Might as well run with it
Saturday September 05th 2020, 5:42 pm
Filed under: Family

Him, looking at CalFire pictures of where his friend lives up in the mountains and finding things mostly okay in that area: “There’s the poultry farm.”

Me, being deaf: “Upholstery farm? Is that where they tan the naugahides?”

Vote for the fourth-year cure
Friday September 04th 2020, 5:20 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Politics

Back when our kids were teens, Richard’s older sister had been feeling unwell and after running lots of tests, her doctor sent her to a hematologist.

Her first inkling of what she was in for was when she had to walk past the oncology sign to get to the man’s office. Nobody had said anything about cancer. It was her fortieth birthday.

And thus began her fight with a type of lymphoma that, at the time, had had zero cures and three known cases of remission ever, and it was not caught early.

They can cure it now. Back then, they kept coming up with new treatments that kept giving her a little more time. Her youngest was eleven, and while they were telling her to put her affairs in order she wanted to see her kids grow up.

Eight years later, she got her youngest off to college and saw a son married to a good woman. Six weeks later she was gone.

Richard had just started a new job when he heard her diagnosis and had no accrued time off but his boss’s reaction was, Go. Now. Go see your sister. I don’t want to see you for a week.

The fact that it was summer vacation made it easy to throw the kids in the car and drive to Salt Lake City.

We did that long drive so many summers after, wanting to see her while we could, wanting to be supportive in person as much as possible.

And every time we drove home, the Sierra Nevadas gave way to flat farmland and signs like the ones beckoning, Pistachios $2/lb!

(Those were the immature nuts that were closed as tight as a fist and a royal pain to crack. You want the ones that smile for the camera, you pay $3 but they didn’t tell you that till you got out of your car, and if you wanted them shelled that was a whole ‘nother thing altogether.)

The family of knitting friends who immigrated from Iran own one of those pistachio orchards, that being a traditional crop back home, and I’ve often wondered if we ever passed their farm. Wonderful people.

Michelle is doing the long drive home from her sister’s and asked us if we wanted her to pick up anything along the way. We knew where she’d be coming through, so I said something about maybe pistachios–don’t take the time for us, take care of yourself first and foremost, but if you want to stop and if you’re interested, sure, I’d be interested.

Some hours later the phone rang.

She was sorry but there would be no farm stops on this trip.

No problem at all, we weren’t counting on it–it was just wistful memories.

Because, she said: farm after farm had great big Trump signs. And she just couldn’t.

And I wondered, do they want so hard to stay unconflicted and unchallenged in their bubble that they’re willing to kill off half their summer tourist income for it? Not to mention, and all that for someone who’s tried so hard to take away the healthcare they maybe have no idea how much they might need someday?

I guess they do.

CZU fire aftermath
Monday August 31st 2020, 10:32 pm
Filed under: Family,History

Where the firemen built a break.

Where my kids went to camp, growing up, at a church-owned property shared by youth groups from across the region. Where our ward (like many) held several family campouts. I can still picture Peter cheerfully flipping pancakes.

I’m quite surprised there was anything left of the dining hall at all.

The boxes are the best part
Sunday August 30th 2020, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Family

Everybody needs a freezer box hideout to make goofy faces in.

And to grab your daddy’s cup at the table. (She’s watching carefully where it went.)

Play with your food
Wednesday August 26th 2020, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Wishing safety and refuge to all in the path of the hurricane. (The Washington Post is offering updates for free, no subscription needed.)

There’s a long way to go but our closest fire evacuations have begun to lift.

One more birthday picture. (Food powder based.)

Twelve months
Monday August 24th 2020, 9:07 pm
Filed under: Family

Someone officially turned one yesterday and she wants to share the celebration.

More 2020
Wednesday August 19th 2020, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

The mattress we ordered is supposed to finally arrive Saturday. I guess it has been sufficiently quarantined from its New Jersey origins now.

