Lockdown day four
Thursday March 19th 2020, 9:07 pm
Filed under: Non-Knitting

Passing on something that made me laugh in surprise.

Rarely am I up to date on movies but this one I’ve actually seen. (Okay, released in 2011. Close enough.)

Rapunzel was forced to shelter in place alone, and in Disney’s Tangled, got a husband out of it.

And the name of the nearby town?

Corona.



Lockdown day three
Wednesday March 18th 2020, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden

Knitted a little, should have done a lot more.

Last year’s volunteer Sungold tomato plant, bursting into bloom all over after the rains, hanging off the remains of the one that would have been four years old had it made it through another winter. I guess it didn’t mind being a toddler but it did not want to sign up for preschool.

A close-up on the Indian Free peach.

This being pick-up day, I happened to step outside to bring the bins back from the curb at about 4:00 and saw my neighbor several houses away. She waved her arms and shouted hello and I waved back and it felt wonderful to see another human being out there. We’re all a little starved for contact.

And while everybody’s working from home and relying on their networks, Comcast went out. This post via my phone.



Lockdown day two
Tuesday March 17th 2020, 10:32 pm
Filed under: Food,Knitting a Gift

I finished the hat. I found a red cowl I’d forgotten starting and got some work done on that, too, in Lisa Souza’s hand-dyed cashmere. How anybody could forget that I don’t know. It’s a very nice yarn.

This evening, the sudden quiet was almost startling when we turned the melanger off. Time to cool and pour the finished chocolate into the new molds.

Yonder geek husband had a new toy to try out. We have one of those laser thermometer readers, and he had the latest and greatest version with a flickering graph giving you sixty-four points of data instead of the one little red dot.

It was revelatory.

It read at five degrees celsius cooler than the old thermometer. Wow.

Which explains why the chocolate was almost setting in the bowl while the old thermometer was saying it was too hot to pour yet. It was clear to me it wasn’t. It wasn’t. And since adding any pre-tempered cocoa butter to make all the chocolate crystals align right is highly dependent on getting that temperature just so, well, we’ll see in the morning when we start unmolding the bars to see what we’ve got.

But so far, it looks like the best tempered batch we’ve ever made. New toy for the win!

Supply note: Esmeraldas cocoa nibs from The Chocolate Alchemist. Who has a photo of a chocolate Easter bunny with a white chocolate face mask on, the link to the artist who made it for him, and says the guy might make more that way if we ask him (he was hoping out loud for people to help the guy’s small business in the current environment.)

I have a favorite doctor. I’m tempted.



Lockdown day one
Monday March 16th 2020, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

The six-county San Francisco Bay area is, as of this afternoon, essentially on lockdown: we can go to the doctor, the pharmacy, the grocery store, we can hire a plumber if need be and the plumber can come, but otherwise we are to stay home. Period. Till April 7.

There is a race on to hire delivery people and shelf stockers, with one company offering health benefits and sick leave even if the jobs turn out to be only as long as the pandemic, I’m sure those being a necessary component in the face of the incurred risks they’re asking people to take on.

I ordered a bar and some two-ingredient peanut butter cups from Dandelion Chocolates just to do my small part to help keep one of my favorite places afloat (the pastries in their shop! And it’s right around the corner from Imagiknit!) And because I’m curious: how good is something with no sugar and no salt, just peanuts and fresh 100% chocolate? I have a diabetic brother and I want to know, but if anyone could pull it off, they could.

And then, having perused their list of chocolate bars for longer than maybe was good for me and as a sign of our definitely doing better–we hadn’t done this since before Christmas and we were way overdue. I asked and he grinned and two pounds of Esmeraldas cacao nibs got roasted, Cuisinarted, and thrown in the melanger. An hour later I added .6 lb extrafine sugar; I figure we’ll come out about 78%-ish.

It’s just at the beginning so it’s slightly gritty, but I dipped a spoon in about an hour into it and man. That was good.

Dandelion sells Esmeraldas at two different sweetness options. Just saying.

And only then did I ask Richard if we were going to need to unplug the machine and run for the bathroom counter tomorrow while he has his conference calls with work. Plug it back in quick and shut the door? Because that thing is noisy.

