My dad
Saturday October 12th 2019, 9:06 pm
Filed under: Family
One of the amaryllis bulbs he sent me for Christmas last year.
Dad last November.
Not sure when this one was.
Dad in April this year.

My sister posted a picture on Facebook last night of Dad after having visited the folks and I instantly felt the time was short.

But he’d hung on for so long and surprised us all, I reminded myself, not wanting to hear it.

I woke up in the morning with a conversation with Richard about booking a flight without delay to go see him again.

And then the phone rang.

My sweet father–nobody could laugh like my dad, nobody loved a pun or any kind of fine wordsmithing like my dad, nobody cheered on their kids like my dad–had quietly slipped away from those scarred, broken lungs some time in the night. At home.

I’m so happy for him that he doesn’t have to fight for every breath anymore.

But. But. But… I never was going to be ready.

The funny part is that my little sister married off one of her sons last weekend and had told Dad that sorry, he was not allowed to die till that was over, she just could not handle one more thing right now and too many people’s travel plans were too set in stone for that.

He’s the kind that would enjoy a good guffaw over that and then say with a twinkle in his eye, Yes, dear. And then crack up again.

And now they’re all freed up.

And so is he.

Love you forever, Daddy.

Bubble bubble toil untroubled
Friday October 11th 2019, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Life,Mango tree

Babysat the doorbell today.

The replacement Sunbubble came in the afternoon. It was in a 49-pound box and I knew I was going to need help getting it inside while it was too expensive an item to leave unattended.

FedEx Guy turned out to be the type who was glad that he got to help someone out today. Which was a relief.

Now that it’s here, my question to myself is, do I just tape together the torn greenhouse for one more winter to extend the future of the new one? (Googles: yes, contact paper does still exist. I could double-side it to have no sticky parts exposed while connecting the walls to the sides of the zipper.)

So far, you can’t buy Sunbubble covers separately.

There are no mango flowers nor fruits to protect this winter, at least not yet. So the tree doesn’t have to stay quite as warm as last year.

It did bloom about six months ago but that time the buds all died back due to mold from the moisture buildup inside that tent after that one extremely wet winter. I toweled it off from the inside every morning and left the door open when it was warm enough but that wasn’t enough (and I’m too short to open the overhead vents.)

My Alphonso has since recovered nicely, proving it is indeed the resistant variety they said it was, and it has put out a ton of new, healthy growth where all of that had been.

I figure when it’s ready, given the size it is now, we will get a ton of mangoes. We just have to be patient.

And I just have to get all of the details right. Working on that.

It’s blue, anyway
Thursday October 10th 2019, 9:47 pm
Filed under: Knit

Well, if I want to say I added another hat to the pile for the guy to choose from I’d better go hurry and finish the thing.

Her son
Wednesday October 09th 2019, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I had just pulled out of my driveway when I saw him at her door. It had been a long time but that had to be him.

I stopped the car and rolled down the window.

“Are you Jon?” I called over.

“Yes. Are you Alison?”

There was a mutual sense of relief in having a face to match the messages. And in each other’s willingness to be there for his mom.

He brought me up to date: in the hospital still but doing well now, but she can’t come home yet–her house has to become more elderly-friendly first.

The work has begun.

Pouring the new chocolate
Tuesday October 08th 2019, 8:52 pm
Filed under: Knit

Saturday night, working together: hold the heavy bowl, pour, I can do that part your back’s bothering you you flatten with the knife–fill one mold, two, three…eight, nine…

And a half. Well we’ll just give it a bit of a swirl as we scrape the last cooling bits off the spatula so it’s not just random blops wherever.

The Madagascar variety turned out to be a particularly strong chocolate with an acidity your throat will notice. The Chocolate Alchemist had warned that it warrants roasting this one just right, so for once we’d let him do that part for us.

It wasn’t till the batch had set that we realized what we’d made. It so fits.

Turn the ship! Here Be (just one) Dragon!

She lived alone
Monday October 07th 2019, 8:10 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Well, that was a day.

The phone rang this morning right after I got home from dropping Richard off at work: the next door neighbor, saying the son of the neighbor on our other side had called him wanting to know if any of us had seen his 84-year-old mom this weekend. He and his sister hadn’t been able to reach her.

We had not. This wasn’t unusual; she can’t walk much anymore and is rarely outside. I’d put her recycling bin away for her.

I went off to an event that I was one of the organizers for so I had to be there–but I dithered awhile first, waiting to hear more because somehow this time something felt… I didn’t know, but like I wanted to be there for my neighbor.

There was nothing to know, though, as far as I could tell, so I finally got on my way, and for various reasons I’m glad I did; it went well.

I came back a few hours later and the wife of the man who’d called was getting out of her car and we compared notes a moment. I stepped inside my house and the phone rang: the husband wanted to let me know.

