Saturday January 31st 2015, 11:31 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Lupus

Rita: here (at the end) and especially here, where I knew in that moment that I might well never see her again. But I felt I was seeing her with all essence of strangerhood stripped away and she me and somehow it was enough.

I hadn’t seen her since then. Last Sunday I found myself thinking of my old friend. She’d been one of the patients who’d founded our lupus support group way back in the ’70’s, reaching out to others, putting an ad in the paper and seeing who might show up, offering, Let’s talk. She’d been a young mother when she got hit with it with kidney failure, bam, right out the gate.

She was middle aged and I was a young mother myself when I joined the group shortly after diagnosis, and in my first year or two got my first echocardiogram and saw my heart on a screen, had my first EEG, and briefly had kidney failure myself. I held on tight to the hope she offered and I wanted to be as kind and as thoughtful and reflective as she was some day when I grew up. And I simply wanted to get to be her age.

I am where she was then, in surprisingly decent shape all things considered, and I do now what she did: I come to those meetings to give others the hope I had so much needed.

I picked up the local section of the paper and flipped to the back.

I admitted to myself that I was looking to see if her obituary might be in there. Not something I’d done before nor that I wanted to find, just, it seemed the thing to do. Nope, no sign of one.

The emails came in last night and today. I guess I’m not the only one in the group who’d been thinking of her–two others had tried to call her.

Turns out they had found a tumor that explained why eating had become so hard and she had opted to simply observe where this new adventure might take her as it chose. It was a thing to learn, not fear.

She left us a little over a week ago, and I like to think she was letting us know. She was ninety-two or three, not sure when her birthday was.

I still want to get to be her age. And because of her I can see that I might.

A little ice cream…
Friday January 30th 2015, 11:20 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden

Rain is in the forecast oh thank goodness after 30 dry days and freezing is not.

I almost didn’t see it. I was walking past it and did a double take.

Blueberries. Blooming. In January. Not profusely, but hey.

I didn’t know they could do that.

Decisions, decisions
Thursday January 29th 2015, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Politics

Needed to buy some birdseed, and since it was right off the freeway stopped on my way home by Yamagami’s Nursery to check out the fruit trees.

And boy did they have nice fruit trees. If you wanted cherries or peaches this very year it looks like you could have exactly that.

No Lorings in stock, though; they would have to order and find out if one is available. I texted messages with Richard and came home, for now.

But when the sun was low I picked that spade back up and dug that planting hole a little deeper and now, at last, that spot feels ready for whatever will go in. It will not stay bare for long.

A side note: I know vaccination is a hot topic right now and that there are strong emotions on both sides. Hear me out, if you would. Measles is *the* single most contagious virus known, and if you simply walk through a room hours after an infected person did you can catch it. I have an immunosuppressed friend from my knitting group who got quarantined from work this week because a co-worker had been exposed to someone who’d been exposed to someone who’d been exposed to someone at Disneyland, the disease leapfrogging up the state. That’s an awful lot of quarantining and lost wages and lost time.

Our daughter the microbiology PhD was telling an anti-vaxxer the other day, Sure, if you get German measles you’ll be sick and you’ll probably recover and you probably won’t be one of the unlucky ones who goes deaf or gets pneumonia or meningitis and all that. You’ll probably be okay.

But you don’t do it for YOU. You do it for every pregnant woman. Because it is horrendously dangerous to a fetus in utero at any stage of pregnancy and extremely likely to kill or brain damage them for life. You do it for them. Because you’re a good person.

Let it snow let it snow let it snow
Wednesday January 28th 2015, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden

As I knit some Abstract Fibers yarn, needing lots of bright colors against the winter fog and in celebration of the fact that Stitches West is less than a month away.

I could not talk the camera into focusing on the limb rather than the fence, but here goes. Variety: Tropic Snow, an apt name given the storms back East this week. (Throw a snowball for all us weather-deprived out here, will ya?)

There was no spark of green or new growth to be found yesterday at all–I looked for it. So I certainly wasn’t expecting to find green tips everywhere today but I did, just on this one tree,  always the earliest. Peaches! It’s leafing out!

We’ve had a forlorn and bare spot in the raised bed where the bird-killing heavenly bamboo was taken out last summer and I used that burst of happiness to finally go dig there in preparation for the next tree to go in. It’s ready. I came in and told him.

