Official lockdown day 76
Sunday May 31st 2020, 10:13 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends

The backstory on the pie: my daughter was looking at the strawberries we’d gotten from Andy’s Orchard and dearly wished for rhubarb to complete them. But one only goes to the grocery store these days when it’s a necessity and we didn’t even know where to find it now that our old source is gone.

Friday night, knowing none of that, my friend Catherine said she was picking more rhubarb from her garden than her family could eat and offered it to all on the ward chat–with the one request that if you take it you eat it.

I had an order already in for the Milk Pail Saturday morning produce pick-up from their warehouse: you pull up, you roll down the window, they swing in the bag of random plantliness, no choosing, just a good price and far fewer hands between you and the farmers.

So: there, then Catherine’s.

Where I opened the back door to see for sure. It looked like chard, but no, it was indeed kale, and my sweetheart has strong opinions about kale, as in, why would anyone do that to a perfectly good meal?

Poor little unloved kale, you look good to me, and part of me almost didn’t but it felt right and I put the little foundling in its green bio-friendly bag on Catherine’s doorstep as I picked up the waiting rhubarb.

And went home and sent off an email explaining why she was going to be finding it there and that I hoped it had found a good home.

Which she didn’t see for a few hours–but she did see the kale and had no idea how it had gotten there.

What she answered is that she had found it and gone ?!!!!? She had just then been finishing the last kale in her house. She loves it, she loves that particular variety of kale the most, she eats it all the time and she was quite sorry to be out of it to the point of debating risking an unnecessary run to the store just to get more.

Just like we almost had for rhubarb.

And there it just shows up right at her door just like that.

And already there were the pictures of the rhubarb strawberry pie: we’d used it all up.

Lockdown day 75: Blessed are the peacemakers
Saturday May 30th 2020, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,History

In Kansas, there was no violence nor looting. The people holding up the sign demanding End Police Brutality–were the cops.

In Santa Cruz over the mountains from here there was a peaceful demonstration that stayed peaceful. The chief of police, with no riot gear and no back up, met with the protestors and took a knee right along with them.

Meantime, my friend Catherine offered rhubarb from her garden and asked only that it actually be used. So I got it home and a few hours later teased her about my strawberry celery pie.

Note to self: mixing the flour/sugar mixture with the fruit and letting it soak in for awhile and then stirring again before putting it in the crust was absolutely the way to go. Never again just pop it straight in the oven.

Lockdown day 74: Thank you Colin Kaepernick for showing us how
Friday May 29th 2020, 10:40 pm
Filed under: History,Politics


While the news about George Floyd was everywhere, did you see the police dashcam of the young man in Midland Texas who was driving to his grandmother’s? He was accused of running stop signs–he hadn’t, but the cop behind him had–and after pulling into her driveway found himself facing drawn guns from not one but three cop cars. He raised his hands high over his head, but they ordered him to come over to them. As the guns stayed trained on him.

He wasn’t that stupid! Are you kidding me! He laid down spread-eagled on the ground while they persisted. The kid’s 90-year-old grandmother, barely walking with a cane, came out to be with her grandbaby and fell, and at that age a fall can kill a person.

The kid had done not one thing wrong but they arrested him anyway because, Texas cops.

I didn’t have to tell you what color he was, did I.

Those protests needed to happen, and they need to be peaceful to be the most effective, and most of those protesting were.

In Louisville tonight the cops aimed their rubber bullets directly at the cameras of the reporters covering the event, escalating from the Minneapolis cops’ having arrested the CNN reporter and camera crew live on air–but not the white CNN reporter in the next block.

Journalism. The Constitution. The First Amendment is first because it matters most.

We’ve spent these months quarantining against the possibility of spreading covid deaths, those of us doing it right and wearing masks to protect others agonizing over those who refuse to see, who dare the virus to try to get them. Even while 104,166 of their fellow Americans have died so far of Covid-19 but they don’t care because they don’t believe it can happen to them.

Just like they blame police brutality on its victims. Tell it to that grandmother. She grew up under Jim Crow.

I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like to spend every day of your life knowing that you could be killed on impulse at any moment because of the color of your skin–but damn if the worst among racist cops aren’t trying hard to teach me. It took the nineteenth violent episode to get Chauvin off the force, much less accused? George Floyd was not the first to die at his hands.

The children of some old friends participated in the then-peaceful march in Minneapolis and I am very proud of them.

There was a large protest in San Jose today at City Hall, and when one one protester got violent–I note that he was white–the police started to be, too, then started using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd–which started to run–

–and then about twenty of them (if not more out of camera range) stopped. And turned.

And took a knee together in a line before the line of officers.

I hope that picture is on every front page tomorrow.

Lockdown day 73: still baking
Thursday May 28th 2020, 11:13 pm
Filed under: Food

Ripe new cherries from Andy’s Orchard led to almonds, eggs, cherries, almond extract, and oh yeah sugar and a bit of baking powder. But it’s still healthy, right?

This time it went in the springform pan like it was supposed to, and the higher sides kept it from spilling over like it had done in the plain cake pan.

This time I know to ignore where it says to flip it over after ten minutes: let it cool first. Although, ask me if I still agree with me after it actually is cooled and I find out for sure, but right now it’s just out of the oven and smelling divine and you just can’t go wrong, really.

Lockdown day 72: two carry on
Wednesday May 27th 2020, 9:02 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

The third, late-sprouting apricot seedling had a root coming out of the bottom of its paper cup with the pencil hole at the bottom. Neither of the others had had that at that size. I prepared a ten gallon pot and carefully tore away the paper constricting that nice full root structure and eased the damp ball in there–once this one got going it really got going. It had earned its new digs.

But the second one, which had come up a month earlier: the little one that had sent up a few sets of leaves and then stopped, that had made me wonder if I had a natural dwarf on my hands and how good a small-yard tree that would be if it succeeded. Cool, right?

But you still have to grow at least some. And it wasn’t doing that anymore.

It couldn’t handle the 90-95F heat we’ve had this past week and day by day despite anything I could do it gradually crisped and died.

Curious, I gently pulled it out of its pot to have a look tonight.

Wait, where was the kernel?

Somewhere along the way it had gotten jostled or something but broken off from the nourishment that’s supposed to send the shoot up and the roots down; with that support missing, it had still sent up leaves, it had still harnessed the immense power of the sun to add its tiny bit of oxygen to the earth, and it even had the tiniest nubs of roots trying to make it.

A little further down, there was the kernel, plumped and good and ready to help but unable to save it.

They both did the best they could for longer than I would have thought possible.

But I still have that plant’s two healthy tree-sisters, and they will show how apricoting from a perfect fruit is done.

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.