Thursday the multiple 13s
Thursday June 27th 2019, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Family,Politics

By the time we booked our reservation at our favorite major-celebrations restaurant only the 8:00 slot was left.

Which meant being able to watch the entire second debate first.

Which definitely gave us a topic of conversation over our dinner.



Thank you Mathias
Sunday June 23rd 2019, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

A two year old started randomly yelling in the middle of church today insisting he wanted a donut and got taken outside a moment by his mom to be shushed, along with a couple of other toddlers who chimed in. I mean, who wouldn’t want donuts? Where were their donuts?

Which is how his mom and those few others saw the arsonist setting the fire that was starting to whoosh up the dry hillside right to where there was a chapel full of people who had no idea what was happening behind them. It came close.

Everybody is okay. We are praying hard that the guy is somehow caught and stopped.

Out of the mouths of babes, oh Lord, Thou has perfected praise.



Into the woods
Saturday June 22nd 2019, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Twisty, windy, blind-curved mountain roads, past Alice’s Restaurant in La Honda where there were motorcycles parked everywhere and across the intersection and a sign said, loudly, HAM RADIO operators something-something and I looked at the resident ham with a question mark but no, he doesn’t even ride a motorcycle…

And then the state park we had come for. Redwoods like Muir Woods without the distance nor the crush of summer people.

My brother-in-law was admiring a set of giants just after the four of us got out of the car and gave a chuckle when I told them that a circle of redwood trunks like that is called a fairy circle. (Right. They’re so dainty, aren’t they?) They all come up from the same set of roots, and, (coming on to the next one) see this bit of growth at the bottom? That’ll be the next one. All part of the same entity.

There’s no knowing how long ago this one played Hulk! Smash! on its way down, but somehow the bottom of it looks like a wild boar to me.

Or maybe that’s just its tutu?



Purple Wonders
Tuesday June 18th 2019, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden

I have just a trio of strawberry plants in a planter as an experiment; they were a bit of a splurge and I wanted to see how they would do before I got more. Starting in January or February we get the occasional amuse-bouche from them: one for you, one for me. Or maybe we split an only. They aren’t terribly big.

June, though, is a strawberry’s favorite month.

My sister-in-law wanted to see how the yard looks like these days, so once the sun got low we did a little walk-around, her face lighting up again and again as I said our first pomegranates ever were beginning, our first good crop of tart cherries is about ready, we’ve got tomatoes kind of scattered around to test where the sun is best like the one hiding behind that sweet cherry over there.

She didn’t remember that we had a mango, and was intrigued.

Mandarin, cherry, peach, lemon, plum, fig, apple, pear…

“Is this where you fell?”

“Stepping over that, yes.”

Coming back she glanced at that pot, saw what I had not and exclaimed, “Oh! Strawberries!” A red one was peeking out from the leaves, and I lifted the netting tent off and handed it to her, looked around and found two more. That would make one for Richard, one for her, one for me.

I was going to take them inside and rinse them first (one pretends to be proper when one has company) but hers looked clean and she popped it right in her mouth, just like I do.

She stopped right there with a look on her face almost to pain. I was suddenly afraid she’d gotten a bad one–there’s a reason they call them straw berries and I don’t have any straw. I’ve lost a few to them sinking into the dirt and looking perfect on top while rotting out the bottom after a watering.

Quite unsure, I asked, “Is it good?”

She swooned. “Now THAT. Is a STRAWBERRY!!!”

Which is how she got the other two.



Skidmarks
Monday June 17th 2019, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden,Life

The good news is I got all the trees watered.

The bad part was stepping out of the tall raised bed that runs the length of the back, having my foot skid out from under me and going over and down.

Some people do tattoos. I do a more temporary cherry and plum version.

Meantime, I popped one of these in my mouth and confirmed that I do need to start picking them. I held off, though, so my sister-in-law could get to do it too when she gets here tomorrow, if she wants. Pie, anyone?



Happy Father’s Day
Sunday June 16th 2019, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Family

It was great to talk to our kids.

