Rose again
Sunday March 31st 2013, 10:58 pm
Filed under: Life,My Garden

The timing! The choreography of God.

When we moved into this house, there was a miniature rose bush in the furthest part of the backyard blooming profusely, exuberantly, but where nobody could see it from inside the house. It just quietly did its thing and you had to go look to see it.

About ten years ago, maybe more, a weed tree sprang up near it. But I like trees, I miss the deep green of our native Maryland and this asked no expensive watering of us, and so too late we realized we didn’t like how much it had multiplied via suckers and become a line of trees along the fenceline that dwarfed and darkened the air above the little rose.

Which stopped blooming at all or even, as far as I could tell, growing. It just kind of held its breath.

The neighbors recently took out most of those weed trees with our permission, as I’ve mentioned.

I went outside on this lovely Easter evening we were having to check on my fruit trees, and a flash of pink over to the right caught my eye. And a second. They hadn’t been there before.

It had gotten a second chance. It is reaching to the light and so becoming again all that a small rose bush lives to be.

Easter pips
Saturday March 30th 2013, 8:30 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

I washed the windows yesterday while I was overdoing it–or at least the imprints of a few doves fleeing the hawk, which is most of what was needed. They were ghostly, beautiful, the dust and oil in each feather on the chests and on the foremost edges of their wings rendering the perfect film negative with the light shining through. So intricate.  So detailed.

And having them there was a little too… Poor doves. Their swift moment of suffering had allowed my beloved hawk to live. Time to clean.

I was talking to Michelle this afternoon when she said, “Oh, you missed it.” I turned around and in that time he came back: the hawk had landed on the edge of the box a few feet away and was standing there looking in at us.

Perhaps he had come to study those windows that stood halfway between us, making sure. Yes. The glass was still there. The missing imprints could no longer warn off his prey about the solid surface, like that dove that got away yesterday, and so there shall be feasting.  Well done.

Meantime, in San Jose, it looks like we will have two Easter chicks (eyases). Clara the peregrine happened to turn the first egg with a pip right to the camera, which promptly zoomed in and started recording as the egg tooth worked away at the beginning of what will be a perfect cut around the circumference. I thought it looked like a second pip on the egg next to it, and it was reported to be clearly working away too this evening.

New life arises. Wishing a Happy Easter to all who celebrate it.

Rapt attention
Friday March 29th 2013, 11:09 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

Woke up worse, Richard hauled me to the doctor, I got put on antibiotics. One single pill so far. I’m by no means cured but I’m so much better (and yes I will faithfully take every last pill for ten days–I can’t fathom not.) I managed to do my taxes start to finish, with a lie-down as needed. Done!

And saw the Cooper’s hawk swoop in. He missed.

He danced around from point to point on the roof of the shed, searching; it looked like he snatched a bug popping up–that’s a first to me–and strode from there well into a tree to flush out whoever might be hiding, twigs brushing his tall shoulders as he went. Nada. He was antsy and in a hurry and I wondered if he had little ones newly hatched or about to hatch? I couldn’t remember when I’d seen him quite so jumpy like that. And I know the San Jose peregrines are scheduled to hatch in the next day or two, and those parents likewise are restless as they listen to the early peeps from inside their eggs.

He swooped in again a few hours later, scattering the finches to the winds; pursued one that got away, but meantime in the surprise of the ambush one went the other direction–into the elephant ears on the patio rather than the trees. They almost always go for the trees. This one didn’t.

Then it thought better of it and tried to flee again, again in the wrong direction, and bounced off the window. It was close by so there was not enough momentum to do it much harm. But. It made that bird on glass sound.

And the hawk knew it.  He came straight back and hopped through the amaryllis leaves, a pot on the table at a time, one, then two, then three, closer, closer. Then he stood on the rim of the nearest (I was glad it had been watered so it could take the weight without flipping him–a heavy pot, too, he lucked out), looking that finch dead in the eye from a distance of about a hawk’s length. Toast: it’s what’s for dinner.

After endless moments of standing there frozen, the house finch had to at least try, and they suddenly sped out of sight with the hawk gaining on it fast. And I thought, I get the drama without the gore, somehow, yet again.

Meantime, in San Francisco, where their falcon nest was a few days ahead of ours, a new female peregrine fought off the resident one a few weeks ago and ousted her. The male was at incubation stage, so he had no interest in mating with her as she claimed him and his territory. But he had this perfect nesting box in the best spot and she wanted it.

