Silk and slick
Thursday November 15th 2012, 11:45 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Pure silk (they’ve got new dk stock in, price includes postage, save some cream for me) requires a bit of constant grip as you go so that I don’t drop it (again) and have a line of stitches running madly (I lucked out, I was near the end of the row and it wasn’t hard to fix).

Which means I can only do so much of it at a time and then I have to give my hands a break for awhile. Which is frustrating when I want to make holiday headway.

Till I made myself stop, look at it, look at the print-out date on the bottom of the page, and remember: this shawl is nearly 2/3 done. I started it Monday evening. Honestly, that’s not shabby.

Pass the icepacks.

Got that fixed (rant ahead)
Thursday November 15th 2012, 12:12 am
Filed under: Life

Don’t mess with the hoarse woman with the flu who’s having a hard time breathing.

My credit union overhauled their online system, and a week ago I found I couldn’t get in. I called, they tried, it didn’t work, but my brother-in-law was on his way over and I just had to leave it at that. And then of course I got sick.

Time to try again. Long wait. (I’d have sworn that was my friend’s oboe solo in that hold music. Small world.) We were far from the only ones the update messed over.

Got through. The clerk tried unsuccessfully to make it work–

–and then the line went dead.

Called again. Waited again. The next clerk tried to help–and when it didn’t work, told me baldly that no she couldn’t help me. When would Mr. H be available?

Wait. What?

He’s the primary name on the account, ma’am.

Would you give me a different answer if I went into your branch in person? (As if! right now.)

She hesitated; No, ma’am, they’d tell you the same thing there.

This stiff-the-housewife thing: AmEx used to pull stunts like that, they don’t anymore, they learned. It’s not good business to take the mommy wars to the mommies.

What time do you stop taking phone calls?

Six o’clock.

He won’t be here.

They tried to tell me he could be interrupted at work to take care of it, I flatly said no.

So you’re telling me you’re not going to let me access *my* money in *my* account? Tell me, I said wearily, why do I bank with you?

Boom! The magic words! All the sudden they snapped to, did whatever they had to do to the system, told me to try it now, and bam I was in.

Would it have been so hard to have done right by me the first time? I can’t see how I could ever have any customer loyalty again, since they had zero to me.

I gotcha
Tuesday November 13th 2012, 11:48 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Michelle, who has been studying Japanese, went out to dinner with her co-workers. Some of whom got into a conversation in that language.

“Did you understand any of it?” I asked her.

She got this rapidly-growing impish grin on her face. “Only one phrase: ‘I understand what you’re saying here.’ ”

A punchline is always the best way to start anyway.

Monday November 12th 2012, 11:46 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I talked to someone today and then went through the stash and put aside what I was working on now that I knew what my needles had really been waiting for.

Tis the season. And I love this.  Happy November!

(Ed. to add: I just did eight slow, careful minutes on the treadmill for the first time in a week. I’m not over that flu yet, but by golly I was tired of it telling me what to do. It felt so good. Didn’t faint. I’m going to embarrass Ruth again and say thank you for the treadmill! It does a body good.)

Veterans’ Day
Monday November 12th 2012, 12:18 am
Filed under: Family,History

My dad and his two brothers served in WWII, and my grandmother headed her county’s Red Cross knitting for the troops effort, knitting as much as twelve hours a day to try to bring her boys somehow safely home. She had rheumatoid arthritis. I don’t know how she did it.

One of them assured her the war would end after he got overseas. He could not tell her he was one of Oppenheimer’s men and would be the physicist on the Enola Gay. So many lives were lost–but so many more, in the end, were not.

My thanks to all who serve and who have served, and my gratitude for all those who’ve been able to come home.

Saturday November 10th 2012, 11:23 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

And on the total silliness side, courtesy of Kevin at Purlescence, I offer a picture of taking it easy on oneself, sipping honey and fresh-squeezed lemonade for the flu. Here you go.

