Bead it
Wednesday December 07th 2022, 11:27 pm
Filed under: Life

A few years ago a friend was telling me that knitting with beads is easy, and showed me how before she moved away.

But so many details I didn’t know to ask about. What is an 8/0 vs an 11/0 and does it matter and is the bigger number the smaller bead or the opposite, and where did those numbers come from anyway and why are they fractions. And if you’re just stringing them, what kind of thread should you use?

Questions I learned when an online yarn store was selling out their beads and I thought, hey, those must work with yarn because it’s a yarn store selling them, right? And I bought a bunch of pretty colors. Plus some sparkly white to be, y’know, practical and all that.

And there they have sat.

I found a simple beaded scarf pattern from someone who appeared to be American and it seemed like you wouldn’t need to buy a beading loom for it, so that was good–till I read a scathing review saying the pattern had been lifted from someone else’s video.

Now whether she’s right about that or not I don’t know; it seems to me that that simple a mesh would be like designing feather and fan–it’s easy, it’s been passed on forever, I’ve known people who claim they don’t know how to do lace, just feather and fan.…a lace pattern, but never mind.

So maybe it’s like that.

But whatever, I followed her link because a video is always going to show you more anyway. (I’d skip the first four minutes or so.)

I’m guessing it’s in Russian. It might be Ukrainian but I think that’s hoping for too much. There are English captions as best as the machine could do.

I still don’t know how to pick the right synthetic thread and size needle to make such a thing, and I’m willing to buy a pattern, hopefully from a Ukrainian.

After the holidays are over I just might try after all out of curiosity.

But even so I’ll be buying from Ukrainians. They need the help and the work and I love what they create. (Yeah, I do–I need to knit that. Gorgeous.)

The runoff
Tuesday December 06th 2022, 10:55 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

A diagnosed, demonstrably mentally ill man who has put a gun to both his ex’s head and his own?

Or the thoughtful, compassionate, accomplished successor to Martin Luther King, Jr?

I’m not sure why it was even a question. But thank you Georgia for doing right by all of us today. It feels like they’ve got the best of Sam Nunn back.

Holiday music?
Monday December 05th 2022, 10:59 pm
Filed under: Family,Music

My cousin Jim, who does a mean Mick Jagger impression with his guitar, was gigglesnorting over this so I had to give it a listen.

Yonder deafened musician over here can still get the notes (or the gist of them at least) but the lyrics are lost to me. So I watch. The lady in the silver dress caught herself almost in time as she was cracking up while the guy next to her sang; the lady in the turquoise is totally hamming it up and she’s having a great time. Notice how she’s leaning away from the guy next to her so her long red hair doesn’t thwap him in her enthusiasm.

Back to the start of the video–there it is, briefly: ‘George Michael, “Last Christmas”‘? Okay, not familiar with that but let’s see if that’s actually the yuletime carol they’re singing like it is but their faces are saying it isn’t. (Googles the lyrics.)

Oh my.

Doesn’t that just break your heart. (No.)

Well then.

Carry on.

That is NOT how you do it
Sunday December 04th 2022, 10:06 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Even if they’re grown only an hour away from here and we get them absolutely fresh, raspberries are like fish–you don’t wait all week to use them up, and we had a lot and I was bored with muffins so I decided to make a clafoutis. Then I decided to substitute the flour with almond flour just because I’d never tried that before. Maybe I wasn’t as bored with almond raspberry muffins as I thought I was. Whatever.

After putting it in the oven, I scraped the last tiny bit of batter onto a plate and stuck the last raspberry in the center and nuked it so I could at least get some idea of what I’d just done.

It’s what happened next that threw me so hard that I didn’t react as immediately as I should have to stop it.

I took it out of the microwave when its countdown was over…wondering what that sound was.

The thing was still going. With the door wide open. Deaf that I am, I put my hand on top of it to make sure I was feeling what I was hearing so I really was hearing it.

And still, that door was open. And I was standing right there. What?!

I reached towards it and hit the stop bottom. It kept going. NO! I stepped around it and unplugged it, kicking myself that it had taken me about seven or eight seconds to believe what was happening and to react rationally–who cares about the off button, make it be off!

I don’t seem to be cooked. (checks self again)

You need to test it, said hubby helpfully.

