A Life Well Lived

Last night, my husband and I had dinner with some friends, Ed and Zelle. Zelle just turned 100 years old, earlier this month. She is in excellent health, hears reasonably well, and has a sharp mind. In a couple of months she and her husband will celebrate their 75th anniversary.

I found myself, halfway through dinner, looking at her and hoping that I could have an old age like that. You never know, of course, everyone’s path is different, but it was a profound feeling to realize that I am only half her age. The past year, I’ve been feeling pretty old. Ha!

This sweet couple has children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. They have many stories about their lives, and how they had to start over more than once, leaving one kind of life to start another. They’ve had their share of trouble and they’ve been richly blessed.

She wanted to invite me over especially because she knows I knit, and she wanted to give me a pattern. She’s given up doing fine embroidery work, examples of which were all over the apartment she and her husband share in the retirement community where they live. But she kept knitting after moving there, and she’d kept her one favorite afghan pattern. I asked, but she couldn’t remember how many times she’s used it to make afghans and lap blankets. A lot, though, for sure. I have one in my office, given to me by her husband a couple of years ago. The paper pattern, part of a little booklet, is curled and well used. Her favorite, and she gave it to me.

Then, appreciating my enthusiasm for her kindness, she invited me to take her very last pattern – one for making dishcloths. She’d saved it because it was easy and I think she couldn’t imagine not having some sort of project to work on. But she gave it to me, and then she also wanted me to accept her little wooden framed cloth knit holder thing with a last few balls of dishie cotton yarn, and her last pair of knitting needles. “Take it,” she said. “I won’t be making any more. You finish them.”

I am honored. As her kind-hearted husband escorted us back down the elevator to leave, he said, “When she’s gone, you can remember that Zelle gave that to you. You can tell people about her.”

I am honored. God bless that dear couple. I am blessed to know them, here near the end of lives well lived.


I get the feeling that I’m not so much being pulled down as I am being pushed.

As Phoebe Buffay said, “Don’t get me started on gravity.”

There’s no knitting in this video, but there are some things I love and wanted to share with you: interesting info about space that most people don’t know, the voice of Alan Tudyk, a brain parasite that says, “Wah-wah,” (so cute!) and, best of all, Wil Wheaton messing around. Watch to the very end, if you trust me.

That’s all well and good you say, but where’s the connection to, you know, knitting and/or yarn? Where are the kitties? How about a song? This one is still sciencey but also points out the superiority of yarn in such a way that even Einstein has to acknowledge it.

String < YARN!!!

PS: One more – I like OK Go’s videos, but I have to say this one is SO visually complex I’m not even sure what I’m looking at. Astonishing.

Copycat, Copycat!

This excellent Ted talk from a few years ago about the (almost) complete lack of copyright protection in the fashion industry has been really helpful in shaping my thinking about the whole issue of copyright in general. Johanna Blakley makes the point that there is no need for copyright protection – copying good design leads to more good design. No one creates in a vacuum.

This doesn’t mean I think it’s ok to rip off original works, like a publisher reprinting a book without paying anything to the author, or random people distributing bootleg copies of albums or movies. That’s not OK.

But when you think about how free George Lucas has been with Star Wars – long ago he decided not to go after anyone who made art, films, remixes, or any kind of creative endeavor with a Star Wars theme – and how much that freedom has increased the popularity and endurance of Star Wars, well. Who could argue that viciously protecting his intellectual property would have been a better idea?

Anyway, watch this video if you’d like, and see if it has an impact on your thinking about copyright.


Making Things – Also, How Not to Make a Good Impression on Famous People Who Might Just Be People After All

I love Adam Savage. I watch/listen to every one of his interviews I can find. He talks a lot about being creative, or as it’s called now, being a maker. I like his curiosity about the world, his geeky fanishness about so many great movies, and his love of recreating props and costumes. He’s amazingly knowledgeable about many, many things.

I have one Adam Savage story, my “Brush with Greatness” – didn’t Letterman have a segment like that, where he’d invite people to tell stories about their stupid encounters with somebody famous? I think it was Letterman. Here’s mine about Adam Savage.

Every Christmas, we try to come up with a family gift, something everyone can enjoy. A couple of years ago, the gift my husband and I got for the family was tickets to go to the Behind the Myths tour with Jaime Heineman and Adam Savage (the Mythbusters, you know?). The show was coming through Portland in late January, if I remember correctly. The day finally came and we were all pretty excited. Well, I was, anyway. We found our seats, not too far back in the middle section of the theater, and waited. Finally the show started and Adam and Jaime came out onto the stage. Thunderous applause; they had to wait until everyone settled down so they could start their intro. I could see Adam Savage look at me, so I gave him a little wave.

Adam did not wave back, all professional and distant and coolly detached, like an actor: “Oh, hello lowly peon in the audience. I see you there. I will pretend to greet you so that I appear human.” That is what I expected. I’ve seen it a thousand times on TV – on shows like Letterman, come to think of it. Actors point at various people in the audience, give winks and waves and generally ham it up. Right?

But Adam is not an actor. He is, apparently, a genuine human being. So instead of giving me the Famous Person casual nod, he leaned forward, shaded his eyes from the stage lights, and peered, trying to get a good look at me. I realized he thought I was a friend of his he was forgetting and he was trying really, really hard to recognize me so he could wave back: “Hello, old friend! I’m glad you’re here!”

I was mortified. Now what should I do? He didn’t know me. I felt like I was trying to cheat, trying to pretend a relationship we did not have. I felt like I’d accidentally invaded his privacy, like calling his cell phone when I shouldn’t even have the number. I just wanted to get him to wave at me, not have him practically come down into the audience and ask, “Sorry, I’m having trouble placing you. Where did we meet? What’s your name again?” I gave him a little shrug and looked away, anywhere, up, down. I wanted to sink into the floor. So. Embarrassed.

Other than that humiliating moment it was a great show and I enjoyed myself immensely.

Here’s the latest talk he gave about making things, which he calls the ten commandments of making. If you haven’t seen it yet, I think you might appreciate it. And if you happen to know Adam, tell him I said hello.