Saturday September 30th 2023, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Spinning

I had this old Ashford Traditional spinning wheel that I’d bought used 30 years ago.

My tall older son in his teens walked across the family room in the dark because he didn’t want to turn on the light that would shine in his sister’s room and wake her up–and tripped over the wheel, his size 13 shoe breaking the maiden (the assembly above the wheel itself) and his tumbling leaving the rest slightly off kilter.

He said he was okay. I said that’s what matters.

I had been using that wheel for Colonial Days history demos at the elementary schools’ fifth grade classrooms and it was known around campus, and so another parent, an acquaintance but trying to help, heard about it and offered to repair it. He unscrewed the maiden (that phrase took a turn later) from the body of the wheel and he took it home and it took me several years to find out that the reason he didn’t just give it back when I finally asked was that it was lost in his garage somewhere. I was later told that that was not the only mistake he was making; I can just picture his ex discovering a what-the-hell in a box somewhere and pitching it.

Meantime, I’d spent the painful $125 that it cost at the time–more than half of an entire new wheel with bobbins, second guessing myself all the way but an extra hundred bucks is a hundred bucks–and bought a new maiden.

And a dear friend’s husband offered to assemble it onto my wheel for me. She’s a knitter and spinner and he got how passionate we are about what we do; he wanted so much to help.

He didn’t know that the uprights are not supposed to move. He set it up so that you twist one to help release the flyer. It’s damaged the wood, and the flyer tends to shake until it frees itself of the drive band and projectile vomits itself across the room.

Which is why you haven’t read much about the spin part of the spin dye knit thing here in a very long time.

Nor have I mentioned any of this to anybody in a very long time.

My friends Sand and Kaye, who were the owners of the much-missed Purlescence yarn/weaving/spinning store that closed about a dozen years ago, have been selling some of their old wheels of late. They are clearing out space–but also because of a serious injury. Sand is finding new channels for her creativity because she has to.

She reached out to me a few days ago. There was this beautiful Kiwi wheel they’d painted. It’s not finished. Finishing it now would be…problematic. Would I like it? She could throw in a Super Flyer if I wanted, though she’d have to charge me for it, but the wheel itself? Free. She really wanted it to go where it would be loved.

It is General Conference weekend for our church, with Saturday and Sunday sessions, but in between those we drove on down. I got to share hugs with my old friends. Oh, man, it had been so long, and with Stitches gone now…

Kaye brought out a box and I got it in the car and thanked her and we continued the conversation and I thought that’s all Sand and I were doing as Kaye disappeared–

–but this time she came back with this.

That’s a gorgeous wheel!! I exclaimed in surprise, and I guess my deafness had tripped me up because I didn’t get it, what were they doing with a second one–I said, You already put the box in the car!

That’s the accessories.

They’d gotten to see my reaction to their painting and just how blown away I was, and man that felt good.

I reminded them a bit about my old wheel and said, I’d almost offered to give you that one to sell–but I, I, didn’t want to inflict it on you.

They laughed.

I promised to send them a picture, and they can decide. There it is. Lovingly stained years ago by–Sand.

I’m still getting used to not having this to work on
Friday September 29th 2023, 8:58 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

A few days ago, it kept looking like a bright red pair of Keds with white shoelaces.

Now it just needs a good daytime photo. And maybe another line under the scuffed-out-grass area so you can actually see it. Or maybe that’s just the bad photo.

Thursday September 28th 2023, 9:14 pm
Filed under: Knit

It looked like an apple coddling moth and it could have come inside in one of the ones I picked from the tree. But you never know.

200F for 40 minutes or so, carefully only touching the pan. I don’t remember what temp damages super wash treatment for wools, though I know boiling does, but that’s not an issue with these yarns.

Opening the folds up, the center registered 147F a minute or two after I took it out. I let it cool, then carefully zip locked it away for now.

Doesn’t everybody bake their afghans?

