He knows who he is
Tuesday August 04th 2020, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Lupus

Thank you all, no pain last night and a much more productive day. I couldn’t get all the bags into the two recycling bins and the trash can; some will have to wait till next week’s pickup.

But the business card for the guy who worked at the long-gone Netscape? Boy did it bring back memories. Phil Karlton, one of their original engineers and an old friend, who wore a scruffy beard, a red and black plaid lumberjack shirt and a brilliant pink tutu to the Halloween party and was so fun with our kids. His wife’s paintings. Her post-polio syndrome.

The newspaper headlines in the 90’s about the first online funeral notice. The standing-room-only service for Phil and his wife Jan, who’d been on vacation in Italy driving down a road that had no stop sign nor marking that a highway was about to cross it. The loaded gravel truck doing 60 that broadsided them.

All the people across Silicon Valley who showed up in support of their suddenly-orphaned young-adult son.

The town in Italy that put up a memorial and the stop sign the townsfolk had long wanted.

The boss who paid for the son to go see where his folks had died, providing everything so he wouldn’t have to worry about the details, the gratitude of everybody for the humanity shown him; he was the son of all of us in those moments.

The business card, these decades later, of the mutual friend of my husband and Phil. I understood why it was still here.

I remembered, I considered, I hoped the son has had a good life since all those people came together for him at that beautiful Unitarian church and silently wished him all the best.

And then I let the piece of paper go.



It was time
Saturday August 01st 2020, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

It took me a moment to recognize it.

I think. I think. That was Lorna’s. It’s been so long, and I have visual memory damage.

I have rightly or wrongly always semi-blamed Noni juice for her loss, because it was popular at the time, she took supplements, and the FDA later posted a warning on their website (I have no idea if it’s still there) that it can trigger autoimmune liver disease.

Lorna was in a knitting group of mine and this was about twenty-five years ago. She found out she had autoimmune liver disease right after she found out she had cancer, and the one meant the other could not be treated–one round of chemo nearly did her in right there and there would not be a second one. She couldn’t process it. She was going fast, and she knew it.

I visited her in the hospital, knowing it would be the last time I saw her. She told me she wanted me to have some of her yarn, some good yarn.

I promised her I would make something beautiful out of it and remember her by it.

That meant the world to her, and there a few tears on both sides.

All of us had promised her we would knit at her funeral. She liked that idea.

And we came. It was a lovely old chapel, full of old and well-turned wood and windows reaching to the sky; I can see why she felt at home there.

I leaned over to Nancy before the service began and whispered, “I’ve got my knitting in my purse.” She smiled back in recognition, “I do, too.” Another friend later said hers was in her car but she hadn’t quite been able to make herself bring it in.

We didn’t knit during the funeral itself except in spirit, but we could have, and it was enough.

Lorna had never married, and her mom called Nancy and asked for people to come get her yarn stash and help her clear it out.

For whatever reason, I couldn’t make that one on short notice but the others saved some for me.

Leftover amounts. Scratchy wools. I have no idea what her stash had been like so it was what it was. There was the longest swatch I ever saw, where she’d tried out stitch after stitch, and that was pretty cool but it wasn’t something you could do anything with and there was no more of that handspun anyway.

And there was the front of a cotton sweater. (Photo taken pre-washing.)

I could be wrong, but I remember that as coming from her. It was still in the purple Lisa Souza bag Nancy had given it to me in.

I’m a fair bit smaller than Lorna was and don’t love knitting cotton but it was beautifully done in a gansey pattern.

In a shade of beige I didn’t wear.

I couldn’t rip all that work out and I couldn’t go forward knitting it for nobody and I’d made that promise and it was my one hope, if any. And so it got put away, till it was so away that it was long forgotten.

I came across it today. I remembered that purple bag but I didn’t remember what was in it. I opened it up.

It sank in.

I stopped right there mid-cleaning project, carried it out to the family room, looked at the stitches and yeah, that’d be about a 4mm needle, sat down with it and ripped out those rows of decreasing for the top.

And then with that now-wiggly squiggly loose yarn I cast it off straight across.

And then I worked in the ends, noting that Lorna had ended one skein just above the ribbing right in the middle of the row with a knot at the back and after that she’d changed skeins at the side edges so as not to do that again to it.

