She cried uncle
Sunday December 16th 2012, 12:21 am
Filed under: Family,Life

And on a lighter note…

I told the story of my daughter randomly running into my brother-in-law in the airport in Tokyo a week ago, she on her way home from Japan, he on a stopover coming back to the States from China. Turns out, the story gets better.

A recently retired old colleague of his from work–I believe (I could be wrong) that that would be from his recently-ended assignment to Qatar–was somehow in Tokyo airport, apparently didn’t hear the exclamation of “Uncle GEORGE!” from the pretty, young, thin blonde who ran to him, but did see George hugging and being friendly with a woman who was so much not his former colleague’s wife that the guy knew.

One might add, they did share the same last name, though. Oddly enough.

What healing moments we can offer each other
Friday December 14th 2012, 11:56 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

It’s your birthday and I get the cake? my friend Deanne marveled yesterday in a message. But somehow, for all the attempts at getting together, it didn’t quite happen then.

I had made her and her family a chocolate torte as a thank you for an airport ride and the other of the pair was to go to Julia and her family for the same reason.  (Sue waved away the calories for now.) I had decided I’d better call before dropping them off, since the ganache part shouldn’t be at room temperature for hours on end–but yesterday we just didn’t connect, any of us, I just got answering machines.  So the tortes stayed in my fridge for the day.

I also had two almost-rollaboard-size suitcases to give to a young family, in great shape because they had no wheels and so had long gone unused–those, too, I was supposed to get delivered in the last two days but somehow it just didn’t happen.

I picked John up from the airport this afternoon. I was never so glad to see my own sweet child right there with me safe and sound and my heart is beyond words for all those parents in Connecticut who will never again have that comfort. I was listening to the President on the radio as I drove, and the long silence… twelve seconds, the reporter said it was, and then seven more as he struggled with his tears, all of our tears on his face and in his voice… All those innocent kindergartners and first graders. All those good people. They were our children. They were our teachers.

The chocolate tortes got delivered today, instead. The right day. (Who could possibly have known.) Friends opened their doors and exclaimed over them, over John being with me, home for Christmas, how good to see him! We zipped back home for the forgotten green Travelpros and then dropped those off too, waving hi at the little kids playing outside with their next-door friends we knew well, too, that dad raking the leaves as he kept watch over them, the other young parents welcoming us in.

Love and coming together, again and again and again, was such a dearly-bought, vitally needed thing.

Ringing in the day
Thursday December 13th 2012, 7:45 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Family,Life

When we came home from Texas last weekend the phone line was dead again, only, this time the problem was inside somewhere.

It was getting old.

Richard stayed home this morning until he tracked it down to a problem in the jack in the kitchen; unplug the wall phone, boom, there you go, just in time. (Sing it, Paul!)

My little sister, 19 months younger than me and who was always almost catching up to me growing up, being just a year behind me at school and getting the same teachers, who (since she was the fifth kid) would say to her like they’d said to me, Oh, *another* Jeppson, called: “How does it feel to be an old fart?”

“Actually, I can’t fart anymore.” I grinned.

That stopped her a second. “I never thought of that!”

Happy 12-12-12!
Wednesday December 12th 2012, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

Happy Dozens Day!

I signed up for awhile ago to give away something, and so now I get the local posts in my inbox.  So it happened that one caught my eye last night: someone had a tree full of Hachiya persimmons, my favorite type, and was looking to give them away.

You can find the hard Fuyu ones in the stores but the fragile, very-soft-when-ripe Hachiyas, not so much. I love them but my husband does not and so we do not grow our own.

I waited hours to let others go first.  And then I sent off a note, saying that I remembered the days when my children were young and my food budget tight but that was not the case anymore; please put me in the back of the line, but if there were a few left after that, then I would love.

When the man responded, his name showed up in the email; there was plenty, and he would love me to have some, answered Eric.

While I was thinking, wait, are you…!?

I decided to take the plunge: are you Walt’s son? (I could not remember having ever met him, just Walt bragging on his kids and grandkids happily.)

He answered in the morning: yes, I am.

I adore your parents! I told him. Small world.

I offered to come pick up the fruit but he asked for my address. Shortly after, my doorbell rang and I opened the door.

And then we both stood there in surprised delight. I *have* met you once before! I thought. What a good man from such a good family!

He had the same wait–I’ve seen you before, I’m sure of it! look on his face, though I don’t know that we’ve ever actually had a conversation before. He asked for a box and I grabbed a mixing bowl from the kitchen; he opened his trunk and filled it up, then asked if he could give me more and filled a second large bowl. He assured me there was plenty for everybody. Pointing to the tree down the street that was all winter-nakedness with bright orange dreidel shapes hanging, he said his tree was even bigger than that one (and it was a good size.)

