Creature from the green lagoon
Friday July 31st 2020, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

The almost-still-a-baby squirrel stopped in its tracks, staring, while I stared back, wondering if it was old enough to be entirely on its own like that. You’re a little thing!

I seemed to be some kind of…creature. I moved, I had feet, but where were the legs? (Blame the jersey maxi skirt.) I didn’t seem to have a face. (Mask, and the helmet wasn’t fastened on so it had slipped down my forehead to the glasses and the straps were dangling freely.) Were those eyes? What WAS I??

We stood there ten paces apart like that.

Alright, alright, move along, you’re a baby, you need to learn not to be a swaggering city squirrel–always remember you’re a prey animal and to run away from things bigger than you because a raccoon will snack on you in a heartbeat. Meanie that I am, I deliberately walked right towards it.

With nowhere else to go it made a screaming break past my path for the single tree in the front yard.

Ya gotta teach’em while they’re young.

The newest of the old and of the new
Thursday July 30th 2020, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Garden

More pomegranate flowers, and I was startled to see the tiniest little watermelon you ever saw. But it’s there.

I have never in my life seen one grow from seed and there’s this keen sense of exploration. The squashes have huge blossoms that last the morning before they start to fold away; the watermelons have tiny ones that seem so disconnected from the size of what’s to come but they hold on for it, knowing what they can do.

Taking up space
Wednesday July 29th 2020, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Garden

Maybe eight years ago a surprise seedling grew behind my lemon tree and by the end of the summer it was a single trunk seven feet straight up, no branches (no pruning) and it actually had a fig on it. That fast.

But it was already pushing against the fence, the neighbors complained, and they were right, it had to go.

I’ve been whacking at the small bit of stump ever since, although this year it seems to have finally given up. It was determined but I was more so–but the fact that I came so close to having a fig tree is what led to my actually buying a fig tree and putting it in the right spot and living happily ever after. (Carefully choosing a slow-growing type that would stay small, because, man, that other one was a lesson and we have solar panels.)

So when another such seedling popped up under my tomato plant and kept going even though it was completely shaded, never seeing direct sunlight, I excused its smallness on the grounds of lack of light and at the end of the summer gave it a pot to grow some roots in for the winter. Why not. I expected it to take off like that other one. If nothing else, I wanted to see how its fruit would compare to my Black Jack’s.

Here we are, and there’s a five and a half year old mango tree growing where that tomato had been, the little seedling got moved into a large pot awhile ago–

–and it’s given me not one single hint of any fig.

It’s got the wood of a fig, the growth patterns of a fig, it unfurls new leaves exactly like a fig and they are the leaves of some figs, it even has a mild case of mosaic virus endemic to but not hurtful to fig leaves.

I plan to sprout a few more Anya apricots in the spring and one of them will go in that pot; had I had three longterm survivors this year I would already have done that. It’s time the pot got put to good use and this thing has had its chances.

But for the moment, it’s green, it puts oxygen in the air and withdraws its tiny bit of carbon and adds a little bit of landscaping color there. I’ll let it be till its leaves fall.

But what I’ve really wanted all along is just to know the answer to my question: what IS this?


Jump starting that mojo
Tuesday July 28th 2020, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Knit,LYS

Three skeins of variations in gray Rios from Imagiknit to augment the two that I had that were just too few and too far apart–and they turned out to be the perfect gradations between. I could not have picked out better ones myself.

Finally, I had my palette for the next step. Because I’m picky that way.

A dolphin has begun.

Guardian roses
Monday July 27th 2020, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Garden

Figs, you can leave in clusters all you want. (Re yesterday’s apples.)

There was this little rosebush when we moved in years ago, and now there are two identical ones, side by side, just doing their thing.

The fig tree and the second rose have kind of grown into each other in that one corner and I was going to prune them apart last year till I discovered that the squirrels and whatever all else out there didn’t touch the figs that had thorns coming up all around them.

