If you like it really sweet
Friday April 15th 2022, 8:52 pm
Filed under: Food,Life

This is how they’re supposed to look.

The glaze for the tortes didn’t get made till today because they requested milk chocolate in the ganache.

Preference for dark chocolate vs milk is statistically a northern California/southern California difference, which I find curious. I remember reading an article years ago about how when Trader Joe’s started opening stores up here, few people were buying what everybody bought down there and they had to come up to speed fast.

Having none of the latter in the house because we just don’t, I had to wait till the local store was open again for the day. They do carry it in such a percentage, just not a lot by comparison.

Take one Pound Plus (ie 500g) bar in its wrapper and throw on the floor repeatedly. Inside a ziplock bag if you want to be sure none gets loose. Easiest way to chop chocolate ever, and it generally divides itself along the lines of the little squares in there.

Got that done, reached for the half gallon of extra heavy cream from Costco…

The fridge. The floor. Me. I remembered to grab the carton off the floor as it was chugging away down there, and what was still in there hadn’t made any contact with anything yet and there was still enough for that glaze. (Barely.)

But man.

This was going to take awhile. And this is in a kitchen where, to take its drawers out, you have to pull the entire fridge forward to get it clear of the oven doors it’s at a 90 degree angle with. I did not get them out.

There was still a bit in the tread of my shoes but I tried.

I gave up and used bath towels on the lake on the floor.

And then I tried to wash the bath towels.

All it needed was a few drops of red food coloring in the stuff and we would have had The Cat In The Hat Comes Back. It could leave one surface for another but you could not make it go away, as I learned when I opened the washing machine and wondered at that white band just below the rim when the load was supposedly done. Oh man. I wasn’t trying to make butter!

I paper toweled that out of there the best I could and ran the thing again on hot. Still some, but a lot less.

Crossing my fingers and mindful of the extreme drought (but it’s supposed to rain tonight!), I threw the load in the dryer.

It came out with a lovely smell of fresh cream. For now.

I bet the cashmere sweater I hand-washed does, too.

But the tortes got their glaze. It did not look like normal; it was runnier than I expected and refused to hold the deep indentations I usually put into the tops (picture above pilfered from my recipe) –and then I realized that of course. It’s got milk and sugar substituting for more of the actual chocolate and they don’t have the same properties.

Leading to the quite irreverent thought that, there it is: milk chocolate is the Hollywood plastic surgery of the cacao bean. So smooth. Wrinkle free.

Don’t forget to change the tablecloth
Thursday April 14th 2022, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Family

Chocolate tortes about to come out of the oven, lemon almond blueberry muffins that SOMEbody snitched one of, thoroughly approved what he’d just tasted and came back for a second, Costco lasagna in the freezer–sprinkle a little Penzey’s Pizza Seasoning and a bit of parmesan and a spoonful of the best olive oil on the top to make it not taste like it’s from Costco, and if you can wrangle it into your own pan from frozen before baking it you can actually pull it off–and milk and apple juice in the fridge. Raspberries and ripe mangoes, the simplest salad in the world but very good, okay, got those, and I know how much they love raspberries.

It’s the great-grandmother on the other side’s birthday this week and since she’s a local (and turning I think 99?) they’re coming to see her while they can, grateful for the break in the pandemic.

Which means we get spillover grandchild time this weekend.

Our older son was 6’2″ and 126 pounds when he was 12, and grew nearly eight more inches after that. Parker is 11, and just set a record for a baseball hit farther over the fence than any 11 year old in his town ever has; the kid’s a natural athlete.

He wasn’t towering over me last August, but you know that one by one they’re all sneaking up on me fast.

I can’t wait!

Oh and I did three repeats on the afghan
Wednesday April 13th 2022, 8:06 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Falcon swear words: We have three eggs to guard and they think they can swipe our nest? Well let me tell them!

Also re the nesting instinct (or not): go to the house with the luxurious couch for people who refuse to talk to each other, scroll down to the master bedroom, look at that loft and that railing and tell me if that doesn’t just insist “No more monkeys jumping on the bed!” isn’t begging on its knees to be disobeyed. One fell off and bumped his head and wasn’t that fun? The round-and-round staircase totally makes it. Race you! Whee!

