Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Tuesday July 27th 2021, 9:59 pm
Filed under: History

I went to school with family members of these guys. If only the Dove kid my age had lived to see this.

So good to see those Confederate General street signs coming down and being replaced with their families’ names. So long overdue.

Long ago there was some land near a creek that emptied into the Potomac River a few miles further down that was thought not to be worth anything because it was too hilly and rocky to make good farmland out of–so the owner was willing to sell it to an African American man, who brought in family. Their descendants have carried on a strong sense of community for generations now.

So glad to see the signs that convey their joy and love replacing the ones that, when they were put up, inflicted pain deliberately, quite possibly in backlash to that very community’s landownership and pride.

So much better now.



There there there there and there
Monday July 26th 2021, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Life

Trying to prepare for the termite guys. Trying to remember where each spot was that they are going to have to be able to reach and realizing with a bit of alarm the scope of what that means. Is emptying the top two layers of shelves in the pantry enough? We’ve never done this before. If we’re supposed to move furniture, it’s not going anywhere, not with our backs.

Richard got the camping gear out of our son’s old bedroom closet–they have to be able to get at that ceiling, too. Can’t move it in the garage in case they want to work in there. Where’s their chart?

The family room has no termites. Suddenly it has a lot of stuff.

We have too much stuff.

Maybe after this we’ll have a lot less. The only reason we’d ever need that camping tent again is if we had another big earthqua—

Oh. Right.

Okay, it stays.



From Kat with love
Sunday July 25th 2021, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

My doorbell rang this afternoon, and when I opened it I stood there speechless.

If you remember when we and our neighbors finally got the city’s permission to cut down their redwood that had grown onto our property and after raising our shed a foot was threatening our foundation? The city finally caved after Chris, our longtime arborist, told them there was no question it had to go.

It was a massive all-day job, with a crane and several trucks involved.

Redwood is valuable, so I was dumbfounded when they started feeding it into the chipper–had I known, I would have looked up someone, anyone, to be ready to take it.

With that sound to go with the sight of the disappearing towering tree, the neighbor from behind, an old friend, walked over to bear witness to its leaving us and then another from down the street came, too. I said ‘him’ on Facebook, but checking my old blog post it was actually Kat who asked: her husband would love to work with that, would they be willing to save that last big bottom section for them? (It was too late on the rest.)

The crew was relieved and gratified at knowing someone would actually use the best of this and told her, Sure! It was loaded in two pieces onto a large dump truck and I never did see how they got them going lengthwise across her front yard–did they move the crane, too? But they got them there.

And there those big logs sat for a year, to cure, I’m guessing?

And then gradually one started getting shorter.

Then months later the other one was gone, with little sawdust piles left behind.

There was a new border to their garden. They added to their fence. And as far as I knew, that was that.

So here was Kat: holding out a two-foot slice of that tree, prepared, polished, and with a turquoise river running through where the wood had split, a thank you for sharing the tree and a memorial of it for us.

She had wanted me to have that for a long time and at last it was done. She didn’t know–she’d almost put hooks into it so we could hang it, and would be happy to, or maybe we’d want to make it into a coffee table…?

I didn’t notice her signature till later–alongside a rendition of that tree as it had been, with its base about seven feet across and with the boughs reaching towards our house to the right, becoming one with the wind.

I was speechless. I was emotional. I had badly wanted something from that redwood but I would never in a million years have asked, and I was completely blown away and couldn’t keep the catch out of my voice.

Which was exactly the reaction that matched the work and effort and goodwill she’d put into it and made it all worthwhile, and wow. We will treasure this the rest of our lives. We will treasure her the rest of our lives.

Table, now that I’ve had a few hours to think about it. Definitely. I have no idea how, but, table.



Zucchini divas
Saturday July 24th 2021, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

We have had a trio of young mockingbirds for days, teenagers teasing their nest mates as far as I can tell.

But today the first tomato got its first tinge of pink. And suddenly there were eight of them! Mockingbirds do not come in flocks. This time there was more chasing out of territory, mixed with perching all around my veggies.

But they did not find their way in yet.

