Strange Happenings

If one waits long enough to write a post the chances increase there might be some worthwhile news.

Becoming grandparents is such news. Only a daughter can blow your mind like this. For ages it has been: we’ll adopt or foster if we want children. Then the clock got louder and louder. And now it’s a boy.

For the first time I wish I was younger. At 70 the countdown has begun. Yes, this year I reached the 70 mark. Stephen has been so welcoming to me, probably relieved not to be alone anymore.

The other good news is that after a year of knitting hiatus, I finally regained the use of my arthritic hand. Torture I tell you, seeing patterns and having ideas and not being able to act on them. I didn’t give up and kept on moving and playing with my hands. Then it happened in the nick of time.

Though I swore never to buy more yarn, what was the first thing I did when I heard about the baby? Yes, it’s true, I bought yarn. There was a blanket that has always intrigued me, a crochet blanket at that. Does that mean that not just 70 defines me as a grandma but crocheting a blanket adds to that? But have a look, it’s beautiful, even the unfinished version.

And that wasn’t the last order. There was also this sweater I had my eyes on for years. Since I hardly have any washable or thicker than fingering yarn I also indulged myself and am almost halfway done.

Everything looks so cute all of a sudden, I ordered more yarn for a knit blanket. No photos yet since the yarn didn’t even arrive yet.

A few months ago we had to say good bye to Arnold. A devastating and sad decision, but he told us it’s time. We are mourning him and he’s included in our dance parties at night living in his little box now. This is one of his last photos on the morning of. Every once in a while I’m overcome and I shout his name real loud: ARNOLD!!!

I still get knots in my throat and want to burst out crying, hardly able to swallow. The hole he left behind is huge. I still hear his nails on the wood flooring. I still walk around areas his bed used to be. I still look to the back seat of the car which was his spot. I would have given him the rest of my life. Showered him with attention and love and pets.

I would like to talk about another strange new development, hoping it’s not dementia and that others perhaps share this. I’m a voracious reader lately. Just finished 2 books in 3 days. Of course that means I’m really into the book and want to keep on reading through the night. But there is a thing like sleep that most of us need. I start drifting while reading in bed. That doesn’t mean I stop reading, I just stop reading the book, and instead start reading or thinking I am reading what I think about or how I imagine the story goes on. It’s never more than a sentence or two. It’s like nodding off, but continuing with the activity, but making it up.

I’m not going to talk about the books I read because they’re controversial books, but damn good stories. Our library didn’t have the books so I searched online with Link+ that allows one to order books from other libraries. And to my amazement I found the books in the original language: German.

The libraries deserve every penny we can spare and give to them. They have taken me to so many places and distracted me so many times when needed and always give me inspiration. Like internet in print form. A reversal, I know.

Everyone is trying to stay cool right now. And we’re very successful at it, or rather the house is with a little help from Stephen. Facing south, we have a bunch of trees out front, a good thing most times unless we would want solar, then not so good. Unfortunately 2 of the trees will be cut this month because they died. Let’s hope it will not increase the inside temperature. Stephen makes sure to open windows as soon as the outside temps are lower than inside and goes around in the mornings closing everything again.

Fires seem everywhere right now. Toby just got back from Colorado and has his mandatory days off. But i’m pretty sure that can’t last long. Fingers crossed this fire season.

Books! Books! Books!

There was a time in my life, a very long time actually, where I defined myself through my books. “I am what I read” could have been my motto. And I certainly looked at and sometimes judged others by their books.

You know what that leads to? Yes, being a book hoarder. My dream had always been a wall of books, and I certainly accomplished that.

It all started in my teens. During my adventures I ended up with a way older guy (at least mid-late 20s!), and somehow we ended up at the apartment of an even way older woman (late 30s?). It would take more than hypnosis for me to remember all the circumstances. But here we are in this woman’s apartment in Heidelberg, admiring her wall of books while she’s getting us some tea.

Admiring her collection, my friend says, “And I bet she’s read all of them.” To which I agreed and internalized that one day I would be that person. People would exclaim at my collection of books and admire me for them, because surely I’ve read them all.

Reality is not quite that glorious. Yes, we have a wall of books, and I’ve read most of them — and many more from the library and other sources. But the feeling I hoped to achieve never materialized. Add to that, having a wall of books I might have read but am in no mood to read again.

So here we are with all our treasures. I have switched to reading on my iPad, because I can do so at night without a reading light disturbing anyone. And no heavy books that drop on my face because I’m about to doze off, though an iPad in your face is not a minor incident either.

