I have designs on this one
Thursday July 31st 2008, 12:30 pm
Filed under: Knit

No whizzing through this one quite yet; I spent yesterday’s time on it constantly counting stitches and editing the text to be exactly right (and being distracted while I concocted another design on the side; I seem to be on a roll.) One more row and I’ll be home free to where I’m just repeating what’s been done.  Count count count. I know what the math says–trust but verify anyway. If perfectionism takes extra time, it’s an absolute necessity and worth it.

takes two to tangle

My friend Jasmin went to Maine a few weeks ago and got to do something I can only dream of–she went to visit Melinda of Tess’ Designer Yarns!  When Melinda found out Jasmin was in my local knitting group, she told her of how I’d snagged some of her yarn at Stitches West two years ago with my motorized wheelchair, breaking a skein; when I’d apologized and tried to pay for it, Melinda had just waved me away.

So I had gone home, pulled some Tess silk yarn out of my stash, knitted it up into a lace scarf as far as the yardage would take me, and mailed it off to Maine.

Referencing that, Melinda sent Jasmin home with some yarn for me. I got an email from Jasmin in the showroom, asking for color preferences.  I thought I was buying it, and told Jasmin I’d love to have more of that Merino Lace.

At Stitches East last fall, I had traded Melinda some of her hand dyed Merino Lace for a copy of my book and we had both come away happy.  Since then, I had taken it out and admired it longingly many a time but it just hadn’t found what it wanted to be yet.

Till Jasmin came home and happily gifted me, from Melinda, with more.  Four skeins, two colorways I like, one that played really well with what I’d bought in Baltimore.  I swatched.  I swooned.  Yes!  Somehow, the brightness and cheerfulness of the fuschia, purple, and coral with a touch of yellow were the perfect antidote to the still-somewhat-smoky skies overhead, and I am totally loving working with these.  Thank you, Melinda!  Jasmin, too!

(P.S. Knitpicks.com still has knitting books at 40% off right now. I’m just sayin’.)

Constance earthquakes
Wednesday July 30th 2008, 11:53 am
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Knit

Constance shawl pre-blockingOops, I need to snip that end in back.

back of Constance pre-blocking

One time when we had an earthquake about the size of yesterday’s, I was at the funeral of a 95-year-old friend and the bench I was sitting on suddenly jolted upwards hard while the chandeliers were swinging wildly overhead. I figured it was Al waving goodbye–I could just picture him laughing.  (And I was grateful for California earthquake codes.)Constance shawl blocked

Thank you to those who’ve been checking up on us, but no, we’re an eight-hour drive north of where yesterday’s quake was.  You know why the US Geological Survey folks put earthquake predictions in 30-year increments?  Because 30 years is the length of the average mortgage.  They want people to realize that it will happen in their time–and we’ve definitely had a few, but nothing worse than superficial cracks in the chimney grout so far at our house.  The kid across the street can you tell you, though, about being swooshed out of his swimming pool during the 7.1 Loma Prieta.  Well, no, wait–after that one, our kitchen cabinet doors in a modern-circa-1950’s sliding style fell down at our heads rather than slid across every time we tried to open them: a good incentive to remodel.  Which we did.

Meantime.  This is the Constance shawl from Wrapped in Comfort, with a slight modification in the yoke pattern: I changed one pattern row from k1 *yo k1 sl1-k2tog-psso k1 yo k1, to a pattern row of, *k1, yo, sl1-k2tog-psso, yo, k2.  In other words, I switched places on the yarnovers and single stitches next to the double decreases–not a big difference, and simply for my own amusement.  I was using one strand of a fine laceweight cashmere and one of a fine laceweight silk from Claudia’s Handpaints (but not painted) that I bought at Purlescence.  (Where, by the way, you can order a copy of the book and I will go in and inscribe it for you if you’d like.)

Constance shawl, backUsing a silk yarn with a cashmere yarn made for a far different effect than if I’d bought a blend: the silk sparkles and twinkles prominently around the visually quieter cashmere, a very pretty effect. The separate silk strand was a little slipperier to knit than a blend, and the doubled strands in such thin yarns looked a bit messy on the needles–but blocked! This is part of why I launched into the project I reknit yesterday–I like how  two laceweights play together, how they look finer, blocked, then a fingering weight of the same overall weight, and I wanted to play with the idea more, adding differing colorways to the idea.

