Cousteau boards the boat
Tuesday August 16th 2011, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends

(With a Parker picture courtesy of my son.)

I was reading an unexpected message from a friend and had one of those moments of utter clarity: a thought I had not expected instantly felt not just right but compelling.

That teal-green Madeline Tosh yarn given me last Thursday by a mystery someone. It is, I suddenly realized as I read that note, exactly the color of… she would know why…

That’s about as much as I can say right now, other than, although I had yarns in my stash close to it, I didn’t have one that was exactly THE shade, but that one was. Perfect pitch.

Colors are so evocative of memories. Someone I know needs the balance of remembering better times and to feel someone cares, softness in the precise color of a hug, yes!

I just want the person who gave me that yarn to know that they picked out something exactly, totally perfect just when, though I did not know it yet, it was going to be needed.

And they gave me the push forward by making that color’s physical presence real to me to make it actually happen. Okay, hang on, let me get back to work on this, I’ve got about six more hours to go…

That’s so much better
Monday August 15th 2011, 10:15 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

You may remember this from a few weeks ago. There was one more reason that I didn’t say there why I was so angry at them.

I was still angry the next day. This had to stop. It felt imperative that I take that stress and put it on the shoulders where it belonged so that actual changes for the better could happen, and so I googled, found the name of the chief medical officer, printed out my words from that blog post and slapped a Forever stamp on it and felt, walking away from my mailbox, like the world had been lifted off me.

But before I put it out there, I dithered, I thought, I decided that, no, they need to know; I didn’t put in any details, hey, let them go look it up. I’m sure they did.

I added that a medical error there had widowed G years before.

I did not say a stunning, egregious error that made me gasp out loud when I heard what they’d done–that any reasonable person, medical background or not, would too.

They weren’t going to take my friend G away from me too.

G got a phone call from that chief medical officer: an abject apology and a concern for her well-being and a promise to look into their procedures. Then, “I got a call from Sacramento!” G laughed; she told me of her initial confusion at being told a grievance had been filed. She knew she hadn’t.

“No, it was filed on your behalf,” they said, and she told me, “I knew instantly who had done it.” She thanked me, wondering out loud if she shouldn’t have done so herself.

But she’s a nice person who doesn’t like to complain.

I’m a nice person who doesn’t like to complain.

But I sure can if my friends need me to stick up for them. It was so necessary.  She told them that day that she had not just me but two other people lined up in advance in case there was any problem, but they would have none of it. She was bullied that day.

And I was paying it forward for all of you who bombarded Caremark when they refused to process my Humira prescription with life in the balance two years ago; thank you forever for that.

“They all came back clear!” All the biopsies. All the worry.  And now she is finally free to go ahead and have the other surgery that will make her well.

At Kaiser.

Next generation
Sunday August 14th 2011, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends

Some may remember how, back when my lupus was new and my children small, back when my friend Lisa offered to trade a few hours’ babysitting time every morning, swim therapy for me and then gym time for her, how her little boy David used to leave some favored object, usually a toy, stashed away somewhere in my house every time to make sure he’d have to come back to get it. Somewhere where I wouldn’t see it and go chasing after their car, somewhere where only he would know.

Every time. I think he started doing that before he turned three.

Richard, Kim, and Parker flew home this afternoon.

And David’s going to love seeing what we found after they left.

Not that I’m a proud Grammy or anything
Saturday August 13th 2011, 11:05 pm
Filed under: Family

A hike around the Dish with Michelle. (Nope, no mountain lions spotted.) A Concert in the Park with Grandpa Richard, Michelle, and Kim’s grandparents to hear The Sun Kings.

And in between and after, they were here and I was too. Bliss.

And if you ever want your hair to look nice and thick and full, a few dabs of baby applesauce will add a little color, too, just to make it perfect.

They came!
Friday August 12th 2011, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Family

He’s definitely bigger.

And he definitely latched onto Diana’s turtle and then LauraN’s octopus: special toys you get to play with when you come to Grammy and Grampa’s house.

