Sweetness and light
Wednesday August 31st 2016, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Garden,Knit,Life

Knitted a little.

Re that subject line, my mom used that phrase a lot when we were kids as something to always remember to aspire to–and said it at times, too, one must confess, in carefully stifled exasperation, reminding herself of what *she* aspired to, and then repeated by a certain daughter towards her own kids and herself as they were growing up. And so on.

And now I’m going to be boring a moment and repeat what I said on Facebook just because it’s useful information to get out there.

The Produce Picks column in the San Jose Mercury News on Sunday had this line in it: “On a really hot summer day, the pear may reach the minimum desired sugar level in the morning, but the heat will chase the sugar back into the tree. It’s the tree’s way of protecting itself.” I had never heard such a thing before, and I thought I knew at least a little about fruit trees. I wondered, just pears? I would quite doubt that. I’d wondered why a fig I’d picked one morning was so very very good but the ones I’d had since were just okay. Oh. I’d picked them late in the day. So I went out early this morning and picked the two that were currently ripe (I planted the tree last year, it’s new at this) and took that first bite.

THAT. That was what I’d been wondering where it had gone. That was what a ripe straight-off-the-tree fig was supposed to taste like. Moral of the story, and it probably applies to tomatoes, too: pick in the morning.

(And I knew Andy does. Now I know more of why.)

People chimed in who knew more than I do and the verdict was, yes, it’s true of every edible thing in the garden.

In that case, I figure it should be better known than it is. The food you grow tastes better if you pick it early in the day. Spread the word like come-post.

His too
Tuesday August 30th 2016, 9:34 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Last night, getting ready for bed, marveling out loud over the events of that day.

And Richard looks at me and says, But I don’t have *my* car keys back yet.

Ohmygoodness! Fixed THAT fast!

The other thing.

Saw a bug in some produce today, and just because of the ick factor from that I decided to freeze a few cones of yarn: they’d come from somewhere that had given me a great price because they’d found evidence of a bug. I’d frozen and heated it before, but hey, just to be on the safe side.

This was not half an hour after telling my brother on the phone how I was finally over my concussions and what a difference it was making, at last.

And then I put that first two pound cone in the upper part of the freezer. Dropped the second. Bent over to pick it up at just the wrong moment and that first one hadn’t been done so well after all.

Icepack. Meet head. Klutz.

(Ed. in the morning to add: that little voice did tell me, as I picked up the cones, You don’t need to do that. Answered it with a half thought of, yeah I know but I’m going to anyway. That’s the part that I felt dumb about.)

Because I just felt like it
Monday August 29th 2016, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Michelle had borrowed our car and stopped by home for me to drive her home. Before we headed out, Richard offered a short list of things he needed picked up on my way back: more wraps and gauze pads for his still-healing foot.

Sure, no problem.

I dropped her off, waved goodbye… And somehow just didn’t feel like going to the drugstore. I examined the thought, wondering: lazy? Tired? Dinner time? It would be a quick jaunt and done, if through a bit of rush hour traffic.

My car headed towards home as I argued with it but I felt no particular angst over going that way. Eh. I can go after dinner. Or maybe I need to make sure I’ve got a full list from him as to what he needs, yeah, that’s it.

Right, because smartphones can’t text–I didn’t even think of the phone or any of that.

I pulled into my own driveway, put it in park, had almost turned it off.

When I saw it.

The little yellow light icon that looks like a key broken in half with a squiggly line in between. Why…and then it staggered me what had just happened. Wait, how did it keep running if my keys were still in her purse?

Sometimes, said my sweetie after I asked him that question, it’ll keep running if it’s already on when the key leaves.

Had I gone straight to that drugstore I’d have been stranded with no way for either of them to reach me. And, turns out, I’d left my phone home. Where everybody’s phone numbers were stored. At rush hour, at dinner time, when it would have been maximum inconvenience to anybody else to come to my rescue if I’d even been able to figure out how to reach them.

But instead I’d gone straight home to where the second set of keys was.

Come together
Sunday August 28th 2016, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Friends,Life,Lupus

One might think, in these days of social media, that one might never lose track of an old friend. But I did after she moved away a few years ago. She’s a nurse, so over the years she’s understood better than most what some of the medical stuff I’ve gone through has been like and she knows she can tell me about her own.

To my great delight and surprise she was back visiting today and we were passing in a hallway before church started, finding ourselves suddenly together with time and in a spot that was mostly alone to chat in for a moment.

I asked her about that transplant list.

