Stitches West
Friday February 24th 2017, 11:32 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

I love seeing old friends at Stitches every year. Today’s started off with standing in line to get in, since I got dropped off slightly early, and finding a mother and daughter coming in behind me who–JO?? Is that you?!

My oldest’s close friend from high school and her mom, who recognized me a split second before I did her. The knitting thing. It spreads.

By afternoon, someone there was having a bad day for whatever reason and as she came walking by lost in a world of her own I looked up at her and said, simply, You look like you need a hug. It was an offer.

She was surprised, gratified, and we threw our arms around each other like old friends and then continued on our ways down the aisle in opposite directions, with her definitely lighter on her feet for it. It felt great.

Turquoise was not intentionally a theme today but sometimes it just is anyway. I told Susan at Abstract Fiber why I needed a new skein of Burnside Bridges (on the far left). I wasn’t going to go home without getting me some of that first and foremost.

I had never bought a kit in my life. I guess I just did, though–Imagiknit had two baby sweaters up and I looked at them and said, emphatically, I want to make that one.

This one comes with the pattern free with the yarn, she offered.

I believe in paying designers, I told her. I want the other one, thanks.

Yes! There was a big grin on her face as she rang that one up.

 



Hesperian-ward
Thursday February 23rd 2017, 11:54 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

The cowl was Stitches-specific; back to the afghan, which still needed those last twenty-four rows of ribbing and for me to stop basking in the glorious feeling of being done with all the color work and to tell myself, it’s Not. Done.

I got the first thirteen rows in and had to give my hands a break. Well, I thought, if I don’t finish, it would be fun to work on it at Stitches–but then I’d have to carry it around all day.

Meantime, our son flew into town on business just for today and not only did he have time to get together with us for dinner after all, he messaged that he’d gotten done early. And so he took the train down and I took the car up and got him and then we went and picked up my husband and all of us went out for a good meal. There is no better excuse than family in town.

I started checking the hour as we finished our dinners. Maybe we should think about getting going… I felt antsy about the time even though we seemed to have plenty.

We took a short walk around downtown in the cold (it’s 33F now) to work off some of those calories and for them to look for a shop my husband kept expecting to see right in the next block.

What time was your flight home?

We piled into the car and turned on Waze. Turned out the freeway to the airport was at or close to a dead stop nearly the whole way–there’d been an accident.

And so it directed us along the scenic route that I had always suspected had to exist but had never had reason to look for before. That portion that should have been fifteen or twenty minutes in normal life took us an hour and a half to get around–but that was a lot better than for the people still stuck in all that and it made it so he did catch his flight home. It was a close call but he made it.

Someone out there had a much rougher time of it. I hope they’re okay.

To everybody coming to Stitches, may your travel be safe. Oh and just to Camelot it for you we canceled the storm we were supposed to have this weekend. Instead of a definite inch they’re now forecasting a chance of, if there’s anything, .18″ from Saturday through Monday. It will, however, be brisk.



I got it
Wednesday February 22nd 2017, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

Today, the sun was shining.  And as I drove, I kept marveling at how easy it all was…

I got Richard to work. I got two packages mailed off. I got to the clinic and picked up a prescription. I got home and ate a bite. I found the lost tomato seeds so I can get them started (it had been bugging me for days. They were right there where I’d looked five times because I was sure I’d put them there–I had.) I got to the audiologist’s and got my hearing aids cleaned in anticipation of Stitches and needing to hear as best as possible. I got bird food. I got clear across San Jose from downtown Los Gatos to the place that sells scooter batteries (Stitches…), because mine are dead after two years, and then drove four cities’ more to get to Costco and then home.

I got Richard again.

And then I got in three and a half hours’ knitting time on a cowl that had been half done and I got it blocked. It is done.



Commuted sentence
Tuesday February 21st 2017, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

My car went swimming.

I’d driven that same route to that same airport four hours earlier to drop off my daughter; now I was on my way back in the dark in a cloudburst to pick up friends. I was way under the speed limit–everybody was, which tells you something–when I realized that there was no visible road anymore in the far right lane, only water, lots of water, and there I was as I hit the brakes. I was quite relieved when that was behind me but didn’t dare grab for my phone in those conditions to try to call 911, but that lane needed to be shut down. (I had no idea how the rest of the lanes were.) Right then I hit the pothole–there were a lot that had opened up these past few weeks but that one was like no other, and I wondered if it had taken out my tire. It was deep enough that I’m going to need to get my car inspected, but I made it to that airport and got my friends who had so often done that for us.