One, however, had learned that if it stood on top of the square-metal-cage’s netting where it was a bit loose and bounced up and down, it could get close enough on the downbeat to snag a blueberry. I was so impressed that I figured it had earned it.

Interesting: if you put the phone’s camera right up to the netting you get its shadow in sharp lines looking like it’s draped directly on half the plant, whereas the actual netting is those blurred-out thicker edges perpendicular to the squares below.

While the flowers demand, never mind all that, look at ME.



Red orange, purple white purple yellow orange
Friday July 23rd 2021, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

We ran out.

I checked before I left, and yes, please, she’d always, always love a case from there.

And so I came home from Andy’s with a big box of peaches for her family and one for us.

But when I went to deliver theirs she had a particular thank-you in mind: Satsuma plums from her tree, an orange zucchini, a yellow cucumber, a purple onion, white eggplants, all from her garden.

There’s got to be a colorway in merino out there to match.

I exclaimed over the bounty; she said well I’d driven all the way down there and back, and we both came away feeling like we got the better end of the deal. But best of all: we’d had a chance to connect and say thank you.

Thank you Andy for that.

 



Unreal estate
Thursday July 22nd 2021, 8:23 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

The late afternoon shade disappeared into the wood chipper. Thirty inches. The apricot tree is on a roll!

Meantime, I know it rains a lot in Portland and I can understand wanting the kids to be able to play inside as well as out. They do have a nice play set outside.

But, but, that picture # 12.

Someone hung a child’s swing from–tell me that’s not track lighting? With metal hooks into it to the metal chain to the swing? What could go wrong? (No, don’t spill that juice box!) With it set up exactly so that a little kid’s feet can gleefully help you clear that table and that puzzle you’ve just finally put the thousandth piece into.

Note that the other metal hooks don’t have swings (anymore?)

I have questions.

 



The jewel box
Wednesday July 21st 2021, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends

Twenty-nine inches! Six inches in nine days! With the height of the pot that new 54″ cage isn’t going to last very long. That’s fine, plenty of other things need to be kept from the cottontail.

The other thing that happened yesterday, after the tree crew left:

I had an appointment with the audiologist, trying to fine-tune the new aids and check the fit after the manufacturer had re-molded the painful left one.

Towards the end I pulled out a small cardboard box filled with paper towels scrunched a bit like decorative tissue paper and inside, a perfect Sierra Rich red peach.

She did this little gasp and told me, My husband and I were just saying we had to find a *good* peach!

I said that the paper towels were because she was going to need them.

So now they know where to go.



They got to see it again
Tuesday July 20th 2021, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Life,Mango tree

Today the tree crew came, the same one that six years ago cleared out all the random stuff that was threatening the fence along that whole length of it. We needed a do-over. It was a big job. (Reading that old post, a pomegranate and mandarin and sour cherry did go in there, the fig went to the other side of the house.)

But the first thing the original two had done that day was to make a beeline for my three-month-old stick over there and exclaim, That’s a mango, isn’t it!

Today there was a third man on the crew.

I added a request to the job over the phone yesterday and Chris the boss-man showed up to make sure everything was understood and while he and I were meeting up out front his guys were heading for the backyard ahead of us.

Those two had something they really wanted to see. It WAS still there! It had lived! Look how big it is! Look at all that fruit! (I’m sure that there was also a, Look how different the yard is now and how much all the new stuff has grown!)

Chris and I joined up with them as the three of them stood around the mango tree happily talking about it with the new guy taking it in. I lifted the two biggest ones on the fence side and they’d already seen it: “Yes, yes!” excitedly.

I know that at least one of them had grown up around mango trees.

That added request was to cut back that tall tree over there so that it didn’t shade it in the afternoon. They were on it. (I thought I knew what type it was but I just googled it and nope, I’ve been calling it the wrong thing forever. Never mind then.)

They did a great job.

There were no ripe mangoes to offer them yet, but at least I had the next best thing: perfect peaches from Andy’s, and the look on the face of the first guy to eat his while the others were finishing putting equipment away… Most definitely a hit.

