Parfianka
Thursday July 09th 2020, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden,Life,Mango tree

I’ve told this before, but for those who haven’t yet read it: My friend Jean planted a pomegranate tree and two years later brought a half a paper grocery bag’s worth of fruit to church to share that was bursting open, breaking itself into pieces that made it easy for lots of people to get a sample (outside). *She* thanked *us*, saying there was way more than she could eat.

I had never tasted anything like it. I wondered if I’d ever tasted an actually ripe pomegranate before, or was it just the variety (she didn’t remember the name.)

A few years later I got to tell her that she was why I’d researched descriptions and taste tests and planted my own, a Parfianka, the favorite of not only a whole bunch of people online but the owner at Yamagami’s Nursery. I never would have done it had I not tasted hers first and found out what I was missing. She’d definitely earned a thank you.

Mine was a cute little $10 end-of-season-clearance what-they-had-left thing in one of those 4x4x10″ sleeves. Jean was 80 when she planted hers and she clearly started with a more established specimen. Makes sense.

Time and sun and water and dirt and the little one got there just the same. It fascinates me how the tree just keeps on randomly throwing out new flowers with the fruit in various stages, keeping the feeding station open for the bees and hummingbirds.

Jean is 94 this year and I think others will be bringing her pomegranates inside to her. I hope she gets to see them fully ripe again.

And one of my mangoes, too: two more months. I would not make her wait for an Alphonso, knowing she misses the Hadens of her childhood in Hawaii but her late husband even more, but I hope to help her discover something new to love and partake of just like she did for me.

I don’t dare risk bringing one to her in this pandemic, but if her daughter okays it I’ll pass one along through her.



It’s dogging me
Wednesday July 08th 2020, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Knit

The hats. I told him I could sew the bottoms of the ears down if desired.

Knitted in, the diamonds and triangles are much crisper than sewn on and

wait. I didn’t even see it till typing this

did I really

I did

no

stupid visual memory brain damage

I sewed those cheeks on wrong.

But I was so happy to get right back to work on the jellyfish on my afghan after two weeks of wanting to that it just flew right past me.

Doofus.



Still with the hat
Tuesday July 07th 2020, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Knit
(I have no idea why the paragraphing on this post is being wonky on the public view. I promise I typed it right. But anyway…)
It dawned on me only after I’d finished all six color sections *and* sewn them together that by picking up the bottom of the hat and knitting the rainbow downwards that as I checked the earlier hat to make sure which color came next–I was actually putting them in in the reverse direction and that part of the logo is backwards.
I knew in my bones I was not ripping all that work out. If I were a person who jogs that would have been a good time to put on my running shoes. I spent about an hour thinking well, I have enough of the main color to do a third hat.
Second Sock Syndrome ain’t got nuthin’ on what I was feeling towards that thought.
And so I avoided it most of the day and let it stew in the corner by itself.
But I did not want to wake up tomorrow still having to face sewing on those seven pieces and finally made myself pick it back up.
What was a far bigger thing than I expected was how good it felt to run in and cut off every loose end from that rainbow. The hat was no longer a jellyfish with dangling tentacles. And, as the face gradually appeared from all those little fiddly bits, wait–that thing is actually cute!
I’ve run out of day and it still needs the ears sewn on. But I can handle that.
One thing I learned today is that when you knit the pieces separately and sew them on, there’s a 3D aspect to it that will instantly appeal to any child who will ever see it and the child in any grownup. Definitely beats the flatness as well as the difficulty of doing intarsia in the round. Keeping it simple makes it look like it isn’t.


Chopped stick
Monday July 06th 2020, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Wildlife

Lots of sawdust and sound today.

It’s so strange to look out the skylights and not see the silk oak a.k.a. grevillea tree anymore. There will be no murder of crows next spring when its weird orange flowers would have come on. It won’t be dropping any more major limbs on us. The new owner wasn’t risking it, and besides, whatever it may have looked like 70 years ago, it sure didn’t now.

The workers dropped large enough chunks of trunk to make the house jump, and sitting on the couch it felt exactly like the first jolt of the 5.4 quake that happened while I was in the same spot some years ago. I got up and took this picture through the leaves of my Chinese elm of the last nine feet or so of it (the yellow dead center there) before it too thumped down hard.

The old guy behind us breathed a sigh of relief and emailed me that he’d been cleaning up a bucket’s worth of leaves from that messy tree every single day for all the decades they’d lived here and now he won’t have to anymore.

My pear tree will have a much greater chance of finally blooming next year with all the new sunlight.

