Be mine
Thursday February 13th 2014, 11:26 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Knit,LYS

The first Babcock peach blossom, opened today as expected, and the other two peach trees. All in a year’s growth.

I finished the aqua silk shawl, I finished the aqua silk shawl! With about two yards left on the cone while the last pattern repeat was over 5000 stitches. So close. I would have liked to have done at least an extra row knit plain at the bottom but I just didn’t dare chance it. Good thing I stopped.

And…I came into Purlescence late tonight.

I had made a blueberry cake (with a little fresh-squeezed Meyer lemon added) for Valentine’s breakfast tomorrow, and I’d been waiting for it to be done before I could go.

I pulled it out of the oven with one hand with a toothpick in the other to test it–and that’s when I found out the oven mitt I’d grabbed had a spot where the insulation had worn through, and in my sudden scramble to get Don and Cliff’s pan to the stove fast before I burned my hand any further, I tripped over my own foot.

Now, it’s a running joke here as to which of us is the klutzier, but I think I took the cake on this one. I called out to Richard to come and see, because it was funny if nothing else: a third had landed in a clean saute pan on the stove, safe! Some of course had landed on the stove, but most stayed more or less inside the pan, even if not quite arranged the same way.

Four cups was a lot of blueberries–it was supposed to be three. I goofed.

He came around the corner in a hurry, wanting to help–just as I, while trying to finally put that cake pan the rest of the way carefully down, managed to flip the handle on the saute pan, blueberry shrapnel suddenly firing right at him.

He said something about how he could only make it worse and backed out of there fast.

Tomorrow we shall beat a tasty re-treat on this thing.

I know the old name for these cakes was blueberry buckle but I don’t think that’s what they intended.

Start with a stick and some dirt. And a pot if need be.
Wednesday February 12th 2014, 11:18 pm
Filed under: My Garden

Today marked the first flower on the last peach tree (okay, more a bud that will be open tomorrow) and the first flower on the plum tree. That makes four fruit trees in bloom, the cherry and apples still to go, and two of the three blueberry bushes covered in buds. Seven of these were planted last year.

I don’t know why I didn’t do more of this ages ago. Planting something that will create great food simply because that is what it lives to do and watching it grow is just the coolest thing.

I still need a Comice pear in there.



Tuesday February 11th 2014, 9:34 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

The timing.

I utterly forgot to pick up a prescription yesterday, but it was okay, it could wait till today but it couldn’t wait till tomorrow when I have an appointment and would be at the clinic anyway. An extra trip, but that’s life.

I bought birdseed in Los Gatos closer to noon than I usually go out in the sun in and was going to stop back at the house in between but somehow I found myself instead changing freeways and heading straight to the clinic from there. Not what I’d planned.

“Have you ever used our pharmacy before?” the new employee asked.

“Twenty-seven years,” I grinned back at him.

The med had not yet been filled, and so I sat down and pulled out my knitting. It was a two-stranded project and it took a moment to untangle the balls  from where they’d rolled around and through.

And as I did so I was facing, slightly offset and from about eight feet away, a man who looked like–nah, it’s not, I decided. But maybe. I tried not to be too intrusive as I glanced his way.

He finally looked up from his phone and glanced in mine–and held my eyes in a suspended moment of, wait–are you…!?

Okay, yes, confirmed, it seemed, so I asked, “Are you Walt?”

“Yes!” He smiled and sat up a little straighter.

Delighted, I swept up my stuff and moved to a couple seats over from him. The place was not crowded.

He tried to reach out a hand to shake mine but the brief shadow across his face as he tried to move pleaded with me not to no matter how much he wanted to, so I smiled and leaned forward a moment instead in what I hoped conveyed it’s okay not to have to.

It had been so long. “How ARE you?!” he asked, and asked again, so I answered a bit more than I might have by simply saying, “There have been bumps along the way and, eh, threw out a colon that wasn’t doing anyone any good but I’m doing well, thanks. And how are *you*?”

“I don’t walk easily,” he half apologized, and I wondered whether it was a car accident or what, but clearly something major had happened. Let him say as much as he wanted to (or not), I felt; he was just reveling in the unexpected moment together and it was enough.

I asked after his kids; they were a toddler and baby last I’d seen them.  We had been seated at a restaurant and by random chance he and his family had come in–it occurred to me thinking back on that that he’d never seen me walking with a cane before, wouldn’t have known about the speeder that hit me in ’00.

