Sweet sixteen
Monday May 05th 2014, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Lupus,My Garden

No stem cells were harmed (nor found) in the making of this picture.

Meantime, Janice  (Rav link) posted on FB that she had started her tomatoes a tad late,  but hey–and now she had way more seedlings than she could use. It seemed a shame to dump all that potential into the compost heap, did anyone want them?

A day later, nobody had taken her up on it so I said sure.

She dropped them by on Saturday, whereupon I learned a new use for the produce clamshells that are too shallow for my fruit trees–what a great idea!

Saturday and Sunday evenings were busy for us but tonight I finally had some no-UV time at home.

Last year I started my own tomatoes from seed, too, and dutifully thinned them down to one per pot but totally picked the wrong individuals: the sorriest one never got above 10″ high no matter how I tried to coax the darn thing. Big Boy my foot.

And that is why I bought Costco tomato plants a month ago and got them in the ground with bird netting rather than planning on hauling pots inside away from the squirrels once they set fruit. You need the outside heat for sweetness anyway. I wanted real homegrown tomatoes at last!

Tonight with easily 50 seedlings wanting to grow up, as the sun rapidly faded while I was trying to decide mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the biggest plant of all, I hedged my bets and put two per pot in some of the pots. We’ll see how that goes as they grow and show themselves and I get more ruthless, but still: I filled sixteen pots. With two more seedlings plunked in the ground behind the Costco ones that have already set fruit (good luck, guys) because, well, the more the merrier.

Let me grow these up just a bit and then, or now if you want, if you’re local and you’d like an heirloom tomato plant let me know. Seems I have a few extra.

Pop-up add
Wednesday April 30th 2014, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Friends,My Garden

The tomatoes were untouched and the cinnamon seems to be, too.

And the 52″ bird netting pop-up tent arrived at the store and we picked it up this evening. We’re a bit too tired and it’s too dark to set it up tonight, but we have it, along with a monster bag of potting soil for the seedlings that are coming.

And best of all I heard back from Janet’s (the UCSF researcher’s) mom about her cap. She loves it. I had said that if it turned out to be too big, wet it down and put it in the dryer for two minutes. It was, she did, and she says now it’s perfect.

And who knew–she’s a knitter! I wish her all the best on her journey forward however it may go.

Sunday April 27th 2014, 10:58 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis

I now know what an amaryllis stalk looks like after being mowed down by a hawk in pursuit of a finch: bent hard but still holding on tight. Stretched to its limit but not broken. There was no way to straighten it up and have it remain connected so I just let it be.

Within two hours after I first saw it this morning the two buds at the top of the stalk had moved and were no longer prostrate, and by the time the sun set they were pointed straight up. The light came from thataway now and they could not be stopped from reaching for it.

Saturday April 19th 2014, 6:00 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family

Tap. Tap. This thing on? The resident geek spent quite a bit of time stamping out the bug in the program and I’m trying again. Apparently there was an automatic platform update that got snatched back to a new-improved version almost immediately but we were stuck with the bad one and it did not want to let go peacefully.

HEY! Dad! (Photo taken Monday before I flew home.) There you are!

Okay, let’s try to link. How about to the pomegranate farmer I met at a festival whose products taste like the best fresh pomegranate you ever tasted, not that horrifically bitter stuff like most of the commercial juices.

Well now. So we do have our linking back. (Testing some more: unlink from the fruit spread page. Yup. Now go to Skylake’s home page that says free shipping through Monday, link up again–and it works. There you go.)

Okay, let’s try uploading the amaryllis picture.


Okay, folks, we are back in business here.

Dancing before you know it
Sunday April 21st 2013, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family

The Dancing Queen amaryllis, it blooms yet again. I think I’ve had this bulb about ten years now.

My mom reports that her recovery from her knee replacement surgery is going quite well. But then she is one patient for whom they never had to worry whether she would let pain get in the way of doing her range-of-motion exercises so scar tissue won’t set in and limit her later: if it needs to be done, my mom gets it done. There are walks waiting to be taken and flowers to see!

There are no words
Wednesday April 17th 2013, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,History,Politics

This amaryllis is dedicated to the people in Boston. It’s supposed to have a good two feet of stem, but due to its exposure to red virus last year, wasn’t able to grow one. It refused to let that stop it from offering the blooming it was meant to give to the world.

