Tarzan cafe
Thursday October 16th 2014, 10:19 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

Going to Wikipedia I discover that another name for our Chinese elm is Lacebark elm. Who knew. How perfect for a knitter’s home. I’d have taken a photo of the trunk earlier if I’d known–but I can definitely say that that name fits.

But what started all this was an odd enough sight that I stopped and simply watched for awhile: five squirrels and surely more where I couldn’t see, all hanging upside down with the ends of their tails just barely wrapped around the branch above them, hanging onto the very flimsiest of limbs. In tandem. Three of them in this shot. The one in the foreground pulled his head up when I pulled the camera out.

They were reaching for the very ends of the twigs and bending them back towards them, working rapidly through the small flowers.

But they didn’t seem to be eating the flowers, rather, pushing their noses side to side through them: they were searching for the bugs that seemed to be hiding in them. Every now and then one would pull itself triumphantly upright hand over careful hand, one paw, a second, a third, a fourth, rock-climbing the air back to a steadier spot. Wait oh whoops! Almost! as a fragile twig broke off and fell below while the thing scrambled wildly.

But a big black beetle. Now, that was worth sitting up in a good spot where you could enjoy it with two paws free to hold it as you bite off the best parts first.

I’ve seen those bugs. The past few Octobers, they’ve come down through the heating vents (they seem to only fall, not fly) trying to find a good place to overwinter. They have no business being inside my house. (To everyone back East dealing with their cousins the invasive stink bugs that also like to come in in the Fall, I know I really have nothing to complain about, but I still don’t like them.)

This year, though, the furnace and the damaged, gaping ductwork across the roof have been replaced. (Thank you Joe Lerma!) The trees have been cut back from over the house. If a bug gets shaken loose it will fall to the ground outside where it belongs.

The squirrels are getting all the bugs. They’re not in my house anymore and it is Fall again and they’re not coming back in.

I cannot tell you how wonderful that is.

Making good use of the cabin fever
Wednesday October 15th 2014, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Gradually building my strength back post-flu, including in my hands. I’ve had to stop knitting to ice my hands about every hour’s worth and have been reluctant to push it.

And yet somehow I’m still about 3500 stitches further into the baby blanket than I was this morning, with more than that yesterday, going from two and a half motifs to nearly six in that time with about fifteen to go.

(And here is where I wave a picture at the blog, except that I’m still trying to keep at least some of it a surprise.)

Tuesday October 14th 2014, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

I had to go outside today and look up: yeah, we did cut that thing way back but I guess the raccoon could still have fallen out of that tree onto the house but he really would have had to work at it. Was he dodging a large owl?

Or more likely feasting on the big black beetles that settle in on the undersides of the leaves this time of year and just stepped a little too far out on a thin limb and scrambled for the roof rather than the ground. I’ve seen the squirrels the last few days stroking the leaves and then grabbing and munching the bugs before they can escape, so I know they’re there.

But whatever, there was a tremendous crash right overhead 11:30 last night followed by a wild clumpy skittering.

Woke up to raccoon prints on the skylight–well that settles it. Rocky Raccoon meets She Came In (not!) Through The Bathroom Window.

Y’know, this is probably the same raccoon that pulled my tableful of heavy clay tomato pots down on its head, that ate, not just chewed but ate an apple-sized chunk out of a plastic clamshell and then the Fuji apple inside. And never, ever touched another one again.

I think this one’s not too bright.

The hawk flew in yesterday to within ten feet from my face in a mad pursuit, and then, having lost its prey somewhere in the elephant ears, it landed right there, looking for that wayward breakfast wherediditgo. He glanced over his shoulder at me, we looked each other in the eye and I apologized, nope, I don’t have it, sorry for disturbing you. (I’d half-stood to see over the window ledge. That probably wasn’t too bright. He took off.)

Today he swooped into the olive tree, gave the yard a thorough looking-over and then dove straight down below the roofline and straight at me–and then pulled hard straight up again to surprise whatever was there. Probably a dove on the ham radio antenna.

I later saw two ravens passing overhead in a hurry and heard not crow nor raven but, from the other side of the house (thank you Oticon hearing aids and Kim and my son for the bird-sounds book!) the distinct call of a Cooper’s hawk on full territorial alert: And STAY out!

