Float like a butterfly
Wednesday June 12th 2024, 8:53 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

The San Jose peregrine chick (eyas) named Lucia went to hop up on the low ledge a few days ago, overshot, and hopped clean over the thing like she’d jumped on a pogo stick. She was rescued and taken up to the roof. Two days later she was rescued again, but really really really wanted to be several floors below with her three sisters on the HVAC ledge.

Today that’s where the food was when she was hungry and she made it happen. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one manage to float back down to the nest area, much less one that’s not actually flying yet, but she did it!

Tip: toes
Tuesday June 11th 2024, 9:18 pm
Filed under: Knit

Yarn is spun under tension, and typically it is wound off into hanks, i.e. long donuts of wool and not the pull-fr0m-the-center balls of my childhood.

Hanking it I think means one less step for the mill to pay for but the main reason is, it’s a prettier way to show off the yarn and if it’s a multi-color you can see more of what you’re going to get.

But then it has to be wound into a ball.

Some shops will do it for you if they’re not busy right then, with a warning that that makes the purchase non-returnable.

Many knitters have swifts, ie umbrella-type thingummies for stretching the hank onto and having it twirl around while a ball is being wound, either by hand or by ball winder like the shops.

Then there are those silly purists who, even though they have a swift and a winder, think nothing beats the artistry of the perfectly hand wound ball even if it takes more time. (*cough* *cough* I don’t know ANYONE like THAT… Oh wait. I do.)

But a hank being wound without being held in tension can get snarled up, especially towards the end; I’ve been known to put two kitchen chairs back to back, drape the hanks over the both of them, and wind from there. I have also been known, if no one’s looking, to stand on one of those chairs while doing so so I don’t have to lean over so far, but don’t tell anyone, except that I’m sure the neighbors have done a what the heck? from their side of the window.

So. Tell me. How is it that having knit all these many many many years it never occurred to me before tonight that the perfect way and length for putting just enough tension to hold a hank of, say, Rios, while sitting comfortably no less–

–is to drape it from the middle of the leg to the underside of my toes while my left leg is crossing my right knee. Need to hold it a little more firmly? Stretch your foot a bit.

It was right there all along.

How did I never see this???

Intense mandarin muffins
Monday June 10th 2024, 9:27 pm
Filed under: Food,Recipes

Citrus has seasons, just like everything else, and right now the stores around here have small seedless mandarins. Trader Joe’s for one. Seedless is the only way to go for this, preferably organic.

Take a bag of those. I bought two pounds the first time, five the second because I wanted to be able to do this again any time I might want to in the year. Put them in a pot with enough water to cover them if they would stay under, which they won’t. Boil for twenty minutes. Drain. Puree. Pour into ice cube trays, silicone molds, whatever floats your boat but I find the silicone ones very easy to pop them out of after they’re frozen.

And there you have a strong orange flavor bomb to throw in anything. The freezing helps kill off any residual bitterness, just in case.


2 c almond flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

about a half cup sugar, about a spoonful less for me and more sugar than I usually use for muffins

Mix in

three eggs

1/3 c butter, melted, 1/4 works okay too

1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)

1/2 to 2/3 cup thawed orange bombs (takes about a minute in the microwave), get it up to just about but not more than the 3/4 c mark with a little plain Greek yogurt or make it all orange, up to you, but so far this is how I’ve done it.


Twelve muffin cups, 350F, 23-24 minutes or till a toothpick comes out clean.

SO good.

Second-hand Mom time
Sunday June 09th 2024, 9:53 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

I’ve been sitting here staring at the screen and thinking it was too big a day to squeeze into this little box in front of me.

Okay, let me try. Church renewed the soul, as it should; a dinner potluck with friends did, too. That ended early because there was this lecture that some people wanted to go to and it sounded interesting so we went, and… Yeah don’t have to do that one again. But whatever.

The one thing that saved it was that we ran into my second cousin (who had looked as ready for this to be over with as I had been) and her face lit up when I came over afterwards. Lisa told me she had seen my mom yesterday at her dad’s 95th birthday and how great my mom had looked. It clearly made her day to be able to tell me that, while I said, Happy Birthday to your dad!

