Over on the coast
Saturday January 23rd 2021, 11:31 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Were they open? Yes they were, for pickups and deliveries. No the pandemic had not done them in. Hallelujah. So let’s help them stay that way.

There’s a week-long storm rolling in and you do not want to drive Highway 17’s twisty steep narrow mountain passage in the rain and next Saturday looks like a really bad idea. But today was going to be dry and the fire-damaged trees haven’t fallen across it–yet.

I grabbed a hat project that had a second ball of Mecha for the next one in the bag because you never know, right, and we headed out to the car.

I did not knit a stitch. I wasn’t going to miss a moment of seeing every moment of every sight out of sight of the house. (Wow that reservoir is low for January.) We have now been in quarantine for a solid year here.

To Mutari Chocolates in Santa Cruz. Where a dairy allergy is taken good care of and the small-batch chocolate is the very best. It’s a splurge we try to do a few times a year, and the daughter is here for the moment, so, of course.

The hot chocolate.

The chocolate covered orange rinds that are her absolute favorite.

The wild Bolivian bars were mine.

The wild bay laurel truffles we tried were…different, and curious, but declared good.

I confess we did not try the douglas fir truffles. I decorate Christmas trees, I don’t eat them.

Chicken.



Most of the time it goes perfectly well
Friday January 22nd 2021, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Somebody, somewhere, is finding $150 worth of groceries outside their door and wondering who their benefactor is while thinking, ‘hey, cool!’ I hope they really needed it.

I just spent 45 minutes trying to fight my way past Amazon’s circular website h*ll trying to report a Whole Foods order that’s listed as delivered when it was not–at least not at my house. I can get it to list every item as not delivered, but then when I ask for a refund it demands I return the item (and then would probably tell me I can’t return groceries, but never mind.)

Just don’t charge me for what I didn’t get. I can even give them the Ring history to prove it. No car pulled up. Nothing came.

I’m typing this while a bit ticked, all the more so because I’m really hoping it doesn’t come out of the pocket of the one who can least afford it (so just don’t mess up like this, guy) but I’m afraid it might.

I said to Richard, who knows that I remember what it’s like to be young and poor and that I am quite generous on such things, “And I went back and changed the tip to zero. Because I’m mean like that.”

At that he laughed and saved the day for both of us.

If those groceries do actually finally come I have a day to consider adding some level of thank you back in.

But the unrefrigerated shrimp that were a bit of a splurge will be going straight in the trash.

——–

Update: Michelle went on a quick walk and found them next door. I texted the neighbor, wondering if she was in bed, while Michelle went back over there and waved her arms upon seeing that she was up, she was on the other side of the window and the new neighbor opened the door and at the explanation said ohmygosh oh no those aren’t mine take them!

The frozen shrimp wasn’t even cold anymore. Trashed.

But I did put a bit of a tip back in over at Amazon. Because the guy did at least give us a good neighbor story for later, and he tried. Sort of.



Wizard of awe
Thursday January 21st 2021, 11:06 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

I asked my friend Jane if I could borrow her picture and credit her, and she said, Sure! –But that it was someone else’s artwork.

Oh and: Jill Biden’s coat at the inaugural had the official flowers of every state and territory embroidered on it.



The Inauguration
Wednesday January 20th 2021, 11:53 pm
Filed under: History

A new start, guided by the light.

I’ve never watched an inauguration before. I missed seeing the swearing-in live because I tuned in at 9:00 our time and it was done a few minutes early, although it turns out the clock still had to strike noon for Biden to officially take over the reins.

The singing. That poem! The speech. Everything could not have been more perfect.

I hadn’t read the Narnia books in years, but the ascension into joy and light at the close of the Narnia books, with Aslan happily encouraging, Further up and further in! –that line leaped out to me as the Bidens, the crowd following, entered the Capitol and before them was a steep long flight of stairs, and on up they went. They crossed a wide landing, and there before them was another one that had not been in view before. Up again they climbed, never flagging. Further up and further in to where the view is better and better, the light clearer and the day ever more joyful!

Noted before that point: Elaine Chao starting to get up tripped in her heels and the camera swung away fast as she staggered a moment. A man was wearing a scarf wrapped tightly around his neck out there–of the finest white lace, and whether offered by his wife against the cold or in memory of someone he loved I’d love to know, but it looked like a wedding ring shawl (as in, you can pull it through one.) That was one masterpiece of both handknitting and love, because you don’t knit such a thing for just anybody, but the camera person didn’t know to let the shot linger there long enough for me to make out many details on the pattern.

