Five pounds and more still on it
Monday June 24th 2019, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden

I procrastinated picking them: I wanted my sister- and brother-in-law to see my little tree at its prettiest.

Which turned out to be a good thing, because I didn’t know just how deep a red those tart cherries could get to nor how big they could be nor just how good. After all, I’d only ever gotten a few in the tree’s young life and those had been picked early (it turns out) while trying to thwart the birds.

All I can guess is that putting sunflower seeds in the feeder for the first time in several years enticed them to eat that instead of my cherries; there were very few bites and the tree was loaded like it has never been before and it stayed loaded. Give it a few years’ growth and I’m going to have to ask friends to come help pick some for themselves. I don’t think they’ll mind. Fresh tart cherries are very rare in California–for a hundred years it was a given that there weren’t enough chill hours to grow them here.

Actually, some varieties, it turns out, you can. English Morello for the win.

Thank you Mathias
Sunday June 23rd 2019, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

A two year old started randomly yelling in the middle of church today insisting he wanted a donut and got taken outside a moment by his mom to be shushed, along with a couple of other toddlers who chimed in. I mean, who wouldn’t want donuts? Where were their donuts?

Which is how his mom and those few others saw the arsonist setting the fire that was starting to whoosh up the dry hillside right to where there was a chapel full of people who had no idea what was happening behind them. It came close.

Everybody is okay. We are praying hard that the guy is somehow caught and stopped.

Out of the mouths of babes, oh Lord, Thou has perfected praise.

Into the woods
Saturday June 22nd 2019, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Twisty, windy, blind-curved mountain roads, past Alice’s Restaurant in La Honda where there were motorcycles parked everywhere and across the intersection and a sign said, loudly, HAM RADIO operators something-something and I looked at the resident ham with a question mark but no, he doesn’t even ride a motorcycle…

And then the state park we had come for. Redwoods like Muir Woods without the distance nor the crush of summer people.

My brother-in-law was admiring a set of giants just after the four of us got out of the car and gave a chuckle when I told them that a circle of redwood trunks like that is called a fairy circle. (Right. They’re so dainty, aren’t they?) They all come up from the same set of roots, and, (coming on to the next one) see this bit of growth at the bottom? That’ll be the next one. All part of the same entity.

There’s no knowing how long ago this one played Hulk! Smash! on its way down, but somehow the bottom of it looks like a wild boar to me.

Or maybe that’s just its tutu?

Happy Solstice
Friday June 21st 2019, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Knit

Since I am alternating rows to blend dye lots, I am now on skeins 13 and 14, at, unstretched, about 49″ square.

I had to pick something up the other day that I knew was going to be good and heavy–and to my surprise it wasn’t so much this time.

I guess all those dozens and dozens of hours of lifting and moving and shifting all that wool in my lap as I worked across those rows is paying off!

It finally let me take its picture
Thursday June 20th 2019, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

The new Cooper’s hawks are finally starting to get a little more comfortable with our watching them.

If they have hungry kids to feed and we have their dinner waiting that probably offers some incentive, but in the meantime I’ve done my best to radiate love and gratitude for their presence (while averting my eyes often enough so as not to be challenging them) in hopes that somehow a wild thing could feel that. Can’t hurt.

I dunno, all I know is I’m suddenly seeing them three days in a row and this one was comfortable with my not only moving but putting a dark object in front of my face. First time ever.

It landed after everything had scattered. It started strolling innocently past the bushes, looked over its shoulder, went away from the birdnetting over the mandarin tree and closer to the coffeeberries, and then stuck its head far into the space it could not otherwise fit into.

About thirty seconds into that, a finch freaked, somehow made it past it, and tried so hard to zig zag out of there that the hawk almost did a twirl in its pursuit, wings and tail wide open.

A mighty wingbeat towards the right and then, as always, the roof of the house broke my view and cliffhangered the ending.

She was named by a kindergarten class in San Francisco
Wednesday June 19th 2019, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

A quick note re the San Jose City Hall peregrine falcons, long of interest to me because I used to be one of the falcon-cam volunteers: Clara’s been the matriarch of that nest for fourteen years.

It seems like just about every year there’s a fly-by by some other falcon looking for a good spot, and Clara and her mates have been swift to fend them off and away from the 18th floor enclosed HVAC ledge that provides such a perfect spot for their eyases to hatch, grow, explore, and take off from.

Her mates have been fought off and replaced from time to time by other males, but Clara’s ruled the roost since that building was built.

The last two years she laid four eggs but one didn’t hatch. She was getting older. There were more confrontations with intruders testing for potential takeovers than in the past.

This year’s three young had fledged successfully and were just starting to learn the ropes of handing off food mid-air from their parents, with the next step being to learn how to hunt their own before their parents would stop feeding them.

Which hopefully all happened/is happening. But suddenly all five of them, parents and young, were banished, and a banded falcon soon identified as Grace from San Francisco’s 2016 nest had claimed the territory along with her unbanded, unnamed-as-yet mate. This was just too good a territory to pass up–nice and high and all the pigeons you could ever ask for–and clearly they’d been willing to fight for it.