The upskirt floor so you can keep an eye on the kids up there.

All that over-the-top everything–and then you see the kitchen.

You know how a kitchen can totally sell a house?

I, I… I can only think they intend for it never to be sullied with food–that would just be too messy. Let the caterer deal with it.

And random item the third, it was 38F this morning and there is rain in the forecast and I’m not sure what season this thinks it is but we’ll definitely take it.

Cold weather is definitely better incentive for having a pile of afghan in progress all over you than last week’s record 94F.

Bus, stop
Tuesday April 12th 2022, 9:34 pm
Filed under: Family

I offered to help get stuff out of her car before it got turned over to the repair folks who will tell the insurance company whether the frame is bent or not.

Afterwards, we sat and talked about it all. Turns out Richard had looked at our car’s clock, which has not been reset, which is why he’d insisted he’d been home around 2 a.m. I’d thought, well, okay, if it makes you feel better, but no it was not.

No, she said, *I* got home a little after 3:00. So yeah, closer to 3:30 for him.


You know, the important details like that. Sometimes it’s just easier to sweat the small stuff.

But she’ll be alright.

She showed me the imprint on the back of her car from the bike rack that had been on the front of the county bus. We marveled at how much worse it could have been given all that kinetic energy. She felt so bad for the driver and hoped he wouldn’t lose his job, and he had been so worried about her, not himself. By law, the sheriff had had to come, the supervisor, the cops, and the bus had had to stay in rush hour exactly where it had hit her as they processed everything.

With idiots in expensive cars going around them to the right over the curb in front of all that law enforcement! Some people are determined not to learn the lesson of the moment.

She told me she’d asked me to come help out in part because, mindful of my health, last night they’d insisted I go to bed (even if I didn’t sleep) when it was clear the ER was going to drag on forever–and that she knew I’d needed to see her.

I did, very much. And that is one very perceptive young woman.

This life stuff
Monday April 11th 2022, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Okay, for those of you who live in hurricane country, which I have not for a very long time now: do you ever feel the wind go right through the house?

Because there were no air vents to the right of me and nobody was walking around, but in today’s strong wind storm, there was this one big gust where I not only heard it, I felt it coming through. Not hard, but cold like outside and very startling because that has never happened here.

Edited to add, okay, today’s post isn’t about the weather after all. We just got a series of messages from one of our kids. (type type type. Delete.)

I’ll let them process their own story before I barge in, on second thought.

ERs are mostly about waiting. Which is good, when you get to have to.

Got that one
Sunday April 10th 2022, 9:43 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Yesterday there were two massive fires in the Bay Area: one that utterly destroyed a Home Depot in San Jose that thankfully everybody in the store escaped from; there were two other small fires near it whose connection is unknown yet, and a few hours before that, a fire at the Port of Benicia in the North Bay that destroyed a pier, an important deepwater dock that imported cars are loaded onto, and damaged an oil refinery.

You know how California gas prices are super high because we require a cleaner version that’s only made and only sold here? Just on a side note.

Today I heard from another one of my old Purlescence friends.

She’s a recent cancer survivor, so when she went to Costco, the size of the crowd (Palm Sunday? People preparing for Easter?) was just too much; she turned right around and headed home.

She found herself at a particularly long red light with time to look around–and she saw him. She called 911 and said I don’t know if he’s setting a fire or trying to put one out, but here’s where he is.

The light turned, she pulled away.

The police called back to ask her to come make a statement, and she did, and they were done and she was almost to her car again when the cop got a message. He asked her to come with him in his cruiser.

Was this him?

Yes that is him.

I’ll be curious to learn how many of yesterday’s events they end up connecting him with. But they know he’s responsible for the one he didn’t quite succeed at.

I thanked her for doing the right thing and she was like, how could one not.

For the birds
Saturday April 09th 2022, 9:42 pm
Filed under: Friends

But no really, it was for us.

Kathy came! I wrote about the nest-makers taking the last of her dog’s fur I’d had tucked away and she told me, That’s a renewable resource!

