Lockdown day seven
Sunday March 22nd 2020, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Church by Zoom for the first time today, and it was odd and wonderful and distant and intimate all at once. The pretty background music? Agonizingly distorted for us, wonderful for someone else, yay for the chat function on the side–it got turned off.

I wished out loud for closed captions and someone said, There’s got to be a way to do that. Someone else said, That’s okay, I’ll type them! And he did. Wow. (So then I lean forward to read the words I miss and I look way weird to the camera’s eye.) We’re getting the hang of this.

Meantime, Lillian is somehow seven months old come the morning and we know how blessed we are to have her.

(p.s. Nope, I didn’t: I bought the owl hat at a craft fair last Fall.)


Forever after
Friday March 20th 2020, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

It took me a day to find the words.

For those in the knitting community who may not have heard yet. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, aka YarnHarlot, friend to all, welcomed her second grandchild and first granddaughter this week.

Two days later Elliot’s baby sister was gone from them.

My younger sister lost a baby at birth, with the scant consolation that she knew she likely would. His older brothers insisted still on a birth-day cake and blowing out the candles in his honor and memory.

Charlotte Bonnie.


Part of who we love and are, they are with us forever.

Itching to go
Friday March 13th 2020, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Today they said it may be that one is still contagious with COVID-19 as much as five weeks after feeling better. Maybe. Only testing could tell if you’re good to go.

If that’s what either of us even had, but who knows when we’ll get to know.

I couldn’t do anything about that so I ran the last end in anyway and sewed the label on with it. It’s ready whenever I am.

Oh right. Oops.
Wednesday March 11th 2020, 9:23 pm
Filed under: History,Life,Politics

“Well, that’s risky,” opined my fellow quarantinee.

And yet, any gangway off the cruise ship, right?

Plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients to save the lives of those critically ill with it–that’s what China’s trying right now, with some success.

But first you have to have tested the earlier patients and documented they have it.

From here to there and back
Saturday March 07th 2020, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

She called. Then she came over. She was insistent.

Mom, you haven’t gotten out of the house in three weeks. We need to give you a change of scenery.

And with that we took a drive through the mountains and redwoods, in and out of fog and intermittent rain (at long long last, rain today!), with views of the reservoir below and hawks in the skies above. And one peregrine falcon watching the traffic pass below.

It was glorious. (With one brief backup here.)

Not yet
Thursday March 05th 2020, 10:58 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

You can when you feel better, she’d said. So I washed the afghan and laid it out to dry and made tentative plans to myself.

I sent off a note today to be sure before I did anything, though, and got the same young nurse practitioner calling back on the phone: no worries, she soothed, you don’t have the flu.

(Yeah I knew that.) Well then does that mean… (the obvious)

You were not a person of interest so we didn’t test you for that.

(First time I’ve ever had THAT phrase applied to me!)

Everything was wonderful, everything was fine, nice to hear I was doing better, I said something about a couple more episodes and it went right past her other than her making sure I’d filled the rescue inhaler prescription, mine having expired. Yes I had.

Me: We’ve been self-quarantining. So if I feel fine is it okay to go to church on Sunday?

Boy did that change her tune fast. NO! No, don’t, not for another week or two. At least. You don’t want to expose other people who might not be as able to fight it off! People with compromised immune systems, the elderly.

And I hung up the phone thinking, you didn’t want me to panic but you finally almost said what we both now knew you were thinking.

So I took pretty pictures of the world coming back to life, marveled at all those blossoms on the one-year-old Frost in the corner, and tried not to have cabin fever.

Last year my Indian Free, the only peach that has to have a pollinator, bloomed just as the last few flowers on the last other tree were fading away. We still got a few fruits from it but one could only wonder whether this was how it was going to be.

Nope. Just Mother Nature playing fifty-two-card pickup. This year, all five peach trees are overlapping at least somewhat and there should be a good crop across the yard all summer long.

Blueberries in the last photo. Last year we were picking those in January, this year it waited till now to start.

Here, let me go pick up those scattered cards. Come time to plant my tomato seedlings I plan to be the queen of spades.

A hacking cough
Tuesday March 03rd 2020, 7:30 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

That was a long week.

To play catch up: I messaged my doctor Thursday, heard back from her nurse, answered, and then the doctor took over and emailed me to get in there. Yes I’d had some serious breathing problems with my flu that had been scary a few times but I told her I was doing better than I had been and I didn’t quite see the point.

The phone rang, with the question: what time would you like your appointment to be? They were not messing around.

The time when I knew I could have a ride there was when I could only get a physician’s assistant.

Who had my chest x-rayed (scarring in the lungs, didn’t seem to be new) gave me several minutes of an Albuterol treatment and swabbed up my nose to test for the flu. But when I asked about The Virus I got a sharp rueful snort: Only the health department runs those, she told me with a serious case of If Only in her voice.

At that time, the entirety of California was allotted 500 tests for COVID-19, although that had doubled by the time I got home. They were clearly reserving them for those needing hospitalization–where the medical teams would need to know what they were dealing with so as not to contract it nor pass it on to more patients.