I remember the first book I ever read on the iPad: last volume in the Game of Thrones series. It was a library hardback and so, so heavy and awkward to hold and read in bed. Fed up after the third time it fell on my face (a good thing I wear glasses to read), I went online, downloaded it, and continued reading through the night.

I was fortunate to have so much leisure-reading time in my life, compared to Stephen who spent his legal career reading transcripts, briefs, and court opinions. He has a lot of catching up to do. Hence, we keep many books, but not all.

We meticulously sift through our collection — daring not to fondle them too long or read the back covers. We ask each other’s opinions and get in a dialogue about each book. And then, the inevitable: the book goes back to the shelves.

Interestingly, some books had actually made it all the way out front to a yard sale years ago but found no takers, and now we lay claim on them again as ours. How does that happen; are there prodigal books?

We don’t have one of those little libraries where you can take books or drop some off, but in front of our house are several boxes of books: help yourself. Until it rains or I change my mind; then they’ll go to the library.


It seems I take over every room in the house. It’s surprising Stephen has his own space without anything of mine invading it.

Of course the living room is ideal, with the television close by. And for Arnold to be able to sit next to me. Though Arnold the dog prefers the floor in the daytime and the couch only at nights.

It’s where my started socks live for movie streaming and whatever I currently work on if I feel Arnold needs me a bit closer.

Because Arnold is tired of me sitting at the dining room table and I’m tired of bending down and petting him there.

This is also were my computer lives with all the patterns on it. Often I will sit there and knit from a pattern. It’s comfortable most of the day, until the sun hits my knitting spot. It’s also close to the kitchen, so I can cook at the same time. Of course it’s also too close to all our food, and I could constantly eat.

Next is my downstairs craft room. The table is a bit small. I love the ambience. But often projects go into time-out there. It’s the easiest room to ignore and walk right on by.

And then there is my upstairs room, dedicated to sewing. And to yarn storage. I use it almost like a yarn shop. If I need a particular yarn, I go upstairs and start a search, often to come down with a basket or armload of yarns.

Every few days I have to return yarn again because it ended up downstairs all over the house. And then it starts anew.

I’m not complaining but celebrating the many options I have. How lucky to be so privileged. If only there was a good way to share it all.

I finished the Holey Moley. It makes me super happy. Right now it lives upstairs with Stephen, doing an apprenticeship as a lawyer. And it better learn fast, because retirement is approaching rapidly.

The rabbit is still without a face, but it doesn’t bother me anymore, especially now that it’s dressed. Eventually….

This morning I read an article about the Pine Ridge Reservation. It’s the poorest reservation in the country. I know that and always wish I could contribute. That’s often the problem, the heart bleeds, but doesn’t know how to stop it.

We once were part of The Box Project. It was not easy. If the match is not a good one, it becomes difficult to establish a connection. They also started to charge a membership fee if you wanted to sponsor a family. We were not rich at the time and could not afford both back then: membership and sponsoring a family.

But I wish something like this would exist for Pine Ridge Reservation. I know that knitting groups have drives here and there. But so far I have not found a match for us.

Everyone Wins

Since I haven’t stopped making dishcloths, there are enough for the four of you who are interested. That would be Kate, Debra, Cereza, and Mardi.

Let me know if you want a particular one. If I still have that one, it’ll be yours. Pick up is at our house and I’ll put a bag with your name containing the dishcloths out front on the round table. I don’t feel well enough for visits, even short ones. My health has been shitty and I’m glad when I survive the day.

Pickup is any time, any day. Here are the choices again (for now):

Dishcloth Challenge

Years ago I started making our own dishcloths and never looked back. Our colorful drawer of them brings a smile every time. And Stephen, our main dishwasher, loves them and wouldn’t dream of using anything else.

But we have a supply that will probably outlive us. So no temptation to make more. Except, now I still have all the cotton yarn I would only use for dishcloths. Perhaps woven kitchen towels, but I haven’t tried yet.

So when I saw this dishcloth challenge, I am sure they don’t look at it as a challenge, I couldn’t resist. Every year people start spinning while watching the Tour de France. But I have absolutely no interest in this sport. Though I do love spinning. But dishcloths? Bring it on. And I can stream anything I fancy? Like I said: Bring it on.

Stephen immediately exclaimed: But we don’t need more dishcloths. No problem I said, I’ll give them away. It wasn’t going to be so straightforward: after I made a few, he fell in love and I had him pick two for himself. He chose well.

