Happy Halloween
Saturday October 31st 2020, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I figured there would certainly be no trick or treaters this year of all years.

Till the new next door neighbors set up quite the Halloween display. It’s marvelous. Maybe some little kids would get to enjoy Richard’s pumpkin after all? Since we’re right next to such awesomeness. I had to go out to pick up prescriptions anyway, so I finally bought some Halloween candy.

I decided to sweep away the cobwebs along the front walkway: you’re only supposed to have fake ones up to celebrate with. Might as well do that part over there on the other side of the gate, too, even if no one will see it but me.

There were sounds of happy kids in their back yard as I worked and it took me straight back to when our kids were the little ones and the empty-nester in that house had been the one enjoying hearing them all those years ago. The Halloween where they didn’t show because the three who were old enough to had stomach flu, we found out she’d been waiting waiting waiting for them to come by. But they hadn’t. The next day she knocked on our door with the See’s Candies treats-filled paper haunted houses she’d bought just for our kids, one for each, and she was hoping they were okay? Sandy rocks.

Good people live in that house.

The last section of fence between us fell down months ago in the taking out of the silk oak that had been lifting it up; it was repaired, it went splat again, it just needs an entire do-over. We’ve talked about jointly replacing it, but for now there’s six feet at the corner left simply open. My house and yard angle away from it such that you can’t actually see much from there anyway unless you come through from their side.

I always wondered when curiosity would get the better of the nine year old and tonight it appears I got my answer: when someone else’s kid wants to.

I looked up to see turquoise shorts starting to come my way through the wispy drooping leaves of my Chinese elm and exclaimed cheerfully in surprise, Well hello!

They had clearly not known I was there. Two sets of legs scrambled back out of there so fast. I figured if I went to the gap and said, No it’s okay c’mon over you want a tour of my garden? that it would only have gotten them in trouble with their parents and I didn’t want to stomp on their rare and fun get-together, so, hey.

I set the bowl of candy outside next to the pumpkin with the light on.

There seem to have been no takers. There are peanut butter cups but the squirrels are asleep.

It’s getting late enough that I’d better bring it in before the skunks say thank you don’t mind if I do. Or get in a fight with the raccoons trying to beat them to it.

Scary ghost story for jack o’lanterns
Friday October 30th 2020, 8:30 pm
Filed under: Food,Recipes

Don’t use homemade pumpkin, it said.

Okay, I’ll use leftover homegrown butternut squash that was baked intact so that it steamed itself and roasted its sugars nicely. Into the Cuisinart!

I didn’t have quite enough.

Wait–but I did have a few of Andy Mariani’s ripe-dried Golden Transparent plums that had gotten a little too dried out over time so I’d been soaking them in apple cider in the fridge for several days. I took a small taste: spices (I had added none) and Thanksgiving, with a depth that was quite a surprise–just perfect. So that, pureed with what now seemed more syrup than juice, made up the last quarter cup.

It said oil. I melted butter, because I can now, because the allergic person isn’t here for it to taunt.

It said a glass pan. I used ceramic and went for the max 36 minutes before testing because of it.

It came out just right.

I want to be able to not do it like they said again because it’s so good, so, partly as a note to myself, here’s the link to their pumpkin cake recipe. Which sounds really good, too.

Zoom zoom zoom
Thursday October 29th 2020, 9:58 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

1. I thiiiink I started this when Maddy was a baby. She’s turning six in December. No pattern, just winging it. And I thiiiiink that I picked it up again when Lilly was on the way (or maybe that’s when I started it), finally a girl again after four grandsons. Whatever. I stumbled across it with the back done and the front only needing the top part and thought, that has lots of stretch–sure, it could still fit a fourteen month old, no problem.

And so last night I finished the knitting and did the sewing-up, which is my least favorite thing in all of knitting but I did it because this was my one chance ever to inflict it on a granddaughter.

And only then did I remember why it had been ditched. I thiiink. Tell me if I’m wrong.

I asked Michelle if her sister liked that color or was it too pinkish for her?


The one thing is that having started it however long ago, there is no matching that dye lot. (I even ordered a skein, it came, I laughed ruefully.) I might have enough left to pick up/cast off around the neck edge to smooth it a bit but maybe not, so I probably won’t bother to try unless you all go for the peer pressure remedy. Or I could add a contrasting edge everywhere.

But if nothing else, it’s easy to throw it in the dyepot with some blue if need be now that it’s finally actually done. I’ll ask.

2. Michelle headed back to her sister’s today, having finished the things she had to do down here, and the house is suddenly very very quiet again. It might take a little getting used to. We sent her off with fresh chocolate.

3. Then Richard did this. It was a work thing: share your pumpkin with the group! In preparation he’d bought a plug-in Flaming Lamp, ie, no candles to worry about, shown here on the jack o’lantern’s top. He set up his phone to show his masterpiece and there was at least one co-worker’s excited little kid in the background of the call bouncing up and down about it and theirs.

