Go fish
Friday October 24th 2014, 9:25 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Well, that was an interesting day.

And it’s not my story to tell here. But there are times when a kid needs more than a hug from their mom; having a sibling with expertise in the field was the best thing, and so the one called the other immediately and pretty much settled that right then and there and made everything okay again. Phew.

I love that my kids look out for each other like that.

Thursday October 23rd 2014, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

Writing it in case I need to look up later what which when: the antibiotics aren’t quite enough on that cystitis yet (but far better than not having them), while the Crohn’s tries to hog the attention. I think I need to move up that GI appointment.

And so: I put my feet up and got 21 rows of 189 stitches done so far today.

I happened to be outside for just a few steps’ worth when I saw, ascending above me and then very high, not one but two hawks. Definitely not turkey vultures but hawks. Gliding on the thermals, circling away and then back around to each other in an intricate dance, and if I had wondered at all if Coopernicus still had the mate I saw him courting in February that definitely seems to be a yes.

In several minutes’ watching there was one single leisurely wingbeat to catch the best of an updraft as they gradually spiraled into the distance.

Then this evening I went out to water the pear tree. Coming out the door, I glanced at the neighbor’s redwood: it and the silk oak just past the other side of our property are the two that the ravens and the hawks are always duking it out over.

No sign of any bird at all.

The pear was near the silk oak and as I approached, again, all was still, just leaves in the breeze. There’s almost always something up there but–

–and then a burst of movement from fairly low down and close by as the Cooper’s hawk cakked at me for invading as it stormed out of there.

Surprisingly soon a mockingbird, and then a second mockingbird, flew onto the telephone wire across the fence at a third neighbor’s, watching me, tails set towards where the hawk had gone–I seemed to be more interesting, but they were not ready to sing yet. (I was remembering the night when one had been singing relentlessly in hopes of a mate and so, window open, Richard had sung a song back at it. Birdly silence as it listened, and then–it sang his tune back to him!)

Wait–I forgot to sing to them to get them going. Well then.

Another half a minute of watching them and me and then finally convinced it was safe, a raven, one single raven, suddenly flew from behind the mockingbirds, giving the most subdued half-hearted single caw I have ever heard out of one of them. It was going sideways from the trajectory of the Accipiter Cooperii to arc around my yard, not quite directly over, flapping hard while heading towards that redwood now that it knew that the hawk would not be there to challenge it. See?! King of the mountain! So there!

Hawks glide smoothly even when their wings are going. Corvids’ bodies kind of bounce up as their wings go down and slump down as they lift their shoulders up for the next beat as if they’re just barely keeping this heavy thing airborne.

Airdancing this morning, make-a-break-for-it dancing in the evening. And even though the raven would tell you the results are up in the air, he was just winging it. The hawks are definitely the more talon-toed.

Volunteering for a seedy operation
Wednesday October 22nd 2014, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift,Life,Politics

Tomato plant pictures: the volunteer that’s a month old and a view of its new buds. Hoping to get Ellen in her much colder climate some quick-grows for next year from this thing.

And then there’s the heirloom variety still going after six months.

Meantime, yup, tried the cranberry juice, tried the vitamin C, but still woke up with a trip straight to the doctor. Thankfully there are still some antibiotics that have not yet been made useless by the unethical feedlot practices of the big bioag producers, and so I am no longer passing blood.

Never mind all that–I was just sick enough to put my feet up and get some serious knitting time in and I’m delighted at how much I got done.  The 45×60″ I want while using size 4s is a very long slog but I can actually tell the difference from yesterday. (Pass the icepacks.)





Seeds that way
Tuesday October 21st 2014, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Garden

So of course I forgot to take its picture, but. I just thumbed through the blog a bit–it was only a month ago? Huh. That surprise tomato that the squirrels planted by the cherry tree has buds already.  At one month old. I’d love to save the seeds from that one. The way the heat keeps on coming here this year, we might actually get that crop.

Met up with the new knitters tonight as planned and they’re coming along, too. It was fun to see.