Fishing for counter plinths
Wednesday September 27th 2023, 9:32 pm
Filed under: Life

While I finish the ribbing on the other side of the afghan…

For those who’ve read my book, the woman in the intro worked for many years at the Fish Market restaurant, which just closed because the land under it became too valuable to the landlord. That beautiful old building with all the carefully tended flowers will be replaced by high-rise housing.

There was an online auction yesterday, local pick-up only: own a piece of your memories.

So. Many. Steamer. Trays. Which makes sense. The glass partitions between sections with fish etchings in them–must bring own tools to dismantle from wall. Etc. There were somehow two and only two springform pans, and they looked like the ones I used for decades till they gave up the ghost and you can’t buy them quite like that anymore, so I made one bid. Oh well so much for that.

I had always wondered about the mounted fish on the walls. Most, turns out, were fake, but they went for pretty good money anyway.

But one. One was not fake.

Caught in 1987, the listing says.

It’s the head of a Great White Shark and presumably the buyer has to find a way to get its 3200 pounds off that wall and carry it home. Probably the only time one would be able to buy shark for $3.55 a pound.

I want to know, how is a taxidermied fish head 3200 pounds? How did they weigh it? How did they get it up there?

How did that wall hold up all these years, especially during the Loma Prieta quake!

Can you imagine sitting under that thing at 5:04 pm for dinner that October 17th?

The idea is just jaw-dropping.


A skill you will use every day for the rest of your life no doubt
Tuesday September 26th 2023, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift


It didn’t absolutely need the framing at the sides, but I like it so much better, as you and I and everyone and anyone knew. One side to go. Thank you!

Edited to add: I wrote this and only then did it hit me: I spent all that time adding the scuffed spot in the grass under the tire swing to give it a sense of motion, the leaves on the flower, snipping the yarn ends, hours counting stitches and doing the ribbing on one side and not only did I not do the door handle, I snipped the end that was going to BE the door handle! Aargh!

So to write down quick what I just did because I got a nice lever handle and I’ll never remember how I did it: I brought the new yarn from below the door frame, crossed it over to the nearest stitch on the door, held that from pulling out while I got out a knitting needle and used the sideways bar I’d just made to knit a stitch into. Then I did a yarn over, then made a third stitch with the bar. Three stitches. Then I crossed the third stitch over the first, then the yarnover over the first, and after pulling the yarn through to knot the end in a point, got the yarn needle (eye type) back out and pulled the  yarn down to the left of what I’d just done to the back. And then I wove in the two new ends.

Oh look at that black stitch that should have been white at the bottom of the door. And guess who just snipped the new white ends off!


63H x 56W
Monday September 25th 2023, 7:34 pm
Filed under: Knit

The most beautiful sound of yarn being broken off.


Click on image for greater details. I would do some things differently the next time, but for flying without a pattern and not being able to visualize how anything would look before it already did, I’m pretty pleased overall. (IDIDITIDIDITIDIDITIDIDIT!!!)

The doorknob! It still needs the doorknob! Almost forgot! And leaves for the flower.

That tire swing. It’s great up close. At thumbnail size I’m a whole lot less sure. Maybe I should add the real-life rock ledge nearby. On the other hand, the clouds for all their intricacies look like a burst of whiteflies chasing a sparrow at thumbnail size, so, hey.

It needed more flowers.

It’s already got ribbing at the sides to match the top and bottom pattern-wise, even if the colors don’t. I’m pretty sure I have enough yarn; would you add dark blue ribbing to the sides to finish framing the picture? Or just leave it be?

Planning ahead
Sunday September 24th 2023, 8:51 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends

So we have this standing understanding: friend Lee drives us to the airport, those times when that works out for him, and I bake him a chocolate torte. He always tells me I don’t have to, I always tell him thank you for the ride and that I’m going to, he always loves that I do and I always love that he’s always so ready to help.

Went to the grocery store right after we got home from our trip on Monday. Forgot the cream. Oh well, I had a big enough job to do that day as it was.

Wednesday. Went to the grocery store. Got the cream.

Wait. We were never out of Trader Joe’s dark Pound Plus bars, those are a staple in our house for baking–but we were out.

Thursday. Went to Trader Joe’s, got the bar.

