Home 40 min ago
Monday May 16th 2016, 11:11 pm
Filed under: Family

So glad I went. So tired. Later time zone. As soon as that washer stops spinning I’m going to b

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessings…
Thursday May 12th 2016, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Family

Airfare for a week away being what it is, it’s just me going.

Two funerals were scheduled for my uncle, who had been a three-term Senator: one in the Washington, DC area (I almost, almost… But it just cost too much. JetBlue wanted $1087 one way, Southwest, about $400 per) and one in Salt Lake City.

Here is the text of a lovely talk given in Virginia.

As for the funeral in Salt Lake, that one I get to go to. If you don’t hear from me for a few days here, no worries; I’ll be surrounded by family and making memories for life.

San Jose’s falcon and tiercel
Wednesday May 11th 2016, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Wait, wait, where did all the white fluff go?

And then his sister hops up on the low ledge to join him at about the 3:00 mark. You can really see the size difference: female peregrines grow to about a third larger than their brothers. When she spreads her wings, there’s that last bit of baby fluff showing.

But her brother took a flying leap today to the upper ledge and got to see the world below that part of city hall for the first time. The camera operator noted in an email that he took a good long look before running down the ledge and jumping back down into the nest box. Home sweet home.

For just a bit longer.

Scrub jay shades of blue
Tuesday May 10th 2016, 10:59 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Spinning

I’ve loved these three shades of blue together ever since that surprise box arrived from Melinda at Tess Designer Yarns. Her Merino Lace is exceptionally soft. I had been waiting for them to tell me what they wanted to be, and today suddenly there was no other yarn that would do.

I opened the hanks and put them on the back of the chair one at a time and wound up those long-awaited three balls.

They were single ply and very fine and maybe too fragile for carrying around and pulling the project in and out of my purse with that many strands tangling.

The wheel.

Dark blue with the middle blue. The middle blue with the light blue. Ply those together, all the spinning done loosely so as not to interfere with the hand of that fabulous merino–we would have four strands not three, but also one single sturdier ball to carry around and it would definitely knit up fast. Speed is good right now.

And then I worked at felting the resulting yarn a bit to melt the strands together. Loved loved loved how it came out.

But I wanted to knit it NOW and it was wet.

Well hey…there was enough middle blue left for one bobbin. So. Middle with light till middle runs out, dark with light till the light runs out, then together. Wind into a ball straight from the wheel do not pass go do not collect water–I can do that part later.

Just a bit of the dark blue left–one bobbin’s worth, put with–well, yeah, that would be cool if I…

Just let me finish this project I started out of that second go-round.

Straw into golden
Monday May 09th 2016, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Knit,Spinning

Finished this one up, done in my old Rabbit Tracks pattern, and thought I’d be diving right into the next.

Instead I found myself back at the wheel mixing shades of cashmere. That light brown cobweb weight has been in my stash for years and I’ve used a whole lot of it, and yet, loaves and fishes, there always seems to be more.

(At $10/lb I bought the vendor out, at least twenty pounds. She’d gotten a shipment with a moth fluttering out and it was cheaper to hand it to me at her cost than to ship it back to China. Hey, for cashmere? I can kill moths. Turns out I’ve never seen any sign of a single one.)

So yeah. I plied it with some ecru 70/30 cashmere/merino from, again, Colourmart. My drive band started stretching out midway so that it wasn’t quite propelling the wheel the same and adjustments were needed; makes the yarn artsy, right?

Gloriously soft, and that’s the part that matters.

Happy Mother’s Day
Sunday May 08th 2016, 9:43 pm
Filed under: Family

Phone calls, flowers, a book I can’t wait to dive into, homemade cranberry cake, and a large photo of the grandkids playing.

Life is sweet.

For days of Frost
Saturday May 07th 2016, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Whose wools these are I think I know

Her house is a journey away, and so

She will not see me stopping here

While watching my needles fill, slow

The wools are lovely, dark and deep

I have promises to myself to keep

I have miles to knit of woolly sheep

Miles to knit before I sleep

A little tire-d
Friday May 06th 2016, 11:28 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Spinning

My grandparents built their dream home long ago and Uncle Bob spent his teenagerhood in it.

But then Grampa got elected to the Senate and they sold that house and rented a basement apartment for their Utah address–two apartments, the other in DC where there was a postwar boom and housing shortage, were enough to have to pay for.

And so another couple lived out their lives in my grandparents’ lovely place with the stone front and the floor-to-ceiling windows across the long living room at the back, very Californian and with a beautiful view across the valley.