Yeah no babe. Uh. Uh. (like, are you crazy? why are you even saying that? i guess scientists gotta science)

But then I offered him cold leftover clam chowder and we both went no in unison to that idea, and I was in actual fact curious, so I did: I put it in the microwave. I closed the door. I plugged it in. I turned it on and stepped as far back as I could where I could still see the panel ticking off the seconds.

And it turned off at the end as one would have every perfect right to expect it to. Everything seemed peachy fine. I unplugged it, took out the chowder, handed him his, nice and warm, considered tomorrow morning’s hot cocoa and how much I hate standing still stirring at the stove while my blood pressure steadily goes down (80/40 before morning meds is where my normal starts)–and knew that if nothing else I will never leave that thing plugged in and unattended again.

I think we need a new microwave. (understatement alert)

Panasonic is OUT. Anybody got a recommendation?

Good graph Charlie Brown
Saturday December 03rd 2022, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Life

If you ever want a quick visual of how California’s water is doing, see this chart of major reservoirs posted by the state. Scroll over a description and a blue dot pops up on the map to show you where that one is.

It’s been record-breaking cold these past few days and it’s been raining (we actually almost had snow–wait. It could be we even did, but gone by the time we woke up) and those bars are improving. Which shows you just how bad it had gotten.

It took me a moment, as I peeled the first layer of the frost covers off the mango tree yesterday morning, to be sure it was the ice breaking on top as I pulled and not the tree ripping leaves off along the way. They weren’t even in direct contact. Right. It’s the ice.


But not complaining. Water!

The bus driver
Friday December 02nd 2022, 10:56 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

Monday, the wheelchair pusher absolutely deserved a handknit hat and it didn’t even occur to me till a moment too late. They were in the rollaboard anyway–oh wait.

The crowd was closing in behind me.

Climbing up into the bus to return to the car rental (every bag present and accounted for this time), there was a snowstorm on its way in and it was even colder than the week before.

The driver’s head was bare. Not even a ‘fro for warmth, just that last close-cropped bit left behind his ears. He was 55-ish.

I stopped at the top of the steps and looked in his eyes and asked him with the intensity of a grandma, Are you cold?

He was surprised.

I whipped the deep green Mecha beanie right off my head, my hair going all electric socket: “I have another hat in my purse.”

The warmest smile entirely took over his deep brown face. The words were a simple, “I’m okay, thanks,” but spoken in what felt like a magical moment of deep appreciation both ways:

You are seen. You matter to me. Take good care of yourself. Go have a wonderful, wonderful life and maybe we’ll even meet again.

A little discombobulated
Thursday December 01st 2022, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Family

Mathias made me a necklace. It was somewhat short (not a choker though) and it was a string of letters and metal squares and silvery beads and quite charming, I mean, isn’t that just the most perfect Grammy present?

I rolled the letter beads around and around, trying to figure out which ones were intended to face outwards; what did it say?

A quiet aside and I got it: he’d picked the letters that looked the prettiest. (He’s in kindergarten and apparently has some favorites, which I assume means all the ones in his name.)

His auntie did the clasp in back for me and I wore it proudly the rest of the day.

Come our bedtime, I asked her if she could undo that for me.

She did–and standing in her sister’s kitchen with us trying to be very quiet and not wake up the kids, the thing gave way and all those metal beads and plastic beads went clattering and bouncing and scattering across the tile floor and–all his happy anticipation and work! Oh no!

Oh that’s just how those are, my son-in-law told me later; Sam has a whole big kit of those for the kids to play with and when you take them off they do that.

I guess you have to carefully hold both sides once you open the clasp. It needs an end ring bigger than the beads’ openings. Which apparently is in the kit, but, oops.

My random loose beads and chain came home snapped into a hearing aid container, ready for me to find the prettiest order to put them back together in. I want him to see me wearing it next time we videochat.

I hope he doesn’t mind or notice that the order will be all mixed up. I’ll try to make it look pretty.

A few details
Wednesday November 30th 2022, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Re yesterday’s post: I have long had a piece of paper with my contact information inside that rollaboard, but when I was packing I noticed it had gone missing. I was going to go write up a new one in just a moment after I finished this…and then I forgot.

Now one is zipped inside the meshed-bag compartment where it won’t fall out.

Re the big magnetic-snap (if only it had a zipper!) tote bag with knitted cables embossed into the heavy leather, my adored Charlotte Ronson that was the most me purse I’ve ever had: but aging gets to everything eventually.

