Continuing resolution
Sunday December 31st 2017, 10:32 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

Someone playing with his best friend…

And two hats that need to go in the mail in the morning, Malabrigo Mecha on the left and baby alpaca on the right, a little extended Christmas in a box (after I run those ends in).

Assuming I don’t come down with the flu like my sweetie did Friday morning (yes, that morning, after the travel and exposure and the stress and the worry and the late-night messages.)  And if I do, well, those hats will get out there in their own good time, then, but I think I simply need a good night’s sleep.

Meantime, a Happy New Year to all, and may 2018 brighten our hopes and strengthen our compassion.


We were not ready. But he was.
Saturday December 30th 2017, 9:27 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Photo: my father-in-law at his granddaughter’s wedding last summer.

Now that the grandson in Chile has gotten the word I can share the story.

Christmas day, my husband called his father across the country to wish him a merry one. As one does. To his great surprise, his dad was only able to get out a few sentences and then gave out and ended the call.


Richard immediately called his brother, whom Dad was staying with for the holiday, and it turned out he’d been trying to talk Dad into going to the ER. But that was the last place Dad wanted to spend Christmas in.

The next day he simply took him in.

There was some hope of recovery that first day and maybe even the next, and Richard wanted his father to be allowed to make the decision whether he wanted him to fly in to see him in that condition: autonomy is a thing too easily taken away from the elderly. I wanted to book the ticket like right now and he wanted to honor his dad’s wishes whatever they might be and we both struggled over which was the most right way to look at the situation when, as the far-away kids, we knew the least.

You know when the phone rings at 2 a.m. your sister-in-law’s time it was not good news. But he was still with us.

Meantime, I confessed my dilemma to the good woman at University Electric that afternoon as she wrote up the sale and she moved us up in the queue and got that washing machine delivered the next day. (I went back today to buy an extended warranty and so I could tell her in person what a great job her installer had done. She was very happy and proud of him to hear that–but, she wanted to know, how was my father-in-law?)

Oh honey. Thank you. But…

Richard’s sister had called again in the dark hours our time yesterday morning: Dad had slipped away.

He had missed his wife. He had missed his daughter who died of cancer at 48. He was a good man and a funny man and I will forever remember as a kid asking my mom what that word meant when my father declared of his old friend, “He’s the most gregarious man I know!” (The most like Greg? Greg who?)

While Dad seemed past the point of being able to respond, his son-in-law at his bedside named each of Dad’s children and grandchildren by name and told him they loved him.

Spencer told us that when he said Mathias’s name, for the first time, Dad smiled. (Photo: Mathias’s first Christmas, playing with the box.)

That is a gift to my sweet grandson to carry forward for the rest of his life. I am so glad my daughter and her family made the trip from Alaska recently to let her Grampa meet her baby boy. While they still could. Because you never know.

Determined to do it right
Saturday December 30th 2017, 12:06 am
Filed under: Life

The University Electric people not only delivered my washing machine but rather than just dump it and run, one of them checked the room’s outtake, pronounced it smaller than normal (yeah, we had a contractor on the remodel who cut a lot of corners, I’ve heard that line before on other things–we had to replace all the gas and water lines the guy did. Major $) and he was concerned that the drain hose might lift out from the water pressure because of how fast that machine rotates.

He took the time to let the water fill up and then started it spinning.

See that? How it went up?

I did indeed. (I didn’t tell him I had memories of my mom’s machine, when I was a kid, sometimes working itself loose and spraying the room with soapy water. Let’s not.)

He took the black nozzle-ish piece off to make the end smaller and tested it again. No lift–that hose went much farther down in and it stayed down in. He was satisfied and assured me it was how it should be now and that I would have no problems with it.

I paid for delivery and got delivery and plumbing trouble-shooting and a correct installation. I have not only found my washer, I have found my dealer for all future major appliances. I like these guys. And I’ve waited a long time to be able to say that.

A few hours later, I was talking to friends at a wedding reception. And one of them said, So if I want this machine I have to go buy it–tomorrow, right?

Since we don’t shop on Sundays, my answer to him was, Yes.

He just might.

And so we wait
Thursday December 28th 2017, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

On the list of things that suddenly really don’t matter, but still need doing, and knowing I would regret it for twenty or thirty years if I didn’t get to it before the January 1st cut-off when they get taken off the market: I did, I found a local place that still stocked it. There was even a slight discount on the closeout. I bought my all-metal-parts, all-mechanical-controls, no-electronics Speed Queen washer this afternoon, this one. (’s a fan.)

Tomorrow the new one will be installed and the old one will go.

Our new Speed Queen washing machine will probably last us the rest of our lives.

Not quite the typical conversation on Christmas
Thursday December 28th 2017, 12:06 am
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

See if you can see it, Mom.

I looked at the close-up photo of their dense bush. It looked like a near relative of my California Coffeeberry. Uh, I see leaves, lots of leaves. Um… Nada.

He insisted it was there.

Huh. I looked some more, wondering how I could be missing such a thing. Okay–wait, there, I see the edge of a paw? Maybe?

