Walked a mile uphill both ways…
Saturday August 31st 2013, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

…in the towering redwoods. Yes I did. Sunscreened, sunjacketed, big hat. Parked right near the mile-out stop on my way in but just missed the bus that had once been a San Francisco trolley car and given the wait and the late (3:40 and the place would shut down at 5:00) I simply hoofed it through the hills. Later got out of there after quitting time, when the trolleybusing was officially over, and got another stiff workout.

It was Kings Mountain Art Fair weekend. I’d been looking forward impatiently all year to seeing my potter friends Mel and Kris.

And so it was that the baby blankie got put aside for a day while I worked like mad to finish the edging on a shawl. I had been debating on it for some time whether to just cast it off or add more?

I looked at it last night and practicality begone, the answer was, more. I added seven long rows, finishing it at noon today. I emailed a few friends to ask for advice re the blocking that just wasn’t happening in that kind of time frame and then did the suddenly-obvious and thank you Chan and Bev: I held the steamer on the iron over that edging and around the shawl a bit. It was Malabrigo Silky Merino, a thick (for me), drapey yarn, and it was enough for now.

Their Stonechat colorway? The pale gray flecks interspersed with the burgundy reds look like the light filtered through the redwoods.

Kris was just thinking it was getting chilly but hadn’t said anything out loud yet when I opened my purse. She admired the shawl and was about to hand it back when I headed her off at the pass with, “But does it fit?”

Her eyes went huge. Stunned. Thrilled. Petting it, swooning over the softness, loving the colors, just dumbfounded. She loved it! I told her about the not-really-blocked, that the lacework would stretch out more once it’s rinsed and to lay it out in a circle to dry. Or just wear it as is; given the heft and hang of the fiber, it worked.

I told her and Mel that my brother had come to visit us with his three daughters and that I’d found I didn’t have enough of their medium sized mugs for everybody. I only had six. I had so been looking forward to picking out more.

And so I did, two, and a napkin holder and a berry bowl that is designed to let the rinsed berries continue draining into the plate below. Kris picked it up, and smiling at the memory, said, “Mel made this one.”

She picked up one of the mugs I’d chosen and pointed out the way the yellow and red played with and speckled through each other in an effect that she said only one firing had succeeded in doing since they’d moved their operations to their new home in Oregon–she really loved those.

Three of the four pieces I’d latched onto had that in them. I love it too. I’d had no idea it was a rare thing, and now I have all the more reason to treasure them.

“Hey wait,” I told Kris at some sudden point later in the conversation–“you forgot to write me up!”

She got an impish grin. “No I didn’t.”

The art of conversation
Friday August 30th 2013, 9:05 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Politics

The dark navy, almost black stripe? That one went really slowly as my hands recovered. But now the new green yarn is coming along nicely. I’m second-guessing myself, I always do, on whether the green really meshes so well with the others, but it’s very clear that once the denim blue is in after that it will be perfect in there. Colors have conversations amongst themselves, and those two will huddle at the end of the room, catching up.

And the green is already making the navy less black and more blue around it.

Re this morning, we all drove to the airport so that there would be someone in the car with the driver coming back to make sure he didn’t fall asleep. Not to mention that with the bridge closed, we actually had to use the carpool lane from San Jose, even before 6:00 am.

And I just poured myself a glass of milk partway down the outside of the glass. I think maybe I won’t get up at 5:15 tomorrow morning.

Meantime, our daughter Sam got her second paper from her PhD published here, making her Mom and Dad burst with pride all over again. (And if you’re waiting for a medical breakthrough for any disease, go bug your Congressperson hard. The sequester is ending careers for researchers as years of work are abruptly coming to a stop, and knowledge is being lost along with the jobs.)

Okay, enough kvetching, back to the happy anticipation. I can’t wait to see that baby blanket finished!

Got it!
Thursday August 29th 2013, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,LYS

Kathryn had the exact color in the exact shade I was hoping for. And I got to see her! (And I took the other way home–the Bay Bridge closure, forgot, right, right, do NOT take 101 between San Francisco and the San Mateo Bridge right now. But it wasn’t too bad my direction at that hour.)

