What happens when they’re the ones flying
Wednesday April 25th 2018, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Wildlife

I was looking at suitcases at Costco online, looking for a lightweight one, and it hit me–don’t take it for granted: I looked at the dimensions.

Height plus weight plus depth, add up those inches. If the number’s over 60, Alaska and apparently other airlines charge you an extra $75 each way. Which adds up fast to the new suitcase you’ll want after buying some of those.

Our old ones were fabric and they’d gotten to where they made our clean clothes arrive smelling like they were on the return trip.

So I’d opened them and put them out in the sun, since that’s the best disinfectant of all (and if it works, the easiest, right?)

I think it was a scrub jay. Nailed his but good. Yeah, it scrubbed clean, but he’ll never look at it quite the same way again.



Milestone
Tuesday April 24th 2018, 11:20 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Someone’s birthday bash was a ton of fun.

One friend happened to mention to me that her youngest had lost his finger puppet. Which kind of threw me: he’s six, and it’s been long enough since I gave him one that I didn’t even know he was old enough then to remember it, much less to treasure it all this time. Wow. Very cool.

Wanting to replace it to take some of the sting out of the loss, I asked her, What character was it?

She didn’t know.

So with that I dug into my purse and, nudging the ziplocked knitting aside, started pulling a big bunch of them out. I had actually just restocked in there and they take so little room, and as puppet after puppet after puppet emerged she laughed in surprise. They made a colorful heap on the table.

She went home with her favorite two, and Richard’s friend from work whose wife couldn’t make it at the last minute was so charmed with the first one he picked out that we all told him he had to chose one for his wife, too; he went for a second handknit rubber ducky to match the first and tucked them away safely in his pocket, clearly looking forward to the moment.

The waiter at the restaurant watching all this then got surprised with a colorful parrot as we stood up to leave. The fact that he loved it made the night just that much better.

I couldn’t possibly knit fast enough to make something for every person who came to celebrate, but the good women of Peru could.



The back 40 (inches tall)
Monday April 23rd 2018, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Garden

From this three years ago, a new whip trying to leaf out again after being stripped bare every night for two months by Japanese beetles, to now. It survived when I thought it might not and this year it is finally really showing us what it’s meant to be.

And just wait till those cherries start appearing!

Rereading that old post, though, I’m quite amazed that that tree is on a standard rootstock–I thought it was an ultradwarf like the sweet cherry. I mean, it certainly grows like one! Slowly. Huh. While the other one, which is a little older (but has to reach a little more for its sun), is at seven feet. Go figure.

The honeybees were happily and peaceably buzzing in the flowers. There’s at least one on the left in the close-up, down in the petals.



How it came out
Sunday April 22nd 2018, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

The story of the cowl.

I bought the yarn with a particular person in mind, knowing her favorite color, but as soon as I got going with it I knew the shade was off and it just wasn’t going to be it. And yet that yarn had practically thrown itself at me in the store just the same. What was I thinking?

Nothing for it but to keep on knitting till it’s done–there’s always a place for one of these, and if I hurry I can get it off the needles faster and get on to what I’d hoped for.

Done and blocked, it quietly made a case for itself: it was pretty. I’d almost missed that.

So this morning as I ran the ends in I found myself saying a little prayer: please, could You make it obvious whom to give this to? Like, really obvious so I don’t second-guess myself and wonder? Not that I’m in any way owed that, but I’d love to have the gratification of knowing it was worth it given that I kind of struggled not to be annoyed at it for making me wait for what I’d wanted to do.

Sitting in Sunday School, I spotted two new people across the room, one of whom had a face that was familiar to me from other contexts but I don’t know her; she was wearing a dress that matched that cowl. There was this little spark of happiness that exclaimed, Yes!

But she was deep in conversation with the other woman and in no way was I going to give offense by excluding her, so my attention moved on.

Sunday School ended, the Relief Society women’s meeting was about to begin–and that acquaintance stood, walked across the room, and sat down by me to talk to the next woman over for a minute.

Wow. That sure worked.

When their conversation was over, I asked her, “Are you allergic to wool?”

That was NOT a question she was expecting. “No–?”

“Is this a good color?”