That, he decided, was a problem he was going to be okay with having. We would see when we got there. But hey–homemade chocolate!

And all because Dandelion wrote this book that got us started.



Living the generational golden rule
Sunday March 15th 2020, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Knit

Blueberry flowers and an imperfectly-lit nighttime photo of how the afghan’s pattern looks spread out, as requested.

There was a note on the neighborhood site yesterday from someone saying that she’d gone to do her grocery shopping and saw an elderly couple sitting in their car, not moving, not getting out, and how they looked was such that she went over to ask them if they were okay.

The place was jammed. (There were reports of three hour lines over at the local Costco.) They were old and vulnerable to exposure and they didn’t dare get out and didn’t know what on earth they were going to do. She was quite happy to go in and do their shopping for them and load up their car, so glad that she was there at the right time so as to be able to help.

There had to be so many others in the same boat…

So she wrote about it to all whom that site might reach, offering a sign-up sheet: who needed help? Who was willing to do the shopping of their neighbors in need so they could stay quarantined?

People answered saying they were in tears. So grateful to her. So grateful to all those signing up to help. So grateful to get to be able to be one of those signing up.

I wanted to pass that idea along.



So not my orange. But it’s someone else’s.
Saturday March 14th 2020, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift

1. The mango is starting to set fruit, and not only that but at the time of year it’s actually supposed to. My little tree is growing up.

2. The silk color was called geranium, and it definitely earned that.

They sold it as a knitted tube that looked like a flat tape yarn. I expected it to stretch, since loosely spun silk does, but it wasn’t the spinning of it that had the looseness and it did in fact shrink somewhat when I washed the mill oils out in hot water.

For now. The weight of it is such that it will probably grow longer/wider in time. Either way, it’s all good.

 What surprised me is how much the look of the yarn changed: it went from flat to round and the tube announced itself. The stitch at the peak of each arrow repeat, though, flattens going over the other two stitches. I really like the effect.

And this only took half the cone.



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.



Joe ByeDon
Thursday March 12th 2020, 9:45 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

He laid out in detail what should be being done, what will be done under him, and invited Trump to follow up on his suggestions–he didn’t care nor need the credit for it, he just wanted the right thing done.

C-Span link: I’d almost forgotten what it looks like to see someone Presidenting.



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.



Buddy, can you sparrow a time?
Tuesday March 10th 2020, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

The sky was so blue, the clouds so white, and the flowers in the Bradford pear such soft cottonballs: I stepped outside several times today to see if my iPhone could do them justice but this is the best I got.

A small bird was at the end of a branch nearest me watching me, and it flew left as I came down the walkway. Suddenly from within the flowers and beginning foliage, a second one burst out of there after it, both of them too fast for me to see what they were.

The leaves are finally coming out and their young will finally have the safety of some concealment. I’d been worrying about the activity I’d seen when the trees weren’t ready for them yet. The warmth starting earlier in the year than it used to does not seem to be affecting flora and fauna the same.

There were two nests in plain view against the stark limbs last week. Now only one is easy to spot. And those two–sparrows, I think they were, appear to be ready to run with it.



So glad I planted this
Monday March 09th 2020, 9:01 pm
Filed under: Garden

The Frost peach.

The mystery to me is that you need sunlight to trigger flowering, and this tree in the corner seems to get the least direct sun of any of them. And yet, despite the fact that I only planted it a year ago, it is the mostly densely flowered of them all.

It just wants to be what it was meant to be.



The Alphonso
Sunday March 08th 2020, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Mango tree

Flowers, fragrant flowers everywhere. At least one honeybee  found its way through the door.

I found more new buds this morning, which means they’ll be coming ripe at staggered times rather than all in a rush at once.



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.)



Totally tubular
Friday March 06th 2020, 11:39 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I had some silk yarn that had been knitted into a tube, tape style, and started swatching it today. The size 8s were really too small; 9s (5.5mm) came out a lot better.

It surprised me how fast my arms got tired but I got two hours in anyway, my first knitting in almost three weeks. Man, it felt good to see something new coming to be and anticipating who would love it. It felt like it had been forever.



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.