Cherries for Andy’s
Sunday November 15th 2020, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

I wanted to go to Andy’s Orchard to pick up a few things, like their dried slab Blenheim apricots: “slab” because they were so perfectly ripe when picked that they could not be sliced in pretty halves like the others, they kinda went smush. Those are the ones you want. So good.

And their holiday season dried figs stuffed with a walnut inside peaches pureed with honey and topped with almond bits: worth the trip right there, and they affirmed that yes they had them in stock now.

And so Friday, I went.

There were the last fresh-picked plums of the year and one last two-pound box of random-variety ripe figs; how, after two freezing nights this past week I don’t know but they were wonderful and we finished them off today.

But before I took off for Morgan Hill, I went looking and found the deep red superwash wool hat I’d made. In the Cerise colorway, French for Cherry, and what could be more appropriate for someone at a stone-fruits farm? It had been so long since I’d been able to just gift someone with some knitting in person. Their season was almost ended and who knew if the clerk who’s run the shop for Andy these past many months will be back next year.

She was wearing a sweater that went really well with that hat.

It hit me afterwards that I hoped she didn’t worry about touching it and being exposed to covid–I’d have offered to open the bag and shake it out for her without touching it myself if I’d been thinking. I knitted it about a month ago, so it’s done its quarantine time.

I guess I’m still, after all this time, figuring out this pandemic thing.

Dragons indeed
Saturday November 14th 2020, 11:58 pm
Filed under: Knit

I was surprised how small 64 stitches of Malabrigo Rios came out–I had some doubts whether I could even turn it into a baby hat, even if nephew Benjamin’s a preemie. It’s dense and it’s warm–but it’s shaped kind of weird.

But I liked it, so I grabbed the innards of the yarn cake and cast on more stitches to attach, since you build up the rows and then go back down to the bottom and work your back up again in sections. Make it wider, make it useful.

Cast on, purl a row knit a row leave it ready for the oncoming picking-up-the-stitches.

I did it just exactly how it said and exactly how it had been begun.

When it was time to go past the picked-up stitches onto the new section I had a red row too many for it.

I spent about half an hour walking myself through every step of what it said and what I’d done and what it had, wishing fiercely for another knitter’s eyes on the thing. It made NO sense. Finally there was nothing for it but to rip out the excess row. So I did that. I then re-connected and started the next shell and ran a row of the red across the new part and back, etc etc. Following the directions exactly.

And there is still one row of red too many.

I’m stumped. Knitting does not usually stump me but I have no idea where the problem came in.

But at least in my frustration I find I knitted it tighter than the original so that the length of redness actually looks the same, and as the bottom border it curls up against the i-cord anyway so who could tell? I’m leaving it.

But what went wrong (?!!!). I don’t get it and it bugs me that I have no idea.

And in between that last sentence just now and this one I think maybe I finally, finally do: I must have accidentally skipped rows 1 and 2 those other times. That’s the only thing that makes sense.

Well then. Carry on.

Uncle Bob
Friday November 13th 2020, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Politics

I am totally going to steal my cousin Jim’s FB post because I know my mom can’t see anything there and it’s about her baby brother who died four years ago; he was the Senator whose seat Mike Lee unfortunately is now in. Plus it’s a hoot.

Note that Bob Bennett, R-Utah, and Chris Dodd hashed out the beginnings of what would eventually become the ACA, part of why the Kochs and the Tea Party went after Bob so hard. He said at the time that Americans can’t compete on the world market as long as they know they’re one medical disaster away from losing everything.

Jim wrote:

“So this sounds like the setup for a joke, but it’s actually a true story.
In 2008, four Democratic senators were running for their party’s presidential nomination: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and Chris Dodd. Dodd was the longest of longshots, and he was getting depressed that his campaign was going nowhere. My father wanted to make him feel better.
“Tell you what, Chris,” Dad said. “When you’re president, how about you make me Treasury Secretary?”
Dodd smiled. “You got it,” he said.
This began a trend. The next time Dad saw Joe Biden, he said, “Chris Dodd just told me that when he’s president, he’ll make me Secretary of the Treasury. Do you have a better offer?”
“Sure. I’ll make you Chairman of the Federal Reserve,” Biden said.
So Dad approached Obama and said, “So Dodd’s promised me Treasury, and Biden says he’ll make me Chairman of the Federal Reserve. What can you give me?”
“How about Secretary of Defense?” Obama said.
Armed with these three offers, Dad found himself in an elevator with Hillary Clinton, and he reviewed all three of the promises from the other candidates.
“Well, looks like I have no choice, Bob,” Hillary said. “I’m going to have to put you on the ticket.”
In the last days of his life, Dad told this story repeatedly. Whenever Hillary was mentioned in conversation, Dad would say, “I’m her running mate.”
I miss my dad. That’s all.”

