Don’t ask me, I don’t know how to art
Tuesday October 19th 2021, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Photo, as usual, waiting on the phone.

49″ and ready to start the fifth set of branches. It’s getting there.

Then, for the fog rolling in as it comes over the coastal range every morning here, the question is do I seed stitch the transition between white and pale fog blue, alternating colors in a transition? Or long horizontal lines alternating and stacking irregularly? That sounds a whole lot easier to do than seed stitch in two colors, but I’m not entirely convinced it’s the look I want.

Or I could do the color change brutalist fashion like the earth tones below: it’s this color here and that color there. Bam. Done.



Boom
Sunday October 17th 2021, 10:38 pm
Filed under: History

One of the speakers at church today (if only there could be a link to our own ward’s talks!) mentioned Corrie ten Boom, whom I had heard of before but this story I had not.

She and her family hid Jews in the Netherlands during WWII but were eventually caught and sent to a concentration camp. Her father, sister, and nephew died; Corrie was released by mistake and made her escape.

Having preached forgiveness as a moral imperative and a means of spiritual and even physical survival in the camps, she continued to do so after the War, speaking far and wide on the subject.

At the end of one of those talks, a man approached her.

I can’t even imagine. She knew exactly who he was: he had been one of the SS guards in that concentration camp.

He told her how grateful he was for what she had said–and he reached out his hand to shake hers.

Forgive him, she told herself. Practice what you just preached. Live it.

Her hand utterly refused to move.

Help me forgive him, she prayed hard.

But she knew exactly what he had done.

Finally, in agony, her inner cri de couer was, I cannot forgive him. Father, You must because I cannot–and with that her hand was suddenly freed and she reached hers out to his and in the moment they connected she described an electricity going through her to him.

And it healed him.

And it healed her.



Musings on an evening where I pushed the monitor button to record the moment
Saturday October 16th 2021, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

There was an article on Graves disease in the Washington Post today. I found it very timely, because that diagnosis is in my chart but nobody’s ever told me much about it beyond the word itself. One endocrinologist retired after ordering the antibody tests, one went on maternity leave, one filled in temporarily, and I haven’t gotten back there in so long–covid being most of that time–that it kind of dropped through the cracks because I simply didn’t need to go in.

My autoantibodies for both hyper and hypo thyroidism generally duke it out pretty much to a standstill.

But it would explain some of this stuff, including the almost two pounds lost these past two weeks. And here I was thinking juggling yarn balls all day long was proving a surprisingly good if implausible diet.

If it is the Graves, it would be quite treatable.

A text came in as I was typing this: I just promised the friends who stopped by last night that I would call them if we need any help whatsoever. She’s young, but she’s had heart experience, successfully treated and fine now. Some people are just easy to turn to anyway, and then you learn more and more why.

*To clarify: the heart monitor’s recording for two weeks straight. They want me to push the button to footmark my notes on it.



A good way to spend a day
Friday October 15th 2021, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Knitting a Gift

Twenty-one rows and the start of the third set of branches, a trip to Andy’s Orchard where I got some of the last of the fresh figs of the season–SO good–and some dried Blenheim apricot slabs for my mom, and a visit this evening by friends bearing homemade goodies.

I went outside and cut a pomegranate off my tree and told them to come back for more later–they’re good now, but they’ll keep ripening and get even better.

I sent them home with a bunch of those figs, too, because they love them as much as I do and there were so many in that box and it would be criminal to have them not be enjoyed at their newest and best.

Meantime, I’m hoping the (already stratified) cherry seeds sprout that their son decided needed saving for me because the cherries I gave them from Andy’s were so good a few months ago. They haven’t yet. They’re in nature’s time zone. I’ll just have to wait.



33″
Thursday October 14th 2021, 9:27 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

So I got the first set of branches done, remembering again why one should always do such a thing on needles that are long enough that you can spread the whole thing out to really see what you’re doing to get perspective as you go. These aren’t.

