With cinnamon to keep the ants away
Tuesday March 15th 2016, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Garden

After holding back for last, the cherry season finally began with the first blossom opening yesterday on the Stella tree.

As soon as the fruit sets I’m going for the birdnetting.


Monday March 14th 2016, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Friends,Wildlife

Spring equinox is Saturday and today was definitely a hawk day. A Cooper’s swooped into the upper part of the redwood while I was pulling weeds in the back yard, a Cooper’s pair flew together low enough over my car for a good ID when I was a few blocks from home, there was a large bird announcing its opinion that didn’t sound like a crow while I was back to pulling those weeds, and when I went inside to fix dinner, a male Cooper’s perched on the now-closed yard-waste bin and had a fine time watching us watching him.

Good spot I’d made him: he could see into the patio alcove from there while blocking the escape of anyone hanging around the second feeder or the giant elephant ear below it. Nice. He approved.

Then finally while I was outside again pulling yet more weeds near the back of the house (did these all sprout since last week? I did here already!), well, there I was in the way and I just seemed to be making a habit of this–there was a sudden side blur close to the lemon tree with a crash-noisy landing a dozen feet behind me in the neighbor’s honeysuckle patch.

That was no dove. I know what their wings sound like and this one was silent until that very last moment.

I was torn between dashing a few steps to the side for a better look and allowing the hawk to continue to tolerate my presence like that (if it was still even there.) I stayed bent over those weeds. I do confess to a quick glance.

I’ve had my Coopernicus friend fly right up to the window before but I’ve never had one fly past me outside. It must have seen a chance it couldn’t miss. And frankly I’d been delaying his feeding his young long enough, most likely.

That bin might start spending more time around that spot. He liked it. Hey Mikey. I like getting to see him pretty close up.

Oh, and a p.s. on yesterday: I am told I missed one thing the stake president said in his talk: he said his socks were boring, all of them. All but this one pair, this one really cool pair, and he was wearing them right now.

Balm of Gilead
Sunday March 13th 2016, 9:48 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life,Lupus

We had stake conference today, which is when a group (i.e. a stake) of wards (i.e. congregations) all come together for a really big joint meeting. Happens twice a year.

Parking is a bit of a zoo and it lets out at noon: a bad time sun-wise for a lupus patient to have to take a long walk, and so as is our usual we decided to get there about forty minutes early.

And as is our usual I brought something to work on before the meeting started, the cowl I’d begun right before we’d left for Salinas yesterday. I was quietly working away on it when the stake president walked by, shook our hands, pointed to the project in my hands and said, We’re going to be talking about that.



Okay, this I wanted to hear.

He spoke last in the two-hour meeting and in the course of his talk he told the tale, sharing a few more details with me afterwards, knowing I’d be interested. (Not so much so as to give away any hint of who it might have been; he simply chuckled fondly when I eagerly offered to share yarn or at least my sources of the good stuff. I’m sure if she wants to know, he’ll make sure she finds me.)

A woman had come to him for counseling. She had had some experiences that had left her struggling with an unwanted sense of bitterness. She had come to him seeking a blessing.

And after hearing her out, he offered up that prayer with her.

And in that prayer he found himself, quite to his surprise, telling her she needed to knit.

That was it. Just, she needed to knit.

I asked him afterwards, Was she someone who used to and her hands had bothered her and she was hoping for healing? Or…?

No, he smiled at me, she never had. This was new.

Now, as he said to the congregation, My mother doesn’t really knit. My wife and sister don’t really knit, I mean, they have, but they don’t… And my daughter has, a little. (He was struggling to describe a Knitter with a capital K without having really experienced one personally, but he knew there were such people and that those who were would instantly understand, and probably everybody else who knows a real Knitter. Or Crocheter for that matter.)

I asked him, So did she?!

Oh, yes! And he told me how she’d made things for all her friends and had created so much happiness around her by it. As he said it, he knew that I would know exactly what that would be like. Even though he doesn’t really know me.

But he knows that I knit, and he understood.

Along the coast
Saturday March 12th 2016, 11:13 pm
Filed under: Family

Drove to Salinas to share a cousin’s big day.

Artichoke fields blurring by, but there’s no mistaking those spiky leaves from the car.

The slough at Moss Landing, with a snowy egret back there.

