It’s purse-onal
Thursday July 19th 2018, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Life

When my mom worked in the English department of my high school, there was an assignment of vocabulary words that the kids were to put into sentences.

Which is how on one kid’s paper a damsel in distress cried down from the tower to the knight in shining armor, Frugal me! Frugal me!

(Frugal, the dictionary said: to save. The kid hadn’t read past that.)


So. This has seen newer days.

But the cheap black leather purse I had bought at Costco for my father-in-law’s funeral (because this one just would not do), the one whose strap edges frayed badly at ten days (the price sank to $20 after reviews piled up), had one strap rip out altogether a few weeks ago.

I went back to my favorite. The one embossed with those knitted cables on that soft, substantial leather. The most awesome big purse a knitter could ever hope for. I hadn’t realized how much I’d been missing it, shabby though it had begun to look.

My longtime dry cleaner was landlorded out last month (a developer had made the owner a better offer) and I needed to find me a new one.

I deliberately chose the one next door to the shoe repair place halfway across town.

But did not go in.

Today was when the dry cleaning was to be picked up and I told myself, okay, now or never. You need to know. (I think the bigger hurdle was that I was going to have to do without it for however long.) I went in that other door.

I’m a knitter, I told the guy, putting my purse on his counter so he could see that side, and I love my old purse. I even wrote a knitting book. I’ve been using this for three years. It’s me. Can you rescue it?

He saw those cables and thought it was a really cool piece of leatherwork.

And see here? The only inner pocket it has is this plastic one and it’s broken. If I wanted to have you make it a new lining with a zippered pocket on one side and open pockets on the other, could you do that?

Now, I know this guy has a bit of a reputation for being gruff but in that moment he was anything but. Yes, he said with great pride, wanting to do this for me, he could. He would clean it and touch up the dye, too; that would be $45 and then we could talk about the other.

I think he wanted to see my reaction to that number. I was already figuring a complete reconstruction of the interior and fixing of the exterior was probably going to run me about what I’d paid for the bag in the first place, but there is no replacing it. As Richard said to me later, He’s got to charge $100 an hour in this town just to break even.

I didn’t have anything to put all my stuff in, I told him, but I would be back. And I meant it.

Sometimes you just gotta do right by an old friend.

And if you ever hear of a good leather purse with knitting designs embossed in it, please tell me. I know this one will someday go the way of all the earth after all I can do.

Quoth the raven, Nevermore. Nor a first helping either.
Wednesday July 18th 2018, 9:32 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

I did a doubletake this morning: how on earth did THAT get there?!

Maybe it was a possum or raccoon hunting a mouse hiding under the frost cover?  It had been dragged a good way across the patio and was chewed on and peed on where whatever it was had finally freed its leg from it.

Or maybe its dinner.

Meanwhile, over at the August Pride tree with ripening peaches, I had bird netting pushed in on one side (I’ve learned not to put it on top of a growing tree–peaches have scrawny limbs and they grow too deformed with the netting) and frost covers that had been dragged to catch as many burr-type weed seeds as possible, tucked around the trunk to keep critters from having firm ground to stand on much less any kind of comfortable. Lots of stabby acanthus stalks for good measure.

It ain’t pretty but you can barely see it from the windows, so there’s that (or so I tell myself. Don’t look.) Note the (stuffed) crow standing guard, no longer ‘dead’ but perched on top of the, um, valance. The squirrels have definitely been avoiding its threatening beak even though it hasn’t moved for days. They don’t even want to run down the fence line in its direction: a few steps and then a freak-out and a leap towards the neighbors, again and again. It’s very gratifying. There are no peck marks in the fruit, either.

Clearly a living dead crow works better than a dead dead crow.

One frost cover there had been trampled last night, too, a branch broken most of the way off the tree–but all thirteen peaches are still there. It’s a small crop on a small tree but I’ve worked hard for it.

Rock a bye baby… Something probably did not have fun landing on those stalks. They are the porcupines of the landscaping.

I added a lot more acanthus and some of the dog fur my friend Kathy had given me a few months ago for nesting birds.

