Totally tripping
Sunday September 15th 2013, 11:17 pm
Filed under: Family

In June, Parker cried inconsolably when we kissed him and waved goodbye at the airport, no nooo don’t go o o o; yesterday he was cheerful and happy as he waved back, quite sure he’d see us again soon. (And when we arrived, he asked where Aunt ‘Shelle was, remembering her having come with us last time.)

Next time they’ll come see us and he’ll get to see her too. Can’t wait!

There and back again
Saturday September 14th 2013, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Dark o’clock alarm for the earliest flight out. Dark again after the last flight back. Blessings on Michelle for driving us despite working till 2 am the last few nights. (So did Richard.)

Hudson being a charmer despite teething.

More tomorrow after a little sleep. But I just have to say: if you ever, ever want to knit for someone who will swoon, who can’t believe you did that, who loves all the people who loved them and shared or wanted to share their yarn to contribute to the afghan for their little (is he really already two months old? Yeah, she said, I know!) baby–my daughter-in-law’s whole family is just the best.

And Hayes’s mom also said that after he was chilled that first week that yes, he likes very much now to be warm. The afghan was perfect.

Friday September 13th 2013, 9:24 pm
Filed under: Family,History

My sister Anne needs to see this. Her boys could totally pull it off. Enjoy!

And on an also-whimsical note but in a totally different vein, you may have heard that Voyager 1 has escaped our solar system–that actually it did August 25th of last year, but they waited till this week to announce it because they wanted to be very sure of their measurements. But yes. Confirmed. That’s when it was.

Neil Armstrong passed on August 25, 2012.

One great leap for mankind…

Can’t wait to deliver it!
Thursday September 12th 2013, 9:45 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

Finally a photo that captures the colors well!

I’ve been told that Cascade 220 softens up at washing. I wanted to know that for sure for myself.  And so, after I ran all the ends in today, I put it through the handwash cycle on my machine and then (taking a deep breath) put it in the dryer, checking it often.

And about ten or twelve minutes was all it took for it to dry all by itself in there.

Softer it was. It is done!

It’s not the only disease
Wednesday September 11th 2013, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Lupus

On my way there I said a prayer for every member of our group, the ones who come, the ones who don’t, whoever might show up. I figured we could all use such good thoughts anyway, so, yeah.

She’s said it to me before in private. I was shocked speechless at both the words and the fact that she slammed her heavily damaged, arthritic hands to make her point as she said them: pain on pain.

But this is the first time that I know of that she said it to the whole group.

Lupus Support Group, Conference Room B. There were eight of us today. Six are mothers and one clearly, from things she’s said, would have liked to have been.

And then there’s M.

M fiercely believes that we could eradicate the scourge of lupus once and for all–not by research, not by medical advances, one of which we had just been discussing, no, what she said was, if lupus patients would just STOP. HAVING. CHILDREN.

And right there next to her as she fiercely derided most of us was me on one side, mother of four at the time of my diagnosis, and MK, likewise with her grown four and with her sweet three-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter in tow. Who’d been charming the socks off everyone, including M. I hope that little girl didn’t catch on that her grandmother was being condemned for her very existence.

The kicker is that lupus is not actually known to be genetic. The susceptibility to it seems to be inherited, but not the disease itself.

The others were taken quite aback but I’d heard it all before, so I smiled and responded gently, “Actually, I think lupus is what I needed to grow up.”

And I went on to describe how I had learned to be more the kind of person I wanted to be, kinder, more compassionate, more aware of others’ needs, because of the things I’d gone through via illness. (The stories I could tell! The people I would never have met but for…Like right here in this room, including, yes, her…)

I bragged on my kids by quoting Mrs. Russell, who had taught them all in elementary school; she’d taken me aside one day, well after my diagnosis, and told me that my kids were more empathetic to those around them, kinder….

The lupus, I said, had played a part in that.

“We all have something,” I added.

Another woman nodded, “The seeds of our deaths are in our births. It’s part of life.”

Another woman gave her own example of why it was okay to have had to go through all this.

I picked Richard up from work a few hours later and I was still struggling not to steam over the cluelessness of the woman’s unfathomable insult. I honestly don’t think she knew she was being insulting, though, and it was clear she was incredibly lonely, in too much pain to see beyond herself, and though she would never agree, it was very clear to me that in her old age she deeply regretted not having had children. That lashing out was her only way of dealing with it.

She needed a friend, not someone who took it personally and got angry back. (Rereading this draft before hitting publish, I feel that having written that out loud after these hours have passed, I am finally free of it.)

I hope what I said helped. I do know that I said it better in the moment it was needed than I of myself could have done, alone.

In the leafy treetops
Tuesday September 10th 2013, 11:29 pm
Filed under: My Garden

It’s not a fear of heights, I told myself:  it’s an acknowledgment of matter-of-fact limitations. The balance, it is iffy. The ladder ain’t so steady itself. But hey, my nemesis and me, we’re the best of friends, right, Calvin?

