Her namesake
Wednesday June 30th 2021, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Life

Did you remember that there was a Flintstones spin-off that had a saber-toothed tiger named Fang?

I did not.

Some may remember my fandom of the Flintstone house in Hillsborough. It was created in the 1970s with I believe air balloons and rebar and cement and whimsy. Over time, the hillside it was built into was eroding and when it went on the market, nobody wanted to buy it, hot market or no.

It was a fun landmark to all who drive the 280 freeway.

Including the woman who not only bought it but had the means to shore up that quarter million dollar hillside.

She initially thought she would plant flowering cherries, but it just didn’t fit in with the theme of the place. And so–she went to town. She Flintstoned that Flintstone house: she added bright mushrooms, dinosaurs, a giraffe–because everybody loves giraffes–and put Yabba Dabba Do! in rocks by her entryway.

Annnnd… The upscale town sued. Said it was an eyesore.

They’d had no problem with anything the previous owners had done.

The end result after several years is, they just paid her lawyers’ fees and she is suddenly free to do as she wishes.

So now there’s a Bigfoot. She is having so much fun!

And a friendly saber-tooth tiger over the door for the wonderful Florence Fang.

Fly free
Tuesday June 29th 2021, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

(Picture courtesy of SCPBRG)

She was fine last week when they banded her and for days after.

There were two peregrine falcon chicks in San Jose this year, a male and a female, hatched after the original nesting attempt failed.

This week, the female started having seizures. Over several hours, she made it out of the nest box into the middle of the runway.

And at last she was gone.

There is a possibility that rat poison had made its way up the food chain and that being larger than her brother she had eaten more of it, but we’ll never know for sure. Please never, ever use the stuff outside.

He seems to be fine.

Her mother stood sentry on the ledge above for hours, keeping her safe. But the young one did not move. Grace came down beside her and stretched her wing wide over her daughter’s lifeless body, and again today. The male eyas tried to nudge his sister.

And then he stood on the lower ledge below his mother, taking in the world he will soon fly off into on his own.

And now he has a name. Phoenix.


The all the people after so long of no people day
Monday June 28th 2021, 10:13 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

Holly was in the area and dropped by this morning. I was expecting to offer her some cherries. I was not expecting a gift of her cross-stitching and stood there quite agape before she even got past the entryway. A photo will be added when it comes through but none could possibly do it justice. So much talent and love in that piece!

Then Chris the contractor came. He found damage the previous people hadn’t–he’s thorough. I mentioned needing the roof replaced and that I hadn’t heard back from the company that I know he’s worked with previously: because they not only did our roof 27 years ago, but when we needed someone to fix the mistakes our remodeling contractor had left behind, that big roofing company had recommended we hire Chris. And we were very glad we did, and wished we’d known about him the first time around.

I asked him, Will they do a job for me a lot faster if you’re the one asking? (Because the roofers around here all have long waiting lists right now.)

Oh yes. And then he detailed how their working together would mean the sealing around the edges wouldn’t have to be done twice and he could lower his bid by that amount.

Then he left, and after lunch my friend Nina showed up. She had never gotten around to trying out Andy’s Orchard herself, though she’d certainly enjoyed what I’d brought her, but at long last it felt like it was time and she had time and let’s go! She called in an order for a case of Blenheim apricots, picked me up, and I showed her the way.

They had Anyas. They had Anyas!!

Friday, the young employees at the farm store thought they were over for the season, but no, they’d still had more to pick. I didn’t miss out for a whole year after all! Thank you Nina for getting me back there!

And I saw my old friend who’s worked there for the past two seasons for the first time this year.

I bought three pounds and almost, almost bought a whole case, too, except, that’s a lot of apricots. I’m wishing now I had, just so I could go around to a bunch of friends and say, This is what I’ve been talking about!

I did a taste-testing: Friday’s (second) Yuliya apricot box (most of which went home with Holly) vs the Anya. Both of them John Driver varieties from Silk Road areas of the world. I’d never seen both at the same time before.

The Yuliyas are sweet and quite juicy, although with a skin that is surprisingly a bit tough. The Anya I tried could have used another day but it still totally beat the other hands down with its spicy complexity, not just sweetness, and definitely a thinner skin, one that didn’t distract from the rest of the experience. I swooned and fell in love with my favorite all over again.

Now what do I do with those Yuliya kernels I saved from the first box. Probably let them go so they don’t get mixed up with the Anyas. I’m told Yuliyas need pollinators and the Anya row is next to the Yuliya row at Andy’s, so… If anyone wants to rescue them let me know.

Well that was easy
Sunday June 27th 2021, 10:19 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden

A couple we know called and asked if they could drop by; they’d been baking and had some snickerdoodles to share.


So as we were visiting, I mentioned having this rootstock-regrowth Yellow Transparent tree whose apples were ripe and needed to be processed into apple butter or applesauce; they’re great for those and mushy and terrible for eating out of hand.

