It was surprisingly magnificent
Tuesday May 21st 2024, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

There’s a road about five miles long that ends at a preserve near the Bay in one direction and runs towards the mountains in the other, sloping upward but never quite reaching that far. On its western end it takes you through what were once endless apricot orchards; now there’s just the Heritage Orchard by city hall and the library. Most of its apricot trees were replanted in the last year or two because the prior ones had had a bad case of old (or it may have been their roots drowned in all those atmospheric rivers.) The new ones are growing nicely with lots of the redness of baby leaves at top and they are in lines facing that road, spaced closely.

Which, on the other side, has Main street and its shops angling away like the arms of a Y.

I was at the front in the right-most of the three lanes coming down that hill while stopped at a red where the two roads come together. A woman was walking across towards the apricot trees but kept turning back and motioning a clear Come on. Come on! to someone I couldn’t see through the taller cars to my left.

The wave of an arm in return and then I saw who she was gesturing to. I had assumed he was standing in the median waiting for the next walk sign, which would mean standing there through another cycle with all those lanes of cars whizzing by, and I didn’t get why he wasn’t just racing to catch up with her–but now it looked like he was actually in the road. That was nuts.

The light turned.

I inched forward.

He waved me emphatically on: GO. GO!

So I did, slowly, not knowing at first why.

Only then did I see.

The car next to me started to then quickly thought better of it. The car in the left turn lane wasn’t going anywhere.

The man was trying to protect what I now knew he knew we wouldn’t have seen in time. It was easily six feet long or more, the shades of gray of the pavement, and as the snake twisted its body in the sun, in those half-rolling motions there was an unexpected glistening, the lighter belly accenting the dark upper.

I have never in my life seen such a huge snake in the wild. Though it seems almost a perversion to describe the widest part of that commuter road in that town as in any way wild.

I will never again hear the phrase herding cats without thinking of that guy trying to encourage a snake to cross the three lanes plus bike lane of that nice warm road.

How many of those baby apricot trees could it climb all at the same time?

Conversation later at home: The only native snakes that big around here I think are the rattlesnakes, he told me, and some of them are quite dark. Did you see the patterning?

The right-eye retina scarring got the better of me, I told him. I was the farthest car away and I couldn’t quite see that level of detail to be sure.

Early birding it
Monday May 20th 2024, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Garden

I’ve been checking the one apricot seedling that had aphids for any sign of them coming back. The plant’s not very big yet; it doesn’t take long to check it over.

This evening was a complete surprise: two leaves at the top were browned, drooping, and curled up. Those were completely healthy two days ago!

I lifted one a bit to try to see–and a little green worm crawled out.

Which is how I learned about leaf roller worms and the moths they turn into. The gardening sites said to destroy all leaves affected.

Well, it already did a good job of that, but here’s my scientific experiment (we’ll see how long it lasts.) If I disturb the growth tip at the end of the branch–and this was the main branch–then its entire length will cease to grow until next spring. No side shoots. One of the idiosyncrasies of apricots. But. Would tearing those leaves off do that, and is the growth tip already damaged.

How would I know if I don’t wait to find out?

And it’s not like the worm stage could have laid eggs.

I will be watching that thing like a–wait. Not a hawk.

Let’s say robin.

Ask and they received
Sunday May 19th 2024, 8:53 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

The monthly potluck.

Go around the room, Hank said, tell us a story of 1. how you met, and/or 2. something in history relating to your family.

I suddenly realized I never did know how a particular set of dear friends had found each other. I think they were living about two hours apart when they did.

She turned that part of the answer over to him, and what he said was, There was this conference. The usual tech stuff; she was representing her company, I, mine: and it suddenly came to me that in all the places in all of the universe to come it would never bring the two of us to the same place at the same time again. Ever. This was it.


And he realized, having chatted with her awhile, how much he wanted it to.

Forty-two years. They are each other’s life, the universe, and everything.

Saturday May 18th 2024, 9:00 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

One small corner of the sour cherry tree, making promises. You should see the rest of it!

A solid bit of progress on the baby blanket.


A neighbor had a spot prepared and pots ready to go in–of some beautiful trees and an ornamental grass that is invasively free-seeding, something I’ve been fighting in my back yard and despairing over and that shreds your skin if you try to pull it out once it’s gotten bigger, but she couldn’t know that. It’s marketed as drought–resistant. I saw it as we were getting in the car for a grocery run.

On the way home my sweetie said something that turned into comparing Costco’s new employee who was clueless but trying to be helpful to the CVS employee who’d stood there arms folded smirking as she ran out the six minutes on the clock while a pharmacy customer begged, to tears, for her to just fill her prescription, knowing the place would be closed on the morrow. I later filed a complaint and so did the customer.

“She should have been fired,” he said, and he was certainly not wrong, but I was like, let’s change the subject. Living through that once was enough.