While I quietly got almost two more repeats done on the blanket. My grandsons arrived early. I expect their sister will too. Making good time.

I would make her a bird afghan if I didn’t know how much fun a baby would have pulling the intarsia apart. Maybe a dress next with a single wren motif on it.

And don’t forget the triple-ginger snaps
Monday October 13th 2014, 9:32 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Family,Life,Lupus

My doctor told me to get my flu shot as soon as I, in her words, wasn’t very sick.

And so Richard was going to leave work early and get me to the clinic before their flu-shot nurse called it a day at 5:00. I just wasn’t up to running lots of errands on my own yet.

The lights were not with us. We got there 5:02, no dice. Oh well.

It was a moment of truth: I just really, really didn’t want to have to worry about going through the last two weeks all over again if I could do anything about it–I wanted that shot done with. (He’d already gotten his.) And so we drove across town to Costco.

Pro tip: that was the fewest people I have seen in that store in ages, 5:25 must be the right time to go.

Not to mention the fewest infectious agents around us and for me to be around them.

There were questions to check off: are you currently sick? I simply left that one blank and they did not call me on it. Do you have any immune disease such as AIDS or cancer? Uh, yes no no–so, yes.

They made me wait 15 minutes while they shuffled paperwork. I had not brought my knitting, deliberately: my hands needed a break after major baby blanket time, but I’d forgotten my book, too. It is a sign of how quickly I’d run out of steam that I forgot that I could simply read the news on my phone.

I sat on their bench that faced a towering display of Men’s L/XL incontinence help (charming), noting the heavy towers of pallets to right and left, the emergency exit door thataway, and plotting my duck-and-cover should the quake strike. I’ve been under swinging chandeliers before, but at least they were anchored to the ceiling. Get away from those aisles. (The bored mind in earthquake country.)

And then they called me into a back room and the deed was done. I cannot begin to tell you what a relief it is that that is so. I have my flu shot. The world is a slightly safer place.

The flying purple, people, in air
Sunday October 12th 2014, 7:51 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Little boys are wonderful. This just totally cracks me up.

A note was sent to the ward chat list this afternoon in hopes of reaching the right cellphone before everybody was gone from the church.  A five-year-old was very sad about having lost his new purple clip-on tie.

And then about five minutes later, Tie found!

Eight feet high in a tree.

I sent off a, Is it okay that I laughed? Do you need to borrow a ladder?

It’s okay and it’s all good, she wrote back, John jumped up and grabbed it.

Their little boy was still saying he had no idea how it got up there.

Sky drama
Saturday October 11th 2014, 8:11 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

With thanks to Lisa Souza for that title. Love that colorway.

Got up early this morning and maybe I surprised them.

There was a swoop and a flash of large tail and so I sat down to watch a moment. A finch had hit the window in a panic and was cowering in the elephant ears.

Another swoop back the other way. And then suddenly a third and out of here–followed by a wheeling around from out of nowhere (how did a big black thing like that hide?!) somewhere in the neighbor’s tall trees and then a second, likewise wingtip to wingtip ground to air and turning on a dime: two ravens, trying to steal from the Cooper’s hawk, who’d gotten a good head start on them.

They knew he’d had a successful hunt, even if I didn’t.

Coopernicus had staked out the birdfeeder and they had staked out him. Through those trees and away for all they were worth.

Amazing Grace
Friday October 10th 2014, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

After several false starts and a whole lot of stitches the hat is begun.

Okay, that’s my obligatory bit for the day. What you really want to read, if you haven’t yet, is Stephanie’s post.

If you already did you know that her sister-in-law lives in Madagascar and that once a year she flies home to Canada and buys all the yarn for the next year. (I. Cannot. Imagine. A woollessly-enforced cyclically-stashfree life? All planning no sudden hey-I-could? Yow.) Likewise, once a year she gets to give out all those things she has knit in happy anticipation of sharing her love in ways that will stay when she has to leave, waiting, waiting to be able to give  out that wealth of knitted happiness.  A sweater’s sleeves that were made for toddler Lou with memory of his arms around her neck in a hug, as Stephanie writes. The new baby in the family who needed warmth against the Canadian cold…

And that was the suitcase that went missing July 31st.