Yes, and… He gave up and pointed it out: see the jaw?



OH! Is that the teeth?!

This (he swiped a finger wide around) is the rest of the jaw.

Ohmygosh!! And your hand was right there reaching in to retrieve that ball!?!

My son found out they really do have possums living in his area after all while playing with his kids. He’d never heard of any around there before; clearly, they hide really, really well. And dense bushes where nobody could see them, with tasty dark blue berries? What more could it ask for?

Food. It was what was in its Christmas stalking.

Tuesday December 26th 2017, 11:51 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,History,Life

And we are home. So much to tell. This isn’t one of Richard’s shots of Elon Musk’s Space X launch, it’s the one I took several minutes later. We were 300 miles south of where it took off and it still took up a huge chunk of the sky (this was the small part).

We said goodbye to our son John at the airport as we went our separate ways tonight. Same airline, different gates, our baggage checked in by different agents.

Arriving home, my smaller bag (thankfully mostly empty) was AWOL. He called just a few minutes ago to say that while he was waiting and waiting and waiting for his big bag (just like we had just done), lo and behold, mine, with our tag and name and airport on it, had shown up instead and he’d recognized it. Had his shown up first of course he would have been long gone.

He needs his a lot more than I needed mine. We’re holding out hope–hey, it worked for the two of us; meantime, that’s one $50 Southwest voucher for us when we retrieve ours at the airport when it gets in instead of making them deliver it.

The most surprising moment of the trip happened at church: I saw an old friend who with his family (a few years younger than ours) had moved out of our ward probably twenty years ago.

I knew that his wife had been very ill of late. I knew she had been in a coma for some time with her survival by no means certain–but I had heard nothing since and I didn’t quite know how to ask.

I asked how she was–and he, beaming, motioned, She’s right here!

Oh. My. Goodness!!!

Hale and hearty and enjoying a family reunion, just like we were. I tell you. That was one great moment.

Of many.

And all other celebrations
Monday December 25th 2017, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Knit

A Merry Christmas to all and a happy New Year.

Speed princess
Sunday December 24th 2017, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Knit

I had no idea that Minnie Mouse had such an intense fan. The color pink I could have guessed. (With sparkles!)

But what I did know is she has two big brothers, and a pink smiling Minnie Mouse in a racing car that zoomed away after you pushed her head to make her go seemed a good way to transition from being two to three.

And I quote: “It’s the best present ever!!!”

She and I played many rounds of zoom it at each other across the coffee table after that. The wood floor? You can get it to go really far if you give it an extra shove. The thick rug? Bogs its wheels right down.

Pulling your feet and knees together for it to slalom down to that table and then flip wildly at the bottom? I think that went over, or under depending on where it landed, the best of all. Crash boom bam is a toddler’s idea of comedy central.

Sunday December 24th 2017, 12:07 am
Filed under: Knit

Come the morning it will be Christmas Eve.

And Maddy will be three. She celebrated the last of her two-ness today by teasing us via the anthem of that younger age: a repeated, grinning, ” Nooo!”

She was old enough now to use it as a conversation rather than merely a discovery of independence. To elicit a back-and-forth rather than simply toddling away. It was part of the listening now.

Rocket science
Friday December 22nd 2017, 10:32 pm
Filed under: Knit

We were uphill near the coast and everybody was looking into the night sky trying to figure out what on earth?!

Elon Musk’s Space X was the answer, turned out. Photos from Richard to come, hopefully while the two rockets were still close enough together to share the frame.

I wonder if the little ones will remember it at all. But–WOW.

Speed wreck
Thursday December 21st 2017, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life,Politics

Washing machines. So here’s what I’ve found so far.

There’s a reason the newer HE machines take an hour to clean your clothes: the enzymes in their detergents take up to an hour to clean away the soiled bits. If the machines work faster than that and your clothes come out still dirty, guess who gets the blame? Manufacturers don’t believe consumers pre-treat anything anymore and they build them on that assumption and if that means you get stuck waiting forever, oh well.

Speed Queen is the only brand still making machines with all-metal parts built to last decades; they wash the clothes, as the name implies, fairly quickly–and well–and with no electronics to go bad.

For about one more week. If you can find them. I found myself reading through pages and pages of discussion on the subject and stumbled across the statement by one reviewer that the government was requiring electronics by the end of the year.

Say what? How did that make sense?

So I called Speed Queen and got tossed to a technical-side guy there with a charming Midwestern accent who talked up the new model coming out and the electric parts behind the knobs now.

Electric? Are we meaning electronics here? I had to pin him down a bit: So are there going to be motherboards? (Having been quoted over $800 plus labor on a stove, on an oven, then on the other oven, all in upper-end major appliances under six years old. I am so done with that.)

He didn’t quite want to say yes, but, yes–and then he explained. You can set the machine to the size load you want, but the government doesn’t believe you won’t do anything but set it at extra large every time so they’re requiring sensors that automatically set the water level to match the level of the clothes. So, yes, he said, that reviewer was right: the old mechanical-only knob machines are only allowed to be sold through the end of this year.