And man, it felt good to hear my dad’s voice. Cheerful, welcoming, happy, so glad to hear our voices, ever the best a dad could be, and I felt all over again just how lucky I am that I got to have him as my dad.



A quick note after celebrating our friend Lee’s birthday
Saturday June 15th 2019, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Garden

My sister-and brother-in-law are arriving this coming week.

Ripen fast, guys.



Hunka hunka burning, Love! Ooh!
Saturday June 08th 2019, 10:19 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

I put my favorite Mel and Kris hot cocoa mug in the microwave this morning, same as I always do, and turned my back to do something on the other side of the kitchen.

And suddenly wondered what that smell was. We’re talking maybe fifteen seconds here.

Richard came down the hall just then, going, Turn it off! Turn it off! Unplug it!

Smoke was pouring out of the microwave as we opened the door. And then the other doors, and the fan, and the skylight…

Is it just me, or does everybody have three different appliances spontaneously combust? Well not all at once, at least.

So did I knit today? I did not. I researched, I read endless reviews and reports, I went, Are you KIDDING me at Amazon’s saying they would ship that particular model in three to five months, and then I paid for the last one of these that Target had in stock so that nobody could beat me to it and drove over and picked it up so that I could have my hot cocoa in the morning without having to stand over a scorching pot again.

Do not stand between me and my morning cocoa. Three parts cocoa to one of sugar–I’m pretty hardcore.

Do you think we could start a microwave selfie fad?



This happened a few years ago
Thursday June 06th 2019, 10:19 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Which doctor’s on call today?

Why, the nurse shot back into her phone: if it’s the wrong one are you going to go out of labor?

I hadn’t said a thing about being *in* labor, nor had I shared my misgivings about one of the OBs on that team, but a huffy question like that demanded a forthright answer: Yes.

We called the folks later to announce our new little boy, and Dad teased me that I’d missed his birthday.

I know, I know, Dad. But the other doctor was on duty yesterday and there was nothing I could do about that.

Happy Birthday to our son who had his own first baby boy on Mom’s 80th birthday. Improving on my parenthood from day one. He and Kim do a great job.



Keeping a Steiff upper lip
Wednesday June 05th 2019, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Family

Dad put me on speakerphone into the party. His voice was strong, happy, laughing, sounding like Dad always has and at his happiest. My older sisters, brothers-in-law, a niece, and I didn’t quite catch the others and of course Mom were there celebrating his day.

“Tell a memory!”

I thought, Quick, think of something good!, and so I came up with this. While also marveling at how energizing love is. Go Dad!

I told of Mom and Dad coming here to visit and happily posing with my childhood stuffed tiger with the biggest smile on their faces. (That post is in the blog somewhere, I’ll find it…) The one Dad had brought home from the Steiff factory in Germany when I was three or four–I remember the moment when it became mine.

Do you still have it? Dad laughed, sure of the answer.

Me, with great enthusiasm, Yes! And when I was a teen, I wasn’t going to ask permission or for how to do it, I just grabbed some of the leftover yarn from Carolyn’s sweater and stitched him up where he’d split open a bit. The yarn didn’t match (not to mention, it was way too thick for the job) but it was what I had and I used it anyway. It’s still there. It’s part of its history and part of Carolyn’s sweater.

Which I’m sure was news to Carolyn in the background and I know all of this was new to her daughter there. Dad talked a little about touring that factory and was pleased that I remembered Anne’s koala. There were the big girls and the little girls and we two little girls got the stuffed animals.

I went on, Last Christmas, Maddy was turning four and that was just the right age so I went looking and I found the Steiff website and a tiger that was adorable and whose price wasn’t in the stratosphere. Maddy got a tiger from her grandparents, just like you gave me mine. Spencer got a Steiff baby rattle. I’d never known there was such a thing, but there is.

I forgot to tell him that Maddy latched onto that tiger like I’d latched onto mine and that when we visited between Christmas and New Year’s, the kids told us it was her favorite now.

