Branching out
Friday July 10th 2020, 11:09 pm
Filed under: Garden

Two days ago there was the first sign of what appeared to be a new branch on my apricot seedling. Now there are two, and I could see a definite difference between this morning and this evening. Go little tree go!

I put it in a much bigger pot two weeks ago–I can still turn it around to keep it balanced re the sun, but barely–and was surprised at how big the root system was on such a tiny plant.

Clearly it’s very happy about its new digs.

I’m trying to picture how high off the ground that first branch will be someday when the tree is really planted, and failing. I have no idea. But for now I’m keeping its young leaves out of snails’ reach.

I do know I gave the more vigorous seedling to my friends so that they could have a payoff faster, and because I’d prefer my tree to be naturally dwarfed, which by comparison it seemed to be.

However it turns out. There’s going to be a lot of satisfaction in watching this one come into its own.

John Driver, the guy who traveled Silk Road countries, sometimes in war zones, in search of what an apricot should be, who brought home 1500 Dept of Agriculture-approved kernels and developed the Anya and Yuliya varieties from them? He named them after the women who’d shared their best fruit with the interested American.

It appears he couldn’t make a living selling his apricot trees to commercial orchards, doubled Brix counts or no, and he ripped those out and planted almonds. It’s clear to me that it was simply that nobody knew apricots could be that good and the market didn’t catch up in time. He did preserve some for his family, and I kind of feel like it’s the Bradford  Watermelon all over again. (I have two of those growing this year.) But let’s not wait 170 years for them to be rediscovered.

I’d rather buy a tree from him because he earned it, but that is not an option. Yet. One can hope. I sent him a note that if he wanted to sell to individuals, the rare and great with a great story like his behind them and a high price will always have a market that will seek for the unique and best.

Said the art dealer’s daughter.

But this is what I can do.  So for now I watch my Anya-parent seedling grow and wish it all the best–and saved every kernel from the ones I bought from Andy’s two weeks ago. They’re in the fridge.

I came across someone’s comment that they refrigerated theirs for a month, (me: that’s all?) took them out and sprouted them and grew them under lights through the winter and on into spring, and boy did they get a jump ahead on mine!

Thursday July 09th 2020, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden,Life,Mango tree

I’ve told this before, but for those who haven’t yet read it: My friend Jean planted a pomegranate tree and two years later brought a half a paper grocery bag’s worth of fruit to church to share that was bursting open, breaking itself into pieces that made it easy for lots of people to get a sample (outside). *She* thanked *us*, saying there was way more than she could eat.

I had never tasted anything like it. I wondered if I’d ever tasted an actually ripe pomegranate before, or was it just the variety (she didn’t remember the name.)

A few years later I got to tell her that she was why I’d researched descriptions and taste tests and planted my own, a Parfianka, the favorite of not only a whole bunch of people online but the owner at Yamagami’s Nursery. I never would have done it had I not tasted hers first and found out what I was missing. She’d definitely earned a thank you.

Mine was a cute little $10 end-of-season-clearance what-they-had-left thing in one of those 4x4x10″ sleeves. Jean was 80 when she planted hers and she clearly started with a more established specimen. Makes sense.

Time and sun and water and dirt and the little one got there just the same. It fascinates me how the tree just keeps on randomly throwing out new flowers with the fruit in various stages, keeping the feeding station open for the bees and hummingbirds.

Jean is 94 this year and I think others will be bringing her pomegranates inside to her. I hope she gets to see them fully ripe again.

And one of my mangoes, too: two more months. I would not make her wait for an Alphonso, knowing she misses the Hadens of her childhood in Hawaii but her late husband even more, but I hope to help her discover something new to love and partake of just like she did for me.

I don’t dare risk bringing one to her in this pandemic, but if her daughter okays it I’ll pass one along through her.

It’s dogging me
Wednesday July 08th 2020, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Knit

The hats. I told him I could sew the bottoms of the ears down if desired.

Knitted in, the diamonds and triangles are much crisper than sewn on and

wait. I didn’t even see it till typing this

did I really

I did


stupid visual memory brain damage

I sewed those cheeks on wrong.

