They’re getting better at this
Wednesday January 26th 2022, 9:23 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

An elderly person dear to me got hacked yesterday.

And today, another elderly friend, chatting like she does and asking after my family, told me happily about the quarter million dollar check that had arrived by FedEx from Publisher’s Clearing House and how nice it was that they look out for the elderly and disabled like that and had I signed up for that, too?

I advised caution.

No, no, she’d taken it to her bank and they’d accepted it.

I reminded her of a mutual widowed friend who, at about 90, was swindled out of the house she’d owned free and clear for decades and had found herself thrown out on the street in utter bewilderment.

There was no unconvincing her.

I linked to Publisher Clearing House’s own website where they warned against frauds being committed in their name and say that even banks have been fooled into thinking the checks are real–until they find out they are not.

I asked if she’d called PCH to make sure it was real. She hesitated, then said she had, and I thought, if you did, did you look it up online or did you call the scammer’s number? Because there is nothing legitimate about this.

So since she was a friend from church I got off Facebook and mentioned it to those in a better position to step in and help; she sure wasn’t listening to me.

To which one of them said, could that have been a fake? Basically, (she didn’t quite say outright) was the person they were trying to scam–you?

It was indeed a duplicate of her profile. Reported now.

I guess I learned a little humility myself on the gullibility index today.

Exploring in chocolate
Tuesday January 25th 2022, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Food

Chocolate almond torte cupcakes, I’d call them. Chocolate teacakes to them. Celiac friendly. Not overly sweet.

Those of us who bake are familiar with the instructions to separate eggs and beat the whites at the last till they’re nice and frothy, put a little of them into the rest of the mixed ingredients, and fold the rest in carefully so you don’t smush the air out and then get that thing in the oven just as fast as you can.

What I had never encountered before were the instructions to do so–and then leave the whole thing alone for an hour and not only that but before you spoon it out into the pan.

Ottolenghi said, Trust us. Don’t skip this step–you need the almond flour to soak in the moisture of the other ingredients for the sake of the texture of the cupcakes to come.

(I used cocoa and boiling water for the instant coffee granules and boiling water called for because I’m Mormon like that.)

And they were right. I was surprised at what a difference it made, and wondered why it hadn’t said this on their other almond flour-based recipe I’d tried earlier.

It said it made 18. Who has an 18-muffin pan? The classic metal 12-pan took 24 minutes and the silicone 6-pan was quite done in 20. Curious.

For their own good
Monday January 24th 2022, 10:06 pm
Filed under: History,Life,Politics

They can’t say it out loud, but Fox and the like have got to be really really hoping the unvaxxed Sarah Palin’s defamation lawsuit against the New York Times, thrown out by one court and reinstated by another, fails.

The trial was delayed by her Covid diagnosis. Of course.

With thanks to Lee Ann Dalton for the link, I can only wish that others who’ve been persuaded by such might read all the love in these words.

After the volcano and tsunami
Sunday January 23rd 2022, 9:10 pm
Filed under: History,Life

Today was a stake conference meeting, ie a semi-annual gathering of the six wards (congregations) in our stake. I’m guessing about fifty people sat carefully socially distanced, from what I could see, and hundreds of us tuned in from home.

There was a song announced that was going to be sung by four members who were from Tonga and a friend of theirs whom they assured us was big, BIG! there: “He’s our Stevie Wonder,” one said as the others chuckled in fond agreement.

He was blind. He played the piano. And man oh man did he have a voice. He wasn’t a Mormon but he wanted to add his voice to theirs along with our silent ones in this place where his people would be heard.

The song, they explained, was about an island in the dark as the light comes to it.

They sang it in Tongan, and watching by Zoom I had to chuckle at the auto-transcription trying to create English phrases out of the phonemes going past it. No, silly captions, they are emphatically not singing about millionaires.

But oh, they were good. And after having asked us all to pray for those in their homeland, they were singing their hearts out such that I found myself in tears.

I had no idea what the words were, and I can’t begin to know what the one man’s name was, but there was no mistaking that love being offered up to G_d and how deeply it was felt.

It was an honor to be invited to be part of that.

Stain not stayin’
Saturday January 22nd 2022, 11:31 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Someone tripped into her, a mug in hand got spewed, and the stains didn’t come out of a favorite shirt. She told me what she’d done to try and I nodded yes, that’s what I would have done, too.

