Feb 14th
Sunday February 14th 2016, 11:36 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Knit,Life

“I don’t have anything to write about.”

He considered that a moment, and then his face quite brightened at the morning’s memory: “You could write about the chocolate!”

Alright, then, and this was his Happy Valentine’s Day from me: Potomac Chocolate of Woodbridge, VA has only gotten better as its owner has gotten more experience–and that’s saying something. He’s added truffles to his cacao-and-sugar-only bars and they are the best I have ever tasted.

The best thing my sweetie got me was that he tested my two-year-old scooter batteries yesterday, found them dead dead dead beyond redemption (I didn’t use them for Stitches last year–I had the flu), made the trek to San Jose with me to the batteries place and got me set up with a new pair. The salesman laughed when I said what I really needed to do was ask the neighborhood kids to joyride the thing once a week or so to keep them rechargeable, since it’s the letting them just sit there that wears them down. But when I really need the scooter I really need the scooter.

Go Speed Racer–Stitches West here we come!

(Edited Monday to add a link to those chocolates. The truffles seem to be sold out–gee, can’t imagine why.)

Throwing dirt
Saturday February 13th 2016, 11:48 pm
Filed under: History,Politics,Wildlife

Those leaves at upper center aren’t in front of the fence: they’re under it. That’s a skunk-size hole. I can stop feeling guilty now for cinnamoning the root-eaters over to the neighbors’ garden. Gophers beware. (Besides, how often do you get to cheer on a skunk?)

Meantime, wow, what a news day. My condolences to Justice Scalia’s family and friends.

I can talk about money being the megaphone rather than the actual speech another day.

So. About that Republican debate tonight where Rafael Eduardo Cruz was talking about his dad’s humble underwear and Trump was yelling LIAR! at Jeb when he wasn’t yelling it louder at Cruz and he almost, almost threw in the pants on fire part and you just knew he wanted to and Rubio got into a shouting match with Ted and Jeb and back to Trump… Cruz accusing Rubio of saying things in Spanish on Univision and Rubio shooting back, “You don’t speak Spanish!”

Dig a little deeper, guys, keep going–as Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian put it, Some Jerry Springer guests have more decorum, this is great fun to watch!

Still learning
Friday February 12th 2016, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

Went out this morning armed with cinnamon sticks and out again this evening to check again.

No new gopher holes either time. No new signs.

But something did, over the course of the day, munch most of the petals off the two peaches that had started blooming. Because, y’know, Nature vs. nurture.

Do the dosey do
Thursday February 11th 2016, 11:46 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden,Wildlife

Two new gopher holes by the Indian Free peach tree, which is along the same fence line but at the far end of it from the first attack. I can’t lose that one, I just can’t. But my Comice pear, whose trunk is now ringed by lots of little cinnamon sticks,  seems to be being left alone now.

So the peach got a bunch, too.

I just ordered two more pounds from nuts.com: the cassia type, cheaper and more pungent and exactly what I want. I imagine I’ll have to re-dose after next week’s rain.

And I finally at long last did something I’d been thinking about trying–seeing if swapping out the white bulbs on the warming Christmas lights on the mango would make the night less bright. The answer is, and how!

I didn’t have enough opaque incandescent blue bulbs in the right C9 size to raid from various old strings so I had to finish off with green ones. But oh does it make a difference.

I heard something out there when I went to snap this picture that puzzled me. It stopped when I approached the tree. It started up again when I was almost inside. Walked back towards the tree, and it stopped, but I don’t think it was even in my yard: a rhythmic sound that I finally figured out would be if a critter was trying to dig under, say, a wood plank that was hitting another wood plank. It seemed to come from the other side of the fence.

Skunks eat mice and rats. So that means they’d eat gophers too, right? I hope?

I left the gate open so it wouldn’t have any trouble getting over there. That done, I’m definitely not going back out there in the dark, not tonight.

Round two
Wednesday February 10th 2016, 11:31 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

More gopher holes yesterday. A lot more, same area but further out from the pear tree, none of them very big of an opening.

Alright then: I found the Costco bottle of cinnamon sticks and stuck one into the opening to each hole (should have thought of that sooner.) Each almost entirely filled the space. Then where the edge of the house comes closest to the fence I drew a line of ground cinnamon straight across to make a scent fence. The little underground beavers have to come up to sniff the air sometime.

Today I found that no stick had been touched. There were just a couple new holes, placed as if the gopher had been trying to avoid what I’d done. I stuck cinnamon sticks in them, too, again half in the ground, half out, little flags all around marking my territory. It was welcome to go right back where it came from–out of here!

Meantime, my plum tree, my Santa Rosa plum my kids planted me as a surprise Mother’s Day gift about eight years ago–the last two years it looked increasingly unwell and I thought for sure last summer we were losing it. Of what I don’t know and I could only Google, but when I described it to a friend who has the same variety she said her tree was like that now, too.

