Gently atoning

I knit this for my father in law when he was ill more than 10 years ago. I wanted to knit something to show support, but what do you knit a guy who lives in the Arizona desert?

The kippeh never fit correctly and I joked with him that he’d have to use packing tape on his bald pate to keep it on. Even on my husband, it looks like a muffin top perched on his head.

After he died last month, we brought home a few momentos, some shirts, a razor… this.

For those who observe, today is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. While it is trendy these days to practice self love, I also believe self love comes with the responsibility to acknowledge the places in our lives where we have allowed the moths in, places desperately in need of darning.

Death can cause similar reckonings. Since Jerry died, I’ve been hugging Mitch tighter, mindful of the 66 years that encompassed my in laws relationship, knowing that it probably felt like forever and the blink of an eye.

On our wedding day 23 years ago this month, I said to Mitch, “No matter how long we’re together, it will never be long enough.” I feel the truth of that statement so keenly now.

Today I am thinking about the places where my work is weak and times I haven’t shown up for my family in ways that lift all of us. How I want to foster more community in our lives, more connection, more...

Jerry’s passing makes this cold October day, this solemn holiday, all the more poignant, his empty kippeh a reminder of loss but also of a life well lived and that all we can do is move forward, loving actively and harder with both our hearts and our hands.

Of blessed memory

On Sept. 22 in the early morning hours my father in law passed quietly away. He was 85 years old.

Jerry Gerber was a man whose sense of responsibility to his family was rock solid. Who reinvented himself in midlife after a catastrophic business collapse. Who openly wept when his daughter’s husband passed then spent months helping her to shore up her life.

I used to marvel at the way he could retain statistics in his head and how much he knew about local and national politics. After a heated conversation at dinner, he’d fold his napkin, satisfied, and say, “Well, we’ve just solved all the problems of the world.”

Jerry holds a special place in my heart. For the way he embraced me at our wedding, for the way he wore his love, challenges and opinions on his sleeve, for the solidity and courage he exuded like a rock, like a mensch, like someone you could count on for a ride to the airport, stock market advice and for an experience of sheer joy watching the guy embrace his grand kids.

He loved talking about the weather and the price of gas. He hated cold French fries and dry chicken. He could fix faucets and install water heaters and was like Yosemite Sam with a Dust Buster. Even his Hebrew was pretty good.

Mitch adored his dad and regarded him as his model for what it means to be a man. I see it again and again in the way my husband offers to help family and neighbors, the way he weeps unabashedly at everything from the loss of a kitty to the devastating news of his father’s final illness. The way he tries so hard to do the right thing, his humanity, like Jerry’s, right there, simple and honest.

My mother and father in law were married for 61 years, their love and respect for each other so apparent right to the end. A year ago, helping Elaine unpack the kitchen in their new apartment, she told me that while holding hands in bed that night, Jerry said to her, “Elaine, I’ll always love you.”

“I know that, Jerry,” she said, like it was nothing and everything, like breathing.

We have such a rent in our hearts today, a tear we’ll carry forever. But this is as it should be. This quiet, lion of a man deserves our grief, the unfilled seat at our tables, next to Elaine, his empty kippeh, a void in our hearts and lives. What an honor and privilege to know him. And, oh how he’ll be missed.


Eat, Pray, Ruh Roh

Hello all,

How many of you have been in a complete lather since reading that America’s grown-up, consciously conscious Cinderella, Elizabeth Gilbert, split from the guy who swept her off her feet at the end of Eat Pray Love?

Me? Triggered. Totally and completely triggered.

You know how chimpanzees throw their shit at people in the zoo? That’s what projection is like. Since finding out about her separation, I’ve been throwing a lot of my shit her way.

Let’s start with Eat Pray Love. Just in case you are one of the six people who hasn’t read it, I’ll summarize: Girl finds herself in existential despair. Leaves husband. Finds herself—and a yummy Brazilian lover—after eating her way through Italy, seeing God in India, then seeing God in an entirely different way—and with a different part of her anatomy—in Bali.

Girl gets book contract. Girl and Brazilian hottie marry. Book becomes movie. And as of last year, according to the bible of all things right and true, People Magazine, the marriage is bliss. That’s right. She said this a year ago.

So here we are, all us married folks, thinking here’s a chick that got it right She’s seen God in India. She knows things.

So where’s the trigger? It’s classic “fear of missing out.” We haven’t seen God. We didn’t meet our husbands in Bali. We met our partners on Match, in bars, at AA meetings, waiting for the ATM, or in the next cubicle. We married guys who drive Toyotas. Not lusty Brazilians with multiple orgasm potential.

And that bliss thing? Maybe five minutes a day, when he texts you an emoticon heart or an “I love you.” But then the other 23 hours and 55 minutes is work and laundry and dinner served up with a side of irritation and possibly a laugh or two, then an episode of “Chopped” (because who doesn’t need distraction from police shootings, terrorism and sick relatives and neighbors?), a snuggle and goodnight. And then we do it again, trying harder to be kinder and more authentic than the day before.

Poor Liz. Her fandom has painted her life with fairy dust and unicorn spit (along with plenty of our own monkey shit) that it’s spawned a kind of “Eat Pray Love” syndrome with people masticating and meditating their way around the world in the hope that they’ll see God, score a book contract and find their handsome prince. We’re like, that Liz, she’s got game.

So now they’re done. This blissful, mature, multiply organismic couple are now consciously uncoupling. Well, crikey, that’s triggering, too. Because if she can’t do it—and she’s seen God—can the rest of us? 

