Friday April 30th 2021, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Life

I sent that picture hours ago… Okay, so, something to look forward to tomorrow.

Meantime, to make up for yesterday’s house listing: there’s a line of look-alike homes in a row down the block from this one and it may have started out as one of them and been added onto.

But WOW. This guy did woodwork like we do yarn. 

I had to laugh at the 1950s bright red and chrome dinette set. I was not expecting that.

The wall art thing again
Thursday April 29th 2021, 8:14 pm
Filed under: Life

Look! They’ve got a pomegranate juicer on top of the fridge! Not a lot of those around.

Nice sized house, big lot, overlooking the golf course, across the street from the Portland Yacht Club–and a lower than average price. Why, in a market where such things are being snapped up in under a week, has that one been sitting there for over three months?

My guess? Picture #19. 

Someone who leaves a blatantly racist trope on their wall for the whole world to see online is announcing who you’d be buying from. They’re suggesting what your neighbors will be in agreement with because they’re certainly not embarrassed to have them see it. They’re deciding what kind of person should live in their house after them.

And so no new family does, day after day after month after month.

Edited to add: Imagiknit in San Francisco is having a 21% off sale through Saturday. Malabrigo is rarely on sale, so I thought I’d mention it. (There’s more after the pattern books, keep scrolling down, they have a lot.)

The bees and the birds
Wednesday April 28th 2021, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Wildlife

With blueberries, cherries, plums, apples, and peaches already underway and the pomegranate and mango blooming I was a bit overdue for watering the fruit trees and it got unseasonably hot at 83–they needed it.

So there I was as I got to work, wondering why I’ve never gotten around to paying someone to install a drip system and realizing it’s because I like the rhythm and the process in getting out there and paying attention to each thing I’ve planted.

It hit me from halfway across the yard.

Now *that’s* how I remember those mango flowers! They’ve been opening for weeks but the nights have been cold and the scent just wasn’t the intense perfume it had been. I’d wondered if maybe I did lose some of my sense of smell last year after all?

Apparently all it had needed was some heat. My tropical tree was absolutely reveling in it and telling the world that this is how it’s supposed to be! Celebrate! Bring on the honeybees! It was throwing a party for the hive across the fence.

The side door next door nearest both opened wide and I hope the neighbors got to enjoy it, too. It was absolutely heavenly.

On a falcon note: the San Jose nest got three eggs in their do-over and are quietly incubating.

Peregrines start brooding after the third egg arrives.

Which means when the San Francisco nest had their fourth egg it was laid late, hatched late, and has been noticeably smaller all along.

The parents feed the eyases first that try hardest to get to the food–Darwin at work–and the little one would beg and stretch right with them and fall over on his beak. He just wasn’t as steady and he could not get as high up there as the others. It’s like a short person playing basketball: you can have a lot of talent, but… He (a lot of us are assuming male; we’ll know Monday at banding) was usually the last one fed, and sometimes the meal was pretty scant by then.

Parents simply won’t feed one that they don’t think will make it and there were murmurings of concern amongst the watchers. But they did, they fed him, he’s the spare to the heirs and there is no lack of pigeons in San Francisco so he’s gotten enough.

Today the mom flew in outside their nest box with a meal rather than straight in and it was the little one that hopped right out of that box and came for it, grabbing some himself when he thought she was going too slow.

The others perched on the edge, watching: how did he *do* that?! Finally, one hopped down and joined them, then a second, but the last one just stayed up there watching, not hungry enough to risk that very small leap.

Four hours later, they were all out of there and doing some exploring. Another meal.

Another week or two and the parents are going to drop the plucked prey in front of their grabby sharp-edged youngsters and make a break for it.

I typed that and immediately a new video showed up: that is not what the dad had wanted to do just now but that’s what happened. Have you ever seen a falcon do an eye-roll? It was hysterical. He circled behind them, trying to figure out how to get into the scrum as the meal in the middle got torn four ways. He gave up and left.

