Better yet, take Mom with me
Monday January 10th 2022, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,History,Knit,LYS

Early on in this whole pandemic thing, when everything had been on lockdown and particularly so in our area, the county north of us decided that a customer could buy something online and the shopkeeper could hand it to them outside now. You could have that close a contact, briefly. Youcouldn’t browse, you couldn’t go in, you couldn’t touch their credit card machine, but you could do that.

This is when they were still trying to figure out the details of how covid-19 is spread.

I talked to one of my local shops, saying that what I wanted was two bags of a particular blue Malabrigo Rios that matched so that I would have enough for an afghan. I knew that officially it’s ten skeins per bag equals one dye lot; rumor, though, is that they’re matched up in groups of ten but that the mill produces more than that in each lot. But that’s a rumor.


I wanted twenty skeins. I’ve found matching bags in the past, but I wasn’t going to be able to go in and eyeball anything.

Turns out the whole supply-chain mess meant the shop didn’t have and couldn’t get them in from Malabrigo for months.

But maybe her yarn rep had them on hand, she wondered.

Turns out she did.

Once those were delivered, I swung by the shop, they handed me the bags out on the sidewalk rather than frisbeeing them from, y’know, six social feet away through the car windows and all that and it was so good to see actual human faces again, not to mention old friends.

(Unspoken: Still here. Still here. And you too! Stay that way. Thank you for wearing those masks. Pray those vaccine researchers get their studies finished fast.)

I waited till I got home to see if my initial quick impression was correct. It was.

She’d been so relieved that the two bags matched like her rep had been sure of.

Now, here I interject a quick story about my folks visiting the dye works for a tapestry weaver in France at a time when they decided they needed just a bit more of this one color for their project, so the dyer was asked to create more.

He asked Mom if this and this matched.

She said no, not quite, and why. But no, sorry.

He hadn’t thought it was discernible but since clearly it was, he added just a touch more to the pot. There you go.

So blame it on the genetics. Here I was, staring at those blues, going, but they’re just not quite the same. This one’s more vibrant. This one’s darker. You can put them in all kinds of different lights and it doesn’t change the fact. It’s certainly not a huge difference, but…

So instead of becoming the next big project they’ve sat there for all this time because I can’t use them together unless I separate them by enough other colors and space that the difference might not matter, in which case I would no longer need twenty skeins of Matisse blue because half of the afghan would be something else altogether. Which has had me wondering if I should ask my friends who do diving and photography if they have a particular reef photo I could use, to riff on last year’s fish theme.

I’ve been musing about trying to match the one or the other, but I don’t know if inventories are back up yet.

Here, let me finish this other project first before I worry about it too much.

I just like to know what’s ahead.

Brake for the cone
Sunday January 09th 2022, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

I was in a knitting group meeting by Zoom today where they asked everybody, What is the yarn that you’ve been hoarding and not knitting that you most love?

I told them that Colourmart had some heavy laceweight 150g 98/2 extra fine merino/vicuna yarn that was really nice stuff, but that every now and then–twice that I know of–they’d popped up a few cones of some with 7% vicuna content. It’s cobweb weight but it sells out fast.

So, having knit two 7% cowls, one for me and one for a friend and swooning at every stitch–nice stuff!–I’d been stalking the site to see if any more showed up, y’know, like during an inventory check or something. For months. (This is after I’d plied it on my wheel and sworn I’d never do that part again–I should have paid the five bucks for them to do that on their machinery. Cobweb weight is super fiddly to get right when you can’t see what you’re doing because it’s black and my spinning was wonky, although in the finished cowls, who could tell. Or care. So soft!)

Suddenly one day there was this one single cone of not seven but 10%, and not only 10% but it was blended with extrafine cashmere. No sheep.

I ticked the ply box and picked a number: twelve strands, the maximum, for a thicker yarn to work with. $55 total for 5.29 mill-end ounces, when pure vicuna retails for $300/ounce.

As one of my friends described it later, I bought it so fast I showed speed streaks.

It’s black, of course, which my eyes would rather knit later rather than now, but the thing that’s actually holding me back is that there’s only the one cone. When it’s gone there may never be another. How would I risk letting anyone feel left out of receiving the one best thing, and how on earth would I choose who should get it?

