You’re fired!
Wednesday November 30th 2011, 12:30 am
Filed under: Knit,Life

Well, if you can’t fix the huge thing, at least not yet, fix the little things.

And so I’ve pushed myself past the will-this-work of a project idea and am into the oh, this does work, this is so cool! stage.

That and the house got cleaner today. Sometimes a vigorous tossing out helps with the stuff you can’t get rid of.

I hear space heaters are safer than they used to be… I also remember the day I was picking up my kids (there are no school buses here) when the firefighters at the station down the block from the elementary didn’t notice till the kids  knocked on their door at dismissal time to tell them the house immediately across the street from the station was definitely on fire. Yo?

A space heater had been left on.

So if we do get any, automatic shut-offs are an absolute. This is earthquake country.

(And all this time I’d thought the lack of sufficient heat was because PG&E had cut pressure to Line 132, the one that blew up in San Bruno and which runs very close to our house.)

Rearranging the furnace-sure
Monday November 28th 2011, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

It’s too cold.

Hold still then while I knit you another sweater.

No, I don’t think it’s working right.

Put on a sweater. I have on two sweaters and wool socks and I’m warm enough. It’s working just fine.

I didn’t want to turn up the thermostat and face $800+ heating bills again sooner than we had to. We went around and around that sort of conversation quite a few times these last few weeks. Flying home last Monday to a 51 degree house and shivering all night sealed it for him.  More discussions. So I finally called to make him happy–couldn’t hurt–and Joe arrived today to check the system out.

When Joe saw what Joe saw, he got Richard to climb the ladder to come up there and see it too.

Our house is an Eichler, and the radiant heat coils in the flooring that was such a fad in the 1950’s didn’t hold up well over time and earthquakes; ours died before our time here and we’ve always had forced hot air via ductwork slapped on the roof as an add-on.

We replaced the furnace once and were sold a White and it lasted two years; when I asked about a warranty, I got laughed at. Seriously.

Okay, then, so the second time we went with an expensive outfit for their stellar reputation. No corner-cutters. New everything–furnace, ducts, the works. Needed to be done.

That furnace, a Trane, is still chugging along nicely a dozen or more years later. But.

Here, look at this. Joe had slit a duct to look inside. There was insulation in there–and it was absolutely soaked. Richard went to give it a little squeeze to test it and it squirted vigorously.

They had the furnace running full blast while they worked to look for any leaks. Joe cut another slit about ten feet further down. That soaked insulation wasn’t even warm, and at 54F outside, we’d had the heater running all day. But the water that had leaked in stopped it cold.

Richard had ordered me an Ipad, a long-hoped-for big Christmas splurge, but the moment it gets here, it’s going straight back to Apple. It doesn’t matter how thrilled I would be to have one. We have to have that ductwork replaced. Again.

$5400.  I have no idea how we’re going to do it. All I know is, I want it done right.

Piano climbing starts in big steps
Sunday November 27th 2011, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

When my son Richard was a baby, you could not take your eyes off him: twice, I walked out of the room, walked back in just enough time later to have put the laundry basket down in a bedroom and come back to find him on top of the piano, or, the second time, when I’d learned to move a little faster, standing on the keyboard and nearly there.

This was before he learned to walk.

This was also the kid who would later be minoring in organ performance (that’s the Mormon Tabernacle organ in Salt Lake City, but sorry, no Tabby Choir accompaniment.)

Parker, meantime, is climbing the stairway to some haven up there he’s aiming for. When he gets there, he knows, if the doors are all closed, with a fuss he can get what he came there for. (The going up is easy, it’s always the going down part that takes some serious learning.)

And I just finished the third Christmas project. It amazes me forever and always how working on one project will spark new ideas for the next several, creating a momentum as well as some really nifty knits. I wish I could brag and show them off.

Twenty-eight days till Christmas Eve
Saturday November 26th 2011, 11:41 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,LYS

Hey, Purl Girls: the Eco Cloud bought at Purlescence yesterday? It fits Richard (he remarked on how good he was being for trying it on three times) and it’s done.

Hey, Kathryn: that Ella Rae Silkience that you said this afternoon was the softest thing in stock in its genre? The pattern, which I made up, guessing as I stitched, is now written down because it came out perfect and I very much want to be able to do that again without wondering what I did. It’s done.

This Christmas knitting thing might be achievable after all.

He’s a good one
Saturday November 26th 2011, 12:24 am
Filed under: Family,LYS

Coming home from Thanksgiving last night, I mentioned that Purlescence was having their traditional Jammie Jam Black Friday sale starting at 6 am–the only Black Friday store I have ever ventured into but once for as far back as I can remember. (And that once involved tall daughters and malls but at least at reasonable hours.)

