Pulling rank
Monday December 31st 2018, 9:16 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

“Grandma, how old are you?” It sounds like such an innocent question in the moment.

“Well, I just turned 60 a few weeks ago.” (And am trying hard to get used to that. I know in 20 years it’ll sound young but it sure doesn’t right now.)

He invites me to play checkers with him. I find I’m not sure we have the same concept of said game. You jump the other guy’s piece by going over it, you don’t smash it and everything in its path out of your way, I explain, but he is eager to show me that this is how we were going to do it.

“Bumper car checkers?”

“Well, my 69-year-old grandma plays it that way. My other grandma,” he explains.

(I know who Ann is just fine and yeah buddy I don’t think so.) I give him a look that is both skeptical and trying not to burst out laughing at his imagining that he can pull my leg like that, thinking, okay, I had to set your little brother straight on some of the finer points–like how both sides play from the same color squares, not shooting past each other on opposite ones; he picked up on strategy quickly, too, even surprising me with a double jump. King me? I get to be king? Cool! But at eight you are old enough to know better, unless this new Christmas toy is one you haven’t actually played yet, ever, and you don’t want to admit that you don’t know how to do what your brother now knows how to.

He persists. I laugh and tell him I’d been playing checkers a long long time and I’d never heard of playing it that way.

But he’d so clearly been looking forward to his Hulk! Smash! version.

We were going to have jammed fingers, pieces flying into faces or unwitting siblings nearby… Nope. I tell him with a smile, “I don’t play bumper car checkers,” while cheerfully offering to start the game (Alright! You want to go first or you want me to?) without belaboring the right way/my way.

With a baby to coo at and finger food to chomp on, he wanders off to something better.

San Diego
Monday December 31st 2018, 1:15 am
Filed under: Family

Return flight late. Still probably a little baby spit in my hair. Had a great time playing with the grands. G’night.

Seems so
Thursday December 27th 2018, 11:49 pm
Filed under: Life

And the doctor said:

“The elbow XR is unclear but may show possible small fracture. As mentioned during the visit, our management at this time will be conservative with rest and activity as tolerated as well as tylenol for any pain. Let’s see if it improves in 2 weeks or so.”

Two weeks. Yeah, I can do two weeks. Cool.

The hat that elbowed its way past me
Wednesday December 26th 2018, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

Saturday night I was taking something out of the cupboard and hit my elbow hard on the big wooden cutting board leaning against the side of the fridge there.

At least it wasn’t the one dedicated to chopping chocolate. That would have just been too cruel.

After a bit of Google, I was in no hurry to get it seen. It’s too late tonight. If it’s broken it’ll be worse tomorrow and that’ll tell us. No, no, it’s Sunday–let people have their day of rest. Who wants to bother anybody on Christmas Eve? C’monnn, on Christmas? It’ll get better.

Or not.

Which is why I finally went in today.

A splint *will* happen, said the search results. Period. The new doctor? Not so much. He was willing to have it x-rayed but if it was just a hairline then all they would do is tell me to be careful. Otherwise, he was talking surgery (suddenly a splint didn’t sound so bad.) But he didn’t think so.

There was that rib he didn’t think was broken a few months ago that turned out to actually be displaced. I’m the one who doesn’t always feel pain as much as I should, remember?


He may have called us afterwards while we we were still out, running errands; we came home to the answering machine having been bumped into the no messages position, so we’ll just have to wait till tomorrow, again. But at least we’ll know.

Meantime, having started this hat something like an hour before all this began, a few minutes before we left for the appointment I finally finished it–just in case I wouldn’t be able to afterwards. Remembering the six weeks of not being allowed to knit after I broke my hand (um, I made it to four) and after the frustration of this taking me too many days because it did not feel great to work on, I was going to get it finished before they could tell me I couldn’t. And I did. (Minus weaving in the ends.) So there.