Come on by, they can squeeze you in now
Thursday January 06th 2022, 9:45 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

My longtime arborist stopped by today because I wanted a quote on some pruning that was higher up than I’m willing to go. He was surprised when I asked him at the end if he liked dark chocolate–why, yes, he does, very much–and then opened the front door and grabbed him one of those plisse’ things and told him what it was. That was fun.

The somewhat less fun but worthwhile thing was going in for a mammogram yesterday.

It created one of those weird moments where the pandemic makes invisible people real, and necessary, where you never knew they even ever were: there was a little window on the arm into the innards of the machine, just a few inches across and with a light inside so you could see how the thing flexed as they moved it in place next to the squish table thingamagummy.

And it was dusty. Quite. Inside an enclosed space with no opening as far as I could see, with that little light at the back showing just how the tiny, uneven, fuzzy bits cascaded down the little diagonal whatever in there. Dust bunny-foot, mid-hop.

I marveled out loud, the tech being an amiable sort, and she knew exactly what I was talking about.

“Oh we’re not allowed to touch those.”

Turns out the manufacturer has people whose job it is to clean those inside parts, which the patients are never exposed to, so, given covid restrictions and workers out sick (or maybe they’d quit) and the fact that it would physically affect nobody to just leave it like that for the moment, there had been no one on hand to do that particular job that I would never even have known existed.

I’m still left with the question hanging of, why? Why did they make it that way?

So that this whole x-ray vision thing can be a two-way street between patients and our non-robot overlords?

Two years from now I’ll be looking to see if it still looks like that. Which is the weirdest way to get a patient to book the next routine appointment ever.

Saturday December 25th 2021, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends

Knowing that we are cautious about exposure, and knowing we might say no, our friends Phyl and Lee invited us for Christmas dinner.

We did church by Zoom last week because it just felt like a time not to go; it turned out that an out-of-state visitor contacted the bishop a few days later to say they were so sorry but they had covid. I don’t know how big the outbreak from that is but I do know three people who’ve gotten breakthrough infections so far. But at least their cases are being ameliorated by their vaccinations and hopefully they won’t have to go through what I did when the virus was new.

Our friends had gone to quite a bit of effort to get the tests and they were okay.

We decided to say yes, and what can we bring.

Bring yourselves, they said, the rest is taken care of. And so we did.

Turns out they had bought a pre-prepared dinner from the grocery store so as to be able to just put it out there and enjoy the company.

But when they opened it up, everything but the ham had gone bad, had been delivered already bad, and I guess my instinct to call to offer again to bring something wasn’t far off but having no idea why I should I respected their request.

They put in the unexpected effort with what all else they had on hand and pulled off a lovely dinner, and after all the isolation of these past two years a Christmas evening spent with friends was a feast indeed.

There’s a new Shaun the Sheep Christmas special they played for us afterward that I would have bought it for my grands if I’d known. Those guys are so creative! And funny.

A definitely good time was had by all, with a strong awareness of how fortunate we were to have that time and each other.

Merry Christmas and G_d bless us, every one.

Happy Birthsday!
Monday December 20th 2021, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends

Happy Birthday to my grandson Parker! And my mom! And my cousin Carol! And my friend Carol! And my friend Sterling! And my friend Jessica! And my friend Lisa! And my friend Julie’s dad!

Okay, who am I missing here because at one point I was counting ten. Clearly, 12/20 was the day to come discover what this life is all about.

(And on a side note, it suddenly occurred to me a few minutes ago that the paint is certainly dry by now and that it was okay to put the wreath back on the front door. Bonus: no pine sap in that one, which is good, because I manage to brush my hair with it every time I walk through the door, and every time I think, And I knew it was there, too. Do other people manage to do this? Or is this just me?)

Post haste
Sunday December 19th 2021, 7:47 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I’m totally going to quote Afton here, with her permission.

Her husband was…

“…up and drinking his coffee.

As he was standing on the porch, at 6:35, AM, here comes the postal truck.  To drop off a package filled with very lovely yarn from Alison Hyde all the way from California.  As the startled tall one accepted the package he asked the bleary-eyed postal worker

“Are you the early shift or the late shift?”

And the slightly weaving man answered after careful consideration

“I’m not sure.” And

Turned around, slid into his truck, and sped down the street.

