It tried so hard
Thursday February 28th 2019, 11:17 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Okay, this is a weird one. I have never, ever seen them do this before. My standing up to photograph it in the act scared it away, but, this is one of the frost covers for my tangerine trees. A squirrel was bracing against it and dragging it by the teeth with great, bulldogged determination and had gotten five or six feet along, with plans one assumes to pull it up to the top of the fence and hoist it into the heights of the taller trees across the fence at the neighbors’.

Man were its babies ever going to have the best and biggest nest! With a living room, a dining room, eleven bedrooms and a ten-walnut garage!

I’m not sure if I was a killjoy or a profound relief to it by interrupting. It didn’t try again.

Thursday February 28th 2019, 12:07 am
Filed under: Garden

I knitted today, and it was notably better than any time since that elbow break at Christmas. Hope is firmly in sight.

A question for all the experienced gardeners out there: if you have a squash plant germinate three weeks after the others, does that mean the rest of the arc of its growth and production over time will be less than theirs? Or just that its conditions for coming up weren’t right until they were?

From Dad with love
Tuesday February 26th 2019, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family

Remember those giant amaryllis bulbs from my dad that the TSA thought were bombs in my carry-on?

We’ve got two flowers open on top with two to go and four open on bottom on this one.

You just can’t get ahead of them
Monday February 25th 2019, 11:44 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,Life,LYS

So I was talking to Ron and Theresa of the Buffalo Wool Co Saturday morning at Stitches and after asking if they liked it dark and getting an emphatic YES! offered them a bite of homemade chocolate; I’d brought a bar from the second-to-last batch that had been made from some particularly good nibs from Chocolate Alchemy.

I picked up some of their buffalo/silk yarn, telling them that that in teal was my happy place: ten years ago when I was so sick, waiting for a hospital room to open up at Stanford, the good people at Purlescence had filled a large basket with cards and get-wells. There were hand knit gloves and a hat, oranges from Jasmin’s tree, all kinds of good stuff.

Including two skeins of their buffalo yarn from the owners of that shop. The most expensive yarn they sold in a color I love.

I had to get better. I couldn’t let everybody down. I had to do their generosity justice.

For two years afterwards I wondered what could possibly be a good enough use of that yarn, while feeling I was letting them down by letting it just sit there.

Till the day one of the owners had her own medical scare and her survival was no sure thing. She pulled through, just like I did, but there was no question: those two skeins turned into a shawl and came right back to her and that was absolutely what they were meant to be.

Ten years later, Purlescence is closed and I bought more from Ron and Theresa directly.

I told one of their customers who was looking at their gloves that I had rummaged through my cavernous purse in the dark in Alaska and come up with one of their gloves (these) and one fingerless glove to scrape a deep layer of ice off the windshield with. One hand was just dying, the other–amazingly fine. It could do this for as long as I needed to, no rush. And I have Raynaud’s.

I came by their booth again later, when the crowds had thinned, and told them that now that my husband has worn their socks nothing else lives up to them; I couldn’t buy me their yarn and not him more socks, so… And while I was at it I handed Ron more of that chocolate for the both of them, saying, “We don’t have the tempering perfect yet but we’re learning with each new project. It’s a little like knitting that way.”

Ron’s appreciative response, “It’s got a good snap to it.”

And then he told me to my great surprise that he used to work as a chocolatier.

No wonder I hadn’t had to explain to him what a melanger was!

I gave him the rest of that chocolate for the both of them. Stitches was almost over for me and there was no point in not sharing it with people I knew would enjoy it. (Margo Lynn’s allergic.)

He refused to ring up the socks and stuffed them in my basket.

!!!… I protested, partly at myself, because I should have known better to wait till after…!

He basically said just try to stop me.


Goodbye with love to my Uncle Wally, who passed away quietly with his local children by his side Saturday at 95.

Welcome to this beautiful brand-new world with love to Annabeth Joan, born to my niece Maddy and her husband Devin this morning.

Bloom fast, it’s heavy rain and flash floods again the next few days
Sunday February 24th 2019, 11:24 pm
Filed under: Garden

So this happened while I was at Stitches. My August Pride peach.

More on Stitches later.

Happy Birthday!
Saturday February 23rd 2019, 9:35 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

I have a mild case of face blindness and I only see them a few seconds a year. And kids change so much.

At Friday’s Stitches, there was some random mom and her young son, five, maybe even six years old, who was clearly trying to be on his best behavior but also was clearly bored with this whole yarn-everything-everywhere-ness.

So I did what I do and coming up from behind, caught her attention and offered her a finger puppet for her kiddo to help make wool his happy place, too, for a distraction. He was still young enough for these.

Caught off guard, she turned around to me and laughed in sudden delight and proclaimed, “He’s got a collection from you!”

