Feel like…letting my freak flag fly…
Friday May 25th 2018, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Lupus

There’s this big and I mean big-brimmed black wool hat that I bought when I knew I was going to be spending some time outside at noon at high altitude, lupus or no lupus. One does not miss the graveside ceremony at one’s mother-in-law’s; it was good that as a piece of clothing for such an event it seemed the proper thing, never mind the lupus.

Richard was feeling a bit cabin feverish and wanted to run a quick errand this afternoon: which meant me driving. That was going to be it, but then we both thought out loud more or less in unison that Costco today would be a whole lot better than Costco on a holiday weekend. (I did not say, but the sun at this hour…)

Somehow that big hat was the one that was in the car (there’s always one), okay then, nice and big and protective, and the only parking space we found was way across the lot. Good thing it’s such a cool day, right? Well we’ll just be a tad formal then. I put it on and then threw it in the cart after we got inside.

After the wind had thrown it off me a time or two as we walked in. That brim sure made for quite the sail. It made me appreciate how still the air had been, how reverent, when we were saying goodbye to his mom.

There was one woman in the store who looked enough like a neighbor I hadn’t seen in awhile that I noticed her–but she showed no flicker of recognition, just stress and hurry, so, no, and we went quietly about our separate business.

One of the first things I did was buy a new SPF-rated sun hat, right there on display right as you walk in the door. That one would stay on, and it looks a heck of a lot more like summer.

Why I didn’t put that one on to head back to the car I couldn’t have told you; it would have made a lot more sense, but no, even while telling myself this made no sense I decided I didn’t want the tag flapping at me before I could get it off–so I put the black one on again. Bigger brim equals more sun protection, right?

That silly hat flew off several more times again in the brisk Bay-side wind and after avoiding being hit by a car retrieving it I kind of clamped it down on my head to try to go load up mine. I could at least still see looking downward.

Turns out that woman had parked next to us. Turns out we got done at about the same time.

Richard cannot bend much right now and I told him not to worry about the groceries.

Airborne!

I caught the woman’s attention. Excuse me? Do you mind if I reach under–my hat just blew under your car…

It what?! She did a double take, then laughed and told me not to worry about it, she’d get it for me, but by the time she looked it was out the other side and heading for the belly of the next car over, more paper airplane than wool. She got to it in time and gave it back to me, much amused. And quite delighted to be able to be of help.

She’d looked so stressed. She looked so happy now. Hat’s off to her for stepping up.

I threw it straight in the back seat. Even if it was a nuisance and needed to be retired, that hat carried memories. It was not allowed to escape.

The new one is ready for duty.



Lava pie
Thursday May 24th 2018, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

The surgeon said to him afterwards, x-ray in hand, Did you know you broke your back? Apparently some time ago. Compression fracture.

Him: I what??

Me: So are you still 6’8″?

Him: As far as I can tell. (I took that as, doorways are still too low.)

To my astonishment he had me drive him in to work today.

I wanted him to have something to come home to to really cheer him on, then: thus this offering towards the mythical Pele of Hawaii. Photos of the first fissure opening up and after all heat broke loose. (Note that that top crust ended up really thin after I dropped half of it on the floor, which was clean but not that clean so I massaged what remained into whatever it could manage.)

Multi-berry pie, and it seems to have helped a little.



Stanford Ambulatory
Wednesday May 23rd 2018, 6:56 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

With yet more hours on my hands, I wondered if that enormous lighting display in the ceiling was a deliberately artistic echo of the ones in the operating room. Surely that must have been the thought.

Someone in scrubs was walking by facing the people beyond me, followed closely by the woman who’d checked my husband in at the far end of the hallway from here at the much-regretted hour of 6:50 a.m.

Who scolded me sharply: “He’s talking to you!”

Blink. (A silent, What? Hello?) I did not so much as see the side of his mouth move and he was in no way looking at me. Nor was he anybody I’d seen earlier. He was paying no attention whatever to me as far as I knew.

At that, the young surgeon rather awkwardly turned, maybe only just then realizing that I was the one who was the wife of his patient, and sat down to let me know (after I asked him several times to speak up–the waiting area was one great big noisy room) that things had gone well.

He had a rash of warts across his forehead that made him look like he was sweating profusely as he leaned forward.

I would be called back there in twenty minutes.

I picked up my phone forty-five minutes later, looked at the time, and shrugged. These things never go quickly.

I looked out the wrap-around windows at all the new construction. I saw that the place I’d done my brain rehab after my car was sandwiched in ’00 was, to my surprise, still standing, even though it’s only two stories high. Stanford likes to go big these days, but there it was, and prettied up, too.