How many of those previous intrusions were these two one can only guess.

Here’s a video of Grace, above, while the tiercel (ie the male) inspects the nest box, going, Yes. Yes. Yes this will do, uh huh. Nice *paint job. Like the gravel flooring. Sold!

The kicker is that both yesterday and today a pair of pigeons flew into that nest box and settled in as if they owned the place. They never would have dared around Clara–they would have been dinner.

Breeding season being effectively over, the new peregrines seem not to have entirely moved in yet after the closing.


*An in-joke. The splashes of white from all those babies over the years is referred to as peregrine paint among the local watchers. The fascinating thing is that from the moment they can wobble on their brand new legs the eyases poop as far away from where they nest as possible.

Purple Wonders
Tuesday June 18th 2019, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden

I have just a trio of strawberry plants in a planter as an experiment; they were a bit of a splurge and I wanted to see how they would do before I got more. Starting in January or February we get the occasional amuse-bouche from them: one for you, one for me. Or maybe we split an only. They aren’t terribly big.

June, though, is a strawberry’s favorite month.

My sister-in-law wanted to see how the yard looks like these days, so once the sun got low we did a little walk-around, her face lighting up again and again as I said our first pomegranates ever were beginning, our first good crop of tart cherries is about ready, we’ve got tomatoes kind of scattered around to test where the sun is best like the one hiding behind that sweet cherry over there.

She didn’t remember that we had a mango, and was intrigued.

Mandarin, cherry, peach, lemon, plum, fig, apple, pear…

“Is this where you fell?”

“Stepping over that, yes.”

Coming back she glanced at that pot, saw what I had not and exclaimed, “Oh! Strawberries!” A red one was peeking out from the leaves, and I lifted the netting tent off and handed it to her, looked around and found two more. That would make one for Richard, one for her, one for me.

I was going to take them inside and rinse them first (one pretends to be proper when one has company) but hers looked clean and she popped it right in her mouth, just like I do.

She stopped right there with a look on her face almost to pain. I was suddenly afraid she’d gotten a bad one–there’s a reason they call them straw berries and I don’t have any straw. I’ve lost a few to them sinking into the dirt and looking perfect on top while rotting out the bottom after a watering.

Quite unsure, I asked, “Is it good?”

She swooned. “Now THAT. Is a STRAWBERRY!!!”

Which is how she got the other two.

Monday June 17th 2019, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden,Life

The good news is I got all the trees watered.

The bad part was stepping out of the tall raised bed that runs the length of the back, having my foot skid out from under me and going over and down.

Some people do tattoos. I do a more temporary cherry and plum version.

Meantime, I popped one of these in my mouth and confirmed that I do need to start picking them. I held off, though, so my sister-in-law could get to do it too when she gets here tomorrow, if she wants. Pie, anyone?

Happy Father’s Day
Sunday June 16th 2019, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Family

It was great to talk to our kids.

And man, it felt good to hear my dad’s voice. Cheerful, welcoming, happy, so glad to hear our voices, ever the best a dad could be, and I felt all over again just how lucky I am that I got to have him as my dad.

A quick note after celebrating our friend Lee’s birthday
Saturday June 15th 2019, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Garden

My sister-and brother-in-law are arriving this coming week.

Ripen fast, guys.

Warm comfort
Friday June 14th 2019, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Knit

So there was this big, soft, lace shawl. The yarn is lovely, dyed by Lisa Souza. I made it awhile ago, and if I were making it now I’d finesse a few things on it pattern-wise but it is what it is.

For quite awhile I’ve thought it would be just the colors for J. She would love it. It’s pretty.

And yet nothing came of that–it sat there, when it could actually be doing something for her, and that bugged me.

And yet every time I started in the direction of mailing it to her, somehow…it…fizzled out, and I could see no excuse for that. I would search for faults in myself as to why, faults in it, wondering if not that then what was I going to make her and, in the middle of my major afghan project, when?

Yesterday, and from my physical distance where I don’t see her day to day I wasn’t expecting this at all, she opened up. A little, but also a lot. About dealing with the anniversaries of, separately, her mother and her 20-year-old son, and it was not a good day. I knew her father had also recently passed. Things were sufficiently hard that she wasn’t sure that she could continue on through the pain.

We talked about that a little, with me saying there are people I do not and will not know how to comfort the same way she can. I’ve never had to order the plug pulled on my loved one. I’ve never borne that heavy a weight. Only she can help the next person through it. The world needs her and the compassion she brings to everyone around her.

And then I told her I would give her a tracking number in the morning.

She instantly knew what I was up to–what it would be she had no idea, but, she’s totally on to me. Which was part of the point: giving her something in tomorrow and the next day and the next (since it’s the weekend) to look forward to and then have as a reminder for all of her life to come of just how much she is loved. I plan to message her another tracking number next week with something different. One. Day. At. A. Time. Till it gets better. It can. It will. I’m there for her.

That trip to the post office was one of the most important I have ever done and today is the day it needed to happen.

