Rose
Tuesday November 19th 2019, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Life,Politics

Thank you, everybody, for all the notes. So appreciated.

Rose came out of the vertebrae reconstruction surgery talking nonstop. She’s drinking clear liquids and the Rybka Twins (I had to look them up) whose booksigning the injured had been on their way to stopped by her hospital room wearing cheerful neon pink and big smiles.

Which meant her parents posted a photo of Rose with them with a great big grin of her own, holding up her newly signed copy in front of her face.

I think everything’s going to be okay. Time and patience and a lot of medical skill to come (there will be more surgery) and physical therapy and she’ll get there. Maybe even pick up an Australian accent just for fun before she comes home–she’s a singer, she’s got a great musical ear for it.

Today was such a relief.

That, and, I spent ten hours watching the impeachment hearings and at the end of it went, wait–I just need two more days like this and this afghan is actually somehow finally going to be done!

 



The longest plane ride her daddy ever took
Monday November 18th 2019, 11:09 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

He’s there with them now.

My cousin’s wife was visiting with their youngest daughter (who’s I think 12) and niece in Australia and were in a terrible accident over the weekend. They’ve all survived, so far. But their daughter was going in for her second surgery today after massive brain swelling.

His wife posted that she had been pouring her soul out in prayer while overwhelmed with the memories, the 40 minute wait for the ambulance, her own broken bones as she was trying to help her daughter not bleed to death, her niece calling out for her mom, who was not there.

And the flies! So many flies, and holding that gauze she just could not keep them away from her daughter’s face to at least offer her that comfort.

And in the moment she thought that in her prayer she suddenly knew: it was the flies. Rose had needed to stay conscious, and the annoyance of those pesky bugs, that insect insult on top of all the fear and pain–

–had been what had kept her awake.

And she woke up again after the first surgery, which was on her brain.

Update: and she is responsive now after her second. Go Rose!



Veterans Day
Monday November 11th 2019, 10:13 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Life

All day long I’ve been remembering that Veterans’ Day when I was on my way to Cottage Knits, my route taking me past Golden Gate National Cemetery.

As I waited at the light at the corner that edges two sides of it, there was an elderly man near the end of the row. He was stooped, his head was bowed, his white hair blowing in the wind and chill, his face the picture of grief. I wanted to leap over the fence and hold him up. To somehow ease his unspeakable pain.

This pageĀ says moreĀ than I ever could.

Love you, Dad. Miss you, Dad. Thank you for offering your life for our ideals and for our whole world’s sake.



N pe can’t type that title either
Wednesday November 06th 2019, 9:41 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

I set d wn a cup next t the computer and missed. Which means it instantly went lying across the keyboard my clothes the rug my she’s.

Sometimes bviusly n t always but sometimes autocorrect gets it right–never thought I’d be glad r autocorrect.

The new keyboard is supposed t come tmrrw.

While I was expressing frustration with the keys that won’t type Richard said just copy and paste the letters in.

Hey. Slow but it works. The man is a genius.



Red-y for anything
Tuesday November 05th 2019, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Family

We interrupt this blog for a photo of a certain adorable two month old.

(Nope re the dress, store-bought, sorry. Remember Think Music from the Music Man? This is Think Knitted.)

I find myself as I write this in sudden need of knitting a Lily of the Nile dress and am wondering why I didn’t think of it before. Just let me finish this afghan first.



Parfianka pomegranate, year three
Sunday November 03rd 2019, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden

So how do you know when a pomegranate is ripe, I wondered?

I went looking for the answer several times over the last month or so, each time hoping to find someone who’d grown that particular type. And found this:

You can’t really tell by the color.

You can’t tell by the stem end.

If you get it wrong and let it stay on the tree too long, it loses some of its flavor. Wait. This was definitely news to me, because I planted my tree after tasting pomegranates from Jean’s that had been left in place till they’d begun to split open. I had never tasted anything like that in my life, and given her age I knew I might not again unless I grew my own. So I did, and wondered if I should leave them till they split open, too.

But they looked so good…

There were two fruits that had made it past the one inch stage (and our not watering while we were gone for three weeks in September when Lily was born.)

Heft it, was the advice I found: it should bulge and it should be heavy.

Define heavy?

It should be large.

It was. How large?

Tap on it and listen.

Oh great, good luck with that one.

Don’t pick it: clip it.

Okay, that I know how to do.

Michelle was going to be dropping by for dinner and I thought, one to try now, one to leave for later in our experiment. We’ll compare and know better what to do next year when there will be many more of them.

