Broom broom swish swish
Wednesday September 30th 2009, 8:33 pm
Filed under: Life

I had a neighbor who went off on vacation a few years ago and didn’t come back and didn’t come back, and people along our block were beginning to ask, Have you heard from?… Her answering machine is full…

I stepped out to get the mail at the very moment a car dropped her off from the airport.  She had survived the tsunami in Phuket–the big one–and had stayed for weeks to help.

She threw her arms around me and told me everything.

I just got the


Change the sentence that that was going to be–I got interrupted by a follow-up email right as I was typing that. Rather than revise it, I’ll leave it right like that.

A friend’s friend was in American Samoa, and she emailed me earlier today to tell me he had not been heard from.

I got my kitchen mopped. I got the dishes done. I got the counters clean.  I got some laundry done.  I got the rugs vacuumed. I got short of breath. I kept going.  Sometimes, some news, you cannot sit down and you cannot hold still but you’ve got to stay busy busy busy, (hoping my lupus won’t hold it over my head tomorrow) even if I didn’t know the young man myself, much less any of the Islanders.  It all hit so close to home for me.

The waves, she just found out, had circled the island he was on but did no harm.

Dear God: thank You that those people on that one island, anyway, are all okay.  I thought I’d mention, though, I know I needed to put down my needles and get that housework done.  But there are gentler ways to talk me into it.  Just sayin’.

Back to work!
Tuesday September 29th 2009, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

How to get back into the knitting:  (note that these are platters that are too big to go into my cabinets as you try to gauge the size of this project so far.)

1. Have a flu shot. (Note to self: you wear a bag now. Have the shot on the right arm. Ignore them when they ask if you’re right handed.  The cane’s on the left anyway, and you gotta have somewhere you can roll over to in your sleep. Get a clue.)

2. Have a day that requires getting up early.

3. Be engrossed in two really good books you can’t put down, while being tired enough and slightly achy from the shot that holding your arms up for hours, well, it just isn’t the day. Nor is the next.

4. Be so knit-deprived you can’t stand it, and the moment it’s a new day, you wake up feeling fine, the books are already read and that yarn’s still waiting, you get through twelve 400-stitch rows of Fino laceweight right then and there.  And the day’s not over.

The books were very worth the time spent, but there’s something to be said for the motivating effects of you-can’t-have-it-yet.

Untangled webs they weave
Monday September 28th 2009, 9:00 pm
Filed under: Spinning,Wildlife

Thanks to Kathleen, I found a reason to want to drop everything and go visit my sister in NYC right now.  Spinning straw into gold is one fantasy, but they actually did this?  Wow.  What does spider fabric feel like, I want to know! Gold, like glass, as an incomprehensible fluid.  Gorgeous.

I don’t imagine that kind of yarn will be on the market anytime quite too soon.

Strong at the broken places
Sunday September 27th 2009, 11:06 pm
Filed under: Life

Thanks to Lene, I looked up Richard M. Cohen‘s book, “Strong At The Broken Places,” and reading the reviews, ended up ordering it and also his earlier one, “Blindsided.”  They arrived this past week, and I’ve been having a hard time putting them down.

I knew Cohen’s name from his political column.  I had not associated it with MS.  “Blindsided” is his story of being diagnosed with it at 25 just when he was finding success as a TV news producer.  Vision loss was one of his first symptoms.

He mentions an assignment in Lebanon early on where he found himself in an argument with someone while he was standing apart from his camera crew, who, when he walked back over to them, were stunned, going, how could you be yelling at that guy with all those guns aimed at your head!


He’d been too blind to see them.

He writes of his anger and frustration at the disease, and yet of his joy at being married to Meredith Viera and at the arrivals of their children.  It comes out over and over again, in both books: while he freely admits how hard he and his disease are and have been on them, they are his strength and his way of getting through the day okay.

Over and over, I’ve been finding myself wanting to exclaim out loud, Yes! THIS is what it’s like!  YES!

One moment that so hit home for me was the day he was walking down the street in New York City and suddenly found himself ducking on impulse into a shop that sold canes.  No doctor had told him to, he says; he had resisted it for so long and had stumbled so much; but it simply was time. And that was that.

I spent a year after my car accident demanding that my brain relearn how to navigate the world.  It would be awhile longer before the various ways in which it had been damaged became more clear.  One eye saw normally; to the other, everything bright was very near and everything dull was far, and the cacophony would argue and throw me overboard if too much visual information was incoming–my left side would simply collapse. But I was determined to progress in my recovery.