He and my mom are the only two surviving grandchildren of their generation, their famous grandfather having been born in 1856. My grandmother had raised Lisa’s dad/Gram’s nephew for awhile after her sister/his mother had died from childbirth–penicillin was known but not widely enough available yet–and the two cousins are close.

I’m glad they got to see each other. I’m glad I got to see his daughter!

The baby blanket
Saturday June 08th 2024, 9:32 pm
Filed under: Knit

Lisa asked for more pictures. The house–note the window box with the extra line of purl stitches.

I originally had purl stitches across the very top of the house to continue the point at the top but didn’t like the effect and ended up dropping down eight rows to change those few.

Daisy stitch for the low hedges by the sides of the house, then the taller sunflowers (or you could call one of them a Narnia lamp.)

The whole thing was a doodle. Very soft and machine washable for the first-time mom, who will have a blanket for her baby that will be a one of a kind.

And then, while still feeling like moping that I didn’t have anything like that to work on, I surprised myself by finishing a cowl carry-around project. Hey. I do, I like that, too!

I immediately cast on a hat. Can’t let the momentum let up.


Friday June 07th 2024, 8:24 pm
Filed under: Family

Our youngest grand is four going on five. She decided she wanted to try out having shorter hair, and so her long hair that was nearly always pulled out of her face in a ponytail now has a sweet curl under her chin.

You know those little white stickers that say Best By (date) on stuff at the grocery store? They’re designed not to come off easily. Matter of fact, if long hair brushes against one that was only half attached, well, soap and cold water doesn’t get them out.

Hot water didn’t get them off. Last-resort alcohol wipes that typical remove adhesives didn’t really touch the stuff (those were followed by much rinsing).

It wasn’t till the brilliant thought of, well, how about oil, then?

Should have done that first. But by then the last half inch of that lock of hair looked like dreadlocks. Trying to tease out individual strands at a time rescued only a few. At least I’d managed to work the papery clump down that far, and I’d been planning on a trim soon anyway–

–and with that I snipped it off because I was dying to fall into bed and call it a day and be done with it all.

And so today I made that appointment and went in for that trim because it felt like I no longer really had a choice.

This much.

The stylist spritzed and combed, then held scissors and strands out for me to see, a little unsure: this much?

Me on impulse, wanting every tiny residual bit of that glue gone for good in case there was any left: how about another half inch?

Then there’s always that evening things out. Then she blowed dried it.

Which leaves me with a question mark. I won’t know till I let it curl itself up as it dries naturally just how short it’s going to look. It hasn’t been this short in twenty years. It’s what I had them do but it wasn’t what I’d planned. It feels very strange.

But I do know I get to go tell Lillian that I copied her pretty haircut. And you know she’s going to love that.

Thursday June 06th 2024, 9:45 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit

Back when I planted a tomato seedling in a pot and a sunflower popped up next to it, I wanted them both so I left it that way and thought of it as a science experiment.

I’m so glad I did. I love looking out the window and seeing that sun-of-the-earth.

The sunflower is going to be done and gone long before the cherry tomato, which will take off from there.

Meantime, I just ran the ends in on the blanket. It came out of the blocking not only remarkably soft, as Rios is, but the gray shows how a good worsted-spun merino, where the fibers are combed to all run in the same direction, can have such a beautiful sheen to it.

Don’t make a hobbit of it
Wednesday June 05th 2024, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Life

Picture #11 really sells the place. That train wreck was a long time coming. Although I bet the heating and cooling bills were low after that glacier of grass swept halfway over the house. Wow.

We could have a little fun making up AirBnB-type ads for the place. The che-Shire cat: come see the disappearing home! It’s got the Ring halfway on!

Meantime, yesterday I was trying to make an appointment about that rib but the Medicare bounced. I spent two hours on the phone, with Medicare insisting it wasn’t a problem at their end.

Without that cleared the clinic would not book me an appointment, because not only would I not be reimbursed, if I ever–once–paid out of pocket I would be kicked off Medicare for life.