Richard, knowing that my blood pressure tends to be way low if I make myself get going way early in the morning, immediately offered to drive me there then if I should need it.

Now, he likes to sleep in as much as I do on a holiday, and he knows I don’t need any more yarn. Mostly. I was very surprised–and then in a flashdance of figures in my head, 40% off the first hour, then 30%, then 20%, I figured out roughly per skein of potential Epiphany vs how the prices would rise as the sun did what the difference would be. I assured him that a, I had no intention of going at six-crazy-a.m., and b, even if I wanted to, the difference in price would come to so few dollars, and I would gladly pay that to be able to sleep in.

But my goodness, I’ve got me a good one.

I did head over there in the afternoon (after the Purl Girls Facebooked that hey, Alison, we’ve got some Epiphany left…) But there was only the taupe-purpley color having the cubespace all to themselves now. Pass. But what I really wanted, what justified the trip, would have been a yarn I don’t have but neither did they: something that would work well for another chemo cap for my mother-in-law.

Struck out. But someone else’s project from an Eco Cloud skein as consolation prize is humming along nicely.

Thanksgiving day
Friday November 25th 2011, 12:29 am
Filed under: Family

Ivar’s it was indeed, and thank you. Thank you Marian on the Mitzell’s. (I teased her that I had to come back for the pie.)

We went over the reservoir and through the redwoods and down that narrow corkscrew road in the mountains to dinner for five and dessert for nine. The orange juice cranberry sauce was a hit, the plain, untouched (and if I write that down here I’ll have some chance of remembering which to do next year.) The torte got birthday candles stuck in it and Mary Lynn’s small grandson made a wish for his mommy as he blew them out. Phones were put on speaker and quite a few not able to come were there with us in voice and spirit.

It was all about taking the time to be grateful and to remember that we love one another.  Thank heavens for Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Thursday November 24th 2011, 12:03 am
Filed under: Family,Food

Almost done. Bought the third-to-last pecan pie–no artificial additives, thank you Trader Joe’s,theirs is not only better than anyone else’s, it’s better than mine: they don’t ever end up with the filling hiding under the crust and the pecans tumbling around wondering where it disappeared to.

Family and food and pies. For me, the ultimate comfort food is tri-berry pie (raspberry boysenberry blackberry). There’s a restaurant near Tacoma, Washington that served just the best version of it, sized for one large appetite with many berries and just enough crisp crust to do the job.

My parents and my brother and I had all flown in for several days for our niece’s wedding the time I ordered that pie, hoping for the best and getting even better. I bet if you ask my dad the name of that place now, 15, 16 years later, he would know: Dad always remembers the places where we stumble across the best meals. Always. Our family’s previous trip to the area had included some exquisite clam chowder–I was three. It was the Seattle World’s Fair. So on this trip about 35 years later, he was going, I bet I can remember where…

We thought there was no way, but we were wrong, he found it: on the waterfront, with old Indian canoes and paddles on the walls for the decor and a floor that sloped up and down like hiking a small hill.

And I can hereby testify, their clam chowder was very good.

We went back later to that other place to get more of that perfect pie for breakfast before our flights home.

Oh wait–tomorrow. Almost forgot the cranberry sauce.  Can you boil water?  A cup of water and a cup of sugar going at a good roll, some say for this long, some say that long; doesn’t matter. Boiling. Then you pour in the bag of cranberries and simmer ten minutes till they burst for joy, stir if you feel like it. Easy as pie.

Pardon me while I go get that done too.

(Coming back to the computer.) Okay, sauce, done. But if you ever stop at that restaurant–what’s that name, help me out here, Dad–come on by. I’ll trade you for a chocolate torte.

(Which is what Richard’s aunt really wants us to bring for dessert tomorrow. It’s ready and waiting.)

Deep in the heart of
Wednesday November 23rd 2011, 12:16 am
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

A year ago September, my in-laws moved out of their house of over 50 years to be near one of their children. Shortly thereafter, the doctors told them: it was back.

And so we are taking turns visiting the folks, who both feel a lot better than that medical chart suggests. Our daughter Michelle arrived there today to help cook Thursday’s dinner. We got home last night after six days’ visit.

And thus my mother-in-law’s mention that she hadn’t seen me knitting. I’d brought plenty to do, but found I wanted to spend all the time I could without even that interruption. I didn’t need to do; I needed most of all simply to be present.

Thus the chance to meet Lynn, who lives near them all.

And thus, just because the Universe wanted to leaven things up a little… That happened to be one of the two weekends a year that they hold Stake Conference in that part of Texas, ie when a group of wards (congregations) all get together for a big joint meeting.

Which is a good thing because he’s not in their ward and we would never have seen him otherwise.

