Just one more
Saturday July 15th 2023, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Knit

Last night a certain someone couldn’t find his yogurt.

I found it, I told him, It was right behind–

— (oh wait look those are the cherries I picked a week ago and forgot about. Oh look they’re still perfectly good. Cool!)

I had been wishing for one more bite of that pie without depriving my wintertime freezer stash.

I didn’t mention it. I simply got up a bit early this morning, pitted the two and a half pounds, scant but they would do; and there was this bit of leftover crust in the fridge from making those two-person minis the other day.

Which is how there was a sour cherry pie coming out of the oven this morning before the certain someone was even up, and boy was he surprised.

Could he have ice cream with his?

He could.

Meantime, five more long rows done so far today. It’s knitting, but (looking at the back here) it’s almost equally weaving.

The intarsia project
Friday July 14th 2023, 9:18 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

Let’s see, if I do this on the right side row then this strand is going to end up here when I need it over there so is it worth carrying over or do I break off a new strand and oh wait over there too and it all looks like a game of fifty-two pickup anyway, and I’m not just talking about the bajillion loose strands on the back.

Richard didn’t really know why he should be excited that the top of the railing row was finished, but he was happy for me.

I stopped a minute ago, some time later, and set it out and looked at it.

It does. It really does. Those wretched steps whose rows I ripped out again and again, they actually do look like what I was trying to do, and with what I’ve done today you can actually see that it’s actually going to look like the picture that it was supposed to.

I wish I could show you yet–but just let me say what a huge relief that is, and what a huge incentive to keep going. Nothing propels success like success.

Playing telephone
Thursday July 13th 2023, 8:59 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden,Life,Lupus

It was a bit of a cri de coeur: I had tried leaving individual messages, gotten no response, and finally wrote to the whole ward.

I have a tart cherry tree, I said, and I’ve been getting up early in the mornings to pick from it hoping to beat the risks of the low UV exposure at that hour and it’s flaring me and I absolutely have to stop. But it’s a crime to let those cherries go unpicked, and the last of them are ripe now.

Save me from me, I wrote. Email me first so we don’t get forty people with a handful apiece, but please, come get yourself some pie cherries from my tree. It’ll be hands-and-knees work, though, because the ones left are mostly down close to the ground.

The only answer I got last night was from a friend insisting she was going to pick them today–for me.

We agreed to wait to see if anyone else answered first. People were being too polite, not wanting to shove to the front of the line, I figured (I mean, how could anyone not be passionate about pie cherries, even if that first person wasn’t.)

I got two messages this morning: one from a friend who admitted she’d long wished she had a tree like mine and that sour cherry was her favorite pie, too, and she would dearly love to have them. Could she come by after her dental appointment?

That would be great!

The other came in a few minutes after the first, from N’s daughter, saying, That’s my mom’s absolute favorite, I’d love to come pick them for her.

Several hours after I’d heard from her mom, I told the daughter that I’d completely forgotten till that moment, but, I had wire racks from old ovens around the base of the tree after seeing a ground squirrel next to it: they won’t come up where they can’t dig down, and I didn’t want it chewing on the bark and roots. Those might be rough on her mom’s knees.

That was it, she was coming with her kids. She called her mom and then told me they were on their way over.

Meantime, I was on the phone with the doctor’s office and they said I needed to be seen but I needed to have a covid test first, and not just a home test.

The daughter took pictures of her kids holding up their treasureboxes of bright fruit with the cherry tree as background and it just made my day.

They held some out: did I want any?

(Always, of course, but I had so much in my freezer.) I opened the door a crack, trying not to breathe in their direction: No, I’ve got plenty, thanks, though!

They left, I sent out a note to the ward saying the cherries were picked and thank you everybody, and I headed off to the clinic.

The grandmother read that and dashed over, hoping she hadn’t lost her chance to at least get some. Turns out she had missed that phone call.

Richard had been in a meeting and I hadn’t interrupted, so he didn’t know that the daughter had come by; he just met the grandmother at the door (trying to keep his distance because of the covid exposure), and a moment later found her crushed, saying, It’s stripped. They’re all gone.