Well alright then. That stays.

(Edited to add a link to this video because who doesn’t want to be interrupted by a music-loving deer?)


Apple social distancing
Sunday July 26th 2020, 2:33 pm
Filed under: Garden

I learned something new Saturday, watching a too-long video on pruning after standing under my apple tree and pointing the camera upwards at all that fruit.

One of the reasons you thin apples? It’s not just because you want fewer but bigger and better tasting ones; that’s a given.

It’s because if you don’t, they grow in clusters, and at every point where apples touch it allows what you don’t want to weave a web between the two of them, from which you end up with a worm that burrows on in when it’s ready.



Well, that’s definitely incentive to get that done.

Chocolate hazelnut raspberry
Friday July 24th 2020, 11:08 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Recipes

With a superfluous pomegranate picture just because I thought it was pretty.

I was ordering some pre-tempered powdered cocoa butter for chocolate making, as one does to help seed the right type of crystal formation, while wondering how summertime temps in transit might effect what I was buying it for… Well I guessed I’d find out.

The baking supplier dangled a half pound of hazelnut praline on my screen, and it wasn’t going to cost me any extra on the shipping so hey why not.

When it came it said 50% hazelnuts and it was sweeter than I would have made it. Y’know, all I had to do was throw toasted no-skins-on hazelnuts in the food processor and an equal amount of sugar (or less, for us) and then I wouldn’t have had to work all the oils back through the heavy substance of the stuff. Done. Gotta admit that is tasty, though. Into the fridge with you.

So here I was a few days later and there was this batch of homemade chocolate, quite dark. We’d just eaten a small lunch that definitely needed more to it.

I wondered…

So I nuked a little of that chocolate for 20, 30 seconds or so so it wouldn’t burn, just enough so that when I smashed it with a spoon it gave way and became stirrable.

And then stirred in a larger spoonful of that hazelnut praline.

And then folded a large number of raspberries in.

I got asked if I could go do that again? Please?

We didn’t quite eat the entire twelve ounces of raspberries but we came close.

Behold the Lillies of the field, how they grow
Thursday July 23rd 2020, 9:40 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Somebody is eleven months old today and cannot wait to be able to take the next step.

Well that’s one place they went
Wednesday July 22nd 2020, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Life

I forgot to ask the car repair shop my Prius got towed to to inscribe the car’s VIN on the new catalytic converter. I would have thought there was no real purpose; there was no way it would ever be found, much less returned, should this one end up stolen, too.

Apparently I shouldn’t have been so sure.

Thousands of them piled up, $300,000 in cash. Busted.

Phoebe minded
Tuesday July 21st 2020, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

It used to be I would see a Black Phoebe maybe once a year, twice if lucky.

This year, with the squabblesome finches peaceably gleaning weed seeds out in the yard rather than at the feeder, there’s a phoebe every day. Every insect on the patio, that member of the flycatcher family is searching for it and it’s going to find it.

A second phoebe showed up today and was quickly shown the neighbor’s yard, and then the first flew back, victorious.

It likes to perch on the tomato cage.

It especially likes spiders, and since I like seeing this bird that was so rare here for so long and that’s not spooked by my being so close by and that has this white heart on its chest with a black bolero jacket above, I haven’t been sweeping the webs out of the awning of late.

It got its snack–but the snack grabbed back.

No worries. The bird landed on the tomato cage and surveyed its territory awhile, and when it left, the clump of spider web, since it was not needed for nest building in July, was left behind.

Make good trouble
Monday July 20th 2020, 11:19 pm
Filed under: History,Life

It was the fingerpuppets.

I was looking through my purse for something and there they were, a handful of those handknit little characters from Peru for making small random children happy as I go about my day. The old guy who got one for the joystick on his motorized chair. Airports. All the times those had cheered up a kid or their parent who just needed to be seen and to be distracted.

In five months of quarantining I had actually forgotten them.