As they said on Hill Street Blues

Be careful  out there”

Wednesday December 08th 2021, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

I wrapped presents for eleven people this afternoon, got them into five boxes, addressed, sealed–yes we do have another roll of packing tape (the starting edge shreds mercilessly) whoops that’s a no yay there’s another!

Had it all planned out down to the long-unused walker in the trunk to get all of those into the post office without losing my mind.

Says me.

Somehow the thing shrank markedly when confronted with all those big boxes, and the swinging backbar kept shoving them off by the side of the car.

A young man saw the little old lady with the walker and came to the rescue, thinking I had three boxes, and was determined to carry the big one in for me. Which is cool, but then I reached back into the car for more boxes (oh) and so he helped me reverse-Jenga those with the others on that thing.

Except for the big one still in his hands. Having offered to help carry it in he wasn’t giving it back. Cool, thanks!

At the counter, the one on the bottom had wedged in there by now and didn’t want to come out and the clerk motioned a plea to–the same guy, it turned out, who ran to help again.

If I’d had a hand knit hat in my purse he might have gotten one on the spot. Or a crocheted scrunchy for his man-bun? (Um, probably not.)

That was likely the earliest I’ve ever gotten everything mailed that needed to be mailed, kids, grandkids, grandkids’ Christmas-week birthdays, sibling and spouse, but then this is the year you don’t want to procrastinate on the post office. Right?

Got home. Sat down. Turned around.

And saw the box I was supposed to mail to my friend Afton two weeks ago.

At long last
Sunday December 05th 2021, 1:09 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

A picture of the transom windows snapped at 5 a.m. because what else was I going to do bored and wide awake at that hour. If only the rest of the room had been as dark as that looks.

I went to get the paper this morning. Nothing in the driveway next door.

We left for church. A car!

Got home from church. Still the car.

As I’d said to one friend, I am so. tired. I’ve had this fear of calling for fear it would come out all wrong when it’s not about me, the important thing is my neighbor. I don’t want my fatigue to be the boss of me. I also don’t want my neighbor to have to try to talk loud enough for me to hear–I’m not what she should be spending her energy on.

That car was still there when we got home and there’s no telling how long it would be and if there were ever a time to deal with it, the feeling pushed at me that now’s my chance and I would so regret it if I didn’t.

I picked up that phone and dialed her number.

It was a very bad connection but it was the caregiver. Oh thank heavens. She couldn’t hear me very well, which was kind of funny, and her voice sounded enough like my neighbor’s that I wasn’t sure which one I was talking to at first.

There’s no light, she tried to tell me in confusion. What light? Where’s your house? Oh, is it over by the laundry room?

I thought as I walked over to Richard so he could help me hear, who knows? I know where the laundry room was before they remodeled, but…

She wasn’t getting it, so I talked louder and he added a bit and I explained again about the streetlight-bright spotlight on our bedroom for nine nights now–and she found it!

“It’s off now!”


She gave this delighted laugh for sheer joy that she’d been able to make such a profound difference to us so easily.

And with that our short acquaintanceship over the phone came to an end for now because she needed to attend to our mutual friend. Who I imagine was trying to ask her what all this was about.

I went outside and pulled down the ugly bird netting tents off my coffeeberries (picture taken before church.) Let the sun shine in!



Let’s try this
Saturday December 04th 2021, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

After being an hour late for the annual December Birthday Club party because I overslept by two and a half hours (!!!) I had to do something. The party was great fun even if I missed half of it.

I was at a loss.

I’d been thinking poles set up somehow inside the long tall line of coffeeberry bushes with frost covers hitched over them, but I didn’t have poles and I don’t even have a car that would be easy to transport them with if I bought any because we’d be talking nine feet tall, easily.

I was standing at the window, watching the rabbit eat the weeds now that my pomegranate tree has no fruit to raid, wondering if it has mange on its back, poor thing–when it hit me.

I found a single big black plastic bag, and it was way too small to go over the smallest bird netting tent, even scrunching it up. But I have yarn and I have a needle. Hey. I laid the garbage bag flat across the front of the thing and sewed the edges just barely around the back with the yarn continuing to where I attached it on the other side, kinda sorta like the lace and tongue on a shoe. I walked into the bushes the rabbit had fled into, told it to watch its step here I come, and set the thing awkwardly and swayingly on top of the flowers and leaves over my head. It tilted but it stayed.

