Inadvertent favor
Saturday December 15th 2018, 12:11 am
Filed under: Garden,Mango tree

I had wondered when we set up the Sunbubble if there would be water seepage under the sides during a rainstorm that would get to the mango. Nope. It was time to get the hose going inside there again.

Turns out that over my birthday it had sprouted new budding branches in five places, which is the best evidence I could have asked for that my new improved heating set-up seems to be what it had needed and means summertime fruit, when it will have real heat to make it sweet. Yay!

I also found that my long-time tree guys goofed. I’d hauled my sick self out of bed yesterday morning (thankfully not too early) because months earlier I’d contracted for them to winter-prune some of my fruit trees so that I wouldn’t have to worry about branches falling at my head while doing it myself. Twelve concussions is enough. The pear, which is tall and thin and really isn’t much yet, the big peach (the Indian Free) and the sprawling 25+ year-old Fuji apple.

That pear is going to grow a lot in the coming year now that we cut away so much that was shading it when we were making the insurance company happy. I need to set a good foundation for that.

Chris called the day before to confirm and I couldn’t stop coughing. Which may well be why when the crew came yesterday the one guy who approached stood well and I mean well back from the door and I couldn’t hear a word he said and didn’t want to breathe on him so I just said you’re here to trim my trees? Apple peach pear? Great, thank you! and left them to it.

I was too tired to go look afterwards. Chris always follows up with a walk-through, but I did not hear the doorbell. Not with my stuffed ears. That’s fine, I didn’t want to infect him, either.

Today I was up to walking around. Even did my treadmill time tonight (slowly. Very slowly. But it felt great to.)

They’d trimmed the Fuji apple, the Indian Free peach–and the Santa Rosa plum. The three biggest trees, planted in a triangle. Made perfect sense. The pear over yonder needed maybe a dozen snips at most and quite honestly made no sense to call them in for other than as a one minute add-on, while the ten-year-old plum was a project.

I know Chris had mapped out what was where for them.

If I call and tell them then they’ll have to come back for just such a waste of their time and they really did me quite the favor. I was trying to keep the cost of the job down and figured the plum was mostly at a height I didn’t have to worry about.

My lingering achiness is really quite delighted that I don’t have to handle pruning materials for very long at all now. What’s left to do is, thanks to them, a piece of birthday cake.

Postscript: I couldn’t find the original email with the contract in it before I wrote this, but I just found the saved document: okay, so Chris did put the plum on the list in August, then. Alright, that makes more sense.

Kishu tree for my milestone
Thursday December 13th 2018, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden

My sweet husband. He’s a very kind man.

They’d been sold out the last several years whenever I looked, and Four Winds is the only grower I know of allowed to ship citrus here: we don’t have the devastating greening disease (Huonglongbing) yet in northern California, and they’ve moved their citrus growing inside with air blowing unwanted insects away at the doors to try to avoid it.

Kishu mandarins are tiny little things that are not sold commercially. You have to know someone who has a tree. The skins just fall right off, there are no seeds, and after seeing them demonstrated there is so little fiber to them that even I should be able to eat them easily. Just pop a small round packet of sweet juice into your mouth and that’s about it.

I first saw them in planters outside a restaurant a few years ago and wondered, what *is* that? How have I never heard of this? And so I went looking. There were none to be found, not from them and not from any retailer within a hundred miles when I settled for the Gold Nugget mandarin that I bought in Santa Cruz, whose birdnetted first squirrel-free fruits are turning orange now. And those will be good. Post-colectomy and all that, I’ll probably have to juice mine.

But normal tasty food eaten a normal way. Richard gets what that means to me.

I looked again a few days ago, just out of sheer curiosity. Four Winds had Kishus! And not only that, when he saw my enthusiasm my patient husband backed me up on it.

It came on my birthday today, four years to the day after the mango did.

This is how you properly celebrate flipping over the tens column. With enthusiasm over the growth and caretaking and offerings to come.

