Summer breeze
Sunday July 31st 2022, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life

It was a good old-fashioned Bay Area summer day today–meaning, when the breeze blew it was actually a bit chilly. It’s how it used to be most of the time when we moved here thirty-five years ago.

The doors at church were open for the fresh air after a rash of covid cases last month.

I’d brought a Coolibar sun jacket to wear walking to and from the car; it doesn’t wrinkle and it easily stuffs down into a purse  and I really do need protection from even that much UV.

I’d almost brought a wool cardigan instead, though, and sitting there with that breeze coming right in at us I was wishing I had. Coolibar to the rescue near the beginning of the service.

When we broke for Sunday School, Suzie came up and told me she’d been wondering if I was wearing one of my Ukrainian shirts today. She hadn’t been able to tell from behind with that jacket on.

I was.

She was relieved: People forget, she told me, like it’s not still going on. She was really glad I wore those.

I was surprised and quite gratified. I’d bought them to make a difference to artists under siege trying to still make a living in the middle of the war. I’d had no idea it made one to her, too, but it did, it meant a lot, and her conveying that meant a lot to me in turn.

And I thought, we’re at the empty nester stage where I can afford to splurge on such things; she’s in the throes of the kids in college and soon to be in college stage. I remember how it was.

I would pronounce one a hand-me-down and share it if we were at all the same size.

Taking turns
Saturday July 30th 2022, 9:19 pm
Filed under: Friends

A large box van showed up but only briefly and that was that. No new neighbors yet.

But I did get some peaches to our friend Phyl on her birthday.

And then I stumbled across a Ukrainian source of fruit recipes in the middle of a half-off sale and bought a small cookbook’s worth. Those cherry rolls will probably come first.

Summer sunlight in a ball
Friday July 29th 2022, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

The termite guy came a few days ago to do the annual inspection.

His eyes studiously avoided the Andy’s peaches on the kitchen table that were smelling like every perfect golden orb of summer truly ought to. So just before he went out the door, I punctured his resolve by asking him if he’d like a Baby Crawford and a Kit Donnell I’d bought at my favorite local farm? (Picking them up and holding them out to him.)

You should have seen his face! He was so looking forward to those and so happy at being shared with.

There are new neighbors moving in across the street–tomorrow, according to my former neighbor who now rents the place out.

Only, as I was reading his text this morning, I saw a young family walking around the front yard there for just a minute or two, apparently showing their little kids what the place that was soon going to be home looked like. So it wouldn’t feel like a stranger to them but a new place to look forward to exploring.

I did a quick debate: I need to return the empty boxes to Andy’s but they’re the best things for not squishing easily bruised fruit around little kids and how many should I and I need to go introduce myself so okay what should I put these in…

They were already walking back to their car.

I opened the door and tried, but they were out of earshot and I’ll just have to wait for tomorrow.

Which was probably actually better; those few I had left were a week old and I really ought to get a fresh set for them–a thought aided and abetted by an incoming message from my friend Catherine asking if I were going anytime soon and could I pick her up a box of peaches if I did….

That settled it. I drove to Morgan Hill. Another box of Kit Donnells, Andy’s late friend he’d named his new variety after, another of Baby Crawfords, and Catherine and I could mix and match on those later (and did.) I threw in some Sweet Cherry Pluerries and some Green Gauge plums.

The clerk, recognizing me with a smile, asked as she checked out my fruit what I was going to make with all those.

The heart had only one instant answer to that and it surprised us both.


She did a little gasp for joy and looked me in the eyes and exclaimed, “Yes!”

I can run that one end in later
Thursday July 28th 2022, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

And with that done and out of the way, the Northern California afghan has begun.

The process
Wednesday July 27th 2022, 9:40 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

(Edit Thursday morning: I just put in a better, daytime photo of the finished Alaska afghan.)

Now that I’ve finished the last pattern row on the Ravelry Red afghan it feels like all the time in the world–almost–to decide on an edging. Or not.

When our granddaughter Lillian was on the way, I made this Alaska afghan for her to arrive to in Anchorage–fully knowing that baby alpaca and silk made it gorgeous and soft but completely impractical.