(Just updated Saturday’s post with a new photo that does much better justice to Debbie’s socks.)

Pom and circumstance
Monday October 20th 2014, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden

As I look through the fall nursery offerings…

A hawk sighting today. A smattering–I like that word, it sounds just like it and it lasted only slightly longer than saying it–of rain.

And a viral video about the way to open a pomegranate.

Actually, we had one waiting to be tackled. Now, I did not know till sampling a grower’s wares at a show last year and looking up the trees later that there are all kinds of pomegranates: there are the sour puckery ones and there’s a variety that is just plain sweet sweet sweet and there’s a range in between. That grower had dark-juiced sweet ones and her products were a revelation. Good stuff.

And the fruit comes in such nice squirrelproof containers! (I may be kidding myself on the sweet ones but the critters do leave whatever my neighbor’s variety is alone.)

So I tried what the video said: you cut off the top jack-o-lantern style and then down the white lines that separate sections of seeds. Pull them down, pluck out the whites, and tadaah!

Lemme tell ya, hon, it ain’t that easy.

But then I wasn’t going to eat mine corn on the cob style anyway. There’s this small issue of my not being able to eat the seeds, just the juice, but I’d read that you just throw them in a blender or cuisinart and then strain away the solids.


The timer on the oven was going. The white lines went straight down only halfway and then sideways into randomness. Trying to pry all those little arils out of there, I went past ten minutes with the thing and thwacking the fruit on the counter beforehand hadn’t loosened them away any. I have no way to know how ripe it had been allowed to get or whether that factored in.

Don’t forget the apron I forgot.

Plate, cuisinart, strainer, bowl: half a dishwasher load, while cleaning pomegranate squirts off my sweater and trying to thwack all that grit out of the strainer into the trash.

I got about a third, maybe a half a cup of juice. I said to Richard, (wondering what companion I might plant to go with my Stella) “Pitting cherries is a whole lot less work.”

Dozens of those at a time? A hundred? A tad reluctantly, but, I think we can scratch pomegranate trees off my list. Skylake won’t mind doing the work.

Planning ahead
Sunday October 19th 2014, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

A gentle touch on my shoulder from behind to get my attention as she came in the room. I turned and gasped, “Francie?!”

Francie! Twenty years and we still recognized each other. Okay, the context of being at church helps, but still! Our children had been little together, mine about five years ahead of hers and Ken’s. Ken had grown up here, they had lived here with their first baby, then second, and then had moved to where she grew up.

New Zealand is a little bit far for a quick drop in and visit.

Turns out they had since moved back to the States, just not this one.  But for whatever reason, they were here just for today and were hoping to see old friends and we were very happy to oblige.

Turns out also that a woman he’d grown up with was in town just this weekend too to celebrate her mom’s 84th birthday–and there she was. Good times.

I said to Francie, Do you remember Conway and Elaine? (I knew Ken would.)


I told her briefly how our son met and married their granddaughter.

NO! she grinned. How cool!

Yes! It’s very cool. I get to see how much my grandsons resemble Conway and I just love it.

I told her how my grandmother wrote her autobiography in 1970, the year I turned twelve, and about the colonel she said she and Grampa had recently met who showed up in Korea and said, “Soldier, I don’t know what your name is but it ought to be…”

“Why yes, sir, that’s exactly what it is, sir.” (My uncle, named after his dad, thinking, Who is this guy?!)

And that colonel was the great-uncle of the man I would later marry.

Give us another few generations and maybe we’ll marry off one of ours to one of Ken’s and Francie’s. If we’re lucky. (Writing it down now like my grandmother did so the two families can all laugh over it come the day, right?) You just never know.

Saturday October 18th 2014, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,LYS

(Updated to a daytime picture that does justice to the socks.)

Debbie was coming all the way from Fairfield for a quilt show and sent me a message: Purlescence was having an eighth birthday party tonight and that would be afterwards, so could we meet up there?

And so we did, and we found ourselves a quiet corner a bit apart from the crowd and talked for over two hours, swapping stories, catching up, belonging in the best way that friends do, a too-rare moment together. I adore her to pieces.

