Monday April 15th 2013, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Life

Today we celebrate our oldest: Happy Birthday, Sam! It snowed that day; today there was so much wind that I wondered, looking up through a skylight, whether a limb or two on that big tree might come down. (It held.) A finch leaving my feeder suddenly got thrown far sideways in the gust but recovered and made it to the safety of the trees to ride out the worst with some of its flock.

My cousin Tina had kids visiting and they decided that maybe watching the marathon with three grandkids in tow under age four would not be the best idea after all and so they went to the JFK library instead, figuring they would have it all to themselves while everybody else was at the race.

Which they pretty much did.

They left at 2:40. By the time they got home it was clear they needed to turn on the TV…

Ezra Klein wrote a beautiful, moving tribute from the point of view of a marathoner’s husband celebrating the cheering crowds and the history and the runners and the rescuers here. I highly recommend it.

We had recall work and then, it turned out, major warranty stuff as well being done on our car, and there came a phone call saying that a rental car was covered with that warranty. The Prius was going to be staying there for a few days.

The dealership that used to drive me nuts, this afternoon, sales and service people alike on the floor wanted only to make life easier for every single person who walked in those doors. There was a genuineness, a quietly shared vulnerability, a need to reach out. Sit, sit, (while I waited for the rental to be delivered) may we…  I don’t drink coffee or tea, and they were keenly disappointed not to be able to give me that small gesture, wanting to be able to Do Something; I regret not having asked for a simple cup of water, for their sakes’ and my own.

Note all the runners and first responders and average people alike who ran TO the fire and the smoke in the bombings today, their need to help others instinctively and instantly more important than their very lives. That, that is who we are as Americans and as human beings and we will never forget those who by doing so ran against the force of the wind to rescue us all.

Um, whoops
Sunday April 14th 2013, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Life

The audiologist wanted me to do a good comparison of the new vs the old aids, so yesterday I was back to a quieter world, but today I didn’t want to miss a thing. New it was.

The Relief Society (the women’s organization at church) lesson was just starting, and the woman picked up a red marker to write a point on the white board.

It took me so very much by surprise that I suddenly realized I’d said it out loud hopefully not too loud, “You can actually HEAR that?!” I knew from my childhood that chalks squeak, but dry erase markers?!

And then sank into my seat half covering my face like a little kid in class, silently going ohmygosh. I can’t believe I said that.

It enhances the embarrassment that I heard me better, too, as I said it.

Got off easy this time
Saturday April 13th 2013, 9:13 pm
Filed under: My Garden,Wildlife

When the sun got quite low I went outside to trim back some remaining weed-tree branches to give the Fuji apple more sun; the doctor had told me I needed to work on upper-body strength (he wasn’t impressed when I mentioned the pound of baby afghan on my needles) and that was as useful a way to work on that as I could think of.

When I got out there, it was clear that the overall lack of rainfall this year was beginning to show in the plants.

A peach had dropped several leaves. A few of the little beginning plums were small and had turned yellow, unlike the growing green other ones;  the yellowing clivia leaves clinched it.

I glanced up just in time to see the hawk soaring overhead on his way by, as if he had launched from the top of the redwood across the property and had had enough of my intrusion into his hunting time. And I’d probably just messed with one of his hiding places–my apologies (but it needed to be done). I appreciated that he’d flown right above me where I would get to see him rather than where my view would have been blocked by the roof.

Back to work.

April is awfully early to have to water here, but oh well. With the new trees, it was a bigger space to cover than I used to have to do and they need a watchful eye as they get established. I got started.

I went back outside about every ten minutes to move the hose around.

It was about 8:20 and I was going to let it run for just a few more minutes over thataway when I suddenly leaped out of my chair muttering Ohmygoodness and turned on the porch light and then started across the room the other way.

What’s wrong? asked Richard as I said Ohmygoodness again at myself and went to turn on the bedroom lights, too.

Remember that possum that bared its teeth at me from ten feet away last year? It apparently has company.  We’ve had a few times in the last two weeks from an apparent distance, but…

Last night at about 11:00 the smell of skunk was sudden and intense. Now, skunk spray is great for opening up the airways for hours for asthmatics, but there are limits.

I actually–kids don’t try this at home–opened the sliding glass door, wondering if they’d been fighting in the shed.  I shut it fast: wherever the thing was, that spray was right there!

So here it was dark and I was about to go from the bright inside out to the pitch black with a nearly-gone moon to walk near that shed so I could move the hose. Thirsty, possibly pregnant or nursing nocturnal animals also would like hoses in the dark (they have bitten through them before) and would want a Do Not Disturb sign hung on them.

