Getting a little crow-ded
Friday August 18th 2017, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Knit,To dye for,Wildlife

The birdnetting somehow gets moved a bit day after day–no squirrel could have done that from there (I don’t think) –and the figs have still been disappearing. And I was getting screamed at by a crow whenever I went near that tree. Although, funny how when I gave “the look” in its general direction, wherever it was, it stopped.

Research has shown that they are highly attuned to human faces.

It could see me. I couldn’t see it. But even I can hear a crow.

Hey, nice of it to remind me. (Yup, I did go back and buy a fake dead one last year but I never used it.)

After repeats of this all week long, I finally remembered at night and not in the morning when it was too late that I needed to put that bird out there.

I carried it in the shopping bag it’s been in to hide it from any glimpse through the windows, hoping it would work for the Indian Free peach and fig both even though they’re not that close. I slid it out with me between it and the tree across the fence that is where I think I’d been yelled at from, trying to block any night-vision view (it wasn’t as dark as I would have liked) and then I sprinted the heck around the corner and out of there.

So yes, I put it there myself fer cryin’ out loud, and yet it still startled me this evening when I went to water the tomatoes. Whoa! Well, good, then, so I pretended to be startled again and shied away from it every time I looked in its direction. I can play the game.

Meantime. I bought a large cone of merino/silk 50/50, steeply discounted to get rid of the last of it, in a color blend I would call bleached-out camouflage. I’d worked with that yarn before in navy and knew how nice it was. (Hey, Morgan, that’s your doubled hat.) This was a heavier and darker version of the one I played with recently and there’s a whole lot more of it.

It came yesterday and today I wound off just enough yards to make a nice cowl, tied the hank and threw it in the dyepot to see what I could talk this stuff into being.

I don’t know if I can get the other 900 grams all into one dyepot and have it come out evenly. Quite unlikely. No afghan out of this, then, no matter how practical home decor-wise, I would go nuts having to look at the blah in my hands for a month.

Such a shame. I’ll just have to splash and play and make lots of happy colors out of it. We’re talking a dozen merino/silk hats or cowls, easily.

Maybe Sapphire, next.



Baby hat
Monday August 07th 2017, 10:29 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

The beta went home tonight to the family that loves it best–and I will miss watching those beautiful blue-black fins and tail swishing through the water towards my hand as I drop a speck of fish food into its tank. It had a little rock cave to hide out in with a few aquatic plants attached but when I called softly to it it would come out of there and greet me.

Who knew such a tiny thing could be so charming?

Maybe they’ll go on vacation again sometime.

And then I finished knitting this. Maybe. I had been planning to add more to it–but I really like it as is, even with that edge not blocked yet.

Shepherd’s Worsted yarn from Lorna’s Laces. The colorway was a doodle, a one-off that was in a gift bag at a post-TNNA party held at Green Planet. The pattern was a doodle, too, five repeats of a short simple lace followed by ~6″ of stockinette and then decreasing and out.



The new family
Sunday August 06th 2017, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

That one’s done and drying and a new hat is on the needles, in the bright greens I got gifted with at Green Planet in January. Those colors just cry out for dragon spikes going over the top and claws over the ears but we’ll see.

Watering the tomatoes tonight, I stumbled across mama dove, papa dove, and a small baby peeking up from the nest, old enough for gray feathers and to watch me warily, its small tail slightly curled upwards against the wall. There might have been a second small head in there but I couldn’t get close enough to see for sure without disturbing them more than I was.

Carry on, then.



So how do you like them apples?
Saturday July 15th 2017, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

The acanthus. I’ve had good luck with using the vicious stabby flower stalks as guardians of my tomatoes, going two stalks deep on every side. Two, because last year a raccoon pulled the first one away in the night, got a pawful, there was still another in its way and it never went near again. And two, to make the squirrels decide a leap is not worth the landing. With all the rain this year, some were as much as eight feet long. This is useful. (Just don’t accidentally touch them when you reach in for a tomato.)

So, brilliant me, I thought hey, let’s try threading some of those stalks through the Fuji leaves to defend the plastic clamshells. I so much want to be able to have my grandkids pick their own apples at Grandma’s again.

And it worked. For two days.

Thursday evening I came outside and stopped right there speechless.

I didn’t even know I had that many clamshells. The squirrels had presented me a museum installation of them all over the ground beneath that tree and had named it The Inbox. Still with apples inside (except two that must have bounced just right.) There will be no apples from those fruit spurs next year, either.

