Sunday January 31st 2021, 10:59 pm
Filed under: Garden

The blueberries are waking up and the buds have begun. One of the peaches, too, and it’s usually later than the others, but somehow not this year.

A pop-up add becomes a pop-up subtraction
Saturday January 30th 2021, 11:37 pm
Filed under: Family
  1. We celebrated by Zoom the tenth year of my sister-in-law being free from her breast cancer.
  2. It took the three of us (mostly the other two) but we got the Sunbubble dismantled and the plastic cut away. I do have hopes of putting bird netting of some kind around it in replacement, at least enough to keep the squirrels out of–I haven’t decided which yet, a fruit tree or the coming tomato patch.
  3. I have a question: can anyone tell me what this thing is coming out of the tile quilt star over the stove at this house? I’m just not grokking it. That custom design work, interrupted and covered over. For–what?

It costs a lot of dough
Friday January 29th 2021, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Food,Life

(The full moon with an atmospheric river last night.)

The algorithms are at it again. But then, who needs butter when you could have healthy vegetables with your fat?

I’ve posted the occasional picture on Facebook of my fruit trees and I’ve been poking around via Zillow at a few houses for sale, as I’ve mentioned. Facebook knows all and tracks all: I am told that even if you clear all cookies off your computer theirs will still be in there, hidden.

So. Clearly what I really really need, according to their ad, is a 40-acre avocado orchard in SoCal with a house with lots of windows looking out over the ocean!

My first thought was, man, that’s a lot of toast.

I didn’t even make the connection when I started up a loaf of sourdough this evening, the first one in over a month–till just now writing this.

Buyer be wary
Thursday January 28th 2021, 11:51 pm
Filed under: Life

We’re so not ready for contractors (not to mention, hey, pandemic) but we’re going to need one. The corian could be seamed, yes, but that seam clearly wouldn’t be able to support the weight of the smaller range that’s going to have to go in: we need to replace the countertops, too.

The old range has two burners out of five working again, just enough to take the pressure off the timeline and the quarantine pod.

I’ve been trying to get one definite thing done on the house every day to feel the progress so as to create more progress and am using the whole kitchen thing as motivation.

That sixty-five-year-old bathroom fan that is permanently open to the outdoors has *got* to go. Take a bath, feel a few raindrops on your head in the tub. Roof juice with your shampoo (not to mention a path in for moths where I hang sweaters to dry.)

But still, there are the things I can do. Michelle’s “Oh wow” as she came around the corner this evening felt really good.

For anybody appliance shopping, I did find this one review by a guy who’d ordered a 23″ cooktop and had gotten a 22″ one. It was written two years ago, so maybe the Trump-donating owners of Home Despot have improved things since then. Right. If there’s a paywall blocking you, let me quote:

“I talked to a store manager who actually told me that Home Depot doesn’t sell appliances – they contract to a third-party company – so they don’t accept returns. Then she said they might accept a return within 24 hours of delivery if I brought the super-heavy, bulky box to the store, but I’d absolutely be charged a $225 restocking fee. Website specs are misleading? Not Home Depot’s problem, she said, because I’d “accepted ownership” of the cooktop when I signed the delivery receipt.”

Sounds like a slam-dunk small claims court win to me but I figure that’s something to know and to ask about before you plunk any money down there. Maybe they’ve improved their customer service since then. But if you do go there–I’m not going to–definitely ask about their customer policies first and in detail and in writing.

Putting the retro in retro
Thursday January 28th 2021, 12:00 am
Filed under: Life

The windstorm blew the covers off the mango tree. That has never happened before. It seems to have stayed just warm enough, though, but just in case I checked the lights and replaced three bulbs.

Rain and more rain.

A neighbor posted that she’d been given roses from the garden of a friend who had just passed away and was wondering if there was any way now to root them and grow any of them for a memorial bush?

Likely not at this stage, and I was frank about that, but I told her I had Root Riot plugs designed specifically to get cuttings to root and a matching seed starter tray to hold them up in and she was welcome to a set to try. Best to cut the bottoms and flowers off and keep it to a few nodes for the new roots to have to support.

It’s out on the curb waiting for her now, with a packet of tomato seeds tucked in a card (under the tray’s cover to protect it from the rain.) She wanted to try for five on the roses and I gave her all twelve slots’ worth of plugs and told her frankly that someone giving me a few extra tomato seedlings got me started on the whole veggie thing years ago so she was welcome to them.

