Spreading out the season
Saturday December 03rd 2016, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Garden,Mango tree

The purple becomes orange. I love how the center of the tiny flower looks like a floating votive candle with the petals doing an exuberant Ta-Daaah! around it.

There was a tiny, narrow black streak notching one of the big flower branches this morning, maybe an eighth of an inch long but a sign of cold damage. There, in the center cluster growing almost straight down, above the upper light (they’re not touching) at the next group up. You can’t see it? Good. That branch needs to become strong enough to hold up the weight of a growing mango. I think we’re okay.

A minor part–by no means all–of one of the tomato bushes died overnight, and it looks like it dipped to 32 degrees at that one spot. I still hold some hope of having new tomatoes carrying over into the spring like they sometimes do in southern California.

This happened today on the side of the mango that had been dormant. Whether all the bud ends will actually produce flowering, not just leaves, I guess I’ll find out, but it’s clear they’re each taking their sweet time.

A steady supply of fruit rather than all of it happening at once sounds good to me.



A teddy bear Christmas
Saturday December 03rd 2016, 12:21 am
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Years ago, Richard’s oldest sister made an advent calendar for us for Christmas. The fabric was pre-printed with a cheery scene, a big decorated tree with a teddy bear family below. She lined it, sewed buttons on each day, finished the edges, made a long loop across the top, put a dowel through it and attached a fine rope for hanging the thing.

And then there were the little craft-store teddy bears that she added ribbon loops to for hanging from those buttons, one tiny toy for each of our kids.

One got rescued from behind the dryer one year (I have no idea how it got there) and two walked off and stayed off. They were actively loved. So we have two in the decorations box still, keeping each other company.

We hang her calendar every year in her memory, bringing her back into the celebrations of the season.

Cheryl fought lymphoma long enough to see her middleschooler go off to college and her second son marry a fine woman. I wish she had gotten to hold her grandchildren. But she certainly fought the good fight those eight years. They say they can now often cure the type she had, when at the time, there had been zero cures. None.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee blogged about the advent calendar she just finished for her small niece, knitting a tiny ornament for each of the days. They are SO cute.

We’ll see if hope and intent make it to created reality. I really want to make something like Stephanie’s for my grandchildren. Even if they end up being for next year.

Let’s see, the baby will be seven months by then…



On opening day
Thursday December 01st 2016, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Mango tree,Wildlife

And so it begins.

You can almost see the little dots of purple in those tiny things.

It’s been colder, though, (37 out there right now, 59 under the covers) and I haven’t seen any honeybees on the frost covers in the morning this past week. But if they’re looking for flowers they surely know right where to go. Does it make any difference that the neighbors let the hive that set up camp in their backyard keep all its honey for the winter?

Meantime, the artificial vs real tree debate has been settled. By a beaver. In a dollar store in Maryland. Reaching up to the fake ones, taking a sniff, and declaring a definite opinion on the subject.

(Yes, but no allergies and no massive baby spider hatch-out like that one year. Time to roll ours out and set it up.)



Iris eyes are smiling
Wednesday November 30th 2016, 11:46 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Just inside the door at Trader Joe’s was a display of flowers. I’m in the habit of walking right on by, but maybe the fact that I was in a TJ’s across town and with a different layout from my usual got me to pay more attention.

I checked the price on the bunch of iris buds ready to open: $3.99. Okay, that’s a splurge I can certainly do, as the thought came that, hey, I bet Nina would like those. I hadn’t seen her for a few months; she was always so busy with work but this wouldn’t take but a moment of her time. (I pictured nobody home and having to leave them below the doorbell and her wondering where on earth those had come from.)

A few groceries in the cart, a little hemming and hawing over dinner ideas and I was out of there and on my way.

A knock at the door: Just to say I was thinking of you. How ya doin’.

She brought me inside in delight and we sat and caught up for an hour till I pled groceries that really did need to be put away (while glad it was cold outside).

Some big things had been going on in her life this past little bit, this and this and this, too, and just yesterday she’d gotten something done she’d been avoiding for several years and it felt pretty darn good to get that over with and to know what she needs to do next. It’s clear now at last, and things are looking good.