And an excuse to see an old friend from our Purlescence days. So much to catch up on. She’d made it to Stitches, I had not. Both of us stayed carefully masked (while succumbing to the temptation for a hug at the door.)

We talked pandemicnesses like wanting a haircut, noting each other’s longer locks these days. Her stylist was careful; mine…there was only once. And that was between the vaccines and Delta.

I learned more about what it’s like to be a schoolteacher through all this, the hybrid classes, the kids whose needs to be in a classroom with peers was so great vs the ones who just couldn’t for health reasons. Those weren’t statistics to her, they were kids she loves. They are lucky to have her.

She had a goodly distance for the drive home.

We parted with a mutual, Let’s not make this three or four years next time, okay?

My thanks to that sweet goofy-eyes German Shepherd (the pictures were so funny!) for giving us an excuse to do what we’d long wanted to do.

And for taking good care of the chickadees and titmice, too.

Namely that one
Friday April 08th 2022, 9:54 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Every now and then, the comments are as good as the story; not every one, but certainly most. The story being about parents who meet their new babies and ditch the name they were going to give it and why they do.

We did that on one of ours. We spent most of the pregnancy trying to pick one of two names and neither one of us was able to decide which. I would just have gone with both, but my mother-in-law, I am told, hated her middle name, hated dealing with having a middle name and then four as an adult and forms only letting you put down two and a middle initial and what do you need that extraneous one for anyway, and my sweet husband grew up thinking he wasn’t going to do that to his daughters, no sir.

Whereas I grew up without a middle name and was the only kid in the grade as far as I knew who didn’t, and I wasn’t going to do that to my girls, no way.


Frances (hi Mom!) or Carole (which would have deprived my niece born later of what turned out to have belonged to her all along.) For nine months.

I’d been in labor for hours when we looked at each other and had a mutual moment of truth: not those names. Something else. But what?!

We started throwing ideas at each other, no, no, do you remember–not that one, you’re right–till I said how about? and he went, That’s it! We decided to wait for sure till after we’d seen her but hey, not long now.

But it already felt like we’d finally found the right one.

Our family doctor stopped by the hospital after dinner. I had just been wheeled to my room. The baby had spent some time in what that hospital had as far as an NICU–nobody had told us till she arrived that the closest one was a two-hour ambulance ride away–and I was a little hazy on where she was at that point other than the nursery. I wanted to hold my baby. I hadn’t gotten to do that yet, they’d been in too much of a hurry when she’d arrived.

He stopped by my room to reassure me, telling me he had examined Michelle and she was looking great.

Me, having had a very very long, strenuous day, bone tired: “Who?”

He looked startled.

Oh right, right, that’s her name now, right. Sorry.

So close
Thursday April 07th 2022, 9:43 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

After seeing my mom, our younger son, my older sisters and their husbands, my older brother and his two girls at home and Richard’s sister last week, today felt antsy: I wanted more.

I checked our flight miles, and it turns out that after accumulating them for two years we have enough to fly a round trip free.

As my oldest niece said after her first flight when she was two, Mommy! Get air pane! Less go!

As we wait to see how this BA.2 variant progresses. I’m glad we went when we went, but for now, we’re back to not yet. Not quite yet.

To everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season
Wednesday April 06th 2022, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

When we came home last week there was a smell, not strong, of something in the side shed that was inviting scavengers: crows, skunks, whatever could get into that space, to have at it. I did not go looking to see what it was. Within a day or two it was gone.

I’ll never know for sure–but it was along the path the male cottontail took to come into our yard, and he has not been seen since the day we left. Just the female, with her distinctive lighter curves over her haunches contrasting with her darker fur.

Her belly is noticeably smaller now, and yeah, it’s been about a month since they declared which of them was which.

For the first time, there was no sign of her today either. Yeah I know rabbits are terrible for one’s garden, but I was really enjoying watching them as they kept our weeds at bay, their ears twitching from time to time, their watching me when I open the door, waiting a moment to see if (insert teen whine) Aw, Mom, do I *have* to hop away? I was just getting to the dessert part of this leaf! Okay, FINE. (Slaps back feet against the ground. Goes to their room under the bush.)

