New neighbor
Thursday October 18th 2018, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I happened to come home from the grocery store exactly as she was coming out.

I have always waved to the neighbors and been the one to step across the wide street to say hi for a moment, letting them know they’re welcome anytime. Thus the memories of two moms and their small children following me to go see the dove’s nest on top of our ladder leaned against the back of the house, holding the little ones high so they could get a view of the baby dove peeking back at them from under its momma’s wing.

Today it was someone new stepping out of the house across the street who waved to me as I waved hi to her–and she’s the one who promptly crossed the street, holding her hand out to introduce herself.

I instantly liked her. No, she told me, the widower hadn’t sold the place–he was renting it to them, but with some work to be done first so they’ll be moving in the first of December and she was quite excited about it. The kids could walk to their school. She loved the neighborhood. She was clearly glad to meet a friendly face right off.

We chatted a moment. It there still a pool in the back yard? I wondered out loud.

Yes, there is!

I told her that the then-ten-year-old living there (the not-yet-a-widower’s son) had been in it when the Loma Prieta quake had hit and it had whooshed him right out of the water.

Omigosh! Her eyes got big and she laughed. Surf’s up!

That house has been quiet a few months now, with a worker’s truck in the driveway by day and emptiness by night.

I can’t wait till they move in.



Katherine now
Wednesday October 17th 2018, 9:42 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

One week ago, a name popped up in the comments on a Facebook post and I did a double take. We instantly friended each other, and I got to read about a few of her experiences with Catholic Relief Services in Africa. (Do you still go by Katie? I haven’t gone by Katie for 35 years! …I’m behind…)

Then yesterday she posted a picture inside San Francisco airport–because the airline had lost her bag and she was going to have to go fast to buy some clothes before the meeting tomorrow in…

And I went hey, that means you’ll be driving practically right past my house!

Which is how Katherine, my friend since junior high and whom I had not seen since high school graduation, carved two hours out of her very busy trip and spent them today with me and we caught up on forty-one years of life.

“You kind of disappeared,” she told me. I did. I married at 21 and then school and grad school and being broke and kids and distance and we simply didn’t get home for a long time and have never been there for long when we are. I have not seen my favorite mountain laurel in bloom but for three fading tiny blossoms on a single cluster since I was 18.

She married late and no children came, but he was the great love of her life. To describe his generosity, she described his knitting: she was one of six children and there were all these nieces and nephews on her side. One Christmas he knitted them all mittens.

Double knitting mittens. Twenty-four pairs!

Twenty. Four. Pairs. Of double knitting??

I was completely boggled.

He was completely adored.

Ten happy years. Then his cancer. Even in hospice, right to the end, she said, he was knitting for others.

And he loved my friend Katherine and that alone would have been good enough for me. I so wish I could have met him.

I told her, My memories of you from junior high is that you were always nice to everyone. Without fail. At a time in life when kids are so easily snarky and mean you were unfailingly kind.

She was someone I wanted to be a lot more like. Still do.

I sent her back out into the world with a copy of my book and some knitting (thank you for the gorgeous yarn, Lisa!) of my own.

Alaska Air reimbursed her on her clothing purchase.

It was their baggage handling that sparked us those two marvelous hours.



Did you say chocolate?
Tuesday October 16th 2018, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends

A chocolate tasting party: bring your favorite or your favorite creation out of it or just bring you.

Now that is an idea I could really get into, and it is safe to say I did. It was an excuse to get to know some women better, and what better way to do so?

I might not sleep tonight but it was worth it.



The big one, so it can grow
Monday October 15th 2018, 10:27 pm
Filed under: Garden

It would be a chunk, but maybe it’s time. I looked at these mango-tree-shaped plastic greenhouses last year but they were brand new with zero reviews and I wanted them to have a little more history first. Now they do. I do like the idea that even I could set one of those up fast–and I could take it down in spring and summer.

I’d have to get a different heating system that could handle the space, though (while not damaging that plastic.) But the tree wouldn’t need the daily babysitting, if this could work, and it would get every bit of morning sun to help ripen its fruit.