She so loved being able to tell me this: she’s not on it now. They’d tried something new, her lungs had plateaued, and she wasn’t needing to replace them. (There’s always the subtext of, for now, and we both knew it, but when you get good news you revel in it for every possible day you’ve got it. It was an understood thing.) She mentioned a few ridiculously strenuous activities that she wasn’t planning on doing anytime soon, but hey!

I tell you. I went into that church meeting just really, really, really happy.

Then later in the day I headed out the door not to buy, it being our Sabbath, not to make others work for me, but simply to be present. I’d gone in yesterday to buy that one last souvenir skein already.

Purlescence was throwing itself a going-away party. I figured sharing the love was what the day was all about and that there would be a lot of it there, and oh, was there. So many people I haven’t seen in so long–we all wanted to see each other and share the experience, that community in that place one last time. The friendships will last, it’s the meetups that will be harder to come by.

It was good. It was sad. It was wonderful–because it means Kaye and Sandi will now have time to do all that creating that they’ve been teaching so many other people to do for these last ten years. It’s their turn.

And I thanked them yet again for that big basket that had showed up on our doorstep seven years ago filled with cards and best wishes and get-well gifts when I was so very very ill. A lot of people had pitched in on it. I’d felt I had to live to use that buffalo yarn they’d surprised me with just to justify their doing such a thing, if nothing else.

And so I did.

At stake conference
Saturday August 27th 2016, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Long busy day, including seeing someone from my childhood, who married the granddaughter of my sister’s favorite teacher at church from when my sister was a teen, and someone Richard vaguely remembers from when he lived in France for two years as a missionary there starting at nineteen, and someone we all knew but didn’t know the French guy knew from when that someone lived in that French town too (I had not known that!) for half a dozen years after that. And there we all were. It was a wonderful, happy, small-world day.

Still around
Friday August 26th 2016, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I got a note from someone saying my blog posts weren’t showing up for her these last few days and she was checking to make sure everything was okay.

Huh. I have no idea what the problem is.

If I ask here if any of you can’t see it either, um, that doesn’t really work, does it?

Thursday August 25th 2016, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Food

Today’s peaches from Andy’s: they really are that big.

And that good.

Wednesday August 24th 2016, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I debated mentioning about the guest passes here yesterday, because you do a good thing just because the world needs more good things done to others, not to brag about it.

But I wanted a journal record of it, and, I later realized, of everything that had led up to that moment and how it had played out. It took a bit to step forward emotionally to accost complete strangers like that–especially when there were two of them (as far as I knew right then, while actually, there were five) and I knew I could only help but one. Would it be asking the girls who was the greedier or the needier? Certainly that would put them both on the spot? Would they be generous to each other? Would it work out okay? Whether they were friends or sisters I wasn’t sure.

And yet still it felt imperative to just go and do that. Not to anybody we’d passed or been passed by before that moment along that sidewalk. Them. So I did.

But what I’ll never forget was the fervent relief in the voice of the one who exclaimed, “Well YES!” as the other agreed–like I had totally come to their unexpected rescue. (Looking at the ticket prices later, it would have been $210 for that family. No small change.) And then part of the awkwardness was that she was a teenager and she had just unwittingly let show their stress on a surely sensitive subject. It was the other girl who elected to walk the short way to the member door with us after they conferred with their dad.

They could never know we’d gotten on the road 45 minutes later than we’d planned and it was all my fault. Or that Michelle had been totally cool about that. That Michelle had urged me to go to that bakery in Monterey that had been closed every time we’d come before and not chance it being closed again by the time we came out–let’s go there first, Mom, you’ve wanted to try that place a long time. So we did. (For the record, Parker Lusseau‘s almond croissants proved to be the best I have ever had. Worth the drive from the Bay Area just for that.)  That approaching the Aquarium after that, I’d suddenly pulled into the lane not going into the garage but had decided on impulse to circle the block looking for a metered spot instead (as if!! Good luck with that!) before heading back towards the city garage. I’ve never done that before because I know it’s completely pointless. And then being a block off for the one-way street and having to try again. Okay. Garage. Got it.

The timing of it all.

And then I had somehow kept on walking till there was someone near me who, turned out, weren’t members and who clearly could use that help that was so utterly painless for me to offer. It had all come together and I am in awe at the choreography.

The one who thanked us so, her face was not just grateful but radiant: as if she wanted to thank God Himself but in a pinch this stranger would do for the moment. And with that, she surprised and gifted me back.

And then we all vanished back into our anonymity and never saw each other again.

Tuesday August 23rd 2016, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Our baker’s-dozen-months’ membership ends next week and we’d been wanting to see the new Baja exhibit. Richard is still under orders to stay off that foot, so today Michelle and I drove down to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Coming up the sidewalk towards the entrance behind us were two tall teen girls and I turned and asked them if they were going to the Aquarium.

