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…

The best-made plans
Sunday April 10th 2011, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Friends,Life

My friend Jennifer taught a lesson in church today and in preparing for it, she typed out her remarks and references, then later handed a copy to each hearing-impaired person so they could follow along and not be left out. Giving context for the parts not quite heard. It’s a wonderful, thoughtful thing to do.

And so before she started she handed me a copy as people were coming into the room.

A woman came in and sat down next to me a moment, someone who’s new.  She looked at me wistfully and told me how badly she wanted to hear what Jennifer had to say, but that her daughter had (I didn’t hear what exactly) going on and she was going to have to leave. She was clearly disappointed, while wanting to do the right thing and support her daughter.

“For charity is the pure love of Christ.” Much more than giving of money or clothes but actually feeling and acting upon that which is best and most divine in us. Loving one another with all that we are. A lesson to be energized by, for sure.

The woman is someone I recently knit for, and she also just wanted to spend a moment with me before she had to leave.

It was very clear what I could do to make her feel better in that moment: I handed her those lesson plans and explained how I came to have them. Her face lit up, she thanked me, and then she was gone.

A few moments later, now that all were settled in, Jennifer stood up again and started–and from across the room looked over at me and seemed confused a moment (I thought, or maybe she was beginning to wonder if, somehow, maybe…?) at my empty lap. No papers in my hand either.

She interrupted herself to say she didn’t know why, but she’d printed out an extra copy of those lesson sheets. By chance was there anyone here who might need them?

And I got blessed, not just with her original thoughtfulness and effort, but with the chance to tell her what she’d done when she didn’t know why she was doing it.

A nut case
Monday March 07th 2011, 12:19 am
Filed under: Amaryllis,Wildlife

We have a shed built by a former owner ages ago with a roof over it covered in many decades’ worth of redwood debris and bright green soft moss, spilling over the edges, quite pretty. The birds and squirrels love it.

Motion caught my eye and I turned just in time to see the Cooper’s hawk swooping up across the edge and over that roof–and the black squirrel sitting up there, startled, saw it just in time too and leaped for the leaves of the twisted old olive tree with zero to spare. Made it!

Just as I was blinking from that little bit of drama, a second Cooper’s swooped right there right at the same spot right in the same way, wings and tail stretched wide to second the motion. That is the first time I’ve ever seen two. It must be spring. Wow.

Still trying to figure out what yesterday’s visitor was. It looked (checking my Sibley guide) somewhat like a Wandering Tattler: a barred black-and-white chest, a heathered brown back, long precise bill coming to a straight point and large size, stabbing delectables in the grass. (Our back yarn isn’t the Bay and those would be shorebirds, but if they Wander…) Except that it had a black bib and, later when it flew, a white spot at the center of the end of the tail as seen from below. Any birders know?

It looked up at me, midstride midmeal, as if to question.

No, thanks, that’s okay, you eat it, go ahead, I’m fine.

And since yesterday, a pleasant smell of toasting nuts has wafted through the house whenever the heater has come on. This beats the heck out of our newly-built first house in New Hampshire in the 80’s: hear the fan. Smell the skunk. Here comes the heat. For a year. Our builder was late finishing, and I’d finally told him firmly that I was going to celebrate Thanksgiving in my house–or his.

I do not think he would have been altogether displeased that the skunk hit the fan. (Or whatever took the brunt of the spray.)

Well now. I knew throwing that thoroughly stale brazil nut to that little fluffytail yesterday was a mistake. I didn’t expect him to play gourmet chef with it. That nut smells quite a bit better now than it did when I gave it to him.

Everybody’s a foodie in northern California. (Maybe Virginia too.)

(p.s. With Bev’s suggestion, I looked more closely at the woodpecker section. Gilded Flicker. Cool! That was it!)

As Parker steals the show
Tuesday January 25th 2011, 12:09 am
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family,Friends,Knit

Parker’s being Kinneared.

I bought a single skein of Arctic Musk Ox Blend in the 2-ply a few months ago, undyed just to get a peek at what was underneath before I bought any more, and it’s been my carry-around project for awhile: small, mindless knitting, easy to stuff in a purse, and laceweight, taking extra stitches to work up in case I got stuck somewhere for awhile. (Always a possibility when your minivan is older in car-years than you are.)

But it was easy to feel it was never done, so today I simply stayed with it till it was finished, all but the blocking–18 out of the 22g. I actually had some left over.

What would you do with 4g of qiviut-blend laceweight?