Amanda Gorman! 

Lady Gaga, turning in the middle of the national anthem and gesturing to the Capitol’s flag as she sang triumphantly, “That our flag was still there.”

As Biden himself said, we need to “lead, not by the example of our power but by the power of our example.”

Such a joyful day!



Popping the bubble
Tuesday January 19th 2021, 11:29 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life,Politics

Oops.

It was only anchored in two places instead of all the way around because I wasn’t actually using it on the mango, nor had I set up its replacement we got under warranty because of a ripped zipper–since we know we’re not traveling anywhere at all, I’ve reverted to frost cover layers with Christmas lights at night. Way cheaper to heat.

So instead I left the old one up to help me kill off winter weed season within its circle. Californian weeds have Darwinian survival to a science: their stabby little sprouts come up before the grass can while their roots can go 18″ deep to grab every bit of water there might be. Depriving them of even what rain there’s been has left me a spot of good ground towards the coming veggie garden season.

And now it’s picked its own spot.

Winds 40-45 everywhere around for hours, gusts at 98 in the hills. I woke up to a big branch on the laurel outside the upper windows there twisted completely backwards again and again. I didn’t know it could do that.

It did not topple.

It’s been so dry that the winds reignited unseen underground embers from last August’s fires and now the firefighters are fighting the CZU complex wildfire all over again on ten fronts and I feel for my friends up in the hills.

But unlike summertime there’s a big rainstorm coming in, Friday if we’re lucky, Sunday through next Thursday after that, nearly three inches’ worth. At long last. Hopefully. And that should do it.

So on a happier note, tomorrow’s going to be SUCH a great day!

And y’know? The frame on that Sunbubble is still in great shape. They don’t sell the covers separately. I wonder–there’s got to be a way I can cut the plastic away and set it up with birdnetting, and that would be absolutely fabulous to have. It won’t be as pretty as if they sold it that way but with the help of the tall guy we can jury-rig that.

Seven Big Boy tomato seedlings have popped up in the last 24 hours and they’ll be happy to take that nice cleared spot in a month or two.

I better move the thing back over there before it rains so I don’t have to fight round two of the pricker-stabbies.

Oh wait.

Might be a little less effective this time.



From Martin Luther King Jr. to my grandfather
Monday January 18th 2021, 11:11 pm
Filed under: Family,History

June 23, 1964

The Honorable Wallace F Bennett

Senate Office Building

Washington 25, DC

 

Dear Mr. Bennett:

Your vote together with those of your midwestern colleagues in the Senate was the sine qua non for passage of an effective Civil Rights Act. You have earned the sincere gratitude of freedom loving people the world over. I add to theirs my sincere and heartfelt thanks.

Sincerely yours,

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Kc

Dictated by Dr King but signed in his absence


Grampa considered that vote the most important one of his 24-year Senate career and told us grandkids that. He nearly lost his seat over it, but he wanted to teach us that standing up for what was right was what he was there for in the first place. As should we in all things.

 



So blessedly normal
Sunday January 17th 2021, 11:29 pm
Filed under: Life,Politics

The New York Times has a story on the Emhoff/Harris family, with Kamala’s stepkids marveling over seeing their dad on CNN.

Turns out the daughter designs her own knits, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who went, Oh cool!

The son, quoting from the article: “I was a senior when they got together, and I remember I saw a tweet that someone did. It was a photo of Kamala at the Kavanaugh hearing, and someone tweeted, like, “I’d hate to have to look at that face and explain why I’m late for curfew.” And I was thinking, “I’ve literally had to do that.”

The Times asked the daughter what her dad was going to do now.

“I hope he takes up another hobby. I hope he starts knitting, like I do. I think it’ll be a good time for him to slow down and just, I don’t know, like appreciate life. And tap into a lot of the things that he couldn’t do because he was working so much or had these time constraints. I hope that it opens up some of those creative outlets, but that’s obviously just me, the creative child.”

And as I read I kept thinking, I can see why Kamala adores these kids so much.



It’s daughter o’clock
Saturday January 16th 2021, 10:27 pm
Filed under: Family

From careful quarantine pod to careful quarantine pod.

After a good dinner, Michelle and I were doing some organizing together in the kitchen and I finally said to her, You know, with all this laughing I’m going to work off those extra pounds while you’re here!

She laughed. Which was perfect.



