CZU fire aftermath
Monday August 31st 2020, 10:32 pm
Filed under: Family,History

Where the firemen built a break.

Where my kids went to camp, growing up, at a church-owned property shared by youth groups from across the region. Where our ward (like many) held several family campouts. I can still picture Peter cheerfully flipping pancakes.

I’m quite surprised there was anything left of the dining hall at all.

The boxes are the best part
Sunday August 30th 2020, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Family

Everybody needs a freezer box hideout to make goofy faces in.

And to grab your daddy’s cup at the table. (She’s watching carefully where it went.)

Revanche was a dish served hot
Saturday August 29th 2020, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Food,Knit,Life

She’s used Doordash before.

Doordash didn’t realize she’d moved out of the Bay Area.

The two restaurants had nearly identical names.

And so she found out her order had been put in 800 miles away at a place she’d never heard of. She tried to cancel it but the restaurant said they’d already entered it into their Doordash account, so, so sorry, too late.

So she told them she was going to tell us to go pick it up.

Given how they acted when I got there, they were clearly hoping nobody would come.

When I said who I was, who she was, why I was there and what I was doing, the guy at the counter reacted like that was the most creative way to scam a free meal he’d ever heard of. He was, in a word, rude. But I wasn’t going anywhere. I finally had her talk to him while I held the phone so he wouldn’t have to touch it. He conferred with someone else–and they started cooking that meal. Half an hour after it was supposed to have been picked up, because I’d gotten the message late.

No diners are allowed to eat inside, but all the pickups were inside and I was already there, and technically I wasn’t dining, so they told me to sit in the darkest corner where the lights were turned off while they worked on it.

The oldest person in the kitchen came out from time to time to smile benevolently. He was not wearing the mandated mask. He seemed to approve of knitting, however, and though silent was the one friendly face in the place.

My yarn was dark green and my needles were black and Mecha’s single ply splits too easily but that’s the project that was in the purse and I did make good progress on it.

I was careful not to so much as touch the top of the table. No point in creating extra work for them.

I got the order home…

I don’t know that they usually put that much and I mean that much! heat into every single dish. Given that what was ordered was originally intended to be shared with small children, I do have my doubts.

Nailed it
Friday August 28th 2020, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden

Nothing like some good sourdough out of the oven. (Another pumpkin cranberry cinnamon loaf.)

The last two days we had a normal, San Francisco Bay-style marine layer that cooled things down and helped the firefighters and cleared the air a great deal–and the critters got at a few of the ripening figs despite my best efforts.

Today, as containment continues, the smoke was back, the air was gray, and the figs got left alone. They are browning up rapidly now, winding up the season.

So I guess my observation that fire air keeps the critters away seems to hold. I have high hopes for ripe ones for breakfast picked at their morning sweetest.

I was going to go to Andy’s to get some late season peaches, too, while they last, but my tire picked up a nail.

Fortunately easily dealt with–I lucked out, the idiot light came on on the freeway after I hit a rough patch with debris and I could have been stranded there but I was able to get it to my mechanic with no problem.

But it was not what I’d planned. You do not drive out of Silicon Valley on a Friday after 2:30 if you don’t have to. Not even during a pandemic.

One fish blue fish
Thursday August 27th 2020, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Knit

It does. I followed that photo pretty well but it looks upside down. I’m going to have to duplicate-stitch over a few waywards there.

Play with your food
Wednesday August 26th 2020, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Wishing safety and refuge to all in the path of the hurricane. (The Washington Post is offering updates for free, no subscription needed.)

There’s a long way to go but our closest fire evacuations have begun to lift.

One more birthday picture. (Food powder based.)

While hundreds of square miles burn
Tuesday August 25th 2020, 11:02 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden,History,Wildlife

Not a single apple on the ground for days. Nothing pecked.

Not a single fig taken before its time–and up till this point, my success rate at getting to pick and eat a fully ripe one has been a total of exactly one single one. If I leave them that one last day for perfecting, they’re gone.

