Man’s new best friend
Sunday December 30th 2012, 11:36 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Heard an interesting talk at church today, creating one of those inner visuals that will stick with me a long time. The guy likes dogs as much as the next person. But. He was in a foreign country and had a long walk back that night to his hotel; he decided to take the shortcut that took him along the pier, a rough area, it turned out.

He found himself approached by six mean-looking–not men but dogs, a hungry, feral pack, and they meant business. There, there, good doggy? Not so much.

He instinctively did what they teach kids to do here re mountain lions, which is to put your hands over your head and make lots of fierce noise. The dogs weren’t intimidated in the least and actually the growls and the threatening stances increased. They were a pack and they had meat in front of them and they and he knew it.

“I said the” (he hesitated, looking for the words to describe it) “shortest prayer in my life. Father help me.”

Immediately he heard, “10, 20 meters away,” the hiss of a cat on the top of a tall fence. The dogs wheeled away to chase their mortal enemy–and he was saved. And so, for that matter, was the cat by where it was as he escaped to be able to tell the tale.

Knit, two, unfurl one
Sunday December 30th 2012, 12:29 am
Filed under: Knit

Wait, how did it get this late and I didn’t even blog yet?

Oh. Right. I was finally knitting, for the first time in over a week, after the needles grabbed me and just would not let me go. Sorry that that Eco Duo hat came out really too small for you, Dear (it did, didn’t it?) I’ll just have to make you another (pardon me while I wear it to Costco. ‘Cause, you know, it fits me like that. There are advantages to being 15″ shorter than he is.)

And then I dove into a project that I hadn’t quite finished on the plane ride home from Texas. As I worked I decided that no, I’m going to make it bigger than I’d planned–so it is, once again, four rows from being done, only this time those four rows are going to get done pronto.

It felt so good to have yarn working its way through my fingers again. With family time too!

And one for you, and you, and
Saturday December 29th 2012, 12:51 am
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

My daughters and I went to Coupa Cafe for their hot chocolate that is melted-dark-chocolate-and-a-little-milk. They don’t serve dairy-free, but going there is so much a part of any coming home for Sam; we went, we chatted over the mega-noise levels, we bought take-out cups for the menfolk.

I had described over the last few days how much I love having my own personal Cooper’s hawk around but I don’t think Sam had ever seen one, certainly not ours nor up close.

On our way home, on the telephone wires right next to the main road, in a neighborhood where I’ve seen one before, I looked up as Michelle drove and right there was, you guessed it, a Cooper’s hawk, chest glowing in the clear sun amidst what has mostly been clouds and rain of late, its feathers and colors highlighted and Right There, absolutely glorious. I exclaimed and Sam turned quickly to catch a glimpse too as the car went by.

Given the several miles from home, it might not have been our Cooper’s, but it may well have fledged from the nest in the tall tree that reaches over our yard and I tell you, it had the most exquisite sense of timing.

Okay, which continent now?
Friday December 28th 2012, 12:32 am
Filed under: Wildlife

Watching (thank you Sam!) David Attenborough and The Life of Birds series on the monitor next to this one.  Geese, 1700 miles in 70 hours of migration.   The longest beak-t0-bird ratio in the world, kind of like a knitter who dropped her ball of yarn and keeps walking and then turns around at the end of the house to see, is the best visual I can think of to describe its immense length.  Acorn woodpeckers, which I once saw at work in Pacific Grove, a whole tree trunk solid with acorns stuffed rattattat up the sides, and Attenborough’s mention that each family keeps its own tree, moving acorns as they shrink to holes small enough for them. I did not know that. Close-ups. Slow-motions. Details.

I have no idea what he said that one was just now, but it looked very Harry Potterish: bright turquoise, with a long forked tail that swoops around in an S curl behind and below as it takes to the air.

A pretty–and I’d guess little–bird broke off a dried narrow stick and used it to stab into the crevice in a tree to shiskabob insects. Now a crow’s doing that, too. Somehow they got a camera into the worm’s side of things, showing that beak coming in at it and the worm playing dodgeball. Wait–what was that eating the zebra’s ear wax? And how did we get there?

Highly recommended, if you get a chance to watch these.

A little of this, a little of that
Thursday December 27th 2012, 12:01 am
Filed under: Family

Sam got to visit with a high school friend whose difficult recent pregnancy resulted in now-healthy four-month-old twins, beautiful, happy little girls. Tired parents. Old friends. Much love.

Her luggage is here now, thank goodness, with help from her siblings, who drove off to retrieve it.

My phone was indeed in the car from calling her at the airport yesterday. I thought so, but it was hailing last night and I really didn’t want to go out there to see. As close to a white Christmas as we get around here.

A chocolate hazelnut torte got baked: something everybody could safely eat.

