The mechanic
Tuesday January 21st 2020, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

That light gray-blue Mecha wool hat a few weeks ago that I didn’t quite get to finish while the garage worked on my tire?

Guess which idiot light came back on in the car?

Sure, you can bring it over right now, he said on the phone.

When I told him the tire light had blinked for several blocks on the way there before going solid, his own light bulb went off and he was glad I’d mentioned it so he knew what to check.

It was a different tire this time but it was also the sensor that tells the car about it. The car’s an ’07; he said the other three would probably start failing, too, but at least hopefully not all at once.

He’s such a gentle, kind man.

Today though he looked like the world was heavy on his shoulders, and all I could think of was how much he reminded me of my cousin John.

I hadn’t unpacked my purse from the trip yet. That hat he’d seen me working on the last time was in there. I also had a brighter blue one (London Sky) I’d knitted on the plane, with a third (Piedras) on the needles I’d started at the airport on the way home.

Again, I almost finished it before he called me over.

After he’d rung the work up I presented my own and offered him his choice. He was blown away. He picked the London Sky, and as he went to put it on his head I told him, “Happy Birthday!”

He looked at me in surprise: “Did you know it was my birthday?!”

Me, surprised but delighted: “No!”

“It was the 17th,” he said, “but, yeah, it was my birthday.” It was cold. He told me his ears were warm already and that he’d needed that. He told me his girlfriend was going to love it, so I asked his girlfriend’s favorite color and unlike quite a few men I’ve met he knew it without hesitation.

Pink? Suddenly I have an excuse to buy a skein of yarn. Twist my arm.

Anything I can do, when I know I can do at least that one small thing. John would want me to. Can you just picture the man’s happy anticipation towards making her happy once he gets it?

The way my tires are going, I’ll get everybody in the shop by the end of next month.



Sometimes you just need to dive in like that
Saturday January 04th 2020, 11:32 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

(Photo from early on where I was trying to capture how the same stitches looked blocked vs not. Even if the one is upside down from the other. Water is magic.)

A friend who’s a grad student at Stanford asked for help and we invited him over for the resident geek to coach him.

It turned into an eight-hour marathon.

Which meant a marathon knitting session for me, interrupted by a quick trip for groceries and I made myself stop every now and then and go do something else with my hands, but essentially I knitted from ten a.m. past six. Icepacks were my friend.

I lined up the lightly blocked afghan with the not at all blocked bottom border, measured the blocked side border and counted repeats and went back and added one more to the edging piece. It’s now blocking. But not cast off yet, with the thought that if I need to add another before the sewing I can.

So now at least I know how long it will take to knit its twin for the upper side.

But that moment with everything lined up, standing back and taking in how it looked: there was this immediate sense of YES! *This* is how it was supposed to look! It made it all worth it.



Mend and replace
Thursday January 02nd 2020, 10:59 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Politics

I was sitting in the little waiting room at the garage while they tested my tire–yup, a second leak close to the whitewall, too close, can’t mend it this time, they’re ordering me a new one but at least it’s partly covered by the warranty.

So.

There was a man studying what I took to be a textbook at the other end of that long table. (It was.)

I had my needles in hand–Mecha yarn for a hat that was six rows in when I arrived–and was quietly knitting away for that classic little old lady look.

About forty minutes in, he gave it a break for a moment to strike up a conversation with me. I had to make him wait till the air compressor on the other side of the wall stopped so I could hear him.

He wanted to ask my take on the election goings-on.

Which led to my asking if he had a favored candidate, (since he was pushing for me to tell him mine and I wasn’t doing so) and he got a grin on his face and pulled the sides of his button-down open Superman style to show the Superman-styled t-shirt underneath in dark blue.

I recognized that logo and grinned right back. Good for him! We need more involvement!

Turns out that he’d been volunteering as a fundraiser for Yang’s campaign.

We talked about some of Yang’s ideas that we both really like. He didn’t like it quite so much when I said that even if Yang were to lose, so often the best of a candidate’s ideas win out even when the candidate him/herself doesn’t and they do us all good by putting them out there.

I didn’t fully believe in his man, his face said. He was disappointed.

I said I hope the best candidate wins whoever it may be and I don’t even know yet for sure who that might be but I do know that every single one of them is better than…

We moved on from that and it was clear he totally loved being able to talk politics to someone who loved to talk politics, too. And from DC!