Which means that after I finished it I turned right around and knitted it again in superwash merino Rios, which while not quite so soft would do just fine with her daddy putting it through the laundry.

Besides, the second time I had a better feel for how it was going to go. So call this one, which is still here waiting to be a shawl for her when she grows up, the unrough draft.

It has the bay’s edge we explored, with its ice crinkled by the incoming tide pushing up the surface like rock candy (very briefly that Thanksgiving at 12F with a stiff wind blowing!), the moose we saw, knitted in gansey the way they’re often right there but you don’t see them in the trees but that one came right up to our car and peered in at us in a childlike curiosity, the pines, the dandelion that bloomed brightly well above knee height in the summer, the snow falling on the towering mountains, the bald eagles we saw.

Sam was offered a job that would take them to Washington State as her husband was driving her to the hospital in labor.

A year later she sent me a picture of the bald eagle in the tree over their new back yard.

As I thought about what to knit the 50/50 cashmere/cotton for L&A’s long-hoped-for baby on the way, I found my mind going back to those two afghans yesterday. Interesting, custom-designed, gender-oblivious. But their baby was going to be a Californian.

The waves, yes, oh, you have to have the beaches. The pines–taller, way way taller, hon. The eagle will be a peregrine falcon, the dandelion will be ice plants (non native but quite prevalent around the Monterey Bay, Kaffe Fassett memorialized them in his colorways evoking where he’d grown up), I could do those in Daisy stitch. The hills going straight up above the beach, the steps of rock or wood built here and there for safer access down to the water.

The redwoods. Of course the redwoods. How could they be anything else?


Red flames chevron
Tuesday July 26th 2022, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Ten more rows to finish this pattern repeat. That’s my arm, complete with vyshyvanka embroidery, holding the baby afghan up while it’s touching the floor.

All of this knitting these past few weeks, all this time, and it wasn’t till quietly working the row before last that the picture finally opened up to my inner sight how the next one should go. Has to go. Was always meant to go. What it has to look like. And why of course this red one wasn’t meant for L&A’s baby because that motif was going to be the one for them all along.

And yet the flames one had demanded to come to be, too. I’ve said several prayers of, Please make it so obvious that there’s no question when You’re trying to tell me who its recipient is.

There’s this unmistakable sense of joy when I have–I can just hear my Dad chiming in with, Oh, you’re going to love this.

Now that I know what goes on the needles next (as the coral reef afghan waits patiently) it’s suddenly a little harder to spend the time to add an edging to this one, so maybe I won’t. Ten rows and go. Block and then I’ll decide.

Our soundtrack
Monday July 25th 2022, 8:55 pm
Filed under: Life

The nurse on the phone: “You’re a complicated case.” She wasn’t even sure which doctor to refer me to, and I said I’d wondered the same thing so I’d decided to throw it all in the lap of my primary care and let her decide.

The upshot is that we already know I have the autoantibodies for both hyper- and hypo- thyroidism and that they usually cancel each other out but since the hyper- speeds up the heart, let’s test that first. So I drove over to the lab.

Okay, not that. Next!

The phone rang after I looked up my results: they’ll call back and let me know what the next step is. But if I have a night like Friday again, go to the ER, okay?

Yes’m. I told her that 30+ years of lupus had left me a little too blasé about such stuff and I apologized for that.

Meantime, for those who didn’t hear, there was a surprise at the Newport Folk Festival on Sunday: Joni Mitchell, who  had polio as a kid and a brain aneurysm awhile ago and hasn’t done a set on stage in twenty years, showed up and sang with Brandi Carlisle.

Who cried a little for sheer joy and love and I think so did everybody else, including me. Go Joni.

Sunday July 24th 2022, 9:04 pm
Filed under: Life

The pen is mightier than the sword…

…And if you look at “sword,” it’s “word” with its plural having wandered around to the wrong place.