All I can figure is, when they couldn’t stand on a branch next to the clamshells to try to pry them open, they simply leaped straight at them until they broke off and fell out of the tree–where they still couldn’t get at them, so they tried the next one. And the next. And the next.

I had two that were wedged in too hard and those were still up there.

Uh, today, not so much. Down too, with one branch inside, one whole branch outside. They even knocked down another I didn’t know I had because the leaves had filled in around it.

There is one, count’em, one, clamshell left in that whole tree. Today.

So… What on earth do you do with a whole lot of way-underripe apples? These were supposed to be picked in September and October.



Faster faster
Saturday July 08th 2017, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

Yardage times desired length divided by time…

And so I supplemented the 900 grams of heavy dk weight with 760 grams of a matching thinner 4-ply, even if it meant waiting for the second cone to arrive. It just came.

I swatched on the 10s–that would go fast for sure.

In your dreams, honey. I scoured it in hot water, hoping it would shrink enough. A little, maybe, but, c’mon.

I swatched on the 9s. Give it up, honey.

8s are as low as I’m going. It *will* shrink, but it will also bloom out when I wash the finished afghan. But I am not pre-scouring two pounds on that niddy-noddy at once. Okay, then, we’re on.

It’s a race to see which runs out first, the yarn or me. Me. There’s probably ~2500 yards on the dk and twice that on the 4-ply, and starting a black afghan in two strands of loosely-plied yarns was probably not my smartest move–it was the fifty bucks for two pounds of cashmere (the best bargains went fast) that did me in and here we are.

I’m figuring I need to do five inches a day to totally be on the safe side, time-wise. So far, I’ve done a whopping three. Which is actually not shabby at all.

(Edited to add: got it to 4,” we’ll say five if you stretch it. Meantime, someone’s setting off illegal fireworks outside and made a skunk mad, which is good for my asthma but probably not what they intended.)



Glasses
Thursday July 06th 2017, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life,Spinning,Wildlife

Dropped my glasses off the top of my head when I stood up to answer the phone and then I stepped on them.

It was bad. There was just no putting those back on. All I could do was wait for Richard to get home from work to drive me over to For Eyes.

A dozen feet away was close enough not to be too fuzzy when a Cooper’s hawk skidded to a stop on the concrete just on the other side of the glass door. It considered me a split second as a finch on its back flailed away wildly trying to right itself (its hard thwack on that window had snatched my attention) and he grabbed it and was off.

The younger employee went, “Wow, you really stepped on them,” and given their age (I’d reused the same lightweight metal frames through several prescription changes–I bought an extra pair eight years ago so I could) she was afraid she would break them; the more experienced middle-aged guy, the one I took a tumble in front of last week, was sure he could do it and she was sure he could if anybody could and handed them over.

At this point I’ve been in there enough times that they were not surprised to see me pull out the knitting project I started today (after I did indeed add a repeat to yesterday’s.)

He was glad to see me back and looking none the worse for that fall and made a point of getting those exactly right. He totally rescued me, and was very pleased to be able to make such a difference. I can see again. I can do things again. I have my life back.

They both adored the picture of Mathias in shades and even asked to see more pictures of the baby, and I thought, I really like you guys…!

(Yarn: two strands of a dusty purple-plum cashmere laceweight, a gift from Sherry in Idaho, and two strands of a brick red merino with a touch of sparkle to it, plied together on my spinning wheel.)



And the new leaves’ red glare, the fronds bursting in air
Tuesday July 04th 2017, 9:25 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit,Wildlife

The last rays at sundown were coming through the window right on that drying merino/silk cowl (Scrumptious 4-ply yarn by Fyberspates), showing the radiant deep purple hiding in that dark navy. I ran for the camera, but in the steps it took me to go down the hall and back the light was gone.

You can almost see it.

The mango tree has sprouted like crazy just since two weeks ago.That top branch grew from ending at that last big green leaf to seven new branches popping out–and that’s just the one cluster. From this morning to this evening, it went from looking like a solid poof from inside the house to discernibly separate branches: they are stretching up and out at two to three inches a day.

All the flower stalks that had the tiniest suggestion of buds when we left town to help when Mathias was born–it got too cold for them while nobody was home to cover the tree at night and they gradually turned black, so I think there will be no crop this year. The rest of the tree is doing fine. And who knows, it might surprise me yet.