Oh, and, since I was using finer yarns than the original Constance called for, and since the Constance is one of the least full patterns in the book, I widened the width by using the template for Tara’s Redwood Burl shawl (minus the two extra stitches at the end of the row on the Tara) and swapping in the other lace patterns.  361 stitches.

The recipient for this one is quite petite, someone who actually makes me feel tall (and that’s saying something); I think I got it a good length for her.  I’m going to show it off at Purlescence tomorrow night, and then it goes to the grandmother of my new daughter-in-law.

Now you see it…
Tuesday July 29th 2008, 2:16 pm
Filed under: Knit

Going, going...And in a moment you won’t.  I think.  I could just keep going as it is and knit a perfectly nice shawl. Only problem is, I want this exact yarn to go into that exact new idea and it doesn’t in its current state. I was swatching and swatching and swatching with a different yarn to the side last night, feeling restless with how I’d planned the thing even though it was a perfectly good idea, and at bedtime, having finally figured out my way through to just exactly what I wanted, I was skipping down the hall like a little kid: I DID it! I GOT it!  This is SO cool!

Only, I didn’t entirely yet–I have to frog this down to row four and have a do-over.  Part of me says oh just go knit that idea in something else and let this one be, there’s nothing wrong with it.

Except, I don’t want to.  I want THIS yarn to be the new idea. So there.  Because I’m the mommy. I said so.  Frog it.

…Tomorrow.  Lemme think about it first.  (Casting on to test the new idea in yet another yarn, and then…)

Moral of the story: and *this*, children, is why we have stashes.  Basic playground equipment is essential.

(Edited to add: I did it.  I took it all the way back to zero and got it past the frogging point again.  It was so worth it.)

Torte reform
Monday July 28th 2008, 2:56 pm
Filed under: Family,Recipes

I make a chocolate torte, a takeoff from what was originally in a Hershey’s cookbook but made even more decadent, that has become my signature dessert and part of my children’s childhood memories.

And I have a daughter who now is terribly allergic to anything dairy.  Not lactose intolerant but truly allergic.  She’s adjusted pretty well, but she misses that torte.

coconut ganache, take oneSo every now and then we experiment, although we have a long way to go yet.  Hazelnut oil with chocolate is wonderful.  Her sibling’s using soy milk for the cream and substituting the butter in the cake with extra virgin olive oil, not so much.  (I shouldn’t type that. I really shouldn’t type that.  Not out loud.)

Saturday, Michelle came home from Whole Foods with a can of high-fat coconut milk–she figured the low fat version wasn’t going to cut it.  (True!)  I use super-heavy manufacturing cream in my ganache that I cover my cakes with; could one make a ganache with this?

So she gave it a go and melted the chocolate into it.  It tasted like a Mounds bar gone to heaven.  Then she added vanilla, which covered up the coconut somewhat.  I can just hear my dad, who emphatically does not care for coconut, exclaiming, Well, thank GOODNESS.  Heh.

I got a note last night from our friend Paul.  His daughters had doorbell-ditched nectarines from their tree at our door last week; I’d returned the favor a few days later by knocking on their door and handing his wife one of my tortes (my version).  Paul was emailing to ask about it and about the chocolate, and wondered whether we kept some bars of that Trader Joe’s chocolate on hand as a staple, then?  And just which of their bars did I use?

I had to think about it, and the answer was yes.  I do always have at least one of their Pound Plus Bittersweets on hand so I can easily pull together a pair of tortes (I always make two) as the need arises.

As for Michelle, though, I’d have to say, hum a few bars and she’ll fake it.

Summer reunions
Sunday July 27th 2008, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Friends

Somehow today we had six different sets of friends from way back when show up at church, people who’d moved away that we hadn’t expected to get to see again–and they all picked today to be back. Synchronicity is great fun.

The trio of little boys looked at me in semi-disbelief when I told them I’d known their daddy when he was a teenager. Their daddy? A teenager? Nonpsychodegradeable. Lady, are you SURE?

One old friend, after we threw our arms around each other, asked after the old neighborhood and specifically about her favorite old neighbor across the street. I told her I’d run into Jane at Stitches, that she was a knitter now and that we’d done a doubletake at running into each other at a knitting convention of all places. Jane had had no idea that I knit, much less anything about my writing a knitting book. She simply knew me from my taking walks around the neighborhood and our having children the same ages.