The trucker’s route is sending him north from LA, and I just sent him a note asking him to please check the fire situation before coming: the fires are in the mountains, but there was a brush fire alongside the main freeway down in the valley a few towns south of us yesterday.

I wanted him to know that his safety is the priority.

Friends have been evacuated from their homes, we haven’t heard back yet from Richard’s aunt but the red zone on the map is thankfully not close to her and she is clearly peachy fine. The Salinas fire does not seem to be near her daughter’s.

The air was yellow today, the light reflections inside were weirdly orange, and you walk outside and your nose says, hey, you need some marshmallows to go with the graham crackers and chocolate in the pantry. Just hold the skewer out…thataway.

One picture in the news made it clear that Richard could have seen the rising mushroom of smoke from the other side of the mountains from his office, if not for covid and working from home. (Do NOT take the scenic route up the coast!)

But at least we got a slight break on the heat.

My prayers for the firefighters and those in the path.

Almost one
Tuesday August 18th 2020, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Family

We were FaceTiming with the Washington grands Sunday and Lillian was walking easily across the rug from parent to parent, giggling.

But when she got to the tile floor she slipped and tumbled and nuts to this and crawled to get where she wanted to go.

Back to the rug.

Her brother was on the couch and mostly out of reach.

She grabbed for his toes. He didn’t mind. She peered over the edge. Okay, the walking’s cool but what she really wanted now was to be able to get up there and find out what he was so interested in and be a part of it. She wanted to climb. It was just too high and there was no foothold to be found.

The previous week it was the walking she’d wanted so bad to be able to do.

Yesterday the kids sent us a video: Lillian, in bare feet this time, walking on that tile floor. Everybody clapped so she stopped and clapped, too.

Hey. This time clapping didn’t make her fall down–and she was on the tile. She noticed. She was hesitant as to how to safely start up again, though.

“Mathias, do you want to help your sister?”

Mathias appeared from around the kitchen island and reached for her hand and as soon as she could touch his she was off again and around to the other side.

It wasn’t that he was doing anything to hold her up physically, it’s that she knew he was there and he loved her. And that made it so she could see that she could do this herself after all.

Wait–new pictures today. Look at her go! Okay, got the shoes off.

Those toes! And she’s practicing the climbing thing–she’s motivated.

Can it
Friday August 14th 2020, 10:19 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

That’s still around? He hasn’t used that in…huh, long enough that the seam of the can had started to rust. Wonder why he didn’t just toss it–maybe confusion over whether spray cans can be recycled or not. It’s empty, right?

Well, no, it wasn’t, and that’s why that bit of hefting felt so surprising. The little squirt in the same motion to make sure that it was exploded the stuff outwards like elementary school kids out the door at the sound of the recess bell pre-Covid.

Holy cow.

I was suddenly reliving the moment years ago when the trash men had dropped a small bottle of fabric paint out of the garbage can onto my driveway, my car hit it, and it exploded bright red paint droplets across the front of my house. My holly bush was suddenly female with berries. At least this wasn’t paint.

That shaving cream REEKED.

That’s why he hadn’t used it. And now the wall stank, and the floor, and several skirts in my closet, and that shirt? It was time for it to go to Goodwill anyway, that’s as good a reason as any. (I washed it.) My hands. Dang.

It was bad, man, it was bad, so bad that I was afraid our food would taste of it even though I washed my hands repeatedly before cooking dinner. I couldn’t get away from it.

And then I found more blue splurts of the stuff.

Some manufacturer thought that smell would bring on the girls, the fine restaurants, cool cars and the good life?

You know there were no women in that boardroom.

Into the trash. Thankfully, these days they have us put the cans out to the curb ourselves.

In the Palm of my hand
Saturday August 08th 2020, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

I got the large wide flat boxes from my Dad maneuvered between the wheels and out from under the bed and was trying, including using a broom handle, to reach all the stuff that had fallen between the headboard and the mattress.