The mom flew in, looked the camera dead in the eye, like, Oh come ON, let’s do this RIGHT, snatched under there and grabbed the food away and started feeding the suddenly noisily begging babies acting like babies again.

There was just not much left at that point, though, so she was off on the hunt for more. Came right back and fed them again, this time with both parents there keeping an eye on their boisterous kids.

Who tried to flap their wings during their exploring, but with the feathers only barely starting to grow past the baby fuzz they kept flopping over like the little guy.

Who watched them and then did it, too.

Wait, wait, me, too, me, too!
Tuesday April 27th 2021, 5:45 pm
Filed under: Garden

There was still this tray of half a dozen apricot kernels sitting there and most had clearly declared they were not living up to their potential or, frankly, at all, but there were a few that looked like, welllll, maybe if you wished hard enough.

So still she persisted.

I realized Saturday they’d almost dried out while I was sick in bed after my second shot–but not quite. Just a bit of water couldn’t hurt. Right? (How long have I been doing this while those others have been moved into bigger digs twice now?)

I could not believe my eyes today. The white on the back of that seed half on the right is mold; that thing was supposed to be dead but the inside kept insisting on being green.

Leaves! A stem! Look, and an actual root down there! Those were not there yesterday, but they are today!

And there might even be another one soon. But we’ll see.

The kid whose first word was “Pup-EEE!”
Monday April 26th 2021, 11:09 pm
Filed under: Family

Mathias was at soccer practice, or as my mom calls it when the players are that little, swarm ball.

Suddenly, he decided he was a puppy and sat down on the field, with half the team joining him sitting in front of the goal there because it looked like fun. Woof!

Four fingers!
Sunday April 25th 2021, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Family

Sundays are prime FaceTime times so the kids called and we celebrated Mathias’s birthday a day early.

How he could possibly be turning four seems unfathomable. It’s like we missed a year or something.

A good day
Saturday April 24th 2021, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Garden

Today was much better, just like everybody said it would be; thank you.

Meantime, the English Morello cherry is slowly blooming from the bottom, where there are already tiny cherries, on up to the top, which hasn’t all opened up yet.

We have our first mangoes of the year. And the Fuji apple tree just keeps on opening new flowers.

It’s a whole new year.

The day after
Friday April 23rd 2021, 7:53 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Lupus

That shot woke up everything autoimmune and it was a bear, to the point that I nearly asked to be taken to Urgent Care. But then I’d have to sit up in the car, and once I managed to keep some fluids down I knew it would be okay. I spent the day asleep till after 7 pm.

The worst is over–and yes absolutely I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Moderna part 2
Thursday April 22nd 2021, 10:19 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

(Note: the camera’s particularly off on the upper right, sorry.)

Yesterday was warm but today was not.

Well good then.

I don’t own a lot of short-sleeved clothes because I’ve had sun-sensitive lupus a long time now, but there was this blue sweater with a darker royal blue cardigan that it looked good with and because of the perfectly-timed change in the weather, those two were just the thing for walking across the fairgrounds at the height of the afternoon.

And it was what I’d worn when I got my first Moderna shot. Don’t forget the big floppy gray wool hat that’s a little loose and really silly to wear that close to the stiff breezes coming off the Bay. I chuckled at myself as I made myself pick, yes, that one, heading out the door. I might have face blindness issues, we might all have half-face-blindness issues right now, but if I couldn’t recognize them at least I could make it so they could recognize me from a distance.

And that they did.

I saw one of them as I stepped out of the building afterwards and started around the corner and asked, Are you the guy I talked to last time?

He knew exactly what I meant (me, inwardly: Ah, I thought you were one of them) and he nodded, No–but he is, as the other stepped into view.

I thanked them again for taking care of so many people. I didn’t ask again if they’d been allowed their own shots yet; I know that California’s now opened it to everybody over 16, if you can find one, and workers at the site would be high on that list.

Do you like blue or brown? I asked the one I’d had that conversation with last time.

He laughed in surprise and puzzlement.

