One stitch two stitch green stitch blue stitch
Sunday August 16th 2015, 8:52 pm
Filed under: Knit

I wanted to wear the shawl today that I made from Melinda’s yarn… Only problem was that I hadn’t quite finished it yet. I looked at the ziploc it’s in, pleading for it to somehow be done, and thought, I need to fix that. I really like that. It needs to be shown off.

Trump l’oeil
Saturday August 15th 2015, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life,Wildlife

The Aquarium, dinner in Santa Cruz–a long, fun day.

The tufted puffins with their golden (Republican candidate’s name) locks swept back over their heads.

The special jellies exhibit we’d wanted to see was still up. Blue jellyfish? Brown? Since when?

There is always an artists’ exhibit in there somewhere, and those jellyfish chandeliers–if anyone starts marketing them I’d be trying to figure out where to put one. Wouldn’t it be fun to watch one of those in an earthquake? (Mild, mild, keep’em mild and entertaining only, that’s all I ask.)

Off to Chocolate, that fabulous restaurant in Santa Cruz, only this time we looked up: if your ceiling has to include industrial pipes, then….!

Home, tired, done. Can’t afford to do all that very often but today was a day that worked out to go so we jumped in the car and went.

And on our way back, taking in the scenery and happy to play passenger so I could, I saw what was either a whale breach out in the Bay or a really big splash of a sea lion in the distance. And I finally figured out what the rows of old towering eucalyptuses silhouetted across the hilltops looked like. They’re a terrible tree for California: they were brought here from Australia in the 1800s to grow quickly for lumber but they make terrible lumber so they were just left to spread. They are magnets for lightning and their oil explodes in fires.

And yet–that variety so prevalent in that area has this airy poof at the top and going down the sides, tethered just enough to the ground below.

Sky jellyfish. And they are beautiful.

So good
Friday August 14th 2015, 9:42 pm
Filed under: Food,Life

Andy’s Orchard. We’d been out of peaches for days and this would not do. Given the development pressure on prime farming land so close to San Jose and the financial hit that the drought has surely inflicted, we want to support Andy Mariani all we can.

The Golden Nectar plums, which I’d never heard of before, were worth the trip alone.

Band those pigeons
Thursday August 13th 2015, 9:40 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

Enormous, a blue-gray back, white then gray stripes at the end of a rounded tail–and it wasn’t afraid of him like the mourning doves it dwarfed: the young squirrel froze in high alert, then fled in terror.

Doofus, that’s a juvenile band-tailed pigeon, not a Cooper’s hawk.

The band-tailed is closest genetically to the extinct passenger pigeon and so they are using its eggs in experiments to try to bring the other back.

Which leads me to a question: wildlife instinctively knows what other species to be afraid of or not. If an extinct species were to be brought back genetically, would other ones need to relearn how to react to them? Or would that still be hard-wired in even after so many decades’ absence from this planet?

Meantime, back here in the day to day, the washing machine was diagnosed with a failed pump. $180, done. The repairman checked out everything else on the machine and said approvingly that it has “low mileage” and that it’s in great shape now.

No Speed Queen splurge quite yet.

Found it if you need it
Wednesday August 12th 2015, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Life

“Never heard of them,” says he.

“They’re the ones you see in laundromats. Our grandmothers had them.”

So the interesting thing I learned today is that Speed Queen still makes a washing machine with no electronic controls. That plain old dial really is just a plain old dial behind there. Even better, the machinery is all metal, not plastic, and it is made in America. On the Consumer Reports website, they didn’t rate it highly but when I clicked through machine after machine on all the others, the user reviews were relentlessly negative, what there were of them.

And yet not two or three but 156 people so far had to speak up about this one, very nearly all of them demanding to be heard over CR’s dismal ranking: this is a great machine! Built to last! No it doesn’t save water but yes it does if it does it right the first time and you don’t have to spend another hour waiting for the slow high-efficiency models to have a do-over.

Meaning I finally have my washing machine picked out if I do have to buy one–the repairman comes tomorrow, we’ll see. But I thought you all would love to know there’s actually one out there that they really do make them like they used to. With a longer warranty by far than anyone else’s. They test it to a number of cycles that is 25 years’ worth for your average family–that is the company’s expected minimum of its life expectancy.

Someone who takes pride in their product. Hal-le-freaking-lu-jah.