And then Jane’s old neighbor asked, in seriousness, about my health. I took a deep breath, and then: I basically told her how bad it had been. Not many details, just enough to be honest. Lupus with autonomic neuropathy is a bear–but the chemo has it mostly in remission, along with the Crohn’s.

I could only open up because it’s okay now, I really am doing so well now, and have been for some time; she was very gratified to hear that.

And then there was K there, visiting too. K… Several years ago, I surprised her with a knitted lace scarf, a nice one–and her reaction had stunned me. She’d held it, burst into tears, and rushed away from me and disappeared, while I was standing there going, What on earth…what just happened here? I don’t get this at all.

From what I was able to surmise, she took it as something bequeathed, while I wanted to quote Monty Python: “I’m not dead yet!”

Today, she was totally cheerful and very glad to see me and no more was said. She lives in a cold climate now: and I happen to know she has a nice wide, warm scarf for it. I will go look her up in ten years and ask her if it needs any moth holes repaired. I am not admitting to any inner snarkiness at that thought.

Vera, who has children around my age, didn’t recognize me at all as I went up to her, exclaiming in delight. I reminded her of the time there’d been a ward Christmas party just before she and her husband had moved away, and someone had ratted me out and everybody had sung Happy Birthday. Vera had poked an elbow in my side, demanding, “And how old are you now? Thirty-nine and holding?!”

I’d looked at her with a wry smile and answered, “Yeah: for about six hours now.”

We shared a good laugh all over again at the memory. That had been ten years ago, and she allowed as how she had a few gray hairs now herself. Hey. Happens to the best of us, if we’re lucky. C’est la Vera-t’e.

Re the photo: the newest knitting, after two Casbah shawls in dark Periwinkle, needed to be not-blue. Knit long and prosper.

(And if you’re counting, no, that’s not all six sets of old friends, but this post is long enough.)

Tess\'s merino lace

Snatched from Darwin
Saturday July 26th 2008, 10:45 am
Filed under: Friends,Knit

needed to be on separate needles at this pointI wrote yesterday that I was going to go fix those dropped stitches, but I kept putting it off.  I worked out two different ways of tackling the problem but kept doing neither. Finally, knowing I wanted it to be a one-day problem only, I sat down and made myself go for Door #2, Bob.

I put a point protector on one end of my long circular: there was absolutely no reason to risk having stitches fall off that end while repairing at this one.  There was an unexpected sense of relief at that that made the whole job immediately feel much more do-able.

Then I took a second circular needle and slipped the stitches onto it, moving them over one-by-one across the row till I got to the problem area.  Since the stitches remaining on the original needle were not so scrunched up now, and since I wasn’t risking losing any more with that point protector in place, I spread the work open so I could get a good look at the pattern repeat next over and rework the dropped area to match it.  The whole thing took me maybe five minutes; I was surprised.  Piece of cake.

casting offThen I slipped the stitches back onto the original needle on that side, took the spare–it didn’t matter what size it was, as long as it wasn’t bigger than the original needle, I was only using it for holding, not knitting–and went to the other side of the row and repeated the process.  But over there, I had a live stitch that did not end at a yarnover, so it turns out I’d totally lucked out; it could have run clear to the beginning, and it was a fairly slippery yarn. I’d put a snip of yarn to mark and hold it, hadn’t tied it, and it had fallen out and the stitch was running free.

Darwin missed that shawl.

And now it is repaired, re-cast-off, blocking, and done, just needing that final end woven in.  When it is dry I will run it in going halfway across the bottom where it will be a length of yarn in storage for any future repairs, right there where it’ll be easy to find.

Hey, Mary–you want to go to Purlescence today? I hear you beat me that Monday to the new Casbah shipment by a few hours, and I happen to know you like this color.

If at first you don’t fricasee
Friday July 25th 2008, 11:20 am
Filed under: Knit

…Fry, fry a hen.

the dropping stops after running into the yarnover

This is a spoiler alert (because I am being just too impatient to wait any longer).  If you are the person this is for, if you already saw the new shop model at Purlescence, if you had a hand in that shop model’s creation but it was too small for you, go away and don’t read this for a day or two, okay?

Two days ago, I went to block this: I rinsed it gently in tepid water and went to lay it out in a circle.  Some yarns, some fibers, I run my wires through to get them to behave; some just need to dry patted into shape.  But either way, first you have to lay it out the way you want it to look.  The lace stitches magically fall into place when you add a little water–there’s this marvelous transformation from crumpled tin foil to actual, pretty lace.