Twelve and fourteen now? “Cool!” I exclaimed, remembering how interesting kids are to talk to at those ages. He glowed in pride and I glowed for his pride. They’d been a long time coming for him.

I mentioned Parker and Hudson, and he laughed that it would be awhile before he had grandchildren. (But then, he’d started about twenty years later than we had and that was fine.)

They called his name, and he got up slowly, carefully, cautiously, not the fit ever-young man I remembered, but hey, he still has most of the color in his hair and look at mine.

He turned back from the counter when he was done and I called him back to me for one last thing I wanted to say: “When DEC imploded and Richard was job hunting, after he interviewed with you you called at the house to talk to him and he wasn’t home and you got me instead. I got off that phone thinking, I don’t know who. you. are. but I HOPE my husband goes to work for *you*.”

A warm, wide smile broke across his face and his whole body relaxed. “Thank you. You just made my whole day. Thank you! That was…a long time ago.”

Best. Boss. Ever. It was a great loss when he moved on to another job fifteen years ago. Walt is the best.

Pursing my WIPs
Tuesday February 11th 2014, 12:54 am
Filed under: Family,Life

I’ve been debating saying it for awhile. Who likes a show-off? And yet, since saying oh wow I finally finished the 450th stitch on row 49! is kinda boring, here goes.

I got talked into signing up for one of these flash-sale sites because, should I ever actually buy something, the someone who referred me there would get $25 towards her next purchase. And I was actually in the market for a new purse.

I had been for quite some time, long enough for the zipper to break on one old purse and for the next also-old one to show its age badly in ways that were not repairable either. I had not bought a new one in easily a dozen years. The problem was that I knew exactly what I wanted and it did not seem to exist and I did not want to spend money on something that was so personal if it would be a disappointment.

I am spoiled as a fiber artist: I remember when we were car shopping in ’99, looking at the ugly tan minivan we ended up with– “Champagne” in Chrysler-speak–and wishing I could dunk it in a dyebath to get the color up to speed.

I wondered more recently if you could boil leather with some of my fiber dyes and not wreck a Chrysler-color purse. I’m not a many-handbags type (even if I do have a few old ones I’ve never let go to Goodwill. The one I bought with my grandmother Christmas money 30 years ago when I was a new mom? It stays. Forever.) I’m a buy-one-wear-it-out type.

It couldn’t have lots of dividers that take up good yarn-project space. It had to be able to hold the Ipad I don’t actually have yet, although we do have one between us. Wide enough, definitely, for the handicapped placard to slip into after finding that my small Grandmother purse is useless for that. Something soft, sturdy, leather, on the big side for knitting’s sake but not too heavy for when the arthritis is flaring.

So I was looking at that site one day, something I’d avoided doing because who wants to even go near the temptation over perfectly frivolous stuff?

That one! Richard, look! There it was. (One of my kids saw it too on her own computer and went Oh, that is so Mom.)

I gave myself a goodly while to think about it. Nope, still there however many days later, down to three left.

Charlotte Ronson was the brand (not a name I knew) but the price was actually as good as some at the leather-goods store at the outlet mall a long hike from here. And a whole lot prettier. Well huh. And I wouldn’t even have to brave the crowds.

The end result is that I told my husband that it could be birthday and Christmas and Mother’s Day for however long to come he might like, but after years and years I had at last found the one and only purse I actually really thought was ever so perfectly perfect and worth the splurge. And the color!

And he, sweetheart that he is, bought it for me. A week before we found out we were going to be forced to blow $13 grand on the heating system. I was quietly glad as I put the box away for the wait, and he, bless him, was too because it made me so happy. I skipped the birthday and waited till Christmas, and–it still surprises me every day how grateful I am for this thing. It still makes me happy every time I look at it. It is so soft. It is sturdy but it is surprisingly lightweight. The color is exquisite. It is tall, snapping shut at the top, and holds quite a bit of knitting if asked. It not only has an Ipad pocket that also snaps shut, it has knitted cables embossed into the leather on that large pocket. Knitted. While the lining is a light color that makes it easy to find everything.

Charlotte Ronson, whoever you may be out there, (oh look a link!) thank you.

Best of all, it represents far more than any material good has any right to that my husband loves me and looks out for me. It made me happy so it made him happy, and I’ve tried to respond in kind moment by every moment and to live up to his generosity.