I walked over to our bedroom and turned: nope. Needs to move about four feet that way. Tried again. Looked again. Tried a third time and felt like I’d gotten it, but that it wasn’t wide enough. So I grabbed another cage and put a double layer of white frost cover over it–not great but I have it, so try it. I hauled a chair over there (one leg sank into the ground, whoops, try again) and managed to get that one up there without knocking the other one down. Or me.

They are Not Pretty. They definitely make a point about why they are there–assuming there’s anyone over there to see it. I’m not sure there is. I’ve begun to think the interior lights are on timers because I know they’ve used them for traveling in the past. For that matter, code says the exterior light must be on one, and oh if only.

If we get a stiff wind those could blow into either yard.

I’ve got more birdnetting tents.

The thing is, if one of the kids took their mom home with them or to assisted living, that light would likely be on till well past the rest of their mother’s life.

Deep breath.

Okay, so, we’ll see how that goes tonight.

You light up my life
Friday December 03rd 2021, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

About a year ago, the good folks next door were the ones whose house had the hammering and the pounding going on for several months.

They had decided to expand and divide to use a bedroom and the new space to create an Additional Dwelling Unit along the side of their house closest to us so that they could have a caretaker in their old age who could have their own apartment, taking advantage of California’s newfound enthusiasm for ADUs.

Their two kids have stayed there while visiting but I don’t think a full-time caretaker ever did because Jim was still well enough to carry the load.

He died at 86 a few months ago.

She has cancer, he was her caretaker, and I quite worry about her but she is not one to share details to non-family nor to want to be helped.

Thanksgiving brought lots of cars for a few days.

And one of those people turned on the light that got installed at the side of the house during construction. (That’s a daytime picture.) The light that Jim had turned downward a little bit after we’d requested, back when it was new, but it’s still bright as ever.

I was looking at the super-bright LED street light yesterday, then theirs, and back again, and decided the street light was indeed  louder–but not by a lot. It’s simply bigger.

Theirs is a spotlight straight on Michelle’s face at night when she’s here and it lights up our bedroom, too. And I mean really lights it up.

So we have now had a full week of restless sleep for him and almost no sleep for me as I look at the clock every single hour, hour after hour, wishing I could shut that thing off while I toss and turn. In all the years we’ve lived here, in all the city light reflected off the winter fog, it’s never been like this.

Yes I could wear an eye mask–but I’ve never found a comfortable one and the recent cornea flare makes me highly reluctant to put something on that will have my eyelashes brushing against both it and my eyes all night.

Yes I could put up black-out curtains, heavier than the two-layered ones we have now–but we have transom windows as well and to cut those off would imprison the room entirely. I like waking up to tree branches and birds in the morning and a chance to check out the clouds. The architect designed that added-on room to be free of neighbors’ lights. At the time.

I sent her an email. I didn’t know if she could even walk across the house to her computer to read it, so I was really glad to see her slowly walking to her door a few days ago with two people carefully watching, arms out, ready to catch her at every frail step, and that she was upright or at least was just then–for her sake, because it’s so much better than being bed bound.

But it made it clear the answer to my question was, not really. Not readily.

The light stayed on.

I dropped off some of the other neighbor’s homegrown persimmons yesterday and a condolence card (with a short aside of, about that light, that I hoped wasn’t horribly misplaced) hoping that a caregiver would stop by and pick them up for her.

The persimmons didn’t move.

I checked: did I have her kids’ phone numbers? I had her daughter’s.

No response. But then who answers strange numbers these days. I was afraid to call my neighbor herself because I know how important rest is when the body absolutely demands it; I’ve been there. And how would she get up the energy to talk loud enough for my ears?

The light stayed on. It bounced off the white walls and the mirror and straight into the eyeballs.

I googled for ordinances about light pollution, and it may in fact be in violation, although residences have more leeway than businesses. But I know what it’s like to be in sheer survival mode when very very sick, and getting up to flip a switch a few rooms over is I’m guessing from what I saw just too much energy to expend with too great a risk of falling.

I can’t imagine living alone like that, though.

I finally fell asleep last night before 3 a.m., and that would be a small triumph and great improvement, except that I don’t hear my alarm clock and don’t always feel the vibrations either and my husband knows that and he knows I have to deal with all the ileostomy dressing/shower/get ready stuff before the crew shows up to work and walks around our roof with the skylight in the master bath, etc etc, so in his sleep he helpfully gave me a small nudge, and then another, to help me wake up in time. It’s our routine for when my alarm is waking up the wrong person.