Protecting others is the right thing to do
Thursday June 13th 2019, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

(Dwarf hydrangea from a florist, a gift a few years ago from my friend Edie that has naturalized beautifully in my yard.)

One of my friends had someone hijack her FB post to take it on an anti-vaxxer rant.

Which helped me walk away from the whole thing and go finish that fifteenth long afghan row of the day.

But while I was knitting, just amazed yet again that someone would be so afraid of autism that even if vaccines caused it, which they don’t, that they would be willing to hurt or kill my child or theirs or anybody on chemo or any child too young for their shots–to try not to have to parent a kid who saw the world differently? Huh?

And then the sudden thought. I know from a friend with a severely autistic son that statistically the people most likely to have an autistic child already have one–there is a clear genetic component.

But still, the question I might ask the next such person is this: If someone came up with a vaccine to protect against developing autism, would you give it to your child?

Loud restaurant
Wednesday June 12th 2019, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life,Lupus

How I managed to polish off nearly my entire big piece of whipped-cream-and-berry-stuffed birthday cake afterwards. (Happy 80th, Mary!)

It was the day of the annual lupus-group lunch before we close shop for the summer. We’ve gone to the same place three years now by mutual agreement.

And…the menu was the same as those last two times, pretty much. Those six lunch entrees. Everybody loves them but man, doesn’t the chef get bored?

I have this weird low-fiber diet as an ileostomy patient and have learned at the cost of a five-day intubation that I must not eat certain foods.


Yeah their hamburger is the best I’ve ever had but c’mon. So I ordered an appetizer that was safe and asked what the soup of the day was. (Soup being cooked. Cooking breaks down fiber.) Beef? Sounds good, thanks, that, too.

The waiter left and I went, Wait. Did he say…  …Beet?

No, the others reassured me, He said beef.

It didn’t occur to any of us that there was a third possibility. Oops.

I have never had such a good cake with so many calories with so little guilt. Celebrated Mary next to me with gusto. We did it right.

Orville Ratenpecker
Tuesday June 11th 2019, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

The local paper says that we were the hottest area in the US yesterday, while setting all kinds of records.

Today was 103 again. But the power held.

So, on another subject: my owl popcorn popper was being closely observed by a male Cooper’s hawk on the power lines at rat o’clock (dusk) last night–so much so that my being outside watering my tomatoes didn’t keep him away. I looked up, went oh sorry, and quickly stepped inside and out of his way.

I think that’s the first time one of the hawks has tolerated my being outside with them.

He may have been looking for seconds: there’s been no sign of the rat for a week.

Good to know he’s on it.

93 tomorrow sounds downright balmy
Monday June 10th 2019, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus

102, 104, 106–It all depended on which thermometer or weather report you were paying attention to. But it was hot.

And as I sat quietly knitting I thought, the Enron scandal with the corrupt contracts and the rolling blackouts–those are long over with. (Part of me thought, But don’t they still do rolling blackouts down south?) Yay for air conditioning.  Lupus patients don’t do well in high heat, but then, who does, right.

I got up to nuke myself a quick late lunch and grab a glass of milk and, coming back in the room–the computer screen in that amount of time had gone black.

Nothing could bring it back up.

Something finally clued me in that even though I’d just used the microwave, wait, oh good, it’s not the computer–nothing else is on, either.

The worker next door stopped hammering and whatever and a few minutes later knocked to ask: Was my power out, too?

Oh yes. I offered him our battery drill if his was running out of juice; he laughed, thanked me, and a few minutes later called it a day and drove off.

I unplugged the bought-on-Saturday microwave since it didn’t have a surge protector and thought, well? Let’s see how many more rows I can get done on this afghan before having over two pounds of wool heaped up in my lap makes me cry uncle, and then I’ll just have to find somewhere to go. (The answer was four.)

My phone showed the blackout area: it looked like the whole town at varying levels of intensity, and the next one over, and up this way well into the hills. Wow, it’s a big one.

I went to the Target in the next city going the other way. Where they were keeping it just cooled enough. I wanted to go to Trader Joe’s and stand in the refrigerator aisle, but then I’d buy something cold and have no way to put it away.

I wasn’t the only one who got to the checkout and went, nah, there’s gotta be something else to look at. I do NOT want to go out there yet.

I finally got up the courage to say to the two moms with kids who did that too that I had that map, that I’d just refreshed the page and it’s still happening and here’s where it goes to; was it affecting them, too?

It was indeed, and they were glad to at least know.

So I had the laundry detergent and I won’t have to buy padded shipping bags for awhile but Target can only be interesting for so long. No I did not need a $16 gadget for making individual ice cream waffle bowls one by one while the grandkids wait and wish the next one were theirs.

They only had the display model anyway. Sorry, kids. But I bet all the retailers made great sales today–the ones that were able to stay open.

I checked out. I checked that page. It was what it was.

But since I didn’t want it to be, I checked it again when I pulled into my driveway. This time the lines drawn around the areas were the same but the colors of them faded out and…

…were gone.

I walked through my front door to the sound of the beautiful, beautiful air conditioner completely throwing itself into its life’s work.