Which is why I’m mentioning any of this at all, because who wants to learn that one the hard way.

At long long last the doctor’s office realized that why yes in fact we did spell your name wrong and that’s the problem. But by that point all the appointments were gone and I had to settle for waiting till today and someone I’d never met.

Which is how I met a great guy I’d be happy to be sent to anytime.

The x-ray came back: no breaks. Yay!

Baby hat do doo do do dah do
Tuesday June 04th 2024, 9:32 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

There was maybe even going to be a matching hat and cowl.

We went to a ward picnic last night at a park that always has a cold breeze coming off the Bay in the evening. Quite a few of us wore warm vests even though we didn’t quite need them when we arrived but we knew we would soon.

The start of the cowl was my carry-around project; on impulse I tucked the hat in too on the way out the door. You never know.

About an hour and a half in, there was a young dad in short sleeves rubbing his arms against the cold. His wife had their baby in a front pack and that was keeping them both a little warmer.

The baby wasn’t complaining in the slightest; he had way too many interesting new things to look at: people with unfamiliar faces but far enough way to safely just be interesting, a pick-up game of softball on the field with kids and grownups alike, Chinese elm trees waving long boas of green on the breeze, neighbors walking their dogs around the perimeter, and the smells. Mown grass. (That is no longer common around here.) Hot dogs on the grill. Salad. Fruit. Brownies. You name it. (I wonder how those come across if the only solid food you’ve ever tasted so far is something like rice goop.)

I did a mental check. Yeah the colors would do, and I said to the dad, “You look cold” as I pulled the hat out of my purse.

Yeah, it is, he said gratefully as he instantly turned with it to put it on his small son, folding it over and over to make it work into quite the headsweater. The baby had a big head but not that big but he made it work.

The thought of putting it on his own head hadn’t remotely occurred to him and his wife got to see her husband putting their child first, though I’m sure it was absolutely no surprise to her.

But I don’t really know them yet. Or rather, didn’t. It made me smile all day today, too.

Starting a project is when it’s at its lightest
Monday June 03rd 2024, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Life

Finished the baby afghan.

Reached over the back of the chair behind me for a different skein of yarn with the usual level of klutziness and I was taken aback that kind of falling on that wooden edge hurt at all, much less like… But eh.

But not eh, as the day went on. Do not twist, do not lift that stoneware, do not laugh. I did anyway, being the boss of me and all that.

So it appears to be round three of, looks like I’ll call the doctor in the morning in order to be told that yes I did break that rib. But we’ll see.

Salt and pepper
Sunday June 02nd 2024, 8:59 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

They’re noticeably different even from yesterday as those dark feathers grow in. This year’s four baby peregrines at San Jose City Hall are all females this year. The fluff is turning into dandelion puffs on the wind and they are getting ready to ride its updrafts.

Saturday June 01st 2024, 9:08 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I have forever remembered with great fondness a graduation party I went to: high school was over and it was one last chance to see old friends before we might not ever again. So much emotion and appreciation and, frankly, grief.

The woman hosting it was someone I had always very much looked up to. I never did get to see Susan again, not so far, at least. But she found my blog and I ended up with a beautiful lap quilt that her four year old granddaughter had helped her with and I treasure it.

So when the neighbor next door let us know well in advance that she was throwing a graduation party for her kid, when it would be and what to expect, I was so happy. It’s going on right now.

An Amazon driver was walking to then from our door with a look of take-this-job-and-! so I opened it and waved and yelled Thank you! as she got to the sidewalk.

She looked in the direction of the neighbors and back at me to see what I thought of all of this and all these cars that had made it so she’d had to walk in Amazon only knows how far to get to our house. There was no way her truck would have been able to turn around at the end of our street.

Thank you! I cheerfully yelled again–and this time I watched her whole demeanor change: her face totally lit up.

I could just imagine her thinking along with me that these are the kids who spent so much of their teen socialization years in quarantine, in isolation, in loneliness; there is no substitute for being with friends in person.

