Odd ball
Sunday September 24th 2017, 8:49 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I waited till the two newly-near-sisters were standing together with their folks when I pulled the hats out–and got to watch the girls’ eyes go big. I had apparently managed exactly what they’d hoped for (and no yellow!)  I told them if anything wasn’t perfect, please tell me and I’d be happy to make another because this was about having them love what they got.

They were very, very happy and grateful and there were hugs and you knew they now knew they had an adult who thought the world of them who didn’t have to. Because just because.

Beige cowl: that young mom was off on a trip with her mom but her husband was there with the (not quite a baby anymore) and a backpack and it definitely had room for cashmere to make his wife happy, and yes, she wore that shade all the time. He’d had no idea this was coming.

Later I saw one of the hat recipients trying hers on his toddler’s head and loving how cute she looked in it. (Maybe I have enough yarn left in that ball to… Maybe. I might not so I didn’t say anything.)

The bright blue: exactly went with the dress of a woman who recently moved here, doesn’t know many people yet, is tied down with a new baby and has a lot of changes and adjusting to do all at once. It was a treat to see her face and her husband’s completely light up–and they stayed that way.

The purple didn’t quite find its spot yet and came home for now, but two green ones left the purse and didn’t come back.

The reject yarn from my first attempt at ordering self-striping? One of the two skeins bit the dust after church, mostly because I wanted to keep up the momentum. Two feet to spare when I declared it good enough and done. It was literally an odd ball as far as my eyes were concerned but someone will love it.

And then I can tell those girls that having to re-order to get the colorway right worked out perfectly after all.



Junior
Thursday September 21st 2017, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

Wings all at once, a dove panicking in the wrong direction, and I looked up at the sounds in time to see the hawk doing a careful u-turn right at the window: he knew where that glass was.

But instead of further pursuit of whatever was surely flying wonky by then (I was surprised it could at all after that hard smack, and apparently so was he), he landed on the wooden box and turned to me at near eye level.

He seemed to need to know. To take the measure of just what this entity was on the other side of that window and what I might do or intend. I was big. Was this a problem.

I remembered my manners: I blinked. Exaggeratedly. More than once. Knowing that he could be entirely gone in the space of one long one.

Tomorrow is Equinox and territory must be held and held boldly. I’m pretty sure I saw him chasing a crow away over the neighbor’s yesterday, movement I looked up to almost too late to see.

This wasn’t my long-time Coopernicus visitor but it most likely was his son; raptors, like so many of us, prefer to nest around where they grew up if they can afford the price of the real estate. And so, as his father before him had done come equinox and solstice, he chose to people-watch a few minutes.

Was I a challenger? Was I a threat? Would I interfere with his meals?

The striped chest gave him away as being in his first year. Fast on the wing and short on experience. I smiled and radiated love the best I too-humanly could do, in awe that yet again, I had a wild Cooper’s hawk choosing to take the time to stand ten feet away from me and look me in the eye. (Blink. Mourning doves are universally compelled to blink back at you. A raptor holds you steady in its gaze.)

He craned his neck this way and that now: See anything land around here, lady? It hit, you know?

Yes it did and no, but given how hard it hit you will definitely be able to get it on the next fly-by. When you see a dove under the bird feeder walking backwards in circles repeatedly you know its brain is as good as mine and most likely how it got that way.

Ah, over by that tree! And he was off in a wingbeat.

His name. He needs a name. I’m quite sure this one was a male. Any suggestions?



Face up to it
Monday September 18th 2017, 8:50 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

Richard: “I didn’t know it bothered you that much.”

Me: “I didn’t know it did at all either–because I couldn’t do anything about it, so I didn’t let myself think about it.”

In the months after my 40th birthday, life gifted me with a mole on the side of my face. One takes new and uneven dark skin lesions to the doctor, and I did, and got told, welcome to getting older, honey. (Me: at 40?!) The guy was clearly amused that I would be worried about something so ordinary–whereas me, I was trying to take seriously all the advice I’d ever been given on the subject and felt a little put down. I knew I’d had a sunburn as a teen bad enough to bleed if you so much as touched me. Hello Swedish/British/Scottish ancestors, I got me some risk factors. So I came in.

So that was that.

I was at the dermatologist’s this afternoon to get something else checked out. She always notes that one mole under the side of my glasses when she sees me and is always very reassuring, saying that age spots can change shape and size and it sounds bad but it’s not, you just have to keep an eye on them is all.