Coming in the room, I couldn’t get over how he’d just made the best one I’d ever seen him do. He told me there was this kit where you basically plaster a stencil over the thing, secure it with plastic wrap around the pumpkin, and carve what you see.



4. Mathias, age three, whose aunt has a long long drive and has not yet arrived, yelling at the videoconference display while his mommy was working earlier today: “No! It’s my turn to talk!”

Soon, little guy, soon. Your favorite distraction is on the way.

(Ed. to add a later conversation: Wait–did you cut off the bottom not the top?

Him: Yes, the booklet says the pumpkins last longer that way.

Me: That actually makes sense, but who would have thought of it. )


Party party party
Wednesday October 28th 2020, 7:07 pm
Filed under: Food

Sandra Boynton says it’s National Chocolate Day and I hope everybody’s been celebrating properly.

We certainly did and we didn’t even know that we were getting all set up for it. Wild Bolivia nibs from Chocolate Alchemy for the definite win.

How he rolls
Tuesday October 27th 2020, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Politics

One more week. We got our votes into the ballot box on Wednesday and Saturday got emailed that they’d officially been received. One more week.

Speaking of which.

This past week Sen. Mitch McConnell R-Kentucky has had severe bruising on particularly his right hand as well as parts of his face–he looks like he took a bad fall, and it wouldn’t be his first because a year ago he broke a shoulder.

One person noted that if his hands got any darker he’d have to deny them the right to vote.

The Muzak needed to play Rocky Raccoon
Monday October 26th 2020, 9:20 pm
Filed under: Knit,Wildlife

I knitted a little of the plain and simple and quiet-colored hat–and then searched on Ravelry for Lucy Neatby after seeing an email from my friend Margo Lynn: color! Brightness! I bought two blanket designs, thinking, y’know, those might just be the right inspiration for the Next Big Thing. Mine wouldn’t be circular, and we don’t need the extra warmth in our climate of double knitting, but those are really cool.

She’s shutting down her business, although she will still be selling old and new patterns on Ravelry.

Meantime, locally, someone managed to snap a great picture of a young local intern at work: the computer was clearly a pain so he and his buddy got it shoved onto the floor, and can’t we all relate to that?

Falling through the ductwork seems not to have doused their curiosity. The little bank bandits are here, paw on mousepad. But they had their face masks on!

The slight comedown
Sunday October 25th 2020, 10:21 pm
Filed under: Knit

Grabbed some washable thick Mecha merino, started a hat, looked forward to the instant gratification, did the rows of ribbing for the brim–

–and had this moment of, is that all? No fish? No fancy? No fun? Just plain?

So I’m going to have to think of something, maybe a gansey stitch or something.

Or just spend a few hours knitting a plain hat so I can go on to the next thing in a more malleable gauge, but whatever, it’s all good.

About 103,000 stitches later
Saturday October 24th 2020, 7:40 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

An appraising look from my daughter: “That is an accident waiting to happen.”

So I handed her the camera and let her stand on the chair and lean over the thing to try to get an angle where the rectangle comes out a rectangle. I think she did a great job.

That light band across the bottom is where I started in on it again in April after two years on timeout. I didn’t realize that one ball was the wrong dyelot till at least a week’s worth of work later, and left it as maybe the octopus had just swept across there, or maybe it’s recovering from bottom trawling. Having spent so long trying to make myself get back to this, I knew that if I ripped out everything right then that I’d finally succeeded at getting myself to do that that would have been the end of it all.

In normal light it’s a much more subdued effect.


House goofs
Friday October 23rd 2020, 8:22 pm
Filed under: Family

Daughter: “Have you blogged yet?”

Me, ‘fessing up: “No, I totally got sucked into mcmansionhell.com and I’ve wasted hours.”

Daughter, with a grin because she loves that site that I only just found out about: “You could tell the blog that.”

Me, thinking, well, but on the plus side, do you know how many calories I’ve burned? Deep belly laughs over and over and over are good for body and soul, and who couldn’t use the distraction right now.

I’m also remembering the contractor who was supposed to push one bedroom out to the end of the eaves who built the outer wall and found he’d mismeasured and it was going to be an inch beyond the overhang with that gap between it and the roof. Oops! Do over time!

He had a light hanging from the ceiling that you couldn’t open the new pantry doors without breaking the glass. Oops! Do over time!

He… There is such a thing as a goof plate, turns out, for when they cut the hole in the plaster too big for the electrical outlet plate. If you ever see a weirdly too-big ugly cover, that’s why.

You hear that?
Thursday October 22nd 2020, 9:05 pm
Filed under: Life

I was at the ENT doctor’s today, because I chipped a piece out of the hard part of the tubing on an ear mold and need it remade and to do that my ears had to be cleaned out first so the audiologist can get the right fit. Pandemic or no pandemic, I do like to be able to hear.

