Sweater weather
Thursday November 14th 2019, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

We’re two months into the supposed rainy season, still watering the trees, hoping that we get lots of rain later to make up for what we’re having to draw out.

But at least today it was finally chilly and cloudy and it looked like a storm coming in. There’s none in the forecast, but having the sky finally not look like bright cloudless July helped restore faith that I just need to wait awhile. That and having to put on two layers of sweaters–which felt great. Thrift-store cashmere, I’ve missed you.

Pro tip: people who send theirs to the dry cleaners wreck the softness and then wonder what they paid all that money for and often enough end up ditching them. One good tepid-temperature soak in a no-dye no-scents liquid laundry detergent and gentle hand washing, a spinning out in the washer with the water turned off to avoid felting, laying the item out to dry, and there you go: the softness is back.

I give the sweater a good shake before putting it over the wide shower rod; if there was any shrinking, which happens lengthwise the most when it does, that’s enough to put it right.

Must be going around
Wednesday November 13th 2019, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus

I emailed the leader of the lupus group and said I wasn’t really sick but I was fighting the edge of a cold so I wasn’t going to be there this afternoon.

Turns out I wasn’t the only one. About an hour later she replied-all that she’d never done this before, but she was canceling the meeting, and hopefully next month we’d all be better.

All the more afghan knitting time for now.

Tuesday November 12th 2019, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

Got coughed on on Saturday.

Woke up today feeling possibly a little feverish and took it easy, grateful for my flu shot.

I found a perfect, luscious little strawberry hiding away under a November leaf and proclaimed it my antidote. Yum.

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

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

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

This page says more than I ever could.

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

Rallying around
Sunday November 10th 2019, 8:13 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I’d seen the note sent out on their behalf a few days ago asking people to pray for her.

Her mother-in-law is in town now to help with their two little boys, and the one time I saw her really smile this morning was when I asked if she was the grandma. She was!

When I saw him gathering up the kids afterwards I said to the husband, half apologetically, “One more person coming to ask…”

He was happy to explain. His wife had had a doctor appointment, and the obstetrician had said, You’re way too big to be three months along. So they’d ordered tests.

She had a tumor the size of a watermelon on an ovary. (Where? How? She’s tiny!)

That’s when the first note went out because in their shock those young parents needed every bit of support they could get, with someone else appointed to do the talking and fielding any responses so they didn’t have to quite yet.

He sent out his own note this afternoon.

The surgery was successful. The tumor was benign (they will biopsy it again to be absolutely absolutely sure.) The baby is doing fine in there. His wife is recuperating and on bed rest for the moment, but would welcome texts.

That I can do.

Screen play
Saturday November 09th 2019, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Life

So there I was, having been given my own small screen to watch while the bigger one went on so that I could read the closed captions. Hey, and it had someone signing, too! I studied sign in high school with a semester in college but that was a long time ago.

Wait. This isn’t…

So now I’m wondering if American Sign Language and the Samoan (maybe Tongan?) version as presented in the US are the same?

This old house
Thursday November 07th 2019, 7:47 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life
  1. The new keyboard came.
  2. The old keyboard decided to work again, with just a few keys needing to be typed a little more forcefully.
  3. The one total holdout is the arrow for moving the cursor to the right.
  4. My keyboard refuses to be a Republican. It won’t even curse.
  5. While, on the afghan, I hope to officially hit the halfway mark tonight. I want this one longer than the original so I’m putting in an extra few inches before starting the eagle.
  6. I ended the feather-and-fan part with a purl row this time to emphasize the break between the waves and the hillside rising above the bay.
  7. This is a better combination of needle size and yarn for making that moose.
  8. It finally occurred to me for the first time today that knitted moose are typically found in…Christmas sweaters.
  9. Tough.
  10. I pulled out the finished original afghan and was relieved at how the eagle and snow and mountains rescued it from any singleseasonativity.
  11. Thanks to, he said, the street tree the city planted three feet from the outtake out front, Bernie the plumber came today (this happens about once a year) and it is amazing to be able to run a full load of laundry and not have the sewer back up. Yay Bernie!
  12. And, 12, I have discovered a bug in the update here. If you see numbers 1-12 before each of these, tell me, because on the preview page I don’t but they should be there. And it keeps deleting my title. Let’s see what hitting publish does to it.

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

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

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

The new keyboard is supposed t come tmrrw.

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

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

He did what I wanted
Monday November 04th 2019, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

He’s bald and he’d recently had the flu and it’s been as low as 29F at night and he was freezing.

Last week I gave him all five hats and he immediately offered his friend next to him his choice of one. As I had hoped.

Yesterday he confessed that he was down to one, because various friends had liked this one or that one so much so of course they had to have something made with love like that. His eyes pleaded with me to understand, but believe me, I did. I told him, That’s what they’re for!

Not to mention, it’s not like I’m running out of yarn.

I could just picture randomly running into some stranger, recognizing what’s on their head, and going, Oh! You’re I.’s friend! Cool!