Gradually she started trying to mimic him, sitting on the eggs as if they were so many more rocks in the scrape. Scattered them to get comfy. She kicked one out of the box and paid it no-never-mind. She would sit but whether there were eggs under her or not was incidental; the hormones that flow from the mating just hadn’t happened. Gradually she came to sit more directly on them but not in incubation stance–she couldn’t, really, because another part of that hormonal flow is the falling out of feathers in an area called the brooding patch, which becomes a warming spot with swollen blood vessels for the eggs to nestle under. She did start holding a wing out to the side over them. Doesn’t work that way.

The eggs should have hatched three days ago and there is a near-zero chance of them still coming out, for all the male’s valiant attempts in all this time. She would fly in and he would fly out as if exchanging nest duty, but…

So many questions were raised and answered. Yes, the two might mate after Dan finally gives up on those eggs, but who knew when that would be? Nobody had permission to remove them. If it happened soon, they could start over before it’s too late in the season, but eventually the stench of the failed ones would make them abandon that nest for now.

Or something.

And then today to everybody’s extreme surprise, she laid an egg! Right there with the others!

If they create the usual clutch of four it’s going to be interesting seeing if they try to cover up all seven.

There has never since a hundred years ago been enough peregrines still alive to find out much of what happens after territorial oustings.  With the help of nestcams this is all new for the learning.

Thursday March 28th 2013, 8:03 pm
Filed under: Knit

Slowly.  But the worst is over. And thank you, everybody.

Got me
Wednesday March 27th 2013, 8:15 pm
Filed under: Knit

Barf 102.4 ears throat belly.  Tomorrow will be better.

Pass the lemon juice, Honey
Tuesday March 26th 2013, 9:45 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Lupus,My Garden

They grow so fast…

Yesterday’s Tropic Snow peach is noticeably bigger than yesterday and the last of the flower that was attached to it is gone. It’s almost April and it’s supposed to be ripe in June, so I guess it’s not wasting a moment. I stuck a finger down into the dirt, which could use some mulch: good. Still moist enough, don’t have to water yet.

I saw the beginning of two on the August Pride, too; they weren’t discernibly certain yesterday. Now they’re well past the just-a-guess, along with the new green plum needlepoints on the tree facing them. That little bit of rain last week didn’t hamper those blossoms after all.

I really like that planting those peaches has gotten me in the habit of walking around the backyard in the evenings and taking in the green and the growing and claiming it for my soul. Watching a bit of God’s knitting coming to be as the daylight stretches slowly longer.

Meantime, it looks like I’ll be able to make the baby afghan go further down towards my feet than I had thought the yarn would be able to reach to, good, and…after a week of dodging it, I’m finally catching Richard’s bug. Hoping that a cold will just be a cold.

(There was a get-together tonight that I was really looking forward to. My chocolate torte got delivered but my conscience needed me not to share the germs and I walked the garden here instead. To the vector, go the soils.)

For real!
Monday March 25th 2013, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Life,My Garden

Robin, looking out on snow in the town we moved here from, was wishing for signs of spring. We’ve got a few to share.

We have the most glorious view out our front windows, with the leaves beginning to come in in contrast to the bright white. Coming home from Trader Joe’s this evening, I scooped up a handful of petals that had somehow clustered on the far side of the driveway, wondering at the thought that I don’t think I’ve ever actually paid much attention to how they felt, not just how they looked.

They were so very soft–and cool to the touch. That surprised me. I’ve joked here before about them becoming our snowdrifts as more and more come down, but in the brisk evening air I expected my hand to feel warmed by being covered in them and in the immediate moment the opposite was so.


I let them scatter while they still felt like the ice crackles they looked like.

And behold in the back yard after years and years of wanting to grow these and finally starting to: our very first ever actual peach!

A dressing, down
Sunday March 24th 2013, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Every now and then I learn something new and what to do/avoid/change related to the ileostomy of four years ago.

Saturday I did not realize I’d somehow gotten a little of the adhesive that’s not supposed to come off but did on my finger–and then in my hair. Bubblegummish. How did that…?!

I tried what I knew how to do, and then Richard got some medical adhesive remover that he had. My alcohol pads had done nothing but the little squares of reeky whatever-it-was of his melted the stuff right out of there–and it suddenly hit me and I looked up and asked him as I patted around the top of my forehead, “That didn’t take out my hair, too, did it?”

He looked at me wide-eyed a moment and then thought out loud, “No. It doesn’t take the hair off my arm when I’ve had to use it, it should be fine.”

And then I tried to wash the citrus oils that were in it out. And the stink. Tried again. It helped some but far from enough, but at least I think he was right about the hair. I later ran my head under the kitchen sink on impulse briefly to try one more time to get away from that smell.

I set the time for the alarm last night a little early so I could shampoo it a good one in the morning and be done with it. I would have done it then, but I was knitting every last row of baby blanket I could before bed.

Forgot to set the actual alarm. Richard was staying home with a cold so his was off.

