After a 36F morning
Monday October 30th 2023, 8:13 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Who let the winter sneak in at night? Suddenly there’s another cowl started. I mean, gotta have a waiting-room project for Wednesday, I figure, except it might be done by then.

Piuma cashmere from stash.

Sunday October 29th 2023, 9:00 pm
Filed under: Friends

I did some more hairdryering after writing last night’s post and hung it over a rod near a vent and by morning it was dry. Next time I won’t cut the timing so close.

I didn’t find her till church was over.

“Last week you reminded me of me when we first moved here years ago,” I told her–“and so I did this this week. It’s silk,” as I handed the cowl to her.

She just kind of stared at it a moment. Then, wordlessly, she held it out, looking it over, folded it in on itself, then back out, exploring the essence of the thing, trying to take in something she would never ever have imagined happening.

“Tell me your name again?” I half-apologized.

She had to say it twice because the room was fully of happy chatting people drowning it out for me the first time: “Liz.” Nice and loud, now that she knew I needed her to.


Apple leaves in October
Saturday October 28th 2023, 9:19 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

At least that’s what the pattern looks like to me.

I always scour coned yarns to get the mill oils out, but I often wonder if one needs to with silk.

This afternoon I finished the ribbon silk cowl that had puttered along all week (deadlines being a helpful thing; I want it ready to give tomorrow.)

And then I washed it. Didn’t even wait for the hot water, just a quick tepid soak with suds for ritual’s sake.

The change! All those twists that had been running through my hands for hours and made it hard to get the needle in the stitches as quickly as I’m used to–it didn’t look like that now at all. It shrank a little, yes, but the ribbon had turned into a tube. It had depth. It had much greater softness. It had smoothness. No angles in the fabric anymore, it was all rounded everything. Such a transformation!

As I marveled at it I thought at myself, You’ve done this before. This is not new. It’s just been a long time and you forgot.

Silk usually dries very fast but this was so dense that I had to take a hairdryer to it to be sure it’ll be ready in the morning. It’s not done, but at least it’s closer. Here, let me go run those ends in.

If only those two women at the bone scan office could see it now.

He enjoyed that so much
Friday October 27th 2023, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Friends

Last time I saw Joe a few years ago, he had just recovered from a major heart attack and spent some time in the hospital and was now, carefully, back to work. And I had just had the symptoms for four hours in the middle of the night of a heart attack but had stupidly not gone to the hospital: by the time I was sure I needed to, all I could do was hang onto life. Any exertion towards so much as reaching for the phone to call 911 or waking up my husband had gone beyond me.

And then, lupus-like, it let up, and at 4:00 a.m. I finally went to sleep.

So they’ll never quite know, though they’ve documented previous lupus inflammation in one heart valve but that’s long been in remission.

Richard’s aunt whom I adore who’s a nurse said to me later, And you want to wake up next time, too–call 911! Don’t wait!

Yes ma’am. (And I meant it. Don’t wait for it to become painful. Now I know.)

Meantime: Joe was working on a job in our neighborhood, he told me when I called him yesterday, and he’d almost almost stopped by just to say hi but was afraid it would sound like he was just trying to drum up business, so he hadn’t. And here I was right after that calling to say hey Joe could you check out our furnace for us! He laughed and went, Meant to be. Sure, see you tomorrow.

Which he did. I told him Richard thought it smelled like burning coffee and we joked that the roofing guys must have left a cup on the unit. We all agreed it was probably just accumulated dust, but he went up there to be sure and spent a good half hour going over everything and also checking out the ductwork he’d installed awhile ago.

Might want to turn the furnace on full blast and open all the windows the first cold day every year to let it air out, he told us.

All was good. He came back down, we chatted briefly, he satisfied himself that he didn’t have to worry, his heart nor mine nor the furnace, we’re doing great–and then he picked up his ladder to leave.

I was going, Wait. What do I owe you?

He turned back with the biggest grin. “Nothing!”


