The little stinker
Tuesday July 02nd 2019, 7:34 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Wildlife

There was a problem with the washing machine at her place so of course we said, sure, c’mon over here.

Her schedule was tight enough that she got a late start at it but it had to be done.

And so it was nearly 11:30 last night when she was reaching down to pick up her hamper of now-clean clothes to take home as I was reaching to open the front door for her when I suddenly shrieked, DON’T OPEN THAT DOOR!!!!

Followed immediately after, it must be admitted, with my inwardly admiring how the colors of the fur kind of melted into each other–it looked marvelously soft. Definitely spinnable. I can see why my brother reached down to pet his roommate’s cat one night years ago, just as he heard his apartment door automatically locking behind him right in the moment he realized that the animal at his feet was not, in fact, a cat.

Having come down the walkway and crossed the doorstep in my moment of !!!, the skunk now went through the open gate just to the side and sniffed at the recycling bin. Then in the direction of the few leftover tomato plants that got plunked in the dirt over there a few months ago because I didn’t know where else to put the extras.

Hey dude. You already ate those. And you pooped on our sidewalk afterwards. At least put it in the garden yourself.

Right. So, no go, and what was that blast of sound? Not caring for that. It turned around and bounced with a jaunty little walk back down the way it had come, a wobble to its step that kind of looked like how a two year old runs. It was absolutely adorable.

One could not tell in the night if it had ducked into the azaleas at the end there or gone under the cars or–? There was just no way to know.

Her: A skunk?! The way you yelled I thought it was a black widow spider!

Me: (gobsmacked.) Would you rather it was a skunk?!

Her: Yes!

Me: (Thinking, but, but, you can’t stomp on a skunk…!)

Her: Because, black widows!

Her: Oh man, what if it gets my clean clothes.

We invited her to crash here for the night, but no could do, starting with contacts solution back at her place. We spent a couple of minutes debating who was the brave one (too soon, too soon) and finally (still too soon, but it was late) Richard proclaimed, I’LL be brave! and grabbed a flashlight to match the one in my hands and we opened the door and basically created late-night hell for the neighbors. We’re HERE (shuffle shuffle shuffle loudly) little skunk, go AWAY! (Shuffle shuffle shuffle) We’re HERE, little skunk, go go go!

Me: Should I look under the cars for it?

Them, in unison: NO!!

She got in her car. Only then did I flash the light and nope, it wasn’t under our car, anyway. She managed to pull out without backing over anything.

Two feet and a pane of glass. I haven’t been that close to a skunk since our honeymoon.



They did it!
Monday July 01st 2019, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Garden,Life

A great big pot of applesauce with a very small blond boy standing over it, grin big and hand wide as if about to do an exuberant splashdown into that tasty goop: it’s not my kid so I’m not putting his face here, but it was a great photo and it made my day.

I passed Ellen’s recommendation on to the mom of the Victorio Strainer so she doesn’t have to cut the seeds out next time, and then promptly ordered one myself so we could both use it when the Fujis come on. My mom used to have something like that all my growing up, only big, metal, and heavy,  essential to her for getting tomatoes to the right texture for chili sauce; my tomatoes have started turning color (bird netting was applied today) and I was feeling nostalgic. Mom, what’s your recipe? I know you told me thirty years ago…

Plus, all those apple seeds.

So we will try out that new toy and hopefully it will last for generations like Mom’s. Thank you, Ellen!



Jenna
Sunday June 30th 2019, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden,Life

Yellow Transparent apples. I wrote a little note detailing how we’d come to have such a tree–a dwarfing rootstock grow-back after the main tree had died–and what the little things were like.

Great for applesauce. Terrible keepers–three days at the max but only in the fridge, one to two on the counter. Mushy. Small. Once a big commercial variety, now very rare (with good reason) but if you want a cooked apple, they taste good.

And then I posted that on the ward chat.

