Then, again
Tuesday July 31st 2012, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Lupus

I bet not a lot of doctors say these things.

Scene: ten years ago. Cardiologist’s office after a tilt table test at Stanford, deliberately stressing my autonomic nervous system to see if it would react. It most certainly did; they stopped the test fast with the alarm sounding and a second doctor coming running as my blood pressure hit 63/21 on its way down. That cliche about the hearing goes last? It’s true.

Cardiologist: “I don’t often tell my patients this, but… You need to eat more salt.” (Acknowledging at the same time that the basic problem was the lupus’s effects on the brainstem. I am really really glad to have that particular problem mostly in remission now.)

Today. After discussing the cardiac complications from trying to be in the first few family photos outside in the sun last week–the heart is settling down okay now, no worries, just checking–I mentioned that my weight had been slipping and all my best efforts had only gotten it to hold steady at 110 the past month after going down relentlessly since February.

We discussed a bit. He looked at me. He hesitated. And then he said, “I don’t usually tell my patients this, but…

You need to eat more fat.”

I had a container of homemade chocolate truffles in the freezer already. I told him, that and a vitamin pill equals a can of Ensure, right?

He laughed and did not tell me no.

Maybe I’ll add a little smoked salt to the cocoa coating next time. Just to cover all my ganache bases.

Aerial retriever
Monday July 30th 2012, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

This just in via Sherry: I’m thinking this Youtube video is of a Harris hawk? One could say the falconer is just kinda hanging around. Or perhaps, within the context, all strung out.

From sky divers to sky, diverse.

Not far-fetched
Sunday July 29th 2012, 10:56 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

There was a second wedding this week: one of Michelle’s classmates from the University of Michigan got married in Berkeley yesterday.

And so Michelle’s recent roommate flew out for it and she stayed with us for two nights, taking off early this morning. A second classmate had a red-eye flight home late tonight: so he would have, it looked like, nothing to do all day in a strange city.


And so Michelle went to church while he rode BART over to our side of the Bay; having him a lot closer made it a lot easier.  She picked him up from the train station and took him to the Rodin sculpture garden at Stanford, art dealer’s granddaughter that she is. They hiked The Dish (and saw no mountain lions). He came to dinner; he exclaimed over the ataulfo mangoes in the salad, he loved her lemon-from-the-tree meringue pie, we had a great time. By the end of it we were all rooting hard for him to take a job here–there is a transfer offer in his future with an office here, so it’s a possibility. We talked up the place, hoping.

It was hard for me to see both of those good young people go and I’ve only barely met them. The day had me remembering when my own friends all split up at the end of our college careers, when the costs of long-distance telephone calls could easily wipe out a student’s paycheck and it was that or mail without the word snail yet but that often didn’t happen.

It’s great to know your kids have friends who are just the best. I wish them every blessing in their journeys ahead.

A laughing he-Anna’s
Saturday July 28th 2012, 8:23 pm
Filed under: My Garden,Wildlife

I went outside near dusk to set the hose going on the plum and apple trees–it does not rain in summer in California–and came back in. After letting it run about a half hour, I went back out there and, the hose being shortish, simply held it awhile to let it spray over thataway a bit too.

A male Anna’s hummingbird came darting in among the plum leaves near my face, making eye contact. No flowers here, hon, I thought at it.  But that didn’t seem to be what it was looking for:  it zoomed over to the arc of falling droplets, zipping through them over and over. An aerial birdbath!

I’ve been trying to remember to get out there and do that once a week. I just found my incentive. Hose-Anna!

Go Stephanie!
Friday July 27th 2012, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

The note I got from John about how much our aunt was admiring and enjoying her new silk scarf was enough to keep the needles going for a long time to come. It was wonderful.

Meantime, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is biking from Toronto to Montreal, along with some of her loved ones, in a fundraiser for a group that provides care to AIDS patients.

I have a cousin whom I think I last saw when I was not yet in kindergarten. I never knew him as an adult, didn’t even know where he lived but wished very much that I did: I could ask him if he remembered sledding down the Marx’s hill on those round metal sleds, we could reminisce over our parents and our childhoods as a starting point of getting acquainted again; he was family.