Clearly, they put a small person in a much larger person’s sweater with the head out the neck, their legs out one arm,  hands out the other and the hemline opening carefully skootched under. I think. Don’t go racing to knit that; just go find someone much much bigger than you.

(Glancing sideways at the 6’8″er who doesn’t know I’m typing this. Heh.)

I did finally pick up yarn and needles and dive in today. I can’t tell you what a relief it felt. At last!

He’s totally having a ball with this one
Friday November 09th 2012, 10:29 pm
Filed under: History

Rather than whining about the flu…

I love this New York Times piece. I know the NYT will only let non-subscribers read 10 articles online a month before making them pay, so let me give the gist of it.

There was a man with a vision: Tim Jahnigen wanted to make a decent ball for kids in poor countries to play with after finding out that children in Rwanda were creating balls out of trash and string. It shouldn’t be a luxury for a kid to be able to simply go outside and play. Your average internationally-donated ball dies in a day in harsh environments–pretty useless. (I nodded, reading that, thinking of how many times when my kids were little I wished I could find a ball that would last a whole week. Was that too much to ask.) He wanted to figure out how to build a better ball.

He thought he had it. But the cost of development was well out of his reach. (An aside from my husband: Kickstarter! But maybe Kickstarter didn’t quite exist yet when he was starting out. Dunno.)

And then he shared a meal with his old friend Sting, yes that Sting, who said hey–*I’ll* fund it!

Lions in the zoo played with the new ball. Former child soldiers in Rwanda gave it their best. You could drive over one and it would bounce back–they’re estimating a lifetime of 30 years, and they do bounce. Haiti, Iraq, his balls have gone to Afghanistan, Doctors Without Borders has brought them along.

And Chevrolet has agreed to buy one and a half million to give to poor children. They’re really going to have to crank up production. For the rest of us, there’s a buy one give one program.

How often does a really great idea get to do so much good and be so much fun?

Dodging that bullet
Thursday November 08th 2012, 9:58 pm
Filed under: Food,Life

I bought a rotisserie chicken last Saturday, kept it in the coldest part of the fridge, and today plunked what was left of it in a pot and boiled it down.  Chicken soup. (Michelle was home sick too.) Actually, Richard would have been happy to do it for me; he worked from home in case we needed anything but I had this decisive toddler moment as I opened the fridge door of, me dooz it.

I kept thinking if I just go knit something, too, I’d be energized for sure, but I haven’t quite made it there yet. Eh.  It’ll come. The Crohn’s early-warning flare that hit with this flu seems almost over, and for that I am very very grateful. Pass the soup. And thank you, everybody.

Up for a moment
Wednesday November 07th 2012, 4:21 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

My profuse apologies to my brother-in-law for the exposure I didn’t know about.

He took the train down last night from San Francisco, where he’s staying for a conference, to visit with us last night. We had a good laugh, all of us, at Michelle’s declaration of No politics! Given that it was election night and we were all dying to know how it was coming–but there was a conscious decision all around to focus on the short time we had together.

He and my sister live in upper Manhattan, some of the lucky ones whose power stayed on last week.

Richard drove him to the train station with me tagging along, wanting all the Boyd time I could get but finding myself suddenly tired and not wanting to be behind the wheel.

An hour later I was running a fever.

I stuck it out through Obama’s speech last night but shouldn’t have–I was desperate to collapse in bed.

It is quarter after three in the afternoon and I’m finally up again. I’ve been offered by the doctor to go to Urgent Care to have IV fluids but I think I can get more down on my own now.

Okay, let me go check those returns. Did the California Propositions pass? Did Obama at long last win Ohio? I’m about to go find out.

And I saw my Cooper’s hawk soaring as I glanced up through the skylight, always a message of, I’ll be fine.

Tuesday November 06th 2012, 12:00 am
Filed under: Politics

Poring over the sample ballots together. Not quite always agreeing but being agreeable.

Sunday, the California Supreme Court declared 7-0 that under California law re its ballot propositions, the big donors to the anti-union and anti-tax-the-rich measures had to be disclosed. And so today they were.