Darn if it didn’t look like a penguin flapping its flippers.

The only antidote to that was to add another set to give a better sense of tree-ness.

You know those cell phone towers along the freeways that are supposed to be mistaken in passing for pines but instead look like someone electrocuted the Christmas tree?

I kid, I kid, it’s totally fine even if not entirely how I thought it would be. (And a little bit of this is the camera angle.)

I’m better at learning from my mistakes than not making them.



It’s only natural
Wednesday October 13th 2021, 9:23 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life,LYS

The yarn came.

It’s an exact match. That never happens. But it is. Probably came from the same batch at the mill even though I bought them at different times and different San Francisco-area stores. Twelve inches of afghan recklessly knitted in the previous undyed white wool, suddenly totally justified. Man, that feels good.

The tree is branching out now.

And in the strange, strange house department–the pouting telephone stays. The bears stay. (Just sell me one of those and we’re good.) Everything does. Except not the tractor nor, inexplicably plain after all that other stuff, the table under the gazebo.

I’m thinking the ladder for the kids to bypass the stairs to the second floor with would disappear if I had any say in it and having a gun overhead much less in earthquake country is unfathomably Darwinian (did they think the kids wouldn’t figure out that ladders can be moved?)

But should one ever want to put one’s head in a lion’s mouth (scroll halfway down to read where Amy did on a live one) there’s your chance.

I’m not even sure what one of those animals once was and I am so not into carcasses on the wall.

And yet if the power ever went out and the temps were decidedly unCalifornian, you could definitely stay warm.

But first you’d have to drag the ladder over to them.



Speed bump ahead
Tuesday October 12th 2021, 10:23 pm
Filed under: LYS,Politics

Twenty-six rows today, maybe a row shy of twenty-six inches. Serious progress.

Forgive me a bit of a rant, though.

Imagiknit‘s email saying “Your package has been shipped” also says, and this is new, that if the post office is still claiming they haven’t got it yet, which is in fact what they’re saying on mine, they do, check with them, ie, they’re just not updating in a timely manner. I read that as, please don’t make us pay for our employees’ time tracking it down because of the post office’s screwups. I also know how immediately Imagiknit gets their customers’ purchases out there.

Postmaster General DeJoy made it official policy to slow down packages as of Oct 1–I guess not entering them into the system means they’re trying to dodge customer blowback against that slowdown on their part.

I don’t know why he still has his job. I think he’d have to be fired for cause but there’s definitely cause: a whole lot of people, especially in rural areas, depend on timely mail for their meds. My problem is just yarn but still, I do want to start the branches on my tree and I’m almost out of the white for the background.

And of course this turned out to be the first week where my husband has had to drive in to work, and he no longer works where I can just drop him off. We had planned to buy a new car for the commute whenever it finally happened but this has definitely turned out not to be the year to be in the market for one.

So heading out to the nearest yarn store in desperation is not something I can do for a few days either. I’ve been sitting here with my knitting needles chasing that roadrunner as fast as I can go and I’m about to smack right into that wall.

I’m just going to have to wait. Ah, poor baby.



Castle
Monday October 11th 2021, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

Meantime, last week the afghan was all of 5.5″ long and I was glad that at least I’d started the thing. I wondered if I would finish it this year. Seriously.

Sitting working on it today the thought occurred to me that since that divine towel snap culminating in the heart monitor Friday, well, it’s 20″ now by roughly 52+” wide.

Remember how I said I ordered all that white and was going to wait for it to arrive? Not only was it not going to arrive today, it hadn’t even been picked up from the shop in San Francisco yet because of the Federal holiday.

So I picked up the two I had, one to each side of the trunk, and ran for it. Will the new match? It’s going to be what it’s going to be, I was not going to lose  days of working time over it. The new will coincide with the start of the green branches, and colors interact with each other and change our perception of them and I’m going to blame any differences on that, or actually, I’m not going to say a word. Any difference will make it match with how the piece changes from the ground up with the three different colorways there.