At the returning of the light
Tuesday December 25th 2018, 11:31 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life

Dinner chez Nina, then home and FaceTime with kids and grandkids. Books and chocolate, lots of chocolate, and some very good yarn. Who knew the Japanese knitting stitches book was in English now?

Merry Christmas and every holiday celebrated and may the peace of goodwill be with us all.

Cranberry bars
Monday December 24th 2018, 11:40 pm
Filed under: Food

I couldn’t find the old decrepit cookbook I’d written the recipe down in back when my kids were pretty little.

Good thing I wrote it down here on the blog ten years ago, just in case. The cranberry pecan pie bars just came out of the oven. Best cookie recipe ever.

Merry Christmas to all!

Christmas Eve Eve
Sunday December 23rd 2018, 11:35 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends

The email went out this morning and it noted that that lack of prior notice was deliberate: they didn’t want people to feel stress about it. Just joy in each other’s company. Food was going to be provided. If you wanted to add something, sure, but no need, and please to know that they were not seeking sweets.

Which might explain the variety and number of bottles of shelf-stable juice.

We brought several pounds of grapes snipped into small bunches.

Thus church was one single 70-minute meeting that was mostly Christmas music: the choir, the children, the congregation–and then we adjourned to where long low tables were set up for the little ones, adult-height tables for the grownups, and chairs around the perimeter for those who just wanted to sit a moment while doing their mingling. That way, the brownian motion of small children was kept a little away from the frail elderly.

Fruit and more fruit. Rolls. Sliced ham. Vegetarian options. Condiments. Fruit juice, milk, everybody welcome. Go talk to someone you haven’t had a chance to before.

A homeless man I’d never seen before showed up and was welcomed to join in. It could well be that the regular attenders in that situation had let him know about it. Cool.

Richard got so caught up in talking to somebody that he downed the mango juice in his hands that actually happened to be mine, and was suddenly quite sheepish. Oops. (I’d run out of hands with the cane.)

That’s okay, there was plenty more.

Saturday December 22nd 2018, 11:29 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life

It is a recipe I will wish for forever and can never have.

Our daughter flew home from Europe via a stopover in Istanbul today. Or her yesterday but our today–“Is it Sunday here yet?”

No, still Saturday.

She was tired.

An older woman got on her flight at that airport who spoke maybe five words of English. She needed help. It took about five minutes of pantomiming between them and trying before it became clear: she needed to borrow a cable to recharge her phone.

Oh! Sure!

Turns out she needed help figuring out how to actually use it, too. No problem. Turns out her phone needed a new battery to take that charge better and faster, but at least they got it halfway there. You need it to work when you’re landing in a strange country trying to reach your family over at park and call.

And in profuse thanks the woman tried to shower her with good food.

She didn’t want to be rude but there was no way they could find enough words in common for her to be able to make sure that she wasn’t allergic to every bit of it–and so she accepted the tiny wrapped bites of good chocolate and the clearly freshly homemade biscotti inside that white napkin and brought it home to us for it to be properly appreciated.

Definitely butter in that, yes.

A nibble, one for him one for me, was the plan: the rest would go towards breakfast in the morning. But no, once we’d tried that perfect taste and texture we devoured it all. And I’m not usually someone who cares for biscotti–why break a tooth over something so dry and tasteless?

But THIS. Wow!

I’ve been trying to deconstruct it ever since. Probably superfine almond flour for most of the flour; the nuts were chopped fairly small and roasted to perfect crispness and flavor as if they’d just cooled from the oven. You had to have a hand under the result to catch what crumbled when you bit because you didn’t want to miss out on any of this. It might even have been made this morning–whatever day however many hours ago this morning started out as over there.

But then, you would expect a woman presumably from Turkey would know how to make this right. And boy did she. And I can’t even thank her.

I hope she gets her phone taken care of while she’s here.

Oh Christmas Tree
Friday December 21st 2018, 11:38 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

All those hats knit snug and warm in bulky Mecha, and a missing size-large yarn needle: it was stopping me. Well, that and the residual flu.