I told him those neighbors, after they’d moved in, had asked around what on earth to do with all those and I had told them, Call Second Harvest Food Bank; their volunteers will pick them, clean up the drops, and put the crop to very good use. “But I haven’t had the chutzpah to knock on their door and ask for a few for me,” I laughed, grateful for his. There is nothing in the world like a homegrown Hachiya persimmon, something I had to move to California to experience.

Wait–there was that one time they were giving out samples in New Hampshire of this new shipment of exotic fruit, only, they didn’t know the difference between the two types and the woman was sawing off rock-hard pieces of the very unripe, very astringent Hachiyas. I, uh, don’t think they sold too many.

Eric so enjoyed my anticipation. He mentioned a site with persimmon recipes, and afterwards I looked it up and then some more and emailed him that I was intrigued by the jam idea. He wondered if I might share a jar with him if/when I do?

Ever since, I’ve been thinking, Hurry up and ripen, you guys, c’mon, I’ve got me some jam to give back. I can’t wait!

Rheum in the in
Wednesday December 12th 2012, 12:38 am
Filed under: Friends,Life,Lupus,Warm Hats Not Hot Heads

I had ignored the reminder message for quite some time:  the rheumatologist likes to keep semi-annual tabs on me whether I like it or not.

Don, do you remember from the pool… I will forever remember what a woman there I had always thought of only in terms of being a very sweet, kind old lady once related to me. She had long been severely disabled by juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. She had gone in to see her rheumatologist after a long absence and he’d demanded of her, “Where have you been?!”

She retorted sharply, “What have you  learned?” If he couldn’t do anything new, there was too much life to live to bother with being reminded again and again of what she couldn’t do, so, hey.

As a newly-diagnosed lupus patient at the time with Crohn’s soon to come, doctors aside, she taught me a valuable way to look at this chronic stuff. Just go live!

I should add that in the 24 years since then, the medical field has learned a lot about her JRA, actually.

Well anyway.

So I went in today. And asked the doctor how he was doing.



He told me he was now coaching his daughter’s basketball team.


He was pleased with how pleased I was with that, so he asked after my grandson and then asked if I were doing any writing; somehow that became an opening for me to tell him about the Warm Hats Not Hot Heads project (which I totally mangled the name of, trying to spit it out, giving him an on-the-spot example of lupus brain fog) and how we knitters had knit a hat for each member of the Senate and a goodly percentage of the House; I gave him my line about “to tell them to put a lid on it,” not the most, um, diplomatic way to describe it, and he laughed and added, “And get to work?”

“Yes!” My turn to laugh.

So we didn’t come up with any magical cures today. But I came away feeling heard about the medical stuff that I honestly didn’t particularly want to talk about because we had heard each other out on a few of the important things near and dear to our hearts. Which made the rest easier to discuss. (Stupid chest pains. He looked up the cardiologist’s notes and reassured me. The cardiac cough is in remission, always a good thing.)

Okay, then.  I’ll see him again in six months.

Monday December 10th 2012, 11:23 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends

The first batch of chocolate tortes in thanks to those who gave us all those rides to and from the airport is now cooling on the counter. Ganache shall commence in the morning, and then doorbell ditching (but only if they’re home, since they need to be kept refrigerated when not being eaten.)

Monday December 10th 2012, 12:42 am
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

I’m not sure how but I forgot to mention the honey.

Lynn, the friend who took me to the Madeline Tosh shop, gifted me before we parted with a jar of orange honey that had come from her late mother-in-law. I’ve wondered if there was a story behind it–did she have hives? Orange trees? And did I mention to Lynn that the fresh orange juice we bought in Ft Worth was better than any we have had this year  in California? There was this surprised moment of, Wow, that’s good. The $8 a gallon organic  stuff at Costco doesn’t begin to touch it–Texas does oranges right. (And Dallas Fort Worth airport very, very badly–the GPS kept trying to steer us onto former roads that were now concrete crumbles, to chained-across no-man’s lands; we spent an hour in long circles trying to get to the car rental return in the dark alongside a few other wanderers just as lost. The place is city-sized unto its construction-mangled self.)

But enough of the whine. It was so good to spend time with those we hold dear.

And Lynn’s honey was as exquisite as the oranges it came from. I had to put down the computer, typing that, to go sneak another twirled-forkful.

The universe synchronizes its watches over us
Sunday December 09th 2012, 12:15 am
Filed under: Family

As for the Japanese earthquake, Michelle says she was in the middle of buying our Christmas presents when it hit. Given that they go on longer the further from the epicenter you are (an S wave vs P wave thing) and that there were aftershocks piling on, she said that with a pause here and there it basically shook for twenty minutes.  Carol King time.

