Actually, that part wasn’t new
Monday May 13th 2013, 11:28 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

From the daughter of a ham radio operator, after listening to me read a line of pattern row out loud to myself while transcribing from my notes. I was reknitting that last new pattern to fix a few quirks: yo, ssk, k1, yo, sl2-k1-p2sso…

Michelle listened to me a moment–not interrupting, like when I’m counting stitches, no problem–and then told me her earliest reaction to having seen some of my written work for the first time was, and she said it with a grin, “Mom is learning to write in knitters’ Morse code.”

Actually, this one is a no-remorse coda: the first shawl is fine, just, this time it’s coming out even better.

Happy Mother’s Day!
Sunday May 12th 2013, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

My late sister-in-law and I had our baby girls ten days apart 31 years ago and the girls have always been good friends.

Jessie and her husband came by for dinner tonight and while they were here, Sam called from across the country.

We chatted a moment and then I asked her if she wanted to talk to Jessie?

There was this sudden doubletake at the other end–Sam had forgotten her cousin had moved to California. And then an enthusiastic, YEAH! that made my day. People I love loving each other. It’s wonderful.

Parker bounced happily in all his little-boy-energy glory at getting to Skype with us; Hudson looked at the people-movement-and-speech on the screen with great big wide eyes. *Such* a beautiful baby. Our grandsons have *such* good parents. I love that I got to show them the flowers they’d sent.

I talked to my mom, John called, Michelle made the dinner, and a fine day was had by all. I know how lucky I am.

Save some for me
Saturday May 11th 2013, 11:25 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,My Garden,Wildlife

Happy Mother’s Day!

This morning Richard and I came home from an errand and there was a Cooper’s hawk at the top of the tree behind our front gate, duly noting our arrival. My territory, your territory, no-wings; welcome!

Didn’t quite catch the best moment, but, an Oregon dark-eyed junco male (the one with the black head) feeding his mate. He takes good care of her and it charms me to no end.

And below, the black squirrel that had a bad case of mange two years ago and went bald in patches and her fur grew back in white, making it look like she’s wearing a tank top and head band. She’s easy to spot. She does look like a very agile small skunk from a distance.

Don and Cliff saved six plastic produce clamshells for me, to my great delight, and now I have that many more plums and apples protected from those little thieves that in the past have stripped my Fuji apples clean in a day, two months pre-ripe. The little stinkers.

I know you’re supposed to thin the fruit out to one per branch but there aren’t a whole lot this year to begin with. I left the first cluster I found at two–safe now–and then went eh and snapped a clamshell around the whole threesome I found next.That tomato package was big so I was going to make the most of the space.

They may come out big they may come out small but we will at long last have our first homegrown apples (and plums!) Twenty-one years after I planted that Fuji. Thank you Don and Cliff!

Cone if-erous with needles
Friday May 10th 2013, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Knit

This is when a designer recommends buying an extra cone or skein for a project: not everybody has a scale to measure down to those last few nailbiting grams (and this is all I had from Colourmart’s silk mill ends. Made it!)

With apologies to those who’ve read this description before: buying yarn on the cone means having to wash the mill oils out, an extra manufacturing step that yarn-store yarns have already gone through. The oils, more like hair mousse, gray the color out somewhat and are to keep individual fibers from blowing all over the machinery; they come out with a hot scouring. Softness and brightness bloom!

And merino can shrink like crazy. Which I’ve done quite deliberately with some of their fine wools, hanking and scouring and shocking with cold water and scouring some more and only then knitting at the very new half-felted gauge–but silk, you just knit it as it comes on the cone, skip the hassle, the yarn is the size it’s going to be.

Lace. Shawl. (Between the baby projects.) How did you guess?

Cooperii and Falco peregrinus
Thursday May 09th 2013, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Thank you for the kind words yesterday, everybody!

The peregrine that fell and got put back came down from the roof a bit today–not to the nest, whatever his intentions may have been, but off to the side and in front of the mayor’s office. Somehow every year we have one come eye to eye with the man. Pretty cool perch of office, actually.

I parked myself in front of the monitor and was watching the falcon cam while working on a shawl, cheering three birds with one, lone. One of the other two worked up his courage and finally made it to the upper ledge. He was so excited! A whole new view–LOOK at all this stuff down there he’d never known existed! Whole new types of trees, and and and! He ran up and down the length of it, his feet at the outer edge, he jumped over to the nestbox and chased his mom off–the annual make-the-parents-fly-away pre-fledge game. Chased her twice more as the afternoon went on.

After awhile he finally stood still and faced forward and lifted those wings. He had practiced. Mom and Dad were down there encouraging, flying, circling back around.  He was going to do this.

He pumped hard–

–and found himself swept backwards the width of the ledge. THAT wasn’t supposed to happen! Yow. He abruptly stopped, humbled, and folded those wings in tight. The traitors.