Every candidate he admired was a Democrat. And yet it just killed him that, he said, You can’t be a conservative on campus. If you say anything and people find out you’re a conservative they just totally go after you.

I agreed that we all have to be respectful of each other. Absolutely. My grandfather and uncle were Republican Senators, I said, and I quoted what Uncle Bob once told me about how the Republicans believe you should work hard, you should take care of your own, and the Democrats believe the government should help you do so. And they’re both right. The work of Congress is to come together and hammer out the differences between.

I had to add, But I cannot be respectful of some of what’s been done in conservatism’s name: separating children from their parents, caging them for seeking asylum–one of my friends got her law degree at Stanford and now works as an immigration lawyer at the border, trying to get the Feds to honor Federal law re asylum statutes. And they won’t. They don’t. She sees the effects day in day out and it’s very hard.

He agreed with me that none of that should be happening and that we need to do something.

His candidate had ideas and indeed, plans to DO things. To look at the problems and come up with solutions.

The mechanic came over to say the guy’s car was done, and the young man got up, more than a little reluctant to leave. But I knew he had a lot of other things on his mind, too.

He is defending his thesis tomorrow at Stanford.

“What’s your area?”

“Math,” he answered. I was proud of him. He’d worked his tail off to get to this point.

I sent that tall child of Asian immigrants off with, “Good luck on your thesis! I’m rooting for you!”

And that clearly made his day most of all.



He opened his car door
Thursday December 26th 2019, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

The doorbell rang.

It was the son of the elderly woman next door, the one who fell two months ago and after her kids couldn’t reach her from out of state and called us neighbors and then 911 was found by the firemen breaking in her door for the rescue.

Previously, she had been adamant to me that she did not want to go into assisted living.

She doesn’t know how many days she was down but it could have been as many as four. Even before that she could barely walk and clearly she just could not continue to live alone.

She has not returned.

He was coming by to let me know he was taking her home. There was a place a mile from his house, she had seen it before and actually liked the place and she has decided for herself that that’s where she’d like to be now. He wanted me to know her story had a happy ending after all, and that he would be right there to look out for her.

And he will. And his wife is a love of a woman who will be right there with him on it. They are all deeply good people.

I thanked him for letting me know, and told him, “I miss her.” A lot.

I knew she would want to know that, to really know that, not just assume that I would. Of course I would. I have, for all these weeks. But I knew he would tell her and that it would feel good for both of them to say it and to hear it on their long trip to where everything will be different now, again.

I sent him off with a box of Andy’s peach and honey-stuffed figs, glad for the surprised delight in his face at the mention of Andy’s Orchard. Taking the best of California with them on their long way north–he knew they were in for a treat.

And I just wanted to say, Thank you, Andy. That helped.



Abundance
Wednesday December 25th 2019, 11:49 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

You don’t have to bring anything, just come…

But I really wanted to contribute, so she said, I know–bring a pie.

I didn’t know just how many were coming and just in case it didn’t get done because you never know and so since we were at Costco anyway I bought one of their giant pecan pies.

And fresh fruit. Enough for…

I didn’t know exactly how that blueberry cream pie (Betty Crocker 1952 recipe) would come out, but really, how could it go wrong.

Got it cooled and into the fridge last night.

I didn’t worry about how the cherry Meyer lemon pie would come out today but I was glad I’d written it down last time. Whipped fresh cream on top again.

For the record: the people who say use a chopstick to skewer cherry pits out? They never had to fish a piece of bamboo out of one. Those stones are harder. I retrieved the 7-cherry pitter out of the cupboard and mentally thanked Sur La Table for selling a better version; should have used that in the first place. This is why I’d gone for the easier blueberry yesterday.

I opened every single one. No pits got past it. There was no second sliver of bamboo (I knew but I’d needed to really know.) Into the cuisinart, then. Done.

We arrived.

She had a giant Costco pumpkin pie in the fridge just in case something hadn’t worked out.

We started pulling pies out of the big bag.

“Holy cow!”

Eleven of us with family elsewhere, all of us friends, all of us well fed in body and soul as we helped her clean up afterwards, telling her to take it easy and rest. Her car and that of the person who hit her a few days ago were totaled and we were all all the more aware of what a privilege it was to be able to spend this time together. No reason she should have to hurt to bring us together if we could help it.

You can get a lot done really fast when that many people are doing it.

The cherry had that one last small piece left that people do out of politeness in case someone else wants it more.