It’s so good to see our son Richard and our daughter-in-law Kim, and they’re such tender, good parents.  So much joy.

More tomorrow!

Sock Cousteau at the helm
Thursday August 11th 2011, 11:13 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,LYS

I don’t know whom to thank, so thank you to all of you out there.

I was at Purlescence tonight when Nathania got that sneaky grin thing happening again: she was clearly very very pleased at what was just about to happen and at the fact that I had no idea. And then she got to watch my face go: But, but—!

Totally nonpsychodegradeable. Wow.

Now, I just looked back through my posts–when I talked about that shawlette start that needed to be frogged? The one that the color had been so perfect, but the texture, not so much? That got me to grab the Whales Road Malabrigo for the softness? (That project’s now at the stage where I could either cast off the very next thing or maybe continue for one more repeat.)

Somebody… Nathania said, “I know nothing. I don’t know who, I don’t know how, I don’t know when it was put in this basket to wait for you.” (I would not be surprised if the other owners of Purlescence conspired to keep it that way till after she’d given it to me.)

But my name was written on a skein of Madeleine Tosh fingering weight she was lifting out of that basket to hand to me.

The same weight as the sock yarn I’d deemed too strong a twist, designed to withstand sockitude, not quiet shawlitude.

So soft.

The very same color.

I never blogged the color that was so perfect but that the yarn just hadn’t worked for what I’d wanted. But someone nailed it.

I’ve never in my life bought a skein of Madeline Tosh; I’ve picked up many of them, petted them, then put them regretfully back, thinking, next time maybe.

And now I have some MadTosh softness at last.  I love that their website has a little image of a bird up by their URL. I love the Cousteau name for the color. I love the yarn. I love the thoughtfulness and the generosity and the challenge to try to live up to that. Thank you whoever you are, thank you all of you, thank you Universe and thank you Purlescence for enabling the culprit, and with so much happiness.


Goats zone
Wednesday August 10th 2011, 11:08 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

The trash and recycling trucks came through today and I know they sometimes brush the lower branches on my flowering pear. Picking this up off the ground, glad nesting season was over, I marveled at its intricacy: the dried grasses up top, the thicker weeds down below, the tiny down feathers woven perfectly spaced throughout. Birds are such natural artists. Cupping it in my hands, I marveled at how much the little thing instantly warmed them; I had not expected that.

I was telling Neil yesterday about the adult zone-tailed hawk I saw fly in that one time, so huge. It was such an incredible moment not just for me but for some of my fellow bird enthusiasts; they are so very rare and new this far north. Then I wondered out loud to him if being near the Bay were the reason I got to see it.

Today I needed to get myself to the recycling center and finally ditch the self-exploding microwave. Extra sun time, but we’ve all got nesting syndrome around here with the baby coming.

The center was next to the Baylands preserve, near the post office that I go to specifically to enjoy the drive past the restored wetlands area–where a magnificent black-stockinged, strikingly-white great crane once swiveled its head and stared eye to eye with me as I drove slowly past it on its high-footed walk down the suddenly magical sidewalk.

The reeds in the marsh have been getting high and dry as the summer has been getting long. And there they were: the goats. Cute as you could ask for, teddy bears with horns, some of them, very small goats (and sheared. Yes I noticed), trimming away at the brush.

The shepherd had arrived.

Right at the eventual light. Right and again, right. I pulled into the center. Put my microwave on top of someone else’s old one for it to be stripped of its parts, offered some good and usable stuff way up high to the fellow manning the Goodwill trailer, not daring to climb his ladder with my funky balance and my arms full; headed out and on my way.

And coming back, there at the edge of the marsh, flying overhead, I saw it.

I took a good look, glad to have zero traffic around me. Surely it couldn’t be. Rather than the next errand on my list, I went straight home first to look it up in my bird book: I flipped through the hawk pages again and again, thinking, nahhhh, a lot of the hawks have dark-morphed individuals, but still, there was only one that matched that. And I had seen an adult.