It took a year. One day it was simply finally enough.  Now.  I walked into the orthopedic place a few blocks away and bought my first cane, impressed at a man there who knew his trade and how long to cut it based on whether I needed it for support for a leg, or balance?…  And do you usually wear shoes of this height of heel?  Ah. This long, then.

I had not expected to immediately find someone who knew what it was like, in a way, to be me as I was now.  It was a quietly stunning moment.

I’d been so worried about the stigma. What I hadn’t realized was how much of my freedom that cane would give me back, how much I’d avoided, how many places I hadn’t gone and things I hadn’t done because I couldn’t walk upright through crowds or visually noisy places without stumbling badly (or worse).  My children had become protective of me, offering me an arm to give me the tactile feedback that kept me from falling.

And now I could manage on my own, poof, just like that.  I wondered how many people had thought this good little Mormon was drunk so many times that past year. Stigma?  Gimme the cane already, I’ve got places to go.

And on and on as I read “Blindsided” I continued to relate to this story and that. My lupus and his MS, my Crohn’s and his colon cancer.  Although I had to chuckle a tad ruefully; ileostomy? Dude, I’ll show you ileostomy. Yours was temporary.

Cohen’s writing really blossoms in the second book (which I forced myself to put down halfway through to come write this).  In it, he’s not being as self-conscious about exposing himself, but rather he’s reporting more on the stories of others with chronic illnesses who chose to share their lives with him.

We truly do become strong at the broken places. Especially when we see each other–and ourselves–for who we are despite their getting in the way.

Practiced what was preached
Saturday September 26th 2009, 9:25 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Richard and I had a wonderful time at Don‘s this afternoon; ice cream was consumed, chocolate was sauced, raspberries were sacrificed. Don’s little parrot Pepper stole the show, making it very clear that Don was emphatically hers, not ours, thank you very much.  Where Don went, Pepper puttered along right behind on tiny waddling feet and we were not to come between.

And a good time was had by all.

There’s a proud little corner of me that was glad we went in Richard’s car; mine is a wreck. It’s  a ten-year-old minivan the kids learned how to drive in, and boy does it show. The third time the sliding door got sideswiped against a pole, we refused to fix it again: it still shuts.  The alarm doesn’t sound.  Good enough.  If it’s ugly, I thought at my then-teenagers but didn’t say, you guys made it ugly and it’ll be all the more disincentive to do stupid kid driving tricks because there’s no way in heck that car is ever going to impress other teenagers.

Even if it has comfy heated leather front seats.

Nowadays it also has a crack in the windshield going nearly all the way across the bottom.  Nice touch.  The deductible would put it all out of pocket, and I refuse to put a dime more into that car that I don’t have to.  With about 17k by now in out-of-pocket medical expenses this past year, starting just after we contracted for that solar system having no idea what was about to hit us, that wreck is just plain mine for awhile longer. The transmission keeps threatening to die, but it’s been threatening for two years and I keep calling its bluff. So far so good.

We got home from Don’s.  I was a bit tired, so I tried to find a ride to Menlo Park.  The church there was showing a worldwide meeting being broadcast from Salt Lake City to the Relief Society, which I believe is, at 167 years, the oldest women’s organization in the world.  Several wards’ worth of women were coming to watch it there, with a potluck to be held afterwards. I would get a chance to meet many people I didn’t know and to see old friends I rarely see.

But no luck on the carpooling idea. I got in my van and simply went.

There was a talk given wherein they described some of the history of the Relief Society: how the early women’s efforts started some of the first hospitals in the western now-states, how the Mormon Church’s system of being able to reach into disaster areas with medical and food supplies grew from the efforts of those women way back when.

But, they said, the point is to keep remembering to be actively involved on a personal level, taking care of and looking out for one another right wherever you are.  I sat there thinking, oh yes.  The small moments mean so much more than it seems like they could ever, at the times we’re planning them.

There was the potluck, there was chatting; there was the woman who bumped into me so slightly that she probably didn’t even notice, who was stunned when my cane and I went sprawling; she grabbed me, along with Julia of Julia shawl fame, just before I totally went over. She apologized profusely, having no idea, poor thing.