The blueberry was half gone.

The pecan had a slice out.

The pumpkin didn’t even get to sneak past the fridge.



Christmas Eve Eve (wait, make that one more Eve)
Sunday December 22nd 2019, 3:39 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

About thirty years ago I was offered an assignment at church: to be the Compassionate Service leader.

I was young and had no experience and got no answers when I asked what that meant I was supposed to do. The Relief Society leader, for whatever reason, never once included me in a meeting, never talked to me about what she wanted done except for one single item two years in, and waved me away any time I brought any questions or ideas up. She would get back to me.

She never did.

I still have no idea why nor why she chose me in the first place. Maybe she felt just as inexperienced as I did, even if she was a generation older.

Well, alright then, but I still felt I had that responsibility even if I had to be the one who decided what it meant.

We had just moved into a house whose previous owner had loved roses. I knew nothing about roses other than that they look great in a vase.

And so: I kept an eye out at church for whoever looked like they might be having a rough time of it, and then one day I showed up on the doorsteps of a bunch of people with a rose in hand to tell them simply that I was thinking about them and have a nice day and there’s a whole ‘nother story about that part that I’ve probably told here before.

But I kept thinking, y’know, it’s the teenagers who most need to know that an adult is looking out for them–someone who doesn’t have to, someone who’s not family and under no obligation but just does simply because they exist so they matter to them. I wanted to make a second round of deliveries.

The problem was, I didn’t know the teenagers at church. And there were none in our neighborhood, either: in a square block there were old folks and our little kids.

So I called up the one at church that I had at least interacted with enough to feel I could make the request: could he come up with the names of his peers who could use a rose and a moment’s cheering-on like that?

Robert was not only happy to, he loved the idea and offered to show me how to get to each of their houses.

And so we spent not a lot of time, not a lot of roses, but we did that run that fine afternoon.

One girl, her parents were in the middle of a divorce. Definitely the right call.

One, I came away quietly smiling to myself thinking, oh, I hadn’t realized you were sweet on her. Best stealth flower ever with the best excuse–blame it on me. Happy to help.

I don’t remember who the others were, just that we did, but in that hour or so we discovered a mutual admiration that has stayed with us ever since. He was a nice kid.

Last night I finished the one-repeat self-quota of the day on the afghan project and had time to do a bit more.

I looked at the clock. I looked at the mostly-done hat from last week’s return flight: it needed five more rows and then the decreasing, which doesn’t sound like much but would probably take about an hour.

Ever-tightening stitches of thick yarn on small needles to keep out any gaps between decreases is the not-fun part of hat knitting and I didn’t particularly want to do it. But I found myself saying a prayer, asking which would be the best use of my time right this very minute.

That hat leaped straight into my hands and fifty minutes later it was bedtime and done. I even got the ends run in. I really liked how it had come out, that bright royal blue soft Mecha. Such a pretty color.

Then came the prayer: okay, then, if this is supposed to be for someone please help me get it to the right person who needs it most. Please make it obvious so I don’t mess this up; help me get it right.

We happened to be parking the car at church a little early just as an older guy and his son (where did his hair go?) visiting from out of state walked past, with the son looking in that moment as if… Like, man, he could sure use a hug about now.

It was Robert.

He was inside by the time we got out of the car and I didn’t see him, which gave me time to say a little prayer again–am I just thinking what I want to think, should I look for someone else?

Robert.

Okay, then.

I didn’t see him. Church let out and I wondered if he’d gone off to his folks’ house.

But it being Christmas Eve Eve, there was a Linger Longer afterwards, with food and chairs set out for people to sit around and munch and chat with no time pressure, and I found him after all.

A mutual, So good to see you again! How ya doin’!?

“Do you…” I started to ask. “If this isn’t your color I could make it in a different one,” and with that I pulled the little ziplock out of my purse that the hat was tucked away in.

His eyes went big as he exclaimed, “I LOVE that color! It’s my favorite!” He exclaimed over it, he loved it, he tried it on, it was just right, it so made his day.

Y’know? I probably could have/should have knit and mailed him one ages ago.

But today it was ready, today was when he needed it, and today was the day.



To Sam and Devin with love
Wednesday December 18th 2019, 12:20 am
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends

There, last week, next to the sugar plums I came for for my mom because she told me last year that they reminded her of her childhood and she loved them, those and his slab extra-ripe dried apricots she raves over made it easy to decide what to get her, and they warranted a trip to Andy’s Orchard. Not to mention his persimmons were ripe.