Today, though, she looked at it and considered it a good moment. “That’s bigger than it used to be.”

“Yes, quite a bit.” With a shape now as if Florida had shrunk in the wash like a cheap sock.

She considered, decided not to biopsy, but asked if I’d like it frozen off and just be done with it? I surprised myself by how vehemently I blurted out, “YES!!!”

Dang, should have done that ages ago. I’d somehow thought it was too big for freezing–but did I ask? No. Duh. Man does it feel good to have my own face back. Yes the process takes a few weeks to work but it already looks better.

And I’m thinking of the optician we saw (on Saturday for the Xth time, still trying to get those new glasses done right.) The one who asked me if I liked this pair here and I answered, “Yes; they accentuate my mole nicely.” He and his colleague next to him totally cracked up.

Now I can tell him they’d made it go poof! See? You go put those dermatologists right out of business!

(Except that then I wouldn’t be able to finish projects in their waiting rooms. Malabrigo Mechita, Whales Road, the second half of a skein drying now.)



He heard we had peaches
Saturday September 16th 2017, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

Not to brag, but–yeah I am–you want to know how much of a sweetheart my guy is? We had, with the help of friends, devoured every last peach from Andy’s Orchard and I was going through a serious end-of-summer withdrawal on the things.

He drove me to Andy’s. It’s about an eighty-minute round trip. It was his first time there. I wasn’t even sure they still had any, but I knew they would have something good (and they did. Some plums came home too.) He can now vouch for their candied almonds, too.

And then just to make the day perfect, Sam told us the hats arrived today, and of course in September in Anchorage you definitely need a hat. Mathias took the gray cashmere one off his head, his daddy said, and just buried his face in it.

And then the chomp. As one does.



Happy Anniversario
Wednesday September 13th 2017, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life,Music

So I had this hank of yarn.

Actually, I had three, in two dye lots of Malabrigo’s Anniversario colorway, which I really really like. So this one skein that didn’t quite match the others decided it had waited long enough and it was tired of being just another pretty yarn–knit ME now, ME! It reminded me that it was Stitches yarn, and not only Stitches yarn but Imagiknit yarn and I adore Allison at Imagiknit and that made it all the more enticing.

But whatever. This. It was not what I had planned on but it was suddenly the boss of me.

I cast on and did the first repeat last night before bed because it’s always easier to keep going than to get started.

Now, I usually turn on some music to knit by because I’ve done so for enough years that it’s become Pavlovian: music. Knit. In time to the beat. To the point that I stop the sound if I want to rest my hands and go do something else for awhile.

The Anniversario was compelling to the point that I didn’t even go fishing through albums to see what to put on, I simply sat down and worked away at it.

Mid-afternoon I suddenly realized I’d been half-listening all along after all. Just one song. Over and over again in my head and waiting for me to notice. And in the moment I did I suddenly realized what it was and how very long it had been since I’d heard it.

From the musical that I saw in high school–in Ford Theater (yes that Ford theater: “But other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”) Scoring tickets for it was a big deal at the time and there was a group of us kids that went together.

Godspell. The song, beginning as a small voice barely discernible calling from afar, drawing nearer and nearer: “Pree-ee-ee-pare ye the way of the Lord.”

In that moment I knew for sure this one was not for me no matter how much I love it–and that felt wonderful.

Picture taken in the early afternoon, two-thirds of a cowl ago: and it is finished.



Storms and hummingbirds and hats. Not in that order.
Monday September 11th 2017, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life,Wildlife

Started the first hat for the foster kid but the dense black was spun so differently from the blue that even though they were within 10% of each other yardage per grams-wise, in real life there was no way to have the number of stitches work: either the black would be too big for the kid’s head or the blue in the next stripe too small to squeeze into. I would have known this in a heartbeat had I seen them in person first. And this, kids, is why we support our local yarn shops (when we can get there. And it wasn’t Webs’ fault; I didn’t ask.)

Meantime, the yarn I’d ordered for the other girl was felt to have more orange than was quite ideal (per the mom, after I asked her to be honest about it) and so I ordered her the Chroma from Knitpicks as you guys recommended. I want these kids to love what they get. I really do. And I can always use another ball of superwash merino around here.

And for the kid who wanted hers chunky, I went to Imagiknit, as one does, and ordered some Malabrigo Mecha, which is probably what I should have started with in the first place.

