Lockdown day 31: Jim
Wednesday April 15th 2020, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

He used to run a theater. He’s now a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which gives you an idea of what his voice is really like. But you take my goofball cousin, throw in a pandemic and weeks of sheltering-in-place and isolation and all the talk on Facebook about people baking their own bread (or making their own sourdough starter–a friend just dropped some of hers off tonight for us to play with), and you get this.

And yes, after seeing this, we did. The starter isn’t ready for it yet but we had toasted cheese sandwiches for dinner–I mean, after a serenade like that how could we resist?

Lockdown day 30: looking up
Tuesday April 14th 2020, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Life

A little bigger, a little greener, and then stepping outside, the columnar apple has started putting on a show. Yesterday these blossoms opened up at the bottom branch, tomorrow there will be more at the top. 

And then there was this.

You could see the curve of the haunch up against the trunk, the dark tip of the ear, the angle of the jaw with its head turned a bit towards the neighbors behind.

No way.

I stared and stared and then stepped just inside the door to get Richard’s attention and camera and second set of eyeballs: Was that? No, right? Tell me it’s not? That *is* where it would want to be this time of day, that is the shape it would be, that is how it would want to melt into the branches mostly out of sight. (Where squirrels give new meaning to fast food.)

He came out and looked and saw what I saw and went huh…but maybe not. Nah. Couldn’t be. He went back in, grabbed a monocular (how does he always have just the right equipment for the moment? He said no it wasn’t, it wasn’t binoculars) and gave it a better look and then handed it to me.

Okay, then. Man.

Just half an hour later the shapes were the same but the interplay of light and shadow had melted the ear back into monotone brown, the line curving along the haunch had disappeared, and our mountain lion had melted back into simply being the Chinese elm with the weird angles and turns the tree trimmers had cut it into two summers ago when the insurance company required it not to go over the house anymore.

Plus the way it had grown since then.

You had to step outside at just the right time and maybe just the right time of year for it to briefly come alive as something entirely different. Brigadooning?

As for how it acted the part, though, it gave a pretty wooden performance.



Lockdown day 29: the way to spend a day at the beach (and not get $1000 fine)
Monday April 13th 2020, 9:33 pm
Filed under: History,Knit

When you can’t draw and you’re kind of flying by the seat of your pants but you do know that an octopus should have eight arms and trying to pretend one or two of them would be hiding on the other side of it would be cheating. But I had no intention of making the original baby-centric version. No cutesy bug-eyes, either. Those have their place, but I want something that won’t be outgrown.

The very loosely followed pattern is Sea Blanket by ShoeDiva on Ravelry, the yarn is Malabrigo Rios, my favorite worsted, washable merino, needles are US 6/4mm. One bag of Cian colorway was clearly nowhere near enough, sea creatures or no, so a second bag is on order from Imagiknit and I’ll make currents out of the two dye lots.

That waiting and not knowing exactly how what I’ll get will go with what I’ve got has helped slow this project down. That and the million tangling strands per row. There are nine seaweed plants and the tail of a seahorse gripping one of them at the other end.

Lockdown day 28
Sunday April 12th 2020, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Actually, it was last week, but this happened:

Two parents trying to work from home and four kids to keep busy.

In a genius moment that was an act of civil engagement, neighborhood service, math assignment, and keeping the kids actively engaged, our grandkids found themselves getting out the chalk and drawing a hopscotch. Around their entire block in San Diego. Five hundred brightly colored squares for any kid who wants to to jump them for as long as they want to–enough squares apart from others, of course.

There was a downpour over the weekend, which means they’ll have to do it again.

I didn’t quite ask if they were waiting for a new shipment of chalk but I bet it took a lot.

Lockdown day 27
Saturday April 11th 2020, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life

Those Anya apricots. I saved ten pits last summer.

I knocked over one of the paper cups the middle of last week and when I went to gently put everything back in…there seemed at first to be no sign I’d ever planted anything in there.

Did I somehow miss that one?!



At least I had that one big, healthy one about to sprout. And then seven days ago, an actual sprout in a second cup.

But I checked a few others and they’d rotted away, too, so I quit looking and just kept watering (not too much now!) and figuring I’d give it another week–again, and likely another one after that; maybe all they need is warmer weather?

I transplanted the big one split wide open and its healthy, strong root into a bigger pot with better drainage.

I do not know how that killed it, but it died.