So I went to the local yarn store yesterday at long last (those hats have been waiting) and then Target and the drug store and found that that was pretty much all I was going to get done for one day.

Which meant that today, any pressure to get things to their recipients before Christmas was off: I was sending these because I was sending these and if it came the next day then all the more happy anticipation, right?

I sat down and ran all those ends in, now that it was a lot easier to do (thank you Uncommon Threads.) Eight hats. I got the tags sewn in. I got the ones going to my niece and her four boys boxed up, with an extra thrown in to keep in their glove box in case someone really needed just one more choice of color now that they were going to be seeing them in person. Or for them to warm a homeless person at random, give to my brother-in-law/ the kids’ grandpa, whatever they chose.

So, hats, done. The cowl for another niece, found a padded envelope after all, done. (Mumbletymumble) as an extra something going up to Alaska, done. Helped Richard move some stuff needing moving.

And suddenly my body was just done.

Nuh uh, you’re not doing that to me again–you’ve been doing that to me for three weeks and I’ve got me some catching up to do.

Yonder vacationing hubby (also recuperating from the same bug) to the rescue: between us we figured we could do it. He drove us to the post office and carried the boxes.

Pro tip: you can send five pounds to Alaska priority mail in your own box for $63 or you can send that same thing inside the post office’s official Flat Rate box for $18-something. And the stuff fit. Hey.

Shopping at Costco next and we actually somehow snagged a parking spot.

It took us a meal and a break and a rest, and then we had our annual conversation about, thank you for letting me get the lush full pre-lit Scotch pine I wanted and next time let’s just get a flip tree, okay? Unzip, twirl top over bottom, done. He agreed. (Storing them upside down helps preserve the bough structure in those, but we already splurged once; it’ll be awhile.)

The knitting is out of here and in the mail. The tree is skirted and decorated and the boxes are back in the garage. The stockings are hung, the Christmas quilt is out, and tomorrow after we go to the airport there’ll be more than the two of us here for a little while again.

In trying to take this picture a little later, I somehow managed to break the first glass ball ornament of the season. I have no idea why that makes it feel like it really is Christmas now but that totally did it.


88 and eight!
Thursday December 20th 2018, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Happy Birthday, Mom! And Parker!

And to Hazel B. in Pittsburgh and Lisa B. from knitting and Sterling A. and cousin Frances named after my mom after being born on her birthday and Carole K. And hey, Mom, Wendy B-B. who with her sisters grew up on Green Twig had her daughter on your birthday, so Jessey B’s on the 12/20 list, too. Happy Birthday!

How the song came to be
Wednesday December 19th 2018, 10:27 pm
Filed under: Family,History

Via my cousin, who writes music in New York City for Broadway.

The lovely Christmas song “Do you hear what I hear?” was written in the middle of and as an answer to, of all things, the Cold War. “The tail as big as a kite” refers to a nuclear missile as well as the heavenly star in the song’s appeal to the people everywhere for peace.

The Atlantic has the story.

Tuesday December 18th 2018, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life

Tom Perriello is a good man. The mother could see that in his face in her moment of desperation, he could see how loved that child was when she approached him–ie, no, this wasn’t child trafficking, and wow what a story.

The Washington Post doesn’t say why the mother couldn’t fly home too right then. But in that moment that US citizen had to get her five-year-old daughter out of Sierra Leone. Fifteen years later, due to yet another chance meet-up, the woman found the man who had saved her daughter.

My old high school friend Katherine is in Sierra Leone now, working hard at providing schooling and medical care to girls there. I worry for her safety as she worries for theirs. She found that some were leaving classes because they could not afford food–so she’s got a fundraiser to pay for their lunches, here, if you’re interested. She takes zero overhead.

If you do or don’t I’ll never know and the amount doesn’t matter: every stitch in the sweater keeps it together. And a dollar goes a lot farther there.

How often do we get a chance to directly help girls in Africa who could not otherwise stay in school?