Yes. (Since I wasn’t their parent they didn’t quite roll their eyes.)

I said I had two guest passes and was using one (nodding towards my daughter) and would one of them like to go in for free?

Well YES! But I was a complete stranger making a completely unexpected offer and it flustered them as to what they were supposed to do–suddenly the dad they’d been studiously not walking with joined up with us, along with the rest of the family, and I explained. It didn’t matter which of them came with us, just, if they wanted to they were welcome to. I could only get one in, but I could do that.

 Members go in this door, people paying, that one, so that was a bit awkward, but I know how expensive those tickets are and there was just no good reason not to put mine to use.

We got a very nice thank you and then she went on to join up with her family just a bit ahead.

Peach sorbet
Monday August 22nd 2016, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Recipes

“Oh, you do it fancy,” said Michelle as I got out the wire basket to lower the peaches into the boiling water with; “I just use a ladle” at her house.

One one thousand two one thousand…  Sixty seconds, lift, and quick into the icewater.

And then the peels just kind of melted off. I squeezed one lemon from the tree, she added just a touch of sugar–not much–a taste test all around, just a spoonful more from the sugar container and then we food processored the heck out of those four or five pounds of perfect peaches.

Plug in and wait.

Direct side-by-side comparison between the plain pureed mixture and what came out of there and all I can say is it was magic. That electric ice cream maker is suddenly going to get used a whole lot more.

I get buy with a little help from my friends
Sunday August 21st 2016, 11:24 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends

Our friends Phyl and Lee came over tonight bearing newly picked, perfectly ripe figs from their friend’s tree, sharing the bounty that had been shared with them where they would be appreciated and eaten in time. So good.

In turn, we fed them peaches picked Friday morning at Andy’s Orchard. Michelle had called ahead the day before and been told, Don’t come down today, we’re about out–wait till tomorrow, we’ll be picking first thing, and whatever all else they said was such that Michelle told me, We need to be there at eleven.

We got there at 11:05 and two people in line ahead of us already had three boxes and a bunch of people who came in after us wanted some. We were allowed three boxes, too, and a few extras because we’d called ahead, and because we were buying not just for us but for a friend with four school-age kids who’d tasted some of what Andy grows and definitely wanted us to bring her more.

But I asked around the room first: did everybody have some that wanted some and did they have as many as they wanted. I’d never seen the place so crowded and we didn’t want to be greedy. It was clear they were running out fast. We had a heat spell in the hundreds early in the summer and it sped up the ripening process so we were near the end of the season early this year and clearly, people knew it.

Those CalReds were even better than the variety we bought the week before.

That afternoon, looking at those rows of beautiful fruit, I thought, y’know…if I ever needed an excuse to stop by our neighbor’s and check in on her that’s a good one right there.

She’s been fighting cancer. Knowing how careful you have to be when you’re immunosuppressed, I told her, These have only ever been touched (to the best of my knowledge) by the picker this morning and by me.

She was surprised and happy and anticipating just what those could be like and I wondered why on earth I hadn’t done this before.

Phyl, who grew up with two peach trees herself, remarked tonight, Now *that* is a peach.

As my cousin once remarked, Adam and Eve could never have been tempted by an apple: it had to have been a peach.

Tuck and Patti
Saturday August 20th 2016, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Family,Friends,Knit,Life,Lupus

That blouse I ordered last year turned out to be a little bright for me but I never sent it back, and this morning, somehow that turquoise-blue seemed just the thing. I had reasons for wearing something else but it just announced it was it and it was just plain bossier about it than I was. Eh, okay, then, no biggy. (One of those moments you notice after the fact when it all comes together.)

A few days ago, an ad in the local paper caught Michelle’s eye when I was pointing something altogether different on that page to her: she saw not the planning commission story but the small-box notice from the city that the last of the free concerts in the park for the summer was going to be Tuck and Patti. She couldn’t go, but she definitely thought we should.

And we definitely agreed. It would start almost late enough for the UV not to be an issue, too.

And then I forgot all about it.

We got home from grocery shopping and Richard asked, What time does that start? Do you still want to go?

I would have missed it entirely. I’d forgotten. We should eat dinner…

No, said he, if we want to sit somewhere decent we should run.

Okay, good thing we had ice cream at Smitten on the way home, it would have to hold us.

It was going to be closer to the Bay than we are and it always cools down a lot at night in this area anyway–I delayed us a moment while I went searching for a cowl that matched that blouse. I was sure I had one.

