Lockdown day 71: Andy’s Orchard
Tuesday May 26th 2020, 8:56 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

Is it good? Yes. So much so that I can’t wait to spend an hour and a half pitting and stirring pureed cherries over a hot stove on a hot day again? That I’m not convinced of.

Which is kind of funny, because one of the things I picked up at Andy’s Orchard today was dried tart cherries as well as fresh Black Tartarians so I wouldn’t have to use cranberries next time. But there’s still another cup of that puree, so we’re not quite done yet.

That was the first retail venue I’ve stepped inside of since the lockdown began. It was roped off and marked into in and out and one way going around, there was the plexiglass barrier for the clerk, and at the entrance a prominently-placed sign requiring masks.

Theirs were cloth with bright cherries against a black background. Will they have peach ones later? I’ll just have to come back when those come on.

Mine had bright fish. 

Lockdown day 70: cherrybread
Monday May 25th 2020, 9:03 pm
Filed under: Food

“A simple yet artful way to expand your sourdough is to add different purees to the dough,” says the recipe with the pumpkin and cranberries that turned out to be so very very good.

I eyed that bag of Milk Pail cherries, knowing I was getting fresh-picked ripe ones tomorrow so best to be done with those.


Well, I wouldn’t know if I didn’t try. And so I pitted (carefully!), pureed, and cooked the whole shebang down to the texture of thick canned pumpkin, some of which Richard had with yogurt and proclaimed very good.

There was a one-term US Representative from Campbell, oh, 1990ish? or so, who held the distinction of being the only incumbent in the House to be defeated that year because he was just too out there; the incident I remember most is when Pepsi won over Coke in their bid to be the first American soda company to be allowed to market in Russia–so the guy derided it as Commie Pinko Juice and banned it from his office.

I will forever remember my mother’s surprised, loud guffaw when I told her who he was. Ernest Konyu? Earnestly Conning you?! For a politician’s name?!

What might we give if calling Pepsi outrageous names were the worst our Republicans dished out now, but meantime, in a non-rye aside, I am making commie pinko bread just for the fun of it.

I think.

Its juice did brown out a fair bit.

We’ll see tomorrow morning when it’s done.

Lockdown day 69: a door gradually closing
Sunday May 24th 2020, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

We got the news that our 95-year-old friend Betty is in isolation with covid-19.

Her lungs have gotten through all these years after being damaged by airborne specks of metal when she was a Rosie the Riveter working on planes in WWII.

As a woman completely blind since birth.

After the war, until new technology made her skills obsolete, she worked in a dark room developing x-rays for the hospital because the lack of light was no novel thing to her.

Then there was the time she told her husband he was too drunk to drive them home–she was going to do it. He could coach her through it but she was taking the wheel, and did, and told the tale with great delight forever after. (How far she actually got I have no idea.) She’d just always believed she could do just about anything anybody else could and was happy to try to prove it.

Past 90 and in a nursing home, she wasn’t always sure she remembered me but she always remembered Richard when we visited; he’d helped her with her computer (and as a visitor, he knew how to talk loud enough so that she could hear, which she needed more and more.)

I don’t expect we’ll ever get to see her again. I don’t expect to get to hear that laugh of hers again.

But I’m glad that I know what it sounds like.

Lockdown day 68: opening doors
Saturday May 23rd 2020, 8:33 pm
Filed under: Friends,Lupus

So there I was in the early evening when the sun and UV levels were low enough, watering the fruit trees, setting the timer, moving the hose again, going in and out.

The slider has a broken roller and sometimes it’s iffy but it was totally behaving itself, and I was silently remarking to myself how nice that was.

Until suddenly it jammed and that was it for the night. Aargh.

Beep beep beep. Three minutes and 27 gallons per tree, time to move it to the next. So I went out the front and around the house to the next peach and thought, eh, a little extra exercise, right?

And then I considered a moment: was it shorter to go back around again or through the gate to the front door on the other side? Maybe that. Why not. So I opened the gate–

–and who was parked in front now but the hopefully new neighbor-to-be. We waved hi enthusiastically at each other. She said something out the window, so I went around to our door, grabbed a face mask, and dashed back out to get to know her and meet her daughter and answer questions about the neighborhood.

The mom opened up: “I’m looking for a community.”

I told her about the annual block party with the street closed off and the rented bouncy house to keep the little kids amused and contained while the adults pull out the grills and barbecue.

And about how the neighborhood had rallied together when a developer wanted to put 42 houses on the I think it was .6 acre lot in the next block and the neighborhood had rallied around and had demanded the land go back to the school district. Enrollments were back up these days and once land is gone it’s gone, and that used to be the playing field for the elementary there (which has since reopened)–and in the end, the school district listened to us and they did!

I had to excuse myself after several minutes for fear of drowning my tree, ran, moved the hose, and came back out. This time the daughter was standing by their gate and wanted to know why it wouldn’t latch. She asked about the plants and the trees and I told her the story of the stabby juniper that the old neighbor and I just couldn’t get to stay cleared out–till the young man across the street hooked up the stump to the back of his jacked-up truck and revved it right out of there by the roots. VRROOOM!

