Peregrinning
Tuesday May 08th 2018, 8:27 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

The San Francisco peregrine falcons are about two weeks older than the eyases in the San Jose nest, and one of them just fledged.

Video of Glenn Stewart after banding the San Jose kids.

Video here of one of the San Francisco kids flapping its wings, doing little leaps, wanting so badly, and then finally OFF! Into the unknown of Look, Ma, no ground! It was quickly joined by a parent, who helped it find its way back to the nest on the 33d floor of the PG&E building.

Gliding down is the easy part. Getting higher is what they have to learn, and so far, so good.



Raspberry cupcakes
Monday May 07th 2018, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

I was short about a teaspoon’s worth of butter and added about that much extra sour cream in tradeoff and they didn’t rise as high as last week’s. Which is fine.

This time, I made homemade lemon curd via my Meyer tree rather than opening a jar of the stuff from Trader Joe’s.

And again, I took four of the finished cupcakes, with a raspberry on top just like in the pictures, over to our friends Phyl and Lee after they affirmed that yes, they would love to taste-test this version, too.

Lee’s brother fell and died of a head injury last month and that was the last thing anyone expected. Coming for dinner that night, yes. But…

I cannot bring him back. But by golly I can make really good raspberry cupcakes to let them know we’re thinking about them, thanks to my daughter Sam’s heads-up on that recipe.

We do what we can.



Gone fishing
Sunday May 06th 2018, 9:41 am
Filed under: Wildlife

Oh my goodness! I just saw a snowy egret in glorious breeding-season featheriness (that tail!) land on the fence right outside the window! It was regal, a little bit dinosaur, and it dwarfed its perch.

Then it flew to the roof next door and looked over and I suddenly got it: uh oh, those koi are a-goner…



This could be addictive
Saturday May 05th 2018, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

Yarn stuff ahead.

A little knitting at last, and man did it feel good to get back to it. The super-soft Piuma tubular-spun cashmere from Colourmart in 21105, their lightest beige, started on the plane ride home and finally finished. It’s not yet dry so the picture is darker than it will be in real life.

The cone was a bit of a splurge but I got two cowls out of the 150 grams with 48 to go. They were not huge cowls and would be best on someone of average or small build. Basically, I just had no idea how much the lace would grow on blocking, and winged it. (It didn’t grow.) I used US 7 needles but even with my loose knitting could easily have gone larger. I did hank and pre-scour to try to pre-shrink the yarn and let it bloom, and wow did it bloom: from worsted and solid-looking to wide and soft and quite airy.

Colourmart lets you put these in your basket for 14 days–half the usual time, due to the demand–where no one can touch them while you wait for a small sample to see if you really like that one, or while you make up your mind or try to finish whatever project you have on the needles first. So if you want to sneak a peek at what colors they actually still have around that aren’t showing on that first link, that you could hopefully snatch up as soon as someone else’s cart expires, go here for the Piuma. (I have no idea how to do that on their other yarns other than to ask them, I only know that one because they posted the link on Ravelry.)

They’re a mill-ends place and it’s been eight years since they got that many colors of that yarn. I saw their email saying they had new stock three hours after they’d sent it and the teal (and some of the other colors) were already long gone for good. People had been hoping for more for a long time. I bought the beige to finally try out the famous yarn and to see how cost-effective vs other yarns it could be (or not), and after seeing how things were coming out I too wanted more. More came.

After someone else’s cart expired. If yours does you have to wait a week before being allowed to cart it again. It’s only fair.

For whatever it’s worth, with this yarn there’s only a single ply sort of braided around on itself: it doesn’t have multiple twisted plies in the traditional sense. In the tradeoff between the friction that twisting creates, which takes away softness but adds strength, and wanting to preserve what that cashmere can feel like, they went for preservation of the softness. Cowls and scarves and hats are perfect for it. Cablework, maybe not so much–too much stretching and pulling, I would think, and I wouldn’t dare use it for a baby blanket, much though I wish.

A cowl will do quite nicely. My daughter Sam got the first one. I hope to find out tomorrow who gets the second. There will be more after that.



Such cute little plants
Friday May 04th 2018, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Garden

I succumbed, November or December or thereabouts, to the glowing description in I think it was a Burpee’s catalog of perfect springtime strawberries, while reminiscing about the early June mornings when my folks would take us kids to a pick-your-own farm, bringing home stacks of boxes of just-pickeds.  The jams and puree we would process for the year to come. How intensely strawberry the car smelled and then the house did, for days. How good those berries tasted warm and straight from the sun, so far removed from the puncture-proof stuff in the grocery stores.