I explained to her she had no need to whatsoever, that the only person who should apologize was the man who’d smashed my car nine years ago.  She looked at me…? Head injury, I affirmed. My balance is tactile and visual only now. Bump and the tactile goes poof, especially when the visual’s already on overload. No big deal, honest.

She felt better when she saw it didn’t bug me. My standard line is, hey. Burns extra calories.  Keeps me thin.

All of which, it turned out, delayed me just a bit more.

…I went out to my car, ready to go home…and stood there speechless.

A group of five women I didn’t know walked out together a moment later, and I tried to tell them and did such a bad job of it that one of them asked, “Are you okay?!”

There was just too much to put into any simple sentence by way of explanation. The surgeries. The extreme sun sensitivity. The cracked windshield that makes it so I can’t possibly put my car through a car wash. The abdomen that still makes me have to take it easy.  The hose I can’t yet manage to get around to the front of the house.  The sunlight I can’t begin to stand out in to hose the thing down anyway.

My car was spotless. Someone had snuck up on it and washed it while I was inside. My car was clean!  Months of tree dust and dirt and bird poop and quiet inner frustration on my part, not spoken of to anyone outside my family as far as I know. It had so bugged me.  I hadn’t been able to do a thing about it.  MY CAR WAS CLEAN!  I had to do a doublecheck to make sure someone hadn’t removed my car and put the same model and color in its parking spot.  Nope–there’s the crack in the window, there’s the box inside still waiting to get dropped off at Goodwill.  I was absolutely gobsmacked.

I don’t know how they got away with it.  I don’t know how I got singled out nor by whom.  But I will forever be grateful someone noticed, that someone thought of it, planned it, and carried out that suds attack. (And if someone is guffawing that it took me all day to notice, if you did it last night–but I don’t think so. My family doesn’t think so.  And Michelle says she knows nothing.)

I’m still shaking my head in delighted disbelief.  Yes, Universe–yet again, I owe you. THANK YOU!!!

One of these little ones
Friday September 25th 2009, 11:20 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

I hoped for a picture, but not so much so as to disturb it just at that moment. Having established myself as the meanie who must be run from and whose birdfeeder boundaries must be respected, I have to live with that.

I saw one of the black squirrel babies climbing over the edge of something on the patio that made no sense to me–and then I watched as it gagged.  Squirrel CPR being beyond me (oh, yeah, that’ll go over well), I held my breath till it was fine again.

I braved the sun time to go see what that was about: it was some water from last week’s brief rain, dripped from the awning and collected in a container with some potting soil in it and thoroughly rottingly gross by now. Mosquito heaven no more–over and out you go.

If it was thirsty enough to drink something that rank… I filled a small clear plastic cup with clean water and set it out at the edge of the porch, wedging it upright.

And was rewarded later to see a baby, the smallest of the litter, holding the lip of the cup in one paw as she lapped up the water; I could see tiny ripples moving in steady rhythm across the top.  So much dark fur on a hot day–I bet that drink really hit the spot.

I wonder if providing water will help keep them from the last of my tomatoes; I have no idea.  But the satisfaction of watching that tiny animal finding physical relief, a subject near to me, meant much.

Thursday September 24th 2009, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Friends,LYS,Wildlife

Two things today. The first: I realized just as I hit the freeway that I’d forgotten my camera. I nearly took the next exit home to get it, but I didn’t have time and I didn’t know if it would be allowed anyway.

Glenn Stewart of SCPBRG gave a talk in the downtown San Jose library about the rescuing and recovering of the peregrine falcon population. I knew there’d only been two nesting pairs left in California in the 70’s; I had not realized they were extinct by then on the East Coast.

DDT accumulations had decimated the populations by thinning the shells, he said; that, I already knew. I didn’t know they were shot on sight in Europe during WWII so they wouldn’t intercept the carrier pigeons delivering wartime messages.

When he and his group started their efforts to rescue the peregrines, they were told it could not be done, it was a waste of time and resources–those birds were simply gone.

But how could they not try?  I got to watch a man showing the story of his life as well as theirs, the passion that had changed everything.  He showed slides of rappelling down cliffsides to retrieve falcon eggs to replace them with dummy ones in the nest. The living eggs were taken back to UC Santa Cruz, hatched where momma wouldn’t sit on them and break the shells, fed for a short while via injured/recuperating falcons on hand that were willing to adopt them, then the rappelling was done again, the babies put back in the nest, and the dummy eggs were taken away.

