Can’t flu me
Monday September 30th 2013, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Life

Headed off for bed last night, to find–the plumbing, oh no…

We own a small plumber’s snake and thankfully it was enough for the job. It was past 1:15 am when I went to go turn on the last load of towels for the night. I turned the dial back around when I woke up–high heat again. Bleach. (And my kids know I never, ever leave a load in the washer overnight. But there are worse things.)

Which is why I did not get my flu shot at the medical center’s walk-in shot clinic this morning before a contractor came over to give us an estimate in the afternoon. It just was not the first thing on my mind.

The last time I didn’t get a flu shot I ended up with four months of double pneumonia and permanent lung damage, so, not just for me: go get yourself vaccinated if you haven’t yet.

Costco sells them for $15. Time flexible. I’ll be there.

(Edited later to add, after making myself sit down to knit after writing about the plumbing.) I finished it! Happy dance, happy dance! Took more frogging and leap after leap into the unknown, but I finished the friend’s daughter’s scarf and it is beautiful and flattering and unique and I knew the color was perfect but now I know the pattern is perfect–I was making it up as I went along (or unmaking it)–and oh, this came out just right. That makes up for twenty-two hours ago, definitely! Oh, I can’t wait till she gets it!

Bethesda and Potomac
Sunday September 29th 2013, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

I found this photo in my phone after writing this post and had to laugh–alright, Hudson, you’re right, I owe you a sweater.

The season is turning, the shadows are more slanted in the afternoon, and the leaves are beginning to change back East. And, remembering hikes taken together along the C&O Canal, I have been missing old friends and places and sights.

I was knitting some nice yarn on some old favorite needles this evening, rosewood Holz and Steins made from the leftover wood from making musical instruments. You don’t see those anymore except in a fortunate knitter’s hands.

I found myself wondering. If there are a thousand yards of yarn in a shawl and I have knit how many, how many afghans, how many sweaters, how many hats, scarves, cowls, socks….

Would the length of that yarn be enough to connect me all the way across the continent to back home?

And back again to my friends and family and life here.

It’s all good.

Cart before the course
Saturday September 28th 2013, 11:29 pm
Filed under: Food,Life

Hudson and his cousin Hayes…

Went to Purlescence’s yarn swap and got to see friends I haven’t seen in ages! I’m so glad I went. I sent good yarn off to new homes and brought none home.

Meantime, Richard has had a fever the last two days and someone had to get some groceries–not much, but some. Rhubarb to go with the strawberries in the cobbler I wanted to make (and did). There’s only one place I know I’ll definitely find that.

So I waited till 5:30 and headed off for the partially outdoors Milk Pail.

The place has maybe half a dozen shopping carts, cute little miniatures; there’s just no room for more. Baskets, they have lots of plastic baskets to carry around.

I always remember after I get there just how hard it is for me in there: visual overload, tight spaces, and the brain that had the visual and balance connections not entirely mended since my car accident. My sense of which way up is is tactile. And I am always, always bumped into in there.

There was one last cart to steady me–but a boy of about six or seven never saw me and ran ahead and grabbed it with glee and wheeled it to his mom, and I’m not about to do anything to tell a kid not to do right by his mother.

I turned back, but another woman saw. She had a cart, and in a–German?–accent she offered it to me.

It was a lifeline: I could make it through this place and I thanked her.

She didn’t seem to want to be thanked, just let her go about her business.

Oh okay.

We passed each other a minute or two later and I smiled and nodded and her face registered as yeah yeah whatever. I hoped she didn’t have a sore back or some such that might make her need that cart too; I hoped she had no regrets.

But it seemed like it just wasn’t a big deal to her. It was to me, of course.

Back to our anonymous shopping.

While I said a silent prayer upwards to the Love who treasures our best impulses that her day might go easier as mine had through her.

Day by day
Friday September 27th 2013, 11:49 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

New photos from the kids today. Nobody can get as big a grin from Hudson as Kim can.

Wound off a 150 gram cone of merino fine laceweight oh, ages ago, and dyed it purple.

It felted. Thousands and thousands of little tiny woolen velcro-y snag points and I should have expected that but but. I was hoping it wouldn’t be that bad; it was.