She loved it. She was thrilled. Yes, and it matched her dress!

We asked each other our names. When I said mine, she did a double take and went, “Are you Michelle’s mom?!”

“Yes!”

She proceeded to tell me about things she’d done with my daughter, reminiscing fondly over her baking skills, telling me how much she and her friends had missed her and how they hoped she would move back.

Who doesn’t need to hear something like that about themselves? (I passed the good word on to her.) What mother doesn’t love hearing how much her child is loved?

Who knew how much that simple bit of knitting would come back to bless–us, too?

I really like Michelle’s friend. And she’s a knitter. What a way to start off knowing somebody!



You just get them started and then they take on a life of their own
Saturday April 21st 2018, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift

Plums and peaches. It still amazes me, this whole concept of putting a dead-looking stick in the ground in the winter and a few years later having a nice-looking tree offering the best-tasting fruit.

Newly finished: a cowl in garnet Dona superwash extrafine merino that I expect will find its way home tomorrow. What I once did not know is, each little diamond contains the growth pattern of a pear tree.



Amaryllis season
Friday April 20th 2018, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis

Three amaryllises in bloom, five more coming up so far.



While the hawk flew by
Thursday April 19th 2018, 10:06 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit,Knitting a Gift

Done and drying: I do like that Anniversario colorway.

As the English Morello tree holds up a sign to the honeybee highway: Will Bloom For Cherries.

 



Go. Do this right now.
Wednesday April 18th 2018, 6:15 pm
Filed under: History,LYS

Did you use Turbo Tax? Go check right now to see if you got confirmation that your returns have been received by the state and feds. You have till midnight tonight.

I had a particular yarn errand in mind and found myself heading to Cottage Yarns today (So. Much. Malabrigo there!), where Kathryn’s husband and daughter were minding the shop. As they were winding my wool I found myself mentioning to him the phone call that had dragged on and on and on and had had us falling into bed at long last at 1 a.m.

He was suddenly very concerned. We compared notes. Had he gotten any confirmation of having filed? He didn’t think so. I told him we had only gotten confirmation from Turbo Tax that I’d paid the $25 to have the state return e-filed.

Yeah, I got that, he said. But he was suddenly pretty sure that that’s all he’d gotten, too.

I told him that it had bugged me till I’d finally decided I had to find out. The tech person we finally got connected to was overwhelmed, tired, and was chasing down every idea she could think of.

I saved him from the endless circular screens followed by nearly two hours on the phone that we’d had to go through to make sure we were doing the right thing. And it is this: check every email address and text message. Did you get those confirmations from the state and feds? No? Go submit those returns again. Right now. A known computer glitch somewhere between Turbo Tax and the IRS is why the deadline was extended to tonight, and clearly we tripped over it.

I have to admit it was highly gratifying to find that I was not the only one. I’d been told by them that I must just have missed clicking that submit button, when I knew I hadn’t. I’d seen that page before that congratulated me for being done.

He knew he’d done his right, too.

We got our confirmations today. But there is still no sign that we ever did it the first time.

I am so very glad that today I felt that it was imperative that I buy that particular shade of red Russ said his wife loves that I didn’t have in my stash–and that I felt I had to go to buy it from them.

Many happy returns of the day to all.



Stilettos
Wednesday April 18th 2018, 12:14 am
Filed under: Garden,Life

This is the time of year when the weeds go to seed here. They come up in January before the grass (which still tries) and choke it out, then dry up when the rains stop.

Except, the rains haven’t stopped, so they are really going to town. Pretty little purple flowers were starting to carpet half the back yard. Charming–if you don’t know.

A friend responded to a tree company’s offer of “free mulch!” and found himself with an entire truckload dumped on his driveway. After several weeks of hard labor trying to get it to his back yard and spread around with his little kids sort-of-helping, he finally cried uncle and begged the teenagers at church to rescue him. They came, and some of their parents, and got it done.

There’s no way I was going to do that to them or me.

In a moment of desperate inspiration, then, the light bulb went off. I have all those frost covers.

I spread them out across almost the entire infested area. I came close. I held the edges down with anything I could find. I should have done this way sooner but I thought of it when I thought of it.

