‘Cot in the act
Saturday March 06th 2021, 11:29 pm
Filed under: Garden

Stretches and back exercises and ice packs and we’re both doing better today than either of us expected to, which is a relief.

Meantime, I took a closer look at this one apricot at front left of the Jiffy pots; it hasn’t been shooting up like the other two planted at the same time. Turns out it has three side branches, each with its own tiny cluster of new leaves, and the stem is thicker than on the biggest plant. If I wanted a more dwarf tree, this looks like a good bet so far. Here, let me get you a closeup.

And new growth at the top of the stem isn’t red, either. It’s definitely different.

All three in such varying sizes had their roots make it through the bottoms of the Jiffy pots for the first time today, the smallest, branching one the most so. Curious.

I’ve mailed out eight packages of three kernels and rooting plugs each at this point and I thought I’d mention to those trying this at home: most apricots don’t need a pollinator, but since there’s no way to be absolutely sure, and if you want to keep yours small, one thing mentioned by one wholesale grower is to plant two fruit trees of the same rootstock type in one hole, side by side, maybe a foot apart. They’ll pollinate each other and by competing for root space they’ll keep each other small.

And, in this case, for if you want to hedge your bets on how their eventual fruit tastes. You could always try your hand at grafting branches from a great one onto the less great should one fall short.

Mine are going to stay in large pots for at least this first year to try to keep them up and out of reach of wild rabbits and snails while they’re at their most vulnerable. My hope is to keep them happy in them for long enough to be able to choose the best.

There is an onramp to an overpass nearby that certainly has room and sun for an extra tree to be snuck in among the others there (given how many more of these I’ve now planted) –the only thing that stops the thought is, how would I get away with watering my guerrilla gardening? And you have to in our rainless summers. But there are so many people who need that fruit.

I have four kernels left in the fridge, the smallest and most shriveled ones. Which doesn’t mean a thing as to their character as far as I know. In case there’s anyone else out there who’d like to give a seed from an Anya a try. Last call.



Takes two to tumble
Friday March 05th 2021, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

In answer to Chris and Sharon, Richard was the one who started talking over a year ago about eventually retiring near the grands. The ones south have a great deal of family very close by, the ones north, none whatsoever. But right now he’s happy to be here and in the After Times they’ll all be easy to fly to.

But you move to a place where you’d want to live anyway even if the kids were to take a new job and not stay where you’ve moved to. He does like Portland. I think I was ten the last time I was there other than in the airport so I wanted to familiarize myself a bit.

But we’re happy with our neighborhood and friends, and peaches and blueberries that blossom in January, I mean, how do you beat that?

Speaking of those peaches.

The one that started blooming a month ago is now about 2/3 of the way leafed out and it’s finally going to rain tonight.

The growing-leaves stage mixed with cold weather is how you get peach leaf curl attacks; once they’re fully leafed out the fungus is somehow powerless, and it can’t grow in warmth. It wants new growth on a chilly night.

We get ocean cold with our rain.

The local gardening columnist said to put a lightweight frost cover over to help keep the rain off. Well, we have those for sure, although it would take two of us to try to wrangle it over.

My sweetie was very dubious about this idea but he wanted to be supportive. I couldn’t do it by myself: after days of warning spasms from having to haul all those wet clothes around in the water heater blowup, after carefully doing back exercises to ward off what they threatened to become, this afternoon I bent over a box that had been delivered and without even picking it up it felled me right there for a moment. Protests of innocence at it got me nowhere. Here we were again.

It took me awhile to be able to stand up so as to go get an ice pack.

But I really wanted that tree covered, and the ice packs were helping some, so we went out there tonight together to try to wrangle the thing. Visions of summertime peaches right outside the door can get the better of you like that.

He got the fruit picker to try to maneuver the thing over the top–and not knowing I had just fallen down on the other side of the cloth with my foot tangled in the acanthus stems that border the tree, he caught his own foot and fell with the picker and bloodied his face–thankfully not against the tines. I finally extricated myself at the sound of his voice and got over there, where he then tried to get up by holding onto the picker held upright for leverage so I tried to hold onto it on the other side to steady it for him.

With a man more than twice my weight and a back already like that.

And now his matches.

He wasn’t surprised when I told him his shoulder was green.

It’s a really good thing our house is a ranch right now.

It’s time to look at each other wryly and say in unison, and not for the first time, Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to do that?



The kitchen in the attic
Thursday March 04th 2021, 11:06 pm
Filed under: Life

A few moments of, wait, what?

I pictured the balancing act of trying to lift something heavy or awkward in or out of these cabinets. If that place were a business OSHA would be having words with them.