(While the daughter had been going, Mom, answer your phone…)

And everybody’s having a good laugh over the whole thing now.

Oh, and the covid test? It was negative.

Wednesday July 12th 2023, 9:21 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

It came last night when it was almost dark, and I wasn’t entirely sure till it took flight that it was a Bewick’s wren.

Having made the discovery, it came back tonight for more while there was still some light out.

Have you ever seen a bird playing? I’m sure there was a reason for it, drying out some annoying mite or something, but it was dancing and flipping its tail and making burrowing motions and throwing out clouds of the fine dust in this sweet little pile it had discovered. Again and again and again, with wings, tail, head, it’s all good. Whee! It must have felt very vulnerable while being so into it, and so it didn’t come when the sun’s full light would give it away to predators.

That tiny bird can really create a cloud. Zigzag! Fling! Marilyn Monroe’s skirt with the tail flipping!

Now how am I supposed to go sweep that up in good conscience?

The usual route
Tuesday July 11th 2023, 5:37 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Picked another five+ pounds of cherries this morning, only this time I had the sense to pit them before taking the shower they were going to make me need. I froze them in pie amounts and had a half a pie’s worth left over.

Got out two stoneware bowls a few minutes ago, covered them in thawed pie crust, made a half recipe split between them, they’re in the oven, and hopefully we’ll manage to share one tonight and one in the morning rather than scarf an entire one down each all at once. But we’ll see.

Then the phone rang.

Richard’s aunt and her son, the grandmother and father of the groom on Saturday, have just been diagnosed with covid after avoiding it for so long. (Quick thought: let’s see, that’s two of the five people I hugged there that I can think of…)

Me: Are they okay?

He said they were.

Good. Let’s all stay that way. (Hoping hard, knowing that she’s the caretaker to her husband.)

Eight minutes left on that timer. Soon there will be pie.

Oh there you go.

How many atmospheric rivers does it take to make…
Monday July 10th 2023, 9:02 pm
Filed under: Knit

Got up this morning, picked a gallon of cherries till the sun really was too high for me to be out there, and was glad the rest weren’t quite that dark a red yet. This is about four pounds.

I still need to go process all these and after checking on the tree near sunset, um, tomorrow that mixing bowl needs to be empty and ready and a second one, too.

About eighteen pounds have already been picked. We got about ten pounds last year.

I’m curious to see whether we’ll get to triple the record. And this is a little tree, more a bush.

Superbloom year indeed.

(Update: 3.5 lbs actual fruit after pitting.)

July needs to slow down
Sunday July 09th 2023, 9:24 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

I woke up this morning with the thought, and those people were okay because people who didn’t know them pulled over on the freeway on that mountain pass next to that truck on fire and that steep drop-off in order to get them to safety, at great risk to their own. I just needed to emphasize that point to honor who they are and what they did, whoever they are.

Meantime, I finished a random Zoom-meeting-knitting hat. It started with an intended recipient but the overtwisted stash yarn was nah…not what I was looking for… But it’s done, and someone will like it.

I am determined to make some progress on that afghan even if I’m doing everything three times to get it right; I’m getting closer to where it’s more obvious and less of the stage of what will it actually look like if I do this no wait I meant this. Two rows in 90 minutes with about 300 rows to go.

But at least I won’t be doing seed stitch in alternating doubled-stranded colors with a third worked across the back of them for much longer.

When did they say Christmas was?

Glad we went
Saturday July 08th 2023, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Guess where we were today. (Youtube link)

Some of both the bride and groom’s families were caught in that mess while the truck was still on fire at Altamont Pass. We were a little later, and by then the fire was out but it took us a very very long time to creep past.

I thought no way someone survived that. They did, though, they’re apparently okay.

So we were late to the cousin’s son’s wedding in Modesto but we made it, they made it, everybody understood, and the angst let go to the joy as we walked in those doors. (Man, did we look that young back in the day? Wow.) Their friends were having the times of their lives. The couple was having the joy of theirs. So tender to each other.

