A run to the grocer’s
Monday February 17th 2020, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

No rain for weeks, and this is supposed to be the season for it. The long line of flowering pears by the cemetery have been in glorious bloom since the end of January; I have never seen them not wiped out by a good storm or five but not this year.

I imagine the bumper crop of critters from last year’s abundant rain are getting thirsty.

A squirrel managed to pick a large orange off the neighbor’s tree and haul it to the top of the fence but it was really too big to run off with. So he chewed off the top, jack o’lanterning away a lid, and was about to finally reach all that juice inside–when I stopped him.

He tried to run with it, really he did, but it dropped down my side of the fence and he was gone.

I don’t get many squirrels anymore and with my fruit trees I’d like to try to keep it that way. Since our three weeks of being gone in September for the new baby, I’ve only been filling the suet cage where the squirrels can’t reach (and with chili oil in it, they don’t want to.) We actually still had sweet Fuji apples out there when we got home.

So I tend to notice when one comes and why.

I picked up the orange, noted the dirt on the side it fell on and took a whiff. A lot of varieties don’t get enough heat here to really sweeten up.

Man, it smelled wonderful. I wondered what type it was, but looking at that thing, no way should I be touching squirrel-lipped stuff. I hadn’t wanted it to rot in my yard, but. Huh.

I put it under my birdfeeder, hoping the doves would come and peck at the top. No such luck.

Squirrels turn in for the night before sunset.

After dark, I happened to note that it was still there.

I stood up and went in the kitchen a moment.

Came back and there was no sign of it. Gone. That fast. Whatever it was had been watching and waiting for me to leave so it could grab it and run. It’s about a dozen feet to the edge of the shed that something’s been crashing around in every night of late so it wouldn’t have had a long way to go.

Someone’s probably feeding orange juice to their babies tonight.

And I need to refill that suet cage–but I forgot to earlier and I don’t particularly want to walk towards possibly skunks protecting their young. Tomorrow will do.

That was amusing, and I’m not doing it again.

Flower child
Sunday February 16th 2020, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Garden

The first peach flower of the year, ahead of everything but the mango. August Pride.

Blue diamonds
Saturday February 15th 2020, 11:09 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

I got to meet the mom of a recent recipient of one of my hats today. It was instantly clear why he’s such a delight and I wished she lived closer.

I pulled him quietly aside from the crowd and asked him her favorite color. He knew exactly where I was going with this, and hesitated while looking off in the distance for about three seconds before stating with great certainty, Blue.

Vivid? (Like this?) Or more like, say, indigo?

He gave me a good description of what he had in mind and I wondered what I had in my stash that matched that. She’s flying home tomorrow, but he’s bringing her to church with him before that. Not a whole lot of hours there, much less available for it and certainly no time to go buy the yarn.

I walked in the door at home afterwards, walked into my kid’s old bedroom that has become the yarn stash room–

–and found a super soft hat I’d utterly forgotten I’d made a month or two ago that was in just that kind of a blue. Out of 14 micron merino. Only the best.

At the time, I was wondering why I was wasting my time knitting this when I had the usual queue pressing on me and this was scheduled for nobody, not even me, and I quibbled at the little carry-around but it got on the needles and then I had to finish it to get it off them.

Even the ends are already run in. It’s in a sandwich ziplock in my purse, waiting; all I have to do is show up.

Ever since, I have been marveling at the choreography, once again, of G_d, who knew that needed to come to be and that it needed to be ready and nudged that ball into my purse before an appointment that I don’t even remember what the appointment was for nor which waiting room it was and there you go.

That’s the way the crescent rolls
Friday February 14th 2020, 7:02 pm
Filed under: Family

When you’re 34 months old and you look up in the sky and someone took a bite out of the white chocolate sky-cookie, of course you tell Daddy. And then you want to tell Grampa, on FaceTime where you can see each other and share the news and be reassured that he’s going to fix it for you because of course he will.

The moon is broken!

The 60s rock
Thursday February 13th 2020, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Life

This is your last notice, the form-letter email said. You are overdue for a pap smear.

Oh fun.

So I got that over with on Tuesday.

What I had zero expectation of was the doctor saying that that was my final one: I had aged out. I didn’t need to do this again.

Wait. All this time and nobody ever told me I had that to look forward to?? Seriously?

It really *was* my last notice!

Edited to add: I got a note from an old friend, who says that an old friend of hers recently died of cervical cancer at 80 and that even older women in monogamous relationships should still be tested. I’m very sorry for the loss of her friend, and I regret having possibly in any way contributed to anybody else going through that in the future. I apologize.

There goes Peter Cottontail, hopping down the bunny trail…
Wednesday February 12th 2020, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Mango tree

(Here’s a better picture of the mango.)