There were samples of this other fruity confection, too: no fancy packaging for them, just a plain plastic tub and they’re not listed online.

I thought I was going to put the two tubs in our Christmas stockings, since there’ll be nobody home but us this year. Hah.

So. My husband’s on vacation and we were munching on figs stuffed with dried ripe peaches that Andy’s had mixed into a thick paste with honey and orange peel into the most perfect texture and flavors and then topped with chopped almonds. Healthy, guilt-free, and oh man they are just achingly good.

I said with regret, When these are gone it’ll be a year before we can buy them again. (I didn’t think till later, if we even can. Harvests and products and employees and recipes change.)

A few minutes later it was, I think I’ll go to Andy’s… and he was cheering me on.

It was 1:30, about the latest I like to head that far down that freeway on a workday, so I took the one last box of Christmas presents that needed to be mailed so as to stop by the post office on my way back rather than doing it first. It was all ready to go.

I got to say hi to Andy, I got to see the lady there who’s been so helpful this whole year and she was wearing purple this time and it perfectly matched the purple cowl waiting hopefully in my purse and she was so knit-worthy and so thrilled.

Then I got to do something, as I was heading out, that I have never done in my life.

I walked behind my car towards the two peacocks (oh they show up from time to time, I was told, but I’d never seen them there before) and gently waved my arms and said, C’mon, boys, I need to back up here. Move along.

First time I have ever talked to a peacock.

They circled back towards my car. Come on guys.

I guess they knew where the good stuff was hiding.

Got in, backed up very carefully, and forty-five minutes later on the easier reverse commute got to the post office–and had a moment of truth.

Why yes. Yes I do love my kid. And yes that particular kid and her husband would love those. No I don’t have to hog them.

I bought a new roll of tape then and there, the clerk sliced the old tape open, I wedged that plastic tub in where it needed to go in all its unwrapped glory and she re-taped the box and slapped the shipping label on and tossed it into the nearby bin. All I could do was hope the tub stays closed in there, but I think it will.

Mother of the Year. You can just hand that award over right now. Mine.



Saturday at the IHOP
Sunday December 15th 2019, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life

Photo from later that afternoon, after his big brother’s game.

Saturday late brunch at IHOP.

To our right: two grandmothers, possibly even great grandmothers–they were clearly too old to in any way be the mother of the six or seven year old girl with them, who had a nice dress on.

When there are two grownups talking and you’ve eaten your food and they’re not done, it gets boring fast for a kid. She was trying very hard to be good on her special outing, though.

We were hoping to get the littler ones fed and done in not too much time ourselves with a busy day ahead.

Peruvian handknit finger puppets for the grandkids, three more for those women and their child and you should have seen their faces light up. They so much gave me what I hope for when I offer those to strangers for their kids.

There had just been no way I was going to leave that little girl out when my own had theirs to play with. A pink bird to go with her dress, after getting their okay, I had just the right one for her.

But it wasn’t enough distraction for one little guy: Spencer had had a bad night and his morning wasn’t going much better.  He wanted–he didn’t know what he wanted or how to begin to say whatever the words were to describe it but he was determined to announce he didn’t have it. Crayons, paper, food, everything got that emphatic arm sweeping with fingers splayed that small toddlers do to send stuff to the floor.

Except that, at the big table past ours, there was a family reunion going on, about ten people all in their 50s and 60s, and they were swapping stories and do-you-remember-whens, laughing, laughing, laughing: so much love at that table that just echoed around our section of the restaurant.

He started to pay attention.

Finally, Kim headed out with the kids; since we didn’t all fit in one car, Richard and Richard and I took a moment more to finish up, and then it was time for us to go, too.

But standing up and taking the first few steps away, I hesitated.

I managed to catch the eye of one of the women, and then they all turned to me a moment, love and curiosity just radiant in their faces.

I told that beautiful African-American family, You guys are SO happy, and you made our tired, cranky baby happy. Thank you!

That just totally made their day.

Like they had made ours.



Jacks
Tuesday December 10th 2019, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Saturday was the annual December Club birthday party: a potluck brunch, then we sing Happy Birthday To Us and adjourn to the living room to open our presents we bought ourselves, taking a moment to say why we bought what we got and thus tell a little about what makes us tick.