She reminded me of something I had utterly forgotten: she had asked me awhile back what color socks I wished I had.

Oh blue, definitely blue, any blue, wait wait wait you don’t have to…! (She wanted to.) Well then no time pressure ever and if it ever happens I would love it and if it doesn’t don’t ever feel guilty.

She had me try the first one on and it fit as if I’d been next to her through every stitch. We both cheered! She finished the very last bit of the second one right there on the spot (I loved it, that would so have been me, too) and ran the ends in, then made me take the first back off my feet–it’ll be stinky, I warned her with a grin, you sure, it’s been on that foot now, y’know–and she ran the end in on that one, too. And I sat there with the prettiest socks on in the whole entire yarn store, prouder than anything and just amazed and happy and grateful and wow. Thank you Debbie! There’s a lace pattern curving around it and I’ll try to show it off better later.

I have very happy feet.

At the purlocity of light
Friday October 17th 2014, 10:59 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

I got asked about a month ago if I would teach a how-to-knit class at church tonight. Sure!

Come the time to go, I was tired, I was grouchy, mostly over worrying about someone I know who had a brain tumor taken out today (wistfully cheering on Karen’s brother Paul from too many thousands of miles away), and I wasn’t at all sure I was even up to going.

But I went. Boy am I glad I did.

Sue to one side, me to the other, five newbies willing to give it a go and we were off.

I had just said something about different knitting styles but they all make the same thing when Sue happened to walk out of the room and so the woman she’d been sitting next to brought her work over to me: let’s see, is this the right way to hold the yarn?

I laughed. “Sue taught you so I can’t help there at all.”  Then, “Wait, wait, come back here” as we all cracked up.

One person who came in later took immediately to this casting-on stuff, just got it. A natural. But then when I said okay, now here’s how you knit the first row she was astonished: “You mean I wasn’t knitting?!”

“Yes you were knitting, that’s the first part of it.”

She gave it a try but gave it up. I was like, blink. What? But you’re intuitively good at this, I saw! Maybe later, says she…

Meantime, another who had struggled stitch after stitch after stitch trying to remember which way the yarn goes which way the tip goes no not that way oh right–persevered. Kept at it for an hour till she was sure she had it and was making good progress.

I told them that the last time I’d taught a class like this at church, one woman two weeks later came back to me to say she’d made a baby blanket and two hats already.

They looked at me wide-eyed. No no I wasn’t saying they had to do that–but rather, you can get good fast if you keep at it.

Someone else had picked up yarn and needles so I wouldn’t have to run that errand. Which was very kind of her–but after our little group had been working their scratchy-acrylic Red Heart for awhile (really? They still make it like that? I had no idea. I didn’t say that though), I had them fondle my Malabrigo. OOOOooooooohhhhh.

I explained, This is what keeps knitters knitting.

They totally got that.

Wanting to be sure they really did have it and not to lose any progress, three of them proposed on the spot to start a knit night–on, thankfully, Tuesdays, meaning I can go too. The plan is scarves for foster children.

I had a blast. And this is only going to get more fun. I’m so glad I didn’t just throw in the towel and leave it all for Sue to teach alone.

Tarzan cafe
Thursday October 16th 2014, 10:19 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

Going to Wikipedia I discover that another name for our Chinese elm is Lacebark elm. Who knew. How perfect for a knitter’s home. I’d have taken a photo of the trunk earlier if I’d known–but I can definitely say that that name fits.

But what started all this was an odd enough sight that I stopped and simply watched for awhile: five squirrels and surely more where I couldn’t see, all hanging upside down with the ends of their tails just barely wrapped around the branch above them, hanging onto the very flimsiest of limbs. In tandem. Three of them in this shot. The one in the foreground pulled his head up when I pulled the camera out.

They were reaching for the very ends of the twigs and bending them back towards them, working rapidly through the small flowers.