Came home and–nope, not a one. Every last stick of butter had been in the freezer in the garage. The one where the door had bounced open the night before the trip. All we’d been able to do before our flight was close that door and be glad that at least it wouldn’t be five days’ worth of decay when we cleaned it out. Still, Monday, even the vegan cupcakes smelled like they’d gone bad. Out.

And you have to compost-bin the compostables and recycle the recyclables which means half-thawing stuff to get them to separate because the plastic wrap has to come off those chicken breasts and man oh man and glad it’s not a hot day and that the trash guys were coming so the neighbors wouldn’t have to smell that outside for days.

Finally went back last night to the store and this time I didn’t forget to buy new butter. Although by that point I was half-sure I would still be missing something else when I got home. Sugar, cocoa, vanilla, salt, eggs–nope, we’re good this time.

Tonight, at long last, I called ahead and then we drove over and handed Lee his newly-glazed chocolate torte with the extra thick ganache just for them and he was very very happy as he inhaled that deep dark sweet essence.

Busy day
Saturday September 23rd 2023, 8:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift

Here, at least, it was single strands rather than doubled. I looked back at the beginning of the piece and counted: when I was using two strands per stitch I had twenty-five balls of yarn going per row plus two pull-through strands. It was taking me four to five hours an inch. And that is why there is only one lonely little flower down there, though there was a daylily patch later: you grab your sanity where you can.

When I got up to the clouds I didn’t want to untangle balls anymore and decided I was fine with breaking off five or six yard lengths, using them up, and pulling them through the blue that had gotten wrapped around and around and around the white after they’d been worked behind each other at every stitch. Along with the ends of those strands every second or third row as they ran out.

I cut out the gray tire-swing chains I didn’t like and replaced them with black so they’d show up against the background and added a stitch to round out the tire better. I embroidered flower petals on the sunflower. I added a beak to the raptor. I finished the clouds yesterday, and the rows above the clouds today, and somehow all of that part is over too now and I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around it.

Knit one purl one knit one purl one in dark blue to have the end edging match the beginning edging.

I have been working steadily on this since May. I am eight rows away from being finished. Maybe I should kluge that squirrel idea in there after all.

Which means I’ve been going through my phone and photos online of the C&O Canal, wondering if that’s the picture I knit next. Swain’s Lock, where I accidentally dumped my sister and our cousin over into the canal when I used my paddle to try to keep their rented canoe from hitting ours (the big sisters’) back when we were teens and they were visiting from New Jersey?

Or maybe I shouldn’t remind them.

He was so happy for her
Friday September 22nd 2023, 8:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Last Friday night we came from the airport, picked up Mom, and in a stab a finger on a Google search and do that one, picked Himalayan Kitchen in downtown Salt Lake for our dinner. Our youngest joined us once he got through traffic (it was bad.)

Halfway through the meal, I called the waiter over. He came right away, looking like he was hoping everything was okay but worrying that I thought it was not because our glasses were full and why else would we….

Me: There is (name of the restaurant) in (name of the town) near us that is in the Michelin Guide, and I’ve had their lamb saag many times.

Yours is better.

His face lit up and he motioned in excitement to I wasn’t sure who and said, I’ll go tell her! It is her recipe!

I was expecting some grandmotherly type, but no, it was the young woman busily busing the tables who came over, absolutely beaming, and I repeated what I’d said. She thanked me and about danced away from there.

I have now found my place to eat in that city. It’s noisy, but the food is great and so are the people.

Let it bug you
Thursday September 21st 2023, 4:52 pm
Filed under: Life

I was on my way to the post office, driving down the quiet road alongside the bayland marsh, the freeway a cement-and-chain-link fence away reinforcing why this nice little straightaway closer to nature is the way to go.

When suddenly there was a long narrow orange and black beetle crawling and flying around in the car. The types around here come out in September but I’d never seen one quite like that.

