They knew
Sunday June 28th 2020, 9:30 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

The Zoom church meeting: Dave was one of the speakers. The kid I watched grow up in New Hampshire, and such a good man.

He told a story from his teens that I hadn’t heard before, one that probably happened the summer after we moved away.

His parents had signed him up for a week at an interfaith camp in Boston. He did not want to go. He did not want to get out of the car when they got there. He argued, but they insisted.

The experience was life changing.

He was one of two Mormons in the group and the other was a girl he was friends with, so it was nice to find out he’d get to spend some time with her, anyway.

Midway through the week, after they’d all started to get to know each other a bit, they were told to divide up by which church they belonged to, and for this next exercise they were not to talk to anybody but the ones in their group. At all. Just talk amongst yourselves only.

Some kids had a big group and lots of people to find out more about, for Dave it was just him and his friend–

–and there was one girl sitting alone. All she could do was watch everybody else interact, and maybe listen as best she could. Okay.

The leaders kept not calling an end to the exercise.

After two hours, that poor girl was just too overwhelmed with the enforced loneliness while everybody else was enjoying themselves and in spite of I’m sure her best efforts in front of everybody, she started to cry.

Dave said it was the African-American kids who immediately did what he’d wanted to do all along: they instantly rushed to her side. They knew what it was to feel alone in society and they weren’t going to stand for it one more minute, and as soon as they did so so did Dave and his friend.

They were expecting to be scolded for not following the directions of the exercise.

To their astonishment, the adult in charge of it answered, What. Took. You. So. Long.



The convert
Saturday June 27th 2020, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

My husband was sent by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to be a Mormon missionary in France in the late 1970s.

Where there was a chocolatier on practically every corner, as he liked to describe the cities there.

When we were dating in college I had no idea what his problem with Hersheys was nor why one would want to eat what seemed like excessively bitter bars. But he knew what a dark chocolate from good beans could actually be, and despite the dearth of those in the States he eventually won me over to the dark side.

And so it seemed that celebrating our anniversary in great chocolate was the way to go.

Dandelion on Valencia Street in San Francisco, it turns out, takes orders via smartphone and lets you pick up at the door.

They have a talented pastry chef as well as their excellent small-batch chocolate. Anything you get there, it’s going to be good.

We got a parking space just one storefront away. That never happens.

This being very much the city, lots of people walked by, not as many as pre-pandemic but still not a few, and a few sat at the tables set up out on the sidewalk.

Most were wearing masks. The ones who were not kind of stood out. Only one person, tall, white, older, male, looked like he dared anybody to call him on it–he was swaggering down that sidewalk.

What struck me was how alone he looked.

Richard, picking up our hot chocolate and pastries, found himself being crowded at the door and turning and saying, Six feet! Figuring there had to be some pushback from someone for their risky behavior if it was ever going to change. He was protecting me (I was in the car) and he was protective of the people trying to keep that business in business.

Personal space. Masks. It’s just not hard, people, look, all those others were managing it.

I tried the S’more: a crisp homemade perfect deep chocolate cookie with a large homemade marshmallow on top that barely held in a lake of molten newly-made chocolate that I’m not sure had any sugar added to it at all, but as you bit into it and the melting marshmallow, creme brûlée made divine was somehow the description that came to mind.

I had no idea you could create something built on that concept that tasted that good. Wow.

This honeymoon story.  Melting marshmallows for the anniversary for sure. And there was a potency of skunk outside the house after midnight last night, and although it was not close enough to pet it this time, I think we celebrated our 40th right after all.



Waited a year for those
Friday June 26th 2020, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Anya apricots. Picked this morning, since I’ll have to wait about five years for mine. Worth the trip to Andy’s Orchard, and I got some early-season peaches and cherries, too.

Out of curiosity, I added some raspberry honey from The Honey Ladies, which surprised me by being my new favorite right up there with their less-sweet poison oak blossom.

All the employees were wearing lined black face masks with room for a filter, with a motif of red cherries with green stems and leaves,  and they had some for sale. Very reasonably priced. Very soft. Quite happy with mine.

Got home, walked in the door, walked in the kitchen, rinsed a good handful of those cherries and put them in a small bowl in front of my husband, who dove enthusiastically into them as his meeting and his screen continued.

Looked out the window and thought, there’s always a possibility of snails making it up the pot to my baby tree. So I’m saving the kernels again, out of curiosity if nothing else: a year ago I found two very differing methods of sprouting them, and somewhat against my better judgment followed the one that had you submerging them for 24 hours after their winter in the fridge.

It seemed a good way to rot them.

It was.