Meantime, they caught the guy (and I’m sure that story will be updated by morning). He was arrested today and accused of sending ricin-laced and threatening letters: the President was sent one, as were five members of Congress, some of them hand-delivered, and what looked like a bomb was left at a Senate building entrance; thousands of staffers were locked down.

Those Congressmen’s peers still voted to make it so that, should this man get out of jail, on bail or for time served, he then can have access to any gun of any capacity he should so choose without submitting to a background check against his mental or criminal state. The Senate wasn’t even willing to say to Heller with you. (Paging Scalia.)


But I thank those those worked so hard at identifying and stopping this guy so fast and I pray for all the other investigators needing the help, as well as for the wounded and those tending to them.

Of whom there are now more. My heart goes out to everybody in the town of West, Texas tonight.

Can’t keep’em down
Monday May 14th 2012, 11:16 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Friends

Last week Nina gave me a box she’d been meaning to get over to me for months.

Inside was an amaryllis bulb–not the pink and white one pictured there, but one that had sent up a shoot that bloomed red in the dark, then another stalk that didn’t open and that stayed ghostly white.

And then. A third (!) stalk. It had not yet shriveled. It had a foursome of white leaf tips pointing up next to it.

Now, amaryllis buds are begun in the bulb before the next year’s season, so this one came from a superb grower for it to have had three sets: one is normal for your average Christmas-gift kit, two from a bigger bulb is wonderful, and three is the best your average nursery will have.

The bulb was still alive. The case over the buds inside had opened, just like the first stalk, but like the second there was no color.

Just four tiny white flower buds, open to the world in the darkness, waiting, sure that light and water must be out there somewhere.

I planted it. I watered it. I put it in the window.

That was Thursday. The tiny leaf tips poking out have tripled in length and gone from white to barely green yesterday to deep green and red by this afternoon. The first flower started to open this morning–and by afternoon and to my surprise, its vivid red had a white-to-green center. Had I not been running errands I probably could have watched the color flow in in slow motion. Glorious!

The other three buds have already doubled in length and started coloring up.

Sometimes you just have to get a good thing started and then, as they say, it takes on a life of its own.

(Speaking of which. For those who want to advocate on behalf of Milk Pail, you can write to Mountain View City Council via the left column, six down, here. )

Fresh hazelnut chocolate cookie recipe
Tuesday May 08th 2012, 11:02 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Food,Knit

The hawks haven’t (as far as I know) flown through any of the amaryllis stalks. Yet. The hummingbird did check them out but didn’t stay long.

The Malabrigo yarn in Solis: I finally finished it.

Oh wait, I realized, no I didn’t–those stretches of stockinette in the lace? The castoff curled there. Tink x 324, do k2tog, yo across and purl back and the only reason I didn’t do that in the first place is I didn’t think I had enough yarn. I did. Done! It is drying, and I can’t wait.

And that was going to be the whole post, till I went into the kitchen and saw the leftover toasted skinned hazelnuts in the fridge.

My usual peanut butter cookie recipe is one I discovered in an old hand-me-down cookbook given me in New Hampshire 25 years ago: one cup peanut butter, one cup sugar, one egg. (The Skippy type works best, the natural, not so much.) Great for celiacs. I do occasionally add a tbl of flour for a little bit of extra crispness at the edges, but it’s not necessary. 350, 8-10 min. That’s it.

What if…

So I buttered the cookie sheet. One cup hazelnuts into the Cuisinart. I let that run a long time, trying to get hazelnut butter, not meal, then added 2/3 c sugar, 1/4 c. cocoa, hmm… about 2 tbl butter, how ’bout a little more in there, possibly three, wasn’t measuring… 1 tbl flour just because, and 1 (extra large) egg. Trying to put teaspoonfuls of batter down, it was like sticky silly putty but soon settled down and behaved–ie, it held to itself rather than me after being on the cookie sheet a minute or so.

Which I figured out when I found some extra dark chocolate chips and pushed a half dozen into each cookie. Eight minutes at 350 again did the job, and there you go: the best cookie recipe I have ever come up with.