And we copy each other’s gift ideas all the time. All the time. Every single year. Like the time the late Virginia brought a mirror that laughed when you picked it up: I went, Where did you GET that?! and then merrily sent one off to my folks for Christmas.

Not knowing that they were going to be throwing a party, where Dad, unbeknownst to Mom, put that mirror down on a side table off in the corner.

Fortunately the person who snuck a peak laughed, too.

So, Saturday: for once mine actually wasn’t something knitting related. I unwrapped my new Mel and Kris small square plates, gorgeous hand-thrown pottery and much admired as they were passed around the room.

Mona Jo, one of our founding members from 40 years ago, bought herself an old-time simple wooden box of a jacks game and challenged us all to a round as people were getting up to leave at the end.

I begged off because I needed to get the car back to Richard.

Sterling stayed. She would have to remind him how, if he’d ever learned–he wasn’t sure.

As he later put it, If an eighty-five-year-old woman challenges you to a game of jacks, prepare to be schooled.

When he added, She got tensies on the first round, it came back to me that yes, I do know how to play jacks, come to think of it. It had been so long since I’d even thought of them that I’m not sure my own kids ever played.

I was getting my hearing aids worked on this afternoon and I went by the bird center afterwards like I always do because they’re far away but close together, and next door to Los Gatos Birdwatcher, never much noticed by me, there was a small independent toy store.

I went in.

We did, she said, we had like ten of them forever and I know we did last week but I’m not seeing any! It’s been crazy!

She went in the back for several minutes and came back out triumphant. Found one!

They were not in the plain natural-wood box: it was wood, it had that sliding lid, but it was a bit larger and had a jacks motif kind of splatted on it that looked almost more like flowers. Flowers that were decaying on asphalt gray a few days after a heavy rain. And the brand name was one I associate with baby toys, although those were anything but classic baby colors and babyhood was the last thing I wanted my turning-nine-year-old grandson to associate with a birthday present from us.

What were they thinking?

But for $9.99 I was here, it was in stock, time was short, and I handed over my credit card.

Hand-eye coordination and quick reaction times, not to mention a game you could carry in a pocket and play anywhere you and your friends were: that’s what I was thinking about.

But that box keeps stopping me. It definitely stopped yonder Grampa.

Anyone have any ideas or experiences on boys playing jacks? Hey, I can tell him Sterling plays, and his kids are in college.

I think I’m going to go look for the version Mona Jo found. I’ve now looked up where that store was and it’s much closer to home.

Decaying flowers on asphalt is good enough for a grandmother’s purse, though, so it’s all good. I could even challenge Maddy to a round. She’s about to turn five, a little young, but what little kid doesn’t like to wildly grab for desirables with permission and then giggle like crazy.

But I’m not promising tensies on any round.



It’s just a little thing, but it will grow
Tuesday December 03rd 2019, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift

The afghan is finally in the fun to knit stage, but I wasn’t about to tote those two cones I’m working from to the baby shower tonight–one time of having everything tangle in the bag was enough.

Suddenly gauge swatches have a whole new meaning. That trip all the way through the laundry offered a realistic view of what the finished blanket will feel like and to a lesser extent how it will look.

The mom-to-be held up the swatch with a laugh and I held out my arms: “It’s this wide–and it’s going to be” as I swooped my hand down over my feet. “I figure every baby needs a blanket that keeps the mom’s toes warm on a cold night.”

There were a lot of young moms in that room and there was this resounding “YES!”

 



What those pretty little Apple Corps boxes are great for
Monday December 02nd 2019, 12:03 am
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden,Life

I like that my mango tree is in its greenhouse and doesn’t need me to hire the now-teenager to cover and uncover it from the nightly cold when we travel. Which he can’t do when school’s in session anyway, so, there’s that, too.

But he is quite fond of that unlikely tree, having gone to some effort to help me keep it alive and thriving on numerous occasions.

I saw him sitting before church today and his dad was just then walking a few steps away. I told him, “I made two chocolate tortes for Thanksgiving and was asked to bring one; would you like the other one?”

His sat up straight super fast as he exclaimed, “YES!!!”

His dad stopped right there, laughing, “That would be a yes.”

Alright then. (They’ve had it before. They knew whereof they enthused.)

After we got home I got a note from his mom, checking to see what time would be good to come by to get it, and by the way, what was the name of that variety? She mentioned that they had a little gift for me, too.