I got halfway through another cashmere cowl and I have no idea who it’s for and really would rather have been making progress on the afghan for the little brother who’s been promising that Maddy will not have to be the baby of the family forever but was comforted at knowing that, whoever this bright little bit of soft scarfiness turns out to be for, I’ll be glad I did it.

I alternated between reading and knitting to keep my hands comfortable. I got sixty-five pages into a book on bird intelligence that I’d been quite looking forward to but that desperately, desperately needed a decent editor. Or at least for the writer to have sat down and read her own work cover to cover at the finish to find out for herself just how much she’d beaten the same, basic, boring, repeating points to death, page after page after page.

It matched the day.

At last an older man wearing a Stanford-red suit coat came from behind the desk to escort me and one other person to our spouses, chatting amiably along the way, quite making up for his co-worker. (He’d seen her.)

Coming into post-op, the first thing I saw was the hospital’s attempt at the usual requirement that the patient put on their non-skid no-falls socks. What you can’t quite see here is they’d even cut them in their efforts to make them somehow get over his big feet.

I decided not to joke about sock episiotomies. Yet.

It felt downright strange to be the one waiting for the valet to bring the car around so I could pick up the patient.

All went well, he is fine, and we are home.

 



The consensus is…
Tuesday May 22nd 2018, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Knit,Politics

The Spartacus bulb opened up, and at 30″ high with a full display of leaves it is rocking this amaryllis thing.

The second cowl from the orange Piuma: done. (Note to self: 84 stitches, US 8 needles this time and it’s not small.)

Did anybody else get the annual Community Survey from the Census Bureau? Three million households randomly get chosen and this was our year.

After making sure I couldn’t get the info online, I called the city’s utilities department and said, I’m sure you’ve gotten a lot of people asking the annual total of their water+sewer and their electric and gas usage for the Census–and they said, Nope! You’re the first one.

I wonder how many people the Bureau chose out of any one town? And how much any answer of mine tilted the results.



Who? Beads me
Monday May 21st 2018, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Knitting a Gift,Life,Lupus

Well, that was a surprise.

I got a lovely note today and had no idea who this person was; I had to scroll down through the email chain, trying to figure it out.

Two years ago a friend had given me a big bag of craft supplies she wasn’t interested in anymore, nor was I, but I told her I could post it on Freecycle.org so that she could know it would go to someone who would be glad to have it. There were quite a few beads in there and someone could have the fun she’d hoped for when she’d bought it.

And so I did that.

I’d long since forgotten all about it.

The note was from the woman who had gotten that bag. She was no longer a medical student here but now in residency at the same school where my brother-in-law did his. Cool. But I remember the descriptions of what it was like to be in training as a young physician and the severe lack of personal time it entailed and I’m not surprised it took that long for her to really search that bag.

But yes, she had held onto those craft supplies while moving halfway across the country to her new place.

And only then did she discover that, by her description it sounds like I gifted her with a cowl along with a note that meant a great deal to her, whatever I said. She is studying the specialty of one of my favorite doctors, and if I didn’t then I did today, telling her what a difference he’d made to me and wishing her well in her life. She was very touched (and here I was, reiterating that message, I’m sure.)

I don’t remember doing that. But I know I would be doing exactly the same thing all over again if given the chance–with a plain-vanilla-wearable-by-anyone cowl at the ready, or any one that just felt right. Because one of my doctors–and because of Rachel Remen’s stories on the subject–taught me what a difference it can make to a physician to know that there really are patients out there who appreciate what you go through as you aspire to do right by humanity, the whole reason you went through all that you went through to get to the point where you could offer of yourself and your life like that.

That they’re not forgotten when the medical crisis is past.

I wonder if maybe, just maybe, two years ago wasn’t when she needed to hear that message: maybe today was. I have watched life dance to the choreography of G_d enough times…

Knitting is love made tangible. Even if I wasn’t ever her patient, I know well the life of a patient. And I know it’s not always easy to be a doctor.

I’d better get to it on the next cowl to have it ready to send out into the world.



There they are
Sunday May 20th 2018, 9:35 pm
Filed under: Family

Reading a silly book together.

(Note to self: sending the pictures works better when you turn airplane mode off on the phone.)



Early start
Saturday May 19th 2018, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Lupus

We read silly books, we played, we cheered.

Or rather he did, at least during the games. Since I can’t be out in the sun our daughter took me to her favorite dessert place downtown, and after we got back, the big screen got set up to show me some of the boys’ best moves so I could see them in action, too and their daddy could brag on them.

A little later, I pointed out the pretty orange flowers in the tree to Maddy and how the petals were falling on their swingset.

She did a double take at my audacity and corrected me: “Those. Aren’t. Flowers.”