Toasting and skinning hazelnuts is a pain, but I totally just got over that.

(Ed. to add, if you prefer yours sweeter, go for the full cup of sugar.)

Sit at the end of the row, repeat
Sunday February 19th 2012, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis

A few months ago, someone recommended a mail-order nursery to me. They were selling jumbo amaryllis bulbs? Those are hard to come by, and they grow and bloom forever in my experience–cool!

I have no idea if it was a one-person, one-family, or one-big-corporation business. But it is safe to say we were not a good fit.

I just wanted them to send me what we’d paid for.  Whether it was intentional or not, they did a bait-and-switch repeatedly. I got smaller bulbs of the wrong variety, and on the second try smaller again but also with root damage and a highly-infectious red virus that a reputable dealer would never knowingly sell.  My emails kept being answered by the same person, who was  supposedly helpful (but that promised third shipment never happened) and finally shrill.

They brought it to an end Thursday on terms I feel quite favorable to them.

It is safe to say I was annoyed.

I walked into church today, saw the fresh flowers, and suddenly caught myself in a flash of feeling peeved all over again. Oh come ON, Alison–let it go.

Our friend Jim, a gifted artist who has toured worldwide, started playing that beautiful pipe organ.

A prayer was offered.

And I found myself sitting at last in that woman’s chair, whoever she was, in front of her computer, trying perhaps to get those people in shipping with marginal reading or attention skills to fill a simple order the way it came in.

Or who knows what the deal was. But I knew this: she was a child of God. I will never know her–but He does, and that should be enough for me. And as He forgave me, how could I hold anything against her, or whoever there…? I found myself saying an inner prayer for them all.

Eh. I got some amaryllis bulbs. They’ll bloom.  And that is enough.

But just to help me hold onto that thought, I’ll be at church next week too.

Love is forever
Tuesday February 14th 2012, 11:52 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Crohn's flare,Friends

Paying it forward on that little rose plant…

Richard gave me amaryllis bulbs back in December, and today, the first one was close to blooming: five blossoms showing, the color just beginning to come in.

We have a friend who is just one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet, who was asking me questions about a year ago about Crohn’s disease; turned out she had just been given that diagnosis and was trying to take it all in. She’s a widow, about retirement age, a lot older than most people get it and with her beloved gone, it made me keenly aware of how lucky I am. I was I think the one person she knew who had it too.

We happen to know she loves amaryllises like I do. So I called and asked if we could drop by tonight.

A few minutes later, she was on the sidewalk with her small dog, watching us pull up.

She was so delighted. “What color is it?” as she held the pot. The streetlights weren’t telling.

“Pink and white, it’s an Appleblossom.”

“Oh, my favorite!”

That bulb was big enough there ought to be a second stalk showing up any time to continue the show. There is nothing like watching something grow as you care for it, and amaryllises do such a spectacular job of responding to a simple daily glass of water.

Happy Valentine’s!

And to Katy’s beloved late husband: that was for you, too. Your Katy is just the best. But you knew that.

And there they go
Thursday January 05th 2012, 12:32 am
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family,Friends

(One more Parker birthday photo.)

John stayed healthy, no sign of my germs, for which we thank the heavens. And so it’s safe for him to pack to go give his grandparents a two-day hug before heading back to school. (Staying at his aunt’s just to be sure.)

Tonight I got a chance to talk a bit with him and one of his friends whom I hadn’t seen since probably their high school graduation five years ago, and it intrigued me how important it felt: there is nothing in the world like a little face time to make someone feel like, no matter how few the moments of time scattered over however long, we are forever important to one another and that’s just simply the way it is.  A good lesson for a young man. Heck, me, too.

Michelle’s already back to class.

It’s going to be too quiet. I’ll get busy with planting some new jumbo (they’ll be huge!) amaryllis bulbs, Richard’s Christmas gift, and when I inquired of (company deleted later) what they wanted me to do with the wrong ones they sent me they told me to consider them a gift: the ones that were supposed to be in that box are now going into a new one on its way.

They grow and they blossom and they never stay quite the same.

Consider the lilies
Sunday September 25th 2011, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis

I finally got to listen to what Lynn was referring to re Brother Uchtdorf’s address.

