Love is forever
Tuesday February 14th 2012, 11:52 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Crohn's flare,Friends

Paying it forward on that little rose plant…

Richard gave me amaryllis bulbs back in December, and today, the first one was close to blooming: five blossoms showing, the color just beginning to come in.

We have a friend who is just one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet, who was asking me questions about a year ago about Crohn’s disease; turned out she had just been given that diagnosis and was trying to take it all in. She’s a widow, about retirement age, a lot older than most people get it and with her beloved gone, it made me keenly aware of how lucky I am. I was I think the one person she knew who had it too.

We happen to know she loves amaryllises like I do. So I called and asked if we could drop by tonight.

A few minutes later, she was on the sidewalk with her small dog, watching us pull up.

She was so delighted. “What color is it?” as she held the pot. The streetlights weren’t telling.

“Pink and white, it’s an Appleblossom.”

“Oh, my favorite!”

That bulb was big enough there ought to be a second stalk showing up any time to continue the show. There is nothing like watching something grow as you care for it, and amaryllises do such a spectacular job of responding to a simple daily glass of water.

Happy Valentine’s!

And to Katy’s beloved late husband: that was for you, too. Your Katy is just the best. But you knew that.

Day by day
Monday February 13th 2012, 11:44 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

Sam’s counts went up slightly. They’ll keep close tabs, but we definitely like the start of that trajectory.

Still, the bills got paid, the house got cleaner: I had to accomplish busy things. I had a hard time sitting myself down to just go calmly knit like I wanted to in anticipation of Stitches West. (Speaking of which, if you’re going, you might want to look at the Rav link here for the market-admission coupon via the folks at Webs, with thanks to them and to Janice Kang for the heads-up.)

Richard wasn’t feeling well today and didn’t go in to work, till about dinnertime, when he really had to run a quick errand to the office but didn’t feel up to driving.

Hey, he’s ferried me enough places when I needed it. So I grabbed a baby hat project that I hadn’t been able to make progress on, just in case it wasn’t quite as fast an in-and-out trip as he was anticipating.

Two hours of having my feet propped up in his office and my yarn on the floor, wondering what I would do should I finish while not having enough yarn to start something new, he made good progress too. It felt good. He made me a romantic mug of instant but not too sweet oatmeal in an official (Company X) logo’d mug with a plastic spoon: warm and soothing and somehow ridiculously perfect.

I didn’t run out of yarn nor project.  The hat just needs the decreasing at the top.

Dinner was ready when we walked back in the door.

Happy almost-Valentine’s, sweetie.

Feathered lightning
Monday February 13th 2012, 12:00 am
Filed under: Family,Friends,Wildlife

We told Sam we would check our (silenced) phones if she texted us during church; we wanted to know how her day was going.

And so while our friend Russ was on the stand making an impassioned plea for people to participate in a Red Cross blood drive the church was going to be sponsoring in Menlo Park, that message came in, driving home Russ’s point unbeknownst to him.

Seriously down on those platelets. More so. Trying one more thing before transfusing.  There are risks–but if she has to, a profound thank you for each person who makes it possible, and likewise to all who have added their prayers with ours.

It’s been a stressful time around here.

Our doorbell rang. It was a friend with a tiny miniature rose plant and a few homemade chocolate chip cookies, just because. Happy Valentine’s!

She had no idea. She had no idea how much it meant to me. I am determined to grow that three-inch Parade rose into something that blooms in my garden for decades in grateful remembrance of that act of unexpected kindness.

And as the sky started to dim in the late afternoon I suddenly had a feeling of being watched. Curious. I glanced up.

And just outside was the male Cooper’s hawk, perched on the chairback under the birdfeeder, people watching. My heart went out to him in thanks; somehow, when life gets really hard, one of them always seems to show up.

And there he was.  Beautiful red chest, bluegray/white racing stripes on his head, craning his neck to show a gray stripe at the bottom of it too.  He bobbed a bit, looking around just in case any dinner might happen to stumble on the scene, but mostly he was simply watching me.

We took each other in.

He opened his beak and again and said something I wished I could hear.

I thanked God for sending him to me; and with that, he raised his wings, turning, and flew in the one direction where I would be able to follow his path between the trees across our yard and on past the neighbor’s as he went–gone in a wingbeat, so fast!