But he wasn’t ready to come down from that mountaintop he’d finally conquered.

Dinner was brought in to the runway. He watched his more timid (probably a day younger) little brother devour while he watched from above. Hunger wasn’t enough to make him give it up.

Still didn’t come down. Still didn’t. Still–oh forget it, and he tried again with this flying thing only this time in the small runway area he knew so well and managed to land where his brother, now full, had just dropped the prey. King of the Ledge quietly finished off the leftovers.

My attention was going back and forth between the somewhat-slippery work in my hands and the screen. But suddenly something here caught my eye and I looked to the left.

My stars!

I’ve never seen her before! I’d been sure I’d heard Coopernicus calling to his new mate, she had to exist, but…wow! Female raptors are a third larger than the males and this one was huge, with a notably lighter chest than my male Cooper’s.

She swung those wide wings around in a tight S curve around an awning support pole, then the birdfeeder, and swooped up into a tree.  We regarded each other a moment. She jumped/flew higher to where I couldn’t see her. Not thirty seconds later, there she was again, reversing the S she had just flown in with one last try at flushing something out from the elephant ears as she passed over and away.

I wasn’t the only one impressed by her size and speed: there was not going to be any teasing this one–a squirrel was cowering under the picnic table the whole time, occasionally glancing at me as if to plead Save me!

Hawk, meet my friend. Hawk meat, my friend.

I finally got to meet the new Cooper’s  and from maybe a dozen feet away. Wow.

One month already!
Wednesday May 08th 2013, 9:44 pm
Filed under: Family,My Garden

Happy first-month celebrations to Hudson!

Costco had Stella ultra-dwarf cherry trees today.  Grow it in a big pot, never have to prune, go ahead and make use of that one little sunny spot outside the laundry room that’s too close to the house for free-range roots.

About ninety cherries a year forever after for about the price of a skein of yarn. (Oh wait. Pot and potting soil. Three.) I am seriously tempted.

Good locks with that
Tuesday May 07th 2013, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Hudson laughs…

The little peregrine eyas is back on the roof as of this afternoon,  drenched by Glenn so he would preen rather than blindly flee at his release; he has seen his brothers and they have looked up and seen him. Dude! Where ya been!

I took a ride in the Radio Flyer wagon! You’ll never believe it!

(Actually, he rode back up in the elevator in the traditional peregrine-baby-rescue apple box. Don’t know why it’s always an apple box. But it’s always an apple box.)


The area where they shaved my scalp for skin cancer surgery, July two years ago: I’ve been waiting a long time for that hair to grow back in, wearing it pulled back from my face in combs so the gaps wouldn’t show.And then there was that time last August where we had to whack a bit nice and close to free me from the back of the hair dryer when we were defrosting the freezer. (You might want to check to see if there’s a protective screen covering yours. The hair dryer, I mean. I’ve heard from half a dozen people now who’ve had the same thing happen.)

It was time. My friend Nina’s daughter Gwyneth is a gifted stylist, the only person I would ever go to for as long as she may live around here, and I made an appointment for last Friday, showed her how things were at this point, and asked her help.

It’s still a little below the shoulders in back–I gotta do my earth mother/artiste thing–but it’s a lot shorter; she did a fabulous job and I am very very happy with how it came out. I keep looking at this one spot (and that one and that one), thinking, how did you DO that? How did you get that to behave exactly perfectly in the pattern it was going to curl into once it was shorter?

All of this is of no real importance to anybody but me, but I wanted to record it so I could go back later and see when that cut was. Also because I know how hard it is to find someone you absolutely trust with your hair, and if anyone around here is looking, everybody I know who’s ever gone to her has had the same reaction: Gwyn is absolutely the best.

Simply marbleous
Monday May 06th 2013, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Parker has taken to photobombing when the camera points at his little brother. Smile! (Didn’t go through. Will have to use stand-ins here for now.)

Does anyone else remember not just playing marbles, but trying to have the prettiest ones, so you would finally get Mom’s permission and watchful eye and go simmer them on the stove–no boiling, it’s always a risk but still you don’t want a million shattered bits of glass in her pot, just those clear marbles with the thin twist of colors down the center, making them leap into crackly patterns surrounded by transparency, breakdancing into kaleidoscopes within while staying smooth and round on the surfaces. Hopefully. The final objects were never a sure thing till they were safely cooled off and done.

Woke up this morning with the mental image of my eyes close to the stove from my then-height, standing staring intently (and a little bit bored) at those small glass balls, watching the tiny bubbles forming and slooowly separating from the sides of the pan but no big airholes allowed to form (keep that heat down), waiting for the marbles to become more colorful, done just so. They took a very long time at that age and a steady concentration.

