Klutz, pressed
Friday June 15th 2012, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Celebrating Klutzes… (Klutz Press’s Intergalactic Headquarters, ie their retail store, is a few miles up the road.)

I mentioned the hairdryer incident yesterday because I wanted to warn off others. It didn’t burn the hair, it just wrapped it around and around the insides and Richard couldn’t even take it apart to get at it without cutting my hair off anyway.

This morning, I checked the back of that one (Michelle’s) and then my own: mine had been designed to be much better at deflecting the possibility; hers, designed to be lightweight for travel, had sideways plastic stripes with equally-wide open gaps between them at the back. Be careful out there.

She said later that when I’d yelled “Help!” she had never heard it from me like that but once, the time that…

When our kids were little, the girls were in a bunkbed with Sam on the top. Age gave privileges. One evening, tucking them in, I put one foot on the edge of Michelle’s bunk to hoist myself partway and then hopped up on top of the tall dresser to have some quiet end-of-the-day time with my eldest, much enjoyed by both of us with me at eye level up near the ceiling with her. The novelty of coming into her territory for a moment.

And then I hopped straight down.

With my pocket catching on the drawer knob and pulling the whole dresser crashing down on me.

A stunned not very loud can’t get my breath have to say something “Help?” The kids yelled for their dad.

Richard came running and then stopped, bowled over laughing in the hallway. I knew, yes of course it was funny–but tomorrow, okay, hon, can we do something about this first, I’m still under this thing okay? And I’d landed on my wad of keys in the other pocket–getmeouttahere. He got it off fast, apologizing for his initial reaction. But he was right–it WAS funny. It was so classic klutzy us.

I did not know that all these years later, Michelle remembered exactly how I’d sounded in that first moment.

And it was no big deal, I was okay.

And it’s no big deal. I do have about a dozen random stray hairs sticking up on top of my head, but they’ll just add character to the family photos in another nephew’s wedding coming up. Like when my then-four-year-old son cut his hair instead of the construction paper on the long car ride on the way to my brother’s. Family tradition.

Anybody got a klutz story to tell?

Chill out
Thursday June 14th 2012, 10:29 pm
Filed under: Life

Everybody has days like this.

Baking soda. Lots of baking soda. Costco-sized baking soda.

I was supposed to drop my car off at the mechanic today, but when I described to him the broken jug of milk the night before and how I thought I’d gotten it all till I opened the door again in the morning… Baking soda, trying that… (And it did help a lot, but not enough yet.)

“Tomorrow,” he told me, hoping hard, I’m sure; today, though, mmm, not so much.

And then the fridge decided to throw a house-warming party.

I think I need to go knit.

(Ed. to add, and then I decided to be helpful and try again with the hairdryer on the freezer coils, most of which happened while I was at knit night. Did you know the back of a hairdryer could suck your hair into it? I did not. I know now. And yes, there were a fair number of hairs that after everybody’s best efforts for quite some time could only be cut off.)

Wednesday June 13th 2012, 11:34 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends

It was Ryan’s birthday today, and his girlfriend’s parents invited us all over to dinner.

Our part of it: one homemade angel food cake.

One bag frozen raspberries cooked with about a half cup mango juice and a not-full 1/4 c sugar in the microwave for about three and a half minutes, then cuisinarted so that the seeds (which do add to the flavor) become one with the puree. Pour over diced pieces from six ataulfo-type (smallish yellow kidney-shaped) mangoes.

Chocolate sauce: fill a measuring cup to yay high with pieces of good dark chocolate, then pour coconut cream to almost that high. Dunk every bit of chocolate below the surface once before nuking so the chocolate doesn’t seize, then one minute for my about a cup and a half’s  worth of chocolate.  Stir hard while the pieces melt. Can serve as sauce or refrigerate till hard, scoop into balls, roll in cocoa, and call it truffles. (Mine was still sauce when it was time to go; it’s all good.)

One portabello mushroom/onion side dish, sauteed by Michelle.

Two other cakes, one by the girlfriend and hers was the best. Chocolate pear torte. I’d really like the recipe.

And a good party was had by all.

Mtn View City Council
Tuesday June 12th 2012, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Politics

Tonight was the night.

Barron Park Plumbing Supply’s landlord had signed an agreement with the developer that if Geier’s plan got approved, the building would be sold to him.

And you know it would be bulldozed.

There’s a small halal grocer in that little group of businesses; the owner complained that Geier had fenced off the end of her one-way parking strip’s egress. Three days it stood, and three days her customers did not come. It seems clear that he hoped to push her into bankruptcy so he could have that lot, too.

Note the German translation of his name: vulture.

So, now that it was out of the planning commission,  Mountain View City Council was considering the issue of whether the monstrous proposed redevelopment should be built.