I feel now like I can handle anything again.

A good man
Saturday February 11th 2012, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Any mention of that group brings back the fierceness of great loss. They came, and I wrote here about how proud I was of the children in our community in their responses.

The last line in that post has proven to be true.

My sister Marian writes of what happened when they announced they were going to protest at a funeral in her town today.  The Powell boys.

I don’t know who that radio announcer is, but when I find out I’m going to thank him for his act of great compassion and humanity. And I thank the people who came to that church for theirs. Well done. So very well done. I’m so sorry for their losses. And so grateful for the great goodness in so many.

So I picked up the needles
Saturday February 11th 2012, 12:00 am
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

IdiditIdiditIdidit, it’s soft, it’s pretty, it’s blocking, it’s done, I really like how it turned out and now I’m free to go knit something else for someone else. Yay!

If I can’t fix everything, it’s nice to have just this one thing, this knitting thing, that always turns out the way I want if I spend enough time on it. I can make it behave to help let the rest that is life be what it will.

Thank you all for all your messages of love and support.  Each note, each quiet prayer within or Thinking Good Thoughts, each one of you has been greatly appreciated. Wishing you all blessings in return.

Funeral torte
Thursday February 09th 2012, 11:48 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life,LYS

One of my husband’s co-workers saved a New York Times article a week ago and sent it home with him, wondering what we would think of it.  Front and center was all about what their food writer had declared to be Mormon cooking.  There was a big picture captioned “updated funeral potatoes,” a take on that classic dish for feeding a big crowd that was a novelty to the co-worker but not so much to us.

No I do not cook with canned cream of anything soup myself. Go for the classic au gratin here if anything, thanks. The writer would have you believe that means we’re a generation removed from living in Utah.

Actually, that part is true.

Meantime, a lot of life suddenly got squeezed into the last two days, too much. I hereby request a breather for a few, I thought earlier today.

And then I got exactly that. I got to meet DebbieR; she’s a peach. She was in the area briefly and we met up at Purlescence.

I opened that door, she was two steps away on the other side of it, she came towards me recognizing my face from the blog and told me she was Debbie and I instantly felt in the presence of a true friend. Everything there confirmed it totally. I feel so blessed.

She was traveling with some friends who were very good about waiting for us as we caught up as if we’d always known each other.

After they all left, I knitted quietly for awhile on a baby hat, getting my Sandi-Nathania-Kaye fix, and then excused myself: I needed to go home to babysit the phone I could hear on and my PC’s inbox.

I had gotten a message from Sam earlier: with ITP and lupus, there are episodes where you just hold your breath and pray real hard.  The last message we got sounded better; we’re hoping she gets a new med approved and that it will work because honey right now nothing else does.

Debbie had offered her to knit her fingerless gloves in her choice of color. Sam was thrilled. Debbie asked me if a lace pattern would allow too much UV exposure. Debbie is thoughtful and careful in addition to being generous with her time.

How do you thank someone who looks out for your child  and takes her into her heart as if she were her own? A shoutout to DebbieR: Thank you. It doesn’t begin to say it.

And yesterday.

My friend Andrea asked me a few weeks ago to make two chocolate tortes for her; sure. She brought me some of the ingredients, the most important to me being the manufacturing cream, because it is sold in an open-air store that has sun exposure issues for me.

So I had the rest of that half gallon of cream afterwards.  You can’t just leave it there. I baked. A spare torte ended up in the freezer.

Every time I asked Richard if he’d like it for xyz, for this group or that, for us to munch on or… ?, he would answer, not yet. No, let’s wait. No, let’s leave it in there for now. I thought I had good reasons to share it and free up the space; he just didn’t feel…

Okay, no problem. There was no rush.

Yesterday that co-worker’s wife got a call in the morning: her father had passed. She went off to work: where she was told she was being laid off after 27 years. She went to the doctor: she got told that yes, that was probably basal cell cancer.

She has a bandaid now for the part they could fix.

Richard asked his co-worker today to be sure. Then he asked me.

Oh honey absolutely yes.

And that is how the chocolate torte that Andrea made to come to be became a gift of friendship and community at the moment it was most needed.  Without my even having to go out in the sun to make it for them–I know how much that couple likes those tortes. It was something I could do. Did do, all ready.