Haven’t thought of those in…! But it suddenly seems like it was early training for appreciating the steady click, click, click process that is knitting, keeping the stitches bubbling steadily up. Sometimes with a cooling-off after the finish to realize that no, I didn’t mess it up and yes this IS gorgeous.

I not only coveted my oldest sister’s prettier-than-anybody’s marbles (which is what got me to beg and plead for that one session at the stove), I wanted to be able to sound like her too, like, yesterday, at the piano, and I remember her playing Fur Elise. A lot. That one seemed simple enough to aspire to–well, the first part of it, anyway. I started lessons the last year she took them.

I just didn’t quite get to this point in that first year, though. These guys had way too much fun. Don’t miss the picture frame falling down and the window shimmying.

Sunday May 05th 2013, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

If you haven’t read this piece about creating a little unexpected peace on earth, I highly recommend it.

Meantime, we had a bit of drama in falcon land (link goes to the cam) today. The San Jose eyases are quickly shedding the last of their baby down as their feathers come in, their coloring darkening by the day–but their flight feathers are not in yet. They’ve got about a week to go. Eric’s photos from Saturday here.

They’ve been exercising their wings and gradually picking up on the idea. First you jump up to the lower ledge, then get down from that scary place with a whole big new world way, way down there and go huddle in the corner with your siblings, face to the nice solid wall. Later you slightly lift off (in surprise) as you flapflapflap running down the runway, your talons dragging low, not quite entirely willing to give up concrete places, then as those flight feathers keep coming in and your shoulders get stronger and your feet are tucking up better you take that huge leap of faith and reach the upper ledge your parents so often come and go from–or you miss on the first try, oops, as one of them did once.

And then at last you start keeping the fledge watchers on their toes.

They’re not assembled yet. The babies have only been reaching the lower ledge for a few days  now.

Clara brought in food this afternoon, and one of the young got so excited he raised his wings for joy halfway down the runway, flappercized some more towards that low ledge–and poof, he was gone.

There were some stiff winds going on and one had simply picked him up and flung him off.

The cameras panned everywhere. No sign.

To quote the children’s book, Are You My Mother, “Down down down. It was a long way down.”

About a dozen volunteers immediately jumped in their cars and drove in to look for him.

Every year posters go up around City Hall and San Jose State University and the big library at that corner describing fledge watch and whom to report to and what to do should one see a downed baby peregrine falcon. Regulars around there know the annual drill well, and when I’ve been there, people on the sidewalk were always pointing out the babies standing on the upper ledge and the parents taking off and landing, 18 stories up.

I’m told they’re very loud and command attention, helping that outreach effort. I hope this year to actually hear that for myself with the new hearing aids.

And so 90/P–the annual schoochildren’s naming contest isn’t even over yet, all the little guy has is his band number–was found by a passerby who knew to call but not touch. He’d landed on a parking garage. Wildlife rescue got the word, who told the biologist who’d helped bring the species back from the brink.  Glenn Stewart jumped in his car and drove up from Santa Cruz.

The little one is too young to release to the roof to flutter down into the box; he does need those flight feathers, and it’s blowing a good one out there. And so Glenn is taking care of him at home till the wind is predicted to calm down in a few days, having everything needed on hand; in the sky kennel, the baby bird won’t know he’s being fed by a human, and Clara will have no problem taking care of him when he gets put back up at the roof.

He took quite a tumble but birditude and sheer good luck won out and he’s fine and he’s safe. And in the best of hands.

Hamming it up
Saturday May 04th 2013, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Friends

We went to a book release party tonight.

B is a knitter and she and her husband Leigh worked with mine back at the time when she told me all about this big knitter’s convention that I’d never heard of and that I just had to go to, she said, while I was marveling at the idea of there being such a thing–you mean there are a lot more Knitters with a capital K like us? Where have they been hiding? And so we went together that Saturday.

Tess was a little girl hiding under the skirts of the display tables at her mom’s booth while B had one of her twins in a baby frontpack; my big splurge at my first Stitches West was hand-dyed silk from Melinda, Tess’s mom, never to be forgotten.

Everybody oohed and aahed over B’s little one and she had great fun saying his twin was at home with Daddy for the moment. She told me how odd it felt to be with just one of the babies.

The twins are in high school now; they of course were there tonight to celebrate their dad’s book, too, and I mentioned to one (with apologies upfront for talking about remembering him at such an age–I’ve had teenagers, I understand) that the first time his parents had gone off on a date after they’d been born, I’d popped on over to help out. His folks had come home and just stood there in the doorway a moment: one baby was being rocked in the baby seat with my foot, one baby was being held in my arms, I was petting the cat and I was reading a good book. Everybody was happy. They went, wow, you *are* an experienced mom!

Besides work, Leigh has done a lot of ham radio volunteer work with my husband, and their kids and two of ours are hams as well; there were years of memories to share and stories to swap. And a good time was had by all.