The peaches took on more yellow today. I even gave one a slight, wistful tug, but no, August is their name and August is what they want. They’re supposed to look like this.

Two more weeks. Wish me luck.


p.s. Pachelbel’s Canon played with rubber chickens. Because of course.

Take your time
Tuesday July 17th 2018, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

I had nothing ready. No portable project. My doctor appointment was in 40 minutes, c’mon, just pick something! I grabbed my one-and- only-ever cone of now-sold-out lavender Piuma and needles–no stash hoarding for you! Use it!

I got there early, signed in and cast on.

They apologized that the doctor was running 45 minutes late; I motioned towards my yarn and said, You’ve got twenty hours before I get antsy. For that matter, if someone’s appointment is after mine but they’re in a hurry they’re welcome to go ahead of me.

The guy laughed and clearly his day was suddenly a whole lot better.

It was just warming up to us
Monday July 16th 2018, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Life

I glugged two gallons of milk down the sink and threw out the fresh wild salmon. (With apologies to the fish that died for that non-meal.)

Note to self: check the fridge before bed every night to make sure that silly door didn’t bounce open again.

Pot, meet soil
Sunday July 15th 2018, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Garden

There were a few of the sour cherries left that were well past due.

I found this one flying the green flag of surrender today. It charms me more than I can say.

Him: Are you going to let it grow?

Me: Of course!

Almost endless
Saturday July 14th 2018, 11:09 pm
Filed under: Knit

Back to the long-neglected baby afghan.

A question for the knitters: if you had to have four stitches out of every twenty-five in a second color nine times over, would you make nine bobbins to dangle and tangle? Or would you carry the yarn all the way across back and forth? Note that I am compulsive about twisting across the back of every stitch while doing fair isle, so that’s an intensive amount of untangling anyway.

I started with the bobbin idea. I ditched it after the first color change and went with the carrying but I’m second-guessing myself constantly. Bobbins would make a less dense fabric, less warm. They live in San-fer-cryin’-out-loud-Diego.

Right now it’s nice and thick and almost baby-proof. And very very slow going.

Someone’s about to get her choice of oranges
Friday July 13th 2018, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

Pattern: same old same old potato chip knitting.

Sixty-six grams out of my hundred and fifty and a generous-sized scarf you could actually wear on a summer’s cooling evening around here with plenty left to make a second one. It wasn’t quite done when Constance was here; she said it wasn’t quite dark nor red enough of a shade for her and she chose the deep teal green hat instead.

Color being everything.

The yarn is 65/35 cashmere/silk, exquisitely soft, but the version I bought was cobweb weight and thus very much on sale. Not a lot of people hand knit cobweb straight up. A shawl can be made out of a thicker yarn than that and still be fine enough to pull through a wedding ring.

So I paid Colourmart the $5 fee to twist it into a balanced (I did the math to see how many yards I wanted it to come out to) twelve-ply rather than fussing with it on my wheel. Well spent. I knit it before I scoured the mill oils out–I could just picture thousands of yards felting into each other coming out of the bath and trying to pry it all apart. Let’s not.

Unwashed, it split easily and drove me a bit nuts but I knew I would love it when I was done.

And oh I do. This is glorious. All those strands have settled down now into a proper yarn, and I wish I could hold it out through the screen for you to touch it.

I like things a little redder and darker, too, though. I’ll just have to give this one away. Such a shame.

Excuse me, is there an ant in my hair?
Thursday July 12th 2018, 9:25 pm
Filed under: Mango tree

The mango tree is taking another try at production, July being warmer and more inviting than November was. The first spray of blooms is fading out and eight tiny green fruits have taken hold there, while new clusters are popping open behind.

One problem was ants chomping on the flowers, with the cinnamon being less of a deterrent than it seemed to have been in the past. And I don’t want to chase away bees. So I tried something else: I cut a strip of paper, put it around the tree, and twisted some packaging tape over it twice around so that the insects’ feet would get stuck in the tape.

Only they don’t: I watched them while watering the other trees, and they turned around from it before they even got up to it. I’m good with that.