I mentioned to the doctor that I’d done the 23AndMe thing and that it said I had the gene for, of all things, wet earwax. A what now?

He was trying to remember the details: he’d read about that. It seems that that gene is also connected to a lower rate of heart and vascular disease.

Really?! I told him my grandparents (on my mom’s side anyway) lived to be 95 and 96, so…!

He was now very curious to go back and look that up and track down the details.

I’m like, hey. I’m going to live forever. Wet behind the ears has a whole new meaning now.

Mascara fish
Wednesday October 21st 2020, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Politics

Cuttlefish quickly take on the colors of whatever is below them.

So just for fun I made a point of wearing colors that matched the yarns I wanted to play with while knitting mine.

They have prominent W-shaped eyelid-looking things that tend to have a lighter layer above, so after nine attempts at graphing out how to do that I finally got one I was happy with. But I did not swatch it. Maybe I should have.

I guffawed when I stopped to take a good look after the last eye stitches were actually done.

And then I had to explain to my millennial daughter what I meant by Tammy Faye Bakker’s eyelashes. My husband chimed in with, “She made Dolly Parton look not made up.”

Meantime, the ballots are good (I added a note to yesterday’s post to make it easy for me to find in four years should I need to remember re the signature question–the answer I got may be specific to my county, though), the ballots are in, and I can’t tell you how good it feels that we have done our part to make our beloved country a better and more hopeful place.

Watch those vote-by-mail envelopes
Tuesday October 20th 2020, 8:55 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Knit,Politics

Everybody in California gets mailed their ballots now as of this election. In our county, I think it’s our second time. 

My plan was to finish and show off the cuttlefish as well as the small blue jelly (which in this bad-lighting picture looks vaguely Star Wars-ish. Or like an enlarged dust mite.) I’m close, too, but then after dinner the daughter and husband pulled out the sample ballots, the phones, a laptop, and started going over the choices. With me running to the desktop in the other room from time to time.

For two hours. And this is with us having already individually read the state Voter’s Guide and various articles over time.

And then with a flourish, to make it official: the actual ballots.

No not that pen, I said, it smudges and we can’t.

Got it all done, signed the envelopes…

…And realized I’d given it my standard signature of name middle initial name.

The envelope said name name name.

Can I sign it both ways?

That got me a groan of, No! (Meaning, do NOT risk it!)

As Richard put it, you get to make someone’s day difficult tomorrow trying to talk to you on the phone while you find out if that’s how you’ve signed their book in the past. Left unspoken was, Or whether you have to wait till November 3 to hand it in in person covid or no covid so the envelope won’t matter. I said I could take it to the county office and ask for a new envelope and then hand it in right there–to be reminded that probably nobody would be there. Covid. Oh right.

So much for dropping them all off together at the official ballot box tonight. But they are filled out and they are ready and we are so ready.


Update Wednesday:

They looked it up for me. Name initial name is what’s on file for both of us, and they have both our signatures from way back when we registered to vote here in 1986 and our signatures from the most recent election, giving them both a range and any progression with age over time, and whether it was a full middle name or just the initial wouldn’t matter anyway, she said; what matters is that it looks like the same hand signed that new ballot.

We’re good.

Teach your children well
Monday October 19th 2020, 7:27 pm
Filed under: Life

A five year old made it into the news after his mommy was picking him up from daycare last week at a church in Daly City: Look, Mommy, there’s a lemur!

Maybe you saw a raccoon, honey.

The kid knew what a lemur was, he’d seen a lemur, and it was right there!

Which led to the daycare people closing the door on the little playhouse, calling the cops, the cops calling San Francisco Zoo five miles away, and the rescue of said lemur from inside that playhouse after it had gone missing. The person believed to have stolen it has been arrested and the five year old now has a lifetime free pass to the zoo with his family.

The daycare got the missing-lemur reward.

You never know when you’ll need to know what a lemur is.

Clicking her ruby slippers: there’s no place like home, so, show up, already
Sunday October 18th 2020, 7:56 pm
Filed under: Family

 A few more pictures while the babyhood lasts. Those are her big brother’s shoes, which is why she’s having so much fun walking around in them.

I love the funny faces they make when they’re trying to figure out how to say our words.

We FaceTimed with them yesterday, and Lillian abruptly decided she was going to settle this once and for all: she was done with that screen, she was coming to US. Now! Which made our day, and of course she was easily jollied out of her disappointment at our not picking her up from ~1000 miles away.

Meantime, there are a cuttlefish and a blue jelly on the needles with hopes that they’ll be done in a couple of days.

Fourteen months next week
Saturday October 17th 2020, 5:35 pm
Filed under: Family

An antidote and comfort for all that ails in a way that nothing else quite could. You know that old line, “Sleeping like a baby”? For utter contentment it should be, “Smiling like a baby.”

With thanks to the resident hero for restoring the photo function on the blog.