Last Valentine’s Day, he took me on an expedition to Wegman’s and got me the big, healthy Comice pear of my dreams. He was anticipating as happily as I was as we talked about what this year’s version should be.

If I’m going to water it it’s going to give me something in return
Tuesday January 27th 2015, 11:35 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden

Chris was coming at 11:00 to give me a quote on a few more trees.

The doorbell rang at about ten. I wasn’t expecting him at that hour…

It was the city utility workers, here to clear limbs away from the power lines, and when the guy said that I had to laugh and ask, What trees?

They walked around the yard and went Oh. Oh wow.

But there was one limb from the camphor that had grown back up close enough to give them something to do; it didn’t take long.

And then the one who was clearly in charge casually mentioned that he does tree cutting privately on his own time, too, and he’d be glad to give me a quote on that other stuff over there. Sure. So, the yucca (it wasn’t a yucca), trim the olive, take out that and that, he gave me a verbal quote.

Nothing was written down, details could be forgotten and misunderstandings could happen. He came back later with a business card but that was as far as it went.

Just minutes after they left the first time the doorbell rang again, and there was Chris.

We talked trees a little while. He took detailed notes of what was to be done and gave me a written estimate. When I asked about the Fuji apple, he confirmed what I was pretty sure of: my gardening guy had pruned nearly all the fruiting tips off. He was trying to keep the tree down to a good size for us but he’d been a little too enthusiastic.  Chris talked about one year wood for the plum but two year for apples (and I know it’s three to ten for pears). Now, this, he said, pointing out the much smaller Yellow Transparent next to it, you’ve still got a lot of fruiting wood on this one.

But I like Fuji apples a lot better. So now I know, at least, and next year will be different.

On the other side of the house, I am a bit reluctant to see those other trees go, but they are shading the solar panels by morning and the neighbor’s garden by afternoon and we need something shorter and my apologies (again) to the birds. But at least we’ll get them out before nesting season and will replace them immediately.

Chris’s crew is booked solid for several weeks out so we have time to decide what will go in instead. I’m thinking ultradwarf sour cherries and summer-producing dwarf mandarins. Maybe.

Go Joe
Monday January 26th 2015, 11:57 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Joe was here, inspecting the furnace and ductwork he’d installed a little over a year ago. Not that it really needed it, just, after that CO leak from the one he took out I’m not taking any chances.

Just about the first words out of his mouth this morning were, How’s the baby? Knowing it would make a grandma happy and grinning back at my big grin. Then he told me his worker standing next to him had a five-month-old, so that I could share in that beaming new dad’s pride, too. Happy times.

He exclaimed over the changes to the yard and the trees and the new carpeting in here. (One room done so far on the flooring–it’s a good start.)

I thought about it after he left and realized just how much his work had changed everything: we had known for several years that we were going to have to shell out a whole lot at some point to do what he ended up doing for us (we just had had no idea how serious that need was going to end up being) and we had had no idea how much it was going to cost. We couldn’t take on any other major expenses whatsoever till that was all done and settled.

Freed from that now, bit by bit we are getting this place to what we want it to be. And it feels wonderful.


A photo finish
Sunday January 25th 2015, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

A few more pictures. (Note that Madison’s clothes didn’t make it throughout the day. Actually, I don’t think any of the kids’ did. I remember those days…)

Meeting Madison
Saturday January 24th 2015, 10:58 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

The boys were sick; did we still want to come?

We looked at each other: yes.

A follow-up call last night. Hudson was now at 102.3, so, just to make sure, did we still want to come?

We knew the risks and said a prayer and still felt like wild horses and viruses couldn’t keep us away and hopefully having already had the flu in September and having had the shot such as it was…

Of course we went. Our grandsons needed snuggle time all the more.

The baby and parents are still healthy and we did a lot of handwashing between kids.

It is amazing how much energy small sick children can have. Parker’s one meltdown was when we realized that we needed to go back to the airport now. We promised we would come again soon and he calmed down fairly quickly and made us promise again. We promised again. Alright then–and he helped take us there after all (giving Kim some one-on-one time with her one-month-old, something I know every new mom with older kids could use more of.) Hudson at long last fell asleep on the way there. I was sorry he would wake up to find us gone, but we’ll be keeping that promise. Soon.

And Madison is a perfect baby.

