Sunday October 31st 2021, 9:13 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

We got our Moderna boosters yesterday (yay!) and figured today was going to be a day for taking it real easy.

I haven’t much minded the desert cottontail in the garden–as long as there was only one. Which had been the case. Yeah it seems to like pomegranates, though I’ve never quite caught it actually eating one, just, the lower ones have mostly disappeared and I’ve seen it by that tree; as long as it didn’t figure out how to get to my netting-protected mangoes we’re good.


But this morning….

And then I went into the kitchen. The dishwasher was flashing an error code. Not working.

He’ll get to it tomorrow. Today was just not the day. Yay for there still being Zoom church, that, we could manage, and then we crashed.



Honeybee Lane
Saturday October 30th 2021, 8:50 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

I got an email from my sister.

I would never have expected a real estate listing, of all things, to make me nearly burst into tears. Ohmygosh that hideous yellow on a house designed to disappear and become one with the woods a la Frank Lloyd Wright (who built his youngest son a house three streets away.) More than half the trees are gone. It’s for sale! It’s pending. It’s all but sold. Oh if only. Look how Dad’s fruit trees have grown!

My grandparents thought my folks were crazy: not only was it farther out in the sticks than anyone should have to commute, not only was River Road, now a main artery, reduced to gravel before it got to their turnoff (and it was outside the Beltway, which hadn’t been built yet) but there was a government missile silo protecting Washington DC built into a rock quarry that George Washington had known–at the end of their new street! With warnings and signs and DO NOT TRESPASS on the gate, and c’mon, what do you think curious kids are going to do? It was the height of the Cold War, and the grandparents worried that it and we were going to be blown up. The Soviets surely knew where those were.

And yet.

There was a ten-mile-long watershed preserve with a trail built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Originally that park came right up to the back of the homes on our street, but another builder sweet-talked the county into swapping land so that his neighborhood could have that as a selling point just like ours had had. They required of him the playground equipment in clearings in the park that I remember playing on as a kid; you had to hike that trail a bit to get to them.

I did not quite make it the day I stepped on some leaves and a hiding snake leaped out of there towards the creek as I leaped away in the opposite direction and didn’t stop till I got home.

It was very much a Calvin and Hobbes’ woods kind of a place and a treasure to explore.

After the folks sold our childhood home in ’07 to, they found out afterwards, a woman who wanted to convert it into an assisted living place, I happened to be in town while the remodeling was happening and my brother drove down from New Jersey to see me while I was closer than California.

We drove by the old place. The contractor’s truck was in the driveway. We talked ourselves into it, and then went and knocked on the door.

He was delighted to be able to show off his work to folks who appreciated and really knew what he’d been able to accomplish. Watch your step–the iron railing around the stairs was gone and the new one wasn’t in yet.

There were tire tracks everywhere across the woods in back: the next door neighbors had planted ivy when we were kids for erosion control and that non-native had taken over the world, smothering out the jack-in-the-pulpits, killing the box turtles they fed, strangling the trees. I marveled at the scarred but now bare trunks and ground and told the guy I’d tried to do that as much as humanly possible one Christmas home from college and had found out just how hard it is to pull ivy off a tree.

He’d done it. He’d done it. He’d cleared it all. Amazing. Thank you. I hoped the turtles could come back.

The house is once again a residence, albeit with laundry facilities upstairs and down.

The bomb shelter (it was a thing in 1962) had a toilet but no door nor wall just a don’t come around that corner, I guess in case all eight of us had to dash downstairs fast in the event of an attack and all try to squeeze in there. Or something. It was there so we could if we had to but we never did. Except, really really fast, just once on my part at about ten years old to prove to myself that it actually worked and I was scared of having to say anything if it didn’t, but thankfully it did. Phew!

But now it’s an actual bathroom (hey look a sink too!) and the ugly gray cinderblocks are nowhere to be seen. Yay. The family room has been expanded into where the shelter was and a closet has been made out of part of it. It’s quite nice.