Is anyone surprised that the Koch brothers were some of the ones hiding behind there? With Karl Rove’s friends in there. What’s really interesting to me is that the state officials were talking about a potential money-laundering charge, a felony. Maybe plutocrats don’t get to buy elections after all.

And on a lighter take on the endless politicking, our old friend Wes Facebooked that he’d just seen an ad for Pepco, the power company around DC where he lives and where we’re from; his wry comment was, Some politician is going to lose the race tomorrow because they didn’t buy that air space.

Heh. May the best candidates–and the country!–win. Vote!

A fund-the-sciences p.s.: A rubber  chicken is going to the Space Station.

Sunday November 04th 2012, 11:31 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

My older daughter has the right roommate: she was driving and told Sam, How cute! Look, there’s a sheep!

And she too has the right roommate: What I see, answered Sam, is unsecured hay bales.

Her roommate slowed down in response, which is why when one of those bales was suddenly coming at them on the freeway they weren’t hurt–but the driver of the pickup took off. They did call in his license plate.

They had to pick hay out of the car but they were okay and it was too.

Thank goodness. *blink* Live by the sheep, drive-by by the sheep.

The NYC marathon continued on too today, unofficial or no,  and so, some athletes decided a vertical run was the way to go–who else could go up and down as many flights of stairs to tend to the stricken? Some of the runners carried backpacks full of supplies to Staten Island, one of the places hit hardest. They were warned that they would see things they had never seen before and that not all the dead had been found yet. The needs they would encounter were so great.

Well, they could do what they could do and so they did it. Flashlights. Blankets. Clothing. Ignoring the crank honking at them, yelling, Don’t you know the race was cancelled? Oh, but sir, if you only knew….

I would think the whole world wished they could be doing what those runners were doing. I say they totally placed first and first things first.

Update Monday: here’s an even better article about the runners.

The spaghetti dinner
Saturday November 03rd 2012, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Another crazybusylotsofdriving day, although with family along this time.

There was a little salad left.

And spaghetti. The boy scouts scooped lots of sauce and meat onto those noodles–good for them. Then, with their white shirts and fake mustaches (upside down on one kid), they waited the lines of folding tables covered in butcher paper, refilled the water pitchers, and offered crayons to the little ones so they could break all the rules of home by drawing on the table. They’d papered over the differences.

Then they were offering ice cream with a chocolate cookie in a cup to all as Dave warmed up. There is nobody who can talk as fast as Dave when he wants to.

It was Troop 66 fundraiser time again.

Dave: I have this beautiful cranberry-apple crisp–and it’s still warm from the oven! Who’ll bid me $20? 22, 25. 27? 30! Do I hear 31–33! (No, in an aside to his little kid, I’m not counting–oh, did Mom say so? Okay, 34!) 35!

Going once, going…37! Do I hear 40? Forty, forty, SOLD!!! for forty dollars!

It was a beautiful thing to behold. That man knows how to play auctioneer for the day after the day after the day after Halloween. Tablesfull of homemade desserts went home with happy people, and I know that tomorrow the question of the day at church will be, Did you get one? Cool, whatja get? …Oooh!

There was one that Phyllis (whose own dessert went for a good price) had had her eyes on, and when Dave started in on it she jumped out of her chair from across the long room, announced the price and announced it sold.

This had never happened before in all the years of doing these and it almost threw him a moment:  Wait, $20?

Yes, $20, it’s mine, sold! (The room laughed.)

He looked around, questioning his large audience. Twenty?

Heads nodded all around.

Twenty! Sold! To Phyllis!

There were a few other things–actually, a lot of other things–and a plate of homemade chocolate truffles came up–and there was Phyllis. Before he could even begin she was rushing forward, waving a fistful of bills and telling him he had to sell her just one.  (Knowing that if everyone followed her lead there would be a good price indeed for that plate.)

