Loaf-flying chopper
Wednesday June 03rd 2020, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

My last two KitchenAid mixers did this, too: as they got old, the on-off switch stopped being reliable. You could turn the darn thing off and it would simply keep going till it ran out of steam.

I found this out with the first one years ago when I had my hand down in the bowl and it must have been just enough movement that it toggled itself on and gave my wrist a compression fracture.

This one, as always a 5 qt size because at the time that was the biggest home-kitchen one they made (and because at this point I have all these extra bowls for that size), has been at that stage for about a year now. But it still runs, and it still turns off, if reluctantly, and I can always unplug it if need be. Haven’t needed to yet. I’ve been thinking for awhile now how replacing it would be a lot of yarn money.

I am typing this carefully. It was the top of the dough hook this time below my thumb. I knew better, that’s the thing, it was sheer stupidity on my part.

I figure if it’s broken I’ll know for sure tomorrow because it will hurt more then, but right now we’re on 8:30 pm curfew for ten days, Urgent Care is closed, and the ER is just not where anybody wants to be during a pandemic even if they’re separating suspected covid cases at triage, which they are. And I seem to be able to manage.

When Richard said by way of comforting that he really enjoyed that sourdough, it helped. A lot.


Edited to add in the morning: the pain is not more localized and it’s not sharper so it’s likely just bruising. Carry on!

Official lockdown day 76
Sunday May 31st 2020, 10:13 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends

The backstory on the pie: my daughter was looking at the strawberries we’d gotten from Andy’s Orchard and dearly wished for rhubarb to complete them. But one only goes to the grocery store these days when it’s a necessity and we didn’t even know where to find it now that our old source is gone.

Friday night, knowing none of that, my friend Catherine said she was picking more rhubarb from her garden than her family could eat and offered it to all on the ward chat–with the one request that if you take it you eat it.

I had an order already in for the Milk Pail Saturday morning produce pick-up from their warehouse: you pull up, you roll down the window, they swing in the bag of random plantliness, no choosing, just a good price and far fewer hands between you and the farmers.

So: there, then Catherine’s.

Where I opened the back door to see for sure. It looked like chard, but no, it was indeed kale, and my sweetheart has strong opinions about kale, as in, why would anyone do that to a perfectly good meal?

Poor little unloved kale, you look good to me, and part of me almost didn’t but it felt right and I put the little foundling in its green bio-friendly bag on Catherine’s doorstep as I picked up the waiting rhubarb.

And went home and sent off an email explaining why she was going to be finding it there and that I hoped it had found a good home.

Which she didn’t see for a few hours–but she did see the kale and had no idea how it had gotten there.

What she answered is that she had found it and gone ?!!!!? She had just then been finishing the last kale in her house. She loves it, she loves that particular variety of kale the most, she eats it all the time and she was quite sorry to be out of it to the point of debating risking an unnecessary run to the store just to get more.

Just like we almost had for rhubarb.

And there it just shows up right at her door just like that.

And already there were the pictures of the rhubarb strawberry pie: we’d used it all up.

Lockdown official day 63
Monday May 18th 2020, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Family

They can put it in the mail and tell you when it should be expected but the mail might not be much able to hurry right now. Even when it was for Mother’s Day. Tracking told him it was delivered, then they said no it wasn’t, then they said it would be, and then it wasn’t.

Finally, at 6 pm tonight, my Mother’s Day present arrived.

My phone is being obstinate and not letting go of the photo just yet.

To be continued.

Edited in the morning to add the picture of cheerful, teasing sibling rivalry in a mug. From the taller kid.

Lockdown day 62
Sunday May 17th 2020, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

The first few blueberries, ripe off the bush, shared.


Lockdown day 60
Friday May 15th 2020, 11:05 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family

These turned towards the sun faster than I noticed and so some of the flower stalks from Dad’s bulbs had to be rescued and brought inside. In a vase inherited from my mother-in-law.

My folks and my in-laws were friends clear back to when they were neighbors as newlyweds, and somehow this just feels perfect.