On the way back, Sue (after doing a quick visual on that tire for me and pronouncing it a little low but not flat) chatted and made the drive much more cheerful, while Ken checked his driving app: there was a warning about the right lane being underwater at…

Yup. I wasn’t looking at landmarks in those moments but that sounds like where it was, yup. I drove carefully.

It felt great to see them safely home. It felt great to walk in my own door a moment later. Warm and dry and blessedly safe. Always a good thing.



Phoning it in
Monday February 20th 2017, 11:37 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

It is brutal out there. We’re not near a creek and we’re above the flood plain near the bay so we figure we personally are okay–as long as that big tree doesn’t fall on our bedroom.

Michelle was off with a friend and when she came home she said that our street was well under water two blocks away and that they’d had to go around the neighborhood to drop her off.

A few hours later, with it still raining nonstop, we looked at each other: anybody in their right mind would absolutely stay home. Richard had, working from home rather than risking driving under those leaning waterlogged eucalyptuses en route.

And so… The three of us drove out of here the one way we could still go. There was a Verizon store a mile away, and Verizon had recently offered a new family plan that was not only cheaper than what we had, it offered unlimited text/call/data service for each phone unlike what we currently had. Since nobody on earth would want to be out in this, it would be the one day the store wouldn’t be swamped with people trying to change to that new plan while the offer lasted.

It helped that we couldn’t think of any place between here and there that the water would seriously collect in, and that turned out to be true.

We were third in line but that line went fast, even though the workers there were occasionally pacing up to the windows and looking out on the storm–I just hoped none of them had a long commute in that.

We actually got in and out of a phone store and home again in well under an hour with the thing done. Even when that included discussing options on replacing my iPhone 4s and one other phone on that plan. (We did keep the ones we’ve got for now.)

I guess it literally paid to be a little crazy.



Soggy serial
Sunday February 19th 2017, 11:50 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Three and a half inches of rain due in the next 24 hours and more after that. It’ll be interesting to see if we get any peaches off those early blossoms.

Michelle is home for the weekend and talked me into trying out this almond cake recipe. I used a tablespoon less butter (because it seemed so much), a little more almond paste because why not use it all up, and added a half teaspoon of almond extract after taking a poll and getting two enthusiastic votes yes on the extract.

She was right–that one is definitely company-worthy.



Boots me
Sunday February 19th 2017, 12:00 am
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life,Non-Knitting

Okay, this is silly.

Wait–back up a bit. When I was home from college over Christmas break when I was 19 or 20, my dad surprised me by telling me he was going to take me shopping for a pair of boots for Christmas; he knew it would be my first pair ever. It was cold and snowy where I was going to school and he wanted my feet nice and warm. Besides, hey, boots!

Took me a moment to get over the shock. My dad. Wants to take a daughter. Shoe shopping. Brave man.

What I ended up with was inexpensive waterproof synthetic ones. One, because I knew the folks had three kids in college that year, and two, because trying to buy my feet anything was hopeless anyway, so once I found something, anything, that I could at all get my feet into I knew that was as good as I was going to get and the fact that these were waterproof seemed practical. Finding something that actually fit my 6.5EE and high arch was completely out of the question.

Back at school, I found my feet hurt pretty fast wearing those and I only wore them to get from my apartment to campus. And only a few times, with regret at not letting my dad push me to try harder. I should have skipped getting those altogether, which I’d known all along but I just couldn’t let him completely down.

Fast forward to when I had kids in elementary school. The PTA in our school district ran, at the time, a wardrobe exchange in order to pass clothes on to those less well off, while covering for their pride by presenting it as a way to offer warm clothes for those going to Tahoe who only needed to rent snow clothing those few days out of the year. Wash them, bring them back, done.

So anybody could rent outfits for their kids for a few bucks and anyone in the school district could buy them for about that who needed to. The funds went to cover the rented trailer they ran the operation from.

So I brought in some warm outgrowns for the cause one fine day.