And then that house came on the market again at long last. Uncle Bob snatched it up. But he too had to have a DC spot when he won his father’s old Senate seat, and so my aunt and uncle split their time between the two homes. After the next-door neighbor dropped a large tree on their Salt Lake City roof…the Basement Troll tradition began.

Our youngest was one of several nieces and nephews over the years whom they took in to help them keep tabs on the place. But mostly it was to look out for the kids more than the house–it’s hard to get started without a little help.

So many stories. So much generosity. So much more than I could ever describe. My cousin with $61,000 in medical bills (and that was with insurance) after her baby girl died while waiting on the heart transplant list, leaving her healthy twin a singleton. Uncle Bob could do something about the money part of it so he quietly did.

Here, meantime, the day was basically this (after a quick trip to Purlescence to replace my broken wheel band, thank you Sherry, this is the last of your purple cashmere) and this. I think I got very gently rear-ended in the rain, too, but when I pulled over the person drove off and on that ten-year-0ld bumper, well, what’s one more scratch, right?

I think the screw in the tire came later.

A little normal life. It’s a good thing, really. We thanked the AAA guy and he seemed less stress when he left then when he’d arrived, and that felt good.


Uncle Bob
Thursday May 05th 2016, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Politics

Some of the best notes of the day:

Here–wait, nope, what lives on Facebook wants to stay on Facebook. Scott Howell recounting a conversation to the Utah Debate Commission. Let me summarize.

When Uncle Bob got primaried by the Tea Party, he went home that night feeling very low. Went into his study (and I can just picture him in that big brown leather chair there) and tried to fathom what had just happened.

The phone rang.

He wasn’t going to answer it. And yet, something about it… He picked up the phone rather in spite of himself.

“This is Barack…” Our President told him how sorry he was to hear about the election and said he wanted to thank him for his service to his state and his country, for his willingness to reach across the aisle to listen and to work with his colleagues. He left my uncle feeling that he had been the right person in the right place at the right time when it had mattered.

That phone call made such a difference to Uncle Bob.

And then there was this release.

One more thing: my cousin Jim added that when President Obama found out that Uncle Bob’s cancer had metastasized, he sent him a handwritten note. Personal, comforting, just a lovely thing to do, because he wanted to reach out to his old friend. Again.

Flying home
Wednesday May 04th 2016, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Life,Wildlife

Today just felt like the day.

It was also the day I decided to test this mobility thing after a month of staying away from driving. I went to the dry cleaners. I dropped off a return at the UPS store. I went home and checked my messages, rested, ran another errand, went home and checked my messages.

Picked up Richard and asked him to drive now; sure, no problem.

He found himself turning right on a whim and we went out for ice cream because the day just needed something frivolous.  Came home and the first thing I wanted to do was check for messages.

When we walked in the door together there was a beautiful dove on its back on the patio, its chest glowing peach in the fading sun. It surprised me. Its fragile legs were red, its splayed feathers a riot of white and black.

Its closed eyelids a bright light blue.

All this color, not such a drab little bird after all; who knew? But what a way to see it so vibrantly. It must have hit that window hard.

There was no sign of the hawk. And a Cooper’s won’t come back for something it didn’t kill–it is not a scavenger.

I was not about to invite the ravens around.

Richard called his dad to catch up a bit, and in the course of the conversation I asked DadH how long it takes if I… I…don’t want to dig in the spot in a year or two and get totally grossed out. I knew he’s been an avid gardener.

Six months, a year at most, he encouraged me.

And while we were talking that message came in.

I knew…

I went outside. I picked up the shovel. I immediately hit rocks. Lots of rocks. The previous owner had made a pathway of them and many many years later they went down pretty far and maybe they always had.

I wanted to see how far. I didn’t care. There was sunlight and there was room and I’d long wanted that spot and I wanted to make it work and if I had to dig under every stone by hand to pull it out I was going to do it, and I did it. There was a large root from the tree cut down over a year ago; I worked around it. I spent about forty-five minutes working those stubborn embedded determined hard gray planet-bones out of there and putting them aside to where, later, they would help hold the water in place for me and work with me.

It all looked like the scattered weeds and grass and dirt on the right before I started.

Yes I’m still supposed to take it easy. But sometimes, sometimes, hard physical productive work that anticipates the bounty of the future is exactly what life requires of us.

And then when I finally had that small gash in the earth wide enough (about 40″) and deep enough and soft enough to add soil to and plant my pea seedlings in, then, at last, it felt it was time to go to work on that dove’s final resting place. I took a few steps to the left and behind the mango tree. Its roots wouldn’t be that far over yet (and oh good, they weren’t) but eventually the little bird could offer it sustenance.