On this one, I started off thinking, wow, you can get an actual mansion for what you could sell a Silicon Valley postwar tract house for–and then I got to the master bath. Where the tile edging on the vanity and up the side of the shower is a motif of lipsticks. With walls the color of–okay, Tammy Faye Baker’s old news, who’s famous these days for outrageous shades of brilliant rosy red on their face?

And then we get to a cute old house that the owners were clearly trying to make over for its big day on the market along with its ADU over the garage.

But someone way mismeasured for that countertop. And you know it’s new, because the backsplash behind it is the latest fad that will age every house it’s in 30 years from now and that home has already been around the block. I did a double take. Go look at that sideways fridge, it’s a hoot, and the cart blocking it from being rolled out is even funnier: you WILL diet. No more pandemic munching for you!

To be fair, maybe it’s the angle of the camera and the corner of the fridge isn’t bumping the ceiling.

But oh, then there’s this one. I’ve always adored stone houses. And with a play structure for the grands, room to run, and the waterfront just far enough away for while they’re little?

I clicked on the street view and thought it was showing the wrong address. It wasn’t; it was just showing what it used to look like.

Man did that house get Cinderalla-ed.

That light-filled addition at the front completely changes the whole character of the thing and it’s just stunning.

Note that the child’s play structure at the side got changed to one for an older child and the trees have grown since Google drove by.

And there’s enough light and space in that atrium that you could grow a dwarf mango in a pot there. Y’know, the important things.



Pony, express
Wednesday March 03rd 2021, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Life

This is so cool. A woman in North Carolina who grew up on a horse farm is volunteering her horses for kids to read to them, and sometimes ride them.

The horses feel loved that someone is taking the time to talk to them and they hold still while they do. The kids feel the attention of the horses with no correcting or feeling judged if they get a word wrong, in a community whose literacy rate needs help.

In some cases where parents cannot get their kids to the horses, the horses have come to them.

If the Washington Post’s paywall doesn’t get in the way, go read it. It’s such a great story.



He got us in hot water
Tuesday March 02nd 2021, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Life

For the record: today, March 2, 2021, the new water heater was installed by JohnA at Water Heaters Only with a six year warranty promised on the thing.

I have never been offered a warranty on one before. We hired the people who only do this one thing because they have a good reputation and they get it done for you that day, but this was better than I’d hoped.

The last time one flooded the master closet it was a Saturday when I was off at Stitches West for what turned out to be the last day my minivan was still running.

This time I was the one who had to deal with all the googling and the calling and the emptying and the cleaning.

The carpeting got ripped out that time and a new floor put in there. We may need a do-over.

There was a pan under the tank and a spigot and it was supposed to empty outside, and it did but there was way more water than it could handle. There is now a wider taller beautiful much more functional pan, not smashed in on the side by the guy putting the heater in over it this time, our beautiful new water heater, and (shout it from the rooftops) it does not have a thermocouple! The part that broke every two years!

The guy on the phone had asked me to read off the model number and when I did, went, Oh, that’s an old one!

(Yeah, it was an old model when we got it that the other guy must have gotten a very good deal on at closeout but we had no way to know that at the time.)

It is amazing how much stops when you don’t have hot water. Yes, Texas, I know, but still.

It is amazing how cold a tub can still be in the morning after three large pots’ worth of hot water off the stove gets dumped in with the chilly stuff when there wasn’t even that much of the chilly stuff.

It is mind boggling how much stuff was in that closet that reached the floor, how much water it soaked up into the clothes that didn’t, how many loads of laundry had to be done (nonstop the whole blinking day), how many things had to be aired out and dried. And oops that hanger with the paper across the bottom is still wet.

I was almost too tired to knit, but I even got a little bit of that done at a moment when I had to just stop right there and put my feet up while the washer washed. One lace motif done. Yay.

So I measured and yes my apricot seedling hit 6″ today. Grow tree grow!



Derelicted
Monday March 01st 2021, 11:24 pm
Filed under: History,Knit,Spinning

An 1829 stone mill in England, powered by the nearby stream (until it wasn’t.)

The Rowan Yarns sign someone threw out the window.

So many broken windows.

Scrolling some more… All. Those. Cones. of yarns, just left there to go down with the buildings, although it says the lovely old stone one might yet be saved.

The chatter on Ravelry, with someone checking their stashed orange yarn from Colourmart and there it was: the tag showing that it had come from that mill.

To quote them as they quoted Colourmart:

“one of our mill suppliers found this yarn in a warehouse they have taken over. They think it may be pure cashmere, but it might just be a cashmere mix (with perhaps wool or silk). It definitely feels like it has cashmere in it to us so we have shown it as 10% cashmere, we think more, but we are selling it cheap, for just a bit more than our wool price 🙂

Sounds like the Hinchcliffe’s take over of Dobroyd Mill in the 90s.”