You know you’re driving through Castroville when the front of the strip mall includes a giant artichoke (which would have been clearer if the driver had just held still, y’know, right there where the highway kind of peters out for awhile there going through town.) If you’ve eaten a ‘choke you’ve tasted a part of their town.

I knit half a cowl on the drive down. I put away the knitting and simply absorbed the landscape as we took the coastal route back up.


A package deal
Friday March 11th 2016, 11:35 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I was walking out the door yesterday to get Richard and found the mail had just been delivered.

Including a package that was addressed to the woman four doors down.

It was raining and I didn’t want to be late, so rather than run down there and back I simply pulled my car in front of her house and rang the doorbell. No answer. Huh. Do I put it in the slot on the garage? Is that where it usually goes? Would she find it if I put it by the door? Would she find it on the floor in there if she always goes in and out through her garage from her car? (Which she does. To those reading this and looking surprised, I know: a Californian who actually uses her garage for her car. She’s the only one I know who does.)

Eh, keep it simple, the door, it’s out of the rain–while the mailman sat in his truck directly across the street from my car, avoiding eye contact.

I sent her off a note this morning telling her why her package was where it was if that was a weird place for it to be.

She emailed back a got it, thanks–and said she’d seen it when she’d come home from the central coast at eight last night: returning home from going to meet her first great grandchild. In pride and great joy she told me his name and she said being a great grandma was the best!!! with three exclamation points.

I might not even have known till the next Labor Day block party. Instead, because the mailman was in a little too much of a hurry to get out of the rain, my sweet neighbor got a chance to share just how very happy she was and I got to celebrate with her.

Perfect. I’m going to thank him next time I see him.

Got one!
Thursday March 10th 2016, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life,Wildlife

(The photo angle makes the beak look a little smaller than it is.)

Coming out of Los Gatos Birdwatcher, my fob, which unlocks the car as you approach, was dead and my hands were full–I had to put everything down to pull the small key out of it, a task that requires adept fingernailing on the little slider thingy. And I did not want to damage the most fragile item in my hands. Argh.

The person helping carry the 20 lb bag of birdseed was fine with waiting however long it took me, just very patient, even though I knew the store was full of more customers waiting to be checked out than I think I’d ever seen when it wasn’t Christmastime.

Got in the car. Thanked the woman, who smiled, hoisted the big bag in and was gone.

Wait. No fob. Just the key in my hand, which only works on the door; you have to put it back into the fob to start the car.

Got out, found it, got in, had it in my hand…and again it had vanished. I hadn’t even felt it slip. I flashed back to my mom’s story of doing this with her car key when I was a teen waiting for her to pick me up from a piano lesson…for an hour…. (But that’s how she got back the piano bench cover she’d been needlepointing for her mom for a full year, with only maybe an inch of fabric left to do, when it suddenly hit her she’d gone through her knitting bag all. these. times. and–racing back to that grocery store!–so it was all good.)

No rescue-the-needlepoint story here to excuse my klutziness though. I was out and looking around the passenger side of my parking space when some young men, late teens, maybe early 20s started to pull into the spot by mine (did it somehow fall under my car?), but rather than being annoyed at me for making them wait a moment the driver opened his door asking, Are you looking for something? In a tone of, May I help you with your search?

Good people are everywhere.

I finally found my fob again and was off. Phew!

And suddenly realized, wait: no bag. That crow is just sitting on the back seat. What if the real ones see it when I pull into the driveway? I should pull over between here and home and cover it, I could have retaliatory corvids pulling off the rubber from the wiper blades for years! Which happened to the U of WA professor after capturing and studying his real crow.

I didn’t though, but when I got home I leaned over it, hoping to block any view from the redwood next to the driveway they like to perch in, took my sweater off and wrapped it around and carried my prize oh so carefully inside.

Would it work for ravens too? I’d wondered to the woman running the shop.

They’re not communal, she mused; I don’t know.

On second thought, though, it occurs to me, what if a raven tries to eat it? Mmm, tasty. Not. I guess then it would just look more dead?

But I am really grateful to that bird store for such a nature-friendly idea for keeping the crows from raiding my fruit trees, not to mention the warning not to be seen by them at it. They so deserved that sale.

I made sure not to put it where it could be seen through any window from any angle. I am having to resist putting it out there tonight. I think I want to wait till the cherries, now in early bud, start to look edible.