It went into the stash, where I pulled it out every now and then and admired the heathery color and always ended up putting it back.

Today it somehow finally jumped out at me and of all the things I could be doing, demanded to be wound up. Now. *Carefully. For two long what-was-I-thinking, wow-this-is-pretty-stuff hours. There was a little silk in it too, and the winding was bringing out the sheen.

Y’know though, thought I, for this amount of time I could drive up to Cottage Yarns, buy their Malabrigo baby alpaca/silk laceweight for ten-something a skein in that colour, bring it home, wind it up easily, and get a good start on the actual knitting.

And yet this was here. I mentally chucked it at Purlescence’s yarn swap tomorrow but it refused to go. I kept at it.

I finished the thing. (Almost. It snagged and broke in two places with maybe ten yards to go and I looked at that last little bit defying my good will and Yes I did.)

I spent the evening swatching ideas with something else altogether, determined to get a pattern past the almost-perfect and feeling a little stuck in Edison’s 99% perspiration mode. But I’m definitely closer.

We ate the second Fuji apple. It confirmed for me that the first one really was that good. Apples were not my most favorite fruit, but I’m rethinking that for the moment.


*When you wind wool by hand, always run it over one or more fingers holding the ball as you go so that it isn’t pulled taut. This keeps it from stretching out.

They grow up so fast
Thursday September 26th 2013, 11:39 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

(Hudson and his Grampa, who was running on four hours’ sleep at the time, were both taking naps when I pulled out the camera for these.)

I just helped Michelle load her car up.

Grad school was the only time she had to take on student loans. We know how lucky that is. Thank you BYU for undergrad tuition that was about $3500 a year. I am not missing a zero. Running and checking–it’s $4850/year now, $9700 if you’re not Mormon. Basically, if you get in you’re on partial scholarship.

A Master’s at the University of Michigan as an out of state-er was a whole different story.

Living at home for the first year of work helped her pay most of that off.

It feels like sending a kid off to college all over again: she’s moving out, she’s moving to a new stage of life, it won’t ever be the same, we can’t really go back. Well actually, now we know we can if she or a sibling needs it.

But we really really enjoyed having her here this past year. She’s only a town away and I’m trying not to go through withdrawal too hard for the first night.

Her parting words, reminding me of an Indian dish she had planned: “Oh I’ll be back tomorrow night to cook that for you.”

It’s all good.

Horsing around
Wednesday September 25th 2013, 10:59 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

Having a hard time putting down the knitting for the friend’s daughter long enough to write. So let me distract you with a few more baby pictures. (TNNA is in San Diego next time? Hey!)

And thinking of little boys playing, if you didn’t see it yet? A ram very gently teaching a young bull how to go about this head-butting thing.

The bull is more the Ferdinand type, though. Peaceable.

Back to the Epiphany.


Moving along
Tuesday September 24th 2013, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,Life

I know, I know, it’s name dropping, but this is just too fun not to share–for me it brings back so many happy memories with that good family, and I knew if I put it here I could find it again. My parents weren’t big picture takers and I had no idea this existed.

My brother Bryan says our Mom sent him this photo some time ago and before everyone else had heard of the guy, of his best friend from across the street just before the best friend moved away to South Carolina.

Stephen Colbert was four.

Meantime, I finished the Malabrigo Silkpaca shawl and have gone back to the Epiphany project after a week’s break to figure out how to redesign the part I didn’t like. Ripped relentlessly, thinking of how Stephanie says she’s never regretted frogging something that’s not working.

And now that I’ve seen how it could look because of how it did look but that came up short, (see? It wasn’t wasted time) I finally knew what to do to make it come out perfect. It feels so much better now. Full speed ahead!

There they are
Monday September 23rd 2013, 11:25 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

Hudson snoozing….

It was Autumn Equinox on Sunday, and I was wondering where my Cooper’s hawk was; usually he makes a big show at each change of the season. Clearly he’s been here because there have been long gaps with zero wildlife in sight the last few days.

I was coming home from the post office this afternoon when, as I came into my neighborhood, I pulled to the side of the road: there were two of them high above the pines, soaring, circling, courting, claiming.