Because sunrise is to the left side of the room and the left side especially was lit up nice and bright just like it had the previous six nights as if it were past dawn, even though by now I had barricaded the farthest window with a very large flat box and a big green plastic cutting board, the kind you use with roller scissors; it wasn’t much between them but at least it was something.

So here I was at 3 a.m. for the seventh night running. It would have been the blissfully dark night of a new moon but for that stupid light. I did not fall back to sleep in the slightest and at 6:45 gave up and got up.

You know, I really really don’t want to try for a second heart attack. This is getting old. So. Tired.

Those persimmons and note disappeared from her door today, finally. I can just picture the note being slid over by a caretaker to somewhere where she can read it when she has the energy to. Which she might well not.

The light was still on.

I noted the trashcan was still on the curb since Wednesday and nobody had taken care of it for her. I pulled it up against her shed. I had offered before and Jim had always turned me down but he’s not here now and that, at least, I could do for his beloved wife.

It appears someone is in the ADU right now.

The light is still on.

(And now you see why I needed that happy picture of my dad yesterday so much.)

Happy December!
Thursday December 02nd 2021, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life

Went to the Relief Society Christmas party tonight, the first one at church for me in two years. Real conversations in real life!

And then instead of coming home and blogging I came home and started a batch of pumpkin orange cranberry sourdough bread because I’d just been surrounded by sweets I was avoiding and wanted to make something really good, too (but not fattening). The enthusiasm there over everything just spilled right into my kitchen here.

And so, so you wouldn’t be disappointed about my not writing a blog post tonight (oh wait) I thought I’d share this picture from a few years ago that I stumbled across yesterday of my folks. Because this was so my dad.   

Happy Thanksgiving!
Thursday November 25th 2021, 9:15 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends

I hope everybody had/is having a wonderful Thanksgiving!

We were to go to a friend’s, whose kids we know from when they were growing up, and I had just pulled the promised cranberry pie bars out of the oven a few minutes before when I heard Richard calling me.

He wanted a barf bowl for the migraine that had suddenly walloped him upside the head and he needed to go lie down with an ice pack in as dark a room as he could get.

I sent Karen a note with my thanks and apologies. I offered to drop the cookies by.

He got up a few hours later and seemed to be doing better.

I sent Karen a note. I said we were hoping that that would last, but just please know that we were tentative and I’m so sorry. (While glad she had a big enough crew coming that two people would not make a difference on the food one way or another.)

But it looked for awhile there like we were good after all. I got the little things done like covering the mango tree for the night (we hit 36F last night) to be ready and then noted that it was about time to go.

And that was his moment of truth. He wanted to go, he really did–but his head just couldn’t manage it. He was only barely upright.

I sent Karen a note, and then I drove to her house and dropped off three strong paper plates’ worth of cookies, hoping they would be enough with all her kids and grandkids snarfing them down.

But the house was dark. There was a string of white Christmas lights on in front of the door, which had me hopeful for a moment and knocking again only louder this time, and the side yard seemed set up so as to be pretty ready–but there was not a soul around. Huh. So I left the cookies on the doorstep a little off to the side so they would have a chance to see them before they stepped in the corn-syruped stickiness and headed home, glad that it wasn’t quite dark yet.

I have somehow reached the official Old Lady status of not liking to drive at night. Richard’s cataracts have been operated on. But he wasn’t there.

Got home, searched through the piles of emails back and forth from this past week, and there it was: it was going to be at her son’s house on X street. She’d never told me the actual address because, as she told me later, Who looks at the numbers? You just go to the one you always go to. (While noting that yeah, that wouldn’t work for me would it.)

And that is how one friend who is deaf and texts or emails missed signals with one who apparently doesn’t own a cellphone and how do you reach someone when their only phone is their landline and they’re not home? She got not one of those messages today. I thought they were going to her phone. Nope. Her desktop.

She finally called me, wondering where we were. I apologized and explained and told her I hoped she wouldn’t find herself in the middle of a raccoon/skunk fight over those cranberry bars when she gets home. She hoped I at least would still come, and I explained about the night driving, and since she’s older than me she totally got that.