They stood there in the dark in front of their house this evening, holding it gratefully, inhaling the thawing chocolate.

I thanked them for saving the article. We joked wryly over funeral potatoes. I told them chocolate torte was my real Mormon cooking.

How about if I…
Wednesday February 08th 2012, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Knit

The knitting always goes so much faster when you’ve already figured out what the next row should be. Right now mine is on the commuter train that has to stop at every station and pick up more stitches while the conductor tries to hurry everything along.

Started with a doodle, didn’t really care how it turned out till all the sudden I really cared how it turned out, about when I noticed it had suddenly gone off on some unknown side rails all its own–and hey, look, this is really cool!

Okay, for this next part, if I…

And no. I wish I could show it off but I can’t yet.

Bridging the years
Tuesday February 07th 2012, 11:13 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life

An article in the New York Times about the construction of the new Bay Bridge prompts this post. It says that the old span was built in the 1930’s and was not designed to withstand a big quake, with a picture of the short fallen section from October 1989 to prove their point.

I am here to take issue with that for Brother Brossard’s sake. (I’m not sure I’m spelling his last name right.) He knew.

You may remember my occasional posts about the December Club, the once-a-year potluck brunch certain members of my ward (congregation) throw ourselves in celebration of having a birthday at the time that everybody else is worrying about Christmas.

When we first moved here twenty-five years ago, Louis Brossard was the elder of the group; I remember him as a sweet man, frail and old and kind. I remember him playing a bit on a harmonica year to year.

When the Loma Prieta quake happened, I found out at that year’s party that he had been one of the engineers working on the original Bay Bridge. He said it was designed not to fall into the Bay in hard shaking and that it did exactly what it was supposed to do–just one short segment took the brunt of it and went down while the rest stayed up, saving countless lives at rush hour. He also noted with definite pride that *his* section of the bridge had not fallen!

The last time he came to our group, he lifted that harmonica to his lips, looking almost too tired to from the effort of getting ready to come join us that morning, and he could not summon the breath to sound that first note. He was crushed. He tried again; there was just not enough wind in him to share the music only he could hear now.

I knew then, but so much didn’t want to know.

Very soon after, he was moved from the home he’d lived in forever to an assisted living place. We talked on the phone a few times; he so missed his garden, his passion in his widowed retirement.

I immediately resolved to bring him flowers to tend.

I went to the local nursery, trying to find something not too heavy, not needing too heavy a cup of water, and bought a small potted plant of bright, happy color, the first few flowers ready and blooming to cheer him as he watched the rest open up. A perennial, to make a statement that I wanted him to enjoy them the next year, too, and the next, and the next, and. I called and arranged a time to come over.

But an assistant had gotten him into the shower (I’m guessing on their schedule rather than his) at the time I arrived and then the person had left him for a moment. I knew he knew I was coming, but he didn’t answer the door. I was hearing impaired, he was more so; I knocked louder. I waited, wondering what to do; there was no one in sight to ask for help. At last I left the little pot in front of his door, praying it would be seen and not tripped over.

When I got home, I called again to make sure the little blossoms might cause no harm, knowing how frail he was. He told me he had called out to me, but there was nothing he could do on his own to get to that door just then; he’d gotten those flowers, though, loved them, loved the thought behind them, and wanted very much to thank me.

He was a gem.

And I never got to see him again.  Those flowers outlasted him.

Whenever I see the Bay Bridge, all these years later, always, I think of Louis Brossard.

The old eastern span will be totally gone when the new work is all done.

And I wish I knew how to play Taps on a harmonica.

Bowl me over
Monday February 06th 2012, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

Here’s what I was working on. Got it down to the last five yards. Close!


Fragile Handle with Care, said the box.

A loud hard THUMP as it hit the ground in front of my door this afternoon.

Wait, box? Addressed to me? I wasn’t expecting any box.

Inside were this yarn bowl and tea mug, hand thrown pottery that I had admired in Angela Ingram’s Etsy shop but certainly hadn’t ordered; I sent her a note to make sure that hadn’t been a mistake. I sure didn’t want to stiff anybody.

She got right back to me: these were a gift from (name deleted in case she doesn’t want me to tell on her, a friend both online and in person), but that person hadn’t stipulated putting a card in. Don’t worry, everything was cool.