The DJ made a point of celebrating Richard’s aunt and uncle’s fifty-third.

Coming back, we opened Waze first.

By now, the 580 freeway was a complete no-go. As it should have been earlier in the day, and we were directed to a very long way around with a windy mountain road with super-tight close-barrier lanes and drop-offs–we would never normally want to take that route but we were grateful for it, we made it, and we’re home safe and sound.

May they live long and happily ever after. Such a cute couple!

Friday July 07th 2023, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Celebrating her new job and life with a last dinner out together, not far from the airport.

A woman bussing tables on one side who took up my request, a waiter on the other, two little boys in opposite directions, two finger puppets, and suddenly there were smiles all around and it had clearly made the woman’s day in particular. And the moms’.

And then at the terminal the hug goodbye, and home.

So quiet.

I started in on a large bowl of cherries that had been in the fridge waiting their turn. The fastest way to pit those little ones, given their softness, I’ve found, is just to squish, split, and ptui it out of there by hand, over and over. Pits on a plate, and then when you’re done take the now-empty strainer and pour the pits in to reclaim any juice from them.

(I was going to write squish split splurt but I mentioned that first to my husband and he looked mock-askance at me and pronounced it vaguely obscene.)

Well, the kid’s gone, right? Sour cherries just don’t make her favorite type of pie.

Got those first two pounds into the freezer and needed to sit down a moment.

The kitchen kept calling me back in.

And that is why there are pumpkin honey chocolate chip almond flour muffins in the oven in the time I am typing this. With butter. I can use dairy in things safely again. Man, those smell good.

It will be so quiet
Thursday July 06th 2023, 9:35 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

It never had a name.

It was packed high when her old friend volunteered to come on the long drive south and helped her unpack and then flew home, just so she wouldn’t have to do any of that alone in a town she didn’t know.

It was packed high when she moved north a few years later.

It was again when it took her to Washington State, and back down, and back up, and back down, several times a year as the lockdowns continued. But mostly it had out of state plates during that time.

It was taken through the carwash and made as pretty as its nine years could be before it was taken to the lot today. Carmax: after they’ve looked up its accident history you bring it in and they look it over and they give you a number. Yes or no. Door number one or door number two. Take it and walk.

It is not making the drive to Boston. Cars pay high rent too there.

And so some family looking for a super comfortable, well maintained, reliable, nice, very low mileage (most of it from those trips), nine year old car will have one they’ll enjoy, too.

I met up with her so that she could have a ride home, for the last 24 hours that this is home, in a surprisingly comfortable waiting area while they did all the paperwork for four sets of clients. I would have finished the hat I’d just started but for lack of a second circular needle–I’d considered, then had thought I wouldn’t need it. It wouldn’t be that long. It was.

But that’s okay; I can manage the decreases here.

Both kinds.

At home.

I am so going to miss her and I am so happy for her on her new adventure.

Spread a little light
Wednesday July 05th 2023, 9:06 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

We were not planning on going to see any fireworks, but the fireworks came to us.

Our daughter got in one last visit with her sister before her move to a much longer plane ride away from the neiblings.

Her delayed flight home finally took off about the time it was supposed to land, which meant that we started driving on a crowded freeway at 9:30 p.m. on the Fourth of July for the airport.

Note to self for future reference: one might want to avoid that.

I have never seen so many fireworks in my life. Not only could we see the various cities’ official displays over the Bay (or I could, since I wasn’t driving), cool to have back after they’d been canceled in the worst of the drought and pandemic, but, a little less cool, people were shooting them off like crazy. Everywhere. Nonstop. Next to the freeway. Over the freeway. From behind the wall of the self-storage place over here, the auto body shop over there, in the middle of the trees (!!!) next to the something-star hotel built on what used to be the bad end of that town. We were heading into what looked like a semi-circle of them again and again, and the illegal ones didn’t go very high, either, with the sparks coming right down.

Did their mothers know they were doing this?

Someone’s house on the other side of the Bay caught embers and took fire in the shenanigans but the firemen were reportedly right on it.

One boom shook our car as white sparkles shot upwards right next to us.

