That when I was a teenager I’d wanted a sweater in one of her knitting magazines but was too much of a teen to admit I didn’t remember how, so I’d gone in my room and taught myself how to knit–my own way, it turned out.

Her face was saying, But this is not how it is done!

I said, It’s easier on my arthritis this way.

Ah. That made sense. Yes she could see that. Okay.

And we, too, parted friends at the end of the flight.

Yarn. I need to pack more yarn.
Friday June 22nd 2018, 1:34 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

I know I forgot something, I always do…

Everybody needs an Aunt Bonnie. A wise and kind and gentle soul who never said a single negative thing about anybody and who was always the first to volunteer to do whatever you needed for whatever reason.

Who met my uncle when they played in the symphony together.

Who taught me by her patience that I could laugh off–or at least not get mad at my big brother for egging on his cousins to tease me with him.

The cook who taught me, as a child visiting from across the country on that trip that yes, I actually not only do like salmon, I love it and would never forget how the sunshine lit it up as we ate and how it made her cooking so pretty.

The woman who laughed when she remembered my first anniversary–and I didn’t, till she reminded me. (Speaking of which, next week…) It’s been an in-joke between us for 38 years.

The aunt who did this.

There will be music. There will be memories. There will be cousins. There will be love and laughter and more love and I can’t wait to see them and celebrate her life with them. We all have so many stories to share.

I suppose we could have Richard guest-write my blog while I’m away. (He worked from 8:15 am yesterday to 11 pm, dinner aside. Work is crazy right now.) Or not. It’s just an overnighter. See you all soon.

I have to speak up. I must. We must.
Wednesday June 20th 2018, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Politics

Today was a Holly day, and it was so good to get to see her again. We live so close and so far: it can take several hours, depending on the traffic.

She had just enough time for a visit while her husband was at a meeting in town.

We found ourselves as mothers drawn again and again to the subject of the cruelty going on at our borders to children–babies, even–and their families, the damage the trauma is doing to their developing brains.

Our laws spell out how one can apply for asylum when one is in fear for one’s life. The approved crossing points for doing so have been closed, people have been directed to cross elsewhere and when they have complied with that order have been arrested as criminals.

Our President lies when he says others did this before him; they did not. They held families together, and even his own administration did too until this May. He lies when he says only Congress can change the law because there is no law saying they must do this, and in fact the administration is violating our laws as well as all human decency and compassion. They actually forbid the workers from hugging and comforting a crying child.

But the sad-funny part about it was Trump’s trying to blame Obama for it. What he’s saying then is that even out of office Obama has more power than Trump does right now and that Trump is too weak to do anything about it.

Actually, there’s a great deal of truth to that but not of a type Trump could ever fathom.

Yes he did sign an executive order this afternoon: but watch what he does, not what he says. The unmentioned fine print was that after 20 days families can still be torn apart. They will process children and adults at different rates. Deport the parents. Keep the kids. Already we have one woman who was released from custody–and they say they cannot tell her where her seven-year-old son is.  Who DOES this to people?!

We are better than this, we must be better than this, we must demand better than this. Every Republican Senator has the option to caucus with the Democrats on the issue, and all we need is one, just one, one with a conscience, and we could get a law passed right now forbidding these human rights violations and dare Trump to veto it. The man is a bully and bullies cave when you stand up to them.

And if you don’t–they only bully harder.

Tomorrow I may show off some knitting or some such. But for now I will leave you with this:

From the Kenyan-born Somali poet Warsan Shire:

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well
your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

go home blacks
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
be hunger
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here