Coming home from dropping off those cookies at dusk, a woman I’d never seen before, dressed in dark clothes, had stepped out in the middle of the street in front of my silent Prius a few minutes before. I saw her in time–but what if someday I might not, and so no, I don’t take that chance.

Turns out that the person I’d stopped and waited for to either cross or notice me and that I’d waved hi to when she finally did was my new next-door neighbor’s mom, out for a walk after dinner.

Anyway. So that is how we had our first-ever (Costco) stuffed chicken breast Thanksgiving dinner.

Tradition-heretic that I am, I’d always wanted to ditch the turkey.

She finally got hers
Tuesday November 23rd 2021, 9:18 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

It was starting to feel a bit silly to both of us–we were trying, but we kept missing each other, so I finally emailed Kat this picture of why I wanted to catch up with her. She had made me that glorious slab from our old tree, and as I put it, I wanted to redwood you back.

She was gobsmacked.

And so we set a time for the morrow.

I was walking towards her house and turns out she was walking towards mine, which so much captured the earlier email dance-and-misses and we both laughed at finding each other right there halfway.

I pulled it out of the tote so she could see it in the sunlight for real.

She did a small gasp. She loved it. I got to tell her why I did it how I did it. A little about Malabrigo–how their start-up mill burned down and they rebuilt using solar power and what good folks they are in person.

She loved the colors, she loved the memorial to that tree, she loves working with her hands herself, and said, We do the different ends of the spectrum–me with the wood and you with this softness.

She was very very happy with that softness.

She has two big dogs.

My late cousin John had had two big dogs.

I’d explained in the emails that I’d once made my cousin a handspun hand knitted afghan and his dogs had shredded it beyond repair, thus the zipped tote bag (yay for 60% off free shipping!) that was coming with this to store it in.

She wanted to know how long it takes to make such a thing. And then she asked me a question that was clearly only a part of what she’d been wondering: Do you knit, like, all the time?

Just about every day–as I quietly remembered that day when she’d showed up at my door and almost apologized because of the time lapse I knew nothing of between when she’d envisioned surprising me and when she actually did. Well, hey, wood has to cure for a year, doesn’t it? Seeing where she seemed to be going with this, I added, Except not always. Sometimes it just kind of leaves me for awhile.

Kat: And you have to find your inspiration, you have to have someone to do it for, right?

Me: YES!

She told me she’d often thought about selling her woodwork. And yet, and yet–she just got so much more out of doing it to give it and to share it.

I’d had no. idea. None. I’d had such a great friend around the corner all this time and would still not have known it had she not gifted me first.

I came away so intensely grateful that I’d listened to the muse that had insisted, You need to knit her a redwood and honey you really need to go big.

Sunday November 21st 2021, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

A friend’s mention of a concert she sang in years ago sparks this memory.

When my kids were growing up, the middle school had a fantastic music teacher: Tim loved the kids and he loved the music and everybody wanted to be in his class. Rumor was, though, that the program pretty much dead-ended when you graduated.

Fortunately for us, my oldest started high school the year they hired Theron. Theron was a master teacher himself, and suddenly the band and orchestra room was the place to be–our kids were in great hands.

I think it was his third year there that Theron, tall and thin, was found to have a 15 lb. stomach tumor.

This was in the bad old days before the ACA: you had to keep going to work to keep your insurance to cover your treatments when you got sick no matter how sick you got.

I knitted him a handspun afghan in a Tree of Life design from wool my folks had bought me for Christmas that year after I’d found a one-time source for a merino lambswool that was finer than cashmere and fur-like in its softness. Memory wants to put it at 14 microns. It just felt like it was meant to be for him.

The other teachers in the district donated their sick leave to save their colleague’s not just insurance but his very life.

But someone still had to teach that jazz class. Someone still had to lead the high school marching band. Tim drove over from the other school to fill in. He knew the kids already knew him and that it would be a comfort to them as well as him in being a familiar face while doing what he could for his friend.

Theron recovered and for awhile it looked like they were right when they said they got it all.

He was there for Back To School night–but I knew. As I said to him later, I don’t think anyone noticed who’s only always been healthy. But to my eyes, he wasn’t just leaning on the music stand because it had been a long day, his face and his body gave him away.

He was on sick leave again almost immediately. He was 35.

