Listening to baby birds
Tuesday April 13th 2021, 8:48 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

The San Jose peregrines seem to be trying again after losing every egg, this time using the nest box–although we won’t know for sure till the clutch actually arrives.

San Francisco, meantime, had three hatch and then at last the fourth egg decided to get with the program. The youngest and littlest always seems to be the last one fed but it does get fed.

The surprise to me in that longer video was hearing a dog bark. That skyscraper nest is 33 floors up!

Antsy puttering
Monday April 12th 2021, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Life

More apple flowers, because the day around here wasn’t about much more than watching the plants grow. But they are pretty.

I woke up with the thought that next week, I get my second jab, and two weeks after that I get to actually go out and do things! Like, y’know, go to Trader Joe’s and see what all the new stuff is now! The three-ingredient chocolate mints. I miss them. Go to yarn stores!  Or get an almond pastry at Copenhagen Bakery. Or or or.

Letting that longing come unleashed became a little too much fairly quickly, not helped in the least by the news of the day in Minneapolis, so I quietly put all that aside and went and immersed myself in laundry and the like around the house. It always needs to be done anyway. Keep busy. Breathe deep.

With a whole lot of praying for a whole lot of people out there. There is so much we have to make so much better.

So glad that at least the guy in his Army uniform in Virginia survived his encounter with racist cops, but it was a near thing.

Time to get out the juicer
Sunday April 11th 2021, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Food

I’m wondering whether the branches on this tree that are hanging down so hard will snap back upright after they finally get all that weight off them. This is my Gold Nugget mandarin’s first real crop and it went all out, especially on that side. Which is looking really funny: like a Pez dispenser for oranges.

And on another note, I wonder. A creme brulee torch is for creme brûlées but this guy seems to think they’re for cheesecakes?

Seems a little odd… And great fun.

A possum’s rear end
Saturday April 10th 2021, 10:27 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Got up this morning, walked across the house, looked out the window–and after a moment of not wanting to miss this at all and of it moving very slowly down the top of the fence, sniffing all the way, I ran for my phone. Tried to get a photo from the window on that side of the house. Nope. So I ran back to the family room just a moment before it disappeared into the neighbor’s yard behind us.

It was big and it must have been a female: during the spring, mama possums are out during daylight hours looking for extra food. They’re not rabid. They’re hungry. I’m just glad that with all the future fruit on my trees (not to mention the ripening oranges) that she decided my yard would not provide.

Man that one had a thick jaw. And belly.

I went and put my phone back.

Darn if the thing didn’t come back this way again the moment I did, this rat/pig thing the size of a large cat. They have opposable not thumbs but back toes for climbing and I suddenly had no doubts it had stolen as many of my apples as any raccoon.

Maybe. Looking them up, it turns out that for an animal that big they still only live two years on average. I’m guessing their play dead defense can be very helpful to the right predators.

This time it turned right at the T-intersection of fences and went along the backyard of the good folks next door. Again it was moseying along, sniffing (being nocturnal, they don’t have great eyesight) and in no particular hurry.

Again I ran for the phone. Again it slipped just beyond clear sight as I raised the camera.

We’d created ourselves a little game, hadn’t we.

Brown/gray vague blobs blending into the trees in the distance through multiple panes of glass. I managed to find them in the photos.

Which will be added when the computer quits playing possum with them. So you get mango flowers instead.

Friday April 09th 2021, 9:16 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

Some photos came through. These are the Anyas I planted a bit later than the first set.

The one from last year, having not been nice and warm and inside at night and having to make do with the natural seasons, is playing catch up.

Grape Kool-aid got the first gray squirrel that attacked my Stella cherry on Wednesday to leave and not come back; then yesterday, a black squirrel tried and that time I Graped again and shook cinnamon on the limbs.

There has been no sign of a squirrel since. Which is great, because last year they were stripping those flowers just as fast as they opened. They only seem to do that with the cherries.

I wonder if the salmonella outbreak that has been affecting the birds has cut down the squirrel population, too. It seems like it.

Quite to my surprise I discovered the first pomegranate bud of the year. And while I was looking at it, I heard the loud cry of a large bird overhead that I didn’t turn around in time to see.

But there was a large feather on the ground a few steps behind me that most definitely did not come from a crow, where there had been none a moment before.

Even with the bird feeder down, even with the tall trees to either side of our property gone now, even with a new generation of Cooper’s hawk these last two years, it appears they still claim our yard as their own.

And that makes me wildly happy.

Samantha wrinkles her nose
Thursday April 08th 2021, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

The jiffy pots just weren’t doing it for those remaining seedlings anymore and I knew it.

I realized that it was lifting the bags of soil that had been stopping me.