I had found myself out of shipping tape so the box was open and the last thing I wanted to do was to mail that bug to Massachusetts and have it fly out in my daughter’s face when she opened the thing. I tried cranking a window–knowing that only blows things back into the car–and, giving up, turned into a small pull-out spot for birdwatchers and hikers along the Bay. I opened the car doors and tried my best to find the thing and get it out of there. It, on the other hand, either flew out the bottom of the door when I wasn’t looking or it went into hiding to who knows where.

Just then a white car went flying past on the road right behind me. I am serious when I say he was probably doing about a hundred–he was there and gone in a fast blink. No cop car followed in pursuit; he was just doing it because he could.

I was suddenly acutely aware of what that bug had just done for me, all the more so for my cousin’s death by a reckless driver last month.

The winter coat left behind got sent on its way, I turned out of the post office, and got back on that road.

And darn if a buzz of orange legs and thorax didn’t suddenly come straight at my chest while I warded it off with one hand, the other on the wheel and eyes firmly on the road. Okay, so it didn’t hitchhike to Boston. Good. Glad to know it. Now go away.

I think it went down the far edge of the dashboard.

Remind me not to park under the tree till the weather gets colder.

While a small part of me answers, Maybe.

The Colorado mountains in lace
Wednesday September 20th 2023, 8:42 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift

Big Arrows pattern, specifically.

A couple of weeks ago I was at Cottage Yarns for a reason that had nothing to do with that skein of Malabrigo Arroyo that also came home with me. But the colors! And the softness, and the practicality of washable wool when you have no idea where it’s going to go when you’re done.

It wanted to be a cowl on 3.75mm needles and it became my carry-around project immediately no matter what my plans had been. I got a good enough start on it in the Urgent Care room waiting for Richard that working on it became a self-fulfilling knitacy.

I worked on it on the plane Friday and finished it that night in the hotel room, running in the end, rinsing to get the crumples out of the lace, squeezing the water out, wrapping it in a towel and standing on the towel, then hanging it over the shower rod: I wanted that thing dry by morning.

And in the desert air it almost was.

By the time of the funeral a few hours later it completely was.

My cousin Amy greeted person after person after person after person and loved every one of us in the extremity of her loss.

The moment I saw her I knew. I mean, by that point the offer was planned, but…!

I gave her that cowl from that impulse purchase. All of those random knit-this-first feelings, the hours spent, the medical waiting-room times of my own. The airport. The flight. The ‘I see you and I am coming’ behind it.

It wasn’t just a collection of good colors on her in mostly blue: it matched the dress she had chosen to say goodbye to her beloved husband with us in. It totally matched. She marveled.

Kevin was looking out for her still.


Edited to add for my mom, who’s not on Facebook: Kevin’s daughter went to scatter her dad’s ashes, and at the place where he had talked about in a random conversation about the somedays, she found herself suddenly afraid somehow that the ashes would blow back in her face. Her cousin suggested a different spot nearby with a beautiful view of the river below. They went there and the family piled out to see, whereupon her grandmother told them that that: that was the spot where her husband had proposed to her 76 years earlier.

The daughter read a poem, her uncle said a prayer, the young children took it all in alongside the adults, the great-grandmother stood there with her loved ones, quietly remembering, remembering, and as Amy’s daughter described it, I am so sad and everything is beautiful.

Y not
Tuesday September 19th 2023, 9:32 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Rent a Tesla, they said. Same price as a subcompact.

So we tried out what turned out to be the Tesla Y for the weekend and getting in, thought, Niiiice.

We said to the guy at Budget, How do you charge this thing?

Him, and I quote: “How the bleep would *I* know?” (Hey! Someone who uses my favorite swear word!)

Okay then. The paperwork requires we fill it with gas before returning. Uh, guys…

I do have to stop here and mention the doors. They look so cool but on the outside, you have to put a lot of oomph into pushing in one side of the half-a-pair-of-tongs to pull open the other end with the other hand and it really wants to snap right back on you. Hard. I was honestly afraid we were going to break my 92-year-old mother’s hand with it and I tried to get to it every time before she did. Defiance of aging is not a good design feature.