And then they could. Right this very minute they could again. All this lost time to make up for. They weren’t being obnoxious or even overly loud but they were clearly having the time of their lives and squeezing out every moment of being together.


For one last day. They will treasure the memory. They will always hold those friends dear, wherever they may end up.

To life!

Earth mother
Friday May 31st 2024, 9:13 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life,Lupus

(Foil at bottom to thwart slugs.)

The ordinary weekly chore of dragging the hose around the yard, pointing it towards a tree, setting a timer, BRAAAAAP then the next then the next then the next, repeat, while taking the time to closely see the changes: some week by week, some from even just this morning when my tomato was an inch shorter and the netting tent was tall enough.

This is why I haven’t put in an automatic system. There’s calibrating to varied sizes while knowing the sizes will change but also I seem to want it to make me have to go out and spend one-on-one time with the outdoors in the evening, when I finally can in the day.

Everything’s growing. Everything’s reaching up and out to what each plant or tree was meant to be. The best of the sun to them all.

These are the moments when I think having something living to watch and nurture and see responding to care, even a seedling in a paper cup, is as necessary to the soul as the air that we breathe.

The verdict
Thursday May 30th 2024, 8:59 pm
Filed under: Family,History

It’s not just twelve. It’s not even just 34. It’s 408 individual decisions, after hearing and observing and considering all the evidence and asking for a repeat on salient points and then coming to a unanimous decision of unanimously guilty.

Even from the guy who at the outset said he got his news from the former guy’s website: thirty-four of those decisions were made by him.

As Doonesbury cartooned re Nixon years ago, GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY!

Knowing all that the little mobster’s minions were capable of, those jurors chose to vote what they knew to be true for our children’s children’s children’s sakes as well as ours. They are heroes.

An hour later, my phone rang.

A driver had zoomed through a right-on-red and suddenly found my kid on the hood of their car, waved hi as the pedestrian slid off, and kept on going.

The car coming up behind him was an ambulance. A picture got taken of the guy’s license plate and they called another ambulance and the cops.

The ER said no breaks found, and that is a very very good thing, but it’s going to hurt for awhile.

Meantime, the jury in New York City decided that there would be no breaks in the rule of law no matter what the defendant’s former title was–not on their watch!

Reminding them what the law says
Wednesday May 29th 2024, 9:32 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

Jamie Raskin, former Constitutional law professor, later impeachment manager in the House, wrote a piece for the New York Times.

Most of us have heard of the insurrectionist flag Samual Alito flew at his beach house and the upside down US flag (also a symbol co-opted by the January Six-ers) at his home. He claims the latter started after his wife had had a tiff with a neighbor and that she did it; but his story keeps changing. (Edit: new details here.)

Meantime, the Supreme Court majority has refused for months to rule on Trump’s absurd claim of absolute immunity, including, it was spelled out, the right to assassinate his opponents.

Which, a year from now, could include the Supreme Court itself.

Senator Durbin wrote to John Roberts asking that Alito recuse on the immunity case.

Alito himself wrote back defying him.

For those who don’t get the Times, Raskin said that there is another option: the Justice Department can request that the other members of the Court require Alito to recuse.

And here’s why that’s possible: there was an elected Chief Justice in West Virginia fourteen years ago who had a case before him of a coal executive who had donated millions to the campaign that got that judge that judgeship. Not cool.

So Congress passed a law stating that in cases where there is a reasonably perceived lack of impartiality, judges and justices–specifically including those on the Supreme Court–can be required by law to recuse themselves and it spelled out how that is to be done.

The Supreme Court Justices can do it themselves, whether Merrick Garland moves on this or not, but if he does, then, by law, they must order that recusal.

And it wouldn’t just be Alito. Clarence Thomas’s wife allegedly funded transportation for busloads of insurrectionists and Thomas was the sole vote backing Trump’s effort to keep his Presidential records out of the hands of the Congressional January 6 investigative committee.

So now we’ll see whether the other members of the Supreme Court will choose to uphold the Constitution and the law. Now that the rest of us know what that one says.

Or not.

VOTE. Our democracy depends on every single vote.