Someone had donated these shearling-lined horsehair boots that look like a Westie terrier about to be told to get down off that chair. I thought they were hilarious and tried slipping one on, and then the other, and by golly I could actually get my feet in them! What a great Halloween costume! Besides, my oldest was getting to the age where it was my job to embarrass her, right?

The woman was incredulous. You LIKE those?! Nobody checks those out. They’ve just sat there forever. You want them? Take them!

Well, that wasn’t quite fair, so I went home and got those old tall rubbers and exchanged them pair-for-pair. They were happy, I was happy. The fact that I wear European 37 and these were stamped 39 40 on the bottom–US 8-9.5–three full sizes too big, no wonder I could get them on.

But those polyurethane ones from back in the day left a lasting impression: I don’t do boots. Period.

Although I sure wished I did when I was in DC January a year ago and it was five degrees out with a strong wind and we were trying to hike the C&O Canal in the cold (not for very long).

And then there was my younger daughter’s enthusiasm. “Boots! Cute Boots! You need cute boots!”

As if. Come on, they don’t exist now any more than they did then.

But we had that conversation every so often these past few years and I always wondered if that was actually so.

Recently, she needed some cheering up. And I knew how much she would love it if…it couldn’t hurt to look…

I went to a specialty shoe store that advertised wide widths. No dice. I searched Birkenstock’s online store. Their American importer? Nope.

And then I found a German Birkenstock store. They had a few pairs left of a now-discontinued style. I knew that ordering from Germany was going to cost me a whole lot in return charges if this didn’t work, I had no idea how they would handle it if I did, the cost was in no way cheap but I thought how much Michelle would love it. I thought about getting to tell my 90-year-old Dad that, hey, Dad! I did it! I finally got those boots you wanted for me all that time ago!

And so I took a deep breath and typed what I needed to type.

They came yesterday.

I put one foot in. I put the other foot in. Walked a few steps. And then just about shouted to the rooftops, THEY FIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

They’re not high boots, they’re more like high top sneakers, but wearing something above the ankle is a whole new thing here as it is. The doctor who treated my broken bones in November wanted me to be wearing something like this instead of clogs, and there you go.

I keep laughing at the name of the boot: I have a Bartlett pair.

We heard a thunk this afternoon, and opening the door, I found a box: it said New Balance. The mailman hadn’t even driven his truck away before I read the label, laughed, and started walking next door. He saw me and was startled–Did I–?

No problem, I laughed, it just helps me keep in touch with the neighbors.

Jim opened at my knock and I handed him his box. “Those aren’t my shoes, mine came yesterday,” pointing at my feet, and he laughed.

I wonder if he was as excited about his as I was about mine. I mean, you just don’t want to miss out.



Adagio
Friday February 17th 2017, 11:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

Since he still wasn’t feeling too great that day, Wednesday I drove Richard to what I assumed was going to be a half hour, an hour at most at the doctor’s.

I got in three and a half hours of knitting in two different waiting areas. (He’s fine, no worries.)

Near the lab, there was an antsy little boy of about two and a half, three at the most. Trying to be good. Playing with his dad’s phone for entertainment, small and portable, but a real toy is always a good thing so I offered them a finger puppet and told the little boy, “Happy Birthday!” So that his daddy would know it was for keeps, too.

And we waited.

There seemed to be some uncertainty at one point and I said it again to the little boy: “Happy Birthday!” This time he gave me a great big smile back and did a little leap for joy.

And I knitted.

The afghan spilled all over me and my large chair and onto the floor, greens and white and teal, and every now and then I would get to the end of a row and turn it over, showing more of the other side of the work. The front and back are so different. But of course the strands would tangle on each other every time, and sometimes I would reach into my knitting bag and move the balls around right away, sometimes, eh. Wait till they refuse to let the others go past. And then I’d turn again. In between, I would get to where it changes from the plain edging to the patterned center and have to track down which strand was an end being woven in upwards and which was the next working one, a little bouquet of yarn stems to choose from here and then again down here.

They got whom they were waiting for faster than I did: an older man was wheeled out from the lab. The younger man got up and walked over to him and then spoke with the receptionist behind him while the little boy danced around. Grandpa, if he was the grandpa, looked like Carlos Santana and one could almost expect him to whip out a guitar and start playing into the quiet. But the towering ceiling seemed to swallow all sounds.

