All ears
Tuesday May 11th 2021, 9:24 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life,Lupus

I’m trying out that lobster shell compost. It was black and velvety rich and finely crumbly in the hands and you could just hear the plants swooning. I mixed it in to about 60% organic bedding soil and pretended I knew what I was doing. (I only buy organic after getting soil from Costco a few years ago that was full of little green plastic beads.)

The youngest Anya seedling is the guinea pig. It’s pretty dwarfed in that 15 gallon fabric pot but given the vigor of its roots I didn’t want it to grow through my 5 gallon in a month, seeing as how it is, in fact, a tree.

On the other hand, it’s too heavy now to move it much. So it’s in a good spot because it had to be.

The fabric pots dry out fast, but the other apricot that’s in one is looking really healthy and happy. They do not like soggy roots so those are a good counterbalance to my tendency to overwater based on the fear that I can’t go out in the bright summer sun to rescue them before evening’s safer UV levels.

The bigger thing is: I finally went to the new audiologist today. It felt so strange to just go do a normal errand out in the wild like that.

She was a peach. And she was thorough. I’ve been dealing with hearing aids since I was 27 and never before has someone tested to see how well I lipread.

There was the standard man’s voice speaking words into one ear, then the other, where you try to repeat each word back. She chuckled at one guess: “Well, that’s creative.”

But then, taking her mask off from the other side of the thick glass, with the lighting not super good for it from my view, she went through what was clearly the same list of words as I sat in the anechoic chamber–and I zipped right through those with confidence. Only had two I didn’t quite get. It was absolutely revelatory to me. I had NO idea I was that good at it. I knew how much I need to see people’s faces, but…!

She examined my hearing aids and said they were eight iterations ago, and now they can do all these other things.

Cool. That’s what I was there for. My old ones sometimes turn themselves off randomly and are clearly at the end of their lifespans.

When she said Oticon would take two weeks at their end, I asked if I could pay for overnight shipping? I want to be able to hear grandkids sooner rather than later. She checked into that and, yes, they could do a rush job on the whole thing, sure.

A week from Monday my cracked ear mold will be history, I will have much better background noise cancellation, and we’ll see how it goes.

And even with that rush she charged me about $1500 less than the last time/last guy. Nice.

As she was writing things up, there was a computer screen next to me with two audiogram charts (no name visible) with five slightly wobbly lines that curved up a bit and then down again with Xs and Os marked along the way for right vs left ear, but these other lines too were marked for–tympannometry? I don’t know, and five seems odd when you’re talking ears but that’s what was there.

When she got done, I motioned towards the screen and said, “It looks like middle school band members trying to read the music.”

She glanced at it and guffawed. “You ARE creative!”

House painting stuff to know
Saturday May 08th 2021, 4:15 pm
Filed under: Life

My apologies for using someone else’s picture, which will embiggen if you click on it, but I know when that house is sold the original will disappear. I’ll link below to be fair to the realtor and owner.

My great-grandfather founded a paint and glass company that in its day was the biggest one in the western states. It’s been gone forty years now, but a little bit of knowledge did make it down to me.

And that is that painted walls reflect off each other and darken each other.

Just like yarn spun from wool is just a bit darker than the raw fibers, and knitted things from that yarn are a little darker still. They reflect on and within themselves.

We once picked out some palest peach paint for a kid’s bedroom and by the time we finished the fourth wall it was all a deep dark anxious orange. Check the paint chip–yeah, that really was the one. So not what we wanted, and I knew I should have known better. I went back to the store, bought some very nearly white light blue and gave it a do-over that turned the room the color shown on the right side of the photo above–I mean, seriously, that’s exactly it. But at least this time I knew how much darker than the chip it was going to look.

All of that was over mid-century mahogany paneling that after decades of the wood and glue drying out was a fire hazard anyway, so we later replaced it entirely with wallboard. Color: eggshell. Our contractor said it was more restful on the eyes than glaring white. I figured, kid, you want color when we’re done, put up a picture or poster, it’s a lot easier to change than the walls.

Anyway, so I came across the photo and it stopped me in recognition: I have lived this. All those shades of blue: they’re all the same color, even the same can of paint, all of it, even that dark dark bathroom back there.  And you’re going to need strong light to get even the foreground to stay how it is once the sun goes down.

Just in case anyone was planning on painting any rooms any time soon.

But are there bats in the belfry?
Thursday May 06th 2021, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Life

I’ve often thought I should ask you all, although, no, we’re not moving, so it’s a moot point anyway: the houses with rooms and racks and coolers for wine–if you don’t drink, what do you do with those? Leave them as is for future buyers? Rip them out? Store your balsamic vinegar sideways and hope it doesn’t leak? Try to freak your Mormon friends out with Martinelli’s in there? (Not to worry, we’re on to it.)