There are now about 250 breeding pairs in California, and the peregrines are making a comeback elsewhere as well.

Because a few people decided that if a difference could be made, if it were at all possible, it was imperative that they try to bring those birds back into life.

And they did it.

While he spoke, he had a marvelous distraction going on to his left: on a portable perch with a drop cloth of about four feet around it stood Sophie.

When there is a peregrine too ill or injured to be released into the wild, Glenn takes care of it: Sophie was certainly well enough to travel now. She would allow Glenn to hold her and take care of her, I was told, but no one else.

Well, yes.  I would definitely expect that.

But Sophie didn’t mind having about 15 strangers nearby as she preened, stretched, scratched herself with that enormous yellow foot, napped, stood on the other foot to show how relaxed she was, and generally kept us entertained very thoroughly.  Glenn reached into her space at the end, picked a downy underfeather off the drop cloth, and handed it to a thoroughly pleased listener.

What I hadn’t expected was what followed: he pulled out the most curious contraption and I was trying to figure out what it was. First he put it on his ear, and I thought, okay, to protect his ear, as he put on his leather gauntlet–but it was on the wrong side.  He got her set up on the gauntlet, then he reached for that–thing.  And then he put it over her head.

It looked like she was wearing a WWII ace fighter pilot leather helmet, except that it covered her eyes (which I’m sure was the point.) But: it had black rubber deely-boppers, two each to each side, going out far from her head.

I tried to wrap my brain around that one. I guess it’s for a visual announcement of her personal space so people won’t try to pet her as he walks by?

It was 1:00 pm, and with San Jose State University in the same city block and school in session, the library was jammed with people.  Walking behind Glenn and one  of the moderators of the peregrine group as they left, I got to watch heads turn and feet stop, over and over and over.

There was an inner set of doors, an atrium, and then the outer doors; in the atrium stood three young men suddenly stunned at a falcon with deelyboppers going right past them. They started asking each other, and of course none of them knew a thing, so I stopped and told them that Glenn Stewart of the peregrine rescue and recovery group had just given a lecture.

“Will he give another one!?”

Google his name and UCSC. Okay; they asked about the lecture, and when I talked about those slides of rappelling down the cliffs to save the species, their eyes got big and clearly, this was something that appealed to 20-something young men.

Maybe Glenn will find his next set of helpers soon.

Now, thing the second today.

I was at Purlescence Knit Night tonight when their phone rang (and if the woman wants to add anything here, I would love it, but till then I’m keeping her name private.)  A few minutes later Nathania came over to me and quietly told me who had called: one of my readers had gone over to deliver a shawl to a friend who had Stage 3 breast cancer. It was what she could do about it.

Nathania knew and I knew as she relayed this message that when a person has been made suddenly acutely aware of how finite the minutes of one’s life are, having someone bring them hours and hours of their time, a gift of life as well as any stitches or fiber involved…there are no words.  But the caller wanted us to know the depth of the joy she had found in that giving.

She had welcomed her friend back into life in that moment.  How could she not try.  For every minute there might be of it, for however long, she was wrapping her friend in love.

Glenn would understand, too.

S-quarreled away
Wednesday September 23rd 2009, 8:09 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Wildlife

I wrapped up the one scarf in a doctor’s waiting room yesterday after it got as long as it reasonably could, and, needing something to do, cast on a second to match, risking the dreaded SSS with my sock yarn: Second Scarf Syndrome.

Heh. You can change the project, but you can’t change the essential qualities of a yarn.

Lots of bird puns waiting for more over at Lene‘s Sept 21 post.  I particularly like Karin‘s–I wish I’d thought of that!

Over here, there were some not-yet-swept-up sunflower hulls mixed with a few fallen seeds scattered around the base of the wooden pole this morning. I watched a gray squirrel go through all kinds of weird contortions trying to reach around cautiously, carefully to sniff out the good ones while trying really really hard not to appear to come near that dangerous thing. Pre-seed-ents had been set, after all.

Or pre-seed-dense, in its case.  I watched it for awhile, much amused, when suddenly it completely lost its head and leaped.  All that food up there!

Instantly the door flew open–caught!

Train them in the way they should go.  It *knew*.  I didn’t have to make a sound.  It scrammed all the harder in its guilt, twitching its tail hard from the top of a tree, staring at me. Do not stop, do not pass go, do not collect 200 calories.