They still have a contingency on the house. It’s still not a done deal. But they really want it. And I really want them to get it.

I would never have known they were there if that silly door hadn’t jammed. Thank heavens for irritating favors.

Lockdown day 67: one fish two fish red fish time for blue fish
Friday May 22nd 2020, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden,Knit

I found the perfect shade of bright royal blue in my stash, exactly what I’d been looking for, and oh good it was labeled worsted weight superwash. Neighborhood Fiber Co. Nice stuff from nice people. My grandson Mathias has a baby blanket made out of that.

But I just could not make myself start that next fish with it. It was both thicker and more densely spun than what I was working with and the difference was just too much.

But the color!

I spent the day again wishing for it to be back to when you could simply drive to the yarn store to ogle the options in person.

But I did not want to waste a pandemic day, because this is what those are good for, how I make myself feel good about the isolation: getting that project finished after its two year wait.

And yet I didn’t have what I didn’t have.

Finally, it became, oh forget it, just go with the Malabrigo that isn’t the best possible dreamed-of color but it is what there is and I knew how it would perform with its peers in the wash and that counted for a lot, too.

Kalida’s Washington Square wool will get its turn in its own project–speaking of which, two circular needles arrived from her today for Venn-diagram-knitting the next hats at a denser gauge. Needles, meet yarn. From Ball’more, Maryland.

And then, at long last, I just did it. I grabbed a Rios color that would be just fine after all and simply started that silly fish. As soon as I did I loved it, with a strong sense of relief at the perfectionist logjam having finally burst. Who knew. It was right there all along.

Meantime, the English Morello tart cherries are starting to grow hints of red here and there, and I will definitely wait for that color.

Lockdown day 66: Frankenstein bread
Thursday May 21st 2020, 1:28 pm
Filed under: Food

So there’s this fresh-ground white cornmeal from George Washington’s grist mill, sitting there.

There’s this sourdough starter that I left on the counter rather than putting it in the fridge which means I had to feed it more flour and water every day, and it’s just sitting there.

I had this loaf of cranberry pumpkin sourdough but it’s no longer sitting there.

What if…

And so, Frankensteining the Fannie Farmer version, we have this:


Preheat the oven to 425. Butter an 8″ pan–I used my ceramic Mel and Kris cake pan (in the jewel colorway)

1 c. white cornmeal

1/4 c. plus 2 tbl flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/3 c. sugar

1/2 tsp salt

In a separate bowl, 1 egg beaten with 1/4 c plus 2 tbl milk and 3 tbl melted butter, to which you add 3/4 c sourdough starter

Bake for 22 minutes.


And the verdict is: it’s surprisingly cake-like, in both the texture and that it’s sweeter than I expected; I’m guessing the cornmeal was from a sweet white corn? Either way, it was definitely approved of.

Lockdown day 65: something fishy
Wednesday May 20th 2020, 10:58 pm
Filed under: Knit

Each fish has been started when I had just a few rows to go on the previous one.

I’ve worked out a design, the placement, and the placement of the one after that and I’m right where I should start it.

I thought I had the colors but when you come right down to it there’s this feeling that something’s missing, and it’s stumping me. I so want to just toss it in the car and drive up to Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco to find what that might be, but then, this *is* my covid-19 lockdown project and as far as I know that shop’s not open.

Meantime, this XKCD comic, just for fun (and so I can find it again.) Don’t you wish we could?

Lockdown day 64: New neighbor. Maybe.
Tuesday May 19th 2020, 9:39 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

Picture taken a few rows ago.

Somehow a few darker purple stitches came out in a line that makes the fish looking like it’s making a tight-lipped face. I may duplicate stitch over a few to break them up and make the odd stitch more random.

Taking the recycling bin to the curb this evening, I got to meet the woman who put an offer on the house next door and her realtor.

The neighbor on the other side was coming over to introduce herself, too, and she chatted with the buyer while I chatted with him; he asked me if I’d like to see the place and I said, Sure!

He’s a birder with arborists in the family, so he was thrilled at having me point out where the hawks have nested in those trees–and he knew from the get-go what he needed to advise his client re what work should be done to trim them back to safety. And now, why one had to be sure there were no raptor fledglings left when they do.

Looking over the otherwise cleared-out back yard, I told him she could plant any kind of fruit tree she wanted and would likely have a pollinator from across the fence for it. He grinned.

It’s not a done deal, there’s a contingency, but I came away really hoping she gets it and I think she came away really hoping all the more, too. I can’t wait.

Lockdown official day 63
Monday May 18th 2020, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Family

They can put it in the mail and tell you when it should be expected but the mail might not be much able to hurry right now. Even when it was for Mother’s Day. Tracking told him it was delivered, then they said no it wasn’t, then they said it would be, and then it wasn’t.

Finally, at 6 pm tonight, my Mother’s Day present arrived.