Well, those were cute little plants in that box. I’d forgotten they were coming. I figured either the winter or I would kill them in no time; the people who grow strawberries always seem to be passionate about them and I just wasn’t. I didn’t dare be. I was still waiting for my raspberries to do anything in their pot, planted there to contain the prickly canes from taking over the world. Raspberries can be a ton of stabby work if their roots are allowed to ramble.

And yet on their third year they still sulked in that pot, a few leaves and, eh. So I figured I just wasn’t much at container gardening.

And yet those three baby plants decided to be a second opinion. Strawberries! I quickly put one of the bird netting tents over the pot, and so far, so good. I have conditioned my critters not to believe there could be anything of interest in those Costco pots. Heck, I conditioned *me.*

Having been totally shown up by the newcomer, the baba raspberry is suddenly about to burst into bloom for the first time. It’s still small but maybe it can be mighty after all, too, in taste if not in quantity quite yet.

I hope. I’ve only got a catalog description to go by so far.



Spring cleaning
Thursday May 03rd 2018, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Life

I need to get back to the knitting. Something about being away awhile makes tackling the house the most important thing, though, and the recycling bin is full again a day after pickup. Man, that felt good.

What felt less good is that the refrigerator was either slightly bounced open those five days or else the thing is dying after 25 years. Which it may well be. I moved both its settings to coldest and threw out a lot on Tuesday but today the cheese was green–and yet things at least seem cold enough now. (Do we trust those eggs?)

Wait–typing that it finally hit me: I have that infrared temp sensor! I got up and aimed for the back of the fridge as the door opened. 34.1, 40 at the front. Okay, I think we’re good, I just have to find and get rid of anything else that might have been damaged and just start over.

Meantime, the amaryllis-scape for the day. 



Turning a twirl into a sun dance
Wednesday May 02nd 2018, 11:05 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Garden,Life

One may have noticed: I like amaryllises. I collect amaryllises of every kind. Pictures taken today.

Mine bloom year after year, sometimes skipping years but at this point I have so many bulbs that who would notice? Our climate isn’t warm enough to plant them in the ground so they stay in pots under the translucent patio awning, surrounded by the warmth of the house on two sides. They like shade. Warmth makes them happy. They like this spot.

Occasionally you lose one to age or winter temps or whatever. How to tell for sure: if you touch a dormant bulb and it crumples between your fingers into nothingness, it’s gone. If it holds solid at the center, no matter how many crisped outer layers there are, there’s still life in there–it just needs to be cared for and given a chance.

So this one bulb was shriveled and shrunken but just solid enough that it wasn’t tossed but it wasn’t coming out of dormancy either. Maybe it just really wanted any hint of winter to be over first. At some point on that crowded picnic table a thriving amaryllis got put on top of its pot and it was forgotten.

The turning of the season, the leakage from the one above being watered must have been enough. The fact that we were gone for five days means the changes snuck past unnoticed.

I caught a glimpse of red today at pot level and went, wait, what? I stepped outside and lifted off the one I hadn’t even noticed was sitting on top. When did I do that?

And there, underneath, was a stalk curling tightly around in a half circle against the inside rim of that lower pot with a big bright half-flower trying mightily to open up, resting on the edge. There was a leaf, too, one which had gotten no sun and yet was trying to grow out from underneath its burden.

This picture was taken ten hours’ worth of sunlight later: the stalk has risen mightily, the first blossom is fully open and the second is getting there and there is even already some green in that stalk and (you can’t see it) its leaf. Sky and light!

But before it was discovered, the only energy available to it to grow and thrive with came from what it had within it.

And in the end, that was enough to make the rest work out so that it could share what it was meant to be with the world.

Isn’t that just the most gorgeous shade of red?



He’ll help you with that
Tuesday May 01st 2018, 10:32 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

It needed to be snugged up a bit on that velcro but I snapped the picture first: he was holding still and I figured, get’em while you can.

A toolkit for a little boy’s first birthday definitely made his daddy’s day and his. If you’re ever looking for well-designed, engaging, well-made washable fabric toys and books for little ones (the sea creatures is my favorite of the latter), I highly recommend that company’s.

My son-in-law said that the secured board across the fireplace instantly cured the kid of wanting to climb inside and splash in the ashes. Lost all interest. That’s okay, he can make messes in lots of other ways.