But-Joe! You spent the time, you, I mean… !

He answered that he was doing this job right around the corner so he was right there so, hey, there you go.

All I could do was call, “Thank you!” after him.

7 a.m.
Thursday October 26th 2023, 8:35 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Hey. Hey! I bolted upright. “Richard wake up I smell burning.”

Checking out electronics all over the house–they felt cool to the touch, they were fine. Everything looked fine. Normal.

He didn’t think it was anything but the furnace waking up for the season. Maybe. I pointed out that the furnace had already been running some nights.

Sitting under one of the vents tonight, he smelled it again.

I thought our HVAC guy had moved out of the area during the pandemic, but it felt like who else could I possibly call? and went looking. He’s here now, anyway. Yay! And he’ll be by tomorrow to inspect that furnace for us.

Joe is the guy who came off our roof white as a sheet some years ago and asked, Are you guys okay?! when he found the previous furnace pumping carbon monoxide down our vents. The CO alarm helpfully went off five minutes after he took it out of commission. Lesson learned: never let your alarms be 20 years old. Replace them at five even if they look like they’re working.

We were not okay, and now we and our doctors knew why. We will forever owe him so much.

He’s on it. So much better than worrying about it. See you at noon, Joe.

The Maine idea
Wednesday October 25th 2023, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

One of my hopes this year had been to fly home to Maryland to see old friends, and I was telling one of them tonight that I was sorry it hadn’t happened yet.

Turns out Karen just bought two acres near her daughter, has the house plans all drawn up, and is planning on moving. Not now, but in about two years. She’s done her homework: utilities available to the site, confirmed, etc, etc. She was thinking out loud to me, should she add this feature, and maybe that…

…And I, knowing that she could and that it is way easier to get all the construction stuff done before you move in than to add it after, urged her to do it. Do it all. Make where you want to be what you want it to be.

She’s even already priced elevators for her coming old age to keep it accessible and found the price quite reasonable in the overall context of building a house.

Yes of course. I reminded her that our old classmate who’s been fighting Parkinson’s since his late 30’s added one to his.

And I’m left now going, wow. Wow. I so wasn’t expecting this. It’ll be beautiful up there. And cold. She’ll love it. She’ll have space with all that land to garden to her heart’s delight but still have neighbors close by, along with her daughter and son-in-law. They are all the family she has left.

I told her, I’d better get a move on on my plans before she gets a move on out.

I’m finding this odd exuberant mixture of being so happy for her, of loss as one more connection to home peels away for me, and like she’s going away to college all over again. While I’m not this time.

Trying to sort it all out, I thought, y’know? It sounds like there’s going to be another New England house that’s going to need to be knit. Good thing I got in some practice at it. Don’t you think?

In a year or two….

A connecting ribbon
Tuesday October 24th 2023, 8:49 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

Just sayin’, if a man were developing a pattern for an infinity scarf would his fellow knitters cheer him on with, Write’em, cowlboy!

So. I sat down in the waiting room for a bone density scan, pulled out my knitting–and two sets of eyes across the room were immediately on my hands. I smiled, did the first few stitches, and then the woman about my age whom I took to be the daughter got up and came over to ask questions about my knitting. Did it take very long to do that? What was it going to be? It was so pretty!

(She had no idea how much I’d needed to hear that. It’s nice stuff but ribbon yarn still isn’t my favorite to work with.)

Then her mom got up slowly and carefully, as the very elderly do, and with her walker made it the half dozen or so steps to come join us. The daughter explained to her that it was silk.

I knew she wanted to touch it so I held the project out towards the mom so she could feel the fabric that was coming to be. She was delighted and I felt like I had just made her day, which totally made my day.

“So soft!” said the daughter.

There was no language nor cultural barrier. Just a coming together.

Then they called my name, and mother and daughter headed out smiling and on their way.

Lazarus squash
Monday October 23rd 2023, 9:33 pm
Filed under: Garden

Fall came for a week (late September, I think) and then ran for the hills. It hit 92 last week, 75 today.