Forty-eight rows in two days at the easy part. About 225 of the hard part to go.

Meantime, my cousin and her husband bought the house next door to them. (Their daughter showed a before video on Facebook: some of the walls looked like high piles of random snowballs as you walked in, they were crumbling that badly.) But they had always loved that grand old home–my 90 year old mother grew up in that neighborhood, in a house that was not new when her folks bought it–and my cousin’s husband, a doctor, promised the old man living in the basement of his childhood home whom he had looked out for that they would take good care of it.

And wow, look at it now.

I did do a double take and laughed on seeing that wallpaper: I saw it photographed in a mid-century modern in Portland. Circa 1915 is a much better fit.



Eyeballing it
Sunday October 10th 2021, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

This is definitely one that needs a daylight photo. I’m wincing a bit at this one but it’s what I’ve got.

On the right, the redwood was growing into the fence and the roots had tunneled underneath towards our house maybe four feet away.

I had k3, *(yo ssk k1) doing the diagonal on the right with a knit 1 at the center and then (*k1 k2tog yo) doing a reverse of that diagonal on the left–which meant that when they met up at the center bottom where I did a double-decrease every other right side row three times, it was going to push the fabric upwards visually and physically a bit in that spot, pointing an arrow at the tree above. It was where the roots lifted our sidewalk. But that change of direction at the center also balanced the side edges climbing pointing upwards towards each other, and I wanted that.

With no boughs nor needles nor hawks nor squirrels nor fog the stump is just a bit bare so far. But man does it feel good to be making serious progress.



Aftobering
Saturday October 09th 2021, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

(I took a picture… Will add when it complies.)

I measured how many inches I’d gotten out of the skein I was just finishing up, counted what I had, considered same dye lots vs changing in the middle even when it’s undyed, took a deep breath, remembered Dad’s sweater where my mom ran out near the end when I was a kid, and ordered–

–a whole bag of natural Mecha for the coming background sky to be absolutely sure. Ten skeins, with a small prayer upward of, help me be able to finish this after all this, could you/would You? I’d be much obliged. You know I want to get this to Kat and I apologize for all the time I spent not working on this for Kat and letting the intensity of the project get the better of me but I’m definitely working on it now. For Kat.

Not to mention, but it would be so cool to finish this whole huge project for Aftober: my friend Afton’s tradition of taking something that’s been bugging you because it’s not finished and sitting down and finishing it before the end of this month.

Twenty-two days to knit fifty more inches of intarsia afghan because I like them long. The gauge is larger and the design less involved than the fish afghan that took me six months.

I’m nuts, but I’m going to try.

I reserve the right to knit a small squirrel separately afterwards in finer yarns and tack it on and still say I was done in time if I get to cast off on the blanket.

After all that worry that I’d somehow do it all wrong I really, really like how it’s starting to turn out.



Wearing shades
Friday October 08th 2021, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

Why peregrine falcon facial markings vary the way they do. Fascinating.

Meantime, the heart monitor is on and quietly doing its thing.



Holter here we come
Thursday October 07th 2021, 8:44 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

We’re still in summer drought mode here and there was no plant at the edge of the porch whatsoever, much less a weed. Two days after the workers sprayed all that water off the roof, there were two and I immediately ripped them right out.

And then took this picture just to show what weeds are like in California. From zero to this at the end of its second day from seed (or roots I’d previously missed.) The invasives are always the fastest, and they were already close to grabbing your socks with prickly, snaggy, stabby seeds.

A happier but far slower plant is the Anya apricot that surprised and revived. This was taken exactly one week after the first hint of green showed. I need to  keep it warm and growing all winter (hopefully!), since it lost most of the summer to shock.  

Meantime, I made it to nine-something of my usual twenty minutes’ exercise last night, sat down, recovered for half an hour, tried again, stopped at five, sat down, and finally did a few more to top it off because I’m stubborn like that.