Like maybe take a cotton hammer to one of these cupcakes that our daughter made: not terribly sweet and oh so good. And I’m not usually much of a cupcake fan. Raspberries and lemon curd and mascarpone? Yes please. I begged the recipe and made a trip out tonight for the ingredients.



Walked in the door tonight and threw in the first load of laundry
Monday April 30th 2018, 9:58 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

Five wonderful days.

Every one-year-old needs a picture of them in a high chair making a total mess of their cake. Mathias did not want to give up his carrot at first for this triangular stripey food his mommy had baked but with enough coaxing (here, she said, taste this) decided to humor her.

Oh wait. I think I like this. I do. (Ditches the carrot.)

Plus a random airport picture, just because I’d never seen a plane with a bumper sticker before.



That crazy hat lady
Saturday April 28th 2018, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Knit

If you put a handknit hat on Mathias’s head he will grab it, pull it hard sideways, and fling it with great force when it finally gives up and comes off.

If you put it not quite on but flat on top of his head and convince him it’s a new version of peekaboo, trying to get him to accept the idea of wearing something up there for even a moment (kid. You live in Alaska) he will giggle like crazy and only take it off and hold it in his lap waiting with a big grin for another round of the game.



But Not the Hippopotumas
Friday April 27th 2018, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Knit

Mathias picked up a Sandra Boynton board book and toddled awkwardly towards their big dog and plunked down with a thunk.

“She can’t read it to you,” his mommy laughed.

So he read it to the dog.  Even if he didn’t quite succeed at getting that thing open on the first few tries: he knew the words by heart. “Ah BAH. AH BAH. Ah bah bah  bah!”



Their number one son
Thursday April 26th 2018, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Knit

Babies live life on speed dial: somehow Mathias turned one today.



What happens when they’re the ones flying
Wednesday April 25th 2018, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Wildlife

I was looking at suitcases at Costco online, looking for a lightweight one, and it hit me–don’t take it for granted: I looked at the dimensions.

Height plus weight plus depth, add up those inches. If the number’s over 60, Alaska and apparently other airlines charge you an extra $75 each way. Which adds up fast to the new suitcase you’ll want after buying some of those.

Our old ones were fabric and they’d gotten to where they made our clean clothes arrive smelling like they were on the return trip.

So I’d opened them and put them out in the sun, since that’s the best disinfectant of all (and if it works, the easiest, right?)

I think it was a scrub jay. Nailed his but good. Yeah, it scrubbed clean, but he’ll never look at it quite the same way again.



Milestone
Tuesday April 24th 2018, 11:20 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Someone’s birthday bash was a ton of fun.

One friend happened to mention to me that her youngest had lost his finger puppet. Which kind of threw me: he’s six, and it’s been long enough since I gave him one that I didn’t even know he was old enough then to remember it, much less to treasure it all this time. Wow. Very cool.

Wanting to replace it to take some of the sting out of the loss, I asked her, What character was it?

She didn’t know.

So with that I dug into my purse and, nudging the ziplocked knitting aside, started pulling a big bunch of them out. I had actually just restocked in there and they take so little room, and as puppet after puppet after puppet emerged she laughed in surprise. They made a colorful heap on the table.

She went home with her favorite two, and Richard’s friend from work whose wife couldn’t make it at the last minute was so charmed with the first one he picked out that we all told him he had to chose one for his wife, too; he went for a second handknit rubber ducky to match the first and tucked them away safely in his pocket, clearly looking forward to the moment.

The waiter at the restaurant watching all this then got surprised with a colorful parrot as we stood up to leave. The fact that he loved it made the night just that much better.

I couldn’t possibly knit fast enough to make something for every person who came to celebrate, but the good women of Peru could.



The back 40 (inches tall)
Monday April 23rd 2018, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Garden

From this three years ago, a new whip trying to leaf out again after being stripped bare every night for two months by Japanese beetles, to now. It survived when I thought it might not and this year it is finally really showing us what it’s meant to be.

And just wait till those cherries start appearing!

Rereading that old post, though, I’m quite amazed that that tree is on a standard rootstock–I thought it was an ultradwarf like the sweet cherry. I mean, it certainly grows like one! Slowly. Huh. While the other one, which is a little older (but has to reach a little more for its sun), is at seven feet. Go figure.

The honeybees were happily and peaceably buzzing in the flowers. There’s at least one on the left in the close-up, down in the petals.