One person responded, and she said that as a matter of fact she’d been thinking of making some applesauce; she’d love to bring her little boys and come pick apples, what a cool idea!

They were all hers.

I think, when she and her husband laid eyes on the tree, that they were maybe wishing they had some competition, but hey.

And so this young couple and two adorable little toddlers ages 1 and 3 were here this afternoon with their padded bag and together we picked those apples. I added a few Meyer lemons and newly-ripe plums, because I could.

The one-year-old picked up a Santa Rosa plum, took a bite, and tossed it.

I laughed and explained that if you pit them and blenderize them, the skins are tart but the interior is sweet and it makes an effect like tart cherry jam.

As they were leaving and I was thinking of all. those. little. apples. she was going to have to core and peel (they asked if I use the skins in apple sauce, and I said I do in apple butter) I stopped her going by my front door and asked her to wait just a moment.

I dashed inside, pulled out the electric apple peeler and asked if she’d like to borrow it for a week?

The relief in her voice as she said YES! Thank you!

–Yeah, I should have offered that from the get-go.



And thanks for all the cheese
Saturday June 29th 2019, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life,Lupus

Steve, owner of The Milk Pail, was offering raclette and other goodies and throwing a small impromptu party today at his much-loved shop, which closes forever tomorrow. There was the big bash with a band already, but he just wasn’t done saying goodbye to all the faces and stories he’d known for so many years, this place he’d put his life into.

Which meant these were hours when I knew he was going to be there.

I put on the sunblock and headed out. His wife and his daughters, too: they were all there.

And I only had the one. All this time I’ve been baby blanket knitting, ~90 hours’ worth of work so far, and I wanted to have four made. But I’m a do-one-project-till-it’s-done knitter, aside from the purse-friendly carry-arounds. Which this was, so at least my good intentions got that far: one would do when one was what I had.

And so, in memory of all that he’s given the community–Milk Pail has been an institution for 45 years–and of the good fight we fought together at City Hall, and most of all for the gift of his friendship and great example of how to be a truly decent human being, I gave him a handknit hat.

They loved it, all of them, because his happiness was theirs and I loved them for it.

Who now is going to put up a big sign in their grocery store saying this is their personal cost of a 25 pound bag of oats and if you put it on your bill, they will then deliver it to the local soup kitchen? Who is going to throw community cheese parties and melt that raclette right out of its rind onto your waiting bread? Where else can you order Thai Curry Cheddar (or even find out that it’s a thing?)

I could not let him retire without a bit of my knitting, I just couldn’t.



With a cherry on top
Friday June 28th 2019, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,LYS

Hung out at Fillory aka Green Planet Yarns and saw–Renee! We did a mutual double take in disbelief and then big hugs and it was great to see her and catch up a bit. We met when I was doing a book signing at Warren‘s yarn shop in Marin a dozen years ago, with a Stitches or two thrown in since.

Meantime, the pie is all gone and there are enough tart cherries for two more.

My my. Whatever shall we do.

(Burning the crust just meant we could skip the empty calories part, we figured. So: the new silicone crust-edge cover? Yeah no.)



Thursday the multiple 13s
Thursday June 27th 2019, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Family,Politics

By the time we booked our reservation at our favorite major-celebrations restaurant only the 8:00 slot was left.

Which meant being able to watch the entire second debate first.

Which definitely gave us a topic of conversation over our dinner.



For every spring forever after
Wednesday June 26th 2019, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden,Life

The friend who got a Blenheim apricot tree as a housewarming present sent me a picture of her tree with beautiful yellow fruit on it and told me she’d let her kids pick the first and ripest today and how joyful an experience it was for them all.

It completely, totally made my day.



Hi, Lori, here it is
Tuesday June 25th 2019, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

I talked to an old friend briefly and she wanted to know what I’d been working on of late. I invited her over here to come see.

