Mind the gap
Wednesday August 31st 2022, 8:18 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

There is a single tomato plant, in a large pot, kind of spilling over the side but that’s okay because there’s a birdnetting cage over the whole thing with the pot helping to keep it in place.

Turns out if you go to just the right spot there was room for a finch to bop in under there at ground level in its search for weed seeds.

And then it tried to fly up to leave but that didn’t work at all.

There seemed to be a bit of motion going on out there and I looked up to see a small flock of finches coming in: some landed on the ground, several landed on top of that bird netting and then on the strawberry pot next to it, and my thought was, sorry, no crop pecking for you.

Incoming!  Another one.

Only then did my eye catch the flutter of wings that were somehow not on the outside of that netting like they were supposed to be, and I headed out to rescue the poor thing before it mashed its feathers against things any more than it had.

As soon as I got close enough to reach to lift the thing away our intrepid bird suddenly saw its way out before I’d even made one–freedom!


I went back inside thinking about how house finches always squabbled at the bird feeder, always tried to get the uppermost perch, always believed the sunflower seeds up high tasted better than the ones down low and no amount of real-life experience could disabuse them of that silliness nor make them believe there was always enough for them all, right there in plain sight.

And yet.

Here one was in trouble, and its peers, rather than abandoning it to its fate, went out of their way to be with it, to cheer it on, to offer comfort by their presence even if they couldn’t do a thing about it. They anti-Darwinned it, really: they came to where their fellow finch was overcome and powerless instead of fleeing the danger themselves.

We should all be such birdbrains.

Pom Poms
Tuesday August 30th 2022, 9:15 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden

I knocked my pomegranate tree over. Partly. My hose and I. It was very sudden: I woke up Sunday and went wow.

It’s juice-making time inside all those bright little reddening balls and clearly Saturday’s watering got slurped right up. There are no fruits on the back where it’s up against the shed, and so all the weight was towards the yard and there you go. See that oversized stake? It and all these branches you see leaning to the right were upright on Saturday. And they will be again once harvest is over.

The new neighbor’s little girl told me about the lemon trees in their back yard and asked to see the fruit trees in mine.

I told her she couldn’t just go back there, her mom had to know where she was. So she and her little brother and their mom all got invited over to see.

They’ve moved quite a few times and expect to again in a few years and the mom was wistful, telling me what kinds of fruit trees she’d like to plant someday–but what can you take with you, you know?

On a more practical note, she told me of a type of Chinese or Asian pumpkin (her description) that you cannot buy here. That she was trying to find seeds for so she could have them again. Like my apricot trees! she said. You want them you have to grow them if you can find even that, right? She was so happy for me that I got to have my Anya offspring.

I wished her all the best–and you know that the search for a source for her has begun. She’s only lived in the area a few weeks, and now I’ve got a list of the various specialty grocery stores she could try.

Not to mention, now I know which of my neighbors adores the pomegranates that we have so many of coming up. I can’t wait.

In this international community
Monday August 29th 2022, 9:11 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Rescheduled twice till the original reason for it was history, I finally got in to see the neurologist today, six months after the fact. We’re still pretty new to each other.

I was knitting that blue cowl when he came in.

We talked about a bunch of stuff and then it was time to do an exam.

He had me try to stand on my toes. I managed not to fall on him but it was a near thing. He had me lift my toes to stand on my heels. Again the involuntary collapse.

He asked me to grab my cane and repeat both of those and with that extra tactility to tell my brain which direction the floor was in when parts of my feet had abandoned it I had no problem, it was as easy as sitting down.

An offhand remark: he wasn’t mansplaining, he was marveling when he just had to tell me that he’d found out that you can’t just knit something–quickly. That things like sweaters and blankets, they take a long time. A *long* time!

I chuckled. Yes. Yes, they do. I did not say, And you’ll get your turn, but I knew his appreciation had just shown me it was so.

He grabbed a pin from a tall box and poked it around. I could feel it in my hands and arms but more as a slight pressure than anything else. Legs and feet? Okay, that’s a prick point.