Anyone with any experience with such things, greenhouses, heaters, please let me know.



The bees’ knees
Sunday October 14th 2018, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Felt great to feel good today–just a bit tired first thing but that wore off, so we went to church with face masks on both of us just to keep our friends on the safe side.

I was afraid H’s mom had already flown home, but no, there she was. Turns out that although she mostly quilts and crochets, she knits, too, and she was gobsmacked that I had made her this softness and that her daughter and I had plotted together on the color. She instantly put it on and proudly wore it the rest of church, even though it was thick Mecha and it was 76 out.

I looked and looked for the woman who’d exclaimed over my half-done yellow cashmere I’d started for her last month and finally resigned myself to taking it home yet again and hoping for the next time.

We were maybe three steps from the entryway by the door to leave when the hall door opened and she was backing up against it almost into me with her arms full. Turns out she taught one of the primary classes.

THERE you are! I’ve been looking for you! I pulled her cowl out of my purse, stuffed into a small ziploc.

She almost cried. She told me her elderly mother had been diagnosed with colon cancer this past week to go with her other health problems and it had been very hard. “Your timing is perfect!”

She said it again, marveling, and gave me the hug that was really most of all for Someone looking out for her up there in those moments who knew more and deserved it more than I ever could. Her favorite color was supposed to have been sold out before I ever even saw it listed. One cone suddenly became available at the moment I signed in to Colourmart that day. It’s hers now.

So now I understand why I couldn’t find her earlier.

Oh! I almost forgot–there was a middle-aged woman I didn’t recognize with small children whom I did, and before church started she was trying to calm the toddler down. He was okay while they were in motion but not once she sat him and his baby brother down. Routine was Mommy and Daddy here once a week and this was someone else and not how you do it and he was Not Having It. I mah MAHMAH!

Turns out, yes, they were out of town and yes, she was the grandma holding down the fort, glad to connect with another grandma as I brought him the most colorful finger puppet in my purse, a parrot with bright red-white-blue stripes in its wings and yellow in its tail and beak. And another puppet for his 20-month-old best buddy who’d climbed under the bench and suddenly popped up onto it to stand there next to his sobbing-suddenly-not-sobbing friend. Hey! One for him, too! (In no way was I about to instigate jealousy between the two.)

I was back in the aisle just as 92-year-old Jean was coming up from behind with her walker.

“If I’m really good can I have one too?”

I guffawed. I didn’t even know she’d seen any of that. I dug down in the purse for whichever Peruvian hand knit treasure should come up.

“A honeybee! For your garden!” Jean’s garden is the great passion of her creativity.

I think she really was hoping for one of those bright parrots, though.

Looking at these other two bees just now, I find the stitches were pulled shut at the bottom–oops! Not a finger puppet! That’s a first–clearly she needs a do-over.

I also need to make that other grandma a cowl, quick. Washable looks definitely the way to go.



Alphonso mango at almost four
Saturday October 13th 2018, 10:59 pm
Filed under: Mango tree

I apparently broke off the head of one of these via the frost covers going on and off, but I think we’ll do okay. This is the farthest along of the inflorescence, with most of the tiny flowers open.

Not yet over here. Nor below.

There seem to be more buds sprouting out in new places each day that we go over 80F. (Today was not one, but tomorrow will be.)

I’m trying to think up a better way to protect the tree from the cold without having to keep its light cut off until the day warms up enough. Obviously, though, it’s survived just fine on my system. With the tenderness of wintertime fruiting, keeping that constant warmth is the biggest thing. The six–edit, seven mangoes tucked under those leaves (found another one) like these warm days.

The tree is clearly, in our climate, not going to be one that produces everything at once and then makes you wait a year for more–it’s more like every branch takes its turn setting up shop. Which is actually pretty perfect if you ask me.

Anyway. It just makes me happy, so I thought I’d show a few more pictures.