I did, some hand-dyed Colinette silk bought at Purlescence. Pretty stuff, if a bit bright for me; one of those yarns that leaps out at you and says it will be the most perfect thing for…someone… I always thought it would look better on someone larger and darker than me, and pulling it out of its ziploc this evening I found I’d never even woven the ends in. It had never been worn. Richard waited patiently while I did a quick job of that. (Photo of one of the snipped-off pieces.) And then while I grabbed a heavy sweater. He’s a good one.

I always come away from listening to their music wanting to be a better person and we own I think all of their albums. I’d seen them once before, when they played on the plaza at City Hall to thank the town for getting their career started, and at the end that day, when the crowd had thinned and mostly gone, Tuck asked me, clearly sure he did, Where do I know you from?

Around town, is all we could guess.

But it left me feeling a bit of a connection to the both of them.

Loved loved loved hearing them tonight. They went off the stage setup to the back at the end and I was surprised that there were some people wanting to take their picture or say hi but the crowd wasn’t entirely swamping them yet.

I’d already been thinking I needed to say it in as few words as possible so as not to hog their time. The experimental med that could have killed me on the spot, having no real choice–and yet. I had.

Seeing that I wanted to say something, those closest to me gave way and nodded me forward.

I took off that long cowl and said to Patti: “I knitted this silk. I was in the hospital thirteen years ago trying really hard not to die. Your words, ‘I won’t give up, my path is clear’ were part of my soundtrack. Thirteen years!” as we hugged each other.

She took my hands in hers and asked me, her face full of emotion, “And what was your name?”

“Alison Hyde.”

And Patti? If you see this and that’s not your favorite color combination, tell me what color you’d most like and it will come to be.

Technical stuff
Friday August 19th 2016, 11:25 pm
Filed under: Knit

I experimented in casting off in seed stitch. With all the lacework I do, I haven’t knitted gansey-type stuff much in the last ten years and was a little rusty. I knew exactly how the edge would look if it were straight stockinette and I purled vs knitted it but I was curious to see if the knit-purl-knit-purl back-and-forth might change that effect any.

So. I was on a wrong-side row on the afghan and tried knitting into each stitch to cast off. Didn’t love it. Undid it.

Thus the photos are of the finished right side (above) and wrong side (below) after purling-to-castoff from the wrong side at the top of the seed stitch edging. I like how it formed matching half loops over the purl bumps on the wrong side and how, on the right side, that straight line made a nice clean end there.

Knitting-to-castoff got me the opposite of that. Little jumpy hopscotches across the purl bumps in front were not going to do it for me–purling for the win.

Note that if I’d been working from a right side row, knitting it would have gotten me the same as these.

The ends are in sight
Thursday August 18th 2016, 10:32 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Cascade Epiphany cowl for the medical resident: done! (Other than running the ends in.)

Afghan: thirteen rows–done! Three more and the cast-off to go, but after two and a half hours of seed stitch my hands are done for the night.

An Epiphany
Wednesday August 17th 2016, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Life threw me one of those moments where I needed to make something for someone and it needed to be made specifically for that someone–no taking one out of the already-readies–and it needed to be done by, one could only wish, tomorrow.

Friday will do in a pinch.

I needed to start NOW. Trying to decide what yarn it should be threw me into a major stash diving, where I came up with two old partial-skeins of Cascade Epiphany in a deep royal blue. (Discontinued but I found this page for substitutions if you want.) That was so totally it. Super soft, a color that looks good on everyone, and it wouldn’t take too long.

But in sitting down and thinking cowls (while being really glad you can make one fast in a pinch) it occurred to me that the last time I’d made one in such a dark color was the black one my older sister had requested at our dad’s birthday get-together, early June. I remembered. The last two skeins of black Woolfolk that Purlescence would ever sell, a souvenir before they close next week–I knitted it up on the Alaska trip, which is fitting given that Kaye, one of the owners, is from there and my sister fell in love with the place last year as much as we did when we got to go.


Did I ever mail that?

Not that I could remember.

Then where would it be?

Not with the finished cowls. Huh. She just broke her upper arm, and giving her something she likes that she can put on by herself would really be a good thing right now; I needed to find that.

Okay, so, I sat down and quietly started knitting a bunch of rows and as such things do, the thought I’d been looking for came right on in and pulled up a chair beside me.

Which got me out of mine: I couldn’t possibly have, could I?!

I had. I’d left it in the small carry-on bag this whole time. We’ve been home from visiting the kids in Anchorage for two months and man am I slow.

So now I have two of them to hurry and get in the mail. Carolyn’s big black blob is rinsed and shaped as I type and will be dry in the morning; the one on the needles, not so much.

And *then* I do the top edging on the afghan.