While below we have the rare Dog-Faced Spring Titmouse.

Meaning, a paper lunchbag’s worth of my friend Kathy’s dog’s fur was put out there for the birds before we left and nearly all of it is gone now.

I can’t wait to see the fledglings. I am slightly less enthusiastic about a yardful of baby bunnies. But we’ll see.


Kids don’t try this at home
Tuesday April 05th 2022, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Sara and Matt used to live fairly close to us; he was at Stanford and she taught dance at San Jose State and was advisor to one of my girls at church. When they moved away, Matt sold his most excellent bike to my then-teenage older son, who was grateful to have one from a fellow tall person and bike enthusiast.

Not long after that, we discovered that the man we all instantly adored whom my cousin was marrying was Sara’s brother. Small world. So the connection continues.

Sara was running an errand yesterday, the kids were in school, and Matt just happened to be in the one place in their house where he didn’t know he needed to be.

The next door neighbor hadn’t wanted to pay an arborist $4k to take out that 140′ pine and so decided to let some random guy with a chainsaw who was offering to help in exchange for the wood have at it. Video here. No license, and apparently no insurance nor bond.

We had a neighbor’s major tree limb take out a line of the fence and punch a branch through our roof years ago and that was LOUD. Even to my ears. I can’t imagine….

Last fall, due to the supply and labor issues and lumber prices of the pandemic, while we were changing insurance policies we were told that the estimated cost to rebuild our house from scratch just then–and it’s certainly no mansion–would be a cool million dollars.

I think forking over that four grand just might have been the better idea to go with.

There’s a reason we have regulations. They protect both sides.

A blessing and a puzzle
Monday April 04th 2022, 9:45 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Scrolling through my photos, wait–there was one more, with a declaration in so many languages: All are alike unto God.

So. Many. Hours. of someone’s life to create this.

Am I correct in guessing it was tatted? Can you do crochet like this?

And then the knitted redwood saplings
Sunday April 03rd 2022, 9:00 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit,Life

Just one more from the museum.

I saw it almost immediately in this rendition of the Tree of Life: the fifth figure from the left. This artist knew breast cancer.

While, here at home: the flowers on the sweet cherry have bloomed to the top now.

The afghan for my niece, the daughter of my late sister-in-law, is coming along; 49″ wide by 40″ long so far, 50/50 cashmere/cotton at a 3/6 weight (size 9s for when I check back later to use up the last of this mill-end.)

Redwoods grow as tall as they do so as to capture the nightly ocean fog on their needles, where it condenses and drips off the tips while some runs down their trunks to the roots below. Which is why they have to be shallow, and why they’re so much at risk in a drought, especially down here in the valley, and why they’re terrible to plant close to buildings.

Volunteers have been replanting redwood seedlings in the parks by the coast where the trees had burned. Will it take a few thousand years to get back to what had been? Yes, which is why they’re getting started.

My long twiggy saplings have the fog dripping down around them in the yarnover spaces.



She-shells sea shells
Saturday April 02nd 2022, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Life

Another from the museum, and I regret that I didn’t snap the artist’s name for this one. On curious approach from the side, it looked like someone’s random beach combing adventure.

And then you take the longer view.

And the longer view.

She was there all along, waiting to be seen.

The museum, continued
Friday April 01st 2022, 9:40 pm
Filed under: History,Life

While we were at the Church History Museum, these are the two pieces that had me fighting sudden completely unexpected tears. Click to embiggen.

A crown of thorns made by olive leaves dipped in metal, and hanging from it, a thousand paper cranes, each one created with a person in mind, each paper printed with that person’s digital skin tone, the cranes separated by gold and suspended in the air and held in place only by the tension between the support from above and gravity from below.

I wondered if its creator had cared for Covid patients these past two years.

And this one. He Who Is Without Sin. It took a heartbeat to see the four (edit: five–making its point) bruises, none of them fully revealed to the viewer, where the stones had struck. The intensity of color and life above the ground in contrast to the stones returned to the dirt of the desert from which they’d come.

I came out of there wanting to be a better, kinder person: ‘First, do no harm.’