I was afraid I was making Dad overdo but I didn’t want to break the spell and I didn’t want to deprive him of a single moment. Or, selfishly, me. He did tell me, though, when he needed to let me go so he could…

I knew. Breathe.

And if any doctor ever again asks me how I stay cheerful while going through the worst medical crises (actually, let’s hope I’m done with those), I’m going to say, You should see my dad. I totally get it from him.

Happy 93d, Dad. Love you forever and always and thank you.



A swashbuckling Purse’n’Boots
Sunday June 02nd 2019, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Wildlife

(Afghan progress: halfway there.)

Yonder daughter came by and homemade strawberry pie she’d made was enjoyed by all.

Later, I was reading the paper and mentioned out loud the story in there of someone in Florida hearing something messing around downstairs in the middle of the night and they got all brave and stepped out the bedroom door to look over the railing to find out what on earth was going on.

The downstairs was being wrecked. By an 11-foot alligator that had broken in through a window.

I said, Y’know, when I was a kid those were almost extinct from hunting, and now they’ve really made a comeback.

Daughter gives a wry grin and says, You can tell your blog: it is much better to live where there are man-eating cats where you hike. Much better! Man-eating cats!

And she turns back to what she was doing, chuckling, joking/not joking.



One giant leap for…
Thursday May 30th 2019, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

The picture flat-out refuses to go right side up. It’s being squirrelly.

I have, for some time now, only put safflower seeds in my bird feeder; it doesn’t attract as many varieties of birds but the squirrels won’t fight to get at it. They’ll graze the kickout below if they’re hungry enough but that’s it.

Unlike sunflower, though, you can’t buy pre-hulled safflower. And those hulls get tracked indoors and into the runners on the sliding door and that has gotten very old. So I tried to figure out how to go back to sunflower but thwart the squirrels–who LOVE the stuff.

And then I noticed the old plastic trashcan that the trash service doesn’t use anymore and didn’t take away when they changed trucks.

I put it underneath the feeder and put a mixture of the two types of seeds in there; I have 20 pounds of the safflower to use up, and that seemed a good way to start transitioning. And containing. Maybe the squirrels wouldn’t want to jump in where they couldn’t see a predator coming. (Yeah, good luck with that. I’ve seen them pulling a paper cup down low over their heads, trying to lick out every last bit of due-date whipped cream, falling over frontwards and backwards in the process while holding on tight to what made it so they couldn’t see. Squirrels are so funny!)

The other hope was to starve the rat out so it doesn’t show up again.

Of course it only took a few days for the first squirrel to want that treat enough to jump in. Even I can hear the thump from inside when they land in there. They don’t have enough of a steady surface at the top of the thing to leap upwards onto the feeder (yet), so that’s good.

I debated leaning a piece of wood against the can to entice the rat on up so I could capture it, but no: it wouldn’t be stupid enough to simply fall all the way down in there, and I wouldn’t know what to do with it if it did.

There was no appearance of the unwanted little rodent. For days. Well that worked!

Until there it was again, grabbing whatever had fallen just outside the can. Definitely still the same one as ever.

Tuesday evening all was quiet as I went to go zip up the Sunbubble for the night. Opened that sliding glass door, and…

I’m quite sure it didn’t even touch the lip on its giant kangaroo leap from the bottom of that trash can, just one big arc up and over and out. I came inside and marveled to Richard, Just how many times its height did that thing just vault? Wow.

It wasn’t till later that it hit me.

I had just invented a popcorn popper for owls.



That settled that
Tuesday May 28th 2019, 10:27 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

One other thing about yesterday: when we got home after the yarn store/chocolate store/hardware store/electronics store jaunt (he got something out of that trip too, it was only fair), I was trying to figure out the math. Let’s see, I’ve knitted four, have six more, have seven of the new, do I do a fade of so many increasing/decreasing rows of new vs old and try for thirds of old/mixed/new, how many skeins, then, with that middle third going twice as far or using half as many of each but you don’t want it to look like quarters because the eye is pleased with odd numbers…

Richard’s take on it, was, I know how your brain works. You need to put the skeins out and see them. You need to look at them. He knew I wouldn’t be satisfied with it till I did.

