Thank you, Paul
Monday November 30th 2015, 11:31 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

A friend of ours stopped by after a trip to Trader Joe’s. He couldn’t fix the concussion–but chocolate, that he could do, so he showed up at our door with a bar of 85% Valrhona for Richard and their 71% for me, pretty sure he remembered our favorites.That he did. And of course it’s his presence and his caring that made our day.

I was glad that he looked out for Richard, too, offering the unspoken understanding that it’s hard to be the one doing the looking after.

Writing and reading are okay, but somehow reading out loud, the words come out stumbley, still. So strange.

Chocolate makes a fine antidote as far as I’m concerned.

In plane sight
Sunday November 29th 2015, 11:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

I will forever be grateful to the doctor who told me as I was starting to recover from a major Crohn’s flare, “Progress is nonlinear,” and not to let it worry me. Today was a day for remembering and being comforted by that.

I was supposed to pick friends from church up from the airport tomorrow while Richard goes into work. With his having had vacation days last week, my brain…cleared enough to put fact A with fact B and realize that, oh wait, that doesn’t work, he won’t be here. Sending out an email to the ward chat, I had five different people instantly offer to run get them for me. Good people. Good friends. So lucky.

The difference between men and women
Saturday November 28th 2015, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

It was already thirty-five degrees out there and Richard needed to do a Trader Joe’s run, with me not up to it yet (but a whole lot better than yesterday) and at that shivery, he went looking for the fleece liner to his jacket that he only adds in a few days a year.

He found that the connector snap on one sleeve had come off at some unknown point, though, and so he came and showed me what to me was a random bit of fabric with an open snap on it. Usually it’s greek-to-me electronic parts in his hands but this was fabric, but it didn’t correspond to anything in any clothing of mine. I figured out fast that it was meant to connect the liner and I was wondering where, though, but when he saw me doing a head tilt, he started trying to describe why it was needed…he helpfully demonstrated the one sleeve in the other (and comically far out the wrist end so I wouldn’t miss it.) He explained that it’s hard to keep the inner sleeve from bunching up on your arm with the friction against the inside of the outer sleeve without its being tethered in place first with those snaps. He went on at some length.

While I tried harder and harder not to burst out laughing and then quite failed. With two layers of sweaters on, myself, because hey, it’s cold, I demonstrated pinching the cuff at the inner wrist with my fingertips for precisely that reason. Pinch to grab, insert. No bunching. (And also why 3/4 length sleeves going into long sleeves are such a hassle.)

This was entirely a novelty to my non-sweater-wearing, always-warm husband, and I guffawed: You’re (mumble mumble) years old and you’ve never learned to do that?!! Or that you need to??

He gave me this goofy grin back. Nope!

It’ll just be for a little while
Saturday November 28th 2015, 12:08 am
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

I really knew I needed to be seen when I was surprised to see the ileostomy bag. Forgot about that.

Richard drove.

The doctor: Nauseous?


Did you eat anything today? What?

A slice of Kringle, a little leftover chicken (I know, the day after Thanksgiving!) and…and… (struggling) …a persimmon.

I was definitely loopy. She had more questions.

Okay, touch my finger, then your nose, then my (moved) finger.

(Wait, my nose is over where?) Right side passed, left side, out to lunch.

Okay, said the doctor, let me see if there are enough people on today down in CT, otherwise you’ll have to go to the ER. Then come right back up here.

A thank you thank you thank you to the people who worked in that department today. They were able to get me in in five minutes. No bleeding but definitely a concussion. My balance is worse than usual and I was told to let my brain rest and heal before doing anything that might risk a second concussion in a short time, especially given my history. Listen to my body: if it doesn’t want to do it don’t do it or it will take far longer to heal.

I had to miss seeing Mel and Kris at a show and that was really hard, but there was just no way. Phyllis had to go off without me.

Feet up. Rest. Knit. Something simple for now.

And the little kids got fingerpuppets
Thursday November 26th 2015, 11:46 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

Aunt Mary Lynn is thankful for the leftover spiced pecans that Richard made.

Her daughter-in-law is thankful for the leftover spiced pecans that I made. (I’m not the only one who likes them that way.)

We’re thankful that everybody had such a great time at our tables of sixteen.