And now on a completely random note, I always wondered if a hawk would ever bother trying to catch a hummingbird, given how much work it would be to chase such a speedy little not quite amuse-bouche. The answer is pretty much not only no, but that hummingbirds seek out hawks’ nests to nest near themselves: because jays are big predators of hummingbird nests and Cooper’s hawks are big predators of jays. More details here.

I now understand better the photo Eric of the peregrine falcon group once gifted me with, showing a hummer buzzing near the matriarch Clara’s face while she looked on, bemused.

And in other wildlife news, we had a young squirrel on the fence today, staring: too young, apparently, to have ever seen water fall out of the sky before and he didn’t quite know what to make of this concept of randomly getting wet or what he was supposed to do about it.

I remember telling my kids when they were young that in my growing up, there were warm summer rains that would clean the air on a hot muggy day and cool things down a bit. But the rain itself. Rain was supposed to be warm and inviting in the heat of July or August.

I got scoffing disbelief in response. Mom. It does not rain in summer. Two, rain is always, always cold.

And yet today, at long last, we had a hot muggy summer day–and it rained. It wasn’t quite a warm rain but it was close enough to prove the possibility. Thunder and lightning, too (a little too close) and then the rain. We had a good old East-coast deluge, briefly, so much so that I even turned the computer off, wondering if the lights would go out. We have never had the lights go out in a storm in all our years here but you never know.

It let up. I turned the computer back on. So of course then it started again, hard.

And again, it let up and then started in again.

A fourth round pounded the roof after dinner.

For a grand total of (roll the drums) .1″.

Oh California. Thank you. You tried.



Seeing red
Sunday September 10th 2017, 9:12 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Another impromptu-on-Sunday story for you.

In the morning, I put the red cowl that a friend had requested in my purse. She’d seen it in progress and had been looking forward to it. It was an exact match to her favorite skirt.

And that was going to be it, given that I spent the week spinning for the most part and didn’t get much knitting done.

But. There was another one in a worsted-weight merino, a little thicker, superwash, thus nice and practical when you don’t know how it’ll be treated later, and also red. I’d made it awhile ago and had wondered who it was for and then had put it aside and forgotten all about it. It was just waiting, is all. My brain damage can’t walk around in that shade without worsening my balance but I still liked it enough to knit it. I figured it would tell me soon enough.

Somehow it was right there front and center when I went to pick up the other cowl and it leaped out of its ziploc: you need to take me, too!

Okay, I was game–and curious.

We have an elderly friend who spends half her year here and half her year near her daughter Marie near Seattle. She comes when she comes and goes when she goes and I never quite know when that’s going to be.

Marie had come with her mom to help get her settled back into her old house. And so they were both here.

Marie exclaimed over me, as glad to see a familiar old face as I was to see hers; I adore her mom and her mom raised great kids.

And in that moment I knew and I knew that that was my chance to give it to her in person: “Do you like red?”

Marie looked at me like, Wait… When you are the person asking that question… But why yes she did, she liked red! (And clearly she couldn’t wait to know what this was all about.)

I reached into my purse barely looking down and the worsted-weight one came right to hand. Which meant I didn’t have to apologize if she liked the slightly different shade of the other better; neither one of us had to know. Besides, Malabrigo makes nice wools. Really nice.

Up in the Pacific Northwest, she told me in delight as she patted its softness after putting it on, even in summer she often finds herself with something around her neck for that extra bit of warmth. She loved it. (And then given that it was a 90F day here, she took it back off for now. As one does.)

The kicker is that there was no sign of the friend the other cowl had been promised to, and I’m going to try to deliver it during the week. But what it did this morning was to help me see it wasn’t enough and that somehow I needed another red.

I just had to say yes so I could find out why. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I took both.



Just about grown into it
Saturday September 09th 2017, 8:36 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Knit,Life

Start the day with pictures like this and then a FaceTime chat with a little one who wonders what you’re doing being a flat person interacting with him from a screen and everything else just goes right. (Hat done in 2×2 ribbing for stretch, Malabrigo Rios yarn.)

An article on American-made superwash wool: it’s a new thing as of the last half dozen years, and all because the military needed a good, fire-retardant material. An interesting read.



Worth the trip
Thursday September 07th 2017, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

Karen (who’s gone there with me once before) : You want to drive towards the fire? To all the smoke?