Our county has the most cases in the state and two are of kids that go to the schools ours went to, and the numbers go up every single day. It’s definitely here.

The test results were negative for influenza types A and B and that’s all I know.

Richard started coming down ill himself on Thursday, though thankfully never as bad as mine was; Friday morning the blog was out-of-the-blue dead and he was too sick to deal with it.

He took a stab at it a few times yesterday, waiting for call-backs or messages, and today he overdid it trying to get both his work work done and the blog working again, and hey! Look!

If you see anything wonky let me know. For now, it looks like we’re good. Yay. Thanks for sticking it out with me.

Always did like a good autobiography
Sunday February 23rd 2020, 7:52 pm
Filed under: Food,Life

Knitting? Not up to it. Reading? I’ve finished Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” and I’m halfway through a Jimmy Carter memoir that I was always going to get around to. Wow has the world changed over his 95 years. He’s not forging steel hoops to put around his dad’s wagon wheels anymore.

Edited to add, both noted their surprise at being handed a large bill at the end of the first month in: the President is responsible for the food bill of his family and guests at the White House. Any idle mention of a favorite or wished-for food ends in that food happening on their table no matter the cost if they don’t say anything different.

They learned fast.

Friday February 21st 2020, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Life

Yesterday I was just a bit feverish and coughing. Today when I tried to stay up for longer than ten minutes I found myself barfing nonstop. So let me type fast.

No Stitches West for me this year.

The Royal Bee booth #1339 has a pair of Holz and Stein #8s I was supposed to pick up and Mel and Kris made another pie plate for me but needles are easy to ship. The pottery, not so much. But trust me, they don’t want me there.

Zoom zoom
Tuesday February 18th 2020, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

My ’07 Prius’s fob’s buttons hadn’t worked for years, but at least it unlocked the car when you walked up to it.

Until it didn’t.

At least you could get the physical key out of the fob with great difficulty and a broken nail or two to open the driver’s side door, put it back in the fob, and then stick the fob in the slot to start the car when the fob’s battery was dead.

Until a piece of the back went missing after time in that slot and it wouldn’t go in anymore.

At least you could replace the battery.

Except now you couldn’t–we’d done it so many times the screws were stripped and they wouldn’t come out.

The cheapest new fobs cost a crazy amount of money, so we took a chance on simply replacing the plastic cover of the one I had. Didn’t know that was an option but it was.

Ordered this fob cover.

The most useful video on how to change it over was here.

A white pillow in the lap to help find any dropped tiny tiny screws should that happen. Highly recommended.

He replaced the battery. The new fob cover now has all the innards the old one had. We did not glue it like the video says, just the screws and the slides and the snapping together mixed with a bit of hope and the old physical key inside the new cover and then he sent me outside to go see.

The open button worked. The lights came on. Would you look at that!

The close button worked. The lights went off.

Cool! I was not expecting that. I was just hoping to get back to how it had been.

It was cold and I hurried back inside.

Richard: Well? Did it turn on?

Me: I didn’t try that. (Thinking, actually, I wasn’t done…)

Him: manages not to roll his eyes while I grab a jacket because hey, it’s 45F out there. Let me go make one last run past skunk territory.

So I got to go play again with the buttons and I got to try turning the car on and then hitting the lock button and testing it again and everything was peachy fine and after days of borrowing his key my new version worked! For $13 after tax.

Now, says he. Now that we know that that’s all we need, go order a new cover for mine, too, would ya? It’s starting to fall apart.

The 60s rock
Thursday February 13th 2020, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Life

This is your last notice, the form-letter email said. You are overdue for a pap smear.

Oh fun.

So I got that over with on Tuesday.

What I had zero expectation of was the doctor saying that that was my final one: I had aged out. I didn’t need to do this again.

Wait. All this time and nobody ever told me I had that to look forward to?? Seriously?

It really *was* my last notice!

Edited to add: I got a note from an old friend, who says that an old friend of hers recently died of cervical cancer at 80 and that even older women in monogamous relationships should still be tested. I’m very sorry for the loss of her friend, and I regret having possibly in any way contributed to anybody else going through that in the future. I apologize.

Hurry up, tree!
Wednesday February 05th 2020, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life,Mango tree

My Big Boy tomato plant from last year finally froze to death. The Sungold under the eaves is still blooming. House warmth for the win.

Monday night and thereafter, I had to turn on the heater under the Sunbubble at dusk for the first time all winter; the Christmas lights just weren’t enough. For so long it was simply about keeping the mango comfortably above freezing, but now we need to protect the more vulnerable flower buds that are bursting out all over.

This is just the top of the tree because I can’t step far enough back in the greenhouse for a better shot.

The tree’s gotten big and the crop will be a lot more than last year’s three fruits.

My friend Jean grew up in Hawaii and misses the Hayden mangoes of her youth. She tried three times to grow her own but always lost them to the cold and she has cheered my tree on with great enthusiasm ever since she found out about it.

Last year’s three went to Dani who instigated the whole thing and whom I’d long promised the first fruit to, Eli who helped take care of the tree numerous times while we were out of town before we bought the greenhouse, and the last one for, well, us.