Kept going
Wednesday March 09th 2016, 11:24 pm
Filed under: Knit

In answer to last night’s question. (Yarn here, with last night’s picture showing the color best.)

This, this is why knitters need kitchen scales: the grams-per-row ratio.

Day by day
Wednesday March 09th 2016, 12:10 am
Filed under: Garden,Knit,Wildlife

The dishwasher is fixed, the dishwasher is fixed!

Those tight pink apple buds I photo’d earlier finally opened up when it wasn’t raining and the air was a little warmer.

The fig tree: nine days ago and now. The tether to the fence was to brace it against a serious windstorm we had last fall, while it still had its big leaves, and it came in handy again these past few days.

The early blueberries are halfway along.

And the peaches! I found a dozen actual beginning peaches before it started to rain and I bugged out of there.

That’s the good part. The bad part was that the squirrels had already gnawed off half the outermost part of six of them. They are now clamshelled–although, peaches fruit on new wood and much of it was too tender to hold up one of the bigger clamshells the fruit will need later. I quickly scrounged up some small ones and they worked just fine for now. The rain held its breath till I could finish.

Re the knitting: I’m working on a cowl in dk weight, a gift from Dragonfly Fibers. Yarn is Traveller, color is Peony. It’s been 10 grams worth of yarn per pattern repeat and I have enough yarn to do one last repeat, which I would start with at the next stitch. Except that after 93 grams, it’s already a lot of cowl. But I can’t stand to not use every bit of a favorite Stitches yarn.

So I’m throwing it at the blog for the night and deciding in the morning.

The back stabbers
Monday March 07th 2016, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Politics

You start with one seed sprouting. The new plant sends out runners that create new plants all around it, and new around them, the leaves gradually weaving under and over with more baby plants squeezing into every available space till it’s hard to find where one starts under there to get your fingers under all the leaves of just that one to give it a good hard effective yank. Out.

Invoke your Citizens United metaphor here–or not.

Picturing my grandchildren walking across the sharp-spiked seedheads and crying for pain spurred me to keep going no matter how tired I got: it wasn’t raining, I was only coughing a little bit, don’t stop.

Gasping for breath is not a good sign. I did stop and went inside and put my feet up. I was able to stand it for about five minutes, then I got right back to it–I don’t want poisons, I can’t afford, not in money nor energy, to cover the whole back yard in mulch. Go.

I think I freed us of about fifty pounds’ worth and glancing back at last Tuesday’s post, I’d forgotten I’d gotten nearly this much out that day, too–before I started today you would never have known that. Darn. I did clear out one entire patch. I have to win.

Watching what we prayed for
Monday March 07th 2016, 12:10 am
Filed under: Garden

Leavitt Lake at 9400′ elevation has gone from 111″ of snowpack to 141″ since yesterday morning. Very, very nice. Here, we’re at .55″ of rain so far today and they’re saying that much more by the time we wake up in the morning. Forecast is for six days of rain in the next nine. Looking good.

Summon everything
Sunday March 06th 2016, 12:08 am
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden,Life,Wildlife

Rain rain rain rain rain, much of it in fierce sideways gusts, 1.3″ of it today, wonderful wonderful (cold dark go get a warmer sweater) rain.

My English Morello tart cherry early this morning, responding to all the lovely water and with no sign of Japanese beetle damage whatsoever. We are winning that battle (link to how) this year. And that was the last time I dared take an exposed iPhone outside.

The dishwasher that was backed up last night that I hoped I’d gotten going didn’t stay going. But the sink is just fine…! Crud.

That thing at the back of the fridge?

See, after twenty-six years of lupus and Crohn’s, when I have a good day after a string of bad, when there’s a task or even a fun thing pulling at me I do it while I can, even when I know I’m overdoing. “Today I can do this” is my stock inner phrase and these had to be done. Go.

I cleaned the fridge. The dishes (well, most of the dishes. I can only stand in place so long but I got two good tries out of it.) The laundry, because they were predicting falling trees and power outages with our wind advisory and flash flood warnings–and sheets and fevers and yeah. Meantime, Richard braved it out there, his oversized umbrella flipping inside out several times in the short steps from car to doors as he hunter-gathered into the wilds.

And I made good headway on my new project. I mean, isn’t it, like, a rule that you have to knit and watch the rain?

Coopernicus showed up on the telephone wires, feathers being blown backwards from time to time, rousing and shaking off the deluge. He people watched back for a bit. I could see his beak open as he commented an aside to the unseen.