Stephen’s new dishcloths

As promised, I have more dishcloths to give away, 6 of them. They have seen tons of murders, as that’s what I was streaming. A reminder, these are not potholders, but dishcloths. After a previous giveaway, someone eventually mentioned to me that they’re pretty thin and I had to remind them: dishcloths, not potholders. I understand, because how many people actually have dishcloths?

I’ll give away three sets of two. They are free, and you can pick them up in person. Or if you need me to ship them, I’m asking you cover shipping costs.

So how can you get your hands on them? Make a comment to this post, telling me what you use to wash dishes. No, dishwasher doesn’t count.

I’ll admit, I use sponges with a coarse side for scrubbing. Still, I hope there will be enough interest in them. And let me know which ones speak to you, though no promises.

P.S. They are machine washable, though fade with time, almost antique looking.


I have to accept it. There is no hope for me. I’m a loose knitter.

When I first learned to knit, in elementary school, I knit so tightly I could hardly insert the needle into my stitches. Apparently I finally compensated without learning any lessons.

As most knitters know, but somehow I’m starting to doubt I know this one, if you knit loosely, no problem, just use a smaller needle. I should have this down.

Instead, as I embark on this new adventure called stuffed animals, this lesson went out the window, not to be seen again until I’m assembling my mouse.

Loose knitting is good for drape, but not for a stuffed animal. It’s not supposed to drape and play dead, but be able to stand and do other tricks.

When I bought the Knitted Animal Friends: Over 40 knitting patterns for adorable animal dolls, their clothes and accessories it felt like a new beginning, like using a new notebook, remember that feeling (if you had it)?

I opened the first pages and studied techniques, yarn types, patterns, colors…. immediately decided on an easy first animal pattern to see the pitfalls I would be experiencing and to get practical information empirically.

Wanting to do this right, I even ordered the suggested yarns and needles. As usual, I don’t have what is used in the book. Even the needle size was one I didn’t have, though I find this hard to believe. It’s probably hiding on some project I started and didn’t finish yet.

I should have known, but I didn’t, as I happily knitted all the body parts that make up a cute mouse. The head, the body, the legs, the arms, the tail. Ok, I found the tail a bit long, but it’s a mouse and they have long tails, right?

Once finished, I washed all the pieces. And in the meantime made some pants and started on a cardigan. Wow, those pants were huge, but I would love a bigger stuffed animal instead of a tiny one. I should have known, but didn’t.

Today, after a palate cleanser of a littler rabbit yesterday and while waiting for the mouse pieces to dry, the mouse was going to be assembled. And this is where I couldn’t deny my loose knitting anymore. I should have known, but I didn’t.

The body seemed a bit big, but I remembered the big pants and thought: ok?!

Next came the legs. I like some pretty long legs, but this was getting ridiculous. This mouse is not going into modeling legs. And this is where I take a break and reassemble myself, my emotions and my reality.

I had no intention of embarking on abstract so early in my stuffed animals career, but what choice do I have now? Certainly not throwing it all away or unravelling. Not after having washed the pieces. Even dirty, I would work with what I have. So we’ll see where this leads to. Oh, I know, smaller needle sizes next time. And a huge abstract mouse. Will see you at the other end of this monstrosity in a few days.


Usually during the summer months I switch to another craft and give sock knitting a rest, actually all knitting is hibernating during the summer months. The warmth transfers to my hands and the wool does not flow as easily. But it’s a different story with cotton yarn. And honestly, our house stays so cool that even with the door open so Arnold, our Covid dog, can go outside any time he wants, it doesn’t heat up. At its hottest, we might reach 76 in the house, that’s 76 Americans.

So I continue with my latest obsession of stuffed animals and their clothing. I like knitting baby clothes because they go much faster than a sweater for Stephen or perhaps a shawl. But believe me, knitting for a little stuffed toy is the ultimate in almost instant gratification.

Here is the mouse outfit in progress:

My obsession with these animals led me to a blog that has consumed me. The woman writing it creates fantastic patterns I fell in love with and so I bought a rabbit and a mole pattern. They also got me more interested in her blog itself: little cotton rabbits.

As I was roaming around it and reading a post here and there, I realized that she does not have an easy life: her son, now older, I think 20, is autistic. And though autism comes in many forms and shapes, her son is further along the spectrum than many others and does not have speech. As with any and everything I encounter that I don’t know enough about, I immersed myself. I hit the autism category on her blog and read all the posts related to her son. Perhaps that his name is Toby, our son’s name, is what struck me first.

