Dandelion beads
Saturday December 17th 2022, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Chocolate and pastries at Dandelion in San Francisco for the birthday celebration, by special request. I wanted that more than going out to dinner.

I thought I’d mentioned it here but I’m not finding it: in October I found a pattern for a dandelion gerdan being sold by its Ukrainian creator, but the only place selling a finished one anything like it was someone in India with scathing reviews warning would-be buyers away from having anything to do with the guy.

I only wanted to do it to support Ukraine anyway–that was the whole point.

Well, so maybe I should consider the idea. After all, I figure digital sales are safer than going to the post office there.

So I priced out beading looms and read up on various models and why and that led me to start wondering about the beads I already had and how good I might be at using them in a way I hadn’t previously considered, which got me to later ask the blog about what all those numbers mean, and thank you for the help.

But reality: moderate cataracts and corneal dystrophy. An inability to feel much in my fingertips. Chasing the really tiny beads around with a tiny needle? Thirty years ago, but not now.

So I asked the artist if she knew of any of her fellow countrymen making her pattern for sale. I said a little about Bloom County, how a dandelion field was its solace and spot of heaven, and how I think one of the best chocolate makers out there likely took its name from that comic strip.

It’s the Pogo of our generation, but I didn’t go into that much detail.

She considered a moment and told me, Yes–yes I think I can do that for you, sure, I’d be glad to.

Saying it that way completely endeared her to me: every knitter out there knows what a great compliment it is to the person we allow to jump our queue, and how they often never even know they did, much less how much it means.

She warned me it would take her over a week to make and I responded, I am in no hurry–I’m just thrilled that you’re willing to do this for me, thank you. Whenever works best for you in your schedule, you come first.

I signed for the package less than a month later, and in terms of mail from Ukraine in the middle of the war, that is lightning fast. I certainly can’t say she’d manage that the next time but she did on that one for me.

And that is how I came to own a dandelion gerdan to wear to Dandelion Chocolate today, where one of the staff exclaimed over it.

And where, as it turned out, we ran into a former co-worker of Richard’s whom he introduced me to. Sam, if you’re reading this, I apologize that I couldn’t hear a word in the noise. I tried hard. Richard explained to me afterwards that your in-laws card and weave wool and you’ve read my blog from time to time and what I wouldn’t have given to know that while you were right there to talk to! So cool! But at least I got to meet you, and you really tried, and thank you for that.

Hoshigaki review
Friday December 16th 2022, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Food

The texture: I would say it’s like a dried fig without all the little seeds. (It did have one small shrunken persimmon seed.) The flavor: it’s a Hachiya alright but with more depth and character, there’s some there there.

It’s good. I like it. A fresh Hachiya is so big but is such a barely-held-in bag of loose jelly that you feel like you didn’t really eat much at all afterwards; this is so solid that it feels like half a lunch to itself, even when you know it’s the density of it; it’s still just one single persimmon.

I found myself going in the kitchen and cutting off another thin slice again and again all day (say the word persimmon to my husband and I get to have the whole thing to myself) and I still have this little bit left of the first one.

So I had to photograph the next one for you. Has a certain Mesa Verde look to it, doesn’t it? (Third picture down.)

Thursday December 15th 2022, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Food

After an abrupt closure at the height of the Christmas rush due to covid exposure, yay for negative tests and today Andy’s Orchard announced they were open again, stocked with your favorites and a discount for coming in.

I’d been waiting all year for the stuffed figs (not on his website yet) to make their seasonal comeback. And to replenish my dried apricots, the Blenheim slabs, (also here in a gift box) ie the ones that were dried at the point of greatest ripeness such that they smeared when cut open. So good. Adding ten minutes to my daily exercise and snacking on those these past two winters satisfied both the sweet tooth and the need to drop the pandemic pounds–and I did. Lost the prediabetes, too. Apricots for the win.

There was one other thing. I’d seen them there before but it wasn’t till I read about them in the New York Times that I saw why I should try those weird-looking shrunken-monkey-brain things, and Andy’s is the only place I’ve ever seen that has them.

Lily Chin (famous longtime designer in the knitting world) expressed her extreme delight at discovering some in New York City. Alright then, I had to at least try them, given that we live where they actually grow and I could support the farmer directly. This was the first year I hadn’t yet had so much as a ripe persimmon and that season’s about over, and it was easy to entice me with the idea of a variant that would keep, as well as buying some fresh ones by going down there.