Me, confused: LA, Oregon–the skies are hazy but they’re certainly not close…

Karen: The fire! In Gilroy! Don’t you read the newspaper?

Me: Huh. The online version, other than Sundays. But I just was on the Merc’s website and there wasn’t anything about a fire in Gilroy.

Karen: Well, it’s all over the physical paper!

Me: (Went and looked. Didn’t find it at first. You had to follow a certain path: home page/local/county (get the right county)–oh THERE it is. Yow!

And so we waited a few days while the firefighters firefought. And then today, with her driving this time (because, life) we finally made it back to Andy’s Orchard.

Where they still had peaches after all. Fairtime and the well-named Last Chance, enormous and beckoning. Homegrown cherry tomato for scale.



Gale force
Tuesday September 05th 2017, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Life

CVS already has flu shots in stock. Given my being sent to the ER the first week in September a few years back with a severe case of the flu and all the cascading autoimmune effects from that, and the kid coughing behind me in church on Sunday suggesting that the flu is out there early again, I jumped at the chance and Richard took me there after work. He wanted to wait a little later in the season so his dose would last through the spring; my take on it was, weighing the certainty of being immunized now vs the uncertainty of maybe having the dose wane later–I’ll take certainty, thanks.

My arm is slightly sore. That is so much better a thing to have to live through. And I will be one less person passing the germs along that would make the next ten people sick, and the next hundred from them, and the next…

Meantime, everybody in the path of Irma, my prayers go with you. Stay safe. I wish I could fix that danger so easily.



Stash busted
Sunday September 03rd 2017, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

The foster mom told no secrets: but when I said most fosters don’t even have a suitcase, just a trash bag to take their things in, she nodded emphatically yes, glad that someone knew. When I said that hat clearly must mean a great deal to Alex, she gave me an even more emphatic yes. I explained its having been so poorly sewn on the inside and why it risked popping out the last of it as Alex grew and showed her what I’d done to try to save it.

And I said I wanted to knit Alex something out of colors and fibers of her own choosing so that she would have something that had been made just for her.

Leaving church, I happened to turn around at the very moment Alex was getting her hat back and the little leap for joy and dance she did as she put it back on her head. She had it back! It was fixed!

I liked that. I liked that a lot. For her sake. This wasn’t a kid who moaned over its never looking quite like new again, she celebrated that this had been done for her. Like I say, she’s a great kid.

That family went home and the girls drew pictures of their dream hats they hoped for, with the mom promising to pay me for them, (not wanting to ask me simply to just go do more than I’d offered) with me answering that thanks, but that would take all the fun out of it–I want to do this for them and they’re happy about it and that’s all I need.

Of *course* I should have instantly realized her bio daughter needed one, too, as a bonding thing with her new sister as well as for her not to feel left out with the changes in the family. Yow. I’m not usually that slow, my apologies, that was a blindingly obvious need and I’d utterly missed it. Well, okay, so we got that taken care of.

I really liked those drawings (and hoped the colors came through true in her email) and the details offered. They’d really thought about it. Alex wants thick yarn and a fold-up beanie in stripes of vivid blue and black.

Two skeins of yarn and an excuse to go to a yarn store, I can handle that.

Her sister wants medium yarn and eleven narrow stripes: medium blue at the bottom, then purple, light blue, orange, medium green, dark pink, light pink, light green, light blue, peach, and a smidgen of light purple at the top. All the cheerfuls.

And me with my darker colors and little-boy stuff. And that bit of leftover Great Pumpkin. I could easily blow a couple of hundred on the one hat.

You know (even though the mom said they didn’t have to be) that they have to be knit in a machine-washable merino–so the kids will be warm (staying in California long-term is by no means a sure thing for them) and so the hats will survive any inadvertent trip through the wash. Having kids help with the laundry should always have only good results, especially with something like that.

So. Does anybody know of a soft self-striping superwash worsted-weight merino yarn in a colorway like that? Or two, that I could switch back and forth between? It would be so cool to be able to totally match what her mind saw.

Alex’s, too.



The mending
Saturday September 02nd 2017, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I’m not sure I heard the name right and I’m not even sure of the gender so we’ll call our singular-them Alex.

The first time I saw them I wondered why a child that old was wearing a hat like that: a particular cartoon character on the head of, at a guess, a 12-year-old. It was bright and cheerful, though, definitely.