So I’ll try the damp paper towel thing next time, because, science!

(P.S. What would you do for your 40th when you can’t go anywhere?)



A case of those
Thursday June 25th 2020, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Life

Not having been raised by an art dealer, my husband did not know who Frida Kahlo was. Nor the word unibrow that her self-portraits helped make famous: one single one across her face from beginning to end.

Lands End started selling face masks with some silver in the cotton for its antimicrobial properties.

Which reminded me that there had been a Kickstarter a few years ago for a start-up that wanted to sell cotton and silver sheets, extolling their virtues for one’s health and comfort at length but offering them only in taupe. Eh.

I bought two pillowcases to test drive the concept. When they came, they were a graygreenbrown shade that I would never ever have bought had I known. But I was stuck with them.

If I were sewing masks, which would be virtuous but it’s just not been my thing so I’m glad other people do, cutting up those pillowcases would give them a chance to finally live up to their potential. Anti microbial is in right now. Someone might actually like the color; you could use them as a lining layer.

Meantime, the blue ones Lands End was offering that day sold out in the few hours between when they shot out the announcing email that they had face masks now and when I looked. I sprang for a package of the plain white. Anti microbial is good.

They came.

I guffawed when I saw the package. For those of us in the flatlands, there’s only one thing that looked like.

I’d be wearing a unibra on my face.



Wheelchairs for cars
Wednesday June 24th 2020, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

After they towed the car away they sent the email that said that there’s a 2-4 week national backorder on catalytic converters, one assumes because so many are being stolen.

And then I saw the other email. Had it been from anyone else I would have laughed and looked for the gentlest way to say no. But it wasn’t just anyone else.

Did I do commissions? A co-worker was having a baby and he thought it would be so freaking cute to be able to give the baby a hat that matched the logo of the project they were working on.

I won’t post that logo here but picture a circular, slanted rainbow with an animal’s face in the center.

A cat, he said.

A dog: a boxer on a summer day, I said. Those cheeks. That tongue hanging out.

A teddy bear, Richard glanced over and said.

A freaking pain in the neck, my needles said. The guy had no way to know.

I didn’t answer. I simply held yarn after yarn up to the computer and then compared amongst them to try to come up with the best combination. At this point there’s a lot of leftovers from that afghan project, and though worsted weight is not my first pick for baby clothes it’s what I had that had those colors and was machine-washable, soft wool. Soft enough for a baby.

Intarsia in the round. You knit right to left. The colors change left to right. Get to the end of the first row and the yarn at the color change is now on the other side away from you, so you wrap one (thank you Nancy Weber for teaching me how to knit socks years ago!) so it doesn’t make a hole and you go back to where you came from on two circular needles inside a Venn diagram because the hat’s too small to use just one. So there’s that variable, too.

When UPS knocked on the door when I was at a row and needle change it took me a moment afterward to figure which juncture, which direction, and which yarn.

You change colors in the back so it doesn’t show. Except there is no back during the knitting that way. It shows. And it shows worst and is the most messed up at the start of the rows at the orange/yellow, exactly where the mutt’s face is supposed to be centered–no hiding it at the back of the wearer’s head.

I was planning on stockinette and the gauge thereof. I had garter instead–which made it too big, but if you use that as a folded-up brim to hide half the animal it will…make a great peek-a-boo toy. After the baby gets old enough not to cry when it falls down and covers its eyes and it doesn’t want it to and it can’t yet do anything about it.

Let me get the rest done before making pronouncements.

The upper part gets to be stockinette because having just done four hours of this mess and not loving the result I was getting antsy. It was time to start the face.

I picked up a sewing needle and ran the new contrasting colors back to the starts of their sequences, ready to knit again, no turning. So there. There will be no give to the hat there but something had to give for me.

So many ways it’s not up to my standards. And yet, and yet, the silly thing is growing on me.

Note to self: next time knit a slanted panel, knit another picking up the side of the first as you come along, then another, till at the last you pick up from both sides and close the circle.

I finally answered his email after I got this far along with it: I said, no, I don’t take commissions.

But actually, I was going to surprise you with a doorbell ditch but I’m not there yet and I didn’t want to leave you disappointed all night, wondering. It’s far from perfect. But it’s coming.