Oh, and, I asked Richard what kind of bird makes this song that I’d never heard before but he didn’t know.

But it was short short long long, dot dot dash dash, honey.

U with an umlaut over it in Continental Morse Code, he told me (after looking it up to be sure).

Pool cue
Friday May 03rd 2013, 11:25 pm
Filed under: Life

Object in distance is larger than it appears.

Went back to the audiologist this morning. Got the base turned down some more and that did it at last: the new molds finally sounded as exquisitely perfect as the old, and with no dangers of feedback. YAY! Happy dance, happy dance. John told me he aspired to make that much of a difference to all his patients the way those aids have given so much back to me.

Chatted with other-John at Los Gatos Birdwatcher and picked up some seed as long as I was down there, got to share my enthusiasm at being able to hear some of the birds again. More happy times.

On the way home, a large blue rubber mat flipped up from under the wheels of the car in front of me on the freeway. I had this sudden just-a-blink to think, wait, I just had perfect, I have to have more time than that to enjoy the perfect in.

There was no way to dodge.

I slowed enough that it had time to head back downwards and under (I thought) rather than up against my windshield; phew. I glanced in the rearview expecting to see it. Didn’t. Wondered, noted the traffic might be blocking my view of it, kept glancing, kept thinking that distinctive pool-water blue should surely show up back there.  Remembered my dad and the similarly-encountered box. (Haven’t I blogged that? It caught on fire under the gas tank. I was ten. Dad pulled over, raced back there and pulled it out and stomped it out and only then said, marveling in response to our relief, I didn’t know it was there.) Prayed.

There was no real place to pull over.  The sound wall was right up against the breakdown lane and I’m going to open my door right into the traffic? No.

The guy behind me had pulled a good ways back, and he stayed there and nobody zipped in in front of him. I noted the sign: next exit a mile and a half. Eventually he pulled into the middle lane, sped up next to me, and looked pointedly down.

Right. I was going to pull off there anyway.

At the bottom of the ramp there was a light just ahead so the oncoming traffic would be slowing if not stopping, and behold, a pullout bulbout for utility trucks. Perfect and ohthankyou.

I got out. It fell to the ground. It was someone’s water toy, far as I could tell, a foam rubber chaise lounge–broken now. Well, gee, so sorry about that as I snapped its picture, pulled it into the dirt and got back in my car, safe now, and snapped another picture–if anything’s wrong with my car I want to be able to prove I did indeed meet up with Pool-onius Thunk.

Everything seems to be peachy fine. Just one of those weird things.

Toteally silly
Thursday May 02nd 2013, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Family

You know that one person’s color combination is someone else’s total no-way-jose. And I am, after all, the daughter of a modern art dealer.

I was wishing I had a smallish zippered-top tote and went looking. Richard glanced at my computer to see why I was suppressing a guffaw–and then wrinkled his face trying to think of something positive and polite to say.

Finally, “Turn back before it’s too late!”

Did me in, I tell ya, I burst out laughing. The LLBean site: it lets you design your own tote bag (even if it won’t quite let me link to my concoction–yeah, I’d probably hide it too if I were trying to sell the things). Handles, body, pocket, bottom, gusset, you tell it what colors go where on the dream knitting (or boat, but c’mon, knitting) bag of your choice.  They do stop you from putting ember orange in some areas, but it’s okay in the body with the jadeite pocket, the purple zipper, the spruce handles (worse than it sounds)… And those handles will be the color of the body on the inside edges and the chosen handle color on the outside just to make sure you get the full effect of that contrast.

Actually in a weird way I kinda like that one I clicked together. But then I am my father’s daughter.

Oh. Hi, Dad! *waving*

Wait, how did it get to be May 1st already?
Wednesday May 01st 2013, 11:24 pm
Filed under: Life

A new amaryllis open, another about to be, and a third coming up behind.

“Is the background music in here always this loud?” I asked Richard as we sat in the clinic’s pharmacy waiting area. I had only barely ever heard it before, just enough to know of its existence, but wow, it was enough to drown out a conversation. Who knew.

“I don’t know. I’ve never noticed it before.”

The idea of being able to have music you can totally hear but don’t have to consciously acknowledge–I can barely fathom it.

In the evening, I was trimming back the heavenly bamboo (which isn’t actually bamboo) to get a little more sunlight on the August Pride peach and snipped back some of the berries. I was feeling guilty for depriving the birds of a possible treat and out of curiosity googled the plant after I came back inside. We have a whole long row of them.

Nandina. All parts of it are toxic. Birds can eat some of the berries but too much will kill them, particularly cedar waxwings (which I love and rarely get to see). Considered an invasive species in many areas.

Y’know, I might go cut that back some more. The former owner of this house isn’t even alive anymore, she won’t mind in the least.

Meantime, the left side of a baby sweater is finished and the right side is coming along. To be continued.