After her trying every possible method of extracting it from the airline and then giving the okay to her sister-in-law, Stephanie finally put the word out to the knitter world at large last week.

I know I’m not the only one who said prayers. I also believe in a God who answers anonymously through the actual doings of people to encourage them to look out for each other, and sometimes there’s simply someone out there who needs to know enough to act on a hunch or enough to know to do some looking. They just have to get the word.

Whatever, however.

That suitcase came home to Canada today.

A year’s worth of near-daily work. Safely home.

Y E S !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Purple, part one
Thursday October 09th 2014, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift

I did it.

I deliberately put on my purple skirt this morning. Now, this purple skirt and I have a problem. It shades slightly towards the brown side, unlike the supposedly identical broken-zipper one it was replacing that I’d loved, while the top I’d ordered to match it does not.

They clashed. I overdyed the top and I love how it came out but it still doesn’t match the skirt and my eye is not happy with them together.

So yeah, I wear plain white with the skirt that arrived not quite the right color. The price of hating going shopping.

And the reason I mention this is the scarf. The long, soft, endless, boring, pretty, repetitive, densely knit, heavy, I’m going out of my mind scarf that I’ve been desperate to get off my hands and off my needles so I can dive into the baby stuff before my granddaughter arrives, because I know if I abandon it again it will stay abandoned and my cousin’s move from warm California to chilly England was postponed so she doesn’t have to have it this month after all and that makes it way too easy to say oh no hurry then, whenever.

It is purple. And it is a prettier purple than either of the two in my outfit and yes I did put on that skirt and that top. Deliberately. By putting on that combination I only love separately I knew I was making it so my eyes would want all day to reach for the shade that peacemakes between them. The scarf is actually also two different shades playing together–only they really do, the Malabrigo Arroyo in Borrajas and the heathered mink laceweight, calm and steady and setting off the best in each other.

You would think those yarns would work up quickly. You would think wrong. In all these weeks I’ve knitted and knitted and I’ve blackholed it the whole time.

Till at last calling towards the other room tonight: “Did you hear that snap?”

“What snap?”

“The snap when the yarn breaks.”

“It’s bad when the yarn breaks!”

“Not when it means you just finished your project.”

And that, that, is how you get a two month long stinking endless dragging scarf project off those needles. Make it be the place where your eyes get to rest. (And turn on the stereo for some music relief and laugh out loud when you discover how much fun the little grandsons had moving all those pretty tiny buttons around on the stereo equalizer.)

Pardon me while I measure the thing for gauge-swatching and cast on the matching hat, quick, before the day is done. I’ll wear that skirt again if I have to but next time the top is going to be white.

(Pottery by my friends Mel and Kris and sons at mkwares.net.)

Wednesday October 08th 2014, 8:39 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

I was typing away, the afternoon nearly gone, Richard off to the office for a meeting and just me at home in the quiet house.

Motion with a hint of size caught at my peripheral vision. Oh I hope! Knowing to move slowly, I reached for my glasses, put them on, and turned carefully sideways.

The low light didn’t do his coloration justice but it was enough.

The vertical beam between windows half hid him, as raptors prefer. It was the Cooper’s hawk, now perched on the handle of the dolly that’s been left just on the other side of the window from the couch specifically for him.

He–and by those long lean lines and smaller size he was most definitely male–watched me and allowed me and stayed. We took each other in. I had needed it and he had come and he allowed me to love him all the more for it for at least a full minute.

And then in easy leisure he spread his great striped wings and with no particular speed–and believe me Coopernicus can speed–he flew away in curving sweeps that let me follow his going all the longer.

(There are photos of him on it from earlier this year here.)

Tomato escape
Tuesday October 07th 2014, 9:17 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Garden,Life

Last night was the first night I slept since this started, just a few coughing spells. Today was the first day I was able to eat without having to use anti-nausea meds to make it possible. That’s real progress.