What other appliance fits in the space of a wine cooler in the kitchen? (Am I even calling it the right thing.) Can you take it out and put in, say, a second dishwasher? For parties? Since they’re both about parties (once you get past the first dishwasher any extras are definitely for parties and usually found only in bigger houses than we’d ever buy.) Right?

But this is taking it to a whole new level. My cousin found a house with a door that opens to a cave in the hillside, (note the fake window in picture 32) and her friend instantly said it would be great for her husband’s winemaking.

I’ve been in California too long–I looked at those pictures and thought, but egads, what would you do in an earthquake? Major heebie jeebies.

That’s a beautiful Tudor, even if it has an upskirt staircase, but really: isn’t that more Frodo’s natural hobbitat?

Best workaround ever
Wednesday May 05th 2021, 9:45 pm
Filed under: Life

As one who sometimes blanks on the word I’m trying to say, it made my day reading someone’s mention of their Chinese student trying to find chicken at the grocery store but unable to think of what they were called in English.

So the kid grabbed an egg and went for a clerk and asked: Where is its mother?

Friday April 30th 2021, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Life

I sent that picture hours ago… Okay, so, something to look forward to tomorrow.

Meantime, to make up for yesterday’s house listing: there’s a line of look-alike homes in a row down the block from this one and it may have started out as one of them and been added onto.

But WOW. This guy did woodwork like we do yarn. 

I had to laugh at the 1950s bright red and chrome dinette set. I was not expecting that.

The wall art thing again
Thursday April 29th 2021, 8:14 pm
Filed under: Life

Look! They’ve got a pomegranate juicer on top of the fridge! Not a lot of those around.

Nice sized house, big lot, overlooking the golf course, across the street from the Portland Yacht Club–and a lower than average price. Why, in a market where such things are being snapped up in under a week, has that one been sitting there for over three months?

My guess? Picture #19. 

Someone who leaves a blatantly racist trope on their wall for the whole world to see online is announcing who you’d be buying from. They’re suggesting what your neighbors will be in agreement with because they’re certainly not embarrassed to have them see it. They’re deciding what kind of person should live in their house after them.

And so no new family does, day after day after month after month.

Edited to add: Imagiknit in San Francisco is having a 21% off sale through Saturday. Malabrigo is rarely on sale, so I thought I’d mention it. (There’s more after the pattern books, keep scrolling down, they have a lot.)

Moderna part 2
Thursday April 22nd 2021, 10:19 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

(Note: the camera’s particularly off on the upper right, sorry.)

Yesterday was warm but today was not.

Well good then.

I don’t own a lot of short-sleeved clothes because I’ve had sun-sensitive lupus a long time now, but there was this blue sweater with a darker royal blue cardigan that it looked good with and because of the perfectly-timed change in the weather, those two were just the thing for walking across the fairgrounds at the height of the afternoon.

And it was what I’d worn when I got my first Moderna shot. Don’t forget the big floppy gray wool hat that’s a little loose and really silly to wear that close to the stiff breezes coming off the Bay. I chuckled at myself as I made myself pick, yes, that one, heading out the door. I might have face blindness issues, we might all have half-face-blindness issues right now, but if I couldn’t recognize them at least I could make it so they could recognize me from a distance.

And that they did.

I saw one of them as I stepped out of the building afterwards and started around the corner and asked, Are you the guy I talked to last time?

He knew exactly what I meant (me, inwardly: Ah, I thought you were one of them) and he nodded, No–but he is, as the other stepped into view.

I thanked them again for taking care of so many people. I didn’t ask again if they’d been allowed their own shots yet; I know that California’s now opened it to everybody over 16, if you can find one, and workers at the site would be high on that list.

Do you like blue or brown? I asked the one I’d had that conversation with last time.

He laughed in surprise and puzzlement.

Sandwich ziplock bags: I pulled out three tightly squished Mecha Malabrigo hats, in Stone Chat, the most poetic name for a colorway ever, in Denim, and in–I don’t remember the name but I remember it took me a month to make myself finish it because it was gray and gray blue and gray green and gray purple in a gray month and at the time I was craving brights and flowers and colors and getting out of the house and enough of this quarantine already.

But I knew it would be exactly the right thing for someone someday so I even ran the ends in and now that someone was standing right in front of me and he loved it as he accepted that small bit of my knitting in utter disbelief.

I turned to his friend: And you? Which would you like?

Me, too?

He picked the browns of the Stone Chat.