As far as I could tell, this one was a juvenile zone-tailed. Right there at the edge of San Francisco Bay.  I guess it heard about the blueberry and cinnamon chevre and was trying to find a local source.

Honey, I think we’re going to need a bigger nest.

The birds and the breeze
Tuesday August 09th 2011, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Wildlife

Let’s see if I can get myself to put this knitting down a moment. That Whales Road yarn demanded to be ended in the jellyfish motif from the Monterey shawl and I really really like how it’s coming out.

Meantime, (and I found I needed to work on a more mindless project during the process), the piano is tuned, ready for my son who minored in organ performance to come home to on Friday.

My friend who tuned it today, who volunteers doing wetlands restoration work, took the time first to stop and admire quite the flock going on just outside the window.  He told me about some of his and his wife’s birdwatching. He asked if I were trying to attract a specific kind with a specific seed; I told him not really, but I do avoid anything with millet because it’s the favorite of alien-species house sparrows, which actively kill off all other songbirds around them and their eggs during nesting season.

But what I didn’t say was: simply by hanging up some sunflower, I get to see so many species.  But what’s so cool is that others who would never touch the stuff simply drop by to see what the fuss is about.  Some of those have stayed: the nuttall’s woodpecker got joined this year by a mate and I got to watch their mating ritual, a dance between the trees and around each other up and down and around almost as if they were carrying yarn and knitting stitches into the air; today, one was pounding away at my neighbor’s clothesline right after Neil left.

The whole cycle of life, right up close at my window. As Kathy said, one could never get bored.

p.s. And if sunflower is too pricey, a small $2 wire cage with a $2.00 to $2.50 suet cake lasts several weeks to a month here. The squirrels tend to ignore the ones that don’t have peanuts mixed in.

Color cousins
Monday August 08th 2011, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

Nope, didn’t rip yesterday’s yet, I just put it aside and glommed onto something else in my stash. (Just wait till I run out of needles.) My friend Nancy moved away! Nancy loves to frog other people’s projects: total angst-free  ripiteedoodahh, ripiteeyay, here you go, done.

I wish.

So. Whales Road colorway in Malabrigo Lace, bought from Diana‘s de-stashing, knitted with one strand of a very thin cashmere that when it arrived awhile back in such a vivid neon blue, I wondered what on earth I would ever do with it.

Well now. Put these two together in the playpen and look how well they get along.

I say that thinking of a picture we got recently via the other grandmother of Parker and his new cousin born in April in identical baby seats side by side, with Parker reaching out and holding her tiny hand in his, looking at her tenderly as if to let her know that it was okay, he was going to be looking out for her always.

I want to be like Parker when I grow up.

Froggy with chance of yarn
Sunday August 07th 2011, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

I plunked myself down next to my daughter Michelle. She is not a knitter. (I have not yet given up hope.)

“So I had this new yarn, and it sparked an idea I wanted to try, but I wanted to do a practice run first, so I grabbed a yarn that was what I wanted and I got started and. But. It’s tightly spun and it’s not soft enough against the neck, and I want soft enough against the neck, and I looked at it and I looked at this sock yarn by Creatively Dyed and I thought hey, those two knitted together would be really pretty and make a great baby blanket! Machine washable wool for a new mom. Practical!

But it would mean ripping out what I just did.” And I explained why I wanted that particular color, super soft or no super soft. “And you’re the closest thing here to a knitter to ask.”

Her face was getting more and more impish as she tried not to burst out laughing. We both knew what was coming next.

“Well, you either keep going or you rip it out.” With the unspoken, my Mom is asking ME for yarn advice.

We both laughed, I got up, I started to go back to my perch in the other room and turned and added, “And sometimes you throw it in a corner and look at it the next day.”

And then, she’s right, Eurypides. Because that baby blanket idea is just too good to pass up.