My box is starting to get a bit low. I’ll need to order more soon.

This time she got me
Friday February 22nd 2019, 10:06 pm
Filed under: Friends

I mentioned my friend Afton getting the melanger.

Margo Lynn, whom she and I have known for twenty years plus, is the moderator of the online knitting group who made it all happen: she quietly suspended Afton for half a day without telling her, told everybody what our plan was and invited them to chip in a dollar or two if they so desired–and then deleted her note from the archives to make sure Afton wouldn’t see it and added her back in. Sneaky.

Margo Lynn collected the funds; I ordered the machine, nibs, book, and molds.

She lives in Connecticut. I live in California.

Today was the first day of Stitches West, and I was talking to some old friends near the entrance after lunch. Another woman walked in to my left and stopped.

And stayed stopped, so I wondered if we were in her way or if I was supposed to be recognizing her; she looked somewhat familiar, but after probably twenty-five years of going, everybody pretty much does, right?

She was grinning, and that grin was getting bigger. Then she held out her name badge because I wasn’t catching on.

And that is the first time I ever screamed at Stitches. MARGO LYNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We threw our arms around each other.

The convention center people told us we were blocking the doorway (which we weren’t really) and asked us to move along. I think that scream did them in.

I finally finally finally got to meet Margo Lynn in person! She is the BEST!

Soak dye acid heat
Thursday February 21st 2019, 10:53 pm
Filed under: To dye for

(The title.)

So there was this poor, unloved long-sleeved silk/cashmere turtleneck in good condition on, marked down to garage sale ($3, I think?) because of its color.

Some people like bright lime mixed with mustard yellow just fine, but apparently not enough to pay even that much, even in that fabric. To me it looked like a bad cold.

Then they threw free shipping at me. Yeah, I ordered the darn thing. It was down to its last-chance days and you couldn’t just let it be tossed; someone had to love it.

Two weeks after it came now I do.

One dye pot, a bit of turquoise (it came out a bit greener and brighter than the camera could show, and ever so slightly pointillistically heathered) and not only is it over its cold but I am ecstatic. The stitching must have been done in nylon: it all matches, the sewing and the fabric, as if it had come that way originally. The simmering softened it markedly and got rid of any residual stiffening effects from previous dry cleanings. (Handwash cashmeres in lukewarm water gently to preserve the softness of that fiber. Dry cleaning makes it harsh.) Any darker areas are from how the washer spun it out and the fact that it isn’t all the way dry yet (spin cycle only with no water spray), but I couldn’t wait to show you.

It’s glorious!

This does not help me avoid buying cheap color-uglied natural fibers the next time. At all.

But that tiny splurge was well spent.  I’m going to be wearing this till I wear it out.

They are good for that
Wednesday February 20th 2019, 11:26 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

Blossoms on the two earliest peach trees and freezing nights. I found some good information on what to expect that to do to them and what to look for.

I filled the second birdfeeder. The birds haven’t entirely caught on but the hawk went swooping around it again, ten feet from me. Wow.

I went to take out the trash last night and coming around the house, found myself opening the gate very very slowly and reluctantly while standing at outstretched arm’s length from the entry and I probably should have just gone back inside: skunk. Not as potent as it could be, but in that direction. Exactly where in the dark, who knows, but at least that redwood root-raised concrete that made them such a perfect den is gone now. But that’s where that gate was, and where last year’s offspring might think it could expect to set up shop. Oh. Not. But this is when they wander to mate.

And now I think I know why the rat that showed up under the birdfeeder at dusk three nights last week (the first one I’d seen in probably a year) has not come back.

And what that skunk most likely had for dinner. It hadn’t come for the birdseed.

Scooting right along
Tuesday February 19th 2019, 11:40 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life

I got the chair down to Bischoff’s Medical and they got right to it. I was good to go for Stitches and the guy was as happy about that as I was. Good folks. I recommended to my friend Pamela that she rent a scooter from them so as not to miss out–she broke both bones in her lower leg a few days ago and one of her first reactions was, But Stitches!

Meantime, I learned something new about the melanger: even though you don’t want to run it more than a minute without something in it, always do turn it on right before you start pouring the cocoa nibs in, not the other way around: otherwise the bits mound up, caught beneath the arms and jam the thing. And that is a motor I want working for many years to come. I sent a note to Afton so that that wouldn’t happen to her too with her new machine and turns out it already had. Both of us had to stop, pour the loose stuff out and hack away at those mounds to free the thing–but when we did it worked peachy fine.

It has a lid but it’s off while you’re pouring the nibs in, so you do it slowly because, um, popcorn effects are entertaining. (Which is why I tried putting them in first this time and turning it on. Bad idea.) She reported that her kitten went after a flying bit of chocolate but after tasting it gave her this look of, What have you *done* to me!