How long had it been?

A month.

(Me, thinking, length of time equals greater set to the stains) Let me see what I can do.

Oh thank you! in relief. Because Moms can still do everything.

She’d already soaked it in Seventh Generation unscented no-dyes laundry liquid, which is my standard. I added more. Rubbed it a good one. Still there.

So I left it to soak in some more, highly cognizant that she’d been doing that since last night.

And then I went back in there every so often to rub the spots until I was tired enough to need a break (it was that kind of day as it was.) And then came back and did it again, and again. That was a great fabric–100% cotton but densely spun and knitted and it wasn’t looking frayed or worn for all that I was working on it; it held up.

I realized later I didn’t get all of one small spot because I was going after the many big ones that got most of the attention, but, it’s looking pretty good. You’d have to know they’d been there and where to look in bright light to see anything, and I can always give it another try. But given how it was and how it looks now–I was pretty pleased with myself, and the wonder on her face as I handed it to her didn’t hurt any.

I said to her later, Your timing is impeccable!

Because a short while later, I’d gone to clean something from a long-unused closet and had stumbled across a carefully put away stack of baby and little girl dresses in a bin. Handsewn. Handsmocked. I’d forgotten I’d made so many–I mean, I knew I had, but I’d given as many as I’d kept back when my kids were that age and it was a surprise.

Twenty-seven years ago we remodeled this house and while we were doing that the roof leaked badly.

Which means the box that had all those dresses, only a few years outgrown at that point, took a direct hit and nothing, nothing I could do at the time could get out those stains of what we promptly labeled roof juice. I tried.

The one with the blue teddy bears! I remembered buying the pattern booklet in a needlework shop in Burlingame whose name will probably hit me at about 2 a.m. It’s long gone. Maybe Ruby something? Opening that booklet there was a page with a picture of five hand-smocked teddy bears, and below, the words, What’s wrong with those?

Followed by, Surprised you, didn’t I? Didn’t you think, Nothing’s wrong, they’re adorable!

And they are. But this one–and the artist pointed out little flaws or inconsistencies in each one and then agrees with her unseen readers that why on earth would you worry about that when they’re so cute.

She said, So if you’re only seeing the mistakes in the ones you’re making, put it down and walk away for a day or two and come back to it and see how much you love them and keep on going because seriously, it’s hard to mess with the cuteness of a teddy bear.

There was roof juice. All over the dress, the pleating, the embroidery.

But my teddy bears were too cute to let it stay that way. I grabbed the detergent and started the first soak. Rubbing it in was dicier than a thick cotton tee, for sure; some of those hand stitches on the back of the facing…

But if I could fix hers I could fix mine and I have a granddaughter now who would fit this dress that I’d completely forgotten I’d made for her aunt.

There’s just the barest hint of a spot at the center top now but I think I got the rest of it. And there’s that whole pile of clothes to go. The baby ones can wait till who knows when but the toddler ones are in a hurry because two doesn’t stay two very long.

I’m on it.

Weather vane
Friday January 21st 2022, 9:46 pm
Filed under: Non-Knitting

I’ve gotten away from looking at houses pretty much by now; where we are is a good place to retire to. You want a medical specialist who’s seen unusual cases? Can’t do much better than Stanford.

But my cousins got me to look at this 1908 Victorian just because...

It’s lovely, even if a bit of a mishmash of remodeling years. One cousin describes the master bath as having an altar to the sacred tub.

The washer and dryer inside the master closet, though: Illinois doesn’t have enough humidity to make your clothes smell mildewy? It will there.

And then you get to picture #32.

There’s no warning in the description, nothing to tip you off.

It’s too big to go through any door or window in that room so I say it came through the roof and they just dealt with the wood right then and there ages ago, waste not, want not, and made it look on purpose and the ceiling and roof to match. For all I know the bedroom set was carved out of the bottom of the trunk.

Husband and daughter say it looks too nice so clearly they didn’t use power tools on it in the bedroom so surely it was installed on purpose after the fact.

But why? And how? And then how do you even get to the closet? Did they do it for a parrot? A cat? Can you imagine how much fun one’s pet could have jumping off that onto your face in the middle of the night? Meowabunga!

I have questions.