And when I did, I found that having carried it around on errands during the cast-off row, having it on a 7mm needle while working it with a 10mm straight needle as I cast off, had been a big mistake. I had dropped a stitch and not noticed and it had run.

And then, at the other end of the cast-off row, I found another spot, although I rescued that one at an earlier stage in its bungee jumping.  Dropped stitches in the cast-off?  I have never done such a thing before. And to have done it twice?  What was I smoking?  (Oh. Right. The city’s compost pile.)

What bungee jumps down must bounce back up.  But that blew my plans for delivering the thing yesterday.  Crum.  At least I did get to see that working on an unfamiliar scale with a somewhat unfamiliar yarn, I’d guessed it right and the shawl and the neckline had come out the size and fit I wanted it to be for whom it’s going to.

I had another shawl that had been plodding slowly along in the background while other projects with bigger deadlines had come and gone, and in a huff at the blue one, finished that off yesterday instead.

Today I go bounce back up on the bungee cord here.  Part of me is urging myself to rip out multiple rows and not fuss with fixing, just go way back and then peacefully reknit it; I like this yarn, I like looking forward to making (you know now who you are) happy, and rescue work is a bear.

I’m going to do the rescue work.  It’s good practice.

So I spent yesterday waiting impatiently for it to dry, and then tinked the cast-off before it was probably entirely ready for it, got it back on the needles and now, finally, not only is it ready, but I am too.

Don’t yell it in a theater
Wednesday July 23rd 2008, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Life

smoke from the fire

“I smell fire.”

“I do too.”

Yes, there’s been this generalized omnipresent smoke all over California for a month now, but this was a far different intensity, and it hadn’t been there at all a few hours earlier when I’d been outside. I got up and investigated. Not in this room so much, strong in that, strong in that…I opened the back door and sniffed. Fire! I shut it quick. I opened the front door: fire! But I wanted to know how close. I stepped to the sidewalk and looked around: the strongest browns in the air seemed definitely to be towards the east, and they were not a sunset. Between us and the Bay, most likely, probably not way across the Bay, it was just too intense for that. But wow, look at that stream of smoke. It was comforting, at the same time; it wasn’t the neighbors’ houses or anything immediately discernible. It was hard to breathe, though, and I hurried back inside, wondering what on earth we would grab and go should it come to that, even if I didn’t think it would, and how on earth the holdouts around Carmel and Big Sur had done it, had hung in there with theirs so close by for so long.

Twice, we heard helicopters overhead. I googled. Must not have used quite the right search terms. Nada.

Our city, about ten years ago, set up a reverse-911 call system to notify all residents in the event of an emergency; it’s slower than I’d like, but it gets there. The hubby, being on both the Red Cross and the city’s emergency communications volunteer teams with his ham radio license, got called well before the household phone did. But the recorded calls did come.

It’s between us and the Bay (called that one right!) although, to the north by a few miles and across a major freeway, a natural firebreak. It’s the city’s mega-compost pile, with no structures threatened except the ones in our lungs.

I’ve been sitting here the last two hours thinking that sometimes life hands you, if you’re one of the lucky ones, just a taste of what others have to go through so you’ll have some idea of what it’s like when they need you to listen, some day in the future.

Dishing on the cloth
Wednesday July 23rd 2008, 1:37 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

I ran a quick errand yesterday and then turned my car over to my daughter–and after she’d left, I realized I’d left my knitting bag in there.  I’d been going to block that project last night, she didn’t get home till late… ! But it’s just as well.  If the recipient saw it here, it would instantly tip her off. She knows that yarn, and she knows me.  Later.

I got a message this morning: the hubby was stopping by in, oh, about 45 minutes, with some friends from work.  Just so I knew.

It is amazing how fast the knitting can get ditched and the cleaning get done when need be.

And so I shall tell you of this dishcloth, (now that they’ve come and gone), well faded in its old age.  Just don’t look too closely at the back of it right now.ditched sweater dishcloth

Back when my kids were in elementary school, I had a friend empty her closet of all her yarns and give them to me–seven bags’ worth, including large garbage-sized bags.  She told me good wool yarn was cheap in her native Germany, that she’d bought a lot over the years during various trips home, but she’d decided she was just never going to actually use it.  (The ironic thing now is that she recently got back into knitting, now that she has grandchildren to make cute things for.)