I found out only after my uncle told us of his death that he had been ill.

It turned out he’d had AIDS. In the early days of the crisis when there wasn’t much they could do, when patients were so often blamed and feared and told they deserved to suffer, that it was God’s wrath. In retrospect, it sounds a little like the mentality of that traveling group from Kansas, doesn’t it? I shiver at what it must have been like.

Not knowing meant I did nothing to offer him comfort or support. I have regretted that intensely, all the more so because, it turned out, he had been living in San Jose and we’d been 25 miles right up the road for a few years by then. If only…

As I write, Stephanie’s sponsors have given $45,470 to the cause, and if you click on “view team page,” those first five names at the top with her are her friend Ken, her sister, and her daughters. Their friend Paco is on another team, and via knitters reading Stephanie’s blog, has gone past the $8,000 mark himself. We have this hobby that teaches the power of each individual stitch added to stitch added to stitch.

Every act of kindness counts. Every now and then, they get to become visible like that.

(At the end of typing those sentences, it’s $45,495 now. Wow.)

We are home
Thursday July 26th 2012, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Cousin Michelle came for only the briefest visit at the very beginning of the reception, when aunts, uncles, cousins would be there but maybe not so many guests yet; with no immune system… But she wanted to see everybody, so she and her husband (whom I had never met) came. I was so glad.

She has breast cancer, and the news since diagnosis has not been comforting. We talked a bit; I told her I had survived 22 years since my lupus diagnosis, 13 since my Crohn’s, and said a little of what that has been. And I am still here.

She thanked me, telling me that comforted her greatly. I told her my prayers continue.

Cousin Joe came. I hadn’t seen him since he’d been quite little. I told his wife that one of the younger cousins had been three when he’d met my (6’8″) husband, who was then in college, and the little one had screamed in indignation, YOU’RE NOT TALLER THAN *MY* DADDY!!! and he ran away crying.

“That’s Joe,” she laughed.

I said to Richard later, Was it Uncle Dwayne or his wife that has the early Alzheimer’s?

His wife.

Huh. Because I thought so, I answered, so when I went up to them all standing together I re-introduced myself for her sake and she’s the one who exclaimed in joy, each word emphasized, “We. know. who. you. ARE!!!” As if anyone could possibly ever forget!

The father of the groom came. I hadn’t seen Mike since the divorce. He was humble, he was kind. I was so glad for him. I had worried. He and his ex treated each other very well and rejoiced together over their son’s happiness. I was so glad–and proud of them.

Richard’s sister, recovering from breast cancer herself, was a marvel in how much energy she put into making the day as perfect as could be. She did a great job.

Jacqui, the bride, was a joy and a gem, the kind of person where, you walk into her presence and you know you have a friend right there. Instantly.

My aunt and uncle let us stay at their house while we were there. (They were away.) I left a light blue lace silk scarf behind in thanks, and my aunt will be there tomorrow.

And we got to see and hug my parents for a few hours today before we left.

Here comes the bride
Wednesday July 25th 2012, 3:23 pm
Filed under: Family

Jacqui loved the silk. Jacqui loved the moss green cashmere. (Jacqui was wearing ruffles down the front and so clearly she’ll like the one styled like that as well as the straight rectangle.)

I had decided already that I would offer her her choice and if she showed any sign of loving them both she would get them both because both were made for her anyway. I told her I’d guessed on colors from their engagement pictures.

She loved them. She was surprised when I said there you go. The best part was not only was she thrilled to own them, she was thrilled I’d made them for her.

My nephew picked himself a very lovely bride and I am so very happy for them.

Tuesday July 24th 2012, 9:58 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

We landed at Salt Lake and drove and drove. Past the Evanston (Wyoming) a hundred miles sign and to the house near where Richard’s mom’s family was from.

Old farm country was clearly rapidly turning into nice homes. I wondered how many were for vacations only. Winter is not gentle above Salt Lake.

I asked my sister-in-law in the kitchen of her new house if there were a lot of people in her neighborhood who lived there year-round vs the snowbirds.