And then I ran it through my washer and dryer, where the loosely and unevenly spun cotton shrank into a thicker, tighter fabric. It was marvelous. The gansey purls stood out more and it was so soft. The ribbing still didn’t pull in at the bottom much at all–it’s cotton–and the sides were all pretty much straight.

And then I hung my new smooshy-thick soft oversized dishtowel on the upper oven handle, folded in half. (The amaryllis towels that Holly embroidered for me circulate on the lower oven to help them stay pristine.) This one is going to be a workhorse.

It’s absolutely gorgeous there, and a statement of knitting sisterhood. It’s so inviting: Touch me! Feel this!

I have no idea why I let that cotton or color defeat me for so very long and why I didn’t do this sooner, but I did it, I finally finally did, I made something beautiful from what Lorna gave me even if she’s the one who really did it. It didn’t have to be a sweater, it could be its own thing and now it is.

And I remember her by it.

Just like I’d promised.

And I absolutely love it.



Baby steps
Thursday July 16th 2020, 11:16 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

Sterling asked how I was and I didn’t really answer because I was still trying to figure it out. The nausea and dizziness are thankfully gone. Tomorrow’s another day further away from the concussion, and the day after that and the day after that and I figure this’ll all be temporary just like the other times.

Meantime, Milk Pail offered flats of peaches, ran out, restocked, relisted them for this Saturday morning’s pickup and I grabbed one. I’d passed on it earlier because I was going to drive to Andy’s and there was no way Milk Pail’s could ever live up to his. Plus I was hoping Andy might have a few last Anya apricots left.

That drive to Morgan Hill is not happening no matter how much I want it to. Richard will be doing the local pickup.

My head still just wants to hold still. Walking around the yard, I have to watch my feet constantly because they don’t entirely know how far away the ground is with each step.

Which isn’t really new, it’s just my brain doing Groundhog Day and back at the starting point.



Sterling
Wednesday July 15th 2020, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Colourmart had a mill-end sale awhile back and I bought all they had in a deep reddish brown merino. It’s supposed to be superwash, though I’ve never tested that out; I had just enough for an afghan and I didn’t want to waste a yard. (They have one color left in an earthier shade of brown.)

Dear friends of ours–the story is someone else’s in the family to go into detail over, let’s just say I felt I owed them much, and I aspired to knit them an afghan in thanks but then found myself making blankets for three grandkids on the way in a row instead.

In January I found that it was suddenly at the front of the queue telling me that it was its turn now.

Finally! Cool! I pulled out some yarn I’d had in mind.

But I just couldn’t make myself get going with it. Which disappointed me in me for dragging my feet. C’mon, it’s taken you long enough to get to this point, what’s the hold up?

I finally caught on and got a little more humble about it and said a little prayer: You know what they’d like best. I only know what I’d like best. Please help me get this right, because they’re the ones it’s for and for all that effort I truly want to make them happy with it.

I immediately found myself opening the small cabinet I keep some of the best to come tucked away in and going straight for that deep burgundy I’d bought a couple years earlier.

Really? It surprised me. I held a cone in my hands and considered. The color would go great with their living room. It was extra fine merino, which is very soft, but it had a lot of twist to it, which made it less so, although that would cut way down on pills or fuzzing out. Definitely a practical wool: thick, warm, not itchy, cuddle up, wash it, it can take it.

And so I made this afghan.

But with the shelter-in-place orders, neither Richard nor I could quite justify breaking quarantine just for that. Soon, surely, but again and again it came down to, but not now. What if I exposed them? What if I exposed them to the pain of finding out they’d exposed us?

And then, knowing none of this, Sterling asked me to knit his co-worker a baby hat. And you know the rest. One that looked like the logo of their project.

Which he finally got to come pick up tonight. He told me he’d shown the picture to some of his co-workers, including some that were knitters. (I was like, hide those rainbow color changes…!) But nobody had tipped off the recipient. I got to see the sparkle in his eyes as he said, That’s tomorrow.

And nobody had tipped off him.

He reached into the bag, stunned, feeling the edge of his and his wife’s new afghan, and looked back at me and said, marveling, That’s one of my favorite colors!

—————–

Edited to add–I was getting ready for bed when suddenly the obvious hit me and I came back here to say: if we had gotten that afghan to them earlier, Sterling would never have asked me to knit that hat because he would have felt like it was just too much to.