Strawberries abounding
Saturday August 06th 2011, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

While I was pureeing strawberries today some beautiful, soft strawberry yarn appeared at my doorstep. With my thanks to Deb: a hank of Floating, from A Verb For Keeping Warm, a local dyer who uses only natural dyes; I’m curious to know if this was done in madder or cochineal, the two red sources they list. You can see how fast it got all wound up about it! (That’s an 11″ serving bowl, by the way.)

Sesame Street: “Do you know what’s going to happen next?” I am, sings Cat Stevens, on the road to find out. Follow the mellow brick, row’ed (or will be).

And a prickly subject on the side that will floor no one
Friday August 05th 2011, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Family

Attempts at babyproofing have commenced: Parker and his parents will be here next weekend! To say I can’t wait doesn’t begin to tell it–we three so badly want to see those three again that we’re about to burst in happy anticipation.

Michelle points out that my drumcarder in its box is so leaving that floor.

Uh, YEAH. Here, let me go take care of that, quick…

Tucker-ed out
Thursday August 04th 2011, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Life

It was a sign of the day to come: I woke up with Jim Croce singing in my head, of all things, “Speedball Tucker,” a song I hadn’t heard in forever. That got me to go look around and find out that Croce‘s wife and baby weren’t on that plane that day and the son is now making his own music. I’m going to have to try it out.

So it was go go go thank you for the news magazine Don good to see you got only ten minutes at knit night to see Purlescence‘s new place (a few doors left of the old) and then the phone buzzes and time to go pick up the daughter across two towns and then go and off to the grocery store, quick.

When the left foot doesn’t quite remember how to keep up and in sync with the right on the treadmill and has to be told consciously to keep the rhythm of the steps then you know maybe I’m a bit tired.

Well, then, keep on walking a good one, that’ll cure that.

I remember how many days I couldn’t possibly have managed any of today, just an ordinary day, and I tell you, life is good.

His salad days
Wednesday August 03rd 2011, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Life,My Garden

You know it’s all good when you get not a phone call asking you to come in to be told the news by a sympathetic human being in person but rather an email asking you sign in to your account to get the message that your scan came out just fine.


Meantime, I debate from time to time what kind of fruit tree to plant next; it would have to be dwarf to keep from overshadowing the panels on our roof. (Last month’s electric bill during our 100 degree heat wave, though it was nothing like everybody else’s heat wave: still. With the AC running nonstop. Four cents.)

I’d really like an avocado tree, although I hear they’re messy and drop leaves constantly, and if anyone has any experience re growing them vs squirrel and raccoon raids, I’d love to hear.

But it would certainly be funnier to join the throw the book at ’em club, as seen on Okra.

Give up the fear
Tuesday August 02nd 2011, 11:20 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus

Nope, no bungee-jumping ice cubes today. But I’ve spent most of the last seven hours slogging through some design work that needed to be done, and there’s such a sense of satisfaction in having it come out right after all that work.

Got an email reminder, went in yesterday, got my mammogram out of the way: I don’t think I could have faced my sister-in-law if I had made excuses or just not bothered. She’s lucky she had one done when she did, and even so, it’s a hard fight. She is in her 40’s.

Let me just say upfront, I’ve never understood those who kvetch and forward emails about how awful a process it is. It is not. You’re uncomfortable or maybe in pain for 10 seconds max, four times.

Then it’s done and you’re done and you walk out of there free of all that. If you get to find out you’re one of the lucky ones, all the better. And if not, you have the comfort of knowing you took good care of yourself from the start.

One of the side effects of 21 years of lupus with longterm, severe pain, mostly faded out of the scene now but always ready to flare up a bit here and there at the least provocation is that I find it a struggle at times to be patient with people who have not yet learned that the fear of pain is far worse than any actual pain. Longterm pain is simply a different avenue for learning about life. (The author is at Harvard Medical and knows the subject personally). You can do it.

Now go get that mammogram/colonoscopy/irregular spot (I don’t care how old or young you are, a child of mine was 18 months) checked. We need you around. (That child is in their 20’s. It was caught at the precancerous stage.)