A baby tree finds its way home
Tuesday June 23rd 2020, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life,Lupus

In between the insurance company calling, the adjuster calling, Enterprise calling, Enterprise picking me up, Enterprise filling out the paperwork and sending me on my way in a minivan, and the company the insurance picked to fix the Prius calling about the tow truck they’ll send to get my car…

Ruth and Lise were going to Yamagami’s Nursery. Where one must wait in line in the sun to go in: only so many people are allowed in under continued lockdown procedures at this Essential Business, you must wait till someone comes out, etc etc. Which is why I have not been able to go. After buying a bag of potting soil somewhere else years ago that turned out to be, somehow, plain sand with just the smallest bit of dirt mixed in, I am quite loyal to the place where I know I get the best of everything and it is what it says.

Did I want anything?

I made sure they knew I am by no means on their way. Did they still want to?

Absolutely!

Ohmygoodnessyes! Thank you! I had vegetable plants so root bound they were starting to look sick. I’d ordered fifteen and twenty gallon fabric pots so that I could plant them where they’d have lots of root space without having snails disappear them overnight, all I’d needed all this time was some good soil. For two months. And I wanted to help keep my favorite place in business.

My friends–I met Ruth via knitting at Purlescence years ago–are fruit tree enthusiasts and the reason for my Black Jack fig: they’d told me that in our climate that was the best-tasting of their three.

I showed them around the back yard. They exclaimed in recognition as I named variety after variety, most fondly, the fig. We geeked out together over the thought of picked-first-thing-in-the-morning sweetness.

And I sent them home by way of thanks with one of my two Anya apricot seedlings. They were thrilled at the offer. I was thrilled; it absolutely felt meant to be. I had always known I would give one away and had been trying to figure out who it might best be, when suddenly as we were planning all this there was no doubt.

You cannot, as far as I’ve been able to find, buy that variety tree at retail. You can only plant a kernel and hope it’s true to its parent, and here I’d given them a year’s head start on the process.

They were very very pleased.

And now my own Anya is happily planted in the oversized pot that had been waiting for it. It should last it for several years. I was surprised at how big its root structure already was.

(The watermelon and squash plants were so grown into their clay pots that I finally had to shatter them carefully against the concrete to free their grip.)



Not as planned
Monday June 22nd 2020, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

The plan this morning was, I was going to the pharmacy and then swinging by the hardware store that has the fan I’d paid for waiting to be picked up.

I got in the car. I turned it on. Everything was fine. I put it in reverse.

Screamingly NOT fine as I backed up.

I looked around for the drag-racing cars or motorcycles with no mufflers??

I put it in gear and it somehow got louder, loud enough to shake the steering wheel–I bet they could hear that car a half mile away, and a neighbor out walking stopped and stared at it like, holy cow. I got it back in the driveway, smelled the burning, came in and told Richard and called the police.

The thieves who’d stolen the catalytic converter had left a few spare parts in the driveway. They can get a few hundred for the rare metals, while replacing the thing costs about three grand. I’d read that older Priuses are a particular target and you can pay to have a metal plate added to try to thwart them, but earlier reports had said (erroneously) that ’07 models weren’t affected so we hadn’t spent the $300 to weld such a thing in there.

Later reports included our year, though.

But it’s easy not to spend a lot of money on something you’d never knowingly use if you bought it. Plus there was the guy quoted who’d had that done and they still got his car a second time.

Those moments felt like the day of the 1987 Loma Prieta earthquake: I knew this could happen, I knew it was a possibility, I knew it was possibly even a likelihood if we kept the car long enough but I just didn’t ever quite know that it could be *today* that we would have to go through it. Three grand. Three grand. Three grand. For that old but low-mileage car that has served us so well and so long. (Heck, we’re still on the same 2/3 of a gas tank as early March if not February. I guess we’ve taken our shelter-in-place seriously.)

No AC and now our car’s been destroyed by thieves and we only have the one. I was feeling quite sorry for myself.

The cop was, to my relief, wonderful. Insurance wasn’t going to go anywhere without his input.

And then: Anne showed up at our doorstep with not one but two fans to cool us down. Surprise!

And then: I found myself throwing the door open a little after she left and exclaiming, Joe!! I’d finally been allowing myself to hear that he’d said Tuesday–or Wednesday, if he could get the… (Scolding myself, Don’t only pay attention to the Tuesday part because that’s the one you liked, hon.)

And it’s only Monday.

Joe explained that with the just-in-time manufacturing that I wish companies would realize how much it alienates their customers, turns out it was going to be two weeks to get that model blower motor.

He was almost apologetic as he said that this brand and this brand are owned by the same company and the parts are interchangeable–just the names printed on them are different. But he had, he’d found an identical one by the same company/different name on it that would fit just fine and was that okay with me?

Two weeks vs right this very minute? Is this a trick question?

Anne’s fans did their thing while the AC caught up. She laughed via text, If she hadn’t brought them over we’d have had to wait two weeks for that motor, right?

