No more monitor
Friday October 22nd 2021, 11:16 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

This is long and meandering but it’s late and I don’t have time to edit it.

My cousin Virginia cut her beautiful shoulder-length hair very short and posted pictures on Facebook and got lots of compliments over her new look.

And then she quietly sent out a note to her cousins that she’d had cancer nine years ago, had long since beaten it… and the haircut was to make it seem less abrupt when it starts falling out again.

All those hats knitted as carry-around projects, a moment here, a row there, they were ready.

She said she had a blue one from me from years ago but yes, she’d like a soft white one, very much, thank you.

And so today, I–

Waited till 3 pm. On the nose at the two week mark, off with the heart monitor and into its box to ship back to its manufacturer so they can report to my cardiologist. My skin had a fierce enough reaction to the adhesive that I’m amazed it stayed on. I hope I don’t have to do that again for awhile.

So that got mailed and the white hat, and also one in purples and another in greens. She hadn’t wanted to ask for too much. I had wanted to give her all.the.hats. I compromised.

Andy’s dried slab Blenheim apricots in another box for my mom, the ones picked so ripe they go smush when cut. The best.

And a warm winter outfit to my niece’s baby girl.

But before I headed out for the post office, one last note on the diary notebook to return with the monitor: yes I pushed the button at 3 a.m. this morning but, um, ignore that. I was asleep. Pushing it woke me up that wait, I did what? No. Nothing to see there. I was dreaming.

If only we could solve all health problems that easily.

And then at the end of the day, finally, I knit and got past the tree.

And then said, But what I really want is to go make a batch of chocolate, darn it. We’re out, and the pre-pandemic Trader Joe’s bar doesn’t count.

Wild Bolivian Mix, in the melanger now.

I said to Richard, I calculated wrong so I didn’t put in all the sugar I measured and now I don’t know how much I did and is this sweet enough?

He took a taste and considered thoughtfully: it was good, and yet, “Seems a little too sweet to me.”

And it’s not enough to me, even though I like mine quite dark. Good. Right in between. That means we hit the sweet spot.



When they’re little
Wednesday October 20th 2021, 9:35 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

There was a baby shower by Zoom Sunday for two nieces who are expecting: the idea was, order baby books mailed to them in advance and then let’s all celebrate and talk about our favorites!

I sent Sandra Boynton board books. As one does.

One cousin, whose youngest is about five now, told them, There’s always some lady at a grocery store who will tell you, Oh! They grow up SO fast!

I think that’s a pretty universal experience for young moms, often when the kids are not being their stage-presence best and so trying to get the simplest things done takes forever; I remember when, for a month, I had four kids under age six.

I answered, The days are years and the years are days.



Castle
Monday October 11th 2021, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

Meantime, last week the afghan was all of 5.5″ long and I was glad that at least I’d started the thing. I wondered if I would finish it this year. Seriously.

Sitting working on it today the thought occurred to me that since that divine towel snap culminating in the heart monitor Friday, well, it’s 20″ now by roughly 52+” wide.

Remember how I said I ordered all that white and was going to wait for it to arrive? Not only was it not going to arrive today, it hadn’t even been picked up from the shop in San Francisco yet because of the Federal holiday.

So I picked up the two I had, one to each side of the trunk, and ran for it. Will the new match? It’s going to be what it’s going to be, I was not going to lose  days of working time over it. The new will coincide with the start of the green branches, and colors interact with each other and change our perception of them and I’m going to blame any differences on that, or actually, I’m not going to say a word. Any difference will make it match with how the piece changes from the ground up with the three different colorways there.

Forty-eight rows in two days at the easy part. About 225 of the hard part to go.

Meantime, my cousin and her husband bought the house next door to them. (Their daughter showed a before video on Facebook: some of the walls looked like high piles of random snowballs as you walked in, they were crumbling that badly.) But they had always loved that grand old home–my 90 year old mother grew up in that neighborhood, in a house that was not new when her folks bought it–and my cousin’s husband, a doctor, promised the old man living in the basement of his childhood home whom he had looked out for that they would take good care of it.