I’d known none of that and I was so glad I had come when I had come and could share in the moment. I’d just thought, hey, Nina would like those…



But man, it felt good to be back
Tuesday November 29th 2016, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

I knitted a little today.

I hold the weight of the work in my left hand when I knit and I had just started a cowl project before my fall, i.e. something small and gratifyingly easy to see progress on, so since the right hand had the easiest job I figured just run the yarn between ring and middle finger and over one from the usual and see where that might get me, tension and gauge-wise. Just try it.

There being two black velcroed strips holding my pinky and ring fingers snugly together for at least the next four weeks.

This is where it got weird: I think I was keeping the tension okay, not that, but the fact that–the yarn tickled. It kept, y’know, moving, too, pulling across those unaccustomed skin surfaces for enough minutes that I wanted a break from it aside from needing to rest the hands themselves.

In forty-eight years of knitting, I’ve never had it running through there before. After the three rows I did it even began to feel slightly rough. But that Madeline Tosh yarn was far from rough.

Is it possible (as I picture guitarists with their hands on the strings) that knitters’ callouses are a thing? On the insides of our fingers. So strange. I don’t know, I can’t get to mine to see.



They were bigger than he was
Monday November 28th 2016, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Three raptors approaching overhead and my Cooper’s hawk diving for cover in the upper parts of the redwood tree, vanishing instantly.

That wasn’t something I ever expected to see.



And still we are here
Monday November 28th 2016, 12:12 am
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Before church started, I was enjoying some of my favorite little kids there running around a woman about my age who turned out (it was an easy guess) to be their grandmother. First I asked the two-year-old, Is that your grandma?

He stopped and looked at her with big eyes and then at me with a puzzled expression that said, Well who else would she be? How could you not know this?

Their dad was giving one of the talks.

Things I never knew, though I’ve known them for years. Before he and his wife had married they’d found out she had a brain tumor. Well then it was something they would face together, and they did, but they were sure that one outcome would be that there would not be a chance to have children.

Sometimes, though… Not everybody gets to have the blessings they fervently wish for, but sometimes…

They have two little boys and now a newborn girl and a blessedly normal life these years later.

And they know how good they have it. The rest of us came away more grateful for all that we have, too.

How else could we be? May we never forget this.



Mel and Kris and Phyllis
Sunday November 27th 2016, 12:14 am
Filed under: Amaryllis,Friends,Life

Delete a bajillion junk gmail messages from my Mac and the phone takes pictures again. May all our problems be so easily solved.

My friend Phyllis introduced me to the annual Harvest Festival in San Jose years ago and today was the day. Mel and Kris  are always there and that’s reason enough for me to go, and time with Phyl, too? Hey. Count me in.

So we made a beeline for them and the four of us chatted for a little while. Would they be willing to hold my purchases so we didn’t have to carry the heavy bag everywhere? Of course.

Phyl wanted to make sure I got to see everything and so we did, circling back at last to our friends. A pitcher, a large serving bowl, a soup bowl with a handle (so now I have two, which makes more sense than just one) and a small kid-size mug. Really pretty stuff, all of it.

I was at home pulling each item at a time carefully out of its newspaper wrappings when one of their business cards fell out onto the floor. My hands were full so I didn’t get to it immediately.

A minute or two later, a second one fluttered down. I grinned and picked them both up–and somehow happened to turn one of them over.

I’d been so worried over trying to write my name legibly on the credit card slip with that broken hand that I never even saw what the amount had come to.

They totally got me.

 

 



To life!
Friday November 25th 2016, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

My favorite part of Thanksgiving? (Well, there were several, but here you go.)

Our kids are nearly as old as Aunt Mary Lynn’s kids, so they grew up together and definitely relate to each other.

You never know, though, where a Facebook algorithm is going to take anybody on any given day, so I asked the ones who’d arrived late, Did you hear Sam’s news?

“No, what?” with faces searching mine for a clue good or bad.

A heartbeat’s pause. “Mother’s Day.”