I marveled at the square footage in the listing, and Richard said, It’s a big house! It always was!

It didn’t seem all that big when there were six kids running around making noise in it…

But so yes: this is the house I grew up in. It had natural redwood siding then and Eichler-style windows with floor to ceiling glass looking out on the woods and the bird feeder. It was a neighborhood where everybody knew and cared about everybody.

If you go to street view in the listing, go to the right of the house and down the hill to the first driveway across the street: that siding is what ours looked like and that steep driveway is where I saw Little Stevie with his proud mom right behind him as he was taking some of his very first steps.

That was (shameless name dropping) Stephen Colbert. They moved away when he was four.

Next door to them, the gray house with the deck and the long driveway, I was riding my bike one summer evening on a day we’d gone peach picking and a new family had just moved in but nobody had laid eyes on them yet.

The young mom was out there gardening next to the house and her four year old had wandered down towards the street to see who this new person might be. Her eyes were on the huge ripe peach in my hand and all that juice. (Not a great idea to eat one while riding a bike and I knew it but I was doing it.)

I asked her if she would like one. YES. I asked her to wait while I peddled back to my house and got another one for her. I was back to her in a flash but carefully instructed her, Now, you don’t know me yet so I’m still a stranger. Go ask your mommy first if you can have this.

She ran so fast!

Which is how I got to be their favorite babysitter on the spot.

That listing. I finally got to see the remodeling contractor’s finished work. It’s gorgeous.

And then I sent a note to the realtor, who called me and put me on the line with the buyer’s agent.

I told her, Looking at the pictures, there’s a new-to-me fence around the property. I don’t know if you know but that’s not the property line. We owned past the gully it’s looking down on and to a large tree on the other side in the backyard of the people on Cindy Lane who were behind us, and I have memories that my dad one day went rushing out there as they were pounding nails into it, demanding, Stop. That is MY tree, it’s not yours.


The gully wasn’t the property line?


The buyer’s agent listened to that with much interest and thanked me. I added, Now it could be an adverse taking thing, except that my parents didn’t leave until 2008, I believe it was, and Dad would never have let them. (2007, says the listing. Close.)

She thanked me–and I knew the person who’d connected us now had my email address (their site required it) if the buyer has any other questions. And Mom’s still alive to help out, for that matter.

Whoever out there has fallen in love with where we loved growing up, thank you for choosing our home and our neighborhood. You’re really going to love it there. Oh and: when Dad shoveled the driveway after a huge storm even though the roads were still closed and thought he was having a heart attack at 3 a.m. and the ambulance got there in four minutes? They’d put a snowplow blade on so they could get through.

Mom got to, for days, watch people thinking they could cut through the neighborhood by coming down that long steep hill, around the blind corner (where I once got hit by a car on my bike because we couldn’t see each other coming), find that it ended in their driveway and there was not so much as turn around space and they had to back up all the way up that steep snowy icy hill to the main road.

And then the teens next door, when they found out, forever after shoveled the folks’ driveway when it snowed, hoping not to get caught at it and refusing payment when they were.

Good times.

Friday October 29th 2021, 9:06 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

In July 2006 my husband said he wanted to replace my old minivan for me. I said maybe we should replace his first-generation Prius instead, not that it was so old but because he was so squeezed in there that his knees had cracked the dashboard(!) and it seemed a safety issue to me. I argued for not cutting him off at the knees in an accident.

We went to the Toyota dealership. We looked at cars we could fit the kids into.

But what really grabbed us both was the new generation Prius that had enough room for his legs, even if we would have to give up our quirky pregnant-mouse-look one that proclaimed us as early adopters. (It’s a Silicon Valley thing.)

But it really was the time to do so, if we were going to, because it had some of the rare carpool lane stickers that only went to the first so-many-thousand hybrids; those stickers were going to expire in under two years but such cars were still going for, on average, an extra $4400 at the time. Count dollars against hours saved on commuting and being with your kids and if you could afford it of course you would.