Got inside, started putting groceries away, and the freezer with the broken shelf erupted. When I tried to rescue everything, he came in the garage just at the wrong moment, oblivious, and got in the way by trying to hand me something else to add and did I want to take one of these new macarons out of the box first? They were good!

Just. (Steam, meet ears.) Wait.

Got that dealt with, came back in, and told him, I am in a crabby mood. I don’t know why I’m in a crabby mood, I don’t want to be in a crabby mood, but I am.

I will go hide in my room, he said mildly.

We had run out of almond flour. I needed it for what I wanted to make for a potluck tomorrow. That was one of the reasons for the Costco run, and once I had everything in place and done at last, I opened a bag and started the familiar pattern. A cube of boiled pureed organic seedless mandarins out of the freezer (not THAT shelf), two cups of almond flour, eggs, butter, plain yogurt, panella sugar (might as well use the last of it up), set out the blueberries, too…

When suddenly I heard the words spoken softly, but carefully just loud enough for me to hear, coming from down the hall:


(Wait what was that? Did he say?)

A little closer. “Sneak.”

(He DID say that. Where is he.)

“Sneak.” He scootched just around the corner into sight. “Sneak.”

(What ARE you doing.)

“Sneak.” And this time he reached in for what, when my parents did it back in the day we kids would grimace and tease, Ooh, mushy-gushy in the kitchen!

And I laughed and laughed and kissed him again and that was that.

Taking a walk down Lombard-y Street
Friday May 17th 2024, 9:40 pm
Filed under: Knit

I knitted most of one of those skeins of Rios today and finished the five trees.

You want a taller tree than the typical Christmas tree lace pattern? Knit every branch twice.


Buy wool everything
Thursday May 16th 2024, 9:00 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

The power was going to be down for eight hours today for system maintenance work at our end of the city, they warned us.

So we cooked our way through a bunch of stuff in the freezer and fridge this week. Remember the ice in the paper cup with a penny on top for checking how much your freezer has thawed out? Turns out ours held on better than I would have imagined–and that penny was very comforting. Highly recommended.

So. Got up. Made our morning hot cocoa, constantly checking the time. Yesterday’s blueberry/orange and pumpkin/chocolate muffins (use’em up, use’em up, make’em shelf stable bake bake bake) were ready.

Finally, 45 minutes late, the lights went out–with my phone immediately buzzing loudly that they were going to stay out those extra 45 minutes.

Its aging battery is good for about two hours of actual use and there would be no recharging today. No electronic distractions.

I am late to knowing about it, but a week ago someone mentioned Clara Parke‘s book “Vanishing Fleece” and my copy arrived yesterday.

My hands need frequent breaks these days and that book was just the thing to alternate sets of rows with.

Her description of the shop “A Verb for Keeping Warm” was so descriptive and so “Yes! That’s IT!” on my part. I had no idea she’d gone to college with the owner and I loved that she’d been there, too.

She lives in a town that a friend of mine from high school did for years and was a state representative from. You know I have to ask her if she knows… And my friend’s husband, who was the reporter/publisher/the everything of the town’s local paper before he died.

The baby afghan progressed. Amazing how much faster it goes when it’s 105 stitches fewer and no intarsia. The book got read cover to cover. Even after the power came back on at five hours.

To my fellow knitters? I came away with the thought, we’ve done more than we knew to help keep the last of American woolen mills alive. And we need to do a lot more.

Wednesday May 15th 2024, 9:08 pm
Filed under: Knit

This was ten rows ago and now, right at 4×4″ from the edge, I am onto the start of the patterning.

Or rather staring at it. Doing the numbers again, trying to figure out how it could possibly be off center across the row by seven stitches when the count came out right but then but but but.

I’ll get back to you on that.

Edited to add: Oh. Duh. Got it. Fixed. Onward!

Ten rows in
Tuesday May 14th 2024, 9:45 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I’m finding I’m enjoying the start of the gray baby blanket. The Rios is silky-soft with a bit of luminousness in the daylight and just that slight bit of heatheriness. It has happily claimed my time ahead.

I found a pattern I really like but I didn’t like how it starts, and it has this weird upward poof at the center. Less so for the author’s, really much so for some who’ve made it.

I thought of various fixes, including crocheting a flat circle and saying the trees are growing out from the world, but the idea of not knowing how it all would really pan out till I’d made an entire blanket–but wait. Actually, the thing that I think really stopped me was that it was a forest scene.

I love it. Someday I’m going to knit it (and get that center right.) But it needs to be the deep green of the woods back East that I grew up in and that is not the color the expectant mom wants.

So I was thumbing through my Barbara Walker stitch treasuries again (every knitter should have the red and blue ones) and a quick dash through a little of Ravelry again–and this time I found it.

And (grabbing a different Treasury) that should be in there, too.

Gauge swatch time.



Yeah. Yeah, I think I’ve got it, and it’ll tell me more the further I go but I think this one is actually already all planned out, totally unlike last time.