(My neighbors who always traded me persimmons for pomegranates moved away this fall and their tree sits there unpicked and untouched.)

So. I could not for the life of me think of the word. The clerk was checking me out when I remembered with, Oh! Do you have… uh… The Hachiyas, y’know, dried and shriveled Japanese style and, um, hanging on a string (pantomiming holding the string delicately with thumb and forefinger while flicking at it from below with the other hand as if to make it swing back and forth in the air or as if I’m the rude kid in elementary school sitting behind you trying to grab your attention when the teacher’s not looking. What was the name of the boy behind me who liked to do that.)

I got some!

Slice them and serve them with cheese like salami, the Times says.

Fruit. Salami??

I haven’t tasted them yet; there’s this whole wait-till-Christmas mentality. It’s two days too late to use my birthday as an excuse to dive in early.

If I adore them like crazy, given the price tag (well deserved; they have to be massaged daily while drying. I am officially jealous of a persimmon), I will just remind myself, I have my apricots. I have my Andy’s extra ripe slab dried Blenheim apricots.

And that is no small thing.

Up here in the Arctic
Wednesday December 14th 2022, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

(Frost on apricot.)

We were FaceTiming with the grandkids in San Diego who called for my birthday yesterday and the 7, 9, and 11 year olds (two of those numbers change next week) along with their 4 year old baby brother nodding solemnly were telling us that it had rained for two days and they’d had to stay inside to play. They need the rain, we all do, but…

I told them it had rained here, too, and had left a puddle.

And that the puddle froze. It was solid ice this morning!

ICE! I had their full attention. No such thing had ever happened at their house. (It helped that it had been a very shallow puddle.)

I said, Yeah, and when I went to change my clothes, you know there’s just this little flap of metal between the dryer hose and the outside. The underwear was in the dryer.

I topped off my tale with, I put on frozen underwear!

(Just in case you ever want to know how to make southern Californian kids go wide-eyed and then fall over laughing so long and so hard and so shivery as they imagined just what that would feel like. I think I just stamped a dominant Gramma memory for life on their childhoods. Ice cube undies, yessir. I am so going to hear about this at their weddings.)

Will you still meet me
Tuesday December 13th 2022, 9:41 pm
Filed under: Life

Without in the least bit planning on it I’ve found myself humming that tune all day.

I didn’t wait for Mom’s birthday.

I am what Paul McCartney thought was old when he was young years old today.

To Mom with so much love
Monday December 12th 2022, 11:29 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Oh. Wait. I spent my usual writing time not blogging but composing a thank you letter to Sola for making my mother so happy. (Typing fast.)

Mom got her package today (don’t look at the price tag Mom); her birthday is next week but I had told her don’t wait, go enjoy.

Once she saw it…!

She made herself stop and try on her new hand-embroidered vyshyvanka before calling me so she could say it fit–she knew it would and it did–and then realized that that intricate work was not even sweeps of blanket stitch but tiny X’s of cross stitch. Done by hand in Ukraine, all of it.

She ran to her friend’s apartment to show it to someone who would understand just how much work and how much love went into that and look at this!

Then she came back upstairs and picked up the phone and called me and was so happy I was almost in tears. This. This is why I did this. This is why Sola did this and what she was so looking forward to, too.

I didn’t get to go with Mom to her Christmas party tonight a plane flight away from me where she showed it off, but my heart sure did.

Peeps at the conversation
Sunday December 11th 2022, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends

In tonight’s segment of, “don’t believe the captions”: one knitting friend in the Zoom meeting was mentioning how her son loved to put peanut butter and a few chocolate chips on his mushroom before putting it in the microwave.

People were going back and forth and chuckling and I finally found that one moment where it was safe to interject and went, because I just had to know, Chocolate chips and–mushrooms? So tasty. What am I missing here.

MARSHmallows! They howled.

Usually I guess such things in time but then how would I amuse my friends?

Saturday December 10th 2022, 11:10 pm
Filed under: History

We don’t have Netflix, don’t even have a TV (my desktop just guffawed) but I found myself Googling questions about subscriptions when you just want to watch one episode of one show.

David Letterman, interviewing his absolute hero President Zelensky in Ukraine below ground with air-raid sirens and trains overhead and being just in awe of the man in front of him, who is not only a great leader in wartime but such a truly decent human being.

