Oh he’s good
Wednesday April 17th 2024, 8:34 pm
Filed under: Life

The doorbell rang.

It was the listing agent for Shirley’s house, wanting to know if the lights had been turned off last night; they were supposed to be.

Sadly, no, but we appreciated his efforts to get the word out, and–what’s this?!

He had gone to the local very good French bakery and had brought us a bag of pastries to try to ease the pain. They definitely lived up to the place’s reputation.

Best of all though is that after all the messages back and forth we got to actually meet and take the measure of each other and came away glad for it.

He had grown up friends with Shirley’s son. I thought, you really DO know the neighborhood. Cool.

He asked that I text him any time the lights were on and he would come and take care of it. He laughed when I said I hoped that wasn’t a long commute, which wasn’t quite an answer but I didn’t press him on it.

And as he probably hoped, I came away thinking that if I ever want to list my house, now I have the agent for it. Except that we’re not going anywhere, but thanks.

There is, in fact, a single big bulb still on right now of the five of them that shine directly in our windows, and there appears to be a mirror behind it for extra fun. But someone tried (they were all on during the day) and that is so much better than it’s been that I’m just going to let him take a well-deserved rest.

So finish already
Tuesday April 16th 2024, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

I had wondered what the next big project was going to be. Now I know. There’s a baby on the way on my husband’s side of the family and some serious celebrating to do. I’d say more, but I’m not sure they’ve announced to everybody yet and they haven’t quite quite hit that three month mark yet.

The other bride and groom
Monday April 15th 2024, 9:51 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

We were offering finger puppets to the parents of every toddler coming on board the flight for home. It had been much delayed, they were on Texas time, and we knew those kids were going to be tired. Their folks could use all the support they could get.

A woman holding a box full of exquisite, perfectly matched white flowers watched the family boarding just in front of her getting one and something in her smile had me offering her one, too. Her choice.

Oh cool! She quite liked the little gray cat.

She and her very new husband were coming from their own wedding and looking absolutely radiant.

We settled in our seats, Southwest flight 1489 took off, and I was alternating between book and needles; having done an awful lot of knitting that weekend, I was trying to take it easy on my hands. When the crew served apple juice I used the little cup with its ice to hold against tender muscles.

About an hour in it dawned on me: I was knitting an infinity scarf in a colorway Malabrigo had named Anniversario. A blessing of an infinity of anniversaries together to come. How had I not seen this instantly.

There were about three hours left in the flight and I had maybe a little over half a cowl at that point. I considered, a little doubtfully at first.

I could do this. If I didn’t stop at all, after having already knit for two hours in the airport, then yes, I think I could. G_d, if You want me to, I’m going to need Your help because my hands otherwise aren’t up to it.

And so the marathon began, with a prayer for the outcome to be whatever He wanted (including stopping if I needed to to protect me.) I was leaving it in His hands while trying to thank Him with mine. We had gotten to our family’s wedding after all the Friday stuff. We had shared in so much happiness. And here was a chance to bless another new marriage with a story they could tell their grandchildren someday, of love from the whole wide world on their day.

I found to my half-surprise that my wrists had stopped twinging. I did stop every now and then and stretched my fingers and wrists but then I got right back to it. I timed how long it was taking me to do a repeat and when I would need to stop in order to be able to cast off and work the ends in before we landed.

I did it. At sixteen repeats it was long enough. I was quite happy with it. I did it! I even still had time to read just a bit.

Then the trick was to find her again, and I knew if I didn’t then it would happily go to someone else. But also that I’d be a little disappointed, maybe even a lot more than a little.

Baggage claim. Maybe they’d gone straight out the door. I didn’t see them. With my face blindness I probably wouldn’t know anyway unless she smiled–facial expressions are easy for this damaged brain to do still, and also, if, hopefully if, she was still holding those flowers, that would make it easy.

Those suitcases were very slow to start coming out.

Suddenly there she was again with her box of blossoms, right next to us.

I told her what I’d done. She was blown away. What it was and how to take care of it. I explained that the lace would lie flat and show off its pattern the moment she rinsed it. She would have to finish that one last step I could not do there (oh, and snip those ends, they’re already woven in.)

An infinity of anniversaries to come. To life!

The postscript is that somehow my hands are fine today. But they had earned the day’s rest and maybe tomorrow’s too (like I could stay away from my afghan project that long) to help stay sure of that.

Monday April 15th 2024, 9:15 am
Filed under: Life

So we were boarding our flight to Texas for our nephew’s wedding.

The ground crew was consulting with the flight crew. The outside of the plane, they said, was…scratched.

The flight attendant’s initial reaction was, What do you mean, scratched?

The rest of the passengers came on. We sat. We went nowhere. We waited.