They took out the weed trees that were about to grow through the fence along our front walkway, too. I had had no idea just how shaded we had become until suddenly it was brilliance out there. My roses can make a comeback now; I’ve missed them. That fire hazard growing towards the sun and over my house that the insurance company was so upset over is gone. I miss them, but I don’t, and I won’t ever have to shell out big bucks to trim them straight up from the fence line to keep them happy anymore. Which, as I showed the new owner, would over time make them liable to fall on her house.

Gone. Done. Her yard will start over.

The tall ash in the background is in the yard next to Adel’s. It had a large nest this year, and I wondered if the hawks had moved there after the redwood vanished.

Last night, a Cooper’s swooped over our heads and up into that ash tree near that nest. Its young have surely fledged by now but territory must be announced–and youngsters like to stick close to home the first few months.

So they’re okay after all that came down today.

The owner of that house walked around the corner, talked to the tree crew a minute during their break, and got their business card. Hopefully for a different tree.



Put that down you know where it’s been
Sunday July 05th 2020, 9:53 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Something I had wondered about all my life.

How on earth do you get fish showing up in every body of water you pretty much ever heard of? When the places are not connected at all? I mean, it’s not like fish fly.

The Washington Post reports that a carp, to take one type, can release a hundred thousand eggs.

So: some researchers fed 8,000 carp eggs to eight mallard ducks, and 18 eggs, it turned out, were still viable after passing through the ducks’ digestive systems one to four hours later.

By which point the birds could be miles away from where they ate that meal.

It’s as simple and logical as that.

Scientists are little kids who grew up and still wondered about duck poop.



The Babcocks
Saturday July 04th 2020, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden

Our yard’s first squirrel-free, scrub jay-free peaches in two years. Very juicy.

And, frankly, rather flavorless. Being in a clamshell sped up the ripening process, I guess–they about fell into my hand–but not the sugaring.

But we got them and they were ours and there are more peaches to come that are protected by citrus-branch barbs rather than plastic boxes.



Pulling a raspberry
Friday July 03rd 2020, 9:58 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Somewhere at a pick-your-own farm.

Lillian tried a few raspberries, pulled a face, considered, and then decided, Wait–I like these!

And then the basket was no longer in her reach. All in good time, love.



A little assembly required
Thursday July 02nd 2020, 9:27 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

So, so, so much faster and easier, even if I have all that sewing-on to do. It did take me a few tries to figure out how to make the diamond shape with knitting into fronts and backs of stitches while not distorting the edges. Note to self: cast on two, not one to start, and then do a make one in between on that first purl row. You want to be working with an odd number so you can double decrease into a point at the top.

Right now everything’s curled up because it’s stockinette stitch on the loose.

I felt so virtuous getting this far along that I totally didn’t do the rainbow part yet–but Debby’s idea is definitely the way to go, and thank you, Debby!

The thing I keep thinking is that I’ve wanted to make character hats for the grandkids for a long time, and now I know how to do what I want to do for probably just about any design and it’s incredibly freeing. Sterling did me a huge favor with his request, and I sent him this picture with a thank you.



Dog-eared
Wednesday July 01st 2020, 10:56 pm
Filed under: Knit

This is totally a factory reject. I’m embarrassed to even show it. The only reason I didn’t frog it three inches in is that I’d spent four+ hours on the darn rainbow, with the backwards intarsia and four needle ends flopping around.

It actually looks semi-okay on the other side. Why I managed not to make that the right side, I…have no explanation. Maybe I thought we’d flip the brim up. But babies hate hat brims flopping down over their eyes when they don’t yet know how to get them off and to stay off, and I do not aspire to make babies cry.

But what fascinates me is how putting the ears down like the picture I’m working from vs putting them upwards like a bow feels like it totally changes the gender of the silly puppy somehow.

The guy mentioned this was supposedly a cat.

With a boxer face?

That extra stitch of white to each side above the nose was me saying no you silly it’s a dog—but by that point I already knew this was not going to be the one so I might as well do what I want.

So. I got to this point last night, put it down in front of me, and considered.

I have more than one row of brown between the tongue and the which-side-is-the-right-side-this-time color change weirdnesses. I could cut the bottom of the brown, carefully undo the next row up while easing the stitches onto my needles, and re-knit going downwards, with the half-stitch jog sideways that would give it.

Not sure why I don’t want to do that, but I don’t want to do that.

So I spent a long time just looking at it and thinking what my options were.

I could i-cord racing stripes to cover those hideous joins. Which totally doesn’t work for the intended purpose of the hat of logo-matching for the mama.

Which is why today I picked that brown yarn up again and have half the upper section (it should have been the whole thing) knitted again. I will knit the face parts separately and sew them on, and if there’s anything I find I don’t like, changing it will be almost nothing to do when you do it that way.

I will make the features smaller this time.

I will pick up the bottom stitches, one color section at a time, and slant-knit downwards.