Already breathing easier
Saturday July 23rd 2022, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Lupus

I spent too much time in the sun yesterday dealing with the contractor when he needed my attention, and my lupus let me have it last night. It is summer, UV levels are high, and I’m super reactive to it. I debated going to the ER in the middle of the night and would have but I wasn’t sure enough that I needed to, and eighteen years of having it suggested that my symptoms were all in my head before the right doctor knew right away what I had to this day leaves me needing to be sure I don’t cry wolf in their eyes. There will always be a time when it’s worse. Save it for then.

The only way that way of thinking has served me well is in the doctors who know me knowing I don’t complain. And if I do…

My body kept forgetting to breathe on its own. It could if I made it, it just didn’t want to bother. This is how, twenty years ago, I ended up in a tilt table test in the hospital to stress my autonomic nervous system to see if the lupus was attacking it. 63/21 blood pressure/40 heart when they stopped it (it may have gone lower but that’s the last I remember) and alarms clanging and people running down the hall and bursting into the room (I could still hear, even if I couldn’t respond) said that yes, in fact, it was.

One doctor apologized to me afterward: he had considered ordering that test himself but had swatted away the thought because it was just too rare. Brainstem involvement? He’d only ever even heard of one other case.

I’ve found a number of other patients online–all of us having had doctors who didn’t believe it at first because it just doesn’t happen.

Except it does.

That complication faded out over about a year. It’s been so nice to have it in remission for so long.

I woke up this morning glad to wake up this morning and thinking, You know what? I want a pastry from Dandelion, darn it. I do. Calories be d****ed. But covid is up and exposure is dumb and San Francisco is a bear to drive to and through and it certainly wasn’t going to happen. So I didn’t say a single word to anyone.

Michelle woke up this morning knowing nothing of this little flare of mine with the thought, You know what? We should take Mom to Dandelion Chocolate.

She texted her father with the idea and could we pick her up on the way? They had a dairy-free option now that she really likes so there would be something for everybody.

Did I want to go?

Was this a trick question? They could drop me off right at the door there and, sure!

Turns out the block was closed off to car traffic, but we found a spot close by with a walk in the shade, at least. I had on my sun jacket and wide hat, doing my best not to be stupid that way.

We had such a good time. We splurged. We bought extra for tomorrow’s breakfast to look forward to. We had their hot chocolate. We enjoyed the by-now familiar faces behind the counter.

It was the perfect antidote to that brief siege of feeling sorry for myself.


(Edited to add: Saturday night was so much better. So much!)

Slow-mo dominoes
Friday July 22nd 2022, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

Another day, another $495 spent on the house: a contractor who came at 8 a.m. sharp and got those roots and stump dug out of there so that we can finally get the fence repaired. It was a spot where the neighbor’s tree had fallen on our tree which had punctured our roof while upending the section of fence with its roots so that it eventually, after some years of precariousness, simply toppled over, too.

The guy’s boss had broken his foot in the minutes before he was supposed to drive over to our house Monday to give me an estimate. After explaining, he showed up on crutches the next day with someone else driving him. He was having surgery on it the next day. So I’m hoping for an easy recovery for Mr. Kelly, and I’m glad he had someone else on hand to do the actual removal because there was no way, poor guy.

My one selfish hope was for the employee to be done in time for me to drive to Andy’s before traffic started picking up again, and that proved to be no problem at all.

Because I had promised some Andy’s peaches for that small sewing job. They’re here and they’re waiting. Happy weekend!

Served cold
Thursday July 21st 2022, 9:58 pm
Filed under: History

Wow that Jan 6 Commission hearing tonight!

There was that little aside with the Capitol Police grousing that Josh Hawley’s infamous fist pump revving up the huge angry crowd about to break in was made possible by his being behind the line where those cops were protecting him.

The commission then played the security camera video from a few hours later of Hawley, and at a time when members of Congress were streams of humanity fleeing together for the safe room and looking out for one another, he was alone but for the cops watching him go, running down the hallway from the mob he’d helped incite. While again those cops were where they were to protect the likes of him.

They had it on repeat in slow motion the second time so that you could see just how high his feet rose as he was beating it out of there.

Yeah, I think he’s a one-termer now.