Alex arrived at my friends’ house shortly after I’d gifted their foster mom with a cowl.

I clearly know how to do knitterly things: and so there was a request, and then a knock at my door–that hat. It was damaged, see, here. (They asked again, to be sure.) Could I…?

I looked Alex in the eye and promised to do my best but had to admit up front I could not make it as good as new. They were fine with that and I came away feeling like the three, the foster mom and her daughter and Alex all felt it was in the best hands now and I was relieved that Alex seemed fine with leaving it somewhere else for awhile. No hurry, the foster mom repeated: if I could bring it to church on Sunday that would be great.

This was a few hours before the fall and brain slosh that left me unwilling to risk driving until further notice, so I was glad there was no pressure on that one. The left side of the computer monitor has gone back to being the same size as the right side now, but still. No way.

I looked it over after they left. Tiny yellow stitches on the outside, black ones on the inside and a bear to see the details. I put it down.

Tonight it dawned on me that hello? Procrastination is not going to win us anything here, that kid really needs that back! I sat down with it at last, a little stricken at my negligence that had almost cost them another week’s wait.

Ooooh, mannnn… The thing was made as a quick throwaway: no selvedges, no interlocking holding the knitting together, no pride in doing it right, just raw machine-knit ends sewn with a fast line straight across with the thing turned inside out and then turned right side back out to hide the seam, so that if anything happened to that, say, if it ever got a little stretched putting the hat on a head a little big for it now, every stitch and every row in the inner and outer knitted fabrics could unravel and the whole thing fall apart into a mass of squiggly ends. Which is what had started to happen. What a mess. But at least it hadn’t gotten too far yet.

There. Did it. What a relief.

Oh wait.

There, and there, and all the way around the chin flap and oh, nooo, over there, too, I thought I was done…

And as I carefully hand stitched it back together through loop and loop, side to side and back again, squinting and hoping and doing my best and mentally composing this post, I wondered who had given this to Alex and why it meant so much to them still.

I wondered if a loving grandmother had proudly put that bit of fun on their head and sent them off to school with it–and when.

I wondered who had belittled them for wearing it.

I know that many foster children own not so much as a suitcase but their belongings are whatever they can stash in a trash bag to carry with them from place to, maybe, hopeful place. This hat had made the cut for them and they were in a good home now.

I wondered who this child was going to be when they grow up–but I knew in my bones that I would do anything for them to feel the love and support that was rightfully theirs from the day they were born. Alex is a great kid.

I’m not taking a picture of that cartoon character nor describing it further because it’s not mine to share.

But I know this: Alex will get another hat. It will be handknit. Alex will choose the color and the fiber. It will not be a replacement, nor an inducement… It will simply say, for whenever they need to hear that message, that I care about them and my love goes with them wherever they go. Too. For as long as that hat can hold it together, and when it can no longer I will make another for as long as I am here on this earth to do so.



Wasn’t it nice of him to invite a critter buffet
Thursday August 31st 2017, 9:47 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift,Life,Wildlife

1. Found an obvious mistake made right at the beginning and that could not be fixed, frogged the whole thing, and started over with a different yarn. Same old same old pattern because it’s mistake-proof and right then I just needed that.

2. Bird netting, bird spikes, and covering bags didn’t do it this time–they got my one ripe fig last night that I was going to pick in the morning when it would be sweetest. Darn.

3. The story from a few years back is there was a young male mountain lion who followed the creek beds from the mountains to the valley across downtown and into a suburban neighborhood, where a UPS driver saw him near dawn near an elementary school and reported it immediately.

And then it vanished.

A quite-elderly golden retriever saved the day that afternoon about the time school was letting out when he announced his opinion of a cat trespassing in his territory. A little one he might ignore but this one just had no business being there.

A reporter was standing under a tree filing a story update that no, the lion still hadn’t been spotted yet. (Dude. Straight. Up…)

So this morning, again around dawn, a man across town who has fruit trees and a garden that had been being raided by raccoons in the night (and has my greatest sympathies) and who is on the board of the state’s Nature Conservancy heard noise outside and went out to try to do something about it.

There were wildly swinging branches in the redwood just over the fence, and redwoods are not flimsy things–

–and a deep growl.

Holy. Cow.

And then the lion’s cub, echoing Mommy and trying to sound fierce, too.

