The casting on part
Friday April 14th 2017, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life

One and a half to two feet apart, the garden guide said.

I dug seven holes for my tomato seedlings a little closer than that tonight, tucked back there in the side yard. I stood back to assess: having thoroughly gophered the area, I needed half a dozen more if I’m going to plant all those little jiffy cups (some are already in bigger pots) and where on earth are they going to go? Blues, Sungolds, Pink Brandywine…

Marigolds around them, the stinkiest ones you can find, are supposed to deter squirrels but mine are still in seed form. I don’t think that counts.

Sure, you lose some tomato plants or at least I lose some tomato plants every year in the early stages (three out of my four blues are already gone) when the snails like them (I have copper tape for that now) and the squirrels take an experimental chomp and then spit the broken bits out. (Grrr.) Still. Thirteen survivors? I may have overdone this.

I gave the spade another good strong push and accidentally bounced the handle off my face. (Not too hard.) I ran out of daylight. Plant tomorrow. I’m done.

——–

(I posted this and then went to see if Stephanie had posted yet.

She had. She had found the words at last. That is a love letter for the ages to bless us all.)



Trying to scare up a little dinner for them?
Thursday April 13th 2017, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus,Mango tree,Wildlife

That time before sundown, when the squirrels have turned in for the night and the birds have the feeder area to themselves. When the UV level is zero and the outdoors is mine. I really like it.

It’s also when the temps start dropping enough that it’s time to go cover the mango tree for the night.

There are two steps to this: the first, covering the top of the two stakes with bubble wrap rolled and taped together, both to protect the frost covers from tearing on the ends and to lift the covers above the close-to-budding parts of the tree–they are growing straight up now but will droop down later to support their (hoped-for) fruit as it grows. (No President’s Day storms to whip them all off the tree this time, okay?)

I opened the door to start the preliminaries, scattering a dove and a junco. As I walked across the yard, I saw a large gray wide-winged bird well overhead, flying from the direction of the redwood in Neighbor A’s yard across us to the silk oak in Neighbor B’s yard.

Several years ago my kids gave me a Cornell Labs book for Christmas that not only listed American bird species, it had a recording for each, and the one for the Cooper’s hawk was said to be of one defending its territory or nest. (From a researcher wielding a mic, no doubt.)

A prolonged protest as I neared the mango, which stands next to where the hawks like to perch on the fence: it let me have it.

And I *heard* it!!! It was pitched two notes higher than Cornell’s but that sequence and length were unmistakable. (From Wikipedia: the males are higher-pitched than the females. Curious.)

I walked back across the yard and likely out of its sight under the awning, then reappeared again with the first frost cover and walked back towards the little tree–and again it demanded I know that I was intruding and this would not do. And I imagine it wanted its dove back.

It was coming from the redwood tree, quite close. So there were two present, then. Cool.

I got the cover over, then the second, but decided I would check the weather report and put off doing the third layer for now and let them be. (I did end up adding it later–it’s cold out there.)

After all this time I finally got to hear my Cooper’s hawks! And I think I know where they’ve moved their nest to this year, now. Away, at last, from where the corvids congregate when the silk oak is feeding them while the hawk chicks are being raised. Good.



Joel Drucker
Wednesday April 12th 2017, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus

We had a speaker at our lupus group today: Joel Drucker, there to talk about his experiences with his wife having had lupus, the ways in which they coped–together–

–until.

He coped with her death by putting her into writing and continues to heal now by sharing his story with others. (And by the way, if you see this, Joel, that quote from Dr. Rachel Remen my brain blanked out on? “Meaning is the language of the soul.”)

He had close friends who’d known his wife and would have had every incentive to read his book, and yet. They just couldn’t quite…

He knew that we wouldn’t be put off by it, and he was right. One woman said, We have faced death many times and come back, and heads nodded around the room.

(Me, I just have to find out where our long-misplaced Kindle is so I can finally read it.)

My childhood friend Karen years ago gave Richard a copy of Mainstay, by Maggie Strong. Strong, whose husband had MS, wrote that there were many books out there for those who are ill but she’d found nothing for those who love them, for those who are their caregivers on one level and yet are trying to still maintain a co-equal balance in a marriage.

At one point Joel said that after (if I heard right) seven years, it was thinkable at last to consider remarrying. And yet, all those shared memories: no new relationship could have those.

“It would be like stepping into the middle,” I said.