I told them they were wool but they wouldn’t shrink in the wash–but they would get all fuzzy, so I’d hand wash them myself, but whatever.

Just then the third guy came over to see what we were talking about.

He, though, looked like this was sure one day when he needed someone to do something nice for him. Whatever was bringing him down, I wanted with all that I had to somehow make it better.

He didn’t get a choice on the color but he didn’t need one. He was blown away. It was enough.

Everybody needs a grandmother who loves them and knits for them, even if I’ll probably never lay eyes on any of them again.

We didn’t hug, any of us: we all knew there’s still that allotted two more weeks.

I left them to exclaim amongst themselves and try on their new hats and then once out of their reasonable response space the wind teased me and I was off chasing after my store-bought blindingly monster-brimmed floppy one that doesn’t protect you from the sun if it doesn’t stay on.

But I caught it and got it back on and it had helped do what it had been needed for. It was enough.

Ganache me why
Wednesday April 21st 2021, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

Houses. Just because you spent a whole lot of money on your remodel doesn’t mean your house here, 2 bd 2ba on a tiny lot, even with a lake easement, is worth essentially as much as–

–this one, more than two and a half times the size on three times the lot in the same zip code. 

Besides, I figure ya gotta have space to scandalize the neighbors by ripping out the bushes and planting fruit trees.

But the burning question is, do they have a bakery around there that’s as good as the one that delivered these for a certain tall person’s birthday this week. I think not.


Happy Birthday!
Thursday April 15th 2021, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

One of my kids got their second shot for their birthday and our first iris bloomed in celebration. It’s a happy day.

Meantime, I’d procrastinated because they’re not due this year for another month: did anybody else feel like this? It was weirdly comforting to do the taxes. It made no sense. But it was all so familiar after all these years and I guess it felt like the old life back again. Or something. Am I just being pandemically weird?

Antsy puttering
Monday April 12th 2021, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Life

More apple flowers, because the day around here wasn’t about much more than watching the plants grow. But they are pretty.

I woke up with the thought that next week, I get my second jab, and two weeks after that I get to actually go out and do things! Like, y’know, go to Trader Joe’s and see what all the new stuff is now! The three-ingredient chocolate mints. I miss them. Go to yarn stores!  Or get an almond pastry at Copenhagen Bakery. Or or or.

Letting that longing come unleashed became a little too much fairly quickly, not helped in the least by the news of the day in Minneapolis, so I quietly put all that aside and went and immersed myself in laundry and the like around the house. It always needs to be done anyway. Keep busy. Breathe deep.

With a whole lot of praying for a whole lot of people out there. There is so much we have to make so much better.

So glad that at least the guy in his Army uniform in Virginia survived his encounter with racist cops, but it was a near thing.

Samantha wrinkles her nose
Thursday April 08th 2021, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

The jiffy pots just weren’t doing it for those remaining seedlings anymore and I knew it.

I realized that it was lifting the bags of soil that had been stopping me.

So I didn’t–I left them propped up and scooped out dirt by the plastic flowerpot-full and took it to where I wanted it to go. All I’d needed was to just get started. It was slower, it got my hands in the dirt more, it was more meditative–and it got the job done.

Five apricot seedlings planted in pots, six if you include the one from last year. That should be enough to do some fine taste-testing of Anya’s offspring in a few years. Some got more peat than the others, some more planting mix, some, more topsoil; it got a bit random because hey, I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m just guessing.

There’s one last one whose roots haven’t started dangling out the jiffy bottom yet, ready and waiting for the friend it’s been promised to to plant as she pleases.

A quick house note: I am told that yes this kitchen does have a stove–it pulls down by the handles from the small oven above. Apparently it’s called a Bewitched stove, because the TV show of that name from my childhood had one like it. (Here’s the Graceland version.)

I love that this house has its original one still there and still working. Mechanical dials for the win!

I’d still remodel the heck out of that kitchen if it were mine. With some regret, because that thing is cool. I just wouldn’t want to be stuck having to try to use those tiny burners that I’m told were slow at a friend’s house and I would most definitely trip over them jutting out like that but only some of the time. My body just doesn’t do graceful.

Wednesday April 07th 2021, 8:51 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Seven miles instead of 75. It delays his being fully vaccinated by five days, but still. I conferred with him and then grabbed it. I also immediately canceled the original. The site said Sutter would offer it as a first shot to someone else and asked that that be made possible as soon as we could, which was only reasonable.

Immediately after I finished that up, the doorbell rang: my friend Constance, who lives hours away these days (there’s a shawl in my book named after her.)  She had been in the area on a work assignment and was stopping by on her long drive home.