The verdict is, it was probably harvested just a little early, but the seeds came away easily (almost all of them anyway) and it was as good as anything from a grocery store.

But the thing that struck me was all those little bite marks and a long clawing on one side. So many times over the months it hung there that something stealthily approached, tasted that gorgeous red exterior, and then went, This is supposed to be food?? and let it be, leaving a mosaic pattern behind. At least once something larger tried hard to pull it away but it held on to where it needed to be to grow.

They never got past the tough exterior.

They never found the sweetness inside.

But we believed, and we did.



Apricots
Friday October 25th 2019, 10:21 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life

It was not how I intended it to go but it was the way it needed to go.

My dad loved dried fruit, particularly apricots, and he said the apricot slabs from Andy’s Orchard were the best he’d ever had. That was high praise.

I asked around the family before his funeral to see if anybody wanted me to bring some when we flew into town and got a resounding YES!, surprising me at hearing how many people Dad had told that those were his favorites.

So last Monday I drove down to Andy’s and bought two three pound tubs.

The clerk quietly stopped me: did I know…?

The Premiums look so pretty. And Andy only grows what tastes good.

But the slabs are the ones that were so perfectly ripe at picking that they went smush, so they won’t win any beauty pageants, but the flavor!

I thanked her, because I’d known that but had forgotten it, put one of the tubs back and got a second slabs one.

My thought was, it’s cheaper to get the large containers than lots of individual small ones and I’d rather spend the money on the apricots; people can ziplock for themselves however much they want to take home. Or whatever. But six pounds should do it, if for no other reason than that there’s only so much luggage space and I had to pack sweaters and wool skirts.

And so, after our flight two days later, the first tub was opened at Mom’s.

Saturday, the second tub was opened at Mom’s. And that’s after only one person took me up on the sandwich baggie thing.

We slowed down. Mom, six siblings, spouses, and a few of the grandkids, we were trying not to eat them all. But they were good.

One of my brothers said something wistful and I asked him, given our family’s round-robin tradition, “Is this my year to give to you for Christmas?”

He considered a fast half second, his face totally lit up, and he exclaimed, “Yes!”

Saturday, Mom looked at where that second tub had gotten down to and was a mixture of pleased we’d enjoyed them so much and, “Hey, leave *me* some!”

So guess where I went today. Beat the Christmas rush and all that, because I have no idea at what point Andy sells out for the year. Let us help him speed up that date.

I bought some fresh fruit and veggies, too, and as we loaded up the back of the car together in the 90 degree heat (normal is 71) I asked the clerk, If I run an errand for an hour or so would these all be okay in here?

Sure, no problem.

I drove off telling myself that, well, but realistically it’ll be longer than an hour, and then the half hour home after that.

I’d never tried to find Fillory from that direction before. Near the freeway but not either of those two freeways. I had my yarn and needles in my purse all ready for my Friday afternoon knitting group and wanted to go. Let’s see, this one connects to that freeway with the exit to the… Yeah, no problem.

Now, on my way to Andy’s I’d realized that I ought to check my phone when I got there to be sure.

I realized on my way to Fillory that I should have checked my phone back at Andy’s to be sure.

I realized that where I found myself awhile later looked familiar not because I was going the right way but because it was where I got lost a couple years ago trying to find the place when… Some maps programs are better than a particular one. And you cannot just pull off to the side of the freeway to read what you cannot hear: GPSs are lost on me.

The forty minutes I’d spent in extra traffic getting around an accident on my way south and the half hour I’d blown looking for my turn along my way north added up to its being rush hour now.

I found my way back to the freeway–that I could do–and went straight home. Sorry guys. Next week.

Which is how I ended up pulling in my driveway just before Sandy’s son pulled away with his wife for their long twelve-hour drive home. I hope they stop somewhere in between for the night. They’ve been working hard on making that house more elder-friendly.

I waylaid them with just-picked figs from Andy’s, to their great delight, and they caught me up on his mom. It’s a lot easier to talk about in person than across texts when it’s a hard subject but both of you love the person you’re talking about. You can see the emotions in each others’ faces. You can be a better comfort to each other. We were able to be there for each other. I’d needed to be there.

I’d thought they were leaving town tomorrow. I’d come so close to missing them.

I almost, almost, offered to run back in the house and grab them a tub of those apricot slabs in Dad’s memory. If I find out they like such things, maybe when they come back in a few weeks.

When they can share a tub with his mom before they leave again.