That, most of all, I think is why that waiting had to happen. That hat needed to happen, and that shared happy anticipation on the part of so many on behalf of the expectant parents and their little one about to arrive. I mean, they would have anyway, but sometimes you get that rare chance to help make love visible.

I almost missed seeing that.



Thirteenth
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.



Parfianka
Thursday July 09th 2020, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden,Life,Mango tree

I’ve told this before, but for those who haven’t yet read it: My friend Jean planted a pomegranate tree and two years later brought a half a paper grocery bag’s worth of fruit to church to share that was bursting open, breaking itself into pieces that made it easy for lots of people to get a sample (outside). *She* thanked *us*, saying there was way more than she could eat.

I had never tasted anything like it. I wondered if I’d ever tasted an actually ripe pomegranate before, or was it just the variety (she didn’t remember the name.)

A few years later I got to tell her that she was why I’d researched descriptions and taste tests and planted my own, a Parfianka, the favorite of not only a whole bunch of people online but the owner at Yamagami’s Nursery. I never would have done it had I not tasted hers first and found out what I was missing. She’d definitely earned a thank you.

Mine was a cute little $10 end-of-season-clearance what-they-had-left thing in one of those 4x4x10″ sleeves. Jean was 80 when she planted hers and she clearly started with a more established specimen. Makes sense.

Time and sun and water and dirt and the little one got there just the same. It fascinates me how the tree just keeps on randomly throwing out new flowers with the fruit in various stages, keeping the feeding station open for the bees and hummingbirds.

Jean is 94 this year and I think others will be bringing her pomegranates inside to her. I hope she gets to see them fully ripe again.

And one of my mangoes, too: two more months. I would not make her wait for an Alphonso, knowing she misses the Hadens of her childhood in Hawaii but her late husband even more, but I hope to help her discover something new to love and partake of just like she did for me.

I don’t dare risk bringing one to her in this pandemic, but if her daughter okays it I’ll pass one along through her.



Chopped stick
Monday July 06th 2020, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Wildlife

Lots of sawdust and sound today.

It’s so strange to look out the skylights and not see the silk oak a.k.a. grevillea tree anymore. There will be no murder of crows next spring when its weird orange flowers would have come on. It won’t be dropping any more major limbs on us. The new owner wasn’t risking it, and besides, whatever it may have looked like 70 years ago, it sure didn’t now.

The workers dropped large enough chunks of trunk to make the house jump, and sitting on the couch it felt exactly like the first jolt of the 5.4 quake that happened while I was in the same spot some years ago. I got up and took this picture through the leaves of my Chinese elm of the last nine feet or so of it (the yellow dead center there) before it too thumped down hard.

The old guy behind us breathed a sigh of relief and emailed me that he’d been cleaning up a bucket’s worth of leaves from that messy tree every single day for all the decades they’d lived here and now he won’t have to anymore.

My pear tree will have a much greater chance of finally blooming next year with all the new sunlight.

They took out the weed trees that were about to grow through the fence along our front walkway, too. I had had no idea just how shaded we had become until suddenly it was brilliance out there. My roses can make a comeback now; I’ve missed them. That fire hazard growing towards the sun and over my house that the insurance company was so upset over is gone. I miss them, but I don’t, and I won’t ever have to shell out big bucks to trim them straight up from the fence line to keep them happy anymore. Which, as I showed the new owner, would over time make them liable to fall on her house.

Gone. Done. Her yard will start over.

The tall ash in the background is in the yard next to Adel’s. It had a large nest this year, and I wondered if the hawks had moved there after the redwood vanished.

Last night, a Cooper’s swooped over our heads and up into that ash tree near that nest. Its young have surely fledged by now but territory must be announced–and youngsters like to stick close to home the first few months.

So they’re okay after all that came down today.

The owner of that house walked around the corner, talked to the tree crew a minute during their break, and got their business card. Hopefully for a different tree.



Blenheims
Tuesday June 30th 2020, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

We wore masks, we socially distanced, we stayed outside and only to say goodbye did she have her kids stand in the doorway for us to see each other and wave hi-‘bye. I hadn’t seen them in two years, but even the then-toddler still knew full well that I was her old buddy and she made my day.

Jennifer had invited me to come see her housewarming present in full production mode. She’s done a great job with it.

