Today
Sunday June 25th 2017, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

Blink. They’re what?! (I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, some other friends moved out of their rental house after the landlord doubled the rent, which had already been high, and it’s gone up that much again since.)

Vivian, I heard…?

“I don’t want to move again!” But yes, it looked like they were, and in the next week at that.

“But I haven’t knit for you yet!” As if that could keep them here. I don’t want them to leave.

It was like I’d thrown her a lifeline of something positive to hold onto in the stress of uprooting with kids and she answered with emotion, “I would LOVE to have something hand knit from you!”

“Alright, what colors. What are your favorite colors…”

“All of them!” and then, “Orange.”

Orange? Somehow that surprised me. Smiling ruefully, wryly, thinking about Green Planet Yarn’s being up for sale and my ever-diminishing chances to experience a yarn before I buy (and there was certainly no time to order any!) “There is not a plethora of orange in my stash.”

She laughed, and that felt good.

“What would match most of your clothes?” In case I could still make her happy with what I had at hand. “Blue, I have lots of blues.”

“Blue is good.”

And so I went home and searched through my stash, and almost immediately, because somehow just a couple of days ago I had inexplicably found it and put it Right There and then forgotten all about it, there was this baby alpaca “Joseph’s Coat” colorway from Lisa Souza’s dyepots. All of them. Mostly orange. Blue is good. Well there you go.

And so this is what I spent most of the rest of the day on–that and our taking Michelle to the airport. What is fascinating to me is how it went from punctually-random intermixings of colors to growing stripes, definite stripes, when I changed the number of stitches on the needles. Curious. It will look like they all melted into each other at the top.

I have the plain light slightly-grayish-blue cashmere of two cowls ago as a backup, since that one didn’t go out yet and given that I am suddenly on such a tight time frame.

I finished typing the above, looked again, and finally figured it out: it looks like the pinwheel-on-a-stick toy of my youth that you blew on to make the colors twirl around to see if you could get it going fast enough to make them all run together. The center always did the most.



It takes the cake
Saturday June 24th 2017, 11:11 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Recipes

I was in the home stretch, one eye on the clock, thinking, I can get this done before bed and even still get a little blogging time in.

Michelle, who’s in town for her friend’s wedding, texted me: could I? Pretty please?

She’d been going to make an almond cake from the fresh almond paste she got at Milk Pail this afternoon: one of the perks of a trip home. But there was no way she was going to get back from that reception in time tonight–it takes an hour to bake.

Well, hey, I can make one of those really fast… (The recipe says baking powder in the list of ingredients, baking soda in the instructions. Do it in baking powder.)

The cast-off was finished at 10:55. The cake came out at 11:00 pm. I did it!



Memo: While You Were Out
Friday June 23rd 2017, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden,Recipes,Wildlife

Cooper’s hawk. Adult. Right there, intently watching my patio and back door as I came around the corner of the yard from trimming back the kids’ old climbing tree that had been shading my tomatoes a bit.

I stepped quickly back behind the house–but I think my startling it cost it its dinner. Sorry about that.

I came inside a few minutes later with  these Yellow Transparents. It is a sign of how different things are this year, drought-wise, that I still have plenty on my tree, proof that the squirrels don’t touch the tart stuff unless they’re starving: this year they have better options.  (Whatever they are out there, starting with my California Coffeeberries).

A little apple juice, four small quartered apples, cover, zap five minutes, cool, scrape off the skins and voila! Apple sauce for two.

And a Mathias picture just because.



For Megan
Thursday June 22nd 2017, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I wished, I wished, I wished I had a particular shade of blue in my stash.

I’d seen her wearing it so I knew she liked it and I knew it looked great on her. The hank I’d overdyed a few days ago wasn’t bright enough nor solidly blue enough. If I drove down to Green Planet (anyone want a yarn store? Beth would love to sell it to you so she can attend to her family) maybe they would have something–but having such a firm idea of the exact shade I wanted, that was no sure thing and it would have to be in a yarn I liked enough. No skimping.