It’s such an odd thing in this life to be perfectly satisfied, needing no more. I have all that I might ever want.

Instant twin
Sunday February 09th 2014, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Here’s a new one in the category of things heard for the first time with the new (now one-year-old) super duper Oticon hearing aids that never happened with the previous sets.

I ran into an old friend yesterday; we were delighted to see each other, and she was talking to me as she reached in for a hug.

Then she pulled back, startled and laughing: she had heard her own voice in stereo effect as she got close and it threw her a moment. Oh! Right! You wear hearing aids. But–they *do* that?

Well I guess they do.

Can’t wait to see everybody at Stitches…!

A beautiful day in the Neighborhood
Sunday February 09th 2014, 12:14 am
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

Photo for Ellen,who wanted to know what that last skein of Stitches ’13 yarn looked like. Neighborhood Fiber Co’s Penthouse Silk.

On the bird front: it’s nest building time. For the first time in a year I saw a/the misplaced-habitat (before ten years ago they were never seen this far north) Zone-tailed hawk again in its usual skyscape.

A crow was harassing it.

But never coming close. At all. It was alone and its heart was just not in it–that 51″ span could turn around in a wingbeat and return the favor and it knew it. What it did do was get the hawk to come down close to where I could get a good look, glad for a red light and that I wasn’t the one driving.

Today we ran a whole lot of errands. Tomorrow I get to put up my feet, listen to the blessed rain coming down again, and knit.

Clearing the way
Saturday February 08th 2014, 12:29 am
Filed under: Knit

Just thinking about Stitches West being in two weeks is a great way to get a lot of knitting done. And Mel and Kris will be there! I think this may be the first one where I will have knit every single yarn bought the previous year by the time the next one happens–one beautiful, soft skein of Neighborhood Fiber Company silk left to go, and believe me, it will not be a hardship to play with that one.

One rainy morning
Thursday February 06th 2014, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Ran an errand this morning, came home, walked in and thought, oh, the birdfeeder’s empty I’d better go fill–


It had been raining, and it took me a second to realize why Coopernicus’s colors looked so dark–he was wet and he’d had the sense to come in under the awning and out of the rain. He was perched on the dolly just outside the window (and it really should be put away, except that I like that he sometimes goes to it.)

Kickin’ the breeze. Telling the world he was there, or perhaps his mate, wherever she might have been listening from. He cocked an eye at me and oh hi and went back to preening, getting that one spot around his right shoulder again and again.

I managed to get my coat off and my Iphone out of my purse and set the purse down without disturbing him. He did stare that camera down for a moment, but then, he used to fly away at the sight of it and now, oh hey: carry on.

He fluffed out his chest.  He preened some more. He was relaxed.

Meantime, intermittent pairs of squirrels played I dare you/he did it/I can do it too and sauntered out to the patio, always just one actually coming while the other stood lookout–but one gray could only stand it halfway, staring at the hawk all the way: I’m not going to try it, you try it! and he gave it up as a bad idea. The ones who did make it under the feeder didn’t stay long at all–but they didn’t flick their tails to signal danger either, even if those last few leaps to safety always came in a rush.

And so, the squirrels having given the all clear as far as it was concerned, a mourning dove fluttered onto the patio from the roof.

The hawk was suddenly bolt-ready, all feathers tucked tight, leaning forward. Lunch! Home delivery! *Cool!*

The dove pecked quietly away, looking at me.

The hawk gauged distance and flight paths: fifteen feet, no tree cover close, totally nailing this in one, two…

And they were off! The dove got a better head start than I expected and was beating it past the awning while Coopernicus was easily closing the space between. Then the roofline cut off my view and that was that, but it was clear that that was one meal he was going to get.

All the drama, never the gore. Again.

Pressing matters
Wednesday February 05th 2014, 11:13 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

Ninety, 100, 40, 80, 100: these are the chances listed on Wunderground of its raining tonight, tomorrow, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Already did some this evening. So badly, badly needed.

Motion caught my eye this afternoon while all of that was still just a hope and looking up through the skylight, I saw my hawk soaring high in the thickening clouds above the redwood, dancing a rain dance on the updrafts, gathering it all together to send it on down, send it all down.

And I went outside and inhaled the essence of those beautiful peach flowers before the rain could wash all the petals away. I brought two back in with me and pressed them in two bird books.