They didn’t need to do that!

And so Eli and his mom came over–and to get a peek at how the tree looks a year later.

It’s grown like crazy under the extra warmth of the Sunbubble, perhaps also in part because it didn’t fruit this year; it budded but at a time when we went out of town during a cold front so I’d left it zipped up for five days, whereas usually it gets air movement during the warmth of daylight.

It had gotten black spots and the fruiting growth had died back. It fully recovered after a few months, but there would be no crop this year.

Which means I haven’t had to keep it quite as warm this fall because the most cold-tender parts aren’t there, except for one branch that has started to bud but then didn’t die but didn’t progress, either; it’s simply waiting for warmer days. I’ve apparently kept it just warm enough. So far so good.

I’m not doing the heater thing, I’m just doing the Christmas lights–they’re so much cheaper to run, and two strings gives me a good ten degrees or more in that enclosed space.

We went outside and he walked in the greenhouse to give it a good look. It really is coming along, and our next harvest should be not three fruits but many. Those new shoots are just waiting for the signal.

Eli had gotten one of those first mangoes. He’d earned it.

The gift.

I opened it and laughed in delight for joy and for knowing how great an offering this was. It was his. It was his possibilities. He knew how much I would appreciate it.

Some mango varieties, and I think this is one, produce seeds that are clones of themselves and always grow true.

If I can get this to sprout, and I really hope I can, I’m going to quietly ask his mom if they have room for a large pot and wouldn’t mind the hassle of taking care of it. I already know how much Eli would love one of his own. But let’s see if it does grow first.

But I so love how they made this into a museum display. So much love and meaning in that small package.



And because their pecan pies are good ones
Monday November 25th 2019, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I looked at the weather forecast–we’re finally supposed to get some rain, and a ton of it all at once–and decided to make a run for a gallon of milk and such while it was dry.

John’s a guy about my age who’s been working at the nearby Trader Joe’s probably since about the time it opened twenty years ago and has been a favorite for forever. He’s got a son as old as my younger son and we’ve occasionally compared notes and cheered each other on in this parenting gig.

And he likes to check up on how my health’s doing, having seen me when things were quite bad, but for awhile now I’ve been able to cheer him with my gratitude for how good it feels to have it how it is now.

Hadn’t seen him in awhile. I’d wondered if I just kept coming in at the wrong times?

But there he was and I was glad to see him; I deliberately got in his line even though it was a bit longer.

Once it was my turn, the first words out of his mouth were, “How’s the new grandbaby?”

His smile was as big as mine as I exclaimed, “So cute!”

He was moving a little slower as he worked. I only noticed (not out loud) because I knew him, but then he told me he’d been on medical leave these past four months. He looked in my eyes. While his cardiologist had worked out his meds regimen.

A quiet unspoken ohmygoodness mixed with understanding passed between us.

I didn’t know I’d needed to say that oh, and, the baby was a girl.

He had told me because he knew I was someone he could say it to. And because he knew I’d want to know.

I asked after him while trying not to probe: the Monday before Thanksgiving is not uncrowded at a grocery store, and he didn’t have to tell anyone he didn’t want to. I was feeling quite protective of him. I did say that I’d had a cardiologist since I was 32 and I’m still here, so… (So he had to stick around, too. Because I said so. To myself.)

But he’d let me know the basics and I’m grateful for that. John of Trader Joe’s just went onto my prayer list.

The next time I get a slow clerk I’ll remind myself that maybe they’re working out how to live with a new heart condition, too. It can happen at any age. Well, hey, I should be patient even when every single one of us around is in perfect health.

You never know who needs it nor why.



Pisa
Sunday November 24th 2019, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

We had to pick someone up for church who lives a good way off and we were uncertain how long it would take, and so with the cushion of time we’d given it we found ourselves arriving early.

Which made my assignment all the easier, the one where I provide the mother’s nursing lounge with several forms of chocolate–but just don’t tip off the little kids or it will be raided forevermore.

So. No crowds yet. The choir was still rehearsing in the chapel.

In the big multi-use room just off it there are always sturdy stacking plastic chairs with metal legs against the walls, ready to be set up for any size of meeting and heavy enough to stand up to any kind of abuse.

There was a mom in that choir on one side of the big doors, and out of her view there on the other in that big room, alone, was a girl of about seven.