In two years of course the value would be zero.

Richard did not commute on the freeway so the stickers were of no great matter to him personally.

The salesman was surprisingly, exceptionally rude to me. From the moment we walked on the lot he would not acknowledge my existence. I was the one who had done the research, I was the one we’d come to buy for, but anytime I said anything he immediately started talking to Richard over me, every time, while avoiding all eye contact with me, and he never, ever responded to me in any way. Only the man of the house mattered to him. I was utterly invisible.

Excuse me?!

I finally got sufficiently ticked off that I told him I was leaving and they could talk about whatever they wanted. Have a nice day.

I got myself home, got in the other car, and went off to my then-LYS, Purlescence, on that bright summer Saturday afternoon where there would be nice people and I could quietly calm down surrounded by wool fumes.

LYSO Nathania’s then-husband was there, and quite sympathetic when I described that salesman. Yes car dealerships were notorious but since women buy most of the cars in this country, supposedly most of the salesmen had learned or had at least been coached to show some respect. Man, not that one.

I was not expecting it to turn into plotting–but it did: Kevin invited me over to the shop’s classroom space in a separate room in the back, logged onto the computer there, and we tag-teamed for Richard against that salesman over my cellphone. We had decided on replacing the Prius after all and negotiations were just starting.

The guy said the list price was X.

Kevin, googling, which was a slower process back then, said It is not, it’s Y.

The guy said the value of the carpool lane sticker was Z.

Kevin, looking: He’s full of it again, it’s W, like you guys thought.

He said the Blue Book value of the trade-in overall was B.

We told Richard, No, it’s A.

We were going to pay cash so the whole interest rate thing didn’t apply. No padding there.

We were having the time of our lives and that salesman could not argue with someone he could not see nor hear and he had to wait on Richard while Richard did. So there.

Richard came home chuckling. The guy was still willing to make the sale, however grudgingly, to get his sales numbers up for his boss. We got that second Prius for $11k and the 2001 trade-in.

One of his co-workers later told him, License plate so-and-so–is that your old car? That guy tried to tell me some old lady only drove it to church.

Our reaction was, Oh come ON, the oldest cliche in a car salesman’s book?!

So. Our car’s a 2007 bought in 2006. Used it for a 3.5 mile commute, which doubled when the van at last bit the dust and I was doing the drop off/pick up thing just about every day.

This was the year we were finally going to replace it, what with all the safety features of the new ones out there and so many more options to choose from; after years of 40-50 mpg, we’re never going back to bad mileage. Our grandkids only get one planet.

And then of course the house, and the sizes of those reroof/repair contracts, and this isn’t the year.

But you know? We really don’t need to. It works peachy fine. Yeah the fabric’s stained and the seats sag but it’s reliable.

Today, at long last, it answered a question I’d had for a long time as to whether it would start over at 0 the way the cars of my youth did or if it had one more digit hiding in there.

Answer: yes it did. (Picture taken just after I pulled into the driveway and stopped.) Go little car go.

Raising the stakes
Thursday October 28th 2021, 11:06 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

In case you’ve ever wondered about a hawk’s carrying capacity re pets. (The short answer: unless you have a favorite rat running around outside unattended, basically, no worries.)

Meantime, my husband came around the corner this afternoon after a work meeting that I had not realized was a Halloween party by Zoom. I looked up to see my favorite 6’8″er bouncing off the ceiling.

Literally. At the end of the hall where it comes down a bit. I kind of stared a moment, having expected none of this.

Three got kind of squished together in the process, but there were seven of them, and he was looking quite pleased with himself. That costume was so him.

As if having to duck through standard doorframes might not be enough.

Dr. S.
Wednesday October 27th 2021, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life,Lupus

The eye department couldn’t fit me in all on the same day for all the testing they wanted to do in answer to my query Monday, so after going yesterday I came back today to see just the technician for that last test.