Which means my shriveled dying squash plant is suddenly starting over with new leaves and flowers about to burst out.

This 21″ Anya apricot seedling wasn’t planted till June (way late!) and is growing a half an inch a day still, while another one several years older is shedding leaves for Fall.

And then there’s this other one, which got off to a bad start but didn’t seem to quite be dead even after it dropped all its damaged, deformed leaves, so I kept watering and hoping. It was one I’d started in a coconut coir pot before I learned that that medium deprives the seedling of the potassium and magnesium it needs to produce leaves.

I pulled away what I could of that pot inside the planter some time ago.

Suddenly it’s pushing out new and perfectly formed ones. The tiny bit of green at the bottom only started today; the bigger ones started I think Thursday.

Cool nights and warm days–perfect apricot weather!

It’ll be interesting to see when they decide the daylight/nighttime balance isn’t because it’s Spring.


New here
Sunday October 22nd 2023, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

Someone was having a hard day today and she came into the meeting room and sat down by herself. Behind me. With an expression that both said, Nobody talk to me, and, Please someone talk to me and get me out of this funk.

She’d moved here in September. Church is a good way to make new friends fairly fast–but it can also be a place where you see other people having friends like you had where you just left and now you’re stuck knowing nobody, and it can feel at first like you’re never going to know anybody, either.

I remember….

The woman running the meeting has worse face blindness than I do, and tried to explain that as she invited new people and visitors to introduce themselves.

Then she walked up to the woman behind me. With hesitation. She held out the microphone questioningly, clearly wishing she could remember, and the woman shook her head a sharp no.

She wanted to feel like she belonged. She wanted to already be recognized.

And I suddenly knew why, as I told Richard tonight, I’d had a nagging feeling all week like I ought to put everything down and go knit a cowl.

Silk ribbon yarn in a soft white, 5.5mm needles that’ll take it up quickly: soft, shimmery, warm for cool days and cool for warm ones and almost impossible to be allergic to–I didn’t start it earlier because I had no idea where to go with that feeling, which yarn, how would I know what color, who what why. But I know now.

Here’s the part that’s quietly blowing my mind: I can picture her face.

I used to never ever forget a face. I was very visual. It was part of what I thought made me me. Till a head injury made it so it was impossible for me to remember one till I’d seen the person three times and not always then. It taught me a whole lot of humility. Particularly about what matters.

But now, I’ve totally got her face in my mind and I can’t wait to see it light up next week.

Well that explains it
Saturday October 21st 2023, 9:26 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden

Don’t know if you can read it, but the Washington Post had a fascinating article on how plants under attack communicate with each other and fight back, blocking germs, making things taste bad for bugs, etc.

Several people in the comments highly recommended the book, “Braiding Sweetgrass,” by a Native American who’s a botany professor. As someone who almost majored in botany, the descriptions were too compelling to pass up and a copy is now on its way here.

If any of you’ve already read it I’d love to hear your take on it.

Meantime, I can just picture the first brussels sprouts plant in the row shouting out to its peers as the harvester comes through, I’m a goner! Save yourselves! and the rest going, We’re on it!

If you don’t like them that must be why.

Bigger and boulder
Friday October 20th 2023, 9:15 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

Part of it is me dithering because the moment I add all those strands across that ribbing, there’s really no going back, only forward whether I like how it’s coming out or not. And I’m very good at going, after the fact, oh–that’s how I should have done it.

But part of it is, I really do need that hazelnut brown for the tree trunks. Once I got all the other colors together they showed me they needed their best friend. (As in, no not that brown.) And it’s not here yet.

USPS has been telling me for several days that it would be delivered today. It was not. And since it’s to be in the foreground of the picture, I can’t just run off without it.

Unless I move that boulder over here, and those trees over there, and…

Nah. I’m just not that good an artist, no matter how much I want to be. I can riff from my friend Steve’s photo; I can’t make up a new photo in my head.