I got sent home with a goodly number of apricots and now I need to figure out the best way to save some for when the season is over.



They knew
Sunday June 28th 2020, 9:30 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

The Zoom church meeting: Dave was one of the speakers. The kid I watched grow up in New Hampshire, and such a good man.

He told a story from his teens that I hadn’t heard before, one that probably happened the summer after we moved away.

His parents had signed him up for a week at an interfaith camp in Boston. He did not want to go. He did not want to get out of the car when they got there. He argued, but they insisted.

The experience was life changing.

He was one of two Mormons in the group and the other was a girl he was friends with, so it was nice to find out he’d get to spend some time with her, anyway.

Midway through the week, after they’d all started to get to know each other a bit, they were told to divide up by which church they belonged to, and for this next exercise they were not to talk to anybody but the ones in their group. At all. Just talk amongst yourselves only.

Some kids had a big group and lots of people to find out more about, for Dave it was just him and his friend–

–and there was one girl sitting alone. All she could do was watch everybody else interact, and maybe listen as best she could. Okay.

The leaders kept not calling an end to the exercise.

After two hours, that poor girl was just too overwhelmed with the enforced loneliness while everybody else was enjoying themselves and in spite of I’m sure her best efforts in front of everybody, she started to cry.

Dave said it was the African-American kids who immediately did what he’d wanted to do all along: they instantly rushed to her side. They knew what it was to feel alone in society and they weren’t going to stand for it one more minute, and as soon as they did so so did Dave and his friend.

They were expecting to be scolded for not following the directions of the exercise.

To their astonishment, the adult in charge of it answered, What. Took. You. So. Long.



Wheelchairs for cars
Wednesday June 24th 2020, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

After they towed the car away they sent the email that said that there’s a 2-4 week national backorder on catalytic converters, one assumes because so many are being stolen.

And then I saw the other email. Had it been from anyone else I would have laughed and looked for the gentlest way to say no. But it wasn’t just anyone else.

Did I do commissions? A co-worker was having a baby and he thought it would be so freaking cute to be able to give the baby a hat that matched the logo of the project they were working on.

I won’t post that logo here but picture a circular, slanted rainbow with an animal’s face in the center.

A cat, he said.

A dog: a boxer on a summer day, I said. Those cheeks. That tongue hanging out.

A teddy bear, Richard glanced over and said.

A freaking pain in the neck, my needles said. The guy had no way to know.

I didn’t answer. I simply held yarn after yarn up to the computer and then compared amongst them to try to come up with the best combination. At this point there’s a lot of leftovers from that afghan project, and though worsted weight is not my first pick for baby clothes it’s what I had that had those colors and was machine-washable, soft wool. Soft enough for a baby.

Intarsia in the round. You knit right to left. The colors change left to right. Get to the end of the first row and the yarn at the color change is now on the other side away from you, so you wrap one (thank you Nancy Weber for teaching me how to knit socks years ago!) so it doesn’t make a hole and you go back to where you came from on two circular needles inside a Venn diagram because the hat’s too small to use just one. So there’s that variable, too.

When UPS knocked on the door when I was at a row and needle change it took me a moment afterward to figure which juncture, which direction, and which yarn.

You change colors in the back so it doesn’t show. Except there is no back during the knitting that way. It shows. And it shows worst and is the most messed up at the start of the rows at the orange/yellow, exactly where the mutt’s face is supposed to be centered–no hiding it at the back of the wearer’s head.

I was planning on stockinette and the gauge thereof. I had garter instead–which made it too big, but if you use that as a folded-up brim to hide half the animal it will…make a great peek-a-boo toy. After the baby gets old enough not to cry when it falls down and covers its eyes and it doesn’t want it to and it can’t yet do anything about it.

Let me get the rest done before making pronouncements.

The upper part gets to be stockinette because having just done four hours of this mess and not loving the result I was getting antsy. It was time to start the face.

I picked up a sewing needle and ran the new contrasting colors back to the starts of their sequences, ready to knit again, no turning. So there. There will be no give to the hat there but something had to give for me.

So many ways it’s not up to my standards. And yet, and yet, the silly thing is growing on me.

Note to self: next time knit a slanted panel, knit another picking up the side of the first as you come along, then another, till at the last you pick up from both sides and close the circle.

I finally answered his email after I got this far along with it: I said, no, I don’t take commissions.