After a week or so of this I realized at last that I did, and found it: one of my last few skeins of the discontinued Cascade Epiphany in a deep royal, a cashmere/silk/royal-grade baby alpaca, long and carefully hoarded. It was just the thing.

We threw her a potluck birthday party at lunch today and I had to confess that I had not finished it but I let her see just enough of that blue.

That was all she needed. She was wearing an exact match to it (in something I hadn’t seen her in before) and exclaimed, That’s my favorite color!

The race is on, then, to finish it in time to be blocked come Sunday.

(p.s. Thank you, everybody. Today was much better than the last few, to my great relief. And it was all the better for my daughter Michelle having arrived in town for a wedding.)



June 12 vs 21
Wednesday June 21st 2017, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Life,Mango tree

Y’know, sloshing the brain around in four falls in four days is just not a great idea. I’m putting me on timeout.

Meantime, the mango tree is sprouting in the 88-106F heat wave this past week. The leaves that were red on the 12th have turned green and the new shoots from then have new half-grown red leaves now. (Second picture taken at a brighter time of day.)

The thicker the trunk grows, the hardier it becomes against future cold.



Impromptu block party
Tuesday June 20th 2017, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Friends,Wildlife

7:30 p.m. I was taking a bin to the curb when the little kids across the street called out and waved an enthusiastic hi to me. I waved hi back.

And then I ducked quickly down the side yard to check to make sure before I said anything: was she there? She was!

So I went back over and asked the parents and their two little kids if they’d like to see a mother mourning dove on her nest?

Yes! Please!

I explained that when my own kids were that size, we’d had a woodpecker nest that my husband could hold the kids up high to see into, and how much we’d loved that.

And so I showed them the nest: there, up on top of the ladder.

Their mom hoisted them up one by one to give them a better look. The dove, as always, stayed quietly put, observing the observers.

They hopped skipped and jumped back down the walkway–and saw their buddy, who lives two doors down. His parents had seen them outside playing and had started out the door to join them when they had all suddenly disappeared into my yard. And so I asked them, too, and we all went back and looked again, two pairs of little ones now and two moms. (The dads were invited but seemed a bit shy to intrude.)

Where is it? Oh! There!

She’s well hidden, isn’t she? I asked. Tippy toes and mommy’s arms.

And then the kids, being kids, ran off around the corner because they wanted to explore the hidden treasure of a backyard they’d never been in. The moms started to call them away and I invited them to hey, come on back. Such a delight to have little kids running around in my back yard again.

What kind of tree is this? Oh, you’ve got tomatoes!

Turns out one had been wanting to know how better to fend off the critters from her oranges.

Turns out the other had needed a listening ear on how to feel like you’re still a good mom when you’re badly sleep deprived with a three year old and a fifteen-month-old, and didn’t know she had someone right there whom she could talk to about it, someone who knew–but she does now. “Wow, four in six years?”

“Yeah,” I laughed and said in all honesty, “I don’t know how I did it.”

I owe that momma dove a great big thank you for sticking around and starting a new clutch of eggs.



Roadrunner
Monday June 19th 2017, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Life

Beep beep.

Huh. It was early. My hearing aid batteries always signal they’re on their way out on Tuesdays. Okay, whatever. I went to where I keep the battery pack cards–but when I picked the last one up out of the little Mel and Kris jar I keep them in, it was empty.

I searched my purse. The last card in there was empty, too. Oh right. That happened on our last trip–I was going to remember to restock it when we got home.

I searched my last-ditch backup. No luck. I did find one full card there of the wrong size, for the old hearing aids I haven’t worn for three years.

But I never run out of batteries! It’s too important not to!

Which is how I ran out of batteries, because I don’t expect to, because I’m usually so careful, and that ear was going down fast.

Beep beep. Okay, good, it’s still going.  You never know how many pairs of beeps you’ll get; sometimes two, once, five, in varying numbers of minutes apart. Usually after the third set it plays a loud nine-note downward scale and off, operatic in its death throes.