But I was so happy to get right back to work on the jellyfish on my afghan after two weeks of wanting to that it just flew right past me.


Still with the hat
Tuesday July 07th 2020, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Knit
(I have no idea why the paragraphing on this post is being wonky on the public view. I promise I typed it right. But anyway…)
It dawned on me only after I’d finished all six color sections *and* sewn them together that by picking up the bottom of the hat and knitting the rainbow downwards that as I checked the earlier hat to make sure which color came next–I was actually putting them in in the reverse direction and that part of the logo is backwards.
I knew in my bones I was not ripping all that work out. If I were a person who jogs that would have been a good time to put on my running shoes. I spent about an hour thinking well, I have enough of the main color to do a third hat.
Second Sock Syndrome ain’t got nuthin’ on what I was feeling towards that thought.
And so I avoided it most of the day and let it stew in the corner by itself.
But I did not want to wake up tomorrow still having to face sewing on those seven pieces and finally made myself pick it back up.
What was a far bigger thing than I expected was how good it felt to run in and cut off every loose end from that rainbow. The hat was no longer a jellyfish with dangling tentacles. And, as the face gradually appeared from all those little fiddly bits, wait–that thing is actually cute!
I’ve run out of day and it still needs the ears sewn on. But I can handle that.
One thing I learned today is that when you knit the pieces separately and sew them on, there’s a 3D aspect to it that will instantly appeal to any child who will ever see it and the child in any grownup. Definitely beats the flatness as well as the difficulty of doing intarsia in the round. Keeping it simple makes it look like it isn’t.

Chopped stick
Monday July 06th 2020, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Wildlife

Lots of sawdust and sound today.

It’s so strange to look out the skylights and not see the silk oak a.k.a. grevillea tree anymore. There will be no murder of crows next spring when its weird orange flowers would have come on. It won’t be dropping any more major limbs on us. The new owner wasn’t risking it, and besides, whatever it may have looked like 70 years ago, it sure didn’t now.

The workers dropped large enough chunks of trunk to make the house jump, and sitting on the couch it felt exactly like the first jolt of the 5.4 quake that happened while I was in the same spot some years ago. I got up and took this picture through the leaves of my Chinese elm of the last nine feet or so of it (the yellow dead center there) before it too thumped down hard.

The old guy behind us breathed a sigh of relief and emailed me that he’d been cleaning up a bucket’s worth of leaves from that messy tree every single day for all the decades they’d lived here and now he won’t have to anymore.

My pear tree will have a much greater chance of finally blooming next year with all the new sunlight.

They took out the weed trees that were about to grow through the fence along our front walkway, too. I had had no idea just how shaded we had become until suddenly it was brilliance out there. My roses can make a comeback now; I’ve missed them. That fire hazard growing towards the sun and over my house that the insurance company was so upset over is gone. I miss them, but I don’t, and I won’t ever have to shell out big bucks to trim them straight up from the fence line to keep them happy anymore. Which, as I showed the new owner, would over time make them liable to fall on her house.

Gone. Done. Her yard will start over.

The tall ash in the background is in the yard next to Adel’s. It had a large nest this year, and I wondered if the hawks had moved there after the redwood vanished.

Last night, a Cooper’s swooped over our heads and up into that ash tree near that nest. Its young have surely fledged by now but territory must be announced–and youngsters like to stick close to home the first few months.

So they’re okay after all that came down today.

The owner of that house walked around the corner, talked to the tree crew a minute during their break, and got their business card. Hopefully for a different tree.

Put that down you know where it’s been
Sunday July 05th 2020, 9:53 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Something I had wondered about all my life.

How on earth do you get fish showing up in every body of water you pretty much ever heard of? When the places are not connected at all? I mean, it’s not like fish fly.

The Washington Post reports that a carp, to take one type, can release a hundred thousand eggs.

So: some researchers fed 8,000 carp eggs to eight mallard ducks, and 18 eggs, it turned out, were still viable after passing through the ducks’ digestive systems one to four hours later.

By which point the birds could be miles away from where they ate that meal.