I said to my Richard, looking at the cones left behind and the descriptions, All that cashmere!

His reaction was, All those moths by now.

And a lightbulb went off.

The tag is so faded. It was a year-end super duper one-off special quite awhile ago where I got a kilo of cobweb weight cashmere, no guesswork on the fiber on that one, for $50 postpaid. (Frankly, it’s a lifetime supply for making wedding-ring lace shawls. In black no less for my aging eyes.)

I remember I bought a second one with no tag, just their description online like the quote above–with a warning that it had some moth damage, so it was even cheaper ($25/kilo I think) and like all Colourmart cones came in its own heavy clear plastic, sealed off. I put it in the freezer on alternate days to kill any bugs, then have their eggs hatch in the thawing, and then to kill those off too. Repeat to be on the safe side.

I’m not sure, but I just might have a cone or two from that beautiful old mill, too.



Not an angora
Monday March 01st 2021, 12:01 am
Filed under: Friends,Life,Spinning

Someone in a breakout room after Zoom church said something to me about someone’s video and I explained about not hearing well without closed captions.

This is someone who’s known me for 34 years but she was astonished, and tried to explain how watching a video works. You just listen! Like we’re doing right now! Not noticing that I’d asked for repeats quite a few times while trying not to dominate the conversation by my deficits.

I explained that my hearing aids need to be replaced, my audiologist just retired, and with the pandemic I just haven’t gotten out there. I have to make do with these for the moment.

Still she stayed baffled, and hearing-splained it to me again how simple it was: you turn on the video and you listen to it. While I was sitting there thinking, wait what? Are you okay?

Then later she said something that was even more off–such that for the first time I found myself counting up to figure out how old she was (80 can’t be too far off) and wondering how her family is doing if this is becoming their normal. Huh.

It was that or be offended. Actually I confess I was, while trying hard not to be–not so much for myself but because I knew it could hurt a friend who has a lot on her plate right now.

It helped that the woman was struggling to remember if she was getting this right. She wasn’t.

I shot off an email to my very patient friend Afton and tried to be over it.

And then the doorbell rang.

It was a new couple from church whom I’d only seen by Zoom with their young son: they had baked us some bread.

I had seen their son helping his mom working on that loaf at the end of the Relief Society Zoom because that’s when the meeting was and they wanted to get it to us before dinner and the timing was what it was, but I didn’t know any of that.

The kid had the bread. The dad was holding…

…A beautiful, big, tawny-colored rabbit about the size of a Maine Coon cat. Who was absolutely chill with having a complete stranger pet it behind the ears and down its soft back. I asked if I should have it sniff my hand first like a dog would want and they said, No, just go ahead and pet him, he’s cool.

Little tufts of light and dark blondnesses wafted into the air.

I mentioned the spinning wheel and the hair scrunchy I once made from a friend’s dog.

They got pretty excited and there are now definite plans to comb the rabbit. It’s not a long haired one but we can make do.

They had no way to know they had totally saved the day. The worry over that thing someone had said who probably really isn’t responsible for it anymore? It went poof with the lightness of bunny fluff floating on the breeze.



Gradations
Saturday February 27th 2021, 11:22 pm
Filed under: Garden

One to five and a half inches. Three were started at the same time, the littlest later and popped up last week.

So I celebrated by planting some of my sister’s Lebanon White squash seeds she sent me, a variety I know absolutely nothing about other than that she likes them, and some zucchini, along with a pepper that one of my friends reacted to the idea last year with, Oh, that’s cool!

And another with, Then what’s the point?

Heatless Habaneros: all of the flavor, none of the pain. Last time I tried they were plantless seeds and a moot point. This time I have those rooting-hormone plugs on my side. The seeds are a year older, but so were the butternut squash and four out of six of those came up.

I still have another two dozen kernels from the exquisite Anya apricots, if anyone else would like to try growing a few; my plan is to go to the post office Monday and after that wait to go out again till after the vaccines we’ll be eligible for in two weeks. Plunk’em in a plug. Get your head start now.



Stone house, Lynne Stone
Friday February 26th 2021, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Life

Anne was right on that last house: it *is* an elevator! Now with photos of a bit of the upstairs, too, to make more sense of the place and with total art world speak to describe how it came to be.

Meantime, here’s someone I’d definitely want to take textile art classes from. Look at those flowers: she made them. With embroidery thread. Bottlebrush plants took her 20 years’ work to get just right, but it helped her figure out what she needed to know to go much faster with the process. Her work is in a museum, as well it should be. Gorgeous.



Butter emails
Thursday February 25th 2021, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Food,History,Politics

The question on everyone’s minds, clearly, is this: does your butter still spread on your bread?