I laughed. For that I had to step outside a moment with her, sun or no sun. “Yes they are!” I held her up high so she could see a cluster from quite close.

Nothing doing. Trees don’t have them. “They’re not flowers. And–they’re BLUE!” and she ran off giggling.

The logic of a three-year-old.

She might figure out now how the jacaranda trees are all purple right now. (In San Diego. Ours haven’t quite yet.)

When the last flight home for the day was coming right up, I explained to her mid-romp that we were going home to our house now.

She looked up at me, stunned, her face begging, WHAT?! NO!!

We got caught up in saying goodbye to Hudson and Parker and hugs and then we were off in their aunt’s car for the airport.

I only later realized I’d forgotten this time to promise them that we would come back. The boys are old enough to take that for granted but their little sister needed that reassurance.

But we will. I promise.



The more the merrier
Friday May 18th 2018, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I swatched the seaweed with the ocean. Just didn’t love the color combination and knew what I wanted but Cottage had been out of it. Called Green Planet: they had lots, I made the trek, and now I have something I like very much. And a better octopus color, too.

But I also needed a carry-around project this morning. I simply grabbed the yarn closest to me and started, and so another peach cashmere cowl is several inches in. Gotta use up those leftovers, right?

That blanket was what I’d needed to seriously rekindle all things knitting.



Begin: the rest is easy
Thursday May 17th 2018, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,LYS,Wildlife

My first success at trying to photograph it.

The new Cooper’s hawk hasn’t yet been harassed by the ravens–and so, for apparently the third time this week, he took his dove dinner to the middle of the yard, out in the open. (Pardon the broomstick.)

Just like Coopernicus did when he was young.

Meantime, I went off to Cottage Yarns to try to find me some seaweed colors, and I did find some dark green but I’m not quite convinced it won’t turn into cowls instead. It’s hard to match the brightness of that Cian colorway.

Here’s what I’ve got so far: I cast on the entire width of the afghan, figuring I would put most of the stitches on hold and work one strip upwards at a time. Right now though I’m not so sure I won’t just simply do it all of a piece.

It took till today to figure out what bugged me about the original pattern: it’s four squares wide. The eye is unsettled at low even numbers–it wants odd ones. It’s got to be five. My swatch said I needed five anyway.

I’ve got ten stitches for each side, eleven rows, and I’m calling that bottom border done.

I want a reclining octopus taking up enough of one side to help divide the interior into the visual thirds that it should be. The seaweed needs to extend well into a second row’s worth to help with its third.

I got me some finagling to do.



Carrot top
Wednesday May 16th 2018, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Knit

Two things.

I finished this generous-sized cowl on size US 8s in Piuma cashmere #22077 from Colourmart (it’s damp in my picture) with 70 grams left of the original 150, plenty to make a smaller one.

And I found and bought this pattern. Angelfish, octopus, sea horse, clownfish, surf rolling in (I’ll vary it rather than repeat it exactly)–this was exactly what I’d been looking for for the afghan, though I’ll probably skip the goofy grins on the critters’ faces. Do I need dirt at the ocean floor? Only if I can find cute enough dirt.

(Maddy’s cape is still definitely in the mental queue but it has no deadline.)

I did a thorough stash-diving amongst my Malabrigo Rios for bits and pieces of bright enough color to match my ten skeins in Cian. Huh. Is that all the Glazed Carrot I have left? Maybe I can manage a clownfish out of that? (The Piuma is not an option. It has to be superwash.)

Maybe with that red as an accent.

Just often enough, hoarding the last of each ball pays off big time.

I need to start another cowl, for a carry-around project if nothing else, but I really want to dive right into that blanket.



With multiple strands for extra warmth
Tuesday May 15th 2018, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

It took a random mention on a four-year-old Ravelry thread and then some searching, trying to track down where that picture had come from when there was no information with it, just a hey, isn’t this idea cool.

I saved the photo. It had a long .jpg number. I googled that.

Which of course took me right back to Ravelry.

This pattern. In those blues and white, like a fine Delft china plate. Wow. This is why I have a granddaughter–right? (In San Diego, sure, but hey, she has a cousin in Alaska. Right?)

Right. Right after I do that afghan, and all the cowls that are left to do, and and and.

Maybe I’ll knit the patterns into the baby’s blanket instead?

Like the littlest fingers wouldn’t yank and catch on those strands. He’ll be a newborn, not a responsible older brother. Okay, back to the cape idea then, three and a half is old enough to listen to you telling her why not to and then not to.

Right?

Yeah, yeah, I know. But some part of my knitting brain is suddenly fiercely wanting to do some fair isle work. I think it was those blues that grabbed me first.