I made as much light as I could and maybe even a little noise and I looked all around as I went out there and shut that thing off. Sorry, plum tree, we are done for the day here, folks.

Besides, I didn’t have any marshmallows for them anyway.

May I come in?
Friday April 12th 2013, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

So there was this California towhee. A brown bird about robin size. And it occasionally hops onto the outside of the sliding glass door and peers in the window: the carpet is bluer on the other side, or maybe it’s wishing it could take the house tour again. (That was so cool.)

And then it pecked at a few seeds that had fallen down in the runner.

I found myself staring in disbelief. I know you guys are going to get tired of hearing about all these firsts, but, my stars, all the times I’ve seen it do that and this time it had a sound! A loud sound! Tap. Tap. A hesitation, a hop, and then three more times tap, and it was about what I would have expected it to sound like if I’d had any such expectation. But it was a complete surprise. This after twenty-seven years of wearing hearing aids.

There are memories of sounds still in there. Sometimes over the years I’ve wondered if I heard something just then or if my brain just filled in what I would have heard had I still been able to. Beak on metal, though, that one now I know I know.

Blue truth
Thursday April 11th 2013, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life,LYS

If you need to ask, you need to do it.

I’d done the hot water scouring to get the mill oils out of the silk baby afghan and the rinse water still had blue. Should be fine, thought I a few days ago, and laid it out to dry.

It bugged me. I finally said something to somebody, more to out myself than anything.

If you need to ask, you need to do it.

And so yesterday it was hot water rinse after hot water rinse and when I say hot water, I mean my husband left the setting on the new water heater higher than we’ve ever had it: I was putting that afghan in and then pushing it down into the water with something else so I wouldn’t burn my hands.

Finally, on the fifth time soaking (making seven in all), it came out clear enough to wonder if any blue effect left was just reflections across the water from the afghan itself. It felt okay, finally, so, done.

The afghan and its matching hat are a lighter blue than they were. And that’s fine.

Meantime, I called my mom today and it was not that much different really from the usual in terms of hearing her. Huh. A letdown.

Richard came home: “Oh good, you’re wearing the blue tooth.” (Second glance.) “But why don’t you have it turned on?”

Oh. Riiiiiight. Forgot that you don’t just take it off the charger in the morning like a cellphone, you have to turn it ON. Duhhhh.

And then I went off to knit night, where I heard one woman’s voice–and from across the noisy room–for the first time. Ever. Hadn’t realized I actually didn’t know what she sounded like.

Another woman, after I explained I had new hearing aids, went, “So that’s why you don’t sound deaf anymore.”

“I sounded deaf? I try really hard not to.”

And then she added, “I’m going to have to be careful what I say now,” and laughed a good one.

Watching over him like a hawk
Wednesday April 10th 2013, 8:37 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

Walked out of the room while working on dinner, walked back in exactly as the hawk appeared behind the feeder, giving me a beautiful close-up view as a pair of finches freaked and took off.

And… More than the traditional bracelet (there was one, and Parker wanted one on his arm too in solidarity with his brother), the hospital had this monitor on Hudson: that baby wasn’t being taken anywhere by anybody he wasn’t supposed to while he was their patient. Alarms would have sounded.

Sounds quite sensible to me.

I wrote this, saved the draft, and walked outside to do my evening tour of the still-growing number of apple blossoms.

And heard, with the new hearing aids, surely nowhere near all of them, but here, and over there, and way over thataway far across the fence, all the birds with lower-pitched voices, and they weren’t crows…

I’ve heard descriptions for years now of peregrine parents in nesting season e-chupping at each other. I came in and played an online recording to be sure, and there it was–I now know what that sounds like in hawkspeak. I guess I really do have a pair out there, since they’re talking to each other. It had simply never occurred to me that I (or anybody) could know by hearing them. I heard the birds!!! My mind, it is blown.

Can you ear me now?
Tuesday April 09th 2013, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

The phone rang: Were we all home? Would we like to Skype and see Hudson?

And how! It was a race for the monitor.

Big hands like his daddy, thick full black hair like his Uncle John had had at birth, oh so gorgeous like his mom. Beautiful. More pictures coming.

Which makes everything else sound so very trivial, but here goes: Michelle did buy the car yesterday, a Civic coupe, her father leaving work early to drive to Dublin with her for it. He came home going, wow, that was the most laid-back dealership I have ever seen, and I went, yes, isn’t it?

We all piled in after she got home from work tonight to admire it and check out little details we’d missed–oh, did you know it does this? Look at where all those airbags are, how big that trunk is. I wondered how I’d missed that it had a sunroof?