And now there are no more branches hanging over the house and we are ready for the roofers. But first the termite guys.



Toss it back to the grizzlies
Monday July 19th 2021, 5:32 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden,Life

(Lillian ducking into the sunbeam.)

Back when Sam and her family lived in Anchorage, she took us to an ice cream shop, Wild Scoops, that sold local flavors including from fruits I’d never heard of. Salmonberries? Birch syrup? What kind of flavor is Fireweed?

So I ended up buying a cute little 2 oz jar of salmonberry jam as a souvenir to go with my scoop so I could taste that, too, and a small jug of birch syrup by mail after we flew home.

The syrup was okay. I don’t need to buy it again. The jam was sugar+pectin+an orange color to it but no berry flavor I could discern and other than the fact that it was a local thing and a novelty to us, there didn’t seem to be much point to it; let the musk ox and moose keep the berries.

Fast forward a few years. We were at a kiddy park with Mathias and Sam in Washington State July 5th where there was play equipment and a bit of grass surrounded by deep, lush trees and a short trail along the fenced perimeter.

Cherry trees! That’s why all the happy robins bouncing around! Clearly a holdover from when that whole area had been prime cherry and berry farmland a hundred years ago; the now-feral trees dangled Rainier-esque solid yellow and who knows what dark red promises mostly well out of even my 6’8″ husband’s reach.

But we managed to bend some branches downwards enough and we got some and shared them around and they were delicious. Sam pronounced that moments like these were why she was glad they had moved there.

She had already told us that blackberry bushes were the devil, that they ran rampant all over everything with their thorns: the Pacific Northwest’s version of kudzu with an offering but an attitude.

And then I pointed out a berry bush. The leaves were a lot smaller than the blackberries her husband had cleared away from their side of the fence at home; I wondered what they were.

Oh those are salmonberries, she said, a park ranger told us that.

Very small. Half the usual thumbcap depth at best of a red raspberry. Tasteless. Seedy.

And the color. Suddenly I knew.

Some garden catalog three or four years ago had had a spiel about a woman who’d found an abandoned farm that had had red raspberries and blackberries and had found something else growing down by the creek that she thought must be a hybrid of them of some kind. The thorns were a lot shorter. She’d taken some cuttings home. She’d tried growing her new variety in good soil, bad soil, sandy soil, clay soil, and it grew in everything! And now here they were offering this rare find to their customers! In high demand!

I’m a long way from being a knowledgeable gardener yet, so foolproof sounded good to me and I ordered one. I grew it in a large pot, because I do know enough to know that thorny berry plants like to take over the world and I wanted it contained.

I got a few stubby shallow little berries with not much flavor–well, any, really. I figured the critters had eaten them before they’d gotten ripe or big yet. Right? I kept waiting for them to grow into, y’know, proper raspberry shapes. They didn’t.

I got maybe two whole berries to myself last year, but this year the plant grew a lot more and produced more. But the fruit didn’t change at all.

They’d sold me a salmonberry plant and didn’t even know enough to know that that’s what it was and I certainly didn’t. But there is no question. I recognized that plant and that fruit in that park because it was growing in my back yard and knew that it was only a matter of time, and a brief time at that, before I’d be ripping mine out.

All those pretty leaves it took so long to bother to produce.

I confess I’m still giving it (increasingly brief) sprays of precious California water to keep it alive. I guess it’s just plain hard to assassinate a plant you’ve nurtured, even one that would rather stab you than feed you.



And then it all had to go and roll around in the mug
Sunday July 18th 2021, 10:21 pm
Filed under: Food

Used the optional plain Greek yogurt because I had some. Danger danger Will Robinson, no talk of egg/peanut/yogurt will make up for the fact that it came out a cross between cake and mousse and was very good at a time when I’m trying to avoid random acts of dessert-type baking. (I put in 2, then 2 more, then 1 more teaspoon of sugar in each, so, 5 tsp and not their artificial sweetener and they did not come out super-sweet.)

But really, justifying that as lunch–protein, yeah, that’s it!–when we could have had peaches if we’d wanted something sweet. Actually we did that, too.