That’s all it took. I wish she could have heard those two long sharp astonished gasps in unison and then the whooping for joy for her. Yup, they totally instantly got it. Meantime, someone else was explaining to “the man who is calling upon” their sister who was meeting some of the family for the first time that this was something their cousin had thought she could never have, and so he was really happy for her, too (we really like this guy.)

Meantime, that impish grin I’d tried to suppress just might have tipped them off.



T-day 2016
Friday November 25th 2016, 12:03 am
Filed under: Family,Friends,Garden

Thanksgiving dinner was at Aunt Mary Lynn’s up in the mountains, with cousins, bouncy little kids, old folks, and us middle types in between.

A widowed elderly neighbor whose daughter had recently died needed the noise and the joy and she relished all the sounds of small children playing, laughing right along with them. She walked carefully in their presence, though, and as far as I know did not hold the heavy, wiggly baby. Jean was a bit stooped and a little frail looking–and she was a treat to get to meet, and when she mentioned something about her persimmon I got her talking about fruit trees.

How many do you have?

Oh, about twenty.

We could really talk fruit trees here! She really knew her stuff.

But she admitted that she doesn’t do so much with them these days. (Yeah, I wouldn’t want her on any ladders either, that’s for sure.)

She did all these years, though, and to every thing its own season. It’s okay. She’s got one of those fruit picker things for reaching stuff, and oh, yes, me, too.

We drove home just in time to have our nephew Ryan and his wife, visiting her folks from New York City, over for an hour or so before they had to head back; they had to leave early in the morning. Ryan lived at our house for one summer while courting her and it’s deeply gratifying to see them so happy together. We had a great time.

And having gotten my cast off yesterday but told to wear it when I might fall or be out and about and need the protection, my balance was a little more wobbly than usual and it stayed on most of the day. I’m with Jean.

But it’s really nice to be able to leave it at simply two fingers velcroed together when I want to. And the velcro ties fit inside the splint, so, no losing those. Yay.

And a blessed, grateful day it was.



Happy Thanksgiving!
Wednesday November 23rd 2016, 11:35 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis

My phone is on strike: no matter how many photos I delete it says it’s too full to take any more–otherwise I’d be showing you my amaryllis. Here, this one. (Aaaaand… It’s sold out. That link may go poof.)

Silly iPhone. Thursday’s supposed to be the day when we all get too full.



I will so miss these trips together
Wednesday November 23rd 2016, 12:15 am
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends

I threw the idea out there on a lark, and she said, Sure!

And so for one last time before Michelle’s move Friday to her new job in San Diego, we drove down to Andy’s Orchard together. The last fresh fruit of the year was apples and persimmons, including a Giant Fuyu that truly was and a variety I’d never heard of.

But the best part was seeing the woman I’d given Andy’s hat to last month. She had always seemed like someone who needed a good hug and a listening ear somehow.

Boy, not this time. She was glad to see us and laughed again and again as we chatted.

Then the total, the credit card, and the sudden realization: how am I supposed to sign this?!

No problem, Mom, I can do it.

Wait what?

She told me of some long-forgotten (by me, anyway) time when she’d needed my signature in high school but that hadn’t been possible so I’d told her to just go sign it. Turned out she could do a darn good job of it, and today it was, here, let me show you. Our handwriting style’s a lot the same anyway, Mom.

(Actually I didn’t think it was but never mind.)

And then with my okay, go ahead, she did.

I was gobsmacked. I couldn’t have been able to tell you I hadn’t written that. She was disappointed it didn’t come out better while I was going no, you’ve got my old-age version down pat.

The clerk was bowled over laughing at this point.

You have found your superpower, my child. Use it only for good.



Hey, you, strand it over
Monday November 21st 2016, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Mango tree


I did a smart thing: I ordered two strands of blue Christmas lights last week as backup. I debated just buying spare bulbs but there was no telling how old my strings were; they could have been around decades (and probably had.) Might as well play it safe.

I did a dumb thing: after I took a few photos of the new growth and buds here, here, and here too now, I decided to replace a bulb that was out. Sunset was about 35 minutes away, plenty of time.