I came home a little lighter.

Then later back in the car again and near the foothills, another flew down over my car and led the way above the roadway, high enough not to be in danger, low enough for me to briefly see that it had its dinner tucked in close, heading home.

And all of nature seemed in balance in the moment.

Mini-biker rally
Sunday September 22nd 2013, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Family,My Garden

The apple.

Juicy. Crisp. Slightly tart, not too sweet. It was as perfect as one could possibly have hoped for after all those years of anticipation.

Meantime, last Saturday when we were there, Parker decided he wanted to ride around the block on his trike and knew the way to talk his avid-cyclist daddy and his Grampa into it was to first go run get his helmet. Then he got his Lego Croc shoes on. Ready!

They ended up going around about five times.


Saturday September 21st 2013, 10:56 pm
Filed under: Family,My Garden,Wildlife

How to tell when your apples are ripe (Googling).

Can’t tell by color.

The apples farthest out on the tree ripen soonest.

Lift one sideways; if it snaps right off, it’s ripe.

So that’s what I waited all day to try.

We had a major downpour for the last day of summer. I have to show you, just because I’ve never seen one poof out quite so much: this one house finch finally shook herself off and went for a dry perch. The birdseed was all over at the feeder she’d just left, but it was somewhat exposed and enough already with this wind and the randomness of water falling out of the sky–since when does it do that? (I wondered if she’d hatched this spring.)

By evening the storm had blown over and I went outside with scissors and a bowl to hold stuff.

I snipped open the tape on the clamshell that held the biggest two apples and a few leaves and one small one in there too, photo above. I carefully, carefully opened it and found to my surprise that there were actually the two big ones and three, count’em three little ones crammed inside. I did thin those, I’m sure, I think there were four each side originally, but there you go.

I lifted the nearest big one to the left and it came right off in my hand. Into the bowl, done.

I lifted its mate to the right. Nuh uh, nothin’ doin’, ain’t lettin’ go.

Oh okay, so, I put the clamshell back on, grabbed the shipping tape out of the bowl next to the apple and sealed the thing back up again. Sorry raccoons, these are still mine.

And I would tell you how the first ripe critter-free Fuji after 21 years’ anticipation finally tastes, except… I waited for the others so I could share the grand moment with them too.

Michelle got home at about ten o’clock. It’s bag night. (Every third night I can’t eat past dinnertime so that I can change the dressing in the morning. It’s a Crohn’s thing.)

The apple. It awaits.



Jam session
Friday September 20th 2013, 11:23 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

Thought I’d show you all a photo of baby Hayes with his folks.  Two months already!


Downtown: where even the ranting crazy homeless guy is dressed better than us.

Went tonight for a scoop of ice cream and to go see if someone was playing in the plaza; there always is on a Friday night.

There were two groups this time, the first an older white guy and an older black guy doing the blues. Just enough amplification, no need to shout down the passersby–they were good and they knew it. People stopped in their tracks to listen. We did too, and I would have loved to have bought a CD from them had I seen any. Swung my feet in time from a high bench. Richard’s feet reached the ground.

Waiting their turn was a younger trio, 40’s-ish. We took a walk while they were setting up and when we got back, the older guys were putting things away and the younger guys were just getting going with some Springsteen.

We found us a pair of open chairs. My sweet husband has been married to me long enough that he didn’t bat an eye when I pulled out some of Dianne‘s cashmere and started knitting lace leaves in the semi-dark–the mindless carry-around project, forever in the purse, always getting just a little bit closer to done. (And I would have cast off and sewn up the ends on the spot as a cowl had a likely victim shown up. Nope. No such luck. Still got to keep working on that thing.)

A young girl, maybe seven, was fascinated and they took a break for a moment to show her their guitars, their amps, whatever she wanted to ask them about, they answered. She ran back to her mom and they fired it back up. Rock on!

Soon after, some random person whose clothes, like I say, were quite well put together but his face and his thoughts, not so much, walked over in front of the band too, kinda danced to the beat a bit but then he started yellin’ at’em.  Waving, gesturing to the sky behind, making no sense except that it was clear he wanted the attention on him, not them. He would retreat awhile, then come back and start in on them again.