Pandemic kitchen soup
Friday January 15th 2021, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Recipes

A box of chicken stock, a stalk of celery, green onions, let simmer while deciding what they want to be when they grow up. A little extra virgin California Organic olive oil (insert long lecture about how the Feds allow adulterated and lesser grades to be labeled EVOO but California’s grandfathered law requiring California Organic EVOO to be exactly that means that if you buy Californian-grown and organic and extra-virgin olive oil, that specific combination on the label, then you know you got what you paid for.

And it is revelatory if you are new to such.

Apollo‘s varietals are the best I’ve found. It’s like the difference between freshly grated real parmesan cheese and the (delete the phrase hamster bedding) that shakes out of the green can.

Hey, when you live this close to where so much of the country’s food is produced for so long it rubs off on you. Last I saw the baby artichokes 10/$1 sign was still up along the coast.

A few shakes of gumbo file powder for thickener and flavor.

Hmm, a half hour of simmering later, how about a good long squeeze of Costco Californian tomato paste in a tube. We’ve seen those trucks in the Central Valley, stuffed bottom to top with tomatoes and a few red bombs flying off the back (don’t get too close) and splatting on the road behind them as they go. A few bounce. We saw no pallets, no divisions, and no covers (I bet that’s changed now), just open beds piled high like a giant heaping tablespoon of a truckload.

That’s what I always picture when I see tomato paste.

A half package of frozen okra, stir, and let it simmer another half hour.

Here’s where my mom goes, You’re finally eating okra? On purpose?

Then take a small package of precooked Teton Ranch beef sausage links out of the freezer, in my case, which adds a little pepper to it too, or ham, chicken, whatever floats your boat, slice and throw it in and let it keep going till the meat is nice and warm.

Dish and sprinkle grated fresh parmesan on the servings, not in the pot, because there might be some leftovers (there was, though not a lot) and Michelle’s driving down from Washington State for a visit and it would be nice to be able to hand her something dairy-free and good within a minute when she walks in the door tomorrow after that very long drive.

I can’t wait.



Out out darn spot
Thursday January 14th 2021, 10:32 pm
Filed under: Life

Time to get that mole looked at. I’d put it off a bit but it was itching and it needed to get it done. (Not a recurrence of basal cell. Yay.)

What made it easier was that my dermatologist is one of my favorite people; we grew up just a few miles from each other and after last week we couldn’t help but talk politics just a bit.

It was no surprise to either of us but it was a relief that we are both so looking forward to having a peaceable man, an adult, and a person with governing experience taking charge next week at long last.

We grieved together for what was done, for what was lost, and for how bad it could have been. It was a relief to have someone from DC to talk to about it, even if just for a few minutes, while mutually mindful of her time and keeping it short. We felt seen.

We asked after each other’s families; like so many millions of women, she’s gone to part time to try to manage her kids’ schooling, but they really needed their classmate time. But the vaccines! Soon!

(This one on your back: you want me to freeze that off too while we’re at it?

Yes please!)



Thank you ten Republicans
Wednesday January 13th 2021, 10:48 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

The cause of Trump’s second impeachment today, with brief annotations offering bits of context we might not otherwise have known as a lawyer goes through the speech Trump made to instigate the mob.



It’s all a crock
Tuesday January 12th 2021, 11:05 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

So if someone loses/breaks a favorite thing, not an expensive thing at all but with consternation because they really liked it and it’s not made anymore–and you can do something about it, I wonder: after jumping through the hoops to have something sent to someone else’s house on a different person/address’s credit card, does the packing slip give you away? Does the credit card company?

Because in these days of isolation and missing people, to be able to make that right and anticipate the surprise just felt so good. And it was enough.

I know, I know, writing about it here kind of misses the point there but it’s way more fun than talking about oh hey I patched up that divot in the yard I tripped and went splat over yesterday.



Winter spring summer or no don’t do that
Monday January 11th 2021, 11:39 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Life,Lupus

1. I did the first shingles shot over a year ago and was overdue for the other one. The healthcare provider’s office popped up an auto-notice that my tetanus expired last month.

You do not get near my grands without being up-to-date, not that we can visit them right now, but that was the incentive for me to get it over with.

The nurse insisted on one each arm, not together.