Meantime, while we were at Richard’s folks’ yesterday, the phone rang: it was his older brother, checking in on them, telling his dad that he was in China on a business trip, the two of them chatting away for a little bit and then Dad offering the phone to MomH, too.

When Richard and I got home and went to bed at 3 am by the time zone we’d finally gotten used to, we set the alarm to be ready to pick up Michelle in the morning. The idea was that she would call when wheels touched down and we would drive up while she got through customs.

We waited.

Turns out her flight left an hour late, and only because her flight left an hour late did it happen that, with neither of them knowing the other was traveling much less where, Michelle found herself suddenly exclaiming, “Uncle GEORGE?!!” at Tokyo airport.

Of all the places to get to see him for the first time since the family reunion two summers ago. He had a stopover there on his way home. Out of all the places either could have been in the entire planet or even the directions they could have been looking in… What were the chances!

Airport week
Saturday December 08th 2012, 9:48 am
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

We got home 2:30 am Texas time, no blog last night. My laptop was indeed still plugged in at home. Phew.

You know how I never put anything in the front zipped part of my rollaboard for fear the bag will then exceed the maximum dimensions there and have to be checked? And how I carefully put the two ziploc bags of knitting-related material at the top of the smaller bag? (Hah. I can finally type without dealing with an Iphone autocorrect, it’s ziploc, not ziplock.)

At some point immediately before we went to the airport I must have decided the small bag was too full and moved it into that never-used zipped part of the bigger bag after all. So there it was. I always figured it must have fallen out when I pulled my knitting out of the smaller bag.  My sister-in-law now has her blue silk shawlette and there were the hats and I managed to cast off the light-gold silk for her just before we had to go. When we left it was drying spread across the long guest bathroom counter at the grandparents’.

Now to go pick up Michelle from the airport. She was in Japan on a business trip this past week, and was close enough to the 7.3 earthquake to feel it. There are stories to hear. And a week’s worth of email to catch up on.

Thursday December 06th 2012, 9:05 pm
Filed under: Friends,LYS

My friend Lynn used to live in Ft Worth and knows my in-laws–and me, through knitting. Typing this into my phone, I’ll link later to the post of when we met in person last year the day after she got engaged, a very happy day then and since for her.

She picked me up tonight and took me to her old knitting group. I grinned that yes of course, knitting groups are always on Thursdays!

Earlier in the day, Richard and I had run an errand with his dad and I had googled for the Madeline Tosh retail shop; I knew it was around here somewhere, but I didn’t find it. Huh.

Guess where Lynn’s knitting group met? My stars, how perfect was that! You should have seen me grinning when we pulled up!

I got to meet Amy, the dyer behind it all; like my friend Lisa Souza, she has a degree in art and a love for yarn and put it all together.

I bought one skein, all I could do for now, and I am very much looking forward to it. But I love that this lovely woman who dyes this yarn got to see me swooning over her work as it so well deserves.

It was great to see Lynn, too.

She took me on a brief tour of the local sights. I got her into her first- ever Trader Joe’s store.

And a wonderful time was had by all.

Trip two
Wednesday December 05th 2012, 9:54 pm
Filed under: Knit

To explain. We had plane tickets already for my parents’ celebration when we got the word.

Turns out Southwest doesn’t fly into Fort Worth, and we’ve done the two and a half hour drive in from Love Field airport in rush hour before; no thank you.

And so we flew home, had thirteen hours overnight to launder, repack, sleep, and run right back to San Jose airport in the morning.

My husband’s mother is now under hospice care and his father just had surgery for the form of melanoma that you want to have, if you have to. It was time to come see them, too, and the cheapest tickets were the ones with that thirteen hour layover.

In a way, my losing that ziplock bag and the expectation along with it of surprising my sister-in-law with silk and her daughter with hat-ly warmth somehow became okay: because my shock and my loss, acknowledging freely that it was over minor stuff, quite honestly gave us an opening to come emotionally together over, this good woman who has taken such good care of her parents daily. Who needed someone to feel as she does about her own losses, far and beyond any stitches gone to the air.

I had wondered if she would like the blue I’d picked; instead, I have the memory to treasure forever of her exclaiming, on seeing the deep cream dk silk that the good folks at Colourmart surprised me with as a gift a few months ago, “Oh, that’s pretty!” It was gratifying to know I could do her some good in return for all that she’s given of herself. In retrospect, I think happy anticipation was the best idea.

I am so glad I put that cone in my bag!

And then I found the second Malabrigo hat–at some point somehow I had switched which ziplock bag it was in, and so one project out of the four was saved. And my niece exclaimed over it, too. Score

The new silk shawl is humming along nicely.

