Do not open before Christmas
Friday December 07th 2018, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family,Lupus

My dad sent us home from our visit last month with my suitcase stuffed with six really big amaryllis bulbs. (Pro tip: the TSA machine reads those as bombs.)

What they needed was fresh soil and big heavy pots to keep the future multiple sun-tracking stalks from knocking them over sideways. Hopefully. Which is fine, except that I just wasn’t looking forward to that trip down the freeway, much though I like supporting Yamagami’s. It’s a great nursery with a lot of pre-Silicon Valley history to it.

And part of that foot-dragging was UV-sensitive hours vs our rush hour that starts just after 2:00; December is safer lupus-wise for walking around outdoors than November.

Meantime, in the nice warm house two of them started to sprout a few days ago so I cut holes in their bags and turned them over to un-tilt their sense of direction.

Found a third one starting to sprout this morning. The middle one. It did all that in under 24 hours. Okay, that’s it, time to get going, yay for December, and Yamagami’s once again impressed me with what good people they hire.

Opening the fourth bag, I’d had no idea that bulb in the foreground had even come out of dormancy.

You can tell.

Oops.

Dark red, wine, white, pink/red/white, with the bags tucked under each for now so I can remember which is which.

Thank you, Dad! Can’t wait! Now that they’re finally planted the little kid in me is like, so BLOOM now! C’mon guys, hurry up!

 



Sawdust to sawdust
Tuesday November 13th 2018, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family,Life

With all six kids gathered round (thank you Frontier for selling $87 Atlanta-Salt Lake no-luggage round trips) Dad offered a Christmas present dear to his heart: four amaryllis bulbs each, and not just any amaryllises but ultra-large mother bulbs. For us two coming-birthday girls it was six.

Good thing my luggage on the way there had included a giant tub of extra-ripe dried apricots from Andy’s Orchard for the folks so I didn’t take an underseat suitcase and I had some space freed up for the way home.

(Hey, Andy, if you see this? My brother echoed my dad’s reaction: “Those are *gooooood*!” He definitely wanted to know where to find more and I was happy to pass your website on to him.)

But the bag. It was still just a carry-on and I was sure the TSA would want to look at those. They definitely did. I seemed harmless, but that way-overstuffed suitcase had to come open even as I was telling the guy what he’d seen on the screen were.

“Those ARE big amaryllis bulbs!” he said in wonder, holding one high for the other agents to see. Clearly he was familiar with such. He dug through and pulled out each of the others in turn just to be sure, though–his peers were present–which is how I found out that the sawdust the bulbs were bagged with could pepper-shake out all over everything. That makes sense: bulbs are living things and need to breathe.

I may have bought them second-hand on swap.com and the like for $5-$10 each, but still: those were my cashmere sweaters he was freely coating with that stuff, and my favorites to boot. Y’know, what you wear to look good around your siblings and their kids.

I’d previously put them through the hand wash cycle on my Speed Queen, which didn’t shrink them any, but the higher-than-average speed of its spin meant the ends of the hairs had worked their way free and gained an angora bunny look and now those wisps of goat fur were grabbing hard onto that sawdust. Later, I could not shake it all out.

Fortunately, it turns out that washer could. Speed Queens are magical.

Just in case you ever, say, visit a lumber mill in a cashmere sweater.



The consensus is…
Tuesday May 22nd 2018, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Knit,Politics

The Spartacus bulb opened up, and at 30″ high with a full display of leaves it is rocking this amaryllis thing.

The second cowl from the orange Piuma: done. (Note to self: 84 stitches, US 8 needles this time and it’s not small.)

Did anybody else get the annual Community Survey from the Census Bureau? Three million households randomly get chosen and this was our year.

After making sure I couldn’t get the info online, I called the city’s utilities department and said, I’m sure you’ve gotten a lot of people asking the annual total of their water+sewer and their electric and gas usage for the Census–and they said, Nope! You’re the first one.

I wonder how many people the Bureau chose out of any one town? And how much any answer of mine tilted the results.



Spring cleaning
Thursday May 03rd 2018, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Life

I need to get back to the knitting. Something about being away awhile makes tackling the house the most important thing, though, and the recycling bin is full again a day after pickup. Man, that felt good.

What felt less good is that the refrigerator was either slightly bounced open those five days or else the thing is dying after 25 years. Which it may well be. I moved both its settings to coldest and threw out a lot on Tuesday but today the cheese was green–and yet things at least seem cold enough now. (Do we trust those eggs?)