She mentioned in particular that the neighbors straight up the hill were here all the time–and that they used to live in California.

Then she mentioned their names. I was stunned.

I’m sure the story’s on the blog somewhere, but. We had old friends back in New Hampshire who, when layoffs looked imminent there and we had already moved to California, Richard helped V, the dad, land a job with him, and so, they followed us out there.

A few years later, DEC disappeared and the jobs moved on. We had gotten together a few times but not in probably ten years when V and his wife called one day and invited us over–but gave us their new address. They had moved.

It sounded really really familiar.

We pulled in that driveway, knocked on the door, and when V opened it Richard asked, So does it still have the projection room to the left at the end of the hall?

Wait, *what*? He was stunned. How did YOU know?!

It had been the Z’s house. We knew them a little and their kids a lot, who used to entertain in their folks’ big place. The parents had moved to somewhere that sounded like the middle of nowhere in Utah in their retirement; why, we didn’t know. Why age where the weather is heavy and must be lifted and moved out of the way for months every year?

Their new house looked very much like their old one: had you asked me whose house it looked like I would immediately have told you the Z’s. It’s in a beautiful part of the world, very green with a river running nearby; I saw red-winged blackbirds, magpies, swifts, and someone had built a tall wooden pole with a platform next to the road on our way up into the neighborhood and it had clearly become a raptor’s nest. Someone there loves the birds.

As does my sister-in-law.

And now I know the Z’s have good neighbors again.

Oh wait
Monday July 23rd 2012, 9:16 pm
Filed under: Family,My Garden

As the Eagles sang, Thought by now, we’d realize, there ain’t no way to Hyde yer Ryan, aye.

Ie, the kid can’t get off work and he’s not going to his cousin’s wedding with us.

Tomatoes. Water. Yes. He can manage that for me. (Gee, Alison, ya think?)

Yarn, yarn, decisions, decisions. Patterns? Needles?

(Ed. to add, I typed that, looked around, dithered, did my treadmill time, and finally said a prayer: who? With what? And suddenly I knew, absolutely, I knew. It’s all packed now and ready for me to get to it.)

Moving day
Sunday July 22nd 2012, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Good friends are moving to Texas this week (whether we want them to or not).

There was a get together. Bring desserts. Come.

And so, over brownies and cake and strawberries and the like, a bunch of us got on the subject of comparing climates we’d lived in. I told them how one guy in our ward in New Hampshire back in the day had been a home teacher to a young family, and he knew the dad was in Singapore on business; meantime, Leeane, the mom, had three kids four and under and a 20- to 25-foot wall of compacted iced white across her driveway after the snowplows had come around her cul-de-sac.

You do not want your baby outside in zero degrees and you do not want to leave the kids unattended while you spend hours dealing with that. She was stuck.

Mike got his teenage boys up very early and shoveled themselves out so they could go start shoveling her out at about 6 am so she could get out and have some face time at church with adults. Freedom. (Mike O’Connell and sons from Merrimack, wherever you are now, the thank-you’s are still floating around 25+ years later.)

Another fellow chimed in with his own weather story, Michigan vs Minnesota.

Wayne talked about how he was going to miss being able to bike where it’s just perfect: just cool enough, just right, year round, he’d been doing sometimes 150 miles a week before his recent knee surgery. A hundred degrees for sixty days straight last year in Dallas? That makes it a lot tougher, he said, I dunno…

You don’t have to shovel heat, I offered, trying to help.

He laughed. True, that.

Kale if I know
Saturday July 21st 2012, 10:49 pm
Filed under: My Garden

So. I have these indoor tomato plants and they’re soaking up water two, even three times a day, all going into those rapidly growing wonderfully squirrel-free future BLTs. (Well, maybe something healthier than lettuce. Maybe avocado.)

What would you do to keep them hydrated if you were afraid of missing a moment when they needed it? If they dry, they die. If I were to put a pot in a bowl of water, the roots would drown.

And so, I found this; page two says a ripped piece of t-shirt going all the way down into a water jug and tucked three inches into the soil will keep them safe. Wouldn’t that make for a lovely decor: rags to the riches of a ripe homegrown tomato. Maybe I should plant some greens to go with to complete that sandwich idea.