I took it to the shoe and luggage repair guy, who exclaimed over how nice that leather was. He did what he could to rehab it for me; I used it awhile longer but it was just no longer church-on-Sunday-able, and I’m not one who switches back and forth between purses for fear of forever grabbing the wrong one. It is in emeritus status. I would keenly love to get another, to the point of requesting a local leather worker if he might consider embossing one of his like that for me even though I am far from a designer handbag type person, but I got nowhere.

So that’s the answer to those questions.

Meantime, our kids who flew in Wednesday afternoon flew back out Friday morning. Saturday, a very tired three-year-old Lillian was told by her mom that it was time to take a nap but she refused, turning to look at us accusingly: “If I do you’ll disappear!”

No, no, honey. We will still be here when you wake up. For a few more days; we’re not leaving till Monday.

We kept both those promises, and I’m missing all of them very much right now, but at least she and her five-year-old brother got to hug and wave us goodbye.

And I’m left thinking about dumb things like purses and suitcases to distract myself.

The noisy life is more fun.

At the beginning and the ending
Tuesday November 29th 2022, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Walking in airports with all their movement and visual overstimulation is a seizure getting ready to pounce–I can do them sitting, it’s the long walk in that environment that overloads.

So, as usual, I was doing the wheelchair thing. SeaTac is a big airport and I was just as happy to have my carryon tucked under the seat and give my back a break, too. Big plus: those guys know their way around the place, which seems permanently under construction, and we sure don’t. The chair pusher who stepped forward said a few last words with three others standing waiting and I got the impression it hadn’t been the best day for him but he waved it away with yeah, it’s okay, it’s okay.

And off we went.

There was a bit of a scrum as what seemed like our entire planeload tried to all get on the same bus at once to take us to the car rental building, and my balance skittered like water flicked into a hot pan of oil–both Richard and the chair pusher urged me to get ON when some instinct told me to turn around to make sure they… But the chair guy was afraid I would fall and was focused on making sure I was okay.

We were the last ones off the bus because Richard was still looking for my rollaboard. You know, the one with the hats I’d knitted, my extra yarn and needles, and the cashmere sweater jacket I’d bought twins of so that I could match my mom when Soft Surroundings had a super-duper-duper sale (2 cashmeres/$50 for a few hours.)

It was gone.

The bus driver, bless him, parked right there and spent an hour on the phone with Southwest and airport people trying to track it down for us. Turns out Southwest has contracts with multiple wheelchair pusher companies and they didn’t know which one it was.

Whoever he was, that driver was a saint and a rescuer and I am profoundly grateful. But no luck.

I’d taken it onboard specifically so I’d have it with me and not risk losing it. Oh, and did I mention where I’d packed my ileostomy supplies? You cannot just walk into a drug store and buy that type of bag. At all. It’s a three-part system that you change every third day and the bag part is for a single day.

Richard said, But you always keep one in your purse against emergencies, right?

(Dude, I haven’t done that since I downsized to a smaller purse two years ago. Didn’t even think of it or I would have.)

I had nothing. Nothing but the acute awareness that a badly manufactured batch had, since October, left me with eight failures in eighteen days after years without problems.

We finally and profusely thanked the bus driver (did I mention it was 39F and we were freezing?) and sent him on his way. Were we going to go back to the terminal with our rental car to try to see if it was in lost and found yet? We were not, because we already knew that as far as the driver could tell it was not, and it was already past the time our kids (much less the grandkids) go to bed at that point and we had a goodly drive ahead of us.

Our younger two kids flew in the next afternoon, apprised of the situation. Michelle offered to dash last minute to our house two cities away in the wrong direction to grab more supplies, but first I called Southwest and they referred me over to Lost and Found.

I described everything in my small suitcase that had no name tag because we hadn’t thought it would need it and they sounded like they were waiting, waiting for it–and pounced when I said, And ileostomy/colostomy bags. That was IT! Yes! They had it! We could come and pick it up anytime!

I gave them our daughter’s name. Our son got there before she did even though her flight was supposed to land first but whatever, and as soon as he walked in there with the right name and the right info about the contents and the situation and the sister’s name and my phone number that all matched, they handed it right over.

And everything was right there inside it as it should be. Even the single-serving beef jerky airport snacks.