We’re good for a few days now. My stars, (glancing up), it’s 11:08. G’night.

The big party at his aunt’s house
Friday March 04th 2016, 11:35 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Life,Wildlife

More energy, less fever. Yay! Missing a mini-family reunion, not so yay, but sometimes you just don’t get to do what you wish you could do. Those flying home to Texas and Hawaii can wave hi from afar with me.

Well maybe at least I could snap a nice picture, and so I went outside when the sky took a break. Love love love how this one came out. And while I was snapping away I glanced up into the gray sky, anticipating more rain warning me to bug out of there, to see instead two hawks air-dancing above and I stopped and I watched them court till they were out of sight and away.

Coopernicus and his mate, no doubt, and their appearance broke through my own little cloud as I wished them a successful season rearing a new family.

The anticipated, delayed rain had finally begun today after a drought-dry February.

Rather than a thousand petals all over the ground, Adele’s peach simply bloomed all the more.

A debate and a gesture
Thursday March 03rd 2016, 11:06 pm
Filed under: Life,Politics

We were watching the Republican debate tonight. Marco Rubio’s voice was getting hoarser and hoarser and he looked like he’d felt better (but then it’s easy for me to think that way when I’ve been waking up with a stiff fever all week, gradually settling mostly down over the course of each day.) He was less, if I dare use the word Trump has politicized, energetic.

So. At the end, John Kasich walked across the front of the stage to go shake Rubio’s hand at the other end. Trump, though, standing right next to Rubio, totally beat him to it.

I guffawed at what happened next: so Rubio shook Trump’s hand, but then as Rubio turned to Kasich there was a moment’s briefest exchange between the two men and Rubio, with Kasich moving a split second behind in kind, bent their arms and reached their elbows towards each other.

I so recognized that. I was on a chemo drug for six and a half years. I always shook elbows. I still do sometimes (and should, given my immune train wreck.)

Trump would have found a way to twist such a gesture into an insult and a rebuke of his opponent and he would never have understood doing something that might convey the slightest whiff of vulnerability. In front of the cameras! Trump got the ordinary handshake he wanted.

Kasich and Rubio exchanged smiles and comraderie in their moment while Rubio was looking out for the other guy, hoping to protect Kasich from his germs. I’m no fan of Rubio for many reasons and would never vote for him. But I have to say, that split-second decision spoke well of him.

Real farmers don’t use beach umbrellas
Wednesday March 02nd 2016, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Garden

I knitted  till my hands had to stop. Stitches yarn is the best yarn.

The downtown San Jose peregrine falcons had their fourth egg today–here’s a video of the male trying to cover them all.

Meantime, the Baby Crawford peach (first two pictures) that I planted in January has been trying its very best to help pollinate the year-old Indian Free. (Third picture.) They’re a match, blossom-time-wise, as I had so hoped.

The Fuji apple started today, too, with this one flower cluster I must have missed earlier and several sets of deep pink buds where yesterday there were only baby leaves.

It can take its time to bring out the rest, though–our long and much-needed bout of rain starts tonight and I figure that short of trying to jury-rig a beach umbrella over the trees, whatever is pollinated is pollinated and that will mostly be that.

(Notice how much darker the leaves are on the apple flowers vs the buds–that’s the difference of a day’s worth of sunshine.)


Not for my grandkids to walk through you don’t. Out!
Tuesday March 01st 2016, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Family,Garden,Life

Rain is coming, nine days of it, after a mostly-dry February. Hallelujah.

Which also means that since I was feeling a lot better and the time was very short, I spent about two hours yesterday yanking out hundreds of weeds by the roots before that water lets them re-anchor. Before, the plants weren’t big enough to reliably pull clear to the taproot, the leaves would just tear off. I’d tried.

Okay, the answer to that is to use a trowel but that’s harder on my knitting hands.

I got the huge yard-trimmings bin half full and snapped this photo before calling it a night. I’d made decent progress, at least.

And then I spent today feverish and achy and mostly asleep and I just barely managed to get fluids down–the Crohn’s wanted in on the fun. Speaking of which, if the MAP vaccine currently in trial succeeds I am going to be first in line the first day and it would be SO cool to have a cure!

Anyway, re the germ relapse, I totally earned it but I’m still glad I got those weeds out. Some had already started to grow their stabby Hades heels.