He was right, and I dumped the whole shebang on the rug.

Six–there. Seven new–there. I could…

But there was only one way, clearly. Alternate pairs of rows the rest of the way through, ending with a solid last ball of the new in the seed stitch. Nothing else would look as good–even if I didn’t want the hassle of untangling strands from across the work and back for the rest of the project.

I like it. It’s looking good. Hassle? What hassle? What was I worried about? You need to do it to make it right you just do it.



Yarn then chocolate. Priorities.
Monday May 27th 2019, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Knitting a Gift,LYS

Alarm went off, we got up, got ready, got out the door, got onto the main road…

And in a split second of wait, where is everybody, had a good guffaw at ourselves and turned back into the neighborhood. Oops. Yeah we had a nice vacation day Friday but today’s one, too, remember? Not to mention what it was a remembrance for. With real thanks to all those who’ve served and the differences they’ve made.

Not long after that he asked me what I wanted to do with the day, then, now that we had it.

Well, we’d already avoided holiday beach traffic for good reason, so I threw out an in-my-dreams: Imagiknit and Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco.

Was I serious?

Well, actually, yeah, I’d love, but only the purest of love would make him offer to take me to a yarn store, much less one that far away… I’d bought these three extra skeins at Fillory that were just plain too off to feel good trying to mix dye lots with and I’d been trying to reconcile myself to the thought of not only buying more but buying quite a few more. That project devours yardage. And I had to see it in person.

Imagiknit’s website said they had nine. If it didn’t work we could check Cottage on the way back to see if they’d gotten more in stock. So because my husband really is that much of a peach, off we went. And he knows that that’s one yarn store I particularly do not get in and out of quickly even when I’m trying to be good–they have all my favorites. And I so rarely get there.

I spread the afghan-so-far on their counter and the young woman manning the register pronounced, simply, Wow.

That right there made it worth the trip to San Francisco.

The other, gray-haired woman went looking for the last skein but it had apparently been bought while we were on our way there. She sent us to the second room with the stronger lighting to get a better look at the colors, apologized about that missing skein and said that if we call ahead next time they’re happy to reserve… I assured her it was okay.

I had the afghan spread out again and this time Richard took a good look at it.

I’d bought ten? That’s four skeins? That’s not enough! he said decisively (he was right), and urged me to buy all seven they had that matched.

This time, (with the shop’s permission), I took one of theirs outside into the direct sunlight to see if it matched there, too. I’d made that mistake a week ago and I wasn’t going to repeat it.

The one difference, which the older woman pointed out, was that the shop’s was more nearly solid of a color while mine had more little bits where it was lighter here and there.

I could alternate rows.

The purple was the right purple, and what were the chances I’d get that so perfect anywhere else. I bought them.

They had a ball winder and swift set-up but winding the skeins was a do-it-yourself over in their classroom space. Back to the brighter room.

I had memories of friends telling me their ball winder’s gears had been stripped by people who’d cranked it too hard and the wrong way. I was not about to ruin theirs, and I’d kept him long enough; I was ready to just go.

But it was a mechanical thing, and mechanical things are toys to entice and figure out and use and feel great about and my ever-loving sat down with that first skein, got the nod from the woman to make sure he was doing this right, and set to it.

Six skeins later his arm was getting tired and he asked if I’d mind doing the last one. Not at all.

He got to wind the soft wool for his baby granddaughter in happy anticipation of getting to meet her soon, and being able to be participate in that afghan meant a lot to him.

Four hours of knitting later, sun light, artificial light: if I didn’t know where the second dye lot comes in every second row, I wouldn’t know of it at all.



Cutting remarks
Saturday May 25th 2019, 11:14 am
Filed under: Family,LYS

(It reminded me of the Rose Window. Pictured with a $4 trinket of a pendant/key chain thing, bought after the Notre Dame fire because one of my daughters did a semester abroad living in view of that cathedral every day. It finally showed up in the mail yesterday, just in time to meet its match.)