And wow, look at it now.

I did do a double take and laughed on seeing that wallpaper: I saw it photographed in a mid-century modern in Portland. Circa 1915 is a much better fit.



62
Wednesday October 06th 2021, 8:46 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Lupus

It’s just costochondritis, I told myself. Michelle’s driving to her sister’s in a few hours and I cannot have her wake up in the morning to us being at the hospital over nothing. Inflammation of the lining of the heart sounds terrible but it almost never actually is. All it is is a familiar nuisance.

It’s just a little bit of food poisoning, I thought out loud, wanting to get out of bed and toss that leftover that only I had touched, but I wasn’t going anywhere right then and I knew it.

Awhile later: “Would you google ‘women heart attack symptoms’?”

Turns out I’m not the only one who doesn’t hear well in the dark in the bed at night half asleep, especially when someone’s not talking very loud.

I rolled over on my side and my ribs roared. A silent, Oh, so you *can* do real pain here, not just hints. I rolled back. See? Costochondritis. Had it a million times, you’re just out of practice because it’s been awhile. No real chest pains until you mess with the position of the ribs. Okay, so we can stop worrying about that one.

That sense of–tightness? I think I’d picture it more as my insides being pleated and the stitches pulled tight–I don’t think it had ever been quite like that though. I don’t remember being fitted for a corset. And you don’t get nausea with it–must be the Crohn’s joining in on the autoimmune party. I knew I’d done too much sun time. Right?

Richard asked if he should take me to the hospital and I said I don’t know. Okay, so he did catch on to the gist of it! Just knowing that helped a lot, and very slowly, gradually, a good three hours after it had started during my walking time before it all hit hard at once, it receded enough that I finally fell asleep.

And woke up feeling fine. I threw out that leftover. I forgot about it. Life was normal, just like I wanted it to be. To stay being. Because I said so.

It was 3:30 pm before I finally told myself to stop being stupid and messaged my cardiologist and the response was surprisingly quick and it was obvious and it was quite to the point: “If you have those symptoms again please go to the emergency room.”

The nurse managed not to add, You idiot!

It’s all the costochondritis fake-outs over the last thirty years that are going to trip me up in the end. But, like anticipating earthquakes, the big one is forever not today.

So far so good.

By way of explanation: after having been told from age 13 to age 31 that any of what turned out to be lupus symptoms were, essentially, all in my head, leaving me with a profound sense that I will not be believed by a doctor who doesn’t know me if I complain so I don’t, I now have official permission from one of their own to complain. “Because my cardiologist said so” is what will get me to show up at the ER next time.

I promise to go.

And now excuse me, I’m going to go do my fast-walk thing early so that it hopefully won’t be the middle of the freaking night should anything go wonky.

But maybe not quite as fast. I confess to being slightly spooked.



Screen grab
Sunday October 03rd 2021, 8:11 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

When little ones who’ve been sick (negative for covid, thank heavens) need some cheering up and their parents discover that Trader Joe’s sells kits for Halloween gingerbread houses. Then they add in grandparent and auntie time via the phone to have them watch you break off whatever you want to eat and to cheer you on and it doesn’t get better than that.

Snack! proclaimed Lillian, holding a piece of candy out to the camera for us to see.

Snack! agreed Mathias, with who knows what part of it in his hand (was it the door?) and then he told us a little bit more about it all that I didn’t hear but that’s okay. The smiles and giggles came through loud and clear.



It’s the little things
Monday September 27th 2021, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Lillian was tired and not feeling well tonight so she went running up the stairs to look for her aunt, determined that this time she was going to be there, darnit, because she was the baby and she said so.

Except that Auntie’s at our house.