2. I thought about what Mathias had said. Seed starter trays and soil plugs arrived right on cue. I planted tomatoes (or rather, I tried to, they only seemed to actually be able to go in where there was already a hole at the centers.) We’ll make some green inside, too, honey, I thought his direction. And if they get leggy maybe I’ll even buy a plant grow lamp…except that what they need for growth I as a lupus patient need not to be exposed to, and how do you set up a lamp in this house where all its light would be contained and away from me on a timer. Not seeing it yet. Windows will have to make up for my failure of imagination.

3. I twisted my ankle in a good hard fall, more so than last night’s fall, neither one as bad as Richard’s falling over backwards three days ago, and why are we acting so old like that but never mind, icepacks and ankle braces and I’m good to go and he seems pretty much okay now.

4. And now if anyone asks me if the shots hurt I can say no that’s just the other thing. Go, get yours, if you need them!

5. Icepacks really work. I got off easy.

6. Can’t wait to see those tomatoes.

7. There are some pitted Anya apricot kernels thinking about sprouting in their zip locked paper towels in the fridge. I picked out the biggest. One was twins. I am intrigued as to whether that would have any effect at all on what they grow into, other than that most likely they’re duplicates of each other. There is so much I don’t know. I almost chose a botany major and I have at times over the years wished I had.

I could use me some spring right now even if I have to jumpstart it.



Out of the mouths of babes
Sunday January 10th 2021, 11:17 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

We might not be able to fly there right now, but today we got to see Lillian in that very brief stage of toddlerhood where she gets what this talking thing is, she wants to, badly, and she’s putting her all into it.

If you ask her a question and the answer is yes she nods her head so hard her nose points to the ceiling, then the floor, in slow motion as she watches you to make sure she got that right and that she has your full attention, and then she does it again.

We nodded our heads.

She nodded hers, so happy.

She picked up a book. We said, “Book!” Her eyes got big: we knew about those, too? She wanted us to read it but didn’t get that we couldn’t through the screen while she wandered, but she liked that word and she tried it again and again, pursing her lips as far out as they could go to make the sound and really leaning forward along with them but didn’t lose her balance. OOoo. (There may have been a b and a k in there too but I didn’t hear them.)

When her brother cried briefly she ran over to him, wanting to make it all better–and it helped. He wasn’t feeling well, but a hug from his mommy helped, too.

I was trying to come up with good questions to ask a three year old going on four come April to help out, too, and came up with, “What’s your favorite color?”

He told us green: because when it’s green again outside it makes everybody happy.

It just staggered me. How did he already know this?

(Update1/11: Turns out he’d heard his daddy talking about back in Alaska, where Mathias was born. A color that makes people happy? What better could you ask for?)



Eyeballing that amount
Saturday January 09th 2021, 9:08 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Lupus

Today’s new vocabulary word: episcleritis.

Yesterday morning I thought I’d scratched my eyeball somehow in the night as I repeatedly put eyedrops in and kept trying to find where that exceptionally long sharp eyelash could be. Maybe I’d scratched the cornea again. All day long I could not make it better but I hoped a good night’s sleep would.

Eye pain kicked me out of bed early today.

My exam was my husband taking pictures and my doctor asking me over the phone if it hurts when I touch my eyeball?

I looked at the handset funny a moment. “I dunno, I don’t usually go around touching my eyeball.”

She laughed, I closed my eye and gently tried it and went oooh yes definitely.

Any discharge?

No.

She saw one of the pictures.

Yup, pretty clearly episcleritis. Start the drops and if it doesn’t get better get right back to me.

Who knew, having had lupus diagnosed half my life ago, that there could be a new complication I’d never heard of?

When I told her NSAIDs make me deaf, she considered a moment, decided some tiny amount could get in the bloodstream, and prescribed steroid drops instead.

Which flashed me back to the staggering 200 mg/day dose via IV twelve years ago that took 25% of the bone mass in my hips (I was in a study at UCSF at the time) but did absolutely nothing to fight back my soaring autoimmunity–and my GI doctor later telling me, But: just because steroids don’t work in one part of the body doesn’t mean they won’t later work in a different part for completely different reasons.

I bet Dr. R doesn’t remember telling me that but I do and it was something I was going to need to hear and today was the day. I had to try.

Forty-five minutes after that first single drop I said to Richard, It was *painful* before. Now it’s, eh. Irritated, but, eh.

Four hours later my eye told me my dose was wearing off. And then it again thanked me for that drop, even if it took me five tries that time to land one in. I am not yet good at this.

I hope there are enough doses in that little bottle for all the times I’ll miss but I’m really grateful to have it. And that it works! Yay modern medicine!