He said we are all known and remembered to God, and offered the metaphor of the forget-me-not flower, his favorite: it is not tall, it is not as showy and splashy as some, it is a quiet little flower, down to earth, blooming quietly away at the job it does best. Five petals, plainspoken but with a beautiful color.


(Favorite old pictures of my own favorite flowers, showy and grandstanding and all.)

Celebrating Independence
Sunday July 03rd 2011, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis

Happy Fourth of July!  My amaryllis is trying for the fireworks effect.

A Cooper’s when you need him
Wednesday June 29th 2011, 11:05 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Knit,Wildlife

Some knitting’s been getting done.

An appleblossom amaryllis spent the day opening in slow motion–almost there. In June!

Pain at the news: some of the peregrine falcons nesting towards the north end of the Bay had abruptly disappeared. And we finally knew.

Two had been shot. They are in a rescue center and there is some hope they may make it; whether they can ever be released again is in question, though.

When that word went out yesterday, word came in today that a third had been found shot as well.  Someone had found it, called his local wildlife rescue, got no answer, didn’t wait, put it in his car and headed for the bird rescue center at UC Davis over two hours away, trying to save it. That peregrine didn’t survive. He apparently didn’t know about the falcon groups tracking the birds nor whom else to call till he saw the fliers asking for information in the neighborhood they were all found in.

This was devastating, but especially to those who’d spent their lives bringing that species back from the edge of extinction and who so rejoiced at every successful fledging.

Thank goodness for people who step up and do the right thing.  That man in Oakland tried. I’m sure he didn’t know it would mean anything to anybody but him at the time he did it, but his good impulse offers comfort when it is needed by many.

I was brooding over the new senseless casualty when I decided to put down the computer and just go and sit and knit. The birds at the feeder scattered, as they often do when I stand up, and I barely noticed but for the wren checking over its shoulder before diving for cover; I reached my perch at the couch and was about to sit down when–

–there he was. He flew in to the back of the dolly, which is behind that couch through the window, right there from where I was. My moving around had not scared him away from landing.

My bird. My big wild bird is okay. As if he’d wanted me to know that.

I will never cease to catch my breath at the sight of that beautiful, living, curious, intelligent hawk.

(Edited days later: I am sorry to have to add that there has been some question about the veracity of the report to the peregrine group about a third one having been found and its attempted rescue. There is a third one missing and its fate unknown, although, not all the ones out there are banded and personally known to us.)

Small favors
Wednesday June 22nd 2011, 10:59 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Knit,Wildlife

I found a new amaryllis bud today, a Dancing Queen, one of my favorites. How did I miss seeing that coming up earlier! I brought it inside next to the first one just to make sure nothing out there develops a taste for the flowers, giving it a good watering.

The male Cooper’s showed up this evening and this time we all got to see him together.

Michelle: “That’s a big bird!”

Richard, appreciatively: “Just wait till he spreads his tail.”

Me, after we all watched him fly away at last: “There’s a flock of finches and endless doves but only one hawk pair. They’re individuals.”

Meantime, this is what the qiviut looked like this afternoon. I lay in bed last night, sleepless, wondering why on earth the C word should seem any worse in the dark than anything else when it probably wasn’t even a bad version, and thought about what I most wanted to do next–and this was it. It won’t take me very long to work on but it is exactly what I need right now: the pure qiviut is soft (well *yeah*), it is lovely, and I am knitting with the confidence I was lacking on the first try that I have the pattern worked out exactly the way it should be done. I know more now. It feels good.

Michelle exclaimed yesterday over the Epiphany project when I twirled it around my shoulders off the blocking to see; she agreed with me that it was one of my prettiest ever (the way one should always feel at the end of a project)–and now it is ready to be mailed. From Epiphany to Lorraine’s qiviut: I’m glad I have had these to soothe my fingers and my eyes and my soul. That, and the presence by whatever means possible of my family and friends. You have helped so much, and I am so grateful.

Friends from church came over today and scrubbed my car for me just because I can’t, I can’t be in the sunlight where I would be able to see what I was doing and it has a crack in the windshield so I can’t do a drive-through. They stepped in and took care of all that, borrowing my vacuum and an extension cord too and cheerfully working away till it was perfect. Wow.

One day down, the rest of a week to go…