Mathias just really never did like soccer: other kids would take the ball away from him *without saying please*! No manners! (Never mind that he’d snatch it back in a heartbeat if he could. Still. When you’re four, it’s the principle of the thing.)

So they signed him up for gymnastics. And he loves it.

And so with Lillian needing her auntie time, suddenly a phone buzzed in the kitchen. Grampa was still working, but Auntie and Grammy had a great time giggling with Lillian and cheering Mathias on as he demonstrated again and again how he could now roll over head first. With the occasional splat to the side. Lillian tried doing it, too, got a good clap out of us and then, fading fast, climbed onto a parental lap, content to make faces and watch ours.

Amazing how much of a difference five minutes via a screen can make to all of us.



The plane people
Sunday September 19th 2021, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Today, it turns out, was the day David was giving a talk in our ward. The mask resister guy. I got a quick heads-up early this morning and so we stayed home and watched by Zoom.

This time he was fully on board with wearing one and wearing it correctly, other than when he took it off to speak. Maybe it helped that his parents were visiting and in the audience and in their 80s, but whatever, all my hopes for him to prove to be a good man and worthy of the bishop’s longtime friendship were fully realized as he spoke. It was such a relief.

He talked about living in New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy, and of the goodness of their neighbors who’d helped them out when they’d had no power for eight days and had been flooded out.

About people looking out for the kids of those who lost parents on 9/11.

My sister-in-law was a schoolteacher in that state on that day and many of her kids lost one or both. Her school was put on information lockdown from above: no TVs on, no radio, no kids were to be told anything until the end of the school day, when the ones whose parents worked at the World Trade Centers were to be gathered and told then. They were trying to give the kids one last normal school day in their lives. My SIL had issues with not informing them when they had a right to know.

I wondered if she and he knew anyone in common.

He talked about all kinds of ways people come together and how much it means and how important it is to each of us to actively be a part of that, and also to be willing to receive that goodwill and effort from each other.

He did make one mention in an aside of the pandemic’s passing (Delta? Hello?) that had me rolling my eyes: he’s still got some perseveration on his favorite blind spot, but the rest of his talk had me forgiving him and so very grateful and relieved to be able to get to see this other side of him. I’d so wanted him to be like this in the rest of his life.

And I wanted more of how that felt. So this afternoon I curled up with my newly arrived, updated copy of “The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland.” The author, Jim DeFede, interviewed the townsfolk and the passengers at length in the months after that day and then simply told their stories.

I’m hoping I’ll find an epilogue saying that that cute couple that met there among the thousands of stranded passengers got married, but we’ll see. (No spoilers!)

A book about people being their best to each other in the worst of circumstances.

That couple met because one new friend said to another woman who was the only single in their immediate group, We need to set you up with someone. She stood up, pointed to another plane person dining across the room, made lasso motions at him because she was from Texas so of course she did and told him and her new friend to introduce themselves to each other.

So of course they did. And of course yes he did turn out to be single, too.

So far it’s working out really well! Okay, back to my book.

And the young girl from the town who was staring at probably the only black woman she’d ever seen in her life, to the woman’s serious discomfort. The girl’s mom told her to go ahead, so she did: she went up to the woman and blew her away by asking in great hope, Can I have your autograph?

Making her feel like she was the most special person in the room and looked up to rather than the so out of place foreigner she’d been feeling like up to that second.

So many people who went so out of their way for complete strangers–that’s a very healing book. Thank you, Canada. I highly recommend it.



Dairy-free, too
Thursday September 16th 2021, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Dandelion Chocolates in San Francisco sent out a newsletter a month ago that, among other things, talked about a new bar they’re coming out with in the new year from Hawaiian-grown beans that they’d swooned over and bought 300 kg of. How often do you get to buy American-grown chocolate? But the flavor! That’s what had really grabbed them.

Then they said if you don’t want to wait that long to try it out, here’s our friends’ start-up over there and they’re using the same beans in their Mililani bar.