And we are home again. More pictures later. It was a wonderful, long day but we’ve got some sleep to catch up on ourselves.

Friday January 23rd 2015, 11:51 pm
Filed under: Friends

Crazy busy day but I got it all done and we had a great time with friends. Happy Birthday, Nina! Even if I didn’t find a hyacinth this year. Next year.

More later.

Made it!
Thursday January 22nd 2015, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift

I put off doing the seaming for at least a month. Deadlines are a wonderful thing.

I put off running the ends in on the red jumper for longer. Deadlines are a wonderful thing.

Malabrigo Arroyo for the English Rose pink and Malabrigo Rios in the Ravelry red–only the softest for my grandbabies, and only superwash for my daughter-in-law and son to have to deal with.

I was late for knit night because I was stitching up those four pink side seams at home where there was no question there was enough light. The last part I did was around the armholes, which I should have had curling the other way.

Next thing you know I might even make baby booties. That fit. But here, let me run the last of these ends in first.

It’s a new day
Thursday January 22nd 2015, 9:49 am
Filed under: Non-Knitting

Testing testing 1 2 3

My blog broke last night. The resident geek took a look. Turned out that when I’d been hitting Delete Spam of late, it was simply squirrelling it away like a six-year-old hoarding last year’s rotten Halloween candy in the closet. Thousands of pages of spam and no room for anything more.

He did his best and we gave it up and went to bed.

And look! My Preview and Publish buttons are back and I think this post won’t vanish into the ether like the attempts last night.

1, 2, 3… GO!

We had company for dinner
Tuesday January 20th 2015, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Food,Recipes

An overflowing bowl (thank you Mel and Kris!) of strawberries to pass around: at this time of year they’re red and ripe but not overly juicy nor sweet; they are, however, locally grown.

A very small bowl of sour cream and one of brown sugar to each person.

Dip. Dip again.

And serve it as a side rather than dessert to make sure there’s no threat of guilt over quantities consumed.


Over three inches in a week
Monday January 19th 2015, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Garden

So far today, the mango tree has grown more than the knitting. So I’ll post a picture of the one and then get going on the other.

To a long life
Sunday January 18th 2015, 11:22 pm
Filed under: Life

This guy.  Trapped and praying as the semi bore down on him.

“Divine sources did not immediately respond to this reporter’s repeated requests for comment,” says the Washington Post, in not quite a tongue-in-cheek tone but rather sheer wonderment at the wholly improbable but indescribable relief of an outcome.

May he personally tell the tale of his great good fortune to his great-grandkids many decades hence.

To the harvest
Sunday January 18th 2015, 12:10 am
Filed under: Family,Garden,Life,Lupus,Recipes

It seems we will have room for yet more fruit trees, with a call in to Chris at Shady Tree for a bid on two more weed ones that are shading the solar panels (and my mandarin and mango. Richard stood by the Page with a UV meter and it read zero at 2 pm, thus the yellowing leaves and my willingness to let a little more bird habitat disappear for a few years till the new catches up.) Montmorency? Lorings at last? Let the plotting commence.

And then.

We were at Costco, looking at a monster package of cherries. Rainiers–I’d like to try them, but that was a month’s supply. Now it might have been different had they looked like they hadn’t just traveled a long way over a long time and then been left out unrefrigerated, but as he wondered how we could eat them all it yanked my thoughts to our Stella cherry, to all our fruit trees as they grow up. That box (which we did not buy) potentially represented only a few branches’ worth.

For a brief instant the sheer volume to come overwhelmed. Countered instantly by, but see the difference is that we’ll be eating and freezing however much we want and then giving just-picked totally ripe homegrown to all comers, and surely there will be no shortage of those. A sun-warmed, dripping-ripe full-flavor peach is hardly the proverbial and much-maligned foundling zucchinis abandoned on doorsteps in the dead of the night. ( A side note: make zucchini bread, using butter, brown sugar, baking powder not soda, and, the most important part, substituting ground pecans for a quarter to a third of the flour. That will justify any zucchini planting you might ever do.)

And the picking of that fruit means this necessarily sun-deprived lupus patient will have reason to be outside at dusk for many a day, getting some badly-coveted fresh air and the satisfaction of doing good in the process. It’s like you cast on and then the trees do all the knitting for you.

Cherry on, then.