I watched a cottontail rabbit jump into and out of the Costco-sized planter my strawberries are in. That, to my regret, answers my question as to whether it was too tall for it. (Well, duh.)  I went to head it off.

Cottontails (says Wikipedia) like to duck into the same sheltering spot every time, which makes it easy for hawks to sit and wait, but it would have had to have cut across in front of me so instead it went straight to–

–the hole past the raised bed under the corner of the fence dug out by one of the nocturnal regulars around here. It would only have done that if it knew it was there and it knew what to expect on the other side.

I immediately boarded up the spot, with mental apologies to the gardeners next door for the return of the goods. It’s got cute twitchy ears, at least. Have fun.

That was yesterday, and today I was trying to figure out how to confess to them.

Until, whoops, guess what was munching on the weeds where the grass used to be.

I think this one was smaller. And yes, it ducked into its usual spot in the coffeeberries. I think the one that went up and over and down to the hole over thataway was going to the spot *it* knew to run to, because it definitely seemed bigger, and it seemed slightly darker–I don’t think it was the same one.

Please tell me we’re not about to have a whole crew of rabbits. I keep marveling at how they could even be here, 65 years after this area was developed and fenced off.

But note that in neither case did they run for the mouth of the mango cage where all that sweet flowering scent is coming out of. So far so good. Yay.

And now she knows what Stitches West is
Tuesday February 11th 2020, 9:58 pm
Filed under: Friends

It didn’t get blocked, but then baby alpaca makes for a drapey, well, limp fabric, so it was most of the way there as it is, and I didn’t know how much the 30% bamboo would stretch it out after water hit it. I liked it the way it was.

But I did get it finished, although the morning of my appointment was cutting it too close.

This was for the doctor who was taking no new patients when mine retired but who, when I asked, not only said yes but said yes with great enthusiasm.

I had only ever seen her wearing black; today as it happens she’d branched out: a black top and khaki pants.

They only had charcoal at the store but I figured it would definitely do.

She not only loved it–she told me maybe this would get her to pick her needles up again after a couple of years of not really knitting and she was quite enthused about that, too.

She’s a knitter. All she’d needed was a spark. I’d had no idea.

Well that went sideways
Monday February 10th 2020, 11:24 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Actually, that title was supposed to be a pun on the pattern but the picture is sitting in another folder, refusing to come out to play till it’s had a nice nap, so instead the title is a commentary on the post.

The knitting I was supposed to be working on is how the pomegranate tree got pruned this evening, and that needed to be done, too, so, it’s all good. I did knit an entire skein afterwards.

Maybe I’ll have it ready in time. Maybe she’ll get to choose from other FOs. Maybe I’ll just wait.

p.s. A Lego guitar. Enjoy.

Edited in the morning to add the photo.

On a windy Sunday
Sunday February 09th 2020, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Family

Being goofy via FaceTime with Mathias while his baby sister watched wide-eyed.

Watching the Sunbubble strain and strain and nearly land in Oz and running out and re-planting the one leg that had managed to free itself and come out of the ground, and later seeing pictures on Facebook of a palm tree in San Jose that simply face planted down the street while another had had its bushy top sheared straight off like a buzzcut on a protesting 60’s rock star.

No rain, February doesn’t believe in rain anymore even though it’s supposed to, just lots of wind that teased that it could pull some in behind it if it wanted to but it didn’t.

I grabbed the plush monkey that his mother had given me for Christmas years ago, velcroed its hands together and loop-the-looped its legs through while Mathias giggled and giggled and made the world right.

Indoor starts (and stops)
Saturday February 08th 2020, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Garden

Looking out the window, thinking I needed to get to it re clearing out last summer’s tomato plant that finally froze to death a few days ago, I spotted a bit of color. For all the times I’d looked, it must have been hidden by the leaves that are now brown and shriveled and ready to fall.

I stepped outside thinking, How did that get past me? How did it get past the critters?

There was the smallest, most determined, February-iest-looking Big Boy tomato you ever saw, hanging on and even starting to turn red freeze or no freeze.

And then the mail came.

My new Big Boy tomato seeds.

Time to get to it.

Beyond slogans
Friday February 07th 2020, 11:21 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

Watching the debate helped get another 150g cone of merino done towards that afghan.

One moment particularly stood out for me: when Buttiegieg stood up for Joe Biden and spoke of how Trump had for political gain tried hard to turn a son against his father, and a father against his son. Unfathomable.

Biden, taken by surprise, was both grateful and a bit misty for a moment.

When a few minutes later the moderator challenged Sanders with Hilary Clinton’s words about her formal rival, saying that in the Senate, he had no friends, nobody liked him, nobody worked with him, Biden caught the pain in Sanders’ eyes and with his let him know he was okay–and suddenly Biden was reaching towards his old friend and their arms were around each other. Klobuchar joined in the goodwill by talking about bills she and Sanders had worked on together for the good of America and proclaiming him her friend, too.