And then realized I’ve talked about cherries and hawks but it’s been awhile since I’ve showed pictures of the afghan I started last month. Nothing has changed except length, of course, and the pictures don’t show the depth the cables give it, but it’s slowly getting there and I’m quite pleased with it.

Also a bit ready to go work on something different soon, even while I know I’ll miss working on this once it’s done.



Five pounds and more still on it
Monday June 24th 2019, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden

I procrastinated picking them: I wanted my sister- and brother-in-law to see my little tree at its prettiest.

Which turned out to be a good thing, because I didn’t know just how deep a red those tart cherries could get to nor how big they could be nor just how good. After all, I’d only ever gotten a few in the tree’s young life and those had been picked early (it turns out) while trying to thwart the birds.

All I can guess is that putting sunflower seeds in the feeder for the first time in several years enticed them to eat that instead of my cherries; there were very few bites and the tree was loaded like it has never been before and it stayed loaded. Give it a few years’ growth and I’m going to have to ask friends to come help pick some for themselves. I don’t think they’ll mind. Fresh tart cherries are very rare in California–for a hundred years it was a given that there weren’t enough chill hours to grow them here.

Actually, some varieties, it turns out, you can. English Morello for the win.



Thank you Mathias
Sunday June 23rd 2019, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

A two year old started randomly yelling in the middle of church today insisting he wanted a donut and got taken outside a moment by his mom to be shushed, along with a couple of other toddlers who chimed in. I mean, who wouldn’t want donuts? Where were their donuts?

Which is how his mom and those few others saw the arsonist setting the fire that was starting to whoosh up the dry hillside right to where there was a chapel full of people who had no idea what was happening behind them. It came close.

Everybody is okay. We are praying hard that the guy is somehow caught and stopped.

Out of the mouths of babes, oh Lord, Thou has perfected praise.



Into the woods
Saturday June 22nd 2019, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Twisty, windy, blind-curved mountain roads, past Alice’s Restaurant in La Honda where there were motorcycles parked everywhere and across the intersection and a sign said, loudly, HAM RADIO operators something-something and I looked at the resident ham with a question mark but no, he doesn’t even ride a motorcycle…

And then the state park we had come for. Redwoods like Muir Woods without the distance nor the crush of summer people.

My brother-in-law was admiring a set of giants just after the four of us got out of the car and gave a chuckle when I told them that a circle of redwood trunks like that is called a fairy circle. (Right. They’re so dainty, aren’t they?) They all come up from the same set of roots, and, (coming on to the next one) see this bit of growth at the bottom? That’ll be the next one. All part of the same entity.

There’s no knowing how long ago this one played Hulk! Smash! on its way down, but somehow the bottom of it looks like a wild boar to me.

Or maybe that’s just its tutu?



Happy Solstice
Friday June 21st 2019, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Knit

Since I am alternating rows to blend dye lots, I am now on skeins 13 and 14, at, unstretched, about 49″ square.

I had to pick something up the other day that I knew was going to be good and heavy–and to my surprise it wasn’t so much this time.

I guess all those dozens and dozens of hours of lifting and moving and shifting all that wool in my lap as I worked across those rows is paying off!



It finally let me take its picture
Thursday June 20th 2019, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

The new Cooper’s hawks are finally starting to get a little more comfortable with our watching them.

If they have hungry kids to feed and we have their dinner waiting that probably offers some incentive, but in the meantime I’ve done my best to radiate love and gratitude for their presence (while averting my eyes often enough so as not to be challenging them) in hopes that somehow a wild thing could feel that. Can’t hurt.

I dunno, all I know is I’m suddenly seeing them three days in a row and this one was comfortable with my not only moving but putting a dark object in front of my face. First time ever.

It landed after everything had scattered. It started strolling innocently past the bushes, looked over its shoulder, went away from the birdnetting over the mandarin tree and closer to the coffeeberries, and then stuck its head far into the space it could not otherwise fit into.