I in turn knew a young single mom of very little means who loved to knit, and asked the friend giving me the yarn if this would be okay with her; she was thrilled with the idea.  So.  Having once lived in grad-student-wife poverty, knowing what it was like to only be able to wish to make nice things, I in turn gave a lot of that yarn to this young mom: knowing I could replace what I liked and that here was a one-time opportunity to let her have some really nice materials to work with without feeling like a charity case from me.  Good yarns, with pride kept intact.  Perfect.

But I did keep a few nubbly-textured cotton skeins, and this was at a time I was doing a lot of Kaffe Fassett-style multicolor work.  So. I started into a cotton sweater.  I wanted to wear it to visibly show my friend I was grateful for her generosity.  Because I certainly was.

The further along I got, the more I dragged.  Too wide.  Didn’t want to frog it.  Not quite my colors.  Nubbly, I realized, was just not my style anyway.  Finally, I was reading the Knitlist one day, and someone there said something about knitting dishcloths. My first reaction was, why on earth would anyone put in the effort to knit something to get all grubby and gross in the kitchen?

My second was a sense of relief at the thought, that, I don’t have to knit that sweater anymore!  I can totally justify and make good use of the work I’ve already put into it!  Hey!

I intended to frog it down to the beginning of the armscye, but in a fit of why-should-I-be-patient-with-this-anymore, simply cast off right where it was.  And ever since then, I have had this, um, unique dishcloth. It really was a nice bit of intarsia work once.  You can’t really tell anymore.

Someone mentioned that bamboo yarns have anti-microbial properties, so I guess they would work well as dishcloths.  I can see that. I just haven’t been able to make myself try it yet.  Knitting one, so far, has been enough.  It works for me.

And you should see my kitchen right now.  The hubby’s co-workers did.

Doing our part for the honeybees
Tuesday July 22nd 2008, 11:03 am
Filed under: My Garden

back view of one of the gladsI stepped outside just now to snap some shots of the glads that have started to bloom, and the honeysuckle plant next to them caught my eye: a honeybee was buzzing in and out.  It’s a little overgrown, but if the plant is helping the honeybee population, I’m all for it.

I grew up on a street called Honeybee Lane, where honeysuckles grew wild and abundantly at the edges of the woods; we kids used to pull the stamens slowly to the base of the tiny flowers to taste that little bit of nectar in them.

The hummingbirds like the glads, and I can see them from our kitchen, their green flashing in and out amongst the bright pink.

More on the knitting later; I’m trying to keep it a surprise.  But the latest project, which I expect to finish this afternoon, is canna lilies translated into lace.  Although, looking at my glads, I realize it’s not too far off from being individual glad blossoms among their siblings on the stalk.

gladiolus and a little white honeysuckle behind it

Monday July 21st 2008, 12:03 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Friends,Knit

Amanda (scroll down to see) let me buy one of her very first colorways she dyed up for her then-new Etsy shop.   It’s brighter than this in real life, a very cheerful shade; the flash mutes it here.  The shawl pin holding it on the wheel for me is handblown glass, a gift from my old friend Sheila Ernst from when I saw her at Stitches.

And then that yarn sat there in my stash, patiently waiting its rightful turn, with a false start I finally frogged.  Till Amanda wrote a post about how her business was doing that sparked my pulling that gorgeous green out of the stash and casting on to see how far I could stretch my one little skein to go.  Normally, I would have used needles a size or so smaller, and I would have cast on more stitches, but I needed all the length I could get.Amanda\'s shawl

It was good to see it back where it belonged.  Her picture (note the beautiful brunette) is way more fun than mine.

Specifications: size 10 needles, the faster-version Julia from Wrapped in Comfort through the yoke and increase rows, then the Michelle shawl through the main body.

Sunday July 20th 2008, 10:38 am
Filed under: Life,Non-Knitting

First, thank you to all who have written about Ruth. My hope is that her husband aka The Roketman will follow the link back here and read your words and mine and find comfort in them.  I am told there was a spinners’ guild meeting yesterday with him present, with tears and funny stories told on his wife.

What I wanted to mention for this morning.  Yesterday, my husband and I went off to Costco a little before they closed, and ended up in a slow line well away from the busy central aisle.

Very shortly a young couple with two little girls pulled their cart up behind us: three and a half year old twins, identical as far as I could tell, and absolutely adorable.

The mom looked really frazzled, the dad less so, but clearly it had been a long day; it showed in all of them.  As the wife went off to grab one last thing somewhere, my husband looked at the dad, smiled, and said, “I remember the days.”