Edited to add later: I’ve spent the last hour watching a livestream of the peaceful protest in Portland tonight. It is powerful and good. They are honoring John Lewis’s memory and admonition of “Make good trouble” as they stand up for our country’s ideals for all of us–joyfully and in solidarity. I just signed off there holding my breath that the Feds will still treat them with the respect owed to all of us as the crowd thins down.

Just a quiet little pandemic day
Sunday July 19th 2020, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Life

I had something I was looking forward to writing about tonight.

At some point in the middle of the night I will wake up with a jolt and remember what it was.

And it has pockets!
Saturday July 18th 2020, 10:33 pm
Filed under: History

In case you haven’t seen it yet: the duct tape prom dress and matching covid-19 purse. A corsage one could only dream of, back in May or so. 395 hours of work.

Now that is someone who would have the patience to knit the most intense intarsia you could possibly sketch out.

And on a more serious note, this researcher at MIT thinks early Covid-19 diagnosis is possible based on one’s voice, assuming you have a prior recording to compare to.

And a researcher in Israel has discovered that the virus generates lipids in the lungs to help it replicate from, and that a drug on the market that already has generic versions available could likely stop that. So far, in human lung tissue in the lab, it does.

The resilience of squash
Friday July 17th 2020, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Garden

I noticed the ground was behaving a little better today re my feet and its distance away. Go brain.

So. Zucchini in the third picture and Waltham butternut plants in the first two, all of them repotted late because I couldn’t go buy soil (thank you again for the rescue Ruth and Lyse!) and all I had was hardpack clay, weeds, and snails.

Same dirt, same sun, same fabric pots, same watering, and those two butternuts were started at the same time.

One thing about squash plants: wherever they grow to they’ll set down new roots that will carry on and keep things going till frost after the original roots die off. So, much though I don’t want to encourage the prickly weeds to sprout, after seeing how the one super spreader that’s growing in four directions was doing, I started watering its ends after all, because it badly needed it. I didn’t seriously think I was going to confine that to a pot, right?

I’ve only ever successfully grown one zucchini plant once, so I’m mostly new at this.

Meantime, the apricot responded to today’s lovely summer day by starting branch number five. You have to squint a bit this week, but probably not next.

And I worked on the ocean afghan. I woke up this morning with a picture in my head of bright single dots of stitches along the bottom edge of the jellyfish’s mushroom cap (whatever the technical marine term may be) and was glad I hadn’t already gotten past that point so I could do that. I’ve got a chart now for the dolphin, and it’ll be just one because the eye likes odd numbers; discernible even numbers of objects feels wrong visually to the viewer even if they don’t know why it’s bugging them, and I don’t have room for three with any kind of scale re the other fish.

So one it is. Curving up at nose and tail or curving down is the only question. It will be partway over the top of the water, so I’m thinking down.

Sudden thought, with certainty as it hit: someday, I am going to have to knit an afghan of an apricot tree. I just am. The only question will be whether I can wait till mine comes into bloom so I can knit that picture.


Baby steps
Thursday July 16th 2020, 11:16 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

Sterling asked how I was and I didn’t really answer because I was still trying to figure it out. The nausea and dizziness are thankfully gone. Tomorrow’s another day further away from the concussion, and the day after that and the day after that and I figure this’ll all be temporary just like the other times.

Meantime, Milk Pail offered flats of peaches, ran out, restocked, relisted them for this Saturday morning’s pickup and I grabbed one. I’d passed on it earlier because I was going to drive to Andy’s and there was no way Milk Pail’s could ever live up to his. Plus I was hoping Andy might have a few last Anya apricots left.

That drive to Morgan Hill is not happening no matter how much I want it to. Richard will be doing the local pickup.

My head still just wants to hold still. Walking around the yard, I have to watch my feet constantly because they don’t entirely know how far away the ground is with each step.

Which isn’t really new, it’s just my brain doing Groundhog Day and back at the starting point.