Mostly, though, I was just focused on the work in my hands and letting them be. I’d been at it for long enough at that point to wish for an icepack break–not too fervently yet, but since I’d forgotten my phone and anything else to read there was simply nothing but knitting to do. Besides, I wanted to get this thing finished this week anyway.

After about a minute I finally realized I had been feeling eyes upon me for awhile and glanced up.

And there was the man in that wheelchair, all of them still there, waiting. No word had been said. He wanted my eyes, and once he had them he held them a moment.

He took in that afghan. And in no more hurry than one would take to knit such a thing he gave me a slow-motion, deeply affirming bow of the head and then, reverently, a thumbs-up, holding my eyes again. It came so closely from his heart that to emphasize that point he slow-swooshed that thumb forward and up a second time, like a conductor extending the symphony’s note and holding it out there in space. He wanted me to know that. He could not leave till I did.

Whoever he was, however he’s lived his life, this was someone who knew the creative life and understood the time and perseverance it takes to become good at what one does. He wanted me to know he knew I was there.

I’d never met him, we never spoke a word, and yet the next day it was still such a powerful experience that while I was finishing those last patterned rows I nearly cried. I couldn’t write about it immediately because I was still trying to process how to say it.

That man radiates love. I want to be like him when I grow up.



Spring begins
Thursday February 16th 2017, 11:56 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

Finished the last multicolored, multi-yarn row tonight at long last. Plain edging to go. My thanks to the elderly volunteer at the clinic who watched me work as I waited for a prescription to be filled this afternoon and told me, appreciatively, That’s a big project!

He made my day. It’s funny how much unexpected little moments like that can help.

Meantime, some peach flowers: the August Pride tree and its wide-petaled blossoms just starting to open and the Tropic Snow with its deeper pink, slightly frilly ones.

And looking at my phone, I forgot to post this! I had some of my friend Kathy‘s dog’s fur out on the patio for nest-making material and snapped this Bewick’s wren right after it gathered a beakful.

In the shape of a heart. It was on Valentine’s day. I couldn’t believe it when I looked at my phone.



Yes you can
Wednesday February 15th 2017, 11:09 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

A friend of mine went up to Lacis in Berkeley for the first time. Lacis is both a shop and a museum of all things lace; it was founded by Kaethe (I was told, as best as my hearing could tell, to pronounce it Katy) Kliot. Who as a refugee from post-WWII Germany funded her ticket to America by resurrecting old doily patterns to make cotton tablecloths for American soldiers to send home.

And then she spent a lifetime finding and publishing and selling every lace book title you could possibly hope to find. When she couldn’t find fine enough knitting needles for certain types of work, she manufactured her own.

Ruth marveled that she’d missed out on discovering such a marvelous place earlier and wanted to know if any of us had ever been. This is what I told her:

Years ago I bought, from Kaethe Kliot herself after she helped me find it, a book on Shetland lace whose price was marked in British pounds so I had no idea what it was going to cost me. (It was not inexpensive, as it turned out, but I had been able to find it nowhere else.) But what it gave me was the memory of talking to Kaethe herself before she passed. One of the things I was there to look for, I told her, was a musical treble clef and base clef done in a lace pattern; was there such a thing?

She glanced upwards and searched mentally through her vast library for several long seconds, then was quite certain as she looked at me again and said, “No–but it wouldn’t be hard, here’s how you do it…” and she was quite excited to be part of an unexpected collaboration here. Excited for me, clearly knowing how much I would love the discovering in the process.

At the time, though, I was barely started at being self-taught on doing lace and there was no way. But what she did was make it so I had hope, or at least wanted that hope, that someday, maybe, I could live up to what she believed I could do.

I actually still haven’t ever knit such a thing, but now it’s only because I haven’t bothered to. By now I know I can.

But I loved her for her faith in me and I loved, too, that there was an entire warehouse of knitting books and a woman who knew every pattern in every one of them. Who wanted everybody to be able to do anything they wished they could do.

Edited to add: I just found the Lacis tribute to Kaethe, here, with pictures of her work and of her. I have visual memory damage specifically for faces and yet I recognized hers instantly. With great fondness.



Doesn’t have to be pink
Tuesday February 14th 2017, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,Life

A quiet day, a bit of knitting, a sick husband, here, honey, drink some juice, drinking some myself while trying not to catch his bug…

And with all that is going on in politics I happened to stumble across this: a cooling treatment that helps chemo patients keep their hair through it all, and the study was done right here at UCSF.