At least by then I had the tiny second one throwing out leaf after glorious little leaf.

I went to bed last night grieving Brad’s death hard. So not the ending to the story we’d expected. Thank you for all your comments, it helps more than you know.

And–as long as I was wishing things had turned out different–I wished I’d gotten more than one healthy actual apricot seedling after all that hope and expectation and effort. Not that it mattered; I just wanted it. Like a two year old who’s going to go pout in the corner over not getting a marshmallow.

I woke up this morning and somehow the first thing I did was walk across the house over to those pots.

Where there was very new and completely unexpected life. A sprout! It had no color to it, the future leaves were just tiny bumps on a tiny stem and it could have just been a fragment in the potting soil, but no, it was real and it was not there last night and I grabbed the paper cup out of the windowsill and put it outside in the new sunlight of the day. (Under a bird netting cage. Its little homemade ICU.)

Not ten minutes later I thought, wait, I need a picture.

Already it had taken on a tinge of green. Can you see it? Already it was starting to respond to the sun and creating sugar for its roots below. That fast.

And I bet I can tell you what it’s going to look like a week from now.

We’ll see how it goes, but right now it feels like a gift from Brad. It helps.


Friday April 10th 2020, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

After ten years of trying to have a family, their daughter was three and their twin boys were two weeks old when this happened. I’ve told the story here before but it’s been a goodly while and today’s a day that needs the telling of it.

They are just the nicest people ever. They had moved into a house about a mile from us and when the movers pulled away, a neighbor came by to introduce himself and welcome them to the neighborhood. He happened to mention that back in 1955, there’d been a very high tide with a monster storm and the houses on their street had taken quite a flooding. Just something to know about the place.

A few years later, the babies had just come home from the hospital and the rain was not like anything you usually see here and it had been a hard downpour all day long.

I remember that day vividly: I was on the freeway going to Berkeley to replace my kid’s lost sheet music at the only place that sold copies, with a school concert the next night (the music teacher later told me, All you had to do was ask me, I could have given you guys one!) when one windshield wiper suddenly broke and jammed the other one and I couldn’t even see the truck in front of me much less the cars to either side.

Yeah. It was like that. With his family turned in for as much of a night as you get with newborn twins, Brad was watching the local news, waiting for the weather report.

King tide tonight, they warned as they reported on where the major flooding was.

He opened the front door to see if the water was coming up in their street like that guy had warned them about.

His koi from the pond in their back yard suddenly swam past his feet on their way to the Bay. Freedom! Explorations ahead!

He told that story with a laugh for years. (He also evacuated his family to friends whose house was on higher ground and spent the night lifting everything onto cinderblocks. It was months before the house was livable again but at least he could save their stuff, and he did. I forever after imagined how tired he must have been as he just kept on going anyway.)

My Richard was their home teacher from church.

One time, Brad’s wife put some oreos on a plate and told the now-two-year-old boys to go offer them to him. They did–but in between the kitchen and the living room, given that you had to scoot around a wall that made it so Mommy couldn’t quite see them doing it and the ones in the living room might not, the frosting part of those cookies somehow…vanished. Richard was offered a plate of somewhat soggy dark plain rounds. Well, mostly still round.

Hey, when two sweet little toddlers offer you a goodie you know they want, you eat one to teach them to see how your eyes light up and how grateful you are for their generosity so they’ll want to do that for other people again. (One cookie was enough.)

Such sweet memories. They moved away to a better job and lower cost of living but we kept in touch over Facebook and I marveled that somehow their kids turned into young adults in spite of their not being here where I could see them do it in person.

Brad put up a post there yesterday, acknowledging that he rarely does but he wanted to reach out and say hi to everybody in all of our sheltering-in-place. (I’m sure he wanted us to know how much we really, really should.) He wanted his family, his friends, the whole world, to know how much he loved them.

He was wearing a big mask and his face was so thin–I had to look twice to make sure it was him.

He wrote that his was the first case of COVID-19 diagnosed in his county. And the first success. He’d been ill these past three weeks, in the ICU on a ventilator for two, but he had just moved out of there into a regular bed. He was off the ventilator. He was so weak, but he was getting better and he was so very very happy that he would get to see more of his kids’ lives from here on out.

I just now opened Facebook again.

The post was from Brad’s brother so his wife and children wouldn’t have to.

Brad is gone.

I am gutted.

Lockdown day 25
Thursday April 09th 2020, 10:08 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

I couldn’t disappoint Suzanne. So I did get some done today.