…Well, I guess we don’t have to worry about raccoons tonight, honey…

They’re still looking for them. Our city’s hero golden retriever has gone on to that great dog park in the sky. We’ve had lions before, but never one with young. Fish and Game is on it and the cops again guarded the children going to and from school.



Houston
Wednesday August 30th 2017, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Life

My older son was a Mormon missionary in southern Florida, Haitian Creole-speaking, the year that area got hit with hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and the Church told the missionaries, the Red Cross needs you more than we do–go volunteer. They did. Alright then, boys, 1500 Salisbury steaks for the grill, have a spatula.

Copied and pasted from my sister-in-law on Facebook, please share with anyone you know affected by Hurricane Harvey so that we can expand the reach of this:

Houston Friends,
Here are hotline numbers to submit work orders for help from Mormon Helping Hands. FREE assistance regardless of religious affiliation.
FRIENDS, please pass this to anyone in Houston area or any that was affected. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints along with numerous others, currently have a hotline available to submit work orders for specific need requests related to the damages and for cleanup efforts. There is no charge for these services. They are mobilizing thousands to come and help muck out homes, cleaning etc. This has been done in many cities throughout the world. Last year 5000 were mobilized to Louisiana. It may take a week or two, but bishops in the area have already submitted an estimation of homes damaged and preparation is underway.
By calling the hotline number, a volunteer will take down the information you need and create a work order and then attempt to send a volunteer crew out to help. This includes removing carpet, cutting down tree limbs, etc.
Obviously there’s still difficulty getting crews into the neighborhoods but this will allow us to start the rebuilding process, and they will come as they are able. The volunteer groups will come from LDS Mormon Helping Hands, Catholic Charities, Etc.
Hotline numbers:
800-451-1954
844-965-1386



And just like that, the Patronus shows up
Monday August 28th 2017, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Wildlife

Took it easy today and the arm was much better off for it, thank you, everybody. And to Richard for insisting I ice it for 15 minutes when it happened, and pulled out a timer and a book to stay up that much later with me so I would do it.

So no knitting today. As I was reading I happened to look up in time to see a Cooper’s hawk swoop around the patio–but leisurely, not fast, and I noted that if this was a new one, it had learned to chase into the alcove, where its prey would be contained, rather than away from it to an easier escape like last time. Progress. Except that I didn’t see it actually chasing anything.

It wheeled back out and onto the roof of the shed, visible to all, to announce just who owned this.

I tried to memorize every feather so I would know next time if it were the same one. There was an unusual solid white spot on the left side of its chest near the wing with a little bit of a connecting zigzag to two orange stripes suddenly ending there.

I remembered to blink so as not to be a predator staring it down. It had been months since I’d been able to study one like this. My phone/camera was not in reach.

And so we quietly observed each other for a few minutes, one of us intensely grateful for that and wondering if the other could somehow feel it…

As if in response it tucked a foot up away into its feathers: completely relaxed. Wasn’t it a fine day today! And then, briefly, it preened. I could only marvel at its sense of balance.

About five minutes in, a young squirrel–pre-puberty, they do not have object permanence–forgot that it was supposed to be being scared and popped out from under the picnic table. It nosed around under the bird feeder and then hopped across the yard right below that hawk. (Hello? Look up?) It made a small leap for the fence and headed across the top of it. Exit–stage left.

Seriously?

It jumped to the top of the shed.

Seriously?!

It considered. It’s fun to make mourning doves do what you tell them to but this one seemed a bit bigger. Eh–it’s just a bird. It’s fun to scare them away. And so it hopped closer.

I kind of held my breath. Seriously?

And one last leap closer. But at that point its bravado thinned and it stood there trying to decide what it should really think about this and the fact that there was now no easy escape. It glanced over the side. The wispy baby pomegranate tree could in no way hold it and to leap past it would make it a good ten foot fall.

The hawk of course was by this point studying the squirrel in return. You don’t want to be facing the teeth and the claws: you want to be coming at it from behind. (I once watched a Cooper’s do a U-turn right above one on the ground so as to be lined up just so.)

The squirrel flinched and turned away and at that the hawk came right at it in a low swoop. All it had to do was reach and grab and lunch was served.

Except that it wasn’t actually hunting nor hungry, and one does not kill prey except for the eating.

The squirrel had the instinct to hunch down hard as the Cooper’s shadow passed so close over it.

I do believe it learned some manners.