Sandwich ziplock bags: I pulled out three tightly squished Mecha Malabrigo hats, in Stone Chat, the most poetic name for a colorway ever, in Denim, and in–I don’t remember the name but I remember it took me a month to make myself finish it because it was gray and gray blue and gray green and gray purple in a gray month and at the time I was craving brights and flowers and colors and getting out of the house and enough of this quarantine already.

But I knew it would be exactly the right thing for someone someday so I even ran the ends in and now that someone was standing right in front of me and he loved it as he accepted that small bit of my knitting in utter disbelief.

I turned to his friend: And you? Which would you like?

Me, too?

He picked the browns of the Stone Chat.

I told them they were wool but they wouldn’t shrink in the wash–but they would get all fuzzy, so I’d hand wash them myself, but whatever.

Just then the third guy came over to see what we were talking about.

He, though, looked like this was sure one day when he needed someone to do something nice for him. Whatever was bringing him down, I wanted with all that I had to somehow make it better.

He didn’t get a choice on the color but he didn’t need one. He was blown away. It was enough.

Everybody needs a grandmother who loves them and knits for them, even if I’ll probably never lay eyes on any of them again.

We didn’t hug, any of us: we all knew there’s still that allotted two more weeks.

I left them to exclaim amongst themselves and try on their new hats and then once out of their reasonable response space the wind teased me and I was off chasing after my store-bought blindingly monster-brimmed floppy one that doesn’t protect you from the sun if it doesn’t stay on.

But I caught it and got it back on and it had helped do what it had been needed for. It was enough.

Ganache me why
Wednesday April 21st 2021, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

Houses. Just because you spent a whole lot of money on your remodel doesn’t mean your house here, 2 bd 2ba on a tiny lot, even with a lake easement, is worth essentially as much as–

–this one, more than two and a half times the size on three times the lot in the same zip code. 

Besides, I figure ya gotta have space to scandalize the neighbors by ripping out the bushes and planting fruit trees.

But the burning question is, do they have a bakery around there that’s as good as the one that delivered these for a certain tall person’s birthday this week. I think not.


The arc of the universe…
Tuesday April 20th 2021, 10:34 pm
Filed under: History

The Washington Post put out a Breaking News banner that the verdict had been reached and would be announced within the hour.

I pulled out my knitting and was glued to my seat for that hour. Please please let it be what it just has to be. Please let justice be achieved. We all saw what he did.

The various reporters talked and interviewed and switched back and forth, trying to use the time well but everybody knowing it was filler while we waited.

Six afghan rows later, the judge appeared, acknowledged those present, and began.

The first count. Guilty. The second count. Guilty. The third count. Guilty. The judge asked the jurors, not by name but by their number, whether they were in full agreement with this verdict. Eleven times the answer was a decisive yes; one time, a man was barely able to express it for the emotion in the word. Yes.

Behind his pandemic mask, Derek Chauvin’s eyebrows had a you can’t do this to me expression.

Eighteen times there had been complaints filed against him with the police department, never had he been held accountable.

Guilty. Bond revoked, sent to jail on the spot, and he was taken away with his hands in cuffs behind his back. Standing upright now, being escorted out, not face down on the pavement with someone’s knee grinding hard into his neck while he pleads for mercy and breath and at the last, as he was dying, for his mama–but alive.

My cousin-in-law the cardiologist once told me he’d learned over the years that he was going to lose his elderly patients when they started telling him about seeing their loved ones who’d gone on before. George’s mother had died a few years previous. Mama.

It hit me then like a wave in a storm: all the grief for George Floyd’s family, for his little girl who needed her daddy, for all the black lives taken too soon who should still be with us, for all the accomplishments and achievements that the world never got to see and that never came to be because of how too many in our society and our police all too often see people whose skin is darker than theirs.

Back when I was a kid, the epithet for a bad cop of course (and too often all cops) was ‘pig.’

It was deeply gratifying in all the sorrow to see that male Chauvin-ist pig handcuffed and walking towards the jail time he’d so defiantly, brutally, hatefully earned. Away with him.