But actually, I was going to surprise you with a doorbell ditch but I’m not there yet and I didn’t want to leave you disappointed all night, wondering. It’s far from perfect. But it’s coming.



A baby tree finds its way home
Tuesday June 23rd 2020, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life,Lupus

In between the insurance company calling, the adjuster calling, Enterprise calling, Enterprise picking me up, Enterprise filling out the paperwork and sending me on my way in a minivan, and the company the insurance picked to fix the Prius calling about the tow truck they’ll send to get my car…

Ruth and Lise were going to Yamagami’s Nursery. Where one must wait in line in the sun to go in: only so many people are allowed in under continued lockdown procedures at this Essential Business, you must wait till someone comes out, etc etc. Which is why I have not been able to go. After buying a bag of potting soil somewhere else years ago that turned out to be, somehow, plain sand with just the smallest bit of dirt mixed in, I am quite loyal to the place where I know I get the best of everything and it is what it says.

Did I want anything?

I made sure they knew I am by no means on their way. Did they still want to?

Absolutely!

Ohmygoodnessyes! Thank you! I had vegetable plants so root bound they were starting to look sick. I’d ordered fifteen and twenty gallon fabric pots so that I could plant them where they’d have lots of root space without having snails disappear them overnight, all I’d needed all this time was some good soil. For two months. And I wanted to help keep my favorite place in business.

My friends–I met Ruth via knitting at Purlescence years ago–are fruit tree enthusiasts and the reason for my Black Jack fig: they’d told me that in our climate that was the best-tasting of their three.

I showed them around the back yard. They exclaimed in recognition as I named variety after variety, most fondly, the fig. We geeked out together over the thought of picked-first-thing-in-the-morning sweetness.

And I sent them home by way of thanks with one of my two Anya apricot seedlings. They were thrilled at the offer. I was thrilled; it absolutely felt meant to be. I had always known I would give one away and had been trying to figure out who it might best be, when suddenly as we were planning all this there was no doubt.

You cannot, as far as I’ve been able to find, buy that variety tree at retail. You can only plant a kernel and hope it’s true to its parent, and here I’d given them a year’s head start on the process.

They were very very pleased.

And now my own Anya is happily planted in the oversized pot that had been waiting for it. It should last it for several years. I was surprised at how big its root structure already was.

(The watermelon and squash plants were so grown into their clay pots that I finally had to shatter them carefully against the concrete to free their grip.)



Not as planned
Monday June 22nd 2020, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

The plan this morning was, I was going to the pharmacy and then swinging by the hardware store that has the fan I’d paid for waiting to be picked up.

I got in the car. I turned it on. Everything was fine. I put it in reverse.

Screamingly NOT fine as I backed up.

I looked around for the drag-racing cars or motorcycles with no mufflers??

I put it in gear and it somehow got louder, loud enough to shake the steering wheel–I bet they could hear that car a half mile away, and a neighbor out walking stopped and stared at it like, holy cow. I got it back in the driveway, smelled the burning, came in and told Richard and called the police.

The thieves who’d stolen the catalytic converter had left a few spare parts in the driveway. They can get a few hundred for the rare metals, while replacing the thing costs about three grand. I’d read that older Priuses are a particular target and you can pay to have a metal plate added to try to thwart them, but earlier reports had said (erroneously) that ’07 models weren’t affected so we hadn’t spent the $300 to weld such a thing in there.

Later reports included our year, though.

But it’s easy not to spend a lot of money on something you’d never knowingly use if you bought it. Plus there was the guy quoted who’d had that done and they still got his car a second time.

Those moments felt like the day of the 1987 Loma Prieta earthquake: I knew this could happen, I knew it was a possibility, I knew it was possibly even a likelihood if we kept the car long enough but I just didn’t ever quite know that it could be *today* that we would have to go through it. Three grand. Three grand. Three grand. For that old but low-mileage car that has served us so well and so long. (Heck, we’re still on the same 2/3 of a gas tank as early March if not February. I guess we’ve taken our shelter-in-place seriously.)

No AC and now our car’s been destroyed by thieves and we only have the one. I was feeling quite sorry for myself.

The cop was, to my relief, wonderful. Insurance wasn’t going to go anywhere without his input.

And then: Anne showed up at our doorstep with not one but two fans to cool us down. Surprise!