I hopped in the car and headed for Costco, knowing that the pharmacy was closing in under ten minutes. I hit the light wrong. I hit the parking spot right (that never happens). Seven on the nose as far as I could tell. I was halfway across the store when they flipped off the lights in the pharmacy, and as I rushed, one pharmacist saw me coming and pretended he didn’t and ducked out of sight. His day was over and if he stopped, the customers never would–he was outta there.

I asked the other (reluctant) pharmacist, in those last few steps, if I could have hearing aid batteries?

Over there, he motioned. He had not yet pulled down the metal cover, he had not yet pulled them off the end of the counter to where they would be fully inside once he did, but then he wasn’t about to get them nor ring them up for me, either. I moved an abandoned cart out of the way and squinted in the low light.

Size 312. If I’d been ten seconds later I would have been out of luck. (And I know the premium price the drug store charges for those.)

My audiologist simply gives them to me as part of the price of my $8888 aids for as long as I should wear them. (People like me pay for all the R&D that benefits everybody else.) I just have to remember to pick them up.

The third beep beep happened in the parking lot as I checked around me: nobody was waiting for my spot. Good. I wrestled that thick blister pack open and changed the right-side battery and drove off relieved and happy into the early stages of sunset.



Angie
Sunday June 18th 2017, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

An old friend was in town for the first time in twenty years–I confess I didn’t recognize her. But she definitely recognized me at church and made a beeline for me.

She laughed when I told her she’d just solved a mystery for me: I have this knitting friend who, all the time I’ve known her I’ve tried to figure out just who it is she reminds me of.

We’ve all got doppelgängers out there somewhere, right? And now she knows who knows who hers is.



Happy face yarn
Saturday June 17th 2017, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Food,Knit,To dye for


Showing off Andy’s Bing and Rainier cherries, before the sugar/flour/cinnamon/almond and top crust.

Meantime, this was some 50/50 merino/silk from Colourmart, and I knew from knitting my brother a hat out of it in double strands of navy that it was warm, soft, and well spun, I knew my hands loved the stuff, but all they had left was this faded dusty taupe/sage mix that did not do a thing for me. Cannot beat that closeout price, though– (150 g/$12 ppd) –all it needed was a little work.

Hank, scour the mill oils out in hot soapy water, overdye, rinse, then wind it up once it’s dry. Jacquard Acid Dye in (not a whole lot of) Bright Blue with just a touch of vinegar in the pot that helped the yarn take up the dye during the simmering.

It’s still got just a bit of earthy tone in some lighting from its ancestral color but I like it much better now.



The Royal treatment
Friday June 16th 2017, 11:06 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

Quick, before the cherries were gone for the season. We’d both been craving more cherry pie and there’s only one place to get good enough ones to make it out of. So I headed down to Andy’s Orchard.

I left at 1:30 but it was already a long stop-and-go drive on the way down; whether it was the Bay Area emptying out for the weekend or (reading the police blotter in the news later) the stolen car an hour before, I don’t know.

Now, my hubby has never been an apricot fan so I only buy myself a few at the grocery store every year or so and I’m always disappointed when I do. And yet, knowing that Andy only grows what tastes good and he only picks and sells it ripe, I bought two pounds of the old heirloom Blenheims. Why wait a whole ‘nother year to give them a try? And then I added two pounds of Royals to compare to (pictured). They were huge!

Plus Bing and Rainier cherries and some Gold Dust peaches because hey–that had been the point.

I got home at long last and savored one of those perfect Rainiers. And then, out of curiosity, I picked up one of the Royal apricots: got to get going on those, right? I zapped its halves in the microwave in part because I wanted to see what kind of sauce I could make out of it. I pulled the peel away.

What was left tasted like–a peach. Nearly. But all its own. I’d had no idea apricots could taste like this. I’d had no idea what I’d been missing. None. Glorious. Wow.