Buttigieg, Biden, Sanders, Klobuchar: all of them in those moments showed America the graciousness and kindness that we have so missed these last three years.

When they say they want to bring us together–they showed they meant it. They started with each other.

Afraid of the dark
Thursday February 06th 2020, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Wow, this was all the way back in July? The skunk on the doorstep?

The reason I just checked: I heard–*I* heard–scritching, scratching sounds at the back of the house and went and told Richard in the other room that apparently our furry little friend was over on that side now.

It may or may not be relevant that I watered the mango before sundown, and watering brings tasty grubs to the surface–never mind that the greenhouse is in their way, they wouldn’t know that.

He said that oh yes he’d heard it a number of times of late. He was clearly pleased that I got to, too. He noted that whatever it was, it was a big one.

Which was exactly my take on it–it was definitely not mouse sized.

This being skunk mating season, there might be more than one out there and for that matter they could be setting up housekeeping in our shed.

But about an hour later it looked like the warming lights were out on the tree, and that’s something that had to be fixed immediately if they were. I had to go out there.


They were on. The leaves and lights had just gotten rearranged a bit when I unplugged things to do that watering. Yay.

But I’ve had “I Hear You Knocking (but you can’t come in)” ear worming relentlessly in my head.

Hurry up, tree!
Wednesday February 05th 2020, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life,Mango tree

My Big Boy tomato plant from last year finally froze to death. The Sungold under the eaves is still blooming. House warmth for the win.

Monday night and thereafter, I had to turn on the heater under the Sunbubble at dusk for the first time all winter; the Christmas lights just weren’t enough. For so long it was simply about keeping the mango comfortably above freezing, but now we need to protect the more vulnerable flower buds that are bursting out all over.

This is just the top of the tree because I can’t step far enough back in the greenhouse for a better shot.

The tree’s gotten big and the crop will be a lot more than last year’s three fruits.

My friend Jean grew up in Hawaii and misses the Hayden mangoes of her youth. She tried three times to grow her own but always lost them to the cold and she has cheered my tree on with great enthusiasm ever since she found out about it.

Last year’s three went to Dani who instigated the whole thing and whom I’d long promised the first fruit to, Eli who helped take care of the tree numerous times while we were out of town before we bought the greenhouse, and the last one for, well, us.

This is the year the first one is supposed to be for Jean. Jean, who once brought a paper bag of ripe pomegranates to church from her two year old tree that were such a revelation that I’d planted my own, a Parfianka, having never known before what a ripe pom actually tastes like. (The stores can’t sell them when they start to split.) Jean, who loves seeing pictures of how my Alphonso is growing, it’s really doing it, it’s surviving here! It’s blooming!

Today’s her 94th birthday.

The last few months she’s been pretty much bed-bound.

I don’t know that it’s fair to ask her to hang around till this big plant of mine finishes doing its thing in six or seven months but I’m still going to remind her I promised.

Five months
Tuesday February 04th 2020, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Family

Someone’s getting bigger.

People are funny
Tuesday February 04th 2020, 10:42 am
Filed under: Life

There was a young mom at Trader Joe’s yesterday with her little boy in the cart. He looked about four. It was close to dinnertime but he was cheerful and bubbly and absolutely adorable. We crossed paths several times and smiled at each other.

When I went to get in line, they were just back of the line but not getting in, as if they were waiting for something. She was working at keeping him entertained.

Well, hey, so I opened my purse and went looking.

I caught the mom’s eye to get her approval, and said, penguin finger puppet outstretched, that we’d been to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and I’d showed one of the penguins my penguin and it had followed it around, like it was trying to figure out how it had gotten so small.

The little boy was delighted at the story, so with another nod to his mom first to be sure I handed him his own and said, Happy Birthday!

The mom was startled: Wait. Really?! How cool is that!

I tried not to be too in-their-face from there and got back to my line and paid attention to the clerk starting to reach for my groceries, but it just totally made their day.

And then the little guy got really excited. Grandma!!

Grandma, an African-American woman about my age, was coming out from the back and off her shift and dead on her feet. (While I thought, ah, that’s why the mom looks familiar–she looks like her mom, who works here.) It had clearly been a long day. She had had it. She was just done. Get her out of here.

But here were these two excitedly telling her about penguins and this penguin and they all turned to me as the grandma’s face completely changed. They waved.

They headed out, and now I (finally) noticed a woman with a daughter of about the same age standing back to back with me in their line, so I offered her one for her daughter, too.

She looked at me like I had three heads and said no, a bit offended.

Well that’s fine.

I told the clerk, I just got fifty of these in the mail.

He laughed warmly, understanding better now how all that came to be.

The second mom was getting into her late-model BMW next to my ’07 Prius as I came out, saw me, and was out of there.

But I knew a grandma was smiling out there who’d needed that.