I’m suddenly remembering my kids growing up, when they didn’t get their way, wailing, “You’re MEAN!” And I would grin back at them, “Yup. Rean, motten and nasty too.”   How do you argue with a mom who’s chuckling and refusing to give in to pole-emics? They tried, but it was all bluster from there from them and they and I knew it.

Meantime, Michelle and I went off to Los Gatos for birdseed today (no hulls, that was a one-time hardware-store mistake), and a raptor–a large hawk or peregrine, I couldn’t quite make out–soared over us on the freeway as she drove. I wonder, do I just see them now? Did I miss out on so much for so long? I know the populations have been recovering the last few years…  Wow. It was glorious, wide wings highlighted against the sunshine, riding on the breeze.

Fill that feeder!

A flood of thoughts
Tuesday September 22nd 2009, 5:38 pm
Filed under: Non-Knitting

Just a quick note to my little sister (whose house is thankfully a good ways uphill) and everybody else in the Atlanta area: my prayers are with you.  To Chuck, who’s at the Shepherd Center there, you, too.

Just Purl Up and get it done
Monday September 21st 2009, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,LYS

It was going to be a long wait. Michelle was very apologetic about having scheduled an appointment over here during my appointment with the dentist over there;  I thought, are you kidding?  How long have you been the daughter of a knitter?  No, I don’t mind, not one bit–guilt-free knitting time? Peachy-fine.

So I grabbed the shawl project du jour and threw it in my knitting bag.


No. I’m not going to!

But there was that bluegreen Purl Up and Dye project from Purlescence

Now, Kaye gave me that skein she and Nathania had dyed out of the generosity of her heart only a week or so before I had this knitting epiphany hit me of wait, I knit socks?! And that yarn, ahead of its time, emphatically wanted to be socks.

No. That’s just not what my needles do, do you hear me, yarn? I cast on this scarf instead.

Every single time I picked it up to work on it, the silly thing whined at me, But I want to be *socks*! You NEED me as socks! Rip it, c’mon, you can do it, one good frog session and you’ll have just the right colors and just enough synthetic with your merino not to wear holes in the heels and you know you’ll feel like royalty and you’ll finally have some that would go with your teal skirts and it’ll be such a big deal and and and.

For the last time, I. Do. Not. Knit. Socks! This is going to be for somebody else anyway, and you know I’m too greedy (or afraid they won’t fit) to give away socks.  I knit to give, not to keep.  Be still.

So you know how that came out; after that surprise Sock Summit package arrived, I started knitting socks after all, and that bluegreen was sitting there torn between feeling jilted and exulting in, I told you so!  So now are you going to frog me, are you are you huh huh?

Hush child.

Now, I tend to do one project till it’s done these days, a discipline I learned in knitting for my shawls book, but this scarf timed out into being the homework project with a deadline a long way off that you don’t want to work on and you have plenty of time to work on and no you’re not going to pull a 2 am-er on it at the last second, the semester doesn’t end for months and the teacher will never know you crammed, she’ll think it’s your best work and not only that she’ll tell the whole class she wishes everybody else prepared like that in advance!

Wait–that was Richard’s high school oral book report on a book he didn’t know he was supposed to have read, never mind.

I explained to the dentist’s hygienist that I was simply going to have to wait awhile after my appointment to be picked up; sure, no problem.  She sent me out into the waiting room with toothbrush and fresh floss, armed to the teeth.

The wait began. I reached for my baby alpaca–and you know what came out of that bag instead.  Hmmph.  I was knit amused.

And then it became a race: can I get this finished before Michelle shows up? So I don’t ever have to listen to its socky attitude again?

And the answer, now, is, unblocked, 44″. Stretched out, mmm, ’bout 57. So close.

Nathania took a picture of it in progress the other day so she and Kaye could recreate that colorway.  And if that doesn’t placate it, one more half hour and it’ll be cast off and that’s the ends of that.

If only I knew who this was going to be for!  After all, the best way to get kids to stop whining about something they want is to get them looking forward to something else.

Someone is going to absolutely love this colorway and the generosity by which this yarn came to me.  I know I do.

The Small Earth Society
Sunday September 20th 2009, 7:31 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

So, picture this (happened a few years ago, but I’m still telling the tale.)  An older couple comes home one day to find, of all things, a mattress blocking their front door.  What on earth?  They hadn’t ordered any mattress!  Oh, wait–must be for that other house again.

