And maybe next time she’ll say this to someone who needs it
Saturday April 01st 2017, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Life

I got my groceries into the back seat, got in my car, turned on the lights, and put it in reverse.

And found myself staying right there.

I turned the car off, turned the lights off, took my foot off the brakes, and leaned out as I opened the car door. I knew if I didn’t ask it would bug me for a long time to come. I have a friend who had someone intervene when she most needed it, you never know…

The whole time she’d been standing there that same way and it was just–odd.

“Are you okay?” I hoped I didn’t sound nosey nor worried, just one woman checking for another’s sake out here in the dark. “Can I help?”

The tall thin blonde woman who had been resolutely facing away from everyone and holding very silent and still, even when a male Trader Joe’s cart herder tried to send a cheery hello her way as he excused himself going around her, turned her head this time to see who was talking to her.

“I’m waiting for my ride,” she said flatly and she turned back to staring at her cart motionlessly with her arms tucked in. After an 81 degree day it was by no means cold.

“Okay,” and I closed the door, turned the car and lights back on, and that was that.

Maybe everything was peachy.  But I figured letting someone know someone else cared is always a good thing–and hopefully makes it easier for them to open up to the next person when they really do need help.



And with that, March is over
Friday March 31st 2017, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Life,Politics

Finally got that car in today, now that I wasn’t waiting for repairmen or appointments.

Oil change, routine stuff, and… a cracked drive belt. Caught before it could leave us stranded on the side of the road. Good thing.

Oh and? My one request of the universe right now would be that it not be an April Fool’s joke–and he did post it March 31, not April 1: George Takei announced on his Facebook page that he just bought a house in Devin Nunes’ district to run against him next year.

May he live long so we’ll all prosper.



Taxes
Thursday March 30th 2017, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Life

One phone call in the morning to clarify a question and then I think we’re done. And it’s not even April.

I typed that, read it, and went, Hah! Oh wait. That printer we’ve been putting off replacing–time’s up. Got to be able to print these out. Okay, so, almost done!

(p.s. If you got the same email I did about a sale on some jadeite/merino/silk yarn and had the same reaction of, what the heck is jadeite like? I found this. Yow. I guess if you’re going for the politician’s proverbial asbestos suit… )



Thank you Mike at Speedy Appliance
Wednesday March 29th 2017, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Life

The sweet, sweet sound of a working washing machine these past eight hours. The guy was a gem and he knew his stuff.

I’ve wondered from time to time how we would do after a major earthquake and the potential disruptions to water and power–this past week was a small glimpse. So I am all the more grateful to be able to hear sudsy water swishing back and forth and the ding as the load finishes.

Mike even pulled out my dryer and checked the outtake to make sure all was well there. No charge, just doing it because he could–and he mentioned that given the angle it should be kept forward a bit from the wall.



That drawing I won, with the tickets and the parking and the food
Tuesday March 28th 2017, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,Life

Richard took a break during a break and she came down beside me at row 11 a moment.

We both did complete double takes: “Oh my goodness!” in unison. She told me she thought she’d go strike up a conversation with the woman several rows below with the white hair who was knitting during the down times, having no idea it was me.

We couldn’t hear much more than that, either one of us, and gave up but we did get a good hug in later on the way out. An old Purlescence friend. Good times.

So I have now see my first game of ice quidditch. The Sharks were ahead, then down, then won in a stunning overtime that–wait–you mean there aren’t four quarters? It really is over? Oh okay.



The fix of the day at the break of day
Monday March 27th 2017, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

Dawn today was officially at 7:00 am sharp.

After waking up at 5:30 because my subconscious was afraid I wouldn’t hear the alarm, at ten of I turned on the outside light, opened the door, and waved at the work van to let Mr. Chavez know I was ready whenever he was.

We walked around the house to the culprit and he quickly determined it was indeed the thermocouple. He showed me how he could tell this was so and noted the GE model and said it was particularly bad for those going out–his own, he’d had to do this twice already, every three years. So we would probably have to do it again, but meantime, the heater was built in 2013–it definitely had life left in it. He noted that some manufacturers have moved away from thermocouples altogether, for the next time we’re in the market. You’ll want to get one of those.

And then he got to it.

Well, as long as I was already outside at that hour I decided to do what I’ve known for a long time I should do but really really had no particular desire to get up early to do: I walked around the fruit trees and the–what are those big leafy plants along the raised border called again–and picked off the snails and crushed them. I’d done this at evening many times but wow, at the break of day is definitely when they’re out.