Last night, a week later, we were again flying at night, y’know, the cheap, direct-flight seats. We showed up at the Southwest counter and Richard asked for a wheelchair for his wife, as it says on my ticket.

This time there was just the one wheelchair pusher nearby–and it was our guy again! The immigrant from Africa with the scars on his face that made you want to ask oh goodness what did they do to you before you managed to escape from–? But who would ever want to make him feel like that part’s all that people see.

Because what I saw was a good and honest man. I got to see him instantly taking in the fact that not only was it us, we had the rollaboard! We’d gotten it back, after all his worries, he’d succeeded! He was so, so happy, and I thought, by the grace of G_d for both of us, you got to see that we came out okay and we got to see how much that meant to you. What a treasure to have met.

He about danced and the cheerful smile on his face as we went back across SeaTac going the other way this time was something I will never forget.

A grand visit
Tuesday November 29th 2022, 1:01 am
Filed under: Family

Just walked in the door. Had a fantastic visit. Dodged tomorrow’s snow storm there. More later.

They that have ears to hear
Monday November 21st 2022, 8:33 pm
Filed under: Life

I wouldn’t have wanted to say I was desperate nor to have admitted it to myself, for that matter.

They had me come in an hour after I called this morning, which was wonderful.

The tech asked me what the problem was? I told her that Saturday the right hearing aid was simply dead. Entirely. I’d tried switching batteries between the two and that clearly wasn’t the problem.

She had me hand her both–cleaning them was a good idea as long as I was there–and then she, from behind her mask, asked me a few more questions.

I explained that without my hearing aids I’d once been oblivious to a fire alarm going off; could I step back several paces and have her lower her mask so I could lipread?

She did, and we did our best from there. She went off to a room that away and I sat down to knit. When she came back, she showed me what had happened: the connecter piece between ear and hearing aid was broken. It was under warranty. They could send it in, no charge.

I’m seeing my grandkids tomorrow, I told her, and I so want to be able to hear the little ones.

I’d never seen her before, I don’t know if she was from the other office covering someone’s holiday-week hours or what, but she had just seen just how deaf I am.

Hang on a second.

She conferred with the other tech. She called someone, apparently her boss, and then she disappeared in the back.

They did, they had one in stock on hand for that brand and model of that hearing aid and she fixed it. No charge, happy Thanksgiving!

I managed not to burst into tears as I gave her my heartfelt, Thank you!

It’s pie time
Sunday November 20th 2022, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends

Knitter friends meeting by Zoom. Here on the other coast, I hadn’t had dinner yet.

Pumpkin pie? We were talking desserts, mostly chocolate, mostly chocolate cream pie, and man did I want to run go start baking.

Finally someone grinned, “My aching hips” and we all cracked up.

(Afghan: finished the ninth repeat. Six more to go.)

The fencing match
Saturday November 19th 2022, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Friends

To my neighbor’s chagrin, but I said no, no, it was funny.

I had my phone in my hand about to–I totally forget what because just then I saw movement out the window: the large dog from next door was sniffing the mango tree. He really wants to know more about whatever hides under that mango tree; the few times he’s gotten out of his yard he’s gone straight for it. It’s such a shame I planted it where I can see it.

I walked outside and the dog’s expression was a horrified, Busted!

He ran. But only to where he’d be just out of my sight. All! The! Smells! to be explored!

I was coming around the corner.

He ran. He stopped and turned. Nope, I was still coming.

At last he gave it up as a lost cause and ducked through the hole I now saw made by the wooden temporary panel angled just precisely so, and it shook and shimmied a moment after while I stood there wondering how that big dog got through that small a space.

And here’s the funny part. I’ve never had a dog and I could be wrong but so help me he clearly wanted me to get the blame for his shenanigans so he started barking at the intruder.

Which had been him.

But never mind that part, territories must be defended and so he barked some more till he’d convinced himself he’d done his job and kept me out. Or something.

Hours later it still makes me giggle.

We really do need to get those six feet replaced the right way once and for all.

Pile on
Friday November 18th 2022, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Life

The nights have been mid-30s this week.

Which is why a box was dropped at our door this morning: a snatch-proof ten foot plush blanket. Watch out, the ombre dye job in the comments is real–but I’m okay with that. Let the warm and cozy begin!

Almost halfway
Thursday November 17th 2022, 9:14 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

This was one and a half repeats last Friday.

I just broke out the icepacks again.