Pinking outside the boxed
Saturday May 31st 2014, 9:16 pm
Filed under: My Garden,Wildlife

A stick in the ground and a year and a half. It amazes me.

That middle peach didn’t fit in there, but the boxes clearly give the critters nothing to hold onto to get at it. Looking good.

(Moving slowly. Still a bit under the weather.)

Oh, and before I forget: a few really cool pictures here of the fledgling falcons among the skyscrapers of San Francisco (scroll over a few to that ninth one. Perfect.)  There were three females…and now there are two, who’ve had much better luck coordinating landing on a wing and a prayer.

Tub be continued
Friday May 30th 2014, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Got a message from a friend. There is a teenage member of her family who is giving her mother a very hard time, the father has left the picture, and there was a reaching out for support.

I asked re favorite colors….

And as I sat knitting tonight, trying to get that silk shawl out of the way because there’s a few more people now that I need to get to work for after this, I remembered. I would likely not have remembered that my sister said it but I will never forget that my daughter did.

My mom always said that my oldest sister was an easy teenager to raise. I mentioned that to Marian once and she said that when she got too mad at the world or at Mom she would retreat into the bathroom and soak in a long, hot, luxurious bath.  Time alone. (As the fourth kid of six, I could add, hogging the bathroom, making the rest of us go to the one downstairs, silently ruling the roost. Except that I don’t remember it at all so clearly I wasn’t too traumatized.)

I can just picture the whimsy of the occasional splash, observing the droplets as they fell, adding more hot as the water gradually cooled, keeping it going. She would always come out feeling all was well with the world now.

My girls were teens when she told me that and I just, y’know, happened to mention it to them.

You never know if your kids are listening, but there was this one day that my daughter emerged from the bathroom (good thing we’d added on a spare one by then), hair soaked, fingers wrinkled, and exclaimed, “Your sister is a GENIUS!”

Thursday May 29th 2014, 9:24 pm
Filed under: Lupus,Wildlife

Skipped out on Purlescence tonight due to a sore throat–a mild one, but why share. Took it easy today.

Re the free range plum, I’m amazed it’s still there, given that I didn’t have enough clamshells to cover them all. (And that clamshelled one might need same tape for when the raccoons show up.)

Things are coming along.

Oh and: this school of rays photographed by National Geographic is amazingly beautiful. But the background music–I’m debating whether it should be nananananananananananananananana BATMAN!!!

Or Jumping Jacks Flash.

The row is long…with many a wiiiiinding curve….
Wednesday May 28th 2014, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Knit

Seven. If I put the blog down and race back to the needles (having iced my hands for the third time today, the eyes being enthralled but the wrists and fingers not so much) I can get an eighth row done today and that will be a record with this project.

It ain’t heavy, it’s my bother. Re the joints. But worth it.

(Edited to add the picture and to say, nine! I wanted to see if I could get one more full row out of that cone before I splice in the next one at the side, and I did! Icepack again and call it a night.)

Armwrestle for it
Tuesday May 27th 2014, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

I once read a Dave Barry essay on how women are far braver than men: as proof he offered the fact of his wife sticking her hand down into the kitchen disposal to get something out that was gumming up the works. *He* would never put *his* hand down in that smelly thing, he said; she was his hero.

Totally topping that tonight.

Note to the resident ileostomy patient: you never, never, ever hit that thing before you’ve finished closing the clip. Ever. (I knew that.)

But I did. I’ve been dropping things a lot lately, and that 3.5″-each-way hinged piece of plastic was suddenly the latest, and yelling NOOoooOOO! at it did nothing to dissuade it from washing out of sight.

I don’t even want to touch that horrid snake thing in the garage, but he was willing to. And so we don’t have to spend $150+ on a plumber after all. (It worked. Phew.) And not once did he say the slightest negative thing to me over any of it.

The Barrys ain’t got nuthin’ on my guy.

Right there
Monday May 26th 2014, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Lupus,My Garden,Wildlife

The sun was almost gone. I stepped out the door to go water my tomatoes and blueberries.

A young dove was at the edge of the patio maybe six feet from me quietly pecking away below the feeder, but at my movement jumped off and waddled a few steps away in the yard, and then, with a better trajectory to the safety of the skies should it be needed, turned back to see. Feederfiller?

I played the blinking game. Predators are the ones who stare.

It went Oh okay, then, and did a little hop back up onto the patio towards me and resumed eating.