“Exactly!”

And yet. I told him that he was a deeply good man and he would do well when he did take that step.

He looked at me, taking in the measure of what I’d just said. “You met me forty-five minutes ago and you’re saying that about me?” (Like, how do you know I’m good?)

Joan had loved him that much. And I had just been learning how much he loved Joan. Case closed.



Turn a route is fare, pay
Tuesday April 11th 2017, 10:32 pm
Filed under: History,Life,Lupus,Politics

If you can stand another United story to go with all the others out there after they beat up a doctor for refusing to be bounced from a flight because he said he needed to see his patients in the hospital in the morning. Two days later he was still in the hospital himself. (United’s own carrier contract I am told says that once you’re boarded in your reserved seat it’s yours.)

“Because it arrived at the time you wanted.”

That was the excuse United gave me for what they’d done.

Remember that bit of a whine over the price of the airfare to San Diego for this past weekend? When I was booking tickets a month ago, I blinked at Southwest’s cheapest “Wanna Get Away” fare that was over twice the usual and googled to see what else might be out there.

United’s fare was better. Huh. Okay, so I typed in the specific airports I wanted to leave from and go to, SJC to SAN, and what time I wanted to get to San Diego by: the kids had wanted Grampa to see Parker’s 9:00 game. (Grandma here crashed on the couch for that, safely out of the sun and needing that nap and everybody understood.)

Top of the page their site took me to, it said San Jose to San Diego in big letters, with a list of flights below. Alright, then. Did I want to buy insurance against having to change or cancel my tickets? $40, but with my health, I had to say yes. (Southwest doesn’t charge you for changes or cancellations; they apply your fare to future flights if you’ve gone with the cheapest, non-refundable option. United stiffs you while reselling your seat unless you’ve shelled out that extra.)

I hit confirm to both and only then did it say I was booked for SNA. Orange County. Two hours away. That’s the same thing, right?

I got on the phone immediately and made them deal with my deafness and demanded that they refund that ticket instantly. This was so deceptive. This was an unbelievably bad user interface and why in this day and age hadn’t they fixed it? Right there at the top of the page in bold, it said I was booking for San Diego. Unbelievable.

They did refund me instantly but said I’d have to undo the insurance through a separate company. They, too, said they’d make good on it. Okay, but this should never have happened.

“Because it arrived at the time you wanted.” Never mind that the time to get set up with a rental car and then drive it south for two hours meant that there was no physical chance of getting off that flight and getting ourselves to San Diego by, y’know, the time we said we wanted to be there. I asked again why it offered me the wrong flight and they said because they didn’t have one directly to there at that time so they redirected me to one that did land at that time.

The mind, it boggles.

We flew Southwest.



Pictures
Monday April 10th 2017, 9:34 pm
Filed under: Family

Wore’em out.



Happy Birthday, Hudson!
Sunday April 09th 2017, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

So we were all awake till about 1:30 a.m. Friday after that accident and had to get up before 5 a.m. Saturday for Richard’s and my flight.

I went to set the long-unused alarm clock–unused because no matter how nicely loud it is for me, the bright green numbers light up the whole room. Who thought making it like that was a good idea? (Why haven’t I replaced this?)

It was dead. Great. I set my iPhone to go off next to me, knowing how tired we were, knowing I wouldn’t hear it, knowing Richard would probably sleep through it and really really not wanting to miss both our flight and Hudson’s fourth birthday.

And so I woke up at 4:15 a.m. (the third time I did) for worrying about it and called it a night.

We had so much fun playing with the grandkids. Somehow we found the energy. We sang Happy Birthday at random intervals all day and played with their toys with them and bounced on their rented bounce house (I did, anyway) and read them books and ate pizza with them and made them the center of our universe for every moment we could. We loved seeing how fantastic our son and Kim are at raising great kids. There was a party in the afternoon, their friends and Kim’s family came, and Maddy even let me push her on the swing. She is inexplicably now two.

There was an unusually late return flight available this time and we’d booked it so as to get as much time with the kids as we could. (It seems normally people want to fly TO San Diego on weekends, not away from it in the middle of one.)

Turns out there was a major league baseball game between teams there and here (and that also explains why all the airfares were so stunningly high. Who knew the airlines track the major sports games. Oh wait.)

We got home close to midnight.