Never get in the way of a good laugh at everybody’s enjoyment; she got her truffle, big enough to share, and share she did. It was fabulous.

As she said to me afterwards, Dave is so good at this and he’s such a crackup. It’s all about the entertainment, never mind the spaghetti.

Not to mention a little sharing of good food and good deeds. And a good time was had by all.

“Back on the highway, yeah yeah yeah, back on the road again.”
Friday November 02nd 2012, 11:23 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Channeling my inner James Taylor today. I drove north. I drove south. I drove south. I drove north. I survived 101, 880, 538, 13,  538, 880, 101, 85, and more 101. It was freeway day. And if you did the speed limit near the bridge you might get to see that great blue heron like I did.

But just before I even got on the first on-ramp, a peregrine falcon flew close overhead as my car pointed towards the Bay.  Wow! Further on, a red-tailed hawk was observing traffic from a sign pole, then a Cooper’s hawk. A gray chest and tall, regal posture on another light pole, and there were groupings of soaring raptors three times. That made no sense to me–hawks in flocks? Since when?

Till I saw an email from an old birding friend after I got home.

The funny thing is, I hadn’t heard from her in maybe a year, and before I’d even walked out to my car, unknown to me she somehow had thought of me and sent me a link to an article about broadwing hawks having very recently been discovered in California. Lots of them. They’re an East Coast bird, migrating to the Amazon, with a few that live in western Canada. It describes their behaviors, and yes they do soar together in groups like I saw.

Ninety-nine percent of the ones that had suddenly shown up here were juveniles.

So the youth had voted to come to the San Francisco Bay. Who knows? The air apparents may even “settle on down traveling man” and claim the place for their own.

It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out with the locals.

Now all is a oh-Kaye!
Thursday November 01st 2012, 11:24 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,LYS,Spinning

Kaye at Purlescence messaged me: my spinning wheel was done! My Ashford Traditional, the one that has been broken so many times, so many ways, the one that was the better wheel I always used, even after it fell out of the back of my minivan and broke the flyer and maiden (always seatbelt them in), even after a kid tripped over it and broke the replacement flyer (and I had to buy the whole maiden assembly again for $120 from somewhere else, just before Purlescence came to be.)

It never did work well after that last time: it wobbled so hard that at times the thing simply fell apart, the maiden twisting with the vibrations and the bobbin simply falling to the floor.  I had to clean dirty sewing machine oil out of silk. Kinda put a damper on the spinning thing.

This is the third wheel she and Sandi have repaired for me. One, bought at an auction, had never worked at all; they got it going and I sent it happily off to a great home, gratified that after fifteen years it had finally been made to work and it had gone to exactly where it needed to be. That’s why I’d still had it: so they could get it. So worth it now.

The second wheel, an Ashford Traveller, the Purl Girls did a great job on, too.

And once I had that one back I pulled out some merino/silk in a beautiful blue that I’d bought half a dozen years ago from a place that was closing down. Finally I had a wheel that would do it justice again.


The bag was mismarked. Clearly. It was Romney wool or its equivalent: good for making a rug or perhaps felting into a birdhouse, maybe knit straight from the roving, quick and bulky and for baby birds to poop in, but by no means was it worth hours upon hours upon hours.

Did I never put my hand in the ziploc bag before and actually touch the stuff? Boggles the mind.

And it kinda took the wind out of my sails on spinning for the moment.

But then today there was that message. My favorite wheel was repaired, the flyer replaced, the wrong metal part finally gone so that the spindle can lift up, not out, and other than the cup of Welch’s grape juice a then-teenager of mine once tried to balance on the sidebar, graffiti-ing it permanently (hey, Kaye, no need to apologize for not being able to get it out, it’s a bit of family history anyway), the thing is as good as new. At last.

My folks gave me some super-super-fine 90s merino for Christmas one year. Lots of it. After two afghans, there’s still a little more if it around somewhere–and I have my Trad back. Let’s finally put the spin back into that spindyeknit. Been too long.