I don’t know if it took 45 minutes to make the decision or if that was to check if they had places to put all these people going to three different cities along the way, but they called ours first: “There are nine of you going to Dallas. Please collect your bags and exit the plane.”

And thus began our trip to Vegas, Albuquerque (Hi Maura!) and at last Texas, twelve+ hours airport to airport. At least we didn’t have to move from plane to plane after the initial change, and since those flights were jam packed the guy who sat on our row stayed on our row the whole time and we were all the best of friends by the time we finally got off. To the point that at one point I handed him my Rachel Remen book, “My Grandfather’s Blessings,” turned to page 263, When It Works, and said to the dad of teenagers, Three pages. I think you’ll like this story.

He dutifully read it, closed the book, and went, Wow. That was intense. I think I need a copy of this book.

I offered him mine, but it was my reading material so he turned down the offer but he made careful note of the author; I told him she’d gone to bed in her college dorm at 16 and had woken up six months later from her coma and that was her first instance of Crohn’s disease. She’d gone on to be an incredible doctor. Her grandfather had been a rabbi in Russia who had had nightmares of a black wing snuffing out the lights in all the synagogues in eastern Europe and had gathered his congregation and fled to America just ahead of the Russian pograms and then Hitler.

This good man from Texas had just gotten a glimpse into the heart of a good Jewish woman who had willed a baby boy who had been brought to the ER moments too late to come back. To live. To experience this life.

And thus the moment in her medical internship when the attendings brought the parents in to say goodbye to their son after they’d had to call him–and the little boy, now in Rachel’s arms, IVs and EKG leads and all, had cried and reached towards his mommy.

The cream of the crop
Monday April 15th 2024, 12:00 am
Filed under: Family

The woman next door and the one across the street were talking and that was my chance: I ran outside.

Is this blouse too white for a wedding? I told them I’d asked my husband and he’d shrugged an I don’t know! Not a guy kind of question, I needed a woman!

They laughed, then exclaimed over the perfection of the outfit (they were very kind) and said the cream and the peach, just perfect.

Just the fact of what the question was for left us all happily remembering our own day.

I typed that before we left, knowing we’d get back really late tonight.

That was before we got booted off the plane…

So I did kinda earn that
Thursday April 11th 2024, 9:01 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life

I called the realtor this morning and thanked him for the gloriously dark night last night.

I just looked: there is a light left on, but it is muted as if on the far side of the house and with no direct line of sight between bulb and us. That’s so much better than how things were that I’m not going to complain.

Karma reminds me of the time when we woke up at the usual hour in the morning to a message on our answering machine from next door: Sandy was pleading in vain with us to wake up and turn that thing off somehow.

One of the charms of our late ’99 Chrysler minivan was that about every 18 months its alarm would totally randomly start blaring, and when it did it would keep on going till you–get in the screaming car that first time, run through the owner’s manual, go why??, scramble back out, put the key in the driver’s and only the driver’s side door, twist it the wrong way, hold, let go, quick do it again–and at last blessed silence.

Of which there was none that night for Sandy, her visiting son and daughter-in-law, and their young triplets who were all having to get up at 3 a.m. to catch their flight to Thailand.

I’ve written about the day there that they were going to go to the beach, but somehow it just all fell apart and they didn’t go…And then how Sandy was gone a month past when she was expected back and everybody was worried. Had anyone heard? No.

She had decided an older white woman driving one of the relief trucks into stricken rebel territory wouldn’t be shot at by anybody’s soldiers during the aftermath of the tsunami they had just just missed being swept away in at Phuket.

Let your light not be so shiny
Wednesday April 10th 2024, 8:24 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

The annual neighborhood block party died in the pandemic, and then the people who ran it either passed or fell into dementia; they were parents of college-age kids when we moved here thirty-seven years ago.

It occurred to me that it had been before the pandemic, too, that I’d last shown up on her doorstep with a batch of fresh-baked I forget what by way of saying hi. I did see her about a year ago coming towards my block with a walker.

I had to start somewhere. I googled their names. Still there, looked like, both of them; oh good, because you never know, I mean, she’s someone who once asked me, Do you remember in this neighborhood in 1952 when… And I grinned and went, I wasn’t born yet.

For that matter, neither was my house. It was apparently among the builder’s last.

Monday the city crews came by to trim the trees at the power lines and suddenly there was even less to block the effect, essentially nothing now. That was the final push–I had to do something.

I didn’t have her phone number. I couldn’t expect her to answer the door if walking was that hard a year ago.

I did have her email. I thought so! I sent her off a note asking after their health (and deleting the detail about their gardener cutting their 10′ hedge by 4′ such that the debris fell on my side for us to clean up, plus the peach tree damage–nah, forget it.) But, as gently as I could work it in there, I said I had a favor to ask her.