That’s okay, I can make more
Monday December 17th 2018, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

So the moss green Diamante found its owner yesterday, that Piuma did, too.

And I had one more with me.

It had been my last two skeins probably forever of the discontinued 70/30 baby alpaca/bamboo Chalet in a gray just slightly on the earthy side. It had worked up quickly while I’d waited for the next green hat yarn to arrive, it was soft and warm–and it had not yet found its home.

During the last meeting there were four of us sitting on our row on the side and as I looked across I knew that it would look so great on her. I debated: if I got up and went around to her at the end, it would be when the meeting would be over (since it was just about to start), everybody would be rising and talking and I wouldn’t hear a thing. If I just passed it down the row right now quick before the meeting, my ears were stuffed and she was far enough away that I wouldn’t hear a thing.

Not that it’s about me anyway. Okay so that settled it.

The woman next to me had just gotten one of my cowls in October and the woman next down had long since gotten hers and knew what I was up to, so no feelings were going to be hurt: I got it out and asked the other two to pass it on down.

The woman at the end was new and had not the slightest idea what was up as it was handed to her with grins on the others’ faces.

“It’s my favorite color!” she exclaimed once she got that no, this really was for her. Her next thought was, “Oh, my daughter’s going to steal this!”

I do have another good yarn that is gray…

Name redacted
Sunday December 16th 2018, 11:08 pm
Filed under: Friends

Last night had me waking up in the morning going, I didn’t cough! (Once or twice right at the beginning is all.) I can go to church! But we wore face masks, which was a good thing because if nothing else there was plenty in there that didn’t need a germ to make me cough when my lungs are primed to, and I did, and yeah, I wasn’t as healthy as I wanted to think I was.

Face masks R Us.

I’d wanted to knit her a cowl for a long time. But time after time for like a year now, a frustrating time, it had just felt like, no, that’s the wrong color, or no, that’s the wrong yarn, or it just didn’t feel right for whatever reason. Even though I made several towards being for her, they all ended up going to other people. Too small, too wool…

Was it something wrong with me? Was it something wrong with my timing? If that, then, y’know, I *can* make her two, it’s not like it’s against the rules…

A couple of weeks ago I really wanted to get past whatever was stopping me and I said a prayer for her, asking for help getting it right whatever that might be because I sure wasn’t succeeding at it on my own. I mean, you almost cannot go wrong with…but I wanted to know.

And then I knit what felt right after that. I knit it. And this was right, I knew it was hers. At last.

My usual offer of a knitting project doesn’t usually start with the exclamation, “Finally!…” in relief and apology but today it did and it turned out that’s how it felt for her, too, and it was so needed and she so loved it and no I didn’t have to overdye the winter white to anything else, she liked this the way it was.

She’s a quiet observer. She’d seen other people with handknit cowls.

Nothing else would do for my needles on this one but Piuma cashmere: softest of the softest, knit generously in stitch count and length so as to be flattering on her size–there would be no second cowl from that 150 g cone, it’s a remnant now.

She cried. She was trying not to. They were not all happy tears but they were trying to be and there was so much I didn’t know and wasn’t about to ask and it was enough and we gave each other a hug (at a bit of a distance, I was really trying not to breathe on her even with the mask on).

And now she had a cashmere hug.

I know she’s been through a lot of late. She’s got three sons, newly grown, really good kids who are everything you could ask for them to be because they’ve got the best Mom but they’ve got relatives that have made life tough. They’ve had to move recently because of that.

Cashmere doesn’t fix everything but it says she’s not so quiet that she’s not noticed. She matters.

Watch out for honeybees
Saturday December 15th 2018, 9:24 pm
Filed under: Life

The flu is slowly but reassuringly working its way out. I actually woke up at a normal time today and Got (some) Stuff Done.

So this evening there were hives where there were none a few hours earlier. I have taken no new med. I have eaten no unusual food. I’m still using the same old same old laundry detergent, and I’m wearing the same old clothes.

I’m stumped. At least they’re only a little bit itchy.