If I told you it’ll have a forest after all would you be surprised?

And it is a go!

With a guest appearance by the waterfalls at Cunningham
Monday May 13th 2024, 5:06 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

I got myself to do 1876 stitches in ribbing yesterday because knitting is a stitch marker for time and I knew I would always remember that I’d finished it on Mother’s Day–as long as I actually did so.

I did it! I finished it! I told Richard. And then confessed… Except for running in the ends of that ribbing.

Well then it’s not finished.

Grrr/he’s right/okay. Did it.

And there you go. My Catoctin Mountain afghan with the nearby pick-your-own orchard. I’m hoping for much better pictures later–there’s a lot of detail in those clouds, and I’m still debating about embroidering some moss on those boulders–but I couldn’t wait to show off.


Tulips and boulders
Sunday May 12th 2024, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

When someone who needs to know someone knows, knows who needs someone who knows…

Jean’s daughter spoke in church today. Someone had left a glorious tulip arrangement at her door. Happy Mother’s Day? No note.

Later she saw an elderly neighbor, who said it was from her: she knew it was her first Mother’s Day without her mom and just wanted her to know she was thinking of her.

Somewhere in the conversation she mentioned how good it was to have her husband home.

? Why wouldn’t he be…?

The neighbor’s story spilled out of her.

They had, for all these many years, driven to Yosemite every year to renew their vows, so of course they went this year, too.

Her husband had decided to take a hike (and by the sound of it, it was one he knew well.) He would be back by–

–but he wasn’t.

Hours later, it was dark and there was still no sign of him. She notified the rangers. A search was begun.

He had lost the trail. He had fallen. He had hit his head and found himself in blood and confusion.

Some time in the morning after he went missing, a rescuer found the 88-year-old man, suffering hypothermia, and took off his own warm clothes and wrapped them around him. To guide him back to safety, he had the old man put his hands on the rescuer’s shoulders–and the rescuer then had had to walk backwards.

But they did it. He found him, he got him to safety, then to the nearest emergency room.

The elderly man insisted on renewing his vows with his wife back in Yosemite.

Then she drove him to the hospital here.

And now he is home.

He is still with her.

And she thought of how much Jean’s daughter would be missing her mom, and did something about it, and thereby gave herself permission to tell a kind, caring friend what the two of them had just gone through.

Knowing how much comfort Jean’s daughter would take in her beloved’s safety and recovery.

Saturday May 11th 2024, 8:59 pm
Filed under: Garden

Now it’s just a matter of defeating the critters. Wish me luck.

Happy Friday!
Friday May 10th 2024, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden

Typing fast, it’s late, we went out for ice cream afterwards…

Went to a concert a friend was playing in. Ran into another friend: someone who got one of my apricot seedlings two years ago, only now it’s about this tall, she said, waving her hand at the top of her head.


So how…?
Thursday May 09th 2024, 9:33 pm
Filed under: Knit

A weird little puzzle for you:

I am knitting the ribbing with two strands, one large ball, one smaller. They sit there side by side getting occasionally yanked as I pull the next bit of yarn towards me, but they are not rolling around each other and they’re not entangling nor really moving much at all.

So how in the name of physics is it that the strand of the smaller ball keeps getting wrapped around the other? Always in the same direction, and to the point that twice a row I have to stop and unwind them lest the growing kinks wreck the feel and look of the thing.

The two splitty strands in a very dark blue against black wooden needles with the yarn constantly weaving back and forth for the knit one purl ones means I can’t really take my eyes off what I’m working on to investigate the shenanigans of those two balls as I go.

But it’s been consistent. And mystifying. If the yarn were overspun, that might at least feel like it makes some sense even if it doesn’t, but if I let a length of it hang down from a ball it hangs straight. As it should.


I played a game of yarn chicken…
Wednesday May 08th 2024, 8:56 pm
Filed under: Knit

…Which I never do…

…And I won.

Now to start on the other side with the other ball. (I didn’t have to splice on the cast-off, I didn’t have to splice on the cast-off, I can’t believe I didn’t have to splice on the cast-off!)

And then what’ll we do for fun
Tuesday May 07th 2024, 8:44 pm
Filed under: Knit

Picking up stitches along an edge is right down there with doing seed stitch: things I tend to put off.

I promised myself this was the week, and today I picked up the afghan, now in its fifth month, and I did it, I picked those up. One, two, skip one, one, two, skip one, one two, skip one….

Because (and I learned this long ago the hard way) knitted stitches are not square and going sideways from the ones you’re working from in ribbing, if you pick up every single one you’ll make a ripple that will never lie flat, not to mention the extra yardage and time it takes that you could be spending picking up more stitches on the other side and getting that over with, too.

Seven rows down seven to go on this side.

It feels like a mystery that somehow after all this time, that’s all it needs and then I won’t ever get to knit on this particular afghan again. Right when it’s at its most glorious.