And our nephew Ryan, the one who lived with us last summer, is in town briefly so we took him out to dinner. And we got to see him!

And Michelle went to check in for her flight tomorrow and found out that, oh–it’s not at 9:50, it leaves at 6:50. AM.

And we get to see her off.

Think I’ll turn in now.

Hayes’s baby blankie
Wednesday August 28th 2013, 9:43 pm
Filed under: LYS

The moment of truth: no, I won’t be happy with it unless I add another color. It just needs that much more length. The beginning denim blue has ribbing and then four rows of stockinette stitch that make the ribbing fold back on the afghan for tucking the baby in just so, and that charms me–but it shortens the thing.

And Purlescence, whose stock was very low anyway, is closed for a week’s vacation.

Been a long time since I’ve seen Kathryn at Cottage Yarns and now I have my excuse to go see her! (If she’s closed for vacation, quick, someone tell me, but I’m on her mailing list and haven’t heard of any such.)

What are those scribbles?
Tuesday August 27th 2013, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Life

Oliver Sacks’ book “The Mind’s Eye” showed up on my doorstep about 5:00 pm and I’ve had a hard time putting it down.

One passage grabbed me that I immediately wanted to go show to Lene: it was about Charles Scribner, whose great-grandfather had founded the giant publishing house that he ran; his whole life was reading and writing.

Until he couldn’t. Sacks describes alexia sine agraphia at length, where the patient can write but can no longer read, not even what they just wrote. The hands know but the eyes cannot.

Audiobooks were just beginning to come to be, and Scribner had been resistant to the idea of them.

And then suddenly they were the only way he could read, and to his surprise, he could read just as fast that way and retain just as much of it. Since he could still write, he started dictating and having people read back to him so he could manage all the drafts and editing work that must be done and so he carried on, and presented Sacks with a copy of his first autobiography, written after his disease had struck.

Sacks doesn’t go into detail about Scribner’s business dealings beyond that, but, while sympathetic to what the guy had had to go through, I thought, what a way to crack open that whole market! Make the guy in charge need its services!

It’s probably fair to guess that Scribner, at the time he was stricken, would not have thought it an act of love within the loss. And yet–thinking of Lene with her juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, a childhood friend with young-onset Parkinson’s, the blind, cross-country driving trips fer cryin’ out loud, so many people, so many conditions–can you think of a faster way to get more books into all those hands in a form they can use?

My sense of the man from Sacks’ admiration for him is that he rejoiced in that, too.

But don’t check it in the luggage
Monday August 26th 2013, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

I’m on the navy stripe on Hayes’s blankie with a denim blue to come after and then done.  Close, but taking my time for my hands’ sakes.

Sale fares at the lowest price we’ve ever seen. About-to-expire voucher for luggage that the airline lost for four hours last fall. Total cost for two about equal to a single one-way last time we went (when we didn’t know it was the big San Diego marathon weekend.)

One blankie, hand deliverable, coming up soon. We get to see them! Can’t wait!

The pits
Sunday August 25th 2013, 10:47 pm
Filed under: My Garden,Wildlife

The funky Fuji feat.

I had an avocado pit, a really big one, with the usual toothpicks and in a glass of water and sprouting four roots.  I don’t know why I do this every few years, but there it was. Maybe it was the fact that it was trying so hard to give life that I decided to give it a chance to.

Biologist daughter told me the thing was living off the sugars of the pit only and that to grow well at all it needed soil, to go plant the thing now, not wait for the stem to show.

Oh okay, thinks I, no junk food for baby trees, minerals and future chlorophyll here we come, taking that as my motivation to get going. I got out potting soil and a plastic pot, nice and light and easier to transplant out of later, rather wishing I’d done this with the one that sprouted twin stems a few years ago. That one was cool!

I plant the pit. I water. I put it out by the containered blueberries where it will get lots of fresh sunshine and be faithfully watered every day. I wait.

You know what’s coming, right? You know it took only one night. Ooh, who brought the big nut?! Opened, even!

Seeds are the most concentrated form of nutrients in nature, yonder biologist reminded me just now, and while I might think of an avocado pit as having all the charm of a rock, there was utterly no sign of the thing this morning. None. We had an impressive display of free-range, unconstrained dirt.