Arizona? Nevada? You sure can’t buy them here. That’s a heck of a road trip for a little blow-up-go-sparkleboom.

Reports today were that two people had damaged their hands and dozens of fires had been set off by the more than usual illegal displays.

For us, it was also the distracted drivers swerving all over the place, mile after mile. One guy simply pulled over and watched the shows, which seemed quite reasonable, although, dude–get off the freeway first.

Which, eventually, we did, and hugged our kid home, and everything was fine.

Okay so now it can go
Tuesday July 04th 2023, 9:02 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Knit

Our friend the patient and her husband got their pie.

Our mutual friends came over and picked cherries to make their own, bringing a much-appreciated gift of chocolate.

And I awoke this morning with the startle of an intense realization that the reason I couldn’t make myself finish the row on that afghan yesterday and just. get. going. was because I’d started the sunflower where a tree was supposed to start soon and that would not do. You don’t pile up motifs in a corner like that. My fingers were waiting for my brain to catch on before I created any more work for them to have to undo.

And now the sunflower has been transplanted to where it belonged all along.

Happy Fourth tomorrow!
Monday July 03rd 2023, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Wildlife

Another baby apricot tree went off today to someone who’s wanted one for a year. That felt good.

P made it home from the hospital but was not up to visitors after the transition, as one would expect. So we polished off the two-day-old cherry pie and I made a fresh one for sharing with her tomorrow, and the fact that there was leftover crust means I just pulled a pumpkin pie out of the oven, too. Variety and all that. A visit or a doorbell ditch or a wait for now–we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

Falcon pictures. The ones with the overhead are from the first night, where Soledad landed on the falcon catcher, ie the Rotunda below the main building at City Hall. Today she flew up all the way to the top of the 18-story building, while the boots-on-the-ground crew cheered her on.

Raptor captor
Sunday July 02nd 2023, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

Creme Brûlée is not a tall sunflower variety, maybe two feet if that, but it’s sure a pretty one. I expect it’ll be right up there with tomatoes on my must-plant list forevermore.

Meantime, our falcon fledged yesterday and had to endure the indignity today of being rescued next to a pool (update: where she bumped into some glass), being scooped into a produce box, taken up in an elevator, and released on the roof of her native building to start over. Looks like they sprayed her with water to calm her and keep her from immediately taking off in a frenzy of fear at the releasing.

Instead, she looked up at the guy like what the heck are you and what am I expected to do about it?

Someone had fun writing the captions to the video and that’s some pretty impressive camera work there.

But I also want to note, she flew up, well up, on her second day of flying. That’s a really good sign. Even if she got tired and swooped down past the backs of some highly oblivious swimmers.

The pie-theygoeatem theorem
Saturday July 01st 2023, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

Got up. Picked sour cherries. Put the bowl standing in a plate with a bit of water in it so that any bugs would freak out and come out but not be able to get out, as I do, and they did, and thus drowned a few I would never have known were in there. Left it there a few hours and never saw a single bug remaining inside the bowl.

We visited P in the hospital, and she looked a lot better than the last time–they have been throwing every anti-viral and anti-bacterial at her, and she needed both.

I did not know that shingles could invite bacteria along the inflammatory path. Not what you want in your brain.

I caught my breath when I saw her half-open her eye for a few seconds; she hasn’t been able to do that for weeks.

We talked about hospital food. “It’s actually pretty good.”

Yeah, we said, Jesse Cool took over the menu just after the last time I got out of here–matter of fact we went to her restaurant for our anniversary dinner a few nights ago. So good. She’s got a Michelin mention these days.

I asked if I could bring her some sour cherry pie next time and she perked right up at that idea. “Yes! Sure!”

I knew her friend from Ukraine passionately loves sour cherries, so I asked her if she would tell them they were welcome to come pick a couple of pounds, a good pie’s worth, and she grinned, picked up her phone and started typing. I told her I’d email the couple, too.

Which I did, and they’re coming over Monday–after the friend has had a day to recover from the vaccinations she just got, because, reasons.

I bet I’m not the only one who brings our friend pie.