Lockdown day 24
Wednesday April 08th 2020, 6:27 pm
Filed under: Garden

Birth of an apricot tree, Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. In a little paper cup.

It’s growing faster than the afghan these past two days, but never mind.

Day 23
Tuesday April 07th 2020, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Ziplocked away. Pandemicked. Waiting its turn.

Lockdown day 22, wondering where spring went
Monday April 06th 2020, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Garden

So here we are, on our week–wait, it’s #9 now, isn’t it–of our personal quarantine, and I’m watching my apricot pits trying to hatch. Because life is exciting like that.

Two halves of a large kernel vs an actual, tiny sprout. It’ll be interesting to see if the one wants to be a giant and the other a dwarf or if that’s just this stage. (On my screen it’s cutting off the sprout in the dual picture unless you click on it. New update, don’t know how to fix that yet.)

General Conference talk
Sunday April 05th 2020, 10:15 pm
Filed under: Life

Jeffrey R. Holland had a son working on his PhD at Stanford and so for several years we got to know the son and his wife and little boy and every now and then his folks would fly into town to visit, so we got to know them a little bit, too.

That toddler would be a young adult now, but at age two he had the biggest cutest jowls and a surprisingly deep voice–he was his grampa’s mini-me, and absolutely adorable.

All that aside, here’s what his grandfather, one of the twelve apostles serving in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, said at General Conference:

“When we have conquered COVID-19—and we will—may we be equally committed to freeing the world from the virus of hunger and freeing neighborhoods and nations from the virus of poverty.

May we hope for schools where students are taught, not terrified they will be shot, and for the gift of personal dignity for every child of God, unmarred by any form of racial, ethnic, or religious prejudice. The rising generation deserve so much more.
May we press forward with love in our hearts.”

Lockdown day 20 amidst words of wisdom
Saturday April 04th 2020, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

It’s the weekend of watching General Conference. Potato-chip knitting time, simple, mindless–definitely not for the distractions of the ocean afghan, and so a cashmere cowl is now most of the way done.

The Tabernacle Choir’s songs are from sessions recorded back when it was safe for them to all be together, and the leaders are meeting in a small theater with no audience and sitting six feet apart. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is currently being led by a former heart surgeon and he acted earlier than most religious leaders in shutting down the meetinghouses and taking the local services online, too.

Two more sessions tomorrow, so I need to choose another skein from the stash.

How do you pick just one?

Lockdown day 19: silver lining edition
Friday April 03rd 2020, 10:23 pm
Filed under: History,Life,Politics

(My Page orange tree.)

I’ve heard others marveling over the same thing I’d noticed: the sudden, stunning absence of spammers that had been calling relentlessly all day long for years.

Their greed apparently finally veered too close to political wounds. Their latest scam had been trying to monetize the coronavirus: the new pitches were for fake testing, fake cures, fake insurance, anything people would be desperate to have in the pandemic that they could make a quick buck over and run.

Which could make the administration look bad, and we can’t have that, so the FCC–you know, the same FCC that under Trump thought that it was peachy fine to let companies both sell and throttle our data, that killed net neutrality–told those guys’ providers that if all overseas robocalls weren’t stopped within two days those American companies that were enabling them would lose all access to American telecom systems. Period.

And in our social distancing isolation, when the phone rings now, it’s actually a call you want to take, and you answer.

It had been that easy all along; the FCC just had had to want to do it.

May we never go back.

Lockdown day 18
Thursday April 02nd 2020, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden

We had two bad years in a row for peach leaf curl disease, and even though I’d used copper spray, one tree was dying and I gave up and replaced it with a resistant variety, and the August Pride…at least looked better than that. I decided to let it try for another year.

My artistic gardening friend James out of the blue decided that someone had done something good for him that was making his life so much better–so much so that he wanted to pay it forward, and he asked me if he could come over with his copper spray and do that job for my peaches?

Totally unexpected. Yes please thank you!

And look at that healthy August Pride now. Needing to thin all that fruit is a great problem to have.

Day 17: Don’t forget to do it
Wednesday April 01st 2020, 9:12 pm
Filed under: Life

Someone, somewhere out there had to have beaten me to it. Hey Google?

She did! Someone took John Denver’s song and changed it to You Fill Out My Census.

(We got the long form ten years ago; we got the short form this time and I couldn’t believe how quickly it was over and done.)