Funky house find for the day (while wondering if the owner has any clue why that 11th picture will keep people from considering the place, and my apologies for its interruption. There is such a thing as too retro.)

Back to the house itself: not one but two koi ponds inside the living room–that’s one way to keep the herons and raccoons from raiding them–and a range that my husband’s Great Aunt Irma, born around 1900 and living in her parents’ frontier-era house in Downey, Idaho had one very much like when we went to visit her 40 years ago. I had never seen one like it. She took great delight in telling us of how she was able to bake bread for the amazed younger neighbors when the power went out, and demonstrated sticking her arm in to feel if the burning wood had gotten it to the right warmth yet for the dough.

Her neighbors thought but you can’t do that if you don’t know what the temperature is!

Her reaction: I most certainly do! I’ve been doing this all my life, and I know!

And she wanted to make sure we knew about that and how proud she was of this lovely old home her father had built when the railroad came through. He’d dug a well and the railroad had wanted water and so they struck a deal on just where it would be built. They had themselves a little boom town that grew around that whistle stop.

Now, probably everybody else knew this but me, but, it turns out you can have a new range like that if you want it enough; the Elmira company will even give you the woodburning oven feature if you want your bread baked just so. The Heartland company clearly made the particular one in that house listing, scrolling halfway down their blog page, but they apparently went out of business about a year ago. Which is a shame because that thing is a work of art even if it would never fit in my mid-century modern.

Everything old is new again.

For somebody else in this case.

Tuesday January 26th 2021, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Mango tree

The cold did in most of the mango buds in November, with a few die-hards holding on but still closed. On a warm summer day it would take a few days, not months.

You can tell the tree has born the weight of a half dozen layers of frost covers at night this winter. The lights are on under there but the tree’s gotten so dense it’s hard to see them, and I’m not going to prune until it’s warm enough for it to recover from the process. We are so out of its natural zone.

On the other hand, we had three warm afternoons last week: 76 in January is unheard of.

The mango’s reaction was, Now THIS is what I’m talking about!

I have never seen that many new leaves in one cluster before. There are new limbs and future flowers coming out just below it, in a spot that does not take the weight of the covers so it should all be safe. We might get some fruit this year after all!

This old house
Monday January 25th 2021, 11:53 pm
Filed under: Life

After looking at too many real estate listings–we’re not moving, but knowing what the options are is always a good thing, and it’s become a bit of a pandemic hobby–I have a few questions.

Why on earth is it a thing to have a bathtub with windows that start right at the top of the tub?

Why is it that so many of those are in a corner and have windows on two sides of said tub?

Why do so many of such listings have zero evidence of there having ever been any window coverings on those windows? What?

Entirely outdone, though, by the loft master bedroom with a half-wall so as to overlook the front entryway, with clearly echoing acoustics.

And also, why are drab gray kitchens such a big thing?

Why did the only house with a double oven go for over a million? I mean, I love my double oven but I wouldn’t pay hundreds of thousands of dollars extra for it.

Why is it so hard to find a master bedroom and laundry and kitchen all on one floor for when you’re aging or you broke something and you don’t want to do stairs?

Guess we’ll just have to stay in our ranch right here. It’s a pretty perfect setup.

Did you know you could buy a cute three bedroom house in the middle of pretty much nowhere in Maine and pay a $199/month mortgage? Although I imagine you’d make up for it in heating costs.

Feed His sheep
Sunday January 24th 2021, 11:37 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

Finished a hat last night.

One thing said in church today was that in this time of so much isolation, write someone a note. Reach out.

And so a note showed up on the doorstep next door, thanking the neighbor for opening the door to my daughter at 11:00 at night so that we could retrieve our groceries that had been dumped there, and with the note, a plate of homemade biscotti by said daughter. Who took great delight in going over there again, and then in anticipating their coming home to the surprise.

They were gone all day. They called to tell us that that plate of excellent cookies had been devoured the moment they’d walked in the door.

Second thing said in church today: one of the members had splurged on some food that was to be a particular treat for the husband, who’s been working covid cases in the ICU for long, long hours–but it got stolen off their porch.

The first reaction was anger and upset; the second was, but what if it was because someone is hungry? Because there are a lot of people going hungry right now. She tried to do a little something about it.