So I didn’t–I left them propped up and scooped out dirt by the plastic flowerpot-full and took it to where I wanted it to go. All I’d needed was to just get started. It was slower, it got my hands in the dirt more, it was more meditative–and it got the job done.

Five apricot seedlings planted in pots, six if you include the one from last year. That should be enough to do some fine taste-testing of Anya’s offspring in a few years. Some got more peat than the others, some more planting mix, some, more topsoil; it got a bit random because hey, I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m just guessing.

There’s one last one whose roots haven’t started dangling out the jiffy bottom yet, ready and waiting for the friend it’s been promised to to plant as she pleases.

A quick house note: I am told that yes this kitchen does have a stove–it pulls down by the handles from the small oven above. Apparently it’s called a Bewitched stove, because the TV show of that name from my childhood had one like it. (Here’s the Graceland version.)

I love that this house has its original one still there and still working. Mechanical dials for the win!

I’d still remodel the heck out of that kitchen if it were mine. With some regret, because that thing is cool. I just wouldn’t want to be stuck having to try to use those tiny burners that I’m told were slow at a friend’s house and I would most definitely trip over them jutting out like that but only some of the time. My body just doesn’t do graceful.

Wednesday April 07th 2021, 8:51 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Seven miles instead of 75. It delays his being fully vaccinated by five days, but still. I conferred with him and then grabbed it. I also immediately canceled the original. The site said Sutter would offer it as a first shot to someone else and asked that that be made possible as soon as we could, which was only reasonable.

Immediately after I finished that up, the doorbell rang: my friend Constance, who lives hours away these days (there’s a shawl in my book named after her.)  She had been in the area on a work assignment and was stopping by on her long drive home.

We ended up on chairs in the shed. It was trash day but for obvious reasons I had not put the bin back right away. This gave us a spot that was outside, as one should in a pandemic, under a ceiling-height roof and with sides, as my lupus needs to be out of the sun, and it was perfect enough of a spot for visiting that I wondered why I hadn’t thought of that a whole lot sooner. Anyway. We had a lot of catching up to do after not seeing each other in person for too many years.

And then I sent her home with a 5 gallon fiber pot full of new topsoil and peat moss and a baby Anya apricot tree to put in it, kind of a grow kit. Just add water. After you get it back out of your car.

And on a totally different note. My late father, a modern art dealer, would absolutely have howled. Sometimes the art world can get a bit precious, and that poor innocent couple who picked up a brush from somewhere in the spilled paint on the floor and scatterings of paint cans and such in front of the mural and added their touch to what they thought was a public-invited graffiti project, well…wouldn’t you?

(When in doubt read the little white box on the wall next to the art in the gallery, but never mind.)

Grow grow grow
Monday April 05th 2021, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Garden

The apricots in pots, the short, five-branched one and the tall–which, although the leaves kept growing bigger, had stopped producing new ones until its roots could likewise grow more to support them. So, you know, you’re planted now, hurry up!

I’ll move them into bigger pots next winter. Gotta start somewhere.

And then there’s the one from last year. I overwatered it one particular week last summer and it suffered and stopped growing. Totally my fault; I kept giving it as much when the weather turned cool as I’d been doing in the high 90s. Apricots do not like soaking their feet.

During the winter the top and a side branch appeared to have died off so I pruned it, little though it was, and hoped it might survive.

Note the pretty, glossy Costco pot I bought for it turned out to have had a red coat of paint slapped on top of plain plastic but which shredded off almost from the first time water touched it. Not cool. But so 2020.

Anyway, that Anya is only just now waking up for the season: those leaves at the top started to appear yesterday. But it was very much to my relief that it did wake up. I didn’t kill it after all!

Not to mention, I really want to be that extra year ahead. I want to begin to find out what we’ll get with these.

It always amazes me when a plant manages to recover from its deathplantbed and just keep right on going after all.

Happy Easter!
Sunday April 04th 2021, 9:45 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Someone in the neighborhood was having an Easter feast with several cars’ worth of attendees. Probably all vaccinated, right?

Still, it left me with a sense of, oh, if only.

I texted Happy Easter to my kids. In response we got a photo of one exhausted toddler sound asleep mid-dinner in his high chair and some FaceTime with his 18-month-old cousin who, having discovered this wondrous indentation right there in the center of her, had to show us her discovery of having a belly button. As every not quite entirely verbal yet baby that ever was has done for all of time. While her big brother made sure she had enough jelly beans. This was clearly Jelly Beans Day, to her amazement, holding some out in our direction. She opened and got help closing the little plastic egg halves again and again.

The St. Bernard, as always, refused to hear her name coming out of a screen because she knew that’s just not real. She got to her feet and walked away.

Black rabbit
Saturday April 03rd 2021, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift

The first apple blossoms of the year.