A finch flew in but flinched when I moved–and I heard the metal perch groan softly as the little bird’s weight left it. That has a sound? Who knew? The finch chirped a small scold as it left, and I heard that, too.  I wanted to hear it all.

A chickadee darted in briefly to the suet cage above my head as I continued to hold still, and then I carefully walked in a wide, slow path around the dove so as not to startle it away. Having begun to make friends from the same side of the glass at last, it seemed to me that the next time I might want to pull up a chair at my zero-UV hour with some sunflower seeds in my hand. Maybe, just maybe.

But for now I had to take care of my plants, too, before it got too dark to see that beautiful first blush of red on that plum out there.

Morris Richard Jeppson
Sunday May 25th 2014, 11:09 pm
Filed under: Family,History

For all the studying and all the tests, they did not know for certain that they would survive the flight. It had never been done before. But the invasion of Japan was planned next and, for all the destruction this would wreak (and they did not yet know nor anticipate acute radiation syndrome), many more millions of people would surely die if the men in that plane did not take on this burden.

I mentioned once about my uncle’s role in WWII.

A fellow officer greeted my dad’s older brother in the mess hall that night with, “And what did you do today, soldier?”

“I think I just ended the war.”

Forty minutes away is nothing
Saturday May 24th 2014, 10:06 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,Life

I mentioned last month my cousin admitting to secretly fervently wishing for a purple hat and scarf from me and I’ve been keeping an eye out ever since for just the right yarn.

And not finding it. Nope, not in my stash. Not that variegated. Purlescence had one that was tempting but was split into two dye lots, no–but I had these other projects that had to get done first anyway and that silk still has easily another week on it, so, no hurry.

But having finished a hat for someone else I no longer had a carry-around project. Just the silk. I was driving friends to San Francisco Airport this afternoon, and just before we got there I finally mused out loud to them that Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco was a whole lot closer right now than it would ever be from home and they carry the Malabrigo that would likely include exactly what I wanted that purple to be: the shade, the superwash, the softness; the wow factor, basically.

(Making that link it just finally dawned on me after all these years that the background is pale orange because they’re on Orange Avenue. My, I’m quick.)

Would the owner recognize you? Lee wondered out loud. (I guess because of the distance from home.)

Phyllis and I guffawed at her husband and I told him, Even Kathryn’s husband knows me!

And so. The Borraja. When I said no, that Rios Purpuras was just a little too gray, Kathryn pulled out exactly the right purple in the Arroyo–and thank you, Malabrigo, too, it’s perfect.

At the wheel again, I tossed various pattern thoughts around as to what I would do next with my time.

One stooped, elderly man stood alone with his memories at the foot of the Army-built Golden Gate Cemetery, a world away from the seven lanes of cars streaming past on the other side of the fence. The light turned and he didn’t see me stopped alongside him, wishing suddenly I could get out of my car so that he wouldn’t have to stay alone. I turned onto a quieter street and up the hill running alongside the place as I continued towards the freeway.  A small American flag had been planted at each grave marker, with large flags flapping vigorously in the Bay breeze around the small steep hill overlooking them all. Families were getting out of their cars near the entryway for the the Memorial Day weekend, and I silently wished the old man way down the hill company and camaraderie, too.

And I wanted to ask them, too, to tell me their stories. To see their loved ones come back to life in their eyes.

But I did not interrupt what was so intensely personal but continued on to my own place, knowing I would never forget the sight.

So go ahead and silk in your corner, then
Friday May 23rd 2014, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

I picked up my project wrong somehow at knit night last night and dropped about twenty stitches of fine slithery silk off the end and didn’t know it and didn’t see it till I’d made it worse.

I suddenly rued not having filled my new glasses prescription yet. I tried. I stopped things from running any further (it was a fairly complicated lace pattern) and then stuffed the mess back in its ziploc in my knitting bag and hoped that the friend who was showing off her new scarf over there wouldn’t see the angst in my face. Hat project, good thing I’d brought that too, okay, it’s definitely going to be a long slouch hat now (glancing at the clock). Just. Knit. (Deep breath.)

She came over and showed me the pattern she was working from and we laughed together in surprised recognition that the stitch pattern I was making that hat in was the same as for the main part of her shawl. Harmonic convergence. (She helped me right back in that moment and she had no idea.)

It took me till this afternoon to face it. There was no way I was going to tink for two or three hours and the liveliness of the silk was just unfroggable.