I discussed a little family history: (sorry for the repeats to those who’ve read these before.) My grandmother never had a headache in her life, she had no idea what it was like to have one. My cousin was born without the ability to feel pain–like the time he got hit by a car, walked home, told his brother, said he was tired and was going to go lie down, and the brother ratted him out to their nurse mom who rushed him to the hospital in time to save his life. I told him one of my kids wasn’t that bad, but definitely on that scale. And also got hit by a car as a kid and tried to shrug it off.

I had started out as normal myself but for years now my own ability has been impaired. I told him of the time my tall husband took off his undershirt, hit the overhead light, shattered it, ducked the falling glass and fell into the oak  hamper while I, still in bed, just heard the loud thump against the wall and leaped out to save him. Like I was going to pull him out of the hamper? I found myself running across broken glass.

And just sat down on the bed and laughed because we’re such a pair of klutzes–and because I knew that in five minutes I wouldn’t be able to feel the pain anymore. And I didn’t. This can be a bad thing, like during the heart attack and not calling 911 because, um, wasn’t it supposed to hurt, but at other times it can be quite handy. It’s like the bod says, Okay, listen up something’s wrong, okay now I told you–you go deal with it.

He (clearly fervently) wished he could offer his other patients a way to not hurt after five minutes and pronounced me as pretty fortunate for that. He’s right.

On my way out I found myself about to go past a quite elderly woman with a head covering I’d guess as Slavic as she was being pushed in a wheelchair, her face a blank. I was wearing my hand-embroidered, very traditional red and black on white vyshyvanka and the effect on her was instant: an energy that hadn’t been there a moment before as my shirt had her full attention and recognition, she looked up into my face in wonder and smiled. No words needed.

And I looked in her eyes and loved her too and smiled back.

I said to Richard later, not for the first time, And this is why I wear these. This is part of why I buy these.


Thick and warm
Sunday August 28th 2022, 8:48 pm
Filed under: Knit

Maybe because the first few leaves–maybe half a dozen scattered across the taller cherry tree and on one peach– have already turned yellow, as if telling Fall to hurry up: making something warm appealed, and besides, I needed a small carry-around project for a doctor appointment tomorrow. I did not want a cone. I did not want to wind yarn.

And so I found myself doing a stash dive this morning and coming up with this baby alpaca/merino/yak blend, one of those online buys that when it comes you think, oh. That’s not what I expected. Oh well. And then it sits there.

Two skeins, ready to go. I surprised myself when I thought decisively, That one. (Really? Curious.)

Since Richard was feeling contagious, we did church by Zoom and I got this started because it’s way more fun to have something to actually show off tomorrow if you’re going to be knitting in public, right?

The color is actually bluer than this, and that is a good thing. Taupey grays, which this has in the mix, are not my thing.

I have no idea who it’s for but I expect I’ll find out soon enough, and that’s the fun part.

For the love of Dandelions
Saturday August 27th 2022, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Food,Knitting a Gift,Life

The Alaska afghans had a dandelion in them because I was so enchanted by the one outside the kids’ door at their old house in Anchorage that was blooming well above knee-high. And because I got to feed some to well-fenced-away elk through the chain links after the farmer there said that that was their favorite food. There were a few blooming just, just past where the animals could reach to and they were happy to grab the ends and spaghetti-slurp them up from us (and thank goodness for how long those stems were; the reindeer over to the left were tame but the elk came with warnings.)


I decided this afghan needed a dandelion, too. A few rows after this you’ll be able to see better where the yarnovers settle into; it’s kind of a stick figure of a flower.

But it got me thinking of Dandelion Chocolate, because they make the best there is and the pastries to match and because bite by daily bite we had just finished off our last bar from them. Chocolate and sugar. Two ingredients. That’s all.

A few people in Ukraine are making, among other things, beaded necklaces with dandelion flowers below and their seed poofs floating off above.

On a whim, I sent them a link. Not that they need to go buy jewelry for all the staff or anything–but sometimes it’s charming to know someone created something both fun and meaningful that’s out there in the world just waiting to be admired.

Of course they loved it, but then, how could anyone not.