Gilbert’s announcement about her separation has unleashed the slings and arrows of haters and critics and even the jabs of people like myself who just want to believe that lifetime love is not only possible but also desirable. Though she has put her life out there time and again through her memoirs and social media and Ted Talks, she is also a woman whose marriage is ending, and no matter how that’s going down, it’s got to be excruciating.

My heart goes out to her. But I also want to know why, knowing that it’s none of my business (though Gilbert has actively sought to make her life our business). I want the "why" to be a talisman against separation in my own home, something prosaic like infidelity or a longing on the part of her expat to return home, something easy to identify, instead of something complex and frightening like they felt they couldn’t grow together.

Ultimately what Gilbert’s fans are feeling has nothing to do with her. My longing for certainty isn’t her fault. That I’m busy projecting all kinds of crap onto isn’t her problem. Does she know something I don’t? Does she possess the secrets of love and the keys to the universe? Sure. For her life.

Godspeed to her, I say.

Me? I'm busy cleaning the cage of my own psyche. As confusing as this news is, I know my marriage still has so much life in it. Life and bliss and tsouris and big love. Monkey shit, too. As perfectly imperfect as it is.

Another monster happened

I can't seem to stop making monsters. What with all the cute kids being born. Plus with those long arms begging to be wrapped around a wee one, well, who doesn't need a hug? Especially when you're little and trying to figure out the difference between Nana and Dada.

The yarn is from genius dyer, Meg of Sleep Season Goods. It was a custom colorway, but all her colors are ah-mazing! Want immediate gratification? You can also find her yarn at Denver's Wild Yarns and Fancy Tiger.

And do look up Rebecca Danger, she has toy patterns for every season and every reason.

Monster mash

I was knitting my way through a Broncos game last fall when a six-year-old sat down next to me convinced that knitting held infinitely more entertainment potential than the sporting event on offer. I showed her how the stitches worked and let her throw the yarn. When I showed her the Rebecca Danger monster I was knitting, she asked if I would make her one.

She also said, she wanted it in black. How can you say no?

It's taken a while, but here she is. Use Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky and you'll get a nice fat stuffy.

Apologies for the cat hair and fiber fill lint. Many sessions with the lint roller later and she's still covered in it.

Crocheted Cat Potholders

Now don't get all jealous. Of course you ant chenille cat potholders of your very own. Meow!

These were designed by the one and only Garlic Queen. She is the creatrix behind many crocheted wonders including these confections. Want a set of kitty hot pads for yourself? Email me and I'll hook you up with the GQ herself. I'm pretty sure she can be bribed.

Knit for Brains

Brains have been much on our minds, given the tumble-down state of aging cerebra in the Nake-id gene pool, a concern that inspires yours truly to lard her morning porridge with coconut oil and stalk Dr. Grain Brain's blog. (Do y'all think gluten's the zombie apocalypse in grain form?) Are avocados the new kale? Should we load up our java with pasture-raised butter? Are carbs the new fats?

It's enough to make a girl make a diet of Tootsie Pops and red wine.

Joking aside, there are things about the way we live and eat, which are clearly amiss. Too much sitting. Too many digital screens. Too little face time with peeps. Too much fake food. And while it's easy to figure out that exercise is a good thing, the question of what to eat to benefit our grey matter seems to be more a matter of opinion than science. But do we have the time for science?

Meanwhile, the Clover Wonder Knitter aided and abetted in the creation of lobes pictured above--a fabulous pattern by med student Alana Noritake. Hard to believe, you can purchase fully realized versions on Etsy for about $30. Lined even. I wouldn't tack down all that I-cord again for $1,000. Like sewing spaghetti to the wall.

Anyhoo, it's done and fun! Hope your brains are having a glorious day.


Knitting pattern for lung cancer research: Kim's Earnin' Turban in Pink

Why look, another iteration of Kim's Earnin' Turban. This one in the sadly discontinued Debbie Bliss Cotton Silk Aran and modeled by the lovely Melissa. 

I designed the turban for our friend Kim, in honor of her battle with lung cancer. The pattern is for sale with all proceeds going to benefit the University of Colorado's Lung Cancer Fund, which supports the groundbreaking research at CU keeping Kim and many others alive.

Lung cancer is a weird beast, not the least of which because it's the number one cancer killer of men and women in America, but also because it carries the stigma of smoking. It may be that the white ribbon lung cancer campaigns haven't caught on because the disease doesn't seem as random; it's something smokers get. But this simply isn't true. Every year, 16,000 to 24,000 people die of lung cancer who never smoked. Kim never smoked.

While I should have probably knit this turban in white for the awareness factor, I couldn't resist this gorgeous orchid, so very Pantone-color-of-the-year-2014.

In this season of giving, pass the word, make a donation or knit a turban in whatever color tickles your fancy.


Knitting gifts

I had the opportunity to write about this wonderful artist in the Holiday issue of Vogue Knitting. Sally Gilchrist is a painter, who in recent years has branched out into doing linocut prints. She's also a passionate knitter.

I've been hoping for many moons that Sally would create a line of "yarn art" and couldn't be happier that she's finally done it.

There are prints suitable for framing as well as notecards, postcards, gift tags and even a handmade book of linocut prints.

Just in time for the holidays. Isn't this a stylish body of work?

Rebecca Danger: Does knitting get any cuter?

Inspired by editrix Erin, who wrought this incredibly cuteness, I went and did likewise. Seriously. When a man child is expected, who really wants to knit another wee navy-blue cardi?

Rebecca Danger's patterns are a caution, are they not? There really is a monster for every occasion. I chose Ursula the Understanding Monster because of the long arms, which to me was like sending Baby a big hug (in spite of the fact  I couldn't be bothered to source the necessary felt for teeth.