When your children are little, there’s nothing in the world so comforting as a middle-aged stranger who thinks they’re adorable rather than a pain for being fussy.  And when you’re a parent, that is one of the perks of getting to that age. One twin grabbed her sister’s head and pulled it into her lap and rocked  back and forth a moment.  The other enjoyed the closeness at first, laughing, then decided to assert her individuality and pushed away hard. Normal sibling stuff.  She got her daddy to let her out of the cart, and then promptly laid down on the floor, swishing her arms and legs full circle.

“Wrong climate for snow angels,” I laughed, and the dad’s face lit up and he laughed.  He mentioned a trip to Tahoe they were looking forward to.  The other twin experimented for a few moments with the fact that she now got to take over the leg holes in the upper cart for both sides–it was designed to seat two–and then, when it wasn’t fun to take over her sister’s territory if her sister didn’t notice nor care, asked to be let out too.  Whereupon she flopped down on the floor a moment herself, looking the very picture of exhaustion, then leaped up and ran around her twin like a sheepdog herding her.  Never letting herself get too far away from her sister.  Stay close where it feels safe from the big world.

“I wish I had that much energy when I’m tired.”  Again, the dad laughed in response.

Next time Costco exhausts me, I will picture myself on the floor making snow angels.  Maybe one of their 25-lb bags of powdered sugar would help.

Ruth Schooley
Friday July 18th 2008, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Friends

waving my circs in Ruth\'s honor

I hadn’t checked out her blog in a couple of months.  I wish I had.  Looking today, I find she had a fiberarts blogroll of only a dozen blogs–and one was mine.  That means a lot to me.

Her youngest was the same age as my third child.

Five years ago this week and last, I was in the hospital in critical condition, and Ruth Schooley, one of the listmoms of the Knitlist, was checking up on me. I had a Hiptop, the first of the cellphones to hit the market that did email (etc, etc). It was my link to the outside world, once I had the strength again to type into it.  Lying down at first, unable to handle its weight, then, as I got better, eventually I was able to sit up to type back to her and to a few others who weren’t afraid to hear about life at its far edges.  I could read my Knitlist messages and still feel a sense of belonging to my previous normal life outside Stanford Hospital, and Ruth forwarded a few from me to the list so that my phone’s addy wouldn’t be exposed to the whole world.  Much comfort came my way from that.

She was always the voice of calmness in any storm.  She was always one to come immediately help out.  At her most piqued, she would wave her dpns in the air and remind us that she had pointy sticks and she knew how to use them.  The laughter always helped.

Ruth posted on her blog on July 14.  Monday.

Tuesday she was suddenly gone.

I do not know the details. I do know she touched many, many knitters who take part in the online community, and she will be sorely missed.  To the Rocketman and to the children, I, along with many others, grieve with you; you are not alone.  Ruth saw to that.

It’s a bird! It’s a plane!
Thursday July 17th 2008, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Spinning

And his sidekick Bobbin!

It\'s Battman!Look! Up in the sky! It’s Battman! And Bobbin, the toy winder!

(Some spontaneous wheel decorating took place about ten years ago when a kid tried to balance a cup of grape juice on the sidebars of the wheel.  This didn’t work out quite as well as was apparently hoped, and has made for endless teasing ever since.  Does the purple racing stripe bother me? Nah, get a grape on it.  No wine-ing allowed.)

Thursday July 17th 2008, 9:51 am
Filed under: Family,My Garden

the planting of the plum tree, May 12

My daughter in Vermont wanted to see pictures of the plum tree she’d instigated, and the emailed picture didn’t go through, so I’m putting up shots here of the day it was planted and what it looks like today, two months later.  Sprouting like a teenager–it’s already taller than me.

My plum tree after two monthschildren gave me a new summer tradition, and they didn’t even know it.  About 8pm each Wednesday, I figure it’s late enough in the day that the UV levels are probably not a problem.  And I go out in the back yard–such a simple grace to be granted to one’s soul–and I water my trees.

The most amazing thing happened when I did last night: it was quiet as I walked out the door.  No counting to see how long it would take before I got squawked at (two steps, on average), no bluejays flitting noisily just above my head.  I’d seen two out there earlier in the day, but territory-wise, the back yard was all mine now.  Double-check those hearing aid batteries…but no. All was quiet on the western front. The little ones must have fledged.

fig from Newton\'s law of gravity+birds

And I feel like the proud momma as if I’d raised them myself.