Home sweet home
Friday October 12th 2018, 9:34 pm
Filed under: Life

So I have this new homeowners insurance policy, new company, same agency I’ve had forever.

I got a note from the agent: the company wanted to know why I had a mailing address that was different from my street address? Was that where I wanted my mail sent?

Wait what?!  Where on earth did they get that? No, we’ve lived in this house 31 years and have no intention of moving, where did that come from?

And then I looked up the address he’d referenced. Bffffft!

It was, get this, not only in the next town over, it was the chapel there of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They were billing the Mormon Church for our house.

I emailed the guy back and told him just where that address was.

He burst out laughing, he told me.

Just like I had.

Did the church have a policy through their agency? The insurer? I wondered. I told him, I actually am a Mormon, but I go to the one in my own city. (I didn’t bore him with the details of, except for the biannual stake conference–that’s there. The family history satellite center, too, for anybody at all who wants to access the huge genealogy database.)

He had NO idea how that got into the system, just, none, and neither did I, but he was happy to straighten that out for me, and now he’s got an office story for the ages.



Bill-ious
Thursday October 11th 2018, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Life

Flu week: when it actually feels good to be able to sit up and pay all the bills. So weird.



On being the old camera film that waited for development
Wednesday October 10th 2018, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Life

Still fevers, still needed to crash mid-day but at least I managed to read half a book this time rather than falling asleep. “Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science.” 

My surgeries were seven years after Gawande’s book came out. Maybe that’s why Stanford asked me to sign a waiver before they let anyone new to the knife anywhere near me. (I signed it, with some qualms.)

I could tell them what was really done well and what could have been done better, if I only knew how to. I at least got to meet the one doing the asking to be part of the surgical team.

Nothing serious at all, just, it’s easier to learn the longterm effects if you actually get that feedback, which there is no way to offer. I don’t think it occurred to them that patients would know anything.



It walked like an Egyptian
Tuesday October 09th 2018, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Got up this morning, looked out the window.

And there on the edge of the neighbor’s roof close to our back yard stood a four foot tall Great Blue Heron. Now that is the way to start a day.

I looked at it. It looked at me. It turned its head to one-eye me for a better view, bird style, and considered the unexpected company, while me, I noted that the bird feeder was emptied of finches. Sillies. It’s not going to eat you.

The heron shifted to give me a better view of that dark swoop over its shoulder, like the upper half of a question mark, that the brilliance of the morning sun had been obscuring. It lifted one foot off the ground so as to relax–twitched slightly, considering, and gently slowly put it back down again.

There were no fish and no pond in my yard. Not even a frog.

It turned the other way then and started doing that impossibly long-legged, puppet-mastered walk that they do, and as its body disappeared behind the toyon tree its head and neck continued above, suddenly snakelike.

While I was thinking, the koi are down around the other side of their solar panels, you’re going the wrong way. Oh wait. Don’t tell it.



My husband brought home flowers from a Trader Joe’s run
Monday October 08th 2018, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Because fevers are kind of boring. Flowers are more fun.

He’s a good one.



Baby hat
Sunday October 07th 2018, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

Curious. And here I thought that skein looked pretty close to a solid color.



Let’s see, do I have any more yarn around here…
Saturday October 06th 2018, 9:06 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

Due to three two-hour sessions today of General Conference: Malabrigo Mecha in Hollyhock, size 9 US needles, done. Two more sessions tomorrow.

I was afraid it came out a little small (see picture), but once it hit the water it grew really nicely.



He’ll never be this tiny again
Friday October 05th 2018, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit

Spencer, so very very new.

Meantime, a conversation two days ago: no, you can’t pay me to knit a cowl for your mom like yours but tell me her favorite color.

Her: Purple and pink and happily wears wool.

Me, now that I’ve finished the survivor’s one:



Fall beekeeper
Thursday October 04th 2018, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Mango tree

When the politics of the immediate moment get to be a bit much

here, in an improbable place, a tree of the tropics celebrates the warmth that comes its way despite the season.

(Closeup of middle left. Mango fruits behind netting.)