They made it memorable
Wednesday December 12th 2018, 5:07 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

My dad likes to say, How many meals do you eat in your life? Now: how many do you remember?

So they had this plan, with my son saying the credit for the idea goes to his wife. I had a bit of a lingering cough but they decided that that wouldn’t stop anything.

He was already at the airport when he got the word that, uh…

He got on that plane anyway. We could bring the food home if need be. We were going to celebrate my milestone birthday (early, while his sister was still in town; she’s getting on a plane herself as I type.) He was going to take the four of us out to my favorite restaurant, Flea Street Cafe, with reservations for early enough for him to arrive back home again near midnight.

Meantime, having no idea of any of this, I started off the day really stupid: it was one of the days I’m supposed to change the dressing on my ileostomy, and if I put that off by a day sometimes it fails. Not often, but once was enough. You’re not supposed to eat or drink before you do that change. I felt wretched but was just going to soldier through.

Except I couldn’t. Had I been clear-headed, the fact that my kidneys start to shut down if I don’t drink eight ounces every two waking hours would have entered my brain. Not drinking also means I hadn’t taken the med that keeps my blood pressure up. Totally forgot it. (Flashing back to the nurse who exclaimed, 80/40?! How did you walk IN here?! Same way you did, I told her.)

My husband, knowing what was up, got me to drink something around noon when it was clear how badly I needed it, encouraged me towards the shower a few hours later so I could feel more human, made sure the shower chair from when I was recovering from surgery was in there, and kept encouraging me to try being up for awhile.

No way. Overnight I had clearly added a secondary bacterial infection to the mess and bed was just a really good place to be.

Got that dressing changed. Got a smoothie down. Got halfway dressed, at his insistence that it would help.

And then the big reveal: someone was in the family room waiting to see me.

Oh. My. Gosh.

I so did not want to give anyone else my bugs. But I so didn’t want to disappoint my kids. I’m still torn on that, but we went and we had a great time and surrounded by love and laughter I was actually able to do it. I ¬†quietly apologized to Jesse, Flea St’s owner, when she stopped by our table, but she’d already exclaimed over my son’s having flown in just for this just for me and she held me gently in her eyes a moment and understood. She’s a good soul.

He had tried to rent a nice car to take us in for the occasion; the agency had been so sorry but they were all out of…could they upgrade him to a Jaguar at no charge?

It was a revelation: it was so quiet that even with my ears stuffed up I could hear him talking as he drove and I could even hear the two in the back seat, and that never happens and note that my ears are at their worst. I totally get why a hearing-impaired friend of mine bought a used one a few years ago.

He dropped us off at home afterwards and dashed up the freeway towards the airport. I tried to blog. I put down the computer, just so done for the day, went into the bathroom to get ready for bed and barfed.

To be continued
Tuesday December 11th 2018, 9:46 pm
Filed under: Family

What a surprise! What a great ending to the day!

And now I’m falling asleep trying to type so I guess I’ll just have to leave you hanging like that for tonight, sorry.

Chateau chapeau
Monday December 10th 2018, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Another one, at the same stage as the one on the left was last night.

Leafy greens
Sunday December 09th 2018, 8:10 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

The silk in the cowl really lightens it for the camera, but these two are a good match for each other.

Which means that if one of the nephews picks that hat, I’m tempted to buy a second skein to make one for the husband of the woman getting the cowl.

Here, let me go finish off that last bit at the top now.

Well that’s a bug
Saturday December 08th 2018, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Life

The answer to Jayleen’s question is, give or take a few that may be dormant or may simply have gone on to the Great Leaf Beyond, about thirty amaryllis bulbs. I have a number of older ones that seem to bloom every other year. They’re definitely worth their water when they do.

I finished the moss green cowl yesterday but we’ll see if it gets delivered tomorrow; I’m coming down with the bug my husband has had for a few days now. It may well be that a good night’s sleep is all I need (she said hopefully.) Although, I didn’t have the oomph to knit today.