There was the standard question yesterday of, do you have any new allergies.

Dr. S. mentioned by way of reassurance that he’d gotten that same fiery red rash from that brand of heart monitor, but it had faded away after a few days.

We were having a mutually surprised moment: you needed one, too? (How could you be old enough..! Answer: we’re sort of not. But him even less so, and I at least have lupus as an excuse.)

He was fine, he assured me, they were just checking.

He was quite delighted with the homegrown pomegranate. “Look how BIG it is! I love pomegranates!”

Coming through the door on my return home this afternoon, the answering machine was just finishing up.

It was Dr. S.

He had gone over that visual field test’s results. (Immediately, clearly, rather than waiting till the end of the day to get around to the paperwork. He’d wanted me to know right away.) It had taken a little more energy for me to see the flashes on one side, he said, consistent with the optic nerve having been narrowed by what appeared about 25 years ago to be optic neuritis. It had changed since last time, but only a little. From all he could see, there was nothing to worry about–but come right in if anything changes or you have concerns.

And then his voice sounded more emotional than perhaps he’d intended. “I’ll see you in a year. Come back in a year. Thanks.”

A promise that he would be here and that surely I must as well.

I felt that.

I appreciated that, and wished he had held off two more minutes to call so that I could have gotten off the freeway and grabbed that phone in time to say, and you, too. All the best.

To life!

Coopernicus Junior
Tuesday October 26th 2021, 8:55 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

It completely made my day when an adult Cooper’s hawk showed up this morning and hung around, unafraid of my movements with the camera. ‘Here, let me give you a profile view now.’ It was giving the local crows and ravens a seasonal heads-up that it does, in fact, own this space.

And to remember that.

And then it swooped down past the windows of my newly-widowed neighbor, an avid birdwatcher, to offer her comfort, too.

Stretching up to the vanishing point
Monday October 25th 2021, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

For two weeks I woke up in the morning with the thought of don’t waste time before starting in on that afghan, you only have till the 31st, and spending the day all the way till bedtime alternating between knitting, thinking of knitting, resting my hands from knitting, and being grateful for the distraction from Stupid Things My Health Does.

I did, I got to start the atmospheric river blue above the San Francisco Bay fog line while said river was pounding away out there in the storm. I had wanted those times to overlap and they did.

This evening I glanced towards the lowering sun and decided to take a picture while there was still at least some natural light.

Kat had second-guessed herself and wondered if I would want hooks on the slab of my redwood she’d polished for me so that it could become a wallhanging. That made me wonder, as I was knitting, if I should make it possible for her afghan to be the wallhanging, and that became the plan.

I was going to knit a plain section at the top after the darker blue: to start it off by doubling the number of stitches, putting every other one on a holder, knitting a plain band twice the height of what you’d want in order to run a dowel through and then double-needle-binding-off it along with those held stitches at the back of the afghan. One horizontal pocket across, coming up!

But when it came right down to it during those last few rows? When I laid it out for this picture?


I will offer to add it, and if she wants me too I will in a heartbeat, just like she would have added hooks in a heartbeat, but for my eyes I’m going to leave it the way it looks best. Just like she did.

Edited to add: and after I laid it out a second time once it was finished and could only get bad photos with my 6S phone that I’m not going to besmirch all that hard work with by posting here, I finally found the stitch I’d been looking for. The one that was why I was missing one when counting out the center stitch for where the lace edging would meet up in the center at the top.

Can you see it in this picture? I didn’t either. I didn’t find it when I was knitting, either, no matter how much I looked for it, and I did.

I dropped it about the time I hit the tippy top of the tree. At the inner edge of the lace on the left. Probably when I put the thing down to run answer the landline.

So I grabbed a length of white yarn, looped through the one left hanging as if I were finally knitting it, connecting it where it should have been connected to and then ran the ends in along the back.