They would love to!

And so the four of us found ourselves outside picking apples as the sun headed down. They said how many should we take and I said, the whole tree–please? (It isn’t very big.)They laughed. They got all but the smallest that just weren’t ready to go.

Apple butter needs apple cider–so much better than mass-bottled juice. We had some, thank you Trader Joe’s.

They went home happy to have a tasty project to work on with their boys and we got to be done with that tree for the year. They’ll have four sets of hands coring those apples, and you don’t even need to peel them for apple butter, especially not those super-thin skins that give the variety its name.

And the snickerdoodles were delicious.

Afterwards I baked this recipe with some of Andy’s Yuliya apricots after all that talking about fruit and desserts. Why not, it’s our you-crazy-kids day from when we were 21 and 22. One more year till we get to be Life, The Universe, and Everything!

Friends of trees
Saturday June 26th 2021, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life

Our longtime arborist came yesterday to give me a quote on cutting back where the trees had grown over the house again.

Chris remembered when the mostly-dead olive his men had taken out had been over in that one spot and it just wasn’t that long ago. He kept exclaiming: Look at all the cherries!

His eyes got wide when I said, Yes, and I’ve picked them twice already.

It is one prolific tree. I offered him some, but he said another client had actually already gifted him some. Beat me to it.

I showed him all the fruits on the mango, and he marveled, It was just a little stick! Look at it!

The first time he’d come, he and his wife had had a babysitting crunch and he’d brought his little boy with him. Remember that hat you gave him? he asked me. He loved it!

That six year old is a teenager now and his baby sister is–She’s HOW old?! I asked.

It was not lost on either of us in that moment that kids and trees tend to change before your very eyes, so slow you almost don’t see it and so fast you marvel in awe.

I told him my oldest grandson was ten now. He laughed and proclaimed, You win!

I later asked my friend Nina if she’d like some just-picked sour cherries. She was thrilled. Since we’re all vaccinated, that was the excuse for her and her husband to invite me and mine over for the evening. (Out of curiosity, I weighed the Rubbermaid container before we left: it was over three pounds and even now, the tree is loaded.)

Man did it feel good to sit and catch up as if life had never changed so drastically for so long. We met Calvin and Hobbes for the first time at their house thirty-something years ago, and we have made so many memories since. It felt great to be making new ones.

Holly’s coming by Monday. A bunch of cherries darkened nicely today but I think they can make it till then.

Sneakers don’t sneak
Friday June 25th 2021, 6:43 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

I live in clogs but for a goodly while now I’ve needed a plain old pair of sneakers. Like, for years.

When you’re 6.5 to 7, depending on the brand, but a EE width, buying online is an exercise in returning the online.

Unless it’s Birkenstock. And even their shoes, I find you mostly have to go up a size from their sandals so it’s still not a sure thing.

Guess who makes sneakers now. Wildly overpriced, but who else would fit my feet? You just can’t do mud puddles with kids while in clogs. They don’t work.

The box came today. Upped a size.

I’m wearing the new hearing aids today.

I put on the shoes and wore them a bit on the carpet, trying them out, and finally made the decision non-negotiable (having been taught well by my mom that you do not walk off the carpet unless you’re keeping them) and, feet exploring their new surroundings, started doing stuff around the house.

My shoes. They made noises. I was trying to figure out why. The laces flopped against them with each step–who knew? But I wasn’t sure that was all of it and looking at them didn’t tell me what they were saying. You cannot lipread a sneaker.

I mentioned to Richard that they were making sounds and he said, All new shoes squeak.


So then I had to walk back across the house and around a bit more and there, in the kitchen: I heard it! That was a definite hamster type sound, ever so briefly. And another! Flappity flap (squeak!) Are everybody’s shoes this distractingly noisy? Since when do shoes make sounds?

I went back to him in triumph. I heard it! They do!

He looked at me, totally understanding/totally trying not to roll his eyes at my excitement over hearing something I hadn’t in decades.

“I’ve had Squeak Deprivation Syndrome!”

Home stretch
Thursday June 24th 2021, 10:27 pm
Filed under: Life

A distraction while I wait for some pictures to come through…

This one needs some work. That sports wallpaper at the top against green and peach walls–I don’t get it. The bright blue and red kitchen would turn out a boring cream-to-lightest beige by the time I’d be done with it, but I do love those cabinets.

The two shades of cheap green carpet clash, and where there are ripples in those other pictures? That means they threw the cheap sell-this-house wall-to-wall in, nailed it down and walked away without stretching it out first. If it’s cold, you have to turn on the heat to get it to do it right; I learned that from a flooring worker in New Hampshire who was not willing to do it wrong.

And then there’s the chicken pox room. The one with the ping pong table and laundry on the other side of the room. Can you imagine how loud that washer and dryer are going to be in there?