I think I’m showing you these pictures so you’ll understand what a screaming relief it will be when I produce a decent version–and as a reminder that even good knitters can make truly awful things when they’re first figuring out how to do something new. Intarsia in the round is usually a no, just, no.

But now I can see how to make some really fun hats for my grandkids, so I definitely got something out of this.

I may make great big floppy Ludo-the-Saint-Bernard grandpuppy ears and give the new hat the old ears. Maybe I’ll even make that i-cord.

Or maybe at that point, just for a little while, I’ll throw that thing in a corner with energy, pick up my sea creatures afghan, and thank it for being an easy project. Which it is not. But as intarsia knitted flat, it is now.



Blenheims
Tuesday June 30th 2020, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

We wore masks, we socially distanced, we stayed outside and only to say goodbye did she have her kids stand in the doorway for us to see each other and wave hi-‘bye. I hadn’t seen them in two years, but even the then-toddler still knew full well that I was her old buddy and she made my day.

Jennifer had invited me to come see her housewarming present in full production mode. She’s done a great job with it.

I got sent home with a goodly number of apricots and now I need to figure out the best way to save some for when the season is over.



Story time
Monday June 29th 2020, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Life

This is from Chris S, who gave me permission to share it.

————-

The story:

There is an inner city mission in Hamilton Ontario called the Wesley Centre.  It is part of the United Church of Canada and is supported also by area United churches. It is an ever evolving mission.

The minister will come to a church at their request to talk about the work being done. About 10 or 12 years back the minister at that time came to speak to the congregation. He had a children’s story I don’t think anyone has forgotten.   The young ones came to the front and he sat on the floor with them – no microphone, just talking to them.

He talked about the families he works with. He talked about birthday parties and birthday gifts. Then from his big backpack he pulled a stuffed sheep and gave it to one of the children. He talked about the families a bit more and how they shop for food, then pulled another stuffed sheep out of the bag and gave it to the same child. He talked some more about the families and how they shopped for clothing, and again pulled a stuffed sheep from the bag and gave it to the same child.

At first the kids just smiled, but you could start to see the wheels turning for all of them and the disappointment at not being given a toy.

I think it was the 4th sheep that made the youngster try to give it to one of the other children. But the minister said “oh no that is yours, you keep it”.

More stories about the families and a sheep or two later the youngster said “why are you giving me all the toys?  The other kids should get some too.”

The minister asked him why he was worried about that when he was obviously getting the best deal. The youngster frowned and said “because it’s not fair when we are all the same but some get nothing “.

Bingo.

That led to a little discussion about how some are given much, some are given little, some work hard, some aren’t able to work – all the things that differentiate families in the “real world”.

And that led to a little discussion about how we can all try to change the things that aren’t fair so that everyone has what they need.

I saw those same youngsters a year or two later raise money with a bake sale and soliciting donations (they did the work) to provide hockey equipment to a girls team in northern Ontario who had nothing but desperately wanted to play.

Our Sunday school started a project called “magic penny”, nickels now that pennies have gone the way of the dodo. Once a month we sing a special song and the youngsters take the offering plates around the pews collecting change. It goes to a special fund and every 3 months whatever is collected goes to a charity the children choose. We have given money to a horse rescue, the food bank, a cat rescue, Heart and Stroke, all kinds of things. There is quite often close to $1,000 a year.

I still see those original youngsters looking at the world differently and working for things they believe need to change.

Fifteen minutes of story time can really make a difference.

Chris S



They knew
Sunday June 28th 2020, 9:30 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

The Zoom church meeting: Dave was one of the speakers. The kid I watched grow up in New Hampshire, and such a good man.

He told a story from his teens that I hadn’t heard before, one that probably happened the summer after we moved away.

His parents had signed him up for a week at an interfaith camp in Boston. He did not want to go. He did not want to get out of the car when they got there. He argued, but they insisted.

The experience was life changing.

He was one of two Mormons in the group and the other was a girl he was friends with, so it was nice to find out he’d get to spend some time with her, anyway.

Midway through the week, after they’d all started to get to know each other a bit, they were told to divide up by which church they belonged to, and for this next exercise they were not to talk to anybody but the ones in their group. At all. Just talk amongst yourselves only.

Some kids had a big group and lots of people to find out more about, for Dave it was just him and his friend–

–and there was one girl sitting alone. All she could do was watch everybody else interact, and maybe listen as best she could. Okay.

The leaders kept not calling an end to the exercise.

After two hours, that poor girl was just too overwhelmed with the enforced loneliness while everybody else was enjoying themselves and in spite of I’m sure her best efforts in front of everybody, she started to cry.