Which is why they’re having me come in tomorrow to wear a heart monitor for two weeks. Having to answer to you all meant I had to answer to me meant I had to answer to the cardiologist, so I did, and thank you.

And you know? If you turn that weed up there sideways clockwise, it would kind of look like the blood vessels on a heart. Of a green Grinch.



62
Wednesday October 06th 2021, 8:46 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Lupus

It’s just costochondritis, I told myself. Michelle’s driving to her sister’s in a few hours and I cannot have her wake up in the morning to us being at the hospital over nothing. Inflammation of the lining of the heart sounds terrible but it almost never actually is. All it is is a familiar nuisance.

It’s just a little bit of food poisoning, I thought out loud, wanting to get out of bed and toss that leftover that only I had touched, but I wasn’t going anywhere right then and I knew it.

Awhile later: “Would you google ‘women heart attack symptoms’?”

Turns out I’m not the only one who doesn’t hear well in the dark in the bed at night half asleep, especially when someone’s not talking very loud.

I rolled over on my side and my ribs roared. A silent, Oh, so you *can* do real pain here, not just hints. I rolled back. See? Costochondritis. Had it a million times, you’re just out of practice because it’s been awhile. No real chest pains until you mess with the position of the ribs. Okay, so we can stop worrying about that one.

That sense of–tightness? I think I’d picture it more as my insides being pleated and the stitches pulled tight–I don’t think it had ever been quite like that though. I don’t remember being fitted for a corset. And you don’t get nausea with it–must be the Crohn’s joining in on the autoimmune party. I knew I’d done too much sun time. Right?

Richard asked if he should take me to the hospital and I said I don’t know. Okay, so he did catch on to the gist of it! Just knowing that helped a lot, and very slowly, gradually, a good three hours after it had started during my walking time before it all hit hard at once, it receded enough that I finally fell asleep.

And woke up feeling fine. I threw out that leftover. I forgot about it. Life was normal, just like I wanted it to be. To stay being. Because I said so.

It was 3:30 pm before I finally told myself to stop being stupid and messaged my cardiologist and the response was surprisingly quick and it was obvious and it was quite to the point: “If you have those symptoms again please go to the emergency room.”

The nurse managed not to add, You idiot!

It’s all the costochondritis fake-outs over the last thirty years that are going to trip me up in the end. But, like anticipating earthquakes, the big one is forever not today.

So far so good.

By way of explanation: after having been told from age 13 to age 31 that any of what turned out to be lupus symptoms were, essentially, all in my head, leaving me with a profound sense that I will not be believed by a doctor who doesn’t know me if I complain so I don’t, I now have official permission from one of their own to complain. “Because my cardiologist said so” is what will get me to show up at the ER next time.

I promise to go.

And now excuse me, I’m going to go do my fast-walk thing early so that it hopefully won’t be the middle of the freaking night should anything go wonky.

But maybe not quite as fast. I confess to being slightly spooked.



Happy Birthday, Anne!
Tuesday October 05th 2021, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

Early last year, I picked out a mug online from Mel and Kris Kunihiro and rather than having them bother with shipping it to me from Oregon I told them I’d pick it up at Stitches West, since we were going to see each other there shortly anyway.

That was the Stitches that I ended up missing because I had, as my doctor told me later, a clear-cut case of covid. (No tests at the time for blue states, as Californians well remember.) I could have turned that big knitters’ convention into a super spreader event all by myself had it been held a few days earlier, before I knew I was coming down so sick.

So. Anne admired and even owned some of Mel and Kris’s pottery and she volunteered to pick it up from them there and drop it off at my house. It meant a great deal to me that she was going so far out of her way to make life a lot easier for everybody.

And that’s what started it all. We’ve known each other for years as passing friends at the yarn store, but she set the stage for a far deeper connection than that.

All these many months where, like most of us, I saw only a very few people in real life at great intervals, it seemed like whenever I most needed it to save my sanity one of them, standing outside, masked and at a distance, was Anne, totally putting up with my deafness that the masks make worse. Popping by to say hi after fair warning to make sure I’d be there. (Like we were going anywhere. Like anyone was.)