It definitely is. Very. Ndicsdwmttoh–you are so busted. Thank you! And a thank you to Angela for packaging these so well so that they weren’t.

The Malabrigo Rios made itself quite at home immediately in the bowl, trying to proclaim itself as next project in line, and I have a daughter who loves her herbal teas; now I can wave a cheerful mug at her as incentive to fly home to visit.

Thank you!

It got me and it won’t let me go
Sunday February 05th 2012, 11:53 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Hard to stop to go blog when it’s turning out so pretty.

Back to the knitting!

C’est une bunny day
Saturday February 04th 2012, 11:56 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Angora and merino! says my hubby.  You can tell he’s married to a spinner and knitter.

Okay, granted, in some parts of the video the farmer is walking around with a bucket of feed, but in most of it, the little guy’s doing a good job of it by himself: a bunny that watched the sheepdog and figured out he could do this too–and then does. (Click on one of the highlighted areas.) How cool is that?

The knitting: today I frogged some, knitted some, frogged some, knitted some more, and at last blocked my new shawl and then made good headway on the next.

Meantime, as for my own critters, I had an overripe apple and cut it in half to see what the wildlife would do with it. No thank you on the waxy exterior; okay, makes sense. The white-capped sparrows took polite turns happily pecking the center one by one, but a few hours later the thing was disappearing up a tree.

Well, that’s no surprise; the ones the squirrels could steal off my Fuji and Golden Delicious trees are long gone. (I planted that Fuji 17 years ago and so far have gotten one. single. apple. One. And only because I picked it too early.)

What later was a surprise was half an apple suddenly plummeting (shouldn’t that be appple-eting?) down from the treetop. Boom. Bounce. Not what you want hitting your head. Glad I was getting a clue from inside rather than outside, and I’ve caved: I will stick to nibble-size pieces from here on out.

February showers, may need bowers
Friday February 03rd 2012, 7:26 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Oh look! I hadn’t seen them in awhile, and there one was! There was the unwelcome sound of saws two weeks ago and the limb their nest was on was not there anymore when I went out to look. There is now, though, a new not-as-big (-yet?) nest further up on what’s left of that tall but not overly healthy tree next door.

I knew raptors don’t just give up their territory, but I’ve been hoping it all worked out okay: I’d been wishing I could see one around, just t0 finally feel better about it all–

–and there you go.

I had just walked into the room and sat down and glanced out the window when there, perched just above the other neighbors’ side of the fence, was a beautiful adult Cooper’s hawk. At last! The female, it seemed to me by size and shape. Breathtaking.

She took note of me taking note of her for a goodly minute.

And then she started doing the oddest thing. Now, raptors especially tend to bob their heads before taking flight as a way of measuring the distance with the different parts of their eyes. This one was bobbing its head.

But she was going up and down and side to side rather differently from anything I’d seen before, like she was rocking out to the bird music on her I-clawed. I wondered if she was watching prey in both yards?

Then suddenly she really shook her head, hard! Her shoulders too, though her wings stayed folded in–and on this bright dry sunshiny day, a sudden impressively massive spray of water went flying from her head.

Where did THAT come from?!

Oh wait. I bet you I can guess

(That was just her warm-up act. Next thing you know, she’ll be singing koi-oke at the Grand Old Osprey.)

Uncon troll ably knitting
Thursday February 02nd 2012, 11:58 pm
Filed under: Knit

The Three Billy Goats Gruff have a bridge they’d like to sell me, telling me it’s done. All but the castoff. That would be nice, given that I just spent most of the last nine hours working on that shawl.

But it just might need another two times trip trap trip trapping across those rows. (As I head for the icepacks.)

The door prize
Wednesday February 01st 2012, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Friends

It was dark. The doorbell rang, a hard knock. We looked at each other wonderingly a moment–did you have someone coming over? No, as I got up to answer just in time to see a dark minivan making its escape.

Tonight is when the teenagers have a meeting at church (and my apologies to the perpetrators for not getting the whole thing in in my attempt at an Iphone shot while not stepping on the daffodils.) Come to think of it, I made a pair of chocolate tortes for them two weeks ago, and I’m guessing that had something to do with this. I had forgotten all about it.

I think someone loves us.