Wait–typing that it finally hit me: I have that infrared temp sensor! I got up and aimed for the back of the fridge as the door opened. 34.1, 40 at the front. Okay, I think we’re good, I just have to find and get rid of anything else that might have been damaged and just start over.

Meantime, the amaryllis-scape for the day. 



Turning a twirl into a sun dance
Wednesday May 02nd 2018, 11:05 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Garden,Life

One may have noticed: I like amaryllises. I collect amaryllises of every kind. Pictures taken today.

Mine bloom year after year, sometimes skipping years but at this point I have so many bulbs that who would notice? Our climate isn’t warm enough to plant them in the ground so they stay in pots under the translucent patio awning, surrounded by the warmth of the house on two sides. They like shade. Warmth makes them happy. They like this spot.

Occasionally you lose one to age or winter temps or whatever. How to tell for sure: if you touch a dormant bulb and it crumples between your fingers into nothingness, it’s gone. If it holds solid at the center, no matter how many crisped outer layers there are, there’s still life in there–it just needs to be cared for and given a chance.

So this one bulb was shriveled and shrunken but just solid enough that it wasn’t tossed but it wasn’t coming out of dormancy either. Maybe it just really wanted any hint of winter to be over first. At some point on that crowded picnic table a thriving amaryllis got put on top of its pot and it was forgotten.

The turning of the season, the leakage from the one above being watered must have been enough. The fact that we were gone for five days means the changes snuck past unnoticed.

I caught a glimpse of red today at pot level and went, wait, what? I stepped outside and lifted off the one I hadn’t even noticed was sitting on top. When did I do that?

And there, underneath, was a stalk curling tightly around in a half circle against the inside rim of that lower pot with a big bright half-flower trying mightily to open up, resting on the edge. There was a leaf, too, one which had gotten no sun and yet was trying to grow out from underneath its burden.

This picture was taken ten hours’ worth of sunlight later: the stalk has risen mightily, the first blossom is fully open and the second is getting there and there is even already some green in that stalk and (you can’t see it) its leaf. Sky and light!

But before it was discovered, the only energy available to it to grow and thrive with came from what it had within it.

And in the end, that was enough to make the rest work out so that it could share what it was meant to be with the world.

Isn’t that just the most gorgeous shade of red?



Amaryllis season
Friday April 20th 2018, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis

Three amaryllises in bloom, five more coming up so far.



Hat #1
Tuesday September 19th 2017, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Friends,Knitting a Gift

I woke up this morning with a clarity of thought: what I want to do today is to get Alex’s hat done.

I’d started in the discontinued, densely-spun Zara 14 and my first attempt at matching its thickness for the second stripe had failed–but after yesterday’s mail, I could do it now.

Electric blue and black was the verbal request with the artist’s rendering, chunky yarn specifically hoped for.

Found both colors from the same line after all.

It came out very stretchy and short one blue stripe, being long enough for a good fold-up brim already. (Not to mention my running out of blue.) But I did get that bit of brightness at the top thing going on just like she did and it tickles me no end.

Meantime, look what opened up. In September!



Where have all the flowers gone? Long time passing…
Wednesday April 19th 2017, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family,Food,Friends,Life

My daughter-in-law had a moment of great inspiration that blessed a lot of us. That will be a story to tell, probably next week.

Meantime, today I had an appointment with the ENT who, years ago, diagnosed my hearing loss as being caused by an allergy to aspirin and thereby stopped its progression. I owe him much. He’s also the one whose love of his garden sparked my own fruit tree and veggie planting and I adore him.

He was running a moment late. And because he was running late, I ended up pulling back into my driveway exactly at the moment a neighbor from across the fence was standing right there, having stopped to talk to the guy next door after having walked all the way around the block in hopes of seeing me and finding me not there. But then I was.

If you remember the saga of the big ragged broken sad ugly Snoopy weathervane skewered on the fence that bugged me so much for so long and an elderly neighbor’s anger at my asking her to take it down or to let me help her do so, this was her.

I wanted peace between us after that. Praying was something I could do while trying to figure out how to create some positive interactions, and we have had some since then.

I stumbled across an article on war brides from her native land that left me feeling for the first time like I could understand why she came across the way she did–it was a survival tactic that had helped those women survive.

Whether it actually applied to her or not I don’t know for sure, but I do know that for me it helped a lot.

Last week I left a stalk of bright red amaryllis flowers in a vase by her door after no one answered. (At her age, I just hoped she was still there but nothing had changed in her front yard, so…)

Here she was, responding in kind. She had a surprise for me. I looked in and laughed, “You didn’t need to return the vase!” There were dark-chocolate-covered butter cookies in there, too. Wow. Yum. “Thank you!”

