Grateful
Monday November 23rd 2020, 12:01 am
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life,Lupus

President Nelson, head of the Mormon Church, asked that we talk about what we’re grateful for, and trying to squish it all into words seems kind of overwhelming.

In no particular order: waking up every morning in this life.

The faith that requires that I be my best self towards all others in order to honor what I’ve been blessed with.

The doctors and nurses and blood donors and medical researchers and volunteer research guinea pigs all the way to the housecleaning staff at the hospital–everybody who helped save my life.

My family, in a million more ways than I could ever convey. So much love.

The fact that my three nephews who got covid survived it; a cousin’s working on it.

And this is going to sound weird, but…my lupus, and the Crohn’s that piled on nine years later. Because of all the ways that it constricted and confined my life: after reading Norman Cousin’s book, “Anatomy of an Illness,” I knew I needed a creative outlet and the smocked baby outfits I’d been embroidering were right out–my hands couldn’t hold that fine of a needle without intense pain.

I was at the library with my little kids one day and Kaffe Fassett’s Glorious Knits about fell off the bookshelf into my hands. It was that two-page spread with the models in those fabulous coats in an amaryllis field in the Netherlands that got to me–you know I love amaryllises. I could never in the world make anything like those designs with dozens of colors but I checked that book out again and again till I finally gave up and bought a copy.

That was the turning point. Turns out, my hands could knit. Thank you, Kaffe.

I had basically given up knitting in college when I couldn’t afford the yarn nor the time. I made up for those missing dozen+ years, I would say.

I made his Carpet Coat (“These are large but they drape beautifully on everyone”) and when I got done my husband glommed onto it and told me, “It fits me better than you, go make yourself another one.” I did.

And then I met Kaffe Fassett. I’m pretty sure he ducked to come through the doorway, just like my husband does. Richard’s coat has 68 different yarns, I collected more skeins to make mine 86 because if he was going to nab my coat mine was going to outdo his. I went with the large split triangles pattern.

And then a teen some friends were raising in foster care loved them, asked about them–“Mohair. MO hair. What kind of animal is a MO?”–and I felt in my bones I had to make him one. A vest, so as to not worry about the fit or running out of my leftover yarn, but, a large part of me argued within that I can’t possibly knit for every single person who admires what I do! I’d never stop!

Tim’s happily married with children now and his wife still wears that vest all these years later. Fits her better now.

But that project was an inner barometer: when I felt generous it was what I wanted to work on, complicated or not, and when I was getting wrapped up in illness or just too down to cope with it I had no desire to. I began from that to learn just how much better I could make myself feel by applying happy anticipation to my stitches towards someone else’s happiness. It made the lupus less–devouring. I don’t know how else to put it.

All the things I’ve made, all the privileges of being able to share what I can do–none of that would have happened had my circumstances been what I’d planned on. I was going to get my last kid in school and then go back to work. But for so long I was just hanging onto life by my fingernails day to day with my illness.

But I could knit in happy anticipation of seeing the look on someone’s face, I could make love tangible, and I can’t tell you how many times that has helped make the difference.

I’m so very grateful for every member of my family, too, but that would be an encyclopedia rather than a blog post.



Progress
Sunday November 22nd 2020, 12:05 am
Filed under: Knit

I finished the first row of scales!  (C’mon, camera, I want to show it off, it’s pretty! Update in the morning: there you go.)

So I looked at how to start the next row all the way at the other end: pick up lots of stitches across the top and go back the way you came.

Okay, I can do that.

Then it says, Just 27 more bands…

Shoot me now, I wince-guffawed.

I’m not using Mechita sock weight and no way would I be stacking that many without committing to afghan scale for both yarn and project–I’m doing seven across, not five, and plan to add two more bands above for the scarf. Twenty-one shells total. Every one is fairly rough on the hands but that’s doable.



There be dra–whoops
Friday November 20th 2020, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Knit

I was tired, it looked like I’d picked up too many stitches and knitted one early-on dragon scale all wrong, I ripped out the evening’s work and tossed it in the ziplock and then couldn’t make myself look at it all the next day. Which was yesterday.

I woke up this morning telling myself I was going to finish two whole scales. Maybe even three! Yes! (Yeah good luck with that.)

I pushed myself through doing one.

And when it was about done I realized how I’d seen it wrong and how I probably hadn’t made any mistake after all except for ripping out all that work.

