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Coddling

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I have a cold coming on. This is no surprise; Jolly has been snortling since last week and it’s hard to avoid catching germs from people who love to slobber affectionately all over your face and poke their fingers into your mouth. It’s another sign that fall is coming, despite the blasts of humid heat that keep interrupting the natural progression of the seasons. Here’s a story about the strange weather, tangentially:

Yesterday we had a rare—though not so rare this past month—thunderstorm. We arrived home to find a six-pound bag of epsom salts destroyed all over the bathroom. And the basement corner where we’ve piled our boxes of shelfless books looked as though it had been nested in by monster sea rats or possibly beavers of prehistoric size—boxes had been upended, corners had been gnawed off most of them, books were cascading onto the floor. We anxiously entertained the thought that, without the deterrent of the cat we lost last year, mice had moved in. A lot of mice. But Mr. G assured me that the scale of the damage was too epic to be the revenge of the little fellas I recently evicted from the garage. Maybe monster sea rats really had moved in? I mean, life at sea can’t be what it was for the rats, now that wooden tallships full of stinking bilgewater and offal are so thinly distributed around the globe. And maybe now that they’re holed up on dry land in our basement they missed the brine and that’s why they went for the salt bag? It took me an hour to connect the wanton destruction with the storm. Poor Lark hasn’t the neurological constitution to endure severe weather. Even with her family close for comfort, she’s a quivering, panting wreck if there’s thunder or even heavy rain. Home alone, she clearly tried to preserve her life by frantically burrowing for shelter, first behind the bathtub and then in the basement, shredding everything in her path. I am now seriously considering buying her a “thunder shirt,” even as I roll my eyes at the pampered pet culture that spawns such things. Maybe I could sew one myself out of Ada’s old swaddling blankets. I do feel for the dog, terrified as she must have been. And next time she could decide to take refuge in the yarn closet!

But back to my sinuses. Since this is a work-at-home day for me, I decided the best remedy for a nascent cold was a gurt big breakfast of poached eggs (from our friends’ chickens) on toasted olive bread (am I the only one who’s charmed that a slice from a good boule looks like a rabbit?) with a hillock of lovely golden chanterelles sautéed in butter and a pot of Townshend’s No. 10 Sticky Rice Pu-erh tea. Where has this tea been all my life? It doesn’t actually contain sticky rice, but the tea has been scented with nuomixiang, an herb that tastes exactly like it. It comes in little paper-wrapped “nests” that can steep forever without turning bitter. Also good for coddling yourself is a sumptuous heap of Brooklyn Tweed Loft. (Can you guess why I’m winding these up today? It’s something I meant to do about eighteen months ago…) But first I think I’m going to weave in the last three ends on my Moroccan Nights to get perfectly cozy. I’ve already queued up the BBC’s North & South on Netflix. Being under the weather isn’t all bad.

Beginnings

I sent my three-year-old off to her first day of preschool this morning. “I feel hard to leave my old school,” she said plaintively as we kissed her brother goodbye and continued on our journey to her new place. She’s an old hand and a natural at this schooling business, having taken to nursery-level Montessori like a pig to slops at the age of 11 months. Today she climbed straight into the little loft when we arrived and required that I read to her through the railing. I got only the briefest kiss goodbye as she hurried off to help feed Jeremiah the hamster. I knew she’d be fine. But she’s the littlest for the first time and I wondered and hoped for her all morning, as mamas do.

I distracted myself with work, and then I thought I’d get back to this blog’s roots and post about knitting for once. New on the needles and quickly snapped with le cameraphone in repose on the handsome big granite slabs outside the SeaTac airport:

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This is Echo Beach. Like the famed Clapotis, this scarf is all delayed gratification… one could drop those stitches down earlier to glimpse the final glory, but psychologists have shown that those of us who can, as four-year-olds, resist the temptation to gobble up one marshmallow rightnow on the promise of two marshmallows later will be more successful when we grow up. I was the child who froze her Halloween candy and made it last all winter. An Everlasting Gobstobber warranted occasional brief licking and then wrapping in paper for storage in the drawer of my bedside table for so long that I can’t be sure I didn’t forget all about it in the end… it may yet turn up when my parents move house. So you won’t catch me dropping stitches until it’s time to bind off. And that might not be very soon, because this is a no-pressure knit—just something small enough to be good for travel and easy to pick up after neglect. Although the yarn provides a significant lure to knit on; I can scarcely believe it’s going to be hot cantaloupe orange before I reach the other end! I was pretty thrilled to make the first transition out of stolid burgundy, enlivened though it is with tweedy flecks of seafoam green, into deep magenta.

But for pure pleasure between the fingers, I’m loving this:

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When I visited New York in June, I treated myself to a visit to the Greenmarket and Eugene Wyatt’s Catskill Merino booth. I knew I wanted wool for a vest—Heidi Kirrmaier’s Boardwalk, specifically. I think I dithered for half an hour over the beautiful natural dyes. February Green? Van Gogh Gray? And finally I walked away with four hanks of plain merino white. It’ll go with everything. Nothing will distract from the simple, sheepy beauty of the wool and the clean architecture of the design. I freed up my DyakCraft Heavy Metal needles for this one. They hold the stitches firmly but tenderly and whisper to each other as they work. The vest would go faster on my slick Addis, but I don’t think I want it to.

Full disclosure: I haven’t finished the children’s knitting. Ada’s little Boreal is into the yoke and I’m biting my nails about starting the decreases immediately after the sleeve join, but can’t see a way to avoid it without messing up the trees and snowflakes. Jolly’s Pomander still wants its short sleeves and its buttons; must find correct dpns. And I’m slogging along the first sleeve of Ada’s Minni… still. You wouldn’t think such short arms could require such endless knitting, but 2mm needles and garter ridges are the enemies of visible progress. Worse still, I expect I’ll have to lengthen those sleeves and count on superwash to do its droopy business for the torso length if she’s going to wear the thing at all. It’s too beautiful not to finish. Still, the siren song of new yarn sweeps me onto the rocks every time. Let us not speak of the luscious silky wonder I just received in the mail from Duck Duck Wool; I’m not sure there are needles enough even in my ample collection to cast on anything more at present.

Confess: What have you cast on for the new season, against your better judgment?

Bocce

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Ada has three favorite games. One is Bird Bingo, the second is Hit the Hay, a board game devised by my grandfather, and the third is bocce. She usually wins at all of them, but she is practically unbeatable at bocce. For a three-year-old, she has a remarkably true arm. Her brother can’t throw much farther than his toes, but he is very interested in fetching the balls for further rounds. Good family fun all around.

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And yes, that’s a new dress. Mama made it and can hardly wait to sew another. More details when I can get some better pictures of it.

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