My phone is being obstinate and not letting go of the photo just yet.

To be continued.

Edited in the morning to add the picture of cheerful, teasing sibling rivalry in a mug. From the taller kid.

Lockdown day 62
Sunday May 17th 2020, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

The first few blueberries, ripe off the bush, shared.


Lockdown day 61: sourdough pancakes and driveways
Saturday May 16th 2020, 8:44 pm
Filed under: Food,Life

I was curious.

So I beat two eggs, added in a heaping tablespoon of thick and only slightly sweetened Greek Gods yogurt, then scooped out between a half to maybe 3/4 cup of sourdough starter. That was it. Whisk.

I debated whether to make it into muffins, except the oven wasn’t hot, or pancake style. Let’s go for pancakes, with raspberries on the side on the plate. I melted butter in the pan since there wasn’t any fat anywhere else and it made for a good, crisp outer edge in contrast with the fluffy inner.

The flavor was so much better than your standard baking-powder version. I am definitely playing with that idea again. Feed the sourdough starter, pass the maple syrup–those were good.

The other thing is we finally got the ball rolling again on the driveway after seeing how fast a new one went in next door. I’d been avoiding it because of the hundreds of contractor cold-calls I’d gotten last time I even so much as looked online–proof that oh yes they do most certainly sell your private data.

I consulted Angie’s List.

One very nice guy came and he measured, discussed, said he’d need permission from the city to cut tree roots within three feet of the trunk where the walkway had been lifted and needed to be lowered back down, etc etc. Richard was inside on the phone walking my mom through troubleshooting her printer, so I was the one dealing with him.

When he got all done I glanced over at the new driveway next door and told him that it had been my inspiration for getting off my duff. “Someone’s flipping it,” nodding at the For Sale sign.

“They did it rough,” he said, wincing. You could just see him thinking, For all that work and all that money, to not do it right…

I like contractors who take pride in what they create and he suddenly had my full attention.

Lockdown day 60
Friday May 15th 2020, 11:05 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family

These turned towards the sun faster than I noticed and so some of the flower stalks from Dad’s bulbs had to be rescued and brought inside. In a vase inherited from my mother-in-law.

My folks and my in-laws were friends clear back to when they were neighbors as newlyweds, and somehow this just feels perfect.

Lockdown day 59: cue the corny jokes
Thursday May 14th 2020, 10:29 pm
Filed under: Food,History

It turns out that the mill George Washington built is still in operation–and that it was cutting-edge technology in its time.

Turns out you can buy cornmeal from that mill. Add in shipping and it wasn’t the most cost-effective way to go, but then I haven’t bought cornmeal in years so I figured two pounds was the right size to last me for awhile. Besides. It was just so cool.

I do like making cornbread that is all or almost all cornmeal, no or almost no flour: it’s tasty but very crumbly, and I tend to throw in an extra egg to hold it together and extra butter, but I haven’t had teenagers to feed in awhile so it’s kind of fallen by the wayside.

My order came today. Somehow the bubble wrap felt like a severe anachronism. Really? I mean, really? (The shipping peanuts were the potato-starch type, which was great.)

But then I cut through to what was underneath those bubbles and, yes, they were right–they absolutely needed to keep that thing from bursting out all over, because a historic-style tie made out of a strip of muslin is only going to get you so far; it needed to be held as still as possible as it bumped through the mail.

I should be typing this to you with a review of how the cornbread came out, but the bag was just too pretty to wreck its very first day here so there’s sourdough rising in the kitchen instead.


Lockdown day 58
Wednesday May 13th 2020, 9:45 pm
Filed under: Knit

Finally, finally, the skein of Rios in Archangel arrived–and in a colorway that can vary by a lot, it was exactly what I would have picked out had I been able to go into a yarn store. It was postmarked May 7, so they got it out the next day and it only needed to travel across the Bay, but shipping is what it is at the moment.

I have not replaced the ten stitches across three rows that I mistakenly knit in the wrong weight yarn; if it really bugs me I can come back and do that later. I just wound up the new and got to it and man did it feel good after being exiled from my project for a week.

The seahorse is the one that started me down the path of one multicolor yarn per critter and the rest solids. Its multicolor was a bit…much, even if the original intent was to have it hiding amongst the seaweed, but after its face and punk-rock mane got done I liked it.

The octopus has a yellow body continuing into the lower part of each arm and a varying pink/peach along the upper and I wish I could show the colors better because in real life, every time I look at it, it, most of all, makes me want to pick the work up and get back to it to see what happens next.

It’s kind of an inverted under-the-seas ’60’s hippy sun sketch. I like it.

Lockdown official day 57
Tuesday May 12th 2020, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Life

Sometimes a comic strip can, in one panel, say it all.

For those who can’t or don’t want to click, including a disabled friend of mine, it offers big spikes on a graph for March and April for the words, sewing machine, webcam, Andrew Cuomo, flour, pangolin.

Underneath, a caption that says, I want to show someone from 2019 this Google trends graph and watch them to try to guess what happened.