The end result was–well, it made the local paper.

And now excuse me, I’ve got me some more note writing to do while there’s a little time left in the day.

Over on the coast
Saturday January 23rd 2021, 11:31 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Were they open? Yes they were, for pickups and deliveries. No the pandemic had not done them in. Hallelujah. So let’s help them stay that way.

There’s a week-long storm rolling in and you do not want to drive Highway 17’s twisty steep narrow mountain passage in the rain and next Saturday looks like a really bad idea. But today was going to be dry and the fire-damaged trees haven’t fallen across it–yet.

I grabbed a hat project that had a second ball of Mecha for the next one in the bag because you never know, right, and we headed out to the car.

I did not knit a stitch. I wasn’t going to miss a moment of seeing every moment of every sight out of sight of the house. (Wow that reservoir is low for January.) We have now been in quarantine for a solid year here.

To Mutari Chocolates in Santa Cruz. Where a dairy allergy is taken good care of and the small-batch chocolate is the very best. It’s a splurge we try to do a few times a year, and the daughter is here for the moment, so, of course.

The hot chocolate.

The chocolate covered orange rinds that are her absolute favorite.

The wild Bolivian bars were mine.

The wild bay laurel truffles we tried were…different, and curious, but declared good.

I confess we did not try the douglas fir truffles. I decorate Christmas trees, I don’t eat them.


Most of the time it goes perfectly well
Friday January 22nd 2021, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Somebody, somewhere, is finding $150 worth of groceries outside their door and wondering who their benefactor is while thinking, ‘hey, cool!’ I hope they really needed it.

I just spent 45 minutes trying to fight my way past Amazon’s circular website h*ll trying to report a Whole Foods order that’s listed as delivered when it was not–at least not at my house. I can get it to list every item as not delivered, but then when I ask for a refund it demands I return the item (and then would probably tell me I can’t return groceries, but never mind.)

Just don’t charge me for what I didn’t get. I can even give them the Ring history to prove it. No car pulled up. Nothing came.

I’m typing this while a bit ticked, all the more so because I’m really hoping it doesn’t come out of the pocket of the one who can least afford it (so just don’t mess up like this, guy) but I’m afraid it might.

I said to Richard, who knows that I remember what it’s like to be young and poor and that I am quite generous on such things, “And I went back and changed the tip to zero. Because I’m mean like that.”

At that he laughed and saved the day for both of us.

If those groceries do actually finally come I have a day to consider adding some level of thank you back in.

But the unrefrigerated shrimp that were a bit of a splurge will be going straight in the trash.


Update: Michelle went on a quick walk and found them next door. I texted the neighbor, wondering if she was in bed, while Michelle went back over there and waved her arms upon seeing that she was up, she was on the other side of the window and the new neighbor opened the door and at the explanation said ohmygosh oh no those aren’t mine take them!

The frozen shrimp wasn’t even cold anymore. Trashed.

But I did put a bit of a tip back in over at Amazon. Because the guy did at least give us a good neighbor story for later, and he tried. Sort of.

Wizard of awe
Thursday January 21st 2021, 11:06 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

I asked my friend Jane if I could borrow her picture and credit her, and she said, Sure! –But that it was someone else’s artwork.

Oh and: Jill Biden’s coat at the inaugural had the official flowers of every state and territory embroidered on it.

The Inauguration
Wednesday January 20th 2021, 11:53 pm
Filed under: History

A new start, guided by the light.

I’ve never watched an inauguration before. I missed seeing the swearing-in live because I tuned in at 9:00 our time and it was done a few minutes early, although it turns out the clock still had to strike noon for Biden to officially take over the reins.

The singing. That poem! The speech. Everything could not have been more perfect.

I hadn’t read the Narnia books in years, but the ascension into joy and light at the close of the Narnia books, with Aslan happily encouraging, Further up and further in! –that line leaped out to me as the Bidens, the crowd following, entered the Capitol and before them was a steep long flight of stairs, and on up they went. They crossed a wide landing, and there before them was another one that had not been in view before. Up again they climbed, never flagging. Further up and further in to where the view is better and better, the light clearer and the day ever more joyful!