We kept our eyeballs open through church (I did, anyway), came home, got just enough food down and at long last crashed like a toddler after a birthday party.

So glad we got to go.



Smash hit
Friday April 07th 2017, 9:14 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

There was a big storm last night and Michelle’s plane got delayed, and delayed, and delayed, until we looked at the hour and though I almost always go with him to see one of the kids coming in, I begged off this time: we were going to have to get up at 5 am Saturday and then play with the grandkids all day and I just couldn’t safely do that level of sleep deprivation and fatigue two days in a row–I’d long been warned about triggering potential seizures from my multiple head injuries.

No problem, and he headed out into it alone. He expected to get home maybe twelve-thirty if he was lucky.

I, meantime, said a prayer for his safety. Routine stuff.

And then since I couldn’t sleep, but at least I was getting some much-needed rest, I said more prayers for his safety, with no worry, no sense of alarm, just, he took good care of me, please take good care of him; I trusted him to God.

He didn’t see the cars ahead spin out and crash in the rain but he did see the one that was sideways across his lane and stopped well behind it. He saw the driver of that sideways car standing by her driver’s side door.

BAM!!!!!!!

Someone coming up behind had at the last seen Richard’s brake lights and though both bumpers were surely destroyed under those plastic covers (the other guy’s has a very fetching nose ring now, ours, a hoop earring), he had at least braked in time to save both of them from being seriously hurt.

They pulled off the road and exchanged information, and while they were doing so they did not see it but they heard it: someone rear-ended the not-sideways car.

Not the woman’s who’d been standing in the lane of traffic (don’t DO that!) on the other side of her car, which had no lights across the side and gave no warning to those coming up.

Richard’s brake lights very likely saved her life–that and the fact that he was paying attention to the road.

And had I been with him when he was hit, given that I stopped breathing when I was hit in the back of the head in December and had to will myself to live, I’m not sure I’d still be here typing this had I been in that car.

He’s a little sore but says he’s basically okay.

Please. Drive safely.



Stealth knitting
Thursday April 06th 2017, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Someone happened to say something about someone she was worried about and with that sense of freedom that comes with having just finished a big project, even the ends run in, suddenly I knew I had to interrupt the queue: “A cowl wouldn’t take too long. What are her favorite colors?” Clearly this needed to happen.

The mutual friend was blown away, and came away going, I need to knit. I need to take lessons from you. I need to learn to knit!

I grinned that I’d be happy to teach her.

Meantime she’s got some sleuthing to do. She’s right on it.



Cheaper than cotton
Wednesday April 05th 2017, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

At upper left, the branch the squirrel twirled around. The tent and the cinnamon are doing their job at keeping it away now.

Meantime, drying, a tunic sweater that was too vivid and too orange for my neurons–but it was a return with $200 knocked off the price. And the fit was so perfect.

I gave it a gentle wash and then put about a heaping teaspoon of black dye in the dyepot, got it up to a good simmer, and gave it my constant attention for a half hour and then another five minutes just to be sure it had gotten enough heat.

The camera notwithstanding, it is darker than shown and there are no blotches, no streaks, just an even dyeing throughout–and best of all, it’s much softer than it was. I’m guessing that the manufacturer cut a corner and didn’t wash the spinning mill oils out of the yarn they were using. That surprises me, given where it came from. It was a cashmere sweater but its hand was not anything to particularly want to write home about, and I’m guessing that’s why someone returned it.

Now, though. Wow. This is what they could have been selling, what they actually were selling, but how will their customers know that? Dry Clean Only does such sweaters no favors, either–it harshens the fibers. A gentle hand wash in lukewarm water is always the way to go. (And doing so can recover a dry-cleaned one.)

Now it feels like what it should have all along. Those goats had reason to be proud and I’m glad I took the chance on it.



Why kitchen scales are essential
Tuesday April 04th 2017, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

So the net went down and the knitting needles went up. (Fixed by the resident geek when he got home so here I am.)

A pattern repeat takes an ounce of yarn and out of my three big skeins I have about half an ounce left, so that’s that. Cast off tomorrow and the Little Boy Blue baby blanket is done.

(It’s so weird to have to delete enough emails from my gmail account to get my iPhone to be willing to take pictures again, I mean, whodathunk? The resident geek is who. Okay, I’m working on it.)



Game on
Monday April 03rd 2017, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

What on earth!?