This is the year the first one is supposed to be for Jean. Jean, who once brought a paper bag of ripe pomegranates to church from her two year old tree that were such a revelation that I’d planted my own, a Parfianka, having never known before what a ripe pom actually tastes like. (The stores can’t sell them when they start to split.) Jean, who loves seeing pictures of how my Alphonso is growing, it’s really doing it, it’s surviving here! It’s blooming!

Today’s her 94th birthday.

The last few months she’s been pretty much bed-bound.

I don’t know that it’s fair to ask her to hang around till this big plant of mine finishes doing its thing in six or seven months but I’m still going to remind her I promised.

People are funny
Tuesday February 04th 2020, 10:42 am
Filed under: Life

There was a young mom at Trader Joe’s yesterday with her little boy in the cart. He looked about four. It was close to dinnertime but he was cheerful and bubbly and absolutely adorable. We crossed paths several times and smiled at each other.

When I went to get in line, they were just back of the line but not getting in, as if they were waiting for something. She was working at keeping him entertained.

Well, hey, so I opened my purse and went looking.

I caught the mom’s eye to get her approval, and said, penguin finger puppet outstretched, that we’d been to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and I’d showed one of the penguins my penguin and it had followed it around, like it was trying to figure out how it had gotten so small.

The little boy was delighted at the story, so with another nod to his mom first to be sure I handed him his own and said, Happy Birthday!

The mom was startled: Wait. Really?! How cool is that!

I tried not to be too in-their-face from there and got back to my line and paid attention to the clerk starting to reach for my groceries, but it just totally made their day.

And then the little guy got really excited. Grandma!!

Grandma, an African-American woman about my age, was coming out from the back and off her shift and dead on her feet. (While I thought, ah, that’s why the mom looks familiar–she looks like her mom, who works here.) It had clearly been a long day. She had had it. She was just done. Get her out of here.

But here were these two excitedly telling her about penguins and this penguin and they all turned to me as the grandma’s face completely changed. They waved.

They headed out, and now I (finally) noticed a woman with a daughter of about the same age standing back to back with me in their line, so I offered her one for her daughter, too.

She looked at me like I had three heads and said no, a bit offended.

Well that’s fine.

I told the clerk, I just got fifty of these in the mail.

He laughed warmly, understanding better now how all that came to be.

The second mom was getting into her late-model BMW next to my ’07 Prius as I came out, saw me, and was out of there.

But I knew a grandma was smiling out there who’d needed that.

Your yarn rings a bell
Sunday February 02nd 2020, 9:53 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

There’s a certain blue-eyed redhead here whose cataracts came early on, as they often do for such. The first one was operated on a few years ago and as I drove him home he kept exclaiming over and over again at the clarity and the colors and the crispness of everything. He’s the rock-solid-steady type who doesn’t do little-boy jumping-up-and-down excitement but boy, for him, he really did that morning. I was both amused and thinking, wow. Cool. Good for him.

Tomorrow morning we get to do that with the other eye, only, this time he knows how good it’s going to be and he’s quite looking forward to it.

I’m going to get me some knitting done while I wait.

Last time, one of the doctors I’d met while in the hospital in ’09 walked by and recognized me as much by my needles and yarn as my face.

I’ll keep an eye out for her.

The mechanic
Tuesday January 21st 2020, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

That light gray-blue Mecha wool hat a few weeks ago that I didn’t quite get to finish while the garage worked on my tire?

Guess which idiot light came back on in the car?

Sure, you can bring it over right now, he said on the phone.

When I told him the tire light had blinked for several blocks on the way there before going solid, his own light bulb went off and he was glad I’d mentioned it so he knew what to check.

It was a different tire this time but it was also the sensor that tells the car about it. The car’s an ’07; he said the other three would probably start failing, too, but at least hopefully not all at once.

He’s such a gentle, kind man.

Today though he looked like the world was heavy on his shoulders, and all I could think of was how much he reminded me of my cousin John.

I hadn’t unpacked my purse from the trip yet. That hat he’d seen me working on the last time was in there. I also had a brighter blue one (London Sky) I’d knitted on the plane, with a third (Piedras) on the needles I’d started at the airport on the way home.

Again, I almost finished it before he called me over.

After he’d rung the work up I presented my own and offered him his choice. He was blown away. He picked the London Sky, and as he went to put it on his head I told him, “Happy Birthday!”

He looked at me in surprise: “Did you know it was my birthday?!”

Me, surprised but delighted: “No!”

“It was the 17th,” he said, “but, yeah, it was my birthday.” It was cold. He told me his ears were warm already and that he’d needed that. He told me his girlfriend was going to love it, so I asked his girlfriend’s favorite color and unlike quite a few men I’ve met he knew it without hesitation.

Pink? Suddenly I have an excuse to buy a skein of yarn. Twist my arm.

Anything I can do, when I know I can do at least that one small thing. John would want me to. Can you just picture the man’s happy anticipation towards making her happy once he gets it?

The way my tires are going, I’ll get everybody in the shop by the end of next month.