Since encountering the blog, I have read The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism by Naoki Higashida. And I’ve watched the movie, I think streaming on Netflix. The book is available for free from the online library. The movie didn’t impress me as much.

Our lives change forever when we have kids. Mine certainly did. But if your kid is autistic, your life changes even more and for much longer. And though we might all worry a bit what happens to our kids once we die, it is elevated to another level with an autistic child. The blog has opened my eyes even further to what it means to parents of children with difficulties they need our help with. And I’m so grateful for that. I hate walking blindly through life and being oblivious to other’s struggles. Though I don’t know how to be an ally, I will expect myself to act compassionately and supportingly when I return back to the world and encounter someone with autism.

Someone once told me that we all have to bury the children we didn’t get and accept the ones we did. But a much nicer and more moving way of putting this is the following (I’m glad I don’t have to read this to you as I can’t read this aloud without tears):


Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved.

Up, Down, and About

There are times when I want to hurry to bed and sleep so I can wake up and do the stuff I want to do. You would think I’m at an age where I can do whatever, but the age comes with a body that doesn’t do all-nighters very well anymore. So a quick sleep is the best option for times where I want to do so much.

Such a night happened just recently. In fact, I woke up so early that I told Stephen it felt like we just had a conversation a few minutes ago.

Then there are mornings when I contemplate hibernating. That’s when I have another few sleeps before I get up. Often alternating between sleeps and reads.

I love the days I look forward to because I planned on a certain activity. Not the activities we regret the moment we make the commitment. But activities I can do at home, like knitting or crocheting, or sewing, or gardening….

My latest obsession is perfect: Amigurumi. Mostly crochet, slowly an object comes to life. It’s almost like playing god, but instead of clay or Adam’s rib, it’s yarn.

I’m not sure why I was never attracted to this art/craft before, but I must have reached a tipping point. Perhaps I’ll grow out of it and get my fill, for now though I can hardly finish a project before starting another one.

And that’s it, several projects lounging around waiting to be finished. This would be a good time in my life to give myself a little push. Who knows what I’m capable of. Never too late, is it as I’m looking at 3 projects that could use a finishing touch. Are there finishers in life I could pair up with? People who love finishing but not starting. Yes, I know: delusional. But one can hope, right?

Let me show you a few finished objects. First I started on a mouse-doll. As a toy I thought of all the possibilities of making clothes for it, combining crochet and sewing.

After the mouse which ended up a bigger project, I needed what I refer to as palate cleansers, little projects that don’t take days to make.

Cat toys stuffed with catnip were the answer. In the meantime I’ve made over 60 of them. Some batches went to the local animal shelter. Some went to Denver, and some are still looking for a home.

shelter catnip mice/fish

tiny taco

sleepy baby

The bigger projects I need to get out of my system included a chicken:

Then I finally finished the rabbit that got it all started:

knit rabbit with bobble sweater

There are still unfinished stuffies here and there around the house. But I’ll wait to post about them when they actually make sense.

I’m still knitting socks in between, but for right now the focus is stuffed animals, or tacos….

Greek Salad

A few years ago I had a little food business going from our house. Loved it! One of the many offers was a meze platter, various middle eastern appetizers. One day as someone picked up their platter, I added some Greek salad as an extra treat on the side. (We love Greek salad at our house and had some tonight:

Her response was to say how horrible the salad looked. Here I thought I would get a thank you. She also said if I ran a restaurant or deli and served this, she wouldn’t have come back.

I have never forgotten this experience and still carry it around as baggage. Every time we have a Greek salad this conversation goes through my mind.

We also had a chard/kale pie. I used to make this a lot, but like with some foods, one forgets. Then once in a while I come across the recipe or notice I have too much chard. Today I wanted to use all our chard and kale, so I chopped them up and also found a bunch of Thai basil that I hadn’t used and couldn’t think of using in anything else, so why not?

We are fully vegan now, kind of. I definitely don’t eat eggs anymore, so I replaced them in this dish with a substitute of 1 tablespoon of ground flax with 3 tablespoons of water. We really had a lot of greens, and I ended up needing 6 “eggs.”

I put all the cut up greens in a big bowl and add about a cup of chopped green onions and 2/3 cup of gluten-free flour. Mixed that.

In a measuring cup I mixed the “eggs” and let them sit for a while, then added 4 tablespoons brewer’s yeast, salt and pepper, hot pepper flakes, a bunch of garlic, and about 4 tablespoons of chopped red onions. I mixed this concoction with the greens and then fried this in a pan for 5 minutes each side, covered.