I might start another one out of sheer cussedness just so I can sprout it inside. Maybe I’ll even get twins again.

Shape up
Saturday August 24th 2013, 9:21 pm
Filed under: Family,My Garden,Wildlife

Hey, don’t steal from my Gramma’s fruit trees!

The raccoons climbed into the Fuji some time in the night and worked a little more of the shipping tape loose on several of the boxes, but at least one length held on each one and they just couldn’t quite manage to get their little paws in there this time. But they got real close.

I retaped the clamshells. (Again.)

A few weeks ago, one managed to pry open a box just wide enough to swipe a clawmark out of one of those apples–and in the process broke the stem, and the still-mostly-sealed clamshell tumbled to the ground.

The two half-squared apples that had been growing inside were still there in the morning, the one nailed, the other untouched: the tape had held just enough.

Square apples. Seriously odd-looking. I’m rubik-cubing the little critters a puzzle. You know, I could maybe grow some really funky shapes next year–I wonder if a raspberry double-pint flat would hold up against the growing apple inside long enough to… We could have an apple that looked like it swallowed an apple!

Okay, I have about eight months to think up ways to make them grow into funky shapes while keeping them safe from the critters. Any ideas?

Meantime, ripeness is scheduled for the end of September. I am so going to win this year.

The simple truth
Friday August 23rd 2013, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Family,History

There may be those who would like to sign a petition like the one I linked to yesterday but take issue with its stance on gun control.

And so I searched again. There is indeed a petition that simply asks the White House to award Antoinette Tuff the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her heroic actions the day of the school gunman in Georgia. It is here, and I have signed it, too.

Meantime, two little someones had a good time at their first baseball game.


A compassionate, Tuff hero
Thursday August 22nd 2013, 11:31 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Knit

Took it easy today, knit just a few rows, and the hands are much better off.

But I did get to show Rachel at knit night the colors of her yarn coming together in that baby blankie, all but the last one in there. She loved how it was coming out. Made my day.

Meantime, if you didn’t see the story, I highly recommend scrolling down near the bottom of this page to see the longer version of the interview with Antoinette Tuff.

A mentally ill young man with an AK-47 and 500 rounds of ammo in his pockets got through the locked doors at an elementary school as a parent walked in and Ms. Tuff found herself face to face with him. His face showed his intent.

She felt the fate of hundreds of children and teachers on her, that one wrong word and they and she and the gunman and who knows how many cops would all be dead. She started talking to the guy while silently praying–not just for all the innocents but for him, too. “I put it all to God.”

She found an opening when he told her his name: that was her mother’s maiden name. “We could be family!” He was cool with that.

She told him some of the things she’d gone through to show that one could come out okay even after really bad experiences, that she wanted him to go forward and experience the parts of life that were to come for him, that the good to come would prove it was worth it, and she eventually talked him into emptying his pockets onto her desk, all the ammo, the gun, everything, and into lying down on the floor with his hands behind him while she sat at the desk so that the cops could know she was okay. So he would be too.

And thus it ended peacefully. He’d shot some shots earlier, but nobody was hurt.

I have never wanted so badly for someone to be awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom. I want Antoinette Tuff to get to see the whole country cheering her for who she is and for what she did. I was the tenth signer of the petition; will you join me?

Thinking out loud
Wednesday August 21st 2013, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

This photo shows the colors a lot better than last night’s. I’ve now gone on to stripe five.

Question: it’s about 48″ wide and the length looks like it will be anywhere from 34″ snapped back together to easily 46″ and more, given the elasticity of the pattern. That should be enough, right? (An example of the Pythagorean pattern knitted up can be seen here. Lots of patterns-within-patterns and textures for a baby to explore.)

But I just read the reviews on Cascade 220 superwash on Ravelry, and there are a lot of warnings that after the third or fourth time through the washer and dryer it suddenly shrinks up quite a bit.

That would effect the length the most. I don’t really want to do more than the planned seven stripes. The eye is much more pleased with odd numbers than even, and going all the way to nine is looking really unlikely tonight: as it gets bigger it’s heavier on my hands, and they are not happy. (Maybe, ice or no ice, I shouldn’t knit six+ hours a day three days in a row?)