It’s as simple and logical as that.

Scientists are little kids who grew up and still wondered about duck poop.

The Babcocks
Saturday July 04th 2020, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden

Our yard’s first squirrel-free, scrub jay-free peaches in two years. Very juicy.

And, frankly, rather flavorless. Being in a clamshell sped up the ripening process, I guess–they about fell into my hand–but not the sugaring.

But we got them and they were ours and there are more peaches to come that are protected by citrus-branch barbs rather than plastic boxes.

Pulling a raspberry
Friday July 03rd 2020, 9:58 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Somewhere at a pick-your-own farm.

Lillian tried a few raspberries, pulled a face, considered, and then decided, Wait–I like these!

And then the basket was no longer in her reach. All in good time, love.

A little assembly required
Thursday July 02nd 2020, 9:27 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

So, so, so much faster and easier, even if I have all that sewing-on to do. It did take me a few tries to figure out how to make the diamond shape with knitting into fronts and backs of stitches while not distorting the edges. Note to self: cast on two, not one to start, and then do a make one in between on that first purl row. You want to be working with an odd number so you can double decrease into a point at the top.

Right now everything’s curled up because it’s stockinette stitch on the loose.

I felt so virtuous getting this far along that I totally didn’t do the rainbow part yet–but Debby’s idea is definitely the way to go, and thank you, Debby!

The thing I keep thinking is that I’ve wanted to make character hats for the grandkids for a long time, and now I know how to do what I want to do for probably just about any design and it’s incredibly freeing. Sterling did me a huge favor with his request, and I sent him this picture with a thank you.

Wednesday July 01st 2020, 10:56 pm
Filed under: Knit

This is totally a factory reject. I’m embarrassed to even show it. The only reason I didn’t frog it three inches in is that I’d spent four+ hours on the darn rainbow, with the backwards intarsia and four needle ends flopping around.

It actually looks semi-okay on the other side. Why I managed not to make that the right side, I…have no explanation. Maybe I thought we’d flip the brim up. But babies hate hat brims flopping down over their eyes when they don’t yet know how to get them off and to stay off, and I do not aspire to make babies cry.

But what fascinates me is how putting the ears down like the picture I’m working from vs putting them upwards like a bow feels like it totally changes the gender of the silly puppy somehow.

The guy mentioned this was supposedly a cat.

With a boxer face?

That extra stitch of white to each side above the nose was me saying no you silly it’s a dog—but by that point I already knew this was not going to be the one so I might as well do what I want.

So. I got to this point last night, put it down in front of me, and considered.

I have more than one row of brown between the tongue and the which-side-is-the-right-side-this-time color change weirdnesses. I could cut the bottom of the brown, carefully undo the next row up while easing the stitches onto my needles, and re-knit going downwards, with the half-stitch jog sideways that would give it.

Not sure why I don’t want to do that, but I don’t want to do that.

So I spent a long time just looking at it and thinking what my options were.

I could i-cord racing stripes to cover those hideous joins. Which totally doesn’t work for the intended purpose of the hat of logo-matching for the mama.

Which is why today I picked that brown yarn up again and have half the upper section (it should have been the whole thing) knitted again. I will knit the face parts separately and sew them on, and if there’s anything I find I don’t like, changing it will be almost nothing to do when you do it that way.

I will make the features smaller this time.

I will pick up the bottom stitches, one color section at a time, and slant-knit downwards.

I think I’m showing you these pictures so you’ll understand what a screaming relief it will be when I produce a decent version–and as a reminder that even good knitters can make truly awful things when they’re first figuring out how to do something new. Intarsia in the round is usually a no, just, no.

But now I can see how to make some really fun hats for my grandkids, so I definitely got something out of this.

I may make great big floppy Ludo-the-Saint-Bernard grandpuppy ears and give the new hat the old ears. Maybe I’ll even make that i-cord.

Or maybe at that point, just for a little while, I’ll throw that thing in a corner with energy, pick up my sea creatures afghan, and thank it for being an easy project. Which it is not. But as intarsia knitted flat, it is now.