I love that one councilwoman said, There’s supposed to be a public benefit and the only benefit I see here is to the developer.

Others piled on and the project, at least in its current form, was shelved. Round two to Milk Pail, and kudos to all the council members who stood up for those small businesses and owners on that corner and for the residents as well.

(p.s. A non-sequitur because I want to record the date: this afternoon, while I was stopped at a light, a peregrine falcon flew overhead and then swooped down close, giving me a good view, and away. Wow!)

Lemon raspberry cake
Monday June 11th 2012, 11:37 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Michelle was hoping for lemon cake: Please? (Bambi eyes.) It always came out wrong when she did it, she claimed.

And then she just happened to mention that she and her father had bought a big box of raspberries on Saturday and we should eat them. Soon. (Checking, she added,) They all look great so far.

I protested, I never write it down, I just do, and I haven’t made it in awhile. (I should have checked the blog.) So I forged ahead: only, this time I used a cup of just-juiced lemons and a half a cup of almost-too-healthy Earth Balance. Butter would have been better, only, not around her dairy allergy.

Meanwhile, she rinsed the raspberries; we had about 10 oz left to play with. We patted them dry over and over with paper towels. Then I sprinkled them across the top of the cake (you have to work fast with that recipe) and about 1/4 c brown sugar over them.

Got it right this time. Oh most definitely.

Now I get it
Sunday June 10th 2012, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

A quiet day of peace. Of feeling greatly blessed.

And knitting away, I wondered yet again who… And suddenly I absolutely, totally knew. There is nothing that speeds up the needles like that happy anticipation.

So glad they could call
Saturday June 09th 2012, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

It was, to be softspoken about it, an intense day.

We went to the wedding reception this evening of Marguerite’s daughter. Beautifully done, the couple and their families so very happy. So much joy. The way it should always be.

And here’s the funny part: they held it in the Rotunda at City Hall in San Jose. Okay, picture me jumping up and down in surprised glee when that invitation came. Wow!

And to top it off, with what I can only ascribe to the choreography of God, we parked the car and were on the plaza walking towards the Rotunda door when, looking up, I said to Richard and Michelle, Do you see what that is?!

No, what?

The peregrine falcon casually turned a half-circle around the circular building and away towards the direction of the nest, the one I used to be on the camera crew for. Just. So. Perfect.

As were the bride and groom.

The other thing that happened. The phone rang this afternoon. “Hi, Mom!”

“Hi, Richard!” (Wondering what the occasion might be.) I found out soon enough.

I have always thought that that freeway bridge was an example of old and, at the side near the airport, poor design. The kids were on it in heavy traffic when for reasons no one knows, someone slammed their brakes hard. And were hit. A third car hit. While our son Richard in the other lane was braking and trying to avoid and so the guy behind him slammed into him and threw him into the others and if we heard right, our kids were then hit yet again.

And they are okay. The car, not so much. One person left the scene via paramedics, braced and collared, but nobody was killed.

Cars are only so much scrap metal anyway. I told him that my big accident when I was hit, the doctor told me to keep moving gently all day, all day, while consciously relaxing and that that would keep the muscle damage to a minimum.  He was right. (He missed the brain swelling and the damage to my balance to come, but maybe it was too soon after to know.)

They’re okay. Repeat. They’re okay. Two hours later we were in San Jose, watching old friends finding old friends, everybody embracing the happy couple, four years after we were doing the same thing with our own kids and now grandson who had us holding our breath today.

Love your dear ones. Life is far too fragile for anything less.

Coming along
Friday June 08th 2012, 10:19 pm
Filed under: Knit

It’s amazing how much knitting gets done when you pick it up in the morning and basically work all day with other stuff thrown in randomly but not too often, just enough so your hands get a break often enough. This is my fourth and best (yay!) and final (!) version of this pattern.

You over there–Hey. I hear you laughing.

Coopernicus is back
Thursday June 07th 2012, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Friends,Wildlife

I was saying to someone just yesterday that I hadn’t seen my hawks in months and I missed them. Rather fiercely, actually. I hoped they were okay. The squirrel population seems to have suddenly gone bonkers–ten at once?!–and a few of the new ones trying to raid whatever they can have looked close to starving. This didn’t help me think the hawks were okay out there. The balance was off.

I moved a chair on the patio to try to thwart the little monsters and I guess it made the perch he needed: later, as if summoned, the male Cooper’s landed on the back of it. It was afternoon. It was not his usual hunting time.

He glanced around the patio a bit because that’s just what you do when you’re a raptor, but mostly he was watching me watching him while I was being fervently grateful he’d come. He’s here! He’s alive! And the ravens didn’t bully him out of his territory after all. Yay!

If a wild thing living free can feel loved, I was giving it my best.

He looked relaxed, and to prove that he fluffed out his chest and head feathers a bit. LookywhatIcando.