And I wound up the next ball of purple yarn for my project. I almost did it last night but thought, do you want to blow all your energy standing winding for twenty minutes and then be worse tomorrow because you’re already that tired, or do you want to wait till it’s easier so it gets done *and* you still feel well? I waited and today it was no problem. Wow what a difference.

Getting tomatoes out of those boxy cages is a real pain–and the guy who comes twice a month to do some of the outside yardwork that I can’t saw me coughing just before I headed back to bed to read awhile, not talking to him because I didn’t want to share the germs. Richard was working from home: another sign I was sick. The guy saw that things hadn’t been weeded for at least a week and there were now tomato branches growing through and blooming well outside the bird netting.

He got that one ripe heirloom tomato out of there for me and put it where we couldn’t miss seeing it the next time we looked out the window. Nobody had asked him to. He just did it. I got up soon after he and his partner working next door left, too late to say thank you or even to be sure which one of them had done it.

Looking forward to tomorrow. I like this getting-better stuff.

I don’t know, Alaska
Monday October 06th 2014, 9:54 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

When my daughter moved to Alaska I wished I knew more about the place and my brother-in-law suggested I read James Michener’s “Alaska.”

Being sick is a good time to catch up on reading and I am finally plowing through it, even if it’s as endless as the coastline of that state. I like that at the front he has a list of, this is historical, this is fiction.

But man oh man he drives me crazy. Describing the Great Hunt that nearly exterminated the species, I want  to tell him, river otters wouldn’t have seven foot long pelts, dude, are you crazy? They’re cute little things. It would be quite a stretch for sea otters for that matter. If you didn’t ever go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, couldn’t you at least have cracked open an old-school encyclopedia? Then, oh oops, mid-chapter he switches the description of what they’re hunting to sea otter without mentioning it and river otters are never heard from again.

Wikipedia on Sea otters: here. 

And river otters: here.

History is his thing, and he does give a lot of it.

But Michener’s character development too has had me going Nah AH a few times and actually laughing out loud this evening. C’mon, how is this supposed to be believable? Sorry, but if a woman (an Aleut) was sold into slavery and then repeatedly (he describes it most delicately) gang-raped and beaten and later one of the thugs wants to marry her to keep him from being shipped to certain never-to-return well north of the Artic Circle, having her faint in ecstacy at the preaching of the Russian Orthodox priest, making it so she willingly saves her primary tormentor’s soul (after having gotten away from him for a good long time) by marrying him and entering a life of saved Christian bliss while with that conversion severing from her life the shaman who had been her life support through all her trials because he was of the wrong religion now–James, James, honey, it just ain’t happenin’ for me.

Haven’t gotten to the end of the chapter yet but she did turn her back on her people and did marry the evil man she’d so hated. I’m hoping for a better ending on that particular subplot.

But what Michener did do was make me want to go sort out more details on what actually did happen then between the Russians and the Aleuts and all the other countries that in the 1700s were trying to move in on the lucrative otter pelt trade while claiming territory.  Yes, the Russians did enslave and kill many of the Aleuts. Not just the animals.

Not only did they nearly exterminate a keystone species in the marine ecosphere, the author says that 70% of the otters the white man shot simply vanished down into the ocean before they could get to it, destroyed and gone.

Now that I believe.

We’re still working on recovering that species. We’ve got a ways to go. A bad die-off a few years ago made headlines when they said toxoplasmosis from house cats finding its way down to the coastline was the culprit, and they were working on it.

Well, that’s one for the history books.

Sunday October 05th 2014, 9:18 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Friends,Knit

I snoozed through most of the first session. I tried.

I was feeling much better during the afternoon one and knitted through most of it–except for a few minutes there when the phone rang, checking first, and then the doorbell did. Glenn!

He was here for a business conference. He moved to New York City a few years ago and he wanted to stop by and say hi while he could. I waved through the window while Richard went outside to chat and to meet Glenn’s girlfriend; there was no way I was going to expose them to my germs. Sometimes it’s just not the day.

But at the end we did open the door between us, and standing well away from each other exchanged at least some actual greetings before they left.

And I…have run out of purple Malabrigo that’s wound up. I need to get up the oomph to wind the next ball tomorrow; today there was just no way.