And… having forgotten to set a tap dripping last night, I’m thankful we didn’t have to call a plumber away from his family on Thanksgiving and that we only had to wait an hour to have the pipes thaw so that we could take showers before going to said celebration.

It was already 32F again when we got home. The mango (which we left covered) is at a happy 51F and the kitchen tap got set to dripping in time.

Me, I’m crossing my fingers: I was getting the first of the leftovers that were sent home with us out of the back of the car and didn’t see in the dark that the lift gate hadn’t lifted all the way and hit my head hard. Someone in my inbox wanted me to decipher an easy knitting pattern for them and I told her I’m afraid it’s going to have to wait till morning. I wasn’t knocked out–I have been four other times in my life that I can think of right now–but I instantly just wanted to go to bed.

Yeah, yeah, I’ll be fine. My brain can still write. It just hits my worry spot is all.

Wednesday November 25th 2015, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden,Recipes

Last night I made the spiced pecans and baked the chocolate tortes and bought the apple cider and was glad my part in Thanksgiving dinner was done.  All but the glaze on the tortes, no biggy.

Only, I hard-crack-staged the sugar syrup and those pecans were right at the edge of too caramelized. Crunchy, though, and I really liked them, but there was a bit of fussing while someone here was trying not to be unhappy but they just weren’t quite…

No problem, I can make more.

No I couldn’t. We didn’t have enough sugar. We always have sugar. (Can you make this with that grainy organic Trader Joe’s stuff? Better not experiment and mess any more with his family’s tradition.) You know what this means, don’t you? We had to go to the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving.

I toasted more pecans, but that was the easy part. We put it off and put it off and finally headed to Costco about an hour before they closed.

It was actually less crowded than a typical Saturday, to my great surprise–but even better, people were being mellow. Clearly anticipating the next day’s meal and company, and people seemed to be picking up that one last thing they’d forgotten.

There was one mom with a crying one year old and a toddler and she–the mom–absolutely melted when I pulled out a Peruvian finger puppet for each of her little ones, an orange lion with a furry mane and a vivid green octopus with a hat. Handknit as always.

So. The tortes got glazed. The pecan coating got done to the soft ball stage only, the way Richard likes it: because after I got the 1/2 c water/1 c sugar/1 tsp cinnamon boiling, there could be gadgetry involved and there is no better way to get a geek to take over than putting electronics into the process. He put a glass thermometer on the side and with the laser thermometer in his hand pointing constantly at the center of the pot he compared temps and kept up a happy running chatter and soon announced, There! It’s 238!


Okay, so I put in the vanilla (one teaspoon) and stood back as hot steam burst forth, and then–hey, you have to put in the *pecans immediately now, honey, not just admire them.

Right, right, and he dumped them in and stirred hard and it takes some doing at that point. Finally, he poured them onto the cookie sheet the pecans had been toasted on.

See? To softball stage and it comes out like this!

I grinned. He preferred his and I liked mine and Aunt Mary Lynn will be quite happy to have both. Trust me.

(Meantime, it’s 9:50 pm and 33F already and the mandarins are covered, too, tonight. It is COLD out there.)


*Fanny Farmer says two cups. I put in closer to four. Stretch that sweetness across as many nuts as possible as far as I’m concerned.

Long-term planning
Tuesday November 24th 2015, 11:44 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Garden,Life,Wildlife

You’re going to need a second strand these next few nights, said he over Monday’s dinner.

I had gotten home 9:45 Friday night, the tree was uncovered till then, and some of the upper leaves crisped a bit.  If I’d known things were going to take that long I’d have done it before I left, but too late now. And now we had the coldest weather of the year coming–he was right, and so I wound a second strand around the mango leaves, watched them light up as I plugged them in and wondered how long my supply of bulbs was going to last. I’d already had about eight burn out last year.

Some friends called this afternoon: could they drop by with some Christmas lights? The warm, inefficient, not made anymore kind. For my tree–did it need it?

Yes please!

They showed up with buckets and boxes and more boxes on top of that, taking three trips to carry them all in, with them happy to find a good use for them and me happy to have them. Some hadn’t even been opened. Yay!