We sat near the front so I could hear better. And sitting back behind quite a few heads, Keith thought that that tall guy looked a lot like his friends’ dad from back home in California.

The meeting ended. We stood up and when it was our turn, started down the aisle to go.

At the other end of that aisle, a young man suddenly caught my eye and he gasped, his jaw hit the floor, and he stood there wide-eyed mid-stride and speechless.

I remember Sue, his mom, plunking her toddler boy down on the kitchen counter while we worked and talked, I a young mom who had just moved into the area from New Hampshire, she, a young mom who had moved from Boston several years before that. We watched her little boy, her youngest, grow up. Off to college, then on a mission for the Mormon Church, and back to school, then recently graduated.

And now Richard and I got to see him in his own element, his new friends there, his own place being just down the street from where we were standing there in total mutual disbelief and then laughing and hugging and what are YOU doing here! and and and.

In his first job.  He’d come visit at Christmas though, he promised me. It felt different when he said that: he wouldn’t be a student returning home on break but a good man deciding to go visit his folks. Always a good thing.

Sue–it was a privilege. You’ve done a great job.

And somewhere, God chuckled.

Just for tonight: no news-Texas
Tuesday November 22nd 2011, 12:06 am
Filed under: Knit,Life

Heard last Wednesday at baggage claim, a mother to her young son: “Our suitcases are fixin’ to come out.”

Culture shock, right there in plane sight.

We are home. Jet lagged and exhausted and so very glad we went. And hey, you know how to make major progress on a UFO? Put it in your carryon and sit in the bulkhead for your tall husband’s knees, where you can’t get at your bag except for the ziploc you grabbed out right before he put it overhead. And have that fasten seatbelts light mostly stay on.

Size 4 and squinting at slippery silk laceweight on a turbulent flight, but knitting slowly and carefully and having only a few Oh NO! moments, I got eight rows  of 460 or so stitches done. (Nine?)

Late. G’night.

(Or almost. Waiting for the house to get above 57 first.)

Sunday November 20th 2011, 8:49 pm
Filed under: Friends

Finally got to meet the newly-engaged Lynn today; she was just bursting with joy, her happiness radiant. Lynn and your beloved, I wish you all the best forever.

Where have you gone, Caravaggio…
Saturday November 19th 2011, 10:13 pm
Filed under: Family

(With apologies to Simon and Garfunkle on the title.)

Art Museum. Caravaggio exhibit. A painting of St Jerome by an artist of Caravaggio’s time and influence, and I said to Jef, my sister-in-law, Come look at this one. (I didn’t quite say, what’s wrong with this picture.)

I had been taught to see this detail by an art historian I took a class from in college: I told her, Look at his extended arm

(What about it…?)

That’s a female arm, not male. Women’s arms have a distinct change of direction between the elbow and tips of the fingers, as if designed to cradle a baby; men’s lower arms, on the other hand, are by comparison straight from elbow to wrist.

(How many of you are holding out your arms and looking right now…)

Crane-ing their necks to see
Friday November 18th 2011, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Great, flying cranes nearby and overhead as we went into a restaurant for lunch. Wow.

And…nobody noticing. How could this be? I remarked on them to one of the family and she too thought it was cool they were there.

I wonder how much have I missed by not taking the time to just sit in Nature and take it all in.

It’s beautiful out there.

All in good times
Thursday November 17th 2011, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Family

My mother-in-law commented that she hadn’t seen me knitting yet. I know, I know. But sometimes you take the time with family that you can while you can, and the things that can wait, wait their turn.

Music to my ears
Wednesday November 16th 2011, 10:32 pm
Filed under: Family

My mother-in-law got her teal sea silk shawl today, and the first thing she told me was, “That’s a good color!”

Since color is the one thing you can only guess whether someone will like, that was wonderful to hear.

And I wanna be a paperbook writer…
Tuesday November 15th 2011, 11:58 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

I finished the hats in time. The girl one with the cabled brim and the alternating knit/purl sections for a slouch effect can be turned inside out and the brim folded up so that it can fit the baby as she grows, with the cable right-side-out either way.

I also gave the moms a package of mesh laundry bags in multiple sizes: I told them that once when we were at the baby stage, our washing machine totally backed up. Richard took it apart, and jammed down inside the hose were baby booties, nursing pads, all sorts of very small things that had flown out the top of the tub in the spin cycle, enough all at once this time to finally show why things were disappearing.  Zip them in those bags, though, and they’ll be safe.

Took me three stores to find those. OSH hardware saves the day!

For fun, by the way, if you haven’t seen it yet, don’t miss the tree that became the paper in a book that became a bonsai tree. Can’t you just picture Snoopy riding it like a surfboard? Cowabonzai!