Finally the tall blond guy shook his head slightly: a gentle no, no. We’re going to keep playing.

And they not only did, they sounded just a bit better.  Like they were working a little harder to justify their claim on that spot? I dunno but they were kind to the young and respectful to the crazy who couldn’t help being crazy and playing for the joy of it and it was a gratifying thing to behold.

The odd man out of it sat down in a far corner and let them go to it.

For my grandsons’ new cousin
Thursday September 19th 2013, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,LYS

I was asked at Purlescence tonight, So last weekend was the weekend? How did it go? Did they like the baby blanket?

If every knitting recipient reacted the way Hayes’s parents did, I answered, yarn stores everywhere would have to completely restock every week.


Brian’s home
Wednesday September 18th 2013, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life

Brian Holloway, whose name will probably be familiar to people who follow football, had a locker just a ways down from mine in high school and was close friends with my friend Brad (the friend who posted notice of Steve’s passing.)  Between them and their little brothers a grade younger, they set the tone for the jocks in the school: be good to other people. Be proud of their accomplishments (missed the state football championship by one game) but not too full of themselves. The stupid drunk partying thing? Not cool around the captain of the team and his buddy.

Every high school should have jocks like that (said the emphatically-not-a-jock). I don’t remember a lot of details about Brian but I do remember that our class was fortunate he was in it; he was just a really nice guy who made the world better around him.

To whom this just happened.  (Updated link here.)

Over twenty thousand dollars in damage to his house, stupid teens tweeting their own little reality show while Brian read their posts from far away, incredulous. The rampaging mob, hundreds of them, stole, drugged, drank, peed, broke, shattered, vandalized, graffittied, all the while publicly glorying to each other in their destruction.

And his response?

To hope to rescue those kids from the tragedy of the trajectories they’d just sent themselves on.  To hold them accountable for the sakes of their own souls while telling them here was his website and here was their chance: own up. Come clean. Don’t stay in that horrible hole forever where it will only get worse if they let bad decisions compound bad decisions and flood out their futures. And don’t think you can duck out if you don’t do it–we know.  He offered them something priceless: take responsibility and by so doing begin to reclaim yourselves. Come help me get the place ready for a picnic for military personnel.

Other teens who had had nothing to do with that night showed up too after they heard: to help clean up the terrible mess in shame for what their peers had done and to offer solidarity to a family who had done nothing to deserve this.

And that is a gift they gave themselves as well as the Holloways, forever.

Resting up
Tuesday September 17th 2013, 9:58 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Lupus

The alarm, it had to go off early again–he had an early meeting and my alarm has the siren song that can wake the deaf.

The lupus, it flares. But at a reasonable level: too tired and achy to do much today except put up my feet and knit.

Which I did. Wow, look at that ball of Silkpaca laceweight disappear. So, so soft.

Meantime, a few more photos to show off from our trip. Big brother, little brother.

Holly day
Monday September 16th 2013, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Knit

Holly got to see the Chihuly Garden! Sculptures of handblown glass. There’s a local Chihuly piece I have yet to go see, but I need to.

And then today she landed in San Francisco, took the train down, and spent the afternoon with me. Not often you get to see a friend who lives on a different continent.

Knowing she likes to knit hats and that she’d said something about not having a lot of yarn with her on her trip, not wanting to weigh down her luggage but wanting to offer something, I brought her a skein of Malabrigo Rios in Ravelry Red (thank you Kathryn at Cottage Yarns) and it exactly matched her shirt–and of course it had that legendary Malabrigo softness. She loved it.

Then she pulled out a red fabric bag. Ohmygoodness. The peach, the gold, the two of purple variegated–those are all silks! And six skeins of Zauberball sock wool from the factory outlet there in Germany.  Wow wow wow. Karbonz double points to knit socks with. Thank you doesn’t begin to say it.

We commandeered a table at the new restaurant Tava for over three hours, and they assured us we were fine. I was glad to see a good stream of customers coming in and out; nice people and good food and one of those rare days that you get to remember and treasure forever.

I wish Tava every success, and to that end, my family and I will be back.

Safe travels, Holly, and my best to you and your family.