And so I can blog
Friday July 22nd 2016, 9:51 pm
Filed under: Family

Found  my laptop last night! After being dead for months, we had it set up with the new charger at the outlet just past my stash closet so that I would always always look there first.

Which is how it disappeared for two weeks.

Texas barbecuing
Thursday July 21st 2016, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life

A quick Cooper’s hawk report: one landed on the fence and watched me today like old times–warily, but it did.

I loved it for coming and as I felt that, he suddenly relaxed and fluffed out his feathers and took in the day, and a fine day it was. It was so cool seeing him so at ease.

But after finally getting him to come back I’ll be deserting him by not filling the feeder.

Richard mentioned that we should pack an umbrella.

There was this Californian moment of oh…! I remember those! (Haven’t used one in years)… (Running and checking the Ft. Worth weather report again. Ours, 79F, theirs, 99.) I remember the surprise from the first time we went there that the oranges and juice were so much sweeter in Texas for the heat.

We are off in the morning to take care of his dad. The house will be sat, the tomatoes ripening. If you don’t hear from me, the plan is also that Lynn there will be taking me to sightsee West 7th Wool yarn shop Saturday afternoon.

Sweet will be the times spent.

So we’ll see how it goes
Wednesday July 20th 2016, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden,Recipes

I think we can officially call it eighteen fruit trees now.

Last year’s volunteer fig seedling that I dug out on a whim from under a tomato plant got put in a small pot and paid only just enough attention to to keep it alive.

If that. But it wanted to survive. It didn’t grow much at all but no matter what I did or didn’t, it hung in there. It even added a third leaf when the weather started warming up again. It had demanded a chance, so I moved it to a #10 pot the end of this May.

Actually, some credit should go to the squirrels: they tried to stand on the flimsy #10 that I forget what had arrived in and dug holes and they’d pretty much knocked the fig half out of the pot. There wasn’t much root structure and I didn’t think it would make it but I couldn’t bear to just let it be destroyed for no reason–not when I didn’t even know yet…

I mentioned the large ceramic pot the other day that was given me by a friend moving away; there were two others as well (but they didn’t require the dolly.) One was this big, very lightweight, plastic gray one. I would never have bothered with the expense for a tree with no knowable payback and given that some fig varieties hit 40′ high in our climate I would never have planted it in the yard, but a free pot big enough for it to stay in, yeah, I can buy a bag of dirt and try and if it doesn’t work I’ll plant something else in there.

So tonight I filled it up (which took more than one big bag), soaked the soil, scooped out the center, and went to go get that little fig tree.

In just those two months after staying tiny for a year and despite having been partly exposed to the air till I rescued it that rootball had grown to fill that much space that fast. It was highly gratifying–and it took some doing to get it out. Who knew? And the tree, still only a foot tall or so, had grown thicker and happier and leafier, which is why I’d finally decided I really really did want to see what it could do. It was my first thought when Sheryl said she needed to give away large pots.

All we can do is wait now to see if the variety is any good, or if it produces at the exact time my Black Jack is going whole hog. If the figs are no good (how can a fig not have at least some goodness) then no great loss, it’s just fun to find out what life has randomly offered us. I’m assuming it’s the offspring of my neighbor’s, which means it may even be another Black Jack.

But from what I’ve learned so far, we probably won’t have long to find out. And if I’d given it this much room at the beginning of the spring we’d probably be seeing fruit on it by now.

Visions of rolling them in butter, roasting them, drizzling with honey, and serving them hot out of the oven…

The idea behind using the very lightweight pot for it (although the soil certainly isn’t) is that if it does turn out we’ve got a good one but it duplicates what we have, it’ll be much easier to wheel it away on the dolly to hand it down to someone else and spread the joy.

Call it my inner squirrel.

Bouncing off the walls
Tuesday July 19th 2016, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Wildlife

I saw a flyby in the morning, which was cool, and this evening, Richard looked up at hearing a finch hit the window–just in time to see the pursuing hawk hit it, too.