With fronds like him who needs anemones
Friday November 13th 2020, 12:03 am
Filed under: Knit,Politics

I know, that’s an old one, but for Rudy it fits.


I fell in love with a pattern (Ravelry link) and bookmarked it months ago, then finally bought it, then did nothing about it for days till it finally bugged me enough because I wanted to know how to do that. Also I wanted to actually do that. I had plans, tentatively, but first I had to find out what it was like to work on and whether it could ever be a brainless carry-around project.

I got the first ridge of the first scale done last night if only because a thing started is easier to continue.

And now I’ve done a lot more. Nowhere near as much as I want (it was slow) but a goodly start.

Guys. It isn’t just tightening the red rows between, it’s sideways i-cord, and then you pick up along its sides while counting and trying to space right and not only that, you don’t just push the three stitches to the other end of the needle, you have to knit them and then move them onto the other needle repeat repeat repeat all the way across. And make new stitches with e-wraps, which have to be wound really tight or they create this growing loose flappy hanging stuff between stitches but, tight, it’s really hard to jab the needle tip into. I know, you already knew that. So did I.

Their photo says do it tight.

I am definitely not making an i-cord afghan at my house anytime soon–I’ve done my time-blowing project for the year.

But it is quite pretty. And absolutely ingenious on the part of the person who thought it up: who took the natural curl of i-cord and thought, y’know? That’s what the hide of a dragon should look like.

It’s a cross between Feather and Fan lace and pool noodles.

But while we’re waiting on my phone to cough up the photo (edit in the morning: here you go), I’ll mention the Four Seasons Landscaping (spoof) account. Because, yeah.

Playing Back,Jack
Wednesday November 11th 2020, 9:19 pm
Filed under: Life

Reno. It was a small town when my dad’s folks moved there when he was a teen.

Wonder if their paths ever crossed. They’d be having a great laugh up there over this one.

Tuesday November 10th 2020, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

I wrote in the spring last year about my niece who hadn’t gotten a flu shot, caught the flu, and ended up in the ICU for a very long time with sepsis, fighting for her life.

Emily was at one point the youngest-ever head of the piano teachers’ association in her state–she’s good.

After the amputations that helped save her life she had to learn how to be a piano teacher with no fingertips.

She made this video to teach other teachers what she’d learned from the experience about how to relate to her students. Who don’t know how they’ll ever be able to do what the teachers do like the teachers do, who see it from a very different viewpoint, who question themselves. How to see and meet them where they are.

With hands back to being the size of your typical five-year-old’s, as she put it, but that can’t quite land in that space back there between the black keys anymore, she tells her students it’s okay when they make mistakes because she does, too. But making music feels great.

And if you want to skip right over to 36:25 in the video, you can go see how she does.

Go ask Alice
Monday November 09th 2020, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Life

(Yes, that was a Grace Slick reference. My friend and yarn dyer Lisa Souza used to sing lead in a band that opened for Jefferson Starship.)

This was a comment in the New York Times that I’m lifting shamelessly because you just wouldn’t want to miss it. And I quote from one Harmon Smith, whoever they may be:

“Attending a business conference in Florida, our group decided to meet for lunch at a restaurant approximately one mile from the event. As the group departed for the restaurant I told them to go ahead and I’d catch up. Fifteen minutes later I departed, walking to the restaurant located one mile away. After a few wrong turns I ended up on a path with a homeless woman pushing a shopping cart full of belongings. I asked the woman for directions to the restaurant. She said, “Don’t go there the foods terrible, here’s where you want to eat” and began digging through her shopping cart for something. After a minute, she produced a crumpled menu, handed it to me and gave directions to a shipyard fish shack located on a nearby canal. The ambiance and food were awesome. I told the bartender about my encounter with the woman and how I found the place. He replied, “That’s Alice, we give her dinner every day and she sends us customers”.”