And so we chatted a bit. They asked about the birdfeeder and I mentioned the resident hawk.

Who put on a show right on cue, flying overhead. Twice. But the best part was how excited they were that they got to see it.

It’s cold out there.

She mentioned she hopes she gets to taste one of those mangoes someday. Absolutely.

It’s quite warm tonight under those frost covers.

Doing it right takes time
Monday November 23rd 2015, 11:23 pm
Filed under: Knit,Wildlife

A panic and desperate escapes away from the bird feeder this afternoon.

Nope, that apparently didn’t work.

A little later… A panic and desperate escapes away from the birdfeeder, with one dove smacking its head on the window this time going the wrong way, then careening sideways to the elephant ear leaves and at last out of sight.

Nope, apparently that didn’t work.

The third go-round, probably the same dove smacked that window only this time there was the Cooper’s hawk hot on its tail, gray zooming after gray at a speed I didn’t know a dove could do, the immediate moment of capture hidden from me by a tree’s not-yet-fallen leaves. Now there’s a little adrenaline for you.

While I tinked back a bunch of purl two together through back loops and purl two (one of them a yarnover) together stitches, oh…so…slowly. Put this stitch back behind that one that got twisted in the tbl thing, fixed the dumb mistake, reworked what I’d undone and corrected the now-twisted yarnovers.

And then at last! Nailed it!

Tell me
Sunday November 22nd 2015, 11:28 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Got a chance to talk for just a few moments to someone new at church. I can’t imagine being an American living in Russia, but she did for most of the last decade and told me just a bit about it before we were interrupted. There are so many stories waiting for when we have more time. When we make the time.

Ever since, I’ve been keenly wanting to ask not just her but everybody, just everybody, all day, what their own stories are. How they got to be where they are now, what they’ve learned from, some one thing they’ve gone through that they think might help someone else to know about, something that mattered to them.

Anyone want to share anything, please, I want to hear.

Sunday November 22nd 2015, 12:20 am
Filed under: Friends,Life

A bunch of us carpooled to a church thing in Oakland this morning, the owner of the biggest car driving a half dozen of us and then bringing us back to where we’d all parked at the local ward.

As the other cars drove off, I had this pang of, Don’t leave till we’re sure we can, too!

Which didn’t make sense until we went to turn on the Prius.

Well crud.

Owner’s manual, do we tow to the dealer, hmm. AAA time.

I texted the couple we’d just been with who lived the closest; the husband dropped by and used his keys to open the church so we could use the bathroom while we waited.

I didn’t say it was three o’clock and I hadn’t had breakfast yet. I’d tried, but it takes a few hours for my system to make friends with food and this had been one of those mornings and I’d thought, eh, we’ll be home by 1:00, 1:30, that’ll be fine.

Try 3:30. Michelle, who was in San Jose when she found out, brought us Luna bars and kept us company just before the tow truck finally showed.

The twelve-volt battery, not the hybrid battery thank goodness, had to be replaced and he did that for us.

The whole thing was a hassle, in other words, but not a big deal and definitely a first-world problem. We could have asked the friend with the key for anything and he’d have done it. For that matter, it was the annual Scouting for Food day and a semi was being loaded up in that same parking lot and the Scouts all wanted to come jump our car for us, but that’s not what it needed. The cheerful offers were what we needed, though; they made a difference.

Friday November 20th 2015, 11:53 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Remember the Kermit?

A dirty off-white Tupperware lid for a cup yesterday. We Goodwilled all ours a very long time ago and never did have one that size. I found it in the back yard within a foot or two of where the Kermit ornament had shown up; it was framed by the tiniest sprigs of green grass starting to poke up out of the plain dirt after the rains, and as I leaned over to pick it up, a raven flew rather low directly over, turning its head to continue to watch me retrieving the treasure. Or just because I was watching it.

So I’ve been wondering, would it have been a tool to a corvid? To do what with? Or is it just bringing things here because this is where birds go?

In other words, a raven knows more than I do, apparently. Pretty funny, actually. I wonder what I’ll find next.

So it WAS for you after all!
Thursday November 19th 2015, 11:49 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

Last time I was at Purlescence I asked Kaye what was new and she showed me a suri alpaca/silk blend that looked like Kidsilk Haze, only softer. Cumulus by FyberSpates. Very nice stuff, and I love a good alpaca.