Not my area of expertise, but I’m curious
Thursday January 20th 2022, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Non-Knitting

So I have a question about quilting, after seeing this gorgeous work of art (a brighter picture of it is here.)How much can you trust the colorfastness of the fabrics over time? Does it depend on the brand at all? Do you have to keep it out of direct sunlight? Under glass while on display to cut out the UV?

How do you give such a thing the preservation effort it needs? Or does it?

In the details
Wednesday January 19th 2022, 9:35 pm
Filed under: Food,Life

Eh, I thought this morning, looking at my wet hair, why bother with this. Who’s going to see me anyway.

And instantly thought back at myself, well that’s one way to guarantee the day’s not going to go how you expect. So I pulled it back after all to tame that one weird curlicue that just needs to get long enough to get heavy enough so as not to play half-deelybobber.

About three o’clock the doorbell rang. (Told me so.)

I opened the door, was surprised, and teased, Hey! I remember you!

It was one of Chris’s guys. They had had a free moment so he was coming over to clean off that plaster-looking stuff below one skylight and to paint over the wrong color paint over the nails on another one that I’d mentioned to his boss a couple weeks ago.

I had a baking project at mis en place, measured and laid out but not yet creamed nor mixed or poured, and half-apologized that had I known he was coming I’d have started sooner so he could have gotten some. He reminisced over the cranberry bars I’d shared that he’d liked so much he’d asked for the recipe. Good times. (But I wasn’t going to stand in his way in the kitchen with plaster bits or whatever it was falling down from above, thanks.)

And now I don’t have to have that one nagging thought looking up of, I wish they’d finished this. They did. It’s done. They were little things, but it’s so much better now.

Such a cut-up
Tuesday January 18th 2022, 11:33 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

I’ve seen the description “recycled cashmere” in garments for sale, and now in a few yarns at Colourmart. And wondered what processes were meant by that. Is it just the leftover pounds of yarn from a production run, or is it something more? Tell me they don’t shred already processed yarns in the carding machines. Or I guessed maybe they must?

Colourmart decided (not on this particular listing, but here’s an example and it’s on sale) to add a link.

They actually cut up old sweaters? Surely in an automated process and that picture of people holding scissors is for show? There are actually stores that do trade-ins? Where? What about moth damage? They’d have to make sure every stage of such things is eradicated. What about the weak spots that would be left behind in the fibers? Stains? Is this why the recycled sweaters seem to tend to be thicker? To make sure everything’s covered?

And yet the yarns they create all seem nice and even to my eyes.

Well, huh.

LLBean ordered some of this latest trend but given this past year’s shipping issues, got theirs in (if they even did yet) after Christmas.

I have a credit card account in their name that periodically earns me Bean Bucks¬†and I’ve been letting them slowly, slowly accumulate. I’d been thinking I might blow it at the end of the year on a cashmere sweater but they didn’t have any that grabbed me hard enough.

But now they do. Only they’re recycled, even if I think, so far, that I’d rather they were not. They’re not cheap (well, in my case, at an outlay of $12.95 yes they are, never mind) but I’m just curious enough. Plus I happen to like it.

Shipping, they say, commences approximately February 8. Hopefully.

Silicon Valley might call that vaporwear.

Family time
Monday January 17th 2022, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Knit

Stayed up late talking. Talk to you tomorrow!

Welcome home!
Sunday January 16th 2022, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

The blueberry teacake update: we needed a dairy-free version now, so I used Mayoki cultured cashew-blend butter substitute. I doubled the blueberries (not to mention Ottolenghi’s 1/8th tsp salt recommendation.) It totally worked, because you put them on top and leave them whole and they don’t mess up the texture. Definitely an improvement on a great thing.

Meantime, up in the Pacific Northwest, Lillian, age two, insisted on putting at least a napkin at Michelle’s place at the dinner table to try to get her to still be there.

At first, it was just the earth popping a pimple
Saturday January 15th 2022, 10:08 pm
Filed under: History,Life

Here’s a video, via satellite, of the volcano that exploded near Tonga, and it’s actually pretty cool.

There’s a sign near where some of my family lives: “Tsunami Evacuation Route” with an arrow straight up a hill. (Here’s video taken from someone’s front door in Pacifica. Here’s Santa Cruz.)

