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.



Winter blooms
Sunday October 23rd 2016, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Garden

There’s a Dutch company that in the summer lets you pre-order monster amaryllis bulbs at far, far less than retail and the bargain is especially so if you check the box that allows them to choose when they want to ship them to you. Sometime in October. Or maybe November. I picture it as, Oh no, quick, they’re sprouting, get them out of the warehouse, stat!

Surprise me.

And so July browsing brought me a box Saturday and now I suddenly have to actually deal with it.

A pound and a half on the biggest–it’s as big as one of Andy’s peaches! Its first two flower stalks have already begun and another bulb is coming up right behind. They are begging to be planted.

I have a bag of good soil. I just need the flower pots: preferably good, sturdy, heavy stoneware ones to counteract the weights of all that they’re about to be up against. I had several that would have been perfect and I allowed them to be where the squirrels managed to pitch them off the outside table and shatter them. So there must be new ones.

One more reason to kick this cold to the curb fast.



The birds and the bulbs
Sunday April 24th 2016, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Wildlife

And then there were three.

But only two of the baby peregrine falcons. One egg never hatched, one only survived long enough to hatch, but the other two? Doing fine.

Here are the little fluffballs now.



Surrounding sound
Saturday April 23rd 2016, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family,Garden

A Dancing Queen and a Red Lion amaryllis that my dad gave me for my birthday several years ago.

And if you look way in the background, that’s my Baby Crawford peach that I planted in January in front of the fence and the third-year Stella cherry at the far left.

It’s the most amazing thing. You gouge a little hole out of the dirt, plunk in a stick, cover it up and it turns into fruit all on its own, for years and years and years to come. Well, not the amaryllises but they earn their keep, too.

And on a side note, just because it tickles me. The Grammy Salute to Music Legends that just happened: my cousin David, a musician and actor in NYC, just flew to LA along with his almost-95-year-old dad to accept a Grammy award on behalf of David’s late grandfather, Harvey Fletcher. The inventor of stereophonic sound, not to mention the first audiometer (I’ve seen it, it’s at Johns Hopkins, built into a gorgeous wood case) and hearing aids. For what he did for the world of music.

I love that my uncle got to be there and accept that. Rock on!



Three–and two!
Wednesday April 08th 2015, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family

Red Lion in the back, Picotee in the front, and I’m trying to remember the name of the variety on the right. A happy trio.

Happy Birthday, Hudson!



To weave a strong, soft nest
Sunday March 01st 2015, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Wildlife

An elderly friend moving into assisted living last year gave me her old amaryllis bulb that had come covered in decorative dried moss, telling me I’d be able to get it to bloom again. I can only imagine how it was for her to give up her garden and I hope to bring her flowers from it to brighten up her new place.

I left the moss in the pot with an eye towards spring.

It has been discovered, as I knew it would be. And so the Chestnut-Backed chickadee announces it
 is nesting season as she builds a new home of her own. 



Ramble on home
Thursday May 15th 2014, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family,LYS,Wildlife

Hey, tell Parker: there’s a new kind of digger!

There were a few tomato pots where the seedlings simply vanished.

And then… I found a tomato seedling, couldn’t be anything but, planted quite nicely in an amaryllis pot  a few feet away.

Can squirrels really carry such a tender thing gently enough? Their digging ability can never be doubted, I mean, there’s a lizard species that depends on them to get past the hardpack. Look Ma, no teeth! Who knew. The thing looked quite happy there.

I scooped it out anyway and put it back where it wouldn’t compete with my bulb.

And there was a safflower sprout via my birdfeeder a dozen feet away growing in another tomato pot, the little farmer. Okay, out you go.

On the peregrine falcon front: it’s supposed to be a few more days before fledging, but one of the females turned and bumped her brother off the low ledge today when he hadn’t even made the hop-and-flight yet to the upper one to see the world in that direction for the first time. (Here’s his more antsy brother in a video from sunrise this morning.) He didn’t fly really but gently coasted, landing straight below the 18th floor nestbox. Safe!

And so Glenn Stewart, the biologist in charge, drove an hour from UC Santa Cruz, got the baby-in-the-box from wildlife services, went up on the roof and put the little guy up there where his parents would keep feeding him as he got the hang of this flying thing. Glenn wasn’t about to rappell a floor down City Hall to the box with the parents going for his head like he does during banding, the eyas just needed a little more time where humans couldn’t reach it.

Clara and Fernando didn’t even react with more than a glance to the familiar face that stayed further away this time. Oh, it’s you. Carry on.

(p.s. And on a happy for her, sad for us note, Nathania is devoting herself fulltime to her yoga business and letting the others carry on at Purlescence.  She will be much missed.)