You sweet showoff you. So gorgeous.

We enjoyed each other’s company awhile longer, and then, mission accomplished, he was off in no particular hurry.

I got up, baked some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and soon Michelle was home and then Richard; we walked next door to wish our neighbors goodbye.

When we moved here, the folks two doors down had children in college and gone and ours were not all born yet; now ours are grown and gone and they’ve decided it was time for them to move next to their children. Their house sold in a day.  Ohio will be very different.

And so their three-doors-down neighbors were throwing a goodbye party, something we all needed in our impending loss; who else would know about how their orange Persian with the jet-engine purr who would walk over to hang out with my kids? Or would come crash a nearby party like the one just then? We will miss those good people. I’m so glad we got to see them.

Side note: probably fifteen years ago now, I combed that cat’s long soft fur, spun about 18″ out of it, plied it with silk and knit a 1×2″ piece. Glued some pearl beads on some round toothpicks and put the live stitches on my faux knitting needles. Add a pin backing, and there you go!

She kept that memento of him on her fridge for years for all to see.

I got to talking with Bill, who’s behind our fence.  What are the chances that the one person who would know anything would be the one person I said anything to! I asked him whether my birdfeeder had brought more birds into his yard too; he chuckled and admitted he didn’t know birds, really–but: there was a dove that hit the window trying to get away from a hawk and then the hawk hit it too! A big hawk. It had lain there about a half hour before finally picking itself up.

Was it a Cooper’s? Was it the female? (I’m thinking, a third larger, a rounder front, tell me…)

He knew it was a hawk, he chuckled, but that’s about it.

After today’s visit I know the male is clearly doing fine. I hope his mate is too–but it was good to know at least something.

And I bet Bill went home and looked up Cooper’s hawks.

And we all hugged the friends who are leaving and, even knowing they need to, so much wished they wouldn’t go.

After you, Grampa
Wednesday June 06th 2012, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Family

It is 6/6/12. Now, if you could take the two sixes, turn the second one around, draw that number 1 across the top with the bottom of it as the rear fender and the 2 above it providing the rider in race mode, you’ll have it: my son on a bicycle.

Actually, the word bicycle itself kinda looks (especially if you flip the e onto the top to be the rider’s smiling face and the l to be its arms) like one pulling a baby trailer with the little traffic flag flying at the back.

Which totally fits.

It is our son’s birthday, he of the bike and baby trailer and of letting his Grampa go first. We Skyped; Parker said “Hi” and put his pacifier in, eyes wide, when his dad asked where his ears were. Heh. We knew he knew. Then he decided it was okay to be shown off and he was all ears. And nose. “Where’s your mouth?” A plug for a plug and acute of the cute.

After awhile, he decided enough of this not-here–BE here! And he tried to climb into their screen so we could really be together, and maybe even get a hug!

Workin’ on it, kiddo, workin’ on it.

Happy Birthday, little Richard!

Happy Birthday, Dad!
Tuesday June 05th 2012, 11:27 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life,My Garden

Years ago my mom had a co-worker who was close to some kids whose parents were going through a nasty divorce. She wanted them to have a promise of hope: to see a couple who were long married, who’d raised kids together and gotten them off on their own, who were living a full life. Together. Who cherished each other. So she set up an appointment and Mom and Dad said sure, come on by.

The locals will understand when I say I grew up in an Eichler-esque house: floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room at the back of the house looking out on the woods, highly unusual architecture for Maryland, only, different from the Eichlers in that the living room rose to a cathedral ceiling.

It was the season of Christmas.

Every year Dad would get the ladder and hang globe ornaments from the top beam between the living and dining room. These were huge, deeply colored, beautiful, but something you couldn’t put in a normal ceiling without someone bonking their head. We got to have them. I’ve never seen them anywhere else. The whole area was decorated as only an art dealer and his wife could do: things collected from trips to Europe, happy-making and pretty, only the lights being your average store-bought. And even then… I was so thrilled when bubble lights finally came back on the market a few years ago.


For whatever reason, Mom got delayed, the co-worker and kids came early, I don’t know, but when they came only Dad was home. Mom apologized profusely later to her co-worker.

Who told her no, that was perfect.


My father had loved those children and had wanted the best for them before he ever laid eyes on them; I imagine the very request got him thinking how blessed his life was and how much he wished it for them too, and he welcomed them in and joyfully showed them around as they talked. I picture him showing off the painted and glittered plaster-of-paris ornaments we kids had made for years growing up, with varying levels of skill and childhood showing–Mom and Dad always insisted on putting those up long after we kids thought we’d definitely outgrown the scribblings or sloppiness or whatever lack of perfection might be in them. A little snip of twine was embedded in each to hold a hook for the tree.