From the front you could never know. From the back, almost so.

That was close!

It feels so weird not to have this huge project hanging over my head anymore. It’s like, what do I even do with my needles now? I’d better decide quick because I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow and the next day and the cardiologist hasn’t even seen the monitor results yet as far as I know.

A Malabrigo Mecha hat is always a good and soft and warm and useful thing. But after nineteen skeins of the stuff in two weeks, um, let’s go try something else.

We’re fine
Monday October 25th 2021, 10:13 am
Filed under: Knit

This is the first year we’ve gotten more than a single Page orange on that tree and yesterday’s storm blew nearly all the leaves off the thing.

I don’t think that works.

One and a half skeins to go out of nineteen
Saturday October 23rd 2021, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Food,Knitting a Gift

Our local forecast now says 2.73″ of rain tomorrow as the atmospheric river tries to play a game of Noah with us. That’s a huge amount for California and the biggest storm in two years. It’s badly needed.

And so it came to me as I knitted above the top of the redwood that I ought to memorialize that.

Which is why the section above where I’m working now, where I will repeat the lace pattern that frames the beginning and sides of this thing, will be done in Malabrigo’s London Sky, a lavender-ish blue. My skein is a nice deep shade of pouring rain.

The afghan is so close to being done.

Meantime, the last chocolate bars to be poured from the melanger are the most fun because you can swirl them and it shows better than the ones that were hotter coming out–but you can’t see the effects till they set. You have no idea what they’ll look like.

A whale mid-dive, a parrot looking askance back over its shoulder: Hey! No splashing!

No more monitor
Friday October 22nd 2021, 11:16 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

This is long and meandering but it’s late and I don’t have time to edit it.

My cousin Virginia cut her beautiful shoulder-length hair very short and posted pictures on Facebook and got lots of compliments over her new look.

And then she quietly sent out a note to her cousins that she’d had cancer nine years ago, had long since beaten it… and the haircut was to make it seem less abrupt when it starts falling out again.

All those hats knitted as carry-around projects, a moment here, a row there, they were ready.

She said she had a blue one from me from years ago but yes, she’d like a soft white one, very much, thank you.

And so today, I–

Waited till 3 pm. On the nose at the two week mark, off with the heart monitor and into its box to ship back to its manufacturer so they can report to my cardiologist. My skin had a fierce enough reaction to the adhesive that I’m amazed it stayed on. I hope I don’t have to do that again for awhile.

So that got mailed and the white hat, and also one in purples and another in greens. She hadn’t wanted to ask for too much. I had wanted to give her all.the.hats. I compromised.

Andy’s dried slab Blenheim apricots in another box for my mom, the ones picked so ripe they go smush when cut. The best.

And a warm winter outfit to my niece’s baby girl.

But before I headed out for the post office, one last note on the diary notebook to return with the monitor: yes I pushed the button at 3 a.m. this morning but, um, ignore that. I was asleep. Pushing it woke me up that wait, I did what? No. Nothing to see there. I was dreaming.

If only we could solve all health problems that easily.

And then at the end of the day, finally, I knit and got past the tree.

And then said, But what I really want is to go make a batch of chocolate, darn it. We’re out, and the pre-pandemic Trader Joe’s bar doesn’t count.

Wild Bolivian Mix, in the melanger now.

I said to Richard, I calculated wrong so I didn’t put in all the sugar I measured and now I don’t know how much I did and is this sweet enough?

He took a taste and considered thoughtfully: it was good, and yet, “Seems a little too sweet to me.”

And it’s not enough to me, even though I like mine quite dark. Good. Right in between. That means we hit the sweet spot.

Maybe I do too art, just a little
Thursday October 21st 2021, 8:54 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

(Daytime photo that gets the colors right.)

Somehow, when there were only four pairs of branches done, it looked like a rib cage. The last one helps.

I wanted to give that sense of looking up and up and up that happens among redwoods and I think the angle and vanishing point help.