They were at the top of my bag
Tuesday December 04th 2012, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

They’re gone!

The silk shawlette for my sister-in-law. The merino-silk and Malabrigo hats for my niece who’s dancing in the Nutcracker. Richard’s cellphone, too, although, that at least has a replacement showing up tomorrow (it was insured.).

They’re little things in the face of big things, and after a very small tear and catch in the throat at the loss, I pulled out the silk I’d somehow brought with me to see if my SIL would like it–which made no sense whatsoever when I was packing–and now we have something to look forward to together that we both know she’ll love.

I owed her a hostess gift. Now she’ll get to see me working on it for her.

With thanks
Tuesday December 04th 2012, 12:22 am
Filed under: Family

We made it home, late. Dad says to tell you all thank you for all your well wishes and notes of concern and that he wants you to know he tried to type his own thank-you in the comments but the right hand and the left arm weren’t ready for that yet. So I’m passing the good word along.

And then crashing in bed. Thank you, you all.

Sunday December 02nd 2012, 8:58 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

I didn’t sleep well last night, I admitted to John this morning; I couldn’t get that image of Dad on the ground and all that blood out of my head.

It wasn’t all *that* much, he countered–then thought a moment and added, But. Yeah.

So here’s how yesterday went: lots of people came to the openhouse. Old friends, old relatives: I don’t think I’d seen Max and Lee, Dad’s still-identical twin cousins, since I was ten. Much love, much celebration, much admiration of art.

Comparing notes between us siblings, all of us thought the idea of Dad taking us all out to dinner afterwards was too much for one day: he and Mom especially had been on their feet for hours and he looked a little unsteady to my eyes. Other ideas were brought up–take out, perhaps?–but dismissed. Dad wanted his family party.

And so we piled into two cars and went to the folks’ favorite Chinese restaurant.

Which, it turned out, had two concrete bulbouts jutting into the sidewalk near the door, one to either side. I did a last-second half-jump-and-dance in the dark over one as we approached. Mom and Dad had had to park around the block and they were a minute or two behind us.

Suddenly Mom was shouting into the restaurant for help. I didn’t hear or see but others did and I caught on quick. Dad was down and there were four puddles of blood around him. The goose egg was already huge and his hand was bleeding.

Someone had already gotten him a chair, I’m assuming brought by the waitress who was trying to know what to do. Son John and brother-in-law Bill lifted Dad up to it. Richard pressed napkins to Dad’s hand to stop the bleeding, Marian held an icepack to his forehead and then let me step in and hold it there with my other arm carefully around my father in support.

Richard and my brother Bryan had asked Dad questions and in the immediate moments he was lucid but then briefly out of it and the decision was obvious and clear and beyond any protests: emergency room.

No! I’m taking you all out to dinner!

John, can you bring the car around?


I’m going with you and Mom too, said Bryan.

Dad pitched a fit: Bryan is diabetic and the food was inside that door right there.

Bryan told me later he could just picture John dropping Dad off at the curb and Dad falling again and maybe taking Mom down with him: no. He was coming too. Bryan is unruffleable and he stayed put in that car and off John went with the four of them.

Meantime, my sister Carolyn had gotten a message from her son that he was interviewing here Monday and had just realized that oh wait, his mom was here from NYC and–and so he got dropped off on his way in from the airport to the restaurant.

Almost immediately after that car pulled away.

So those of us who were left were talking when suddenly it hit us: Mom had the keys to their car and John had driven the other one. Oh wait.

And so when the time seemed best, John drove back to us from the hospital, gave us keys, and by that point the dishes Dad had pre-ordered were served. We boxed up meals, labeled Bryan’s and not-Bryan’s and sent those back with John to the hospital.

Dad had bent his right pinky backwards so far his skin had split wide open. Six stitches. CT scan of his brain was okay and skull uncracked, and our icepacks had done the trick: the goose egg was essentially gone when he came home, although he’s got an impressive bruise across the side of his upper head.

But before they could send him off, he started complaining that there was pain in his left arm and it was growing worse.

Okay, x-ray.


But everything will heal and Dad, who is 86,  is still our Dad, and of good cheer even. Thank heavens. He laughed and laughed when I had to cut up his melon for him over dinner tonight and suddenly told him the old pun, melon-choly baby.

We all played our part perfectly, each of us, as he needed us and in the way we needed to in each of those moments.

It was a darn close call, and he’s going to hurt for awhile, but essentially, he’s alright.

Dad’s art
Sunday December 02nd 2012, 12:19 am
Filed under: Knit

Open house today for the new museum for Dad’s artwork.

Tomorrow the details. It’s way late here.