The car insurance gave me a claim number and will get back to me tomorrow about it. No questions were answered yet except that a rental is covered in our policy.

I googled and found an article saying that with driving way down because of the pandemic, it claimed that most of what car insurers are dealing with right now is catalytic converter thefts. Yow. Maybe that meant ranked in terms of the costs to the companies, though.

We really ought to own a fan, meantime, and I think that when I finally get to Ace with my story they won’t mind that it took me so long to pick it up.



Happy Father’s Day!
Sunday June 21st 2020, 10:32 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

His face: Pleasedon’tleanonmetogetintothecomputercamerafortheSkypeitiswaywaytoohot.

Video chats, our kids, grandkids, good times. Lillian at ten months clearly now realizes we are actual people who respond to her and smile at her and love her and she tried to crawl through the screen to come to us. Sweet child, if only. But we love you too much to risk you and they all love us too much to risk us.

Tuesday is the estimate for when our HVAC guy can get a blower motor to fix our air conditioner. It will be so cool.



A Republican fought back
Friday June 19th 2020, 10:59 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

Trump is a master at getting information he doesn’t want known released late on Friday nights and at providing distractions away from it.

Thus he stunned the city of Tulsa by announcing that no, they were wrong, there would be no curfew after his rally. This is after saying earlier that “his” National Guard would be there fully armed. He clearly wants the “very fine people on both sides” to do their thing–he has all but incited destruction and rioting.

On social media, peaceful protesters were telling each other, it’s a set-up. Don’t go. Or go protest, but somewhere else; don’t engage. Don’t. Go. There.

All of which demands the question, what does Trump not want us to see in the headlines by the ones he’s trying to create?

Geoffrey Berman, the US Attorney of New York who once was a Trump donor, has put Michael Cohen in prison and Roger Stone’s about to be and is investigating Giuliani, is investigating where the extra millions paid into Trump’s inaugural committee that vanished got siphoned off to and is surely investigating Trump, too, found himself seeing a press release late tonight saying he’d been fired. Like Preet Bharara before him.

His response? Too bad. You can’t.

Berman was put in as interim US Attorney. A panel of judges later confirmed him. He’s saying he has investigations to continue to lead and he will leave when the Senate duly confirms his replacement per the rule of law and not a moment before. That the President does not have the power to undo what that panel of judges did. Had Trump brought Berman’s name to the Senate for confirmation, yes, but Trump never did, so, no, he’s not resigning and Trump doesn’t have standing to fire him.

He has work to do and he intends to do it.

Who knew that a Trump appointee could have honor, ethics, and the courage of his convictions–and had this in his pocket all this time to fight Trump off? Go Mr. Berman!

No wonder Trump wanted the headlines buried on the subject. He thought Berman would just quietly leave and it would be over.

But this story has only barely gotten started.



Holy moly no baking today
Thursday June 18th 2020, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Life

Yesterday was a bit surprising. Today something was definitely wrong. Both days were in the 90s but yesterday the house was at 79.

Today, the AC didn’t even try and we were in agreement: call Joe. The guy who’d installed our HVAC and duct work.

Who apologized that he couldn’t make it till Saturday.

Hey. One day? Wonderful, we can handle one day, that means there’s an end point. (Man are we spoiled and we know it, but at 94F when you can’t even ditch the house for indoor shopping for the AC because, quarantine, and you don’t own a fan because you haven’t needed one…)

I managed to put those pounds of wool partly in my lap/mostly pushed to the side for all of two rows and then I bagged it. No air conditioning, no afghan knitting in this, sorry, no way. I did at least wind yarn up for the next bit.

Tomorrow mercifully promises to be ten degrees cooler outside, and I’m going to hold it to it.



To you to you to you for you to you and you
Wednesday June 17th 2020, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

My neighbor said she was picking her plum tree and did I want some?

I’d love!

Don’t return the bag, she told me, just come on over and pick it up from outside the door. (She is not someone you want to potentially expose.) So I did, and was tickled that it was from Medecins Sans Frontiers–Doctors Without Borders, and anybody who’s read Stephanie Pearl-McPhee for years has probably helped donate to the over a million she helped raise for them. It did not surprise me that those neighbors were involved with MSF, too; good people.

We both have Santa Rosa plums, and yet every single year hers from her much older tree on a bit of a rise from mine always ripens a week ahead.

Meantime, Jeremiah gave a gas barbecue grill to David when he moved in April and now David is moving and he offered it and our old one is long dead and other-Dave volunteered his truck and time to get it to us after calling this afternoon to confirm. Dave and his daughter rolled it on back to the patio under the Chinese elm.