Peregrinations
Tuesday October 22nd 2019, 10:15 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Wildlife

I wonder: how did the word “stoop” come to mean both the diving behavior of the fastest bird on the planet–and the posture of human great old age?

There is great strength displayed within both, though.

My folks kept a bird feeder at the edge of the woods right outside the living room as I was growing up, and there were always several paperback bird guides by the floor-to-ceiling windows there. If we kids asked what something we saw was, they’d tell us to go look it up and find out.

I remember thinking, But what if it flies away while I have my nose in this book looking at these pictures? I didn’t want to take my eyes off it or I’d lose it. The living version was so much more interesting than a sketch.

Downhill from where the folks–from where Mom lives now there are a couple of signs that I like and last week I finally managed to snag a picture of one of them: “Falcon bird watch area. Prepare to stop.”

Now, a falcon going after a pigeon can tuck its wings in hard and be stooping at well over 200 mph and seeing it, much less stopping a car in time, would be a challenge. But I love that the signs are there because they entice people to look up, to notice, to consider what they have right there near them whereas they might not have known at all but for that literal heads-up.

My father wheeled the car to the side of the highway somewhere in the Sierras on a long trip the summer I was ten, pointing out the bald eagle above us there in the trees. DDT was in rampant use and at the top of the avian food chain, the raptors were all close to extinction.

He told us to look, to never forget it, because it might be the last chance we would ever have to see one alive. I remember sensing his grief and how urgent his request felt to him and so I never forgot that moment.

Rachel Carson wrote “Silent Spring,” good people like Glenn Stewart committed their lives to the work, and now the raptors are back. The songbirds are threatened now, and we need to save them, too. We can. We have. We will.

Dad got a kick out of my volunteer work with the nest cam on the peregrine falcons nine years ago, watching the eyases hatch, grow, explore, and when they were ready, flying on their newly strong wings to places they had not been able to see but had known in their bones must be out there. Over that upper wall and the entirety of the view is suddenly before them for the first time, impelling them to spread their wings wide for what they were born to do as the wind lifts them upwards.

And now Dad has, too.



Filling Grampa’s shoes
Monday October 21st 2019, 9:16 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

So much to say so I’ll just start randomly.

My sisters wanted to dive right in and so we did: we spent a morning going through Dad’s closet, the book shelves, magazines, giving away, recycling, throwing away, putting some things aside.

The twenty-year-old Fodor Guides to various countries? Out, with a wistful smile in the direction of how thoroughly our father had traveled the world. The ones that were only ten years old? Nobody’s going to look at those, you can get current information online. Out.

Sharkskin shoes. Dad had sharkskin shoes? Who knew?

Ten and a half was too small a size to tease my lawyer son with so they went to my niece’s four teen- to young-adult sons to try on. They looked comfortable, and someone would definitely get a kick out of them.

(The year, in Dad’s hand)

We found six–wait I think it was six–pieces of paper stapled together: one long narrow sheet per child with our Christmas wish list, probably cut just exactly so from printer paper on Dad’s old heavy office paper cutter with the scissor arm I remember being about as long as mine. I think it stayed in Maryland when my folks moved after retirement.

If you don’t give us a whole page we can’t write as much, but I think I squeezed the most in and I would have been turning six that month. Note that I’m the only one who added the bribing-pleading Thank you.

My 17-months-younger sister copy-catted the greatest of my ideas–especially that Mickey Mouse Telephone. Writing didn’t come as easily for her yet though so her list was a lot shorter.

The older kids all asked for a watch. We two younger girls asked for a play watch.

It occurs to me that I forgot to turn to that last page to see if my baby brother had scribbled anything. I don’t know if Mom still has it to go check or if it just got swept up along with so much other stuff in the tidying-out, but I’ll bet someone who looked at it (we all did) remembers.

I spent today at my own house massively tidying-out.

P.S. I did, I got the Hands Down game! I remember playing it!



A quick note
Sunday October 20th 2019, 11:22 pm
Filed under: Family

It felt so strange to walk across the folks’ front entryway and not be lifting my feet and carefully looking for that green tubing that ran from the oxygen machine set up there across their home.

For my mom: the plane was late but we made it home.



For naturalizing at home
Tuesday October 15th 2019, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Garden,Life
The surprise from Afton: a gorgeous Calla lily in memory of my father, for which I am very grateful.

I chuckled over my little sister’s demand on Dad re waiting till after her son’s wedding was over with.

It occurs to me that he’d also waited for my family.