Michelle ran errands again, this time to get gluten-free things for her sister and milk for my hot cocoa in the morning–missing out on the ongoing conversation to do so, which struck me as heroic.

And I almost got some knitting done.

And to all a good night
Wednesday December 26th 2012, 12:49 am
Filed under: Family,Life

Someone died on my first flight, she told us, and we have been diverted… It was someone’s grandma, and the defibrillator and medical personnel were on board and they did all that could be done.  The plane landed at the nearest airport–which wasn’t designed for one that big, so then there was an extra two hour wait for some kind of inspection.

And then her luggage and that of several others went to who knows? We spent an extra hour at the park-and-call, waiting while she waited till they gave up and called off the search.

But Sam is home safe and sound. We had all decided together to wait till she arrived to open gifts, but then instead once she got here we simply sat and talked and caught up and reveled in being in each other’s presence, all the more keenly aware of how fortunate we were that we could. I cannot tell you how good it feels to watch my children loving each other.

Dinner was served–Michelle and John had been working on it while Richard and I were at the airport for so long, and I tell you, it was way better than any Christmas dinner that I’ve put on.

We Skyped: Parker apparently had gotten into this Open Presents! theme really well, with his birthday being five days before Christmas and his delayed (ouch, thanks Amazon) present making it so he got to open one on 12/21 as well as 12/20 so what are we waiting for for the rest of these! Thus 12/24 got in on the act, too, after he figured out there was a truck in there and trucks were Parker territory, right? He jumped for joy, showing off his new treasures, and would have jumped right through that Ipad to show us in person in his excitement if he’d been able to.

There was a stuffed peacock to match the photos of him toddling after one in the park a few months ago.

And then, at long last, the material stuff here, too. The fun and the frankly frivolous. But still fun. Oh, cool, thank you! over and over.

We know how lucky we are.

Merry Christmas!
Monday December 24th 2012, 11:52 pm
Filed under: Life

Wishing the peace of the season to all.

While waiting for one of my own kids to fly in…
Monday December 24th 2012, 12:28 am
Filed under: Friends,Life

It was a homecoming at church amidst the annual celebration of the Christ child, the timeless mixed with a time warp again and again, seeing this family, then that one over there, and then another. And ohmygoodnesslookwho’shere!!

We’d had no idea any of them would be here much less that they’d get to cross paths and see each other. California, then Missouri, then Salt Lake for one family–now there’s a random-sounding set of uprootings. There were people who’d grown up here, people who had lived here when their kids were little and now were back visiting family for the holidays, all of them finding themselves surrounded by old friends, arms open forever.

This child was born after her family had left–but three wasn’t too old for a cheerful game of peek-a-boo, ducking between her daddy’s legs. That child still loves her hat–and is in college now. Another, middle school and braces.

Welcome home! Joy and wistfulness wrapped in the words in pretty bows.  It was so good to see them. Y’all come back now, y’hear?

Jeff and Brady
Saturday December 22nd 2012, 3:29 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life,Non-Knitting,Politics

Part 1. Turns out my daughter has her own Piano Guy friend. He had no insurance and was saving his money to pay for the surgery he knew he needed but the stroke beat him to it. At 30.  Sam blogged a link to the effort to raise money for Jeff’s medical expenses and I’m passing it along.

Any amount is an emotional as well as a financial support and makes a difference. Thank you.


(Edited to add.)

Part 2. Later in the day I read that there is a surge of interest and donations to the Brady Campaign, with politicians and others coming through their doors who perhaps would not have been seen there before, asking what can we do to help? On Brady’s site, they decry the official NRA argument of it’s all guns vs no guns, setting forth proposed limits that most NRA members would find very reasonable.That we have had in the past. But to go on with no changes, now, even after Newtown…

Again, out came my credit card. My token amount was a small but present voice among the many.

I hit submit.

It took me very much by surprise how fiercely the feelings came, instantly. I had owned my voice. I had used my voice. I knew then that I will use it again. Our children and grandchildren need our every voice, and when they needed me I too was there for them, is the only way I can put into words how strongly good it felt: more powerful than, as Superman says, a speeding… Yes.

Rolling in the dough
Saturday December 22nd 2012, 12:04 am
Filed under: Family,Food

Michelle wanted to make gingersnaps: make the dough, roll thin, refrigerate, wait.

What I didn’t know was, she’d bought a cherry-blossom cookie cutter in Japan and so she just showed me the finished cookie sheet covered in dozens of tiny little cherry blossoms (even if not exactly pink), ready to pop in the oven; a conversation followed of cherry blossom festivals and of my childhood memories of the magnificent trees around the Washington DC tidal basin, a gift from the Japanese.

Meantime, the computer is just not cooperating with the newly-arrived Parker pictures tonight, so I tried trouble-shooting with this old photo–which did work, and then it was just too cute to put back on the shelf when I didn’t have anything else that would show up.