My husband is innocent. Me, not so much.

(Coming back to add: a few days ago the county asked everybody to go back to wearing masks in indoor public places again and today nearly everybody at church was doing so. I’m so glad.)



Which color do you want?
Saturday July 17th 2021, 8:32 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Knit

I gave Phyl and Lee their choice of Andy’s red peaches or yellow as a thank you for driving us to the airport. (I’d waited a few weeks because the later in the season, the more flavor.) The reds were marked as cling; they opted for the yellow Santa Barbaras and I sent them off with not quite a whole case, since that seemed like a lot to them. (Then I tried one of the Sierra Rich reds and the pit came away like what was the big deal supposed to be.)

A few hours later my doorbell rang: the friend who’d watered my garden while we were away, surprising me with a small box of plums and peaches after a trip to, you guessed it, Andy’s Orchard. The first white peaches we’d tasted this year. Loved it.

On the knitting front: when I booked the trip, I wasn’t sure of the kids’ work schedules so I scheduled our flight home to arrive in the late evening. Tuesday the holiday was over, their normal life took over and we were on our own, free to play tourist and wander around for the day.

So we did. I’ve mentioned the drawbridge in Seattle.

But the other thing is that we stumbled across a yarn store, parked the car, and went in.

(Side note: it’s a good thing us good little Mormons Googled when we saw this other place as we drove by because “Skep and Skein” was NOT a yarn store. It was a tavern and none of us would have had the faintest idea what to do with each other had we walked in.)

So we drove on (wait–we’ve already been on this road, hey, Waze!) and saw another sign.

There is always room in the luggage for a souvenir skein, I told Richard as we were getting out of the car, but it was going to be tight. We walked into a charming little brick Tudor and met just the nicest owner.

Hmm… I went to see if I could find something to show her shop to you and discovered that she has the same name as my sister’s best friend growing up. Here’s the article. Our Local Yarn Shop, OLYS for short. I’m not seeing a date on when it was written–but Laurie told me that a pandemic three months after she opened had not been in her business plan.

Wow. I absorbed that a moment. And you’re still here! I pronounced in triumph.

Yes, I am! she answered happily. But she allowed as how it had been a near thing for awhile there.

Meantime, she had a steady stream of customers, some of them clearly old friends, and each time someone wanted to ask something or stepped behind me in line to be rung up I stepped out of the way and waved them forward and let her chat with them and take care of them because they were going to be in a position to come back and I wasn’t and I wanted her to have every success. I really liked this lady.

She gave her store its name from the fact that she sells yarn from sheep from local farms with the name of each animal on the skein. Which is cool–but they were in natural and muted colors, and they were lovely, but right now I needed color color color to entice my fingers to get back into really knitting again.

I came away with this Manos and a Madeline Tosh that hit just the right notes and they just barely managed not to fall out of my overstuffed purse in the airport.

I told Laurie the story of visiting my in-laws in Texas and having one of my readers here ask if she could come pick me up and take me to her knitting group night while I was in town. Sure!

And how I was absolutely gobsmacked to find us pulling up to the doorstep of the original Madeline Tosh shop. I met the owner. I got to meet her! Turns out that wasn’t her name, she’d named it in honor of her favorite aunt. I tried not to be too embarrassing in my fandom.

Anyway. So here’s the Manos in a potato-chip-munching mindless-knitting stitch that works so well with multicolors by scattering each little shot of color hither and yarn.

(Edited to answer Anne’s question for everyone: it was this yarn. My skein was a little more saturated than the one they show.)



Apricot-sized peaches
Friday July 16th 2021, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden

Anne stopped by yesterday and got a tour of the trees. We both noted a couple of chewed peaches on the ground–so much for the critters being good about staying away.

I ended up sending her off with a Baby Crawford and an August Pride to let ripen at home; that’s when she was here and even if they weren’t absolutely as perfect as they could be it was definitely better her than the squirrels. She sniffed them and exclaimed over the peachy smell.

That was a good reminder to me to appreciate rather than wish for more. I needed that, and I should have given her more. They just didn’t quite seem to have bragging rights in them yet and I allowed that to hold me back.