She started grinning and suddenly the consensus was, time for a joyride! Let’s go get chocolate! And so we not only did, we discovered a new dairy-free (do you know how hard it is to find those?) dark mint chocolate that was very good. Equal Exchange Chocolates. And Green and Black’s had taken her very favorite Maya Gold that they’d changed to dairy contaminated and in the latest shipment they’d taken the dairy back out again. She had checked every time she went to Whole Foods, where the allergics shop, hoping that hoping would somehow get them to change it back so she could enjoy them again. The packaging was a little different: could it be? (Reading the new label…) YES!!! There was a little dance in the chocolate aisle. Thank you Green and Blacks for celebrating with us!


Today I was finally at the audiologist’s to try out the long-talked-about new hearing aids that had been about to come on the market and are finally out. For the last three months I’ve been afraid the whole idea was a fool’s errand and quite an expensive one;  four years ago I’d bought the very best and the very newest, the top of the line, and surely not much had changed in that short a time.

Then John Miles put the new ones in and fiddled with his equipment awhile.

And turned them on.

And the moment he started talking I nearly burst into tears. It was that different.

He asked for my cellphone and synced it to the new bluetooth and then asked for the number.

I heard it ring.

This doesn’t happen.

I heard it ring! From not right up against my ear and on speakerphone but down the counter from me in regular mode!

He walked out of the room and talked via my cellphone and his landline where the bluetooth-induced time lag wouldn’t be an echo problem. (All these things I’m learning that I never had to know about before because they just didn’t apply to me.) Again, listening, I was stunned.

He cautioned me that I would likely still have problems with women’s voices on the phone, higher pitches being a problem, and my reaction was that hey, compared to what I’ve had? Which on a cellphone is nothing? I love my Iphone but it’s been text only, and on a landline I couldn’t hear people who were talking into a cellphone.

He explained that there is a theory that you hear better if both ears are hearing at the same level, and so the two aids cannot be made individually louder or softer. No more turning down the ear next to Richard when he’s sitting next to me at our side-by-side monitors and calling towards Michelle in the kitchen. “I married the loudest man I could find,” I told John, and he managed not to die laughing on the floor but simply looked me in the eye with a suppressed impish grin as he answered, “Yes. Yes you did.” (Well, and he’s been married to me for a long time. This has not made him more soft spoken.)

So. Both ears at same volume and can’t change that. Tap the right one to make them both go louder, tap the left for quieter, or tap the volume on the bluetooth receiver necklace thingummy, which will pick up the cellphone from up to thirty feet away.

Tucking my hair behind my right ear somehow made it go louder a couple of times. I think. I don’t always hear the beep that signals the change, it depends on the ambient noise.

I cannot tell you the depth of the sense of reprieve it gives me to be hearing things that had been lost to me. They were gone from me forever and now they’re not.

By Federal law there’s a 30-day tryout period. But I am never ever going back.

Name TBA
Monday April 08th 2013, 8:57 pm
Filed under: Family

Seven pounds one and a half ounces, 19.5″ long, 2:51 pm, 10 days early, and the sweetest face on the planet. I just want to hold those wobbly new eyes in  mine.

And to tell Parker what a good job he’s doing of being the big brother.

Baby knitting
Sunday April 07th 2013, 11:26 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I knitted the afghan working from two cones of silk at a time, four total.

Today I sat down to see if I could wrangle a baby hat out of the rest of the cone that had the slightly largest amount left. Single stranded instead of doubled, part because I wanted a finer fabric and part because there was so little yarn now. Eyeballing all the way,  hoping I was leaving enough for the decreasing at the top, checking Bev’s size chart, and yay, I made it!

Yeah I could rip out the last dozen rows to add another two of them to the main part. No I’m not going to. (No I did not snip it off yet, either. In case a new day gave me more patience.)

I wonder if I could squeeze a pair of baby booties out of the other near-empty cones. Because just one would look funny.

Road trip!
Saturday April 06th 2013, 11:45 pm
Filed under: Family

Two possible routes, the GPS said, one up the most heavily congested freeway in northern California (and that’s saying something), the other a ride through beautiful valleys with the hills to each side, a few extra miles but no extra minutes.

Was this a trick question?

And so after our last session of our church’s Conference this afternoon (there are two more sessions Sunday) Michelle and I jumped in the Prius and she drove as I watched birds hover on the winds through those valleys on our way up past the sign that said Sacramento this way, Stockton, that.

Lots and lots of turkey vultures (that’s a raptor, grinned Michelle as she kept her eyes on the road), but also hawks: redtailed, I think, and there was what might even have been a peregrine falcon. The sky was just overcast enough to soften and deepen the colors all around, and on this fine spring day the hills were green, not yet the gold dust coming in a few months.