(Cute hat and matching socks–hey, they match the mango!– from longtime online knitting friend Susan Schutz.)

 



Down in there somewhere
Sunday July 02nd 2017, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Wildlife

We are foster fish parents for a month, trusted with someone’s children’s beloved black beta in a square goldfish bowl sitting inside a plastic modern-architecture of a holder. (We have it on a shelving unit, thus the metal wires below.)

After 24 hours it’s still swimming and it’s still coming out to eat. So far so good.

Those wispy fins waving in slow curling motion against the water are so elegant.

(I confess I did feel better about my chances of doing a decent job after its owner said what happened when they tipped a little water out to be able to transport it over here. It was an easy promise to make that I won’t have to fish it out of my disposal.)



Bayside
Saturday July 01st 2017, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Driving over the San Francisco Bay, glad Richard was at the wheel so I could see: the black cormorants resting on the towers, the snowy egrets, one in flight, the others wading by the shore. The flock of white pelicans!

And the water was high, so high, so close–and green across the expanse to either side rather than blue. All that winter white in the mountains to the east melting melting melting flowing down to the Bay.



They grow up so fast
Monday June 26th 2017, 9:23 pm
Filed under: History,Wildlife

Mathias is two months old today.

In downtown San Francisco this year, they had a pair of peregrines at the usual nest box on the 33d floor of PG&E and an egg with a second expected momentarily.

But then another pair thought that–hey look! That was the best cliff around. Gravel (they like gravel) in a protective box to keep any eagles from seeing the babies, and it’s out of the rain, even! They tussled the two earlier falcons out of there and took over. After more courting, they laid four eggs of their own and scooted the one that had been sitting there for two weeks in with theirs.

Brooding five eggs was a big job.

It had turned dark so it was easy for the watchers to tell it apart from the later ones. It did not hatch, nor did one of theirs.

But note that it’s been over a hundred years since we had enough peregrine falcons alive to fight over territory like that–they were called chicken hawks and hunted mercilessly long before DDT nearly finished them off. Those nests represent the life’s work of some very good biologists.

The site’s videographer compressed the eyases’ first three weeks into 68 seconds, here, if you’re interested. Unlike San Jose’s nest, their cameras let you hear the birds, too.



Memo: While You Were Out
Friday June 23rd 2017, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden,Recipes,Wildlife

Cooper’s hawk. Adult. Right there, intently watching my patio and back door as I came around the corner of the yard from trimming back the kids’ old climbing tree that had been shading my tomatoes a bit.

I stepped quickly back behind the house–but I think my startling it cost it its dinner. Sorry about that.

I came inside a few minutes later with  these Yellow Transparents. It is a sign of how different things are this year, drought-wise, that I still have plenty on my tree, proof that the squirrels don’t touch the tart stuff unless they’re starving: this year they have better options.  (Whatever they are out there, starting with my California Coffeeberries).

A little apple juice, four small quartered apples, cover, zap five minutes, cool, scrape off the skins and voila! Apple sauce for two.

And a Mathias picture just because.



Impromptu block party
Tuesday June 20th 2017, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Friends,Wildlife

7:30 p.m. I was taking a bin to the curb when the little kids across the street called out and waved an enthusiastic hi to me. I waved hi back.

And then I ducked quickly down the side yard to check to make sure before I said anything: was she there? She was!

So I went back over and asked the parents and their two little kids if they’d like to see a mother mourning dove on her nest?

Yes! Please!

I explained that when my own kids were that size, we’d had a woodpecker nest that my husband could hold the kids up high to see into, and how much we’d loved that.

And so I showed them the nest: there, up on top of the ladder.

Their mom hoisted them up one by one to give them a better look. The dove, as always, stayed quietly put, observing the observers.

They hopped skipped and jumped back down the walkway–and saw their buddy, who lives two doors down. His parents had seen them outside playing and had started out the door to join them when they had all suddenly disappeared into my yard. And so I asked them, too, and we all went back and looked again, two pairs of little ones now and two moms. (The dads were invited but seemed a bit shy to intrude.)

Where is it? Oh! There!

She’s well hidden, isn’t she? I asked. Tippy toes and mommy’s arms.

And then the kids, being kids, ran off around the corner because they wanted to explore the hidden treasure of a backyard they’d never been in. The moms started to call them away and I invited them to hey, come on back. Such a delight to have little kids running around in my back yard again.