We ended up on chairs in the shed. It was trash day but for obvious reasons I had not put the bin back right away. This gave us a spot that was outside, as one should in a pandemic, under a ceiling-height roof and with sides, as my lupus needs to be out of the sun, and it was perfect enough of a spot for visiting that I wondered why I hadn’t thought of that a whole lot sooner. Anyway. We had a lot of catching up to do after not seeing each other in person for too many years.

And then I sent her home with a 5 gallon fiber pot full of new topsoil and peat moss and a baby Anya apricot tree to put in it, kind of a grow kit. Just add water. After you get it back out of your car.

And on a totally different note. My late father, a modern art dealer, would absolutely have howled. Sometimes the art world can get a bit precious, and that poor innocent couple who picked up a brush from somewhere in the spilled paint on the floor and scatterings of paint cans and such in front of the mural and added their touch to what they thought was a public-invited graffiti project, well…wouldn’t you?

(When in doubt read the little white box on the wall next to the art in the gallery, but never mind.)

Pot humus
Friday April 02nd 2021, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

Woke up with a smile on my face. We have a date, at long last: seven weeks till we get to see who we want to see and go where we want to go.

It felt celebratory to pick up the topsoil I’d ordered from the local nursery; I wasn’t going to risk my back lifting them before that drive to Antioch. Even if I’d ordered the half-size bags for caution’s sake.

And now there are two apricot seedlings in good-sized but not huge pots for them to get a good start on life in and they look glorious.

One bag done. A second is in the back yard.

There are eight (!) more of them because, uh, I think I overdid it. Like, a lot. The guy just barely managed to fit them into my Prius and I should have paid the $55 delivery fee for their strong young men to come bring them and stack them up wherever I might ask because some things you just can’t weigh in terms of the equivalent number of bags that that would work out to and hey lady did you realize you’re starting to get on the old side, but, oh well. Too late now. They are totally smelling up the inside of the car because I forgot to get the dolly and found my limit for one day and had the good sense to stop.

But those two trees are finally where they should be for the next year while they grow their roots a bit. They’d so needed it. They’d stopped producing new leaves until their roots had somewhere to reach to, too, and now they look so good. And it makes me so happy.

Guess who forgot to take their picture as I was taking them in.

Alliums among us
Saturday March 27th 2021, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden,Life

I have this plant that grows next to the house. I didn’t put it there; it was a surprise. It simply showed up one spring and every one thereafter, leafing out of the ground and then sending up a purple flower stalk next to the walkway. I had no idea what it was. It never spread–it was just the one plant. For easily twenty years now.

Last year there wasn’t much of a flower to it at all, which made me realize how much I’d been looking forward to it. Oh, well.

This year, the rainy season is nearly over and we’ve gotten about a third of normal. Dry dry dry. My allium did come up under the sidewalk light as always but it’s tiny, with no sign of any flower to come, but at least it’s still alive.

I ordered some cream with my groceries. I had a craving for making chocolate tortes. I wanted to run the beaters, melt the chocolate into the cream, mix the one spoonful I like to make of leftover ganache into my hot cocoa the next morning, all of it.

The new next door neighbors, as it turned out, do indeed like chocolate and are not allergic to dairy.

She opened that door in excitement before I could even knock.

She’d had to work today and it had been a long hard day and then she’d just gotten home to my message. Not five minutes later I would get a text saying how good that torte was.

And as I kind of floated down the sidewalk, there it suddenly was.

Wait. Where did you come from? What…?

It was a new allium. With the tips of its unusually short leaves just brushing the sidewalk. There had been so little water there was almost no stalk, either, but there it was, radiant in the late sunlight.

And it wanted me to notice.

From the ground up
Friday March 26th 2021, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

When we were little kids playing hide and seek, didn’t we all secretly wish we had a trapdoor? Although, this one has a certain Cask of Amontillado feel to it, doesn’t it? Is that really a telescoping stairwell? Hey up there! Don’t move that dresser!

Personally, I’d just as soon build in the walls of the whole actual ground floor and not leave the house hanging waiting for the ending of the first story, but that’s just me.

I’ve been wondering what a good little Mormon would do with a wine cellar in a house–I mean, to my eyes, it begs for a yarn store impression with a skein stuffed in each slot, and think of all the designs you could make with the colors of your stash before you even knit it, but then how would you mothproof them?

I do really like that greenhouse, though.

How about the latest peach flowers at my nice peaceful house instead. Where, while doing the dishes, I had a sudden pang of missing how one daughter could call from the other room, That was a small Corelle plate.

Or, That was a bowl.

She could identify each piece by sound when they fell. Practice makes perfect.