And so it was that I had to run to church at the last moment with weird-stinky, oily, total bedhead. At least the extra sleep would diminish the chances of my catching his cold.

And guess who showed up. Old friends whose baby is a senior in high school now, wow! Look who’s here! They happened to be visiting from Oregon and it was so wonderful to see them. I was completely in the moment as we caught up a bit: how are you, how are the kids, and I told their daughter who didn’t remember me, “Welcome home!” She grinned back shyly, holding her mom’s hand and twisting halfway behind her as she considered the thought. The oldest towered over us. Who knew.

And I came home and looked in the mirror.

Oh my. A lot worse than I thought.

What a blessing it is that our inability to see our own faces when we’re out and about helps us forget and get over ourselves sometimes when we need it.

(And then I took that shower. Only a whiff of orange since.)

En pointe
Saturday March 23rd 2013, 11:06 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Life,My Garden

Just a picture to show why Richard and his dad didn’t think they’d have to do anything more to the 50-year-old apple tree when they cut it down: surely the last bit would just rot away.

There’s a whole tree grown now above where they left it, balanced really well somehow over that gaping hole, and anybody familiar with what January ’09 was like for me while I tried to get used to that new number 50 on my hospital bracelet will understand why it so appeals to me that this tree that was expected to be gone grew  back to productive life: can you just see the darkened ballet shoe in the gap? Dance!

Baby steps
Friday March 22nd 2013, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

The new grandson is due in a month.

His big brother came three weeks early.

My daughter-in-law’s mother had her kids early like that, too.

I figure I’ve got me about a week to finish this and everything else I can think of. And after all the decades of not wanting to knit baby sweaters or booties, of fighting too hard against the knitting-is-for-grandmas stereotype (I mean, I was ten when I started…) on my second go-round now of actually being a grandma I think I’m finally getting over myself; I can’t wait to knit a baby sweater after this afghan is done. There is hope!

(But just in case I waver, I’m outing myself. Again. Peer pressure: it’s a good thing.)

Get outta Dodge
Thursday March 21st 2013, 7:01 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

How did I not know this?!

Okay, we need Muddy Waters playing a soundtrack in the background as I type this.

In all the conversations across all the years, and even with the worries of the San Bruno pipeline that blew up up north running within a few hundred feet of our house (they dug up around the corner here after the explosion at the other end). When the water main broke in ’08 on suddenly-perfectly-named River Road at the back of the neighborhood I grew up in in Maryland, in front of the side street friends of mine still live on, creating such a whitewater that people on their way to work and school had to be rescued from their cars by helicopter. All those times.

He never mentioned it.

Or maybe he did years and years and even more years ago (I mean, I’ve known the guy since I was about a week old) but he just never really described it and it didn’t sink in for me?

I told him this morning that my friend Robin had had to go the long away around on an errand because of another water main near River, and that there had been a big break yesterday on Connecticut Avenue, too.

Which runs alongside his old neighborhood.

“Did it make a big hole in the ground?” Something about the way he asked that sounded odd: there was a sudden tightness in his voice.

“A huge hole!”

“Yeah, they do that.” He sounded like he knew, no, really knew, which had me looking quizzical, and that, finally, is how his story  came out.

He had been a teenager, running errands with the family car that day; everybody parallel parks on the steep hill that is his folks’ old street, there are only a few driveways on the other, flatter side, none, theirs. Turn the wheels to the curb at 10007 and walk up the steep steps to the door.

He noticed some utility workers. Top of the street, bottom of the street, with his folks’ house about halfway down. Turns out there was a water leak somewhere and they were trying to find it.

Turns out it was under his car.

Turns out the jackhammer, when they tried there, simply fell downwards–not through and vanishing, but, there was nothing for it to hammer against. They sent a rod down in the spot and swished it around: no resistance.

There was no there there anymore.

“I was right there!” And sending vibrations and pressure down again and again as he’d driven in and out, parked and pulled out and parked, oblivious.

And so that area was cleared out, everybody thanked their lucky stars nobody had fallen through the sinkhole from the water erosion, and it was a huge mess to have a giant hole where the street had been till it could all be fixed.  But everybody was safe.

Thank heavens for those Maryland utility workers who were aware of the sensors or whatever it was that had tipped them off and that they followed up on it.

(Edited to add: After Don and Debbie wondered, I asked, and Richard says they asked him to move the car so they could test there–and then went holy cow, and got everybody to move their cars out of there.  They had been testing for eight hours at that point and it had been gushing hard under the surface for at least a day and there was just nothing left underneath.)

Spring solstice
Wednesday March 20th 2013, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Knit,My Garden,Wildlife

Got two and a half more pattern repeats knitted so far today on that baby blanket.