We found a public charging station–it was across town–and tried to charge it before the funeral. We took Mom home after the funeral for a rest and went and tried again. We spent three bleeping hours on a Saturday out of the two full days we were in town to see people trying to get that car to charge. We couldn’t.

Oh and did I mention that it was 92F, the car was black, and the AC turned off while we were trying because the car was too low?

What I didn’t know is that people pull in to charge, walk out to shop at the strip mall while it does, and get back whenever they get back while meantime other people have pulled up and are standing in line to get the next slot for their about fifteen minutes of time with it. Three of the charging stations were out of order, including the one we had tried in the morning that was labeled as such by the afternoon. Thanks guys.

The second time, we waited for a slot and got one we knew had just worked for the guy pulling out. We spent a long long time again. Trying everything. Trying to reach anyone. Even the teen in the next car tried to help.

Turns out the car belonged to Budget and Tesla was not going to let someone whose name was not Budget fill the d*** thing. It actually said Charging at one point–and then the station turned itself off. Didn’t matter that we wanted to pay for it, we were interlopers.

So then we had to watch where we drove very carefully.

We did not drive way down the freeway to his sister’s for a visit. We couldn’t.

We got it back to the airport okay on Monday, low (it had been at 75% when we’d gotten it, 80% is as full as you’re supposed to do, why I don’t know) and tried to give them a heads-up on what their new inventory was like for their customers. Their car kept us from doing some of what we had paid for this trip to get to do. I missed a cousin get-together after the funeral. (Oh let’s just go fill the car while we wait for a text back with the address.) We ordered delivery rather than dare even going out to the grocery store.

I am going to be keeping a close eye on that credit card bill.

I have often thought one should always rent a car, if possible, before ever buying it.

Which I am now definitely never going to do. If nothing else, I’m not risking my knitter’s hands on those doors.

Back again
Monday September 18th 2023, 2:28 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

We had a trip scheduled to go visit my mom, and then my cousin in Colorado whose husband Kevin was killed on his motorcycle announced a memorial service for him to be held the week after, near my mom and where my cousin grew up even if it’s not where she lives now. But it was a central gathering place closest to the most relatives.

So we changed our tickets and flew out Friday.

We got to see not only Mom but a whole lot of people including relatives I hadn’t seen in probably thirty years.

I said to one man there, You have got to be Kevin’s brother! He was very pleased at that, considered it a great compliment, and said yes he was. We shared a hug at the loss and he radiated so much love that I thought, You are absolutely the brother of Kevin.

And then we got up at dark o’clock this morning to catch the only direct flight home and because that particular airport is such a zoo–it once took us nearly three hours to go from returning the car to our gate. Lesson learned. Be very early.

Our Uber driver coming home asked and reiterated and really wanted to know how we were. So we asked after him and his family.

His English was very good. Turns out he was a refugee from Afghanistan. Very grateful to be here, to be alive, to be employed, and he was so wonderful to us. And grateful that we cared about his family members that were still back there.

Of course we do. We are all, every single one of us, in this life thing together.

Yay for the good clerk
Thursday September 14th 2023, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Life

CVS last night. They recently changed their hours. I was standing in line when a woman came in and the clerk told her she was too late to be served that day.

It’s 5:54, I said, holding out my phone, and you close at 6:00.

She smirked and said the system shuts down at 6:00 and too late. They were only going to ring up two more people.

It’s 5:56. You have time to take care of her. Take care of her.

And then she stood there doing–nothing, as the other clerk was going as fast as she could. Nothing. Just standing there watching more people coming in trying to get there in time, joining the line. Sucks to be them.

The woman was horrified, then pleading, and finally her face crumpled into unwanted tears. She had called everybody and only this store had it and she had to have it tonight.

The clerk looked very pleased with herself as she reiterated, “The system closes down.” There was an undertone of sheer hostility.

I was with the other clerk, saying, Let’s do this fast! She was right there with me.

I should have thought to simply let the woman in more need than me immediately take my spot at the counter, but I didn’t know that I would have time to go back today before seeing my mom and I didn’t think through it fast enough and I very much am not proud of that, but the lovely clerk I was with ran through her screens as fast as she could. I’ve only seen her there in the last month, and she was as horrified as I was at what was going on.