We figured they’d be okay, and they were, but I kept an eye on the news.

Which ended up meaning praying hard all day for the people in Texas who were simply going to synagogue for a normal Sabbath’s services and ended up being taken hostage by a gunman with bombs. For the people trying to help them. For their families, their community, for them to know we are all their community as this was happening.

Those prayers were answered in the safe rescue of the hostages.

Are we willing to answer the prayers of those who ask that we help this to stop happening?

To start, can we make Red Flag laws universal?

Fourteen times 239 times two
Friday January 14th 2022, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Two days in a row of 3,346 little white boxes with a dot, an x, a slant / or a slant \ or a V or the like as my eyes move across the chart and my hands around the needles, count one two three, or seven, or seventeen. Starting in the morning, taking rest breaks, continuing on till the brain rebels: any other color! Any other thing to look at! Read words not symbols! You’ve already iced your hands once today, stop!

And so with those 6,692 stitches done I have 21,510 left to go, along with 2,390 of the final edging.

My brain is a busload right now of middle school kids taking a long ride to a field trip destination that the chaperones knew they’d signed up for for the good of the kids and so now they just have to put up with their singing, 23,900 bottles of beer on the wall, 23,900 bottles of beer! Take a stitch down, wrap wool around, 22,899 bottles of beer on the wall!

Yeah when it gets to that point you know it’s time to park the bus and call it a day.

How to beet the pandemic
Thursday January 13th 2022, 9:19 pm
Filed under: Food,History,Life

A local small farm was supplying a restaurant, and you know how that goes these days. And so they got three other farms together and put a notice on, as one does when one has no advertising budget, about their new CSA.

I was surprised there were any farms left at all two towns over, but apparently there are, so you can’t get much more local than that. Straight up the road. I signed up. Plus I’m pretty sure one of the names is someone I know.

Yesterday was supposed to be the first delivery day. They said 7-9 pm was the goal but it might take a little longer as they found their way around on these new routes.

I figured they were being optimistic but I also didn’t want my veggies sitting outside attracting critters, so last night I was opening the front door every half hour or less to make sure my box hadn’t been put in that one spot you just can’t quite see from inside.

Ten-thirty. No go. Maybe they should just wait till the morning.

There was a mass email offering apologies for how long it was taking.

Eleven p.m., ready to crash, and there it was! They did it! I opened the door–

–and got the full impact of what delivering it that late had meant for the driver. I don’t know if they took the direct hit or not. I’m really hoping not, and given the intensity I’d say either the skunk was still recharging its batteries from the last time it told the neighbor’s dog to get lost or it was in the dog’s back yard again and took it up on that barking dare. But whatever, it was close enough to give a good dose to open those lungs right up, breathe deep now, best asthma treatment on the planet, there you go.

Right, right, I’m sure the driver was sooo happy for the treatment.

I sent the farm a note today hoping they were okay and that it wouldn’t dissuade them from keeping me on their list and that if helped any, skunks are wanderers. They only stay put when they’re raising young.

Which, of course, they will be doing soon, but hey, I’ve got the rabbits over here, that’s my fair share. (Don’t. Tempt. Karma, Alison.)

Cupcakes, muffins, teacakes
Wednesday January 12th 2022, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Food

My daughter once gave me a raspberry cupcake with icing that was mascarpone mixed with lemon curd and I so needed that recipe. She said it was in the book, “Sweet” by Ottolenghi and Goh. I put it on my wishlist for Christmas. And so I’ve now made them myself, and they are very very good, though for us old farts I’d probably halve the icing amount.

I was wondering out loud yesterday how best to pull together almond flour and blueberries in a cake. I’ve done it, but four cups of blueberries like my regular-flour cake left it a bit soggy at the bottom. Hey, I bet…yup they did, page 88. With lemon juice and zest and an excuse to stroll out to the Meyer tree. Four eggs, 2 cups almond flour, fruit, not too much sugar. Health food!

Well, yeah, and butter, but we’re pretending not to notice that. A half tablespoon apiece is okay, right?

And though the proportion of fruit was somewhat less, they too were worth the whole book and easy to make. I thought I would freeze some towards future breakfasts but they’re disappearing too fast.

Should you ever want a good desserts cookbook that is fantastic but doesn’t go way overboard on the sugar (so far, at least), I highly recommend that one.