Note that a startup company a few miles away, years ago, decided to make a competitor to the then-popular Palm Pilot with more features, like a camera–and decided at the last second that it might have an even bigger market if they added a phone. Rumor is that they almost didn’t but smarter heads prevailed. There was an early version of text messaging.

And that is how the Sidekick came to be. All the cool people in Hollywood had one, all the tech nerds wrote about it. Not that that’s something I would normally know or care about in the slightest, and not that I normally aspired to own the latest electronics. But Richard’s co-worker camped out in front of the store to get one of the very first ones to be sold, showed it off at work, and then my hubby went straight there at 5:00 pm to buy one, too.

The moment he showed it to me I said, And did you get two? Because this is a deaf person’s phone and I need it more than you do.

It was extra cool that the young handsome face on the box clearly living the happy life with this perfect new gadget just waiting for you inside! happened to be our daughter’s high school classmate. Hey, I didn’t know Dan modeled! (Probably his mom worked there, and she knows a good-looking kid when she sees one.)

Richard went back.

And that is how the smartphone craze got started: a company called, don’t ask me why, Danger.

Can I…reach that… I snagged it!

Out it came from under the head of the bed.

An empty box for a Palm Travel Kit. Had a charging cord and everything, it said!

I stared at the thing, trying to grok it. That’s like a leash to go take my pet dodo bird for a walk.

Chocolate hazelnut raspberry
Friday July 24th 2020, 11:08 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Recipes

With a superfluous pomegranate picture just because I thought it was pretty.

I was ordering some pre-tempered powdered cocoa butter for chocolate making, as one does to help seed the right type of crystal formation, while wondering how summertime temps in transit might effect what I was buying it for… Well I guessed I’d find out.

The baking supplier dangled a half pound of hazelnut praline on my screen, and it wasn’t going to cost me any extra on the shipping so hey why not.

When it came it said 50% hazelnuts and it was sweeter than I would have made it. Y’know, all I had to do was throw toasted no-skins-on hazelnuts in the food processor and an equal amount of sugar (or less, for us) and then I wouldn’t have had to work all the oils back through the heavy substance of the stuff. Done. Gotta admit that is tasty, though. Into the fridge with you.

So here I was a few days later and there was this batch of homemade chocolate, quite dark. We’d just eaten a small lunch that definitely needed more to it.

I wondered…

So I nuked a little of that chocolate for 20, 30 seconds or so so it wouldn’t burn, just enough so that when I smashed it with a spoon it gave way and became stirrable.

And then stirred in a larger spoonful of that hazelnut praline.

And then folded a large number of raspberries in.

I got asked if I could go do that again? Please?

We didn’t quite eat the entire twelve ounces of raspberries but we came close.

Behold the Lillies of the field, how they grow
Thursday July 23rd 2020, 9:40 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Somebody is eleven months old today and cannot wait to be able to take the next step.

Tuesday July 14th 2020, 10:59 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Pomegranate tree picture just because. It grows like a yarn barf ball that the cat got into.

Seaching for something at the back of the middle shelf of the freezer in the garage this evening, several things from the top fell down on my head. Because I had just put them back in wrong.

I tried not to do a small freak out.

Including half a dozen concussive-type events with actually getting knocked out, I’ve had twelve.

My friend Phyllis’s sister died in middle age after two concussions in fairly short succession. I am a little too aware of the possibilities.

Got dinner done, went to go check on a plant, and was both opening the slider and stepping through when the bottom caught, the top bounced way back, and it smacked me so hard on the ear that after I caught my breath I had to take out the one hearing aid to ask Richard if there was blood. I have these semi-hard things in my ears, y’know, and, yeah. Not that he could see, though, so, good.

Next thing you know I’m trying not to throw up. Richard had me go lie down awhile with his, I have no idea what you call it: an ice head belt? It’s black, it’s like fabric-pot fabric, it has pockets for ice packs, velcro hinge-type things to flip over and hold them in, and sideways velcro to hold the contraption around your head. Good for migraines.

The room was spinning. It’s been worse, but. I was quietly feeling like, don’t leave me. I didn’t actually ask. He stayed with me.