The one thing I want to know, and I shot them off an email, is this: does it have a no-spray spin cycle? We fiber artists need those. You can spin anything, even the finest merino, without felting it–if the water doesn’t spray on it as it twirls. We’ll find out. (I can always turn off the water valves but I don’t want to have to.)

Edited to add Thursday morning–I just heard back from them and yes there is a spin setting you can do that on. Perfect!

Meantime, I ran a load at Michelle’s.

The city tore up the sidewalk in front of my next-door neighbors’ house yesterday and completely blocked their whole stretch off by barriers with blinking lights jutting into the street.

I came home to find a small Google driverless car stopped there nose to barrier.

This does not compute?

It didn’t move.

I waited. There wasn’t anyone in–oh wait, yes there was, as the guy leaned forward.

I motioned: you’re blocking my driveway. (There were No Parking On The Street This Week signs all up and down the block, so that was not an option.)

Oh oops sorry! (had he been tweaking the program on the go?) and it pulled out of my way and away.

So if you see a driverless car that can figure its way around those things? They learned it here first.

Asking for, y’know, a friend
Tuesday August 11th 2015, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Life

One of the toilets started running nonstop over the weekend, necessitating our cutting off its water but thus giving the plumber something to do after he’d ascertained that the washer had flooded because of the washer, not the line. I described how it had been having a harder and harder time getting any cold water into it–at that setting it filled v e r y slowly.

The washer, he affirmed again. Those pipes? (pointing at the wall.) They’re copper. They’re good.

So I have been learning about High Efficiency, Front Loader, and Top Agitator types for hours. And looking up repair places.

But what I’d love to know is if anyone anywhere still makes one that doesn’t have electronics behind the controls–in our experiences with dishwashers and ovens, those always, always fail quickly.

So. Washing machines. One Consumer Reports high-rated High Efficiency-type model had reviews from multiple people saying it won’t open after you start unless you start the whole cycle over, and yet they have to to stop it at times to rearrange heavy wet clothes away from the center so the cycle can continue. That makes me want to go with the less efficient traditional agitator model. California requires all those manufactured as of March and sold in this state to be more efficient and I don’t know if that means I should buy what will clean well fast while I still can?

What do you have that you like or don’t and why?

Monday August 10th 2015, 9:42 pm
Filed under: Life

I had to laugh over someone’s Facebook meme about how little girls ought to still stomp in puddles like they did in the good old days. Seriously. Do you know any little kids at all that are going to pass up on a chance to do exactly that if they can? (Or did they mean back when it used to rain?)

So guess what I did today. Only, I didn’t stomp so much–I was being a grownup. And it was inside.

Tomorrow, the plumber.

She’ll never forget
Sunday August 09th 2015, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I was sitting behind her at church, silently admiring my friend’s new scarf. Amazed that an edging like that could be attached by a machine to look like that and wondering where the stitches that should be bisecting it were that had sewn it onto the outer edges–it looked instead like it had been single-crocheted directly into the fabric.

When the meeting we were in was over, turns out M had been waiting to tell me about the experience.

There were no machine stitches. That edging actually was tatted and it really was all done by hand, gold then white then dangling tiny perfect red flowers that matched the print of the fabric above and moved when she did. Many flowers. It was a huge amount of work and done in a fine thread (and TATTED! I didn’t find anything quite like it but this was the closest–imagine that at about an inch)–you would need really good eyes.

But that wasn’t the best of it: she had been traveling and had befriended an elderly woman and that woman had made that gorgeous work of art and she’d wanted M to have it. She gave it to her.

She gave it to her.

With love from Turkey, forever.

Well that worked out
Saturday August 08th 2015, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Life

A little more super-power Seventh Generation on those two (it was two) spots and the dress is finally totally clean.

Meantime, a quick trip to Trader Joe’s and there was a mom with twin two-year-olds pushing mini-carts and an infant in a stroller. It was dinnertime. The toddlers were setting each other off in alternating and then cascading meltdowns, the baby was starting to fuss, and the mom looked like she was about to cry or yell or something right there in front of everyone while she was struggling mightily not to lose it.

Me, purse suddenly up on the seat of my cart, fishing through for finger puppets, thinking, no, you can’t give one a bright one and one a dull, no, not that one–yes! A zebra and a giraffe. (Found the second giraffe later.) Twin enough, and I offered them to the mom.

