Monday, September 18, 2006

The Kindness of Knitters

I belong to an email list for knitters, which has been one of the saving graces in the last year. While Lisa was sick, it was nice to have a place to go where people worried about left- and right-facing decreases — because they do make a difference, trust me! — and where my obsession with socks was considering abnormal by only half the population. After her death, it was extra nice, because not only was it a place I could go and read posts about everything from edgings and how to start a toe-up sock to spinning, dyeing and light-up needles (, but it was also a place where people understood and respected what I was dealing with. Some of them had been through a partner’s death before, and their very presence and calm, ordinariness was a guarantee that I would, in fact, get through this. Others hadn’t, but it didn’t matter: folks checked in, gently, not wanting to bother, and didn’t mind my scattered responses. The list went on, and that was reassuring.

A couple of the list members live not very far away — just across the river in Maine, in fact. I’d actually managed to have coffee with one of them right before Lisa’s condition began to deteriorate, but after that we hadn’t had the chance to connect. I’ve been bad about connecting, actually, so I was delighted to get an email from the list member that I hadn’t met, suggesting that we try again, and see if we could arrange to meet, have coffee, and knit a spell.

We found a time that worked for all of us, and so yesterday I took myself off to the cafe at Barnes and Noble and (being unexpectedly early — Lisa would have been proud!) settled myself at a table with a frozen coffee drink, a sock, and a magazine. (It was crochet, actually, but at least it was fiber-related. It could have been Popular Mechanics.)

Mel and Kit arrived, bearing an enormous box, and an equally large bouquet of sunflowers from Kit’s garden. (I love sunflowers.) Inside the box was a present from the list: a patchwork blanket, 24 squares made by 24 list-members, and made up into a blanket by a 25th.

It’s gorgeous. All the squares are different, of course, as are the fabrics and colors; it’s heavy enough to be cozy in a New England winter, and just the right size to wrap up in and knit. There’s colorwork that I would never attempt, including a landscape and a funky furry red-and-black square; an embroidered square, mitered squares, openwork, lace — something else I wouldn’t try — and even a shadow-knit alien face. I love it! It’s beyond fabulous. (And, you know, I might just have to try some of the techniques I see in these squares....)

The blanket has already passed the cat test. I spread it out on the foot of the bed to admire it, and suddenly 3 of the 4 cats materialized and leaped onto the corners. (I have no idea where they came from. I thought they were eating, or I would have closed the door.) I removed them, gently and gingerly, and this time I did close the door — only to discover cat #4 emerging from between the pillows to settle herself on the blanket. Apparently she’d been sleeping in the gap behind the headboard, which explains why there is often fur on my pillow.... I removed her, re-closed the door, and let myself admire the blanket for a little while longer. Then I folded it carefully and set it where I can see and admire, but the cats can’t share. Eventually, they’ll wear me down — probably as soon as I wrap myself up in it on the first chilly night, which may be this week — but not yet. Right now, it’s just for me, so I can bask in the kindness of knitters.

Thanks, y’all.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A Strange Day in the Neighborhood

Maybe it’s the weather. We are, after all, getting the winds from the former Hurricane Ernesto, and it’s definitely blustery and odd-feeling out there today.

Or maybe not.

As the dog and I came back from the mill pond this afternoon, we heard what at first I thought was a parrot. (No, that’s not the weird part: the guy down the street who repairs Macs owns a big green parrot, and takes it for regular walks.) Then as we got closer, we could tell that the sound was coming from a parked car, and that it was someone laughing — laughing really hard, as though they were being tickled. The sound had that half-hysterical edge to it, that not-quite-in-control note. That person was sitting in the passenger seat, alone, apparently without cellphone. In the driver’s seat was a bored-looking black Lab.

I have no idea, and no, it wasn’t that funny.

So we walked by really fast, and heard shouting coming from the big apartment building next to the house. (The building is elderly and handicapped housing.) The shouts resolved into words: “Thank you, Bob! Thank you, Bob! Thank you, Bob!” Over and over again, with varying inflection — sarcastic, wildly grateful, angry, no meaning at all — and then he started changing the emphasis: “Thank you, Bob! Thank you Bob! Thank you, Bob!”

Even the dog thought it was weird.

I figure, best case, it was an actor practicing lines. Worst case.... Let’s just say, I wouldn’t want to be Bob.