Remember these past years where I’ve put a fake dead crow out at night (so they don’t see me and don’t think I killed it) to keep the real ones from wanting to come in my yard? I was never sure that really worked, but I didn’t do that this year and this is the first year I can remember where I’ve had flocks of crows fly over my house. Morning or evening: every single time I go outside. It’s like they know I know where the fruit is so they’re checking it out–and it could well be, given that crows evolved scavenging the edges of human civilization and cast offs, so much so that they can read human faces and expressions as well as a dog can.

The trees they liked to be just far enough away in next door are gone now, and maybe that’s part of it, but they didn’t start coming directly overhead and in waves until things started to ripen.

The ability of–something–to tear through and rearrange the bird netting has been impressive, and the breaking of young fig branches in the process, disconcerting.

Not a single crow around since the fires started. It seems they don’t want to be high overhead in all that smoke. One single squirrel briefly came in view, for that matter, and it did not want to run fast nor exert itself but I still told it it had to leave. It did.

Rather than coming fleeing down out of the hills in numbers, at least this far out the wildlife seems simply to have vanished.

Not a single apple.

Not a single fig, not even the ripening one right there clearly in easy reach where the netting doesn’t go that far. Anything could have swiped it. Nothing did.

I’ll take it.

Twelve months
Monday August 24th 2020, 9:07 pm
Filed under: Family

Someone officially turned one yesterday and she wants to share the celebration.

Boulder Creek
Sunday August 23rd 2020, 8:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life

Some friends of ours had two little boys, 2 and 4, and the wife was expecting a girl–and suddenly had to have emergency surgery and everybody held their breath and prayed hard for mother and child both.

Months later, their daughter is here and safe and sound and her mother has recovered. Yay.

Restrictions are only one person at a time can go in a house that’s for sale and the realtor and buyer must come in separate cars, and all that was a pain, but they did it, they just bought a house to call their forever home. They moved out of their apartment and up into the beautiful, redwood-covered mountains last weekend.

Tuesday they were bringing their kids home from the grandparents’ and the road was full of people streaming out of there. Huh. Well, nobody had given them any kind of evacuation order so they put their boys to bed but out of an abundance of caution started gathering whatever they might need because you never know.

Forty-five minutes later they got that order to get out and scrammed. In the ordinary chaos of having just moved, they did not find everything they wished they had but it sounds like they got everybody’s favorite blankies.

Yay for grandparents close enough to go to.

Yay for having bought fire insurance.

Thank heavens for firefighters who do what so few of us could.

They know a hotspot flared up near their house but that it got tamped down, and right now that’s all they know.

Whatever surgery life performs on their expectations in the immediate term, they’re safe and sound and everybody is, in every way that matters, doing well. May all those tens of thousands of other people in the same boat be so as well.

The River fire
Saturday August 22nd 2020, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Food,History,Life

Photo by, as far as I can tell, Iris Brewster, because she credits the photographers in her other pictures. It does embiggen if you want to see better.

Mom? I still don’t like brussel sprouts. I’m sorry. I’ve tried, I know you’ve tried, I’ve olive-oiled and roasted and reminded myself they’re healthy and all that, but they still are what they are.  It helps that I’m married to someone who doesn’t like them even more than I don’t like them. Except at least they’re better at your house because you’re a far better cook.

But some came in our weekly produce bag last Saturday. I put them off for most of the week, which surely didn’t improve their flavor any, but there is no room in our fridge for more than one gigantic Milk Pail box’s worth so I finally roasted them last night and they stank up the house so bad it still lingered in the morning. I even ate one. Richard hoped I wouldn’t ask him to. The rest are in the fridge, all ready for us to magically change our minds and be thrilled and devour them after a bit of a zap.

But this is why my conscience could not simply throw them out without trying and at least tasting them. That’s the sun up there and a fire behind that ridge. Click to really see.

And yet still they feed us. 

Good folks
Friday August 21st 2020, 9:47 pm
Filed under: Food,History,Life

Seventy-seven thousand people including all of UC Santa Cruz have been evacuated along the coast, where the nightly fog that’s supposed to keep the forest floor and the roots of the redwoods damp has gone missing, and who knows how many more folks inland had time to pack before they had to get out of there. The unheard-of August lightning storms? There are more in the forecast.

Yesterday it was smokey at Andy’s Orchard but it wasn’t terrible. Today the high school across the street from him had become the evacuation center and the area was marked Evacuation Warning: be packed, be ready.