If anyone has any experience with this yarn’s behavior in the laundry, though, I’d love to hear it. (It’s the 220 from the Peruvian mill, not the more recent Chinese version; this was a gift from my friends Rachel and Kathy’s stashes.) Because I’m going to tell the parents not to baby the blankie, just their sweet baby Hayes. And if that means I need to add an eighth stripe, I need to add an eighth stripe.


Bit by bit
Tuesday August 20th 2013, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

(Icing my hands.) Another day, another 100g skein of Cascade 220. I’ll have to take a good photo in daylight.

Almost half done. I’m going to wash and block it at the end so that the pattern decides to accept the invitation to show up at the party.

That’s the theorem
Monday August 19th 2013, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I didn’t take my instructions with me while Richard was doing the driving to the Temple Saturday; how hard could it be? 6/6, 5/1/1/5, 4/2/2/4, 3/3/3/3, 4/2/2/1, 5/1/1/5, 6/6 and on again in reverse, knit purl combinations across the rows.

Which is why I only did one set of 6/6 before going merrily on to the next 5/1/1/5. I skipped two rows at the very first color change. It’s making squat squares instead of elongated ones.

Which is why I have enough yarn to finish one complete pattern of what would otherwise be 28 rows to do Barbara Walker’s Pythagorean pattern. I come up with a little extra yarn rather than just, just, just horribly short of what is most likely not dyelot-matchable.

It works! (Phew!)

Pecan Zucchini Bread
Sunday August 18th 2013, 9:47 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Recipes

I made up a zucchini bread recipe twenty-five years ago after buying and freezing and using for the longest time a twenty pound bag of pecan meal from Sunnyland Farms, and then another. It’s been a long time since I made this, though; I have no idea now where I had it written down.

But how could I resist those big blue Bambi eyes? And so tonight I tried to replicate what her memories were making perfect. And this will definitely do–so I’m putting it where I know I won’t lose it again. Here.

The ground pecans substitute for some of the flour and half the oil of this fairly standard recipe.


Pecan Zucchini Bread a Michelle–two loaves

Measure a mildly heaping cup of toasted (350, 10 min–or don’t worry about the toasting if you don’t want to) pecans and cuisinart them till they start to be pecan butter–I’m liking smoother over grittier since I’m the one doing it. It came to just under 3/4 cup packed.

Mix in a half cup melted butter. (Oh but I wish. Earth Balance worked fine.) Whip in two cups gently-packed, grated zucchini, and three eggs. (Oh. I was supposed to add in a tbl of vanilla?  Oops, I guess.)

In a separate bowl, mix: 2 1/2 cups of flour with 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 1/4 cups sugar (this is a cup less than what they said but plenty sweet for us), 1 tsp salt, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.

Whip in the liquid mixture. Bake at 325 for about 55 minutes or till a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

Try not to eat it all before morning. That first loaf is going down fast.

(Edited to add in the morning: I might take 1/4 cup flour out for next time, but it’s good as is and makes great toast, somewhat biscotti-esque, to spread with cream cheese.)

Where the Bay sparkles blue below
Saturday August 17th 2013, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Family

The bride didn’t know her fiance’s mom’s cousin lived in California…somewhere.

I way overslept–I mean, WAY overslept this morning, by two hours to my great astonishment; I’m fine. No flare. It made no sense. I told Richard, There’s got to be a reason because there isn’t one I can see. And so our plans of going to the Mormon temple in Oakland in the morning were completely shot and we got there in the afternoon instead.

We walked out the door there at 4:00 to see a crowd of people that happened to include Mike and Robert standing side by side front and center looking at us coming. I stopped, jaw doing a crash landing on the ground, and exclaimed before the hug, What are YOU doing here?!

Robert motioned, “Your cousins are over there.” (They’re the husbands of the two sisters.)

And their 91-year-old dad was with them too and so I gave Uncle other-Bob (I have three) a hug along with his two older daughters. They’d all flown in together for Peggy’s son’s wedding; the bride was from Berkeley.

We visited a few minutes, and then at last I had to plead sun.

Just enough time for totally unexpected joy.