Meantime, now it’s the apples’ turn to leaf out.

I sampled every variety I could find 20 years ago and then planted what was then almost an unknown, a Fuji. The house had come with two apples and a cherry tree that were dying of old age, according to the arborist I had come out. Richard and his dad took them out and I planted the Fuji.

Only, somehow they never took out the stump of the old Gravenstein and the rootstock eventually grew back–and it was apparently a Golden Delicious! Who knew! Not completely sure, because in all these years we’ve never gotten a single ripe apple off either one. Which is one of the reasons we didn’t plant more fruit trees earlier. Critters.

I have my bright mylar ribbon at the ready for the first season ever. I’m learning. And Plantskydd is supposed to stink, but from the mentions I’ve read from other gardeners, it actually works. Cool! (Los Gatos Birdwatcher carries it. Who knew!)

I have never watched those trees so closely before. Three days ago they both looked dead to the world. Then two leaves, then a scattering all over, with the Fuji first and the ancient one a single day behind.

I have seen snails climbing down at daybreak after a night of munching on the blossoms. I’ve never put anything more than eggshells around the trunks because I’m a strong disbeliever in poisons; if only I’d known.  Sluggo is a brand of iron pellets that poisons only snails and fertilizes the trees, harmless, so I’ve got some out there now.

And it was spring solstice today, the day when I once had both hawks when the female was alive doing flybys again and again across my back yard–theirs, rather. So, thought I at the universe, where are you?

I guess Coopernicus answered that question pretty well.

Watching the healing
Tuesday March 19th 2013, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Family,My Garden

Dad took the paper and the comics to Mom for her to laugh by and reported to us children on her progress, and I know they’ll be making her walk on that knee soon.  She did not finish all her hospital food. I commend her for trying.

And here, quietly, as I knit…

Squirrels have this imperative need to go up.  Which is why they’ll do things like jump on a wobbly plant pot that certainly offers no protection to scan the skies for danger.

The lemon tree with its thorns growing next to the Tropic Snow peach, though, is not something I’ve ever seen them in and in 26 years they have stolen one, maybe two lemons ever–one bite and that was that.

So I don’t know if it was one of them that had just been spooked and went for the closest fur-friendly trunk or if possibly a bird tried to land on a perch that wasn’t ready for it yet; all I know is, everything was fine when I planted this and sometime after it started blooming, one branch became bent down and a few days later a second was half snapped at the base.

And yet. Still attached. Since then, both limbs have started leafing out just fine; how, I don’t know.  But to a peach tree, it is imperative that it bloom and leaf and that it grow so it can give. Already the tips of those branches are reaching in the direction of the sun: up!

She’ll be springing forward all over again too
Monday March 18th 2013, 11:27 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,My Garden

These pictures, taken at dusk today, are for my mom most of all.

While waiting to hear from Dad, I took my need not to be worrying about things out on that afghan: *ripped back, started over, repeated from * once and then I had it. It’s on its way now and finally beautiful and I love it and it’s such a relief.

Meantime, my mom had struggled with a torn meniscus for months and finally had knee surgery today (correction via Dad–they did a knee replacement). Dad reports that she is pushing the familiar green pain-med button every 15 minutes. The worst is over, the good part’s coming, and now my mother, who loves to take a good brisk walk, will be able to again when the healing is done.

And just for Mom, this red amaryllis that Dad gave me for Christmas a few Decembers ago that sat for several months this year refusing my entreaties to come up–and then finally did–opened its two flowers today, the universe sending my parents flowers. I quite like that.

And the first two tomato seedlings sprang out of the pot and then straightened their nodded heads to look up and show off their first two leaves to the sky, too, today. Tadaah! They’ve got a Spring in each step.

Skype lights
Sunday March 17th 2013, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Family

“No flashlights in eyes, Parker,” said his daddy.  We were investigating with our little grandson. Holding a flashlight to Grampa’s hair and making him the fiery redhead of his youth (more or less.) Yes! Holding a small one under my chin: “Grandma’s funny!” (Mostly he liked to say Grampa, so getting a Grandma and a compliment too was a real coup.) Parker’s toy truck with the flashlit-up front was good, but he wanted one our size and type and went running for his daddy’s (who wasn’t so sure about how good an idea this was. Oh oops.  His was heavy.)

We played light wars. Super nebulae camera-to-camera (slightly offset on our end). A Tonka digger truck excavated his daddy’s heavy one from where Parker had put it down and he pushed it across the couch cushion while he told us all about it. That little toddler who was so shy about trying out his early words around us last October? He’s talking paragraphs on pages now.

And we wore him out with all the playing and talking and lifting and lighting and it was time for bed. Night night!