The trailer is here. Definitely worth a viewing in its own right.


Edited to add, here is the Washington Post interview with Letterman about his interview with Zelensky that got my attention in the first place.

Mom’s apricots are on the way
Friday December 09th 2022, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Life

Go to Andy’s first and replenish my apricot supply or go to the post office? I had plenty of time to do both if I hurried. I’ve never tried his Japanese-style preserved Hachiya persimmons but after the New York Times’ write up, I need to and Andy’s is the only place I know to get them.


Priorities. Get the Christmas presents mailed so you know it’s done. The shipping process isn’t going to speed up the closer we get.

Last year I did my homework and it was cheaper to use the post office. So I got my mom’s and my daughter’s off there and then headed over to the UPS store to buy a box of the right size for the other grands.

Turns out the size they had was close to my 27x22x14″ one and they cost the same to ship.

But the price! Twenty-six less than the post office! I ran home, packed it up at long last, ran back and got it done, with thanks to the random stranger who saw me struggling to wrestle it out of my car with the cane in my way and carried it in for me. So grateful. It was a bear.

Rush hour kicks in ~2:30 around here and it just felt like, no, don’t go, it can wait. The drive to Morgan Hill? Let’s try Monday.

What I didn’t know and was not expecting was an email from Andy’s: they’d had a covid exposure. The book signing and holiday get-together are canceled and they are closed till further notice.

They’ve been so careful for so long. Andy, like most farmers, is not young. I’m going to be holding him and his close in my prayers.

The grandparent’s dilemma
Thursday December 08th 2022, 10:08 pm
Filed under: Life

It’s that time of year again: the one where you recycle what you know is a perfectly good box (plus about five more) and you know you’re going to want it in two or three weeks but you think you have plenty of time to find another one and not have this cluttering up your house, and besides, you don’t even know what you’re going to need then because the things you’re going to be packing haven’t even come yet, much less gotten wrapped.

And then two or three weeks later you sit there with everything looking all pretty for their trees and ready to go, your tape measure in hand and your screen open to USPS Send–Pricing.

Your largest box, which came Santa-ing six grandkids in two different states, is a lot bigger than you need.

The next largest is a half inch too small and you only just managed not to shred the wrapping paper trying.

But, but, you just had that other one…

Because they want $83-something for that monster one. Doesn’t matter what it weighs (to a point irrelevant to the question at hand), it’s oversize. And they’re happy to offer incentive to ship smaller.

I could ship way bigger for that much: at Southwest’s very best sale fares, I could fly me there and hand-deliver a free suitcase’s worth in person. Just not in December.

I need a 22.5×16.5×11.5H if it even exists, plus a little extra for the December birthday presents (but they can go separately.)

I knew, I knew I was going to need that earlier box, but did I listen to me? Did I open the bin outside to see if it was even retrievable after being stomped on, like it kept pleading for me to do?

It is I-told-you-so-ing faintly from whatever it’s being reincarnated into. Likely more boxes.

Bead it
Wednesday December 07th 2022, 11:27 pm
Filed under: Life

A few years ago a friend was telling me that knitting with beads is easy, and showed me how before she moved away.

But so many details I didn’t know to ask about. What is an 8/0 vs an 11/0 and does it matter and is the bigger number the smaller bead or the opposite, and where did those numbers come from anyway and why are they fractions. And if you’re just stringing them, what kind of thread should you use?

Questions I learned when an online yarn store was selling out their beads and I thought, hey, those must work with yarn because it’s a yarn store selling them, right? And I bought a bunch of pretty colors. Plus some sparkly white to be, y’know, practical and all that.

And there they have sat.

I found a simple beaded scarf pattern from someone who appeared to be American and it seemed like you wouldn’t need to buy a beading loom for it, so that was good–till I read a scathing review saying the pattern had been lifted from someone else’s video.

Now whether she’s right about that or not I don’t know; it seems to me that that simple a mesh would be like designing feather and fan–it’s easy, it’s been passed on forever, I’ve known people who claim they don’t know how to do lace, just feather and fan. Which..is…a lace pattern, but never mind.

So maybe it’s like that.

But whatever, I followed her link because a video is always going to show you more anyway. (I’d skip the first four minutes or so.)

I’m guessing it’s in Russian. It might be Ukrainian but I think that’s hoping for too much. There are English captions as best as the machine could do.