It was a relief when I finally got past where I’d ripped it from.

I did get that second whole scale done after that, and it feels pretty good. Tomorrow’s the last one.

On that row, and then I get to make the entire piece over again above that. And then again above that. Not only for the warmth and the height but because sets of two jar the eye, which wants odd numbers.

Note to self: five repeats of Jewel Dragon in Malabrigo Rios on size 4mm/6US is the right amount for a not-tight hat brim. But at this point I’m got the tail going for a sixth. Y’know? You could make a really cool toy dragon with this.

Meantime, the neighbor’s oranges and our Meyer lemons are all definitely taking on color.



Bouncy bounce
Thursday November 19th 2020, 11:35 pm
Filed under: Life

Someone was passing around a video of a stoat kit playing on a trampoline yesterday. Cute baby animals and all that.

And I woke up this morning with the thought of, that’s it! That’s the description I’ve been looking for for so long!

It was twenty years ago this month when someone grossly speeding and oblivious destroyed his car, mine, did significant damage to the car in front of me, and wrecked my sense of balance. Visual and muscle feedback is all I have to go on. Old news, long since adjusted to. But it has its weird moments and I’ve wanted a quick way to try to convey how it is and why when needed.

We have an old guy at church (the dad of one of my college classmates, actually) who likes to greet his friends by coming up behind them and clapping them on the back with one hand and then shaking theirs with his other as they turn in response. He’s sent me flying several times because, not seeing him, I didn’t anticipate the movement to brace against it and where up is got rearranged for a heartbeat. It was…a bit noticed. This is not how you’re supposed to do crowd surfing. It did happen twice. Bless him, he’s learned. (Sudden thought: we’ll see if he still remembers when we get to meet in person again.)

So. The now-obvious description: it’s like being on a trampoline! The surface you’re walking on all looks the same and flat but something moves and you find yourself tilting this way or that or staggering. You could be in the center where it’s the bounciest or at the edge near the springs and that affects how much where others move affects how much you move but even so anything can happen.

A good bounce from behind when you thought no one was there and whoa!



Giving thanks
Wednesday November 18th 2020, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

We were asked our Thanksgiving plans.

We intend to cook a huge turkey, have homemade everything from cranberry sauce to pie and more than the table can comfortably hold, have more loved ones than the table can comfortably seat, and have the time of our lives in one great big memorable celebration of all that blesses us and all those we love.

Next year. When we can also give thanks for all of us having been vaccinated.

So, yeah. The two of us and all the screen time with loved ones we can get. There is no responsible alternative. None.



Pageantry
Tuesday November 17th 2020, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Garden

Six years after the initial burst of hope and enthusiasm on opening the box my Page mandarin orange tree came in, the limbs are still thin enough that the tag is still on.

But we did it. My finicky, slow-growing tree’s very first Page is turning orange. My crop of one.

May it live up to all the childhood memories.



I had no idea
Monday November 16th 2020, 10:52 pm
Filed under: History

Did you know we almost went to war with Britain in 1859 over a pig?

Quote, albeit a conjectural one:

Cutlar: “…but it was eating my potatoes!”
Griffin: “Rubbish. It’s up to you to keep your potatoes out of my pig”. 

Unquote.

And that several dozen soaked sheep were involved? Not to mention three warships and 2600 troops? A future Confederate General in the future Washington State?

And that Kaiser Wilhelm of all people helped settle the dispute?

Not sure how I stumbled across Interweave’s page about the pig war, but here it is, with more British and fewer American details over here at the UK. I had to read more because I’d never heard of this before.

So, c’mon, you guys, tell us the important part, did they barbecue the pig? Bacon? Right?

So that’s how we have one national park that flies another country’s flag: the Union Jack. A gift from the loser. But then, Vancouver Island’s not bad as a consolation prize.



Cherries for Andy’s
Sunday November 15th 2020, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

I wanted to go to Andy’s Orchard to pick up a few things, like their dried slab Blenheim apricots: “slab” because they were so perfectly ripe when picked that they could not be sliced in pretty halves like the others, they kinda went smush. Those are the ones you want. So good.

And their holiday season dried figs stuffed with a walnut inside peaches pureed with honey and topped with almond bits: worth the trip right there, and they affirmed that yes they had them in stock now.

And so Friday, I went.