(And the potential, ??? Who are you???)

Saturday November 02nd 2019, 8:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life,LYS,Politics

I was at Fillory yesterday, sitting at the large table there visiting with friends and knitting away as people came and went around us, when I found myself getting up to check on the yarn they were winding up for me.

Usually I start off by picking out a skein, paying for my afternoon’s entertainment with it, then pulling up a chair to knit the previous week’s ball into a hat while the staff turns the new hank into a ready-to-knit ball and then they come and bring it over to me. There’s a line at the ballwinder? I’m in no hurry.

But that all just felt too passive this time.

There was a customer I don’t remember seeing before: browsing, going to the clerk to ask a question, looking around some more, kind of hanging back from other people the whole time. She’d been in there about ten minutes.

It wasn’t the head scarf that caught my eye, it was that she seemed so unsure of herself. Maybe she was a beginner and we all looked like experts to her.

But maybe not. Her clothes and accent marked her as an immigrant, I’m guessing from Africa, and I know that rather than the welcoming country we used to be our government has of late made it harder for those not born here, no matter how they arrived, to feel at home.

Often of a Friday afternoon every seat of that table is filled, but this time there were several nice chairs open. Good. I invited her to come and sit and knit with us, if she would like to.

You should have seen the transformation in her face! She had not expected to be welcomed. She had not expected to be claimed as belonging.

Practically speaking, she probably didn’t know if it was a formal class or group or what, but clearly, intruding on it would never have occurred to her. That particular good time and camaraderie she was quietly observing over there was for others.

But we were just random people and she had every right to be right there with us. I knew that it would make our group all the better if she did.

She smiled and shook her head no.

But she was just transformed and she stayed happy and that made all the difference to me, too.

Crescendo decrescendo
Friday November 01st 2019, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Life

Why Californians dress in layers. Sweater, shawl, cowl, hat, you name it, and if it can squish into your purse halfway through the day all the better.

29F at 7:30 am. (Good thing I set that tap to a slow drip last night.)

49F at 9:30 am.

69F at 12:30 pm.

73F at 3:30pm.

41F at 10:00 pm and going down fast and I’m really glad my bison wool socks order just came. Ignore the lows in the forecast: to cut governmental costs they got rid of the national weather tower for the Bay Area and rely on the one down in Monterey, with our mountains blocking its radar view. The predicted low was off by 15 last night.

This is weather (most of the day, anyway) that is having me mentally designing the warm aran sweater of my dreams. Dress length. At least.

It’s only that noon to four that stops me.

How much yarn could I stuff in the car
Sunday October 27th 2019, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Life

(And don’t forget the ostomy supplies.) We’ve never had to do an evacuation here–we could only guess where to begin. The people from Paradise say grab your dirty clothes first, because they’re the ones you’ll need the most, but for us it doesn’t look like it’ll be something we’ll need to worry about.

Rainy season is supposed to have started.

This morning there was a bit of brown to the sky and that was it.

Come the afternoon, though, the wind was blowing so hard that even I heard the trees creak and looking out the window was not sure that taller one was going to hold, but it did. Yay.

Sonoma, not so much. People have been evacuated clear to the ocean, which is not close. I’ve never heard of such a thing before. The coastal mountain range is supposed to be perennially damp from the fog and the redwood needles that capture it.

I stepped outside and the fire smell was now as if our own town was the one burning. You didn’t want to be out in that for long. We were at AQI 194, although that’s thankfully down to the 60s as I type. Just like two years ago, there were Van Gogh Starry Night impressions on the visible wind–you’re just not supposed to be able to see air move.

I get to joke that I seem to have briefly smoked pot for the first time in my life, but as the famous quote goes, I only inhaled. And then that was snatched southward and the next blew in from the homes and the wineries and the everything up north and one could only wonder at what the mixtures held and whose dreams were in that smoke.

So far, as far as I know, no one has died in this, and I am highly grateful for that.

Someone reported doing a U-turn in the middle of a bridge, presumably the newly built Carquinez over the bay–the landing at its northern edge was roaring.

With nearly a million people out of power and who knows how many out of their homes, we are within an oasis of safety and comfort here and know how fortunate we are.

But my friend I.M. finally got his hat that had been knit just for him, his friend got one too, and I know that right now there are two very happy people out there and that helps. A lot.

It spoke to me
Saturday October 26th 2019, 9:46 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life

I was heading into Trader Joe’s this evening as a man and his young son of five or maybe six were leaving.

The dad’s t-shirt had a Star of David and the words “Love, not hate.”

Two steps more and he would have been too far away in his momentum, but I had to: I stopped and told him I liked his shirt.

He turned–both to look back at his son to make sure he was following okay in that narrow space as you pass the outdoor cart cage and at me. I continued, Friends of mine attend the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

He looked me in the eyes. “I’m from Pittsburgh.”

I nodded, grieving with him in the moment.