But in truth, the Baby Crawfords were already sweet and the yellow was coming in and if it were a commercial orchard they’d have been picking them. Richard and I decided last night that the right thing to do would be to pick all of those in the morning, because once the critters start going after your fruit it disappears fast.

I missed three, it turns out, but I got the rest. (I’m giving the less-ripe tree next to it a little more time.) Stem side down after I snapped this picture and a paper towel over them for ripening, as one does, but it only seems to take a day or two on the few I’d already tried and they were surprisingly good.

But at that size they weren’t going to last us very long–and more importantly, I owed a box of Andy’s peaches to the friend who drove us to the airport two weeks ago at an hour when he would have preferred to have still been asleep.

And so I did, I have boxes now from Andy’s: his big peaches to give our friends and to last us past the weekend, and an older box with mine in it looking cute. Cut them in half to share and they’re a bite each. But a good bite.



Buddy, you’ve got a long wait ahead of you if you want that fruit
Thursday July 15th 2021, 9:46 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

Trouble is, he’d be happy to munch the plant away long before then.

A small Anya seedling.

Guess who showed up yesterday morning to take a sniff at it? I took that picture right before it stood up and reached its head over.

Until last fall, we hadn’t seen a rabbit in our yard for thirty-three years of living here. Since then it’s been popping up from time to time, but it had been gone long enough now that I’d half-convinced myself an owl or something had gotten it.

Nope.

Guess who opened the box with a new set of NuVue bird netting tents for that seedling and my squashes  immediately after snapping these pictures and scaring it away. Just the right size for protecting a large pot. All I’d needed was a little incentive. Yes it can chew through it if it wants to badly enough but trying to get into a cage is just not high on most wildlife’s list.

The good part is that the new version has–and it’s not in Amazon’s picture–small bright red ribbons hanging down from the top that blow in the wind and startle birds and rodents, and there was no sign of that cottontail today.



Small world
Wednesday July 14th 2021, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life

I was looking for this page comparing Anya seedling characteristics vs their fruit and somehow ended up instead at the gardening forum page that had the link that I’d originally found it from. For a heartbeat I was disappointed. Then I decided to re-read it anyway.

Only, this time, while recognizing that familiar thread, I did a sudden doubletake because, wait, if that internet name is the guy’s initials and his unusual last name–!!! and I squinted at the tiny photo–it IS! That’s Cassie’s husband!

Yay for photos on Facebook, because I’ve never met the man, only my friend who married him after she moved away from here a dozen years or so ago.

So I sent her a note. I said, He wrote that two years ago but that has to be him and I have no idea if both of you have any interest whatsoever but if you seriously do, I’ve got some seeds and you’re welcome to a few.

She wrote back quoting her stunned husband: “Those are like GOLD!” He’d so wanted to try, but the four hour drive each way to Andy’s to buy apricots while raising kids and running a small business, there was just no way, he’d finally given up on the idea because it was never going to happen.

And then Google gave me a page that was not the page I was looking for but was the one where he needed me to be to find him and actually see him this time. I don’t have a lot of kernels, because Anya season overlapped with our going out of town, but a few are coming their way.

If I gave you some for this growing season and they didn’t make it, you’re not the only one and it’s okay and let me know so you can have a do-over if you want it.



Bamboozled
Tuesday July 13th 2021, 9:46 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

From Drew51, writing on a garden forum six years ago:

“Reminds me of the fact that Bamboo flower about every 120 years. 95% die after flowering. About 10 years ago a very popular bamboo hit that 120 mark, and thousands of clones throughout the United states flowered and died. Young plants, small plants, big plants, old plants. All the clones flowered, the wood knew its age!”

Me: Given that bamboo requires solid concrete poured 18″x24″ wide and deep to keep it from punching through, say, the floor of your garage if it’s growing next to the house, maybe a do-over on the landscaping like that is not so bad.

Meantime, I found a spot on my scalp a bit forward of my skin cancer scar and got it seen today. The doctor declared it early enough and not a problem enough that she simply froze it.

My head has gone cryogenic.