There were the last fresh-picked plums of the year and one last two-pound box of random-variety ripe figs; how, after two freezing nights this past week I don’t know but they were wonderful and we finished them off today.

But before I took off for Morgan Hill, I went looking and found the deep red superwash wool hat I’d made. In the Cerise colorway, French for Cherry, and what could be more appropriate for someone at a stone-fruits farm? It had been so long since I’d been able to just gift someone with some knitting in person. Their season was almost ended and who knew if the clerk who’s run the shop for Andy these past many months will be back next year.

She was wearing a sweater that went really well with that hat.

It hit me afterwards that I hoped she didn’t worry about touching it and being exposed to covid–I’d have offered to open the bag and shake it out for her without touching it myself if I’d been thinking. I knitted it about a month ago, so it’s done its quarantine time.

I guess I’m still, after all this time, figuring out this pandemic thing.



Dragons indeed
Saturday November 14th 2020, 11:58 pm
Filed under: Knit

I was surprised how small 64 stitches of Malabrigo Rios came out–I had some doubts whether I could even turn it into a baby hat, even if nephew Benjamin’s a preemie. It’s dense and it’s warm–but it’s shaped kind of weird.

But I liked it, so I grabbed the innards of the yarn cake and cast on more stitches to attach, since you build up the rows and then go back down to the bottom and work your back up again in sections. Make it wider, make it useful.

Cast on, purl a row knit a row leave it ready for the oncoming picking-up-the-stitches.

I did it just exactly how it said and exactly how it had been begun.

When it was time to go past the picked-up stitches onto the new section I had a red row too many for it.

I spent about half an hour walking myself through every step of what it said and what I’d done and what it had, wishing fiercely for another knitter’s eyes on the thing. It made NO sense. Finally there was nothing for it but to rip out the excess row. So I did that. I then re-connected and started the next shell and ran a row of the red across the new part and back, etc etc. Following the directions exactly.

And there is still one row of red too many.

I’m stumped. Knitting does not usually stump me but I have no idea where the problem came in.

But at least in my frustration I find I knitted it tighter than the original so that the length of redness actually looks the same, and as the bottom border it curls up against the i-cord anyway so who could tell? I’m leaving it.

But what went wrong (?!!!). I don’t get it and it bugs me that I have no idea.

And in between that last sentence just now and this one I think maybe I finally, finally do: I must have accidentally skipped rows 1 and 2 those other times. That’s the only thing that makes sense.

Well then. Carry on.



Uncle Bob
Friday November 13th 2020, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Politics

I am totally going to steal my cousin Jim’s FB post because I know my mom can’t see anything there and it’s about her baby brother who died four years ago; he was the Senator whose seat Mike Lee unfortunately is now in. Plus it’s a hoot.

Note that Bob Bennett, R-Utah, and Chris Dodd hashed out the beginnings of what would eventually become the ACA, part of why the Kochs and the Tea Party went after Bob so hard. He said at the time that Americans can’t compete on the world market as long as they know they’re one medical disaster away from losing everything.

Jim wrote:

“So this sounds like the setup for a joke, but it’s actually a true story.
In 2008, four Democratic senators were running for their party’s presidential nomination: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and Chris Dodd. Dodd was the longest of longshots, and he was getting depressed that his campaign was going nowhere. My father wanted to make him feel better.
“Tell you what, Chris,” Dad said. “When you’re president, how about you make me Treasury Secretary?”
Dodd smiled. “You got it,” he said.
This began a trend. The next time Dad saw Joe Biden, he said, “Chris Dodd just told me that when he’s president, he’ll make me Secretary of the Treasury. Do you have a better offer?”
“Sure. I’ll make you Chairman of the Federal Reserve,” Biden said.
So Dad approached Obama and said, “So Dodd’s promised me Treasury, and Biden says he’ll make me Chairman of the Federal Reserve. What can you give me?”
“How about Secretary of Defense?” Obama said.
Armed with these three offers, Dad found himself in an elevator with Hillary Clinton, and he reviewed all three of the promises from the other candidates.
“Well, looks like I have no choice, Bob,” Hillary said. “I’m going to have to put you on the ticket.”
In the last days of his life, Dad told this story repeatedly. Whenever Hillary was mentioned in conversation, Dad would say, “I’m her running mate.”
I miss my dad. That’s all.”


With fronds like him who needs anemones
Friday November 13th 2020, 12:03 am
Filed under: Knit,Politics

I know, that’s an old one, but for Rudy it fits.