Keep your chin up!
Tuesday February 04th 2014, 11:35 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

Thirty-three years, I think it’s been–that hat is OLD. That hat was knit before we were parents. That hat was knit in doubled worsted wool on straights and seamed (I had to look for it–I did a pretty good job, who knew.) Gauge swatch? What’s that? Decreases? That’s, like, knit two stitches at the same time, right? Circs? I’d never tried them.

And yet somehow I concocted this hat for my 6’8″ husband. It came out, um, even for him, a little big. As in he vanishes down to his shoulders if he puts it straight on.

I stumbled across it tonight and told him,  thinking out loud, You know–I could cut the top off, frog it back to where the ribbing starts, and we could have a thick warm cowl out of that thing.

He got this big goofy grin on his face and took it from my hands and pulled it down over his nose, a big poof in back.  “That’s MY hat!” he protested, and you could just make out the grin under the bottom of the wool. Did he want to model it, then? Nooooo, no he did not thankyouverymuch as he made silly half-faces at me.

Just in case there are any new knitters reading this: we all start out as beginners.

That thing makes for great peek-a-boo games with the grandsons.

Knit stuff
Monday February 03rd 2014, 10:15 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Knit

The pistachio buffalo blend. The lace pattern is from the Tara’s Redwood Burl shawl in my book. I’m guessing it’s their Skies yarn, not currently in stock.

The red hat is one strand Malabrigo superfine Finito in the calm Cereza and one strand Malabrigo Silkpaca baby alpaca/silk in a brighter red to add sparkle and near-worstedness to the gauge. Amazingly soft, both, done here in the Water Turtles lace.

And… Okay, the backstory is that we’ve had problems with our mail delivery for years. There’s a new guy on the route and I have high hopes for him.

The doorbell rang at about 6:00 pm, the mailman with a package to be signed for for Richard.

I smiled at him, “Isn’t there a blue package for me?”

No, no, just this.” (Oh wait! And he fumbled in his pouch.)

As he brought the familiar blue Colourmart funky-shaped plastic bag into sight, I exclaimed, “There it is!” He looked at it like how did that get in there? He turned it over to read the address while I noticed that the top of the bag had been slit wide open with the top of the cone of silk pleading, Save me AlisonKenobe, you’re my only hope!

The customs declaration said yarn and yarn indeed it was. I must be Alison. He relinquished custody and smiled and waved me good-day.

Lime and avocado
Sunday February 02nd 2014, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Knit

A lot of people would love this. Really love this. Somebody will.

They might not have Swedish ancestry.

You know how some yarns, when you go to block them, as soon as they hit that water the deeper color is just oh so perfect but you know the thing can’t stay wet all its life?

The lime buffalo blend from the Halloween factory-reject sale is finally a cowl. Knitted. Done. Out of my stash. I wondered if there weren’t a bit of mill oil (which feels like dried hair mousse) to it, left unwashed in the bin as an off skein–it felt like it as it ran through the needles, to my surprise. So I treated it like that when I got done: hot soapy water and lots of rinses.

The water went a pretty bright green at the initial bath and then stayed clear, thank goodness, I don’t have to worry that it might crock green onto some future recipient’s favorite white cashmere sweater in the rain or some such disaster.

But the soggy cowl looked like an avocado that had been cut up yesterday.  Somebody’s favorite color, was my mantra as I slogged through the knitting over the weekend, somebody’s favorite color. Doesn’t have to be mine. Buffalo is warm and it’s supposed to bloom and be soft and it will be once I wash it. (I’ve been hoping.)

Tomorrow I find out what it’s like in real life. Once it’s dry the color will perk right back up again.

And I immediately cast on in a red that made my eyes happy. My turn.

Ch ch ch ch changes
Saturday February 01st 2014, 9:24 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,My Garden

It’s not just one or two blossoms anymore, it’s several branches. I’m beginning to be able to see just how gorgeous my yard is going to be in Spring in a few years as these trees grow up.

We were talking to Sam last night and I was marveling to her that we had flowers. On a peach tree. In January!

She did one of those shake-your-head-ruefully-while-laughing moments, and answered, Let me tell you: WE’VE got things in bloom. A type of shrub and a type of tree, dunno what they are yet, but, yes, they’ve got flowers on’em.

Me, stunned: In *ALASKA*?!!! In *JANUARY*?!!!

She affirmed: In Alaska. In January. We were warmer than Florida, so, I guess… But…yeah. They’re blooming. It’s the weirdest thing.