But the house does have some pretty good bones to it.

Checking: nope, the picture still hasn’t shown up yet. But another estimate from a contractor just did. Two more are coming to give estimates tomorrow, one Monday, we make our picks and then we’re off to the races.

By the time we’re done fixing everything that needs to be fixed I want our house to be so pretty that we fall in love with it all over again and stay right here. Pass the cherries.

But then we could call it cherry Garcia (his favorite)
Wednesday June 23rd 2021, 10:15 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Pitted (shown), sugared, nuked, cooled. Trying not to think about adding ice cream to it.

A day that needed a pretty fruit picture
Tuesday June 22nd 2021, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Knit

Back when I was trying to decide which peach varieties to plant, my friend Constance voiced her strong opinion that Babcocks were the best-and-only to strive for. She’d grown up with one in her yard and she’d never found better.

In my childhood, we’d picked Lorings on a farm, gleaning a few weeks after the pickers had gone through–and, just a few times, Babcocks as well. So it was an easy sell.

It was hard though for me to tell starting out which spot in the yard got how much sun, having never had to pay attention before, and it turns out my Babcock didn’t get the best one. But it tries. It’s fed a few birds and critters over the years but I don’t think it’s ever gotten to the point of gaining this much color to its fruit.

But it looks like this is the year we’ll finally get to taste a homegrown Babcock. Thank you grape Koolaid.

Meantime, the two peregrine eyases were banded Friday: a boy and a girl. The video artist in the group made a compilation of the various recordings involved.

And: the slider is fixed. Now the challenge is to make sure it doesn’t bounce against the left hand side because it runs so slick and so fast after years of having to put so much oomph into it to get it to move at all. Moral of the story: fix it when it’s a $400 job, not when it’s become a $1000 one.

Also, something I didn’t know and thought I’d throw out there is that a house settling after construction can skew the glass and damage the track on a slider if not attended to early on.

They told me that and I told them, Yeah, when we added on, the contractor put in one of those upper windows–and it cracked before the remodeling job was even done.

They looked at me like, Wow!

The guy replaced it.

They said, As he should.

They left and then another guy came to give an estimate on the shed and the wood replacement. Another for that will come Friday. So will the tree guy, because they have to have the branches away from the roof. Woodwork, replacing a plate glass window that cracked in a small quake, painting (we were told when it did that that to replace the window you’d have to repaint the whole house, so, well, now we have to do that anyway), then the termites, the roof, the skylight with dry rot and hey, the flooring, the driveway and the kitchen counters so they don’t fall in when we put in a stove that doesn’t have mismeasured cabinets hanging directly over the burners, right? Maybe those last three can wait?

The wood/shed guy looked at the one spot I knew about out on that side and pushed just below there at the solid-looking wall just to see.

It’s not supposed to bend inward.

Oh fun.

The new hearing aids
Monday June 21st 2021, 11:16 pm
Filed under: Life

The follow-up appointment on the new hearing aids.

How do you like them? She noticed that I had the charger in that bag next to my purse and was clearly wondering if I was going to return them. We were within the 30-day window.

I love them and I hate them, I told her, wincing as I took the left one off and putting my old ones in so we could have a conversation. First, I said, the charger. There’s no lid on the thing. Were you here during the Loma Prieta quake? (She wasn’t.) They’ll go flying out of there in the next one, and the green lights light up the room at night and I have to cover it. They should have made it with its own.

Re the aids themselves, I explained that it was one day in, one or two days out and using the old ones, and finally I’d left them out for three days running to let my ears heal.

Let your ears heal?

And then I’d worn them to church yesterday, where the whole time there I heard one half of one sentence. Period. (She winced.) Yay for Zoom captions on my phone. Went straight home and put the old ones in and had my husband look at my ears. He could see red marks on both sides. I put the new ones in this morning so that you could see.

She got out her otoscope and took a look. I had told her three weeks earlier about the connective tissue disease making it hard for my ears to tolerate the tight fit that is required to best transmit the sound through the ear molds and that it’s long been a tradeoff with me giving up some hearing, that my ears had actually bled after one prior pair was made.

But it didn’t need to be like that at that point and that point on the molds and she could do something about it. She was a little wistful that they wouldn’t look so perfect, and I laughed and turned my head way to the side, mimicking and laughing at the idea of someone looking way in past my hair to criticize my ear molds. She laughed.

I told her that the sound was really brassy at first but was gradually starting to settle down and then when I didn’t wear them it got bright and brassy again–but when I kept wearing them it was doing better and my husband and daughter both remarked on how I was hearing more. And I was.

And then I’d go back to the old ones for the pain and have to start over.

She took them in the other room to use the right equipment/lighting/whatever and came back with them.

I put them on.

Night and day. Wow. So I *can* do this.