What kind of tree is this? Oh, you’ve got tomatoes!

Turns out one had been wanting to know how better to fend off the critters from her oranges.

Turns out the other had needed a listening ear on how to feel like you’re still a good mom when you’re badly sleep deprived with a three year old and a fifteen-month-old, and didn’t know she had someone right there whom she could talk to about it, someone who knew–but she does now. “Wow, four in six years?”

“Yeah,” I laughed and said in all honesty, “I don’t know how I did it.”

I owe that momma dove a great big thank you for sticking around and starting a new clutch of eggs.



And now the daughter
Thursday June 15th 2017, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

There on the fence, preening. I grabbed my aging phone and wished. The chest markings of a juvenile, the larger size of a female–and there she goes! Not the adult I’d been seeing. She’s probably only been flying for about a month, then. Cool!

Meantime, I really wanted to get this out there today and not one day later and I made it to the post office before closing with ten minutes to spare. Someone needed a hug. Someone who’d just dyed her hair purple. It was just the thing.



With a warmth like the musk ox itself
Friday June 09th 2017, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life,Wildlife

The adult Cooper’s hawk stood on the telephone wires just past the fence line. An hour earlier right there at the awning it had flinched in flight at my standing up, both of us realizing a moment late that the other was there. I sat down again as it did an extra little half-loop in surprise before landing but then it took off over the house and away. (Sorry…)

This time I felt a bit watched, looked up, and held still, quietly loving it for being there where I could see it. What a beautiful bird. I blinked repeatedly so it wouldn’t consider me a predator nor threat.

Becoming confident over several minutes in its ownership of that piece of the sky, comfortable with me now, it reached down and preened an itchy feather from its chest, allowing itself to be briefly vulnerable in a way that conveyed that all was right in its world.

Meantime, I’d like to share this postcard. I left the receipt for the headband from Oomingmak with my daughter, so I’m not sure if the person who signed the letter was the artist who’d knitted it or someone at the co-op headquarters in Anchorage, but either way, I’m quite charmed.

She made the knitting personal, and that, not to mention the qiviut, is knitting at its best.



Blink and you’ll miss it
Thursday June 08th 2017, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life,Lupus,Politics,Wildlife

While I watched the Comey hearing…(full YouTube video.) There is nothing like observing their faces along with their words and intonations. (What on earth was Cornyn doing with his hands the whole time he was talking?) I kept half-hoping someone would call John McCain an ambulance–he   s  p  o  k  e    in slow motion, made no sense, (the ex-FBI chief is not addressed as President) and looked like he was having a serious medical event like a transient ischemic attack or a diabetic crash.

So. Five (!) hawk sightings today, including one I got to see coming straight towards me, its neck not so white, its chest solid and buff: an adult.

However many there are in its young family, it rules, and the crows and ravens have disappeared from my end of the block as of late.

What’s completely new is a mockingbird that has suddenly decided that the larger scrub jay has no right to my back yard–and the surprise that the bossy overdressed blue corvid loses every time. After being the bully of the bird feeder forever, threatening the songbirds while stealing far more than it needs to or even can eat, it was quite surprised at getting its comeuppance and having to run for it, not casually but for real, with the smaller mocker twirling around in serious chase above the elephant ears. Not learning a thing, the jay had to dash for cover again and again, the other right at its back. A brilliantly-colored tanager on the other side of the fence took courage for the first time and gave it its own “And STAY out!” over there.

Tempted to name the mocker Comey.

Meantime, two days ago when the sun was safely low–the lupus/UV exposure thing–I knocked on the door of the little kids across the street so they could get a chance to come see the doves in the nest. I was sure if we waited a few more days the fledging would be over and I remember how much my kids loved to be lifted up to see the baby birds back in the day.

But the family was probably out in the back yard and didn’t hear me.

Yesterday we had those two doves side-by-side up there, the one no longer attempting to hide from me under momma’s wing, but again no one was home across the street till the sun had sunk altogether.

Today there was no one home on top of that ladder and no dove in sight.

Oh well. Next year.

I looked again shortly after, though, and there the two were, fluttering upwards in no particular alarm at my coming around the corner, rather as a matter of teaching the young What One Does while telling each other about me. (Old enough to fly: check. Good.) One stayed in sight about six feet past the young pear tree and I took its graduation portrait.

And when I blinked, like all good mourning doves it felt compelled to blink back. It’s one of the most charming things about them.