Noted before that point: Elaine Chao starting to get up tripped in her heels and the camera swung away fast as she staggered a moment. A man was wearing a scarf wrapped tightly around his neck out there–of the finest white lace, and whether offered by his wife against the cold or in memory of someone he loved I’d love to know, but it looked like a wedding ring shawl (as in, you can pull it through one.) That was one masterpiece of both handknitting and love, because you don’t knit such a thing for just anybody, but the camera person didn’t know to let the shot linger there long enough for me to make out many details on the pattern.

Amanda Gorman! 

Lady Gaga, turning in the middle of the national anthem and gesturing to the Capitol’s flag as she sang triumphantly, “That our flag was still there.”

As Biden himself said, we need to “lead, not by the example of our power but by the power of our example.”

Such a joyful day!

Popping the bubble
Tuesday January 19th 2021, 11:29 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life,Politics


It was only anchored in two places instead of all the way around because I wasn’t actually using it on the mango, nor had I set up its replacement we got under warranty because of a ripped zipper–since we know we’re not traveling anywhere at all, I’ve reverted to frost cover layers with Christmas lights at night. Way cheaper to heat.

So instead I left the old one up to help me kill off winter weed season within its circle. Californian weeds have Darwinian survival to a science: their stabby little sprouts come up before the grass can while their roots can go 18″ deep to grab every bit of water there might be. Depriving them of even what rain there’s been has left me a spot of good ground towards the coming veggie garden season.

And now it’s picked its own spot.

Winds 40-45 everywhere around for hours, gusts at 98 in the hills. I woke up to a big branch on the laurel outside the upper windows there twisted completely backwards again and again. I didn’t know it could do that.

It did not topple.

It’s been so dry that the winds reignited unseen underground embers from last August’s fires and now the firefighters are fighting the CZU complex wildfire all over again on ten fronts and I feel for my friends up in the hills.

But unlike summertime there’s a big rainstorm coming in, Friday if we’re lucky, Sunday through next Thursday after that, nearly three inches’ worth. At long last. Hopefully. And that should do it.

So on a happier note, tomorrow’s going to be SUCH a great day!

And y’know? The frame on that Sunbubble is still in great shape. They don’t sell the covers separately. I wonder–there’s got to be a way I can cut the plastic away and set it up with birdnetting, and that would be absolutely fabulous to have. It won’t be as pretty as if they sold it that way but with the help of the tall guy we can jury-rig that.

Seven Big Boy tomato seedlings have popped up in the last 24 hours and they’ll be happy to take that nice cleared spot in a month or two.

I better move the thing back over there before it rains so I don’t have to fight round two of the pricker-stabbies.

Oh wait.

Might be a little less effective this time.

From Martin Luther King Jr. to my grandfather
Monday January 18th 2021, 11:11 pm
Filed under: Family,History

June 23, 1964

The Honorable Wallace F Bennett

Senate Office Building

Washington 25, DC


Dear Mr. Bennett:

Your vote together with those of your midwestern colleagues in the Senate was the sine qua non for passage of an effective Civil Rights Act. You have earned the sincere gratitude of freedom loving people the world over. I add to theirs my sincere and heartfelt thanks.

Sincerely yours,

Martin Luther King, Jr.


Dictated by Dr King but signed in his absence

Grampa considered that vote the most important one of his 24-year Senate career and told us grandkids that. He nearly lost his seat over it, but he wanted to teach us that standing up for what was right was what he was there for in the first place. As should we in all things.


So blessedly normal
Sunday January 17th 2021, 11:29 pm
Filed under: Life,Politics

The New York Times has a story on the Emhoff/Harris family, with Kamala’s stepkids marveling over seeing their dad on CNN.

Turns out the daughter designs her own knits, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who went, Oh cool!

The son, quoting from the article: “I was a senior when they got together, and I remember I saw a tweet that someone did. It was a photo of Kamala at the Kavanaugh hearing, and someone tweeted, like, “I’d hate to have to look at that face and explain why I’m late for curfew.” And I was thinking, “I’ve literally had to do that.”

The Times asked the daughter what her dad was going to do now.

“I hope he takes up another hobby. I hope he starts knitting, like I do. I think it’ll be a good time for him to slow down and just, I don’t know, like appreciate life. And tap into a lot of the things that he couldn’t do because he was working so much or had these time constraints. I hope that it opens up some of those creative outlets, but that’s obviously just me, the creative child.”

And as I read I kept thinking, I can see why Kamala adores these kids so much.