It was.

Picture winding roads out a bit from the main suburbia and a street sign that delivery truck drivers sometimes read wrong, with a home to each direction from that intersection with the same house number.

Picture my dad growing up in Carson City, Nevada.

Picture his high school classmate (and there were how many in that class, Dad? Eight?) now living in the one house, on the inadvertent receiving end of that mattress, and in the other…  Our friends V and V.

Don’t you love it when the world shrinks like that?

And just to make it even smaller: when we moved here, the father of someone we knew at church owned a house that was good for entertaining in and would occasionally turn it over to his kids for parties, and we got to go there a few times.  But Mitch’s dad retired and moved away and that was that.

V and V called us a few years ago to invite us over, but mentioned they’d moved. Okay, cool; we got the new address, we’re driving there, and the closer we get, the more we’re saying, Do you think?!… Nah…  *I* think…! And then we pull in the driveway.

Oh. My. Goodness.

Richard knocks on the door, V opens it, and Richard asks if the house still has the such-and-such room down at the end to the left.  V, stunned, goes, How did YOU know?!

Dad’s classmate got a good laugh out of that one.  And we offered to help her with any mattress removals she might need ever after.

What are your small-world stories?

To M and her family with love
Saturday September 19th 2009, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Wow, what a day! Okay, I’m going to let myself be distracted a moment first by saying, Lisa, Tina: if only you could have seen all that colorwork on display! Bright silk saris in cheerful fuschia and orange, fuschia and turquoise, fuschia and gold and coral and black, and did I mention fuschia?  Reds, reds, reds, orangy-reds mixed with purply deep blues and a flash of teal.  Over to the right, blue and purple.  Over to the left, resist-dyed bright red with tiny white stars that at first glance looked like Barbara Walker’s Rose Garden lace pattern, as if all our patterns overlap somewhere in space, as if to pronounce, we are universal in our creativity and our humanity.

Bright pink, lime, you name it; down near the stage, weft of sage green, warp of fuschia, shimmering in vertical changes as the wearer walked.  Such a glorious intensity everywhere that we so seldom see in our Western culture.  Color!

M outshone them all. By far.

We’d been invited to the dance recital of the baby down our street from our New Hampshire days, the adorable little girl whose parents came over and played an evening of Scrabble with us after her family moved out here too; a teen, I think, by the time we ran into them at the Aquarium in Monterey–the time I totally embarrassed her big brother by telling him I remembered him going down their steep (to a three-year-old) old driveway on his Big Wheels. Just what every teenage boy wants so much to be told in public.  Right.

We’d visited with the parents since then but the children had been away at college. Now they were graduated and there, and M, long a dancer, had taken to serious study of the religious dances of her parents’ native land.  She had studied under a master on two continents.

It was far more than a recital; it was a two hour concert with seven musicians in accompaniment.   The auditorium was packed.  As fluid as the river she was portraying here, as determined as the trunk of the elephant there, as graceful as–there simply are no words.  M had studied and practiced long towards perfection and it showed.  Michelle and I kept glancing at each other and going wow, not wanting to miss a second of it by turning away a moment too long.

At the end her master teacher pronounced that M, too, now, was a master and a guru.  She had succeeded.

Her father, taking the podium, wondered out loud at a life’s journey taking such faraway turns: New Hampshire–M totally made my day by looking straight at us, way in the back, immediately as he said that; she had not seen us before the program, but she recognized us–and in their life here in California and visits to way back home.  And here we all were together from all these places in celebration of her accomplishments and hard work.

To life!

(p.s. Yes, I finished her wool/silk scarf in time. It is not bright. The colors are quiet.  But I think it’ll be okay. And V and V, if it’s not, rat your daughter out for me, wouldja? My needles love to dance.)

Manos scarf
Friday September 18th 2009, 5:57 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Knit,Wildlife

I told Kathryn (sp?) at Knit Night last night it was do or die. Thirty-nine inches later, with many breaks for the hands but with the rest of the evening open, it’ll totally be done.  We see the person I’m knitting it for tomorrow, a former down-the-street neighbor from our New Hampshire days.  Water Turtles stitch pattern, an extra stitch added to each edge, cast on 33, two skeins of Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend merino/silk handdyed (thank you Kathy!) on size 5.5 mm and there you go.