Wednesday July 20th 2022, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Friends

The neck was way too big and the tie too flimsy on this one to be trusted to hold it together for long; I considered undoing the top edge, pleating it, cutting the bottom off to cover the new top edge–

–Nah. I ran a narrow elastic through the casing and tacked it down with my sewing machine as a quick fix. That was easy.

Oh wait no it wasn’t, as I saw that the machine had jammed a whole wad of thread on the underside that pulled right off, and whoops, one edge of elastic was going swoop! into the inside there.

I managed to stab at it with a sewing needle till I pulled it back.

I do not use my sewing machine enough to justify taking it in for a tune-up; those were $80 twenty years ago. $100 to do this?

Bribery was definitely the way to go.

I messaged this picture to a friend who’s good at sewing: would she be willing to do that small bit of tacking down for me on her machine, in exchange for a pound box of peaches from Andy’s come Friday?

It is safe to say we have a deal.

The reader’s digest version on the subject
Tuesday July 19th 2022, 8:40 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

The neighbor thanked me yesterday for the peaches, saying her son had been having a teenage funk moment and that had helped.

Me: Teenage boys are harder because they don’t have the words to their feelings. And teenage girls are harder because they do.

Her: This!

Me: And yet it is so cool watching them turn into thoughtful wonderful people.

Monday July 18th 2022, 8:52 pm
Filed under: Life

It’s a very old med, quite inexpensive, said my cardiologist when he prescribed it last year for my then-new covid-induced (in his opinion) tachycardia.

Good thing.

My insurance gives me three months’ worth at a time and that’s more than fits in the standard bottles, so I get it in two. Also a good thing.

Thought I as I stood there, a brand new one in my hand, staring at the soapy sink now covered in large white dissolving pills: every one of them but the one I thought I was just going to be holding while screwing the lid back on.

Not a good thing. With apologies to all the fish in the Bay those were heading towards.

I had to get this med refilled that had just been refilled because you don’t ever skip out on taking those. Let the paramedics get some sleep, right?

I called CVS. They apologized that out of pocket was going to be $200, and I said simply, I have to have it. I mean, I’ve got the other bottle, but… So they jumped through whatever hoops and I got the automated call that it was ready.

Meantime, given the discrepancy between what they’d said and what the doctor had said, I’d gone looking.

There was a Singlecare coupon you could print out by which CVS would sell it to you for $51. Hey. So I did. Costco, the site said, charged $19 with that coupon. Printed that, too.

But the local CVS had already called the insurance company and the doctor and filled it and done work on my behalf after I was an idiot, and the pharmacists are trying to keep their jobs while corporate is cutting stores all across the country. Ten times the price, though? I wasn’t that loyal.

So I went to see what I was in for for real and was pleasantly surprised when they rang it up at $91.

“Online it says CVS charges $51, does this apply?” as I showed her the printout.

Her face was saying yes. “Can you come back tomorrow?” She seemed willing to save me the money but not to make the guy in line behind me wait for me while they did the paperwork near closing time, and I’m cool with that.

So I guess the moral of the story is, if you have to pay out of pocket, always check online first.

Oh go sew your own. Make a needle from that bone over there first.
Sunday July 17th 2022, 9:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Sunday School. Old Testament. Male teacher. Hezekiah rends his biblical clothes at the bad behavior of his people who were refusing to follow G_d. It is not mentioned quite strategically where and that’s probably a good thing, but, he does.

Me, raising my hand: Maybe this is a little close to home because I’m wearing a shirt that was hand-embroidered in Ukraine during this war, but, making clothes back in the day was no small thing. You had to harvest the fiber, rhett the flax if it’s flax, spin the fiber, dye the fiber, weave the fiber–hours upon hours upon hours of work for each item.

And it’s women’s work, I added.

Peter’s eyes flew wide as he saw where I was going with this. I didn’t have to say, Did they ask their wives’ okay for such back in their day? Did they mend the clothes afterwards? Who? Did they help out with the work to make the replacements?

So what I did add was, So tearing your clothing was like tearing your heart open to all the world to see. Because everybody knew. They knew.

“I hadn’t thought of all that,” he answered.