But they didn’t seem to be eating the flowers, rather, pushing their noses side to side through them: they were searching for the bugs that seemed to be hiding in them. Every now and then one would pull itself triumphantly upright hand over careful hand, one paw, a second, a third, a fourth, rock-climbing the air back to a steadier spot. Wait oh whoops! Almost! as a fragile twig broke off and fell below while the thing scrambled wildly.

But a big black beetle. Now, that was worth sitting up in a good spot where you could enjoy it with two paws free to hold it as you bite off the best parts first.

I’ve seen those bugs. The past few Octobers, they’ve come down through the heating vents (they seem to only fall, not fly) trying to find a good place to overwinter. They have no business being inside my house. (To everyone back East dealing with their cousins the invasive stink bugs that also like to come in in the Fall, I know I really have nothing to complain about, but I still don’t like them.)

This year, though, the furnace and the damaged, gaping ductwork across the roof have been replaced. (Thank you Joe Lerma!) The trees have been cut back from over the house. If a bug gets shaken loose it will fall to the ground outside where it belongs.

The squirrels are getting all the bugs. They’re not in my house anymore and it is Fall again and they’re not coming back in.

I cannot tell you how wonderful that is.

Making good use of the cabin fever
Wednesday October 15th 2014, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Gradually building my strength back post-flu, including in my hands. I’ve had to stop knitting to ice my hands about every hour’s worth and have been reluctant to push it.

And yet somehow I’m still about 3500 stitches further into the baby blanket than I was this morning, with more than that yesterday, going from two and a half motifs to nearly six in that time with about fifteen to go.

(And here is where I wave a picture at the blog, except that I’m still trying to keep at least some of it a surprise.)

Tuesday October 14th 2014, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

I had to go outside today and look up: yeah, we did cut that thing way back but I guess the raccoon could still have fallen out of that tree onto the house but he really would have had to work at it. Was he dodging a large owl?

Or more likely feasting on the big black beetles that settle in on the undersides of the leaves this time of year and just stepped a little too far out on a thin limb and scrambled for the roof rather than the ground. I’ve seen the squirrels the last few days stroking the leaves and then grabbing and munching the bugs before they can escape, so I know they’re there.

But whatever, there was a tremendous crash right overhead 11:30 last night followed by a wild clumpy skittering.

Woke up to raccoon prints on the skylight–well that settles it. Rocky Raccoon meets She Came In (not!) Through The Bathroom Window.

Y’know, this is probably the same raccoon that pulled my tableful of heavy clay tomato pots down on its head, that ate, not just chewed but ate an apple-sized chunk out of a plastic clamshell and then the Fuji apple inside. And never, ever touched another one again.

I think this one’s not too bright.

The hawk flew in yesterday to within ten feet from my face in a mad pursuit, and then, having lost its prey somewhere in the elephant ears, it landed right there, looking for that wayward breakfast wherediditgo. He glanced over his shoulder at me, we looked each other in the eye and I apologized, nope, I don’t have it, sorry for disturbing you. (I’d half-stood to see over the window ledge. That probably wasn’t too bright. He took off.)

Today he swooped into the olive tree, gave the yard a thorough looking-over and then dove straight down below the roofline and straight at me–and then pulled hard straight up again to surprise whatever was there. Probably a dove on the ham radio antenna.

I later saw two ravens passing overhead in a hurry and heard not crow nor raven but, from the other side of the house (thank you Oticon hearing aids and Kim and my son for the bird-sounds book!) the distinct call of a Cooper’s hawk on full territorial alert: And STAY out!

While I quietly got almost two more repeats done on the blanket. My grandsons arrived early. I expect their sister will too. Making good time.

I would make her a bird afghan if I didn’t know how much fun a baby would have pulling the intarsia apart. Maybe a dress next with a single wren motif on it.

And don’t forget the triple-ginger snaps
Monday October 13th 2014, 9:32 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Family,Life,Lupus

My doctor told me to get my flu shot as soon as I, in her words, wasn’t very sick.

And so Richard was going to leave work early and get me to the clinic before their flu-shot nurse called it a day at 5:00. I just wasn’t up to running lots of errands on my own yet.

The lights were not with us. We got there 5:02, no dice. Oh well.