The look of gratitude on her face…

It didn’t make everything perfect but it made it a lot better. I saw her a few minutes later at checkout, the baby now up in the front pack. I told her, “I had four in six years.”

“So you know.” Said with great emphasis and relief.

“Yes,” I smiled. Her little ones were so adorable. All those curls just like mine had had.

And all because Costco didn’t have nonfat milk in stock and I had had to go run a second errand. I owe them a thank you.

Second generation
Friday August 07th 2015, 9:46 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Non-Knitting

There were about a half dozen years in my life when my children were babies when I wasn’t into knitting.

I was into smocking.

This involves creating tiny pleats in cotton fabric and then embroidering over those pleats and sewing up the little outfits. This especially lends itself to cute baby dresses, and I made dozens and gave many away to other new parents to welcome their little ones.

At one point, my sister Carolyn and I were due at about the same time. I made our daughters matching dresses, even if, given how hard it is to travel across country with toddlers and babies, we would never see them together in them before they outgrew them. Given Second Dress Syndrome, I kept them simple and quick. (Those sleeves match when they’re not arguing with a camera.)

When my lupus started four years later I could no longer hold those tiny needles but I still needed a creative outlet. Something that stayed done in the happy chaos. And that is when I rediscovered my love of knitting.

But meantime, my kids had outgrown the various smocked outfits and I had set them aside for future grandchildren.

Then we remodeled. It was the seventh year we lived here, and the first six had all been drought years. That seventh was a doozy, though, and I started joking that if we ever had a drought again we just had to get the state legislature to fund remodeling our house again and that would end it–it just wouldn’t stop raining.

When our contractor thought he was pretty much done our roof had seventeen leaks, all of them new. It took every bucket we could find while we tried to get that taken care of. There was a leak in an overhead light fixture over here, and over there, water was pouring out a light switch. More from the new sky lights, others just randomly wherever. Fun times.

Meantime, those smocked clothes were in a box with a lot of other boxes that got shuffled around depending on where work was being done on the house just then.

And one day I discovered that roof juice had permeated that box and those clothes and despite all I could do with a washing machine, those stains did not come out. All that work, all those memories, all that generational anticipation! I couldn’t throw any of them away–they were beautiful, aside from the damage, I just couldn’t.

Yesterday I stumbled across this simple little bishop-style cousins dress. It somehow was not stored with the others, as if it were waiting to be discovered, a spokesman for the others. It took me this long to figure this out? Hello, lady, you’ve got grandchildren… I wondered if my niece, now the mother of three little ones herself, might still have or even know about her matching outfit. I hadn’t thought about them in a long time. I think the sense of pointless loss had made me avoid them.

I had to try.

I rubbed some Seventh Generation detergent into the spots, put a little more in the sink and sudsed it up at the tap (not too much! It’s a drought! Tell the legislature they’re not doing their jobs!) and put it in to soak.

For eight hours. I squished water through from time to time.

The water turned brown.

And look at that. No baby food stains either.

I actually missed one roof spot near the bottom, so I’m going to rub more in and do it over. But look at that! Twenty-one years and three grandchildren later and I can actually start passing these down now.

I’ve got me some work to do. At long last.

p.s. I don’t remember if I used the Ultra Power Plus or their older version; I have both. But they’ve earned the link they didn’t ask for so here it is.

Here, have some
Thursday August 06th 2015, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden,Knit,Life,LYS,Recipes

I dangled what I hoped would be happy anticipation: I put this picture on Facebook with how to make it and said I had a lot more of these zucchini/pattypan hybrid squashes to bring to knit night.

So. Cut cupcake squash in half and place cut side down on plate.  Add a spoonful of water; nuke for three to four minutes till soft. Turn right side up again and scoop out seeds. Fill each with a big spoonful of Alfredo sauce mixed with one egg, sharp cheddar (or blue cheese and/or parmesan as you choose) and cherry tomato halves. Bacon bits if desired. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Found one more squash this morning, but to be sure before heading out tonight I checked under those huge leaves one more time and found two more of a good size: how on earth had I missed those? (Well hey. Zucchini.) Seven went into a cloth bag.

All the way to Purlescence I was seeing the most unusual cloud formations–dalmation dog. Leopard print. Lots of little clouds against lots of blue.