I am so glad I went when I did.

The phone rang this morning, but the person was breaking up so badly that neither one of us could make heads nor tails. So they just came. The doorbell rang a few hours later: it was the mattress people. It was not Saturday.

I had told them that if the fires got worse we’d be happy to wait because their safety was the most important thing, to please check first. They appreciated that–and instead decided, okay, we need to get this done NOW. I wondered if they’d been driving since before dawn.

They put the new cover on the new mattress. We were supposed to have to do that part per the seller and watching them, I’m not sure we could have.

They got everything set up. I followed them outside to say where I wanted the old one to go till we could hire someone to come pick it up.

They knew that we had just missed the city’s semi-annual cleanup date when it would have been done for free.

They used the lift to get the old one onto the truck. No worries, they said, we’ll take care of it.

I was not expecting that at all.

When I told the one guy I’d bought the peaches at a farm yesterday, and how things were there today, his eyes got wide and he really, really appreciated it (and probably was really really glad they hadn’t waited till tomorrow) and headed outside to the truck to share with his co-worker. They waved thanks, I waved thanks, and they were out of here while the routes back out were still safe.

Smoked peaches
Thursday August 20th 2020, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends

Last year the last of Andy’s peaches were done at the end of August,  earlier than previous years, and after eating a generic one that had come with my weekly produce bag and what a disappointment it was compared to what Andy grows, I wanted to go.

The air here had improved, but the fire map showed one blaze southeast of Morgan Hill as well as the ones on the coast.

I called.

“Yes, we’re open. It’s smokey, though.”

Coming through San Jose it started to sting the eyes even in the car and by the time I turned off the freeway, there was a plume behind the mountains on the coastal side. Eastward nearer Andy’s it was gray but without anything specific.

All I could do was say a silent prayer for all those in it, all those who don’t want to find themselves in it, and all those fighting those fires for the rest of us.

I got two flats of CalReds and some cherry-sized, exquisitely flavored green gage plums, and the similar mirabelle plums out of curiosity. Heirloom tomatoes. A bottle of poison oak honey (the very best). Slab dried apricots, not the prettiest but the ones that had been at peak ripeness so they went smush when pitted. Fresh-picked cobs of corn from his neighbor.

I was basically trying to pack all the Andy’s-ing I could into one trip because I felt I could take nothing for granted.

And then the fun part is I got home and emailed the friend who always wants a case of peaches whenever I go there and told her she had first crack at that second one.

Last time I’d gone they hadn’t had a second case that wasn’t already spoken for so I hadn’t been able to offer.

She was surprised I’d gone out in this, ecstatic for the peaches, and her husband picked them up almost immediately. They won’t end up pureed in my freezer for the winter but that’s okay, there’s still more August and I’ll just have to go back next week.

More 2020
Wednesday August 19th 2020, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

The mattress we ordered is supposed to finally arrive Saturday. I guess it has been sufficiently quarantined from its New Jersey origins now.

The trucker’s route is sending him north from LA, and I just sent him a note asking him to please check the fire situation before coming: the fires are in the mountains, but there was a brush fire alongside the main freeway down in the valley a few towns south of us yesterday.

I wanted him to know that his safety is the priority.

Friends have been evacuated from their homes, we haven’t heard back yet from Richard’s aunt but the red zone on the map is thankfully not close to her and she is clearly peachy fine. The Salinas fire does not seem to be near her daughter’s.

The air was yellow today, the light reflections inside were weirdly orange, and you walk outside and your nose says, hey, you need some marshmallows to go with the graham crackers and chocolate in the pantry. Just hold the skewer out…thataway.

One picture in the news made it clear that Richard could have seen the rising mushroom of smoke from the other side of the mountains from his office, if not for covid and working from home. (Do NOT take the scenic route up the coast!)

But at least we got a slight break on the heat.

My prayers for the firefighters and those in the path.

Almost one
Tuesday August 18th 2020, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Family

We were FaceTiming with the Washington grands Sunday and Lillian was walking easily across the rug from parent to parent, giggling.

But when she got to the tile floor she slipped and tumbled and nuts to this and crawled to get where she wanted to go.