I treated it like a peach, giving it an organic-label-friendly dormant copper-spray treatment a month ago, at least on the main part of the trunk and some of the branches before I ran out, trying to do something.

Yesterday it showed only gray trunk and limbs and I was still wondering if that’s all it would ever be again.

Today it had small bursts of green everywhere, some single, some in clusters. All. Over. It felt very, very good.

And I have more cinnamon sticks for this end of the yard, too, if I need them.

Food for thought
Tuesday February 09th 2016, 11:39 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Garden,Life

It was almost time to go pick up Richard when I felt like walking around the yard while there was still some light out, just to enjoy.

Our lemon tree is having the biggest and juiciest crop it’s had in years (thank you, rain!) and I found myself reaching in past a few thorns for a larger, deeper-colored one. The bit of tangerine in the tree’s parentage deepens the flavor the longer they ripen.

Coming back inside, I meant to put it down in the kitchen but somehow I walked on past and it stayed in my hand.

I was almost to the door. I stopped a moment, looked at the thing, and wondered if today somehow I was supposed to gift someone with, of all things, a lemon. A fresh-picked lemon, but still, it wasn’t much, it certainly wasn’t a hand knit, but hey, they’re fun and they smell wonderful and so out the door we go, sure, I’m curious to see if anything comes of this, but whatever.

I tucked it in a cupholder next to the driver’s side.

Richard didn’t get my text that I’d arrived and so I ended up waiting ten minutes before finally calling and going, yo….

And during that time one of his co-workers on his way to his car walked past where I’d parked and waved hi.

I turned the car back on a moment so I could roll the window down and asked how his day had gone.

Oh! He threw up his hands and laughed with a wince. Busy! SO busy! But he looked like he really didn’t want to be asked any questions about details, so okay, and I found myself reaching for that silly lemon. I described having just picked it and on a whim having brought it with me; would he like it?

That was the–comic relief isn’t the word–the break from it all, something so unexpected, and he said, “Sure!” in delight. He turned it over in his hands a moment, taking it in, and asked, “A Meyer?”

“A Meyer lemon, yes.”

He told me they’d had a tree, but, in embarrassment, “I killed it.” I told him that in that big week-long freeze we had about 15 years ago we thought ours was gone, too, but it had slowly come back and now it’s fine.

I don’t know what he’ll do with just one lemon, but I saw what that one homegrown lemon in that moment could do for him. It was just the thing.

Tuesday February 09th 2016, 12:00 am
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

I walked around the yard this evening, taking in the slow awakening that makes the whole winter thing worth it.

My Tropic Snow peach. As I was trying to get just the right angle with my phone, a hummingbird dashed right in front of me and dove into the flower at the top branch back there, laughing and dancing away when I got over my startle and tried to get it into the next shot.

The August Pride peach was all small green buds yesterday.

And way over here… ohmygoodness, clear signs of a gopher attack (am I right?) on the pear tree’s roots with quite a scoop of ground dug out near the trunk on one side and some gone from the other side, too. I dumped a load of moist topsoil on top, tamped it down again and again with my shoe, knowing the animal had to have retreated far into its burrow at my coming, and then I put a lot of cinnamon over the top. I know squirrels hate the smell and gophers are rodents too so that should help, right?

I have a few gopher plants standing guard halfway across the yard from there, volunteers and strays of last year, but they’re biennials so I don’t have any seeds yet to spread the love to where I need it–now those would be roots those critters would avoid. I was planning on doing so for my cherry trees at the far end of the yard because they’re prime targets. I didn’t know pear trees were. Maybe the thing just went for what it could reach first after digging under the fence. Maybe it dug under the fence to get away after the neighbors cut a tree down.

Looks like I’m going to have to go find me some more gopher plants somewhere, quick. 

Superb Owl 50
Sunday February 07th 2016, 11:44 pm
Filed under: Food,Knit,Life

I made a quick trip to the grocery store Saturday night. Oh my.

Only later did it hit me that that Trader Joe’s was in walking distance of a train station, that riders can transfer to the light rail that goes straight to Levi’s Stadium and that maybe that figured in…

Finger foods, desserts, hors d’ouvres, any kind of party food, things especially that didn’t need to be cooked–whole shelves and freezer spaces were picked utterly clean. It was amazing.

One woman with a very full cart told me she’d had to venture out into the crowds and traffic and she was making sure she wouldn’t have to again for awhile.

The police sent out a message today telling us not to go on the expressway and that it was closed past X for security reasons and really, you might just want to stay as far the heck away as you could, y’know?

Stitches West is at the Santa Clara Convention Center the second weekend from now and having missed it last year for the flu, I cannot WAIT to finally go again.

The Levi’s Stadium was built a few years ago just down the street (over the Convention Center’s objections) and the biggest parking lot serves both.

So, um, they don’t need to use that stadium for awhile now that football’s over, right?