But here is the thing: she was radiant. She glowed with love, and we gave each other a big hug and I didn’t even know she does hugs. My next door neighbor shared in by saying I’d given them an amaryllis, too, and his being there made it all the sweeter. Had he not stepped outside to put his trash bin away just in time to see and delay her by visiting a moment she probably would have missed us both.

She said, “But when the flowers got old they dripped red. It looked like blood!” She turned and said it a moment later to him, too, in case he hadn’t heard it the first time. I grinned at the scandalousness of its dastardly deed. Yeah, they do that. And thought, actually, it would probably make a great dye for my wool, but who would ever sacrifice the number of flowers it would take to find out?

Only later did the thought occur to me that, oh, I hope that didn’t cause her any flashbacks. But judging by her face and her voice, I think, I think, we did just fine there. Replace the old memories with the new. Better. Happier. And hey–amaryllises!



All part of the Sublime
Sunday April 16th 2017, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

And more amaryllises opening up.

So there was the woman at church I don’t know well but I wish I did, whom a worried friend told me was suffering from depression these days.

I kept an eye out for her last week and quietly noted the dress she was wearing: close to the color of that blanket I just finished (of which there is no more yarn.)

It was a cheerful color, and that can only be a good thing.

I knew I had a lighter shade that would go well with it–and not only that, it was the last of my stash in blue of the discontinued Sublime yarn made of pearl chips dissolved into a rayon with a high-quality bamboo. It is as soft and shimmery and warm as a good silk while being hypoallergenic; it is, literally, a string of pearls.

I’d just moved those two skeins to…somewhere…a few days before. I had actually had them in my hands before that conversation with that mutual friend. Where on earth had I put them?

And thus a highly frustrating week, knitting-wise: I wanted to make a cowl for her before Easter Sunday and I could not for the life of me find that yarn. And it’s not like there were so many (normal) places to look, either. I could have just given up and done something else, and almost did, but for the absolute certainty that that was the yarn I needed it to be. It just was. And I didn’t want to start something else for someone else and get sidetracked.

I finally found them Saturday. How on earth had they ended up in a ziplock with a wool sweater? Hello, brain? There was no way I was going to get it done, or even very far along before Easter services, but at least I got it cast on and a few rows so she could feel the fabric it would be making.

I put it in a ziplock in my purse  for the morning, along with a green cowl just to make sure and to let her have a choice–or something else altogether if she wanted, say, pink polkadots. It would be for her to decide.

I invited her to sit by me a moment after the first meeting and showed her, apologizing that the blue wasn’t ready. When I offered her an infinity of hypotheticals as well as those two choices she was exclaiming, Oooh, the blue!

When I mentioned her dress of last week, and how I didn’t know if it was her favorite or somethingshejustgotonsalebecauseIvecertainlydonethatormaybeshereallylikedthatoneor

She laughed and interrupted with, “That is my FAVORITE dress. I spent a long time looking for just that.”

I told her about the actual pearls made into the yarn and how it had demanded that it be the one I knit for her, even when I couldn’t find the silly things (at the same time, I had needed to be sure it was what *she* wanted.) So she would just have to wait till next week to get it.

She loved it. She was blown away. She was very happy about the whole thing and can’t wait to see it finished.

And it wasn’t till later that the obvious hit me: y’know? When you’re depressed, having something you’re looking forward to while you know someone’s looking out for you–that’s not a bad thing. That anticipation is not a bad thing at all. And it’s much more important than my need had been to just go get this done and out of the way so I could move on to something else. The longer I’d searched the more my focus had shifted away from, where is that yarn! To an even greater sense of, Please, G_d? I want this to happen–for her sake…

Glad I lost it. Glad I found it.



Look up
Saturday April 15th 2017, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Wildlife

Photos: apple, fig (still leafing out), apple, with irises in front and roses and pre-tomato holes behind, and Red Lion and Dancing Queen amaryllises. I’ve had the latter bulb for fifteen years now.

Not photographed: we both got to see it this time–the one that veered left and escaped, the dove that didn’t, the Cooper’s hawk suspending itself midair right there for a wingbeat waiting for the dove to fall backwards from the window, the grab on the second beat as it did and the instant vanish.

His children would be fed and safe against the night.

A happy Easter to all who celebrate it.



Game on
Monday April 03rd 2017, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

What on earth!?