(Next time, though, tie my hair back first before inspecting those blossoms and picking them out of there. Just sayin’.)

Bleaching fast. Send bird poop.
Wednesday July 11th 2018, 9:51 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

It was one of those headlines that makes you go, Wait, *what*?

But what would be the best way to fix the problem? Rats are wily. I’m thinking maybe neutered feral cats, perhaps older ones to shorten the number of years till they too are gone and the natural order can be restored.

Save the coral. Kill the rats. These really are connected. Who knew.

Give them a Break
Tuesday July 10th 2018, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Life

I got my new ear molds for my hearing aids, but driving out towards the main road afterwards, realized I’d forgotten to pick up new batteries there and I was on my last one.

I never go down to the last one. Usually.

There was no place between there and the freeway to turn around so I kept going, thinking, okay, then, this is a Costco day. Richard had something he’d wanted me to pick up anyway and those batteries are really cheap there.

While I was in Costco my left aid did the loud beep they do to tell me the battery is on its last legs. Sometimes you get one beep, sometimes you get several at several-minute intervals, the record is five over a half hour and then there’s a little melodramatic “I’m dying!” musical octave in your ear and the thing turns itself off.

I got the batteries. The second beep. A third at a red light. The rest of the groceries were way back in the trunk but I had that one package right there and I reached for the thing and quickly wrestled one of the six eight-packs out of there and grabbed a battery and tried to put it in the aid before the light turned.


It was a 13. I use size 312. I’d gotten the wrong ones and I’d already opened the thing. Dang. Well, the cold things needed to be put away.

There were tree service guys almost blocking my driveway, and they chuckled as I took a minute to get out of my car. (Not. Finding. A loose good one in there.) They were done  and they were enjoying the break.

I said to them, You don’t know anyone who has any use for hearing aid batteries, do you?

The one guy tried to tell me Costco would still take them back.

It was my mistake and I did open it, so no, I’m not comfortable doing that.

Well, he considered: his watch does take that size. He turned to the other guy, who had no interest in them, and laughed that his watch would last forever now!

I don’t like to drive without my ears. I ended up searching an old purse and coming up with two old batteries. One worked. It was such a relief.

So, having no choice, I drove back to Costco.

“You’re back!”

I grabbed a 12-pack of Balanced Breaks. They’re little packages that have bite size squares of cheddar on one side and a mix of toasted cashews and just sweetened enough cranberries mixed together on the other side; a little fruit, a little protein, 180 calories each.

Because driving out of the parking lot that first time I’d passed a woman and two kids and she was holding up a sign and I had done nothing. With families pleading for help finding their children torn from their arms at the border and put in cages who knows where, ignoring someone in need is just a little too raw right now.

But I hadn’t planned for that and my groceries were in the trunk and there was a long line of cars behind me: fishing for something that would work for someone without refrigeration that I didn’t think I had anyway… I couldn’t make it work.

It bugged me all the way home with King Benjamin’s words in my ears. Mosiah 4:12-30:


12 And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.

13 And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due.

14 And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness.

15 But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.

16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.

17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—

18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?

20 And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.

21 And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.

22 And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done.

23 I say unto you, wo be unto that man, for his substance shall perish with him; and now, I say these things unto those who are rich as pertaining to the things of this world.

24 And again, I say unto the poor, ye who have not and yet have sufficient, that ye remain from day to day; I mean all you who deny the beggar, because ye have not; I would that ye say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give.


I’ve read those words many many times.

And I have plenty.

What could I get that would work for them… Wondering was immediately met with answering. I went back to that store, passing that small group on my way into the parking lot–still there–glad now that I’d goofed on that battery size. I grabbed the food first, then the 312s, and put them beside me on the front seat of the car. I figured if they left before I could reach them again, well, hey, it’s something we like, no problem. (Photo of the few we had left at home.)

I rolled the passenger window down early in anticipation.

This time, the guy in front of me stopped and handed the woman some money. Earlier, car after car had just kept on going as if they weren’t there. Including, of course, me.

She looked at me hopefully: I was looking at them. I handed her that double-set of a box, and like every mother everywhere, she gave it first to the children to eat and they were clearly glad to have it.