It was a black squirrel, highly visible against the white floral background, twirling hard around and around a branch of the sour cherry and in the process stripping it of the flowers that had opened this morning. How that branch was even strong enough to support it I do not know.

I stomped towards the door yelling words I would only barely let my mother hear me say and went after it. It scrambled for the fence, its mouth stuffed to overflowing with cherry blossoms. Lots and lots of cherry blossoms. It would have been funny if it hadn’t been my future fruit.

The tent, which I’d taken off for yesterday’s picture and then thought, eh, they leave it alone, I don’t need this do I?–is back over that tree now with bird spikes around the base as far as they can go.

Now I know why the flower stems looked chomped off on the Stella cherry when I’d successfully coppered the snails away from its base.  It took those things four years to decide to taste them but then they did.

A few hours later, a black squirrel walked at just enough of a distance around that cage. Looking back at me. Hanging its head. Taking another step. Stopping and looking at me, lowering its head again. Then, unable to resist one more second, it sniffed upwards wistfully towards those flowers and then swung its head back towards me. My eyes narrowed and I was watching its every move and it knew it.

It slunk away. Slowly, regretfully, back up that fence and towards the redwood.

I added hot pepper flakes.

And then after dinner I clipped a red amaryllis stalk, put it in a vase, and took it next door to my wonderful neighbors of thirty years. (To, y’know, counter my crazy squirrel lady thing at least a little bit and who doesn’t need unexpected flowers, right? But no, really, because I had a lot coming up at once and they’re too good to hoard.)

Good times.

(Three more pattern repeats left on that blue blanket… Maybe four. I think.)



The English Morello
Sunday April 02nd 2017, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes) mashes up with Berkeley Breathed (Bloom County) for April Fools here.

I rather wish I’d planted a semi dwarf rather than an ultra dwarf–it grows so slowly. On the plus side, we’ll always be able to reach the cherries and it’s starting its third year and I can still fit a bird netting tent over it.

Looks like we should get quite a few this year. It’s not even in full bloom yet.

(What I really want to blog about is how powerful Elder Holland’s talk in General Conference was Saturday, radiating love and compassion and inclusion, but I’m waiting for the lds.org site to be updated so I can find individual talks.)



And maybe next time she’ll say this to someone who needs it
Saturday April 01st 2017, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Life

I got my groceries into the back seat, got in my car, turned on the lights, and put it in reverse.

And found myself staying right there.

I turned the car off, turned the lights off, took my foot off the brakes, and leaned out as I opened the car door. I knew if I didn’t ask it would bug me for a long time to come. I have a friend who had someone intervene when she most needed it, you never know…

The whole time she’d been standing there that same way and it was just–odd.

“Are you okay?” I hoped I didn’t sound nosey nor worried, just one woman checking for another’s sake out here in the dark. “Can I help?”

The tall thin blonde woman who had been resolutely facing away from everyone and holding very silent and still, even when a male Trader Joe’s cart herder tried to send a cheery hello her way as he excused himself going around her, turned her head this time to see who was talking to her.

“I’m waiting for my ride,” she said flatly and she turned back to staring at her cart motionlessly with her arms tucked in. After an 81 degree day it was by no means cold.

“Okay,” and I closed the door, turned the car and lights back on, and that was that.

Maybe everything was peachy.  But I figured letting someone know someone else cared is always a good thing–and hopefully makes it easier for them to open up to the next person when they really do need help.



And with that, March is over
Friday March 31st 2017, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Life,Politics

Finally got that car in today, now that I wasn’t waiting for repairmen or appointments.

Oil change, routine stuff, and… a cracked drive belt. Caught before it could leave us stranded on the side of the road. Good thing.

Oh and? My one request of the universe right now would be that it not be an April Fool’s joke–and he did post it March 31, not April 1: George Takei announced on his Facebook page that he just bought a house in Devin Nunes’ district to run against him next year.

May he live long so we’ll all prosper.



Taxes
Thursday March 30th 2017, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Life

One phone call in the morning to clarify a question and then I think we’re done. And it’s not even April.

I typed that, read it, and went, Hah! Oh wait. That printer we’ve been putting off replacing–time’s up. Got to be able to print these out. Okay, so, almost done!

(p.s. If you got the same email I did about a sale on some jadeite/merino/silk yarn and had the same reaction of, what the heck is jadeite like? I found this. Yow. I guess if you’re going for the politician’s proverbial asbestos suit… )