Well, huh. If you can’t afford the cooling scalp, maybe a plain icepack or two? You know, we could definitely design a hat with a giant pocket to hold them in place, and you always want a layer of fabric between you and the colder side of the pack anyway to keep the skin from freezing.

Those sewn-square pussy hats would be about the right shape to add to.



Silly stuff
Monday February 13th 2017, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Life

For years I’ve parted my hair a certain way because of the way the divot in my scalp from the skin cancer removal made the hair go wonky otherwise. Straight up, it used to be. (Note to self: next time don’t wait nine months to get that spot looked at. I could have kept a lot more hair.)

This morning I thought, y’know, it’s been awhile since I’ve tried; I’m curious. And I parted my wet hair on, wait for it, the other side. Thrills! Chills! Excitement!

And it works now, too, if I want to keep it that way; the divot is much less than it was.

The only problem was that all day long, any time I walked past a mirror it was startling to see my face on backwards.



Waiting for morning light
Sunday February 12th 2017, 11:53 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

Been glued to the updates and saying prayers for the people below the Oroville Dam, where four counties are under mandatory evacuation orders as I type.

I remember the arguing over the need to reinforce the emergency spillway about a dozen years ago but the W. Bush administration refused, pronouncing it fine. With the Federal denial, there were too many owners involved to get them all to agree to pay for it on their own. The argument was made that water was too cheap and that there were real costs involved and that they needed to be paid sooner–or later.

Oroville Lake is where the water for the California Aqueduct flows from northern to southern California. It has the tallest dam in the country.

The main spillway broke wide open Tuesday and sent concrete barreling down the hillside.

Today, for the first time ever, the water went over the emergency spillway, which was simply an unreinforced hillside–at less than 5% of what it was certified to be able to handle, but instead with waterfalls churning down it it threatened to collapse from erosion from the bottom on up.

And starting Wednesday night that area will get 2-3″ more of rain.

The Sierra Club was right in suing to try to get that hill reinforced all those years ago.

This, this is the wall that needed to have been built.



It’s a toss-up
Saturday February 11th 2017, 10:21 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden

I sure don’t think the hawk dropped them, and the squirrels only tear an occasional one apart when they’re thirsty enough–when they do, though, you know from a distance that they did.

I was putting the frost covers on the mango for the evening when I happened to glance across the yard: say what?! My lemons aren’t that color and they sure don’t fall over there (or at all, until they’ve been hanging on the tree until the next crop comes in and there are none of those right now.)

I went and looked. I’d been outside earlier and they hadn’t been there then. I picked up one, more over there, finally six, a few of them cracked open from the impact. They’d been tossed a good toss.

Oranges.

Most people plant dwarf versions in their backyards; my Meyer lemon is probably older than I am but it’s not much taller.

But someone across the corner and down a bit at the fence line had planted a now-immense citrus that goes up nearly to the top of the power pole, and right now it is loaded, and since it was planted close against the fence, at least a third if not half the crop is accessible only to the other side. Free fruit!

And on that other side is my neighbor with early dementia whom I planted my Indian Free peach for. Our fig tree will spill over into their yard, too, when it gets bigger, if they want it to.

They’ve been anticipating those peaches and I have no doubt that Adele wanted to share back. She’s always loved knocking on my door in the summer and offering us some of her tomatoes.

I sent her husband a note telling him how loved it had made me feel that she’d made sure we could enjoy some of those oranges, too, if that was her–but I also mentioned still being in recovery from a serious head injury; maybe she could roll them gently over the top of the fence next time? (Hey, I could walk over there and visit with her and give him a reprieve for a moment, too.)

Just let me offer a gentle mutiny on the bounty, I thought. In the current delivery method, it’s the thought that klonks.

I think I need to go back to wearing that helmet in the back yard again, just to be sure.



Always the first
Friday February 10th 2017, 11:25 pm
Filed under: Garden

A few days up in the 60s and nights in the 50s, nice and warm, and the Tropic Snow peach tree declares it spring.

(Meyer lemon in the background looking a little waterlogged after all this rain. Today was the tail end of one storm and yet another is coming next Thursday-Sunday.)