Elmo’s his favorite these days, but Cookie Monster’s right up there.

Oh, and: how a dirty diaper saved Christmas night and my cousin’s house.

Thursday December 20th 2012, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Family

(Not sure why I can’t rotate this, but you can at least embiggen it.)

It’s my mom’s birthday, too; I tried to call her but missed her. Tomorrow.

She got the news of Parker’s safe though early delivery into the world on her 80th birthday, and now he’s a bouncy little boy who, as we Skyped tonight, sat down at his daddy’s keyboard, proclaimed with a big grin, “BOOM!” and played Rachmaninoff.

Meaning, both hands spread wide, arms out straight in happy anticipation, and then pouncing on the keys. BOOM! My little boy‘s little boy, following right in his footsteps. And his mom’s, with that smile that melts every heart in a hundred miles.

Through the ayes of a child
Wednesday December 19th 2012, 11:54 pm
Filed under: Family

And so now with the blog back I can mention that before all that, my husband was on the phone with our older son, who’d called with a computer question.

And in the background there was a game of Ring Around the Rosie going on and Parker’s delighted voice, playing with his Mommy: “We all fall DOWN!…AGAIN! All fall DOWN!…AGAIN!!”

And again and again, with the exuberant happiness of a little one. Priceless. Parker will be two in about two hours. Happy Birthday, sweetie, and thank you for all the love.

Into white
Wednesday December 19th 2012, 11:14 am
Filed under: Non-Knitting

My blog vanished last night.  Blank white only for any page and we had no idea why. I googled while Richard spent hours on it, and half the posts listed seemed to have been replaced with spam–which is pretty self-defeating if you can’t click on anything.

And here it is up again as if there’d been no problem, all 2232 posts that had gone poof, my very-nearly-daily journal of over six years back up again, my written record for my grandson and future grandchildren; my grandmother wrote her autobiography when I was ten and I treasure it and managed to find a copy online for each of my kids a few years ago.

Googling just now, most of the spammed results are gone. All but one. I’m on it.

And so I am reminded and nudged that hard copies are wonderful things.

What comes round goes round
Monday December 17th 2012, 11:33 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Recipes

The phone rang about five minutes ago. At this hour? I wondered. (Actually, not, I need to fix that time stamp that didn’t change with the daylight savings change last month.)

“This is your daughter,” pronounced She Who Can Hear Across The House (but is toiling away on a tight work deadline), “do you want to take the cookies out of the oven? They’ve been beeping for awhile.”

I had made them to help lighten her load a bit for the evening. They’re a little more golden around the edges than they might have been. Perfect.


Almond Meringue cookies

Mix 1 1/2 c almond meal (thank you Trader Joe’s) with 1 1/2 c powdered sugar, set aside. Whip three egg whites till they hold a stiff peak, fold in the almond/sugar mixture. Tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper on top of a baking sheet, bake at 350 for–well, it was supposed to be 15-18 minutes. And yes you can just use a heavily-greased cookie sheet, but with these, parchment paper really is the way to go.

If you want, dip these in melted bittersweet chocolate and then refrigerate.


The funny thing about these is that my daughter once asked my friend Miriam for her almond cookie recipe and Miriam, bemused, answered, They’re your mom’s recipe.


Good and fast and healthy (not to mention addictive.) Enjoy!

Just like yesterday
Monday December 17th 2012, 12:45 am
Filed under: Friends,Life

Well, and with a whole generation having happened in between.

It had been twenty-six years last time, surely at a winter-break coming-home time from his college, so even there, I rarely saw him; he’d graduated from high school just before we’d moved to his hometown in New Hampshire, when we were newly out of grad school ourselves.

There, that first Christmas, the good brother at church leading the meeting stood up to announce we were going to sing “With Wondering Awe.” Only, the guy pronounced it “With Wandering R” and Richard and I about died, hands clamped over our mouths to try to physically restrain ourselves from bursting out laughing, trying not to glance at each other for fear that would be it and we would lose it: that good man with the thick Down East accent had R’s that wanduhed in and out all ovah the place! What a perfect and perfectly inadvertent rendition of a small New England town at Christmas!

I kept sneaking glances over thataway during Sunday School today and finally mouthed, Are you Dave’s brother?

He grinned and nodded, confirming out loud after the lesson was over: Yes! Adding, looking at my now-gray hair and new-grandmother face, I remember you!

Their mother had been, in Mormon-speak, my Relief Society (the frontier-era-named women’s organization) President back when our children were small and hers were in high school and, this one, college.

The older I get the more it seems like random people from my past will somehow randomly show up again–and so often, you pick up right from where you were as if the conversation had never ended, somehow.

But I know that I’m glad that it’s so. Those are moments that bear witness to the immortality of the too-often-hidden love for one another that underlies our day-to-days.