Meantime..

I fell in love with a pattern (Ravelry link) and bookmarked it months ago, then finally bought it, then did nothing about it for days till it finally bugged me enough because I wanted to know how to do that. Also I wanted to actually do that. I had plans, tentatively, but first I had to find out what it was like to work on and whether it could ever be a brainless carry-around project.

I got the first ridge of the first scale done last night if only because a thing started is easier to continue.

And now I’ve done a lot more. Nowhere near as much as I want (it was slow) but a goodly start.

Guys. It isn’t just tightening the red rows between, it’s sideways i-cord, and then you pick up along its sides while counting and trying to space right and not only that, you don’t just push the three stitches to the other end of the needle, you have to knit them and then move them onto the other needle repeat repeat repeat all the way across. And make new stitches with e-wraps, which have to be wound really tight or they create this growing loose flappy hanging stuff between stitches but, tight, it’s really hard to jab the needle tip into. I know, you already knew that. So did I.

Their photo says do it tight.

I am definitely not making an i-cord afghan at my house anytime soon–I’ve done my time-blowing project for the year.

But it is quite pretty. And absolutely ingenious on the part of the person who thought it up: who took the natural curl of i-cord and thought, y’know? That’s what the hide of a dragon should look like.

It’s a cross between Feather and Fan lace and pool noodles.

But while we’re waiting on my phone to cough up the photo (edit in the morning: here you go), I’ll mention the Four Seasons Landscaping (spoof) account. Because, yeah.



Playing Back,Jack
Wednesday November 11th 2020, 9:19 pm
Filed under: Life

Reno. It was a small town when my dad’s folks moved there when he was a teen.

Wonder if their paths ever crossed. They’d be having a great laugh up there over this one.



Emily
Tuesday November 10th 2020, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

I wrote in the spring last year about my niece who hadn’t gotten a flu shot, caught the flu, and ended up in the ICU for a very long time with sepsis, fighting for her life.

Emily was at one point the youngest-ever head of the piano teachers’ association in her state–she’s good.

After the amputations that helped save her life she had to learn how to be a piano teacher with no fingertips.

She made this video to teach other teachers what she’d learned from the experience about how to relate to her students. Who don’t know how they’ll ever be able to do what the teachers do like the teachers do, who see it from a very different viewpoint, who question themselves. How to see and meet them where they are.

With hands back to being the size of your typical five-year-old’s, as she put it, but that can’t quite land in that space back there between the black keys anymore, she tells her students it’s okay when they make mistakes because she does, too. But making music feels great.

And if you want to skip right over to 36:25 in the video, you can go see how she does.



Go ask Alice
Monday November 09th 2020, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Life

(Yes, that was a Grace Slick reference. My friend and yarn dyer Lisa Souza used to sing lead in a band that opened for Jefferson Starship.)

This was a comment in the New York Times that I’m lifting shamelessly because you just wouldn’t want to miss it. And I quote from one Harmon Smith, whoever they may be:

“Attending a business conference in Florida, our group decided to meet for lunch at a restaurant approximately one mile from the event. As the group departed for the restaurant I told them to go ahead and I’d catch up. Fifteen minutes later I departed, walking to the restaurant located one mile away. After a few wrong turns I ended up on a path with a homeless woman pushing a shopping cart full of belongings. I asked the woman for directions to the restaurant. She said, “Don’t go there the foods terrible, here’s where you want to eat” and began digging through her shopping cart for something. After a minute, she produced a crumpled menu, handed it to me and gave directions to a shipyard fish shack located on a nearby canal. The ambiance and food were awesome. I told the bartender about my encounter with the woman and how I found the place. He replied, “That’s Alice, we give her dinner every day and she sends us customers”.”



Goodbye Alex Trebek
Sunday November 08th 2020, 11:52 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

Other than the unseasonal warmth having given away to a potential unusually early freeze tonight and I have seven unripe butternut squashes pleading for mercy out there, it’s been a pretty quiet day.

Except for the sounds of my guffawing over this news article that two people had way too much fun writing. The guy from Four Seasons Total Landscaping (not Hotel) answered the reporter about when Trump’s campaign had called. (Note: when you say, Siri, give me the Four Seasons, you really ought to listen to how Siri answers.)

Question on some future Jeopardy episode: Who is, “I was pretty happy because it got me out of Bible study.”