The old bulb didn’t want to come out, nuh uh–and suddenly there was a slightly coiled wire exposed, the metal base was still firmly attached down in there, and a definite pop sound as two full strands of Christmas lights died. Poof. Gone. The promise of staying lit when just one bulb goes bad doesn’t apply if you blow the fuse.

The controller in the box was peachy fine. It was just the strands.

I had one good hand (and the thought of, oh, my osteopath isn’t going to like this) and suddenly not much time. I had to carefully undo all those waggly bulbs (let’s not add broken glass to this mess) and wiring from everywhere and get them out of there, trying not to pull off any of the self-entangled leaves. I lost two. Open the new shipping box and doublecheck that they really did sell me outdoor lights like I’d paid for–yes–and get the new lights worked back in there.

You don’t want bulbs directly touching branches. You wish they didn’t have to touch leaves, either (good luck with that) since they brown where they do (see bulb imprint at the bottom of that second photo)and you don’t want wires crossing or bulbs touching At All.

I figured letting heat rise was, as it had been before, a good idea.

And then I snapped one more picture.

The second stake and the bubble wrap are to keep the frost covers off the buds and the covers from being punctured.

I got my three layers over the tree for the night a minute or so after sunset.

The kicker is that my setup had had the mango at 72 last night when it was 45 outside: I really hadn’t needed that one bulb at all. But it’s just as well gone. The muted glow out there is at long last all blue rather than a kluged mess of green and blue, making it quieter visually in the night.

My hand is whining a bit.

And I’m a-gonna order me some more strands. And bulbs.  Gotta have backup. You never know.



Casts of characters
Sunday November 20th 2016, 11:09 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

A friend at church saw my cast and chuckled ruefully and told me, “Yeah, I’ve been debating going in. I may have broken my elbow ice-skating yesterday.”

I said something about taking good care of it if he did, but I think what really got him to go in and get it checked was simply acknowledging the thing out loud.

Turns out, yes, it was.

Ah, the slings and errors of outrageous fortune…



Making connections
Saturday November 19th 2016, 11:56 pm
Filed under: Life

So, what I was going to write about Wednesday before life so rudely interrupted that night. Let the one-handed hunt and peck begin.

Earlier that day I did a quick Target run that required I look for things at the far opposite ends of the store.

And that is how I ran into a mom with two kids in one of those huge red double-decker-ish carts with multiple seatbelts they have there.

She was highly stressed. Her little guys started to whine and cry, and they were all spiraling.

It didn’t help that here was this weirdo lady who’d stopped right there in the aisle and was fishing through her tote bag, almost in the way, and what on earth was that about.

(Pink, no, c’mon, boyish!)

There–two finger puppets, both of them white and black. I offered them to the mom.

She was speechless. She was thrilled. Her boys picked right up on the change and were suddenly quiet, watching–and then sitting up and happy as she handed them each one.

Did you MAKE these?!

No, women in Peru did, I confessed as I turned to go.

Wait! Are you–? She didn’t want to ask the question in a way that would sound presumptuous and was struggling for what to say because this was all so not what she was prepared for.

Merry Christmas! I grinned back over my shoulder.

Got to the checkout. Of course I picked the line that took forevvvvvver. Man that guy was slow.

When suddenly I was glad I was still there. I pulled my cart out of the line to go to another mom who was also struggling not to snap and her baby was fussing.

She was adorable.  About a year old. The pink flamingo got its moment.

A head suddenly popped up from the seat at the lower front part of the cart, a toddler boy with blond curls curious as to what was going on.

Oh! You’ve got another one! as another finger puppet came out. When this mom asked, I explained about the women being able to put food on the table and everybody wins. Happy Birthday! (Which is how I try to remember to always say it–everybody has birthdays.) I told her, I had four kids in six years.

Oh! So you know!

OH yeah! I grinned.

Back to the line.

But this time my attention got called back by three voices: the mom’s, the little boy’s, and a waving baby giving it her best try: “Thank you!”

And ever since, I’ve wondered if those two moms with the two little kids each and identical mom-carts saw knit finger puppets on the other kids’ hands and became instant friends right there in the store.