In the few hours I’d been gone, the police had come, had broken in the door, they’d found our elderly neighbor in dire straights and the paramedics had gotten her into an ambulance and away. He figured that that meant she was alive, and we were certainly glad for that.

She’s probably just as happy there wasn’t one more person watching her being wheeled away, but that’s assuming she was in a condition as to be able to notice.

I had contact info for her daughter and texted her a heads-up, figuring she surely already knew but I couldn’t risk that she didn’t. At the very least I could let her know we knew and we cared and we were all here to help.

She answered a bit later and thanked us for looking out for her mom; yes she did know, and her brother was flying out tomorrow.

I offered to go to the hospital to keep her mom company in the meantime, or after, or any time at all and she decided let’s wait till he gets there and talks to her.

She did let me know her mother was not doing well.

Hang in there, Sandy.

And for everybody else who has or is an elderly parent: make sure the neighbors and the kids and the parents all have each other’s phone numbers.

In this case it surely helped save her life.

Sunday October 06th 2019, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Knit

The woman at Fillory who helped me find a sturdily washable worsted merino? She also happened to mention a favorite baby alpaca shawl she’d made, that she adored, that her husband was stunned to find that the shrunken mess he’d just pulled out of the laundry had been that. He didn’t quite believe it could be till she affirmed it.

I remembered how crushed my son-in-law was at how badly those first handknit hats for his baby had miniaturized.

I’d thought I could stretch any possible shrinking out because of the silk. I was so wrong.

That all stewed in my brain for a few days and then today at the start of two more two-hour blocks of Conference watching, I went into the stash room, pulled out an 1175 gram cone of that cashmere/cotton 50/50, and cast on.

I just couldn’t do that to him again. Or my daughter or their daughter. That baby alpaca/silk blanket was marvelous but it had to find its own purpose later.

The highest grade of both cashmere and cotton, the listing said. I believe.

I’ve gotten to see a baby blanket I’d made out of it after it had gone through a year of both washer and dryer. It wasn’t fluffy anymore but it was still very very soft. This was not going to be a come-down.

I don’t really have to worry anymore about the cotton part not being warm enough, which is the reason I didn’t use it in the first place–they’ll have moved away from Alaska by the time they get it, which I didn’t know then. But which is why they don’t already have the original: they didn’t want to worry about losing it in the move.

That’s still an Alaskan-born baby it’s for and I figure she still needs that landscape and her moose, and so does her daddy, who’s leaving the area he’s lived in since childhood.

I’ve finished the seed stitch bottom edge.

This time I have more than a sketch on a page to go by and the little details that I thought of after the fact that I wished I’d done I can now do. It will be better than the original.

My greenhouse
Saturday October 05th 2019, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Garden
(There you go.)

It’s Conference weekend where the Mormon church leaders address the members and I finished the red baby hat and knit a good half of a cowl as we watched the Saturday sessions. I’ll add a picture I took of them when the silly thing makes the transition from my phone to my reluctant other-big-company account.

Meantime, the plastic tore away from the zipper on the Sunbubble and I put off and put off going through the hassle of trying to get the one-year warranty honored. Some companies make that as unpleasant a process as possible. The time limit was coming right up though and it would be too stupid to just ignore it, so I finally went to Wayfair’s chat help yesterday.

Their one request was for me to send pictures while they waited.

I thought, it’ll take hours for my old iPhone to get them through but what can you do so I went outside, snapped them, and sat back down at the computer with a small Help me? sent upwards in a snatch of prayer.

I did a doubletake as the photos showed right up. It quite made my day. Thank You!

The help desk apologized for making me wait, and it was two, maybe three minutes while I was left wondering if they were asking a manager for permission or denial or what.

Instead it was because they were checking the inventory and setting up the paperwork. Good to go! They sounded like they so enjoyed a job where they got to do the right thing and make people happy in the process.

My new Sunbubble is arriving next week. Not just a new cover, the whole thing is being replaced.

This first-time customer came away definitely happy.

Florida native
Friday October 04th 2019, 9:19 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Knitting a Gift,Life

And…38F again at 7:30 am.

After posting about the cold mornings last night, I finally got up the gumption to go email a friend who’s gone missing. This is someone we’ve had over while finishing up a batch of chocolate level of friend. I told him he had said I didn’t even remember what anymore but that it had left me thinking, This guy needs a hat.

So I’d gone through my small stash of Malabrigo Mecha and knitted him a simple beanie.

Didn’t see him at church the next Sunday, so I thought, good, because sometimes his friend comes too and I wouldn’t want to leave him out. If both come, they both get one, if not, then he gets to choose. Not that anyone’s really going to get excited about thick wool in the heat of the summer.

No sign of either.

I had a good laugh at myself as I went down to Fillory that Friday for my informal knitting group, and this time I went through the skeins, razzing myself that he didn’t come because he was avoiding having to tell me he didn’t like them. This time I was going to get the color right!

Mottled browns, this time in a pattern with more pizzazz.

No sign of him.

And then we went off to Alaska for the new baby and we sure didn’t see him there, either.

I wrote that quick post about our unseasonably cold mornings and then it nagged at me: so, at long last, I sat down and sent him a note. Tossed the idea of any kind of surprise and simply told him the story of the three hats.

I had no idea.

He wrote back that he’d spent the summer out of the country and that he’d just come back Saturday–with a knock-out case of the flu, while home was cold cold cold compared to where he’d been and he was freezing.

I read that and thought, and none of your friends knew to come help.

He ended it with his gratitude that God knew he needed that divine ‘hey you, I know you’re there’ just then.

On a side note but on second thought it was clear it was not, Richard happened to mention this evening the same thing I’d been thinking: we’re overdue to make another batch of chocolate.

I know who could use a bar of the good stuff.


(Edited to add: After he got home from his ham radio meeting we did indeed get that batch started tonight. For my records, it’s Madagascar 2018 Organic Trinatario-Sambriano Valley from Chocolate Alchemy. The kitchen smells divine.)

Cold feet
Thursday October 03rd 2019, 8:57 pm
Filed under: Knit

39, 38, 46, 37, 39.

Our outside thermometer readings these last five mornings a half hour after sunrise.

Good thing I started zipping up the mango tree at night, but what on earth is it doing being in the 30s here in September and October?? The average low is supposed to be 55. Next thing you know we’ll be making snowmen.

Honey, honey, baby
Wednesday October 02nd 2019, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life
Lily on our last day in Anchorage

It was some peach baby alpaca spun loosely to keep it as soft as possible, with a bit of bamboo thrown in to keep it together. I saw it at Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco in August and my instant thought was, the Honeyladies owner recovering from being shot at the Gilroy Garlic Festival: she’s a redhead. Surely that would be a great color on her.

So I went home and sat right down and knit it into a cowl and didn’t take a picture yet and then forgot all about it in the drop-everything-and-run-to-Alaska-tomorrow thing after Lily arrived early.

I came home to a spoonful left at the bottom of the first bottle of Poison Oak Blossom.

Trying to avoid more fattening desserts, I’m again dipping a fresh fork in there several times a day. Skip the baklava and go straight to the heart of the thing. It’s less sweet than many types and darkly caramel and thick and lovely, but I’d only bought so many bottles at Andy’s Orchard.

The second one was going down fast. This called for reinforcements.

So after making sure I had the right place, today I went to the Honeyladies’ part-time store and bought a half gallon of the stuff because there is no honey like that honey.

I didn’t quite ask it right and the person who let me in didn’t quite understand why I would be asking so she didn’t get what I was asking and so maybe that was my answer. To, essentially: you guys rescue bees and property owners who suddenly find themselves with an uninvited swarm. Is the Poison Oak Blossom a one-time run and done with the bees now removed from there, or are there honeybees currently employed amongst such?

She answered in terms of seasonality.

That implies repetition from year to year, which is great! But I’ll ask more clearly later to be sure.

I waited till the woman had run my card through before saying I had a get-well card for Wendy.

In yarn. I pulled out the ziplock that had that cowl, said what I’d knitted it out of and wished them all my best.

I’d been a stranger and there’d been just a touch of wariness up till that moment, fully understood because a very different stranger had done them so much ongoing harm and pain.

But in that moment I saw it fall away from her as she looked forward to giving and making someone she cared about happy, just like I’d just gotten to do.

We are all in this life thing together.

Hanks for these
Tuesday October 01st 2019, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Knit

The blog innards are being weird (nonce? What’s a nonce and why did it make it go tilt?) so I’m afraid no pictures tonight.

So you’ll just have to take my word for it that there are four large, beautiful hanks of yarn drying in the guest (read: my teenagers grew up) bathroom: wound off their cones, scoured via unscented soap and the hottest water, some of them then put in cold water to try to preshrink them as much as possible and then back in hot to make them shrink more.

Several thousand yards.

All of which went from feeling like dried hairspray from the mill to the lovely, soft, natural-fiber yarns they were spun to be, inviting eyes and hands. It’s not knitting, it’s just preparation for such, but every now and then I just want to see that transformation take place. And then again. And then again.

I thought that was it, but nope, I did one more at the end of the day.

Colourmart got a new toy, a second-hand machine that chains the cobweb yarns they get so much of into an aran weight that more of their customers want, and that last skein was my wanting to see what it would be like when it grew up. I had a single cone. Blue.

When I cut open its bag it was definitely the finest merino: it went boing like a rubber band. But it’s more tightly chained than most such yarns and should have much less problem with catching the needle tips than many braided ones I’ve tried.

Colourmart needs to get that machine cranking because the washable Zegna Baruffa Cashwool spun up like that could turn into my favorite afghan yarn fast.