Well, that’ll look pretty to all those airplanes flying up there.

I kept them in place for a week. Sorry, bees, but hey, the cherry and lemon trees are blooming.

My lawn mowing guy was coming today so I gathered the covers up last night, curious to see the result.

You could tell exactly where they’d been: there were short weeds and there were tall weeds, in squares. They’d suddenly put all their energy into trying to outgrow this barrier to their sun and energy. The covers didn’t black it out–they were designed not to–but laid out flat rather than tucked around, there was a double layer everywhere.

I saw just a few clusters of stiletto-sharps.

I was very pleased with myself. It made it worth putting up with a frankly ugly view out there during the experiment.

And then tonight I went to go put a frost cover on the mango.

Oh.

What stabby seeds there were had been velcroed onto the covers. Well, that works, too, I guess.

(On the phone over an hour now with Turbo Tax, trying to figure why our returns appear not to have been transmitted by them last week. Fun times. Glad I asked why there had been no confirmation.)



The soap opera
Monday April 16th 2018, 10:40 pm
Filed under: History,Life,Politics,Wildlife

Winter cold, rain, hail, the now-daily appearance of a Cooper’s hawk impatient with young to feed (clearly), and an earthquake–3.9, just enough to be entertaining if you even feel it (I didn’t.)

And the disclosure in court over Trump’s lawyer’s lawyer’s objections that Trump’s lawyer of late had but three clients: Trump, Trump’s fellow rich friend who likewise had a woman he allegedly wanted paid off and silenced, and (drumroll) Sean Hannity of Fox News. Meaning any time Hannity has gone off on Mueller’s investigation it could well because of what Mueller might find in the files now seized from Cohen on Hannity.

I bet he’s finding the ground a bit shaky over there.



The widows might
Sunday April 15th 2018, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I laughed. I told Jean, You wore that quiet green last week, and so (I held up the sage-green cowl) but it doesn’t go with that sweater at all!

Then to her delight I offered her not just the green but (reaching into the bag again) the purple and the purpley-brown to choose from.

For me?!

She complimented them all. But that purple! Oh, she loved that purple, all the more once she touched it. (That was the Chateau cowl, the braided baby alpaca.)

Then she explained the sweater: her husband had bought it for her years ago; she had felt him close to her all week, and so she’d wanted to bring it to church today.

(And him along with it, I thought. He was a good one. I could just picture him looking on in delight.)

It was in neon shades of brightness, varying colors in diamonds and angles, a cheerful piece of clothing straight out of a modern art museum (said the daughter of the modern art dealer, debating between Piet Mondrian and some of his contemporaries.)

Mona Jo, sitting next to her, when offered a To Be Continued if she preferred something else, happily chose the brown-almost-purple knit from Woolfolk, also extraordinarily soft.

A little later, Gail, a knitter in her younger days, was wearing a skirt in a sage green plaid. That sage green cowl went exactly with her strawberry blonde hair, too. Wool and mink? Mink?! She laughed and held it to her as if to say, Ta Daah! I got mink! It went right on and it stayed on. It wasn’t very big because I didn’t have very much of that mink left, but she told me how warm that bit around her neck would keep her on our cold mornings.

And so these three widows, lifelong friends who had raised their children here (some of whom are now grandparents themselves) all came away on the same day with a handknit cowl in a color they liked. I thought I was just planning for Jean and letting the rest play out as it might and it all came out absolutely perfect.



Spring leaves, once the stitches were flattened out
Saturday April 14th 2018, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift

(It’s greener than this. Photo taken before blocking.)

I would have preferred to have used just the Arroyo dk weight but that would have taken more hours than I had left–so when I found two half-ball remnants of fir-green mink laceweight that matched it and that would smooth out the other’s color changes, I grabbed my size 7s and cast on.

A day later, it’s done. If it’s still damp in the morning it’ll get hairdryered.
Meantime, the still-squirrel-free Stella cherry and the Yellow Transparent apple trees.

A honeybee was happily climbing in and out of those apple flowers.

Tiny baby peaches had shown up overnight on the Indian Free and I thanked those bees for keeping close tabs on the place.