And so we arrived in a good mood. There was a couple wrapping up their deal and a few workers around but basically we seemed to have the place to ourselves. We found someone to ask for Dante, and he phoned him; shortly thereafter the man Michelle had emailed with came inside the dealership and led us to the Honda they’d been talking about. (She had told him flat out his price was too high and he had agreed to a lower one without her even being there yet–how often does that happen? And she had the printout in case she needed to prove it.)

He had told the place we were coming and had asked this morning for it to be detailed, and it appears that upon our actually walking in in person someone had gone oh, this one’s real, and had pulled it into the carwash–other than that, the thing had a long way to go. Carpets desperately needing to be shampooed, what looked like a shopping cart having ricocheted all the way down one side, a child’s vivid pink bracelet in the trunk. I’m guessing someone traded it in when they needed to be able to get another carseat in. Or got tired of wrestling with one in a coupe.

Seeing it flawed gave us–her–more leverage than seeing it pristine. Michelle had walked away from several salesmen and cars at this point but I had to make myself not say out loud, Oh, this’ll be so perfect!  As was the salesman, who was the antithesis of pushy; I liked him on the spot. Such a relief compared to some I’ve encountered, about whom the nicest thing I could say is that only my husband existed in their eyes, even when it was my car we were buying.

I did say to her, Do you want to look at that Fit in Pleasanton on the way home?

(Mom, the Fit was in…) she said afterwards. But appreciated the help.

And so we went home. They will clean and they will check out the mechanicals a little more closely and they will get rid of those scratches and they will email her Monday to let her know it’s ready and still at that same price. Or we don’t come back. And they know it, because she is a serious buyer but we are hardly close by.

And so we took 680 home, Michelle happy to drive, me happy to watch raptors soar.

And then I made blueberry pie, because, you know, some Saturdays are just near-perfect like that.

Almost on to the next
Friday April 05th 2013, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift

Four more rows of ribbing to finish off that baby afghan as I type. Got the 25 repeats done I was aiming for and found I had maybe maybe enough yarn to do another–and decided to save it for a matching hat (it should stretch that far) and baby booties (which might even fit before he’s three this time. I can only get better at this baby knitting thing.)

Meantime, being thrown so badly back into serious sickness by a common bug had me more worried last week than I wanted to admit, even to me.

Michelle M quilts as well as knits, and four years ago when I was doing all that hospital stuff she was making me a get-well quilt. Somehow its shipping time wasn’t quite there yet… Till she asked me about a week ago how to get this to me?

It’s far prettier than my nighttime sideways snapshot shows. The anticipation, the box, lifting the quilt out and going oh wow!, feeling thought about and cared about and marveling that she would go to all this everything for me, it gave me a tremendous sense of reprieve that I don’t quite know how to say. Her timing was perfect.

And she had no way to know it, but my mom quilts and several years ago Mom and I went to a quilt shop and I picked out fabrics for a quilt for her to make me whenever my turn in line should come up (no hurry).

The light fabric Michelle picked? I did too, or one very like if it’s not that exact one.  Mom’s will be different and the two will go very nicely together. All the more perfect.

In the race
Thursday April 04th 2013, 8:13 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

The forever question: if you were making a baby afghan out of  a very good natural-fibers yarn, would you stop at baby size if you had enough yarn to make it toddler/young child size or even bigger, or would you continue on? Receiving blankets are so necessary but have such a short need time.

I was going for continuing on, knitting all afternoon with the stereo going. A break for icing my hands and a two hour break for picking everybody up. (When the VP grabs you on the way out the door, the taxi driver cools her flats in the parking lot.)

I almost but didn’t take my knitting along just in case. My hands needed me not to.

Mixed with, the sense of impending arrival is strong and I want it finished by tomorrow night and all ready for him.

It’s slow knitting. There’s still easily seven hours’ worth of work left if I’m going to go for every last repeat I can squeeze out of this yardage.

How do you decide how big to make them?

I’ve got pieces of April
Wednesday April 03rd 2013, 10:19 pm
Filed under: Family,My Garden

To clarify on the last post, we can put trash bags in the recycling bin, where some poor schmuck has to grab them out and hoist them onto the trucks going south to the landfill and deal with any mess they make.

Two days ago, we were at two flower clusters and holding on the Fuji apple and the green was starting to pop out so it seemed like that was going to be it. Only two? I wondered if the snails had eaten all the flowers in the night (which they will do) and I just somehow missed them all? Went out tonight and there were new buds bursting out all over the place on the Fuji and new petals all over the other apple. Oh me of little faith. Well there you go.  (And I scattered more of that Sluggo, an organic snail-only-killer, and around that August Pride peach with the new nibble in the leaf, just making sure.)