I asked her about–and I explained what a glissando is: when you run your fingers fast all the way down the white keys on the piano. Twice in one conversation the right one had suddenly done something like that, completely substituting for the conversation it was supposed to be transmitting to me.

She thought about that a moment and then realized what it must be: there’s a program that tries to stop feedback from happening. Because the ear hurt, I must not have had the aid in all the way and the tilted angle was trying to set off feedback and the aid was trying to warn me and stop it.

Okay, so I don’t have to do that anymore. Good.

I still have to let my ears heal from wearing them yesterday morning and today as they were, but the sound is already improving and the brassiness is already fading. I’m not at church or the like to really test them, and my daughter’s gone back to her sister’s now, but so far so good, and such a relief to have a comfortable fit on these. I don’t yet know if it’s enough. She can do more if need be.

I plugged the charger back in once I got home in a mental declaration: these stay. Mine.

With a cherry on top
Sunday June 20th 2021, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden

(Last week’s photo. They’re darker now.)

I Huck Finned her over by the fence.

Friends of ours dropped by with a jar of homemade strawberry jam and a loaf of banana chocolate chip bread by way of excuse for coming to say hi.

I asked them if they’d like to pick some sour cherries.

Sure! said Phyl.

I’ll wait, said Lee with a smile, sitting down to visit inside with my husband.

I had been daunted by the number of cherries still to go on that tree. They are small and they are many. But being able to offer something she was quite delighted to have felt great. We went through the leaves looking for the darkest reds together and between us we got her enough to maybe make a batch of jam, which is what she was aiming for, and since she’s putting them straight in the freezer for now, that’ll give the tree time to ripen more of them for her.

I’m pretending I’m not hoping for a jar. But I think I will mention I’ve got some Ball 4 oz mini jam jars taking up space in case she needs any.

Depends on how you felt
Saturday June 19th 2021, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Friends

Two years ago I bought two Woolbuddy felted-animal kits at Stitches, and later a finished octopus from the same folks at some other festival. Cute as can be, but the octopus wool (now *there* are two words I never thought I’d put together) was disappointingly scratchy, when, to me, it didn’t have to be, and so I never made the kits. If I’m making something for my grands I want it to be something soft.

Although, that moose and anglerfish were just so adorable.

So I finally offered them up to the ward chat list and a mom with young daughters responded.

Her ten year old is the perfect age and I was really happy to see them go off with her.

But first I showed her my falcon. It was a gift from one of the other cam operators back when she and I were both helping monitor the peregrine nest at San Jose City Hall. I wanted her to see that she and her kids could draw with wool, merino wool that would feel good, and make all kinds of really cool things if they want to. She asked me to send her a list of what type of wool to look for and where.

The hyper-feltable merino breed. Not superwash treated. Wool roving or washed raw wool.

The kits were a great way to get those creative juices started.

English Morellos
Friday June 18th 2021, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden

I was trying to pick only the darkest ripest ones, but the sun was going down, the going was slow, and it was getting harder to be sure and I left the rest for another day. And because there were so many of them.

I would say there are at least two full 5 quart bowls’ worth left on that little tree.

It still amazes me that you can plant a stick in the ground in the winter and a few years later wonder what you’re going to do with all this fruit.

Thursday June 17th 2021, 11:23 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

Wait, what? Live in a towering 2977′ Tinkertoy/Lego/AtAt mashup on a lot that is smaller than the footprint of my current house? $1.6M? And it’s only been on the market for 706 days? What? C’mon, people, snatch this one up, pronto!

I was looking at video of the San Jose peregrine nestlings pushing/falling/jumping out of the box today and the thought suddenly occurred to me: I had never really noticed that the dark feathers that grow in first and most prominently are the ones in their faces. The ones that make them look more like peregrines to their parents. (Debating to add about that moment years ago when a two day old hatchling that had barely achieved the white fluffball stage died and a few hours later the parents fed it to its siblings. The kids were hungry. Thus my thought that blackening cheeks are likely protective.)

In the 97F heatwave over here, two of my apricot seedlings grew visibly since yesterday, three did not, and the last one seems to finally be kicking the bucket after a long decline. But it may yet surprise me.

That definitely panned out
Wednesday June 16th 2021, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Life

A house that needs a lot of work.

A house I would definitely want to buy if we were moving this year. Shades of Fallingwater. Gorgeous. Link here so I can find it later.

At my own house: first fig of the year.

Meantime, I was emptying and organizing the baking-pan cabinet and the end result is that a friend and her eight year old daughter showed up for the cake pan of a dragon wrapped around its eggs. Who knew that it had become a collector’s item? The mom looked it up after I offered it and found them selling for $100-200, which is nuts. It still had the wrapper; I wanted it not admired but actually used, and by the happiness in that little girl’s eyes it was definitely going to be, and right away. Her mom said so.

Man, that felt good.