After about 40 minutes, I got up and watered the now-four-branches baby apricot and veggies out of sheer cussedness: those pots dry out fast and I’ve put too much into them not to now.

Then I typed all this out so I would be able to go back later and see what date this was.

And went, but you know? What I really want to do? Is to finish that stupid hat I keep not wanting to work on.

So I did. I sewed on the ears–in a solid line down the sides of the upper face this time. I worked in all those ends and I used them to cover up some of the mishmashed color changes as best as could be done, and-

–wow. Who knew. Sterling was right. That one is a lot cuter than the second try–or just different, but, it matches much better what he was hoping for and it’s a really relatable, cute face now.

I can’t wait to get it to him.

I’m going to let him be the one who’ll drive over here. I’m taking it easy for awhile.

One to two weeks
Monday July 13th 2020, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

It’s worse than buying a car. At least with a car you get to drive it home.

We’ve been saying for over a year that we needed to replace our mattress. It’s a Stearns and Foster and we’ve had it for 26 years and it’s held up–made all the more marvelous by the fact that the previous one did for all of two before neither of us could stand it anymore–we were totally burned. The current one is still pretty comfortable for me after all this time, but not for him anymore, and it used to dampen movement but really doesn’t anymore. At all.

Which is bad when you’re a light sleeper and the big guy isn’t.

I spent hours, on several different occasions over those months while we debated, trying to learn everything about buying a mattress. The first thought was, go high end again: nobody expects one to stay that good for that long but our expensive one did and it more than paid for itself vs the costs of replacing again and again and again.

And then I read that S&F got bought out.

And a review by someone saying they weren’t what they used to be.

Now, I don’t know if that’s true nor fair but it stopped me–I knew no serious alternative. Not when you want zero off-gassing.

But last night was sleepless. It was time. I went back to Consumer Reports, only I decided not to look at individual ratings–I looked at their ratings of the brands themselves.

And then at the top mattress of their top company, because my 6’8″ husband is not lightweight and I wanted not to have to deal with all this again.

Charles P. Rogers “Estate Lifetime.”¬†Gotta love a name like that, and yeah, it’s all marketing, but–I have a talalay pillow and know how comfortable it is and it is the only pillow I’ve ever heard of with a ten year warranty. (Maybe down pillows do? I wouldn’t know.) The Fourth of July sale was still on, and since Stearns and Foster’s ends tomorrow one can only assume Rogers’ does, too because you know they know who their competition is.

The movement dampening was a particular claim, both on their part and at Consumer Reports.

My sweetie and I talked about it. I asked many questions via the company’s chat.

I walked away, let it percolate for awhile, came back, talked to Richard some more, and then we sprang for it.

And now all we can do is hope.

The trick is not to lick your fingers
Saturday July 11th 2020, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Especially in a pandemic, and we don’t. Wipe it off your fingers with a paper towel. It’s a messy process and it does use a lot of them.

Meantime, what with our air conditioner having gone out during a heat wave–all fixed now–I found that all the chocolate in the house had become untempered. Same taste but grayed a bit and it just didn’t have that snap to it, and then gradually the last of the homemade chocolate, the best stuff around here, just…somehow…vanished. Go figure. Right?

Bless my sweetheart, he proclaimed himself fine with my running the melanger these past 24 hours despite a migraine. The man is a keeper.  Grinding cacao nibs between granite stones is not an overly quiet process.

Last time I poured it out we filled eleven molds–but to be fair, they were shallow silicone ones.

He poured this time, though, and the newer lucite molds are deeper, so even though I processed a half pound more than we ever have, (@Afton: 2.5 lbs) there are five molds cooling over there. There was one particularly deep one which he’d filled to the tippy tippy top.

The smaller the pieces the less the guilt, but not this time. We’ll just have to live with ourselves.

Edit: Oh wait. I *am* tired. There are eleven bars in those five molds, that’s right, just some of them have quite a bit more to them this time. Alright then.