After the kids have flown
Friday August 26th 2022, 8:02 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Empty nesters. Maybe they’re talking about going out for a nice Friday night dinner?

We’ll show’em
Thursday August 25th 2022, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Life

One of the upsides of dealing with a frustrating customer service for way too long a time in my day–I had a response in my inbox to which I flatly said No and we went back and forth from early morning till after dinner time–was that when it was finally resolved and they finally made it right I needed that knitting over there. I needed it in my hands. I needed to see progress and progress that was happening because it was doing what I told it to do when I told it to do it and it was blossoming beautifully and each stitch that I did was done and stayed done and not only that, its whole reason for being was to make a friend happy. And it happily compliantly will. And I get to enjoy the cheerful anticipation of that in every single hour while I’m working on it.

So there.

Wednesday August 24th 2022, 9:32 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

Squirrels do not get going at the crack of dawn and I hoped that at 7:30 a.m. they were still all nicely tucked in bed.

As if.

I came around the corner of the house yesterday to where the fig tree was, knowing they’re sweetest picked earliest in the day.

There was only going to be one ready. I had a clamshell snapped over it. There aren’t a lot this year. I had a bird netting tent sideways on the ground covering that lowest branch because it was too flimsy to safely hold the tent’s weight up, but at least it was something and there was a tea rose right to the side there.

Not that all that would do anything other than Rube Goldberg the access a bit. I am no Mark Rober.

It saw me before I saw it. The fig was knocked off the branch but inside the clamshell it hadn’t pried open yet as the squirrel tried to leap away–hitting the top of that tent from the inside.

Then the netting on the left, where the rose thorns were.

Then the netting on the right, and all three times it leaped for it as only a squirrel can: they can do seven feet from a standing position. So you know those whiskers were getting a little bent out of shape and its nose was feeling this.

Poor thing. I had certainly meant it no harm other than fig deprivation but it did occur to me that squirrels don’t learn from fear (or they would cease to be able to squirrel) but they can from, Well, *that* wasn’t fun.

It finally found its way out: it meant having to take a few steps actually towards me before it could get away from me. But if there’s a way to do something a squirrel will find it and it did.

That fig tasted pretty good.

Miss Lillian
Tuesday August 23rd 2022, 9:35 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

The beach is done, the seed-stitch hillside above it is done, the steps built into the hill are finally done and the first redwood has begun.

Once this thing is finished and washed, the yarn will bloom and fill out and the areas will all look more solid.

Meantime, Lillian celebrated turning three today with much enthusiasm. It’s fun to be big!

Use up the fruit
Monday August 22nd 2022, 9:14 pm
Filed under: Food,Knit,Recipes

Just for fun, a Ukrainian beaded necklace in granny squares. In late ’60’s colors to keep in character.

Made some progress on the afghan.

Meantime, I had some plums from Andy’s that needed to be put to good use, most quite small and a few of another variety a fair bit bigger. I whipped a warm stick of butter with 2/3 c sugar, then with 2 eggs, then added in a mixture of 1/2 c flour, 1/2 cup almond flour, 1 tsp baking powder and a pinch salt. Put it in a 9″ nonstick springform pan with a parchment bottom (my 9″ circles came with pull-up handles) and arranged halves of the small plums in a circle, skin side up, and half one of the big ones in the center.

I should have taken a picture of my pretty sunflower cake before baking it. It really did look like one with those golden plums and darker plum in the center.

When I pulled it out of the oven 45 minutes later (the recipe I was riffing off of with that almond flour said an hour and I knew that was wrong, 45 was pushing it but okay) I looked at that thing and there was only one description for it.

A bellybutton cake.

And it is very very good.

A little more Malabrigo wool to send out into the world
Sunday August 21st 2022, 9:15 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I didn’t think I could decrease every other row in dark yarn on black needles while knitting the alternate rows plain while switching between the two circulars while keeping track of where I was on each needle and where the start of the row was while Venn-diagramming the hat at the center of it all while reading the captions while attending a Zoom of knitting friends.

It will surprise no one that if you want to enough, yes, actually, you can.