A small-world aside: I knew Dave when he was a teenager in New Hampshire when we lived there and we are all definitely old friends.

Would you like some homegrown plums, I asked by way of thanks.

His face lit up. “YES!” His daughter looked pretty happy about it, too.

And he wanted to see our fruit trees, so I took them on a tour of the yard.

He was intrigued by the mango. When I said it really needs that Sunbubble off it for the summer, the lack of air flow at the back has let a fungus do a bit of damage, his instant response was, We can do that!

It’s about fifty pounds, I warned.

C’mon! We can do it! And so before Richard could even step outside to help the three of us undid the stakes and lifted it and Dave had it over the mango and set it down over there and insisted on putting at least a few stakes back in so it wouldn’t balloon away just for fun before we can get it taken apart.

I got my first real good unobstructed look in two years at the entirety of that tree and what it had grown to and how the Sunbubble had to some degree restricted it, plus that one shoot straight up at the center where the greenhouse’s ceiling had been highest. There is definitely some pruning coming, and I’ll be able to reach that now without a wall in the way.

But it’s done, it’s done! And we have a new-to-us grill! I had something to send them off with in thanks (freely admitting the plums had come from next door.)

I need to find out if the first David likes plums, too.

Jeremiah, I’m afraid, is way too far away now to share ripe ones with.

And I need to thank the neighbor again for making a whole other family happy, too.

——-

Edited to add just for fun: dolphins with mirrors.



Sunny side up
Tuesday June 16th 2020, 10:08 pm
Filed under: Knit

Another moment of that’s so obvious but I hadn’t even thought of it: of course there has to be one!

Do you know how much fun jellyfish are to knit? It’s like you almost can’t make a mistake and you certainly don’t have to worry about it. Hula dancing in the water.

And although it’s not what I’m making, did you know that there’s one called Fried Egg Jellyfish because–well, just look at that thing. And yeah, that’s real.



For the top but I think not yet
Monday June 15th 2020, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Knit

I’m just going to post this right here to remind myself that even though I can’t draw, sometimes, just sometimes, I do okay enough on the third try that you can actually tell what it is.

No I don’t mean maybe pregnant. Never mind.

And now I have to figure out a jellyfish for the other side, because I think the turtle needs one.



Open invitation
Sunday June 14th 2020, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Life

I’m not sure if this is a request for you all to tell me it’s hopeless and to stop or whether that last one might have had any effect.

She parrots far-right talking points that don’t stand up to logic nor good sense and that even Fox has started to back away from. No you don’t build up carbon dioxide from wearing masks and wearing one won’t make you pass out.

I’ve never heard of a surgeon fainting on the job, I said. (Much less every single one every single day, you’d think word would get out, right?)

But I do not want her nor her family to be injured nor die of Covid, which she seems to have dismissed at this point as mostly a far-left conspiracy. It can’t happen to them, is the subtext again and again and again. If she pronounces it loudly and publicly and often enough it has to be true.

It is wearying and worrying but at the same time I don’t want her to try to prove herself right by giving her anything from me to be defiant against.

I do not know how to help.

Masks are useless, the CDC said they were unnecessary, people are dupes for wearing them. (Translation: people will see me and ridicule me.)

Never mind what the CDC is saying now about how important they are. Much less the attempt by a Trump appointee in the earlier pronouncement to save them for medical personnel because the Administration had totally bollixed up the supply inventory–it was a face-saving, jaw-dropping falsehood to anyone with any experience with compromised immunity and they backed away from it later.

A new day, a new post. She railed against them yet again.

Sometimes you have to distill it to its essence and you have to make it personal and relatable.

I answered simply this: Would you rather be coughed on by someone who’s wearing a mask or someone who isn’t?



And a little child shall lead them
Saturday June 13th 2020, 9:39 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Got all kinds of things done that needed to get done–laundry, cleaning, Milk Pail pickup, the weekly hour forty-five spent watering all the trees, there’s sourdough bread rising, even got a little knitting in but nowhere near what I should have.

But in the back of my mind the whole time was the errands I would be running if I could be running them and someday this pandemic will pass and I’ll get to really see the world outside again and my friends in person and man I can’t wait.

My phone buzzed.

It was a video of Lillian. Somehow she is nearly ten months. In it she pulled herself up below a window, bouncing and vocalizing for joy, patting the wall and then grabbing the windowsill, bouncybouncybounce delighted with herself that she could do this now and turning and grinning at the camera.

She could almost, almost make herself tall enough to see straight out that window, but looking up makes her happy.  Right now, no waiting.