I mixed horseradish with vegan aioli and topped this on the finished pies.

These are some leftovers:

Looks like a mess but tastes good. Here is what they used to look like with the real eggs:

We had a tree cut down recently and the wood from it is stacked out front. I put two pieces aside to use for extra seating when parties are starting again. One can wish, right?

Today we came across a man in our neighborhood who was hauling away wood. We told him he can have some of ours, but that it’s pine. He said no problem, if he can carry and lift it into his truck he would do it. We still have a contract with the tree cutter who will haul it away eventually. But why not sooner, we thought.

After we got back from our walk, my seating was gone but the rest of the wood was still there. I had to laugh because why would he take only that? But what is gone is gone, and is good. And those parties I envision? If they really ever happen, I will buy seats if we’re short.

I have picked up Stephen’s sweater again and I’m making progress with knitting the front. Could be done by tomorrow, and then it’s on to the arms. After that, my least favorite part: picking up the stitches for the collar and sewing the arms on.

What is the opposite of end spurt? End crawl? That’s me, crawling to the finish line.


What makes Wordle so addictive to me? It only happens once a day, and usually I can guess the answer within 6 tries. It becomes exciting when I can get the answer in 3 and at times even 2 tries. Never guessed the word from the start. That may be a big ask.

Stephen took advantage of this daily activity by sending me the New York Times mini crossword puzzles. And they’re growing on me. Though I refuse to tackle anything bigger than the mini ones. Of course when Stephen does the regular crosswords, I do try to supply answers to any german, french, cooking, or craft questions.

Facebook is pissing me off again. But for me it is the easiest platform to stay in touch with people. Post some recipes, updates on my private life I’m willing to share. Right now I would love to switch to this blog as a daily activity. We’ll see.

Medically, it has been up and down. Scared and relieved. So what were my potential kidney problems are ok. But kidney stones were discovered. Further tests will be done and possibly the destruction of these stones. Though I have to wonder: how long have I had them, and since they never bothered me should we leave well enough alone?

On the knitting front: I made huge progress with Stephen’s sweater right at the start. But since the best way to knit his sweater is by sitting at the table, I needed a break. My back starts hurting, and overall it gets uncomfortable.

I switched to finishing the socks that were staring at me daily and almost screaming out to finish them. Ok, Ok, I said and did just that.

While finishing those socks, other projects reared their ugly heads, projects I had been avoiding. Like the fuzzy feet slippers at Knitty. I needed to fix for Christy. They have been sitting around for a few years now. It is hard to fix felted slippers, as it turns out. Unraveling is not easy, as the yarn is stuck to itself. But i’m making progress. In another few years she’ll have her slippers back. She’s young and will get to enjoy them for another while. But full of guilt, I just knit her another pair. On the other hand, she likes the original colors, so eventually I’ll have to work this out.

What I did manage is to start 2 more pairs of socks. How does that happen? Probably the blight of every knitter. Here were two patterns and the yarn, what was I to do? How does one resist? And so easy to knit in any position without hurting the back or anything else.

Arnold the dog is not totally thrilled with me knitting. He tries to get his head between the knitting and me. He doesn’t understand what is going on. For now he’s squeezed next to me on the couch, keeping me warm. Yes, the heater could use some work, but i’m hoping to put it off until fall.

Let me share two recipes that immediately became favorites.

A bok choy with tofu recipe from the New York Times.


1 pound baby bok choy, quartered lengthwise through the core
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 (14- to 16-ounce) package soft (not silken) tofu, drained and cut into 4 equal squares
6 tablespoons tahini
¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon minced ginger
¼ teaspoon minced garlic
¼ cup chopped scallions (from about 1 scallion), plus more for garnish
¼ cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
Toasted white sesame seeds, for garnish

In a large skillet with a lid, arrange bok choy in an even layer to cover the bottom of the pan, and season with salt and pepper. Nestle the tofu pieces on top of or in between the bok choy, depending on the depth of your pan. Add ½ cup of water to the skillet and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover securely to prevent steam from escaping, reduce heat to medium and steam until bok choy is tender and tofu is warm throughout, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine tahini, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, garlic, scallions, cilantro and 1 tablespoon of water. Whisk until well blended, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Using a spatula or large slotted spoon, transfer bok choy and tofu to 4 serving plates. (Discard any remaining water in the skillet.) Spoon some of the sauce over the tofu and garnish with scallions, cilantro and sesame seeds. Serve warm.

The other recipe has a link: