Tuesday, December 27, 2011

baby blankets are like baby steps

I have been working on a blanket, or two, if truth be told. One is a baby blanket for a friend having twins. The other - I have hopes there will be a baby with this blanket, I knit the word "baby," purl "love" into every stitch. One way or another, there will be a baby wrapped in this blanket some day. Mine, his, whose is yet to be determined. But it is a blanket for having a baby.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

9 years and counting ----

since my mother died.

The anniversary was this week; a week with many unravels, pulled foundation stitches, dropped stitches & much casting about, not so much on. If maybe, she had been someone I depended on in my life I would have missed her terribly this week when I was struggling to keep everything from coming apart at the seams. But she was not.

And I realized I am a lot stronger than she was. I have been out here without a net, without a lifeline, keeping it together for me kids on my own. I didn't need anyone outside of myself to be strong for, to leave a bad place in order to get healthy, to be on my own.

I am not saying I don't miss her, just that in this crisis I wasn't crying  for my mother. There was a moment when I wanted to call my grandmother & a moment when I wondered if not having both this year would make the 13th that much more emotionally difficult. Those moments passed because I had purpose; get us a place to live, find our dogs a foster home, get hired, pack our stuff.

Loss has become part of life this year, more than others. A great love left my life. I lost my Grandmother. Now the time of the Morning Glory Cottage has come to an end. Everything ends.

We get to the end of the skein & have to decide what to do next. Sometimes we can start a new ball of yarn. Sometimes we have to bind off.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

ask and ye shall receive

It's time to write a new pattern, decide which fibers will hold up best, and work up a swatch of a new cloth. There are new people in my life. There is a new pattern to be learned until it becomes as knitters say "muscle memory."

I wanted someone to be here to hold me, to be there at the darkest moments of life because they were already there creating the sparkly ones. I wrote a list to the Gods & Goddesses, Saints & Angels, Beings of Light, to all the Universe. I asked very clearly for the perfect fit. I was so ready to give up on so many things. I even wrote about the only reason I didn't give up was I didn't know what that would look like. You can't frog a life, not really. I can't pull out the rows until I get to the dropped or twisted stitch and redo the work beyond the point of frogging. I went out on a limb at the suggestion of a very close friend, one who knows my warp & weave better than any other human being.

Thanks to my giving it another go decision, I have now been working with a wonderful man at casting on the foundation stitches of a new life, discussing what we are both made of, what works best with our fiber content - can't mix some fussy dry clean only yarn in with a nice easy care one and not expect pulling, stretching, shrinkage. The fit would never work. Luckily no one is allergic to solid dependable wool and no one is some silly eyelash novelty yarn.

This morning, the most amazing moment so far - I cooked us breakfast; eggs in my Grandmother's cast iron skillet, bacon in his Grandmother's cast iron skillet. I think the sleeves will match. I think that even though we bring different dye lots, the differences will imperceptibly blend. No, I am not crazy enough to be constructing a boyfriend sweater! I have enough faith to knit a project fit for a King, a husband. Forget the silly old knitter wives cautionary tales of doom spelled out by sweaters for men. I don't like knitting sweaters, anyway. :) Tricksy me.

Already I have worked two small household, practical projects & vacillated between the right colour choices for a third, more personal an item, nowhere near a sweater, just enough. Now I have them and I am meditatively counting stitches and rows to keep him warm when I cannot.

We are about to add in the very lovely, necessary threads of each of our children to this work of art. He has the pattern well thought out, he has practiced, he has been doing his research. I am ready with my skills, my intuitions, my mad Grandmother Spider weaver ways to construct a tight knit, sturdy, durable tapestry with him. We are in partnership in this venture.

We are more than that - we are in love.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

dropped stitches

words -- i am without words -- i feel i am flailing about in slow motion, without the proper momentum, casting about in an odd desperation which is slow, timid & with a little more focus than true flailing or...

when I was on the train heading to L.A. for the services I was knitting -- but it was some deconstructed thing; i kept casting on and changing needle sizes, i changed up the pattern, creating "lace" holes randomly. maybe I will make a handkerchief with tonnes of holes, big gaping holes, for crying into when I cry. something so formless it captures the essence of my feelings. i was using this beautiful tan bamboo something or other. i kept frogging, i kept at it like it gave me a purpose other than what was my true purpose. i never completed it. i think i ripped it all out when i got home.

schooling the boy, writing one of the many projects i have set myself, etc are giving me some "direction" but i am feeling that everything is without reason or purpose but busy-ness of living each day, not really accomplishing something, anything and i am detached enough that i am not angry or sad or properly anything to set myself off into true motion or emotion. it just happened, lots of things just happened.

but i know i am a powder keg waiting for some stray spark then WHAMO!

don't ask me what i am going on about, i don't know, i just know, sigh, i wish there was someone to hold me without question when it's like this

Sunday, August 14, 2011

lost threads

today I walked to & around Farmers' Market with a stranger -- she is one of my mother's youngest cousins, she had been out of touch with our family for most of her life after her mother (my maternal grandfather's sister) died when she was 3. I had hoped she knew more about my mother when she was younger or my grandparents, I had no idea she had been so young when she last saw them all.

we had a good walk, we talked the whole time about everything. we're both motherless daughters. we both love garlic & goat cheese. we both love Farmers' Markets. her youngest daughter is only 4 years older than Eldest Daughter & they both have the same first name.

my cousin just found our family recently via an online family tree site. she got a hold of one of my aunts maybe a week after my Grandmother passed away & two weeks after the last of my Grandfather's brothers died as well. my new-found cousin is from my Grandfather's side of the family. she didn't even know we're from a reservation in El Paso.

i felt a little less lost myself learning how much she had lost, never known and can never recover. all we can do now is try to create something new from these small strange connected threads, weave a friendship from family.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


On the train to Los Angles for my Grandma's services I took a Valium & considered a drink from the Cafe car. I went down to the lower level of the train car to change into a black skirt & blouse, my other goal to secure that drink. I had serious doubts I could handle the viewing and family completely sober. Damned if the Cafe car wasn't at the far other end of the train. I didn't have enough inner balance to walk that many moving cars & then back again.

When we detrained there was time to wait for our family to pick us up. I distracted myself by walking through Union Station, a station I have known so well over the decades of my love affair with train travel. I narrowed my view through my camera lens. I focused on anything that had nothing to do with why I was there. It helped. I haven't looked at those photos yet, though I know it was good shoot with amazing fountain shots and some really cool photos of my son.

I walked through my Grandmother's wake & funeral in an empty fog, functioning because there was no other choice. My aunt wanted me to take pictures at the viewing. "You push this button," I said handing her my Kodak. I don't do that; I do not look at the dead. I sure as hell don't take their pictures, especially not my Grandma's. I found a seat in the lobby with my Grandfather. He never remembers who I am any more. He wanted to go home. I wanted to go home. We both wanted to not be there, we both wanted to go back in time to when there was a home to go to, where she was. If I drove, I would have taken him and we would have stayed at the house together talking about whatever he wanted to tell me. But, I don't so we were both stuck in that hell.

The next day, after the funeral, I walked into the building which had been my grandparent's house. If I thought I was in a fog the day before, I can't begin to describe what I was sloughing through then. Not a full week had passed, but one aunt had removed photos, objects, clothing, anything which had ever made this feel like my grandparent's home. On auto pilot, I ate some food at the kitchen table with my brother and a cousin. The three of us kept naming things which were gone. I had enough and wandered into my Grandmother's bedroom. The walls were just about bare, gone were all the photos of all of us grandchildren and our children. I lay across her bed. I looked at the bedside table with the same lamp which had been there for over 30 years. I couldn't recall when it wasn't there. Suddenly I knew; besides the cast iron skillet in which she had made our tortillas I wanted the table or the lamp or both. I remember sleeping at Grandma's house my whole life and watching her pluck her eyebrows at that table with that light. It was the last light on in that house for my entire life.

Today my other aunt came down for lunch and to drop off some things to Eldest Daughter & Little Dude. She brought me a small stack of those laminated wallet photos we used to take of my children with Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny just to be able to give them to Gigi. She also brought me the lamp.

Friday, August 12, 2011


My maternal Grandmother, Gigi, died a few weeks ago - it was not completely unexpected, but it was a huge shock to me to get the phone call. I shared this story I had written years ago with my family & friends. Be aware there is some domestic violence in this piece. I had originally writtten this very PC and changed it, but a few years ago I realized I needed to be honest & true, and the version which follows was how my Grandma told the story over the years.

If you were ever handed the warm, crisp yet soft, perfectly flattened sphere of a freshly made flour tortilla just turned out of the sartén (iron skillet) and rubbed down with real butter, which would ooze through your fingers, then you understand my dismay when I asked my grandmother to make some for dinner and was told that she had forgotten how.

"Excuse me?" I nearly choked. "What do you mean, you forgot?"

This was the woman who made fresh tortillas at least three times a day, more when we kids were under foot. She never used measuring cups or spoons, just knew how much in her hand was right. This was the grandmother who made dozens every month to mail to our poor cousins who lived in the god-forsaken state of Ohio where they couldn't buy flour tortillas. She had forgotten how to make the very bread of our lives? Yeah, right.

Well, we had all grown up. Our parents, her children, didn't bring the grandchildren around all the time. None of us lived at our grandparents' any more. With only herself and the old man to cook for on a regular basis they didn't need "so much tortillas", tortillas that are best eaten just as they are made. No making them to put in the refrigerator. No cousins in Ohio to send them to any more. They had moved out here with the rest of us and could buy them at any corner grocery store. Without the huge family always there for dinners or just to spend the day, she hadn't made them in a while. I protested that she could remember if she tried. Something you've done all your life would just come back to you. But she said only, "no, I've forgotten." End of discussion. End of an era.

So maybe, just maybe, I'll try my hand at it one day. But it won't be the same, not ever. I'll need a recipe, and that's not the way she did it. And I don't have the proper pan or that thing she had to make them stay flat as they cooked. So in reality, I won't ever make tortillas for my family. It's lost. All I have are the memories, and the story about the poor young wife whose tortillas weren't round.

This new bride tried to make tortillas for her husband for their first dinner. She couldn't get them to roll out round.

"Estupida," he hit her. "Can't you make tortillas? ¿Qué clase de esposa no puede hacer las tortillas? Las tortillas de mi madre son perfectas."

The next day, after he left for work she practiced making tortillas all morning. She tried so hard to roll her tortillas into circles, but it never worked. Finally in tears she called her mother-in-law.

"Mama, how do you get your tortillas so perfect? If I don't make mine like yours entonces otra vez su hijo will hit me."

"Mi hija, no llora. Ponga un plato en su masa y córtelo hacia fuera. Perfectamente!"

So the young wife rolled out a large tortilla as best she could and put a dinner plate over it. She trimmed it carefully and cooked it up. Finalmente! She finished cooking enough for dinner. Proudly she served her husband the round tortillas. He hit her again.

"How dare you have my mother make them for you!"


I wanted my Grandmother's cast iron skillet & the little cast iron press she used when she made tortillas. The press was long gone, it seems. But my brother's friend & my oldest daughter helped me get the skillet from the kitchen.

I wrote a lot in the days following Gigi's death, sending my rambling, stream of pain & loss words to two of my best friends. I won't be sharing most of that here, but I will be addressing this loss. My Grandmother was the main thread which held our extended family somewhat together. Her funeral was held a week before my deceased mother's birth date. The overwhelming sadness which had begun with the loss of my Grandmother was intensified with that anniversary. I will be writing about these things as I work on them, as I unravel and restitch my personal issues with both of the important women in my family & my life who are both gone now, leaving larger holes in my tapestry than the holes they created during their lives.