Goodbye Alex Trebek
Sunday November 08th 2020, 11:52 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

Other than the unseasonal warmth having given away to a potential unusually early freeze tonight and I have seven unripe butternut squashes pleading for mercy out there, it’s been a pretty quiet day.

Except for the sounds of my guffawing over this news article that two people had way too much fun writing. The guy from Four Seasons Total Landscaping (not Hotel) answered the reporter about when Trump’s campaign had called. (Note: when you say, Siri, give me the Four Seasons, you really ought to listen to how Siri answers.)

Question on some future Jeopardy episode: Who is, “I was pretty happy because it got me out of Bible study.”

A new world
Saturday November 07th 2020, 7:59 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Life,Politics

Four years ago I was at a doctor’s for what was probably her last appointment of the day. She always took time to really listen and really ask questions, but that meant the number of minutes late piled up. I knew that. I expected that. It meant someone else was getting the care they needed and she loved that from my point of view, it also meant I got to knit: take your time.

It was going on past 5:00 on election day.

The nurse walking by was a tall African-American woman who looked absolutely stricken, putting one foot in front of the other and just trying to get through the day without bursting into tears. I learned from her face in that instant just what it must really feel like to know that Trump, whose daddy had been in the KKK, was actually close to becoming President. After Obama, no less.

So I held up my phone and assured her, It’s looking good. It’s close, but this and this and this toss-up state, it’s blue, she’s got this.

I didn’t know her at all but in that moment we were friends.

Later that evening, though, state after state blipped and flipped and turned unfathomably red after all. I felt almost as if I had betrayed her in my inability to personally keep it how it had been.

One of the great things about all those paper ballots this time is that they are counted on machines not connected to the internet. There is no wondering about hacking, the vote is what the voter said. You can run them through again. It’s all good.

I’ve been thinking of that nurse a lot these last few days.

Chris S was the first to tell me this morning that the race had been called; the Washington Post had not yet. I ran to go look, and thanks to her got to see Van Jones on CNN. Don’t miss it. That’s it, right there.

On a different note: our grandnephew Benjamin arrived last night at 33 weeks 1 day. He is in the NICU to give his lungs some time to play catch up. He is beautiful, we are thrilled, and all those crowds today across the country and even other countries calling out windows in cities banging pans dancing in the streets honking horns singing making music waving celebrating welcoming joining dancing some more–welcome to our world, little one. That was for your future. The terrible man who hated your beautiful brown skin has lost his power. I think you’ll like it here now. You couldn’t wait to see it for yourself.

The fruit of the tree
Friday November 06th 2020, 11:05 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life

Ours is a sweeter variety than some.

It was facing the house so I could see the line across its deep pink fruit from inside, the sign that it was just starting to split: that this one was ripe. At last.

Would you like a pomegranate? I emailed my elderly neighbors who are both fighting cancer while doing all they can to dodge this virus; I haven’t seen her at all in awhile. I said, I’ll put on gloves and mask to pick one. I won’t touch it or breathe on it.

She answered. It seems a lot of bother…but they would love. And could I take the vase she would put out on her front step? Someone had brought her flowers. She knew I liked to give flowers from my garden and she knew she would not be using it again.

I’d love to, I answered, my heart stopping a little at that last line.

Latex gloves, mask, pruning shears because the tree requires it.

The vase was already there as I stepped through our gate and over to next door. It was beautiful. I left the fruit at the bottom of their doorstep so they wouldn’t have to bend down quite so far as the single step below.

And came home grateful that my toddler-aged tree had given us such a gift.

Thursday November 05th 2020, 11:17 pm
Filed under: History,Wildlife

Watching for updates on the vote count…

…Is like tracking this fish over a lifetime. Who made it past dams thirty-two times to go from her river to the sea and back and again and again to each point where life called her, getting bitten by a sea lion and still just continuing her way forward past those dam walls that kept getting in her way till she succeeded at what she was meant to do: to leave a posterity that would succeed, too.

All wound up
Wednesday November 04th 2020, 9:30 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Knit

So on a completely different note.

This is a hand wound ball of yarn–done kind of artsy, like I like to do it.

For my non-knitting friends, yarn is sometimes sold in ready-to-use skeins but often in hanks: picture winding it around and around the back of a chair a hundred times or two, putting a few ties on to keep the strands from tangling or falling apart, and then you twist that big loop you’ve made up and tuck one end in at the other so that it looks like a twisted cruller in a doughnut shop. You don’t want to knit straight from that.