Actually, just yesterday I was looking for a reason to keep or toss a few old Ts.

Well then. Should my plants be rednecked? Or blue collards? I guess whatever suits.

Breathe. Knit.
Friday July 20th 2012, 8:38 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

I did not get to see Holly.

I did not make it to Purlescence nor did I get to see the Cascade folks. I’ll send them the photo of Parker’s sweater from the gift of their yarn from the last time.

I did get to drive Gail to one of the two things she’d wanted to do.

And then I waited for a friend who was supposed to stop by briefly.

And she didn’t and she didn’t and she didn’t answer her messages either, but I figured it was just missed signals.

She’s my age. Her brother had died today. No not in Colorado.

And then I managed to get a hold of my own brother. Yes in Colorado. Who did not, as it happens, take his children to the premier at that theater that he goes past, he told me, “all the time. ALL. THE. TIME.”

After that it felt like a good day to sit tight and be glad for my family members right here right now for every moment I have with them.

(Ed. to add Saturday morning: after I posted this last night, I saw an article wherein a young woman recounted that she’d come face to face with the gunman and was suddenly struck by the utterly ridiculous thought of, I can’t die wearing a Twilight t-shirt! And the guy had moved on.

It was funny, it was absurd, it was comic relief, and it was life.

Holly day
Thursday July 19th 2012, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,LYS

Holly was not only in the States but San Francisco today. Hey!

And so she drove down and we spent the day sitting, knitting, and chatting along with Michelle–who does not quite yet see why what we love is so enticing, not just for us but for her. But the yarn, it calls. She knows what sweater she wants. She knows what fibers she does and does not want it to be. She knows I will not knit argyle. Holly (thank you Holly!) told her how much she was going to love making it herself. (I once did not only argyle, but argyle Kaffe Fassett style. In cotton. Eighty-one, count’em, 81 strands of laceweight cotton *per row* some rows. It was nuts and it never quite got finished.)

And so…

Richard got home and joined us. Dinner was eaten. Holly and I went off to Purlescence.

I had cast on shortly after she’d gotten here; I was a third of the way through my 440 yards by the time she left and she was close to done with her own. It is amazing how much you can get finished when there’s an interesting reason to keep the fingers going while you listen–the best part of course being the time together. Thank you, Holly! And Michelle for joining us.

Meantime, for anybody local: Cascade‘s reps are coming to Purlescence tomorrow, 5-8 pm. There will be new yarns to see. Holly and I are hoping to go, if her schedule works out that way.

Squirrel slalom
Wednesday July 18th 2012, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Caught the teenage black squirrel on the suet cake the other day and went looking for something to block him: that’s my wren feeder.

Plant pots have holes to string the string through, hey!

Woke up early this morning to find him completely encircling that four-inch cage, tail and head out of sight on the far side, his rear towards me. He had no idea.

Reality hit when I opened the door a few feet away, squirt gun going. He freaked and landed on the wooden box, not far of a fall and onto a surface with some give (phew!), but it made for a loud landing and wild scrambling and a lot more respect for boundaries.

But to be sure. I threaded the edge of a paper plate to hang above the left side of the pot where I think he managed to climb down it on. I only wish I had the ability to motion-sens0r video whatever he’ll do next.

Peregrine rescue!
Tuesday July 17th 2012, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

A silk shawlette got finished and blocked around noon and it’s dry already. Hoping the bride-to-be I haven’t met yet will like it–I’m about to dive into another, maybe a straight rectangle, just to be sure.

The new defroster part came today and between the three of us we got the job done. Richard was pleased a minute or two later, telling me he could hear the ice on those coils already melting–that means we shouldn’t have to take the freezer wall apart again. Othankyouthankyouthankyou.

And. Esperanza, one of the first of the falcons ever to have fledged from San Jose City Hall, made a nest near the end of the Bay Bridge. Three eggs didn’t hatch, but one, very late in the season, did and got banded today. The video is here, above the water, with gorgeous shots of Espie guarding her little one. Enjoy.