By the way, here’s a house that left me instantly smitten. Knit and watch the boats go by. Not too close nor too far down towards the shore and rising waters, but on a hill looking over the homes nearer in. Gorgeous. The fact that there are two painter’s easels set up tells me the people who’ve lived there have taken in that view with the eyes of an artist. I’d love to see what they’ve painted.

I’d be knitting it in no time. I imagine in less of a rush than this project and with more detail. All the time in the world.


When they’re little
Wednesday October 20th 2021, 9:35 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

There was a baby shower by Zoom Sunday for two nieces who are expecting: the idea was, order baby books mailed to them in advance and then let’s all celebrate and talk about our favorites!

I sent Sandra Boynton board books. As one does.

One cousin, whose youngest is about five now, told them, There’s always some lady at a grocery store who will tell you, Oh! They grow up SO fast!

I think that’s a pretty universal experience for young moms, often when the kids are not being their stage-presence best and so trying to get the simplest things done takes forever; I remember when, for a month, I had four kids under age six.

I answered, The days are years and the years are days.

Don’t ask me, I don’t know how to art
Tuesday October 19th 2021, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

49″ and ready to start the fifth set of branches. It’s getting there.

Then, for the fog rolling in as it comes over the coastal range every morning here, the question is do I seed stitch the transition between white and pale fog blue, alternating colors in a transition? Or long horizontal lines alternating and stacking irregularly? That sounds a whole lot easier to do than seed stitch in two colors, but I’m not entirely convinced it’s the look I want.

Or I could do the color change brutalist fashion like the earth tones below: it’s this color here and that color there. Bam. Done.

Sunday October 17th 2021, 10:38 pm
Filed under: History

One of the speakers at church today (if only there could be a link to our own ward’s talks!) mentioned Corrie ten Boom, whom I had heard of before but this story I had not.

She and her family hid Jews in the Netherlands during WWII but were eventually caught and sent to a concentration camp. Her father, sister, and nephew died; Corrie was released by mistake and made her escape.

Having preached forgiveness as a moral imperative and a means of spiritual and even physical survival in the camps, she continued to do so after the War, speaking far and wide on the subject.

At the end of one of those talks, a man approached her.

I can’t even imagine. She knew exactly who he was: he had been one of the SS guards in that concentration camp.

He told her how grateful he was for what she had said–and he reached out his hand to shake hers.

Forgive him, she told herself. Practice what you just preached. Live it.

Her hand utterly refused to move.

Help me forgive him, she prayed hard.

But she knew exactly what he had done.

Finally, in agony, her inner cri de couer was, I cannot forgive him. Father, You must because I cannot–and with that her hand was suddenly freed and she reached hers out to his and in the moment they connected she described an electricity going through her to him.

And it healed him.

And it healed her.

Musings on an evening where I pushed the monitor button to record the moment
Saturday October 16th 2021, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

There was an article on Graves disease in the Washington Post today. I found it very timely, because that diagnosis is in my chart but nobody’s ever told me much about it beyond the word itself. One endocrinologist retired after ordering the antibody tests, one went on maternity leave, one filled in temporarily, and I haven’t gotten back there in so long–covid being most of that time–that it kind of dropped through the cracks because I simply didn’t need to go in.

My autoantibodies for both hyper and hypo thyroidism generally duke it out pretty much to a standstill.

But it would explain some of this stuff, including the almost two pounds lost these past two weeks. And here I was thinking juggling yarn balls all day long was proving a surprisingly good if implausible diet.

If it is the Graves, it would be quite treatable.

A text came in as I was typing this: I just promised the friends who stopped by last night that I would call them if we need any help whatsoever. She’s young, but she’s had heart experience, successfully treated and fine now. Some people are just easy to turn to anyway, and then you learn more and more why.

*To clarify: the heart monitor’s recording for two weeks straight. They want me to push the button to footmark my notes on it.