I was a bit late getting to Knit Night.  I glanced out the window before leaving, and, for the first time, there were two baby black squirrels!  And then a third!  The last and largest clearly had some gray squirrel parentage showing, and the three were in dark gray, charcoal, and black, in descending order of size to match their coloring;  I guess they’re all out of the nest now. They tended to keep close to each other.

There’s nothing quite like a baby animal.  I watched one doing the familiar semi-leapwalk squirrels do, except that, just for the sheer joy of it as far as I could tell, this one leaped a bit sideways each step forward, like a bouncing ball with a spin to it, just because it could.

Note to squirrels: you cannot climb windows.  Where there is a will there is NOT a way up.  Sorry. I decided Feederfiller had better make an appearance to discourage coming too close to the house.

One took a flying leap to the center bottom of a tree trunk–and missed!  Oops. It scrambled and grabbed the side of it at the last second–a save on that play! And the crowd goes wild!

Random September day
Thursday September 17th 2009, 4:22 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Food,Friends,Wildlife

I kept it short. I wanted enough yarn left to make a matching pair of socks of the merino Jasmin spun up for me: after I started with one pattern, I realized that at the size it was coming out to, I could switch and do it a la Water Turtles, a very open, stretchy lace, and not have to use up lots of yardage. I think my final stitch count was something like 241/row in the main body, only seven Water Turtle repeats long, and it’s plenty big enough for me. (Pardon me while I go run in those loose ends…)

This is the yarn Karin just surprised me with to replace the shawl I surprised her with to replace the yarn she surprised me with.

This is the baby squirrel near a towhee, to give a sense of scale.  It has already learned it is not to climb the awning support pole so temptingly close to the birdfeeder, not from me but from the other squirrels–and it was highly amusing to watch it and a gray squirrel this morning. They were staring at it longingly, twitching towards it and away and towards it and away in fierce repetitive tiny motions, not daring to but oh it’s fall!and you have to squirrel away food!!andandand!!!

All I did was unlatch the door and the two careened into each other while trying to run for the hills.   Guilty!

The baby squirrel tried to climb the fence yesterday and found itself sliiiiiiiiiiding back down the wood. Oops. Made it on the second try, though; it’s getting better at this quickly.  Yesterday the fence, tomorrow that pole, bwahaahaa. (If that big feederfiller isn’t looking…)

We’ve all had days like that–being new at something, trying again, and the sense of satisfaction at getting it right.

And one more thing.  My usual daily dose of hot cocoa?  Mom, this is for you: today I broke just a small piece off the end of a Valrhona 85% bar and grated it into the mug (and got tired of grating and just broke up the rest of it and threw it in).  Add the milk, nuke the milk (you don’t put solid chocolate into hot milk, they have to warm up together to keep the chocolate from seizing), and then I added the cocoa and sugar.  Skipped the usual dollop of cream.

Wow.  Things will never be the same.

Wednesday September 16th 2009, 3:21 pm
Filed under: Friends

The summer that Sam, my oldest, was 12, both she and I were about to hit something we’d never had to face before, me in my mothering and she in the land of classmates: the trauma of middle school. I wanted her to go into it having something to be unique and cool with, for her to be able to do something nobody else she knew could; with her permission, I signed us both up for lessons in handspinning, with a few dyeing lessons too in the six-week summer course taught by Karen Brayton-McFall of the now-gone Rug and Yarn Hut.

There was another mother/12-year-old daughter pair in that class. And that is how we met Gigi and Jasmin, nowadays the Knitmore Girls of podcast fame.  Gigi later helped test-knit a pattern for my book; Jasmin has been exceedingly generous with her sock knitting, and both of them with their friendship.

Gigi’s in the hospital right now and I am waiting for the word.   I don’t dare visit, not with the last of the bug going on. (I had fun yesterday, but I overdid it.)  I am adding in my prayers with her family’s and hoping for her to get back to normal quickly.

By the way, I mentioned my sister-in-law here recently.  When they got the results of her surgery and biopsy, the doctors told her, if you’re going to get breast cancer, you want this kind of breast cancer. If you’re going to find it, you want to find it at this stage.  They told her it was the best news it could have been.

Okay, now, Gigi, your turn.  We’re with you.

p.s. Gigi, this one’s for you.  (Don’t miss it.)  Enjoy.  And if it doesn’t work (hah!), we’ll sneak some ice cream into your room some other way.