That’ll teach me
Saturday August 20th 2022, 8:34 pm
Filed under: Garden

I was in and out moving the hose every three minutes, taking care of my fruit trees, and had just found the ripe late summer peach in a clamshell with great delight–when I felt something.

There was a snake hanging down in the side of my hair.

Oh right, the rubber ones. Silly snake.

From Ukraine, with love
Friday August 19th 2022, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Life

I had a routine checkup and was wearing a vyshyvanka (Etsy link) from Nataliya, a lovely woman from whom I have now bought similar ones for my granddaughters.

One was to be for Lillian’s third birthday? There was the surprise of a small bracelet of red wooden beads tucked away in the package in celebration of a child she did not know simply because she wanted to share in the joy.

The female doctor and nurse admired my blouse and I did a little advocating for Ukrainian starving artists.

But what really made my day was the older woman I passed on my way out who stopped me and with a thick Slavic accent asked, You shirt! You make eet?

A woman in Ukraine did, I explained.

Ees beautiful! Beautiful!!

She was so happy to see something clearly so familiar to her and in that moment it felt like we were offering each other this wonderful, mystical sense of a universal place called home.

Also the favorite food of elk
Thursday August 18th 2022, 9:01 pm
Filed under: Knit,To dye for

I guess you can make rayon out of just about any cellulose-based fiber, and I’ve seen a few oddball yarns from time to time. Sugarcane viscose? As Richard put it, well that one makes sense, it would be like bamboo, they’re both tall woody stalks.

Stinging nettle? I’ve heard its praises sung but I remember stinging nettle at my grandparents’ mountain cabin in Utah when I was a kid–I learned the hard way to stay on the path but that it didn’t have the manners not to lean over it. You had to be careful. It hurts like mosquitos itch.

Crustacean shell yarn, touted for health effects: that one didn’t seem to last on the market very long. Imagine if your recipient had a shellfish allergy you didn’t know about. It was the only yarn I’ve ever heard of with a warning label.

Rose yarn. Okay, put away the pruning shears and that’s another stiff long-limbed woody plant, okay.

Today Etsy sent me one of those “New Items!” notifications re a vendor I’d bought from pre-pandemic. Yeah, I clicked.

It really was. 100% dandelion yarn. Shiny, white, described as soft.


Laceweight, too, so you’d be putting a lot of time into figuring out whether it was worth putting any time into and whether it would hold up, or else you’d have to hold a bunch of strands together; well, hey, the vendor wouldn’t mind if you bought extra cones. Oh and look they have peppermint yarn, too. Does it give your hands fresh breath?

I’m picturing a Monty Python Killer Rabbits sketch with bunnies leaping for your shawl for snacks and then polishing it off with a mint.

Do what to it?
Wednesday August 17th 2022, 9:53 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,Life

Next Tuesday, Amazon said. The box showed up today. Ask me if I mind.

Comes assembled, they said. But, it turns out, screw the knob on the drawer yourself, lady. Yeah, I think we can handle that. (Note the lack of application of said knob. That drawer came in handy already!)

I tested out the setup by talking with my mom while trying not to lean on its slight wobbliness, and we now know that my sister Carolyn’s name types out as Kill Christmas. You know, I can actually do that kind of word mangling better than it can but it’s trying.

Speaking of whom, she and her husband have been househunting online. A few days ago, she flew to see her grandkids in Ohio with a day trip to the town in New York where she’s been looking. On that very day the most perfect house for them went up for sale–and now it’s theirs. Great condition and reasonably priced, to top it off. And she got to see it in person. Because it was on the one day.

I can’t wait to see what she does with her new horse carriage in back. Would it kill Christmas if I asked her for a pony? Always wanted one when we were kids.

Nina got her peaches and dried apricots from Andy’s and I threw in some of his plums, too. The lady at his farm agreed with me that fruit straight off the tree was the perfect homecoming after time in the hospital.

My heart monitor came off and went in the mail per protocol.  So did a birthday present for Lillian, who is turning three whether her Grammy can fathom that number so soon or not.

Writing all this it suddenly struck me what it was that I didn’t do today and I didn’t even think of it till just now: I didn’t knit.

Wait, how did that happen?