So of course I was tempted. How could I not be. I looked up Manoa Chocolate. I put that bar in my cart, I took it out of my cart, I told myself this was silly, I can make my own chocolate, I tried to forget about it. I ground up two pounds of stashed nibs to distract myself away from temptation: the tempering was total amateur level but the flavor made up for it and several weeks later we’ve slowly nibbled through a good bit of it.

And then Michelle was coming home, which meant a trip to Mutari’s in Santa Cruz would be coming up, and I wondered how Manoa’s would compare.

Science. You can’t learn if you don’t experiment. Right?

But I did not expect it to arrive in a box inside a zippered chocolate-decorated tote. Beautiful packaging that one would be quite happy to put to use.

Michelle tasted their chocolate hazelnut spread and pronounced it *the* best. Less sugar than Dandelion’s, more hazelnuts. Definitely this one. And the bar! This and this, she said, these are what she wants for Christmas.

Me, too.

Best pre-made chocolate splurge ever.



No chocolate allowed
Tuesday September 14th 2021, 9:48 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

Me: Man, what a lousy night. Couldn’t get warm, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t find the wool blanket (the extra layer on my side.)

Him: That’s because you tripped and spilled hot cocoa all over it.

Me, slowly: Oh. Right.

So I am here to report that dabs of unscented laundry detergent on day-old cocoa on white wool, left to soak in for an hour or two and then rubbed a bit, did indeed get the whole thing to come completely clean. Gentle cycle or no, running it through the washing machine didn’t help its pilling whatsoever, and it did shrink slightly as one would expect, but the merino came out all the softer for it.

And we’re talking 1:1 ratio cocoa/sugar in the milk, not some half-fake commercial mix. But it came out.

Spending the day that tired, I sat down, propped my feet up, and knit. After 75 minutes, my hands demanded a break from the needles, which at 6.5mm were a lot bigger than I usually use but that the scoured and floofed-out chainette Piuma from Colourmart really needed. (The light beige.)

The closer I got to the end of the ball the more the stubborn side of me had to see it through. Intermittently as needed. I let the amount of yarn dictate to me when I was done, and after dinner, it was.

I gave it a bit of water for the lace to settle into place and it is now hanging to dry. Right next to that sweet soft Irish-made blanket.



Maxwell’s smart
Monday September 13th 2021, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Garden

Note to self: Saturday is when I planted the four Rainier cherry pits a friend’s kid had saved for me because they were so good, along with two of my five Anya kernels. Yes that’s out of season, but they had chilled long enough to stratify and I think I needed to make a declaration of hope towards the future against the twentieth anniversary of 9/11–and I so want to be able to give that twelve-year-old a cherry seedling of his own in thanks for his wishing I could have cherries that good all the time.

There’s also a possibility that his family will move away in the next year, so I knew I needed to hurry. They’re the ones who polished off my favorite apricots at my request because we were leaving town to see grandkids for the week, and they saved the kernels so I could plant some more.

But those cherries from Andy’s farm! He had to save their pits for me, too, even if his mom wasn’t so sure–and so it was just the four.

Coming winter light levels are why I only experimented with two apricots to see if I could get a jump in growth on next year, but the cherries? Every one.

I have this secret ingredient for after the Root Riot plugs help them sprout…

I mentioned to Michelle that the Anya apricot grown in lobster compost from Maine totally skunked the other seedlings in height and growth after I’d tried different soil types. Five and a half inches (oh but it tried), 24″, and then 43″ for the Maine event. Such a stunning result.

My child for whom evolutionary biology was her favorite undergrad class cocked her head a bit, looked me in the eye, and cracked, I *assure* you they did not evolve in the same environment! (Wikipedia link to the Fergana Valley along the Silk Road.)

Well, no. But it just goes to prove that everything goes better when you’re serving lobster. The stone fruits are just the cherries on top.



Old and soft
Thursday September 09th 2021, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

(Trying to get the house ready before our daughter gets here.)