Gracie Larsen
Friday April 13th 2018, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

So. Many. Spammers. And you never say the word “yes” to them. “Can you hear me now?” they’ll try to prompt, because then they have your voice with that word and can splice it to whatever they want to claim you agreed to.

So the person on the other end got my quite formal voice when she rang. “May I help you?”

After a few sentences, she got it, and went, “Ah–you don’t recognize my voice.”

And in that instant I’m quite sure I finally did. The friend (of about my age) of Gracie Larsen’s. Her friend who was invited along with me to dinner chez Nancy when my husband was out of town. The woman who flew into town annually to help out at the Guild booth at Stitches and to see Gracie all these years. She was a member of the Lacy Knitters Guild that Gracie founded along with the Lace Museum in Sunnyvale.

For years, Gracie and I were in a knitting group that met at Nancy’s house; after Nancy moved away, I at least still got to see her and that friend manning their Stitches booth that volunteered to teach lace knitting to anyone who wanted to learn.

One year there Gracie asked me, sounding just like my grandmother: “Now, Alison: how old are you?”

I knew not to say ‘The answer to life, the universe, and everything’ for fear she wouldn’t get the Douglas Adams reference and simply said, 42.

“You’re just a BABY!” she exclaimed, guffawing in delight. She was 80.

And then there was the time when she asked me how my book was coming along.

“It’s not.”

“Well that’s no good! Why not?”

I told her I’d used some of the lace patterns in Barbara Walker’s stitch treasuries, was not going to plagiarize, and had no idea how to reach Ms. Walker nor even if she was still alive to ask. My mom had had the original editions of those treasuries when I was a teenager.

“My friend Barbara!” Here-and she gave me the contact information for her, for Meg Swanson (who had re-issued those treasuries), and a third person in the knitting publishing industry.

Which meant… I had to call or email them, as she provided.

Meg Swansen, the late Elizabeth Zimmerman’s daughter, was gracious beyond measure and sent me over to the good folks at Martingale with an editor’s name and number she thought I should talk to.

Ms Walker commended me on my work and asked only that I give her credit. I did. We swapped hurricane stories; turns out my son was living near her that year.

Richard came home from work that day and I was still starstruck nearly speechless. The idea of just picking up the phone and calling–that was like, oh, sure, the White House will put you straight through to President (W.) Bush, no problem!

So my dormant manuscript finally ended up where it needed to go. Turns out there was a staff meeting so many times a year and no more, so there would be a wait. But after that meeting, my phone rang. The person told me who she was.

(And? And?!?) It felt like an unbearably long silence while she tried to think of the right way to say it, or at least it felt very long to me so finally I asked, in great trepidation, sure they were searching for a nice way to turn me down, “Do you like my book?”

That freed her words: “We LOVE your book!!!”

Gracie, you have no idea how much I owe you…

But I tried to tell her. I sought her out at Stitches every year and I thanked her for making my book come to be. Gracie would brag on me for writing it and I would brag on her for getting it to happen.

I’ll think of her name probably some time in the middle of the night, but, that voice was of the woman who’d come to dinner with me at Nancy’s. As Gracie’s age gradually got the better of her, she was the one looking after her all day at Stitches, making sure she got what she needed, making sure she was okay getting to where she needed. This past February, she stopped me at some random point in the aisles and said Gracie was looking for me.

I was looking for her! Where was she? Where was the booth this year? (While thinking, Oh good. Oh good. She’s still with us.)

And so I got my Gracie time, with her holding my hands and looking me in the eyes with a lifetime of love for everyone around her, and in those moments, me.

Her friend wanted to make sure I heard.

I did the math from 42 half in my head half out loud while she did the same and she confirmed, Yes. She was 97.

If you happen to own this book, that’s our Gracie it’s dedicated to.

Her life was well lived, and I–we will all–miss her.



Building its house
Thursday April 12th 2018, 10:58 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

I was hoping to be able to show this off finished, but I’ve simply run out of day. This is about 150 yards into two 98-yard skeins of Chateau on size US 9s. The long-tail end is being used to mark the end of the rows. (I pull it out and move it up every now and then.)



Happy April
Wednesday April 11th 2018, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Life

Taxes: done!