And yet this evening as I was looking at that annoying big weed-tree branch that had been leafing out wildly while growing ever longer right over the top of my Fuji apple tree all summer, doing it no good whatsoever, I hauled the big orange plastic ladder thataway, climbed up to the second step in firm determination and, arms outstretched with long-handled shears, whacked away at that thing above me the best I could.

Eventually I simply climbed the third step, pulled the big limb towards me with those loppers, and then broke off one small branch after another with my hands.  Snap. Snap. Snap. Braced myself as the ladder wobbled (quickly moving the tips of those shears away. My husband as a kid fell out of a tree with pruners going into his eye socket–he totally lucked out and needed stitches only).

Sheared that thing.

I let the main snap back in place and suddenly, as I looked up at it, allowed myself at last to realize just how high up it was. How up high I was. And why I hadn’t done this all summer.

Scrambling. Done done done. Not going back up there, not anymore today, maybe not anytime soon, no sir. Done!

And the three billy goats’ fluff
Monday September 09th 2013, 10:59 pm
Filed under: History,Knit,Lupus

Just need to run the ends in on the baby blanket–tomorrow. But the knitting part, it is done.

The cashmere-blend Epiphany yarn on the next project is down 28 grams and going fast.

And for a little fun: someone among the ironworkers repairing the old Bay Bridge after the Loma Prieta quake  of ’89 had an artistic side. Permission was not asked, and good thing, because state officials said it would not have been granted–but a troll was created and the workers welded it in place underneath the roadway. A little public art to brace against natural disasters. To stand guard. Ships passing below could see him and apparently the traffic news helicopters could zoom their lenses to him but I’d never heard of the thing till now, when the current ironworkers refused to let him be gone with the old span that was just relegated to history this past weekend.

This time Caltrans got it right. The little troll, our local man of steel, is to be saved for a museum still bolted to his piece of his bridge and according to the LA Times, officialdom has now asked that, given how trolls traditionally go with one bridge and one bridge only, and that ours has done such a marvelous job of protecting all from natural harm, that a new one be created for the new bridge. Of steel, in a place protected from the sun (a troll after my own heart), and they offered that it might be made by the ironworkers, or someone in a non-profit industrial arts class in Oakland, or…

On the sly. Don’t tell them. Just go for it.

Cue the Habu Textiles folks! That steel laceweight yarn I could never see a reason to buy at Stitches–it’s windy on that bridge and you know a little someone will need a good scarf.

Orange vs the blue
Sunday September 08th 2013, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Its head is turned away in this photo so you don’t really see that huge beak that looks like a straight-on continuation of that dark stripe across its face–I guess for this photo you could call it the vanishing point.

This is a Black-headed Grosbeak, a little bigger than a Towhee, and I only get to see them a few times a year. Today was definitely its day.

Some history: the scrub jays were eating all the suet in the large suet cage awhile back, dominating everything in the vicinity and chasing all the smaller birds away all day.

So I took the thing down and left only the small cage.

And that worked for awhile, till they found they could leap up from below at it, aiming just so between the metal grid and emptying the thing in a couple of days instead of weeks. And again not letting the other birds near. They’re pretty and funny like a cat and interesting, but a little variety, please.

You can never feed a jay enough to satisfy it. They are ceaseless hoarders, endlessly territorial, and they and the squirrels watch each other and steal from each other all year ’round.

I used a twistie to tie the (empty) big cage so that it covered three sides of the little one and the area below it. There. I figured it was only a matter of time before they remembered they could land on that one and clawed their way over to the food–but they never have.

The grosbeak showed up today to my delight, its orange chest to the sun, and after trying out the safflower seeds for awhile decided that that suet over there looked mighty tasty.

He landed on the big cage. It swung wildly at first and he wasn’t sure about that but he stayed put. The suet level was very low, which wasn’t a problem for the little chickadees, which can dance right through the squares in the grid–but it took some real acrobatics and stretching for him. He walked carefully slowly all over the thing till he found an entrance to where he could reach what was left–there you go!

And had himself a good meal. Talked with his mouth full from time to time. I would have loved to have known what he was calling out, how it sounded, to whom.

I wished I had my camera in hand.

One of the scrub jays, not happy with this sudden change of fortune, tried after awhile to assert ownership and strafed the area.

The grosbeak utterly ignored him. I imagine that big beak looked threateningly powerful, no matter how peaceful a bird he was. The finches over on the seed feeder to my surprise took their cue from him and they stayed put, too–I had never seen such a thing. (And I have seen a jay stab a house finch to death–they have reason to scatter at the sight.)

Then instead of taking its frustration out on one of the little ones, the scrub jay and its mate simply vanished for the day. Defeated.

Score one for the friendly birds.

Growing longer by the day
Saturday September 07th 2013, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift

Got my hair cut yesterday by Gwyn and have been very very pleased with it. If you’re local, I highly recommend her.

Knitting: got the last pythagorean repeat finished on Hayes’ baby blankie and now I’m into the ribbing. But I knew it was going to be a letdown when I didn’t have it to work on anymore after an intense month of it.

And I knew that sometimes that makes me sit around and admire the thing–okay, call it what it is, dithering helplessly–rather than getting to it on the next big thing.

And I had the next emotionally-big thing to do.