The copper tape around the base of the trees meant I only found two small ones in one tree where they’d climbed the grass over the barrier; the rest were in those big juicy green border-plant leaves.

As he worked they started heading downwards into hiding for the day, with me going oh no you’re not.

The trick is not to push your hair out of your face with the hand you pick them up with (this hand, snails, that hand, hair.) A few of them, um, panicked at being grabbed.

It was a near thing a time or two.

He finished up, I paid him, I waited the half hour he said to… And then another just to make absolute sure.

That was the best best best shower in a long time. Thank you Bernie Chavez.

(Washing machine repairman: Wednesday.)



A nest to feed
Sunday March 26th 2017, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

The hawk swooped barely above a squirrel’s head on the fence to let it know who was boss and landed halfway down the birdnetting tent over the still-tiny sour cherry tree. The tent flinched but held and with a shuffle of feet so did he. I really need a decent-sized tree over there and rather regret having put in an ultradwarf, but the new pomegranate next to it is likely to put on some height soon to make up for it.

My phone rang and I reached for it, breaking the spell of the moment, and he took off.

Later, a solitary dove landed under the bird feeder when not even a squirrel was visible. I thought, that’s perfect for him–but for you, not so much. Don’t you know…?

I went back to what I was doing.

I looked up just as the enormous Cooper’s wings flapped wide in a hard turn right there as its feet simultaneously grabbed the dove falling backwards from the window. Bird yoga. The hawk flew hard with it, slightly wobbly as it made its grip sure, across the open yard swooping low then up at the last over the fence and steeply back downwards, whether to the ground or up again to the cover of the neighbors’ trees (which is more likely) I don’t know. The ravens would steal it in an instant if they saw and he would know where they would be and where they could see. I never took my eyes off him but I had no idea where he’d gone. He’s good.

He watches everything.

Chavez is coming at 7 am and we should have fully hot water in that tank by mid-morning.



Monday has never looked so good
Saturday March 25th 2017, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Life

She LOVED the blue, passed on the green. So having the washing machine go down worked out well for her.

Had it been my choice, the hot water heater would have waited more than a day to join it.

The city prefers we let them send their inspector on their dime when it comes to gas appliances rather than having you blow up or burn down your house, so, a very nice guy showed up not long after we called–probably not a lot of demand on a Saturday at dinner time–and said the pilot was indeed out.

The winds the previous day had blown open the door to its small outside-facing closet and that almost never happens; had that blown it out?

He looked at the set up and said no, it couldn’t be blown out.

He could get it to relight but it refused to stay lit–probably the thermocouple, he said. Should be an easy fix. This thing says it was built in 2013–no way it should need to be replaced yet, though you may need a new control board if it’s not the other.

So. The washing machine yesterday, the hot water heater today. As the clerk rang up pecan Kringle and frozen macarons with my groceries, I said to her, So what can you do but go to Trader Joe’s and buy sweets?

She cracked up.

The one plumber who answered his phone said he would put us first on his list for Monday, and so it shall be. Actually, wait, there were two, and one said he doesn’t do that anymore but call Chavez, he’s the best in the business.

Chavez, whoever he is, was surprised and thrilled when I passed that word along, pride and humility both in his voice and I liked him already.

The bathtub is full of water for the morning. Room temperature will not be fun but at the outside temp–dang. Just unthinkable.



The absurd with the Sublime
Friday March 24th 2017, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

There was a little left of the second skein of Sublime pearl/bamboo tonight but not enough to be absolutely sure I could do another repeat–besides, it’s at seven and the eye is satisfied with groupings in odd numbers and oddly dissatisfied at even-number ones and I knew that trying for nine, there was just no way; I cast off.

It fills up. It drains. It won’t agitate and it won’t spin, it just growls. You know you’re a knitter when your first reaction to finding out the washing machine just broke is, but then how on earth am I supposed to spin this out after I rinse it so it can be dry by the morning?! How am I supposed to block this?!

On the other hand, I have a bright blue cowl done in cashmere, silk, and baby alpaca yarn I’d plied on the wheel and I know she loves that color, too. The practical side says I think we’re good.

But the part of me that made that avocado one just for her wants to tuck it into my purse and offer to switch her if she’d rather. I’d better go get those ends run in to give myself the option, if not her. (Edited to add, oops, scratch that, it’s not that one it’s the 66/34 cashmere/cotton one. Still good.)