Come to think of it, the best birthday party I ever had growing up was having my friends come paint a newly-cast set of those ornaments and letting them take theirs home. December birthdays rock.

Those kids went home that day with the joy of the season. It was infectious. My dad is the most joyful celebrant of Christmas you could ever hope to meet.

And the best celebrant of his children’s lives a daughter could ever ask for. Happy Birthday, Dad. I love you.

Monday June 04th 2012, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Family

As if anybody ever doubted… (Again, here is the link to her paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Moms get to brag like that.) With a heartfelt thank you to every teacher and her every source of support along the way.

Sam’s thesis defense was today.  We all knew, of course she would, (hold our breaths…)

SHE DID IT!!!  Dr. Hyde! I can’t begin to tell you how proud we are. Go SAM!!!

Sweet sixteen
Sunday June 03rd 2012, 11:24 pm
Filed under: Lupus,My Garden

Richard bought me a large pot of my favorite lilies last year that quickly became an explosion of blooms.

Come fall, their leaves fell off for the winter and they looked dead like any self-respecting deciduous plant should. New shoots came up in the spring. Why a part of me was surprised I don’t know.

And then I caught the squirrels chewing off the tops. NO!

And so the not-yet-transplanted pot came inside, behind the windows that cut out 97% of the UV those lilies so much need but I with my lupus so much do not. It amazes me that despite being blocked to that degree they’re still just quietly doing their thing just the same. The leaves and buds and flowers are a bit smaller. I’m counting sixteen instead of last year’s nineteen on the bud count. Hey. But oh, the sweet, sweet scent with just the first two open.

And a certain someone gets credit for giving me flowers all over again.

I need some Morro this
Saturday June 02nd 2012, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Friends,Wildlife

The doorbell rang this evening. Wasn’t expecting anybody. It was Phyllis and her husband Lee, newly home from Morro Bay–small world, Nancy!–offering a small but potent sachet of fresh lavender from a grower there. (This looks to me like enough to protect any size yarn stash. My little sachet is 8g.)

I had to know if they’d seen… I told them there are two nesting pairs of peregrines on Morro Rock that sits at the edge of the land: one only hunts this direction, the other, only that, with a gentlemen’s agreement that neither shall cross into the other’s territory.

Lee: “We saw one!” Wayyy high up in the air, as they viewed it through someone’s scope; with his camera ever at the ready, “I got an eight pixel picture,” he laughed.

Sounds about right.

Ginny Russell
Friday June 01st 2012, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Michelle flying in just after midnight, my old friend Nancy now of Morro Bay 200 miles south of here dropping by at noon. A great way to start a day.

Then this article arrived in the mail. Ginny Russell was the kindergarten teacher for all four of my kids. Every year her classroom watched the life cycle of silk moths and the slight variations in the silk as they spun, working around and around in their sliced stacked-up toilet-paper-tube sections. There was a guinea pig and/or a bunny every year. One must be gentle, one must not frighten nor chase. Hold them like this so they feel safe and secure. They raised butterflies. They were taught to value living things and themselves.

Ginny mentions her butterfly enclosure in the article; it doesn’t say, but she used it for kids whom she saw needed a moment’s intervention before a coming meltdown–she would grant them butterfly time, where they were to hold very still in that little place and let these beautiful things they had all helped raise land on their hands and shoulders and head, surrounded too by the plants they’d grown to feed the larvae, the butterflies’ kindergarten stage.

The powers that be want the image of a great school at the expense of a real one. Ginny’s pleas to let the kids have a year of productive, learning, playing and learning to socialize went nowhere.

This acknowledged master teacher whom they had had mentor others, who was the very image of kindness with a profound empathy for the children in her care, was told she had to conform to the new high-tech standard and to pretend to be oblivious to the effects of assigning five-year-olds to tracks, to reading achievement levels in front of each other. (In kindergarten!) And her view that children need the realness of the smell of chalk and the feel of a pencil or crayon in their hand was deemed too old fashioned for Silicon Valley.

And so she is out.

Those who want only touch screens for small fingers are the ones utterly out of touch.

Years ago, I wondered how Michelle, my third, would cope with this whole idea of going off to school and all its unknowns for the very first time.

She marched right into that classroom without even looking back to wave goodbye to me: finally it was her turn to be in Mrs. Russell’s room! The silk worms, the bunny… It was hers now!

Both my girls studied biology in their undergrad and you know where they got their good start. I want to show Ginny this: part of Sam’s ongoing trajectory from all that Ginny blessed her life with. She taught my kids to love to learn and to love one another. Even the difficult classmates. “Why do you think Sean acted that way?” They talked it out. Understanding happened.

Love was the language there.

Such a loss. Such a crying loss. I can only fervently wish the decisions could somehow be reversed. And man, did my kids luck out.