But…but…! As I remembered the time I washed the windows and Coopernicus arrived right there a couple of feet away and examined closely: yes, there’s still something there, still in this particular space as always, okay, got it.

He would circle within an inch, absolutely amazing to watch, clearly knowing exactly where that plate of glass was.

The fact that today’s Cooper’s hawk flew back out of here was a relief. But also a reminder that that particular species is often found by biologists to have evidence of healed broken bones.

Old friends
Monday July 18th 2016, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Friends,Wildlife

It dawned on me this afternoon.

The dolly had been in the garage. The male Cooper’s hawk has always liked to perch on it on the patio, but it hasn’t been there the last few months and I hadn’t even thought about it.

We used it a few days ago to wrestle a very large hand-me-down ceramic planter given to us by a friend who was moving back East, and as long as we had that thing out I’d left it in its old spot for now, a little wistful at the memories of seeing my favorite raptor on it.

And there you go. The hawk came back. So there it stays.

Meantime, when my folks had their hands full with small children, they were living in a very small house and four daughters in one bedroom was getting tight. They bought a lot in a new neighborhood starting to go up, and two of their old neighbors liked it enough that they came, too and so the three families settled into their bigger places still just a few houses away from each other.

One was Wendy’s family, and so she and I have known each other since we were born.

She lives in New Jersey these days, and she and her husband were briefly in town. They met up with us at the airport before their flight tonight and we were very glad for there being a Starbucks outside the security line where we could sit and catch up a bit. Tomorrow they’ll be in Philadelphia where her folks live now–at the same time two of my sisters will be in that town from out of state, and so they’ll get to see each other, too, and I’m so happy for them. I’d love to be able to thank Mr. and Mrs. B in person for being my backup parents all my growing up.

(Childhood memory: Wendy: You want to come over for dinner? Me, running across the street: Hey, Mom, what are we having for dinner? Okay, can I have dinner at the B’s? …I can’t tell you how many times I did that, even though my mom is a great cook.)

There’s nobody who knows you like the ones who have always known you.

The air show
Sunday July 17th 2016, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

I did a quick glance for the camera but it was across the room.

It had been awhile since I’d seen the Cooper’s hawks, not even during summer solstice when they’ve always shown up in years past, but one of them more than made up for it today. Those wide wings swooped right around the birdfeeder and near the window as the doves made a frantic run for it. I didn’t realize he’d caught one and as I stood to look over the philodendron to see if he was still in the yard I startled him into flying away with it.

Part of me wondered if it was Coopernicus’s offspring and doesn’t yet know that we like to people- and bird-watch each other? Still, I should have moved a little more slowly.

All I had to do was wonder if this were still Cooper’s territory to have them announce that yes, thank you, of course it is.

It works, it actually works
Saturday July 16th 2016, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

Fuji apples and Black Jack figs (which are a lot harder to get clamshells around.) The end of summer is going to be wonderful.

One stick in the dirt, one year, fifty figs. Sweet.

And the first of my tomatoes started turning color today. A raccoon apparently tried to get at it last night but stopped after starting to move one of those thorny stalks (see yesterday) that was in its way–and that was that.

I cut more of them down and added extra around the tomatoes and the fig tree both, liking that the lesson seems to have been learned and wanting to reinforce it.

Spiking the ball
Friday July 15th 2016, 9:23 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

The leaves are nearly gone and most of those 5-7′ flower stalks have dried. The hummingbirds love the blossoms, which is a large part of why I haven’t gotten rid of them, but those stalks (just the stalks) have these vicious jags of thorns everywhere and every summer I start thinking I should just rip out the lot of them entirely.

So how many years did it take me to figure out that the critters that raid my stuff wouldn’t like to touch those any more than I do? All those times that I carefully cut the stalks with clippers and tried to keep holding onto them in the jaws of the things as I carried them to the bin, ends swaying awkwardly, trying not to let them smack into me as I opened the lid and tried both to get them in and to cut them in half so they would fit in there–they always got me. Often in the face.