I picked out a vivid turquoise blue, telling her, Someone needs this color. I don’t know who, but it’s speaking to me: someone needs this.

That skein was the cowl I knit up during my eye doctor appointment last week. I brought it to knit night tonight to show off to Kaye (while wondering if I would find out where it was meant to go).

Cari came in and I headed over next to her to chat awhile and catch up.

She saw the cowl and exclaimed over the color as I handed it to her. I didn’t tell her, but I’d actually thought of her at first sight of the yarn but had dismissed the idea because I just didn’t think it was her color and then I’d totally forgotten about it .

But oh, it was. She held it against her neck (I didn’t know she’d been looking for something that wasn’t itchy.) Her eyes closed a moment in ooh…aah.

And then she tried to give it back to me.

Nothing doing.

“Nuh UH!” as she tried again.

An impish grin from me with a pleading, “Please?”

She crowed in delight, took off her scarf, put the cowl on and kept it there. She asked me, Where did you…? and then went over to grab a bunch more skeins to match.

And I confessed to her that that time I’d given her a cowl before? I’d made her one, but I’d hedged my bets on the color and had grabbed a second from my stash at the last second and she’d picked the second one and it wasn’t particularly soft and it had bugged me that I hadn’t given her a soft one. Now at last I had.

A few minutes later, I happened to pick up a Dream In Color skein, loved the color, and put it back. “I don’t need any more yarn.”

Next thing you know she was buying it. She was already knitting a hat in that exact same yarn, she just hadn’t brought that project tonight.

Alright, that removes temptation quite nicely, thanks, thought I as they rang her up.

And you know what happened next. My purse snaps rather than zippers shut. Yes she did. “Fair’s fair!”

Well, if you can’t have lobster…
Wednesday November 18th 2015, 11:25 pm
Filed under: Food,Recipes

An old New England dish for cold nights: chopped onions and peeled chopped tart apples, sautéed awhile with some good sausage (fat drained). Take off the heat, pour a little maple syrup over it–grade B if you can find it has more flavor than A–and that’s it.

Except that the sausage had a bit too much sage to it. It needed…something. Hmm. I have tiny frozen cubes from Trader Joe’s that are a teaspoon each of pureed basil and I let one melt into the pot, trying not to let it actually cook since that can make basil bitter.

I had no idea how it would come out–basil and Granny Smiths and maple syrup? But just a bit, and it totally made the dish and I am definitely doing that again. Writing here to remember.

And then the other discovery: Trader Joe’s small chèvre cheese logs rolled in blueberries and vanilla. I put a slice on one of their crunchy little Triple Ginger Snap cookies on impulse rather than a cracker.






WOW that was good.

Lots of places sell such a goat cheese in various sizes; Trader Joe’s is just the right width for those small snaps with bits of candied ginger in them.

Thanksgiving table here we come. Definitely earned its spot.

A little progress
Tuesday November 17th 2015, 11:25 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

Knit my way past a roadblock in the pattern again after spending way too long looking at three different potential versions on the screen of where to go from here. Just. Go. Do. It. You can always rip back–one of the great gifts of knitting: there are no permanent mistakes unless you let them be.

I love how it’s coming out.

Meantime, one little boy at the end of the day Saturday who needed to show off his Halloween costume. You can be a super SUPER Ninja if you’re up high on your daddy’s shoulders.

A tired super super Ninja. Hudson had had a very energetic, busy day.

How Solar Power Makes You Fat
Tuesday November 17th 2015, 12:18 am
Filed under: Family,Food

1. The house was freezing. Two sweaters and wool knee socks and a space heater just weren’t doing it for me.

2. Electric power is free, gas is not.

3. The furnace is gas.

4. The oven is electric.

So whaddya think I was gonna do?

And that’s why a cherry almond cake just came out of the oven, the Fannie Farmer almond cake recipe made with Milk Pail‘s fresh almond paste and an added ~half teaspoon of almond extract, pour over a layer of tart cherries in a springform pan and bake. Done.

And then have to deal with the hubby who doesn’t want to wait for it to cool–come to think of it, neither do I.