Lockdown day 56
Monday May 11th 2020, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden

A few photos.

If you want to take pictures of squash blossoms, you have to do it in the morning: they shout Huzzah! to the new day and then step back to let the leaves do their big sugar-making job with the sun. This evening there was a second tiny zucchini growing, and I haven’t even gotten the plant in the ground yet. (I’m dithering: I’m liking having it on top of the old barbecue grill where the critters can’t get at it. Hopefully. But then it’s not a winding vine yet, either.)

Two picotee amaryllises opened up on Mother’s Day.

Fig, iris, apple in the back.

And best of all this last one.

Lockdown day 55: a jar ajar blinks
Sunday May 10th 2020, 9:16 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

At first glance it had gone down fitting exactly into the space and there seemed no physical way to undo what I had just done short of tearing the plumbing apart.

Happy Mother’s Day to you, too, I thought at the rogue jar of jam. Nobody turn on the disposal. Because that would be extra fun.

My hero looked it over and thought up a plan. It involved bending heavy wires with pliers and getting them under it and lifting it out. Not as a single piece going down and across underneath (how, anyway?) and up again but more like the feet on a long stick figure.

I was, to the say the least, skeptical, but trying to be supportive like he was trying to be supportive, so we gave it a try. And then several more, with one holding the flashlight and one…

Not working.

I went looking for the tongs that had been used to retrieve something from behind the washing machine–oh look, it got washed and put back in the kitchen where it belongs, fancy that–and looked at it skeptically. There was no way there was room for that jar and those tongs together.

But when you have a plan B and you don’t have a plan C (that you want to consider) you at least try.

I utterly failed.

Not right away, not till the jar had dropped hopelessly back several times, but, HE DID IT!!! He got it out!!! We don’t have to call a plumber tomorrow!

Sometimes, when you really need a Mother’s Day present like that, you get to have it.

And an atrocious pun that my Dad would have roared laughing over.

Lockdown day 51
Wednesday May 06th 2020, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,History,Life

They are ubiquitous where I grew up, but here, you have to be willing to buy new bulbs every fall or dig the old ones up and store them in your fridge all winter and not mistakenly use them for dinner. They’re poisonous, so you really don’t want to make that mistake.

But not to the local squirrels, who go straight for them as soon as they’re in the ground. I tried to plant some years ago and found it a lost cause.

But today brought a surprise.

One of my kids sent me a picture of two beautiful flowers in loud, random-brushstroke stripes, a petal on each curling and twisting while the others grew straighter, with the question, did I know what these were?


I said that historically, tulipmania in Holland four hundred years ago was set off by the search for specimens like these. They were gorgeous.

I went back to my afghan–I finished a fish, yay! I just need to tighten up the strands running behind so they don’t show–and thought about all the new random variants in a short time that made ordinary flowers into something never seen before, more beautiful, each as individual as the next, costly and highly sought after.

Caused by a virus.


Lockdown day 43: with love from Dad
Monday April 27th 2020, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Life

The amaryllis bulbs that my dad gave me for his last Christmas have begun to come into bloom again, bringing cheer to our lockdown.

And it is not possible–I thought–but that last apricot seed in that last paper cup, the one that wasn’t doing anything but I couldn’t bear to toss because it hadn’t decayed away like seven of them had those times when watering them had left them exposed enough to see…had a tiny root showing today. After trying for what, two months? I thought I was just putting off the certainty of disappointment by not letting the cup dry out, but there it is. It lives.

I covered its brief uncoveredness quickly with just a bit of chicken-manure-enhanced soil and hoped. It would be so cool.

My dad adored Andy’s apricots.

Lockdown day 42: rainbowwow
Sunday April 26th 2020, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Today is Mathias’s third birthday and we were supposed to be there to help celebrate. I admit it took me a couple of weeks to concede to reality and cancel the plane tickets.

His mom knew there wasn’t going to be a birthday party, not this year–but she had an idea while in an Indian grocer during Holi, the Festival of Colors.

The dog got rainbowed, too.