So hurry up, yarn. The world’s on fire and I need the distraction of creation.

This is the thing that I really want to do next. I just want to start. It’ll happen.

Thursday October 19th 2023, 9:20 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

So we were talking over dinner and he mentioned that time that his grandma had called him his freshman year of college; she was chuckling.

I’d never heard this story. I knew she lived in this very small town in the middle of nowhere and where everybody was Mormon.

Seems the restaurant–

Me: that town had a restaurant? Post office, general store, and a movie theater, I remember. (And lots and lots of cows.) How many restaurants did it have?

He thought about it and held up one finger–then a second, but wiggled it in hesitation, his face scrunching up; he wasn’t sure, but, definitely one, anyway.


That restaurant had some pretty plants growing near the windows and on the tables for decoration, as one does.

It wasn’t till one of the young men in that town came home after two years from a mission for the alcohol-, tobacco-. and coffee- and tea-abstaining Mormon Church that there was anybody who recognized what those plants were.

And honey, they weren’t growing it for the hemp.

On the safe side
Wednesday October 18th 2023, 9:05 pm
Filed under: Life

Earthquakes roll up and down and side to side, with the P waves and S waves going at different speeds: so the farther away you are from the epicenter, the weaker the shaking but also the longer it goes on.

And we know from the big Loma Prieta in ’89 that those waves can bounce back and forth off the hills to east and west of the Bay and amplify themselves back up.

Thus it is imperative to get the alarm out immediately when one goes off: it gives people time to move to safety and away from where things might fall on them.

But it also means you’d better get it right, and the reverse-911 system for quake alerts is new, as are some of the sensors.

So there was a drill planned for tomorrow for testing that system, and an announcement went out to our cellphones about it this morning so that come the time, people would know it was only a drill.

However. An actual quake went off at about the same time, and both alerts went out more or less together, to much confusion. This was not helped by the fact that a sensor was off.

So around 9:00 a.m. our phones buzzed loudly that a 5.7 had just gone off in Sacramento. That’s a pretty big quake! And that–wait, are they saying this is just a drill or wait that’s tomorrow–what!?

The next problem is, within seconds, they determined that one sensor was quite off. The other sensors downgraded it to a 4.1 very quickly, but the word was already out because seconds matter.

Even at 90 miles away, for a 5.7 we got a blast of noise and told to duck and cover.

Uh, what quake?

So they are still getting the bugs out of this new system. But now everybody knows there’s a system. And not to freak out at the drill tomorrow.

Unless the earth decides to have a sense of humor again because hey we could all use a good laugh right now, right?

10:19 a.m. here we come.

A cliffhanger of a day
Tuesday October 17th 2023, 10:05 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

President Biden is en route to Israel as I type.

I can only pray that his statement of unwavering support after the Hamas attacks and his compassion for the innocents, so rightly spoken, will continue to resonate there as he makes a plea for other innocents: the children. Learn from America’s failures after 9/11–for the love, literally, of all things holy, don’t repeat them.

Also: Gym Jordan, accused by the Jan. 6th committee of helping mastermind the attack on the Capitol, lost his first try at getting elected Speaker of the House. I can only pray that that gives courage they didn’t have today to those Representatives who are still looking for a way not to vote for a man who actively worked to overthrow our democracy.

C’mon, people, do the right thing. Make your time in power something your descendants are proud of. This granddaughter of a Republican Senator who voted for the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act can tell you, it’s just not that hard to do something you will feel great about for the rest of your life. They will, too.

Leapin’ Lizards!
Monday October 16th 2023, 9:48 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

(And I thought that was just a Little Orphan Annie reference.)

Mystery solved.

This afternoon I watched the lizard dash up the leg of this chair. It put up with my going outside with the camera–to a point, and then jumped to the wooden leg of the picnic table.

Where I saw it land the other day was on the far side of that same chair.

A hungry bird hadn’t dropped its meal, our little guy had just taken a shortcut to get to its favorite sunbeam.