Reactions when I put those green balls on the table ranged from oh cool! to oh okay to facial expressions of no no no please keep those far far away from me.

David came out of the back at the last and his face totally lit up when he saw those last two squash and I thought, okay, now I know who saw that post and was hoping. All yours, hon, please, take them–I have five more tiny ones and these have got to go. (I did not count the blossoms. I couldn’t bring myself to. I know you can stir fry those but an awful lot of them seemed to already have even tinier squashes already attached.)

He totally made my day as he made off with them in great delight.

Just before the shop closed down for the night, someone threw the doors open so we could hear the sounds and smell the ozone: it was RAINING! In August! And no it had not been in the forecast. A little, then more, then a good steady rain and lightning as I drove home. Rain rain actual rain, .04″ worth.

Those five tiny squash? With that extra water I’m guessing they’ll be full grown in time to try to ditch them at church.

Andy’s Orchard
Wednesday August 05th 2015, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

Of course I went back. We’d eaten the last peach. Besides, having not bought any of those monster Flavor Heart pluots last week I had to.

This time I got to meet Andy Mariani himself, the rock star of great fruit as far as I’m concerned, and if I sound a little starstruck, he’s worked hard to earn it.

UC Davis created a great peach that’s too ugly for the mass market? He sells by flavor; Baby Crawford is now a customer favorite. The Kit Donnell in my hand is bigger than the Lorings were and was bred by Andy himself from those Baby Crawfords and named in honor of a friend of his, a fellow rare-fruit enthusiast.

He told me about a customer who asked him if she had to wait till the peach turned red to know it was ripe–she didn’t know that some peaches come in yellow and even green and red is not always an option.

And he picks his ripe.

I brought back last week’s box and got it refilled with various fruits and like in a good chocolate store, his manager wrote down the varieties alongside each row. (Never mind that smaller but not small plum squeezed in there where it could fit, we know what it is.)

I was curious about the Greengage plums listed on their site, but it wasn’t till I got home and found an article about their orchard that I realized there had been some right on that table the whole time and I’d skimmed right past them.

I’ll just have to go back. Twist my arm. We’ll just nibble on these first, shouldn’t take long at all.

Every nook and Granny
Tuesday August 04th 2015, 11:13 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Garden,Life

Ellen got to see all the fruit trees last week while she was here, and walking around the yard she said she loved how the place had all these nooks and crannies.

In the drought-absence of a lawn I have gained a respect for the lowly dandelion: they don’t stab and they don’t grab or prickle and they delight little children at every stage. I have just a few.

But the ones that love a desert… I’ve got the worst of them by now but I want the rest gone before the rains come. I’ve seen how fast they can flower after a shower–one day. One. Day. Across species.

And so, it being our allotted watering evening (9-6: not allowed) rather than coming inside between trees as I moved the hose around, timer in my pocket, I stayed out there, my entire upper body against the little pricker factories, pulling as many up by the taproots before sundown as I could.

And came in at last, dead tired, and explained to Richard why I hadn’t come in during each eight minute interlude to, y’know, go knit or something: “I was weeding a good nook.”

Cherry-ots of fire
Monday August 03rd 2015, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Recipes

For the record: carrots well roasted in extra-virgin olive oil, then add a bit of cherry sauce that I picked up at Andy’s Orchard last week? (Andy’s grows cherries but they sell Cherry Republic’s bottled topping.)

A certain tall man is officially a fan. Pretty please with cherries on top and all that.

So I had to go looking for their website and now I really want my baby Montmorency tree to hurry and grow up!



Pop Pop Pop
Sunday August 02nd 2015, 9:51 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Seven-month-old Maddy giggling again and again as her brothers jumped on bubble wrap off camera in yesterday’s video. Can’t get it here yet, but then FB was freezing part of my keyboard, with a particular dislike for a, s, g, and h–the thing worked everywhere else. Go figure.

Today we got to see her giggling for ourselves via Skype while Parker told us all about his legos and Hudson described his favorite book and showed us pictures: tractors. Trucks. These are the important things and we needed to know about them.

(How long has he been talking like that? we asked.

Just in the last two weeks or so.)

He was speaking in long sentences while searching for just the right words with all kinds of big facial contortions for emphasis. Twenty-eight months is a fun age.

So is the scooting backwards when you’re trying to crawl forward stage, giggling and grabbing your daddy’s nose. So is four and a half.

Life is good.