Monday April 19th 2021, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

Peaches, coming along.

The thorns that came out from the rootstock of the Page orange, now guarding the figs and allowed to grow (to a point) for that very reason.

It still always surprises me somehow to see not just anticipated and hoped for but actual fruit growing out there.

Oh and: Grace the falcon laid a new egg this morning before dawn. Inside the nest box. Where her second clutch will be safe.

Strawberry fields
Sunday April 18th 2021, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Food

Huh. I would link to it but it seems to only be in the paper copy tonight. Weird.

I still subscribe to the local newspaper. It’s one that got bought out by a hedge fund, which gutted its staff and sold its building and basically firebombed it, but it’s still the local paper.

Every now and then it justifies itself.

Because where else would they talk about winter strawberries being tasteless not because there’s no summer heat to sweeten them but because of the variety that produces then? And that UC Davis has been working on that and has just released two new winter strawberry varieties that actually taste good: the UCD Finn and the UCD Mojo to replace the tasteless Portola.

They used gene typing to figure out which genes did what they wanted and then old fashioned breeding to mix varieties that had more of those genes till they hit those two winners.

One will be dark red through and through, the other kind of a peachy orange.

I didn’t love the part where they said nobody sells berries by the variety so that while there aren’t many plants out there yet the distributors will mix the old with the new next winter and good luck.

The little geodes. We’ll have to crack them open.

Amber waves
Saturday April 17th 2021, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden

Mexican Feather grass, as near as my googling skills can decipher it, is what the neighbors added when they relandscaped a few years ago; they had this clump that waved in the wind.

A year or two later they had five of them in a line as the breezes blow, quite a bit taller now, and then there was one that jumped the fence and was growing right in front of my pomegranate tree, shading out the bottom half somewhat. I debated what to do with it; it was allegedly pretty to some. Not my thing, but not bad.

In retrospect, I should have cut it down immediately. Note that the neighbors finally took out all of theirs this past winter. Mine had become a clump about ten or twelve inches across so dense in there that a bug I watched couldn’t crawl between the stalks till I’d cut open a path for it, with the inner circle dried, tall, and ferociously flammable-looking.

So I decided that today was the day and it had to go, all of it.

It defied my loppers (I need to replace them) so I used them to hold on tight and twist twist twist and that got small clumps to come away all at once. I spent about an hour at it.

The Australians consider it a dire threat and are trying to stomp out every single plant that might yet come up. Someone had mislabeled an import.

Green new stalks on the outside. It seemed like slightly sticky thick 3′ tall grass, jointed here and there. Right?

I wish I’d found that Australian link first. It seemed fine but when I went to pick the clumps up to throw it in the bin my hands running down some of the stalks got cut open fairly deep. I didn’t even realize immediately that yes, it was those stalks that bit me, not something mixed up in them–it hadn’t occurred to me that I was going to need gloves. I hadn’t ever before, but then I hadn’t ever actually touched the stuff much other than to push it out of the way so I could pick a pomegranate.

That single invasive plant filled the whole yard trimmings bin, which is about twice the size of our trashcan. I did not get the bottom of the clump out and I think it would take a stump grinder. I would spray it with vinegar to kill it off if it weren’t so close to my fruit tree.

I tried to get every seed poof floating away but you know I missed some somewhere. But at least I stopped the tens of thousands that the growing season would have produced.

The neighbors don’t know it snuck over the fence. I think we’ll leave it at that.

For real
Friday April 16th 2021, 9:16 pm
Filed under: Family

Wait wait wait. I’m still back at “Bahbah” for bottle.

But “Grammy!” as she points at my face on the screen? “Grampa!” It both hit home how much of her babyhood we missed, and how she’s even more adorable every time. They all are.

But there’s nothing quite like a 20-month-old learning to talk and taking so much delight in it.

Just wait till we step out off of the concourse and into real life and our faces and voices match all those FaceTimes.