I hashed it out. Smoothed out all those snagged separated strands complicating finding where the yarn was supposed to go, worked out what went where, picked up, reknit, nope, re-dropped, tried again… And looked up, done, surprised to see that it had only taken me about twenty minutes. See? All those previous times, they came in handy.

This was a project I had worked so hard to have perfect for publication. Anything less than, I would have had to start all over.

Knitting the next row never felt so good as the pattern continued to settle nicely into place. I knew it was back to being just right but there’s nothing quite like proving it so to myself.


(Let’s see if I can sneak another row in before bedtime.)

Well who else?
Thursday May 22nd 2014, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

Suddenly realizing I don’t have a picture of it. Which is fine, I certainly have the pattern.

She admired that scarf the couple of times I wore it to knit night–a lot. Really liked it. As in, told me to finish that book, willya, because she wanted to make that one, and ooh, that colorway!

I knew her dad was sick and with a mental nod in her direction, I put on a dark-coral sweater tonight because she passionately loves orange and that was the closest I had to it to wear in solidarity. (Stephanie, I thought of your post, too, and thought how much the two of you could swap orange stories if you ever met.)

That scarf went okay with it so on impulse I put that on too just before I walked out the door.

She admired it again, a welcome diversion to the news that her dad had just been found to have not only cancer but he’s Stage Four. All the family had been asked to come and she will be flying overseas in the morning to be by his side.

And as she was telling me the news, she turned her head to catch something someone behind her said, giving me a moment when she wasn’t looking.

Wait, what?! She was stunned to feel that scarf going around her.

Honey. Even if I didn’t know it at the time, what else on earth did I make it for?

Clearly, they need to come visit
Wednesday May 21st 2014, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Wildlife

There’s an old family tease as the siblings in both our families moved around early in their careers of, “I don’t see how you can live in such a dangerous place…”

Drab dry California-summer hills nearby, birds that blend into them… and every now and then something with color pops up. The chest on this one is bright orange in the sun.

I only get to see black headed grosbeaks a few times a year and it’s been a treat to have this one hanging around under the olive tree the last three days.

The plums and Yellow Transparent apples are growing fast with harvest next month. Then come the peaches, more apples, and the blueberries seem to just be nonstop…

Meantime, I stumbled across a pair of photos someone took today near where my brother lives–I was checking the Denver weather reports after his county had a tornado warning. Click on the one on the left to get the full effect of those tennis-ball-sized hailstones. Yow.

I’d smirk, because, you know, little sisters do that sort of thing, but you know I’d get thwacked with an earthquake if I did.

Take a hike, kid
Tuesday May 20th 2014, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

Another Mother’s Day photo to show off.

In peregrine news: last week the two San Jose females accidentally bumped their brothers off the ledge early. Both got an elevator ride to the roof for a do-over and both are flying well now and getting past the stage of trying to grab the side of the building with their feet on the way down.

Today, the first female took a good flight herself and landed on an outside stairway. Then, as if she’d forgotten she’d just used these flappy flappy things attached to her and they’d actually worked, she walked–!–up five flights of stairs. Just like any baby can go up them before they can go down, but, still.

Later the last eyas finally flew, too. And she hiked up the stairs like her sister.

So far it looks like we will have all four survive this year.

The San Francisco trio (their fourth died early) are about a week behind ours.

And then an old friend shared a link to a peregrine cam in Salt Lake City today. Wait–this one’s in color and the image is sharper. And it has audio! More firsts on the list of things newly heard: babies screeching and parents soothing and I’d had no idea they sounded like the sounds that keep coming out of my speakers, I’d only ever heard the parents’ strident defending of their young mid-air. This is so different. Almost like a cat purring, at times.

It is amazing how many of the city sounds below the cam picks up, too, including, at one point, a siren going by.

Given where that cam is, if anybody calls for an ambulance in the building my parents now live in, if that cam’s running and that tab is open on my computer I’ll be able to hear it.

Who knew a peregrine falcon cam could play kind of a backup Life Alert for senior parents. Mind. Blown. (Oh hi, Mom! Hi, Dad!)

How to actually get tomatoes after all that work
Monday May 19th 2014, 10:46 pm
Filed under: My Garden,Wildlife

I had tomato seedlings disappearing. Poof.

The clue fairy finally struck. And so last night I shook out a little Sluggo, organic-gardening-friendly anti-slug pellets that promise to poison only snails and slugs and simply be iron to fertilize your trees. No harm to animals or birds.