There be dragons
Sunday February 07th 2016, 12:01 am
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life,Mango tree

She’s recovering from surgery after breaking a hip but you can’t keep a good woman down–she was going to be ninety and by golly we were going to have a celebration. I think she told the doctor he had to okay it and well, hey, how could he not, then?

So celebrate we did. Ninety and a day. It was quite the party. Old friends came from Oregon for it, her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren came in from everywhere all over. The grandkids blew up balloons one by one to create this dragon that stretched far around overhead while the little greats gleefully popped as many as they could get their hands on. Hey, guys! (as one of the young parents told me afterwards.) Not all of them!

Balloons and tape (and a little hanging wire) can become this?! Creativity is a magical thing.

One of the grandchildren told me, I know your daughter! She was in grad school in Ann Arbor when we were!

And in the slide show there was a photo of Jean and her husband with Conway and Elaine that got me right there. It took me by surprise how fiercely I missed those three, mixed with my gratitude that we still have Jean.

I asked one of her sons if he remembered them and he said why yes of course. I told him their granddaughter had grown up and gone off to college and met and married my son and they had three children now.

That just made his day. Small world.

Jean grew up in Hawaii and misses the fresh-picked mangoes of her youth; she’s an avid gardener and has tried several times to grow them here but always lost the trees to the cold. She’s content now to cheer me on and I love that it matters to her how mine does.

I just figure she can’t go anywhere till I’ve finally had a chance to offer her one.

Okay, honeybees, your turn
Friday February 05th 2016, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Garden

The first peach tree officially pronounces it Spring.


Another knitter to knit with means more gets knit
Wednesday February 03rd 2016, 11:49 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

You know how to get a lagging project almost finished? Have Holly come over. That black yarn in my purse didn’t stand a chance.

I can’t begin to tell you how delighted I am that she’s finally moved back not only to the States but to the Bay Area, even if at the other end of it from me–it’s doable. As proven.

And so we spent the afternoon here knitting and catching up on each other and baking lunch (because we could!) and having a grand time. I sent her off with lemons we picked together from the tree and she sent me off with a cone of baby alpaca from South America. Hardly a fair trade. But great fun.

How a major corporation kills its business by trying to avoid costs
Tuesday February 02nd 2016, 11:24 pm
Filed under: Life,Non-Knitting

So there it is

.  Thank you Davies Appliance. We made lemon sponge cake to try it out: even and perfect. But they have to come back tomorrow to rewire the circuit breaker so that cleaning both ovens at once (not that we intend to do that) doesn’t cause problems. They also had to cut the lower cabinet drawer to fit it in and–it didn’t come cheap but they do it right.

The installer looked at the dishwasher a moment for us and said whoever had brought it had bashed in the top, which had sprung back, but it was why we’d never been able to pull out the third rack at the top. It wasn’t that we’d been doing anything wrong.

I knew exactly where the sales receipt for it should be (and the one for the oven now is). It wasn’t there. Well no real problem, I went online to my account–where Sears had no record whatsoever that we’d bought that dishwasher from them. Huh. I knew they didn’t do extended warranties, but making it so they don’t have to be hassled over the original manufacturer’s one either? That’s pretty…broken, however it happened. I tried their chat. Nope, no record. He recommended calling the store.

We only have two months left on that warranty. The guy at the store on the phone told me that for him to mail me a new copy meant its having to go through headquarters and there was no knowing how long it would take. He said that part again for emphasis–the implication being, they’ll string it out till your warranty’s over. It doesn’t matter to them.

There was nothing for it but to go there, twenty-one miles each way across Bay Area traffic, for a new copy of the receipt in person. Which he was glad to give me. They’ve got a good guy working there who does right by his customers.

It wasn’t till I got home that I found that nowhere on those two pages that printed out does it say the actual word SEARS. Wow. If I have to drive back down there again to get an amended copy, I do, but, hopefully this will do. But wow. I will never, ever buy a major appliance from them again. Which is a shame, because the people who work the floors that I’ve encountered have all been people whose jobs I want to support.

Glad I bought the oven from the local family-owned-since-1935 company.

(Afterthought: the sales person who said Sears charges $100 less if you order online rather than in the store? Can you just imagine if I’d done that?)

We’ll see tomorrow
Tuesday February 02nd 2016, 12:15 am
Filed under: Life,Politics

I’ve never watched the Iowa caucus results like this before. It’s past two am their time and they’re still counting!

Clinton, Bernie, O’Malley: 695, 693, and 8 SDEs, ie State Delegate Equivalents, and yes, I had to go look up how the caucuses are done in the two parties in Iowa and it is a strange system and also one that denies any sense of privacy in one’s voting.

Clinton hits 696… Wait, Sanders is at 692 now? Did it go down? Can it go down? Did I see it wrong a moment there or did it really do that? Huh.

Meantime, the phone rang this evening. The oven comes tomorrow morning.