Lockdown day 41: At a good clip, too
Saturday April 25th 2020, 9:34 pm
Filed under: Family

Bubblewrap. Crinkly, poppable, interesting, new, light-reflecting bubblewrap, and (briefly) on the floor, too.

And so one very determined little Lillian mastered crawling today.

Lockdown day 35: berries and butter
Sunday April 19th 2020, 9:33 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

(Photos: clafoutis before baking and after.)

Someone actually found eggs at the store yesterday.

I thawed a quart measure of mixed berries, and then realized, wait, wrong recipe: the clafoutis only called for two cups.

Two condensed cups, how about, as they kind of slumped coming out of the microwave, but I dutifully (and somewhat generously) measured into the Mel and Kris ceramic pan.

You know, I know you don’t put butter in clafoutis, but it would sure improve it if you did, so I melted two tablespoons of Costco’s finest and into the batter.

Then what, I wondered, standing there a moment looking at it, do I do with the juices and berries still sitting in that big measuring cup?

Someone is having a birthday shortly, and someone couldn’t find whipping cream yesterday and someone bought canned spray cream. Two of them. Because it’s going to be his cake and those are fun and we could use some fun.

I thought, what the heck, cracked an egg in and pssssssst with the cream on top. Whisked it. Nuked it.

Now that. That is the level of fat you want with those berries (even if you think you shouldn’t really.)

The clafoutis was the best ever, but the impromptu side dish was better.


Lockdown day 31: Jim
Wednesday April 15th 2020, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

He used to run a theater. He’s now a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which gives you an idea of what his voice is really like. But you take my goofball cousin, throw in a pandemic and weeks of sheltering-in-place and isolation and all the talk on Facebook about people baking their own bread (or making their own sourdough starter–a friend just dropped some of hers off tonight for us to play with), and you get this.

And yes, after seeing this, we did. The starter isn’t ready for it yet but we had toasted cheese sandwiches for dinner–I mean, after a serenade like that how could we resist?

Lockdown day 30: looking up
Tuesday April 14th 2020, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Life

A little bigger, a little greener, and then stepping outside, the columnar apple has started putting on a show. Yesterday these blossoms opened up at the bottom branch, tomorrow there will be more at the top. 

And then there was this.

You could see the curve of the haunch up against the trunk, the dark tip of the ear, the angle of the jaw with its head turned a bit towards the neighbors behind.

No way.

I stared and stared and then stepped just inside the door to get Richard’s attention and camera and second set of eyeballs: Was that? No, right? Tell me it’s not? That *is* where it would want to be this time of day, that is the shape it would be, that is how it would want to melt into the branches mostly out of sight. (Where squirrels give new meaning to fast food.)

He came out and looked and saw what I saw and went huh…but maybe not. Nah. Couldn’t be. He went back in, grabbed a monocular (how does he always have just the right equipment for the moment? He said no it wasn’t, it wasn’t binoculars) and gave it a better look and then handed it to me.

Okay, then. Man.

Just half an hour later the shapes were the same but the interplay of light and shadow had melted the ear back into monotone brown, the line curving along the haunch had disappeared, and our mountain lion had melted back into simply being the Chinese elm with the weird angles and turns the tree trimmers had cut it into two summers ago when the insurance company required it not to go over the house anymore.

Plus the way it had grown since then.

You had to step outside at just the right time and maybe just the right time of year for it to briefly come alive as something entirely different. Brigadooning?

As for how it acted the part, though, it gave a pretty wooden performance.



Lockdown day 28
Sunday April 12th 2020, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Actually, it was last week, but this happened:

Two parents trying to work from home and four kids to keep busy.

In a genius moment that was an act of civil engagement, neighborhood service, math assignment, and keeping the kids actively engaged, our grandkids found themselves getting out the chalk and drawing a hopscotch. Around their entire block in San Diego. Five hundred brightly colored squares for any kid who wants to to jump them for as long as they want to–enough squares apart from others, of course.

There was a downpour over the weekend, which means they’ll have to do it again.

I didn’t quite ask if they were waiting for a new shipment of chalk but I bet it took a lot.