Huh! Those are still around. Who knew? But then, with all the history to it, of course it is.

It’s this yarn. That I rescued from the moths and dyed to boil any remaining eggs or larvae and knit up into seven small scarves, three of which got put into the header on my blog years ago. Yellow is the easiest color to overdye (red is the hardest) and, well, you can see what I got out of it. The yarn is from a post-War trip my folks made to France: hand-brushed pure angora.

There was still just a bit left. And still just a bit chewed up. Same as it ever was.

I put it away so that I could stumble across it again in another ten or twelve years or so and again get to remember that moment when I found that box with all those little balls of bunnytudinousness tucked away in a black cardboard box in my folks’ basement eons ago, in great delight that the great angora yarn story of yore–it still existed!

Probably should have added another layer of ziplock.



Bark patterns
Wednesday September 08th 2021, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Tonight: 9:36. He’s early. The small dog that barks every night around ten. And only a quick few arfs tonight; maybe he’s done for the night. Or, I thought, maybe we’ll be smelling the skunk in a minute. They only have so many times they can defend themselves though before they have to recharge for about a week, which of course would teach a dog that it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay to keep barking–Whoa! Hey you can’t do that to me!

Yesterday I was out working in the yard a bit near sundown and heard him–and was surprised, and not just because it was way early. I came inside and told Richard, Y’know how X’s dog barks every night? (X’s dog being known to try to chase me out of my own driveway at the top of his lungs, frustrated that I just chuckle and ignore him or, worse, bend down to his level to let him decide if he wants to come on over to sniff my hand. The nerve of me. Sometimes he even does it, too, wagging his tail and then barking again because that’s his job in his mind.)

Yeah?

It’s not X’s dog after all. Turns out there’s one over the fence from next door. That’s where it’s coming from.

He was as surprised as I was. There are two?

Their voices are very similar.

It’s always quiet by bedtime, for us, at least.

Skunk spray is more effective than inhalers for compromised lungs and it would actually help amid all this smoke, but nope, no such luck tonight.

I’m sure the neighbors don’t mind.

(Update: and of course just because I wrote about them, it is now 11:09 p.m. and it sounds like the two of them are having a bark-off out there. Perfect comedic timing, guys. 11:12–And… they stopped.)



A ride home
Tuesday August 31st 2021, 9:27 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

I walked in the door and told my very tall husband, That was bizarre. And if you had come with me I don’t think it would have happened.

I’d gone to do a quick run to Trader Joe’s, and while I was loading up my car, there was a woman I’d say in her early 20s standing nearby, looking around, with a backpack that I registered as being full of groceries she’d just bought. She was wearing the sweatshirt of one of the local universities.

She stepped forward and asked me a question. Since one wears masks in public here, I couldn’t lipread: it took her three if not four tries.

Turns out she needed a ride home. Near the high school my kids went to? Sure, that wasn’t very far, I’d be glad to. (It would have been a very long walk, but in a car, no big deal.) But I made it clear that I’m quite deaf and I was really going to need help getting her to the right place and she would have to be loud to help me navigate it right.

She asked me where I lived and I waved offhandedly in the opposite direction and said it didn’t matter.

She was from a demographic that has not been treated well the last few years in particular, and she was young and female–I have no doubt I looked safe and it was probably a relief to her to find me, and indeed, I was feeling protective of her, given that it was going to get dark soon.

We made conversation as best we could as I drove.

She asked me how many grandchildren I had, then couldn’t help but exclaim, Six?!

She asked me what I did before I retired. I smiled at that. I told her I had always planned to go back to work after my kids were in school and the first day my youngest was, I was rear-ended and it took me several years to recover from that accident. (I didn’t say, or the worse one half a dozen years later.) And I was hit with a major autoimmune disease. (Two, but one only inflicts so much information on acquaintances.) I had plans, I told her, but life kept happening to me–and it’s okay that it did.