I wanted X?

No, the new Y that was just sent in this afternoon.

Looks like we haven’t filled it yet. Do you want me to–

Thanksnopointwastingthetime. I turned to the next person with Okay your turn!, expecting to see the woman in tears–but no. It was the woman who’d been behind me before all this started, and she stepped forward fast in the same hopes of helping the next person not get shut down on. The one I’d stood up for was standing next to me at the other register. I hoped fiercely that I was right to be relieved, that she really had gotten taken care of after all.

I went back in this morning and thankfully found myself being waited on by the lovely woman. Whose name, I recently told her, matches my grandmother, my mom, my cousin, and my great-niece.

It’s not a terribly common name and she was quite pleased at how much my family likes it.

And it wasn’t till I was writing this just now that I realized that the difficult woman’s name tag is never in view.

So. My med.

They didn’t have it in stock. I thought, that’s okay, I woke up with my eye feeling better all on my own today, but at least it gave me a chance to ask the burning question: had that woman gotten her med last night? The one who needed it so much?

Family Name Clerk did a quick glance to the side to where the other woman was over among the stocking shelves and said softly, “Yes she did.” Nodding her head slightly in that direction, the new employee said of the woman who may well have been her boss, “I made her.”

Good for you!!! I was so grateful.

As I drove home, I wondered of the other clerk: who treated you like that in your life that you treat your customers the way you do? You left where you grew up–your speech conveys that. Why do you not know that you’re safe here, that it doesn’t have to be that way, that you don’t have to be that way?

And then suddenly the thought, is she? What is her life like here, who is she with, and the burning question, are you a safe person for her? Do you create an environment where she can change for the better?

I wrestled with that awhile.

The honest answer is, she frustrates the bejeebers out of me at that pharmacy but I have tried for some time now, and as a deliberate choice for her sake, to always be doing my best at peacemaking. To be patient.

But that’s over her treatment of me.

You don’t power trip over creating suffering in someone else that you could do something about while refusing to ring them up in order to run out the clock on them. And I’m very sorry to say, that is what I saw, and in keeping with previous experiences.

I will call her out on her behavior next time, too, and she knows that now.

Good things come
Thursday September 14th 2023, 7:09 am
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Life,Lupus

The Faustman Lab affiliated with Harvard has a paper out (I’ve seen reference to a 2023 update) on why the vaccine for tuberculosis is proving to be valuable for reversing type 1 diabetes–the type that is autoimmune-based, which is why they’re now expanding their work to other autoimmune diseases.

The then-experimental drug that saved my life twenty years ago dramatically enough that one medical resident changed his specialty so he could be part of that again (Hi Dr. Shih!) was a TNF-type drug. This is far better than my old mouse-celled one that they had to stop after it caused (thankfully temporary) congestive heart failure.

Quote: “Induction of TNF through BCG vaccination or through selective agonism of TNF receptor 2 (TNFR2) has 2 desired cellular immune effects: (1) selective death of autoreactive T cells and (2) expansion of beneficial regulatory T cells”

It sounds like it’s inducing the body to produce its own TNF in a way that does the most good, avoids the damage mine caused, and is certainly well tolerated.

The thought suddenly hits: what if I could travel and play normal tourist and go out in the sun and just do, y’know, normal people type things in the daytime again? Rather than risk setting off multiple organ inflammation via the UV exposure starting the moment I step outside?

That vaccine is out there right now.

It could actually happen in my lifetime and certainly my kids’.

For sanity’s sake these past thirty years I’ve avoided spending time or thought on the what-ifs, but I gotta admit I’m sneaking some peeks their way right now.

Oh, and, meantime, the daughter of our elderly neighbor is in town, we had a good chat, and I mentioned the outdoor light that seems brighter than the LED streetlight and turns our bedroom into daytime all night long; could she maybe change that lightbulb?

She was both horrified and gratified that that was something she could so easily do that could do so much good. She’s on it.