Here, moss grew on the smooth surface here and there.

The spade slid right in to its full depth. Such a different experience.

And again. Then I put it down, walked back to the patio, and unlike my usual careful measures picked the dead dove up in my bare hands to take it to its new place.

It was so beautiful. It was so soft. I was sorry it was gone but grateful to it for how it would feed my fruit. Then for all that I’d dug the dove was so long that I wondered if it would fit in there gracefully and with a pang I wanted its spot to do it honor.

Somehow the space was wide enough after all. I put it in deep and packed the soil back around it. I put a bit of the moss back on the top and watered the spot to settle it all in. Then over to the peas.

The message. My uncle, my love of an uncle, the one who invited us to stay at his house any time we were in town, the kindest man you could ever hope to meet, quietly let go of his pancreatic cancer and the stroke that had made his last few days all the harder and with his family around him, slipped away this evening to where he waits to embrace us all. As he always has.

The Washington Post put the story on their front page within an hour. Maybe they’ll correct the number of grandkids by morning.

The Salt Lake Tribune’s, here.

Net working
Tuesday May 03rd 2016, 11:11 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit,Spinning,Wildlife

An Indian Free peach, the one peach tree I’ve got covered in birdnetting. Never used the stuff before other than in pre-netted cages and tents. The new branches, of course, start tiny and grow right through the stuff or curve around in a balled-up wad of leaves while trying to, making for a weird shaping to come–and harvest isn’t till September. Any voices of experience, feel free to chime in here because I’m only pretending I’m knowing what I’m doing.

The Fuji is far too big to cover. I just do my plastic-clamshell thing to fruit as high up as I can reach and call it good.

There was a small squirrel sitting on the fence today eating one of those very unripe apples. He flicked aside the first of the peel, but other than that he ate and ate till that entire small fruit was gone. Then he took an Olympian leap to nearly the top of the tree for another.

This is a far cry from that apple tree’s early days where the squirrels would pick one take one bite ick no toss pick bite repeat till they’d stripped the entire thing in a day. I guess the long drought has impressed on them that food is not something you ruin. This is the first year of plenty in their lifetimes.

Meantime, I hanked up eight cones of yarn today. Scoured two but reluctantly decided to wait on the others till I had more space for them to dry in, but I got the chore part done. I wound up three that had already been scoured.

That, and I knitted.

Because last night I was at the wheel and the drive band broke. Really broke. Well that one’s done. I asked Richard, “Do we have any string in this house…?”

Unscoured tightly twisted merino? You bet I considered it, but no. No spinning today. And so I put my Kromski niddy-noddy (nope, not seeing it on their site but trust me, it’s a gorgeous piece of wood and well engineered) to good use and felt a great sense of accomplishment.

Monday May 02nd 2016, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Garden

My hand brushed against a leaf and something hard hit it.

So I hit back. On the leaf.

That hidden snail shell hit the ground with a hard enough bounce to it for me to easily hear. Was that?! Oh absolutely. Ewww. (Crunch.)

And so I went down the line of leaves at the edge of the raised bed (of which there are many more than in this picture, but it does at least show some of the damage they’ve  done) hitting the tops hanging over the lawn, knowing that in late afternoon they’d all still be on the undersides. I didn’t have to touch them and I didn’t have to poison them. (The main slug and snail bait is supposed to be animal friendly but it has been found not to be.)

I have an ancient pair of Birkenstock clogs that never enter the house these days but stop at the back door–so no worries about tracking in the slime.

This is for the peaches they ate right inside their clamshells. A satisfying, awful crunch. (Leaves swishing through air sound again.) Crunch. (Slap and swish.) Crunch. Again and again and again. Dozens of snails became fertilizer doing my yard favors rather than being this invasive species wreaking so much destruction. They’d devoured every single one of my Sharlyn melon seedlings that I’d so carefully babied.

I didn’t get them all but I got so many that it’ll be far easier to search through for the remainders without fear of the slimy horrible hordes dropping on me.

It was that simple. And it took me 29 years here to figure it out.

Not in the plans
Sunday May 01st 2016, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Life

One of my friends was asking on FB how on earth it could be that someone (read, who had a lot of money to leave behind and who hadn’t been feeling well, i.e., Prince) could possibly not have planned out and specified what he wanted done with it all once he was gone.

And my answer to that is that he was human just like everybody else: subconsciously afraid that, where there’s a will there’s away.