Two? Three? years ago? Before we had any idea what was about to hit us all, she gave me a box of yarns that she wasn’t ever going to knit, no matter how pretty they were–and told me not to knit her a cowl or hat.

Totally on to me. Busted.

And yet…things change.

I’m both excited for her and more than a bit devastated for me that she and her husband are moving to Portland in, unfathomably, two weeks. I’ve been covering that up to myself by looking at houses, sending her links, going, Isn’t this one so cool! Or, Can you even/what were they thinking/can you believe nine bedrooms/2 baths seven fridges taking up what was left of what used to be a living room, extension cords everywhere, with a trapdoor in the closet to a gun safe/wine stash in the otherwise nonexistent basement. A frat house maybe?

When she commented on this cowl picture I posted a month ago I suddenly knew why I’d bought that color combination that was a bit too yellow for me. At the last Stitches I’d gone to, from the Yarn Truck parked inside at the edge of the convention center floor.

If only she’d let me.

So I asked.

And she admitted that she had been hoping that, before she leaves, I would knit her something.

She stopped by today. I pulled out a bag of finished projects: purple wool, blue baby alpaca, ecru cashmere, the finished wool cowl she’d admired, and one in a similar colorway but with more blues and almost no yellows.

She went straight for this one. Still her favorite. “I like the yellows,” holding it up under her chin for me so I could see for myself that she was right, that was the one. She asked me the yarn and I didn’t remember, so it’s a good thing I wrote it down while I still had the label at hand. Yarnloveyarn.com’s Magic Forest.

It had been for her from its beginning and had been waiting for the two of us to figure it out.



Things are looking up
Monday October 04th 2021, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

The roof job began today. They had to clean it to prepare the surface.

I told the guy who came to the door that I hadn’t been up there to sweep (most of it’s flat) since the time I fell off it. He did kind of a horrified laugh and was okay with my not.

I had been told to move any plant pots out of the way and tried but turns out there really was no out of the way, there was only less so, as the roof dripped like a hard rain while the spray billowed out over the yard. I did at least get my water-sensitive apricots out of range of most of it. It went on all day. I could not get a photo to really capture the effect, but during several bursts it went clear over the fence to the neighbor’s.

I just hoped they weren’t holding a family wake for Jim next door with those familiar cars there. It would, um, kind of put a damper on things.

But it wasn’t just power washing, there were scrapings and gougings and a lot of hard, loud work going on.

Having seen all my fruit trees, one guy mentioned mid-day that the years of collected leaves up there were really great for the garden; did I have a compost pile? Did I want this?

I knew full well that the company wouldn’t have to pay for the time or space to remove them if I said yes and I still said yes because his enthusiasm for the possibilities of how good this stuff was got to me. So now I have bags of almost-composted stuff, all nicely bagged and piled up by the pear tree, where it most could use it. I just didn’t expect to have quite so many–wait. Yes. I kind of did. Anyway, there are a lot. I’m hoping I can transmit some of that enthusiasm to fellow gardeners out there. Have a bag. No, no, I insist.

It sounded sort of like a dentist’s drill up there.

The actual new roof will begin in two weeks and take two weeks to get done along with the wood replacement, if their schedule holds to what they told me.

One of the things the building contractor will be doing at the same time is replacing all the skylights and the wood they’re sitting on–which is really good, because the one in the big bathroom now has a crack going around the edge on three sides that was not there last night. Had it made it to the fourth it would have fallen through to the floor.

I can’t hope for no rain, I just can’t, but next to the tub is really not a kosher way of taking a shower, not even on a drip system.

We’re getting there.

Two of them were cleaning up the debris on the edge of the back patio at the end and I opened the slider and said, I don’t need to water my tomatoes today.

They turned, saw where those were, and laughed, No. You don’t.