Dave said it was the African-American kids who immediately did what he’d wanted to do all along: they instantly rushed to her side. They knew what it was to feel alone in society and they weren’t going to stand for it one more minute, and as soon as they did so so did Dave and his friend.

They were expecting to be scolded for not following the directions of the exercise.

To their astonishment, the adult in charge of it answered, What. Took. You. So. Long.



The convert
Saturday June 27th 2020, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

My husband was sent by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to be a Mormon missionary in France in the late 1970s.

Where there was a chocolatier on practically every corner, as he liked to describe the cities there.

When we were dating in college I had no idea what his problem with Hersheys was nor why one would want to eat what seemed like excessively bitter bars. But he knew what a dark chocolate from good beans could actually be, and despite the dearth of those in the States he eventually won me over to the dark side.

And so it seemed that celebrating our anniversary in great chocolate was the way to go.

Dandelion on Valencia Street in San Francisco, it turns out, takes orders via smartphone and lets you pick up at the door.

They have a talented pastry chef as well as their excellent small-batch chocolate. Anything you get there, it’s going to be good.

We got a parking space just one storefront away. That never happens.

This being very much the city, lots of people walked by, not as many as pre-pandemic but still not a few, and a few sat at the tables set up out on the sidewalk.

Most were wearing masks. The ones who were not kind of stood out. Only one person, tall, white, older, male, looked like he dared anybody to call him on it–he was swaggering down that sidewalk.

What struck me was how alone he looked.

Richard, picking up our hot chocolate and pastries, found himself being crowded at the door and turning and saying, Six feet! Figuring there had to be some pushback from someone for their risky behavior if it was ever going to change. He was protecting me (I was in the car) and he was protective of the people trying to keep that business in business.

Personal space. Masks. It’s just not hard, people, look, all those others were managing it.

I tried the S’more: a crisp homemade perfect deep chocolate cookie with a large homemade marshmallow on top that barely held in a lake of molten newly-made chocolate that I’m not sure had any sugar added to it at all, but as you bit into it and the melting marshmallow, creme brûlée made divine was somehow the description that came to mind.

I had no idea you could create something built on that concept that tasted that good. Wow.

This honeymoon story.  Melting marshmallows for the anniversary for sure. And there was a potency of skunk outside the house after midnight last night, and although it was not close enough to pet it this time, I think we celebrated our 40th right after all.



Waited a year for those
Friday June 26th 2020, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Anya apricots. Picked this morning, since I’ll have to wait about five years for mine. Worth the trip to Andy’s Orchard, and I got some early-season peaches and cherries, too.

Out of curiosity, I added some raspberry honey from The Honey Ladies, which surprised me by being my new favorite right up there with their less-sweet poison oak blossom.

All the employees were wearing lined black face masks with room for a filter, with a motif of red cherries with green stems and leaves,  and they had some for sale. Very reasonably priced. Very soft. Quite happy with mine.

Got home, walked in the door, walked in the kitchen, rinsed a good handful of those cherries and put them in a small bowl in front of my husband, who dove enthusiastically into them as his meeting and his screen continued.

Looked out the window and thought, there’s always a possibility of snails making it up the pot to my baby tree. So I’m saving the kernels again, out of curiosity if nothing else: a year ago I found two very differing methods of sprouting them, and somewhat against my better judgment followed the one that had you submerging them for 24 hours after their winter in the fridge.

It seemed a good way to rot them.

It was.

So I’ll try the damp paper towel thing next time, because, science!

(P.S. What would you do for your 40th when you can’t go anywhere?)



A case of those
Thursday June 25th 2020, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Life

Not having been raised by an art dealer, my husband did not know who Frida Kahlo was. Nor the word unibrow that her self-portraits helped make famous: one single one across her face from beginning to end.

Lands End started selling face masks with some silver in the cotton for its antimicrobial properties.

Which reminded me that there had been a Kickstarter a few years ago for a start-up that wanted to sell cotton and silver sheets, extolling their virtues for one’s health and comfort at length but offering them only in taupe. Eh.

I bought two pillowcases to test drive the concept. When they came, they were a graygreenbrown shade that I would never ever have bought had I known. But I was stuck with them.

If I were sewing masks, which would be virtuous but it’s just not been my thing so I’m glad other people do, cutting up those pillowcases would give them a chance to finally live up to their potential. Anti microbial is in right now. Someone might actually like the color; you could use them as a lining layer.

Meantime, the blue ones Lands End was offering that day sold out in the few hours between when they shot out the announcing email that they had face masks now and when I looked. I sprang for a package of the plain white. Anti microbial is good.

They came.

I guffawed when I saw the package. For those of us in the flatlands, there’s only one thing that looked like.

I’d be wearing a unibra on my face.