It was a moment of truth: I just really, really didn’t want to have to worry about going through the last two weeks all over again if I could do anything about it–I wanted that shot done with. (He’d already gotten his.) And so we drove across town to Costco.

Pro tip: that was the fewest people I have seen in that store in ages, 5:25 must be the right time to go.

Not to mention the fewest infectious agents around us and for me to be around them.

There were questions to check off: are you currently sick? I simply left that one blank and they did not call me on it. Do you have any immune disease such as AIDS or cancer? Uh, yes no no–so, yes.

They made me wait 15 minutes while they shuffled paperwork. I had not brought my knitting, deliberately: my hands needed a break after major baby blanket time, but I’d forgotten my book, too. It is a sign of how quickly I’d run out of steam that I forgot that I could simply read the news on my phone.

I sat on their bench that faced a towering display of Men’s L/XL incontinence help (charming), noting the heavy towers of pallets to right and left, the emergency exit door thataway, and plotting my duck-and-cover should the quake strike. I’ve been under swinging chandeliers before, but at least they were anchored to the ceiling. Get away from those aisles. (The bored mind in earthquake country.)

And then they called me into a back room and the deed was done. I cannot begin to tell you what a relief it is that that is so. I have my flu shot. The world is a slightly safer place.

The flying purple, people, in air
Sunday October 12th 2014, 7:51 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Little boys are wonderful. This just totally cracks me up.

A note was sent to the ward chat list this afternoon in hopes of reaching the right cellphone before everybody was gone from the church.  A five-year-old was very sad about having lost his new purple clip-on tie.

And then about five minutes later, Tie found!

Eight feet high in a tree.

I sent off a, Is it okay that I laughed? Do you need to borrow a ladder?

It’s okay and it’s all good, she wrote back, John jumped up and grabbed it.

Their little boy was still saying he had no idea how it got up there.

Sky drama
Saturday October 11th 2014, 8:11 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

With thanks to Lisa Souza for that title. Love that colorway.

Got up early this morning and maybe I surprised them.

There was a swoop and a flash of large tail and so I sat down to watch a moment. A finch had hit the window in a panic and was cowering in the elephant ears.

Another swoop back the other way. And then suddenly a third and out of here–followed by a wheeling around from out of nowhere (how did a big black thing like that hide?!) somewhere in the neighbor’s tall trees and then a second, likewise wingtip to wingtip ground to air and turning on a dime: two ravens, trying to steal from the Cooper’s hawk, who’d gotten a good head start on them.

They knew he’d had a successful hunt, even if I didn’t.

Coopernicus had staked out the birdfeeder and they had staked out him. Through those trees and away for all they were worth.

Amazing Grace
Friday October 10th 2014, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

After several false starts and a whole lot of stitches the hat is begun.

Okay, that’s my obligatory bit for the day. What you really want to read, if you haven’t yet, is Stephanie’s post.

If you already did you know that her sister-in-law lives in Madagascar and that once a year she flies home to Canada and buys all the yarn for the next year. (I. Cannot. Imagine. A woollessly-enforced cyclically-stashfree life? All planning no sudden hey-I-could? Yow.) Likewise, once a year she gets to give out all those things she has knit in happy anticipation of sharing her love in ways that will stay when she has to leave, waiting, waiting to be able to give  out that wealth of knitted happiness.  A sweater’s sleeves that were made for toddler Lou with memory of his arms around her neck in a hug, as Stephanie writes. The new baby in the family who needed warmth against the Canadian cold…

And that was the suitcase that went missing July 31st.

After her trying every possible method of extracting it from the airline and then giving the okay to her sister-in-law, Stephanie finally put the word out to the knitter world at large last week.

I know I’m not the only one who said prayers. I also believe in a God who answers anonymously through the actual doings of people to encourage them to look out for each other, and sometimes there’s simply someone out there who needs to know enough to act on a hunch or enough to know to do some looking. They just have to get the word.

Whatever, however.

That suitcase came home to Canada today.

A year’s worth of near-daily work. Safely home.

Y E S !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!