And, on the right, the apricot that was just the tiniest beginnings of two leaves tucked way down in there a week ago.

One of the real estate sites somehow thought I wanted a cabin in Carmel. It’s absolutely adorable and comes with its own Rapunzel tower and I’d love to camp out in it even if my hair hasn’t gotten quite *that* long in the pandemic, but man, that is the most flammable house I think I have ever seen.

And on a different note, I did a fair bit of knitting today: it’s the weekend of the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Gerrit Gong was one of today’s speakers, and he was reminiscing about his late father.

Whom we knew and adored. When his dad was blind from diabetes in his old age, his mother asked if I might knit her a scarf in angora: because her husband couldn’t see anymore, but he could still feel, and she thought it would be a blessing to him.

You bet I did.


Pot humus
Friday April 02nd 2021, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

Woke up with a smile on my face. We have a date, at long last: seven weeks till we get to see who we want to see and go where we want to go.

It felt celebratory to pick up the topsoil I’d ordered from the local nursery; I wasn’t going to risk my back lifting them before that drive to Antioch. Even if I’d ordered the half-size bags for caution’s sake.

And now there are two apricot seedlings in good-sized but not huge pots for them to get a good start on life in and they look glorious.

One bag done. A second is in the back yard.

There are eight (!) more of them because, uh, I think I overdid it. Like, a lot. The guy just barely managed to fit them into my Prius and I should have paid the $55 delivery fee for their strong young men to come bring them and stack them up wherever I might ask because some things you just can’t weigh in terms of the equivalent number of bags that that would work out to and hey lady did you realize you’re starting to get on the old side, but, oh well. Too late now. They are totally smelling up the inside of the car because I forgot to get the dolly and found my limit for one day and had the good sense to stop.

But those two trees are finally where they should be for the next year while they grow their roots a bit. They’d so needed it. They’d stopped producing new leaves until their roots had somewhere to reach to, too, and now they look so good. And it makes me so happy.

Guess who forgot to take their picture as I was taking them in.

A five hour tour
Thursday April 01st 2021, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Family,History

Whoah! Suddenly there were green boxes. All in the same two places. Did we want to go (I looked them up) 317 miles round trip or 146? We actually finally had choices, but only at those two.

Was this a trick question?

Wait. Maybe it kind of was. On 24 hours’ notice, too. I asked him if he was serious and I looked up distances and I basically twiddled my fingers a few minutes to let anybody closer snatch all those slots in Antioch. The 7:30 one did vanish, but none of the others.

We had had appointment slots get claimed while we did the required repeated hoop-jumping so many times.

A few years ago, Sutter Health scooped up our formerly independent medical clinic in a trend of providers consolidating to lower their administrative costs and fight insurance companies.

Well, there’s finally an upside for us: Sutter lets their patients schedule a covid vaccine at any of their facilities they’re willing to get to. The drugstores go by the county you live in. Sutter goes by Sutter.

He’d been okayed by his doctor a week ago, who was surprised that that hadn’t happened yet, and both of us have been looking multiple times a day every day since. With everyone 50 on up eligible as of today, and everyone over 16 in two weeks, and the medical officer of our more-populous county having sued the state in a fit over the fine points of the law re distribution, ending with us being dead last to receive vaccines, (gee thanks) all the sites said three months and we figured that’s just how it was going to probably end up being.

Green boxes! Tomorrow! When the screen said Confirmed Appointment I nearly burst into tears for sheer disbelief and gratitude.

Road trip road trip!

He couldn’t change his schedule at work that fast and had to be in meetings concentrating in the noisy environment, so that meant me at the wheel and, as is normal for me, not hearing the GPS. His co-workers on the phone were cheering him on. The traffic was relentless. Google said 75 minutes to three hours; it was nearly the latter (so much for the idea that nobody’s commuting by car right now), but we tried for a good hour early just in case which got whittled down greatly but not quite entirely. We made it. We were good. The staff said of course I could use the restroom!

A stop at an In’N’Out drive-through for burgers to minimize contact, eating in their parking lot (which also meant we didn’t have to drive into the sunset); he spelled me at the wheel for the long road home.

He got. His shot. He got it! Moderna. Four weeks till the second. Neither of us wants to make that trek again but the appointment’s on the books and his if he wants it and if we have to we will in a heartbeat. We want to see our grandkids! And we so want not to get nor give Covid-19 to anyone.

As we rounded the bottom of the San Francisco Bay on the return, I mused out loud that, if we’d ever driven alongside what looked like the end (it wasn’t quite) of the Suisun Bay before, I couldn’t remember it at all.

He couldn’t either; maybe on our way to Yellowstone when the kids were little? Maybe?

So strange to see a whole beautiful wide Bay–that wasn’t ours and whose contours we did not really know. But it welcomed us anyway, and we are grateful.