Although, I have to give J. credit. She’s an old and much-missed friend who now lives back East and was in town yesterday, so a bunch of us got together and caught up for old times’ sake. J., I noticed, was careful to enjoy both the small crowd as a whole and individual time with each one of us.

I pulled out my needles and showed off. J. thought it was just so pretty that I came away feeling like how could I not have had this done and finished and ready to go?

A little water now for it to relax in the pool by, lay it out on a beach-sized white towel, let the amaryllis come play palm tree to complete the scene, and it will be.

Eight Nine Ten
Monday August 09th 2010, 11:22 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Life,Wildlife

Ya gotta love a date like that. The lazy days of summer… An amaryllis opening up four months early or eight months late, whatever, just because today seemed a good day for it.  A twined-twinned-stemmed avocado plant,  two  for the price of sprouting one.

My arthritis has been flaring for the first time in a long time–too much sun, I guess, and some heavy lifting I shouldn’t have done–and I knit one row today and stopped for fear of doing damage.  Ice and (I hope) tomorrow for that.  But I got day-t0-day stuff done that needed doing, watched the squirrel watching the day, and all the while you could almost see that flower opening up; it looked like the bud above it, this morning.

And I went off to buy birdseed to take good care of my flock.

Where I encountered someone I’ve seen just a few times who, when I said, with no previous conversation, that I’d like the patio mix and the sunflowers, expecting her to ring those up too, tried to tell me, rather tersely, that those three and a half inch square suet cakes I had at the counter were not my 20 pound bags of birdseed.

Wait, come again?

Yeah, that confused me as much as it does you.  What on earth?! I smiled sweetly and said, Yes, I have a suet holder. I feed lots of birds. (I didn’t add, a suet holder plus three kinds of birdfeeders and a giant sugar pine cone the chickadees love to dance on and I have nuttall’s woodpeckers–a male today at last, so there’s a pair now!  And juncos and titmice and house finches and goldfinches and Bewick’s wrens and pine siskins and bluejays and  chestnut-backed chickadees despite being at the edge of their range and drab California towhees that let you in on the secret by seeing they really do have a lot going on when they’re up close and a brightly-colored Eastern towhee going neener neener at its cousins and mourning doves and the occasional brown-headed cowbird that had taken over the bedroom and the fridge at some other bird family’s nest and a yellow warbler and what am I forgetting here, bright erratic hummingbirds, the Cooper’s hawk and a red-tailed hawk, the brief lamented budgie, the Golden Eagle next door–and then a mockingbird, the day after our trip last week, finally showing up on the porch for the first time after all this time to stand there staring me down from right there at the other side of the glass to demand, So where are MY favorites?  And so I’d read the packages and had picked out two suet cakes this time, one, my usual, and one that had dried mealworms in it. Mockingbird? You’re welcome.)

If I can’t be outside, bring the outside to me.

If only I understood why on earth she seemed put out, still, that I was buying that suet.  Huh.  Here, hon, I wanted to tell her, maybe you need to learn to knit. Maybe some feathery lacy patterns would be just the thing.

Or to take some time watching a black squirrel happily birdwatching on a perfect 72 degree Bay Area day.  Eight, nine, ten… And that’s just the ones on the feeders.

(I really needed some knitting time afterwards to bring things back to normal, a book wasn’t enough. I may just push my hands into it tomorrow anyway and maybe it’ll even help them recover.)

Dancing for joy
Sunday June 13th 2010, 11:25 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family,Wildlife

My Dancing Queen amaryllis is blooming! You know, the bulb I was supposed to toss because it had a red virus it wasn’t supposed to recover from, much less ever bloom again. It’s only two flowers this year instead of four or five on each of multiple stalks.

I think I can live with that.

Meantime, on the peregrine scene, Kekoa left dinner with his sister and mother on a tower at San Jose State University early in order to claim his window ledge first. Maya ate awhile longer, and when she came in, flew to a louver several floors below him. Hmph!  *I* can have my *own* window, so there! With the camera looking straight down from above, the tip of her tail showed.

But then her beak, and then all the sudden her wings and tail were spread wide and she was flying out of there. She circled just out of view, clearly, because she almost immediately reappeared next to her brother.

She gave him a push from behind. Just, you know, to see. Window? Corner?

NO. MINE. I got here first.

Oh okay, be that way, and she settled down for the night next to him. But notice, no feather pulling, no beaking, no running a talon through his tail.

If only my kids had learned to behave that much that fast!