Meantime, I lost six non-spare pounds in the past week and I’m still pretty wiped so we did Japanese barbecue take-out for Michelle’s birthday and I baked angel food cake. They came home with strawberries. And hey, those berries came in a clear plastic clamshell of just the right size and will be holding one apple or one peach out of some critter’s paws or beak. Perfect.

I told Michelle she shared a birthday with someone.

Oh? Who?

Sandra Boynton.

She looked very pleased.

And the grandson baby blanket knits on (made good progress today). And the baby, unlike his big brother, waits. So far.

Tuesday April 02nd 2013, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Politics

Ah my. Our city is starting a pilot program and our neighborhood got made the ones who get to do it. Probably because there is not one member of the city council who lives here.

There will no longer be trash trucks for us. Nope, zip, gone. We’re all such perfect recyclers that we will have recycling and we will have composting and that’s that.

A little compost bucket got dropped off by the front door a few days ago, with a box of biodegradeable liner bags inside. You had to break the lid of the thing to get it to stay upright while trying to put stuff in it, like when peeling a mango with two hands with the bucket needing two more hands to hold it steady and open for the peels . Meat scraps! Those go in too. The bags are to go in the bins that were formerly for yard clippings only and the bucket is intended to stay in our kitchens whether we want them to or not, unless we want squirrels raiding them by day and rats and raccoons by night. (Full or empty, they’re going to smell like food to them.) And no, there are no charcoal filters. (Paging Suburban Correspondent.)

I have an occasional gardener here doing some of the outdoor stuff I with my sun sensitivity absolutely can’t. Mows the lawn, that sort of thing. When he does come, it’s the day before pickup, and now he’s supposed to deal with his work bin having week-old chicken bones in it and the like (says the woman who made chicken broth tonight).

If we want details on the program, do we get a written-out description on the city’s website?

No, we get a video to listen to.


Nope, can’t hear those either. I mean, come on, guys, how hard is it to type out the (insert aggrieved word of your choice here) thing?

And! They want the participants to fill in a survey, and if you do they will give you a $5 gift certificate to…wait for it…Peet’s coffee.

Now, I’m told Peet’s makes great coffee. But we’re Mormons.

The real kicker and the biggest reason this all bugs me in the first place is that anything that really is trash is to be sealed up in a bag and put out in the recycling bin. Which is already way more than full every week, because, y’know, we’re such great recyclers and all; I emailed the city and outlined just exactly what goes in the trash at our house since my colectomy and asked if they really wanted to risk–I mean, have they seen their trucks in action?!–contaminating everything with–that.

So they gave me a second recycling bin to help with the volume issue.

Would the Health Department seriously be okay with this? What this is really about is the city strong-arming the garbage workers’ union they’ve been fighting with.

Tomorrow’s the first day.

One year.

Kicking and screaming all the way.

(And on a more cheerful note, I saw a peregrine falcon hovering at the top of the trees that were cut back from the road as I carpooled and Richard drove to pick up Michelle this evening, and on the way back I saw it again!)

April all new
Monday April 01st 2013, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life,My Garden,Wildlife

I was asked, so to explain: I got put on antibiotics for a sinus infection and they’re clearing that up nicely, but I also had–well, norovirus really should be a yarn-related description, don’t you think? *cough* Mild flaring too. At the one week mark I figure I’m about halfway done with it all.

It rained last night, and this morning, together, both apple trees opened their first blossoms.

This makes me way too happy. There is a very new plum-cherry cross on the market, Dave Wilson’s Pluerry, not lab-induced but done by good old-fashioned years of field work, and it is supposed to be the top taste winner, period, across all their fruits. The catch is that it needs a plum tree for pollination. I of course have one–but in all the various microclimates around here, they don’t yet know which varieties other than Burgundy will work. I have a Santa Rosa. I’ll wait for now–but it tickles me beyond silliness that my apple trees show how it’s done, to the day.

Kathy, I finally snagged a shot of a chickadee with its beak full of your dog’s undercoat; there’s a bunch of it on the table just below that pot and he dove down in there awhile like a knitter at Rhinebeck, individual fibers flying as he searched out the best, then reappeared on top to show off his prize just before taking off.

And if my Plantskydd (when I get it) is successful, I may actually have to thin the plums.

I finally, for the first time in a week, picked up my baby blanket knitting today (it will be scoured in hot water) and at least made a try at getting it done in time. It felt so good to be working on that beautiful thing again in happy anticipation of our coming April baby.