The story. He had the day off for the holiday weekend. Yonder daughter took the day off. Me, I’m always a little off…

We knew the holiday traffic today would be horrendous so we chose Friday to do our day tripping fun stuff. Pack things to drink, she said, we’re going to be driving for like two and a half hours, easily. Andy’s for the best cherries (and into the insulated case they go) then across the mountains to the beach town/touristy stuff/best chocolate/lunch at some new-to-us restaurant. Oh, and (not that we needed it at that point) the ice cream/sorbet for the dairy allergic that’s made in-house at that place that uses fresh fruit from the local farms. Go.

And so we did all that. I managed to drop the handmade mug with the balls of yarn motif that I’d bought at Stitches and shatter it outside the ice cream shop, but at least it cowabunga-ed off my car door holder in Surf City. Somehow that fit.

Anything else you guys want to do here before we head for home? Gotta beat rush hour.

Me, looking at my phone for choices and directions: Yeah, let’s try out one of the local yarn stores!

Them: Like you NEED more yarn! (with a slight groan.)

But hey, there was one right over there, turns out, just one block over from the ice cream shop. Well that’s handy.

I walked in there and a skein facing the door, set low in the bin, leaped out at me. Gorgeous. I did a quick cursory look around the rest of the shop but knew nothing else would live up to this. Shame there wasn’t more. It didn’t have any kind of a ball band but it was in the dk wool section and it wasn’t like it was hard to guess what it was.

Wait. There were two more at the bottom, tucked way under. I pulled them out and considered the variants in the hand dyeing, the fact that all three were different enough that you would always know where the skeins had changed, and opted for just the middle one for a cowl, or potentially a grandbaby sweater with solid colors to border it. Black? The Rose Window?

Maybe the ball band for the first was stuck under there where those came out of? I reached, and there it was, a little smushed from someone else having crammed it back in after knocking it off the skein. I smoothed it out, put it back on for the next person, thinking, c’mon, people, it’s not hard to be a little more polite to the shop and the other customers than that, and took the one I wanted to the front.

Where I told the unsmiling clerk that my family had told me I had ten minutes. (And with that, I instantly announced we were tourists they would probably never see again, not potential regulars. I didn’t know that that might be going to matter.)

Michelle popped her head in the door and grinned, It’s been nine. Just saying!

I grinned back.

The clerk did not. Everything about her screamed major depression. I wanted to help somehow if I could in what few moments I would have with her.

She asked if I wanted it wound. I would, actually, very much, thanks.

She set up the swift and the winder, and I was a little sorry that the shop owner had gone for the expensive wooden type without springing for the powered version that frees the staff to pay all their attention to their customers while it winds, like Green Planet/Fillory has. I would think that that would pay for itself over time, but whatever, not my business.

The woman cut off more yarn than I would have liked when she cut the knot tying the two ends together, but whatever.

She didn’t maintain the tension and neither did her set-up. It kept tangling. She stopped and freed the strand three times.

On the fourth time, there were only five rounds left on the swift. She picked up the scissors. (!!!!!)

Saw that I was watching, a little stunned. Oh right.

She put the scissors back down.

I said something to the effect of offering to wind the rest of it by hand myself and she took it off the winder and did exactly that.

That picking up the scissors thing was so automatic on her part that on reflection I realized it wouldn’t have been the first time she’d done it. Get rid of the nuisance. Toss the end of it. The customer would never know.

Now I need to figure out how to let the owner know. I googled to find a picture of her to make sure this wasn’t her, and it wasn’t–wrong face, wrong generation.

I want the clerk set straight, certainly not fired–but even more: I want her to get therapy. Because she’s clearly just barely dragging herself through the day and her issue is a whole lot more than cutting off nuisance yarn and cheating customers.

And maybe, trying to be charitable, it was just a stupid brain-dead moment from the habit of cutting the knots at the beginnings. But it sure didn’t look that way to me.