Yeah. Yeah. Wow. And to think how close I came to missing, half-knowingly missing just what that moment came to be.

The friend who always said, “Color is everything”
Monday July 09th 2018, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Knitting a Gift

Michelle flew home yesterday, Constance drove the four hours home this afternoon and the house is very very quiet. Gotta give those belly-laugh muscles some time to recuperate–they got a great workout.

Constance had brought me a quart of honey from her hives. Bee barf, one of my kids used to call it after a biology lesson in middle school. Yum.

The green Malabrigo hat that came home with me from the trip to Salt Lake because it just hadn’t found out who it was for?

That shade of green? It found out who it was for.

From gold country
Sunday July 08th 2018, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends

Michelle’s flown home–and my old friend Constance arrived.

You know the kind of friend who is kind, who is thoughtful, and who keeps you laughing nonstop? Everybody needs a Constance.

One of the first things she said, was, I want to see my grandtree! She’s the one who had grown up with a Babcock peach, who when I was trying to figure out what to plant told me it was the best peach ever. My family had picked Babcocks at a pick-your-own when I was a kid, and between the two of us I was sold on the idea.

It’s my smallest peach tree but it’s a pretty one.

The critters beat her to the last of its fruit by two days, though; we’ll just have to make this an annual trip.

Well that works
Saturday July 07th 2018, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

They bought strawberries and I bought strawberries and the best way to shrink their footprint in the fridge is to puree them. Such a problem to have.

A lemon off the tree, and, strawberry sorbet for the last night of Michelle’s trip!

The old neighborhood
Friday July 06th 2018, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Dinner and dishes were over.

I grabbed the kitchen trash on impulse (yeah Richard likes to do it but it was getting a bit heavy–see the “did you know you broke your back?” post: there was a reason it’s been giving him grief) and I headed out with it.

The young family just down the street were out with their little boys on their trikes and waved hi. The little boys pedaled over to me in great enthusiasm and once they got all the way to me realized I looked taller from here and words failed them. They looked shyly up.

They were adorable. The younger one ditched his wheels after a moment and he still wobbles a bit when he walks, but still, where did the babyhoods go?

The mom complimented me on my bright pleated maxi skirt and I laughed: I don’t usually play dress-up to take out the trash, I told her, but I dropped a gallon of milk and drenched everything and just thought, hey, that one matches my shirt, sure, why not?

I looked at the older boy’s helmet. Hey! It matches my shirt too! as I held my turquoise arm out to his turquoise head. He was very proud of his helmet.

I told his mom of the time one of my kids flipped her bike at 13, broke her helmet, and rolled with enough force still to break her shoulder and how the grandmotherly neighbor down the street we hadn’t yet met ran to her and got her phone number out of her as she lay in the street and called me. I jumped into the car, came around the corner, and–oh! Right there!

That neighbor became a great friend to my daughter ever after.

Part of me was wondering as we chatted, how on earth did I get old enough to be the grandmotherly one now?

Meantime, that milk had beaded up on my shoes and it looked like it could be rinsed away and I’m hoping that that was enough to save my felted-wool Birkenstocks with the leather buckle. I love those and they don’t make them anymore.

Good thing we still, how I don’t know, have a good cobbler in this overpriced town should it come to that–not that I need him for this, just, it’s good to know that if I had to he’s there.

Because after cleaning the fridge over two days, I had had to clean the inside of the fridge, the outside of the fridge, the shoes, the floor, and mopped the floor again for good measure and thrown my blue skirt in the wash, when I… dropped the spinach paneer across the floor.

And cleaned that up.

There was still enough food for dinner.

But that is why I grabbed that trash and hauled it out of there: I was going to clean something and by golly this time it was going to STAY clean. Because I’m the mom. And I said so.

The bag graciously did not break.

Additional updates applied
Thursday July 05th 2018, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Knit

WordPress had a botched upgrade which hit many sites including this one.  I did some surgery yesterday to get the site back, and another update just a minute ago that appears to have succeeded.  Hopefully things are now working better than they were.