Tomorrow I need to make the call to my GI doctor like the ER doctor had wanted me to do. This morning was worse, not better, and she made it clear that, even if I didn’t want to hear it, she thought the Crohn’s symptoms were actually caused by, y’know, my having Crohn’s. Flu does that.

Or maybe it will all clear up together. I’m hoping.

Saturday October 04th 2014, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Family,Food,Friends,Knitting a Gift

So, today.

My oldest got hit by a taxi. She assures us no serious injuries, but yow. I’m grateful it wasn’t worse–while fighting my mama bear instinct to want to scream at the guy, What did you think you were DOING!!!

Ahem. And. At noon, Michelle showed up bearing hot chocolate from the shop where we’ve been meeting up with her and her cousin many a Saturday morning, wanting to make sure that, flu or no, we didn’t miss out. I couldn’t drink much but what I did was great and the rest is in the fridge in happy anticipation.

And. The doorbell rang, 5ish. A friend from church bearing dinner, and she had absolutely no way to know I’d been craving pasta and cheese and Italian sausage and a good substantial sauce all day. No way. I hadn’t even said it to Richard. And yet–there it was in her hands: a very good ravioli, lots of sauce that appeared to be homemade (I very much want the recipe) and with a lot of Italian sausage in it, and I could not have imagined up better than what we were offered. Susan! We both had seconds, and for me this week that’s really saying something. Happy us, there were leftovers.

Carrot cupcakes, cut-up watermelon, multi-seed-and-grain bread (that last would have to be for Richard.) She took the time to make that and bring that while arranging her 98-year-old mother’s funeral and affairs and I’m just kind of blown away.


I knitted. Not a lot, two 45-minute segments where I was going v e r y slowly but making noticeable progress on the interminable purple cousin scarf. (Yes it’s still going on.)

Because today was the first of two days of the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, two two-hour sessions two hours apart and tomorrow likewise at 9 and 1 our time, and knitting during Conference has always just been a given, and Conference projects always have their own bit of meaning (even if that meaning more than once has been, while I was doing it, finally something that sat me down in my seat long enough to finish this!)

I listen and get my priorities back in gear and feel spiritually charged up while at the same time, and peripherally to it all, create things to make someone out there happy. ‘Oh, I made this one during Conference’ makes it a happy thing indeed.

I think Sunday afternoon we shall have a purple scarf at last and the beginnings of the hat to match. See? That’s the other thing Conference offers: an abiding sense of hope again.

I even started to forgive the taxi driver. I still hope he got caught, if only so he won’t repeat the errors of his ways.

Uh, yeah, so, I’m still working on that one. Good thing there will be more knitting time  spent listening to wise and loving older people telling their stories and of their trusting God’s love come Sunday.

He looked before he leaped
Friday October 03rd 2014, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

Pulse oximeter’s lowest reading last night: 90%. Way better.

Saw a black squirrel on the fenceline just beyond our property today where the fences intersect and its behavior caught my eye. It was both relaxed, laying down there, and…not. Its legs dangled lazily in the record heat (90! In October!) while its head kept bobbing up and down.

Gauging, gauging, gauging. It stood up quickly and


Richard, working in the next room: “What’s holy cow?”

It had taken a massive leap to the neighbor’s tree and that tree was ten, maybe even twelve feet away from it. There was the slight arc upwards and a swiftly-sharpening arc downwards as it sank, front feet stretched far forward tail straight back. Whether it had enough momentum to manage to desperately grab on near the bottom of that big tree or not I couldn’t tell because my fence was in the way but it was sure going to be a close call if it did.

Y’know? All it had to do was amble down alongside my cherry tree and the tree it coveted would have been right there.

You just don’t have to do it the hard way.

Steadily upward day by day
Thursday October 02nd 2014, 8:15 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Oxygen at 81% at night: I am not a fan.

And yet.  Got my hair washed today, got the birdfeeder filled, got a husband working from home this week taking excellent care of me while I try to take excellent care of him as best I can.

Ran a load with your socks, hon, I knew you were getting low.

Oh. I was?

Not anymore.

Tomorrow I might even put them away.