And then noticed the abject fear in his son’s face, looking up at this stranger who had accosted and stopped them. He had no idea what I was trying to convey and he was terribly afraid that something bad was about to happen to them.

It was devastating. That poor child.

They continued on as I wondered. I certainly wasn’t going to ask his name, not today.

Afton and her husband are dear to me beyond words. Afton of the “Why is there a chocolate shop on my counter” (!???!) text after a melanger and nibs and instruction book showed up on her doorstep via all her KnitTalk friends she’d done so much for. Afton of the annual Aftober campaign to finish some project, new or especially old but any project, while she cheered us on. Afton who drove from New Jersey to Baltimore ten years ago so we could finally meet in person at Stitches East, and then made sure to include Richard and me in their vacation stop in San Francisco a few years ago, where we had a wonderful dinner together.

Afton who flew to Wisconsin to comfort a member of that knitting group she’d never met in person who was dying of cancer.

Afton who emailed to the group last night that they were observing the anniversary of the loss of people they loved and that she was going quiet for awhile. She would be back, but she needed some time first.

I want to somehow make it all better, to take away the pain, to be there with them, all of them, and I can’t.

So I thanked a stranger for his shirt, having no way to know just how connected he was to the people around her. That that was home.

And I wanted to hug his little boy all better forever.

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

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

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

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

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

The clerk quietly stopped me: did I know…?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sure, no problem.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The background noise
Wednesday October 23rd 2019, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Life

“Marriott, Mom. Always stay at a Marriott,” my older son told me after the fact.

The last two times we traveled to Salt Lake City to visit my folks we stayed in…interesting places. The AirBnB that was halfway remodeled, half horror: the tall glass door between the bathroom (glass. why.) and the kitchen with green paint slathered in broad horizontal strokes for privacy’s sake was unique. The owner told us not to sit on the couches because one monster four foot painting had fallen a few days prior (it had one edge resting on the couch on the left) and she was afraid the one on the right might go, too.

Two, the Quality Inn, chosen simply because if Southwest had linked to it it had to have been vetted, right?

The elevator didn’t work. When we asked about it, the guy went into the control room and got the doors to open for us but it smelled sharply of smoke and complained screechingly that it didn’t want to do this anymore.

The place had a thick vinyl fake-wood flooring that I recognized as having a thirty year to lifetime warranty, depending on your vendor–but in the elevator the edge of it was just destroyed. That took effort. At least it was under warranty–and yet there it was.

Yeah, not going there again. But there was no way we were going to inflict one more burden on Mom just then, it was definitely going to be a hotel.

Checking online: sold out, pick another day or place…

Michelle (who had been at that AirBnB too) urged me, Stay somewhere nice this time. Your father just died. You need to stay somewhere that makes good memories this time.

We had enough frequent flier miles to cover the last-minute airfare, rather to my surprise, so maybe we could splurge a little.

Which is how I booked at the Radisson downtown. Real close to Mom, so we wouldn’t have to spend precious time in the car when we didn’t have to. We wanted to be with family, not traffic.

Turns out they were having an ALS conference there, ie Lou Gehrig’s disease.

We checked in. We found to our annoyance, or mine, anyway, that all parking was below the hotel and was listed at $15/hour. It wasn’t till after the trip that I found to my relief that it’s $15/day for hotel guests; the hourly rate is for people going to the convention center across the street. Phew.

There are four elevators. Two go down to the parking. They did not work. They would not be working for two to three more weeks and by how it looked, even that was a contractor’s wishful thinking.

I could just see the ALS folks going, Oh yay. Thanks for telling us, guys.

But! If you called the office they would send a cart or van to come around the building and under there to pick you up and bring you to the covered main doorway. Which, when it’s raining and your ears have expensive electronics in them or the sun’s out and you’re allergic to it, you do.

Unless the van is picking people up from the airport and the cart is ferrying someone else somewhere else.

Someone from the office took our car keys and brought our car to us instead. Which was far more than I expected and my thanks to them for going below and beyond.

The toilet tended to stay running unless you jiggled the handle.

Thursday, housekeeping after we were gone for the day did not jiggle that handle.

We came back to a completely flooded bathroom, but at least it was contained to that space. We were dog-tired and just wanted to crash so I used a bunch of the towels and then we decided not to wait however unknowably long it might take for someone to come–we just wanted to go to bed.

What is it with hotels and smoke alarms flashing brightly all night? I actually got up to see if there was a fire anywhere. There wasn’t. Sure they want guests to be able to see it when they need it but why cry wolf all night every night? And why place it at the foot of the bed? In other hotels it was on the wall and you could cover it, but this one was on the ceiling. At home if the alarm flashes like that (remember, I take my ears off at night) you need to get out and call 911.

As of the time we left they had not yet fixed that toilet.

So I was talking to one of my cousins after the funeral and told her what Michelle had said: Make good memories. Stay someplace nice. And then I guffawed at the irony of it all and in appreciation of how Dad would have loved telling the story for years to come.

So, well, then I guess we (sort of) did.