(Second sign posted for my retired high school English-teaching mom. A rare spotting of double letter inversions in the wild.)


At Santa Clara Convention Center
Monday February 18th 2019, 11:50 pm
Filed under: LYS

Stitches West is this weekend. If you’re traveling to get there, check the weather, you might want to bundle up–it was 29F this morning and the kitchen tap is at a slow drip to ward off tonight’s 31F and dropping.

The Beaded Yarns lady does not seem to be on the vendor list this time even though I’ve been hoping all year to see her again. Still hoping.

Silly chair isn’t charging…

“And like the eagle he renews the vigor of thy youth (oh bless the Lord my soul)”
Sunday February 17th 2019, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

As we drove past the edge of Elkhorn Slough yesterday, a place that draws birders from all over, I saw what was almost certainly an immature bald eagle and did quite the double take, calling out to the others in the car but by then we were too far past.

They’ve been seen nesting in Crystal Springs about fifty miles north of there after a hundred years’ absence.

Back at our house, the plate glass out the family room has taken on intricate stencils of feather patterns these past few days that had not been there before. I need to clean it.

Today in my peripheral vision I saw something big (not eagle big, certainly) move abruptly downward out of sight just past my amaryllises just as a finch dove away from the second bird feeder, the one in the foot of the L of the patio. I figured whatever the first one was, it was long gone–but it turned out it was not. It was just waiting for the finch to show itself again: even if it had to wait a few minutes, there was no way the little thing could escape that space without flying right past where it waited, hidden from my eyes.

And then suddenly the Cooper’s hawk was circling tightly around in that small space just a few feet from my side of the window. The smaller bird bounced off the window trying to make a break for it but its momentum was broken and lunch was served.

Moments later, the hawk flew fast over my yard going the other direction towards where the redwood was till last month, ditching the thieving ravens.

It seems more and more clear that the new Cooper’s has, after trying and missing a few times in the last six months, finally learned what Coopernicus had been a master at: putting in his order for fast-winged food and then picking it up at the check-out window without ever actually touching that window himself. Easier for all involved.

But what a sight to look up to see that forcefulness of nature in action. The redwood and the older hawk have gone the way of all life but the new one, likely with a nest itself by now, has at last learned how to make the most of what is clearly (or rather, clear after I clean it up) his territory now.

Love play work
Sunday February 17th 2019, 12:32 am
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

Finished the hat during the drive to Salinas for a family get-together.

We went home by way of Mutari for hot chocolate in Santa Cruz, making it back just in time for our niece, who had carpooled with us, to make it to her next thing. (Which meant taking 17 home. In the rainy season between storms of the day. I know one friend who will read that and cringe at the thought, but the redwood that fell across the highway had been cut up and pushed out of the way by then.)

Then daughter and husband fixed the plumbing under the bathroom sink and I can’t tell you how good it feels to have that working again.

Then out to get ice cream to celebrate.

Lots and lots of family this morning, some I hadn’t seen in half a dozen years, and it felt like so much life was all packed into one short day.

Waiting in the window for spring
Saturday February 16th 2019, 12:03 am
Filed under: Garden

Growing inside for now with the others, critter-free. Who knew birds eat cotyledons?

This is a butternut or a zucchini–we’ll find out which are which soon enough. It is amazing how such a little plant can be such a total thrill. Look! A new leaf today! New promises to look forward to!

New food fights with squirrels!

Yesterday, today, tomorrows
Thursday February 14th 2019, 11:33 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Surely there’s got to be some protocol or rule about a trash truck not blocking a fire truck and an ambulance on a call.

But the dang thing came anyway yesterday morning and had all kinds of fun getting back out of their way, and after all that didn’t pick anything up.

Clearly they came back later, though. So why didn’t they just choose to do the other street earlier in the first place?

The storm let up to a misty drizzle at the right time while I hoped, aching to know that my neighbor was still alive, glad that at least the stretcher didn’t have to come outside during the downpours we’ve been having.

After they left I emailed the spouse, having no idea what access to that message they might have at the hospital: I said that I assumed they’d gone together in the ambulance and that I was ready and waiting to be their ride home at any time, any hour and making sure they had my phone number with them (as best I could, not knowing if they would see my saying so.)

The paramedics had foreseen that problem–this wasn’t their first case–and so at their urging the one had followed the other with the car, separated for that brief time when surely what they most wanted was each other right there.

Hours later I did get a return email: a fall. 24 hours observation. Expected home Thursday. Terrible, wonderful news. They are not young.

Their car was gone again today but by late afternoon was back, and neither of them would have left the other alone in that hospital during visiting hours. And so I can only assume that there was recovery enough for the hoped-for discharge.

I’ve already said I would run any errand so they don’t have to. Especially in all that rain.

They know we know, and they know we care. And for now that is enough.