I still don’t know how to pick the right synthetic thread and size needle to make such a thing, and I’m willing to buy a pattern, hopefully from a Ukrainian.

After the holidays are over I just might try after all out of curiosity.

But even so I’ll be buying from Ukrainians. They need the help and the work and I love what they create. (Yeah, I do–I need to knit that. Gorgeous.)

The runoff
Tuesday December 06th 2022, 10:55 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

A diagnosed, demonstrably mentally ill man who has put a gun to both his ex’s head and his own?

Or the thoughtful, compassionate, accomplished successor to Martin Luther King, Jr?

I’m not sure why it was even a question. But thank you Georgia for doing right by all of us today. It feels like they’ve got the best of Sam Nunn back.

Holiday music?
Monday December 05th 2022, 10:59 pm
Filed under: Family,Music

My cousin Jim, who does a mean Mick Jagger impression with his guitar, was gigglesnorting over this so I had to give it a listen.

Yonder deafened musician over here can still get the notes (or the gist of them at least) but the lyrics are lost to me. So I watch. The lady in the silver dress caught herself almost in time as she was cracking up while the guy next to her sang; the lady in the turquoise is totally hamming it up and she’s having a great time. Notice how she’s leaning away from the guy next to her so her long red hair doesn’t thwap him in her enthusiasm.

Back to the start of the video–there it is, briefly: ‘George Michael, “Last Christmas”‘? Okay, not familiar with that but let’s see if that’s actually the yuletime carol they’re singing like it is but their faces are saying it isn’t. (Googles the lyrics.)

Oh my.

Doesn’t that just break your heart. (No.)

Well then.

Carry on.

That is NOT how you do it
Sunday December 04th 2022, 10:06 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Even if they’re grown only an hour away from here and we get them absolutely fresh, raspberries are like fish–you don’t wait all week to use them up, and we had a lot and I was bored with muffins so I decided to make a clafoutis. Then I decided to substitute the flour with almond flour just because I’d never tried that before. Maybe I wasn’t as bored with almond raspberry muffins as I thought I was. Whatever.

After putting it in the oven, I scraped the last tiny bit of batter onto a plate and stuck the last raspberry in the center and nuked it so I could at least get some idea of what I’d just done.

It’s what happened next that threw me so hard that I didn’t react as immediately as I should have to stop it.

I took it out of the microwave when its countdown was over…wondering what that sound was.

The thing was still going. With the door wide open. Deaf that I am, I put my hand on top of it to make sure I was feeling what I was hearing so I really was hearing it.

And still, that door was open. And I was standing right there. What?!

I reached towards it and hit the stop bottom. It kept going. NO! I stepped around it and unplugged it, kicking myself that it had taken me about seven or eight seconds to believe what was happening and to react rationally–who cares about the off button, make it be off!

I don’t seem to be cooked. (checks self again)

You need to test it, said hubby helpfully.

Yeah no babe. Uh. Uh. (like, are you crazy? why are you even saying that? i guess scientists gotta science)

But then I offered him cold leftover clam chowder and we both went no in unison to that idea, and I was in actual fact curious, so I did: I put it in the microwave. I closed the door. I plugged it in. I turned it on and stepped as far back as I could where I could still see the panel ticking off the seconds.

And it turned off at the end as one would have every perfect right to expect it to. Everything seemed peachy fine. I unplugged it, took out the chowder, handed him his, nice and warm, considered tomorrow morning’s hot cocoa and how much I hate standing still stirring at the stove while my blood pressure steadily goes down (80/40 before morning meds is where my normal starts)–and knew that if nothing else I will never leave that thing plugged in and unattended again.

I think we need a new microwave. (understatement alert)

Panasonic is OUT. Anybody got a recommendation?

Good graph Charlie Brown
Saturday December 03rd 2022, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Life

If you ever want a quick visual of how California’s water is doing, see this chart of major reservoirs posted by the state. Scroll over a description and a blue dot pops up on the map to show you where that one is.

It’s been record-breaking cold these past few days and it’s been raining (we actually almost had snow–wait. It could be we even did, but gone by the time we woke up) and those bars are improving. Which shows you just how bad it had gotten.

It took me a moment, as I peeled the first layer of the frost covers off the mango tree yesterday morning, to be sure it was the ice breaking on top as I pulled and not the tree ripping leaves off along the way. They weren’t even in direct contact. Right. It’s the ice.


But not complaining. Water!