15-second friends
Sunday March 19th 2017, 11:11 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Saturday night I was at Trader Joe’s reading a label at the end of an aisle when a woman I didn’t see coming up behind me, on her way by, said, warmly, “I LOVE your hair!”

She had no way to know I’d despaired over it that very morning and had seriously considered simply cutting it all off–knowing I would hate it if I did.

Surprised, I turned to see a beautiful African-American woman with her softly graying hair in long dreds and told her, “I love *your* hair!” (And I did.) “Trade you!”

We both laughed as she continued on her way, both of us better off for her outspoken kindness.



Giving us the birds
Wednesday March 15th 2017, 10:56 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Knitting a Gift,Life

My baby Parfianka Pomegranate, the two-year-old Indian Free peach, and the yearling Baby Crawford that’s too young to let fruit but whose flowers will serve the other nicely.

And the first 8 oz skein of Washington Circle Worsted, done. (I might be able to squeeze one last row out of that.)

Two days of having the net down except for a few brief blips made for lots of knitting time. Also icing of hands.

As I was walking around the yard this evening, trying to capture these trees being young and small (or not so small in the case of the IF), I was surprised to see chunks of dead wood on the ground over there near the kids’ old climbing tree.

I don’t know if I have a photo for real or just in my head, but, when our kids were young the two older ones threw a long hose again and again up and over one of its upper branches (before it grew too big) and improvised their own swing out of it. Never mind that we had an old swingset at the time; this was way more fun. Because they’d made it. In a tree. Be like a bird. It was a playground unto itself in their childhoods.

As they got older and more in need of their individual spaces we added a bedroom too close to that tree and it gradually grew over it. Richard and I quite a few times heard the thud in the night of a raccoon dropping off a branch and landing overhead and ambling around, with paw prints in the morning across the bathroom skylight like a two-stage verification process.

And then there was that notable year when the nocturnal black beetles that favored that type of tree dropped down through the heating vent and landed on my head at night. This was before we found out there were breaks in the heating system up there that gave them that pathway from the tree. OUT!!!

And so we cut that side of the tree off, and I would have told them to take it all–but Richard remembered the climbing tree days and he couldn’t quite bear to erase the thing.

Alright, so at least we got it away from our bedroom.

There is a big knot hole where one of the larger branches was taken out.

Between it and the house is where I found those chunks of dead wood.

When we bought this house, the sellers had cut down two white-fly-stricken Modesto ash trees (the third lived seven more years) leaving stumps about eight feet high. Why, we did not know–till we found we had woodpeckers nesting in the cavity just below the v-shaped top of one of them.

Richard was the first to notice it. And that the parent birds never flew directly to it; they zigzagged here and there, mostly over in the tall still-living tree next to it, before dashing into the hole at the last–where, from a respectful distance, the tall guy could put our children on his shoulders one by one to see the parents feeding their babies.

When we added on that bedroom, those stumps, very regretfully, had to go.

And now, around the corner on the other side of that room… There’s a hole gouged out that’s angled sharply down. I’m again not quite tall enough to see into it.

But there are thicknesses of leaves of the still-living tree directly above for the parent birds to catch bugs in and zigzag to their hearts’ content through.

He’s right. The tree stays. Or at least the bottom seven or eight feet of it, after nesting season is over.



That was cold…
Saturday March 11th 2017, 10:21 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

Dear? The milk is… (swish swish swish) crunchy??

(Adjusting the fridge control from arctic to iceberg lettuce.) Well, that’s one way to get a taste of winter in California.

Meantime, here’s the cowl, dry now, as requested.

It’s been two whole weeks since I bought Karida’s bright, deeply saturated blue superwash merino at Stitches–the Washington Circle colorway–and it got to me at last and I started the receiving blanket I’d bought it for. We’ll call it the carry-around project by way of excuse, or at least while it’s still small, but I had to at least get it begun. It would not let me be till I did.

It is somehow a surprise (and not) that there are only two months left before we’re due to meet the little guy. And in Alaska, even in May, he’ll need a blanket that’s just his size.

 



A new generation
Tuesday March 07th 2017, 11:26 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Wildlife

Storms and squirrels and who thought it was a good idea to run that thing over their tree? Chomp. The Comcast guy came tonight, after I had no internet all day, and pronounced the cable full of water.

Remember that day when part of our road was flooded so we ran off to the phone store in the other direction to update to the new cheaper plan because nobody in their right mind would be out in that, so we wouldn’t have to wait? (The storm where they evacuated 1400 people in San Jose by boat, as it turned out. Yow.)