We flew to go see him in April, sure then that it would be our last chance. Even with the oxygen generator that was always attached to him, the ten steps it took him to go from his favorite chair to the kitchen table plunged his oxygen levels down below 80%, even to 70%, and he would shudder working so hard to get air into his lungs.

I was the one close person he knew who had been through oxygen levels like that and knew what it was like–but I’d been in a hospital bed, and I’d had it set off alarms with nurses coming to the rescue. He was doing all this on his own, and upright (getting down as soon as he could), and it was just unfathomable to me how he could do it. There were a number of times I simply held him as he wheezed.

I told him he amazed me. Because he most certainly did.

He spent more time in that chair after we left, and eventually Mom started bringing his meals over there.

I didn’t put it together but I should have: Sam was expecting, Sam was very high risk, and he wanted to see her through it with his prayers added into the mix and he wanted to see pictures of her baby alive and here and well and both of them having made it through. He wanted to be part of that.

And so he quietly held on for them, too.

Dad’s obituary.



Going out. Way out.
Monday October 14th 2019, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Dad was the original foodie.

My mom always delighted in his ability to find his way back to a restaurant he’d last/first stumbled across years before.

I can remember twice when I think she was the one who started the do-you-remember, he did indeed with great delight, and then he had to find it. He was a homing pigeon for great food–and always made a point to exclaim over Mom’s cooking too, for that matter. She’d helped take over the kitchen at twelve years old when her mother had broken her hip: she’d learned early and she’d learned well.

But you can’t eat at home when you’re on the road.

One time was when my niece Emily got married in Seattle. My folks, my brother and I were in a car together afterwards and there was this wistfulness back and forth between the folks about that seafood place from that trip from the time when I was I think two.

Dad said it was on the waterfront.

Mom said You’re right it was.

Dad started off that-a-way and after awhile my brother and I were…a little doubtful. That did NOT look like anywhere you’d find a restaurant.

We went over a drawbridge. They still have those?

Dad used the Space Needle as his mental compass, which means it would have to be…wouldn’t it be that building over there?

Ivar’s! Yes! Tadaaah! And it was still there!

I’d never seen a restaurant before with an indoor–hill, for lack of a better description, with a sidewalk/aisle rolling upwards and down to match.

Canoes hanging from the walls. Pacific Northwest Native art. And the best clam chowder I’d ever eaten in my life.

Another time that comes to mind: we were way down South somewhere (that was the trip with the camper where an armadillo raided our marshmallows in Florida) and Dad said there was this barbecue place we had to go to. He found that one, too.

It was put together by lots of hard work: the tables were just picnic tables, nothing expensive at all.

But they had been sounded down so fine that they felt like velvet. Seriously. And they trusted us kids with sauce near that? I was nine that trip, and we were all marveling and running our fingers back and forth on the perfect surfaces. How had they done that?

Sand paper and a whole lot of time and elbow grease, Dad said. And then had to explain that no, not grease grease, elbow–and expanded my vocabulary.

And then that barbecue!

If anybody has any idea where that restaurant is or what its name is I’d love to be able to give them a shout-out for the happy memories all these years later.

The trip when I was sixteen to see the last Apollo lift-off in person. Dad found the place again that had the old-time jukeboxes and Brunswick stew so good that years later I realized I just had to learn how to do that. (Although they and I went with chicken, the traditional squirrel meat being hard to come by these days.)

I’m with Dad: I’d go back there in a heartbeat. Just like he did.

Celebrating his memory.



So now you see how I got this way (I flatter myself)
Sunday October 13th 2019, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

My 37-year-old daughter was in I think middle school when I bought a cotton Christmas sweater at Costco that my mom liked enough that I bought her one, too. Or maybe I just thought she would and then she did, I don’t remember: a white goose wearing a blue scarf inside a Christmas wreath with sparkly red plastic beads, cheerful and vivid to celebrate the season.

The tag said dry clean only, so I did–but those beads came back melted right into the fabric. The owner of the little shop was horrified at ruining it and said it was the manufacturer’s fault for mis-tagging it, it should never have come there, take it back for a replacement; I waved away her worries by saying, a) it was a one-time thing at Costco, I can’t replace it now, and b) it was only $15, c) she did her best and d) it’s not like I’d be wearing it every day all year anyway.

I quickly warned Mom, though.

She hand washed hers.

I hadn’t seen it in years, but then I don’t live there.

She put it on it for their Christmas card picture this past year.

The goofy tray-holding butler bear (the tray serving as its platform heels in the shot)? That’s totally on Dad.



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.



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.)