Back to the rug.

Her brother was on the couch and mostly out of reach.

She grabbed for his toes. He didn’t mind. She peered over the edge. Okay, the walking’s cool but what she really wanted now was to be able to get up there and find out what he was so interested in and be a part of it. She wanted to climb. It was just too high and there was no foothold to be found.

The previous week it was the walking she’d wanted so bad to be able to do.

Yesterday the kids sent us a video: Lillian, in bare feet this time, walking on that tile floor. Everybody clapped so she stopped and clapped, too.

Hey. This time clapping didn’t make her fall down–and she was on the tile. She noticed. She was hesitant as to how to safely start up again, though.

“Mathias, do you want to help your sister?”

Mathias appeared from around the kitchen island and reached for her hand and as soon as she could touch his she was off again and around to the other side.

It wasn’t that he was doing anything to hold her up physically, it’s that she knew he was there and he loved her. And that made it so she could see that she could do this herself after all.

Wait–new pictures today. Look at her go! Okay, got the shoes off.

Those toes! And she’s practicing the climbing thing–she’s motivated.

Keep them open
Monday August 17th 2020, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Knit,LYS,Politics

I’ve mentioned Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco from time to time.

I got a Buy 3 Get 1 Free! email from Kathryn.

She’s only doing curbside because her county doesn’t allow customers to touch anything inside the store. You can’t pick up a book. You can’t squish and gauge which merino is softest. You have to know what you want.

Well I do. So I called and ordered fourteen skeins of Rios in Ravelry Red, with a conversation with my friend Afton to the side and headed on up there.

I asked Kathryn how it was going.

She said that while the county had everything completely shut down for two months, her landlord was only willing to cut the rent by 25%–while knowing her sales were zero for that time. After that, no breaks, no nothing, pay in full or you’re out.

So she is scrambling to make that rent.

You walk in her store (back when you could) to find cubbies along the walls on up to the ceiling, narrow aisles with more cubbies and more yarn above your head. Yarn yarn yarn. It’s a small space with a huge inventory. She doesn’t just sell Malabrigo, but that’s what I come for the most and she has more of it than anyone I know.

She’s not tech savvy and doesn’t have an online shop, but she will mail if you know what you want. She told me people have come to her after being able to find only a skein or two online elsewhere of something–whereas she’ll have a full bag or even two, enough to actually do a big project.

I showed her my ocean afghan so far. Most of it came from her. She was quite pleased.

I almost, almost bought the two bags of Rios in the Jupiter reds and browns colorway, but I was already picking up that red for a future afghan and had a request in for Matisse Blue to make another ocean afghan because a family member preferred that as the background; she’s checking to see if her yarn rep has it.

I texted Afton from the curb about that bag of Cian she had–my ocean’s background color, and got an enthusiastic, YES!

And so between the two of us we were able to help Kathryn out a bit and cheer her on. And, selfishly, to help keep my favorite yarn source going.

And then I went to the post office to mail Afton’s off to her.

Last week, the place was just deserted.

Today, the parking lot was full right after me. People were wearing masks and social distancing at the blue marks on the floor in a line that went from the two clerks (there used to be at least three if not four during the day, this being the main one in a major city in Silicon Valley) clear across the long room past all the post office boxes to the far window. They were not walking back out to try UPS because it might be shorter–they were walking in, seeing how it was, visibly taking it in stride one after another and putting that commitment of their time into this.

There was an outcry when, along with banning overtime and removing thousands of sorting machines, post office boxes in poor neighborhoods where people might vote were being removed last week–so Trump’s Postmaster General donor buddy had them stop doing that: instead, they put big red plastic locks on so no mail could go in.

We can fight back.

I paid for Priority and for insurance on not what I paid but what it would cost me to replace those ten skeins at full price plus pay for shipping and insurance again. More than I had to. Because I wanted to. They offered, as always, stamps, and I considered, but I’d just bought them twice and I wanted to look forward to an excuse for a next time. And frankly, I didn’t want them to run out for the day because, man, they just might.

All those patient-looking people behind me with that long long long wait were surely in it with the same determination.

The Post Office is under attack. Long live the post office.

Mail yarn. Make stuff with it, and mail that, too.