As I went by on my way to that lounge she had pulled a bunch of those chairs away from the wall and was busily making two stacks of them right next to each other, one high, one low, alternating her construction with sitting on the smaller stack to see how high up she could see from now. While looking over at the higher pile and the even better Queen of the World perch it offered. It would be hers. But she had not quite dared its wobble yet. Not till she was sure it was done.

When I came back going the other way, she was holding a chair over her head, struggling to get just one more on that bigger tower.

She was a little leery of my noticing what she was doing.

She hopped up again onto the smaller stack, and it was plenty high for her. Clambering over to the other–she was so close.

Maybe. But I’d have to leave first, clearly.

By that point I’d stopped. I silently appraised her hard work with a smile (but I had not offered to help with that last wavering chair and she had had to set it down.)

I gave it another heartbeat or two. Then I beckoned her to come over and see them from over here where I was standing.

That big tower went upwards at first and then leaned a little, then leaned a little more, then a lot more, and just one more stress on the system and the whole thing would come crashing down should she try to get up there. And there would be quite a few of them coming down on her head.

I didn’t say all that. I just let her see it from this new sideways vantage point, a little further away, a better perspective. Any child who’s ever played with blocks as a toddler could instantly see it.

Oh.

Only then did I say, Yeah, those are ready to tumble, aren’t they.

She nodded at me, eyes big. She saw the problem.

But what really blew her away was that I hadn’t ordered her not to, I hadn’t told her it was dangerous, I hadn’t told her to put the chairs away where they belonged because they were in the way of where people walk and church was about to start, I had trusted her to take a good look and to see the problem for herself.

And that she was safe–because of the assessment she herself had made of the situation and the choice she’d made because of it.

I was very proud of her and went and told her mom that I was.



Sending Vera off with love
Saturday November 23rd 2019, 11:23 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Lorna Miser’s mom Vera was in my knitting group for years, till her Parkinson’s became too severe.

Vera’s funeral was held today, and Lorna (former owner of Lorna’s Laces yarns) asked her mom’s old friends a few weeks ago as her mother was slipping away if they’d like to share any memories.

So I told her my story.

My book had just come out.

Vera decided to ask everybody in the group to surprise me: there is a dinner and fashion show every year at Stitches West where people can put their name in to be called up on the stage and model their best project of the year.

Would they like to knit a shawl from my book and then ask Benjamin Levisay, CEO of XRX, to bend the rules just slightly so as to let the whole group go up on that stage together in them?

They would indeed. They did. They chose different patterns. Benjamin thought it was all very cool of them and it didn’t matter to him one bit that another publisher had put that book out; he’s a sweetheart.

And then when their sense of happy anticipation was at its peak, someone went, Wait–but is Alison actually *coming* to that dinner? We have to make sure she does!

Uh, actually I’d had no intention, why?

And so they decided they had to let me in on it a few days beforehand, and surprised does not begin to describe it!

Benjamin had me stand up before the large banquet room when they were done and take a bow, and then they filed off the stage and came over to me for more pictures as the room kept clapping.

So that was my memory of the kindnesses (and work!) Vera had instigated on my behalf to offer to her daughter, who’d had no idea.

I gave her a hug after the service today, and she told me that I wasn’t the only one who had told her; the others had, too. It had meant a lot to them, too.

So then I told her there was more: to congratulate me on being accepted for publication, they’d surprised me with knitted squares they’d pieced into an afghan, with labels on each telling who’d made it. I could have shown her her mom’s, except that it was just too warm today to bring it.

I didn’t need to. Lorna was absolutely beaming. Her mother’s legacy lives on.

.

 



Following the pie piper
Saturday November 16th 2019, 11:29 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends

(Okay, I supposedly added the photo but it’s not showing up on my view of the post.)

I read recently that stoneware pie pans do by far the best job of making the crusts turn out crisp.

There was an art fair in San Mateo this weekend and my potter friends Mel and Kris were going to be there, and when I asked a few weeks ago if they ever make pie plates, Mel decided to throw some clay on his wheel for me and, literally, give it a whirl.

It’s gorgeous. They and their sons do such nice work. It’s 9″ on the inside bottom, 10″ at the top. I’m already regretting that I only bought one: there were two, with Mel saying he always makes more than what people request because there’s always going to be someone else who wants one.

There is a potluck tomorrow night.

Now I just have to decide what type of pie to make, and I am very open to any suggestions and favorites.