If you can find one, he warned.

Suddenly my ability to face shelling out the kind of money those cost just shot way up. There’s a reason washing-machine sales are up so high and it ain’t quality in the other brands.

The rest of it is all still all-metal parts, he assured me.

I had one other question, the big sticking point for me: I needed a machine that could spin out hand washed woolens without spraying water on them; could theirs do that?

Only on one of the cycles, he said.

I only need one. Cool. Thank you so much.

Since I hung up the phone, I’ve had to wonder: Speed Queen had a twenty-year warranty on those all-mechanical machines a few years ago, while other manufacturers were cutting more and more corners and designing theirs to die at five or six years so you’d have to replace them. They were even discontinuing parts, said another person on that same thread, for not-much-older machines so you couldn’t keep fixing them.

I live in California. I know how to conserve water. Speed Queens were dunned for using too much, but someone in that thread actually measured the water going into the spray function of an HE machine and found it used about the same amount.

What I’m thinking is, someone doesn’t like the competition that comes when lots of people like me (and that’s probably most of us by now) want a machine without the stinking failing motherboards anymore. I wonder how much their CEOs donated to which members of Congress to shut down their competition?*

Because you know this Congress is absolutely capable of doing that.

Meantime, Speed Queen is putting their electronic ones through the ringer to try to make them as reliable as the old reliable. They have a reputation to maintain.

A klieg-light heads-up to the other major-appliance makers: you, too, could grab away a fanatically grateful share of the market if you made things that didn’t break down constantly. Like you used to.


*(Edited to add, turns out Rep. Upton of Michigan is an heir to the Whirlpool fortune. No surprise.)

On their birthday
Wednesday December 20th 2017, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Knitting a Gift

Happy Birthday to my mom and to Parker! He has been waiting all his life to be seven.

Sat down at 9:00 this morning with the barely-begun and pulled the yarn triumphantly through that last loop at 1:30 on the nose. Put a tag to it (and iced my hands) and got it wrapped and out the door. And another one’s done and another one’s mailed and another one bites the dust. Hopefully that’s not already too much of a spoiler. But–I did it! Saturday delivery, they claim.

Drove from there to Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco. (Nope–their site’s still hacked, don’t look at it like I just did but if you know a good web support person she’s looking and I’d be happy to pass a name on to her.) I got the yarn for two of the three people still waiting–the two I needed to buy for. (Dark but no purple? Oh well that lets out that that and that in my stash. Purple gravitates towards me.) Oh and no brights. (Not that or that or that either, then.) The more I’d thought about it, the more I felt it needed to be superwash, if for no other reason than to be fair to some future grandchild or child helping their aged parents out with the laundry and being horror-stricken at how the favorite hat had come out. Been there comforted the kid when it happened to the Scandinavian sweater I’d knit in high school. So let’s not do that to them.

THAT, then, at the store. Yes. Dark not purple, heathery not a boring solid but going subtle on the hand-dyed look even if he did marry into a definitely artistic family. Good old Mecha by golly. It seemed exactly right to me, and if it’s not, (talking to my sister here) let me quietly know and I’ll try again.

Meantime, yesterday morning I went out and again picked the tomatoes that were far enough along to ripen inside. There was a possibility of snow last night. (So of course it rained instead and the 30-something temps took a night off.) The ripest were at the bottom of the bowl, with a few surprise orange ones added to the top after I thought I’d gotten them all.

Five and a half pounds this time. And yet, still more to come, if they can.

So my day went from fiercely focused to meandering blogging. How was yours?

Three down
Wednesday December 20th 2017, 12:37 am
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift

Three in the mail, done and done in time for every one of them to arrive in time via Priority mail, even the one going to Anchorage. My brother-in-law’s, though, I didn’t find the yarn I wanted, even at the shop I stopped in at on my way home from San Jose. Still working on working on it.

But hey. I got asked last week by various people who knew nothing of each other’s requests to do five knitting projects that I wasn’t expecting, hopefully before Christmas they wished out loud, and two of those are already on their way there and a third has been cast on. I’m pretty happy about that.

To Nash with love
Monday December 18th 2017, 11:36 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

Malabrigo Mecha, 68 stitches, US 7 needles, Parisian Night colorway. Needs the ends run in. Soft and warm.

Needs a run in to the post office.

Sunday December 17th 2017, 11:40 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Another Christmas present finished (I can’t show it off yet) and another request for a hat to look just like that other one I made for that other person (except please in this colorway. Okay, will find some.)

But I haven’t started my brother-in-law’s hat, likewise requested after our trip to the yarn store in superwash colors I don’t have, nor Nash‘s hat (I have his yarn, that’s what we went there for) nor finished that afghan nor… The aheader I get the behinder I run. But man, did it feel good pulling that finished pretty thing out after the spin cycle tonight with the stitches relaxed into their pattern, showing off how they could look now. My daughter is so going to love this.

Well then. So will they theirs. Git’em done. Nash, you’re on next because your mom asked first and I’ve got your yarn in hand. Casting on right now to get it started.