So I challenged the squirrels and raccoons to a duel: En Gourd, villains!

(I’m still not sure those really are Sharlyn melons no matter what that seed packet said. So far the leaves and fruit look deeply suspiciously zucchini-y. But they’re not growing into baseballs overnight, so, that’s a good sign.)

The tomatoes have them too. And they are untouched. So far.

(Edited to add: Acanthus. Found the name.)

To Nice avec amour
Thursday July 14th 2016, 10:25 pm
Filed under: History

A shawl, an afghan, anything–tonight I want to knit a hug for every person in France.

I’ll-stretch Plumes
Wednesday July 13th 2016, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Knit

The tech took about nineteen minutes, and I know that because I was just shy of finishing a second row when he came back with my ears.

I was at the audiologist’s, having my hearing aids cleaned, and apologized to the two women who came in and wanted to start a conversation about what I was knitting: I leaned way forward and watched their faces and still didn’t quite catch what they were saying. That though at least is one place where people get it when you can’t hear.

But I did get the question as to what the name of the pattern was.

Ostrich Plumes.

They were delighted, and one turned to the other and as she spoke her hands mimed wrapping a shawl tightly around her shoulders in great happiness at what clearly was a fond memory.

Which made me happy, and motivated to knit more.

She wanted to touch the yarn, and yes, sure!

Size 5 needles, 49″ wide by 21″ long so far–or so–you know how stretchy things lie at measuring–not bad for the first week.

(Ed. to add: unblocked, it looks right now like a knitted version of the cushy thing in the peach boxes to keep the fruit from bruising. I like that.)

Five left
Tuesday July 12th 2016, 10:21 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life

We were fresh out of peaches

Two weeks ago we asked at Andy’s when the Lorings would be in. Today we asked again as we came in–and I laughed when they said they were picking them tomorrow. We were one day too soon.

But hey, a reason to come back in the same week? Incentive to share Baby Crawfords? Cool. They were so good last year that I planted my own in January, with thanks to Andy for that variety. (The white one there is a Silver Logan.)

My friend Nina has wanted to make the drive down there with me for some time and just hasn’t been able to yet, so tonight I brought some over to her to give her a better idea of what I’d been talking about.

The great juice of summer dripping down everybody’s arms as the slices got passed around her loved ones: the way a peach is supposed to be.

Wait for it…
Monday July 11th 2016, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

One of my sisters wants a black cowl and for her that will definitely happen, though it does remind me of one time when I wanted to knit someone a black scarf. I picked out a soft camelhair yarn to push myself to be willing to work with that color.

Small black stitches are of course harder to see to work with than when I was a 20-something and I confess I never finished that particular project–but the person never knew anyway, so, hey.

Turns out it was just as hard for a camel to through the needles with my eyes.

Shade Garden shawl
Sunday July 10th 2016, 11:13 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Friends,Knit

Bigfoot came back tonight.

Now, in hindsight, there are a whole lot of better names I could have picked for that pattern, even if it amused me enough at the time to think it was actually a good idea. It was when someone told me, “Well, I can tell *you* have small feet” (and I do…) It’s been out there that way for nine years now and, um, oops. Sorry.

The longtime owner of the original brushed-kid-mohair shawl, the yarn dyed by Lisa Souza, told her sister (who delivered it since she lived closer) to tell me she loved it, she treasured it, but in our warm climate she simply never wore it–it made her too hot. She’d decided she was just finally going to ask would I mind? Was this okay? She was sure I could find the right person to re-gift it to and she really really loved it but it was a shame to have it just sit there.

(I couldn’t for the life of me have told you what I’d given her.)

Oh! Right! That one, the one that was actually in the book, dyed in Shade Garden colorway! Sure, I said, stroking its softness, although I might, y’know, actually keep it and wear it myself. Or not. We’ll see. Was it okay if I wore it?

That got me a laugh.

I’ll add a picture in the morning; we had a great visit and it’s late. (Ed. to add, there you go. And I would have given it to the sister who brought it back to me and let it stay in their family but she’s a redhead who does not wear purple.)