I told her my one claim to fame was that I wrote a knitting book that was #1 on Amazon in its category for awhile.

She thought that was so cool and immediately looked it up.

I told her, You don’t have to do that, no worries!

She wanted to. As I pulled over, she wanted to pay me for the ride, and I said, You needed help and I could do it, so, that’s what you do when you can. You’ll find someone who will need your help later.

And then.

She tried to open up and tell me a little more of her own history.

While I sat there wholly inadequate because I couldn’t hear, when this time she clearly really needed me to. She tried, she got frustrated, I immediately sympathized with her and said I was so sorry. She was immediately sympathetic back and glad I wanted to hear her out even if I couldn’t–she was a good soul, whoever she was, and I hope life turns out really well for her. But I got enough to know that it’s been rough of late and she didn’t know where to turn.

I tried to think fast of the best way to tell her where to find whatever kind of help it was that she needed, but in the end all I knew for sure was how to be the deaf grandmother who went out of her way and wished her the best and was glad to offer a stranger a ride home. To show her that other people cared.

She had me move forward a bit more and stop in front of a different house, and I said I always wait to see women get safely inside their homes–but then I figured out pretty fast she wasn’t sure she wanted a stranger to know where she lives. And that’s okay. And so I let her be and drove on.

My sweetie considered all this and had some concerns; I told him, I did, too–and yet: I’d do it again. Someone needed help, I could help, so you do.



Because who doesn’t want a free band-aid? Right?
Monday August 30th 2021, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

I gave him a quick heads-up when he had a moment’s break in his work day with, “I’m off to go get my flu shot.”

He did a double take. “A flu shot,” he answered, with recognition dawning in his voice in slow motion: like, Oh yeah. That type. I remember those. (We’d discussed covid boosters at length but we can’t do anything about them yet.)

To be fair, I’d interrupted his train of thought.

I wonder: how on earth did they decide what strains would be running rampant this winter, traveling east to west as they track them, when everybody stayed inside and most people in the world wore masks like they should and just about nobody was getting the flu?

Just covid. So much covid here.

Okay, well, whatever, I did it, which means he’ll get around to it soon, too. September 9 one year I was sent to the ER with serious flu complications and I’m never waiting that long again.



Left high and dry
Wednesday August 25th 2021, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Life

It is amazing how good kids so young can be at a sport. Sink it sink it sink it with all those arms flailing away at them (but somehow almost never fouling.) Score 23-54, with Parker, zooming in from the right, scoring the final basket for that winning number from a goodly distance away.

Meantime, back to normal life if a bit wistfully, the Indian Free peach is going to town to a degree it never has before and I’ve noticed since we got home that the critters have, for the first time, been abandoning the ripe figs to go after those peaches that aren’t yet.

And the thing I learned today: it’s not just a pandemic chip shortage. It’s not just a new car shortage and resulting inflated used-car prices, nor of furniture held up in shipping backlogs.

It’s hitting the washers and dryers made right here in the good old USA. Did they have one in stock? The man laughed ruefully. Three to four weeks for a new Speed Queen to arrive, and I could almost hear an implied ‘if you’re lucky’ in his tone. The next store said the same thing.

It was so bad that I could smell our 15-year-old dryer trying to burn the house down (he couldn’t. That could be dangerous) and came running across the house to stop it.

Check the outtake, Richard said between meetings. I did–it was clear, and it wasn’t a burning lint smell anyway. At all.

That makes three major appliances that have thrown a fiery temper tantrum in the last few years, even if only the Maytag dishwasher actually succeeded in scorching the floor. Are we just that lucky or does everybody eventually go through this?

The top of the neighbor’s clothesline partly shows across the top of the fence and I’ve been wishing all day I had one. It could be a long month.

So: anyone have anything they particularly like or dislike about their dryer? Have you had one that’s lasted a long time? One that flamed out fast? Would you recommend what you have?