Richard tonight said that because of that his phone was now a hotspot so, here, and he set it up: I can blog tonight while waiting for the new cable to be installed in the morning after the guy gets permission to go into the neighbors’ yard again; 8:30 pm was a little late to knock on their door and then climb up that pole.

The skunks are breeding out there somewhere in the dark and would surely love the interruption… Nah, I’m with him. Come back tomorrow.

If it were July Adele would be sending him off with homegrown tomatoes. It’s a shame it doesn’t rain in July.

Meantime, a Cooper’s hawk landed on the fence this afternoon and then hopped on down and stared into the bushes, cocking her head this way and that: I KNOW you’re in there! Come out and let me grab a bite!

The juncos, finches, wrens, towhees, and white-crowned sparrows kept from panicking and outwaited her and she took off.

This was the best look I’ve gotten at the newcomer yet. The juvenile markings were fading but not quite gone.



Fancy meeting you here
Monday March 06th 2017, 11:13 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,Life

It’s always the prep that is so fun. (Me, I never ever ever have to do it again. There have to be some perks.)

They called us yesterday and asked could we come in at 12:30 instead?

Two hours earlier and get it over with faster? Sure!

We got there 12:15ish and after checking to make sure I would stay to drive him home, they were quizzical as to why we there there at that hour. You’re not supposed to be here till 2:30, nobody told us it was changed…

But they never gave us a definitive yes or no after saying they would go check and the result was that we simply stayed and waited it out.

He got in later than the original time, as it turned out, and in the end I was the last person by quite some time in the formerly crowded waiting room still waiting for a patient. Even the receptionist had left. After three and a half hours of knitting cables my hands had to bail and I pulled out some reading.

But meantime, the doctor who was to do the scope did quite the double take when she saw me first: she was my new *GI doctor (our longtime one had retired.) “How are you?!” She introduced herself to Richard, and then as a knitter herself just had to ask quickly about that project in my hands. She was so excited for Nash.

Richard recovered quickly from the anesthesia–he always does–and they had me wait by the exit. And as I sat there, a familiar face went by while it took me almost a heartbeat too many to think of her name. But it came to me and I called it out just as she stepped out of sight behind the door she’d opened, hoping I got it right and thinking that if I didn’t she would just think I’m talking to someone else coming up behind or something.

She stepped right backwards with, Yes?

And then she recognized me. She was another one of the doctors who had taken care of me in the hospital when I was so ill.

How long has it been?!

Me, holding my arms out: You were pregnant.

Her: ’09, then! Wow, you look great! You were in the hospital!

Me: Was the baby a boy or a girl?!

Her: A girl, and she’s eight now, and has a little sister. And I love your scarf! I wear it every year at the (Renaissance? if I heard right) Faire. And I had it on just the other day, and thank you! I love it!

And here I was thinking there was no way she could remember someone who wasn’t even her patient except during rounds. I’m so glad the timing of the day led to my being right there just as she was leaving and had a moment to reconnect.

 

*Note to Warren: At Stitches, when I fondled your project and asked if it was Woolstock and you exclaimed, “You’re good!” Woolstock is what I knitted up when I went to see my new GI after my old one retired, and the first thing she did was ooh and aah over the feel of it, and then over how it was the perfect color for her. I have no idea what I used for the other doctor (wait–I think baby alpaca) but I know she likes hers, too!



Tip-toe
Thursday March 02nd 2017, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

Yesterday’s project. Classic Elite Chateau, 70/30 baby alpaca/bamboo, one impulse skein from Green Planet. It came out a little generous for a hat so I made it a cowl instead.

We just got word that we were exposed to viral meningitis Sunday. The person who came down with it is a whole lot sicker than either of us–she ended up in the hospital. But she’s home now and I wish her a speedy recovery and am extremely grateful she went in in time.

(Pardon me while I selfishly go YOW a moment, hoping we dodged that one.)

So. I got started on a Christmas stocking for a cousin’s teenage son who wished he had one like his brothers; theirs had been knit by their Nana before she died whereas he hadn’t been born yet.

I was being pretty pleased with myself at how that ribbing at the top looked and I started counting stitches per letter to start knitting in his name.

And suddenly realized I would have to knit them upside down and backwards. Yes, I could figure it out. Not tonight. My brain is done for the day.

It actually would fit as a hat and I’d been thinking all along that it would be fun to surprise his mom as well as him with a set like that. I have plenty of yarn.

I think I need to find me a good toe-up sock pattern but I’ve only ever done them top-down. Any suggestions of what I should know first?