17 miles
Saturday July 09th 2016, 11:20 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life,LYS

Every now and then, even the online mapmaker folks goof. Don’t know if you’ve encountered it but I have a couple of times. Like the time I was trying to meet up with an old college roommate and finally pulled over and called her.

The map said this road connected up with that. Turns out that the one stopped a block shy–you had to go around this other way.

So. I used to on rare occasion go to Green Planet Yarns when they were in downtown Campbell, but parking there was always horrible, and Purlescence was closer and easier all around, so, eh. I did like the owner, though, even if I didn’t know her very well, and she stocked some nice stuff.

And then Green Planet moved to San Jose.

The map…

I tried. A year ago I spent an hour wandering around on (turns out) the wrong side of the freeway, pulling over several times to check my phone to see what it was saying now, since I couldn’t hear it. Finally I gave up in frustration and headed home.

I joked with Kathryn’s husband at Cottage Yarns a few days ago when I went to show her the Mecha afghan that I’d be back in two weeks (again) with the next one in Rios, but after all that color intensity, when I actually sat down to knit my eyes said no. I actually finally wanted to knit up some vanilla dk weight cashmere/silk I’d bought from Colourmart a few months ago: I wanted plain ordinary white and I wanted to knit that warm, soft yarn, even if it would need small needles and even if superwash merino might be far, far more practical. I’d bought this because I wanted to make this, so, so there.

Grab the impulse while you’ve got it and go.

Hmm. Size 4 was making a great fabric but I learned in one little swatch that my hands needed a little more give, a little bigger loop for that needle tip–and that it still looked fine on 5s. (3.75mm)

My circular 5s were 24″ long. Wait–how, after all these years, could I not have…! Surely I do in some forgotten bag somewhere, but oh well. My 231 stitches were packed in so densely that it was a constant fight to push them along or out of the way. My hands never got to relax nor could my eyes see the pattern coming to be.

There was only one thing for it. I knew who would have the brand needle I wanted.

Yay for repaired maps: this time I found them.

There was not a soul I knew in sight. That felt strange.

But the clerk was friendly, and I bought a skein of supersoft thick wool in the most perfect purple, a semi-instant cowl-to-be. The color won.

She offered to wind it up for me. And not only did they have my needle–they were closing it out. They had one last rosewood 40″ size US 5, and it was on sale and it was perfect and I got exactly what I’d come for. And a 40″ US 4, too, because.

Re the yarn: Sure, thanks!

Which means I had a moment to just stand around, or….

There were two knitters at the table. They invited me to join them and then included me in on the conversation as if I were just as much old friends with them as they were. They told me when they’d be hanging out and that they’d love to see me around again.

I think my transition to Purlescencelessness just eased a bit.

Walked off the job
Friday July 08th 2016, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Mango tree,Wildlife

Five days later… I can actually see the difference across the yard from day to day. That set of three branches growing from one in Sunday’s picture? This is just the one that was at the back.

The older new leaves are greening up fast.

The long branch at lower right: it’s got a whorl of leaves about 2/3 up (even if they somehow vanish to the camera), which makes it the perfect place to prune it early next year to trigger another flush of growth in time for fruit to happen. (Having learned…) Lots of leaves means lots of new branches from the spot. Ten is my record so far.

Had a male California quail (video) wandering around the patio for the first time this year. A squirrel was incurably curious but pointed its tail hard at the intruder while straining its body away just as hard, nose stretched nevertheless towards this strange big bird in spite of the fear it was signaling: what WAS this thing?!

While the quail likewise was afraid of it but eventually, following a seed trail, got too close in spite of itself–at which point the squirrel flipped over half-backwards while the quail jumped hard the other way.

That didn’t go so badly. The squirrel wanted one good sniff from closer up now: Will it bite? Does it peck? Is it a bird? Can I eat it?

At that the quail took its deely-bopper headbanger ornament (*why* did evolution do that to it?) and announced with its feet we were done now.