My Broadcast News "Debut" ;-)

I usually put up a photo for eye-candy Friday. So don’t get me wrong. I would never imply that I’m eye candy! But I was on the news regarding a VERY important issue…

NOTE: I DO wish that…
A) I’d had a chance to dress appropriately, put on make-up, and prepare myself
B) The camera angles were a little more flattering (that’s my “bad side,” where I have a small birthmark)

BUT, from an advocacy perspective–which is the real point of all this–Tom Fitzgerald’s report got the message out! I feel so stongly about this topic, because people get sick or die from these mistakes quite often.

Click here to see me on last night’s news :-)

Have a safe and happy weekend!

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Nostalgic

Wow. I just read a knitting blog that brought tears to my eyes. So beautiful, well written, tender, nostalgic, and just a touch bittersweet. It was titled “I want to be like my grandmother,” and you can find it here.

When you read something that touches you and evokes an emotional or physical reaction like that, you know it came straight from the writer’s own heart. That’s something many writers don’t know–it’s not taught in school: If you don’t feel the sensations when you’re writing, your readers won’t feel them, either. That includes humor, fear, and soul-swelling love.

My grandparents were also very special. While I didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked with my paternal grandma and grandpa, who lived in Portland, OR, I did grow up in the tender care of my maternal grandparents (who lived in Burlingame, CA, and later in Half Moon Bay, CA). In fact, when I was 16, I moved out on my own. It didn’t go too well for me in Marin Co., so I went to Half Moon Bay and lived with Grandma and Grandpa for a few years.

The times I spent with them in Half Moon Bay–as a child, and later as a young adult–were among the happiest of my life. Of course, I have many wonderful memories of my mom, sister, stepfather, and stepbrothers. But there IS something special about that grandparent-grandchild relationship that can’t be denied or defined. I think my mom is feeling that difference right now, with my sister’s son, Ethan. His relationship with “Birdie Grandma” is very special.

Add to that the freedom I enjoyed in Half Moon Bay, which–in the 1970s and early 80s–was virtually unspoiled…just a sleepy little farming community. That’s all different now, though. I’m really not sure I ever want to go back.

I’d prefer to remember it as it was, when grandpa and I would head over to Thrifty Drugs for an evening ice cream cone (15 cents!). Or when grandma and I would wander around main street, exploring the feed store’s magical inventory of clothing, seeds, and small animals.

These memories aren’t sad, but they are a bit melancholy. Grandpa died in October 1989, shortly after he and grandma moved back to the Black Hills, in SD, where their families had settled in the 19th Century.

Grandma was diagnosed with dementia a few years later and lived in nursing homes until her death in 2002. And I felt her passing. Just after 8 p.m. one evening I was struck by a surge of dizziness and collapsed…My mother called me a short while later to tell me grandma was gone. She’d died at that exact moment.

Every day I think of them, every day I miss them. But they’re in my heart, and I know we’ll always be together.

Bohemian Mama: A Scarf for Bonnie

My mom is an artist. I don’t mean she dabbles in watercolors or quilting…She’s never dabbled in her life! She’s also quite Bohemian…but not BoBo (Bourgeois Bohemian). We’ve never had enough money to merit THAT unfortunate title, thank God. Nope. Just honest to goodness, old-fashioned Bohemian. She’s also beautiful. See?(Bonnie and Hannah at Cafe Italia, May 2006)

When I was a little girl, she used to play the piano and the flute; she’d studied music and voice at Eastman School of Music, and played beautifully. My favorite was Moonlight Sonata. She’d sometimes play it downstairs after my sister and I went to bed…To this day, that haunting melody takes be back to the little townhouse the three of us shared in Hillsdale, Ca.

Around the same time, she was also producing a LOT of paintings. Her canvases could be found around the house in varying states of completion and dryness…I can still see, in my mind, a rather abstract painting of a tree, layers of dark and light paint spread like frosting, sitting on the kitchen counter with its top leaning against the cabinets. That particular work hung in my grandparents’ home until they passed away.

About 15 years ago (or more!) she started working with clay. It didn’t take long for pots to turn into sculptures. Winning aclaim from all who saw them, her gorgeous sculptures simply “fly off the shelves” whenever they’re exhibited. Now she’s working on a commission for the museum store at the Crocker Art Gallery in Sacramento.

Meanwhile, in her spare time (ha!) she writes poetry, which has appeared in several journals over the past couple of years. Most recently, her wonderful poem “To a Daughter” appeared in Manzanita: Poetry & Prose of the Mother Lode and Sierra (2006, Vol. 5). She said I was her muse–and I immediately knew the moment she had in mind :-) Its notoriously difficult to gain acceptance to Manzanita. But then again, my mom’s an ARTIST. Did I mention that?

So when she mentioned a friend’s Himalayan recycled silk scarf right before the holidays, I immediately decided to create something for her with the wonderfully soft skeins (from http://www.kpixie.com) in my stash. The rich, dark colors glow quietly, sparked here and there with a painterly dash of bright sari pink, yellow, or turquoise. Perfect for my mom. And an idea for a pattern (of sorts) blossomed in my mind…
After casting on three stitches–I used Brittany birch straight US#7 needles–I worked in garter stitch, increasing until I had about 18 stitches total. The body of the scarf is corrugated in random stripes of stockinette and reverse stockinette stitch. I like the rough texture in the glossy silk, and it has the added benefit of not rolling up into a tube. At the other end, I decreased back down to three stitches, and for the grand finale I added the tassels. (Not a great photo, but I like the way it shows the texture.)

The tassels worried me a bit, because they happened to sit on my chest like a stripper’s pasties–you know, those little nipple tasssels? But I’m taller, broader, and much bustier than my mother. She’s tiny, like her mother was, and NOT “chesty.” In fact, sometimes when my shoulders and upper back ache, I yearn to be built like her. Alas.

So I wrapped the scarf and shipped it out to her in January. She loved it, and wore it to the Art Museum the next day to show it off–she IS a mom, after all! Thankfully she didn’t have tassels at boob level…they were just right.

Though, knowing my mom, I’m sure there must have been at least a LITTLE tassel twirling at some point during the day. There certainly was when I tried it on! Could any decent bohemian artist-woman resist?

Pink

I’m not particularly girlish (and despise the word “girly”). But I’ve always loved pink. My favorite is the tender pink of ballet slippers. I can still smell the leather and remember the simple pleasure of sitting in the dusty dressing room with my friends, sewing the straps on our new shoes before practice…
Then there’s the yummy rose pink my grandmother always called “Bon Bon.” And I love pink that’s so pale it’s almost white…like early spring blossoms. Not keen on “hot pink,” though. I prefer subtlety and complex tones to vivid brights.

So is it any wonder that I chose a lovely salmon-rose (very close to Bon Bon pink!) for these sweet little slipper-socks?
They’re a gift for my sister, who’s been dealing with a particularly painful problem since December.

Feeling helpless because I live 3,000 miles away, I felt compelled to send her a knitted hug–something warm, pretty, and cozy. Here’s what I decided on:

Twisted Slipper Socks
(my own design)
Yarn: 2 balls Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran (color 602)
Needles: Addi Turbo 32″ US#4 Circulars (magic loop method)

I really love these socks, and hope my sister does, too. They’ll hug her feet with soft pink tenderness and warmth when I’m not there to give her a real hug.

PS. I love this photo, and have no idea where I got it. If you know the photographer, please let me know. I don’t like to use anyone’s work without permission!