Speaking of cool things found, there was also a mention of the floral bouquets, here. (Scroll down a bit.) Wiltproof.



Saved by the deadline from the deadline
Monday May 14th 2018, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I guess I made it look easy? I hadn’t knitted all of them in one week.

Remember when I offered the three elderly widows who were sitting together their choice of cowls a few weeks ago? They were all very appreciative.

So appreciative, one of them came back to me yesterday and made a point of telling me how much she loves hers. How she’d worn it day and night for two weeks, how her son had told her to cover her neck and head if she were cold and this did such a fine job keeping her warm and she’d never had a way to keep just her neck warm like that before. And it was SO soft!

Why, thank you!

What came next took me so by surprise that she had to say it twice, not because I didn’t hear it but because I just… (Surely that’s not what she’d said.) It was.

Her family was going to have a big happy reunion this summer (I knew one of her kids had adopted a whole lot of kids) and could I make twenty-nine matching cowls by then? She would pay me.

Clearly she wanted each one of them to have all the love that she’d felt in the one that I’d made her. One of her daughters so loves the one I surprised her with while she was visiting her mom last year; her son has a scarf I knit him years ago for wearing to Canada, if he still has it, and I know my friend and her late husband raised their kids to appreciate handmade things. They could all have a visual symbol of being a family that loves each other no matter where or what circumstances the individual grandkids had come in from. I got where my friend was coming from.

But.

Twenty. Nine.

MATCHING. No variety in the knitting.

Cowls. This summer. The summer that starts in five weeks?

It was suddenly a very good thing that I have a whole lot of experience with knitting requests by people who have no idea, because in that moment I needed every bit of that been-there-done-that-blase’-ness  to keep me from laughing out loud or gasping in astonishment or cringing and just all-around embarrassing her. Having her repeat the request helped put a bit of distance between the urgency of the ask while lessening the urgency of the no.

Well, says I, I’ve been wanting to make one for every woman in the ward. I started just over a year ago. I’ve done fifty so far.

Oh, says she, disappointed as it starts to sink in. She had so hoped. A year? Fifty? How long does it take to make them?

Seven to twelve hours, on average. And I need to get an afghan done and soon, and that’s a month. (Side note to myself: if I really work at it.)

She did the math on the time left and figured that that looked like that wasn’t going to work, then, was it. But she would pay me if I did, she hastened to reassure me.

I didn’t tell her my starting price for such a project in that time and that spot in my queue would start at, oh, let’s say a million. Plus materials.



Busy at Mom’s
Sunday May 13th 2018, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Family

Six kids, twenty-five grandkids, and voice mail was as close as I could get for today. Actually I really liked the idea of that–I could just picture all of us trying to call her at once to tell her just how lucky we are that she’s our Mom/Gram/Great Gram. Group hug! Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!



Happy Mother’s Day!
Saturday May 12th 2018, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

The doorbell rang and a middle-aged man I had never laid eyes on in my life was holding out this beautiful bouquet. I almost asked, Do I know you? just to make him laugh. Almost.

He asked me to sign for them and my suppressed laughter finally surfaced: I looked down at the flowers now in my arms and said in great innocence that my hands were full.

I put them down, signed his form, and thanked this man who was clearly enjoying his job today and looking forward to the next and the next and the next.

Happy Mother’s Day to all who are or who have mothers, and may the day be a good one for you. (And thank you, kids!)



For old times’ sake
Friday May 11th 2018, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

She was born in 1926 and today we gave her a great send-off. Eighty great-grandkids. Wow. Her family filled most of the big center section of the church.

The littler ones were having to sit quietly for a long time as the funeral went on. Fortunately I had just restocked my purse.

One young man of about twelve helped pass along some handknit finger puppets (some still had a tiny Peru sticker on them, I’d just gotten them) to his small cousins, pleased at how those quieted them down and that he’d gotten to help out.

Agnes, an old friend who’d driven into town for this was sitting next to me and nudged me, motioning that he wanted one, too. I’d almost missed it. He was one of the great-grandkids who’s local so I know him.

I raised my eyebrows silently with a smile, glad they weren’t all gone yet: You want one?

A small hopeful nod.

I reached across the church aisle and gave him what its knitter probably thought of as a reindeer, but having seen that moose in Alaska, I’m (silently, at the time) calling it a moose. The antlers totally made it.

He examined every stitch and everything about it as the talks went on with intense enough curiosity that I thought, grab that kid some needles and merino, friends, I think he’s ready to learn how to knit.

p.s. Mom, Dad, and Carolyn: Debbie MH and her husband Ron’s cousin Lisa T.C. from back home asked after you. Debbie’s folks are doing well.