Seems like in the wake of last month’s fires and dark air, a lot of people seem to be coming down with respiratory bugs. I’d be curious to see some stats on that.

We bought a box of a hundred face masks a few months ago so we’d use them and so we’d always have enough to share if someone wants one, an act of wistfulness that those in otherwise good health might become more mindful of those who aren’t. I keep my purse stocked.

I have new buds on my mango tree today. Happy December!

Do not open before Christmas
Friday December 07th 2018, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family,Lupus

My dad sent us home from our visit last month with my suitcase stuffed with six really big amaryllis bulbs. (Pro tip: the TSA machine reads those as bombs.)

What they needed was fresh soil and big heavy pots to keep the future multiple sun-tracking stalks from knocking them over sideways. Hopefully. Which is fine, except that I just wasn’t looking forward to that trip down the freeway, much though I like supporting Yamagami’s. It’s a great nursery with a lot of pre-Silicon Valley history to it.

And part of that foot-dragging was UV-sensitive hours vs our rush hour that starts just after 2:00; December is safer lupus-wise for walking around outdoors than November.

Meantime, in the nice warm house two of them started to sprout a few days ago so I cut holes in their bags and turned them over to un-tilt their sense of direction.

Found a third one starting to sprout this morning. The middle one. It did all that in under 24 hours. Okay, that’s it, time to get going, yay for December, and Yamagami’s once again impressed me with what good people they hire.

Opening the fourth bag, I’d had no idea that bulb in the foreground had even come out of dormancy.

You can tell.


Dark red, wine, white, pink/red/white, with the bags tucked under each for now so I can remember which is which.

Thank you, Dad! Can’t wait! Now that they’re finally planted the little kid in me is like, so BLOOM now! C’mon guys, hurry up!


Their gift back
Friday December 07th 2018, 12:25 am
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

I got word back about the undyed cashmere/cotton blanket that I knit awhile back, going beyond baby blanket size because I had the yarn and I could and that I told the parents they could use it for their new daughter or as an afghan on the couch–it was whatever they wanted it to be for.

Turns out it has gone through the laundry any number of times (shed a bunch of fluff in the process I have no doubt) and has done fine.

And, though they don’t let her toddle around the house dragging it behind her, their little girl goes to bed cuddling with it every night. It is the lovie that every knitter aspires for their baby blanket to become.

A circular moss gathered no stitches
Wednesday December 05th 2018, 8:01 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

Before our trip to Alaska I was working on this moss-green cowl for someone but put it aside to work on my nephews’ hats.

Then I couldn’t find it.

I have this assignment at church I love, to bring chocolate every week to the mothers’ nursing lounge, slipping in before and after the meetings so that none of the kids figures out what I’m up to and tries to raid the stash. Since Stitches, for that task I’ve been using the purple bag my Lisa Souza yarn came in: it’s pretty and it’s celebratory without being too loud. Not to mention, any adult on cleanup duty who took one look at it would know exactly who it belongs to–the knitter.

I finally figured I must have had the cowl ziploc with me at church and put it in there at one point–but I’d left the bag with someone else while we were going out of town and then this past Sunday we met in a different building, where chocolate wasn’t my responsibility, so it had been gone from me two weeks now.

I sent off an email.

I got no response.

The person I was making it for had already seen it and knew it was coming and I had to get on it, but I can’t do what I can’t do. There was simply no sign of it here absolutely anywhere.

So… I grabbed some plain ecru Piuma cashmere and started a substitute, because even if you don’t get the color you want, nobody can complain about cashmere, right? (The other was cashmere/silk/merino, though.) I had to have something come Sunday.

I had very nearly finished the new cowl today a few minutes after sending one last message to the holder of that purple bag. She answered this time: there was no knitting to be found there.