Resisting the impulse to run go plant another tree…



And now the daughter
Thursday June 15th 2017, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

There on the fence, preening. I grabbed my aging phone and wished. The chest markings of a juvenile, the larger size of a female–and there she goes! Not the adult I’d been seeing. She’s probably only been flying for about a month, then. Cool!

Meantime, I really wanted to get this out there today and not one day later and I made it to the post office before closing with ten minutes to spare. Someone needed a hug. Someone who’d just dyed her hair purple. It was just the thing.



What a day
Wednesday June 14th 2017, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Politics

My thanks to the Muslims in Grenfell Tower who, observant of Ramadan, got up early to eat before the day’s fast and so were awake to alert their neighbors in that tower last night–which had no building-wide fire alarm and no sprinkler system–and saved many lives.

One building inspector in the US marveled that that place would have been out of code here as of 1920. (I confess I haven’t yet searched to see if his date holds up.)

Praying for a full recovery for Steve Scalise and the others shot at the Congressional Republicans’ baseball warmup this morning, and I am in awe of those who ran to stop the gunman who was far better armed than they. They are heroes, too.

I love that Steny Hoyer from my home state of Maryland told the cameras that Scalise was his good friend and he was praying for him. Full stop. There was no mention of how very different their politics are. That had no place.

In California, as of a few years ago, there is a law and a process whereby one can petition a court to have someone not be able to have a gun: someone convicted of domestic violence, someone who has proven a danger to others or themselves; there has to be a good reason. That petition if successful kicks in the equivalent of a restraining order against the person’s having a gun in their possession for a limited period of time. I believe it passed after the Santa Barbara mass shooter, who was mentally ill and whose parents begged everybody they could think of to intervene, to help them keep their kid from doing what he planned on doing but were told no because he hadn’t actually committed any crimes yet–he just wanted to. They were frantically driving up from LA to try to stop him but they were too late.

The new law has held up in court. It can be done. If you want this to be true in your state, too, you know what to do.

On a more cheerful note: I took a deep breath and took in my happy place a moment. Apple tree to the left, peach to the right, lemon out of sight to the far right, plum tree straight ahead. and all the others around.

And baby pictures. The Little Hunk. They change so fast.

 



London
Tuesday June 13th 2017, 10:38 pm
Filed under: History

Prayers for the people in Grenfell Tower and those trying to rescue them.



Natalie
Monday June 12th 2017, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Mathias modeling his second hat–he’s outgrown the first already.

A young mom I am very fond of is moving away and I very much regret that she is.  Even if I’m happy for her that getting out of our expensive area means that she and her husband will be able to buy their first house for their boys to grow up in.

So there was this cowl…

But I just wasn’t sure about the color. I dithered. I thought about it. At last, I stuffed a half a dozen other possibilities from my stash of finisheds into a ziplock and managed to stuff that into my purse, pleading for help first to G_d before I did that and then to her because *I* couldn’t decide: I asked her to pick one. Including maybe this cashmere one I’d just started.

You know, usually I like to be able to say I made this just for you. But I was just completely helpless this time.

She laughed and chose one (which was not the one I’d just finished) and for her, seeing lots of pretty things and being allowed to pick one out, of being offered that choice–this time, that was what was perfect, and had I known that beforehand I wouldn’t have sweated over it quite so much. Laceweight strands of baby alpaca/silk and of cashmere/silk knitted together in a cheerful blue–it was for her all along, now.

It was just a cowl. And it was everything, all at the same time. She confessed that she hadn’t ever been going to say such a thing, but, she’d really wished she had a knitting memento from me to take with her to her new life. A reminder of that talk I’d given in church a few weeks ago, too. And now she had one! She was so thrilled.

In that talk I had told a story of how knitting someone something had made all the difference both to them and to me.

You know what? I need to knit more.



64F max
Saturday June 10th 2017, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

Tomorrow will be a break out the wool sweaters day.

Which also means I can offer a particular someone at church a handknit cowl and it won’t be ridiculous in the heat. And if they come dressed for June rather than the weather report, they’re probably going to really really want that cowl just then.

And so I wove the ends in in happy anticipation.