She and Dan had done us such a great favor all these years that we hadn’t even known how wonderful it was: they had blinds that they pulled down every night that covered the floor-to-ceiling windows.

(I didn’t say because I knew she knew, we can’t do that because our roof line is angled.)

Since the back of their house faces straight into our bedroom with its high transom window, this was wonderful. But for the past few nights (two solid weeks!) those blinds haven’t been used but (all!) the lights in the house were being left on 24/7.

I didn’t say I didn’t think I’d gotten more than two or three hours of sleep at a stretch in what was starting into a third week. I didn’t say, I can’t wear an eye mask because I just spent two months fighting off a staph infection around my eye. I didn’t say and that’s why I got so worn down I caught that blasted stomach flu. She didn’t need to hear any of that. I had all this that had been building up but it wasn’t her fault nor her problem. I remembered one of Richard’s grandmothers who in dementia got day and night backwards, and had wondered if that was what was going on; they’ve got to be pushing 90.

I was so glad at the email that came back to me the next day, though the news was hard: Dan had died last year. She had moved to an assisted living place–she wanted me to know that it was one where she was independent and taking care of herself–and her house was on the market.

(Ahhhh… The realtors….)

I expressed a heartfelt condolence at her loss; Dan was a good man, I really liked him. I wished her all the best in her new circumstances.

She was so glad to hear from me.

I can only imagine how different and difficult all those changes must be for her; I knew she’d wanted to stay in her house. I’ve spent all day thinking I need to go visit her, if she wants.

And then. It seems to be really hard to find who the listing agent is for a house, so I sent a message via Zillow to the one at the first Google entry that came up, throwing it out there in hopes it would be passed on.

Turns out it was the right guy.

I emailed my dilemma. It’s like a spotlight straight into where we’re trying to sleep, bouncing off the white walls. I didn’t know if the blinds were still there, but either way, could the lights please be turned off at night? I was getting slightly desperate for a good night’s rest.

I mentioned how I’d baked goodies for Shirley and Dan and how I looked forward to meeting the new neighbors. I did not want him to think he was dealing with a neighborhood of cranks but a more welcoming group than that, y’know?

He got right back to me in the morning but with my hair still wet and my ears out I missed the call. I called him back and he missed the call.

But it is just past sunset and at long long long last those full-moon-shaped 1950’s-NASA’s-aspirations-inspired hanging lights with my friends’ mid-century-soft bulbs replaced with those !%#*&!!! fiercely regretted super bright ones are all off. That one and that one and that one and that one and that one and the ones out of direct sight down the hall, too.

We got our total eclipse after all.

Near sunset
Tuesday April 09th 2024, 9:19 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

I was walking around the back yard to see what the first warm day of Spring had wrought.

The buds on the cherry trees were finally starting to bulge. Their winter had gone on and on, but not today!

The side of the tallest peach towards the pathway of the sun was in its glory with the rest soon to sound the amen.

I was stepping away from it, turned back to see–and was just in time to see a Cooper’s hawk swoop up and land on the telephone line just behind that tree right there in front of me.

If it were our original Coopernicus, who loved to people-watch during breeding season, he’d be about 15 by now; I wondered how many generations this one represented. I stood there with it tolerating me and silently beamed all the love I could its way. I know the tall trees to either side of the yard are gone now; I’m sorry about that. Maybe you never even knew them. I’m glad you’re here. Please stay. Please visit often. I want to have a new fledgling hopping among my amaryllis pots being cute again. I just want you here, and in this moment you are, and I am grateful.

And then too late I went inside and grabbed my phone so I could at least show you where it had been.

Well hello there
Monday April 08th 2024, 8:31 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

Did better today, thanks, everyone.

So how was the eclipse for you all? The only way you could tell there was one here was that the wild rabbit popped out of the bushes as if it were daybreak or dusk and started mowing away at the weeds. Which I thought was pretty funny.

Not in the plan
Sunday April 07th 2024, 7:51 pm
Filed under: Life

I just hope I didn’t give the stomach bug I didn’t know I was going to come down with last night to the mom and kids I gave those finger puppets to on Friday, although I did have a mask on and I only touched them for maybe ten seconds. Hoping.

Knitting during church
Saturday April 06th 2024, 9:19 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit

It’s conference weekend. There were two two-hour sessions and one ninety minute one, and Sunday there will be two more two hour ones.

I had finally reached the part where I was doing one color straight across, the exception being the soaring raptor to come and then somehow I got all of that done, too. (Even if crumpled in the embiggened photo.)