Who expected an outcome of the pandemic to be, and I quote, rubbery butter?

Who knew that farmers fed their cows palm oil? But apparently they do, and in Canada it has become an issue.

Since everybody’s home quarantining, more people are baking, and they’re using more butter than normal, and the farmers needed to step up production to meet the demand.

So they increased the palm oil in the animals’ feed, (bbcnews link) which apparently does work at upping the fat content in their milk.

Making the resulting lipids not traditionally soft at room temperature anymore.

The farmers, after saying, hey, the US and the UK do this too and it’s not new made clear their intention towards us consumers: Let them eat cake.



Astronaut helmets
Wednesday February 24th 2021, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Family

The message: ‘What do you think?’

I clicked.

I guffawed. They even used NASA in some of the poses. I think the space enthusiast has been watching too many Mars Rover segments (with good reason, given that his old team wrote some of the early software.)

‘It would make it hard to get a decent haircut,’ I typed back for him to read when he had a moment in his workday.

I later pointed out that within a week of when such a thing could get here, the 1C segment of the population is supposed to be able to get our first shots in this area.

Oh. (I saw in his face the lovely thought growing that all this pandemic stuff could really, actually, finally end…) That’s right.

Spaceman Spiff, over it and out.



Home sweet –whoops!
Tuesday February 23rd 2021, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Life

Houses again.

Tell me: how is this up to code? You take something out of the dishwasher, you step towards the table to set it, and you’re falling backwards down the stairs.The condition of the wall down there implies you wouldn’t be the first.

Or picture #30 in this one, because don’t we all need space in the garage of our 1.84M house for an almost-new supersized backhoe? With room left over for your tools, bicycles, and a leather couch!

And now! Drumroll. For when your inner unicorn needs its sparkle polished. This one. Michelle calls it a cross between an office and a YMCA. I noted the Ikea-imitating bed in the 7.77M house, the only sign that the thing actually has the bedrooms it says it does.

That figurine knife holder seems to be auditioning for Shakespeare’s, “Et tu, Brute?” line. While the fat chicken smirks.

We debated whether picture 16 was a bathroom or an elevator. Maybe both?

I can’t help but notice that the property tax is estimated at $7260/month and the rental value at $1802/month. I’m just not sure that that works out.



The AI couldn’t get the math right
Monday February 22nd 2021, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit

The leaves are getting bigger.

Four inches. Curious. At 1/4″ a day if it keeps that up it would be six feet tall by the time it drops its leaves for the winter.

Except that it would be pruned and shaped before that point and all the side branching will take up energy, too. Still. It’s feeling pretty good right now, watching it take off like this.

That one apricot seedling I kept last year possibly got overwatered and stopped growing and I’m waiting to see if it will leaf out at all this year, so it feels all the better to have a vigorous, healthy plant. Last year I gave away the vigorous one, thinking I’d have a more dwarf variant because the other grew slower.

Until it didn’t at all.

Meantime, someone tried to teach a machine how to write knitting patterns. “And it even began to give its patterns names, including Spinches Bottom Up, Squig Dyity, and Owls Punch.”

Interweave warned its readers, Don’t swatch this at home.



When everything is new
Sunday February 21st 2021, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden

I’ve been trying to take progress pictures from the same angle and against that narrow line on the basket where the wood end sticks out like a belt loop between the apricot seedlings. The taller one is now 3 3/4″.

Not bad for something planted January 11; last year it took till April just for them to sprout. Which is why I’m so taken with the plugs infused with rooting hormone that I tried this year–I’m getting a two month head start on my future fruit bearing while hoping that ends up cutting off a year of waiting to see how they’ll turn out.

Meantime, Lillian wanted to know what happened to that white snow stuff and where did this water come from.



Snow days
Saturday February 20th 2021, 11:43 pm
Filed under: History,Life

Things I learned:

If you have a defibrillator, do not put an iPhone 12 in your chest pocket–its magnet is strong enough to turn it off.

If you go camping in the out yonder in Alaska in the winter, take a flashlight with you and look down in the outhouse because you don’t want to be bitten by a bear when you sit. (She’s okay.)

But the best story was the woman who was delivering groceries to a couple in Texas but her car slid down their hilly driveway and got stuck in their flower bed. There were just no spare tow trucks out there.

She got taken in by the couple whom she’d delivered to, offering her heat and power and a safe place to stay, whereas it turned out her own apartment had none of those things and no water. They tried to help with her car but had no snow shovels.

So they took her in as if she were their own, just as they would want someone to do for their own grown daughters. For five days.

I mentioned that one to my husband and he told me his sister in Ft. Worth had taken people in, too. Power, water, warmth, and safety. Because she can. So you do.