So why sell it that way? It shows off the yarn better and pretty yarn sells. It can be hung on display. It keeps your product from unwinding all over the shop via careless customers or their fascinated little kids.

Many a yarn shop has a ball winder on hand if you have time to wait for that to be done for you and if they’re not waiting on too many other people just then; Imagiknit lets you use theirs to wind it up yourself. A lot of shops will offer to let you come back later after they’ve had time to get to it. (Cottage Yarns is wonderful that way but they’re too far out for me to make the trip twice for the same purchase, hence either I wait, or, it’s the pretty hand-wound balls for me.) You put the hank on a swift–like the outer edge of an open umbrella–and crank away at the winder, jack-in-the-box style, till the yarn end goes floating off into the air at the last.

Once it’s wound, it can’t be returned, which is incentive for them to hand it off all ready to knit up from like that. Plus it’s nice of them to do, because it does take their time and attention.

Ball winders don’t make nice round balls, though: as the strand zig zags up and down while the stretched-out hank is being twirled, it comes out flat across the top and bottom and so is referred to as a yarn cake. Because everybody likes cake and some marketing genius made the visual connection in the shapes thereof. You’ll often see that last little bit simply given a quick wrap around the cake like this one was. (That one strand across the top makes it look rounded across there, but it’s not.)

And then there’s this.

We need the pandemic to be over, because I need to go to my local shop and share…

Whoever thought of this has to have been a knitter… (Scroll down their link just a bit.)

…That’s a yarn skein cake pan.

And yes, it’s angled to curl under at the bottom like that, you don’t have to piece two together.

I bought the last full size one on Amazon, at least at the moment, but they still have mini cakes. In answer to one review, they do say to chill for a bit before unmolding to help whatever you make keep its shape. Edit: of course it’s back in stock.

The only question is, do I have Richard make me wait till Christmas or my birthday for it. He says it’s up to me.

Maybe he can squirrel away some panna cotta size ones while I try this one out.

Tuesday November 03rd 2020, 11:32 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

A rollercoaster of a night. Way up, then down, watching Texas being blue, flipping red/blue/red/blue/red and holding (so far), Florida quite blue then flipping red, Ohio and North Carolina too at long last. Virginia? What’s up with Virginia?! Oh, they hadn’t counted the parts near DC yet. Blue. Phew.

For awhile there it looked like Biden might win the Electoral College and unfathomably lose the popular vote–and I thought, now, that’s the one way that would get those small states to vote to amend the Constitution to get rid of it! But as I type it is 219 to 168 EV and 49.8% for Biden vs. 48.7%. Pennsylvania says it might not be done counting mail-ins till possibly next Monday. California certainly won’t be, but nobody worries about California; we may be 1/16 of Wyomingians but we still speak up.

We’ll know more in the morning. But at least I think I’ll be able to sleep tonight after all.

One of my hopes out of this election is that we’ll get the Fairness Doctrine updated and reinstated.

The most important Tuesday this year will ever have
Monday November 02nd 2020, 11:16 pm
Filed under: Politics

If you haven’t yet, please, please, whatever it takes, VOTE! There are people offering rides. Check your state’s website on the status of your mailed-in ballot, and if it’s not recorded as received, show up and vote in person like my cousin David just had to do.

Sunday, Trump met with Gov. Kemp of Georgia and quietly shut down in that state. Nearly 430,000 people in Georgia who get their insurance through the ACA are now shut out and are being told to just go buy insurance from a broker at whatever price they can get.

All they can do is hope the ACLU or someone challenges it in court–while they wait, unable to afford to go to the doctor.

During a pandemic.

This was Trump testing the political waters to see what he could get away with and it is just the start.

The current President of the United States does not want you to be tested for Covid if you’re sick because then you might get mad at him for the 236,997 dead so far and then he might have to face the Attorney General of New York who’s waiting to hold him accountable for his many state financial crimes. Give him liberty or give us death: not a contest as far as he’s concerned. He’ll take both.


We’ll name it Jack L. Hyde
Sunday November 01st 2020, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Family

The work-zoom pumpkin carving thing they all did for fun?

There was actually a contest to it with a $50 prize.

Which he didn’t mention to me until they told him that, over his objections because he thought someone else’s design was a lot harder, he’d won.

Way to be cool to your grandkids, for sure!