At his funeral there were pictures of his life that were a surprise to me but not to some of the kids, even though Theron had never spoken about being gay. His family sat on the right at the front of the chapel, shooting angry glances to the left half in the direction of his partner and friends.

I found that unspeakably sad for all of them. I did not get a chance to introduce myself to them–it felt to me like they didn’t want to talk to anybody they didn’t know.

But I did afterward to the grieving man who did not deserve that extra hurt.

He realized that I was the one who had made that afghan.

In his grief he comforted me by making a point of telling me that Theron had requested that afghan be kept right there on the bed with him at all times his last week on this earth.

He had wanted me to know.

Tim stepped into the high school job altogether and working with the vocal teacher had the choir and orchestra learn Mozart’s Requiem for their joint December concert.

The final piece was If Thou Be Near.

The kids poured their love, their grief, and all that they had into those perfect notes and I found myself in tears. It was one of the most powerful musical experiences of my life.

I caught Tim afterwards and thanked him for teaching our kids, thanked him for choosing that music.

And, I said, he was. ‘If thou be near’–Theron was there. So proud of those kids, so grateful to you, so appreciating the music, so loving–he was there.

Tim’s eyes were full as he nodded, Yes. And then said it out loud: Yes.

Bar none
Thursday November 18th 2021, 8:19 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

Yesterday, it seemed like one of the crew by the end of the day was tired and grumpy, and I expressed concern; was everyone okay.

Maybe he’d just needed someone to notice and have it matter to them, because today they clearly were. I heard laughing between them again and again, enjoying this fine day and each other’s company as they worked.

There’s a skylight in the hallway that they decided to do first, before any more rain might happen to it.

It was a mess. The guy who put it in (we found out later) had only nailed things in on three sides. After a tree fell on our house, a roofing crew sent out to repair that damage happened to notice that right behind them was this spot where it was funny when you step–and one of them started playing see-saw with our skylight while the others laughed, not seeing me standing below shouting upwards, STOP IT!!! at them. I was so mad.

That contractor refused to pay the $600 it cost to repair that, blaming the guy who’d done it wrong in the first place. The guy who tried to fix it repainted below with whatever shade he thought would match. It didn’t.

So of course that’s the skylight that leaked after that. The boards it was resting on rotted out.

We knew it was bad, but…

It took the men quite awhile to get all that out of there today, complicated by being sealed to the foam roof and the fact that there was a fluorescent tube light on top of the beam that ran down the center below the skylight that had to be rewired and reinstalled.

And so for several hours today there was no skylight down the hall, just a face or two nodding hello against the open sky if you came past.

Karo, check. Butter, check. Cranberries? Toss the first bag, the second thankfully was fine.

I started baking cranberry pie bars.

As the oven started smelling wonderful as the cookie crust stage baked, I suddenly noticed the change.

Someone was a little hungry and probably a little tired and all this wonderfulness that certainly wasn’t going to be for him–all he was going to get to do was wish and be tormented. He started sounding grumpy again.

He didn’t know me very well, did he?

He caught himself and cheered up a bit while I was silently telling that pan to hurry up.

You’re supposed to let them cool all the way and even chill if possible before cutting them. I had the kitchen slider open to the 61F out there and after half an hour put the pan on a metal cookie sheet to help with the hurry; their day was winding down and I didn’t want to miss them after all that. Finally at about the hour mark I pronounced it good enough, sliced, mushed the topping a little–eh–and set half a dozen very crisp-bottomed cookies on each of two sturdy paper plates till there was no room for more, covered them with a little plastic wrap so the men could take them home, and went outside to make sure both their vehicles were still there.

The first guy’s face lit up.

He walked halfway down the outside of the house and called up towards the roof and the second guy, the one who’d sounded grumpy at smelling those wonderful smells, suddenly hoisted himself over the edge and down the ladder with his face all but shouting YESSSS!!!!! after seeing the outstretched plate in the other guy’s hands. He was almost giddy.

“These are so good. SO good!”

They are, and that’s why I so seldom make them. I need to have someone around to protect us from them.

I don’t think any of theirs made it past our driveway.


(On a side note: pouring liquid into an oven-hot glass pan is how you shatter such pans. I realized a moment late that I’d chosen the wrong type, so I pushed the crust high up the sides so that no egg mixture would directly touch the glass when I poured it onto the hot crust. It was still probably a near thing. Just mentioning.)