About thirty seconds into that, a finch freaked, somehow made it past it, and tried so hard to zig zag out of there that the hawk almost did a twirl in its pursuit, wings and tail wide open.

A mighty wingbeat towards the right and then, as always, the roof of the house broke my view and cliffhangered the ending.



She was named by a kindergarten class in San Francisco
Wednesday June 19th 2019, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

A quick note re the San Jose City Hall peregrine falcons, long of interest to me because I used to be one of the falcon-cam volunteers: Clara’s been the matriarch of that nest for fourteen years.

It seems like just about every year there’s a fly-by by some other falcon looking for a good spot, and Clara and her mates have been swift to fend them off and away from the 18th floor enclosed HVAC ledge that provides such a perfect spot for their eyases to hatch, grow, explore, and take off from.

Her mates have been fought off and replaced from time to time by other males, but Clara’s ruled the roost since that building was built.

The last two years she laid four eggs but one didn’t hatch. She was getting older. There were more confrontations with intruders testing for potential takeovers than in the past.

This year’s three young had fledged successfully and were just starting to learn the ropes of handing off food mid-air from their parents, with the next step being to learn how to hunt their own before their parents would stop feeding them.

Which hopefully all happened/is happening. But suddenly all five of them, parents and young, were banished, and a banded falcon soon identified as Grace from San Francisco’s 2016 nest had claimed the territory along with her unbanded, unnamed-as-yet mate. This was just too good a territory to pass up–nice and high and all the pigeons you could ever ask for–and clearly they’d been willing to fight for it.

How many of those previous intrusions were these two one can only guess.

Here’s a video of Grace, above, while the tiercel (ie the male) inspects the nest box, going, Yes. Yes. Yes this will do, uh huh. Nice *paint job. Like the gravel flooring. Sold!

The kicker is that both yesterday and today a pair of pigeons flew into that nest box and settled in as if they owned the place. They never would have dared around Clara–they would have been dinner.

Breeding season being effectively over, the new peregrines seem not to have entirely moved in yet after the closing.

 

*An in-joke. The splashes of white from all those babies over the years is referred to as peregrine paint among the local watchers. The fascinating thing is that from the moment they can wobble on their brand new legs the eyases poop as far away from where they nest as possible.



Purple Wonders
Tuesday June 18th 2019, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden

I have just a trio of strawberry plants in a planter as an experiment; they were a bit of a splurge and I wanted to see how they would do before I got more. Starting in January or February we get the occasional amuse-bouche from them: one for you, one for me. Or maybe we split an only. They aren’t terribly big.

June, though, is a strawberry’s favorite month.

My sister-in-law wanted to see how the yard looks like these days, so once the sun got low we did a little walk-around, her face lighting up again and again as I said our first pomegranates ever were beginning, our first good crop of tart cherries is about ready, we’ve got tomatoes kind of scattered around to test where the sun is best like the one hiding behind that sweet cherry over there.

She didn’t remember that we had a mango, and was intrigued.

Mandarin, cherry, peach, lemon, plum, fig, apple, pear…

“Is this where you fell?”

“Stepping over that, yes.”

Coming back she glanced at that pot, saw what I had not and exclaimed, “Oh! Strawberries!” A red one was peeking out from the leaves, and I lifted the netting tent off and handed it to her, looked around and found two more. That would make one for Richard, one for her, one for me.

I was going to take them inside and rinse them first (one pretends to be proper when one has company) but hers looked clean and she popped it right in her mouth, just like I do.

She stopped right there with a look on her face almost to pain. I was suddenly afraid she’d gotten a bad one–there’s a reason they call them straw berries and I don’t have any straw. I’ve lost a few to them sinking into the dirt and looking perfect on top while rotting out the bottom after a watering.

Quite unsure, I asked, “Is it good?”

She swooned. “Now THAT. Is a STRAWBERRY!!!”

Which is how she got the other two.