And then: I found myself throwing the door open a little after she left and exclaiming, Joe!! I’d finally been allowing myself to hear that he’d said Tuesday–or Wednesday, if he could get the… (Scolding myself, Don’t only pay attention to the Tuesday part because that’s the one you liked, hon.)

And it’s only Monday.

Joe explained that with the just-in-time manufacturing that I wish companies would realize how much it alienates their customers, turns out it was going to be two weeks to get that model blower motor.

He was almost apologetic as he said that this brand and this brand are owned by the same company and the parts are interchangeable–just the names printed on them are different. But he had, he’d found an identical one by the same company/different name on it that would fit just fine and was that okay with me?

Two weeks vs right this very minute? Is this a trick question?

Anne’s fans did their thing while the AC caught up. She laughed via text, If she hadn’t brought them over we’d have had to wait two weeks for that motor, right?

The car insurance gave me a claim number and will get back to me tomorrow about it. No questions were answered yet except that a rental is covered in our policy.

I googled and found an article saying that with driving way down because of the pandemic, it claimed that most of what car insurers are dealing with right now is catalytic converter thefts. Yow. Maybe that meant ranked in terms of the costs to the companies, though.

We really ought to own a fan, meantime, and I think that when I finally get to Ace with my story they won’t mind that it took me so long to pick it up.



To you to you to you for you to you and you
Wednesday June 17th 2020, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

My neighbor said she was picking her plum tree and did I want some?

I’d love!

Don’t return the bag, she told me, just come on over and pick it up from outside the door. (She is not someone you want to potentially expose.) So I did, and was tickled that it was from Medecins Sans Frontiers–Doctors Without Borders, and anybody who’s read Stephanie Pearl-McPhee for years has probably helped donate to the over a million she helped raise for them. It did not surprise me that those neighbors were involved with MSF, too; good people.

We both have Santa Rosa plums, and yet every single year hers from her much older tree on a bit of a rise from mine always ripens a week ahead.

Meantime, Jeremiah gave a gas barbecue grill to David when he moved in April and now David is moving and he offered it and our old one is long dead and other-Dave volunteered his truck and time to get it to us after calling this afternoon to confirm. Dave and his daughter rolled it on back to the patio under the Chinese elm.

A small-world aside: I knew Dave when he was a teenager in New Hampshire when we lived there and we are all definitely old friends.

Would you like some homegrown plums, I asked by way of thanks.

His face lit up. “YES!” His daughter looked pretty happy about it, too.

And he wanted to see our fruit trees, so I took them on a tour of the yard.

He was intrigued by the mango. When I said it really needs that Sunbubble off it for the summer, the lack of air flow at the back has let a fungus do a bit of damage, his instant response was, We can do that!

It’s about fifty pounds, I warned.

C’mon! We can do it! And so before Richard could even step outside to help the three of us undid the stakes and lifted it and Dave had it over the mango and set it down over there and insisted on putting at least a few stakes back in so it wouldn’t balloon away just for fun before we can get it taken apart.

I got my first real good unobstructed look in two years at the entirety of that tree and what it had grown to and how the Sunbubble had to some degree restricted it, plus that one shoot straight up at the center where the greenhouse’s ceiling had been highest. There is definitely some pruning coming, and I’ll be able to reach that now without a wall in the way.

But it’s done, it’s done! And we have a new-to-us grill! I had something to send them off with in thanks (freely admitting the plums had come from next door.)

I need to find out if the first David likes plums, too.

Jeremiah, I’m afraid, is way too far away now to share ripe ones with.

And I need to thank the neighbor again for making a whole other family happy, too.

——-

Edited to add just for fun: dolphins with mirrors.



Apricots and cobblers and good friends
Tuesday June 09th 2020, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden

What my Anya apricot seedlings get to be when they grow up! When they’re not about three inches tall.

This Blenheim was a housewarming present, before I’d even heard of Anyas, and every year Jennifer sends me a picture to show me how it’s coming along. (Looking at the date on that old post–wow, this is only its third year.)

“So many apricots,” the email said. She asked for ideas on using them all up and I sent her my two favorite fruit cobbler recipes; her kids are going to love all the extra desserts.

She does indeed have sourdough starter and I told her we’d finished off that recipe tonight and were quite sorry to have it all be gone.



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.