One more seedling disappeared last night and one more looked like it had lost one and a half of its two leaves, a sad little sight I had seen again and again. But it was a whole lot better than having half a dozen plants gone in a night.

But the others! These things have just been sitting there not growing for two weeks despite water, sun, soil, even a record-breaking heat wave, just holding still staying the sprouts Janice had gifted me with. It was bizarre.

But this evening when I checked they had a second pair of leaves and of a good size, even–all in one day! As if they were completely different plants, twice the size, twice the leaves, even the stalks were thicker.  And yet it had been a fairly cool day.

All they’d needed was a good night’s sleep and a good day’s work.

It had been the snails all along eating the new growth each night on every single one–of the ones that had survived their destruction. Wow. And gee thanks to whoever released his French escargot to the wild in the 1800s that then took over the whole of California, I mean, gosh, gee, who could resist such tasty land lobsters, there must have been such a market.


I had an older store-bought plant ripening its first tomato yesterday and last night a raccoon or possum reached right under the NuVue pop up tent and stole it. (Hah! Amazon has stopped selling this one because of complaints.) I had worried ever since mine had arrived that they could.

For the record, mine came broken like some of the reviewers there complained about (wish I’d read those earlier) but it was usable, if lopsided, so I set it up anyway. I rather wish I had not.  I now have an ad hoc collection of whatevers on it trying to hold down those edges to protect the rest.

My blueberries, on the other hand, are under a Gardman Fruit Cage, which has a pipe across the bottom holding the netting down via the entire structure of the thing, and the worst that’s happened was one cane poked through the netting and an animal pulled it farther and snarfed all the berries and leaves thereon. I tucked it back in.

Time to use up a gift certificate and order another Gardman.

In these our tabernacles
Sunday May 18th 2014, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Church was different today.

Jim’s friend Craig Jessop was in town, and Jim (my son’s old organ teacher) introduced him to the congregation.

Brother Jessop is the former conductor of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and I wrote about him once here, a great story, don’t miss it if you haven’t seen it yet. (And I’m sorry to add that this time Richard was the one who was home sick with a fever and had to miss out on the experience.)

He sang a solo with just the most glorious voice and then he had us all sing a few hymns.

Just the first verse of Now Let Us Rejoice–and suddenly I had tears streaming freely. One friend had no idea why but she reached an arm around me. It’s okay, it’s cool.

Brother Jessop talked some more about the power of music in connecting us with God, and then said, I’m going to ask you: if you have a favorite hymn, if one has a particular meaning to you, would you come up here, maybe 30 seconds (and then he smiled and kind of laughed and said, okay, a minute) and tell us why it’s important to you.

Collette talked about the schizophrenia that had betrayed her grandson, (the answer to the last line on that post? It was true. None of our children has been lost since that day) and at his funeral we had sung Lead Kindly Light. It had brought her so much comfort.

We sang Lead Kindly Light for her, for Brian, for God.

Others spoke too and we learned things about each other we had never known. Music is an intimate art.

I had a sister-in-law who was diagnosed with cancer when her youngest was in middle school. Her husband…acted out his pain in ways unfathomable to those who loved them. Their marriage ended and still he wrought destruction. He threw away so much that he could have been.

Eight years after her diagnosis, our phone rang very early one morning when we knew what that would mean.

It was a Sunday morning. There was certainly no going back to sleep and I walked quietly towards the kitchen to start the day with a moment to myself to take it in before the kids would wake up and be told.

And as I walked down that hallway I had this growing sense of music being sung, as if a whole crowd of happy people were giving praise to God in every note shared together.

Now let us rejoice in the day of salvation.  Just the first two phrases. I was in the kitchen by this point; the last note seemed to shine with light in the still air.

And with that, at long last after such a struggle she’d endured, peace was given to me.

Oleander meander
Saturday May 17th 2014, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

And on a lighter note: squirrels? Or the loud, marauding ravens that took over the neighbors’ garden during their two-week vacation?  (They just got back.)

I went to fill the birdfeeder first thing yesterday morning when I found this just outside the door.

Oleander does not grow in my yard nor on my block that I know of and I have no idea where it came from. It’s highly poisonous, and we have young families around. I know we ripped ours out when we bought this place when our kids were small.

But there it was, backdoorstep delivery. A flower. I was charmed. (Watch that suet cage, they’re venturing into hawk territory now, you know they’re going to try for it.)