It was a black squirrel, highly visible against the white floral background, twirling hard around and around a branch of the sour cherry and in the process stripping it of the flowers that had opened this morning. How that branch was even strong enough to support it I do not know.

I stomped towards the door yelling words I would only barely let my mother hear me say and went after it. It scrambled for the fence, its mouth stuffed to overflowing with cherry blossoms. Lots and lots of cherry blossoms. It would have been funny if it hadn’t been my future fruit.

The tent, which I’d taken off for yesterday’s picture and then thought, eh, they leave it alone, I don’t need this do I?–is back over that tree now with bird spikes around the base as far as they can go.

Now I know why the flower stems looked chomped off on the Stella cherry when I’d successfully coppered the snails away from its base.  It took those things four years to decide to taste them but then they did.

A few hours later, a black squirrel walked at just enough of a distance around that cage. Looking back at me. Hanging its head. Taking another step. Stopping and looking at me, lowering its head again. Then, unable to resist one more second, it sniffed upwards wistfully towards those flowers and then swung its head back towards me. My eyes narrowed and I was watching its every move and it knew it.

It slunk away. Slowly, regretfully, back up that fence and towards the redwood.

I added hot pepper flakes.

And then after dinner I clipped a red amaryllis stalk, put it in a vase, and took it next door to my wonderful neighbors of thirty years. (To, y’know, counter my crazy squirrel lady thing at least a little bit and who doesn’t need unexpected flowers, right? But no, really, because I had a lot coming up at once and they’re too good to hoard.)

Good times.

(Three more pattern repeats left on that blue blanket… Maybe four. I think.)



Accelerating
Friday February 03rd 2017, 11:44 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Knitting a Gift

A new amaryllis, opening up all at once.

Just finished my third repeat on the afghan over the course of the day, again. For me, even though I know I do this and it bugs me and I always try to push myself past it, still, it’s easier to really dive into a big project when there’s so much of it already present, rewarding the eyes and hands; the whole thing speeds up the more I do.

Well, that plus I’ve got a deadline that’s sooner than the baby. It’s way too big to reasonably haul around Stitches all day in two weeks, but I’d really love to show it off to the Malabrigo folks to show them what can happen to their yarn after it leaves their mill–I’ve seen how much they enjoy that. Probably won’t happen this time, but hey, whatever gets my seat on that couch and those needles in hand.

Forty-five repeats so far.



Playing de-fence
Friday January 06th 2017, 11:13 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Wildlife

Yesterday I saw a squirrel racing down the fence line suddenly skid with a flip that threw it off into space upside down, nose and all four paws straight up and tail flailing hard to no avail as it dropped straight down like a roadrunner cartoon. It seemed as surprised as I was. And that was when it was just wet out.

I resisted the temptation to climb up to look down into the neighbor’s side: it was either fine, hawk-food take-out or crow sourcing.

This morning not a single squirrel was touching this. Not till it melted.

Meantime, inside, the latest amaryllis stem is no worse off for having toppled itself over.

And the baby afghan continues.



Mel and Kris and Phyllis
Sunday November 27th 2016, 12:14 am
Filed under: Amaryllis,Friends,Life

Delete a bajillion junk gmail messages from my Mac and the phone takes pictures again. May all our problems be so easily solved.

My friend Phyllis introduced me to the annual Harvest Festival in San Jose years ago and today was the day. Mel and Kris  are always there and that’s reason enough for me to go, and time with Phyl, too? Hey. Count me in.

So we made a beeline for them and the four of us chatted for a little while. Would they be willing to hold my purchases so we didn’t have to carry the heavy bag everywhere? Of course.

Phyl wanted to make sure I got to see everything and so we did, circling back at last to our friends. A pitcher, a large serving bowl, a soup bowl with a handle (so now I have two, which makes more sense than just one) and a small kid-size mug. Really pretty stuff, all of it.

I was at home pulling each item at a time carefully out of its newspaper wrappings when one of their business cards fell out onto the floor. My hands were full so I didn’t get to it immediately.

A minute or two later, a second one fluttered down. I grinned and picked them both up–and somehow happened to turn one of them over.

I’d been so worried over trying to write my name legibly on the credit card slip with that broken hand that I never even saw what the amount had come to.

They totally got me.

 

 



Happy Thanksgiving!
Wednesday November 23rd 2016, 11:35 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis

My phone is on strike: no matter how many photos I delete it says it’s too full to take any more–otherwise I’d be showing you my amaryllis. Here, this one. (Aaaaand… It’s sold out. That link may go poof.)

Silly iPhone. Thursday’s supposed to be the day when we all get too full.