So to head off any lagging, I got a good start on a scarf for a friend’s daughter who’s going off to college for the first time, to send her off with an extra helping of love from friends. One she knows, two she doesn’t: the yarn is the exquisite but discontinued Cascade Epiphany, royal baby alpaca/silk/cashmere, via a gift certificate to Purlescence from those two other knitters. Who were quite delighted for the new college student’s sake when I told them.

Saturday September 07th 2013, 12:00 am
Filed under: Life

We saw the new Bay Bridge for the first time tonight, from a great distance: we were standing on the hill well above with friends, looking down at all the lights sparkling in the dark across everything below, pointing out the tower to each other. Gorgeous.

It’s midnight now, having just walked in the door, and it was 2:30 when I started out of here. G’night.

Almost there
Thursday September 05th 2013, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

I was at Purlescence tonight and spread Hayes’s afghan on the floor in front of Rachel to show her what her yarn gift had grown up to be–and while I was halfway through the last color band, to ask her advice.

Stop here and go straight to ribbing or do the full 24-row repeat?

Make it longer, she said. I’d keep going.

So I am. So, so close. It will seem so odd not to be working on it anymore.

(Oh, and I almost forgot: lessons on how to be a better predator to the baby seal or whatever the heck that thing in the water was, as given to a National Geographic photographer with a far higher tolerance for risk than I have by a curious, huge leopard seal. The doofus kept letting the proffered penguins get away from him.)

Reverse course
Wednesday September 04th 2013, 11:13 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Nobody was around and nobody would know, right? So the kid got in his jacked-up truck and floored it in reverse and blindly on past the corner–and it is a fairly blind corner–and I can only guess which way he was going to throw the steering wheel from there at the T-intersection but it didn’t matter because he slammed on the brake after I left a bit of skid marks on the road doing the same.

The car behind me managed not to hit me either.

It was his mom, coming home early.

As he turned his face quickly away to avoid my eyes, I nodded to him: Proceed.

And he was off, at a prim pace just so.

The mom pulled into her driveway, I into mine, we got out, and she, a tad mortified, me, laughing it off, walked towards each other. This was one of those times when the UV sun exposure didn’t matter, we needed to come together in that moment and no later. Now. For her sake.

The first words out of her mouth were, “He’ll be in college next year.”

I so didn’t expect that–I laughed. It’s okay. Far better that he learn in a narrow miss with witnesses and caught than in something worse later.

The rainbow connection
Tuesday September 03rd 2013, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Getting there, getting there.

Looking at the camera made me remember I’d turned and shot a picture of the sky at the end of the block party yesterday, hoping the rainbow would show.

I’m guessing the ash from the Yosemite fire is seeding our fog–it rained briefly a little later on our way to the airport to get Michelle.


Speaking peachably among ourselves
Monday September 02nd 2013, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Friends,My Garden

The annual block party in the early evening: old friends, good neighbors, great times.

I apologized to the neighbor on one side that I hadn’t planted the peach trees where they would grow over her side after all, like she’d fervently hoped I would.  Sun and soil issues. (Although, I could train the one at the end maybe eventually…)

Later I was chatting with the neighbor behind us on the other side. She had bought her house in the early 1950’s. I told her that there are now peach trees for June, July, and August growing on my side of the fence from her, and, (as I watched her face fall) a goodly distance away from it but that I would trim any limbs back should they ever grow too close to it.  (Knowing she doesn’t want anything to damage that fence–10 years old, but from her perspective and to some degree to mine too, brand new.)

There was a distinct lack of enthusiasm in her face. A suddenly-deeply-dour expression of, tell me you didn’t.

I tried again. I promised I would keep the trees trimmed short so I could reach the fruit and that they weren’t supposed to get very big in the first place.

Yellow or white?

One yellow, two white, I answered, not sure what she was hoping for there–but then it was clear that that wasn’t it. The whites, clearly, no. I didn’t protest except in my head that the Babcock and Tropic Snow white ones are supposed to have a more complex and intense flavor than just plain sweetness, that they are nothing like anything from any grocery store, they’re top taste testers, really, she would love them. Honest!

I remembered that not everybody’s childhood memory is of a ripe, sun-warmed, perfect fruit that you yourself climbed into the tree to get, its juices running down your arms and dripping down your front till your t-shirt is soaked in essence of peach perfume.

There’s a reason they don’t sell peaches like that in the grocery stores.

It didn’t occur to me till later that perhaps she’s a diabetic and sweet fruit is nothing but a terrible temptation. Or maybe she sneezes in the spring. I don’t know. But I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I think they need to stay on our side.

Nuts to that
Sunday September 01st 2013, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

My husband likes the occasional dish of yogurt in the evening. He had some tonight.

A short time later, after thinking about it a bit, I offered that I would have some spoiled yogurt myself.

He wrinkled his face in confusion: “Spoiled? Yogurt?”

“Yes. Green.”

(one… two…)

His face suddenly lit up. “I think I’ll have some green yogurt too!”

I grinned from the kitchen, reaching for a second small rice bowl of Mel and Kris’s–they make a big spoonful look like a generous portion, no small thing.

And scooped him out some pistachio gelato, too.