I did the last row and a half, the cast-off, and having used unscoured yarn straight from the cone I put that Piuma in hot soapy water, where the yarn poofed out and came to life with the mill oils gone. So soft now. (Note the pattern is a mesh one that works up fast. That was on purpose.)

Thinking about that moss green Diamante that I so wanted to give to the person who has so been looking forward to it, I walked back across the house thinking, Did I look over at…? I had to have. I looked everywhere. But I’m going to just go see just to be sure.

It looked up at me from under that Time magazine as innocent as a cat in a Christmas tree. It had gotten me to knit an extra, at record speed, in December. Hah.

It’s got an extra leaf motif in it now…

Quake’s Eve
Monday December 03rd 2018, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Family

I did not get a picture of Her Regalness while we were there, but picture a very longhaired, poufy fluffy black cat with big round eyes. One is who is getting up in years and can no longer run as fast from the toddler as she once could.

They have his and hers cats and Sam has had Eve since she was a kitten. After the puppy arrived, the cats had an escape hatch through one of the bedroom doors.

You know those toys that challenge a baby to match a square block to a square hole, a round one to a round one, etc? Mathias at a year old just thwacked the one with the other, as tiny people do, but by last week the simpler shapes were a piece of cake and he even got them in most of the time.

But that cat door.

It’s a sideways oval. His head is round. He can see through it if he hunches down. So that should work, right? But his shoulders, and his head was bigger than that hole anyway. We about died laughing while he was trying to follow the cats into their room: feeling the edges of the space as it bounced his forehead back, confused why it just refused to comply.

His mommy got him the feather toy and helped him make it leap around where the cats were surely watching. Sure enough, a disembodied white paw belonging to the other one suddenly darted in and out at that feather. Mathias was in heaven: it was playing with him!

Normally they keep their distance from small people. He hasn’t quite got the method down of how to stroke their fur so that it feels good to them as well as him–and that black cat is the one you’d most want to touch. She runs at the sight of him, almost not fast enough anymore that one time I saw them at it before she made it through her door while I was dashing to the rescue.

A week later, the earthquake happened.

Nobody was home.

Eve freaked.

When my son-in-law made it home before the others, he found her: she was wedged under the couch, immobilized possibly by an aftershock, but however she got there it was a very small space and it couldn’t have been fun; he rescued her.

That night she did not go through that narrow little cat door.

Instead, at the baby’s bedtime, there she was, lying down under Mathias’s crib of all places.

Nothing could fall on her there, she could see out to the hallway, and even though she was safely underneath the crib, it left so much space above her that she could never be wedged in again. Not here.

She was with her people. She was safe now.

Distraction ornaments
Sunday December 02nd 2018, 8:14 pm
Filed under: Family

The best unbreakable post-earthquake Christmas decorations on a tree to make a small toddler happy?

Silicone measuring cups and spatulas, and don’t even try to take them off. Those are what you celebrate with. That’s where they GO.

Sunday’s forecast there: snow
Saturday December 01st 2018, 11:31 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

Plain, simple, thick, soft, warm, machine washable hats in Mecha.

In Salt Lake three weeks ago I offered to knit one for my niece. (She wanted cream.)

Single moms and their kids could use a little love and a little warmth against all kinds of cold, and with their dad having ditched them, they all need family-centered moments and memories that bring them together when so much in their world has been torn apart.

Which means she got these first two photos today and was told that just because these are the ones I knitted so far doesn’t mean these are the ones her kids had to like–I can knit more and I can buy more yarn. It is a privilege to be able to.

The skein on the left, one of the boys asked.

Sure! I dove right in and kept going till my hands demanded I do something else for awhile.

This is at night, and sunlight will brighten things up a lot, but even though I really like this this isn’t quite what I was expecting–it’s a lot less blue–and I’m not sure it’s what he is either.

So the keyboard and I just opened up a couple of other options and we’ll see how it goes when they come. I want to make the choices theirs as much as I humanly can from an internet away with what photography skills I (don’t) have.