The afghan has been taking 4.5 rows an inch, I did nine rows, and the tape measure says that today I added…black hole alert…0″.

Re the conference. During the first two sessions today, there were, as always, beautiful flowers at the podium.

But one kept grabbing my eye. It was an anthurium, and the camera kept hitting it just wrong: in trying to focus the lighting on the speaker, it turned it into a large floral eyeball looking back at the audience in Ukrainian yellow and turquoise, complete with a dark pupil where the spadix split the spathe (plant part definitions in link) up the center.

In the third session it appeared as if someone had moved that one plant. Just a bit.

Pandas and puppies
Friday April 05th 2024, 10:15 pm
Filed under: Life

Ultrasound last fall, biopsies last month, ultrasound again today. So much fun.

As I waited for the exam a quite elderly couple came in, she with a cane far too tall for her and pushing him in a wheelchair.

I had my glasses off for close-up work but he got my attention and I put them back on. He was miming knitting, a good circle around his imaginary needle, doing a great job of it–and then when he caught my eye he pointed his thumb at his wife talking to the receptionist.

Ah. Cool! I smiled, and he beamed.

They called me just as she was sitting down but at least he got to tell her he’d spotted another knitter. He was so happy about it!

Looking at the black and white screen, I asked the tech (because why not), Is it a boy or a girl? She laughed.

When I came back out of there, it was nearly 5:00. There was a mom with two boys who looked like they were identical twins, about four or five. They had an energy that had me remembering the days, though they stayed in their seats and behaved but they did not want to look at screens, they wanted to tell her and each other all about their day with every limb making happy exclamation marks to the words.

I looked down, saw a lion in my purse that I’d restocked just yesterday and instantly had the thought that no that’s not it. Huh. Okay, try again: and out came a black and white panda and a black and white puppy. Similar, but individual and you can tell them apart so they’d know which was whose. Perfect.

Happy Birthday! I said to the mom as I offered them to her.

The look on that tired mom’s face and its transformation in that moment. This is why I do this.

What she couldn’t know is that she made it worth my going through that exam. It was clearly the right day to be there.

Let it be
Thursday April 04th 2024, 8:33 pm
Filed under: Knit

Yet again, it rained more than double the forecast that the day started with.

On a cold rainy day, pulling the needles of an almost-finished blanket up to your hands is just the thing.

Those rows where I was wrapping the second color across the back of the first color or the other way around, every single stitch across the entire row, are finally over. It took nearly two weeks to do seven inches. Now all I have to do from here is finish on upwards and add a raptor as I go and add the navy edges for a picture frame.

Unless… Unless I do this morning’s sunrise, where a third layer of darker storm clouds put a top bun on my sky sandwich of bright white clouds and bright blue: so. Five stitches of the current blue to each one of the new, stagger in the first few stitches to recenter and then do three, then alternate 1×1 during the transition between colors before you get into the shapes of the clouds… Ask me how I know…

It was so pretty and it so called out to me.

Then I turned away from the window and half-deliberately did not take a photo of it to tempt myself with.

When your House Rep retires
Wednesday April 03rd 2024, 3:39 pm
Filed under: Politics

The deadline is done. The ballots they could cure that needed curing, done. There were eleven names on the Super Tuesday ballot and one came out well ahead of the pack at 21.9% and the other two relatively well known names came in second.

At exactly, it has now been certified, the same number of votes.

Throw in all the voters for those eight other candidates who are now out of the race and there is no easily predictable winner in November at all.

If either Simitian or Low calls for a recount they pay the expenses, and it ain’t cheap–but get reimbursed. IF they win.

California law says the top two vote getters go on to the general, regardless of party. We have never had a threesome before.

Tell this to anyone who thinks their vote doesn’t count, because man does it ever.

p.s. On a random note: gerbils in an art museum. Just for fun.

Tuesday April 02nd 2024, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Knit,Wildlife

Considerably bigger than two months ago; it’s not a baby anymore. Such a beautiful animal. (Typed while fully aware we went from one wild rabbit that we knew of to seven for awhile a few years ago.)

It does eat the worst of the weeds, which is great–but it also chews on young fruit tree trunks. The most vulnerable are enclosed in heavy-duty Erva bunny -proofing cages, highly recommended even though they’re pricey, so  that’s not an issue there.

The mango doesn’t have one. It probably should.

I want to put the rest of my sunflower seedlings out there but you know they’d be gone in a night. I do need to buy more Ervas.

Pro tip: do not follow the instructions to stake the cages to the ground: you want them to rattle when a possum or raccoon tries to climb over it, because then they won’t. Mine don’t.

Meantime, the camera isn’t doing a great job of picking out the differences in these blues as I play with the fog/clouds and sky, but I’m getting there.